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D&D 5E Martials v Casters...I still don't *get* it.

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tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
An often overlooked issue with Martials vs Casters is that the game expects you to win the majority of combats. Martial Characters help you "Combat Better", but do you really need to Combat Better when Combat Fairly Average is usually enough to succeed at the combat pillar? Certainly you lose sometimes, characters can die, and campaign goals can be failed because you have to back off and rest too often. But the default is winning. Over and over. And Martial characters primarily help you win more at the thing you are already winning.

This is also true for Exploration to a lesser extent, but there are far fewer Exploration specialist classes.
That's a good point, but it raises an important question. Specifically, that question is why do these discussions pretend that the same does not hold equally true for social & exploration challenges,

If challenge A could be trivialized by spell A if that spell is an option and that spell is prepared or someone else could just spend a bit longer physically solving it without expending any resources. An example of that alternative method might be using something like the 50foot rope in burglar dungeoneer & explorer packs alongside athletics or acrobatics what gain does doing it a couple minutes faster when there was little if any time constraint to begin with. What is gained by expending a spellslot to save a couple minutes that weren't being counted?
 
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Undrave

Hero
Why not?

Isn't it being taken for granted that we even have the "Martial" category. This is a holdover by the community at large from previous editions and other TTRPGs, but 5e doesn't have Martials. They just have classes with the complex Spellcasting trait and classes without the Spellcasting trait.

I still don't see how that desire to be complex but an almost allergy to spells isn't at least a bit peculiar. It just seems like...a design choice. Like someone said "Complex = caster" that way everyone knows their class is complex at a glance.
What is hard to understand?! The FICTION I want to represented does not equate the GAMEPLAY I want to engage with! It's that's friggin' simple! How much simplier can we explain it?!
 

Iry

Hero
That's a good point, but it raises an important question. specifically, why do these discussions pretend that the same does not hold equally true for social & exploration challenges,

If challenge A could be trivialized by spell A if that spell is an option and that spell is prepared or someone else could just spend a bit longer physically solving it without expending any resources. An example of that alternative method might be using something like the 50foot rope in burglar dungeoneer & explorer packs alongside athletics or acrobatics what gain does doing it a couple minutes faster when there was little if any time constraint to begin with.
I find it doesn't hold equally true. Exploration comes close, since you are usually going to succeed one way or another. But Exploration also tends to have a higher frequency of meaningful choice/consequence, like cave-ins blocking off treasure or cutting off retreat paths. The Social pillar is where I see the greatest variable between success and failure, from failing to convince someone to tell you about that secret door in the wine cellar, to not convincing the queen to march a 10,000 strong army to reinforce your besieged castle.

As for the alternative method, that is a wash since casters have full access to those things as well. Heck, a caster can drop their casting stat to 8, have the exact same stats and proficiencies as a martial, solve them the same way, and STILL have the additional options of spellcasting to solve later challenges or just do cool things with.
 

Undrave

Hero
What I understand:
  • Some people would like a complex class that doesn't have spells.
WHat I don't understand
  • Why these specific people must be catered to or its a problem.
Well then that's a completely different point then. And I return the question for you: WHY NOT?!

There is no justification in game design to have the complexity level of a character be wedded to its fictional archetype the way DnD does it. It doesn't punish anyone if there is a Champion equivalent that slings spells, or a Battlemaster with actualy scaling abilities like a Wizard.

Th designers CHOSE to do it that way because it's a sacred cow and nothing else. And it's a sacred cow that REEKS of outdated 80s 'Jocks VS Nerds' rivalry if you ask me.
 

Asisreo

Fiendish Attorney
Well then that's a completely different point then. And I return the question for you: WHY NOT?!
Well, I propose that there isn't a reason at all. It was an arbitrary decision they just made. Like the decision to not have an abberation-based race or to re-add the sorcerer.

