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%

  • Poll closed .

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Magic is an option. Not a base of the class.

And I already explained the concept: the adventuring scholar or aristocrat.

A major problem with D&D is that the non-magical experts are all thieving, backstabbing murderhobos who know the secret language of the Thieves Guild.

I want to play Lord Green: a highly educated man know knows a little bit of fencing.
What does an adventuring scholar or aristocrat do in combat? What does Lord Green do in combat? What makes what they are doing in combat different from what a fighter does?
 

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Asisreo

Patron Badass
Coming back to this, this is an absolute counter-factual statement. Spellcasting is a specific subset of literal magic and interacts with things that only affect magic (notably counterspell and dispel magic) in set and defined ways. There are also little things like spell components/focuses. The idea that there is no mechanical difference in 5e between a spell and a non-magical feature is pure bunk. And it's one of the changes 5e made to revert some of 4e.
A magical feature and a nonmagical feature, balance-wise, isn't very distinct. Most creatures don't have access to Counterspell or Dispel Magic and the majority of features that would be affected by them would be magical anyways. In essence, they're counter-feature and dispel feature just with another name. The few things that are not affected are mechanically the same as spells with tags "this cannot be dispelled" or not having verbal/somatic components.

Its all theme and minute mechanical differences that can be easily excised. Giving a martial "martial spellcasting: your spells cannot be dispelled, do not count as magical, and require no components" is exactly the same as giving this martial a whole new subsystem, yet it would only make it more difficult.
 


Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
What does an adventuring scholar or aristocrat do in combat? What does Lord Green do in combat? What makes what they are doing in combat different from what a fighter does?
He's uses weapons.

He's just not as good as a full on fighter.

That's the issue. The fighter is an elite warrior.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
Part of the cause for this whole thread is that everything mental in D&D is magic and everything physical is everything pure combat mastery or sneak backstabbing thieves.


So anyone in D&D using their brain has to cast spells

Anyone not using spells starts under the image of being a bonehead.

There are a few rogue archetypes that go against that but otherwise, mostly yeah.

It goes back to the point that D&D magic is familiar to everyone and while not necessarily liked by all it is accepted and understood.

Abilities outside of magic (mythic, other martial "mighty" deeds etc.) are debated endlessly and not generally seen eye to eye on.

So when adding an ability for "mass" output - it's generally safer to classify it as some form of magic.
 

A magical feature and a nonmagical feature, balance-wise, isn't very distinct.
"Isn't very distinct" still means "Is distinct". And we're not talking about "balance-wise" here. We're talking about fluff. About how things fit in the setting. And we aren't talking about magical features - we are talking about spells. Spells are a subset of magical features with unified mechanics that mark them out as this specific subset of magical features. There is a distinction both in fluff and in mechanics between a feature and a spell whether or not that feature is magical.

A magical feature that is not a spell would be e.g. the Storm Aura from the Path of the Storm Herald Barbarian in Xanathar's Guide to Everything. The Path of the Sea Herald literally calls down lightning on people with their aura. It's magic but not a spell. Storm Herald barbarians are magical but aren't spellcasters. They just are.

There is thematic space for a Warlord not to be yet another spellcaster. The 4e one wasn't a spellcaster. There is mechanical space for a warlord to not be a spellcaster - there are plenty of magical effects that aren't spells on a number of classes.
 

Dausuul

Legend
You keep asserting that but never really explain why.

I just don't see how one justifies pact boons/invocations making sense for a sorcerer. Those make about as much sense for a Sorcerer as a Wizard's spellbook IMO.
@Crimson Longinus was talking about mechanics. Take away the name "invocation" and what you have is innate, always-on magical powers. That, coupled with spell power that is quickly and easily renewed, fit the sorcerer concept perfectly (at least to me). Such abilities do a much better job of evoking "magic is part of your very essence" than spell slots and sorcery points that must be carefully husbanded through the day and refreshed over a night's rest.

In 3E, sorcerers achieved that feeling of "innate magic" by having spontaneous casting, while everyone else had to prepare spells. But now everyone has spontaneous casting, and sorcerers no longer have a distinctive mechanical hook to hang their concept on. The warlock, meanwhile, has a mechanical hook that fits the sorcerer beautifully but does little to evoke "dangerous magic attained by dark bargains."

Sadly, 5E's decision to reinforce the 3E implementation of both classes means they are now set in stone. But if I could go back and do them from scratch, sorcerers would use warlock mechanics and warlocks would get some other mechanic (probably involving powers with a nasty little price tag attached).
 


Asisreo

Patron Badass
"Isn't very distinct" still means "Is distinct". And we're not talking about "balance-wise" here. We're talking about fluff. About how things fit in the setting. And we aren't talking about magical features - we are talking about spells. Spells are a subset of magical features with unified mechanics that mark them out as this specific subset of magical features. There is a distinction both in fluff and in mechanics between a feature and a spell whether or not that feature is magical.
Fluff isn't important when it comes to class design because players can easily and freely change that fluff. Wizards in one world could be ancient sages that are rarely seen in the world or they could be within wizarding academies in every major city. Either way, a player can decide their wizard lives in the country and just had a knack for understanding the arcane.

And that's just abiding by the overall theme of wizards. A character could easily be a Wizard that never studies. Their spellbook could easily be poems that they recite when casting spells. Suddenly, they've gained the same fluff as bards.

In practice, the mechanical differences are very small between spells and features and those small difference really don't have a massive impact on play. Even the designers consider this as monsters with anti-magic features are treated the same as monsters with anti-physical features. There's a reason why a bonus to Wisdom saves aren't weighed differently than bonuses to Strength saves.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
Which doesn’t work because the 5e paradigm of every class needing to be roughly equals at combat.
Classes can contribute to combat in different ways in 5e. For example, I've run casters who focused on buffing/debuffing and let the warriors handle the damage. It didn't break the game. In fact, IMO this is the ideal way to play a 5e caster (blaster casters are fine, but generally not as good as leader/controller casters in 5e, with the possible exception of the EB lock).
 

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