D&D (2024) How to (simply) balance half-casters in 1D&D.

Horwath

Legend
1. Use spell points as default instead of spell slots.

2. All casters gain new spell levels at same levels:

1st level spells: class level 1
2nd level spells: class level 3
3rd level spells: class level 5
4th level spells: class level 7
5th level spells: class level 9
6th level spells: class level 11
7th level spells: class level 13
8th level spells: class level 15
9th level spells: class level 17


3. Half-casters gain half spell points(round up) compared to full casters. Or use half their level(round up) when looking at spellpoint table.

4. Halfcasters cannot create 6th level spell slots or higher.

5. fullcasters cannot create more than one spell slot for each spell level of 6th level or higher.
 

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ChameleonX

Explorer
I do not like half-casters at all. I think they should get the same spell slot progression as full casters, but just not get any slots above 5th-level. So, for instance:

Class LevelSpell Slots (1st/2nd/3rd/4th/5th)
12/0/0/0/0
23/0/0/0/0
33/1/0/0/0
44/1/0/0/0
54/1/1/0/0
64/2/1/0/0
74/2/1/1/0
84/3/1/1/0
94/3/1/1/1
104/3/2/1/1
114/3/3/1/1
124/3/3/2/1
134/3/3/3/1
144/3/3/3/2
154/3/3/3/3
165/3/3/3/3
175/4/3/3/3
185/5/3/3/3
195/5/4/3/3
205/5/4/4/3
 

Gorck

Prince of Dorkness
I do not like half-casters at all. I think they should get the same spell slot progression as full casters, but just not get any slots above 5th-level. So, for instance:

Class LevelSpell Slots (1st/2nd/3rd/4th/5th)
12/0/0/0/0
23/0/0/0/0
33/1/0/0/0
44/1/0/0/0
54/1/1/0/0
64/2/1/0/0
74/2/1/1/0
84/3/1/1/0
94/3/1/1/1
104/3/2/1/1
114/3/3/1/1
124/3/3/2/1
134/3/3/3/1
144/3/3/3/2
154/3/3/3/3
165/3/3/3/3
175/4/3/3/3
185/5/3/3/3
195/5/4/3/3
205/5/4/4/3
That sounds a lot like my proposal for the Warlock in 2 different threads (Warlock spell poll. and Dear Team WotC: Better Pact Magic Fixes). One received 1 whole “Like” and neither elicited a single response, so I can only assume it was not well received.
 
Last edited:

1. Use spell points as default instead of spell slots.

2. All casters gain new spell levels at same levels:

1st level spells: class level 1
2nd level spells: class level 3
3rd level spells: class level 5
4th level spells: class level 7
5th level spells: class level 9
6th level spells: class level 11
7th level spells: class level 13
8th level spells: class level 15
9th level spells: class level 17


3. Half-casters gain half spell points(round up) compared to full casters. Or use half their level(round up) when looking at spellpoint table.

4. Halfcasters cannot create 6th level spell slots or higher.

5. fullcasters cannot create more than one spell slot for each spell level of 6th level or higher.

Spell points are among my least favorite mechanics in a TTRPG. Their primary purpose is to enable exploits at a ridiculous level. I've never been in a game where they weren't gamed to death and broken (5 different campaigns is enough to burn me forever on them). I have never seen an attempt to create them that felt right, or wasn't easily exploitable. They also blow non-spellcasters out of the water even more, balance-wise. I know others like them, and I don't mind them as an option for others who are fine with it. But I will 0-rate any attempt to make spell points the default for any class.

Sorcery points are probably the closest I've been to being ok with spell points, but it's not the entirety of the system. That seems ok.
 

Half casters are already balanced for classes like the Ranger and Paladin that are essentially martials with some support magic.

But the half-caster model doesn't really work for a class like the warlock that's supposed to be a serious magician. Half-casting just doesn't give it enough magical oomh to fit the class theme.

