Compelling and Differentiated Gameplay For Spellcasters and Martial Classes

TheCosmicKid

Adventurer
* back on Gleemax, there was a school of thought that, if you played a fighter you'd "want" longer days, so you could shine, so there should be a built in check against the casters' impulse to the 5MWD. Among many other reasons that didn't manifest was that the point of /decisions/ in a cooperative game is to maximize the performance of the group, not minimize the performance of one member so another can finally make a non-trivial contribution. The fighter's best play, back then, was to be down with resting every chance the party got - and, the players best option was to /not play a fighter/ because other classes could contribute daily resources that were more important to the party's success than anything it had to offer.
The counterpoint to this in theory would be that the party does not always have control over how long their day is, and therefore a mixture of long-day classes and short-day classes is desirable as a sort of diversified portfolio.

This point is of course strictly theoretical in the case of the 3E fighter, which underperformed at any day length.
 
The counterpoint to this in theory would be that the party does not always have control over how long their day is
Not /always/, but it's still rather absurdist for the fighter to be expected to insist they press on in the hopes of exhausting the casters' spells so he can finally feel like he's contributing something.
Not much less absurd is expecting the DM to always apply just the right weight of time pressure to meet some theoretical balance-point.
This point is of course strictly theoretical in the case of the 3E fighter, which underperformed at any day length.
Lol. Caster classes were hella broken in 3.x, indeed. But (as in 5e) give it a long enough day and enough rounds of casters plinking with crossbows (or even more rounds of them plinking with cantrips) and the fighter /will/ catch up...
...in terms if overall DPR for the day.

Worry in this case meaning “tie ourselves in knots over establishment, status quo, tradition, past design, market dynamics to the point that analysis is halted and design conversation is stifled.”
Well, that'd suck, sure.
 
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Manbearcat

Adventurer
Portent My Analysis
Flexibility some times to aid allies and harm enemies (nice)
Affects more types of rolls this is also flexibility (saving throws ) (nice)
Unpredictability : you don't know til you roll (ok)
Infrequent only twice daily or thrice when entering epic
Can include mediocre rolls well I suppose that is better than risking a bad roll
Can be wasted while you get it on exactly the thing you want you do not know if you need it.

Did I miss anything?
This looks good except I need clarification on the last component.

Can you clarify what yo mean by "wasted" here with a play example?

Also, did you see my instantiation of this for Dungeon World? I'm not sure how the spent Hold would be "wasted" there. Do you mean a situation whereby you provide an ally +1 and that +1 doesn't ultimately swing the tide because, say, they rolled a 5 or under (which means they're going to get 6- even with the +1) or a 7-8 (which means they're going to get a 7-9 result regardless of the +1)?
 

Undrave

Adventurer
The whole idea of balancing short rest vs long rest is just a sacred cows that is, again and again, proving to be detrimental. Why DO Wizards need to be so absurdly powerful that their power has to be curbed by huge limited ressources?

Being wedded to Vancian Casting as a point of differentiation between Spellcaster and Martial class with probably just keep us in a continual loop. As if a Caster doesn't feel like a Caster if it's not both SUPER powerful and limited.
 

Nagol

Unimportant
@Tony Vargas

Well, as you know (I think?), I have a ridiculous amount of that level and beyond play in all of BECMI/RC, AD&D, and 3.x. The bulk of my 5e GMing (about 24 hours) is of lvl 14 and beyond.

I’ve never, not once, seen a Fighter be a consequential asset (forget parity with spellcasters) in noncombat resolution at those levels.

The only D&D (and derivative) games I’ve run at endgame tier play where a Fighter is both a consequential asset to noncombat resolution and at relative parity with spellcasters is 4e, Dungeon World, 13th Age, Cortex+ Fantasy Heroic, and Strike(!). Beyond the Wall and Torchbearer doesn’t get to that tier and I’ve only run a little of Shadows of the Demon Lord.
I have in 1e and a slightly modded 3.5e, but that's mainly because I specifically included bunches on non-class oriented things (weighted magic item treasures, NPC followers/cohorts, world factions with power and knowledge, magical effects that grant inherent or very long duration ability) that provide breadth to anyone who partakes (and requires time to pursue thus conflicting with the spellcasters preferred engine of growth magic item creation / spell creation).
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
This looks good except I need clarification on the last component.

Can you clarify what yo mean by "wasted" here with a play example?

Also, did you see my instantiation of this for Dungeon World?
i cant provide a decent analysis... for DW ... will have to do more analysis of the game itself. Especially with who is fans of the game. Basically if you have to decide to apply the roll without knowing if the roll succeeded in a sense it is wasted ... it might have been better to save it. There are abilities that let you know the roll you are aiding before you spend the resource. Like a bards inspiration die if I recall.
 

