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

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Gorck

Prince of Dorkness
i think more martials really ought to have their basic options open up, increasing movespeed, gaining natural climb and swim speeds, a vertical leap, yes some of those are signature traits of certain classes but that just would mean they get even bigger increases, the wizard casts spider climb to ascend a rock wall but the rogue, fighter and barbarian can just climb it themselves, the monk ran straight up it not even slowing their pace.

would martials really be broken if they all had access to unlimited use battlemaster maneuvres(either without the battlemaster die boost or maybe just a d4?), even if certain classes only could access certain ones, there's no way being able to trip or shove an enemy with your attacks would begin to rival the power of hypnotic pattern or fireball.

edit: fighting styles ought to be more prevalent too, outside of investing resources with feats and multiclassing only one subclass of one class will ever have more than one fighting style, and they get to have two whole fighting styles! wow! martial classes should really be picking up fighting styles left and right.
I've been doing some thinking about this and I would be all for getting rid of the Battlemaster as a subclass and just incorporating its features into the core Fighter class. I jotted down some notes that, I think, work for both 5e and One D&D:

Combat Superiority (3rd level) – move to 2nd level
Student of War (3rd level) - remove
Know Your Enemy (7th Level) – remove
Improved Combat Superiority (10th & 18th levels) – move to 9th & 17th levels [Enhanced Combat Superiority]
Relentless (15th level) – move to 13th level

So you would add the following to the Fighter table:

2nd level – Combat Superiority
9th level – Improved Combat Superiority
13th level – Relentless
17th level - Enhanced Combat Superiority
 

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I think maybe there needs to be a level set for what bar character powers need to clear to get beyond "whoop-di-doo"
These usually boil down to judgment calls.
Others have raised the point that a lot of high-level spells don't actually do anything truly scope-changing (IIRC a conversation with FormerlyHemlock on another board where the goal was to stop a slow-moving lava-flow from wiping out a town, and the end-realization was that pretty much all of the environment-changing/battlefield-control spells that casters have are woefully insufficient to address anything other than other small groups of skirmish-level combatants). This is true of most spells -- they may have outsized impact on game-typical combat encounters (and perhaps should be adjusted for overall balance), but they don't actually let the casters do new things that everyone else can't*. The exceptions are thing like the aforementioned teleports, plane shifts, resurrections, and the one I see the most (perhaps because it is lower level) -- fly. You can make it concentration-only and limited duration and such; change the fighter to be as folklore-mythic in their climbing or jumping abilities as you want (so long as they can only leap a certain height, as opposed to 'as high as plot demands'); but if the DM puts the lever that lets the party into the next wing of the dungeon across a bottomless pit, or throws in a flying castle 5' above that max jump height, suddenly it is a problem that the caster can solve that the fighter can't**, and for historical reasons people expect it to show up when casters hit level 5.
*a significantly more common scenario is simply the magic way of accomplishing task X is automatic after spending the slot (and lots of groups having trouble making limited spell slots more than a paper-tiger of a constraint after a certain point), the magnitude of the effect outsized, or the limitations not being very limiting.
**natively. Obviously magic items change this.


