D&D General Compelling and Differentiated Gameplay For Spellcasters and Martial Classes

I mean...you listed a couple character ideas and i didnt actually see one that wasnt doable without the fighter class (moreso even). Just saying. Flavour and all.

Examples of some disparate "fighter" characters: jack sparrow = swashbuckler

Vlad tepes = paladin, crusader, or knight (depending on interpretation. Also actually held a title as two of those)

G g allen = barbarian (but also bard. Really ear bleed causing bard)

Batman = big ass strength based rogue

Heracles = brawler rank 0 divinity (technically a favored soul even though he doesnt have the class)

Thor = barbarian

Robinhood = dex rogue

Lancelot = knight
 
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The old Dragon Warriors game had Knight and Barbarian as your two fighter options. All pretty cool - but what about the wandering sellsword?

What about if I want to play a warrior from the cold frozen barbaric north but want to play a calm laid back guy and don't fancy being a guy who flips out all the time?

I sympathise - but the mundane guy who just fights and you flavour how you wish is hard to avoid. It's very ingrained.
This is the post i was talking about where you gave a couple example character concepts that i was saying i dont really see as in any way falling through the cracks. I dont see any type of "fighter character concept" that actually falls through a crack (unless a broken one gets listed)
 

pemerton

Legend
a cost in terms of the action economy or cause you to become fatigued
I posted a lot about this in the lead-up to 4e, again drawing on experience with RM.

RM has a category of skills called "Adrenal Moves" - ki-type abilities which have a few different details around their implementation, especially the cost, depending on the variant in play. (RM is very heavily characterised by variants, which were published over the years in the Rolemaster Companions.)

The effect of a successful Adrenal Moves check is a buff of some sort - the two main ones for combat are Strength (a to-hit and damage buff) and Speed (an action economy buff).

The way Adrenal Moves worked in our games cost-wise was that (i) they could be sustained, but with an increasing penalty to the check for each round, (ii) they could be dropped once used, causing a defuff that scaled down round-by-round, and (iii) if the check failed (either initial, or to sustain) the same debuff occurred but as if there had been an extra round of use.

Using an Adremanl Move does feel like drawing on reserves - it's a decision (in character) to push onself. It doesn't always work, and it leaves you drained. It also creates room for skilled play, because choosing how long to sustain, how to time the cost of ending the move and whether to run the risk of a worse debuff because of a failed sustain, is an important decision. Particularly when the player also has to make choices about how to allocate OB, and so needs to think about where the debuff might be soaked and how that will factor into the overal combat situation.
 
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Oofta

Legend
I posted a lot about this in the lead-up to 4e, again drawing on experience with RM.

RM has a category of skills called "Adrenal Moves" - ki-type abilities which have a few different details around their implementation, especially the cost, depending on the variant in play. (RM is very heavily characterised by variants, which were published over the years in the Rolemaster Companions.)

The effect of a successful Adrenal Moves check is a buff of some sort - the two main ones for combat are Strength (a to-hit and damage buff) and Speed (an action economy buff).

The way Adrenal Moves worked in our games cost-wise was that (i) they could be sustained, but with an increasing penalty to the check for each round, (ii) they could be dropped once used, causing a defuff that scaled down round-by-round, and (iii) if the check failed (either initial, or to sustain) the same debuff occurred but as if there had been an extra round of use.

Using an Adremanl Move does feel like drawing on reserves - it's a decision (in character) to push onself. It doesn't always work, and it leaves you drained. It also creates room for skilled play, because choosing how long to sustain, how to time the cost of ending the move and whether to run the risk of a worse debuff because of a failed sustain, is an important decision. Particularly when the player also has to make choices about how to allocate OB, and so needs to think about where the debuff might be soaked and how that will factor into the overal combat situation.
Isn't that describing a Battle Master with slightly different fluff? Special maneuvers that can only be taken so often seems to fit.

But that goes for other sub types as well which is part of what I don't understand. We have Eldritch Knights, Arcane Archers, Rangers, Paladins of various flavors. All basically fighters with special abilities.

