Recontextualizing the "mistakes" in Tome of Battle sample characters

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willpell
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Recontextualizing the "mistakes" in Tome of Battle sample characters

Post by willpell » Wed Aug 22, 2018 10:00 pm

The sample characters provided in Tome of Battle have a lot of mistakes in them, but I'm interested in digging into whether anything can be done to make sense of these "errors", and contextualize them as being interesting details in the character's backstory or the like.

As an example, we have the sample Ruby Knight Vindicator, Erek Nazbeth. He's a Lawful Good Cleric of Wee Jas, and the PHB indicates that clerics of Wee Jas cannot be Good, only Lawful Evil or Lawful Neutral. However, he's a good example of a character who doesn't fit neatly into the three-part system of Good, Neutral, Evil; he's a slightly templarish "paladin of vengeance" type whose family were murdered by vampires, so it's interesting to consider ruling that moral alignment is measured on a 7-point or even 11-point scale, and that the "LN or LE" requirement actually means a requirement not to be more than a single step outside of a range that mostly describes those alignments. Thusly, if you have a 7-point scale (Exalted, Good, Goodish, Neutral, Evilish, Evil, and Vile), Wee Jas would be allowed to have a "Goodish" cleric, but not an actually Good one.

Another example is the Warblade example, Vardalak Axebearer. There are actually two mistakes in him; a thread in the GiantITP archive mentions that he has a Level 3 stance, but that he acquired his second stance at character level 4, when he wasn't allowed to have Level 3 maneuvers yet, but fails to mention that he also has the Diehard Feat, while lacking its prerequisite Endurance. Although the rules don't officially allow you to either "trade out" stances or deliberately delay acquiring a stance, one of these must have been done in Vardalak's case; the best justification for this is simply the fact that he's described as being a very lazy character, and the GM could have allowed him to take his stance one level late for this reason. The beauty of that explanation is that it also neatly justifies why he would lack Endurance, despite having been allowed to select Diehard.

What other explanations can you come up with for the many "goofed" characters in this book, such as the sample Master of Nine?

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Re: Recontextualizing the "mistakes" in Tome of Battle sample characters

Post by Big Mac » Thu Aug 23, 2018 1:09 pm

If I thought the NPCs were "broken" I would probably tweak them to fix them.

If you are looking for "Ben Kenobi solutions" (where everything is true "from a certain point of view") then Erek Nazbeth could simply be given an alignment shift (at some point). He could be a Lawful Good character who has shifted to Lawful Neutral.
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Re: Recontextualizing the "mistakes" in Tome of Battle sample characters

Post by willpell » Thu Aug 23, 2018 4:30 pm

It's not a question of whether they're too powerful; I'm just looking at how to bring them in line with the RAW, or at least come up with sensible sounding house rules, rather than just accepting an error as not worth the bother of fixing.

While I'm refluffing Tome of Battle, I thought I'd share the alternate Dwarven name that I came up with for the Sublime Way, using the Dwarven language page in Races of Stone. They call it "Bari Bof Del Bol", or "Bari Bol" if you're too lazy...or, if you're not lazy enough, "Barigen Bofli Delain Bolbin". I leave it to the reader to go back and translate which made-up words I selected for this name.
Big Mac wrote:
Thu Aug 23, 2018 1:09 pm
If you are looking for "Ben Kenobi solutions" (where everything is true "from a certain point of view") then Erek Nazbeth could simply be given an alignment shift (at some point). He could be a Lawful Good character who has shifted to Lawful Neutral.
The reverse is more likely. The rules on martial maneuvers indicate that you only have to match a Devoted Spirit maneuver's alignment prerequisite when you learn it, and can then continue to use it with no problem (which means, if your DM signs off on regular alignment shifts, you can actually make a character who uses Dual Stance to activate Aura of Perfect Order and Aura of Chaos at the same time). If Erek's DM decided to handle his spells the same way, then he could be an LN character who joined the Jassian church, and just didn't get kicked out when he drifted north of the moral event horizon. Special dispensation from the goddess, allowing him to reconcile his actions with her dogma as best he can, instead of pulling the plug as she might for other clerics who "no longer have what it takes".

