D&D 5E Martials should just get free feats

ECMO3

Hero
if fighter isn't allowed unique class abilities to let them excell at the things they're meant to be best at then why is the barbarian allowed to get rage, the druid get wildshape, the rogue get sneak attack and reliable talent, the sorcerer metamagic, the paladin get smites?

They do get unique abilities. They get proficiency in heavy armor which only one other class gets, they get action surge, they get fighting styles and some of those are unique to their class.

Barbarians don't get heavy armor proficiency, and if they get it through a feat they can't even use it without giving up on raging.

When it comes to class specifically, fighter gets the most in terms of combat with weapons.

as you yourself noted there are other classes that have access to martial weapons and heavy armour,

There are not other "classes" that have access to that, it is a single class - Paladin.

As a class ONLY Paladin and Fighter have access to heavy armor and martial weapons. Even when you consider subclasses only a Paladin and Cleric have access to heavy armor and martial weapons and Clerics can't get extra attack at all.

So it is not "other classes" it is a single other class that gets that.


and several of those that don't get heavy get medium which is barely behind heavy for AC,

It is way behind if you are optimizing for melee. Half Plate with an average dex is a full 3 points behind Plate. If you got really bad rolls put a 7 in Dex it is 5 points behind.

You need at least a 14 Dexterity to be only "barely behind" a fighter. Your chance of rolling 3 or more 14s is 1 in 3 which means if you are optimizing for combat with the same rolls you will usually either have a lower constitution or a lower strength in order to get to that "barely behind". And even in that case where you got lucky and rolled 3 or more 14+ you are still behind ..... those great rolls get you to an AC "barely behind" a fighter, but still behind!

By contrast a fighter optimized for melee can actually put his worst ability in dexterity and come into the fight with better Wisdom, better charisma, better intelligence and still have a "barely better" AC than a character who does not have heavy armor proficiency.

having 2 more attacks, more options for fighting styles and high HP are not enough to stake a class's identity on and claim it is on equal footing with the others
It absolutely is when no other class gets that.

When it comes to class and class alone, in terms of "equal footing", it is not equal at all, fighter is flat better at combat with weapons.
 
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Shadowedeyes

Adventurer
Yah, I was going to say that Heavy Armor Prof isn't a unique ability if the Paladin also gets it. A quibble perhaps, since even ECMO3 acknowledges it. Likewise, Fighting Styles are not unique either, although I do suppose their are some unique options for the Fighter at this point.

Action Surge is indeed unique, as is Indomitable (But honestly is not terribly great). If we are counting things that Fighters get more of as "unique" than you can include their Extra Attacks after the first, and their additional ASIs beyond the sixth, since Rogue also gets an extra one.

So here is the list of unique Fighter abilities: Action Surge[2nd], Indomitable[9th, 13th, 17th], Extra Attack[11th, 20th], and ASI[14th].
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
And then you have classes that pretty much can do all those things, and hey it turns out they're all spellcasters. Or at least in 5e had to take a background which gave them the skill which made that unique ability into something literally anyone could take. 5e Cleric with the Trickery domain, Street Urchin background, dex-based weapons can pretty much laugh at the Rogue being able to do things they can't.
In fairness, there is a little the Rogue offers that the Trickery Cleric doesn't. Expertise and Reliable Talent, for example.

But you get the former from Bard, and Reliable Talent isn't as good as Bardic Inspiration, which you can use on yourself. If you go Lore, you also get Magical Secrets early on, and you can make your own Bardic Inspiration even better.

So here is the list of unique Fighter abilities: Action Surge[2nd], Indomitable[9th, 13th, 17th], Extra Attack[11th, 20th], and ASI[14th].
There is technically a further ASI at 6th level, if we are trying to be completely thorough.

But at this point, I'm done. ECMO3 has repeatedly turned "we need to give the Fighter something special so that it isn't LEFT BEHIND" into "we need to punish the poor, beleaguered Wizard who only has phenomenal cosmic power AND the ability to almost completely match the Fighter in combat prowess if they so choose."

The point is to increase the relative power of the Fighter (and similar classes), because the relative power of the Fighter(+etc.) is too far below the curve. You cannot meaningfully increase their relative power by giving identical benefits to the classes that are already the furthest ahead.

Wizard is already TOO powerful. It is absolutely unacceptable to give MORE power to an already too powerful class. Fighter is already weak. It is absolutely unacceptable to never give anything UNIQUE to a weak class in order to bridge the gap between it and the classes that exceed it. The whole point is to close the gap. You cannot close a gap between thing 1 and thing 2 by pushing both things equally far ahead. That's not, AT ALL, about "punishing" or "gatekeeping" or whatever the hell else. It's about doing something to make it so Fighter is not so far behind Wizard. The proposed idea is limited, but it's meant to be an easy and simple houserule, because actually rewriting the game (which is what you would need to do in order to practically close the gap) is not a workable solution for any of various reasons.

No one here, not even ECMO3, denies that the Fighter is weak and the Wizard is strong. Giving Fighters spells is unacceptable to most. Hence, we must give them something else. Rewriting the game is not a practical option. Hence, we must use only the structures that already exist within the game to address the gap. The only source of greater character power present in the game that is not spells or class features (since those are off limits) is feats. Therefore, giving Fighters, and to a lesser extent Rogues, Monks, and Barbarians, one or more extra feats is a sensible, practical means for addressing the recognized state of affairs, that Fighter-like characters are too weak and full-spellcaster characters are too strong.

