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D&D 5E Old Vexed Question: All too Important Dexterity Stat and Finesse Weapons, namely the Rapier

5ekyu

Adventurer
I was completely under the impression that longbows required strength of 13! Maybe they (and rapiers) should, but I was wrong about this one.

If rapier and bow should require a 13 str... then shouldn't longswords and warhammers require a 13 dex?

honestly, i have yet to see how d8 for rapier (non-light so no TWF) vs d6 for shortsword (light so TWF allowed) is somehow a problem causing actual serious issues in play (vs ones in perception or belief) - and if so what they are.

rapier vs SSD (Shortsword, scimitar, dagger)
Rapier - if you want to use a shield, want a hand free for casting or need bonus actions for other stuff.
SSD - if you want TWF or dont have martials and want to throw the dagger as an option.

basically - whatever the actual play problems are bewteen dex and strength - it aint the rapier at fault.
 

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The person who started this thread found rapier's dex damage an issue, so I gave him a suggestion (based on a mistake, see below). The person is not alone: quite a few have observed that not only the game supports "different kinds of fighters", some find the different kind of fighters favourable over the regular type of fighters. We don't see many threads about the superiority of the strength-based fighters and suggestions to use more rust monsters or fireballs to target dex-saves more often to tame them.

I take it you have never read any of the many posts by CapnZapp, pointing out the superiority of great weapon fighters! And he isn't wrong, a fighter with a two handed sword and GWF will easily outdamage some guy with a couple of rapiers. Meanwhile, the pole-arm master is making better use of bonus actions, and the old fashioned sword-and-board guy is finding far more magical weapons that he can actually use.

The difference theorycraft and actual play is massive, and if a player is unable to see that, let them get crushed under the descending ceiling trap.
 

Immortal Sun said:
4E attempted to solve this by allowing two or more stats to provide similar effects. Int was available for both AC and Initiative, for example and Fort AC could key off Str or Con and the ever objectionable damage being dealt by Charisma for paladins! It certainly moved the game towards making more classes SAD, but it dramatically reduced the necessity for people to pump dex.

And had the unfortunate side effect of encouraging all Rogues to be dumb as bricks. My first 3.0 character was a Mastermind-type Rogue, and I looked at how 4.0 set things up and realized that would be one character I could never convert....

However, Immortal Sun's point that "instead of finding how to fix the rapier, perhaps we should look into fixing the over-importance of DEX" is still valid.

Since the OP's statement is along the line of "given all the things DEX does, d8 is too much for a rapier", removing some of the things that DEX does could solve the issue. INT to initiative immediately comes to mind, although I'm not sure it would be considered enough.
 

Mrodron

Villager
I take it you have never read any of the many posts by CapnZapp, pointing out the superiority of great weapon fighters! And he isn't wrong, a fighter with a two handed sword and GWF will easily outdamage some guy with a couple of rapiers. Meanwhile, the pole-arm master is making better use of bonus actions, and the old fashioned sword-and-board guy is finding far more magical weapons that he can actually use.

Allegedly, the feats are OP, not strength. There is the equivalent feat (Sharpshooter) for dex-based characters, which is arguably even more OP. It is ranged only, but so are the above mentioned feats for melee only. It follows from this that the rapier (a melee weapon) is not the main issue, though.

Also, some groups do not use feats at all.
 

Just because 'quite a few' people raise an issue doesn't mean that issue has merit.

It seems to me that quite a few people raising an issue should be one of the primary standards for deciding whether an issue has merit, unless the issue is caused merely because the rules are presented poorly and the text is often misunderstood by newcomers.

There are other reasons an issue might have merit, and just because an issue has merit (by whatever standard) doesn't mean that it should actually be changed, or even that it should have been designed differently (because lots of considerations must be balanced), but I think it does indicate that if the game were still in a design phase the designers should carefully examine the issue.

Perhaps this few should read why many others don't have the same issues in their game. Maybe the problem isn't that rapiers do d8 damage and is instead somewhere else in their games.