Perhaps it was for thematic choices, which is arbitrary in my eyes. Game designers make these arbitrary decisions all the time in video games, TTRPGs, board games, etc. Some people like the change, some do not. But that is the joy of a diverse set of different genres/types of games, especially within a franchise. If I don't like FF16 as much as I like FF7, that doesn't mean FF16 is a bad game but it does mean my preference for Turn-based games were not taken by the designers, but that's fine.
Th designers CHOSE to do it that way because it's a sacred cow and nothing else. And it's a sacred cow that REEKS of outdated 80s 'Jocks VS Nerds' rivalry if you ask me.
Is it a sacred cow? I'm unfamiliar with the earliest minutia of the overall opinions of D&D earlier on but if it was a sacred cow, it seems like 5e does have a tendency to honor those sacred cows, so it would make sense.

Again, I sympathize with those that want a particular experience within the game, but I still can't see how this problem has extended so far that its considered a global issue of the game.
 

Iry

Hero
Game designers make these arbitrary decisions all the time in video games, TTRPGs, board games, etc. Some people like the change, some do not. But that is the joy of a diverse set of different genres/types of games, especially within a franchise. If I don't like FF16 as much as I like FF7, that doesn't mean FF16 is a bad game but it does mean my preference for Turn-based games were not taken by the designers, but that's fine.
Side note. This is absolutely true. So many times in game design you end up having to just make a choice, and live with the pros and cons.
 

A wizard's spell list depends entirely on what happened to them for the previous 16 levels. No, I'm not interested in being baited into an exhibition match.

That's because you're wrong, and such an exhibition match would prove it.

In a 6ish encounter/ 2ish short rest adventuring day, the problems you claim exist, don't.
 

Fire bolt cantrip. 120ft range. 1d10 fire damage. +1d10 at 5th, 11th, 17th. So at 20th level you're doing 4d10 fire at 120ft range.

Infinitely-ammo longbow. 150ft range. 1d8 piercing damage. Fighters get extra attacks at 5th, 11th, 20th. So at 20th level you're doing 4d8 piercing at 150ft range.

Both have access to feats that can increase their damage output either via direct damage bonuses or to-hit bonuses or situational bonuses. Both have access to magic items that can provide various boosts and bonuses and special abilities. Both have subclasses that boost their abilities, damage output, etc.

The fighter gets 2 whole action surges by 20th level, so they can make eight attacks (total of 8d8 either to a single target or spread out to up to eight targets) in a round two whole times every short rest. Assuming max stat mod, they all hit, and all do max damage, that's a 104 damage nova twice per rest.

Is there any reason why this mythical 20th level fighter isnt using his (d12) superiority dice, 18-20 crit range, arcane arrows or whatever else his archetype is granting him, or his +2 to hit for Archery style which the Wizard doesnt have access to for his Firebolts (which pushes his DPR much higher) Or the fact that + bows and arrows stack, no equivalent exists for firebolt, so its much easier for a fighter to push these number even higher? Or that fire is a much more resisted damage type to magical weapon damage (which nothing is resistant to?)

You're discounting feats (which the fighter gets more of) as a 'wash' so that's obviously not accurate, you're discounting hit points (and hit die) which the fighter has 50 percent more of than the wizard, you've ignored magic items which - if they exist - (and they do in most campaigns) also favors the fighter (+ weapons, armor ammo and shields dont require attunement, unlike + wands of the war mage, bracers, and rings for the wizard, belts of giant strength exist bumping the fighters main stat to 29 something a wizard can only dream of etc), and you've discounted fighting styles and archetype features here.

You're not really making a fair comparison here are you?
 

Campbell

Legend
At the very least we should be giving the Fighter the benefit of a high Dexterity. That should be at least 4d8 + 20. More if magical arrows are involved. That's not even considering feats. It's a very poorly built fighter who is not putting a spellcaster (other than Warlocks) to shame in single target damage.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
I find it doesn't hold equally true. Exploration comes close, since you are usually going to succeed one way or another. But Exploration also tends to have a higher frequency of meaningful choice/consequence, like cave-ins blocking off treasure or cutting off retreat paths. The Social pillar is where I see the greatest variable between success and failure, from failing to convince someone to tell you about that secret door in the wine cellar, to not convincing the queen to march a 10,000 strong army to reinforce your besieged castle.

