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

I don't think it happens in 5e nearly as much. Most of these issues around the caster/martial disparity really ramped up in 3e, when replacing Fighters and Rogues and other non-casters with spellcasting classes and PrCs was definitely a thing.

It doesn't take a lot of optimization know-how to realize that a couple of scrolls of knock, invisibility, and silence can handle the scouting and trap-handling needs of a normal adventure.

Granted, 5e has greatly reined in casters, such that bringing a fighter or a rogue isn't a sucker's game like in 3e, but it hasn't quite changed the calculus that a caster class can fill in for the function of a rogue or fighter much more easily than the converse. Especially at higher Tiers, the 2x cleric, 2xwizard party is much more flexible and powerful than the 2xfighter, 2xrogue party.
The casters have always (outside 4e) outscaled the fighters and rogues in D&D.
  • In oD&D and 1e the fighters started out stronger were catchup mechanisms (for the fighter not the rogue) and there was a soft cap at level 10 which was about when the wizard pulled away
  • In 3.0/3.5 they started out more even and the wizards pulled away after level 6
  • In 5e the fighters probably start out ahead and the wizards IMO pull away after level 8 but it gets overwhelming after level 12.
This is why I bang on and on about WotC having no vision for what a level 17 fighter is. With no vision of what the fighter can aspire to they can't actually truly go anywhere.
 

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FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Why not give caster a penalty for casting too many spells too quickly? D6 damage to them per spell slot used? Possibly a con roll to half or avoid?
 

One thing I've contemplated is that the wizard spell list should be divided into common and rare spells, and you could only choose common spells as your free spells and would need to find rare ones as scrolls.
And there should be as much guidance on how much in the way of rare scrolls to hand out as other rare items ;)

Seriously, the common/rare split has already been done. If it's on the sorcerer list it's common.
 


billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
One thing I've contemplated is that the wizard spell list should be divided into common and rare spells, and you could only choose common spells as your free spells and would need to find rare ones as scrolls.
There are lots of ways spellcasters have been hampered in the past, but like this option, none of them do anything if the table isn't going to abide by them because they're "unfun" or "cumbersome" or different DMs have a very different concept of what rare means. Casting time, concentration, components, being vulnerable in combat - all of these have come up and, even today in 5e, you see people complain, often bitterly, about them.
And that's kind of been the history of spellcasting in D&D. Some rules, like 1e's casting time and weird initiative interactions, really were a PITA to manage or even understand through the murk of poorly explained rules. Others were so ignored that the 3e designers felt comfortable omitting them, helping them set up 3e's imbalance issues. I don't think they set out to make "caster edition D&D" like a lot of critics blather about, it was just a net effect of all of the things they did to update the game to meet the more modern player community based on their own experiences and what they heard as feedback over the years.

So, rarity of spells is probably best handled by gating some of those spells within the caster subclasses. Want to teleport (7th level spell)? You gotta be a Transmuter (or some other non-school-based subclass like a Space Warper or Transporter or something). Anyone wanting to be in a different subclass, too bad - OR you gotta buy the cross-subclass spell with something expensive like a FEAT.
And even then, be prepared to legions of players to piss and moan about how unfun that is and how they'll ignore it at their table.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Or like going to a forum of hardcore players and people that care about balance and arguing that fighters are popular, so they don’t have balance problems? 😀
Is it that they don't have "balance problems" or rather they don't have balance problems that are worth the time, energy, design, and creativity changes it would take to fix them?

We might think that yeah, a 20th level Wizard would most likely wipe the floor with a 20th level Fighter... but does that sort of unbalance happen or matter so much at so many tables that it's worth spending all the time and design space to change how the game works at a fundamental enough level to "fix" the problem? If only 1 out of every 50,000 tables truly experience the issue and have it actually be an untenable situation for their game that they are unable to work around... is it worth screwing up everyone else's experience to try and repair the situation? More often than not, the answer is no.

