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D&D 5E Spellcasters and Balance in 5e: A Poll

Should spellcasters be as effective as martial characters in combat?

  • 1. Yes, all classes should be evenly balanced for combat at each level.

    Votes: 11 5.3%
  • 2. Yes, spellcasters should be as effective as martial characters in combat, but in a different way

    Votes: 111 53.9%
  • 3. No, martial characters should be superior in combat.

    Votes: 49 23.8%
  • 4. No, spellcasters should be superior in combat.

    Votes: 8 3.9%
  • 5. If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?

    Votes: 27 13.1%

  • Total voters
    206
  • Poll closed .

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
When magic is in the game usually it's either tied to a mental stat or to a magic stat. 50% of games are designed that way. The other 50% has a separate magic power stat.

Physical stated characters don't have to jump through hoops to do anything - unless you are trying to count not casting spells as jumping through hoops...
My point is that the mental stat and physical stat grows in supernaturalness at the same rate.

In Vampire, the super strong Brujah and super fast Toredor are as supernatural as the blood mage Tremere and body warping Tzimisce and mind controlling Ventrue.

Might, Mind,and Magic grow at the same rate of fantasy.

If a caster keyed off Con, things would be worse not better. Those casters would be even better tanks than fighters.
Half of 4e warlocks were Con based and they were still squishy. Mine died*.

*technically it was a suicidal heroic sacrifice. The man was nuts and brave.

Keying off mental stats has been a thing for forever (and isn't isolated to just D&D) - for better or worse it's a thing.
I have no problem with keying off of mental stats. My issue is that mental stats get attached to afast growing fantasy while physical don't.

Making Dex be better doesn't help the fighter or Barbarian. Generally people feel the dex based classes get enough utility.
That's most like I said 5e protected some of the physical stats by nerfing the combat spells. You can't stack buffs and can't nonchalantly toss them out until level 9+.

Demigod feats goes back to people in general not actually wanting to play demigod fighters. They want more grounded fighters.
I think this is wrong. The D&D fanbase is divided on this. That's were half the issues come from. Some players want grounded fighters at higher levels. Others want fighters to break the bonds of "base game reality".

That's why I keep saying D&D might need to create new "fighter classes"
 

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Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
If only there were some way for some groups to use one set of rules and another group to use a different while playing the same game. Some sort of module as it were.

More seriously I think Pathfinder Second Edition handles the more out there high level abilities pretty well. The more modular character design let's it be largely up to the player and/or group decision. Especially with the real out there stuff being marked as uncommon or rare and thus much more in the hands of the GM.

World Without Number also utilizes much more modular design for that sort of stuff.
 



Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
4e was a different system with different Con rules.

Not really.

Every edition describes CON the same. 4e was just the one to take the description to its logical fantasy conclusion.

If CON is your health, stamina, and ability to withstand pain and exhaustion without it affecting you, then you could have a PC whose gimmick is that they are gifted with power physically and the higher their CON, the more they can be gifted.

I've toyed with the idea as a new class based on CON where you take a number of invocation like abilities based on your level and CON score. Eventually the PC looks a lot like the fantasy version of a 40k Space Marine due to withstanding alchemical, runic, demonic, or lycanthropic enhancements. Never finished the class though.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Not really.

Every edition describes CON the same. 4e was just the one to take the description to its logical fantasy conclusion.

If CON is your health, stamina, and ability to withstand pain and exhaustion without it affecting you, then you could have a PC whose gimmick is that they are gifted with power physically and the higher their CON, the more they can be gifted.

I've toyed with the idea as a new class based on CON where you take a number of invocation like abilities based on your level and CON score. Eventually the PC looks a lot like the fantasy version of a 40k Space Marine due to withstanding alchemical, runic, demonic, or lycanthropic enhancements. Never finished the class though.
In 4e your Con didn't increase hp by con mod per level. In 5e it does. This has a significant effect on tankiness in 5e. It's a huge difference. And one that I honestly cannot believe you are downplaying. Making a con caster in 5e would be terrible from a game balance perspective. I mean I get it conceptually and it does have a conceptual place - but unless con only marginally increases hp it's not something able to be placed into a game.

*In 4e con most notably increased your number of healing surges - primarily increasing how many encounters you could go through before a long rest on an adventuring day.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
In 4e your Con didn't increase hp by con mod per level. In 5e it does. This has a significant effect on tankiness in 5e. It's a huge difference. And one that I honestly cannot believe you are downplaying. Making a con caster in 5e would be terrible from a game balance perspective. I mean I get it conceptually and it does have a conceptual place - but unless con only marginally increases hp it's not something able to be placed into a game.