No disagreement here.
 

ad_hoc

Hero
It seems to me that quite a few people raising an issue should be one of the primary standards for deciding whether an issue has merit, unless the issue is caused merely because the rules are presented poorly and the text is often misunderstood by newcomers.

There are other reasons an issue might have merit, and just because an issue has merit (by whatever standard) doesn't mean that it should actually be changed, or even that it should have been designed differently (because lots of considerations must be balanced), but I think it does indicate that if the game were still in a design phase the designers should carefully examine the issue.



No disagreement here.

As for popularity of a problem it depends on what we mean by 'quite a few'.

Last count 5e had 12-15 million players. The only good count is the survey data that WotC collects. We can look at what people on a forum think but then we get into people who have an issue speak loudest. There is a thread on how to 'fix concentration' with a poll where the vast majority like it the way it is. There are a few who don't. That doesn't mean there is a problem with concentration that needs to be fixed.

Something else that is important to keep in mind is that people will often have a problem and then assume a cause. Often when people disagree with the stated cause they are accused of claiming that there isn't a problem.

In this case no one picking Str characters. Some people here believe the cause is a d8 rapier. Or more broadly the things that Dex can do. The cause of the problem may have nothing to do with the things that Dex can do but lie with another aspect of their game. More likely the things that Str is needed for.

So people aren't saying the problem doesn't exist for some people's games. Rather that the cause may not be what they think it is.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
It seems to me that quite a few people raising an issue should be one of the primary standards for deciding whether an issue has merit, unless the issue is caused merely because the rules are presented poorly and the text is often misunderstood by newcomers.

There are other reasons an issue might have merit, and just because an issue has merit (by whatever standard) doesn't mean that it should actually be changed, or even that it should have been designed differently (because lots of considerations must be balanced), but I think it does indicate that if the game were still in a design phase the designers should carefully examine the issue.



No disagreement here.
"It seems to me that quite a few people raising an issue should be one of the primary standards for deciding whether an issue has merit, unless the issue is caused merely because the rules are presented poorly and the text is often misunderstood by newcomers."

One should really not take forum posters as anything representative of the gameplay at large. Forum posters are a small microscopic set of the players and not at all representative of the larger group.

Matter of fact, you will often find very contradictory "frequent threads".

In truth, it's the **assumptions and preferences ** that drive these things more often than not. How often are jumps, heavy objects, carry needs etc factored into a game will impact strength. Are they using std encumbrance, the stricter option or ignoring it? How often do they encounter highly mobile foes and situations where grapples matter? How often do they hit foes with strength saving effects - there are quite a few of those?

Challenge and Need are what really determine value of ability and since those vary with every table and every group... over focus on bits as trivial as one d8 rapier vs d6 scimitar is definitely missing the forest for the stem of a leaf.
 

Gadget

Adventurer
No doubt that the the rapier is the "best" choice for a single, dex based melee weapon in 5e. I find that slightly problematic, but more so in that I favor a slightly more medieval style game.
 

One should really not take forum posters as anything representative of the gameplay at large. Forum posters are a small microscopic set of the players and not at all representative of the larger group.

Matter of fact, you will often find very contradictory "frequent threads".

This is true, but that's because enthusiasts, which people who posts on forums generally are, pay more attention to the subject matter than casual gamers.

So perhaps another way to put it is that if you are trying to determine actual issues with a system (as opposed to issues with a marketing strategy or some other pragmatic concern), you want to get feedback from people who are highly involved with that system.

Most casual gamers just don't care much about the rules. They play whatever their friends are playing, unless it bothers them enough that they don't. Their feedback is vitally important, but if you want to go beyond "people like the game and we're making money" to "how do we refine it to make it the best it can be", then you also need to address the feedback of the people who are really into examining the material.

That WotC's marketing strategy is working should be known to anyone who has been paying attention, so it isn't a subject of contention. My assumption when people bring up an issue with the system is that they feel the game design has room for improvement and they want to address that in some manner (house rules, DMing strategies, interests in future products, etc).
 

ad_hoc

Hero
This is true, but that's because enthusiasts, which people who posts on forums generally are, pay more attention to the subject matter than casual gamers.

