D&D 5E D&D is a drag race, think of climbing as a cantrip, and the rogue would be better at lock picking if it could only pick a few locks per day.

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
It's worth noting that I'm not saying that those things I discuss in the opening post actually should be implemented. I'm lifting it as a possible solution to the problem at hand. A much better solution is to nerf spells in general and consider their utility without caring too much about them costing a resource.
Can I ask why you are suggesting what you yourself don't think is the best solution to a perceived problem?
 

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Oofta

Legend
I'm going to add that I greatly appreciate this reply. Let's see if I agree with it ;)
Yeah, maybe I should have added a " ;) ", I was in a rush.
I want to point out that I intended the whole scenario as entirely hypothetical. It does not really make sense for there being a limit on it, but at the same time...
  • There are already things that do not make sense in the same way (spells, martial abilities like Action Surge, Superiority Dice, Second Wind, Hit Dice)
  • You can also reframe it as, for example, mental focus or something like that. There are other systems that do similar things, like D&D 3.5, PF1 and PF2.

But D&D doesn't even really have rules for lock picking in the first place. This is part of the problem for me. D&D has vaguely defined skills that say things like "You can attempt to do X" but it says nothing about how long it takes or anything relevant. D&D doesn't attempt to simulate this aspect at all, since it has no rules for it.

Also note again that my example rogue has infinite uses of the basic lock picking skill, but has a few limited uses of "success with no risk of failure, instantly".

It's hard to say that my system is less realistic than whatever is already in D&D 5E (since there is basically nothing to compare my system to in the first place)

There are rules, they may not go into enough detail for you but they are there. I also don't see how it applies to your approach, it is just a very different mechanic. You can fix what you perceive as an issue without the type of radical change that you propose.

It's simple to add house rules to fix this if it matters. For example, if you fail by more than 10, you've jammed the lock it now needs to be forced open. Fail but by less than 10 and it's a tough lock but given time you can get it open. Succeed? It only takes a few seconds. Would the rules be better if something like my house rule were made official? Maybe. But I'm just clarifying how it works, not taking a different approach to game design.
 

Can I ask why you are suggesting what you yourself don't think is the best solution to a perceived problem?
I pointed it out because it shows where the problem is, not what the solution is. It's like a mind trap: X and Y do almost the same thing but Y is more expensive so Y must be better. My point is simply that the cost of Y might not actually matter, and in that case think about that before making it stronger than X.

There are plenty of different approaches
  • Make spells weaker (my preferred choice)
  • Make spells have more of a risk of failure
  • Boost the basic ability of martial skills so that they are stronger than spells in cases where there this is necessary (without adding limited use abilities).
 
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GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Alice: "Why are there spells that allow casters to do things better than non-casters?"
Clarice: "Because: magic."

Bob: "Because spells are a limited resource and as such they must be more powerful"
Alice: "How many times per day do you typically need to pick a lock?"
Clarice: "Better question: does the wizard want to walk up to the potentially trapped and overwatched door, and close her eyes for a moment while she casts a spell on it? Maybe the nimble, lightly armored thief should do it."

TLDR: Martials are limited because they are forced to rely on "cantrips", and cantrips "must" be limited because they can be used without restrictions. The only cost is the opportunity cost. The fix is obvious: Make their abilities into limited use abilities. Doing this invalidates any arguments about the ability being overpowered (as long as it is equally or more limited than a spell with the corresponding effect).
Thanks for this; my head was starting to spin. It's a perfectly valid question to ask: if wizards have to use powers to do things, why shouldn't the other classes use powers too? Or: if wizards can do things automatically (like open a locked door), why can't other classes do things automatically too?

The answer, unfortunately, is: D&D. Because that's how D&D does it (currently). Would your way be better? Well . . .

The system can be extended to every class that has mainly at-will powers cough I mean at-will abilities and shouldn't be limited to lock picking. You could give the rogue the ability to pick any pocket too. Give the fighter an incredible boost in climbing or jumping potential or even just movement speed. The possibilities are endless.
"let's just make everyone wizards" probably isn't better, as WotC's (and their stakeholders') past actions have shown.

. . . but let's not get into making everyone fighters, which is the suggestion behind giving wizards a d6 hit die, Constitution bonus to hit points, and a proficiency bonus to attack rolls equal to that of the fighter.
 

CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
i don't thing the issue is martials having infinite use abilities, or that the solution is to give them expendable resources, the issue is that WotC far overvalues infinite use capabilites, the martial's 'cantrips' don't incorporate enough of the power of the expendable resources they haven't got(if that makes sense)

edit: or in other words, rather than a caster's vast selection of 0th-9th level spells martials ought to have (the equivilant to) a tighter themed list of like 1st-4th level spells that they can always be casting.
 
