D&D 5E Casters vs Martials: Part 2 - The Mundane Limit

Stalker0

Legend
This is the 2nd part of the series, the first of which can be found here: D&D 5E - Casters vs Martials: Part 1 - Magic, its most basic components

I have placed key information from part 1 in the spoilers below, for ease of reference:

First we have two fundamental "buckets" of magic.

Manipulation - The ability to "adjust", to increase or decrease. Most of this falls within the "rules", aka there are often non-magical ways they could be done, but can become system breaking when taken to its extremes.

Destruction / Conjuration: This is the ability to take out or create something, such as a totally new ability. This is normally abilities beyond standard reality, and is most often the purview of magic alone.

  • Essence - "Life Force", often hitpoints in the game but can also refer to things without a technical hitpoint pool. Temporary hitpoints would also fall under this.
    • Manipulation - Increasing or decreasing hitpoints. Standard healing and damage spells.
    • D/C - It might be tempting to put spells like Power Word Kill here, but those are actually just more extreme forms of manipulation. This category is for things like raise dead, animate dead, animate objects, or dispel magic..... things that can literally create an animating force or that can snuff out things that don't technically have hitpoints.
  • Knowledge / Perception - Knowing things and seeing things through senses.
    • Manipulation - Comprehend Languages is an example, languages can be learned normally this simply gives you access to that. Many illusions.
    • D / C - Most scrying and divination spells go here, giving you access to information that you could not know normally. Modify Memory is an edge case, you could see that as extreme manipulation or as D/C. Also the ability for inanimate traps to "only trigger when XYZ creature's move past" is a good example of knowledge creation.
  • Die - Altering standard probability.
    • Manipulation - Advantage and Disadvantage or die rerolls. Foresight is an example here. Energy resistance is normally another. Anything that provides a final result that could have been gotten by the standard die roll is a good one here.
    • D / C - Spells that add/subtract bonuses beyond the normal die range, or provide a roll when normally one would not exist. Bless is an example. Invulnerability is another (effectively turning all damage results -> 0. That's different than the half damage of resistance, which in most cases is a die result that would have been possible normally).
  • Will - A creature's mind, personality, and ability to make decisions.
    • Manipulation - Dominate Person is a classic example, or confusion. Things that could be explained by "mental maladies" are good examples here.
    • D / C - Magic Jar is an example, where the personality of the creature is completely subsumed.
  • Creature - Effecting a creature's abilities, powers to act, and move through the world. A "broad" category.
    • Manipulation - Haste is an example. Even the powerful Time Stop is just multiplying abilities a creature can normally do. Even Simulacrum is an example here (though that spell would combine many traits).
    • D / C - Alter Person, Teleport - Not because of the distance (that's just manipulation to an extreme) but the ability to go places you couldn't possibly go normally. Fly, Plane Shift.
  • Environment - Ability to change the landscape or project force upon the landscape. Often different than creatures due to less resistance.
    • Manipulation - The lowly unseen servant and mage hand are examples, as is continual flame. Stone Shape or Fabricate are stronger examples.
    • D / C - Wall of Force is an example, or Demi plane.

In part 1, we looked at what can magic "do" in dnd, and tried to give it some categorization. Now we look over at Martials. The fundamental issue between casters and martials is that magic "can do anything" and martials "are limited by physical reality". This gap inevitably means that at SOME point in power, casters will become more powerful than martials. So in this section we look a little deeper at what the "mundane limit" really is in dnd terms, where has it been pushed already.... and where could we push it a bit further to let high level martials compete while still giving credence to the flavor of "physical reality". Note that for this discussion I am relying on truly "mundane martials", leaving out mystic warriors like monks....who already have flavor justification for breaking physical reality when it makes sense for the class.

So lets walk through the categories we established in Part 1, and see where we can go.

Essence Manipulation - The decrease of hitpoints is an easy one, the martials bread and butter. The notion of "death strikes" that can insta kill creatures already exists, and could be expanded. We can also use the concept of bleeds and "wounds" to represent ongoing damage and "unhealable" damage (aka max hp loss ala life drain).

In terms of hitpoint recovery, we already have second wind and the champion ability to regain personal hitpoints. The notion of "instant stamina recovery" is a common martial trope, and so we could push on this area as hard as we wanted to. It gets trickier with hitpoint recovery for OTHER creatures. However, we already have a link between "inspiring" and temporary hitpoints, and temp hp are nebulous enough that allowing for martials to grant temp hp seems well within flavor. Direct HP healing with "inspiration" is another step, and that's probably on the edge. Classes like the Warlord that heal through inspiration have existed before, but it has been controversial with some people. I think its an area you could push further in, but might be a little too much for some people.

