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DnD 3.5 - Dungeon Master Resources - Class Balance

This article draws heavily from These three forum posts which discuss the same topic. This article will not address prestige classes, but the third linked post provides a broad and thorough analysis of prestige classes.

Classes by Tier

Tier 1

Capable of doing absolutely everything, often better than classes that specialize in that thing. Often capable of solving encounters with a single mechanical ability and little thought from the player. Has world changing powers at high levels. These guys, if played with skill, can easily break a campaign and can be very hard to challenge without extreme DM fiat or plenty of house rules. These characters tend to eclipse entire parties.

Tier 2

Has as much raw power as the Tier 1 classes, but can't pull off nearly as many tricks, and while the class itself is capable of anything, no single character can do everything at the same time.

Tier 3

Specialists are capable of doing one important thing very well while still being useful when that one thing is inappropriate, and generalists capable of doing many things, but not as well as classes that specialize in that area. Classes occasionally have a mechanical ability that can immediately resolve an encounter, but this is a rare exception.

Tier 4

Specialists are capable of doing one thing quite well, but often useless when encounters require other areas of expertise, and generalists are capable of doing many things to a reasonable degree of competence without truly shining. Classes rarely have any abilities that can completely resolve an encounter unless that encounter plays directly to the class's focus.

Tier 5

Capable of doing only one thing, and not necessarily all that well, or so unfocused that they have trouble mastering anything, and in many types of encounters the character cannot contribute. In some cases, can do one thing very well, but that one thing is very often not needed. Has trouble shining in any encounter unless the encounter matches their strengths.

Tier 6

Not even good at what they are intended to do. These are generally reserved for NPCs because they are not intended to be used as player classes.

Suggestions for Adjustments

The below table includes suggestions to buff/nerf each class. You might consider adding these adjustments to handle specific players, or you might consider using them as static house rules. The intention is not to use all of these suggestions, but to use one or more per class as you see fit to reach the level of balance that you desire.

