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

ECMO3

Hero
I disagree that the choices are comparable.
Taking PAM/GWM is, if not truly optimal, a first order optimal build. 9 times out of 10 it (or its brother SS/XBE) is probably the correct decision if you're building a straight fighter for damage. It's clearly presented as something the game thinks is a good choice.

GWM/PAM is almost never an "optimal" build choice in a real campaign. Spending two of your very limited feats on that is one of the worst choices available unless you know for a fact you will be able to get a magic polearm that will be able to keep up with the other magic weapons available. Even in that case you are giving up a lot to get it, accepting worse saving throws, worse skills and potential spells for what is a marginal improvement in damage compared to other options available without a feat.

SS/XBE is much better (especially the sharpshooter part of that). I think it is debatable if XBE is a good add on considering the range hit with a hand crossbow and the other feats available, including control options to use your bonus action, combat-related half feats and feats to boost your damage. Sharpshooter alone though is far better than GWM/PAM are combined. It eliminates cover and disadvantage from long range which really improves your capability as a ranged fighter and it makes a Sharpshooter martial the most powerful damage build in the game.

It would be like putting that same trap in the middle of a crowded tavern and then blaming the player for not checking traps.

That is not blaming the player and players die from things that happen in Taverns too.

Let me put a different question in here - If my fighter takes the Mage Slayer feat do I as DM have to make sure there are lots of enemy casters for her to attack? If she has a 9 Charisma\ and takes Shadow Touched with Cause Fear to boost it to 10 do I need to make sure he comes up against enemies with very poor Wisdom saves so she can land that spell often when she casts it? Or maybe I need to give her an amulet or something that makes her Charisma 16 so that spell is effective?

Each of these are poor feat choices, similar to GWM/PAM.

Even then, I said the issue is with the core rules itself - they IMO should allow players to change feats*, in the same way that Tashas now allows you to change out of fighting styles.Though presumably before Tashas you thought that people who didn't choose the "correct" fighting style at lv1 should be doomed to use it for the rest of the campaign.

I am not against this and I have allowed a player to change a feat she chose at 4th level when she got to 5th level.

The PC was playing a Rogue for the first time and Chose defensive duelist at 4th level and used it a lot. At 5th level when she was writing her new abilities she realized it conflicted with Uncanny Dodge. She asked to change because she did not realize it and I let her.

That would be a house rule (I think) , but one that I would support and it is a lot better than catering and prepping specific treasure to make a characters foolish choices less foolisj.
 

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FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Fireball does an average of 28 damage per target. ~50 damage per Fireball is the floor of the spell and not the ceiling, because you wouldn't cast Fireball if you can't catch multiple targets. From my experience, you'll have plenty of opportunities to hit at least three.

Even then, you're comparing the fighter and caster at one single level where both of them gain a power spike with Extra Attack and 3rd level spells respectively.

What about the stretch of levels after that, where the caster continues to ramp up with additional spell slots? The fighter only gains a third attack at level 11.
You are forgetting the save for half
 

nevin

Hero
Protecting other characters is fun, but a lot of people are hostile to such design. I made a suggestion that it is possible to design a non-magical taunt ability that forces enemies to attack you and it spawned, I dunno, twenty pages of somewhat heated discussion.
I think you missed the big lesson. people are hostile to a game that tells them what thier role is. That's the big difference between society now and in the 70's with first edition. In first edition everyone had a role and they were ok with it. In 2023 and D&D 5e , everyone's going to do thier own thing. Clerics that don't heal, check, rogues that don't steal, check, Fighters that want to cast, sure if the DM allows it. Mages that don't want to be utility, no problem. But you tell anyone of those special snowflakes they "HAVE TO" play any certain way and boom they aint going to do it. Redesigning the game to add role's that people have to play is the exact opposite of every thing that most players ask for in thier D&D. Sucks for those who want an old school, healer, warrior,thief,Ranger, Fighter game but regardless of thier age anyone trying to play that game is so 1970.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
really? can you tell me what you think those reasons are because personally i don't see them
Adding a flat amount of damage to an attack benefits the lower damage attack more than the higher damage attack. *Extreme example. 1 damage and 10 damage attack. Add 100 damage to each, 101 damage and 110 damage attacks now, the base damage difference barely matters now.