Giving more benefits to everyone equally does not solve the problem. As noted up thread, it is in theory possible for this to eclipse the gap if you give enough bonuses to everyone, but in practice this requires giving so much that it is not a valid solution all on its own (though it can be used to simplify or augment a solution that does give benefits only to those classes that are currently disadvantaged.)

And it is patently ridiculous to argue that the Wizard is getting shortchanged because they cannot choose to have combat prowess nearly equivalent to a Fighter and lots of extra spells too, but the Fighter as it currently exists is perfectly fine even though it cannot, even in principle, gain more than the tiniest fraction of what a Wizard can do even if trying.

Every class—Wizard and Fighter included—should be good enough that people genuinely ask, "Should we bring a Wizard, or would it be better to have a Fighter? They're both so powerful, it's hard to tell." Every Fighter subclass should be good enough that people genuinely ask, "Ooh, should I do this, or should I do magic? They're both so good, I can't decide!"
 
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To start with, most players don't spend years of combat training. They start with a background which they typically gave up months before to embark on an adventuring career. I don't think I have ever had players with years of downtime, but on the rare occasion downtime is available most players are persuing dowtime activity.
So how many weeks of pre-adventuring career do you think it takes to gain full casting?

In any case to answer your question more directly, I think the master of tactical combat should give them a small edge over another character like a Wizard or Bard who likewise chooses to spend a comparable amount of time training for martial combat.

To put this another way incorporating the actual rules - compared to an Enchantment Wizard or a Lore Bard that subclass-free fighter should have a huge advantage (and he does). On the other hand there should only be a small edge for a subclassless fighter as compared to a Swords Bard or Bladesinger who also takes combat related feats to bolster herself even more. This latter Wizard or Bard is also spending time training to be good at martial combat and is sacrificing class abilities to do it (specifically subclass and ASIs)
So like the way that the casting subclasses of Rogues and Fighters should match or only be slightly behind the dedicated spellcasting classes for casting spells?

Sure but the context I used it in was as effective in martial combat with weapons.
No it wasn't.
You initially used it in the context of classes being able to "can't contribute in a meaningful fashion".
You did not specify "martial combat with weapons". As such, we are looking at actual class effectiveness in battle and contribution. Not artificially ignoring most of a classes' capability when drawing a comparison.
Such a comparison is just plain dishonest.


to turn this around on you - your argument is the Wizard can be more effective in battle overall because of spells, and I won't argue with that. But the fighter would also be more effective in combat with spells if he had them and to me it makes more sense to give him this than to give him more abilities with weapons. It preserves the builds people like to play now, while also making the fighter more versatile and ultimately more effective than he currently is.
The issue there is that spellcasting is so powerful and dominant that a class with full spellcasting progression gains the greater part of their classes' capability from it.
To give Fighters full spellcasting would fundamentally change the concept of the "master of tactical martial combat" to be primarily a magic user. I think a lot of people like the fighter concept despite its mechanical implementation and changing that core concept would reduce its appeal.

Regardless of what new rules we put in place mechancis are always going to be such that one class can be optimized more than another, just because one class objectively can be the most poerful, does not mean people should not be allowed to choose other classes.
Perfect balance being unattainable is not a reason to refuse to try to remove imbalance.
The fact that seatbelts don't prevent injury 100% of the time is not justification to give up and refuse to use them.

Action Surge, Extra attack giving more than two attacks a round, second wind which is a bonus action healing and two of the fighting styles are uniwue to fighter. One of the fighting styles actually affords the kinds of maneuvers people talk about (albeit in a limited fashion and only one of them).

In addition to these unique things, the fighter has other things including martial weapon proficiency (common to 3 other classes) and heavy armor proficiency common only to one other class and they have more ASIs which can be used to get even more combat-oriented stuff while staying on the same ability score ladder as the other classes.

That is all part of the class abilities. It is also important to point out that non-martial subclasses that can get extra attack, martial weapon proficiency and heavy armor proficiency do it as a subclass ability and none of them can get all of these.

The only non-martial build you can make that gets martial weapon proficiency, heavy armor proficiency and extra attack is a Warlock and you need to use your subclass, pact, invocation and a feat to get all that .... what a fighter gets at 1st level as part of his class. Even a Ranger or a Barbarian is going to need a feat to get all this!

I will repeat my question since it was evidently misunderstood: Can you give some examples in broad strokes?
I even gave examples of broad strokes.
Saying that fighter gets Extra attack greater than 2 is trying to confuse the issue with technicalities: In broad strokes, both Paladins (getting extra damage on hits) and Blademasters (having one of those attacks scale with tier) give the same functional effect as the extra damage from having an extra attack for example.

The way this discussion is going now is that people are not upset because the fighter can't do a lot. It is not about the lack of options for the fighter, but rather about the large number of comparitive options for other classes.
Indeed. I am sure that if wizards had the same number of options as fighters did, and of a similar power and capability, that this discussion would not be happening.
There are well over three hundred, official, spells available to wizards currently.

