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D&D General Martial/Caster balance and the Grease spell

Dessert Nomad

Adventurer
Also, if you want an example of a martial character messing with the movement of enemies through tight corridors, a fighter-type with Polearm Mastery and Sentinel can shut down enemies much more effectively - an op attack as they enter his reach will drop the first giant to zero movement, and leave him blocking the others. The giant can't just dash to get out of the way of his fellows, as sentinel drops his move to zero for the rest of the turn. And the other giants can't use 'move through an ally's space, because they only have at best 10' of movement left when they get to the sentinel-stuck giant while they'll need at least 20' of movement to move through two friendly spaces. That does put a melee combatant into melee with one enemy, which is kind of his thing, but doesn't actually use up any resources, and only requires the melee character's reaction, not his main action or a counterspell.

10'x10' enemies with 30' move rates in tight (for them) corridors are just going to have a bad time in general.
 

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NotAYakk

Legend
Also, if you want an example of a martial character messing with the movement of enemies through tight corridors, a fighter-type with Polearm Mastery and Sentinel can shut down enemies much more effectively - an op attack as they enter his reach will drop the first giant to zero movement, and leave him blocking the others. The giant can't just dash to get out of the way of his fellows, as sentinel drops his move to zero for the rest of the turn. And the other giants can't use 'move through an ally's space, because they only have at best 10' of movement left when they get to the sentinel-stuck giant while they'll need at least 20' of movement to move through two friendly spaces. That does put a melee combatant into melee with one enemy, which is kind of his thing, but doesn't actually use up any resources, and only requires the melee character's reaction, not his main action or a counterspell.
A giant grabs the first giant, pulls them out of the way, and the rest charge through.

It is effective, just not a complete shutdown.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
I'm just imagining how lame this example looks in the fiction.

The hero looks back at the plodding giants and gets an idea! They cast grease--that will slow the blighters down!

giants all ballerina leap over the grease, one even lifting another over them like a doubles iceskating team

The hero wonders why the gods hate him so much
 

I'm just imagining how lame this example looks in the fiction.

The hero looks back at the plodding giants and gets an idea! They cast grease--that will slow the blighters down!

giants all ballerina leap over the grease, one even lifting another over them like a doubles iceskating team

The hero wonders why the gods hate him so much
I think it would make prefect sense as dramatic 'oh crap' moment had they successfully used the similar trick against lesser foes previously. Also to me it seems perfectly sensible that giants, who have really long stride, could relatively easily jump over a small grease puddle. Granted, depending on the conditions they might not necessarily notice it until at least one of them walks into it.
 
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Asisreo

Fiendish Attorney
I'm just imagining how lame this example looks in the fiction.

The hero looks back at the plodding giants and gets an idea! They cast grease--that will slow the blighters down!

giants all ballerina leap over the grease, one even lifting another over them like a doubles iceskating team

The hero wonders why the gods hate him so much
I don't know...an earth-trembling leap from giants to bypass a very low level spell sounds rather reasonable. And them doing it ballerina style just makes them more intimidating.

"Oh no! They're strong...OH NO! THEY'RE GRACEFUL!"
 

Dessert Nomad

Adventurer
A giant grabs the first giant, pulls them out of the way, and the rest charge through.

It is effective, just not a complete shutdown.

Doesn't work. Giant 2 comes adjacent to Giant1, uses his action to grapple Giant1 (who chooses not to resist), then uses his remaining movement to drag Giant1 somewhere at half rate, which uses up Giant2's action and remaining movement, but the 10' of dragging doesn't actually get Giant1 or Giant2 completely clear of the 10' wide corridor Giant1 is blocking. Remember, this scenario involves a lot of blocking terrain and 10' wide openings (which the giants fill).

(If you're thinking Giant2 can grapple and then flip Giant1 to his other side and because it's still touching him so is technically a zero move, that A. likely doesn't solve the problem since the open areas are so restricted and B. is not an interpretation of the grappling rules that I would use in general, and certainly not an accepted enough one to use in a rules discussion).
 