And it's no different than any other rules complaint in the game. If the Ranger's "can never get lost except by magical means" ability from Natural Explorer doesn't affect 99,999 out of 100,000 tables for whatever reason, but completely destroys the gaming experience for that 1 remaining table because getting lost is the most important and prominent story hook that DM uses for their games... WotC is not going to spend their time fixing it just to solve that 1 table's issue (at least not until they have a new book, such as the 5E24 PHB to possibly do it and see it printed.)
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
And even then, be prepared to legions of players to piss and moan about how unfun that is and how they'll ignore it at their table.
Which is why WotC isn't going to do it, and so instead it should be the individual DM who needs to institute these kinds of rules into their own game.

If a DM wants each subclass to have their own specific spell list (for example)... there's no reason they can't make the lists themselves and install them into their game. I just suspect more often than not that those kinds of house rules end up not being ultimately worth the time it took to create and institute them.

I know that's happened to me plenty of times-- I created house rules to "fix" issues with the game that bugged me for whatever reason... but once we started using those house rules I came to the conclusion that it was actually more irritating trying to get the players to use them correctly than any annoyance I felt to the rule in the first place.

Oftentimes, the perceived problem ends up being less bothersome than the fix. And at that point the problem just kind of "goes away". And which is why I suspect a lot of DMs don't ever bother instituting these house rules into their games... because they know in their heart or hearts that the issue isn't actually such the big deal in the grand scheme of things that they make it out to be.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
There's plenty of ways to address the gap without punishing the wizard players with cludge or literal punishment like cast from HP.

I think breaking up the wizard like Standard Oil and having either a lot of spellists for subclasses or a lot of caster classes wouldn't be so onerous as I feel a lot of wizard players actually yearn to have a more thematic class rather than the spell fruit salad with variable flavor of what dollop of cool whip goes on top offers.
 

Tony Vargas

Legend
Is it that they don't have "balance problems" or rather they don't have balance problems that are worth the time, energy, design, and creativity changes it would take to fix them?
The "balance problems" in question were worth fighting the edition war, re-designing basic classes after only two years, discontinuing the current edition after only 2 more, two years of no new product spent developing & public playtesting, and a whole new edition - to bring back. 🤷‍♂️
And there's no arguing with results, it was absolutely the right business decision to restore the "Martial/Caster Gap" (and natural language and DM Empowerment), it saved the community, and thus IP, from the toxicity of the edition war, and ushered in a new golden age of revenue growth.

the individual DM who needs to institute these kinds of rules into their own game.
TBF, this is the kind of argument that can easily be made from either side of an issue. "There shouldn't be psionics, if you want 'em you can add 'em" "There should be psionics, if you don't want 'em, you should ban 'em" "Wizards should just be better than fighters, if you want balance, impose it yourself" "Fighters should be able to leap across the room and cut wizards in half before they can cast a spell like Conan, if you want balance, impose it yourself."
Same with "but WotC ninjaspinkertons won't steal your books" or "I never have this problem, you're just doin' it wrong"

WotC is like any other subsidiary of a big corporation, it makes decisions based on the bottom line, maximizing revenue, while avoiding legal/PR problems. See the most recent OGL fiasco.

Speaking of, 4 out of the 5 nominal editions (honestly, there's more like 8) are readily clone-able via OGL resources, so 'pure artists' can take up those on their own time and create idealized versions not sullied by the vicissitudes of business. FWIW, if you want OSR or 3.5+ or alt.5e, they're out there, legally.

There's plenty of ways to address the gap without punishing the wizard players with cludge or literal punishment like cast from HP.
I think breaking up the wizard like Standard Oil and having either a lot of spellists for subclasses or a lot of caster classes wouldn't be so onerous as I feel a lot of wizard players actually yearn to have a more thematic class rather than the spell fruit salad with variable flavor of what dollop of cool whip goes on top offers.
Ultimately, any solution that is not just "buff fighters" is going to end up reducing power or placing restrictions on casters, and that will upset some of those who play casters just for the power. And, even the option that balances the game without touching caster power would run into Syndrome Syndrome, with casters no longer feeling powerful, because non-casters are now just as powerful.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
Ultimately, any solution that is not just "buff fighters" is going to end up reducing power or placing restrictions on casters, and that will upset some of those who play casters just for the power. And, even the option that balances the game without touching caster power would run into Syndrome Syndrome, with casters no longer feeling powerful, because non-casters are now just as powerful.
But they don't have to be arduous.

The reason we see the arduous means coming up is because this is an old-school leaning board.
 

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