People now appear to be more focused on limiting what other characters can do relative to the fighter than focusing on what they want to make the fighter more fun.

That is what I have a big problem with - trying to limit options for others to be viable.
Citation needed. I've not seen much serious consideration of reducing other classes' current abilities in this thread.

I don't like the disabled argument, however to get my point across my Wizard has a disabled tag that lets him park in the disabled space next to the fighter because he chose the bladesinger subclass, then he should be allowed to park in that space. The fact that he drives a Ferrari and can pay for someone to carry him to and from a normal space in the back is not relevant
The wizard is perfectly functional and can perform as well as anyone else. You are insistent on getting the same assistance as the less-well-off class because you don't want to use your class abilities, not because you don't have them.

If people like playing the fighter and continue to play the fighter why do you keep insisting there is no place for it? Why don't you play what you want and let them play what they want?
Who is insisting there is no place for it please?
I'm pretty sure that I personally haven't suggested that there is no place for the current fighter.
In fact this thread is specifically for discussion amongst those who want to improve it without removing it or changing the core concept and mechanics of the Fighter.

To start with, assuming equal rolls on ability scores you do need to use defensive spells to maintain equivalence in melee with a bladesinger. Their extra attack, song of defense and song of victory bring a lot to the table, but not enough to really keep up without using defensive spells. Unless you just rolled bonkers a 10+ level bladesinger is going to be behind a 10+ level fighter without using any spells.
So? Spells are just as much class features as armour proficiencies, extra attack etc. You cannot honestly compare performance between two classes without taking both classes' features into account.
 

SkidAce

Legend
Supporter
For example, a Bladesinger that is going full on into melee at high level is going to be burning a crap ton of high level slots on false life to keep up with a basic fighter with no subclass. They are sacrificing quite a bit to maintain that status quo.
I think this part emphasizes the difference in views from people that are debating this.

Would never have considered using a necromancy spell called "False Life" on my bladesinger for the purposes that you have laid out.

Having looked at it now, I certainly see your point about the effectiveness...but it shows that I just dont build characters like that.

Neither better nor worse, our characters seem to be built a little more organically.
 

ECMO3

Hero
Eh? Only Fighters can wear heavy armor? Are you not counting Clerics? Also, big deal.

I did not say only fighters can wear heavy armor. Any character can wear heavy armor, you do not even need proficiency to wear it.

What I said was Fighters and Paladins are the only classes that get proficiency in heavy armor. The Cleric class provides proficiency in light and medium armor, not heavy armor.

You can have 1 higher AC for 500 more gp. It's not that hard to have a 14 Dex, lol, compared to a 15 Strength.

It is not that hard to have a 14 Dexterity, but it is hard to have a 14 Dexterity if you put your best 2 scores in Strength and Constitution to optimize performance in melee. You will generally have a lower strength or Constitution if you put a 14 in Dexterity and that necessarily means you will compromise your effectivess in combat as compared to someone with one point BETTER in AC along with a better strength and constitution.

You don't need a 15 Strength to wear plate, you just lose 10 foot of move if you don't have it and this can be overcome with a number of races. Pick a race that starts with a 35 or 40 move or a Dwarf and you are moving as fast or faster than a naked Halfing or Dwarf. That is not really relevant though, because if you are optimizing for combt you will have a 14 strength
 

ECMO3

Hero
Likewise, Fighting Styles are not unique either,

Unarmed fighting and superior technique are unique to the fighter class. No other class affords those. There are others that the Fighter gets but the Paladin doesn't as well (Thrown Weapon Fighting, Two Weapon Fighting and Archery I believe).

That combination of Heavy armor and any of those 5 fighting styles is unique to the fighter.
 

Shadowedeyes

Adventurer
I did acknowledge that as of Tashas the Fighter does have some unique options for fighting style. I also think it's a huge edge case to say that the fighter is great because they can have a heavy armor proficiency and the Archery fighting style though.

Also, the other issue is that these unique things can be gotten with a 1 level dip in fighter. Similar to the Warlock problem in that regard.
 

ECMO3

Hero
So how many weeks of pre-adventuring career do you think it takes to gain full casting?

RAW it is absolutely zero time, not only it could be 0, but it is factually 0.

I say that because if I multiclass into Wizard, Cleric or Druid and get spells immediately. No downtime required to learn to cast them. Also no downtime required to get proficiency in martial weapons, light armor or medium armor proficiency for the same reason - I can multiclass into Cleric, Fighter, Paladin or Ranger and get those proficiencies without doing anything at all prior.

It doesn't even take time to build your first spellbook. If I level up and take a dip in Wizard I get a spellbook with 6 spells immediately.

Finally unless you are going to develop new hombrew rules for multiclassing, any fighter with enhanced combat powers would get those immediately as well when they multiclassed into fighter and got enough levels to have those powers.

This is a big departure from the early editions where time was required to learn a class and it pretty much means those sorts of abilities are literally acquired overnight.

So like the way that the casting subclasses of Rogues and Fighters should match or only be slightly behind the dedicated spellcasting classes for casting spells?

I would be fine with that and actually think it is a good idea.

An EK or AT should get full spellcaster progression. At level 3 when you take the subclass you get 3 spells known and slots as a 3rd level caster. Get one more spell known and one caster level every time you level up. I also think you would have to change action surge so that you can't use it on a turn you cast a spell.

