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

Hell0W0rld

Explorer
Everyone who bashes mages forgets that almost everything they do gets mitigated by saves, and SR and other things.
Hey, you're right, enemies that save against Fireball do take half damage! I also forgot how much damage an enemy takes when the fighter is out of melee range or misses their attack, could you please remind me? :)
 

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FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
(y)

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?
Specifically I had GWM, PAM, SS and XBE in mind. I could maybe be persuaded of a few others.
 

Trasvi

Explorer
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.
It's as optimal as you get with a melee fighter - with the understanding that fighters and melee re an unoptimised in general because 5e mechanics are hostile to builds melee and STR builds.
Plus just because it optimises for a different pillar of gameplay that you do, doesn't mean it's bad or unoptimised.

If you really want to optimise Fighter it's Fighter 2 / Wizard 18 :p.


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?
It's very common DM advice to Shoot Your Monks. https://dumpstatadventures.com/the-...our-monks-a-guide-for-highlighting-characters. Or in this case provide mages to slay. You don't have to, but I think its great gameplay to give character abilities time to shine.
If someone is doing something that is discouraged by the rules (trying to use a low ability score to attack or cast with, running in to rooms without checking for traps), that's a different story.

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.
I don't see the difference tbh but if that's your line, it's your game.
I brought this whole point up in the context of a player who (I think it was you who said) was clearly unhappy with their game experience because the emergent gameplay (attacking with their very good magic weapon) was different than their desired gameplay (attacking with a polearm). I would solve that by finding a magic polearm, you might solve that by allowing them to respec, as long as it's solved then you're not a naughty dm.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I brought this whole point up in the context of a player who (I think it was you who said) was clearly unhappy with their game experience because the emergent gameplay (attacking with their very good magic weapon) was different than their desired gameplay (attacking with a polearm). I would solve that by finding a magic polearm, you might solve that by allowing them to respec, as long as it's solved then you're not a naughty dm.
How about, they can make a new PC?
 


ECMO3

Hero
It's as optimal as you get with a melee fighter - with the understanding that fighters and melee re an unoptimised in general because 5e mechanics are hostile to builds melee and STR builds.

It is optimal for doing damage as a melee fighter if the caveat about magic weapons applies (and it almost never does). GWM alone is a far better choice generally. Also doing optimal damage is not the same thing as being an optimal build.

With all this keep in mind that a non-magic melee character itself is not an optimal build. If you are playing a melee character without spells or magic you are already gimping yourself significantly.

Plus just because it optimises for a different pillar of gameplay that you do, doesn't mean it's bad or unoptimised.

But it does not even optimize the combat pillar, it optimizes damage (which is not the same as combat) for someone who already chose a compromised weakish build.

If you really want to optimise Fighter it's Fighter 2 / Wizard 18 :p.

At 20th level a straight single class Wizard will be better in melee if optimized for melee because of the extra 6th level slot and thereby extra Contingency.

This 2/18 mix is probably better at some earlier levels for melee and it is ironically competitive with a 20th level Wizard as a control caster due to action surge. But when it comes to melee, a 2F/18W won't keep up with an optimized 20th level Bladesinger.

If you are going to multiclass a hard melee Wizard and expect to be as good at 20th level, the only viable choices IMO are Sorcerer 2 and Cleric 1 or 2. When I say hard melee I mean a character who is going to melee tank every fight, not a Gish that is going to do some control, some AOE and some melee.

I have experience playing both a 20th level Halfling melee Wizard (Bladesinger 18/Death Cleric 2) and a 20th level Strength-based melee Shaddar Kai fighter. Of these two, the Wizard was better at melee.

FWIW my 20th level fighter did not have GWM or PAM. At 20th level she was using mostly a Flaming Maul or a Great Club that functioned like a Mace of Terror. She also took the Mage Slayer feat as her last feat, mostly because it was near the end of the campaign and we knew we would be facing Vecna.

If someone is doing something that is discouraged by the rules (trying to use a low ability score to attack or cast with, running in to rooms without checking for traps), that's a different story.

Strength builds are discouraged by the rules.
 
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Trasvi

Explorer
Strength builds are discouraged by the rules.

Right, now we get to the meat of it. If that's your frame of reference, I mostly agree. I just think that's bad.


I'd say that STR builds are presented as something that is viable, but through a confluence of non obvious mechanics it turns out to be a subpar choice. The text of the rules says its encouraging you to play a STR build, but the emergent gameplay is that STR is worse than other options. Fighter is presented alongside wizard in a way that the text says they are considered equal, but through gameplay, especially high level gameplay, that turns out to not be true. A game could present these differently: plenty of video games will have a "difficulty" or "power" score on the character rules to let you know that it's not for beginners.
I don't think it's easy to tell from the main rules text STR is discouraged. There are 3 books in the core rules, and subtle changes to any one of those books could make a melee str build better than casters. If you change the way that short rests occur, or (as discussed ad nauseum) how magic items are distributed, fighter stocks might shoot up. You could leave all the core rules the same and change only the monster manual and completely upend class balance. It's not a players fault if they're not aware of these things.


And so I would say again: that's a core flaw in the design of 5e, a better game would not be that way. Not everyone has terminally online grognards as part of their player group to tell them what pitfalls to avoid - and a lot of terminally online grognards will deny those pitfalls exist. Some groups just stumble in to them and only realise once they're having problems, and to me that's something that is worth fixing.

If I were on the design team, I'd be giving explicit mechanical advantages and extra abilities to str/melee classes to bridge the problem: making the risk worth the reward.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Sure, if that's a satisfying and engaging gameplay experience for everyone. I don't see how it would be the best option, but if it came down to it and I would Leeroy Jenkins my character in to the next room snd come back as his nearly identical twin brother.
You can always retire a character. No need for Leroy.
 


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