In the actual game that same principle applies but to a much lesser degree. The bigger differences are due to other properties - Longsword and Shield already gives a big defensive bonus and Dual-Wielding gives a feat free bonus action attack. Adding the +10 damage piece onto these lower damage attacks with these effects doesn't balance out the weapons better - it just changes which ones are at the top of the pile and which are at the bottom. If you don't believe me, let's do the math.

or if a monk or ranger wants to make movement stopping opportunity attacks with other weapons,
Sentinel is available to everyone and already does that. I think you are getting Sentinel and PAM confused.


the martial options are in my opinion needlessly over exclusive to how you're allowed to use them.
I don't disagree here, but the solution isn't to open them up to all weapons because of other design choices that have already went into those other weapons.

Someone earlier mentioned adding the choice into the class progression - i can get behind that.
 
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FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
everyone who bashes mages forgets that almost everything they do gets mitigated by saves, and SR and other things. Seriously you are on a forum. Don't you know mages can't fail and need to be nerfed.....:)
They don't because I am one of them and i don't do that.

EDIT: Removed spicy comment
 
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FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I disagree that the choices are comparable.
Taking PAM/GWM is, if not truly optimal, a first order optimal build. 9 times out of 10 it (or its brother SS/XBE) is probably the correct decision if you're building a straight fighter for damage.
All that is dependent on how the weapon restrictions of such feats are viewed. If you are in a campaign where the DM caters to that then they are definitely great. If you are in one where the DM doesn't - it's a big gamble.

Given the more generic damage buff feats usually aren't as powerful as the more specific ones, i think the design team attempted to factor in the chance of getting inferior magical weapons for your specialization into the math.

Then there's more utility style feats like Mobile - where sometimes you'll be able to get a full round of attacks with your melee weapon when a slower fighter may not - that can be a huge deal. 1 extra round of attacks likely compares favorably with all the powerful damage style feats. Which also makes for a good segway to talk about defensive feats - anything that helps you last an extra round in combats can also provide you an extra round of attacks - which as noted about mobility, is really strong.

I think SS/XBE holds a special place because archery style and extreme range (while ignoring cover penalties) can set up some nice tactical options, but that to me is a special case, and even without XBE, SS alone would still feel strong.

It's clearly presented as something the game thinks is a good choice.
Most feats are fairly bad choices. Other than those being feats I see no reason to believe the game presents them as good choices. Optimizers present them as good choices, in whiteroom situations and even then the offensive capabilities of a character with them isn't usually that different than a character without them - 20 to 30% more DPR usually.

* Actually I think that the weapon specialization feats should be moved out of feats, combined with Fighti g Styles and Maneuvers and Cunning Strikes and Wespon Mastery, in to a new expanded martial subsystem. That would be cleaner and better for the game.
I could get behind something like this. Exact implementation really matters though.
 

CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
Adding a flat amount of damage to an attack benefits the lower damage attack more than the higher damage attack. *Extreme example. 1 damage and 10 damage attack. Add 100 damage to each, 101 damage and 110 damage attacks now, the base damage difference barely matters now.