The fact that the weaknesses that spellcasters do have get reduced every edition doesn't help. Thank heavens bonus spells are gone, at least.
This, I think, is one of the big issues. AD&D added limitations in terms of spell-fizzling (but some durability bonuses in the form of bracers or armor and some new defensive spells), but otherwise each edition has generally removed or reduced (in consequence) an inconvenience that casters previously had (be that spell fizzling, or atrocious AC/HP, or limits on weapons usable, or the damage you could do with them or the magic abilities you would get with the weapons you were allowed, or for 5e the removing of having to prepare the exact loadout of spells you think you will want to cast in a given day, or so on...). Oftentimes this was done for good reasons (balancing powerful with 'this is really inconvenient' and/or 'but you are utterly worthless when not doing this' both being a form of balance a lot of people didn't really enjoy), but it's interesting that no new limitations were added in their place, nor were the other classes really given any boosts nearly as situation-changing*.
*generally instead little boosts around the edges. No one would say that Action Surge is trivial, but id doesn't open up new avenues of playstyle previous constraints meant for fighters, or the like.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I think the artificer abailty to make magic weapons and armor through the infusions should be an optional thing for fighters... like "hey I killed a manticor and took it's tail spikes to make +1 returning throwing knives" but also "I forged this armor and the liquids to quench the steel was the blood of dragons so now it is +1 and grants resistance to fire"
Very Tears of The Kingdom, I like it.
because at 11th we have people bringing back the dead and turning people to ash... that is well beyond any magic in most of those stories.
arcane gate, blade barrier, chain lightning, contingency, conjure XXX, disinitagrate, flesh to stone, Harm, Heal, Magic Jar, planar ally, true seeing is a not complete list of spells at this level... of those chain lightning and flesh to stone are the only two I could imagine in the power level of beowulf and hercules... but the casters wont be limited to JUST that they can do that once per day and twice per day do something like bring the dead back, or the like... and 9 times (3/3/3) uses 2nd-4th levels spells and 4 times 1st.
in any given adventure with beowulf and hercules you have wizards that gandalf and merlin would be in awe of for there daily out put...
This is IMO more an issue of spells not being skill-based.
@GMforPowergamers used to say “every hero has an origin story but they all have powers no matter what the origin is”

Was Spider-Man mutated by a radioactive spider bite or magical chosen by the spider totem? It doesn’t really matter.
In fact some spiders-man are magical.
Hasn't the Dungeon Crawl Classic TTRPG already solve this??
No.
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.
While I like baked in setting as well, and my game certainly has one, I disagree. D&D takes place in the D&D multiverse, which is a place where the PCs and thier abilities exist.
Sure. There are like a million of them.

They weren't strong or fast enough, and they trained until they were. Their technique was not perfected and then it was. They learned a new technique. They gained a deeper understanding of materials/movements/psychology/the flow of time/etc. Their perception sharpened. They learned to perceive new things. Their body matured/metamorphosed/etc.(they physically grew into their strength)

Heroic fantasy is not littered with characters who can do heroic fantastical things. Magic is one justification for how these fantastical things can be accomplished, but it isn't the only one.
Really if people would just accept and embrace the anime….

Your master swordsman can cut a spell off as it’s being cast, or deflect or even block it with thier blade, they can move so fast that lesser fighters can’t even see the strike that kills them, etc.

You heavy can shake the earth, throw an enemy into another enemy or through walls, etc.

Your clever sneaky assassin type can disappear out of plain sight, and has a lot of traits in common with the swordmaster wrt to speed and precision, on top of weird weaponry like semi-invisible threads and the like. And hide in and move through shadows, as much as I tend to view that as a specific archetype ability in D&D .
ErcyYou have alchemically boosted super soldiers, a guy who turns into a giant, a literal God, a flying Wizard in full plate...and some dude who shoots arrows good.
Iron Man is a Hexblade Warlock that doesn’t bother with weapons and just uses Eldritch blast a lot.

But also, if yhe assassin is one-shooting everythy enemy they hit, creating openings in grou
That's because anyone who wanted a cool martial left to play another game, so the martial players that are left either simply don't care about the game aspect or have some weird impotence fantasy where they want to play a town guard +1 alongside Dr. Strange. The people who like the current fighter just don't care much about effectiveness or driving the plot through character abilities.
this is grossly false, and needlessly insulting to anyone who disagrees with you.

Most people I know who like playing fighters do so because they recognize that the game isn’t contained within the rules text. They know that they can trip, disarm, etc, by making checks. They know they can exceed jump distances by making a check. They know that anything fighters can do in those other games the 5e D&D fighter can do too, people on forums with too much stock in The Rules just dismissivelycall it “mother may I” and act like that makes it go away, like they aren’t just avoiding actual engagement with it.
 
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Yeah but that is precisely the conflict between Martial fans.

Some fans want class features that are game changers like casters have.

But game changers tend to feel too "magical" in a way that other fans dislike.

It is challenging to come up a solution that makes both camps happy.

