5E Mission Impossible?!

Vitor Bastos

Explorer
How can you make a melee character, like a Barbarian or a Fighter, become as useful as Wizard or a Bard, in and out of combat? Solving situations both RPing and cracking skulls...
They dont have as many tools as Casters, but how can they improve and have the same value to the party on all 3 pillars (combat, social and exploration)?
Or the secret is just accept that they wont be as useful and just play with what you got?

Edit: Just to clarify, Im not trying to diminish the melee classes. Matter of fact, most times I played as melee. I'm just trying to raise some questions and see what you guys have to say about it based on your gameplay experience.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
For Fighters, I propose Allies. Not necessarily combat companions, though they should have some limited ability to gain a battle ready hireling at reduced cost, but what I’m aiming at is to give stronger explicit, player facing, weight to the fluff of many of the subclasses.

If you’re a knight, you generally have an order. Same for Samurai, really. Most Fighter subclasses have some flavor that can related to factions and organizations. Those that don’t could instead get more out of their backgrounds, or could simply define with their DM where they trained, who they came up with, etc, and form a cadre of Allies via that they can call upon.

What would Allies do? Well, they’d give the player the ability to say, “I know someone here” or “I’ve a friend who knows about that” or similar, and determine that they have an Ally who can help with the current obstacle, whether that is research, access to an organization or place, or some extra muscle.

Really, Rogues could also get this, but I don’t actually think they need it. Still, maybe they could get a more specialized (and thus limited) version.

Now I know how I run this concept in my own system, but I’m 5e I’m not sure.
 

Shiroiken

Adventurer
How can you make a melee character, like a Barbarian or a Fighter, become as useful as Wizard or a Bard, in and out of combat? Solving situations both RPing and cracking skulls...
They dont have as many tools as Casters, but how can they improve and have the same value to the party on all 3 pillars (combat, social and exploration)?
Or the secret is just accept that they wont be as useful and just play with what you got?
There are 3 pillars, and no one is good at all three (alone, anyway). I will agree that since combat is a higher focus for most games, the game has changed to make everyone "useful" in combat. No one's really bad at it, but some characters are supporting members, mostly just healing and/or providing some control (buffs/de-buffs). This is the equivalent to the warriors not being great at the other two pillars. The warriors can still use skills and their ability scores to help in the other two pillars, but they're not going to shine as well. Even the most versatile character, the wizard, can't normally be great at all three pillars in a single day.
 

FreeTheSlaves

Explorer
Choose a background with non-combat options, like Sage, Charlatan, or Noble, and then put higher scores (not highest!) in those skills.

Not only would that increase out-of-combat options, your character would feel pretty unique.

Ime, 5E is set at a fairly easy difficulty. Allocating 3rd or 4th highest scores (even 2nd?) to abilities won't cripple your character.
 

Todd Roybark

Explorer
Feats for starters. I’ve seen a Fafhrd inspired variant Human Barbarian chose the Actor Feat at 1st level. It was point buy, so even with the stat bonus from the feat, her CHA was a 13 or a 14, but the Advantage to checks to pretend you are someone else is stupendously useful.

She was able to bluff her way deep into a castle garrison’s warren like maze of corridors, and through cunning play; like listening in to a conversation between the bailiff and a subaltern and mimicking their voices....(including a mock tryst while imitating the voice of the bailiff —-with production value help from the Bard’s Minor Illusion cantrip), navigate the various corridors while keeping the patrols at bay.

Sure the Bard had Expertise in Deception and a higher CHA modifier, the Barbarian, however, had panache and the backing of Advantage....which keep her on a roll...........................
...............Until it didn’t....and then a Raging Barbarian fared much better against piercing dmg of spears than the Charming Bard without Bladeward.

Smart play will always win, no matter the character class.

Also many spells have Saving Throws. In Descent to Avernus you have to get info from a Sibrex.....Persausion DC 15.... or Detect Thoughts.....the Sibrex has a +7 to Wis saves....
In this case a Persausion Character succeeds ....Magic Fails.

Also Magic is limited....Skills are a Forever.
 
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1. Lots of encounters so the magic people run out of magic.
2. Magic items for the non-magic people so they're now magic too.
3. Various forms of magic-doesn't-work-here or magic-doesn't-work-on-me, such as spell resistance and immunities.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
How can you make a melee character, like a Barbarian or a Fighter, become as useful as Wizard or a Bard, in and out of combat? Solving situations both RPing and cracking skulls...
They dont have as many tools as Casters, but how can they improve and have the same value to the party on all 3 pillars (combat, social and exploration)?
Or the secret is just accept that they wont be as useful and just play with what you got?
I think you've got a bad assumption in there.