Essence D/C - Raising the dead is likely outside mundane scope, that is a pretty hard physical limit to break. We could allow for very high level medicine checks or abilities to do the equivalent of revivify (after all, CPR gives us that power in the modern world). Animating Objects is also outside scope, though you could mimic some of it with high level weapon techniques (EX: A "dance of daggers" where you swing a cord of daggers and they attack like a swarm of animate daggers).

We can do a bit more on the destruction side. There is no reason why a martial couldn't break a wall of force if powerful enough, or perhaps be so strong they could destroy magic (ala dispel magic) with a swing of their sword. We could allow them to damage creatures normally resistant or immune to nonmagical weapons....just by sheer raw awesome. We can also allow martials to destroy large structures much more easily (again in the real world, rocks can often be shattered by proper attacks on the "weakpoint"), so the same principal could allow a martial to shatter a large pillar or rip a wall to pieces.

Knowledge Manipulation - Subtle manipulation is an area that would be fine for martials. EX: Starting a rumor that changes an entire towns belief in a topic. You could even allow a more direct notion, an example would be an extreme deception check that actually challenges a person's notions so strongly that it causes them to misremember things. That is an area you would need to be careful to stay within physical limit, but its an area that has not been used too much to date.

The notion of "high speed learning" or "polygot" type mechanics can be used if proper time is allowed. For example, the idea that a martial could instantly learn a language....too out there. Learning it in a week, crazy good but probably "possible" and so would be ok.

Knowledge D/C - In this area we introduce the concept of "secondary sources" or "henchmen". Historically 5e class abilities generally revolve around the character doing something, but there is nothing that says I can't have followers/informats/strongholds etc etc that give me abilities....and these abilities might allow me to break some of those physical limits.

Divination is a great example, while high knowledge checks could account for some of that information, there are many divinations that it would strain physical reality for a martial to "just know". However, with a "network of spies", lots of information gathering becomes very believable. Even scrying, the idea that you have spies everywhere that can spy on certain people could be believable for a high level martial.

Die Manipulation - This is likely one of the easiest areas to focus on for Martials. Ultimately all the die does is tell us how likely certain things will happen, but we already respect that all of the possibilities are possible for martials. And so we could ramp up this area in a number of ways.

A 1 round stance where all attack rolls automatically miss you, or vice versa all attacks in a round are crits. Ability to "take 10" on specific die rolls, etc. We already have abilities to reroll saves, that can be bumped up. Maximum damage on a weapon attack, minimum damage taken from enemy attacks, etc.

Its a little trickier when we impose manipulation on other creatures, though we still have a lot of options here. Granting disadvantage or forcing a reroll are fine mechanics....imposing an "autofail" is probably a little too much.

Die D/C - We already have a few abilities here, such as Barbarian Rage or Rogue Evasion. Resistances are well within scope, though pure invulnerability is probably too much. The idea of a "heightened state" that might add a 1d4 to your rolls or damage is a common flavor trope and would work well here.

Will Manipulation - The idea of being able to knock a creature's mind so hard as to cause temporary maladies like "confusion", I think is well within martial scope. Further, fear type effects are good here, we already allow for the notion that fear can overwrite the user's normal actions, and the idea of martials generating fear as a classic trope. Going all the way to like a "dominate" effect is likely the limit, its hard to justify complete control of another's body for a martial.

Will D/C - At first glance this might seem well out of scope for a martial....but if allow for the passage of time it becomes more reasonable. Take magic jar, the idea of completely changing a person's personality for another is crazy for a martial power.... but, if we allowed for mental manipulation over weeks....the notion of changing a person into someone else is not that out there. Modern cult examples show how much a person can be manipulated given enough time.

Normally Persuasion wouldn't really allow for a self-serving person to "die for you", but if applied over weeks, that becomes more believable.

Creature Manipulation - This is a broad category, and there are a lot of possible options. We already have bonuses to actions, attacks, and land speed for some of the things here, and could push those a bit more if we really wanted to. If we wanted to use the "fatigue" concept, we can probably push them further. For example, in real life we know people have shown bouts of strength far beyond normal capabilities in crisis situations. The idea that a martial has learned to tap into that for short periods of time seems very reasonable. Haste effects, super sprints, massive boosts to strength...all are reasonable in flavor if applied to the martial directly. We also can bring back the notion of "inspiration" to grant fellow party members various boosts, either through leadership or just the effect of being around us.

