D&D (2024) Martial vs Caster: Removing the "Magical Dependencies" of high level.

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Incenjucar

Legend
The sheer amount of 'non-anime' hedging going on is part of the problem too. We're just straight up discounting an entire medium in service of some dumbass meme that stopped being relevant thirty years ago. and was pretty suspect in its intentions even then.

As if anime is just the Z-fighters and not Spike Jeet Kun Do, Gourry and Zelgadis's Swordsmanship (and hey, Zel's a gish too!), the casual hard-punching from Way of the House husband, or Yor's acrobatic badassery.

Nah, we're stuck in 1998 for some reason. And one of those examples was from before then.
For the purposes of discussion with most people, anime == shonen inspired by DBZ (and not by DB). It's a mischaracterization, but it's a useful shorthand.

Start talking about Fruits Basket and most people will just wonder if you're hungry.
 

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The sheer amount of 'non-anime' hedging going on is part of the problem too. We're just straight up discounting an entire medium in service of some dumbass meme that stopped being relevant thirty years ago. and was pretty suspect in its intentions even then.

As if anime is just the Z-fighters and not Spike Jeet Kun Do, Gourry and Zelgadis's Swordsmanship (and hey, Zel's a gish too!), the casual hard-punching from Way of the House husband, or Yor's acrobatic badassery.

Nah, we're stuck in 1998 for some reason. And one of those examples was from before then.

Part of it in my estimation is that anime has become self-referential in a way that cartoons (at least American ones to go by what Im familiar with) haven't in decades.

Like, the Hanna Barbera era of cartoons all have a very distinctive aesthetic, crossing all kinds of genres from superheros, to sword and sorcery, to mundane mysteries and family comedies, and from the slapstick to the near realistically violent.

Anime isn't so different in its aesthetics, and its tropes are very distinct and, as it happens, not exactly attractive to everyone nor able to mesh well with other styles. Theres a reason when South Park or Futurama have an anime episode that it looks and feels completely different from the regular show, even if the underlying humor and writing is the exact same quality and genre otherwise.

Its why, for me personally, I have never been able to get into JRPGs despite their popularity and, afaik, really great games. It just isn't appealing even if what could happen in the gameplay would be if divorced from the aesthetics.

Edit: this is also why the aesthetics of DCCRPG lend themselves to a very different feeling kind of a game despite not being all that distinct from your conventional DND heritage game.
 

The problem is that a certain segment of the fanbase has decided the discreet abilities of any kind; be it sweep a dude's leg easily, or punch a hole in a wall reliably simply MUST be considered magical by nature of being actually reliable and discreetly laid out in a format that isn't 'attack'.

Yeah, this is really limiting for no reason other than historical/preference. Also no reason you couldn't have martial abilities that break action econony. Also narrative control.

The famous Come and Get It type move could allow any type of narrative control to end with people next to the Fighter. If it doesn't make sense that the mage is goaded -- the Fighter just goes over and yanks him back to the spot (with no move action, grapple roll, etc.).

I think the issue though is that DND doesn't really have a baked in default setting. The Realms are still there as guidelines here and there, but especially lately it's not typically assumed as the default unless you're strictly playing modules, and even then!

While somewhat true, any D&D setting seems to operate under fantasy physics? Dragons whose wings allow them to fly, etc.
 

I think the issue though is that DND doesn't really have a baked in default setting. The Realms are still there as guidelines here and there, but especially lately it's not typically assumed as the default unless you're strictly playing modules, and even then!

That lack of a true common ground doesn't help perspectives on the upper limits of the mundane.

Not to keep plugging my game but that is actually something Ive kept in mind and have been working to balance; the desire for a baked in default as well as easy portability to other settings. The way Ive written the classes and abilities all come with flavor that are unified by a common vision rooted in the games default setting but would also easily fit with minimal or no modification in other settings.
It's true there is no baked in default setting, but basically all the settings are fantasy ones. Weird (by Earth standards) stuff happens like all the time in most all of them.

It's bizarre to me that there is a mindset that looks at the weird stuff going on in a fantasy setting, and goes "yeah, but if your character holds a sword, they shouldn't get to do anything like that....unless they say the magic wooorrrrdddss"
 

It's true there is no baked in default setting, but basically all the settings are fantasy ones. Weird (by Earth standards) stuff happens like all the time in most all of them.

It's bizarre to me that there is a mindset that looks at the weird stuff going on in a fantasy setting, and goes "yeah, but if your character holds a sword, they shouldn't get to do anything like that....unless they say the magic wooorrrrdddss"

Thats why establishing that default setting is important, because then you don't lose the details in the endless sea of variants.

In my games lore, all sapient beings are one of either self-reincarnated warrioes of Odin, the created children of a blind god, or the hundred times over experiment of child gods abandoned to their own devices.

The baseline for being mundane in this context is quite high, and mechanically this is all unified by a skill system that emphasizes that while capabilities are high, nothing is guaranteed reliable, including and especially magic.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
I like that you have this take, and it's quite interesting.

My issue is more with the D&D Core and trying to thread the needle in core, rather than solving it with homebrew. I'm concerned about threading a needle through having all classes with their own distinct class archetype and distinct subarchetypes and their own distinct mechanics and also satisfying both the "Fighters Should Be COMPLEX" and "Fighters Should Be SIMPLE" crowds.