IMHO this proposal would result in even more overpowered paladins while warlocks would still be anemic.
 

aco175

Legend
I would be fine with keeping the limited spell progression, but add cool powers if one feels they are underpowered. Maybe spells are no their main thing if they are something like a rogue AT, or a fighter EK and to try and make them full casters and full fighters or rogues while not making them more powerful is not happening. A half caster like the ranger or paladin begins to feel left behind at higher levels, or even starting in tier 2, so maybe a cool power over more spells might work. Trying to get the flavor of the class that is different than casters might be harder.
It might suck that you are finally getting a 3rd level spell when the caster is getting a 5th level spell, but you should have something else that is cool that the casters look at you and wish they had.

Another idea is that there could be a subclass for these classes that grants spells faster at the expense of other class features. This way you can be a better caster, but a poorer paladin or ranger.
 

Yaarel

He Mage
I am on board with "part casters" getting the same slot levels at the same class levels that full casters do. If a full caster can cast Wall of Force at level 9, then a part caster should be able to do so too, or at least have the option to do so.

Personally, I never play part casters because their lack of the high slot spells always disappoints me at the higher levels. Anything that is easy, at-will and always-on at low levels, is never powerful enough at the game-changing highest level. I look forward to the highest tiers. For example, I was enthusiastic about the character concept of the Artificer, but once the designers made it a part caster my interest in the class ceased immediately because I assume it will suck at the highest tiers.

If classes like Artificer, Eldritch Knight, even Ranger and Trickster, were getting full caster slot levels, like slot 3 spells at level 5, and so on up to slot 9 at level 17, I would play these classes − and probably enjoy them. It would be cool to do martial stuff, like sword and board, if there is sufficient high level magic along with it. For example, Arcane Archer could easily be a full caster Wizard subclass. But when 5e made it a part caster it became an instant no-go for me.

At least there is Bladesinger and Bard, who I enjoy as melee full casters.

(Ok, I really like the 5e Paladin. Via smites, it does so much magical damage that it FEELS like a full caster to me. Its auras are impressive magic too. The Paladin holds it own during the game-changing highest tiers. But now that 2024 seems set to "fix" the Paladin damage dealing, it might return to the "meh" of a part-caster feel.)



There is an important advantage when all caster classes gain the same slot levels at the same class levels.

Slots are pretty much the only game mechanic that defines other game mechanics for the highest tiers, from levels 9 to 20.

The low tier mechanics − like hit points, sword swings, cantrips, feats, ability checks, etcetera − are well understood, dealt with during almost every campaign, with exacting precision to measure how much each mechanic is worth.

But high tier mechanics − like distant teleporting, regenerating, attacking remotely, force-walling, at-will shapechanging, wishing, etcetera − are all kinda arbitrary guesswork. D&D historical mechanics collapse at the highest tiers. Even 5e spell lists for each slot are wildly uneven, with some spells in the same slot being either a waste of ink or so else much better that even spells that are in the higher slots. High levels are a mess. Even today. Think of how many times high level monster math gets tweaked. A mess.

When designing high level features for D&D classes and monsters, a designer often feels like climbing upward higher and higher on a rickety scaffolding. But the SPELL SLOTS are exactly this scaffolding. Designers compare every high level feature to the high level spells to guess how powerful a feature should be.



There is a benefit when part casters access the same slot levels as the full casters. The gaming engine necessarily becomes clearer and more robust at the highest tiers. Because now, there is a clear idea about the kinds of things every character SHOULD be doing at highest levels. If a level 9 full caster can cast slot 5 Wall of Force, then the part caster can too. And, importantly, the noncasters at level 9 should be doing features that are equivalent to Wall of Force in effectiveness, power and usefulness.

Moreover the part-caster classes will be choosing between powerful spell effects versus powerful martial effects. For a part caster class to balance alongside full casters and non casters, the designers need to understand exactly how much a spell effect is worth compared to a martial effect. This clarity of measuring all features at the highest tiers benefits, helps full casters and non caster balance alongside each other as well.
 

Half casters are already balanced for classes like the Ranger and Paladin that are essentially martials with some support magic.
They kind of aren't though. Rangers get dookie damage spells like Hail of Thorns, Lighting Arrow, Cordon of Arrows, etc that aren't worth the slots or action to cast. Same issue with the paladin's smite spells. They balance them against a full caster's spells, ignoring the fact that by the time a half caster gets them, the numbers are irrelevant.
 

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