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.

ezo

Where is that Singe?
Alice: "Why are there spells that allow casters to do things better than non-casters?"
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?"

Meditate on the above and you will soon reinvent D&D "The Wheel" 4E.

I don't think the typical rogue really needs the ability to pick any amount of locks per day, and so it seems like an unfair restriction to argue that the rogue must be inferior at their natural shtick just because it has an at-will that is a rarely useful one at that.

At least let them swap out this base cantrip for something more interesting when they don't need it, but this is a digression. Let's get back on track...

I am willing to bet that it would be an improvement to the rogue in general if we took away from them the ability to pick locks at will and gave them a limited use, "once per day you can pick any lock with no risk of failure" ability. There might be a middle ground here, as surely there will be objections to the above along the lines of "This is too gameist. It doesn't make sense they can't pick more than one lock per day".

At which point I refer to the caster classes which make very little sense with their nine sets of separate pools of limited use abilities, but this is another digression... (casters should use spell points, seriously)

The easy way to fix the above objection is to relax the constraints. Think about casters. Casters have an expendable resource and then at-will cantrips to fall back upon. Even the most cantrip reliant caster, the warlock, has access to abilities above the base cantrip that they use.

So let us think of the basic ability of the rogue to pick locks with a chance of failure as being an at-will cantrip. From here, the next step is obvious: We give the rogue the ability to boost their lock picking by spending a limited resource, call it Excellence or something like that. Finesse? Unlike expertise, which increases the chance of success, this ability allows the rogue to do things which are beyond the basic capabilitis of skills and at no risk of failure.

In terms of mechanics this is completely in line with Superiority Dice, Second Wind and Action Surge et al. A basic at-will ability, attack, enhanced by spending a limited resource.

In terms of power this is completely in line with spells as they currently exist.

"Objection! This sounds overpowered!"

That's certainly possible. If it is, try to nerf the cantrip rather the main attraction. The rogue is supposed to be, you know, actually good at lock picking and whatever it is they do.

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.

As long as non-casters are prevented from having access to limited use abilities the argument will always be that they must be worse at their main thing than a caster, because a caster has to pay to do X and the specialist does not have to pay.

Martial damage is a bit of an exception here, because it is so blatantly obvious what's going on that it's pretty much impossible to be even unintentionally biaised in favour of spells.

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).
Nice post.

Personally, I like the option of removing any spell that mirror an ability a PC can do without magic.
 

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I just find it easier to ask the player of the Wizard character "Why are you bothering to prepare Knock if you have a Rogue in the party with Expertise in Thieve's Tools?" There's usually a better spell the Wizard could prepare instead.

Not to mention that I think most Wizard players do not go into sessions deliberately thinking "What ways can I supplant the actions of my teammates today?" So while they do have Knock in their Wizard spell list... they aren't looking to "take over" things nearly as much as the Wizard-haters out there think. Yes, Wizards have the potential to supplant the usefulness of every other player... but how often does that actually happen when actual players play the Wizard at the table?

And if the answer from someone is "All the time!"... then that's their biases showing with their hatred of Wizards. They hate Wizards because the Wizard players at their table are being jerks, not that this is an issue with Wizards and Wizard players altogether.
9 times out of 10 a wizard is only preparing knock because no one in the party has lockpicking proficiency. It's there to patch a hole, so it only make sense if there's a hole to be patched.

Back in the day the "replace the fighter" spells were worth it even with a fighter, but the day in question was twenty years ago.
 

Kaiyanwang

Adventurer
With the exception of attacking, spells are pretty much superior. The only downside to spells is the cost, which is the point of the first post in this thread.
  • Want to get across a chasm? Dimension Door, Teleport, Wall of Force, Wall of Stone
  • Want to jump somewhere? Use the Jump spell (better than standard jumping) or use Misty Step or any of the other teleport spells.
  • Want to climb? Use spider climb (better than standard climbing, though it depends on how heavily the GM penalises failed rolls)
  • Want to get a message quickly somewhere. Use the Sending spell. This point relates hilariously back to that other thread where a number of people are discussing how the martial option (using a background ability) should be as weak as possible.
  • Want to breathe under water? Use Water Breathing.