Casters have a limited resource, that they can use for utility in some other pillars, or in combat. Using it in other pillars has the opportunity cost of not using it in combat. So what we have is that either casters are the equivalent in combat and equivalent in non-combat, or are worse in combat and better in non-combat.

(Or you have a DM who runs less encounters per day with throws off the balance between the at-will and long rest recovery model. In that case casters having slots for both is just a symptom of a different problem and the root cuase should be addressed.)

So trying to give martial characters as good as a caster spending slots out of combat while still leaving them as good as cassters who reserve their slots for combat would make them stronger then casters.

Now, casters have flexibility - use slots one way or the other - that martials don't always have. So the question is how to give that flexibility to martials - how for them to give up some of their combat potential in order to be better out-of-combat. Same as casters.
 
Casters have a limited resource, that they can use for utility in some other pillars, or in combat. Using it in other pillars has the opportunity cost of not using it in combat.
That hasn't been so much the case since 3e. Cheap low-level utility scrolls could be used for out-of-combat, for that matter, lower level slots became less useful for combat. In 4e, rituals could be used out of combat without expending combat resources - other than wealth. In 5e ritual use of spells out of combat requires no slots, and no cost unless the spells material component normally carries one.

Now, casters have flexibility - use slots one way or the other - that martials don't
The upshot of which is they choose when to put in their best performance, so will tend - the better they're played (and, since all 5e casting is spontaneous, that's easier than ever) - to do so when it really matters.
That is, their players' decisions matter.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
That hasn't been so much the case since 3e. Cheap low-level utility scrolls could be used for out-of-combat, for that matter,
If you have a magic item economy, which the base game doesn't. And if scrolls to add out-of-combat boost is a thing, so are potions.

In 5e ritual use of spells out of combat requires no slots, and no cost unless the spells material component normally carries one.
Yes and no. A ritual spell cuts down the caster's flexibility because they need to give up some other spell known or prepared (except wizards). There's no rituals to help with a social encounter, and many cases 10 minutes to cast a ritual is an impediment. And many utility spells simply don't have a ritual version. Knock, for example, comes tih built in disadvantage (can not do sneakily) and has no ritual form.
 
I think you've got a bad assumption in there.

Casters have a limited resource, that they can use for utility in some other pillars, or in combat. Using it in other pillars has the opportunity cost of not using it in combat. So what we have is that either casters are the equivalent in combat and equivalent in non-combat, or are worse in combat and better in non-combat.

(Or you have a DM who runs less encounters per day with throws off the balance between the at-will and long rest recovery model. In that case casters having slots for both is just a symptom of a different problem and the root cuase should be addressed.)

So trying to give martial characters as good as a caster spending slots out of combat while still leaving them as good as cassters who reserve their slots for combat would make them stronger then casters.

Now, casters have flexibility - use slots one way or the other - that martials don't always have. So the question is how to give that flexibility to martials - how for them to give up some of their combat potential in order to be better out-of-combat. Same as casters.
Of potential note is that most adventures don't feature the recommended number of encounters. So holding that up as the ideal standard seems a bit odd to me.
 
Yes and no. A ritual spell cuts down the caster's flexibility because they need to give up some other spell known or prepared (except wizards)
Nod, but it's not like that reduced flexibility could be less than a non-casters.

There's no rituals to help with a social encounter
Divinations could be helpful in prepping for one, comprehend languages could prevent secret communication among others in a language you don't know, telepathic bond could enable secret communication among the party... I'm sure you could get creative with a few others, including offering a ritual as favor or payment.
And, there's certainly exploration rituals.
 

Krachek

Adventurer
Pillar combat. Fighter are enough effective. Checked.
Social pillar. Even without any skill any character can interact, play its personality, flaw, ideal. Checked.
Exploration pillar. They have skills, Superior hit points, proficient in con save. That is enough to participate actively in exploration. Checked.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Of potential note is that most adventures don't feature the recommended number of encounters. So holding that up as the ideal standard seems a bit odd to me.
It's of utmost importance, because that changes the root cause.

If casters regularly have more slots available because DMs aren't doing enough encounters per long-rest to balance them with the at-will classes, then casters are going to be more powerful. In combat, out of combat, both. Because the design balance point doesn't change regardless if many DMs ignore it.

So if that's the case, fix the root cause. Unfortunately that will likely take a fairly comprehensive change of the numbers.

I've said several times the biggest gripe I have with a game I love is the expectations around the rest mechanics. I'm much happier with the more gamist-type solution that 13th Age uses where a full heal-up (equivilent of a long rest) is divorced from the narrative of a sleep and instead occurs after X encounters. (Four for 13th Age.) Takes care of all of that. But sleep = regaining spells is a sacred cow of D&D.
 

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