D&D 5E The Fighter/Martial Problem (In Depth Ponderings)

Trasvi

Explorer
The reason I didn't specify any subclass is because the wizard does not need any to overshadow your Rune Knight. Be a Conjurer with a literal grab bag of options, be a Scribe and spy on enemies with your spare spellbook, be a War Wizard or Bladesinger if you want to have better defenses.
The build undoubtedly achieves what it sets out to do: being a skill monkey. I think its just a mistake though to say that because this build can do skills, that fighters in general are good at skills, or other fighter builds are wrong, or that this build is significantly better at skills than any other class that puts in the same investment.
 

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Trasvi

Explorer
The would not be more complex, they just don't have the same story/wow elements that spells have and I think for that reason most people don't want them.

My 2nd level spell was Hold Person, now I am third level and can throw a huge ball of fire is cool.

A martial that could stun an oppenent at 3rd level and then at 5th can damage everyone within 30 feet with an attack action is largely the same mechanic and no more complex than the spells, but I don't think most players want or care about this at their table. I don't think it ads much to the story or character for most players.
Adding maneuvers to all fighters / all martials is probably the most requested or home-brewed suggestion for the game.
Most of the "5e successor" games or asdons implement it: eg Levelup advanced 5e, PF2E, DC20.
And in the OneDnD playtests, the Monk, Rogue and Barbarian have all been given more complex options in combat and these features have been extremely well received.

There are some, but I think it is a relatively small minority of players overall. It is probably at least a plurality of players who post on forums like this though.
While we shouldn't kid ourselves that the people online represent the majority, it's important that the people online are the ones who are engaged with the game and actually have thoughts about it as a system.
The vast majority of people don't critically engage with games at all. I'd bet that most players haven't read the PHB beyond the Classes chapter. Something that gains a plurality of online support is almost certainly worth looking in to.


That statement works both ways, and I would argue WOTC is going to cater to the majority and the other side can homebrew if they can find a group of players that see things their way.
That does seem to be what WotC is going to do, and unfortunately it's one if the things that is turning my gaming group to other systems.
I think that WotC could appeal to BOTH groups of people quite easily - but they seem determined not to.
 

Hell0W0rld

Explorer
The build undoubtedly achieves what it sets out to do: being a skill monkey. I think its just a mistake though to say that because this build can do skills, that fighters in general are good at skills, or other fighter builds are wrong, or that this build is significantly better at skills than any other class that puts in the same investment.
Yeah, I get what they were going for with the skill focus. Like you, I take issue with the assumption that fighters are usually made with combat in mind because players don't want to engage on the other pillars of play.

However effective a skill monkey is, it still can't match the reality warping ability of magic. Non-magical classes already fall behind casters in terms of flexibility and narrative agency. No reason they need to give up combat effectiveness just to have more interactivity with the world beyond killing things.
 
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pemerton

Legend
However effective a skill monkey is, it still can't match the reality warping ability of magic.
In the context of "the martial problem", this not so much an issue about the fiction (ie being skilled vs being magical).

It's about resolution systems: 5e D&D resolves skills via "GM decides", whereas it resolves spells - at least to a large extent - by allowing the *player" to have a big say over what happens next in the fiction.

In principle, it is possible to have a FRPG which does not draw this contrast of resolution methods between skills and magic (eg 4e D&D; Torchbearer). But 5e D&D seems to be very set in its approach.
 

In the context of "the martial problem", this not so much an issue about the fiction (ie being skilled vs being magical).

It's about resolution systems: 5e D&D resolves skills via "GM decides", whereas it resolves spells - at least to a large extent - by allowing the *player" to have a big say over what happens next in the fiction.

In principle, it is possible to have a FRPG which does not draw this contrast of resolution methods between skills and magic (eg 4e D&D; Torchbearer). But 5e D&D seems to be very set in its approach.
How is 4e different in this regard? Didn't normal skill checks work similarly than in 5e? There were skill challenges, but even with them it was the GM deciding the complexity and stuff, and of course what succeeding or failing in it actually meant it in the fiction.

