Today’s tweak targets a problem in the design of Pathfinder and old D&D. The removal of xp penalties for multiclassing has made it more of a difficulty in Pathfinder, but it was always there: saving throw explosion. Just by multiclassing in a couple of different classes with the same ‘good’ saves, you can end up with an exponential growth of bonuses that can really get out of hand (and when you add in two levels of Paladin for Divine Grace…well…it can be pretty silly).
First of all, why is this really a problem? Can you solve this issue by bumping saving DC’s a little bit for that player? Let’s look at the numbers.
A cleric 1 / paladin 2 with a 14 charisma would appear to be a perfectly viable build. You can pound enemies and have some spellcasting to back it up, and with two religious classes you seem to make sense. But your Will and Fort saves will be 8 each. Wait…what? That’s +5 more than the bonus a straight-leveled character would have. It’s only 2 more than a paladin would normally have though, so maybe that’s okay?
Well, a monk 1 /paladin 2 /cleric 1 / ranger 1 with the same charisma stat would have saves of: Fort +11, Ref + 7, Will + 9. That’s a double-digit save at level 5. And these will only grow more crazy as more classes are added. You don’t need the paladin levels to make it happen either–replace with more multiclassing to get the same effect without the alignment restrictions.
Now, you might argue that saves don’t kill monsters, so who cares? Well, I won’t spend time arguing that the above build is perfectly viable–although it is–but that no other core stat in the game functions this way. You don’t have this problem with BaB, AC, HP, or anything else. Provided you can find a character concept that fits, you can pump these numbers up to ridiculous heights.
Forget the concept of straight bonuses. Focus on the formula that underlies those numbers: every save is either ‘good’ or ‘bad’–easily recognizable by checking to see if there’s a +2 or a +0 at first level. Change saving throw calculation to “Add up the number of class levels you have in classes with a good save, and write your base save as if they were all in the same class. Do not perform this calculation with poor saving throws (marked by +0 at first level), but add their bonus to the bonus created by the good saving throw calculation.”
Notice how this way you only get that initial +2 once, not matter how you slice it. You may ask, “what about prestige classes?”
Luckily, prestige classes are already balanced against this issue in Pathfinder. It’s a much more obvious problem to deal with.
This tweak was originally created by Ben Lesel, a good guy to game with! Thanks Ben!
Enjoy your mix-and-matching of classes!