Creature D/C - This is a tricky area, though we have some tricks here to help us. Flight is out, but the idea of flying for "1 round" and having to land (ala an extreme jump) is more palatable, though even that is a bit much for some people. Bypassing barriers like a teleport is too much, though we have already discussed new abilities that might let a martial destroy a barrier (such a breaking down a wall instead of using a passwall spell to move through it).

Environment Manipulation - Again this is an area where a network of people might be useful. The idea of a stone shape is too out there, but the idea that after a week a crew of carpenters could do it....maybe. We can also use high level checks to help here, for example maybe a extreme tool check could generate an object that would normally take a week in a day. Not quite up to fabricate's speed but more in the ballpark.

The notion of a martial breaking the ground area them, causing a mini-earthquake and difficult terrain, that's a fairly common trope and an easily manipulation we could do. Or an archer firing arrows with strings to cordon off an area of forest is another possibility, though maybe a bit more forced.

Environment D/C - This one is pretty tough. Creating a separate environment ala magnificent mansion or demi plane is out. The idea that a martial could have many different strongholds is fine, as long as they themselves weren't too crazy. Creating wall or difficult terrain effects without specialized equipment is probably out.


Putting it together - High Level Martial Examples

So taking what we have brainstormed, lets put out some examples of high level martial abilities that could take over some "magic only" areas while still maintaining some martial flavor. Note: These are just for examples, I'm not trying to make them super polished or come up with the best names or anything.

Perfect Lie - On occasion, you can tell a lie so convincingly, that it causes the target the question their own memories. If you get a natural 20 on a deception check, and the check was a success, you may adjust the targets memory as if using the Modify Memory spell. The modified memory must be relevant to the lie in question (determined by the DM). A person subject to this ability can not be affected by Perfect Lie again for 1 week.

Beyond the Limit - You can briefly push your body beyond its physical limits, gaining great power but taxing your body. As a bonus action, you gain the benefit of the Haste spell. After 3 rounds, the effect ends, and you gain 1 fatigue.

Disintegrating Strike- You have learned to focus all of your striking power on a single small weakspot, decimating a target. When you hit with a melee attack against a creature or object, you may use a reaction to activate this ability. The creature or object is subject to a non-magical version of the Disintegrate spell. Once this ability is used, it cannot be used again until after a short rest.

Unstoppable Strikes - Your weapons ignore both resistance and immunity to weapon damage. When attacking an object that does not have hitpoints (such as force effects), assume the object has an AC of 15 and 30 hitpoints.

Dispelling Blow - After fighting magic for so long, you have learned that the essence of magic has weaknesses that can be exploited by the perfect strike. This ability activates when you get a critical hit on a creature. The creature is affected by a Dispel Magic. Use your attack bonus for any ability checks. If the creature is currently concentrating on a spell, they have disadvantage on the save generated from this attack.

Absolute Defense - When taking the dodge action, you may choose to use this ability. Until the beginning of your next turn, all attacks made against you miss (as if a natural 1 was rolled). Further, you automatically succeed at all saving throws (as if you rolled a natural 20). Once this ability is used, it cannot be used again until after a long rest.

Guardian Surge - Your desire to protect your comrades pushing your skills to even greater heights. At the start of your turn, if one of your allies is below half HP, you gain the benefit of Bless until the start of your next turn.

Cry of Indominance - After taking a critical hit, if you are not unconscious, you may use a reaction to emit a battle cry that inspires your allies. You and all allies within 60 feet gain 10 Temp HP.

Perfected Form - You may choose to take 10 on any attack roll.

Network of Spies - You have eyes and ears everything, with access to nigh limitless information. Once per week, you may receive an answer to a question as if using the Divination spell.

Seismic Slam - As an action, you strike the ground with your weapon so hard it causes the ground beneath to shake. All creatures within 10 feet must make a Dexterity Saving throw. On a failure, they are knocked prone and take 1d8 + str modifier in damage.

Cult of Personality - Your legend, charisma, and force of will has drawn flocks of fanatic followers to you. Choose a number of humanoids equal to your proficiency bonus + cha mod, and whose CR is less than 1. These people are considered under the effects of a dominate person spell, but it is non-magical, and there is no saving throw.

The Dance of Daggers - Using ancient techniques involving thin string, you can move weapons so quickly it appears that they have come alive. As an action, choose daggers or tiny objects on your person. They begin to move and attack like the Animate Objects spell. The effect is non-magical, requires your concentration, and the objects cannot move farther than 5 feet from you. After the effect ends, you take 1 fatigue.
 