TheCosmicKid

Adventurer
Not /always/, but it's still rather absurdist for the fighter to be expected to insist they press on in the hopes of exhausting the casters' spells so he can finally feel like he's contributing something.
My point is that this is a bit of a strawman argument. Not necessarily in the sense that nobody has ever honestly argued it, because this is the internet and I'm sure somebody has, but in the sense that it's the weakest and most ridiculous version of an argument that can hold some water.

Not much less absurd is expecting the DM to always apply just the right weight of time pressure to meet some theoretical balance-point.
It's not so much the matter of the DM applying just the right pressure every day as it is them applying different amounts and diverse varieties of pressure from day to day. As long as the party doesn't know whether they're going to be facing one encounter tomorrow or ten, then keeping around a fighter or other long-day character is a good investment.

Again, in theory, assuming those long-day characters are basically functional.
 

UngeheuerLich

Adventurer
Ok...
So a bit more serious post:

What could a fighter bring to the table?
  • he could have the benefit of the alert feat. Noone else could take it.
  • he could have the ability to go without rest for days
  • he could gain some supernatural diplomacy boosts and insight boosts
  • he could give everyone around him boosts to their performance by sheer presence (like the paladin aura but more offensively oriented)
  • he could resist hostile magic but increase the effect of friendly magic on him.


Some of those things are present or were present in some editions.
Some of those things are given to other classes or feats or subclasses.


Those things are possible. Giving a fighter the ability to fly or teleport is impossible without making him a wizard in disguise.

If you want parity there:
Add this effect to teleport spells:
Creatures capable of casting spells are nauseated for 10 minutes after teleporting.

This way you need fighters
 

Krachek

Adventurer
To me this search for give fighter more alternate power to feel competitive is going into a dead end.
Magic open up possibilities that cannot be reach by a non magical fighter.
Teleportation, Levitation, polymorph, clone, resurrection,
The fighter is taken into a world of magic, and he had to react accordingly.
hopefully we are in a role play game.
The presence of magic give a lot a occasion and hint to role play a character even if he is not the source of magic.
Fighter and wizard are not competing to win the game at the end of the session.
The player who play a fighter is there to feel and make live a fighter hero in a world of magic.
4Ed have try to level the experience of all classes. It has been a dramatic failure.
So the solution is in the role play.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
...but when I do, it's a warlord build. ;)
A lazylord or prince/princess build is one of those ironies able to contribute in any context but doing so with function and flavor of the non-combatant.... Enabled by the mechanics of a Warrior Lord / Lord of War. Kind of Evokes what the fighting is about.... having someone to fight for can make heroes even more heroic.
 
4Ed have try to level the experience of all classes. It has been a dramatic failure.
It was a commercial failure, for a veritable perfect storm of reasons, including the nerdrage that surrounded it making it less likely new players would even try it.
But concluding that balanced games are bad, and, conversely, broken games are good, is not valid . Not just because it's ad populum reasoning, though that's enough, by itself.

So the solution is in the role play.
Nope. Never. (Yeah, that wont' get me in trouble; at least I didn't say "Stormwind Fallacy" ...oops. ) If you have to work around the system to get the desired RP results, it's just proof of either a bad system (as has consistently been the case with D&D - I'm sorry, I love the game, but I love in in spite of it's many, deep, and abiding flaws) or a system with design goals incompatible with the desired RP results.

Fighter and wizard are not competing to win the game at the end of the session
The player who play a fighter is there to feel and make live a fighter hero in a world of magic..
Two very strong points that argue to exactly the opposite of the conclusion it sounds like you might be aiming for.
A hero in a world of magic, is one who makes a difference in spite of the many challenges posed by that magic. Not one who's just a pawn in a game of wizards, whose decisions and actions make no difference, who's readily replaceable with a golem or summoned monster or off-the shelf mercenary.
The point of a cooperative game is, similarly, for everyone to contribute to winning the game. You don't win that game by making choices to keep another player down for your own glory. Making good choices needs to stand out as a good contribution - even if, say, they're sacrifices. An option in a cooperative game that requires the player to make decisions that net harm the overall chances of winning, in order to appear to be making an important contribution, is a trap option....