Dessert Nomad

Adventurer
I'm just imagining how lame this example looks in the fiction.

The hero looks back at the plodding giants and gets an idea! They cast grease--that will slow the blighters down!

giants all ballerina leap over the grease, one even lifting another over them like a doubles iceskating team

The hero wonders why the gods hate him so much

A giant casually striding over what was supposed to be an obstacle, an imperial walker jumping over the dangerous area, or a hero making a mighty jump without breaking a sweat all look fine to me. Deciding that they must do something you think is silly looking is your decision, it's certainly not the most reasonable description of the action.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
A giant casually striding over what was supposed to be an obstacle, an imperial walker jumping over the dangerous area, or a hero making a mighty jump without breaking a sweat all look fine to me. Deciding that they must do something you think is silly looking is your decision, it's certainly not the most reasonable description of the action.
1) giants jumping is never not silly.
2) It's the one that picks the other guy up that sells it as ballet.

All to discredit a low level spell on the internet in defense of the Gods* of the game.

*I'm sorry to offend our wizard overlords by naming them after lesser beings.
 

1) giants jumping is never not silly.
2) It's the one that picks the other guy up that sells it as ballet.

All to discredit a low level spell on the internet in defense of the Gods* of the game.

*I'm sorry to offend our wizard overlords by naming them after lesser beings.
Get a grip. It's your own fault if you forget that things can jump. And this vendetta is getting frankly bizarre.
 

Oh, and to put things to perspective visually in the fiction, fire giants are roughly 18 feet tall. A ten foot grease patch for them is like a metre wide puddle for a human. They can literally just step over it, no actual jumping needed.
 
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pemerton

Legend
TLDR: option 3 is that grease and other non-concentration non-damage spells tend to be very mediocre on low level wizards, while becoming relatively stronger on higher level wizards primarily through spell and slot proliferation, high scaling hp of enemies, and non concentration status. Even then, such non-concentration spells most often serve as helper spells to the more generally strong concentration spells and very rarely are situationally strong enough to use by themselves in any encounter of note.
I thought the bolded bit is what I said in the OP.

Grease specifically is fine balance wise because all it does it make it slightly easier for the PCs who do lots of damage to do that damage. Accuracy is already high so advantage is not really as much as a big deal as it may sound (unless you're fighting something overlevelled or with unusually high AC. Monsters main defence is bags of hit points.

And it's usually going to be the Martials to do the damage and take advantage of Grease.

A character that gives other people the chance to be awesome is not really much of a balance problem.
I'm not sure about this.
 

ECMO3

Hero
This thread prompted me to read the 5e Grease spell. Here's the core effect of the spell:

When the grease appears, each creature standing in its area must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw or fall prone. A creature that enters the area or ends its turn there must also succeed on a Dexterity saving throw or fall prone.​

To me, this seems a microcosm of the issues with balance in contemporary, non-4e, D&D play.

The effect is of (roughly) equal utility at all levels - being prone is a debuff that costs movement to overcome, and there is no general tendency of higher-level NPCs/monsters to have immunity to the debuff (eg flying) nor to have more of the resource used to overcome it (ie movement rate). (The fact that the 5e movement penalty to stand from prone isn't as severe as in some other editions doesn't change the fact that it is a penalty that facilitates mobility-based tactics on the player side, as well as an immediate debuff against close combat attacks.)

But the cost - the expenditure of a 1st level spell slot - reduces dramatically with level, particularly given Arcane Recovery, and at the highest levels of play Spell Mastery. (This is the contrast with 4e - an encounter or daily power is an encounter or daily power, and there is no particular class build that reduces this to a negligible resource cost.)