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Vaalingrade

Legend
We've got to start with adjusting what 'mundane' means in a world with flying tanks that shoot fire and are entirely natural, and work from there.

The D&D world isn't Earth nor should it be. So 'normal' people shouldn't have the same limits -- and even then at least look at the actual limits of humans rather than the misconceptions of 50 years of game design.
 

HammerMan

Legend
We've got to start with adjusting what 'mundane' means in a world with flying tanks that shoot fire and are entirely natural, and work from there.

The D&D world isn't Earth nor should it be. So 'normal' people shouldn't have the same limits -- and even then at least look at the actual limits of humans rather than the misconceptions of 50 years of game design.
I want my heroes (Martial, Arcane, Divine, or mix) to be above common man
 

Minigiant

Legend
If you go by my theory of 4 aspects of Martial (Weapons/Armor Skill, Science and Lore, Athleticism, and Skullduggery), the only limitation of Martial is the limit of Historical Era you will allow.

I just don't like straight copying of spells. It screams pages pace saving and emphasizes the secondary nature. If the guy throws a bomb, it should get its ownstats and not just be fireball unless it's a one time thing.
 

I think the only way to satisfactorily address the issue is to decide at which point martials need to have transmundane powers and build in some kind of fictional justification for that.

People will always complain that it's not necessary due to some kind of twisted logic (as if logic is relevant), but clearly it is necessary, it's just not necessary for them. If we look at something like the Echo-Knight, or the Rune Knight, they have have abilities generally deemed magical and they both have some kind of fictional justification for them.

It can probably be kludged fairly simply, ie at level 12 and after that you start getting "Blessings from the god of war" or some such, but there's actually an opportunity to do more than that once you're willing to give up on the fiction (in more ways than one) of the purely mundance high level martial character.
 
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I just don't like straight copying of spells. It screams pages pace saving and emphasizes the secondary nature. If the guy throws a bomb, it should get its ownstats and not just be fireball unless it's a one time thing.
The problem with requiring non-overlapping magisteria is that magic inevitably gobbles up as much of the possibility space as it can. Even 5e, the alleged "no bloat!" edition, adds spells with nearly every book published--and the spells already present cover an enormous swathe of possible actions.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Oh, here we go for my take:
Perfect Lie - On occasion, you can tell a lie so convincingly, that it causes the target the question their own memories. If you get a natural 20 on a deception check, and the check was a success, you may adjust the targets memory as if using the Modify Memory spell. The modified memory must be relevant to the lie in question (determined by the DM). A person subject to this ability can not be affected by Perfect Lie again for 1 week.
Sounds great!

Beyond the Limit - You can briefly push your body beyond its physical limits, gaining great power but taxing your body. As a bonus action, you gain the benefit of the Haste spell. After 3 rounds, the effect ends, and you gain 1 fatigue.
I assume by fatigue you mean a level of exhaustion? Sounds fine.

Disintegrating Strike- You have learned to focus all of your striking power on a single small weakspot, decimating a target. When you hit with a melee attack against a creature or object, you may use a reaction to activate this ability. The creature or object is subject to a non-magical version of the Disintegrate spell. Once this ability is used, it cannot be used again until after a short rest.
Love the concept but I would make it as follows, changing the title gets it away from the magic-tie in.

Crumbling Strike - You have learned to focus all of your striking power on a single small weak spot, decimating a target. When you hit with a melee weapon attack against a creature or object, the creature or object takes an additional 10d6 + 40 hit points of damage, and crumbles to dust if its hit points are reduced to 0 by this damage. Once this ability is used, it cannot be used again until after a long rest.

Now, like you said the original in the OP is a rough draft, so in a finished version you would probably describe the effects as I did instead of linking it to the disintegrate spell, so I might be jumping the gun.

Unstoppable Strikes - Your weapons ignore both resistance and immunity to weapon damage. When attacking an object that does not have hitpoints (such as force effects), assume the object has an AC of 15 and 30 hitpoints.
Maybe just have immunity become resistance instead of ignoring it? Otherwise cool.

Dispelling Blow - After fighting magic for so long, you have learned that the essence of magic has weaknesses that can be exploited by the perfect strike. This ability activates when you get a critical hit on a creature. The creature is affected by a Dispel Magic. Use your attack bonus for any ability checks. If the creature is currently concentrating on a spell, they have disadvantage on the save generated from this attack.
Not so sure about this one, but I could see this working with a magic weapon or by a martial-caster, like a Paladin or something. Otherwise, I find the idea of using a non-magical weapon to "disrupt the weave of magic" or whatever a bit of stretch.

