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

nevin

Hero
You can always retire a character. No need for

You can always retire a character. No need for Leroy.
Fights over little things tend to make people obstinate. Players dont generally have any expectation of having control over the main plot, bbegi's etc. But fights over little thungs they feel they should have some input in can make them crazy. Same in the real world. I find its usually the source of most DM player friction and some players dont argue, they just dig in and get combative and obstinate.
 

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Amrûnril

Adventurer
This is not really true. Fighters can do quite a bit of damage, a lot more than a caster is typically going to deal out with damaging spells.

At 5th level my Fireball can do about 20 damage on average per enemy hit with it, which is probably about 50 total per casting on average, and they can do it twice a day. A fighter is usually going to outdo that by a lot in a 6-fight day.

I am not saying casters are weak, they aren't. But they are substantially weaker than Fighters when it comes to damage output. In combat a full caster's power is in control or in tanking/defense with a few specialized builds.
If you compare the wizard's damage in their best two rounds to the fighter's damage over a full adventuring day, of course the fighter's going to come out ahead. The wizard also has 3 lv2 spells, 4 lv1 spells and unlimited cantrips to contribute to those 6 encounters. Depending on encounter parameters, the fighter may still come out ahead, but it isn't a forgone conclusion, and the fighter lacks the wizard's ability to trade away some of that damage in circumstances where another tool would be more effective.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Fights over little things tend to make people obstinate. Players dont generally have any expectation of having control over the main plot, bbegi's etc. But fights over little thungs they feel they should have some input in can make them crazy. Same in the real world. I find its usually the source of most DM player friction and some players dont argue, they just dig in and get combative and obstinate.
I don't think anyone has ever fought about getting to retire a character and roll up a new one?
 

ECMO3

Hero
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.

Your point I replied to was that the DM should not cater to people doing things discouraged by the rules.

So strength builds are an exception to this then, and the DM should make sure such characters are viable, but people who make other poor decisions should suffer the consequences?

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.

I think the text encourages non-specialized builds, which steer you away from things like GWM and PAM. In any case the mechanics favor dexterity fighters over strength fighters and that should not surprise anyone.

If you want a Strength build a Paladin or a Ranger are mechanically much better options than a Fighter. A Paladin is actually more effective as a Strength build, and while a Strength Ranger is generally inferior to a Dex Ranger, it is better than a Dex fighter and the difference between the two is less on a Ranger than it is on a Fighter.

Yes I could dump dexterity on my Monk, maximize strength and do more damage than my Dex monk, but that is not a smart decision. The decision calculus for a fighter is not as extreme as in that example, but it is a large difference.

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.

The text actually states that Wizards are "supreme". No kidding, that is actually written in the PHB.

This balance idea is not stated anywhere in the PHB or the starter sets. It comes from forums like this or game designers commentary or Sage Advice or other places but it is not anywhere in the actual rules.

As such I completely reject this hypothesis that Fighter is "presented" in a way the text says they are considered equal.

If people who don't know the rules are under the impression the choices are equal it is only because people who know better lead them to believe they are equal. If that is happening it is deceitful.


I don't think it's easy to tell from the main rules text STR is discouraged.

Sure it is. It is extremely easy. I knew it before my first 5E game.

Strength has 1 skill, only Constitution is less. Dexterity is used for initiative.

The fighter relies on attacks exclusively unless you get something else from a subclass or elsewhere. Playing a Strength build makes ranged attacks less effective and movement restricts the ability to make melee attacks far more than it restricts ranged attacks.

That should be obvious and it IS obvious to everyone on this thread I think. So there is really no excuse for you or anyone you play with to not understand this.

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.

Why would they do that? There is no evidence at all that most players want that.

If you change the way that short rests occur, or (as discussed ad nauseum) how magic items are distributed, fighter stocks might shoot up.

Fighter stock would get better with different short rest rules, but Dexterityh-based fighters would still be superior to Strength-based fighters.

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.

Everyone on this thread is aware of these things, so yes it is your fault if you ignore this.

And so I would say again: that's a core flaw in the design of 5e, a better game would not be that way.

The game would be worse IMO with these changes.

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.

If you read the rules you should understand the rules. If you don't read the rules you should get someone who has to help you, and if you are that person helping you should be helpful.