A fighter has martial exclusives like proficiencies and fighting styles that the martial-focused caster subclasses don't get. Similarly, casters should keep some exclusives, those would be cantrips, Arcane Recovery, Sorcery points, Ritual cating etc but the Fighter and Rogue caster themed subclasses should get access to the basic caster functions in a manner to make them comparable and not far behind, including the most powerful spells at the same level and in the same numbers that a full caster would get.

I think that would make for an ideal Eldritch Knight, a lot better than the current version IMO and a lot more "balanced" for the people who think that sort of thing is important.

No it wasn't.
You initially used it in the context of classes being able to "can't contribute in a meaningful fashion".
You did not specify "martial combat with weapons"

That is what I meant, I appologize for not articulating it more clearly.

They can't contribute in combat with weapons in a meaningful manner.

The issue there is that spellcasting is so powerful and dominant that a class with full spellcasting progression gains the greater part of their classes' capability from it.
To give Fighters full spellcasting would fundamentally change the concept of the "master of tactical martial combat" to be primarily a magic user. I think a lot of people like the fighter concept despite its mechanical implementation and changing that core concept would reduce its appeal.

Then put it into a subclass. The abilities that can make casters into good martial characters are rolled up in a subclass, no reason not to put the abilities that would make fighters good casters there as well.

Also, this "master of tactical combat" is not really in the rules AFAIK. What the PHB says is:

"Questing knights, conquering overlords, royal champions, elite foot soldiers, hardened mercenaries, and bandit kings — as fighters, they all share an unparalleled mastery with weapons and armor, and a thorough knowledge of the skills of combat."

That is true with the class mechanics as it is right now. I think you are talking about what should be a subclass (arguably the battlemaster subclass) when you talk about master of tactical combat.

Perfect balance being unattainable is not a reason to refuse to try to remove imbalance.

Before we change something we should have some reasonable evidence it will improve the game.

Making the fighter class better at martial combat will not remove the imbalance caused by spells, it will just create another large imbalance.

I will also note that more casters doing melee will actually improve balance in play. A Wizard or Warlock who focuses on melee exclusively is not way ahead of the fighter in play and is pretty balanced in play with the current fighter. They are way ahead of the fighter when they do other things, which is what you essentially want to encourage them to do.

I will repeat my question since it was evidently misunderstood: Can you give some examples in broad strokes?
I even gave examples of broad strokes.
Saying that fighter gets Extra attack greater than 2 is trying to confuse the issue with technicalities: In broad strokes, both Paladins (getting extra damage on hits) and Blademasters (having one of those attacks scale with tier) give the same functional effect as the extra damage from having an extra attack for example.

To start with a battlemaster is a fighter, so he is getting that extra damage in addition to his damage from a 3rd and 4th extra attack.

A Paladins smites are magic, that is not the same thing. Moreover it is not as much as a fighter will get through the combination of extra attack and action surge.

If you have 6 fights a day, 5 rounds a fight and 2 short rests -

A 11th level fighter with a 20 strength and a greatsword is doing 36 damage per attack action and getting 33 attack actions for a total damage potential of 1188 points of damage with his weapon. A Paladin is doing 24 damage per attack action with 30 attack actions for 720 potental damage with his weapon.

A Paladin does get another 270 points in improved smite and has 130 points in smites if he uses all his slots for that (which totals at 1125).

That is a basic subclass-free fighter. It is without using any magic, does not include the damage bonus such a fighter would have due to the extra feat he has, does not consider the ability score distribution which will generally favor the fighter and it assumes they are not using a fighting style that would improve weapon combat. It also does not account for a magic weapon which would boost the fighters numbers more than the Paladin's.

The wizard is perfectly functional and can perform as well as anyone else. You are insistent on getting the same assistance as the less-well-off class because you don't want to use your class abilities, not because you don't have them.

A fighter is perfectly functional and is as fun to play as any other class (more fun than several).

You are absolutely right, I want other players (not me since I am not playing a full caster right now) to get the ability to melee effectively as the rules, game design and specific subclasses are intended to do and on a level that is comparable to my two fighters I am playing now.

The bladesinger and hexblade are intended to be melee subclasses. Not a class that can just dabble in melee (although there is nothing wrong with that), but it is supposed to enable the character can go out and melee effectively holding its own. And you are not ignoring abilities, you need to use both class and subclass abilities to make that work.

I am insistent that those two subclasses not be put way behind fighters. In all honestly I think there should be Sorcerer and Cleric and subclasses that can melee that well too. I would be more for offering those two classes more combat abilities (perhaps in a subclass) than I would for giving more to the fighter class.

Who is insisting there is no place for it please?

Here are your words:

"If everyone who wants to melee can do anything that the fighter can, as well as their own, powerful class abilities, then why have a fighter at all? ..... If you think this, and also think that every other class should be able to do what the fighter can if they build into it, then why do you believe that the fighter still has a place in the game?"

My interpetation of that is that you don't think the fighter has a place in the game unless it is way better at martial combat, using only class abilities, than a Caster can possibly be using all of her abilities.

If I misunderstood you I appologize.

So? Spells are just as much class features as armour proficiencies, extra attack etc. You cannot honestly compare performance between two classes without taking both classes' features into account.