Yes, we also have mundane Champion, but not everyone wants the extra complexity.
 

I posted a lot about this in the lead-up to 4e, again drawing on experience with RM.

RM has a category of skills called "Adrenal Moves" - ki-type abilities which have a few different details around their implementation, especially the cost, depending on the variant in play. (RM is very heavily characterised by variants, which were published over the years in the Rolemaster Companions.)

The effect of a successful Adrenal Moves check is a buff of some sort - the two main ones for combat are Strength (a to-hit and damage buff) and Speed (an action economy buff).

The way Adrenal Moves worked in our games cost-wise was that (i) they could be sustained, but with an increasing penalty to the check for each round, (ii) they could be dropped once used, causing a defuff that scaled down round-by-round, and (iii) if the check failed (either initial, or to sustain) the same debuff occurred but as if there had been an extra round of use.

Using an Adremanl Move does feel like drawing on reserves - it's a decision (in character) to push onself. It doesn't always work, and it leaves you drained. It also creates room for skilled play, because choosing how long to sustain, how to time the cost of ending the move and whether to run the risk of a worse debuff because of a failed sustain, is an important decision. Particularly when the player also has to make choices about how to allocate OB, and so needs to think about where the debuff might be soaked and how that will factor into the overal combat situation.

The best way I’ve seen to attempt to model the cognitive space (with interesting tactical overhead) of a hyper-athlete at the table is either:

1) Card decks where hands have to be managed each turn (resource establishment and upkeep, decision-points about cards to put in play that can set up new plays later, etc).

2) Dice pools that do similarly but have subtly different decision-points (a la Dogs in the Vineyard).

I think (1) above is a good area of exploration for martial characters. Generating resources, pacing, upkeep, establishing a set-up, making moves that set up future moves...all the while dealing with the inherent elements of chance, risk, and required revision (will the cards I get next hand allow me to sustain my course or will I have to subtly shift or outright plot a new one)...that looks and feels like the martial decision-tree whether your opponent is a physical adversary or a wall or the jungle between here and there.

That would definitely differentiate the actual “at-the-table-playspace” and it would work nicely in terms of inhabiting the sort of cognitive that high-level athletes inhabit.
 

Condiments

Explorer
From my general experience having been the DM of a 5e campaign from 1-15, I observed there is a general problem with how the fighter interfaces with the narrative. They can do incredible amounts of damage in battle somewhat consistently, but outside of that there isn't much to go off of. I realized this was a problem earlier on when one of my players complained at 5th level after he heard the sorcerer picking between his menu of spells, "So he gets this vast spell list to choose from, and I get to...attack again?"

This problem extended beyond the boring progression of mundane characters as the levels increased. The problem with 5e spells is that there is a distinct power curve that encompasses BOTH in and out of combat power. After certain levels, casters really can redefine how the whole game plays for everyone involved. I remember when my druid first cast wind walk and suddenly travel became a trivial problem. The wind walk spell transformed how I had to write adventures and invalidated my hex map, considering they could easily move in and out of their travel form within a minute. After a certain level casters force you to redefine how you write adventures in order to challenge the party as they can often bypass or invalidate obstacles. There were MANY instances during the game where casters completely warped the direction of the story with their spells. I have no issue with this, but there it's very obvious there is a clear caster bias.

The progression of spells also gives you an idea of the power progression of casting classes within the game fiction. Everyone knows wizard, and sorcerer at 7th level can teleport the party across vast distances, can transport themselves or enemies between dimensions, break the laws of gravity, or create illusory duplicates of itself. There is a definite sense of power and mastery enforced by the spells mechanics and fiction. Do you get that with the fighter or rogue? Do these classes reach similar heights of martial strength at 13th level? I have no idea, and the game really doesn't much help much with that either.

Between the sorcerer and land druid, the problem got so bad that I gave the fighter these gauntlets of cloud giant strength so she could perform super-human acts of strength a few times every long rest. I had to create a fictional reason in the game so the fighter had some idea of her power, and it was on me to wing exactly what she was capable of.

