D&D 5E Casters vs Martials: Part 1 - Magic, its most basic components

Asisreo

Patron Badass
Maybe I'm just not up on DC comics lore.. No character can have superhuman speed if they aren't relying on the speed force??

If that's true (and I'm reasonably sure it isn't..bc Superman), yeah, it's kinda dumb.

Like seriously, what purpose does that limitation serve?
To quiet overzealous nerds who read a comic and goes "But according to relativity and the laws of conservation!"

Also, most comic writers aren't really theoretical physicists themselves, so introducing a force that isn't "magical" in the traditional sense is less likely to pull a reader out of their otherwise modern and mundane world, at least for the first few issues.
 
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Asisreo

Patron Badass
And that's my general issue with the whole "you need magic" argument..Why?? What benefit is there to having magic be the one catch all solution to every problem?
Probably simplicity.

The world with dragons and Wizards will be magical. There isn't anything you can do about it without changing the core definition of those words. Since magic already conveniently exists, anything difficult to explain like "Why is this guy moving in the air without wings?" Can be explained by "magic."

And you may think there are things that exist fantastically that isn't magic. That's true. But digging deep enough would either reveal its actually just a non-existent but scientifically consistent phenomenon or it involves magic in some form.
 

Voadam

Legend
Let's flip this around. You've shown how you believe the narrative context matters for the martial (I disagree, but let's go with it). Can you show something similar for the spellcaster?
That context matters for the magical?

Like how superman has defined powers, lots of them, powerful ones, a bunch that are fairly nonsensical and not themed, but you would not expect him to go invisible without a narrative explanation?

Or that some traditions of magic have narrative definitions and so departures of that should be explained?

Like most D&D editions have hard defined spell effects but 4e encouraged use of arcana skill to bend some spell definitions.
 

Asisreo

Patron Badass
Like how superman has defined powers, lots of them, powerful ones, a bunch that are fairly nonsensical and not themed, but you would not expect him to go invisible without a narrative explanation?
Okay, bad example. Superman can literally cause illusions in some continuities, which is how Louis doesn't realize Superman but with glasses is also Superman.
 

That context matters for the magical?

Like how superman has defined powers, lots of them, powerful ones, a bunch that are fairly nonsensical and not themed, but you would not expect him to go invisible without a narrative explanation?

Or that some traditions of magic have narrative definitions and so departures of that should be explained?

Like most D&D editions have hard defined spell effects but 4e encouraged use of arcana skill to bend some spell definitions.
You've specifically laid out how the source of a martials power impacts what they should be able to do. Can you perform the same exercise for casters?

So far what you've done is exactly what I've advocated, "Here are Superman's powers. He can't do things that are not his powers". You've provided zero narrative context for those powers or why they should or should not make sense.

To clarify (hopefully)..
Me: I want fighters to be able to bust through walls like the Hulk
You: Have they been exposed to gamma rays?
Me: No..
You: that ability is not adequately justified in the narrative context

You: Superman is stronger than a locomotive
Me: How are you justifying that in his narrative context
You: It's one of his powers.

It's a weird double standard.
 
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TheOneGargoyle

Explorer
You've specifically laid out how the source of a martials power impacts what they should be able to do. Can you perform the same exercise for casters?

So far what you've done is exactly what I've advocated, "Here are Superman's powers. He can't do things that are not his powers". You've provided zero narrative context for those powers or why they should or should not make sense.

To clarify (hopefully)..
Me: I want fighters to be able to bust through walls like the Hulk
You: Have they been exposed to gamma rays?
Me: No..
You: that ability is not adequately justified in the narrative context

You: Superman is stronger than a locomotive
Me: How are you justifying that in his narrative context
You: It's one of his powers.

It's a weird double standard.
Ok, I think I see where the disconnect is coming from. How about this:

Player 1: I want my character concept to be a fighter, a Master Swordsman, he's like Musashi, natural prodigy, trained by the best, lives his whole life by the sword, the absolute best anyone's seen in centuries. I want him to be able to pull off the Inigo Monteya hallway scene of cutting 4 guys down in one smooth movement that's so impressive the bad guy drops his sword and runs away.

Player 2: I want my character concept to be a fighter too, but a magic warrior, he's an eladrin and was in training to be a royal guard for the Seelie Court on the Feywild, but got out-maneuvered and was exiled. I want him to use magic to augment his sword-fighting, blade in one hand spell in the other, and help the party knowing all sorts of obscure arcane stuff.

Now, fast forward, both players have been playing their characters for ages and they're now both epic level ! Woohoo !

Let's say for example that Player 2's character is decent in his sword skills, and decent at magic. He's not as good with the sword as Player 1's character, and he's not as good at magic as a full-blown wizard. But overall, by mixing both together, he comes out as an equally capable character that can do a bit of both things. Player 2 loves this char.

