D&D 5E The core issue of the martial/caster gap is just the fundamental design of d20 fantasy casters.

FallenRX

Adventurer
So i saw a post by Michael Sayre(A PF2e designer) on Twitter, that talks about the issues with Casters in DnD,


This got me thinking about this point to where I reached an interesting point...

The core issue with the Martial Caster gap is just, the design of casters in dnd-like games, they are classes designed around doing everything on a limited resource, with few other downsides but that, with decent planning or smarts you can just...not care, and be ready for most situations. And if you wanna balance it, you have to nerf down casters to a point where the fact that they have to use limited resources to just weak things feels terrible in play, and they only get worse the longer they play.

The core design of these classes is the issue, and the best fix is simply kinda reworking them entirely to make them either more specialists or far more limited with more restrictions(like how they used to be).

Back in older editions, this used to be mitigated by casters being artillery and being cumbersome like them, so their spells were powerful but limited, they genuinely were bad at combat, they had no weapons and few low health, and most importantly, it was HARD to cast a spell in combat, you had to declare the spell cast at the beginning of the round and if you were hit before your turn, you lost the spell.

This stuff is what MADE the idea of Martials in the frontline and Casters in the backline, and 3e kinda got rid of that, and the game has never recovered, because Casters were Artillery, Slow, Cumbersome, hard to upgrade because they leveled up slower, and martials were the soldiers, clerics were the medics. Without this downside Casters are now arent just artillery but are now just heavy soldiers for the most part.

Unfortunately, i don't think WoTC can fix this in a satisfactory way, i feel like there is only two ways forward for them,

Nerf casters spells to the point where most options are generally situational and damage kinda meh compared to martials, making them more support classes(The PF2e Solution), this is the best fix they can do, but this leads to the issue if, classes who spend their resources to do things that isnt much better then classes that dont, which will lead to a bad experience for the class, and kinda have to lock them in support roles, because if spell slots can solve problems they then can only help solve them, and if they can't do as good damage as martials and CC cant reliably end encounters, then damage can't be too good outside of AoE and control can only basically just be supportive generalists which to be frank,(especially looking at hows that gone for pf2e and its community) I dont think people want to be just that with their casters.

or 2. which i think is the likely route WOTC will go, nerf spells to where they generally make the game easier to run getting rid of most of the exploits and game-breaking stuff, but the core of the power is still there. This is an alright compromise, as it makes them less game-breaking and makes having one in the game easier to run without completely shifting the design fo the class, but doesnt solve the core issue of the gap.

This is no easy solution to this that i feel people would be happy with, some may argue just give martials superpowered stuff, but honestly...it wouldn't fix it, it'd make them more fun(which might be all we need to be fair), but in the end casters just kinda...can do anything and more often with a far wider scope of abilities, they are just way more powerful in every way even if you gave them every single feature from 4e unless you specifically kinda make them do the exact same thing, which at that point why even bother with the class system? Just make spells generic powers anyone can take, like and even doing this is far beyond the scope of 5e and requires a whole new edition to do.

I dont really know what else to say, but i think the core design of d20 casters after 2e is just...screwed? its just kinda junk design for how we wanna play today, and fixing the issue in a satisfactory manner(not saying there is no fixes but all those fixes have a lot of core downsides im not sure will sit well with people), is just impossible.

I say the idea of the D20 mage should go, and we should have more specialist casts, not wizards, but evokers, or illusionists, who mainly do just that with maybe a few general tricks in there.

TLDR: The core design of casters in fantasy is doing almost anything except one or two things, the scope of design of these classes is just far beyond others, their is no easy wa yot fix it in a satisfactory manner without someone getting a worse experience, i feel the core design simply needs to entirely change, because right now, the main ways to fix it is basically just shoehorn them into basically being support generalist classes, which i dont think even fits the fantasy people want from the classes to begin with, or bring back the heavy downsides to casting like the artillery example, which both of these im not sure will feel good to change, its a weird issue.