As for the alternative method, that is a wash since casters have full access to those things as well. Heck, a caster can drop their casting stat to 8, have the exact same stats and proficiencies as a martial, solve them the same way, and STILL have the additional options of spellcasting to solve later challenges or just do cool things with.
That treasure is not generally going to matter. If the GM puts in treasure or retreat path is blocked & they take a different one or engage in a battle they are generally "expected" to win. Players miss treasure all the time just by not coincidentally stumbling across it or searching for it somewhere.

The social examples you note are too specific without enough context to know the point. If they were important the GM will need to find some other way of getting that information or resource to the players. Even if they are important & for purposes of argument we say there is a spell that would help, you still run into the same problem faced with players not stumbling across treasure. Casting that spell on every single npc interaction would be silly & in the case of spells like charm leads to serious problems.

I think that dump stat primary attribute build red herring is more than a little off the mark from the statement it's trying to challenge. The point of those non-resource consuming abilities generally being able to accomplish a solution in hypothetical social/exploration problem that a hypothetical solution spell could solve at cost marginally faster is relevant because people are making seriously flawed* comparisons & holding up edge case situations the game expects you to be able to solve without those nice edge case spells. The point is that the shining gold star of awesome people are claiming exists is generally redundant & comes with objective pains elsewhere such as performance in the combat pillar likely to arise in the vast majority of sessions

* Some of those flawed examples persisting unchanged even after multiple posters point out how the relevant dice mods & abilities don't work even close to the ones being claimed as representative.
 

At the very least we should be giving the Fighter the benefit of a high Dexterity. That should be at least 4d8 + 20. More if magical arrows are involved. That's not even considering feats. It's a very poorly built fighter who is not putting a spellcaster (other than Warlocks) to shame in single target damage.
Factoring in feats and magic items (which most games use) it's not even close.

There is no Wizard equivalent to Archery F/A, Sharpshooter feat and +X bows and arrows (which stack).

Heck, the wizard likely needs a feat tax in Elemental adept just to get his firebolts to damage most things properly.

Toss on top the baseline fighters 2 x action surges his archetype features like 6 x d12 superiority dice, with one coming back every time re rolls initiative, and it's no contest.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Factoring in feats and magic items (which most games use) it's not even close.

There is no Wizard equivalent to Archery F/A, Sharpshooter feat and +X bows and arrows (which stack).

Heck, the wizard likely needs a feat tax in Elemental adept just to get his firebolts to damage most things properly.

Toss on top the baseline fighters 2 x action surges his archetype features like 6 x d12 superiority dice, with one coming back every time re rolls initiative, and it's no contest.
With two short rests per long its 6 action surges too. The superiority dice likewise recover on each short rest
 

With two short rests per long its 6 action surges too. The superiority dice likewise recover on each short rest

He also recovers 1 die every time he rolls initiative and has none.

Even without that, lets assume a standard median adventuring day at 20th level (200,000 XP for 5 PCs) of 6 encounters (with a budget of roughly 35,000 XP each) and 2 short rests.

6 Action surges, 3 second winds (1d10+20), 18 Sup dice (d12s), 3 Indomitable uses, 50 percent more HP than the Wizard, 2 extra feats/ ASI (with all the 'broken' feats like SS, CBE, PAM, GWM available to him, that have no Wizard equal).