In the actual game that same principle applies but to a much lesser degree. The bigger differences are due to other properties - Longsword and Shield already gives a big defensive bonus and Dual-Wielding gives a feat free bonus action attack. Adding the +10 damage piece onto these lower damage attacks with these effects doesn't balance out the weapons better - it just changes which ones are at the top of the pile and which are at the bottom. If you don't believe me, let's do the math.
oh, this part wasn't so much the thing i was referring to about not understanding,-
I don't disagree here, but the solution isn't to open them up to all weapons because of other design choices that have already went into those other weapons.
-it was this part, between the distribution of weapon availability and extra attack as well as similar class features i thought that making these effects equally applicable would make more weapons/fighting styles equally viable for those that are designed to use them and overall be a more significant benefit for weapon users than anything it would provide to spellcasters, (tangentially relevant: i know i've mentioned before that it frustrates me that GWM's prerequisite is heavy, the same trait that gives all small creatures disadvantage on attacks with them, cutting off both the best damaging weapons and one of the most recomended martial damage feats for them)
Sentinel is available to everyone and already does that. I think you are getting Sentinel and PAM confused.
oh true, i was conflating PAM's weapon requirements to sentinel, forgetting that they were two separate feats
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
oh, this part wasn't so much the thing i was referring to about not understanding,-

-it was this part, between the distribution of weapon availability and extra attack as well as similar class features i thought that making these effects equally applicable would make more weapons/fighting styles equally viable for those that are designed to use them and overall be a more significant benefit for weapon users than anything it would provide to spellcasters, (tangentially relevant: i know i've mentioned before that it frustrates me that GWM's prerequisite is heavy, the same trait that gives all small creatures disadvantage on attacks with them, cutting off both the best damaging weapons and one of the most recomended martial damage feats for them)

oh true, i was conflating PAM's weapon requirements to sentinel, forgetting that they were two separate feats
I've played in featless games and games with very curated feat lists that removed most of that stuff. In tier 1 and early tier 2 casters only felt stronger than martials when it came to control. I can't count the number of otherwise hard encounters we would have had if it hadn't been for a tashas laughter, entangle, hold person/monster, etc. Most recent campaign we had 2 Wizards which greatly increased the chance of landing such strong control effects. Even then it wasn't an all the time thing and the martials still shined by doing big damage rounds. I'd definitely considered the 2 wizards the mvp's in that campaign, but there's a good chance the martials would have won anyways. They had the damage output going on. They'd have just taken much more damage in the process - which most likely would have led to more resting.

If anything the damage feats help later - but there's also soo much other stuff to grab later that it can be a wash. For example at level 12 is GWM/SS or Resilient Wisdom better? Etc.

Anyways moving back more toward your point. I think the damage feats can help fighters keep their offensive contributions higher in t3 and t4 to help stay competitive with wizard. However, I think they are somewhat inappropriate low level feats - and making them available to sword and shield or dual wield fighters only causes low level to be more unbalanced , both between fighters and between fighters and casters.
 

CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
I've played in featless games and games with very curated feat lists that removed most of that stuff. In tier 1 and early tier 2 casters only felt stronger than martials when it came to control. I can't count the number of otherwise hard encounters we would have had if it hadn't been for a tashas laughter, entangle, hold person/monster, etc. Most recent campaign we had 2 Wizards which greatly increased the chance of landing such strong control effects. Even then it wasn't an all the time thing and the martials still shined by doing big damage rounds. I'd definitely considered the 2 wizards the mvp's in that campaign, but there's a good chance the martials would have won anyways. They had the damage output going on. They'd have just taken much more damage in the process - which most likely would have led to more resting.

If anything the damage feats help later - but there's also soo much other stuff to grab later that it can be a wash. For example at level 12 is GWM/SS or Resilient Wisdom better? Etc.
(y)
Anyways moving back more toward your point. I think the damage feats can help fighters keep their offensive contributions higher in t3 and t4 to help stay competitive with wizard. However, I think they are somewhat inappropriate low level feats - and making them available to sword and shield or dual wield fighters only causes low level to be more unbalanced , both between fighters and between fighters and casters.
is it only the two GWM/SS feats you're referring to here? or are other 'maneuvre' feats like polearm master, defensive duelist, fell handed or blade mastery and more included in that?
 

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