D&D 5E Martials should just get free feats

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Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
I can see that (and I think in the Dresden File's game it does work that way) but what are martial exploits and maneuvers, if not narrative mechanics?
Different physical, mental or spiritual moves a character can make in-universe for some kind of advantage. That's how it's done in Level Up, anyway.

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Not really, the game designers just need to accept that you dont need magic to do epic stuff - like shooting a barrage of arrows from your bow or even flying over a wall

I would be fine with that, martial feats at higher levels being called out as superhuman and equivalent in power to magic. But again, you're not going to get a dramatic shift like that from WotC.


Follower of the Way
It wasnt as much of a issue TSR editions, because doing the impossible had very real downsides, from longer xp progression, to being basically very hard to use in combat, and the fact even casting a spell could be a pain.

3e just removed all risk from it, increased their resources, and the game has simply never recovered
Well, the problem is, 3e wasn't wrong to remove some of that stuff.

You shouldn't have to design the game around making it annoying to use things for their intended purpose. Further, the needs of the modern gaming public aren't super compatible with a system that requires you to churn through 17 characters before you finally get one that survives long enough to get somewhere. That's why the "character funnel" was developed, as a way to mitigate the downsides that had become much more of a problem than they were before the new millennium. Systems that use it aren't for me, but I absolutely recognize them as a good game design idea within their context.

Magic systems that let you "do the impossible" but force you to jump through a dozen actually difficult hoops are mostly just frustrating. Frustrating players drives them away. That doesn't mean that having no limits at all is a good thing, it's not, but it means the limitations need to be ones that aren't frustrating. Understandable, workable limits are what matter here. "Risk" generally just means "do this and you're likely to lose your character," which means it's almost never actually worth doing. Which is the long-running problem with any system balancing PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWER with "risk"--the character is going to keep using these powers, that's literally the point of playing one, so any risk with nonzero probability is GOING to happen eventually.

There's a reason stuff like "wild surges" are not wildly popular (heh, punny.) That kind of "risk" is just a dealbreaker, and having a dealbreaker for most of the classes in the game is simply bad design.

Modern D&D needs to resolve this, one way or another, and going back to "this class is a PITA to play but theoretically overpowered when it works" doesn't seem to be on the table. Sooner or later, we're gonna have to address that.


Is D&D "in real life"? I honestly cannot believe you are making this argument.

Playing D&D is real life and when people are talking about being "punished" I assume they are talking about being punished as a player while playing the game "in real life" because they chose to play a fighter.

The person I responded to also used the example of a Chicke Teryaki sandwich, which I assume was a real life example as well. I assume he was not talking about his character walking into a tavern and ordering a Chicken Taryaki sandwhich.

I assume they are not suggesting their character is being punished. I am assuming that people are claiming that players are being punished while playing the game of D&D. The is directly analogous to playing the game of basketball.

Your arguments have done much the same. "X was more fun in its game than Y was in its game" absolutely has no data whatsoever to back it up, and can be refuted by what little data we actually have, including things like explicit statements from the developers themselves who recognized issues with how they implemented things.

No, there is data to back up the idea that 5E is better than 4E. It is vastly more popular and the majority of people who have played both agree that 5E is better.

There is also anecdotal data which shows Fighters in 5E are vastly popular, to include by experienced players who presumably know they are underpowered compared to other classes. That data is limited and anecdotal and does not actually prove anything, but it certainly implies playing a "weak" fighter does not hurt the players doing it and it is data that we can use and draw inferences.

On the other hand here is no actual data at all to indicate players are punished for playing fighters.

When it comes to players being overshadowed or "punished" for playing a fighter I am very confident this is not a widespread or common problem in the game. I am confident of that for three reasons:

1. There is no actual empirical data to support the theory.

2. The anecdotal data we have (discussed above) does not prove anything but implies it is not the case

3. In the past 5 years I have played in 21 campaigns, including 12 that were completed end-to-end from tier 1 to tier 3 or beyond and I have played with 15 DMs (including myself) and well over 100 players from at least 8 different countries. I have seen a number of players be overshadowed or "punished" for a variety of reasons, including DM mistakes and including DM mistakes I made personally. But I have never once seen a player be overshadowed or punished because he or she was playing a fighter. Given the sheer volume of games I have played it is extremely unlikely that I would have not have witnessed it if it was in fact a problem at any significant level.

No they don't. Some classes cost more in time and an artificer costs more in both time and money.