Mate, and remember - despite people arguing otherwise, every single week we get these threads:

  • Complaining about GWM or SS and wanting them nerfed, hurting Fighters the most
  • Arguing for 'instant death' for falling/ getting stabbed while asleep/ falling in magma (depriving Fighters of the benefit of their core class feature - namely HP)
  • Arguing for Fumble rules (that nerf Fighters the most, due to the volume of attacks they make)
  • Arguing for Flanking rules (that punish Fighters who are in melee all the time).
  • Refusing to police the adventuring day in any way shape or form, depriving Fighters of the benefit of their short rest abilities, and favoring casters who can repeatedly safely nova.
  • Imposing exhaustion for zero HP, which punishes fighters as they tend to get hit more, and the Exhaustion penalties directly affect their skill checks, attack rolls and movement, which a Wizard doesnt care about at all.
DMs are playing their games in such a way that the punish the crap out of Fighters (Wizards dont care if you nerf those feats, they dont care about instant death for falling into magma, because that tends to happen to them anyway due to low HP, they dont care about fumble rules seeing as they can ignore spells with attack rolls, they dont care about being flanked because they're never in melee, and when they are they can get out easily, slapping exhaustion levels on Fighters cripples them in ways that Wizards dont give a naughty word about, and they like 'single encounter adventuring days' because it lets them nova in ways Fighters cant).

tl;dr - the problem isn't with Fighters or Wizards - the problem is with DMs. They're repeatedly punishing fighters while also propping up wizards via a combination of poorly thought out house-rules, and poor management of the adventuring day.

I assure you I could step into any one of those DMs campaigns, and make those problems disappear overnight.
 

Stalker0

Legend
He also recovers 1 die every time he rolls initiative and has none.

Even without that, lets assume a standard median adventuring day at 20th level (200,000 XP for 5 PCs) of 6 encounters (with a budget of roughly 35,000 XP each) and 2 short rests.
Why look at 20th levels when the vast majority of players rarely see 10th, let alone 20th. 20th is a pipe dream for most players....its a scenario that never comes.
 


Why look at 20th levels when the vast majority of players rarely see 10th, let alone 20th. 20th is a pipe dream for most players....its a scenario that never comes.
You and I are currently running an adventure set at 7th level - the sweet spot - and I'm (still) yet to see any of the 3 casters (your Wizard, the Bard and the Cleric) dominate over the Fighter or Rogue (both non casters).
 

It seems to me that there are three seperate issues being discussed in this thread and it would probably be useful to treat them seperately.

1) Are Martials able to keep up in their key area (damage) when compared to casters?
2) Are Martial characters duller to play in combat because of the smaller range of options that they have?
3) Are Martials lacking because they don't don't have anything like the caster's utility out of combat?

These three things may all be true, may all be false, or may be true in some cases and false in others. They are not really intrinsically connected.
 

1) Are Martials able to keep up in their key area (damage) when compared to casters?
The answer is clearly 'yes'. They can also soak more as well, having higher HD.
2) Are Martial characters duller to play in combat because of the smaller range of options that they have?
Subjective. Some people prefer 'high damage, hit things hard' playstyle.
3) Are Martials lacking because they don't don't have anything like the caster's utility out of combat?
Rogues (for example) arguably have more options outside of combat. Particularly from 11th level when reliable talent kicks in.

And they can do it at will, without burning slots also.
 

The answer is clearly 'yes'. They can also soak more as well, having higher HD.
It's not me you need to convince. It's clearly an object of dispute in this thread though.
Subjective. Some people prefer 'high damage, hit things hard' playstyle.
Well obviously.
Rogues (for example) arguably have more options outside of combat. Particularly from 11th level when reliable talent kicks in.

And they can do it at will, without burning slots also.
My experience with playing Rogues is that while they're clearly better off than Fighters and Barbarians they're also clearly better off if they are Arcane Tricksters. Having access to spells like Invisibilty, Disguise Self, Misty Step, Fog Cloud etc just give you a lot more range of options to use your skills and expertise. (Eg if you can turn invisibile you can use your expertise in Stealth in circumstances where it wouldn't otherwise be viable.)
 

Stalker0

Legend
You and I are currently running an adventure set at 7th level - the sweet spot - and I'm (still) yet to see any of the 3 casters (your Wizard, the Bard and the Cleric) dominate over the Fighter or Rogue (both non casters).
Correct....level 7....not 20. 7 is a reasonable level to look at things, 20 is not.
 

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