I also really like playing rogues and fighter types, but I've avoided playing them because they have so few interesting options. Even in combat, where the it's their time to shine, they get very little in the way of mechanical support for performing interesting feats of heroics outside of wacking people with a sword. What about smashing my hammer into the ground so hard it sends baddies crashing to the ground? Can I do stuff like that without forcing my DM to adjudicate the entire thing?

I also laugh at the when the new books come out with oodles of spells and no new maneuvers for the battlemaster fighter. The bias is rather obvious to me at this point. It's just part of the reason why I've moved onto other systems.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
So I think what needs done is to overlay a resource based system that assists martial classes by either enhancing things they can do with skills or allowing them to auto succeed at specific skill related tasks.

I don’t think a system like this is developed for D&d but it could be.
 

Oofta

Legend
...What about smashing my hammer into the ground so hard it sends baddies crashing to the ground? Can I do stuff like that without forcing my DM to adjudicate the entire thing?

I also laugh at the when the new books come out with oodles of spells and no new maneuvers for the battlemaster fighter. The bias is rather obvious to me at this point. It's just part of the reason why I've moved onto other systems.

What you are describing is what they tried in 4E, which may be a better option for what you want. It wasn't my preference, to me it just made fighters a spellcaster with a "martial" label*.

What you are describing is simply does not fit the model of 5E, at least not champion fighters. Fortunately there are other options like eldritch knight, arcane archer or for that matter several cleric archetypes or paladins. Personally I don't want every class to have supernatural (see note below).

Not every game can be for everyone. I want the option to play a PC with a nod towards a straight mundane fighter. As others have pointed out if I want more options I can always implement optional rules or take some feats.

*Yes, I know they weren't spellcasters because obviously being able to do a thunderwave by hammering your weapon into the ground isn't a spell because it has the "martial" label. Being able to do things that only make sense in a cartoon or with magic is, IMHO, supernatural whatever you label it.
 

Condiments

Explorer
What you are describing is what they tried in 4E, which may be a better option for what you want. It wasn't my preference, to me it just made fighters a spellcaster with a "martial" label*.

What you are describing is simply does not fit the model of 5E, at least not champion fighters. Fortunately there are other options like eldritch knight, arcane archer or for that matter several cleric archetypes or paladins. Personally I don't want every class to have supernatural (see note below).

Not every game can be for everyone. I want the option to play a PC with a nod towards a straight mundane fighter. As others have pointed out if I want more options I can always implement optional rules or take some feats.

*Yes, I know they weren't spellcasters because obviously being able to do a thunderwave by hammering your weapon into the ground isn't a spell because it has the "martial" label. Being able to do things that only make sense in a cartoon or with magic is, IMHO, supernatural whatever you label it.

Agreed not every game is for everyone, which is why I've moved on from the edition to other games. But it's undeniable that there is an inherent tension within the game between it's leashed martial classes, and the unchecked casters. It's incredibly stressful as the levels increase to make sure this dichotomy doesn't get out of hand and affect the enjoyment of the players as a DM.

Honestly, D&D 5e is a half step from a cartoonish power ranger show as it is. Casters can re-grow limbs, create inter-dimensional mansions with spectral servants, resurrect people from the dead, break the laws of reality, send their enemies to literal hell(happened to one of my main villains), and stupify mass groups of enemies with little consequence. The only thing keeping them in check is kludgy rules like legendary resistance which nullify their power, and long adventuring days. The second requires some precise DMing and adventure designing which gets more stressful as the levels pile up.

I just find it odd that as soon as some variant of a fighter can demonstrate feats of strength and heroics that emulate spells the community throws it's hands up and leaves the table. Martial classes seem pretty shackled to in-grained biases that have persisted over time. I started playing D&D around 4 years ago so it's interesting looking at these things from the outside in.

It was pretty awesome discovering that in other systems, like 13th age, some characters can perform feats of heroics without even needing to roll like the Rogue's swashbuckle.
 

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