It therefore seems to me that this ability is broken, and to be honest obviously so - given that other characters (especially rogues and fighters, who are notionally meant to be useful in fights) do not get similar AoE debuff abilities that become trivial in cost as level goes up. The only way in which this spell seems not just as broken as the 3E version is that it is save-based - and so that aspect may, though need not, scale with level on the defensive as well as attacking side (whereas in 3E it was skill-check based on an obscure skill (Balance) and so almost certainly didn't scale).

This may be a particularly pointed example, but I think it generalises to other effects that generate meaningful debuffs at an ever-reduced resource cost as the caster gains levels. And given this context, I really don't see how there can be caster/martial balance.
Grease is not a very effective spell. It is ok/good if you are fleeing, and it can cause an enemy to go prone, but it can also cause allies to go prone and affects ally mobility as much as enemy mobility. It is mediocre unless you have a chokepoint and the enemy must (and will) come through. Even it you are in a hallway and cast it on the floor blocking the entire hallway, the enemy can just back up around the corner and waits for the spell to end. Then either you go through it or you just wasted a spell.

Among 1st level spells; shield, silent image, charm person, disguise self, bless, bane, Faerie Fire, protection from good and evil and a host of others are both better than Grease and scale as well or better causing equally debilitating effects on the enemy at high levels with a first level casting.

Also consider, for Grease to scale you need to bump your casting ability to increase the save too. While that is common it is not a given, so spells like Shield, Mage Armor, bless and Protection from Good and Evil start out powerful and are still powerful at high level even with a 12 in your spell casting ability.
 
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ECMO3

Hero
Finally, Indomitable would be awful as a spell. Fighters get it at 9th level, so I would assume it would be a 5th level spell that allows the recipient to reroll a single failed saving throw during the duration, then the spell would end. I don't see many spellcasters using it, even if it has no concentration. The upcasts would be granting 2 rerolls in a 7th level slot and 3 rerolls in a 9th level slot, which is incredibly weak. This is actually pretty good proof that Indomitable as written is a weak ability for the fighter to be getting at 9th level.
If it had no concentration and it lasted for 8 hours I think it would be a good 5th level spell. Usually there are not a lot of saves in one day that you fail, but when you do fail it is usually bad.
 

The cost is not just your 1st-level slot, its also your action economy to cast it. Every action you take could have been a different action with wildly different consequences for your spells. You could have done up to 4d10 damage through your cantrip. You could have casted Magic Missile. Or you could have casted your higher-level spells to ensure that the fight would be much shorter than it might otherwise be.
Except that--and this is critical--grease isn't "make one single enemy potentially fall prone, one time." It creates a persistent hazard, no concentration required, that provides one automatic effect in the area (difficult terrain) and one repeating effect on all creatures in the area (Dex save or fall prone).

If used with even moderate skill, and I think it's reasonable to assume moderate skill on the part of every player, you're getting at minimum a couple of targets that potentially fall prone and some solid area denial. If you're lucky, you've just proned multiple targets and made your squishy self (and squishy friends) unreachable for a round or two.

If grease were a single-target, once-and-done effect like a cantrip is, then yes, your main comparison here would be more apt. As for the other point, you're not paying any special cost by choosing to cast your low-level spells now vs later; if you're playing with even moderate skill, you're trying pretty hard to expend every slot you've got, so the fact that you chose to use grease now and not fireball simply means you expected to get more utility out of that 3rd-level slot later than you would right now. That's not a cost, that's an analysis.

There's also the fact that there's so few creatures at high level that rely on regular ground movement to move. Its usually flight, burrowing, or some other form of movement. So its already pretty rare this spell will be too useful.
Is...that actually accurate? Are so many enemies truly not actually at all moving along the ground?

Because if so, you've just admitted a FAR worse problem for non-caster characters than the power of spells. The game prices melee characters out of play. That's not a good thing.

Martials can knock prone without even needing a resource. It just costs them a single attack (not attack action) on a turn to attempt it. Does that make martials more broken than grease? :unsure:
They can potentially prone one thing. Maybe. If they're lucky.

