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DnD3.5e: Character Class: Puppet Master

   
Hey, never said I was perfect, Bloody xD I'll bump up the price momentarily.

Yes, I agree with you in wanting to fully be able to optimize the puppets, but like you also said I wouldn't know in what way to put a stopper on the limitless possibilities. I can see allowing puppets taking Class Levels, but that in itself sounds like another hell-hole of a task. Such as bequeathing them with Cohort mentality but getting rid of the DM middle man. In that stead I would have to write a ruling that Puppet Master's can't have Leadership just to keep more book-keeping from interfering.

Personally, what I think would work, is to take away spellcasting from the class altogether, then give them Use Magic Device on their skill list. Then, have them use scrolls as blueprints (in conjunction with special materials as part of the building process) to implant EX or SLAs into the puppets. The spells they can implant would have to be limited to arcane spells, limited by puppeteer level, and limited to X number of abilities per puppet (I would suggest 2 or 3).

Then in addition, you can have a list of special materials that give flat utility or statistical upgrades to the puppet at an increasingly higher craft DC (I liked the 5 x number of previous upgrades thing you came up with), much like a warforged would.

Ultimately, I have to point out that the biggest issue to balance is going to be action economy. You can nerf the capabilities of the puppets all you want, but trading in your actions at a 4:1 ratio is crazy even for tier 1 spellcasters. You may want to cut the puppets down to 3 at max level, or cut them down to 1 standard action per round.

Wouldn't it make more sense for them to keep their limited spellcasting then if they were going to use scrolls as blueprints? Perhaps make one of their dolls spew Obscuring Mist while the other does something else? Considering they would all be limited to Arcane spells I say it would make sense if he could use the scrolls rather than just feed them to his puppets like some crazy medieval ATM for magic.

In regards to the puppets and their 5:1 ratio (as at 20 there will be 5) I can see where that could become a problem. If my memory is correct even a druid could only get up to 3 Animal Companions with feats and items giving some assistance to that, but that's more of an optimized build for the companions itself. I could always keep it as the puppets can only have 3 separate attacks at max level. One going off the divisions of your BaB if they wanted to do something and keeping the whole Unison attack I had written up regarding averaging out the Strength bonus.

Like, a 20th level Puppet Master still get's his three iterative attacks but his puppets are the one doing it. the 15/10/5 being split between each puppet so that in the end it would look like

Puppet one 15+ Its Str
Puppet two 10 + its Str
Puppet Three 5 + Its Str

As they would all be considered 'separate' in a manner of speaking it sounds fair enough correct?

It's like a rogue; they can't cast spells themselves, but they can study magic well enough to trigger scrolls and wands and such. Keep in mind, my assertion that they should lose all spellcasting is only under the premise that they can attach castable spells to their puppets (the puppets would essentially be like sorcerers, in that they have a limited number of spells per day, and a limited set of spells they can cast from... but they would be EX abilities or SLAs, depending on the way you decided to take the class). At max level, this would essentially give the puppet master up to 15 spells to cast through his puppets... which is less than a Sorcerer at max level, but he can also cast up to 5 spells per round (as the class is currently written), which makes up for his lack of on-call versatility. Though during his down time, he could take a scroll and tinker with his puppet and replace one of the spells with the spell on the scroll, essentially giving them the ability to change their "loadout" ad infinitum.

For the record, I said 4:1 ratio because you're giving up 1 set of actions for 5 sets of actions, which is a 400% increase in action economy. Though I may have used the wrong term originally to express myself, thus the confusion.

Hm... If I wrote it in that the puppets gained what I shall call Paper Magic hereafter I would also write in that only one more puppet can 'cast' after the first in a round. This way the puppet master would have to choose his actions accordingly from the following list.

- Move and attack himself as per normal of any character.
- Activate his puppets and have them do the wailing either in a colorful amount of versatility. One puppet to attack three times, Two attacking but one getting one extra per the ruling of the PM's BAB, Three attacking and each getting a different BAB from the puppet master, or finally simply using their unison attack method. (Which I'm probably going to have to cap the damage to keep it from getting too ridiculous)
- Activate his chosen Caster puppets and have them Cast, two at maximum or even only have him capable of having one cast and having that ending his round as it takes up so much concentration to do so.

Sounds like a good equalizer. But you also have to take into account combat maneuvers (bull rushing, tripping, grappling, etc etc). So, while you may limit attacks to "no more than the number of attacks granted by the puppet master's BAB" or something similar to that, you also have to put in guidelines of what sort of actions the puppets can take in each round. For example, something like this:

ideaThe Puppet Master must take a full-round action to command his puppets. The strength of his commands are directly linked to his powers of concentration.

Make a Concentration Check. The result is how many Concentration Points the Puppet Master may expend on his puppets' actions this turn. The following is a list of actions the puppet master may command his puppets to make, and the point cost associated with those actions.

Move action- 1 CP
Standard Action - 3 CP
Full-round Action - 4 CP
Multiple-round Action - 4 CP per round
Readied Action - 2 CP + action cost

In the case of casting spells, the concentration required is quite immense. Commanding a puppet to cast a spell requires taking the cost of the action and multiplying it by the level of the spell to be cast. (For example, commanding your puppet to cast Fireball would be a Standard Action and a level 3 spell, costing a total of 9 concentration points).

The cost for multiple-round actions must be paid on a per-round basis, and may not be paid for up front. Puppets are limited to the same number of actions per turn as normal characters.


Something like this would actually cut the need to arbitrarily limit the number of attacks or whatever a puppet master can command, by forcing them spend their points wisely every turn. It also brings back your idea of using a Concentration Check every turn, without making the character completely useless if they botch their roll.

That is actually a wonderful plan, Grey! Would you be against me implementing it within the class? The only thing needed before truly integrating this would be determining how many Concentrations points one gets during the end of their roll. It obviously couldn't be a 1:5 rule, but 1:2 seems almost fair. If the PM were to roll a 20 this would give him 10 Concentration Points to work with and thus enough to work with a usual round for a character.

Then again, if he wanted all of his puppets to have a 'character' turn at 16th level he would need 20 points with the DC being 25 for Concentration. Considering by that level he would be assumed to have an automatic 8 points from his ranks alone he would still need 12 more points which essentially raises the check needing to exceed 43 @ u@ hrrgh...

How did you come up with 9 for concentration points, by the way? I see the Standard Action and the Spell level costing 3 each, but the extra three eludes me. Did you times the Spell Level by two and add the Action?

No, I multiplied the spell level by the action type. So, a standard action is 3 points, and fireball is a level 3 spell, so 3x3 = 9. Thus, a level 9 standard action spell would be 27 points. A level 1 standard action spell would be 3 points. A level 8 full-round action spell would cost 32 points. Etc etc.

That's why I listed Concentration Check roll = Concentration Points. At level 20, you're looking at an easy 50 CP on a mid-high Concentration Check, so a multiplicative cost to cast spells is necessary to avoid players from being able to spam high level spells every round, while still having more than enough CP to play around with for other mundane actions, since those actions never increase in cost (though you do increase the number of puppets you can control as you level up, which means that you're still limited by having to decide which puppets get which actions).

Ah, my mistake. Lil ol' excitable me missed that little line.

Currently adding in mechanics, which is why I took forever to respond. Though tell me, how did you get 50 for an easy Con roll. I might be thinking a little small, as I usually tend to do in terms of character optimization, but how could one turn 23 ranks of one skill to 50 easily?




 

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