That was a reply and you need to consider what I was replying to. You asked:

" If you could get the same results from a Bladesinger who just chooses not to use their main class ability, why play a fighter?"

I was pointing out, as you acknowledge here, that this Bladesinger is in fact using class abilities to get that level of martial performance.
 
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I did acknowledge that as of Tashas the Fighter does have some unique options for fighting style. I also think it's a huge edge case to say that the fighter is great because they can have a heavy armor proficiency and the Archery fighting style though.

Also, the other issue is that these unique things can be gotten with a 1 level dip in fighter. Similar to the Warlock problem in that regard.
What warlock problem? There's a hexblade problem - but warlocks get a lot more than that.
 

Shadowedeyes

Adventurer
What warlock problem? There's a hexblade problem - but warlocks get a lot more than that.
Eldritch Blast is basically a Warlock "Exclusive" ability but two levels of Warlock and you're about as good as someone who went all the way in Warlock. Hence making it prime dipping material for Sorcerers, Bards and even Paladins who want a solid ranged ability.
 

Two levels is a pretty substantial investment. I don't honestly see before level 9 giving up an entire level of spells to double your cantrip damage to be an obviously good investment. Unfortunately all three classes have additional synergy with Eldritch Blast.
  • Bards aren't merely doubling their cantrip damage; a design decision was made that bards are probably the single lowest damage class. And grabbing a full power Eldritch Blast pushes them into the bottom of the consistent big leagues.
  • Paladins are dipping Warlock 1 to hexblade and attack with Charisma. This is simply a broken option and once you've done that grabbing a second level is an adequate choice. Eldritch Blast is an optional choice (whether it's optimal is open to question) in a broken build.
  • Sorcerers have Quicken Spell, and doubling your cantrip damage doubles the effect of Quicken Spell. And that's before we get into Coffeelocks.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Here are your words:

"If everyone who wants to melee can do anything that the fighter can, as well as their own, powerful class abilities, then why have a fighter at all? ..... If you think this, and also think that every other class should be able to do what the fighter can if they build into it, then why do you believe that the fighter still has a place in the game?"

My interpetation of that is that you don't think the fighter has a place in the game unless it is way better at martial combat, using only class abilities, than a Caster can possibly be using all of her abilities.

If I misunderstood you I appologize.
Yes, I do in fact want that. Because the Fighter cannot--even with a caster subclass--choose to be anything but combat-specialized. They can dabble a tiny bit in something else. They cannot even remotely approach the Wizard for spellcasting--but the Wizard can very nearly match the Fighter without casting a single slotted spell.

I want Baseline Fighter good enough, comparing class to class, to make taking a Fighter instead of a Wizard a REALLY tempting choice. I want a choice of breadth vs depth. Wizard should be broad but shallow: jack of all (magical) trades, master of none. Fighter should be the reverse, deep but narrow.

Subclass should branch out, but never match a specialist. Eldritch Knight, as is, will never even potentially match a Wizard--but they're passable as secondary Wizards in a pinch. Bladesinger should be exactly the same: incapable of replacing a Fighter at Fighter-ing, but giving enough Fighter-y things to be passable if that's what a player wants.

Instead, the Bladesinger is almost exactly 3/4ths of a baseline Fighter (with fighting style!*) without either spending their resources (cantrips only.) Heavy armor and big weapons are perfectly matched by good Dex/Int, Bladesong, and cantrips. You don't need to blow all your spells on damage and defense to keep up, either. Extra Attack with a cantrip by itself gets you a ton. And you'll still have ritual magic, non-offense cantrips, and Arcane Recovery even if you do burn through all your starting spell slots.

*Baseline level 20 Bladesinger damage: 4d12+1d8+10 = 40.5, before accuracy/crits/ST. Baseline level 20 Fighter w/GWF Greatsword damage: 53.33... before accuracy/crits. And 40.5/53.33... = ~0.759. A Bladesinger is pumping out 3/4ths of the baseline damage a Fighter should be at level 20, doing it effectively every combat of the day. And because almost half of the Fighter's damage is static, crits don't help nearly as much as they could.
 

I personally don't think making a class annoying to play is a good way to balance it.

So I take it you're not for adding critical spell failure?
 

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James Gasik

Pandion Knight
Supporter
So I take it you're not for adding critical spell failure?
Not as a general rule, no. I do have a perverse love of wild magic, but that's something I feel players should be allowed to "opt in" to.

There are games (and game worlds) where something like that makes perfect sense though, but the last time I added strange magic rules to a campaign, the players didn't seem to care for them very much.

What I'm working on now is balancing magic with a recharge mechanic, so you might not always have a given spell available to cast once you've used it once. Though this system wouldn't use spell slots, so it could be busted- I'm hoping instead it will lead to creative play.

"Wizard, what spells can you cast? There's a horde of Kobolds in these tunnels!"

"Uh, right now? Well, uh, what can we do with Levitate, Sleet Storm, and, uh, rolls...Expeditious Retreat?"
 

ECMO3

Hero
Yes, I do in fact want that. Because the Fighter cannot--even with a caster subclass--choose to be anything but combat-specialized. They can dabble a tiny bit in something else. They cannot even remotely approach the Wizard for spellcasting--but the Wizard can very nearly match the Fighter without casting a single slotted spell.

