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D&D 5E 3/4 Caster: Its Absence and Design Space in 5E


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In the future, magical abilities could cost MP, and you'd have an MP Limit equal to your total character level, a number of Spells Known based on your actual levels in spellcasting classes, and an MP Pool equal to your MP Limit multiplied by the number of spellcasting class levels you have.

Different classes might give you perks in different directions. All the full casters would give you bonus MP Limit. Sorcerers might get a bigger MP Pool. A wizard might get more Spells Known.

In this system, at level 1:

Sorcerer - MP Limit 2, Spells Known 3, MP Pool 5
Wizard - MP Limit 2, Spells Known 5, MP Pool 2
Paladin - MP Limit 1, Spells Known 2, MP Pool 1
Fighter - MP Limit 1, Spells Known 0, MP Pool 0

And then at level 5

Sorcerer 5 - MP Limit 8, Spells Known 7, MP Pool 55
Wizard 5 - MP Limit 8, Spells Known 13, MP Pool 40
Paladin 5 - MP Limit 5, Spells Known 5, MP Pool 25
Fighter 4/Wizard 1 - MP Limit 6, Spells Known 5, MP Pool 6

So the fighter who multiclasses into wizard can do magic that's better than what a flat 1st level wizard can, but still only gets a few spells per day.
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
I think that 3/4th casters could work in 5e, but I don't think that they should be a class, just like how 1/4th casters are just two subclasses in 5e. While 1/4th casters are the casting subclasses for non-casters (Arcane Trickster Rogues, Eldritch Knight Fighters), I could see 3/4th casters being the "more casting" subclasses for the Half-Caster classes.

For example, there could be a "Warden" Ranger subclass that gets a different spell table from the base Ranger's spell table, getting up to 7th level spells, with the options being from the Druid Spell List. There could be a "Herald" Paladin subclass that got the same spell-slot progression table as the Warden Ranger, but got Cleric spells, and a "Master Tinker" Artificer subclass that got up to 7th level spells from the Wizard list (probably restricted to Transmutation and Abjuration spells, though).

TL;DR - I don't see three-quarter casters having a place as a Class option in 5e, but I do think that they could work as a subclass option.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I think that 3/4th casters could work in 5e, but I don't think that they should be a class, just like how 1/4th casters are just two subclasses in 5e. While 1/4th casters are the casting subclasses for non-casters (Arcane Trickster Rogues, Eldritch Knight Fighters), I could see 3/4th casters being the "more casting" subclasses for the Half-Caster classes.

For example, there could be a "Warden" Ranger subclass that gets a different spell table from the base Ranger's spell table, getting up to 7th level spells, with the options being from the Druid Spell List. There could be a "Herald" Paladin subclass that got the same spell-slot progression table as the Warden Ranger, but got Cleric spells, and a "Master Tinker" Artificer subclass that got up to 7th level spells from the Wizard list (probably restricted to Transmutation and Abjuration spells, though).

TL;DR - I don't see three-quarter casters having a place as a Class option in 5e, but I do think that they could work as a subclass option.
That’s a good idea.
 

What part of "This correction has already been made" did you not understand?
Presumably the part where you expect everyone to carefully read the entire thread before pointing out a glaring rules error in the original post, which, like it or not, is not how everyone interacts with threads on this site. I'd recommend noting the error in the original post at the top of the thread if you don't want every 15th post to be about Eldritch Knights and Arcane Tricksters.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Presumably the part where you expect everyone to carefully read the entire thread before pointing out a glaring rules error in the original post, which, like it or not, is not how everyone interacts with threads on this site. I'd recommend noting the error in the original post at the top of the thread if you don't want every 15th post to be about Eldritch Knights and Arcane Tricksters.
The first time they pointed it out was okay, but repeating themselves after they already pointed this out is the issue. But the error has been corrected now.
 

Horwath

Hero
As mentioned before 2/3rd caster would be nice to have, getting new level spells every 3 levels, at levels 1/4/7/10/13/16/19 from 1st to 7th level spells.

Also, it would be nitpicking but 1/3rd casters could be reworked as 2/5th casters. that is that they get new spells every 5 levels instead of 6.
AT and EK would still get only 4th level spells, but they would get them few levels sooner, at level 3/6/11/16 instead of 3/7/13/19.
 

Honestly I hate the D&D paradigm of "Everything must be a spell". For example Hunter's mark should be a class ability not a spell.

There's far too much spellcasting in 5e so I would not welcome a 3/4 caster.

That's not to say that I don't want magic in my D&D games. Quite the opposite. Magic feels incredibly mundane in D&D vs other systems because almost every monkey and their dog has magic.
 

