D&D 5E A simple houserule for martial/caster balance.

The main "balance problem" between martials and casters is not the power of high level spells, it is that martials are geared primarily towards doing at will single target damage really well, with everything else secondary. You may find a build or subclass that substantially emphasizes something else, but basically single target damage is backed in as goal one for martials. Meanwhile casters can be built to specialize in numerous other things. A lack of high level spells doesn't really address this.

Now get over there and pretend to be a threat to that 50' long magical fire lizard while I cast a trivial spell to do everything you cant!
At every table I've ever played at the magicians are using their spells to try to get the fire lizard where the martial character can slay him. That's the basic teamwork dynamic the game assumes.
 

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Stopping caster from learning more high level spells seems a bit drastic to me. I would simply not play at those levels. If the higher level spells are the issue you could simply delay the progression to give you more time before you get there.

Something else to consider, which doesn't really flat out nerf casters, but keeps things in line is to consider the number of spell slots they get.

It's always been an issue that spell slots for wizards keep increasing at quite a rate while at the same time they get new spell levels as well. My recommendation would be to take lower level spell slots away as they get higher ones. Decide what the sweet spot is in the number of spell slots where the game plays best, and from that point start taking away the low level slots as the wizard gets higher slots. You don't even have to stop increasing the total number of slots altogether just slow it way down to say 1 new slot total every two levels. This means that lower level spells keep being a resource cost - casting Disguis Self is never as trivial a use of a resource if you have to use a 3rd level slot to cast it at level 15.

Nobody else increasingly gets access to resources at the same increasing rate as a full caster. And this doesn't actually make them weaker as such, it just means that they have to play with a little more restraint.

For an example of what I mean have a look at the 13th Age Wizard - the wizard has 5 spell slots at level 1 and 12 spell slots at level 10. An increase but not an exponential one - and if a high level wizard want's to cast Knock then it's an opportunity cost compared to what he could be doing with a spell slot of that level (which means he can never trivialise the Rogues ability to pick locks). Compare that to the 5e wizard which starts with 2 slots, has 10 slots at level 6 and ends up with 22 at level 20. There's no way the wizard can be effectively balanced against the rest schedule (which in theory doesn't change) with that kind of variation.

Plus wizards get cantrips now - it's not like they even need all those slots any more. This reins in what I think is the biggest issue - the incredible versatility compined with the increasing falling away of resource costs.
 
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If I was to run 5e again, my house rule to adjust the martial caster balance I'd take from Shadow of the Demon Lord.

If a monster has resistance to non magical weapons, i instead will change that to resistance from spell attacks.

This gives martials the primary damage dealer niche, and casters more utility and control focused.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
Something else to consider, which doesn't really flat out nerf casters, but keeps things in line is to consider the number of spell slots they get.
We did this as well, so they are double-nerfed. ;)

For example, here is the class table for Clerics (Druid and Wizard share the spell information) in our mod:
1648947334631.png

You'll notice first it is spells known. We do not do prepared spell casters anymore, removing much of their versatility (a common issue is them having too much utility and combat and such).

Spell slots are greatly reduced (maximum 30 + spellcasting ability modifier), but we removed the spell "slots", so you can technically cast a dozen 1st level spells if you have the slots for them.

Finally, the slowed spell progression for maximum spell level is shown.

We are also using a revised XP table (not based on, but realized afterwards identical to d20 SW):
1648947597393.png

I did this because many groups stop around 10th level (from what I've read anyway...), which RAW is about 64000 xp. With this revised table that would make you almost 12th level. And with needing only roughly half the XP for max level, it is my hope people will want to go the distance.

Another feature is it slows down progression until about 7th level, so advancement isn't so rapid initially, allowing for more time and development during those early levels.

And, of course, there's more... :D
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
Simply cap spells known to 4th level or less (maybe 5th level or less). Casters can keep the slots.

Thoughts?

Possibly create magical items that allow casters access to higher level spells for atunement and sufficient class level.
Looking at what would be lost here: Capping spells known to 5th level would be ending new spell levels at level 10. After that you have full casters getting a single 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th level spell slot until level 18 and then another 6th at 19 and another 7th at 20. That's basically the maximum spells of those levels that a caster could cast in a single day. That's basically a new high level effect per day every 2 levels, so +1 at 11th level, +2 at 13th, +3 at 15th, +4 at 17th, +5 at 19th and then one extra spell slot at 20th for a total of +6 at the end of epic tier.

Taking those away and requiring that the wizard attune a magical item for each spell level they want to cast beyond 5th would be one way to approach it. Each spell being roughly like a 1/day magic item. The problem is the 3 magic item limit on attunement - you'd max out at 3 extra daily effects (and even then that's if you give up all of your slots to gain new spell slots).