Further the cost is irrelevant because people choose what class to play. If Wizard is a better value you are free to chose that.

This is no different than if Subway raised the price of a Veggie Delight so it was the same price as a Chicken Terriyaki. You are still free to pick the Veggie Delight even though it is not as "good a sandwich"

You have one menu. Everyone pays exactly the same amount to get something from that menu: one class (at least to start), one race, one background. Why should people who just happen to like wearing bathrobes and shouting weird words get great physical prowess and tons of special extra bonus rewards while people who like chainmail and weapons and physical fitness get just great physical prowess and nothing else?

Because that is the character they want to play. Plain and simple and anyone who chooses to play a fighter can play that character instead.

A better question is why shouldn't they? Why should you be able to tell someone they can't do something when the rules say they can?

If the menu has a veggie delight and a Chicken Tereyaki and they are the same price does that mean I can complain to subway and demand meat on my Veggie delight because it is the same price? No I can order the Chicken if I want meat.

D&D presents its options as commensurate. Nowhere--not one single place--will say that Wizards are just objectively more powerful than Fighters. If you can present even one single quote from the books that explicitly says this, I will gladly and instantly surrender

You won't find a single place where it will objectively say all classes are equal or balanced either.

While I can't be explicit, I will provide some implicit support for my argument:

PHB page 112: "Wizards are supreme magic users"

They are "supreme" because it says so in the PHB. That puts them above all Clerics, Druids, Warlocks, Artificers, Sorcerers, Rangers and Paladins. It also puts them above Wild Magic Barbarians, Eldritch Knight Fighters and Arcane Trickster Rogues.

Supreme is a strong word, and all the classes and subclasses I listed above are magic users.

People like balance...when it serves a useful function. But to know that it serves a function, and agree that that function is useful, is a nontrivial thing.

I don't think this is true. I think people claim and perhaps think they like balance but don't actually like it once it is implemented.

Moreover the suggestions to "balance" the classes will never actually balance them. If you really want to balance fighters with Wizards then give fighter spells .... lots of spells. That would achieve actual balance, and if people really and truely want balance that is the way to do it.

What? Since when is liking "having martial skill and not using magic" equivalent to being absolutely 100% in love with the mechanical characteristics of the 5e Fighter as it exists?

Because they chose to play that class. If I am to accept your position then people purposefully choose to play classes they don't like to play. That makes no sense.
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Then ditch the analogy and keep the argument.

You may choose any one of thirteen classes as your first level. These classes are not, in any way, presented as being more or less powerful than one another. Indeed, much the opposite--every class's entry sells its position, both weaknesses and strengths. The designers' words, outside the text of the books themselves, have indicated that they care about these options being commensurate with one another.

This is just not true.

The classes are not in any way presented as equal. The verbiage in the player's handbook does not state explicitly that some are more powerful than others, but the text describing the classes certainly implies some are more powerful than others.

Beyond the descriptions of the classes, any thorough review of the mechanics (which are in the players handbook) would show objectively that some classes are more powerful than others. The Wizard spells in the PHB are all affiliated with the Wizard class and they are all in the PHB. If those spells objectively make the Wizard more powerful then the Fighter, then the PHB handbook objectively shows that the Wizard is more powerful than the Fighter.

Now I will admit, if you have not played the game, it takes a lot of research and reading to reach that conclusion, but it is fundamentally untrue to state that the classes are presented as equals in the PHB. They are objectively presented as not equal in terms of mechanics.

The imbalance is actually written into the PHB!

Why am I paying the same amount of game resources to get less?

Because you want to get less. If you don't want to get less then don't get less.

It really is that simple.
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I think martial classes are already competitive with casters. Most of the tier rankings I see, including ones with large numbers of responses, suggest the same. They are also heavily played. So for my campaigns, this would be unbalancing.
indeed a lot of optimizer guide place martial in the middle tier for combat.
in fact in combat most classes and subclasses perform well and even bad ones are not so lame.

The unbalance concern are for exploration and social pillar who are the aspect of play that are the most subjective to evaluate and the most different in game play style.

what is the balance of the
Wizard teleporting the party
the party taking a boat to cross the sea.
ok the Wizard made an incredible thing, but anyway the party would cross the sea without the wizard if the game need to. So what is the wizard real utility for such a prowess.
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Without using limited resources yes. A Bladesinger should not be WAY better out of combat without using limited resources and neither should a Paladin.
Limited resources are still resources available to be used. If you want to compare what a class is capable of in a day of adventure, you need to base it on what a class is actually capable of. Not using spells and other abilities in the comparison would be as like comparing fighter and bladesinger performance where the fighter can't use weapons.