WotC has failed at this on a sub-archetypal level (Champion vs Battle Master, The Undying Patron vs The Undead Patron, Way of Four Elements Monk vs Way of the Sun Soul Monk, Pact of the Blade Warlock Pact Boon vs The Hexblade Patron, etc). Some of those are just "don't pay attention to that old failed mechanic, look here at this shiny new one that actually works and meets your thematic concept" others are dials of complexity and simplicity but otherwise overlapping narratively. 2024 One D&D is a chance to reboot this and fix those mistakes, but even just having Champion vs Battle Master is emblematic of the problem here. Mechanically, these WANT to be two separate basic Fighter dial kits that would share subclasses with each other and have a single generic subclass as the default. Alternatively, you could take the Battle Master and make it a dial all Fighters can choose in place of different Fighter core features (and not a weaker version of the Battle Master a la the Combat Superiority Fighting Style). But that would make Fighter akin to the Mystic Playtest -- multiple mechanical identities that share just the most basic of features like HD and skills. But I don't love the alternative of pushing all anime and complex fighters into the Monk class or else limited-by-their-nature subclasses.
I know you've all heard me say it before, but imo WotC is simply not going to accommodate the desire some of us have for more interesting/complex/more powerful (maybe) martials, at least any more than they have. They basically buffed wizards in the playtest, and I would argue their fighter doesn't go nearly far enough for most folks here. And that's what its going to look like, barring some detail shifting, in the final product. Too many players are fine with the fighter they've made for them to consider big changes, unfortunately.

That's my take anyway. You need to look for 3pp or homebrew if you want better.
 

Thats why establishing that default setting is important, because then you don't lose the details in the endless sea of variants.

In my games lore, all sapient beings are one of either self-reincarnated warrioes of Odin, the created children of a blind god, or the hundred times over experiment of child gods abandoned to their own devices.

The baseline for being mundane in this context is quite high, and mechanically this is all unified by a skill system that emphasizes that while capabilities are high, nothing is guaranteed reliable, including and especially magic.
I think a narrative approach is one way you can bypass players' earthcentric biases. I don't think that it is essential though.

I think you can take a mechanical approach. Give PC's of all stripes access to fantasy heroic capabilities, and players will intuit that their characters are intended to be fantasy heroes, not just upjumped security guards.

The advantage of this is that the player then gets to control the narrative for why it is they can do the things they do. Maybe they're a demigod, or a magical experiment, or born under a lucky star. Or maybe it's just good genes, or intense training, whatever.

Specificity of setting expectations can certainly inform a set of decisions in how you design your game mechanics. But you can also just design the game mechanics to produce fantasy characters you think would be fun to play, and then give GMs the tools to build compatible fantasy settings.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Its more a brand new game but I get your meaning :)

The principle issue I think is mostly that all Martials rely on and center around basic attacks, which to make an analogy is like the formless grey nutrient cube to the varietys of Cheesecake Factory overindulgence that is most magic in DND. Not a lot to them, and what few riders (like Rage or Battlemaster maneuvers, or the new Weapon Masteries) can be added either aren't satisfactory or too fiddly or both.

Which is incidentally what lead me to design my martials the way I did. Things wed call maneuvers in 5e are all just the various varieties of basic attacks in LNO, and abilities like Smash!, Battle Combos, or the Cunning Act all integrate with and enhance them. While the three core classes I described have a clear hierarchy of complexity, within each you could choose how much complexity you want relative to the class.

A Barbarian can just make their repeated Smash! and Slam! moves with a basic strike and not really think about it, or they could make use of the different basics to vary up the playstyle. Likewise a Warrior can just spam one Technique and call it a day, or they can go for different combos and get the most out of chaining them between enemies. And the Rogue runs down the middle with an improv take that can be as complex or braindead as one prefers. And while most of what I put in as explicit possibilities doesn't really approach anime gonzo type stuff, you could easily do that.

Someone on Reddit called this sort of thing "inherent customization", something Mages get already just by the nature of spells and whether or not one just wants to blast or think.

But beyond all this, the thing I think really underpins this whole issue is that of picking a genre and sticking to it. Ive been of the opinion that magic as designed in 5e (and arguably in DND in general) has been violating the genre its meant to occupy; as such jacking up martials to match just further violates it, and that is where I think a lot of the dispute over whats appropriate and how far it should go lies.

People may not like the idea of nerfing magic (and in particular, utility magic) into the ground, but its kind of necessary unless we're ready to acknowledge that clashing genres together (particularly ones very far apart) isn't going to work, and thus just embrace DND as mythic fantasy rather than the mix of epic and sword/sorcery fantasy.

You can't really keep magic as is without violating the genre, and the same goes for martialing, just in the other direction.

If WOTC (and Hasbro) had any conviction to stand by their own ideas rather than the heavily divided whims of the community, then they could pick a lane, deal with the loss of whose who don't like it, and still have a successful franchise that will only get stronger when the resultant games are all the better for it.
To be fair, the last time WotC tried hard to "pick a lane", as you say, they produced 4e, which wasn't as successful as they wanted then. They want more now.
 

The default setting is whatever the DM wants.
Thats why establishing that default setting is important, because then you don't lose the details in the endless sea of variants.

In my games lore, all sapient beings are one of either self-reincarnated warrioes of Odin, the created children of a blind god, or the hundred times over experiment of child gods abandoned to their own devices.

The baseline for being mundane in this context is quite high, and mechanically this is all unified by a skill system that emphasizes that while capabilities are high, nothing is guaranteed reliable, including and especially magic.
 


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