A 3/4 caster would only miss out on 9th level spells, I've felt that a 2/3 caster would fit well in the game and top out at 7th level spells, I actually have a spreadsheet somewhere with the spell progression. I'd have probably preferred the bard on a 2/3 spell casting track with more class features over making them a full caster.
Unless I'm mistaken, a 3/4 caster would go up to 7th level spells, so they'd miss out on 8ths and 9ths. While I generally agree that that's not too much of a reduction in power, it could still be made to work. You'd start off with 1st level spells, and gain a higher spell level at levels 4, 6, 9, 12, 14, 17. This means you'd pull consistently ahead of the half-caster at level 6, and fall consistently behind the full-caster at level 7, which seems like a pretty good place for the three types to diverge.

I don't, personally, see all that much utility from adding any of these things. But it seems to me that, if you really "had" to add something, a 3/4-caster would arguably be more distinctly different from the half-casters than a 2/3-caster would be, while remaining distinctly different from a full-caster. It also better splits the difference between half- and full-casters, capping out at 7th level spells (where half-casters cap out at 5 and full-casters cap out at 9). The only real benefit I can see to a 2/3 caster is that the progression table is smoother: at one more than every multiple of 3, you gain a higher spell level, until you cap out at 6.

If half-casters didn't exist, so the only models we had were full-casters and 1/3-casters like EK and AT, then I could see 2/3-casters as fitting into a nice niche. But with both 1/3- and half-casters present, 2/3 just seems to compress too much into too tight a space: people cap out at 4th level spells, 5th level spells, and 6th level spells...or go all the way to 9ths.

Edit: It's worth noting, I was presuming that there would be an artificial cap on progression the way that full-casters are artifically capped off from getting 10th level spells like they're supposed to mathematically. (That is, full-casters gain a new spell level at every odd character level...except 19th, where they get nothing. I was assuming similar limits for both 2/3 and 3/4 casters, blocking them from getting what should be their highest theoretical spell level.) If that cap isn't considered, then yes, 2/3 casters and 3/4 casters would go one spell level higher at extremely high levels. I personally find that sort of thing weird, and thus wouldn't design something that way--why have features that are only reached if you literally get to the highest or second-highest level possible in the game?
 
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Honestly I hate the D&D paradigm of "Everything must be a spell". For example Hunter's mark should be a class ability not a spell.

There's far too much spellcasting in 5e so I would not welcome a 3/4 caster.

That's not to say that I don't want magic in my D&D games. Quite the opposite. Magic feels incredibly mundane in D&D vs other systems because almost every monkey and their dog has magic.
It would, perhaps ironically, be much easier to have magic that is cool on its own if having magic weren't a prerequisite for doing the vast majority of cool things that the rules enable characters to do.
 

Minigiant

Legend
5e was designed with 6-9th level spells being the broken spells . The 1/2 caster isn't supposed to get them.

Adding a 3/4th caster requires defining the difference between 6th and 7th level spells and 8th and 9th level spells outside of power.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I would say probably because it's an awkward design space.

It's not that you couldn't do it. However, it's close to the power of a full caster, without being as good as a full caster. That means you need to fill the power budget with something, but it can't be too big a something. Ideally, whatever you do add should probably have good internal synergy with other parts of the class, else you'll just end up with a class that's overall significantly weaker than other classes. Which limits what you can do in terms of design.
I think this is a good observation. Making a 3/4 caster implies that you would need to fill the remaining 1/4 with skills and martial abilities, and nobody can agree on what that would look like. Only light armor and shields? Simple weapons only, one martial weapon, all martial weapons? Medium armor but not shields? Two extra skills and a martial weapon, but no armor?

I don't see how this could produce anything but a Hexblade 2.0.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I think this is a good observation. Making a 3/4 caster implies that you would need to fill the remaining 1/4 with skills and martial abilities, and nobody can agree on what that would look like. Only light armor and shields? Simple weapons only, one martial weapon, all martial weapons? Medium armor but not shields? Two extra skills and a martial weapon, but no armor?
Even then, would you sacrifice 1/4 of your spellcasting for proficiency in medium armor or a few skills, given that there's already fullcasters with access to medium, if not heavy armor and martial weapons? Some even have the possibility to gain Extra attack at 6th level (5th level for the warlock)!

No, the more I think about it, the more the idea of a 3/4 spellcasting base class would be too hard to design.

Archetypes that boosts the spellcasting side of the 1/2 casters is a great idea though. Make a Paladin who uses its spells more than for smiting, or who can smite with its cantrips!
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
I think this is a good observation. Making a 3/4 caster implies that you would need to fill the remaining 1/4 with skills and martial abilities, and nobody can agree on what that would look like. Only light armor and shields? Simple weapons only, one martial weapon, all martial weapons? Medium armor but not shields? Two extra skills and a martial weapon, but no armor?