*In 4e con most notably increased your number of healing surges - primarily increasing how many encounters you could go through before a long rest on an adventuring day.
I think you are missing the obvious that a CON caster in 5e would be spending HP in some way as they cast so they wouldn't be that tanky
 

Tinker-TDC

Explorer
I think a CON caster would be cool and could probably be balanced with hit-dice and armor options (though multiclassing makes that hard) but isn't the crux of this argument about casters vs martials?

I'd love some sort of blood mage that takes the spellcasting right from their body but a mage is still a mage.

Unless that's a barbarian thing where your 'recklessness' is auto-damage for barbarian maneuvers or something.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I think you are missing the obvious that a CON caster in 5e would be spending HP in some way as they cast so they wouldn't be that tanky
Spending hp for effects is also a nearly impossible to balance mechanic with characters that cannot do so. You always end up in a situation where spending your hp for a spell saves more hp or where it saves less. It also lets you indirectly convert your hp into allies hp (defacto spreading damage). Given that you start with more hp this way and given how concentration works, it essentially makes already versatile casters much more versatile and stronger.

And I guess the biggest issue of all, healing restores your spells and it's easy to get out of combat healing to be super efficient. How on earth does something like this get balanced in 5e?
 
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Undrave

Hero
In 4e your Con didn't increase hp by con mod per level. In 5e it does. This has a significant effect on tankiness in 5e. It's a huge difference. And one that I honestly cannot believe you are downplaying. Making a con caster in 5e would be terrible from a game balance perspective. I mean I get it conceptually and it does have a conceptual place - but unless con only marginally increases hp it's not something able to be placed into a game.

*In 4e con most notably increased your number of healing surges - primarily increasing how many encounters you could go through before a long rest on an adventuring day.
In 4e, you do add your full CON score to your HP so if you increase it, you do gain a few extra HP. Not as much has changing your CON mod in 5e of course.

If you're too affraid of too much HP just give them d6 HD. It'll balance out to be worth a d8 HD for someone who took CON as secondary. Give them only light armour proficiency and no incentive to get good DEX. We're talking about a +3 CON at first level versus a +2 on most character who are scared of being hit. If you don't consider +1 or +2 CHA to be significantly weaker at social skills than +3, then the difference between +3 and +2 CON shouldn't feel that great either.
I think a CON caster would be cool and could probably be balanced with hit-dice and armor options (though multiclassing makes that hard) but isn't the crux of this argument about casters vs martials?
It's a tengeant for sure as we discuss the value of ability scores. But a CON caster would open up Sorcadin style shenanigans for the Barbarian and Fighter. It's at least something INTERESTING you could do with your physical score, even if you don't remain purely martial.
Spending hp for effects is also a nearly impossible to balance mechanic with characters that cannot do so. You always end up in a situation where spending your hp for a spell saves more hp or where it saves less. It also lets you indirectly convert your hp into allies hp (defacto spreading damage). Given that you start with more hp this way and given how concentration works, it essentially makes already versatile casters much more versatile and stronger.

And I guess the biggest issue of all, healing restores your spells and it's easy to get out of combat healing to be super efficient. How on earth does something like this get balanced in 5e?
How about spending Hit Dice instead of HP? That's ALSO a daily resource after all. Could work a bit like Sorcery Points but a little stronger.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Spending hp for effects is also a nearly impossible to balance mechanic with characters that cannot do so. You always end up in a situation where spending your hp for a spell saves more hp or where it saves less. It also lets you indirectly convert your hp into allies hp (defacto spreading damage). Given that you start with more hp this way and given how concentration works, it essentially makes already versatile casters much more versatile and stronger.

And I guess the biggest issue of all, healing restores your spells and it's easy to get out of combat healing to be super efficient. How on earth does something like this get balanced in 5e?
That's easily solved by having them use slots like every other caster and using HP/HD for boosts.

But the point is that a class feature would be based on a physical ability score and get appropriate fantasy elements at the tiers.

Currently only Rage is a physical class feature that scales and all it gets is Extra Movement, Relentless Rage, and 3 dice Brutal Cristal at each tier.
 

pemerton

Legend
Here's one way I might do it, within the broad parameters of D&D 5e maths:

* All characters add their Stat and Proficiency bonus to all checks (ie there is no such thing as skill proficiency);

* Expertise in a skill is a bonus (the proficiency bonus, or maybe an adjustment to that if the maths would work out better) that can be used in lieu of the Stat bonus when attempting actions to which that skill is applicable.​

There would be no need to associate particular skills with particular stats; rather, they would be associated with particular sorts of endeavour.

If the result of this was that Rogues needed a slight boost for the devaluing of their Expertise, that doesn't seem insuperable.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
Not "good" compared to other classes. Useful yes, servicable or below average is how I would rate ability unless you really focuse on combat with feats and expertise.