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Re: Recontextualizing the "mistakes" in Tome of Battle sample characters

Post by Khedrac » Thu Aug 23, 2018 8:10 pm

willpell wrote:
Wed Aug 22, 2018 10:00 pm
He's a Lawful Good Cleric of Wee Jas, and the PHB indicates that clerics of Wee Jas cannot be Good, only Lawful Evil or Lawful Neutral.
Now that is something I had totally missed - and I am not questioning you as I know from your posts you have the attention to detail not to get that one wrong - that said, I cannot find that text (in case I need to point it out to others) - is there any chance you could let me know where it is?

I did find that I had forgotten that LN clerics of Wee Jas have to go for Inflict and Rebuke not Cure and Turn.
"If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it might just be a crow".

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Re: Recontextualizing the "mistakes" in Tome of Battle sample characters

Post by willpell » Thu Aug 23, 2018 11:01 pm

Khedrac wrote:
Thu Aug 23, 2018 8:10 pm
willpell wrote:
Wed Aug 22, 2018 10:00 pm
He's a Lawful Good Cleric of Wee Jas, and the PHB indicates that clerics of Wee Jas cannot be Good, only Lawful Evil or Lawful Neutral.
Now that is something I had totally missed - and I am not questioning you as I know from your posts you have the attention to detail not to get that one wrong - that said, I cannot find that text (in case I need to point it out to others) - is there any chance you could let me know where it is?

I did find that I had forgotten that LN clerics of Wee Jas have to go for Inflict and Rebuke not Cure and Turn.
The PHB section of Wee Jas (in the Description chapter on deities) says that her clerics can't be Good. Erek's Alignment is hidden in his statblock somewhere; the statblock formats used in all three "subsets" of 3E are really hard to read, and they bury this information as just "Lorem Ipsem Blahblah Blah AL CE Blahblah Summore", but it is in there once you figure out where to look.

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Re: Recontextualizing the "mistakes" in Tome of Battle sample characters

Post by Khedrac » Fri Aug 24, 2018 1:08 pm

willpell wrote:
Thu Aug 23, 2018 11:01 pm
The PHB section of Wee Jas (in the Description chapter on deities) says that her clerics can't be Good. Erek's Alignment is hidden in his statblock somewhere; the statblock formats used in all three "subsets" of 3E are really hard to read, and they bury this information as just "Lorem Ipsem Blahblah Blah AL CE Blahblah Summore", but it is in there once you figure out where to look.
Now that is interetsng - my PHB (First Printing 2003) has on page 108:
PHB wrote:Wee Jas, the goddess of death and magic, is lawful neutral. Her titles are Witch Goddess, Ruby Sorceress, Stern Lady, and Death’s Guardian. Wee Jas is a demanding goddess who expects obedience from her followers. Her temples are few and far between, but she counts many powerful sorcerers and wizards (especially necromancers) among her worshipers. The domains she is associated with are Death, Law, and Magic. Her
favored weapon is the dagger.
My 3.0 PHB says pretty much the same thing.

Which version of the 3.5 PHB do you use? (I knew there were differences, but this is one I did not expect).
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Re: Recontextualizing the "mistakes" in Tome of Battle sample characters

Post by willpell » Sat Aug 25, 2018 7:14 pm

It is possible I'm confused. I thought that Wee Jas had the same text about Alignment that St. Cuthbert did, except in the opposite direction. It's possible that her article only talks about Rebuke Undead and doesn't mention Alignment at all. I'd better look again.

EDIT - Yep, I am mistaken, you can totally be an LG cleric of Wee Jas, who rebukes undead, as long as there isn't some other rule somewhere saying that you can't ever rebuke while being Good. Wee Jas only mentioned rebuking, there's nothing specific about alignment.

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Re: Recontextualizing the "mistakes" in Tome of Battle sample characters

Post by willpell » Tue Aug 28, 2018 2:32 am

I thought I put this in the Squishy bits. What's it doing in Crunchy instead?

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Re: Recontextualizing the "mistakes" in Tome of Battle sample characters

Post by Khedrac » Tue Aug 28, 2018 12:12 pm

I don't recall where it came from - we may have derailed the thread into a more crunchy forum

Also, I think you will find that the LG clerics of Wee Jas still turn undead - the line is that LN clerics must rebuke not turn... (It is only LN clerics that ever get a choice, Good clerics turn and Evil rebuke.)

That said, WotC's sample characters are notorious for their mistakes (thought I don't recall any as I rarely look at the characters) so this should be a rich field for mining interesting ideas.
"If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it might just be a crow".