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Clint_L

Legend
Part of the point of spell casting is that it requires you to manage opportunity costs.

Yes, you can prepare "Knock" or "Spider Climb," or both. And that means two other spells can't be taken. Spells that may have turned out to be much more useful on the day.

The OP asks "how often" do you normally need to do a particular task. Probably not that often. But they frame this as a problem with on demand abilities and a strength of spell casting. I find that odd.

Because "how often" do you need to open a lock in a situation where a loud, echoing "KNOCK" is not going to be a problem? How often do you need to climb a sheer surface? If the answer is rarely, then probably most days you've wasted a spell slot, which is a valuable resource. Where the rogue has lost nothing. The opportunity cost is much higher for the spell caster.

Basically, for the rogue it's low cost (you've always got the ability), low reward (since you don't often need the ability), and for the spell caster, it's high risk (since you are wasting a finite resource), high reward (when you need it, it's great).

Think of arguably the most iconic D&D spell, fireball. Most of the time, it's a lousy spell. It does poor damage against single targets, such as a BBEG, it causes significant collateral damage, and it has to be carefully managed so it doesn't blow up your own guys. But when the situation is right, it's amazing. How does that compare to being able to whack someone with an axe whenever you need to? Usually, the axe is better. But sometimes, the fireball is incredible.

Spell casters don't just have whatever spell they need, whenever they need it.
 
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i don't thing the issue is martials having infinite use abilities, or that the solution is to give them expendable resources, the issue is that WotC far overvalues infinite use capabilites, the martial's 'cantrips' don't incorporate enough of the power of the expendable resources they haven't got(if that makes sense)
This is what I was getting at. When you price an ability you need to consider not just how powerful it is, but also how often you can use it. Sure it's nice to be able to use it an infinite amount of times, but how will that materialise in practice? In a short distance sprint endurance doesn't matter.
 

CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
This is what I was getting at. When you price an ability you need to consider not just how powerful it is, but also how often you can use it. Sure it's nice to be able to use it an infinite amount of times, but how will that materialise in practice? In a short distance sprint endurance doesn't matter.
sure, i think i just went the route of 'bump the power of the infinite uses' and you chose to add expendable resources.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
I pointed it out because it shows where the problem is, not what the solution is. It's like a mind trap: X and Y do almost the same thing but Y is more expensive so Y must be better. My point is simply that the cost of Y might not actually matter, and in that case think about that before making it stronger than X.

There are plenty of different approaches
  • Make spells weaker (my preferred choice)
  • Make spells have more of a risk of failure
  • Boost the basic ability of martial skills so that they are stronger than spells in cases where there this is necessary (without adding limited use abilities).
Fair enough. In the event that this is a real problem at the table that people playing actually complain about (not a guarantee) my suggestion would be your option 2: make spells have more of a risk of failure. Lots of fun ways to do this that been explained in many threads.
 

D&D is a drag race. It doesn't really matter how many times you can do X, because you can in general just long rest whenever you want and get all limited abilities back.
No, it really isn't: D&D is a long distance marathon. It is a game of reaource management and attrition, not a drag race.
One lock per long rest is not a safe assumption in the games I've played or run. It just depends on the scenario.
I think this is the fundamental problem in a nutshell. Some basic gameplay assumptions about things like how hard is it to recharge expended resources or even what basic gameplay patterns are normal have become (or honestly always were) quite varied. In that situation, having multiple avenues to achieving success (one where you can always accomplish a task, another where it is a limited resource) are going to be variable in which is optimal.

That the situation exists should not be surprising. D&D, as the hegemon game system, has tried to open up the playstyle as much as possible. However, it hasn't necessarily tried to tie up any possible contradictions or general imbalances. Excepting of course 4e (which, regardless of how you feel about the implementation, generally was addressing various complaints various people had had with D&D for quite some time).

Can I ask why you are suggesting what you yourself don't think is the best solution to a perceived problem?
I believe we're looking at an A Modest Proposal-style hyperbolic suggestion to make a point. It's just not landing for everyone.

Personally, if I were actually looking to solve the issue, Knock is not a bad place to look. Instead of relying on the limited spell slots (but assumed success) vs skill failure change to balance magical- and skill-based solutions, they actually made the options (and their repercussions/reasonable uses/etc.) legitimately different. Knock now does not work for stealth-based dungeon-crawling (presumably the kind you would want to be doing as a rogue anyways). If there were more spells which replicate martial abilities that had similar nuances, the situation would likely be better (/the decision between options more interesting).
 

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