Maybe make some apples-to-apples comparisons instead of being so blithe and sarcastic?

Third thought,

I really think if we created wizard spells of some of what the fighter could do at will that those things would get called OP. It's almost like if you list something out as a spell, that makes it 10x stronger than if you list it out as something a martial can do. There's an instant difference in perception around such effects regardless of how strong they really are.
Put your math where your mouth is. Write up these spells. Let's see what people think about them.

This really makes me question the validity of the whole premise of the caster/martial complaint thread.

Grease, is OP? Sure, buddy... 🤷‍♀️
No, see, you've missed a key point here. As a spell, compared to the vast universe of other spells, grease is pretty weak.

As a single action, compared to the single actions non-casters can perform, it's pretty dang powerful.

THAT is the fundamental problem here.

However, fighters also get action surge. A 1st level spell that allows the spellcaster to cast 2 spells on the same turn? That would be called overpowered.
Except that that's not what action surge does. Action surge lets you take another standard action--and you can only use it once a day (twice at very high level). That's 5th-level spell or above. And yes, I'd say action surge could be argued to match a 5th-level spell, since it is one of the more powerful combat abilities in the game, and some spellcasters do actually dip Fighter just so they can get it (actually, you'd usually start Fighter for the Con save proficiency and heavy armor, then flip to whatever caster class you actually want to play--Bard is a strong choice here since it gets very minimal benefits from its max-level features).

But let's turn that same comparison around, shall we? Does getting to cast a single fifth-level spell very early on equal the powers available to a Wizard or Bard as they gain levels? Given that a 10th-level Wizard can cast two such spells a day, on top of their other features, that's a pretty difficult claim to make.

Second wind: A first level spell cast as a bonus action that heals a wizard for 1d10+class level? And can be cast when we cast other spells?
Wizards don't cast healing spells though, so that's kind of a specious example--remember that the school of Theurgy didn't make it into actual play. Let's consider Bard instead, since that's a full caster who explicitly gets healing stuff. So, we have this...let's call it burst of vitality spell: a first-level, self-only, reaction spell (so it doesn't run afoul of the "used a bonus action spell = can't cast anything but cantrips" rule) that heals for 1d10+class level would be...decent. Definitely worth considering if you're a melee Bard. But is it much better than shield? Both spells are reactions. The burst of vitality spell is a bit trickier to get best usage out of, and is at least in part dependent on a die roll (average level+5.5 HP), but it definitely does do something no matter what as long as you've actually taken damage, while shield is much more reliable in terms of direct effect (+5 AC), it's just not guaranteed to be worth casting (though Mearls has explicitly said that shield isn't supposed to be "wasted"--the player is supposed to know whether casting it would make a difference, which heavily mitigates the no-guaranteed-protection angle).

I'd call it powerful for a first-level spell, but not overweeningly so; a Life Cleric can get 1d8+5 out of a first-level spell slot, which (on average) is only 1 less than what a 5th-level Bard could do with this hypothetical burst of vitality. It's got better innate scaling than most first-level spells and a bigger die (1d10 instead of 1d8 or even 1d4 for healing word), and uses a much more favorable casting time (reaction, as opposed to a regular or bonus action). However, it's self-only, which is a fairly big limit...and much, much worse than that, you can only cast it once per short rest. With those limits in place, it doesn't strike me as an especially powerful first-level spell. Maybe the scaling is a bit much, most spells don't have their static values scale beyond the range of their rolled values, but I wouldn't call it radically out of line to include such a spell on the Bard, Cleric, Ranger, and Paladin spell lists.

I've played all of the classes except artificer for prolonged periods covering at least through level 13, and usually above 17. THEY'RE ALL FUN. THEY'RE ALL (at least) EFFECTIVE.
Given it is a game, "they're fun" is not a defense, it is an absolute bare-minimum requirement. If a class weren't fun, there would not need to be any discussion about the mechanics or balance--the class would be flatly unacceptable.