Not necessarily in the sense that nobody has ever honestly argued it, because this is the internet and I'm sure somebody has, but in the sense that it's the weakest and most ridiculous version of an argument that can hold some water.
TBF, it was a smaller part of the defending side of the Fighter SUX arguments on Gleemax… and I was too often forced to use it, myself. So there's some bitterness in there. ;(

Without going into too much detail, the broad-strokes panorama of the sorta-consensus we came up with back then, on keeping casters & non-casters, in general, and the LFQW with the elegant-design, but Tier 5 fighter as the L (also, honorable mention to the much less inferior Tier 2 Sorcerer), and CoDzilla and God-Wizards as the Q, often abbreviated as "Living World" was for the DM to devote the campaign to making spell prep & cast choices /exceedingly difficult/ via profound time-pressure, uncertainty via downright telegraphing some threats and presenting equally trustworthy seeming disinformation, and a constantly-changing tapestry of challenges. The idea was to balance the Fighter by either/both making the 'day' drag on so long that the casters were tapped out of their best combat spells for multiple combats, relying on the fighters through some important battles, or, were so uncertain and so fearful of needing spells later that they passed on casting them even at ideal moments, letting the fighters shine (but not the party die), then being left holding spells they ended up not needing later afterall. Similarly, BTW, wizards could be goaded into taking slates of highly situational spells that turned out to be useless due to disinformation, allowing the sorcerer a chance to shine spamming some generally-useful spell that was OK in the situation, while the wizard cursed himself for not prepping the /ideal/ spell. ...at the extreme fringe of that, there's "but what if the DM isn't doing a good enough job forcing the time pressure" and "well, your fighter as the 'natural party leader' should talk the party into showing some heroic fortitude and bravely pressing on!" Which, actually, sounds kind good - especially after selling the Living World concept all through a long thread - but, which, really, when considered for the perspective of designing for a cooperative game is quite dysfunctional.


It's not so much the matter of the DM applying just the right pressure every day as it is them applying different amounts and diverse varieties of pressure from day to day.
That /is/ the right pressure, yes. I should've made it clearer that it wasn't as simple as always applying exactly the /same/ pressure.
As long as the party doesn't know whether they're going to be facing one encounter tomorrow or ten,
Yeah, see, you get it.

then keeping around a fighter or other long-day character is a good investment.
That's the idea, the problem is that it rests on grinding down the resource-heavy characters, and reducing the overall effectiveness of the party, in order to glorify the low-contributing character.

The bottom line is that kind of balance-by-pacing mechanism both restricts the kinds of stories the game can produce, from the narrative side, and is dysfunctional as a cooperative game, on the system side.
If it weren't so enshrined by decades of tradition, the hobby would regard it like modern doctors revisiting the possibility of using leeches*.











* example chosen advisedly, because, yeah, actually, there are a few legitimate medical uses for leeches!
 
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Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I think if someone wants to play low levels only they should admit they are playing low levels only... instead of relegating martial combatants to 1 tier (2 if you include the farmer brown apprentice tier)

The bottom line is that kind of balance-by-pacing mechanism both restricts the kinds of stories the game can produce, from the narrative side, and is dysfunctional as a cooperative game, on the system side.
NOT doing this let the story be natural and let everyone have reliable climactic potency.
 
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It was a commercial failure, for a veritable perfect storm of reasons, including the nerdrage that surrounded it making it less likely new players would even try it.
But concluding that balanced games are bad, and, conversely, broken games are good, is not valid . Not just because it's ad populum reasoning, though that's enough, by itself.

Nope. Never. (Yeah, that wont' get me in trouble; at least I didn't say "Stormwind Fallacy" ...oops. ) If you have to work around the system to get the desired RP results, it's just proof of either a bad system (as has consistently been the case with D&D - I'm sorry, I love the game, but I love in in spite of it's many, deep, and abiding flaws) or a system with design goals incompatible with the desired RP results.

Two very strong points that argue to exactly the opposite of the conclusion it sounds like you might be aiming for.
A hero in a world of magic, is one who makes a difference in spite of the many challenges posed by that magic. Not one who's just a pawn in a game of wizards, whose decisions and actions make no difference, who's readily replaceable with a golem or summoned monster or off-the shelf mercenary.
The point of a cooperative game is, similarly, for everyone to contribute to winning the game. You don't win that game by making choices to keep another player down for your own glory. Making good choices needs to stand out as a good contribution - even if, say, they're sacrifices. An option in a cooperative game that requires the player to make decisions that net harm the overall chances of winning, in order to appear to be making an important contribution, is a trap option....