If the fighter subclass got full spell progression as I recommend above they would have nearly equivalent power in terms of spell casting.

When it comes to spell casting, if you took my recommendations above for the subclass here is what they would not have:

Spell preparation (they would have known spells instead)
Cantrips
Arcane Recovery
Ritual Casting
Spell Mastery
Signature Spells

They would have everything else a Wizard gets as a class WRT spell casting.

If you compare this to the "martial Wizard" who does not have:
Martial Weapon Proficiency
Fighting Style
Medium and Heavy Armor proficiency (admittedly this is not a big loss)
Fighter Extra Attack (admitedly they have the next best extra attack)
Second Wind
Indomitable
Action Surge
2 extra ASIs


I want Baseline Fighter good enough, comparing class to class, to make taking a Fighter instead of a Wizard a REALLY tempting choice.

It already meets this requirement. Taking Fighter as a class is much more tempting than taking Wizard. While some people do not like the current fighter, a lot more of them like it than the current Wizard.

While my experiences are anecdotal, I have never seen anyone suggest that Wizard is chosen more often at their tables than fighter.


I want a choice of breadth vs depth. Wizard should be broad but shallow: jack of all (magical) trades, master of none. Fighter should be the reverse, deep but narrow.

I disagree. I am okm with making a fighter broader, but I don't want it any deeper.


Subclass should branch out, but never match a specialist.

They should ALWAYS come close to matching a specialist. That is why Eldritch Knight shoudlget full caster progression.

Eldritch Knight, as is, will never even potentially match a Wizard--but they're passable as secondary Wizards in a pinch. Bladesinger should be exactly the same: incapable of replacing a Fighter at Fighter-ing, but giving enough Fighter-y things to be passable if that's what a player wants.

The reverse is true. EK should be almost as capable as a Wizard (assuming you invest in intelligence, which is a compromise to your fighting potential). Not quite but almost. That is the big shortcoming in that subclass, but just because that subclass is flawed does not mean we should boost the fighter class.

Instead, the Bladesinger is almost exactly 3/4ths of a baseline Fighter (with fighting style!*) without either spending their resources (cantrips only.)

There are more than one way to calculate this though and things like martial weapon proficiency are difficult to quantify with hard numbers.

You can quantify the best martial weapon (Maul or Greatsword) vs the best bladesinger weapon (rapier). But that does not account for magic. If you find a Holy Avenger mace or for that matter even a magic finesse weapon when the Bladesinger chose Rapier as his weapon the fighter is going to have a huge advantage.


Heavy armor and big weapons are perfectly matched by good Dex/Int, Bladesong, and cantrips.

They aren't perfectly matched when you consider the extra ASIs, the extra ability the Bladesinger must boost, the subclass abilities and the fact that the Bladesinger is only proficient in one single martial melee weapon.

At 20th level a Bladesinger using a Rapier is doing 5d8+20 in bladesong. So that is 43 DPR primary damage and it includes the damage from his subclass. Out of Bladesong it is 33 DPR

A 20th Fighter with a non-magic Greatsword is doing 8d6+20. That is 49 DPR and doesn't consider action surge, fighting style, the 4 extra ASIs he gets (the Wizard had to use 2 on intelligence) or subclass.

If those two are in the same party and happen to find a Vorpal Scimitar (would have been great for the Bladesinger if he had not chose Rapier) - Now the fighter is doing 5d6+32 without any subclass abilities and chopping off heads on a crit.

Also note, Eldritch Knight can do a similar trick to the bladesinger making an attack and a cantrip in the same turn, and can do it with better weapons than attacking with dex will allow.


You don't need to blow all your spells on damage and defense to keep up, either. Extra Attack with a cantrip by itself gets you a ton. And you'll still have ritual magic, non-offense cantrips, and Arcane Recovery even if you do burn through all your starting spell slots.

If you do not cast a defensive spell and upcast false life, a Wizard will get decimated in melee at high level. Not only does that use high level spell slots, more importantly it uses actions.

Cut the Wizards damage by 25% because he buffs himself the first turn of combat .... then boost the fighters by 10% because of action surge.

Extra attack with a cantrip does get you a ton, but less than a fighter gets at high level and it is also a subclass ability. Do you want to bring fighter subclasses into this discussion as well?

How much damage is a basic Wizard doing in melee without relying on his subclass?


*Baseline level 20 Bladesinger damage: 4d12+1d8+10 = 40.5, before accuracy/crits/ST. Baseline level 20 Fighter w/GWF Greatsword damage: 53.33... before accuracy/crits. And 40.5/53.33... = ~0.759. A Bladesinger is pumping out 3/4ths of the baseline damage a Fighter should be at level 20, doing it effectively every combat of the day. And because almost half of the Fighter's damage is static, crits don't help nearly as much as they could.

Where is 4d12 coming from and how many hit points does the Wizard have?

A Bladesinger using a rapier and bladesinger extra attack at level 20 with max intelligence and max dexterity is doing 5d8+20 ... which ironically is more than 40.5 in bladesong (including crits).

The fighters damage does not include subclass or the FOUR extra feats he gets compared to that Wizard.