These threads are all ridiculous once you get a chance to play a diverse sample of 5E classes. You'll see this is usually just a bunch of people saying "the grass is greener" about something else, or people that have DMs that build/rule to favor certain situations, or people that just don't know the rules. Usually, but not always.
I have played a diverse sample of 5e classes. (Fighter, Sorcerer, Bard, Cleric, Monk.)

My concerns remain.

A level 11 fighter can attempt to prone an enemy and do 4d6 + 10 on hits at will.
Where is this 4d6+10 coming from? I'm not familiar with any weapon that does that much damage, but I don't claim to be an absolute expert on 5e rules. Keep in mind, though, that I don't think it's at all fair to count things like feats. Feats are both optional, and not actually part of the Fighter class. Extra ASIs are, but the feats themselves are not "what the Fighter can do at-will," they're "what the Fighter can do at-will after investment," which makes the comparison no longer apples-to-apples. The Wizard didn't need to spend a feat to be able to cast fireball.
 

ECMO3

Hero
Except that--and this is critical--grease isn't "make one single enemy potentially fall prone, one time." It creates a persistent hazard, no concentration required, that provides one automatic effect in the area (difficult terrain) and one repeating effect on all creatures in the area (Dex save or fall prone).

If used with even moderate skill, and I think it's reasonable to assume moderate skill on the part of every player, you're getting at minimum a couple of targets that potentially fall prone and some solid area denial. If you're lucky, you've just proned multiple targets and made your squishy self (and squishy friends) unreachable for a round or two.
I have used it in combat and have it on one of my characters and actually regret it (it will be dropped from what I prepare when I get two more level 2 spells).

Generally in terms of positive effects for the party it is exactly what your first statement says - make one single enemy POSSIBLY fall prone. You can't count on getting any more than that from it.

There are two problems that significantly nerf the spell. First prone causes disadvantage on attacks from outside 5 feet, meaning any allied bowmen and any casters throwing cantrips will be at disadvantage to hit the prone enemy. People going into melee from less than 5 feet have advantage, but only then if their initiative is between the casters and the enemies, because it is a safe bet the enemy is going to get up and move out of the hazard on his turn. Even if you down 2 enemies in the first turn, you probably can't take advantage of that unless your party is heavy on melee characters and even then there is the problem of getting multiple fighters within 5 feet and not getting in the grease yourself. If you target two, the actual best thing to happen generally is for one to fail and one to save, that way your ranged and reach guys can attack the stander without disadvantage and the 5-foot fighters can attack the prone guy with advantage.

It does create a persistent hazard, but in most cases that is a bigger problem for the party than it is for the enemy. This is because the party has better action economy and more abilities than most enemies. Things the party is going to do like cunning action, patient defense, zephyr strike or the mobility feat are going to be nerfed because of the persistent hazard that the party members must navigate and it prevents you from using these abilities as effectively as you normally would. It will cause problems for the enemy too, but when it comes to a hazard, generally it is a bigger hazard for the party unless you are fleeing or something like that.

When you get down to it sapping sting is generally more effective because it not only knocks prone, but also does 1d4 damage and it does it without using a spell slot.
 
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FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
They can potentially prone one thing. Maybe. If they're lucky.
Pretty sure they can prone as many things as they have attack from the attack action, though there could be some limitation on there that we ignore.

Maybe make some apples-to-apples comparisons instead of being so blithe and sarcastic?
Apples to apples only works when everyone has apples. Otherwise you just goina have to live with comparing the closest things to apples we have.

Put your math where your mouth is. Write up these spells. Let's see what people think about them.

