Mind you, I don’t believe so either, but whenever you try to add interesting systems to the base Fighter we get told by a certain faction of fans that the game NEEDS the Champion and it’s SUPER popular. That we need a Fighter for the guy who’s favorite gameplay loop is “I attack that guy!” or the newcomers who need a simple class. We’re told that character ABSOLUTELY needs to be named ‘the Fighter’ for no discernable reason (and that Barbarian Rages are SOOOO complicated). We’re told that the archetype of the weapon master has to be dumbed down as much as possible and be super simple, that the level of mechanical engagement you want with the game has to be dictated by your archetype. Spellcasters are for the SMART and SERIOUS and EXPERT gamers you know?I don't believe that there is a "I just want to attack" class. I don't think that's a class concept. I don't think that's a character concept. "I want to be a master of weapons" is better, but hardly sufficient. For that to be sufficient the whole game just has to be about combat with no exploration, no social interaction and intrigue, etc. Or else the things that aren't combat have to be so trivial that you can get away with having one member of the party useless in everything that isn't combat.
Some type of pirates could totally be Swashbucklers. That said, I think an aspiring Pirate Captain is a fine Warlord concept. That’s why I’ve suggested that the Warlord just take back it’s original role as the Fighter. Stab the remnant of the 3.x Fighter (AKA Mister Pile-o-Feats) and wear its name. The Fighter should be good at synergizing with other combatants and have skills that lead them to leadership and inspiring roles.You need to have a class that can cover everything from being a pirate to a courtly knight. And that's not that hard. That's just selection of skills and feats with the core idea of, I'm a competent warrior in every respect. Because both those characters as they level up can transition into being lords. The pirate is captain of his own ship. The courtly knight gets a castle and retrainers and an army. You don't want a class that is forced into being a lackey - some more important figures meat shield. If the player wants to go that way, then fine but that's not what the Fighter class should be designed for.
Now, I don’t think of a 4e Defender style character as a lackey and I think that type of support, someone who can grab the enemies’ attention and keep them in place, should totally exist (playing a 4e Defender is its own type of tactical challenge that can be pretty fun!). I think it’s possible to design a class that would exist on a spectrum between a full on Defender (call him ‘The Sentienl’ or ‘The Bodyguard’) and the Lazylord. I don’t know if you could build such a character with the weighted 5e Fighter as a skeleton, I think it’s too weighted toward multiple attacks and has little room for utility and tactical abilities. There’s a lot of concession made to let the 5e Fighter turn into the Champion at level 3. Maybe if the Fighter’s subclass just kicked in at level 1 it would be possible?
It's not MY spell lists, that's the 5e designers' spell list. And I don't think it's bad design to restrict what spells are available to certain class to enforce a thematic feel. And unique spells can really spice up a spell list to make characters more uniques.As for your spell lists, I think you are using legitimately bad design to justify more bad design.
That said, yeah, 5e doesn’t support elemental themed character that well. Except maybe if you’ll looking for Radiant, Fire or Lightning damage (Clerics, Sorcerers AND Barbarians all have a storm themed subclass!)Like what if my player comes to me and says, "I want to play Elsa". In my system, I say, "Great. You want to be a natural Cryomancer. Get a sorcerer. Take the Frigid bloodline. Take the Elemental Mastery feat and choose 'Cold' as your element. Take Spellcasting Prodigy as your trait, and then pick up any spells that you think complement your cold theme. When you do magic, we'll flavor it as if everything you are doing is ice based. So like when you cast Mage Armor, we'll flavor that as you are covering your body with ice in response to attacks."
But if have the same player come in and I have 5e, well "Wall of Ice" and "Freezing Sphere" is exclusive to the Wizard list for who only knows what reason.
I was pulling numbers out of my ass, I dunno what that would look like, but the point is that there's more than one way to streamline a system and it's all very subjective.I can't answer that with knowing how much design space your 20 classes cover. What your system should be going for is covering basically any type of character concept that player brings to the table that fits with your fantasy theme. And if your 20 1-2 page classes do that, then great. But my suspicion is that either the classes will be so narrow that you are just fitting into one of 20 inflexible archetypes, or else that your system is so generic that everyone is using the same mechanics with different color, or both.