Absolute Defense - When taking the dodge action, you may choose to use this ability. Until the beginning of your next turn, all attacks made against you miss (as if a natural 1 was rolled). Further, you automatically succeed at all saving throws (as if you rolled a natural 20). Once this ability is used, it cannot be used again until after a long rest.
This definitely seems extreme, even by the idea of rivalling high-level spells. Now, you are Dodging, which prevents most other things, so it might be ok.

Guardian Surge - Your desire to protect your comrades pushing your skills to even greater heights. At the start of your turn, if one of your allies is below half HP, you gain the benefit of Bless until the start of your next turn.
Wait, you gain the benefits of Bless? As in you can choose to have that ally benefit from it? Otherwise, how is that helping your ally...?

Cry of Indominance - After taking a critical hit, if you are not unconscious, you may use a reaction to emit a battle cry that inspires your allies. You and all allies within 60 feet gain 10 Temp HP.
Like it.

Perfected Form - You may choose to take 10 on any attack roll.
Oh, nice! I would limit this to a number of uses somehow, but otherwise its good.

Network of Spies - You have eyes and ears everything, with access to nigh limitless information. Once per week, you may receive an answer to a question as if using the Divination spell.
I might even go with a scrying type ability, but this is good.

Seismic Slam - As an action, you strike the ground with your weapon so hard it causes the ground beneath to shake. All creatures within 10 feet must make a Dexterity Saving throw. On a failure, they are knocked prone and take 1d8 + str modifier in damage.
This is pretty limited in area, so I don't think off-hand it would even need limited uses (except maybe once per turn?).

Cult of Personality - Your legend, charisma, and force of will has drawn flocks of fanatic followers to you. Choose a number of humanoids equal to your proficiency bonus + cha mod, and whose CR is less than 1. These people are considered under the effects of a dominate person spell, but it is non-magical, and there is no saving throw.
I would add the caveat that you can only have one "group" dominated at a time.

The Dance of Daggers - Using ancient techniques involving thin string, you can move weapons so quickly it appears that they have come alive. As an action, choose daggers or tiny objects on your person. They begin to move and attack like the Animate Objects spell. The effect is non-magical, requires your concentration, and the objects cannot move farther than 5 feet from you. After the effect ends, you take 1 fatigue.
Interesting, sort of like a master juggler... I like the idea, but it might need some working out.

Overall, I think most of these are good or good starts at least. Kudos.

Whether or not they are strong enough to appeal to the "power crowd", I can't say. 🤷‍♂️
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
We've got to start with adjusting what 'mundane' means in a world with flying tanks that shoot fire and are entirely natural, and work from there.

The D&D world isn't Earth nor should it be. So 'normal' people shouldn't have the same limits -- and even then at least look at the actual limits of humans rather than the misconceptions of 50 years of game design.
The D&D world might not be "Earth" to you, but for a lot of groups (through decades of play), it is typically Earth-like. Normal people do have the same limits, but the PCs aren't normal, are they?
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
The problem with requiring non-overlapping magisteria is that magic inevitably gobbles up as much of the possibility space as it can. Even 5e, the alleged "no bloat!" edition, adds spells with nearly every book published--and the spells already present cover an enormous swathe of possible actions.
Agree.

Spells like Spider Climb removes the sort of ability a Master Thief could have. The best balance IMO would be to augment martials a bit, and pull back on casters to match. In the other thread posters cited numerous cases of how D&D archmages, etc. had powers that far exceeded what historical myths provided (often), so I'd be all for WotC reining back on casters a bit.
 

Agree.

Spells like Spider Climb removes the sort of ability a Master Thief could have. The best balance IMO would be to augment martials a bit, and pull back on casters to match. In the other thread posters cited numerous cases of how D&D archmages, etc. had powers that far exceeded what historical myths provided (often), so I'd be all for WotC reining back on casters a bit.
I think we need to think about the original context here. The average level people play at has drifted higher since the early days of the game, and the kind of basic dungeon exploration has similarly reduced. We elso tend to have a bit more fous on the players as players of individual characters, rather than the party as a group playing a cooperative game with shared resources (such as in certain modern boardgames)

In early D&D, at the lower levels, magic user spells were party resources. Spending a spell slot memorising Knock or Spider Climb was a significant party investment. A thief could attempt to climb walls or pick locks all day long but if you really needed to suceed then you might want the resource that guarantees success.

