Compelling and Differentiated Gameplay For Spellcasters and Martial Classes

Don Durito

Explorer
These are Exalted Warfare Charms. I really think Fighters ought to get some abilities along these lines.

HEROISM-ENCOURAGING PRESENCE
The Chosen radiate the confidence and surety of the Unconquered Sun. This Charm affects any unit or social group that the Solar commands and every ally within (Essence x 5) yards. This Charm’s targets no longer need to make Valor checks. In war, this Charm prevents rout and reduces the chance of fatigue.

TIGER WARRIOR TRAINING TECHNIQUE
Under the banner of the Solar Exalted, even bandits and peasants become deadly warriors. This Charm involves training a military unit. This Charm requires five or more hours of effort in any given week to bear fruit. This Charm increases the Drill of a unit by one for each week of training, to a maximum of Drill 5. In each week of training, the trainer picks one trait to train: Valor, Strength, Dexterity, Stamina, Archery, Dodge, Martial Arts or Melee. This Charm increases that trait for each member of the unit by one dot, to a maximum of 4. The Solar can train with the unit or as a solo unit, increasing her own traits. She cannot increase others’ traits past her own.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
The purpose of this thread is to come up with ideas of constructive changes that would help the OP. And so I would hope that is what everyone involved in it is here to do.
I think I am here for the popcorn but I am inclined to provide ideas given the subject.
 
Oh right the do ALL the things guy is Lugh Lamfada ... but ALL of the things included Sorceror so I am not thinking he helps :)

You could make that sorceror ritualist, plus a handful of other magics.
Tbh i think the sorceror is a bit of a clusterfuck too actually. So...

Also i dont really see the point you r trying to make
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
This thread does not have the Fifth Edition tag. I wish there was a Design tag so I could clarify what I was looking for.

My intent was to discuss from a design perspective how we could have martial classes that require the same amount of skill and coordination to play as spell casters while still feeling thematically like martial classes. How do we make fighters mechanically engaging while retaining a play environment where most the things they do are at will and spell casters still have daily spell slots, hopefully with individual memorization?

Basically I want to remove the tension between playing a fighter because I like them thematically and playing a psychic warrior or cleric in Third Edition or playing a paladin or cleric in Fifth Edition because they provide the mechanical engagement and challenge I am looking for. Fourth Edition lacked this problem, but fighters did not feel like fighters to me after awhile. So far it looks like Pathfinder Second Edition has solved this problem in one particular way, but I am interested in other possible solutions.

I am not looking to argue that Fifth Edition should be a different game. My criticisms of it are limited to what I am looking for. I am not entitled to anyone's creative labor. I play the games I want to play and do not give a damn about how popular they are. The kind of game I am looking for would probably not be as accessible as Fifth Edition needs to be. There is no harm in acknowledging that.

I do think there is some room for a more complex fully at will fighter and would like to see that. Not holding my breath. Just like I do not think we will see a fully competitive true Vancian Wizard like I would also like to see.

Personally I am not wedded to any particular version of Dungeons and Dragons. In the last year I have played Dungeon World, Fifth Edition, Moldvay B/X, and Pathfinder Second Edition. I am going to continue playing all of these. I probably will not run Fifth Edition. I do not default to Fifth Edition when discussing Dungeons and Dragons. As far as I am concerned there is no standard bearer. All those games I mentioned are just as much Dungeons and Dragons as any other.
 
Trying to figure out what might be some of those abilities included a brutal style of warlording (investigation style and a non-4e variant I think ) where he sacrificed minions to gain insight into enemies. And supernal con and strength swimming generally probably a naturalist hunter too. and social empowerment getting more minions all the time and... and fighting both with armor and weapons and effectively fighting unarmed and unarmored quite well,very definitely stealthy, but I suspect he cannot pick locks? but he definitely a sneaky bastard at times I am not sure his world had them very often. ... just thinking out loud because I might have to build that warlord type.
I enjoyed reading that lol
 

Don Durito

Explorer
Are you familiar with Dungeon Crawl Classic's Deed Die? That's a simple and elegant mechanic that allows Fighters to attempt things at will.

DCC is pretty rules light - but I don't, in principle see why you couldn't attach it to something like 4E's combat engine with its much more specific and grounded list of conditions. Attempting a push would be relatively simple, a daze more difficult, and a stun unlikely.

There's way's you could build on that. For example if the situation is particularly appropriate you could have advantage on the Deed Die for some stunts. For example, if your standing further up a slope than your opponent than pushing him should be easier - so roll 2 deed die and take the highest result. If you want to shove two opponents you just need a higher target number.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Tbh i think the sorceror is a bit of a clusterfuck too actually. So...