Where is this 4d6+10 coming from? I'm not familiar with any weapon that does that much damage, but I don't claim to be an absolute expert on 5e rules. Keep in mind, though, that I don't think it's at all fair to count things like feats. Feats are both optional, and not actually part of the Fighter class. Extra ASIs are, but the feats themselves are not "what the Fighter can do at-will," they're "what the Fighter can do at-will after investment," which makes the comparison no longer apples-to-apples.
I'm not using feats. At level 11, 3 attacks with a greatsword is 1 shove attempt + 2 attacks @ 2d6+5 damage each (24 avg total). We could look at TWF using this same technique and it would 4 attacks with shortswords for 1 shove attempt + 2 attacks + 1 bonus action attack @ 3.5+5 damage each (25.5 avg total).

*Sword and Board is almost identical to the Greatsword in damage dealt.

Action Surge would put this up to a prone attempt and 60 avg damage for the greatsword. It would put us at a prone attempt and 51 avg damage for the TWF. ***Disintegrate is a level 6 spell and all it does is 75 avg damage when it hits with no prone effect. Wizards get 1 of those at level 11. You can do this every short rest.

If you were to write out spells with just effects the fighter can achieve with their actions, both at will and with resources expended they would turn into exceptional spells with feats/magic items added in.
 

Also, if you want an example of a martial character messing with the movement of enemies through tight corridors, a fighter-type with Polearm Mastery and Sentinel
Gonna have to stop you right there. That's not the class. That's a class that sunk two feats into something. No longer apples-to-apples when comparing "what can spells do" with "what can Fighters do," unless we start looking at spellcasters who have also spent two feats to enhance their casting abilities.

I'm just imagining how lame this example looks in the fiction.

The hero looks back at the plodding giants and gets an idea! They cast grease--that will slow the blighters down!

giants all ballerina leap over the grease, one even lifting another over them like a doubles iceskating team

The hero wonders why the gods hate him so much
Okay, whatever else I may think about this thread, this is hilarious and totally worth the price of admission.

If it had no concentration and it lasted for 8 hours I think it would be a good 5th level spell. Usually there are not a lot of saves in one day that you fail, but when you do fail it is usually bad.
That's....still not super great for a 5th level spell, seeing as how you only get two or three of those a day (up to five, if you're a Wizard or Land Druid, though realistically no more than three, since you only get that third 5th-level slot at level 18, and only get the ability to regain two 5th-level slots at class level 19). Spending a third to a half of your most powerful "repeatable" spells for the day to merely reroll--not succeed, just reroll--a couple saves? Not a great tradeoff, unless you're really afraid of what might happen if you fail any saves at all.

(Also, again, my experience with 5e vastly differs from others'. As a player, I have found saves to be extremely binary--either they're trivial, or nearly unpassable. Often the latter. It's part of what makes combat, especially in the earliest levels, incredibly frustrating and demoralizing. I'm reminded of the "ghoul surprise" boondoggle back during the playtest.)

Generally in terms of positive effects for the party it is exactly what your first statement says - make one single enemy POSSIBLY fall prone.
I would, personally, say that that means you're just seeing how niche the spell's effect is. As I very clearly said in a different part of the post you quoted, grease is not a good spell overall. But it's much better than shoving. Much as, for example, sleep is a LOVELY spell...at 1st level, and rapidly declines into "not worth the ink it's written with" territory by 5th level or so.

Pretty sure they can prone as many things as they have attack from the attack action, though there could be some limitation on there that we ignore.
It looks like you're correct. I had read the PHB rules--"If you're able to make multiple attacks with the Attack action, this attack replaces one of them," emphasis mine--as meaning you could use exactly one attack to shove, no matter how many attacks you might have. Assuming you allow Crawford tweets as official commentary on the rules, he has clarified that it is any number of attacks. But you still have to make multiple attempts at it--and you get at best four chances (for an extremely high-level fighter!) if you have four things adjacent to you. That's definitely not going to be any easier than getting four things in a 10-foot square!

Apples to apples only works when everyone has apples. Otherwise you just goina have to live with comparing the closest things to apples we have.
Then my argument is that you are, rather plainly, making apples-to-orangutans comparisons, when you could be doing apples-to-pears instead.