If you really want to do this comparison right give the fighter an AC, subclass and ASIs and hit points and then show me that total comparison .... or alternatively take the subclass away from the Wizard.

Although your numbers are flawed, I actually agree with the 75% being a rough approximation for a dedecated melee Wizard. I think that is about right for a Bladesinger Wizard who is hard core dedicated to being a melee character as compared with a basic melee Fighter with no subclass. Such a Wizard will not have the power outside of melee that other Wizards have though. They will have rituals and they will have cantrips but they won't have a lot of slots for much else unless they are willing to go below that 75% number. This is "balanced" by the fact that they are only 75% of a subclass-free fighter in combat and less once you consider a fighter's subclass.

A Bladesinger who wants to dabble in melee but still occasionally cast fear, synaptic static or forcecage won't come close to being 75% of a fighter in melee. At mid levels you don't have the slots to do that while still being able to melee well for 6 fights a day (half without bladesong). At high levels you will get hit even with your sky-high AC and you will need to burn through slots for False Life and song of defense to really keep up with the extra hit points and second wind that the fighter gets.
 
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EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
If the fighter subclass got full spell progression as I recommend above they would have nearly equivalent power in terms of spell casting.
Which does nothing for all the Fighters who DON'T cast spells.

That's the thing you seem to be not getting here. The Fighter, at is baseline, is too weak. The Fighter, at its baseline, needs to not be that weak. Period.

If you compare this to the "martial Wizard" who does not have:
Martial Weapon Proficiency
Fighting Style
Medium and Heavy Armor proficiency (admittedly this is not a big loss)
Fighter Extra Attack (admitedly they have the next best extra attack)
Second Wind
Indomitable
Action Surge
2 extra ASIs
Weapon proficiency is irrelevant.
Fighting style is almost irrelevant because Bladesinger gets a special Extra Attack that replaces one attack with a scaling cantrip.
I would call armor proficiency also irrelevant.
Fighter Extra Attack is taken care of by the aforementioned cantrip.
Second Wind has nothing to do with damage.
Indomitable has nothing to do with damage.
And extra ASIs are exactly what I'm saying the Fighter should get EVEN MORE of.

It already meets this requirement. Taking Fighter as a class is much more tempting than taking Wizard.
Nope. Not even close.

While some people do not like the current fighter, a lot more of them like it than the current Wizard.
Then prove it. Show where you have documented evidence that people explicitly prefer the way the Fighter is designed over the way the Wizard is designed.

But you won't be able to, because such proof does not exist. All you have is that Fighters are commonly played. That has literally, actually, NOTHING to do with the way the class is designed, because every single edition has had the Fighter as the most popular class. Period. Even 3e, where essentially everyone--even Paizo!--agreed that the Fighter was too weak and needed a boost. (They just....also boosted the Wizard, and the boost they gave to the Fighter was really weak. Meaning the gap remained.)

While my experiences are anecdotal, I have never seen anyone suggest that Wizard is chosen more often at their tables than fighter.
Which is 100% completely irrelevant to whether they are actually comparable choices.

I disagree. I am okm with making a fighter broader, but I don't want it any deeper.
Then we must take power away from the Wizard, OR give things like feats to the Fighter. Those are the only options which can resolve this problem without outright rewriting the classes.

They should ALWAYS come close to matching a specialist. That is why Eldritch Knight shoudlget full caster progression.
Why? Why should a subclass somehow make you a specialist? It's literally an add-on! It should NEVER be as good as taking a whole second class, not even close!

The reverse is true. EK should be almost as capable as a Wizard (assuming you invest in intelligence, which is a compromise to your fighting potential). Not quite but almost. That is the big shortcoming in that subclass, but just because that subclass is flawed does not mean we should boost the fighter class.
Genuine question:
Other than aping the Fighter, meaning excluding things like Hexblade and Bladesinger, do any subclasses actually work this way in 5e? Is there even one subclass that makes you nearly as good a spellcaster as a Wizard? Is there even one subclass that makes you as good at healing and support as a Cleric? Even one that makes you comparable to a Bard's illusions and buffs and such?

Because it sounds, to me, like you are wanting to rewrite 5e in order to make subclass essentially as strong as class, simply because one class--Fighter--can get eclipsed by the subclasses of other classes.

There are more than one way to calculate this though and things like martial weapon proficiency are difficult to quantify with hard numbers.
Weapon proficiencies are irrelevant. The only weapons that matter are rapier (1d8, finesse), greatsword (2d6, 2H), greataxe (1d12, 2H), and glaive/halberd (1d10, polearm.) Ranged weapons are irrelevant because of ranged spell attack cantrips (fire bolt being the best choice.) Bladesinging gives you rapier prof, which is all you need.

You can quantify the best martial weapon (Maul or Greatsword) vs the best bladesinger weapon (rapier). But that does not account for magic. If you find a Holy Avenger mace or for that matter even a magic finesse weapon when the Bladesinger chose Rapier as his weapon the fighter is going to have a huge advantage.
You should not ever assume magic items for only one side. That's clearly biased.

If you do not cast a defensive spell and upcast false life, a Wizard will get decimated in melee at high level. Not only does that use high level spell slots, more importantly it uses actions.
Then show the math.