Also i dont really see the point you r trying to make
Point? One of his titles/names Samildánach literally meant skilled in all the arts
The Sorcerors in Lughs story were not a D&D class they were a societal role who the more mundane version of sabotaged enemies in battle. And the heroic ones transformed into animals and vanished from plain view and possibly only a few more abilities but his attacks were definitely martial. He was the uber multi-capable in some sense his main roles in story were Warlord (and they didnt even let him fight at one point to his chagrin), Champion (yeh literally fighting in anothers name), Sorcerer but also a Wright/Carpenter, Smith/Bronze Craftsman, A Healer, A Harpist, A Poet/Historian. His favored weapons were Spear and Sling.
 
How do we make fighters mechanically engaging while retaining a play environment where most the things they do are at will and spell casters still have daily spell slots, hopefully with individual memorization?
Well, traditional-Vancian instead of neo- is a small part of that potential solution. Another /part/ of it, which 5e uses as most of it, is to balance around a prescribed pacing, but, also, force that pacing (think 13A full-heal-up). Without that, at-will vs daily will never work out.

Then there's the hard part.

Making at-wills that are, by definition, less potent, varied, and impactful as dailies /as engaging/.

Good luck with that.

Basically I want to remove the tension between playing a fighter because I like them thematically and playing a psychic warrior or cleric in Third Edition or playing a paladin or cleric in Fifth Edition because they provide the mechanical engagement and challenge I am looking for.
That tension is, as I suppose FrogReaver has been pointing out, intensional. The Fighter represents the most common, familiar, relatable, and enduringly popular of heroic fantasy archetypes. The full-casters, really, draw inspiration from villains, exposition/background/helper characters, and Deus Ex Machina appearances - in genre, they're often obscure, incompletely-drawn, unrelatable, 'other.'
That one is a better choice, mechanically than the other, but also a less appealing choice, creates an important part of the play dynamics that create the feel of D&D.
(In another thread Rob Kuntz described the first time Arneson ran what would become D&D for EGG &co. Given the choice of Hero or Wizard, all but Gary, himself, chose Hero.)
If fighters were fully competitive, you might not see a lot of other character types played.

Fourth Edition lacked this problem, but fighters did not feel like fighters to me after awhile....So far I Pathfinder Second Edition has solved this problem in one particular way,
We'll see how you feel about it "after awhile." ;)



but I am interested in other possible solutions.
... The kind of game I am looking for would probably not be as accessible as Fifth Edition needs to be. There is no harm in acknowledging that.
Oh, a lot of the accessibility of 5e is the enthusiasm of long-time/returning fans for it's familiarity being contagious to new players.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Point? One of his titles/names Samildánach literally meant skilled in all the arts
The Sorcerors in Lughs story were not a D&D class they were a societal role who the more mundane version of sabotaged enemies in battle. And the heroic ones transformed into animals and vanished from plain view and possibly only a few more abilities but his attacks were definitely martial. He was the uber multi-capable in some sense his main roles in story were Warlord (and they didnt even let him fight at one point to his chagrin), Champion (yeh literally fighting in anothers name), Sorcerer but also a Wright/Carpenter, Smith/Bronze Craftsman, A Healer, A Harpist, A Poet/Historian. His favored weapons were Spear and Sling.
And the Ancient Celt healers were the kinds that stitched limbs back on or replaced them with metal replacements lets call this some of the first stories about cybernetics ;) and there legendary ones bragged they could raise someone from the dead if you didnt remove their heads,
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
This thread does not have the Fifth Edition tag. I wish there was a Design tag so I could clarify what I was looking for.

My intent was to discuss from a design perspective how we could have martial classes that require the same amount of skill and coordination to play as spell casters while still feeling thematically like martial classes. How do we make fighters mechanically engaging while retaining a play environment where most the things they do are at will and spell casters still have daily spell slots, hopefully with individual memorization?

Basically I want to remove the tension between playing a fighter because I like them thematically and playing a psychic warrior or cleric in Third Edition or playing a paladin or cleric in Fifth Edition because they provide the mechanical engagement and challenge I am looking for. Fourth Edition lacked this problem, but fighters did not feel like fighters to me after awhile. So far it looks like Pathfinder Second Edition has solved this problem in one particular way, but I am interested in other possible solutions.

I am not looking to argue that Fifth Edition should be a different game. My criticisms of it are limited to what I am looking for. I am not entitled to anyone's creative labor. I play the games I want to play and do not give a damn about how popular they are. The kind of game I am looking for would probably not be as accessible as Fifth Edition needs to be. There is no harm in acknowledging that.

I do think there is some room for a more complex fully at will fighter and would like to see that. Not holding my breath. Just like I do not think we will see a fully competitive true Vancian Wizard like I would also like to see.

