D&D General The Linear Fighter/Quadratic Wizard Problem

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Arguably, because the exploration pillar was removed from 4e.
I don't know 4e, but I do know that it's utterly impossible to remove the exploration pillar from D&D and still be able to play it. "I go find the local bar" is exploration and I'm reasonably certain that stuff like that happened in 4e.

Perhaps 4e removed mechanical aid to PCs in that pillar, but it didn't remove the pillar. :)
 

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Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
The real issue as I see is the perceived requirement for fighters to be "simple". There are plenty of ways to make non-spellcasters more useful and interesting in different parts if the game (Level Up does a pretty solid job IMO). But they require a complexity bump, which some people (including WotC) seem to have a problem with.
 

Undrave

Legend
But the tier 4 part also talks about level 20. A Cleric can ascend to the heavens and become their god's right hand. A Warlock could straight up become a patron for other Warlocks. A Wizard becomes immortal and expends eons exploring the multiverse. A Druid becomes one with nature and turns into a spirit of the land. The other classes aren't even mentioned by name, but the rest can't really compare to the above . . .
4e had a fix for that! It was called Epic Destinies and each of them, even for the Martial characters (also ANYBODY could pick up the Demigod Epic Destiny), gave you incredible abilities. Usually you had one feature that would start by "Once per day, when you die...". Like, the completely Martial 'Dark Wanderer' could just... wander back from the Afterlife. They would, literally, show up on foot sometime after dying. Their whole thing being able to walk anywhere in the cosmos in 24h by finding shortcuts and portals and stuff. I think one of the Rogue Epic Destiny could steal non-material things. And each of them had a section on immortality and the legacy of your character after level 30! They were a great read.
I don't think this is an either/or sort of issue. By the principle that "Feats are a fighter's spells" the same "Fighting Man" class ought to be able to build tank like brutes and cunning warlords and every combination thereof.
I disagree. I think trying to jam two competing design philosophies in the same frame is probably possible, but I also think it’d be a lot of effort to get a good version of it. And for what exactly? Upholding a dubious tradition that was constantly used to downplay the contribution of non-caster? To limit the number of classes for some arbitrary version of streamlining?

I don’t think it’s worth it at all if it costs us an interesting non-caster.

And those feats would need to be unique to the Fighter, because I particularly despise the "If Fighter can do X, anybody who can swings a sword can do it" trope.
The idea that I'm trying to fight against is something we've seen creep into the game since 3e, which is that martial classes are defined by really narrow concepts like "Pirate" or "Chain Wielder" or "Warlord" and they do that one thing that they do, but spellcasters do everything.
"Warlord" is a pretty broad concept though. The Mundane Leader of Men can be a LOT of things. From Robin Hood to Zhuge Liang, they can have very different flavour and styles.
 

Undrave

Legend
A liability to the rest of the game, not to the wizard's player, who is probably fine with it. If your solution is to take toys away, you're going to face an uphill battle.
Augh I know... Wizard fans are the worst.

It's why you'd want to do it at the change of an edition and dazzle them with cool class features before they realize you took away a lot of their INDIVIDUAL flexibility (Personally I'd reduce the base class' spell list but give them a big, curated, list based on their subclass). Maybe frame it as going back to the way you used to have magic schools you were barred from learning from? Grognards love a throwback!
 

Stalker0

Legend
When we talk about this imbalance, there are actually two different areas to cover.

Combat Balance
Narrative Balance

Combat Balance
I do think 5e's combat balance is pretty good. Often martials are the strongest damage dealers, and are quite hard to take down, and this remains true even at the higher levels. If there is a problem here its that some combat problems lack a non-magical solution. Case in point....Wall of Force. Fighter gets trapped behind a wall of force, that's the ballgame, there is really nothing that they can do. 5e still expects magic to be on hand to fight magic.

But on the whole, I am pretty satisfied here.

Narrative Balance
This is where I think the imbalance still remains. Sure the martials feel pretty good when its combat time, but the rest of the time they don't have nearly the tools of magic users. You have some downtime, and the casters get to fabricate things, make magic items, cast divinations and learn cool prophecies. You explore an ancient ruins, casters can detect magic and identify, use speak with dead to have a personal conversation with a dead body they found, etc.

What happens in these cases is that casters start taking an unfair share of the DMs time in these scenarios. The martials might get an investigation check, maybe a knowledge check if they have it. Meanwhile casters get to have the DM go into length about all the things their magical detections find.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Augh I know... Wizard fans are the worst.