Cut the Wizards damage by 25% because he buffs himself the first turn of combat .... then boost the fighters by 10% because of action surge.
I consider this neither necessary nor relevant. Especially because there's no guarantee the Fighter is getting to attack on the first turn either.

Extra attack with a cantrip does get you a ton, but less than a fighter gets at high level and it is also a subclass ability. Do you want to bring fighter subclasses into this discussion as well?
No, because the point was to compare the whole (baseline) Fighter class to JUST cantrips+Bladesinger. Because that alone--cantrips+Bladesinger--gives you a HUGE amount of the Fighter class.

How much damage is a basic Wizard doing in melee without relying on his subclass?
The question is irrelevant.

Where is 4d12 coming from and how many hit points does the Wizard have?
Toll the dead. The hit points are irrelevant.

A Bladesinger using a rapier and bladesinger extra attack at level 20 with max intelligence and max dexterity is doing 5d8+20 ... which ironically is more than 40.5 in bladesong (including crits).
I was using toll the dead, which is a saving throw and thus cannot crit.

The fighters damage does not include subclass or the FOUR extra feats he gets compared to that Wizard.
It's not four. It's two.

If you really want to do this comparison right give the fighter an AC, subclass and ASIs and hit points and then show me that total comparison .... or alternatively take the subclass away from the Wizard.
Flatly disagree.

Although your numbers are flawed, I actually agree with the 75% being a rough approximation for a dedecated melee Wizard. I think that is about right for a Bladesinger Wizard who is hard core dedicated to being a melee character as compared with a basic melee Fighter with no subclass.
It's not. It's literally just "damage (before hit/saving throws) for toll the dead + one melee attack" vs "damage with a Greatsword and GWF."

I specifically calculated it this way because it shows the "fallback" options. Meaning, this is the absolute floor. With the possible exception of only a handful of rounds per day, the Bladesinger is doing nothing less than 75% of the raw, before-accuracy damage a baseline Fighter is doing--and I assumed a Fighter with Great Weapon Fighting and a greatsword.

Battle Master, probably the best damage option for a Fighter (because Eldritch Knight scales so poorly), is only getting +6d10 per rest. Few groups take more than two short rests per day, so that's 18d10. Even if we're generous and assume a third of those get attached to crits (since they get applied after the fact), that's still only 24d10. A max-level Wizard has six 5th level spell slots per day (depending on their usage of Arcane Recovery; they can't recover four because they don't have four 5th level slots.) Not even considering any of their other spells, just those six. Synaptic static is 8d6 psychic (Int save for half), cone of cold is an AoE 8d8 cold (Con save for half), dawn is a repeatable 4d10 radiant (Con save for half.) Assume half of saving throws succeed (a pretty poor showing on the Wizard's part, but easy math), and dawn only attempts to hit two targets each time and never lasts more than one round (so in total two targets save, two targets fail.) That's 1.5×(28+36+2×22) = 162 expected damage. 24d10 is 132 expected damage--again, allowing that a full third of the time, the Battle Master applies Superiority Dice to crits so they pull double duty. Just using your 5th level spells and Arcane Recovery, without any other expenditure, exceeds the bonus damage of the Battle Master. One class feature lets you exceed an entire subclass!

Dedicate all your 4th level slots to false life, and all your 1st-level slots to something defensive and useful (e.g. shield.) Make silvery barbs your 1st-level Spell Mastery pick, and your choice of defensive spell for 2nd level: blur, invisibility, or misty step are all great options, or you can take shadow blade to improve your cantrip+attack damage even further, becoming 4d12+2d8+10 (45 average.)

This leaves you with two 6th, two 7th, one 8th, and one 9th level spell free to do whatever you want, as well as all of your 2nd and 3rd level spells. In other words, at least in terms of slot levels, the majority of slot-based magic you'll use during the day: 3×2+3×3+2×6+2×7+8+9 = 58 slot-levels' worth of spells, out of the total 58+5+4×4+6×5 = 109. 58/109 = 53%.

Of course, Action Surge hasn't been factored in. Ignoring accuracy, that adds about 320 extra damage on the Fighter's side (as few groups take more than two short rests per day and Action Surge is 2/rest at high level.) That, I admit, is more difficult to match, but it definitely doesn't require that you expend all of the aforementioned unspent spell slots on damage. And I'm heavily lowballing the Wizard's damage, while assuming the Battle Master always hits. I hope you'll agree that that's heavily biased in the Fighter's favor.

Edit: Actually, I messed up on the Wizard math--cone of cold is an AoE spell, so it should also be hitting two targets (assuming one saves, one fails). So those six spell slots are actually doing 1.5×(28+2×36+2×22) = 216 damage. Meaning the entire Battle Master contribution falls 84 points short, even if we assume a third of her Superiority Dice get double-rolled because they're used on crits, and assuming a Wizard who uses their AoE spells exceedingly poorly. The Wizard now only needs to come up with ~240 extra damage from spells to eclipse the Fighter--and that certainly won't take anywhere near the number of spell slots they have available. It only gets worse if we consider earlier levels: 17-19, Fighter only has 3 attacks per action, not 4, while the Wizard has maximum scaling on their cantrips and 9th level spells; 16 and below, Fighter only has half as many Action Surges per day, drastically cutting her damage output. High level Fighter is playing catch-up, not lapping!
 
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