Personally I am not wedded to any particular version of Dungeons and Dragons. In the last year I have played Dungeon World, Fifth Edition, Moldvay B/X, and Pathfinder Second Edition. I am going to continue playing all of these. I probably will not run Fifth Edition. I do not default to Fifth Edition when discussing Dungeons and Dragons. As far as I am concerned there is no standard bearer. All those games I mentioned are just as much Dungeons and Dragons as any other.
The problem that I see is that there's not a lot of room for a fighter to grow into without stepping on spell casters toes. As you said, add the wrong style of powers and, as you said fighters stop feeling like fighters.

I think the best option (using 5E or 3.5) is to have fighter specific feats that allow you to chain maneuvers.
 

Don Durito

Explorer
If fighters were fully competitive, you might not see a lot of other character types played.
I think I would like that really.
Provided that "Fighters" were able to be distinct enough.

To me later editions have the issue that almost everyone is a spellcaster or magic using class of some sort - it kind of departs from a lot of fantasy literature.

I've been playing long enough to remember when I started that any party with over 4 people would be filled with additional Fighters - and that to seem the natural way of things.

Just to take some recent examples. The novel King's of the Wyld which is a fun book clearly based off D&D tropes has a party of 3 Fighters a Thief and a Wizard.
The sequel, The Bloody Rose, has a 3 Fighters, a summoner and a shapeshifter.
 
Last edited:

Don Durito

Explorer
One of the big tensions between at-will and daily classes is that the At-Will classes will tend to shine most in the fights that are least consequential.

If the Daily classes manage their resources right than they should be more powerful in the big fights that really matter, because that's what they're hoarding their resources for.

It may be possible to balance this a bit - by actually having At-will classes get stronger (at least in some senses) the more combats they face before a rest. Maybe think of it a rising confidence or something ("I've been in five fights today and come through all of them - nothing can touch me!")

(Of course there's already a mechanic that pretty much does this - it's the Barbarian Rage).
 
One of the big tensions between at-will and daily classes is that the At-Will classes will tend to shine most in the fights that are least consequential.

It may be possible to balance this a bit - by actually having At-will classes get stronger (at least in some senses) the more combats they face before a rest.
Or maybe stronger the greater the foe they face - heroism rising to the challenge.
 
Hmmm
What about giving them something between a daily and an at will?

Like a number of special strikes and extreme feats of physicality scaled to number of physical attacker hd per day? Including but not limited to dealing a portion of damage as messy physical ability damage for periods of time?

Or temporary feats of crazy athleticism also using a limit of uses per day scaled to class hd?

Or a different way of doing the latter would be being able to dedicate energy to continuous feats of physicality of a specific type per class hd persisted tgrpughout the day.

Example: level 4 fighter dedicates 2 hd of his toughness to opperating normally in spite of a currently active physically debilitating disease all day 1 hd to carrying heavy load all day and moving as if with a light load (but ungainly objects still applying to restricted movement where space limitations would cause a tight squeeze) and 1 hd dedicated to convert 1 point of damage from any damage die roles rolling above average (for the die type) to a physical ability damage point all day long.

All such hd daily dedications would need to be charted so that it was standardized to have a list of the number of hd necessary for each.
 

Don Durito

Explorer
One of the big tensions between at-will and daily classes is that the At-Will classes will tend to shine most in the fights that are least consequential.

If the Daily classes manage their resources right than they should be more powerful in the big fights that really matter, because that's what they're hoarding their resources for.

It may be possible to balance this a bit - by actually having At-will classes get stronger (at least in some senses) the more combats they face before a rest. Maybe think of it a rising confidence or something ("I've been in five fights today and come through all of them - nothing can touch me!")

(Of course there's already a mechanic that pretty much does this - it's the Barbarian Rage).
Ok. Thinking on it further. Here's one very simple way you can do this.

Steal the escalation die from 13th Age. In 13th Age the escalation die is a big die that you place on the table. In round 2 of any combat it starts at 1 and then every round after it goes up by 1. In 13th Age all PCs add it to their attack roll - but lets put that aside for now (In any case it's true genius is on the GM side in monster design).

Now you use the Deed die from DCC that I mentioned earlier. Lets assume that we're using 5E's maths and the deed die is equivalent to the proficiency Die variant from the 5e DMG. So a 1st level fighter has deed die of D4 (for prof. 2). If they roll at least a 4 they get to do a basic stunt (perhaps a push - this thing needs to scale all the way to a D12 - so it gets a little bit difficult at the beginning to pull off stunts).

So if the D4 has to roll a 4 to shove someone or knock them prone than a 1st level character has only a small chance to do it. And if you gate some off the stunts until higher level (Say you need to roll a 6 or even a 9) then they appear impossible to do until the proficiency die increases.