What?
What if there is a Forbiddance on the other side of the chasm?
Jump lasts 1 minute, how many did you prepare (or how many slots do you have)?
Sending has a word limit (but a powerful inter-planar feature).

This reminds me of the people in 3e that thought that Hide and Invisibility have a 100% overlap. Adventurers graveyards are full of those.

Also, what has water breathing to do with the rest? The spell is there for an underwater adventure, not to cover for a skill. Pray is not dispelled.
 
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Doors fall into a weird space as DnD challenges - if someone in the party has lockpicks and knows how to use them, doors are trivial an therefore boring.

If no one does than maybe,maybe the wizard (if you have one) prepared knock instead of one of the many probably-more-useful spells they know and you spend a spell slot and move on. It's barely an easy encounter but it cost you something.

If no one has knock (and what known-spells caster would ever take it?) then the Door Of Dread becomes the most challenging encounter the party will face in the entire campaign, and we begin Structural Engineering Amateur Hour, possibly resulting in death of two pc's (slightly more likely than getting through the Completely Mundane Wooden of Doom with no injuries).

Anywho yeah a good skill challenge system would be nice.
 

DrJawaPhD

Adventurer
With the exception of attacking, spells are pretty much superior. The only downside to spells is the cost, which is the point of the first post in this thread.
  • Want to get across a chasm? Dimension Door, Teleport, Wall of Force, Wall of Stone
  • Want to jump somewhere? Use the Jump spell (better than standard jumping) or use Misty Step or any of the other teleport spells.
  • Want to climb? Use spider climb (better than standard climbing, though it depends on how heavily the GM penalises failed rolls)
  • Want to get a message quickly somewhere. Use the Sending spell. This point relates hilariously back to that other thread where a number of people are discussing how the martial option (using a background ability) should be as weak as possible.
  • Want to breathe under water? Use Water Breathing.

Martials can easily do all this stuff, they just need to be creative and have a DM who allows Martial characters to do cool stuff too.
  • Tie a rope to a javelin, make an attack roll, then scurry across.
  • Athletics can easily match misty step (at least outside combat where opportunity attacks aren't a concern). Can't beat the Jump spell, but Ring of Jumping is cheap and easy to get (takes attunement but that's ok at low levels)
  • Athletics beats spider climb all day long due to achieving the same thing with no resources required
  • I've literally never seen anyone ever cast Sending. I have frequently seen Sending Stones used though, which anyone can use
  • Unless it's an entire underwater adventure, just hold your breath and swim, you'll be fine. If it's a full adventure underwater, there will be some other plot method for the party to breath, or else the adventure stops before it starts.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Martials can easily do all this stuff, they just need to be creative and have a DM who allows Martial characters to do cool stuff too.
  • Tie a rope to a javelin, make an attack roll, then scurry across.
  • Athletics can easily match misty step (at least outside combat where opportunity attacks aren't a concern). Can't beat the Jump spell, but Ring of Jumping is cheap and easy to get (takes attunement but that's ok at low levels)
Yes for all these. As long as your referee has magic shops for the ring.
  • Athletics beats spider climb all day long due to achieving the same thing with no resources required
Not even close.

“SPIDER CLIMB
2nd-level transmutation

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M (a drop of bitumen and a spider)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 hour

Until the spell ends, one willing creature you touch gains the ability to move up, down, and across vertical surfaces and upside down along ceilings, while leaving its hands free. The target also gains a climbing speed equal to its walking speed.”

For one hour you have upside down, hands free, climbing speed. Athletics cannot get anywhere close to that. It’s like saying a mountain climber beats Spider-Man at climbing.
  • I've literally never seen anyone ever cast Sending. I have frequently seen Sending Stones used though, which anyone can use
  • Unless it's an entire underwater adventure, just hold your breath and swim, you'll be fine. If it's a full adventure underwater, there will be some other plot method for the party to breath, or else the adventure stops before it starts.
Pretty much.
 



DrJawaPhD

Adventurer
Ah. The “Yeah, well, we house rule it” response. Sure.
No not really. Spider Climb definitely does let you do more than Athletics for a 2nd level spellslot AND concentration. I just think that usually there isn't that much extra capability gained to justify the resources. Certainly not enough to justify the whole "casters can do everything and martials can't do anything" gist of this thread.
 

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