Player 1's character is legendary, known far and wide as the best swordsman in the land. He can't fly like Player 2's character can (unless he gets a magic item to do that), and he can't meteor swarm like a wizard, but he can single-handedly take on an advancing army and turn the tide of a battle by wading through them cutting them down one by one and is basically untouchable by them. Player 1 is super happy that his char is awesome, and non-magical.

Question: What do you want Player 1's character to be able to do that he can't do? And why ?
 



Ok, I think I see where the disconnect is coming from. How about this:

Player 1: I want my character concept to be a fighter, a Master Swordsman, he's like Musashi, natural prodigy, trained by the best, lives his whole life by the sword, the absolute best anyone's seen in centuries. I want him to be able to pull off the Inigo Monteya hallway scene of cutting 4 guys down in one smooth movement that's so impressive the bad guy drops his sword and runs away.

Player 2: I want my character concept to be a fighter too, but a magic warrior, he's an eladrin and was in training to be a royal guard for the Seelie Court on the Feywild, but got out-maneuvered and was exiled. I want him to use magic to augment his sword-fighting, blade in one hand spell in the other, and help the party knowing all sorts of obscure arcane stuff.

Now, fast forward, both players have been playing their characters for ages and they're now both epic level ! Woohoo !

Let's say for example that Player 2's character is decent in his sword skills, and decent at magic. He's not as good with the sword as Player 1's character, and he's not as good at magic as a full-blown wizard. But overall, by mixing both together, he comes out as an equally capable character that can do a bit of both things. Player 2 loves this char.

Player 1's character is legendary, known far and wide as the best swordsman in the land. He can't fly like Player 2's character can (unless he gets a magic item to do that), and he can't meteor swarm like a wizard, but he can single-handedly take on an advancing army and turn the tide of a battle by wading through them cutting them down one by one and is basically untouchable by them. Player 1 is super happy that his char is awesome, and non-magical.

Question: What do you want Player 1's character to be able to do that he can't do? And why ?
I'd be pretty darn happy if player 1's character can do the things you are saying player 1s character can do.

But that is not a high level D&D martial. You put a level 20 fighter up against an army, and you get 1 very dead martial and maybe 8 dead bodies around him (but more likely not even that after considering misses and enemy hitpoints). They are neither as deadly nor as untouchable (and certainly not both) as you describe.
 
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Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I'd be pretty darn happy if player 1's character can do the things you are saying player 1s character can do.

But that is not a high level D&D martial. You put a level 20 fighter up against an army, and you get 1 very dead martial and maybe 8 dead bodies around him (but more likely not even that after considering misses and enemy hitpoints). They are neither as deadly nor as untouchable (and certainly not both) as you describe.

One thing D&D and D&D fans can agree is what an archmage is.
However D&D gets antsy and fns can/t agree on what an archwarrior is.

As an anime and manga fan, I fine it hilarious as that community would have less trouble agreeing and describing the warrior or thief equivalent of an archmage And to me the culprit is the greater willingness to give out more classandracil features from mid levels on than the D&D community
 

TheOneGargoyle

Explorer
I'd be pretty darn happy if player 1's character can do the things you are saying player 1s character can do.

But that is not a high level D&D martial. You put a level 20 fighter up against an army, and you get 1 very dead martial and maybe 8 dead bodies around him (but more likely not even that after considering misses and enemy hitpoints). They are neither as deadly nor as untouchable (and certainly not both) as you describe.
Not sure which version of D&D you're referencing but looking at 5e....

Typical army soldier probably needs a crit to hit the epic level fighter, and is using a short sword, so averaging 9 dmg per 20 attacks. Approx 20 crits needed to kill the fighter, so approx 400 attacks. Assuming 4 can attack per round, so about 100 rounds

High level fighter is probably attacking 4 to 5 times per round, hitting on 2s, any hit is a kill, so say 4 kills per round. Over 100 rounds that's 400 kills.

Single-handedly mowing down hundreds and hundreds of soldiers while taking crit after crit after crit to the face.... That doesn't count for you?
 

Are we assuming the fighter-types still have to use magic items separate from their class features as a baseline?

Not sure which version of D&D you're referencing but looking at 5e....

Typical army soldier probably needs a crit to hit the epic level fighter, and is using a short sword, so averaging 9 dmg per 20 attacks. Approx 20 crits needed to kill the fighter, so approx 400 attacks. Assuming 4 can attack per round, so about 100 rounds

High level fighter is probably attacking 4 to 5 times per round, hitting on 2s, any hit is a kill, so say 4 kills per round. Over 100 rounds that's 400 kills.

Single-handedly mowing down hundreds and hundreds of soldiers while taking crit after crit after crit to the face.... That doesn't count for you?
That makes a bit more sense than just killing 8. There are quibbles: (my math says they will kill 40 soldiers before going down but it only assumes class features.) - but the important thing is that the magic warrior probably won't do much better.

