TDN 11

What is TDN 11?

The Dragon's Neck has traversed several iterations over its development cycle. The most recent, and final of these iterations, is affectionately referred to as "TDN 11".

Even before TDN 11, the server intended to have a level 18 cap for most of its development time. Despite this, however, the power level of high level characters was still uncomfortably high for what had long been touted as a low-magic setting. Perhaps the simplest solution might have been to simply drop the level cap to somewhere in the region of 11 or 12. However, after some consideration, it was decided that this did not give players enough room to grow their characters, and the idea of slowing down progression, perhaps meaning months of gameplay in between individual levels, was not appealing at all. With this in mind, the very difficult decision was made to try something quite drastic compared to anything that has been attempted before to our best knowledge - enforcing a 'soft cap' of level 11, but still allowing relatively small amounts of progression up to level 18. While this may sound simple in concept, the implementation was a very long and arduous road with many considerations and implementations necessary to make it correctly function. These include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Base attack bonus averaging: After level 11, a character's base attack bonus is averaged by adding together the fractional BAB of each of their class levels, dividing by the number of class levels and then multiplying the resulting number by 11 (rounding up). This means that the maximum base attack bonus on TDN is 11 which can be achieved with having, at most, three levels in a 1/2 BAB class (such as Wizard) or, at most, six levels in a 3/4 BAB class (such as Cleric), with all remaining levels being in a 1 BAB class (such as Fighter). Averaging starts at level 12, meaning a Cleric, for example, will go from +8 to +9 BAB at 12 due to their fractional BAB of 8.25 now rounding up, even though their BAB value has not actually increased.
  • Hit point averaging: After level 11, a character's hit points before accounting for bonus hit points from their Constitution bonus are averaged (rounded up). A level 18 with 9 levels in Fighter and 9 levels in Cleric, for instance, receives 11(9x10 + 9x8) / 18 = 99 HP. Bonus hit points from their Consitution score (and the Toughness feat) are then added on top of this. Hit points from these bonuses are added up to level 18 (so 12 Constitution will grant 18 bonus hit points at level 18, as will the Toughness feat). Averaging starts at level 12.
  • Skill point restrictions: There is no skill banking on TDN. In addition, characters can no longer spend skill points beyond level 11. The maximum number of ranks attainable for non-social skills is 14. Social skills still cap at 21.
  • Caster level cap: All spells have had their caster level capped at 11. For example, Fireball cannot exceed 11d6 damage, a 1 round/level duration spell will only last for 11 rounds even at level 18, etc.
  • Bounded attack bonus, damage bonuses, and armor class: Numbers have been toned down across the board. A +1 bonus to any of these is now considerably more desirable than it normally would be, a +2 bonus is uncommon or even rare, and a +3 bonus is practically unheard of. For reference, the average AC of a high-level character (although the numbers will vary vastly based on class and build) will hover somewhere in the low 20s, so every single point of AB, AC or damage significantly impacts damage calculations.
  • Class redesigns: Most, if not all, classes were redesigned to shift away from their power being frontloaded in early levels. To compound this further, more incentives were added to levels 15-18 for most classes, promoting pure-class builds and discouraging dipping. In addition, the lore of most classes was modified to fit the most recent iteration of TDN's lore.
  • Feat modification and removal: Many feats were modified and removed due to balance issues. A full list of these changes is available on the Feat Changes Page.
  • Dungeon redesigns: Dungeons have all been redesigned to fall into designated level brackets as well as to make sure that all monsters within are setting-appropriate.
  • Spell cooldowns: Level 3 and higher spells are subject to cooldowns, locking the caster out of that entire spell level until the timer expires. Exact cooldowns can be seen on the Spell Changes Page.
  • Extended spell slots: To make sure casters always have something do to, spell slots have been significantly expanded for all pure casters.
  • Infinite damaging cantrips: In an additional effort to ensure that casters always have an offensive option which isn't the much-reviled crossbow, there is no limit on the number of damaging cantrips that may be cast.
  • Limited magic items and consumables: It may be a very long time before a character comes into possession of even items of a +1 enchantment equivalent level of power. +2 equivalent items will be extremely rare and powerful, and +3 equivalent items will be practically non-existent. Items with ability score bonuses will, perhaps, be even rarer still. Most consumables have expiry dates and may have extremely rare materials or expensive price tags attached to them. Alchemy can only create consumables that imitate some spells to a much lower power level than the spell itself, or have custom, more mundane, effects. Borrowed power from consumables is likely to be nowhere near as freely available as a player may typically expect it to be from past experience of other servers.
  • Spell list overhaul: Perhaps the most daunting aspect of TDN was redesigning almost the entire spell list to account not only for the lower hit point pools but also the low-magic setting of TDN:
    • Class spell lists have been reimagined. They're not worlds apart from vanilla, but there are still many notable differences - too many to note individually. A good example would be greatly enhanced healing capability for Druids.
    • Spells such as Resurrection and True Sight, for example, have no place here due to the limitations of magic after The Longest Year.
    • Other spells such as the Bigby's line and Evard's Black Tentacles are not only bug-ridden and cause balance issues but have pronounced and arguably goofy persistent effects that make a mockery of the setting, so many spells such as these are gone as well.
    • Instant death spells now deal a percentage of maximum HP based on the level and whether they are single target or area of effect spells. These spells can never reduce a target below 1 HP.
    • Crowd control spells (including Flesh to Stone) have been reduced to having a duration of 3 rounds (or an average of 3 rounds - 1d3+1).
    • The Dispel Magic line has had its caster level capped lower than usual.
    • Most buff spells have had their durations significantly reduced and many of their numbers toned down.
    • Damage spells that cause very hard-to-mitigate damage (such as Isaac's Greater Missile Storm) have had their average damage drastically lowered.
    • Animal buffs have been significantly nerfed for them to better line up with the new numbers.
    • Summon spells were completely redesigned and rebalanced around all the new numbers. Expect them both to be very different and potentially quite useful!
    • Healing spells above level 2 have been buffed across the board - some of which have even been saved from the depths of obscurity such as the Regenerate line.
    • Inflict spells now have no save to encourage their use considering they already put the caster in a great deal of danger and (most) require a touch attack to land.
    • More individual changes than can't feasibly be listed here. Almost every single spell has been edited in some way.
(See the Spell Changes Page for further details and links to individual spells, or the Class Changes Page for links to specific classes to view their entire spell lists)