ASIDE

Personally,I feel Mages should go back to having the downsides of being artillery classes that leveled spells could be interrupted in combat, or they cant cast them if they are hit, it won't fix the gap, but it gives martial class's a raison d'etre, in a traditional way, plus i think it fits the fantasy of these classes and idea of them way more, but clearly this is not for everyone and it just makes them feel way worse for a lot of people, but ill make another topic on that another time.

Whats your thoughts on this? Do you think 5e can fix this is a satisfactory way that doesnt make a majority of classes in the game? Or is that beyond the scope, outside of an edition change?
 
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Scribe

Legend
Whats your thoughts on this? Do you think 5e can fix this is a satisfactory way that doesnt make a majority of classes in the game? Or is that beyond the scope, outside of an edition change?

I think it can be done with an effort to bring other classes up in other areas of the game, while protecting the 'melee combat' niche (the Warlock Blade issue of the latest packet is an abomination) and then tightening up the spell lists for Casters considerably.

If Casters were more focused (Wizards are Control/Utility, Sorcerer is the Bomber, Bard is the Face/Lore Guy, and Warlocks get to pick with their limited spell slots) then we could get somewhere.

Unfortunately there are too many on either end of this who have wildly different views.
 


overgeeked

B/X Known World
TLDR: The core design of casters in fantasy is doing almost anything except one or two things, the scope of design of these classes is just far beyond others, their is no easy wa yot fix it in a satisfactory manner without someone getting a worse experience, i feel the core design simply needs to entirely change, because right now, the main ways to fix it is basically just shoehorn them into basically being support generalist classes, which i dont think even fits the fantasy people want from the classes to begin with, or bring back the heavy downsides to casting like the artillery example, which both of these im not sure will feel good to change, its a weird issue.
That's a huge part of the problem. The core fantasy of the D&D wizard is "I'm a baby god, the rest of you peons get to protect me while I gain exponentially more power." That's clearly untenable. Trouble is, that's exactly what a lot of wizard fans want. They like that unbalance and they will not be happy with anything less. The design of the game, the fun of the rest of the players, all of it be damned. They will accept nothing less than exactly what's in the books now and they'd really like more thank you very much.
Personally,I feel Mages should go back to having the downsides of being artillery classes that leveled spells could be interrupted in combat, or they cant cast them if they are hit, it won't fix the gap, but it gives martial class's a raison d'etre, in a traditional way, plus i think it fits the fantasy of these classes and idea of them way more, but clearly this is not for everyone and it just makes them feel way worse for a lot of people, but ill make another topic on that another time.
Yes, clearly something need to be changed to fix this glaringly obvious problem. Since the wizard fans won't accept any reduction in their powers, the only option is to drastically buff martials...which leads directly into the question of martials as mundane or supernatural...which has its own raging crap storm of a thread.
Whats your thoughts on this? Do you think 5e can fix this is a satisfactory way that doesnt make a majority of classes in the game? Or is that beyond the scope, outside of an edition change?
There's a few solutions floating around the various threads. The easiest of which is to use the Gritty Realism rest variant from the DMG (p267). This puts the resources the devs gave casters almost squarely in line with how most people actually play the game, that is to say not having the huge stack of fights per day the devs wrongly assumed would be the default.

The best solution, I think, is to remove most of the non-combat spells from spell slots and make them rituals. Gate rituals behind steep material costs and/or have them as optional. Then balance the spell slots casters get around the short rest instead of the long rest. That way referees can play the game with as many fights per day as they want without breaking the game.
 






Scribe

Legend
You’d rather the aggrieved try to keep their bias secret?

They cannot, and so their position is already compromised, and it bleeds into dozens of threads across multiple separate sections of the site, leading to a mistaken view on what the issues are and how to correct them.

Now, I dont think overgeeked was being fully serious in defining the Wizard, but the fact is you have a few folks around here who absolutely are...passionately incorrect in the view of the Wizard and the 'problem' with Martials.
 

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