It's why you'd want to do it at the change of an edition and dazzle them with cool class features before they realize you took away a lot of their INDIVIDUAL flexibility (Personally I'd reduce the base class' spell list but give them a big, curated, list based on their subclass). Maybe frame it as going back to the way you used to have magic schools you were barred from learning from? Grognards love a throwback!
Yeah, can't say I love using deception to trick people into playing a weakened version of their class.

I think we should make wizards squishing again, restrict how you can cast spells successfully, and make magic potentially dangerous. But I know that's not a popular take.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
Narrative Balance
This is where I think the imbalance still remains. Sure the martials feel pretty good when its combat time, but the rest of the time they don't have nearly the tools of magic users. You have some downtime, and the casters get to fabricate things, make magic items, cast divinations and learn cool prophecies. You explore an ancient ruins, casters can detect magic and identify, use speak with dead to have a personal conversation with a dead body they found, etc.

What happens in these cases is that casters start taking an unfair share of the DMs time in these scenarios. The martials might get an investigation check, maybe a knowledge check if they have it. Meanwhile casters get to have the DM go into length about all the things their magical detections find.
In my experience, the narrative difference is overblown. Yes, a spell caster opens some vistas that wouldn't be open otherwise, but they're vistas pretty much everyone participates in. If not, there's probably a group dynamic problem that needs addressing. For example, the cleric may be casting speak with dead, but everyone at the table is generally participating in figuring out good questions to ask. A wizard may be able to cast teleportation circle, but he's generally not doing so without the rest of his party going with him. A spell caster might make an extra dimensional space as a home, but it doesn't affect time at the table in any significant way. And, while I've heard of wizards in prior editions using astral projection to adventure with their non-astral buddies with little real risk, any group that allows them to do that without also sharing that ability has that group dynamic problem I mentioned above.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Yeah, can't say I love using deception to trick people into playing a weakened version of their class.

I think we should make wizards squishing again, restrict how you can cast spells successfully, and make magic potentially dangerous. But I know that's not a popular take.
Over in the Jumping thread people are arguing that the Jump spell doesn't allow you to exceed the general limitation on jump distance(your move) despite the Jump spell specifically stating you jump triple distance. The reason they say, is that the spell doesn't specifically say, "This spell overrides the general distance limitation on jumping."

Well, no spell specifically overrides a general rule. Teleport doesn't say, "This spell overrides the general limitation on PCs to have to walk places." Fly doesn't say that it specifically overrides the general limitation on walking, either. Generally, PCs don't throw fireballs from their fingers and the Fireball spell doesn't specifically override that limitation.

Apparently by RAW no caster can actually cast spells! Martials for the win!! Huzzah! ;)
 

Undrave

Legend
Yeah, can't say I love using deception to trick people into playing a weakened version of their class.

I think we should make wizards squishing again, restrict how you can cast spells successfully, and make magic potentially dangerous. But I know that's not a popular take.
I don’t want to reduce their potential damage, or their number of spells slot. I just want them to have meaningful, impactful, choices at chargen and that they don’t get to just rewrite their characters on a whim to constantly overshadow everybody else. If you commit to be an Illusionist, you’re not gonna be able to turn around on a dime and switch your loadout of just Evocation spells when you know you’ll be fighting a ton of minions. I want each Wizard to feel more unique and deliberate in their build.

I want them to look at a Wizard class and be excited to play it before they even get to the spell list because the features are interesting.

Also, I think there should be more rituals. Any spell with a component with a cost should be a ritual (and vice versa, any ritual should have a money component). Add mechanics so that more ritualist can help to boost the Ritual at the cost of mis-casting. Managing your ritual components should be a thing that matters at low level, and slapping the Ritual Caster feat should be a great way to introduce magic into a character without making them outright spell casters with slots.
 
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Celebrim

Legend
The real issue as I see is the perceived requirement for fighters to be "simple". There are plenty of ways to make non-spellcasters more useful and interesting in different parts if the game (Level Up does a pretty solid job IMO). But they require a complexity bump, which some people (including WotC) seem to have a problem with.

This was actually a big issue with 5e, and one of the several reasons I never adopted it. 5e very much was focused on cutting down on the game complexity and being very approachable for young players. But in doing so, they removed all the levers that could be available for making martial classes flexible and fun to play. They ended up siloing options for playing a martial class into the subclass options.

Since my game is heavily skill focused, the very narrow range of skill differences in the bounded accuracy would have forced some really wonky unintuitive changes. 5e very much tightly focused skills on being pass fail mechanisms and abandoned skills as showing the magnitude of ability.
 

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