So in some ways, those spells serve the kind of role that metacurrencies might in more modern games, in that they give the party a chance to be much more likely to succeed when you really need to by spending a resource. So we shouldn't be just thinking about whether the Wizard having these spells is bad for the Rogue, we should probably also be thinking about the fact that, in the modern paradigm, the Rogue not having much opportunity to make choices about which rolls really matter is also an issue. (This is one of the reasons why Arcane Trickster is so good. Having access to Invisibilty and Misty Step does so much to mitigate the risk of a single bad roll when scouting).
 

Minigiant

Legend
The problem with requiring non-overlapping magisteria is that magic inevitably gobbles up as much of the possibility space as it can. Even 5e, the alleged "no bloat!" edition, adds spells with nearly every book published--and the spells already present cover an enormous swathe of possible actions.

That's kinda my point.
The limitations of martialness and the limitations of magic should be community decided fluff and not community argued logic.

We should decide and stick to "This is what martial power can't do" and "this is what magical power can't do". This way no one cares when there are overlaps on effects as long as you don't break a rule.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
I think we need to think about the original context here. The average level people play at has drifted higher since the early days of the game, and the kind of basic dungeon exploration has similarly reduced. We elso tend to have a bit more fous on the players as players of individual characters, rather than the party as a group playing a cooperative game with shared resources (such as in certain modern boardgames)

In early D&D, at the lower levels, magic user spells were party resources. Spending a spell slot memorising Knock or Spider Climb was a significant party investment. A thief could attempt to climb walls or pick locks all day long but if you really needed to suceed then you might want the resource that guarantees success.

So in some ways, those spells serve the kind of role that metacurrencies might in more modern games, in that they give the party a chance to be much more likely to succeed when you really need to by spending a resource. So we shouldn't be just thinking about whether the Wizard having these spells is bad for the Rogue, we should probably also be thinking about the fact that, in the modern paradigm, the Rogue not having much opportunity to make choices about which rolls really matter is also an issue. (This is one of the reasons why Arcane Trickster is so good. Having access to Invisibilty and Misty Step does so much to mitigate the risk of a single bad roll when scouting).
All good points!

I suppose having a Master Thief with (effectively) a Spider Climb type super feature might not be so bad, and it would free up the Wizard to have a different spell prepared (that the Master Thief can't do). But then we still have the same issue: the Wizard can do it, and the other things as well, but the Master Thief can't.

I think that, partly, is the crux of the issue.
 

Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
Putting it together - High Level Martial Examples

So taking what we have brainstormed, lets put out some examples of high level martial abilities that could take over some "magic only" areas while still maintaining some martial flavor. Note: These are just for examples, I'm not trying to make them super polished or come up with the best names or anything.

Perfect Lie - On occasion, you can tell a lie so convincingly, that it causes the target the question their own memories. If you get a natural 20 on a deception check, and the check was a success, you may adjust the targets memory as if using the Modify Memory spell. The modified memory must be relevant to the lie in question (determined by the DM). A person subject to this ability can not be affected by Perfect Lie again for 1 week.

Honestly, I wouldn't require a natural 20. 5e dropped many example of DC for skill use. A DC 30 check is "Nearly impossible". What is possible and impossible depend on what is peak ability for a skill use within the game world. Let's take Deception as you propose. It can, obviously, allow you to have your party enter a stronghold by passing something for a gift. Ulysses did this in Troy, and that was DC 20 to me (people actually thought it would work when the plan was described to them, so it wasn't extraordinary, just a very smart thing to THINK of it). How would you rule a character specializing in Deception who would try to do the same, bypassing most of the defences? What could higher DC checks do? What DC would you assign to convincing Martin Guerre's wife that you're her husband returning from war after a few years? What DC for starting a panick about a plot to kill a king, resulting in many people being convicted despite it being fake news, like Titus Oates did with the popish plot? Nearly impossible would be even more extraordinary Deception use than that. Convincing someone who was a direct witness of the truth, recently and with an interesting in remembering the scene correctly, that his memory is fuzzy, would be in the 25-30 range, and well within ability of even a mid-level liar. When a character is made prisonners by two guards, what is the DC for convincing one to kill the other in order to keep the (inexistant) bounty for the character's head for himself?

We lack example of high DC range as they will depend on how fantastic you want your world to be. But for example, a DC 30 Athletic check allow one to escape Dimensional Shackles, a rare magical item preventing evasion, including magical one. I'd allow Athletics, on the same basis, to let someone push through a Wall of Force. It's a "only" a DC 20 check to break chains and manacles after all.