But this is where you use the escalation die. You say the Fighter gets to add the escalation die to their proficiency die to determine if they reach the target number to do a stunt. So the longer the fight goes on the more likely the Fighter is to pull off stunts and the more powerful the stunts the Fighter can pull off.

Then for the really big important fights you start the escalation die off at a higher number.

The escalation die represents both a mix of the Fighter's adrenalin and their ability to read and learn their opponents and respond accordingly over the course of a combat.
 
Last edited:

Ratskinner

Adventurer
I think there is a tendency to assume that having mechanics for a thing means it must function much in the same way that combat or spells have traditionally functioned in most versions of Dungeons and Dragons. This was largely the way it worked when 3rd Edition added detail to the other pillars. It does not have to be this way. Game mechanics can be written in a way in which they embrace GM judgement and fictional positioning to allow for creative play. You do this by explicitly calling out areas for the GM to apply their judgement as a referee and having fictional positioning requirements built in to how you design mechanics.
Two thoughts occurred to me, seeing the OP and this one.

1) Play Fate instead of D&D. By default, it solves this problem in much the way you describe.

2) To be fair, I think this goes back to 1st edition, where it was necessary to comb through nearly random locations in several rulebooks, including extrapolating default rules for play from monster descriptions.
 

Undrave

Adventurer
This thread does not have the Fifth Edition tag. I wish there was a Design tag so I could clarify what I was looking for.

My intent was to discuss from a design perspective how we could have martial classes that require the same amount of skill and coordination to play as spell casters while still feeling thematically like martial classes. How do we make fighters mechanically engaging while retaining a play environment where most the things they do are at will and spell casters still have daily spell slots, hopefully with individual memorization?

Basically I want to remove the tension between playing a fighter because I like them thematically and playing a psychic warrior or cleric in Third Edition or playing a paladin or cleric in Fifth Edition because they provide the mechanical engagement and challenge I am looking for. Fourth Edition lacked this problem, but fighters did not feel like fighters to me after awhile. So far it looks like Pathfinder Second Edition has solved this problem in one particular way, but I am interested in other possible solutions.

I am not looking to argue that Fifth Edition should be a different game. My criticisms of it are limited to what I am looking for. I am not entitled to anyone's creative labor. I play the games I want to play and do not give a damn about how popular they are. The kind of game I am looking for would probably not be as accessible as Fifth Edition needs to be. There is no harm in acknowledging that.

I do think there is some room for a more complex fully at will fighter and would like to see that. Not holding my breath. Just like I do not think we will see a fully competitive true Vancian Wizard like I would also like to see.

Personally I am not wedded to any particular version of Dungeons and Dragons. In the last year I have played Dungeon World, Fifth Edition, Moldvay B/X, and Pathfinder Second Edition. I am going to continue playing all of these. I probably will not run Fifth Edition. I do not default to Fifth Edition when discussing Dungeons and Dragons. As far as I am concerned there is no standard bearer. All those games I mentioned are just as much Dungeons and Dragons as any other.
So this is tengential, but you'll see where I'm going, for a while I was trying to concieve a Super Sentai inspired cooperative deck builder game. You'd be all playing different heros that would build up over time using 'Character Development' to face a deck of villain.

The mechanics aren't super important but the basis of the combat system evolves around chaining attacks with your allies. You'd place down cards in a row, in front of the villain card to defeat, representing moves that used your bare hand, sword or gun use and these moves would be resolved from the end of the line going toward the villain card. Each card would have had conditional boosts that depended on what action (and who performed it) placed before it in the row and would, in turn, have a conditional boost to the NEXT action based on what it was. The whole point was to chain these moves in a way that the total attack power would overcome the villain's own.

So there's a way to play up your Martial's moves in a cooperative fashion. Have moves with a few more keywords to hang some levers.

So idea #1: Your moves are At-Will, but you'll still want to manipulate circumstances because they become much more powerful if the situation is matches specific conditions.

Another Super Sentai (and affiliated Monster of the Week genre) concept I had, this time for a RPG, was to focus on the idea that your Big Finisher Move is powerful, but extremelly inaccurate and leaves you open to retaliation, so what you want to do is inflict enough damage quickly to effectively STUN, or STAGGER, the enemy to make them easier to hit with your Big Finisher Move. Basically, yeah you can bust out the giant team canon that combines all your weapons at ANY time. But it's super obvious and if the enemy can still act at full capacity, they'll slap the blast away and then strike you at your most vulnerable. Another good example of that is, funnily enough, in Pokémon. Solarbeam is a powerful attack that needs a turn to charge, while Hyper Beam (and it's physical cousin Giga Impact and their extanded elemental family) leaves you unable to act for a full turn after using it. If any of those were to miss, it would be devastating.

So idea #2: Your moves are At-Will, but using them recklessly is dangerous. You need to line up conditions to use them safely.


How are those ideas?
 

Advertisement

Top