In terms of leveling speed, levels 11-18 will take considerably longer than levels 2-11. However, a character who has attained level 11 will not be a great deal less powerful than a character who is level 18. This allows even more casual players to reach the 'soft cap' in a reasonable amount of time, while still allowing players who progress faster plenty more room to grow their characters' power to a lesser degree without widening the power gap too far. It also means that players whose characters succumb to perma-death (which should be a fairly rare occurrence on TDN, but is still worth considering) will return their new character to that same 'soft cap' sooner rather than later. In a similar vein, the power of a level 18 character will not be vastly greater than that of a level 11 character, meaning that even characters that have been around for a very long time will be far from invulnerable when facing off against monsters, or even other players. Additionally, a great deal of these measures dramatically reduce the impact of min-maxing, especially due to pure-classing being so strong. Players will not need a complicated build or feel like they are forced to multi-class to have a viable character. While min-maxing is still possible to minimal degree relative to most servers, a character will almost always have to give up something to get something else, which stops min-maxers from totally overshadowing other characters with their builds.

TDN is intended to be a setting where the friends you make along the way and, ultimately, political power, far supersede the power of even the most seasoned individual. No singular character is going to be able to complete dungeons themselves efficiently, let alone achieve whatever goals they may have. TDN 11 is one of the most prominent mechanical steps that has been taken, along with numerous others, to help enforce the setting and lore in gameplay terms. Essentially, it is desired for TDN characters to never not seem 'mortal'. No matter how long you have played, your character's most dangerous foes can only be overcome with your most trusted companions at your side. The entire experience is designed to be a journey, with an undesignated finish line, which focuses on roleplaying and storytelling but has tirelessly ingrained mechanics, systems, and balancing to help support those things during countless hours of gameplay. We hope you enjoy the ride!