Another way to approach it is to use this as a marker for where martial characters could be getting cool powers. 10th level is where the game really shifts from heroes to superheroes for the casters, so this is a prime point to allow martial characters to start doing off the wall stuff. Introducing the ability for martial characters to use really dramatic maneuvers X/day starting at 11th level that were equivalent to a high level caster's 6th-9th spells would be a way to bring at least the "coolness factor" into balance between the two classes.

We could look back to the old days - in the old days this is where the high level martial characters would be decked out in magic items that let them do amazing things, but that 3 item limit rears its head here too. So you could give martial characters more magic item attunement slots once they hit 10th level, allowing them to make up in gear what they can't in character abilities. Maybe a new slot at 11th and then another one every 2 levels. The problem with that solution is that magic item distribution in this edition is entirely DM dependent and so that takes it out of the players hands and puts pressure onto the DM to give the player cool stuff to have fun with.

(To dive deeper into this a bit - I also think that there are different conversations about the "balance" between martials and casters going on around 5e. Some of the conversations are about the wizard doing the fighter's job better than the fighter. But many others are more along the lines of "the wizard gets new cool stuff every few levels at high level - why can't the fighter get some cool stuff at high level too?" And while I think the former remains a problem in 5e, the latter is perhaps the more important "balance" problem in 5e as a game.)
 

dave2008

Legend
My current group is at lvl 15 and we have one wizard and the rest are martials. We haven't had any balance issues that I can see. What are the problems you are running into? The wizard has so few spells that they, IMO, really rely on the martials to keep them afloat as the group pushes on.

If anything, I would go the other way and limit cantrips, not high level spells.
 

dave2008

Legend
We did this as well, so they are double-nerfed. ;)

For example, here is the class table for Clerics (Druid and Wizard share the spell information) in our mod:
View attachment 154726
If I read this correctly, you could cast 4 7th level spells at 20th level, correct?

In general I like the idea pool slots with highest spell level. This is really similar to teh spell points optional rule in the DMG.

Though again, my approach would be to limit cantrips rather than cut off the top 2 spell levels. If cantrips had a cost in this system, it would do a lot to make casters more balanced IMO.
 

dave2008

Legend
Another way to approach it is to use this as a marker for where martial characters could be getting cool powers. 10th level is where the game really shifts from heroes to superheroes for the casters, so this is a prime point to allow martial characters to start doing off the wall stuff. Introducing the ability for martial characters to use really dramatic maneuvers X/day starting at 11th level that were equivalent to a high level caster's 6th-9th spells would be a way to bring at least the "coolness factor" into balance between the two classes.
Yes, this what I have been think about for a long time. Lvl 1-10 are hero levels and 11+ are superheroes, anime, whatever you want to call it.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
If I read this correctly, you could cast 4 7th level spells at 20th level, correct?
Technically with a +5 spellcasting ability modifier, you would have a total of 35 spell slots, allowing five 7th level spells.

It should be noted features like Arcane Recovery grants you additional spell slots, but you cannot use them to cast spells 6th or 7th levels. A bit of bookkeeping, admittedly, but since we haven't reached that level yet I don't know how much of an issue it would really be.

In general I like the idea pool slots with highest spell level. This is really similar to teh spell points optional rule in the DMG.
Correct, same general idea, but there you get up to 89 of them, not a maximum of 35 (45 with Arcane Recovery).

Though again, my approach would be to limit cantrips rather than cut off the top 2 spell levels. If cantrips had a cost in this system, it would do a lot to make casters more balanced IMO.
Done.

As I said, there IS more... ;)

Non-damage cantrips are at-will (normal), but damage-cantrips (what we call "jinxes") have a 5-6 recharge feature, similar to a breath weapon. So, if you use your fire bolt, you would have to roll 5-6 on d6 to use it the next round. Also, you only know one jinx to begin with, gaining a second at 7th level and a third at 14th level.
 

ECMO3

Hero
No "seems to" about it. Heinsoo explicitly said that that's what people were (likely subconsciously) doing during 4e's design. He pushed back against it, and admitted he might have erred on the side of caution with it. And guess what, it roared back to life with 5e.

Wizards are made to be the best class. The designers don't intend for it to be that way, but piles of small choices, little issues, keep pushing it that direction. And the Wizard's rising tide carries the other full casters with it.
Wizards should be the most powerful class. The company is WIZARDS of the Coast. The game is about magic and fantasy.

I don't get why everyone thinks this is bad. Anyone can choose to play a wizard if you want. Or you can choose to play a weaker, and you can still have fun.

I play mostly Wizards Rogues and Rangers and when I am not playing a wizard I know I am playing a less powerful class (especially when I play a Rogue) and there is nothing wrong with that.

Further all this whining about martials is a bit hypcritical given the design of Monk and Rogue. The power difference between those classes and a Fighter or Barbarian is pretty significant.
 
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