So perhaps another way to put it is that if you are trying to determine actual issues with a system (as opposed to issues with a marketing strategy or some other pragmatic concern), you want to get feedback from people who are highly involved with that system.

Most casual gamers just don't care much about the rules. They play whatever their friends are playing, unless it bothers them enough that they don't. Their feedback is vitally important, but if you want to go beyond "people like the game and we're making money" to "how do we refine it to make it the best it can be", then you also need to address the feedback of the people who are really into examining the material.

That WotC's marketing strategy is working should be known to anyone who has been paying attention, so it isn't a subject of contention. My assumption when people bring up an issue with the system is that they feel the game design has room for improvement and they want to address that in some manner (house rules, DMing strategies, interests in future products, etc).

There is an illusion that people on forums or as you put it, people who pay attention to the game, understand the nuances of gameplay, strategy, and game design.

Most people who are into optimization are bad at it. That's just how complicated games work.

There are highly competitive games out there with a lot of people trying to figure out how best to play them but only a few are actually good at them. There were stats of effective cards for one of the competitive games I have played that were tracked by a website. The stats broke down win %, draft position, etc. but people who were interested in winning still went with 'their gut'. They would argue endlessly why others are wrong. Even when they were beaten over and over again they would still argue that they actually know the way.

In competitive games you can find out who is right by who wins. D&D is both cooperative and highly complex so that is impossible to do (factors also change table to table).


side note: If someone doesn't want to come to forums to talk about the minutia of the game that doesn't follow that they aren't able to grasp its finer details. D&D is pretty low on the list of complicated things one can learn.
 

No doubt that the the rapier is the "best" choice for a single, dex based melee weapon in 5e. I find that slightly problematic, but more so in that I favor a slightly more medieval style game.

Then don't have rapiers in the game at all - it requires a higher technological level of metallurgical knowledge to manufacture a blade that thin that won't snap the instant it is used, so they don't really belong in a true pseudo-medieval setting.

It doesn't matter if you think they are overpowered, underpowered, or whatever. It's no different to gunpowder weapons - if you don't think it fits with your setting don't allow it.
 
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Allegedly, the feats are OP, not strength. There is the equivalent feat (Sharpshooter) for dex-based characters, which is arguably even more OP. It is ranged only, but so are the above mentioned feats for melee only. It follows from this that the rapier (a melee weapon) is not the main issue, though.

Also, some groups do not use feats at all.

A feat is also required in order to duel wield rapiers. In a no feats game it's d6 shortswords and AC capped at 17.

As for archers, they are good and all, as they should be in a fantasy game, but theorycrafting fails to account for the tight confines of dungeons or the availability of magic bows.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
This is true, but that's because enthusiasts, which people who posts on forums generally are, pay more attention to the subject matter than casual gamers.

So perhaps another way to put it is that if you are trying to determine actual issues with a system (as opposed to issues with a marketing strategy or some other pragmatic concern), you want to get feedback from people who are highly involved with that system.

Most casual gamers just don't care much about the rules. They play whatever their friends are playing, unless it bothers them enough that they don't. Their feedback is vitally important, but if you want to go beyond "people like the game and we're making money" to "how do we refine it to make it the best it can be", then you also need to address the feedback of the people who are really into examining the material.

That WotC's marketing strategy is working should be known to anyone who has been paying attention, so it isn't a subject of contention. My assumption when people bring up an issue with the system is that they feel the game design has room for improvement and they want to address that in some manner (house rules, DMing strategies, interests in future products, etc).
But therein lies the rub... people may not like an aspect of the rules and bring it up due to their own particular preferences and campaign impacts which are just different from what others or many might consider "room for improvement" at all.

There is not an objective better or worse here and many of these threads show just that. There is also not often an objective cause or definition if problem here - just differences in preferences or expectations.

The game wont be objectively "improved" if rapiers are officially changed to d6s. It's just different.

So, among a small vocal subset of a non-representative group, thread frequency is just not a reliable measure of an objective problem that needs to be looked at.

If you look here, you are likely gonna find more than enough threads about the fighter class needing improvement or being bad and one might even see comments about how rarely anyone plays it... but actual surveys of the broader bases of players show it to be one of the more popular choices.