What DC would you assign to Errol Flynn's "ladder of axes" scene where he climbs a wall using a few axes he threw just before? Sure, if you ask for 30, then your definition of mundane might not align with the definition of one who would assign 15 to this maneuver...

I think the "perfect lie" is the way to go, powerwise, if you want to change the balance of classes to something more to your liking, but the baseline of what skill checks can do is very fuzzy in the first place, with extreme variability (Athletics doesn't let you reach the actual world records, yet it allow a random commoner to break manacles 5% of the time, and I suppose real life people don't escape manacles daily when they are arrested (or we'd build better manacles...)

What is the DC of the religion check to pass as a cultist? That you're a priest of the cult? To pass as a priest in an oecuminical council? To start a schism splitting the religion into two hostile groups, leading to centuries of wars and massacres between them?
 
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Agree.

Spells like Spider Climb removes the sort of ability a Master Thief could have. The best balance IMO would be to augment martials a bit, and pull back on casters to match. In the other thread posters cited numerous cases of how D&D archmages, etc. had powers that far exceeded what historical myths provided (often), so I'd be all for WotC reining back on casters a bit.
The problem is, they tried that. And now people crow about how terrible a decision it was. How it ruined the game. How it made Fighters able to shoot lightning bolts out of their hindquarters or Warlords able to shout hands back on or whatever other nonsense they felt like spewing about 4e. (That last one actually got used by an actual designer--Mearls--in an actual, official podcast about D&D Next. He immediately said he was joking, or rather "I'm being ridiculous," but for God's sake, did he need to repeat tired, naughty word edition-warring on official channels?)

You can't put this genie back in the bottle. There's a too-vocal, and too-influential, minority of players that really do want spellcasters to simply be more powerful than non-spellcasters--or, at the very least, to be more innately, by the rules powerful, because (as they assert) the DM should always be able to fix any and all intra-party imbalance, and if they can't, well, they're just not a good enough DM yet.
 

Stalker0

Legend
The problem is, they tried that. And now people crow about how terrible a decision it was. How it ruined the game.
The issue with 4e was less mechanical and more presentation. 4e had some very innovative ideas, but it really had trouble bringing the "feel" of dnd to the game. Even the books read like textbooks more than game books.

Similar in the use of martial powers. 4e gave martials abilities that border on spells...but with no flavor to explain how/why they work. That is partly why this thread exists, to find the line of where we can give martial characters abilities "in flavor", and where we have to draw the line and say "no that's just too crazy for a martial to get".

For a 4e example, take the power "Come and Get It". This was an ability that forced creatures near the fighter to instantly move to the fighter and take attacks. Its a commonly cited "problem ability" from 4e detractors....and honestly their concerns are understandable. Why does a reasonably intelligence creature just suddenly dive at the fighter and ultimately to their doom, just because the fighter wants them to?

This is an example of "Will Manipulation" done badly. The idea of a martial driving creatures away through fear is reasonable in flavor. The idea of a martial knocking people around and giving them a mental effect has decent flavor. The idea that a martial can command enemies and control their movements.... that crosses the line of reasonability.
 

I don't think anyone really knows what the major issues were with 4e.

Many of the things that were supposedly dealbreakers barely raise an eyebrow in 5e.

Most likely it was a whole lot of things combined that caused the backlash.

I'd be wary of saying things shouldn't be done because of 4e, both because things that were rejected when part of the 4e mix may be accepted in a different context, and because there's now a whole new generation of gamers that have come along since then.
 

Stormonu

Legend
Bah, the "martials can't have nice things" can go die in a fire. Like many of the suggestions above, you can give the martial character abilities that knock on superhuman characteristics without being strictly magical. I think several of the ones listed above are actually underpowered or hobbled by trying to be too tame. For the best results, take out reference to any spells and write in the actual ability, word for word. For example:

Perfect Lie (10th level). You must be proficient in Deception. Once per long rest, when you use your Deception skill and the check was a success and you have at least one minute to speak, you can affect the target's memory of an event that it experienced within the last 24 hours and that lasted no more than 10 minutes. You can permanently eliminate all memory of the event, allow the target to recall the event with perfect c!arity and exacting detail, change its memory of the details of the event, or create a memory of some other event.

You must speak to the target to describe how its memories are affected, and it must be able to understand your language for the modified memories to take root. Its mind fills in any gaps in the details of your description. A modified memory doesn't neeessarily affect how a creature behaves, particularly if the memory contradicts the creature's natural inclinations, alignment, or beliefs. An illogical modified memory, such as implanting a memory of how much the creature enjoyed dousing itself in acid, is dismissed, perhaps as a bad dream. The DM might deem a modified memory too nonsensical to affect a creature in a significant manner. The modified memory must be relevant to the lie in question (determined by the DM).
 