I don't see how this could produce anything but a Hexblade 2.0.
It wouldn't necessarily have to be martial abilities. You could do magical features along the lines of what the artificer gets, albeit less powerful.

That said, whether it's 2/3 or 3/4, it's a fairly narrow range, because they top out at 7th or 8th level spells respectively. That's still committing the bulk of the character's power to casting, but leaving a gap that needs to be filled with something that bridges the gap of slower spell progression and losing the top spells.

Whereas 1/2 casting is additive on top of a chassis that largely stands on its own. It isn't negligible per se, but take away spellcasting from a paladin, ranger, or even artificer, and they can still be effective. The same cannot be said for full casters, and likely not for 2/3 or 3/4 casters either. Which is why I think it's so awkward to design for. The best approach might be something that modifies their spellcasting to make it better, since that's their primary focus, but finding the sweet spot wouldn't necessarily be easy.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
It wouldn't necessarily have to be martial abilities. You could do magical features along the lines of what the artificer gets, albeit less powerful.
I suppose that's true. But still, I worry it would just end up being a reskinned Invocation ability, and we'd be right back at Hexblade 2.0 again.

Maybe that's not a bad thing, though. You could get a lot of mileage out of that idea just by allowing the warlock to choose their spells from any spell list. (That decision is made at 1st level, and cannot be changed. Different patrons could have different spell lists...Archfey is an obvious choice for druid, for example.) Hexblade 2.0 could be awesome.
 
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Aldarc

Legend
It wouldn't necessarily have to be martial abilities. You could do magical features along the lines of what the artificer gets, albeit less powerful.

That said, whether it's 2/3 or 3/4, it's a fairly narrow range, because they top out at 7th or 8th level spells respectively. That's still committing the bulk of the character's power to casting, but leaving a gap that needs to be filled with something that bridges the gap of slower spell progression and losing the top spells.

Whereas 1/2 casting is additive on top of a chassis that largely stands on its own. It isn't negligible per se, but take away spellcasting from a paladin, ranger, or even artificer, and they can still be effective. The same cannot be said for full casters, and likely not for 2/3 or 3/4 casters either. Which is why I think it's so awkward to design for. The best approach might be something that modifies their spellcasting to make it better, since that's their primary focus, but finding the sweet spot wouldn't necessarily be easy.
The Artificer hypothetically could have existed in this space. The 3.5e Artificer, for example, was the only 2/3 caster that was put in Tier 1 class rankings on account of its hyper-versatility.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
The Artificer hypothetically could have existed in this space. The 3.5e Artificer, for example, was the only 2/3 caster that was put in Tier 1 class rankings on account of its hyper-versatility.
Anything is hypothetically possible. Part of the awkwardness that I've previously referred to is that, because casting would dominate the kit of a majority caster (> half caster), it would be challenging to get the balance just right. I think it could be easy for it to end up top tier just because the features overcompensate for the small loss in casting ability and make the class overpowered (alternately, it would also be easy to undershoot and end up with a bottom tier class). The real challenge would be landing it in the Goldilocks Zone, which for these types of casters would be rather narrow, IMO. That said, 3.5 and 5e are fundamentally quite different beasts.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Currently, 5e D&D has full casters (i.e., wizard, bard, druid, cleric, sorcerer), half-casters (i.e., artificer, paladin, ranger), and even 1/3 or one-third (e.g., Eldritch Knight, Arcane Trickster, etc.). Absent within this quarter-based schema is a 3/4 or three-quarters caster. Is there a reason that 5e either chose not to design a 3/4 caster and is there room in the game for such a progression? Furthermore, would any of the existing classes have been better off as 3/4 casters than their current spell progressions?


I don't really think of the 1/3 caster as a "caster" in the design space. It comes across to me as more a way for a character to have a handful of customizable class abilities that use a scaling we already recognize.

I think the basic design for the game doesn't give us reliable power resolution to support a 3/4 caster. I think the actual effective power differences between 1/2 and 3/4 (or 3/4 and full) are going to get washed out in adventure design, encounter timing, and typical rest-structure of the game, which are not solidly in the game designer's hands.
 
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Vael

Hero
With the uniform Spell Progression ... there isn't that a meaningful difference between a 3/4 caster and a full caster.

What I do wish is that half-casters had a slightly faster access to higher level spells and just filled out their higher levels with additional spell slots. Artificers in particular would have been better served by having a non-standard spell progression where they got to 5th level spells more quickly and then just gained more spell slots rather than just following the standard 1/2 caster progression.
 

Undrave

Hero
But here's the catch: A level 7 Cleric spell, or level 5 Bard spell, is the same level of power as 9th level Wizard spells.
Ya... nope. I vehemently opposed to this idea. Otherwise spell level are completely meaningless and just add fiddliness and wordiness for no reason and no gain. Might as well just go back to 4e style powers that are unique to each class.
 

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