TBF, it was a smaller part of the defending side of the Fighter SUX arguments on Gleemax… and I was too often forced to use it, myself. So there's some bitterness in there. ;(

Without going into too much detail, the broad-strokes panorama of the sorta-consensus we came up with back then, on keeping casters & non-casters, in general, and the LFQW with the elegant-design, but Tier 5 fighter as the L (also, honorable mention to the much less inferior Tier 2 Sorcerer), and CoDzilla and God-Wizards as the Q, often abbreviated as "Living World" was for the DM to devote the campaign to making spell prep & cast choices /exceedingly difficult/ via profound time-pressure, uncertainty via downright telegraphing some threats and presenting equally trustworthy seeming disinformation, and a constantly-changing tapestry of challenges. The idea was to balance the Fighter by either/both making the 'day' drag on so long that the casters were tapped out of their best combat spells for multiple combats, relying on the fighters through some important battles, or, were so uncertain and so fearful of needing spells later that they passed on casting them even at ideal moments, letting the fighters shine (but not the party die), then being left holding spells they ended up not needing later afterall. Similarly, BTW, wizards could be goaded into taking slates of highly situational spells that turned out to be useless due to disinformation, allowing the sorcerer a chance to shine spamming some generally-useful spell that was OK in the situation, while the wizard cursed himself for not prepping the /ideal/ spell. ...at the extreme fringe of that, there's "but what if the DM isn't doing a good enough job forcing the time pressure" and "well, your fighter as the 'natural party leader' should talk the party into showing some heroic fortitude and bravely pressing on!" Which, actually, sounds kind good - especially after selling the Living World concept all through a long thread - but, which, really, when considered for the perspective of designing for a cooperative game is quite dysfunctional.


That /is/ the right pressure, yes. I should've made it clearer that it wasn't as simple as always applying exactly the /same/ pressure.Yeah, see, you get it.

That's the idea, the problem is that it rests on grinding down the resource-heavy characters, and reducing the overall effectiveness of the party, in order to glorify the low-contributing character.

The bottom line is that kind of balance-by-pacing mechanism both restricts the kinds of stories the game can produce, from the narrative side, and is dysfunctional as a cooperative game, on the system side.
If it weren't so enshrined by decades of tradition, the hobby would regard it like modern doctors revisiting the possibility of using leeches*.











* example chosen advisedly, because, yeah, actually, there are a few legitimate medical uses for leeches!
A slightly unbalanced (keyword, slight) game is actually superior in the context of an rp game that necessarily includes an element of realism than a perfectly balanced game. For a lot of reasons. So actually no. You dont want a perfectly balanced game. You actually want one that is specifically slightly out of balance.
 
A slightly unbalanced (keyword, slight) game is actually superior in the context of an rp game that necessarily includes an element of realism than a perfectly balanced game.
There are no perfectly balanced games, so that's moot.
Not that FRPGs necessarily need an element of realism in any sense that would necessarily cause imbalances, either. For instance, magic, not existing in real life, has no bearing on realism, and can be arbitrarily tuned to balance pretty freely, rather than be kept stubbornly Class-Tier 1.
 
There are no perfectly balanced games, so that's moot.
Not that FRPGs necessarily need an element of realism in any sense that would necessarily cause imbalances, either. For instance, magic, not existing in real life, has no bearing on realism, and can be arbitrarily tuned to balance pretty freely, rather than be kept stubbornly Class-Tier 1.
First of all, look at the actual meaning of the word moot. For some reason everyone uses it in the opposite way of its meaning. (Seriously)

Second, fine, a game that approaches balance too closely is inferior to a game that has a decent amount of unbalance. That actually does happen some times. It creates an unrealistic and stagnant game.
 
There are no perfectly balanced games, so that's moot.
Not that FRPGs necessarily need an element of realism in any sense that would necessarily cause imbalances, either. For instance, magic, not existing in real life, has no bearing on realism, and can be arbitrarily tuned to balance pretty freely, rather than be kept stubbornly Class-Tier 1.
Also sure. They dont need said element. It just makes it better. And more realistic. But its nit necessary for something to be better or realistic. People just prefer better and more realistic.
 
First of all, look at the actual meaning of the word moot. For some reason everyone uses it in the opposite way of its meaning. (Seriously)
"having little or no practical relevance" is /a/ definition of moot
(there's several, not one 'actual meaning,' but I think this is the one invoked by the familiar, phrase "moot point" - yeah, 'moot' not 'mute,' :( he's not the only one who's bothered by the way this word gets abused.)

In this case, of course, no relevance.

Second, fine, a game that approaches balance too closely is inferior to a game that has a decent amount of unbalance. That actually does happen some times. It creates an unrealistic and stagnant game.
Now I quibble with definitions, since there's not an official one of "game balance" AFAIK. You may be saying 'balance' but I'm not sure that's what I'd mean when I say it. ;)

What's an example of a very - nigh 'perfectly' - balanced game?
 
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