I think 3e was a bit less like this, (and I truly mean only a bit) as it (IIRC) actually had more codified DCs and generally more advice on what exactly the skills can accomplish.

And of course the flip side of having codified "it does this" like the spells have, it that it does only that. With skills you can potentially be more flexible. And of course in some games magic works like this too, instead of having codified spells, you just have a freeform magic system where you might have "pyromancy" skill with which you can do different sort of fire stuff.
 

pemerton

Legend
How is 4e different in this regard? Didn't normal skill checks work similarly than in 5e? There were skill challenges, but even with them it was the GM deciding the complexity and stuff, and of course what succeeding or failing in it actually meant it in the fiction.
The principal means of non-combat resolution in 4e D&D is the skill challenge. The difference, in a skill challenge, between rolling a skill, using a power (to enhance, or in lieu of, a skill check) and using a ritual are about chances of success on that action declaration (as discussed in the DMG and DMG2), not consequence of success of the action declaration.

I think 3e was a bit less like this, (and I truly mean only a bit) as it (IIRC) actually had more codified DCs and generally more advice on what exactly the skills can accomplish.
3E is largely "GM decides", as the GM establishes the fictional context of the check and the meaning of success on the check.
 

Pedantic

Legend
3E is largely "GM decides", as the GM establishes the fictional context of the check and the meaning of success on the check.

No, those are not the same things. In most cases the DM establishes the former and only in situations of rules failure do they handle the latter. It is wrong and unhelpful to conflate the two, or there would be no meaningful difference between skills and spells to begin with, as declarative techniques wouldn't have any more ultimate agency, regardless of whether you jumped or cast Levitate.
 

The principal means of non-combat resolution in 4e D&D is the skill challenge.
Is it? Isn't it just something one can use sometimes and things are mostly resolved via single checks like in 5e?

The difference, in a skill challenge, between rolling a skill, using a power (to enhance, or in lieu of, a skill check) and using a ritual are about chances of success on that action declaration (as discussed in the DMG and DMG2), not consequence of success of the action declaration.
I don't understand what this means.

3E is largely "GM decides", as the GM establishes the fictional context of the check and the meaning of success on the check.
GM establishes the fictional context in any edition of D&D, but in 3e, there were more robust guidance on what the skills actually can accomplish. Or I think so, I didn't like the edition for other reasons, and it is long time I've though about it. But basically my point is that 5e could use more robust guidelines for skill use.
 

Oofta

Legend
In the context of "the martial problem", this not so much an issue about the fiction (ie being skilled vs being magical).

It's about resolution systems: 5e D&D resolves skills via "GM decides", whereas it resolves spells - at least to a large extent - by allowing the *player" to have a big say over what happens next in the fiction.

In principle, it is possible to have a FRPG which does not draw this contrast of resolution methods between skills and magic (eg 4e D&D; Torchbearer). But 5e D&D seems to be very set in its approach.

I've never seen a situation where the player had any more control over spells than skills in person or streaming. The DM always has final say on what a spell does or does not do. About the only gray area is around illusions, but the adjudication is similar to skills.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
How is 4e different in this regard? Didn't normal skill checks work similarly than in 5e? There were skill challenges, but even with them it was the GM deciding the complexity and stuff, and of course what succeeding or failing in it actually meant it in the fiction.

I think 3e was a bit less like this, (and I truly mean only a bit) as it (IIRC) actually had more codified DCs and generally more advice on what exactly the skills can accomplish.

And of course the flip side of having codified "it does this" like the spells have, it that it does only that. With skills you can potentially be more flexible. And of course in some games magic works like this too, instead of having codified spells, you just have a freeform magic system where you might have "pyromancy" skill with which you can do different sort of fire stuff.
The main difference is that most Utility powers spellcasters got interacted with the skill system, rather than do end runs around it. Rituals, on the other hand, could do end runs around skill checks, but the time and gold required often made them difficult to employ as needed. If you're about to initiate a chase scene, waiting ten minutes (or however long it was, I can't recall) to conjure shadowy horses for the party might not be viable.

And even then, it was suggested using things like this in a skill challenge would grant automatic success on a check, not necessarily obviate the whole thing.
 

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