In combat.
Outside of dealing damage in combat, the epic magic warrior still has a range of versatile and powerful spells. What class features do you think the epic-level fighter-type should get to be similarly fun and useful to the party?
Should they be able to match the feats of mythic warriors in legends? Leaping castle walls or cutting/smashing through them? Building them overnight? Predicting an opponent's moves three steps in advance through sheer experience and knowledge of combat? Running a hundred miles non-stop while carrying their horse? Holding their breath for half an hour while fighting sea serpents. Wrestling giants into submission?
 


Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Alternatively, you have the Automatic Bonus Progression rules, that simply make anything you pick up provide the necessary bonuses. The rules originally debuted in Dark Sun, but proved extremely popular.
Really the hard combat number (attack bonus, damage bonus, HP, AC, DR, saving throws) could easier be handled by a martial character's base features. Almost no one will argue that a fighter type would not just get high numbers from leveling up. +x magic items is just a legacy mechanic to add the traditional fun of getting magic items. However 5e has shown that you down need the magic in calculation. It is accepted as extra.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
I want to really understand something here. It seems like the question was asked backwards:

Why is so hard to say "Martials are magic" and be done with the entire problem?

What is Wrong with martials being magic when literally everything in the entire world is made out of magic instead of physics? The rocks are magic, the air is magic, the Fighter is magic.

Why is "Magic" a pejorative when attached to your character?
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I want to really understand something here. It seems like the question was asked backwards:

Why is so hard to say "Martials are magic" and be done with the entire problem?

What is Wrong with martials being magic when literally everything in the entire world is made out of magic instead of physics? The rocks are magic, the air is magic, the Fighter is magic.

Why is "Magic" a pejorative when attached to your character?
Because many people don't want martial skills to be magic since it isn't in many stories and legends

The real issue is people don't get that most stories are low level. So "Martial is Magic past level 8" wouldn't affect most of their imagined stories
 

I want to really understand something here. It seems like the question was asked backwards:

Why is so hard to say "Martials are magic" and be done with the entire problem?

What is Wrong with martials being magic when literally everything in the entire world is made out of magic instead of physics? The rocks are magic, the air is magic, the Fighter is magic.

Why is "Magic" a pejorative when attached to your character?
Mostly because "magic" has a rules definition that would mean that your martial character suddenly becomes weaker when they step into an anti-magic zone.
There is already a class that channels magic into itself to do amazing physical feats: the Monk.

I don't think many people have reasonable objections to mythic-level martials doing amazing, extraordinary, or even possibly supernatural things. However actually using something that is formally defined as magic takes away something about the core concept of playing a purely martial character.
 

Voadam

Legend
You've specifically laid out how the source of a martials power impacts what they should be able to do. Can you perform the same exercise for casters?

So far what you've done is exactly what I've advocated, "Here are Superman's powers. He can't do things that are not his powers". You've provided zero narrative context for those powers or why they should or should not make sense.

To clarify (hopefully)..
Me: I want fighters to be able to bust through walls like the Hulk
You: Have they been exposed to gamma rays?
Me: No..
You: that ability is not adequately justified in the narrative context

You: Superman is stronger than a locomotive
Me: How are you justifying that in his narrative context
You: It's one of his powers.

It's a weird double standard.
I agree that Superman is a generally poorly explained super, a human looking alien who gains power under a yellow sun who is strong and tough but also just gains unconnected non-thematic super powers of laser eyes and x-ray vision and non-jumping flight. It is a pretty poor narrative explanation.

Still once you have him well established, he is well established and saying he just does any weird new power naturally comes across as jarring, so looking at him causing illusions in some continuities is jarring for those not familiar with those continuities. Explaining it with random power-inducing (red?/blue) kryptonite might be an established narrative explanation. Being a big established part of pop culture since the 30s adds to him being accepted as is with his weirdness while departures are jarring.

Also generally in superhero contexts there are people with specific super powers and people without them. Just because superman can break through brick walls you wouldn't say anybody can. You would generally say OK, give me a thinly explained narrative origin for your ability to bust through walls (super tech suit, bit by a radioactive spider, magic gem gave me power, but not I am a person who lifts weights).

A good example of a narrative magic system with limits would be the animated series Avatar the Last Airbender. I've watched the original series but not Kora or the movie so my understanding is from there. You expect the different benders to do thematic elemental control magic and martial arts adjacent/integrated magic. There is air bending for getting height and epic fire bending for hand jets to fly, but there is no teleportation. There is no summoning of creatures.
 

HammerMan

Legend
The narrative chosen matters a lot. Saying batman's martial arts training allows him to punch an elephant around is probably going to be jarring narratively. Saying his explosive batarang distracts and startles an elephant so it turns away might be the same end result, but it is really not the same thing.
yes but again both are in the 'mundane' powerset...

In Mutants and Masterminds, one is strike, the other is gadgets... both are powers.
 

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