While we are on this though, I will point out that more complicated and powerful melee combat rules will hurt players who don't read the rules even more than they are hurt now. A player who does not understand "what to avoid" is going to end up using his Longbow on his new and improved Strength build, whether that build is more or less powerful than it is now.

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.

The fixes you propose will not fix this. Actually they will make "balance" in general worse and make it more difficult to be a new player.

If you propose fixes that offer more power for specific builds, players "in the know" will take those builds and combos and those not "in the know" at the same table won't, because they won't know abut them.
 


ECMO3

Hero
If you compare the wizard's damage in their best two rounds to the fighter's damage over a full adventuring day, of course the fighter's going to come out ahead. The wizard also has 3 lv2 spells, 4 lv1 spells and unlimited cantrips to contribute to those 6 encounters. Depending on encounter parameters, the fighter may still come out ahead, but it isn't a forgone conclusion, and the fighter lacks the wizard's ability to trade away some of that damage in circumstances where another tool would be more effective.

It is not a forgone conclusion, but generally a fighter will come out WAY ahead of a Wizard in damage and can usually do it without even trying.

I agree at mid and high levels Wizards are more powerful than fighters with equal rolls, but I won't agree that they do more damage, because that is not true except for in very unusual circumstances. Also preparing a lot of damaging spells will usually result in a weaker Wizard character and I would reverse your last sentence above. Wizards can trade their generally better tools for some damage in circumstances where damage would be more effective.

For example, right now I am playing a 5th level Enchantment Wizard/1st level Moon Sorcerer, here is her DDB sheet:


Here are ALL of her spells that do damage. Every single damaging spell she can possibly cast:
Sacred Flame (as Sorcerer on a very low 12 DC)
Booming Blade (as Sorcerer)
Green Flame Blade
Chill Touch
Catapult (in her book but not prepared)
Dissonant Whispers (Fey Touched, I get a free cast from this in addition to using slots)
Dragon's Breath
Flaming Sphere
Tasha's Mind Whip

In terms of damage, the most powerful among them is Tasha's Mind Whip, which upcast at 3rd level does 10.5 to two targets with a failed save (about 14 total on average considering saves). Considering chance to hit, a normal attack routine with a 20-strength 6th level fighter wielding a d8 weapon with dueling is going to average what I am doing with my most powerful damaging spell that I can cast a total of three times a day!

There is no way that Wizard is going to come anywhere close to doing as much daily damage as a fighter. Typically, she is not going to do even 20% of the daily damage our fighter is going to do. If she purposely played stupidly and used every single slot to maximize damage she still would not come close to the Fighter in the party. Keep in mind too, that this is a multiclass with a level of Sorcerer and a feat giving her 5 more spells known. If she was a single class Wizard she would need to have and prepare Mage Armor, Sheild and Disguise Self and she would have even fewer damaging spells.

There is nothing unusual about this build and with the exception of Catapult most of her spells are very common spells routinely chosen by optimizers.

There are Wizard builds that do more damage than this build, but they would be weaker builds overall and still behind a Fighter.
 
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nevin

Hero
I don't think anyone has ever fought about getting to retire a character and roll up a new one?
You've been going back and forth over why the other poster would bring in his brother. That's exactly the kind of thing I'm talking about. Not letting it go and continuing to push in the direction the player wanted all along.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
You've been going back and forth over why the other poster would bring in his brother. That's exactly the kind of thing I'm talking about. Not letting it go and continuing to push in the direction the player wanted all along.
Huh? I had no issue with the new pc being the guys brother. I did think it a bit odd he would purposefully kill the first character, but he gave a fine answer as to why he would do that over simply retire. (Which also happened to be when the idea of the new PC being the brother was first introduced).

To be 100% clear - the only part I pushed back on was the purposefully killing the initial pc.
 

nevin

Hero
#NotTheSame
really? You argued over the character, suggested a reroll and where then confused he wasn't going to reroll but simply use the same stats and make a twin brother. If you don't get the obstinancy and refusal to accept your way in all of that then I bow to your willful refusal to see reality.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
really? You argued over the character, suggested a reroll and where then confused he wasn't going to reroll but simply use the same stats and make a twin brother. If you don't get the obstinancy and refusal to accept your way in all of that then I bow to your willful refusal to see reality.
No. I didn’t do that. I didn’t see anyone do that either but maybe someone had me blocked. Either way, I think you are very confused.
 

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