I would argue a Bladesinger is actually going to be worse than a fighter out of combat without using spells because with the same rolls she is typically going to have a lower Wisdom and Charisma. A Paladin will probably be about the same out of combat as a fighter without using limited resources.
I would ask you to explain your reasoning. A Bladesinger needs Max Int, Dex and Con. A Fighter needs Max Str, Dex and Con. Therefore they will have the same Wisdom and Charisma given the same rolls. Both classes have 4 skills from class and background.
The Bladesinger can have 4 Int-based skills, each at +10. The Fighter can only have 1 skill at +10, and the other three will probably only be up to +7 at best.
Therefore the Bladesinger is objectively better than an equivalent fighter out of combat without using spells.

No they won't. To start with the fighter is getting three attacks and 3 extra feats at 13th level means 4 ASIs and 3 feats. At least one of them can be a fighting style and with the wider number available there is ALWAYS going to be a very good one to take.

Between Defense, Archery, Thrown Weapon Fighting, Dueling and Unarmed combat there are at least 2 fighting styles for every fighter style you want that will be a significant boost, meanwhile a Bladesinger does not get any fighting style and a Paladin has fewer good choices.

Think about this - Thrown Weapon Fighting Style, Feat-Archery Fighting Style, Feat-Sharpshooter, Feat-GWM, Feat-Slasher, Feat-Crusher, Feat-Heavy Armor Master, Feat-Pole Arm Master

This character would gave a 20 strength on point buy and DESTROY any bladesinger or Paladin possible at both melee and ranged combat with weapons (throwing darts) and that is before we even consider the subclass abilities. Heck that character would dominate melee while also outruning a Ranger XBE-Sharpshooter in ranged fights without even using a bonus action!
The initial discussion was purely about melee. If you want to shift the goal to ranged combat, I'm pretty sure that 13th level Bladesinger can still absolutely destroy the fighter's performance in a combat encounter if they choose to get serious about it.

That is a silly comparison. A fighter is not designed to be a spell caster. They should not be able to cast spells as well as a Wizard.

On the other hand a Bladesinger is a melee designed subclass though and they should be able to melee pretty close to what a fighter can do without resorting to spells.
"Without resorting to spells" - Why should they not need to spend their class resources in the same way that the fighter is spending their class resources?

Basically your arguement here is the Bladesinger can cast spells so it should not be nearly as good at using weapons. That argument has no basis. A Bladesinger should be nearly as good at melee in addtion to being able to cast spells and "blowing most fighters out of the water". A Bladesinger should be able to do both because that is what it is designed to do. That is what the theme is. A fighter is only designed to do one of those things, should only do one of those things and should not do it heads and shoulders better than other builds designed to do it.

IF the fighter is going to get another 3 feats to get better at melee than other melee builds should get that as well so they can keep up.
As already pointed out to you a couple of times, they do not need the extra feats "to keep up". The entire point of the extra feats is to try to help the fighter "keep up" with the bladesinger and similar classes in overall adventuring performance.

Balance is not a good thing. It is a bad thing. 4E was balanced and it sucked. Every other version is inherently unbalanced. The unbalance between the classes is one of the things that makes 5E the most popular, and IMO the best version of the game.
I assure you that while your opinions and you yourself are being treated with all the respect they are due, it would be preferable if you didn't try to drag down the thread by starting an edition war.

No they aren't If they like playing a fighter then they like the mechanics.
Character concept is a thing, you know?

In real life I can't play basketball as well as Lebron James. Does that mean I am being punished because he is a better basketball player and I am a second rate Basketball player? Does that mean I can't have fun playing Basketball or that I am being "punished" any time I pick up the ball?
Well, this is actually a very good analogy comparing performance at basketball with performance at the challenges a D&D party have to face. You and LeBron James are going to be matched against other teams chosen to be at the same average basketball skill of the two of you.
How much fun do you think you are going to have?


Mod Squad
Staff member
Because you want to get less. If you don't want to get less then don't get less.

It really is that simple.

Mod Note:
While they did ask the question, it was a rhetorical one.

By and large, we recommend you not try to tell other people what they want. It is presumptuous at least, and you are likely to be very wrong.

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