The Rogue is like the kid on the playground picked last to play BBall. You would rather have him than no one, but he isn't the equal of the others.
This is 100% outside my experience. The 5e rogue's sneak attack and mobility easily keeps pace with the fighter. 5e makes sneak attacking near every round easy.

Want some proof? Check out this thread. The rogue is keeping up in damage with the optimized crossbow expert sharpshooter fighter and the smiting paladin. And doing so without expending any actual resources (nothing that has to recharge on a rest). Plus, thanks to evasion and uncanny dodge, she takes less damage.
 
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FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
This is 100% outside my experience. The 5e rogue's sneak attack and mobility easily keeps pace with the fighter. 5e makes sneak attacking near every round easy.

Want some proof? Check out this thread. The rogue is keeping up in damage with the optimized crossbow expert sharpshooter fighter and the smiting paladin. And doing so without expending any actual resources (nothing that has to recharge on a rest). Plus, thanks to evasion and uncanny dodge, she takes less damage.
I gave it a go and scanned 3-4 pages and the last few pages. I seen nothing indicating what you claimed.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
I gave it a go and scanned 3-4 pages and the last few pages. I seen nothing indicating what you claimed.
The rogue is doing around 40 a round thanks to sneak attack. The fighter is doing around the same because he tends to hit around twice and does around 20 a time. When on full smite the Paladin has done way more, but usually does less so it evens out.

I'll do a full analysis of the numbers at some point, to see if that tracks. If not I'll retract.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
I gave it a go and scanned 3-4 pages and the last few pages. I seen nothing indicating what you claimed.

So It was a bit confusing. But results:

8 Round fight (it was a 2 stage encounter, really 2 fights sequentially):



1​
2​
3​
4​
5​
6​
7​
8​
totals
sorcerer
0​
0​
33​
55​
0​
0​
18​
42​
131​
Bard
0​
0​
0​
7​
0​
0​
0​
0​
0​
Rogue
0​
0​
45​
38​
0​
40​
41​
40​
204​
Fighter
0​
14​
70​
86​
22​
42​
64​
48​
346​
Paladin
0​
special*
48​
26​
0​
36​
40​
48​
198​

*Telekinesis to disable enemy ship

So:
Paladin and rogue kept very even.
Fighter rocked the damage - he got in an action surge (round 3 so kind of 2 rounds in 1) and got a bit lucky on hit and damage round 4, plus was the only one actually hitting on round 5, but clearly ahead.

So the rogue kept even with the smiting paladin but lagged behind the fighter (though there were 2 rounds the rogue did other stuff than attack).

Final take: Holy cow crossbow expert-sharpshooter fighters bring the damage! but I still maintain the rogue did consistently well and kept up, the fighter just had 2 exceptional rounds to pull ahead.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
So It was a bit confusing. But results:

8 Round fight (it was a 2 stage encounter, really 2 fights sequentially):



1​
2​
3​
4​
5​
6​
7​
8​
totals
sorcerer
0​
0​
33​
55​
0​
0​
18​
42​
131​
Bard
0​
0​
0​
7​
0​
0​
0​
0​
0​
Rogue
0​
0​
45​
38​
0​
40​
41​
40​
204​
Fighter
0​
14​
70​
86​
22​
42​
64​
48​
346​
Paladin
0​
special*
48​
26​
0​
36​
40​
48​
198​

*Telekinesis to disable enemy ship

So:
Paladin and rogue kept very even.
Fighter rocked the damage - he got in an action surge (round 3 so kind of 2 rounds in 1) and got a bit lucky on hit and damage round 4, plus was the only one actually hitting on round 5, but clearly ahead.

So the rogue kept even with the smiting paladin but lagged behind the fighter (though there were 2 rounds the rogue did other stuff than attack).

Final take: Holy cow crossbow expert-sharpshooter fighters bring the damage! but I still maintain the rogue did consistently well and kept up, the fighter just had 2 exceptional rounds to pull ahead.
Curious, what was the Paladin, fighter and rogue builds, feats+subclasses+tactics?
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
Curious, what was the Paladin, fighter and rogue builds, feats+subclasses+tactics?

Fighter was a BM, crossbow expert, sharpshooter build (20 Dex) with maneuvers that added damage.

Paladin was a actually a paladin 9/cleric 6 of peace/redemption (the hippie paladin build). Has a nice aura that adds a d4 to attacks and saves (once a round ) on top of anything else.

Rogue was a thief subclass, no feats to add to damage etc.

The fighter was BY FAR the most optimized for DPR.

Tactics (so far) were just basically pick the biggest threat and eliminate it first - but when that's not a target go for the small stuff. Defensive tactics were 1) stick close to the paladin/cleric for the aura 2) spread out damage as needed via the bond feature to ensure everyone stays up.
 


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