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Re: Recontextualizing the "mistakes" in Tome of Battle sample characters

Post by willpell » Thu Sep 06, 2018 11:44 pm

I've been tinkering with more and more sample characters in recent weeks, because of excess time at home, and I think I stumbled upon an interesting solution to Vardalak. I'm building Bloodline characters, using the rules in Unearthed Arcana, and they're somewhat unclear; you're periodically required to take a level of "Bloodline", which counts as a character level to be calculated into any formula that bases a value on your class level, but which doesn't offer a Hit Die or Skill Points or anything. It *probably* still gives you a Feat if it's a level divisible by 3, but that's not explicit in UA, and I could see an argument that it shouldn't - the Bloodlines do give you bonus feats every once in a while, so if they cost you a normal feat pick (making it come later in the case of minor and intermediate bloodlines; the major one has three Bloodline levels, so you'd actually miss a feat completely, in exchange for 20 small abilities, some of which are feats that you don't select), then it'd pretty much be an "invisible" level in the NPC statblocks used by later 3.5 books, which don't mention how much Experience the character has, or mention its WBL in more than an indirect way (Vardalak has enough items to spend a bit over half of a level 5 character's WBL, but we don't know how many potions he drank in the past, or how much money is squirreled away in his First Farmers and Dwarves National Bank account).

So if we pretend that Vardalak has a bloodline, which hasn't been listed in the statblock for some reason, then only one detail about the character changes: that Bloodline level, taken at level 3, boosts his calculated Initiator level from 2 to 3 at that time, and then when he takes Warblade level 3 at character level 4, he's actually Initiator level 4, despite having only three Hit Dice, 6 ranks in each skill, and so forth. So this "invisible" level changes nothing about the character, up until he hits level 4, taking his second Stance - and his Initiator Level is 5, so he can take a 3rd-level Stance. (He could also take a 3rd-level maneuver, in exchange for one of his earlier maneuvers, but this is optional, so he might have just chosen to keep his existing maneuvers, and only take a 3rd at his actual 5th level.)

(Also, as a footnote, I looked over my invented Sixteen Dwarven Clans for my Whiteleaf setting, and I decided that Vardalak fits into Clan Lysoigor nicely. However, I had already decided that his mother, who I also statted up, was in the matriarchal Clan Zed, so presumably he's a Lysoigor by marriage.

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Re: Recontextualizing the "mistakes" in Tome of Battle sample characters

Post by Big Mac » Sun Sep 30, 2018 9:08 pm

willpell wrote:
Tue Aug 28, 2018 2:32 am
I thought I put this in the Squishy bits. What's it doing in Crunchy instead?
Image

You wrote about mistakes in the book Tome of Battle. That's a 3rd Edition D&D book, so the topic goes in the 3rd Edition forum, where 3e fans can find it. :)
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Re: Recontextualizing the "mistakes" in Tome of Battle sample characters

Post by willpell » Tue Oct 02, 2018 12:45 am

Big Mac wrote:
Sun Sep 30, 2018 9:08 pm
You wrote about mistakes in the book Tome of Battle. That's a 3rd Edition D&D book, so the topic goes in the 3rd Edition forum, where 3e fans can find it. :)
That part was never in question. What I wondered was:
willpell wrote:
Tue Aug 28, 2018 2:32 am
I thought I put this in the Squishy bits. What's it doing in Crunchy instead?

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Re: Recontextualizing the "mistakes" in Tome of Battle sample characters

Post by Big Mac » Tue Oct 02, 2018 1:46 am

willpell wrote:
Tue Oct 02, 2018 12:45 am
Big Mac wrote:
Sun Sep 30, 2018 9:08 pm
You wrote about mistakes in the book Tome of Battle. That's a 3rd Edition D&D book, so the topic goes in the 3rd Edition forum, where 3e fans can find it. :)
That part was never in question. What I wondered was:
willpell wrote:
Tue Aug 28, 2018 2:32 am
I thought I put this in the Squishy bits. What's it doing in Crunchy instead?
You put a 3e topic in the wrong place.

It got moved to the correct place.
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Re: Recontextualizing the "mistakes" in Tome of Battle sample characters

Post by willpell » Wed Oct 03, 2018 7:51 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Tue Oct 02, 2018 1:46 am
You put a 3e topic in the wrong place.

It got moved to the correct place.
How was it the "wrong place"? It's a fluff topic, that's why I didn't put it in The Crunchy Bits. It is in the "wrong place" NOW.

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