Frankly, I think there's a big enough gulf in what the heroic vs mythic crowds want that no one solution is going to satisfy both. What I would suggest, then, is to divorce the concept of tiers of play from the leveling structure altogether, or if not that, then allow for more of a sliding scale of start and finish points. Just because someone wants to keep things closer to the mundane than to the fantastic doesn't mean they want to only play within the first 5-10 levels of character growth; it just means they want a certain style of game throughout. And someone who wants their warriors to be epic in the very literal sense of the word probably isn't looking for the kind of zero to hero approach that some older player go to OSR games for.

One way to approach this would be to explicitly labels tiers and then tie class features, spells, skill use limitations, even HP and maybe ASI limits to those tiers. So in a game being played on a heroic tier, for example, spells tagged for the epic tier would be unavailable. These spells and abilities would be available for the entire level range, meaning that any given group could decide where and if each tier of play begins. Want a "realistic" war campaign where player characters owe their superiority to simple skill and experience, while casters are much the same with a bag of tricks instead of a well hones sword technique? Doable. Want a legend of myth, where god blessed heroes grapple with dragons? Done. Want something closer to the former, but with individual abilities from the latter given out as treasure to give otherwise mundane characters one fantastical trick up their sleeve? Why not?

This way would probably require an extra book or two to cover all tiers of play, but frankly, I don't see much of a way to satisfy both crowds without doing that anyway.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Bah, the "martials can't have nice things" can go die in a fire. Like many of the suggestions above, you can give the martial character abilities that knock on superhuman characteristics without being strictly magical. I think several of the ones listed above are actually underpowered or hobbled by trying to be too tame. For the best results, take out reference to any spells and write in the actual ability, word for word. For example:

Perfect Lie (10th level). You must be proficient in Deception. Once per long rest, when you use your Deception skill and the check was a success and you have at least one minute to speak, you can affect the target's memory of an event that it experienced within the last 24 hours and that lasted no more than 10 minutes. You can permanently eliminate all memory of the event, allow the target to recall the event with perfect c!arity and exacting detail, change its memory of the details of the event, or create a memory of some other event.

You must speak to the target to describe how its memories are affected, and it must be able to understand your language for the modified memories to take root. Its mind fills in any gaps in the details of your description. A modified memory doesn't neeessarily affect how a creature behaves, particularly if the memory contradicts the creature's natural inclinations, alignment, or beliefs. An illogical modified memory, such as implanting a memory of how much the creature enjoyed dousing itself in acid, is dismissed, perhaps as a bad dream. The DM might deem a modified memory too nonsensical to affect a creature in a significant manner. The modified memory must be relevant to the lie in question (determined by the DM).

Even that reads to spell-y.

A rogue telling the guard that they remembered wrong should be different from the mage magically changing their memories via arcane energy. If I were to describe the differences, my list would be.

Perfect Lie
  • Uses a Charisma Check
  • The longer you talk, the farther back you can modify a memory
  • The farther back the memory,the easier the memory is to alter.
  • Memory cannot be erased. A new memory must be given to replace old one
  • Memory can only be restore with evidence or contradictions
  • Target is not Charmed
Modify Memory Spell
  • Uses a Wisdom Charisma Saving throw (this should be a Cha save as you are attacking their sense of self)
  • The higher the spell slot use, you can modify a memory
  • Memory modification difficulty not affected by time distance
  • Memory can be erased
  • Memory can be stored via spells
  • Target is Charmed

Perfect Lie - On occasion, you can tell a lie so convincingly, that it causes the target the question their own memories. You are proficient in Deception, If you get a natural 20 on a Charisma (Deception) check, and the check was a success, you may adjust the target memory as by making another Charisma (Deception) vs the target's Passive Insight. If the memory is under a week ago, the target has a +5 bonus to this check. If the memory is over a year ago, the target automatically fail the check

The modified memory must be relevant to the lie in question (determined by the DM). The modified memory replaces the old memory. You must speak to the target to describe how its memories are affected, and it must be able to understand your language for the modified memories to take root. Its mind fills in any gaps in the details of your description. You speak to the target for the a length of time equal to half the time of the memory's duration of a maximum of ten times your Charisma score. Strong evidence or a logical contradiction can cause the target to regain their true memory.
 

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