Forum goers are not necessarily more knowledgable or reasonable - they just post or have time to post and if they post a lot its likely they have strong feelings. I know I am not at all the demographic WotC should pursue even though - of course - i know what I am talking about.
 

Einlanzer0

Explorer
Sorry for necroing an old thread, but I feel this is still a worthy discussion to hold.

IMO, the best solution to Rapiers, and finesse weapons more generally, is to to make slightly more liberal use of Piercing rules/resistance/disadvantage. Piercing weapons are relatively clunky and situational compared with slashing and bludgeoning weapons, which can be put to use easily in a greater variety of situations. I'm not really the biggest fan of Mike Mearls and think his philosophical opposition to this is just kind of silly.

So, in my games, creatures without organs, such as skeletons and oozes, have Pierce Resistance. Additionally, attempting to strike a tiny creature with a piercing weapon confers disadvantage. So, ultimately, Rapiers are still strong but they're a bit more specialized and there will be situations where they are less effective.

For the issue of Dex being overpowered more generally, I like to just use a minimum strength requirement for proficiency with different weapons as this is also logical and is symmetrical with the armor rules. I have no issue with Dex contributing to the attack and damage rolls of a Longbow, but an 8 Str character should not be able to become proficient with Longbows to begin with. This is my guide:

Light weapons have no minimum strength.
Standard non-light weapons require an 11 strength for proficiency
Heavy or Two-handed weapons require a 13 strength for proficiency.
Heavy and Two-handed weapons require a 15 strength for proficiency
 
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BacchusNL

Explorer
Pretty sure a Strength fighter with GWM who dumped Dex to 8 would overshadow those Dex fighters.
Yap, and I'm also pretty sure that from a balance-PoV it's a bigger issue to get those rogues to stop sharpshooting and start stabbing stuff more.

How is the Rapier the problem here? Start with things like switching initiative to wisdom or int if you think Dex is to stacked but nerfing one handed weapons is not the way, I think.
 


Dex fighter has higher initiative, kills squishy wizard before they cast a spell. Low initiative STR fighter is taken out by control spell before they even get to take a turn.

High Stealth DEX fighter sneaks past sleeping dragon. Low stealth STR fighter wakes dragon with clanking armour and is eaten.

Confronted by winged kobolds with shortbows, DEX fighter switches to longbow and takes them out. STR fighter's javelins fall short, STR fighter is killed by kobold arrows.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Heh... Dex fighter has higher initiative, discovers that squishy wizard still has enough hit points to survive first round attack and thus Dex fighter gets taken out by same control spell that got Str fighter.

High Stealth DEX fighter sneaks past sleeping dragon, low stealth STR fighter tells high stealth DEX fighter "The only reason we're even here is to KILL this stupid thing!" and then rushes up to attack said dragon.

Confronted by winged kobolds with shortbows, DEX fighter switches to longbow and takes them out. STR fighter's javelins fall short, goes behind cover, waits for the combat to end via the actions of the rest of the party... then the group earns enough XP to level up. At which point winged kobolds somehow never seem to show up as as enemies ever again, as the DM knows they aren't a challenge for the group anymore.

;)

You might say that problems for one table aren't much of a problem for others.
 

BacchusNL

Explorer
Dex fighter has higher initiative, kills squishy wizard before they cast a spell. Low initiative STR fighter is taken out by control spell before they even get to take a turn.

High Stealth DEX fighter sneaks past sleeping dragon. Low stealth STR fighter wakes dragon with clanking armour and is eaten.

Confronted by winged kobolds with shortbows, DEX fighter switches to longbow and takes them out. STR fighter's javelins fall short, STR fighter is killed by kobold arrows.
Sorry but those are truly terrible examples. The Dex fighter isn't one-shotting anything, that dragon should have been left alone or killed outright and what is the rest of the party doing if winged kobolds are an issue? Paladins must be terrible aswell, by that logic.

Dex melee is freakishly terrible compared to str and if this is the best you can come up with I think that point has been proven tbh.
 

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