I'm not using feats. At level 11, 3 attacks with a greatsword is 1 shove attempt + 2 attacks @ 2d6+5 damage each (24 avg total). We could look at TWF using this same technique and it would 4 attacks with shortswords for 1 shove attempt + 2 attacks + 1 bonus action attack @ 3.5+5 damage each (25.5 avg total).
You said "on hits." This is not "on hits." This is "if you hit with every attack." Of course things look far rosier for the martials if every attack is a guaranteed hit!

*Sword and Board is almost identical to the Greatsword in damage dealt.
My math has, repeatedly, shown otherwise, so I'm curious how you reach this point.

If you were to write out spells with just effects the fighter can achieve with their actions, both at will and with resources expended they would turn into exceptional spells with feats/magic items added in.
I literally already did that, at least for Second Wind/"burst of vitality," and found it pretty clearly wanting in this "holy balls this is so overpowered it should never have been printed" territory.

Again: put your math where your mouth is. Show me these writeups that are so blatantly overpowered that no one in their right mind would have printed them. I've already tried my hand at it, and found it seriously wanting. Action Surge is the only one that might--might--fall into that range. You described the entire Fighter class as being built out of this stuff. I'm honestly kind of excited to see you make these writeups, because I would love to be proven wrong, and am very ready to give you the benefit of the doubt on this. I would LOVE to feel like Fighters are powerful badasses that don't get regularly outclassed by magic. That's what I want, and you are proposing to give it to me. Why would that upset me?

Again though, note that I do not accept magic items or feats as part of this equation. It needs to be the Fighter, its class features, and its non-magical equipment. Just as the Wizard (or Cleric or whatever) is only getting its class features and non-magical equipment. Totally cool with advancing stats with ASIs, totally cool with leveraging subclass features (excluding EK, since that turns the Fighter into a caster and the whole point is making non-casters stack up). But no feats, no buffs cast by an ally, no magic items, etc. Just the Fighter, in all her glory.
 
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Asisreo

Fiendish Attorney
if you're playing with even moderate skill, you're trying pretty hard to expend every slot you've got, so the fact that you chose to use grease now and not fireball simply means you expected to get more utility out of that 3rd-level slot later than you would right now. That's not a cost, that's an analysis.
Its a cost-benefit analysis with emphasis on spell-slot preservation, which is fine. It doesn't make grease horrible. My main point really isn't that grease is some bad spell, my point is that whenever you're making this analysis and you're doing so with skill, you'll recognize that a fireball has the potential to end multiple creatures immediately or make it easier for martials while a grease has the potential to prone multiple creatures.

Again, neither of those are necessarily bad especially with cost-analysis, but usually there isn't enough actions in the game to justify it being spammed like a cantrip. Another issue is that it becomes an obstacle for your martial allies as well. Be careful where and when you place it. My position has always been that grease is an ok spell but high-level wizards should be contemplating more reliable and powerful spell options when control is needed like Wall spells, Hideous Laughter, and Hypnotic Pattern.


Is...that actually accurate? Are so many enemies truly not actually at all moving along the ground?

Because if so, you've just admitted a FAR worse problem for non-caster characters than the power of spells. The game prices melee characters out of play. That's not a good thing.
I mean, if we look at the high-level monsters that are likely to be faced:

Dragons: flight (and another form of movement)
Purple Worm: burrowing
Mages (Lich, Archmage): Teleportation spells (magic resistance)
Devils: Flight/teleportation
Demons: Flight/teleportation
Vampires: Shapechange

Is it a problem for martials? Maybe? Depends on how selfish your party plays. An effect that can knock a creature down can end up doing up to 20d6 damage outright then an extra amount of damage from the martial getting their piece. Even then, by high level, the martial usually finds some way to either put reasonable damage in their ranged attacks or have the ability to fly via magic items anyways.
 

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