Class Adjustments
Class Strong Nerfs Weak Nerfs Weak Buffs Strong Buffs
Archivist
Ardent
Artificer
Barbarian
  • 2+ skill ranks
  • d10 hit die
  • Good Reflex save
Bard
  • -1 spell per day of each spell level known
  • 4+ skill ranks per level
  • Bad Reflex save
  • 8+ skill ranks per level
  • Lingering Song as a bonus feat
  • +1 spell per day of each spell level known
Beguiler
Binder
Cleric
  • One domain
  • Remove heavy armor proficiency
  • Bad Fortitude save
  • Remove medium armor proficiency
  • 4+ skill ranks per level
  • d10 hit die
  • Automatically prepare one spell from two domains at each spell level
Crusader
  • Begin encounters with one fewer readied maneuvers
  • Allow crusader to choose not to reset their readied maneuvers once all known maneuvers are readied
Dragonfire Adept
  • Breath weapon can only be used once every 1d4 rounds
  • Decrease breath weapon damage die to d4
  • Reduce the number of invocations learned to match the progression followed by Warlocks
  • Increase breath weapon die to d8
  • Allow the Dragonfire Adept to select Warlock invocations
Dragon Shaman
Dread Necromancer
Druid
  • Animal companion at level -3 (As Ranger)
  • Select Wild Shape or Animal Companion, not both
  • Animal companion at level -2
  • Bad Fortitude save
  • Reduce to 2+ skill ranks per level
  • Reduce hit die from d8 to d6
  • Good Reflex save
Duskblade
  • Reduce spells per day by 1 (if spells per day is 0, can only be cast if the character has bonus spells) for each spell level
  • Bad Fortitude save
  • Learn one spell per level instead of 2
  • Increase spells per day by 1 for each spell level
Factotum
Favored Soul
  • Reduce spells per day by 1 (if spells per day is 0, can only be cast if the character has bonus spells) for each spell level
  • -1 spells known per spell level until 5 spells of that level have been known for 4 levels
  • Remove heavy armor proficiency
  • Remove medium armor proficiency
  • d10 hit die
  • +1 spell known per spell level after knowing normal maximum spells known for two levels
Fighter
  • No first level bonus feat
  • Remove Heavy Armor Proficiency
  • d8 hit die
  • d12 hit die
  • Good Reflex save
  • 4+ skill ranks per level, add Knowledge (Dungeoneering) and Survival to class skills
  • Bonus feat at level 3
  • Retrain one bonus feat every 4th class level; may meet prerequisites using current abilities
Hexblade
Knight
  • d10 hit die
Monk
  • Reduce hit die from d8 to d6
  • 2+ skill ranks per level
  • 6+ skill ranks per elvel
  • d10 hit die
  • Full BAB
  • Increase Unarmed Strike damage as though the Monk were one size larger
Ninja
  • Can only use Sudden Strike once per round
  • 4+ skill ranks per level
  • Good Fortitude save
  • 8+ skill ranks per level
  • Increase Sudden Strike die from d6 to d8
  • Replace Sudden Strike with Sneak Attack
Paladin
  • Maximum of 2 spells per day (before bonus spells) of each spell level
  • Bad Will save
  • d8 hit die
  • Add 1 spell per day at each level
  • Add 1 use of Smite Evil per day
  • Channel Energy at full class level
  • 4+ skill ranks per level, add Intimidate and Knowledge (History) to skill list
  • Add 2 spells per day at each level
Ranger
  • Maximum of 2 spells per day (before bonus spells)
  • Bad Fortitude save
  • Bad Reflex save
  • Maximum of 3 spells per day (before bonus spells)
  • 4+ skill ranks per level
  • Add 1 spell per day at each spell level
  • 8+ skill ranks per level, add Acrobatics and Knowledge (Local) to skill list
  • Add 2 spells per day at each spell level
  • Animal Companion at full class level
Rogue
  • Can only Sneak Attack once per round
  • 6+ skill ranks per level
  • Good Fortitude save
  • 10+ skill ranks per level
  • d8 Sneak Attack die
  • Can Sneak Attack any target threatened by an ally
Samurai
Scout
  • Can only Skirmish attack once per round
  • 6+ skill ranks per level
  • 10+ skill ranks per level
  • d8 Skirmish damage
  • Bonus feats may be selected from the Fighter bonus feat list
Sorcerer
  • Reduce spells per day by 1 (if spells per day is 0, can only be cast if the character has bonus spells) for each spell level
  • -1 spells known per spell level until 5 spells of that level have been known for 4 levels.
  • Remove Eschew Materials
  • d8 hit die
  • 4+ skill ranks per level, add Diplomacy and Knowledge (The Planes) to skill list
  • +1 spell known per spell level after knowing normal maximum spells known for two levels
Spellthief
Spirit Shaman
Swashbuckler
  • Remove light armor proficiency
  • Use Rogue weapon proficiencies
  • d8 hit die
  • d12 hit die
  • Good Reflex save (replaces Grace)
  • Grace applies to Will saves in addition to Reflex saves
  • Dodge bonus is a permanent Dodge bonus to AC
  • Insightful strike can use Charisma or Intelligence
Swordsage
Warblade
Warlock
  • Reduce the number of invocations learned to match the progression followed by Dragonfire Adepts
  • Decrease Eldritch Blast damage die to d4
  • Remove the ability to retrain invocations
  • Increase Eldritch Blast damage die to d8
  • Allow the Warlock to select Dragonfire Adept invocations
Warmage
  • Reduce spells per day by 1 (if spells per day is 0, can only be cast if the character has bonus spells) for each spell level
  • -1 spells known per spell level until 5 spells of that level have been known for 4 levels.
  • d4 hit die
  • d8 hit die
  • 4+ skill ranks, and add Knowledge (Dungeoneering) and Knowledge (The Planes) to class skills
  • Advanced learning allows spells from any school
  • Warmage Edge adds half Warmage level to damage
Wizard
  • Reduce spells per day by 1 (if spells per day is 0, can only be cast if the character has bonus spells at that level)
  • Remove Familiar
  • Remove bonus feats
  • Remove free spells learned at each level; must pay to inscribe all spells in spell book
  • d8 hit die
  • 4+ skill ranks per level
  • Learn 3 free spells per level
  • Replace Scribe Scroll with a wizard bonus feat
  • Add 1 spell per day of each spell level