I really don't think it is. Just have mutiple options. What I see is that some/many "mundane" martial fans want a mundane martial AND restrict a mythic martial from existing in the game, even if optional. I have never seen a mythic martial fan say "we must only have a mythic martial in the game or the game is ruined".

AND on top of this, I find that the strictly mundane martial fans seem to be very vocal on what this mythic martial should look like, what mechanics are allowed (no daily use!, no narrative!) when they have no intention of using it in their games!
 

Keep in mind the context for this chain of thought is what is actually consequential and how that relates to how high level magic is perceived by players, which has to come down to a comparison between the actual effects of said magic and what can (and readily is) replicated by mundane mechanisms. A Meteor Storm that's no more consequential than a plane crash puts the power of that spell into perspective when, like a plane in our world, magic in that world is a common place and not fantastical part of reality.

Magic does not "warp reality" when it just is reality, and when we look at the magic accused of warping reality and look at what it actually does, that logic tracks, as the spells in question don't, as said, actually do all that much.

Wish is the sole exception purely because its effects, with DM intervention, can go well beyond the capabilities of any other magic described in the game.
This is some pretty twisty logic, but let's boil it down.

From the perspective of a non-magic user, even in a fantasy setting, do casters interact with reality in a predictable way, at the same scale those non-magic users would be accustomed to?

No.

The bog standard commoner in most D&D settings cannot go invisible, cannot blow up a castle, and cannot enclose a (very) small country-sized area in an illusory hellscape, all on a night's rest.

Saying reality warping effects cannot warp reality because they are reality is an argument eating its tail.

Here's a test. Mention to your fighter that they can take an improvised action, and when they say "I'd like to wave my sword around a bit and blow up that castle", tell me what skill check you'd have them roll to accomplish it.

If you wouldn't allow such a check..tell me why.
 

Most people I know who like playing fighters do so because they recognize that the game isn’t contained within the rules text. They know that they can trip, disarm, etc, by making checks. They know they can exceed jump distances by making a check. They know that anything fighters can do in those other games the 5e D&D fighter can do too, people on forums with too much stock in The Rules just dismissivelycall it “mother may I” and act like that makes it go away, like they aren’t just avoiding actual engagement with it

You know the biggest appeal of TTRPGs for me is that, unlike video games, Im not limited to what the game says I can do, even if the TTRPG lacks specific mechanics for whatever it is.

It is bizarre to me that so many are apparently helpless if their character sheet doesn't have a button to press.
 

Remathilis

Legend
Less of a catch-22 and more of a double standard.

If folks are unwilling to put forth a reasoning for why magic should work, maybe they could temper their insistence that nonmagic can't work.

The issue I find is that any answer on how and why magic works gets immediately countered with " But in MY campaign...". A good example of that is the weave sidebar being pointed to when the nature of magic is discussed only for people to point out its Faerun origin does gel with Dark Sun, Eberron, or the DM's personal homebrew. Which is the conflict of D&D as a shared universe and D&D is a toolkit.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
This is some pretty twisty logic, but let's boil it down.

From the perspective of a non-magic user, even in a fantasy setting, do casters interact with reality in a predictable way, at the same scale those non-magic users would be accustomed to?

No.

The bog standard commoner in most D&D settings cannot go invisible, cannot blow up a castle, and cannot enclose a (very) small country-sized area in an illusory hellscape, all on a night's rest.

Saying reality warping effects cannot warp reality because they are reality is an argument eating its tail.

Here's a test. Mention to your fighter that they can take an improvised action, and when they say "I'd like to wave my sword around a bit and blow up that castle", tell me what skill check you'd have them roll to accomplish it.

If you wouldn't allow such a check..tell me why.
Oof yeah, even I wouldn’t allow that. Some kind of check to take out 100 enemy soliders with a single check? Sure, at higher level, why not.
You know the biggest appeal of TTRPGs for me is that, unlike video games, Im not limited to what the game says I can do, even if the TTRPG lacks specific mechanics for whatever it is.

It is bizarre to me that so many are apparently helpless if their character sheet doesn't have a button to press.
I agree, though I wonder if you can ever express a thought like this without acting superior or putting people down.

It’s gross.
 

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