D&D 5E The Quest to Reduce "Sameyness" (+)

DND_Reborn

Legend
This thread is going to the heart of something that really irks the Libra in me---too much sameyness between classes (not concerned about sameyness within classes--which I don't feel is there, but that is a different topic). There is too much overlap, to the point at one point we consolidated classes. Now, in an effort to restore the core 12 classes (sorry, folks, no Artificers here... ;) ), I am going to tackle some issues. You can contribute or not, this is also a place for me to just throw around ideas and see what sticks. Cheers.

SAVING THROWS:

Currently, if you look at the combinations of Strong/Weak saves, 2 of the 9 aren't being used at all. Now, that might not seem bad, but when you consider that Cleric, Paladin, and Warlock are all proficient in Wisdom and Charisma saves, it seems a bit too samey for me.

For those who might not be aware of the distinction, strong saves are DEX, CON, and WIS because they are the most common saves in 5E. Leaving STR, INT, and CHA was "weak" saves because they are less common.

RAW Saves:
  • Barbarian and Fighter are CON, STR
  • Sorcerer is CON, CHA
  • Monk and Ranger are STR, DEX
  • Rogue is DEX, INT
  • Bard is DEX, CHA
  • Druid and Wizard are WIS, INT
  • Cleric, Paladin, and Warlock are WIS, CHA
and, leaving the unused combinations:
  • CON, INT is never used
  • STR, WIS is never used

Only three classes (Sorcerer, Rogue, and Bard) out of 12 have unique save combinations! Ugh! :mad:

So, like most of 5E, it is time for a tweak. :)

Revised Saves:
  • Barbarians: STR, CON
  • Bards: DEX, CHA
  • Clerics: STR, WIS (replace CHA with STR)
  • Druid: CON, WIS (replace INT with CON)
  • Fighter: STR, DEX (replace CON with DEX)
  • Monk: DEX, WIS (replace STR with DEX)
  • Paladin: WIS, CHA
  • Ranger: DEX, CON (replace STR with CON)
  • Rogue: DEX, INT
  • Sorcerer: CON, INT (replaces CHA with INT)
  • Warlock: CON, CHA (replaces WIS with CON)
  • Wizard: WIS, INT

Now, every class has a unique save combination.

Some Notes:
1. Sorcerers are CON-based casters in our game, not CHA. Too many CHA-based casters IMO, another "samey" issue. So, that is why I felt it was fine to remove CHA from them.

2. You'll notice Druids, Monks, and Rangers are all only strong saves. This is intentional as IMO Druids and Rangers are two of the less appealing classes due to their design in 5E. Monks eventually get all saves with Diamond Soul, so starting them with two strong saves didn't seem a stretch.

That's it for now.
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
The way to reduce sameyness is simple, but will annoy those players who want their characters to be able to "do it all":

Hard-coded and heavily-protected niches for each class. Get rid of feats and spells and sub-class combos that allow one class to do the job of another. Maybe get rid of a few classes as well, if there's not enough significant niches to go around. Maybe where possible give each class kind of a sub-niche as well; an example might be Rangers are the best at outdoorsy stuff, then Druids are half as good, and everyone else is poor at it but not hopeless (in mechanical terms, odds of success at outdoors-activity-X might be 90%, 50% and 10% for those three categories).

End result: each character is really good at its niche and not very good at most other things, meaning you ideally need a group of characters (i.e. a party) covering off for each others' weaknesses in order to be more successful at adventuring. Yes this might need bigger parties in order to cover all the bases.

Changing up something as basic as saving throws might reduce the sameyness from the DM side but from the players' side it won't change a thing - you still need to roll the die and hit the target number.
 

DeviousQuail

Adventurer
Not a small undertaking but redoing the spell lists would help reduce sameyness with casters. Either that or each class/subclass of caster has an additional limiter to their spell choices. Using the wizard as an example you could have a new rule that says each wizard must choose a school of magic. Spells of the chosen school in the spellbook are always considered prepared (like domain spells for clerics). Wizards can then prepare Int Mod number of spells from other schools each day. So wizards can still be utility knives with some preparation but when you make a necromancer you can expect to be casting a lot of necromancy spells.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Not a small undertaking but redoing the spell lists would help reduce sameyness with casters.
Since this was mentioned, and it is already done, I'll post it.

SPELLLISTS:

Notes:

1. Many people will be upset that certain spells were lost to one class or another--tough, deal with it. ;)
2. Bards are half-casters in our game and the spell lists below reflect that (don't like it, deal with it).
3. Ignore the Jinxes category (a house-rule system we use)--they are just the combat cantrips and can be moved under cantrips.
4. Finally, this list is what we use, so please don't bother complaining about "Oh, how could you do this!?" or "What!? I think spell X should be here, not there!" and thanks. :)

Background: Something like 60-70% of spells are capable of being cast by more than one class.
This list reduces that to about 42% or so. Also, all 6th+ level spells are unique.
All classes have fewer spells as a result of less overlap.
Since I don't have all sourcebooks, not all spells are included.
  • Bards: 132 to 64 (also because half-caster now)
  • Clerics: 113 to 98
  • Druids: 150 to 98
  • Paladins: 57 to 55
  • Rangers: 73 to 55
  • Sorcerers: 188 to 94
  • Warlocks: 114 to 94
  • Wizards: 296 to 152

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ECMO3

Hero
The way to reduce sameyness is simple, but will annoy those players who want their characters to be able to "do it all":

Hard-coded and heavily-protected niches for each class. Get rid of feats and spells and sub-class combos that allow one class to do the job of another. Maybe get rid of a few classes as well, if there's not enough significant niches to go around. Maybe where possible give each class kind of a sub-niche as well; an example might be Rangers are the best at outdoorsy stuff, then Druids are half as good, and everyone else is poor at it but not hopeless (in mechanical terms, odds of success at outdoors-activity-X might be 90%, 50% and 10% for those three categories).

End result: each character is really good at its niche and not very good at most other things, meaning you ideally need a group of characters (i.e. a party) covering off for each others' weaknesses in order to be more successful at adventuring. Yes this might need bigger parties in order to cover all the bases.

Changing up something as basic as saving throws might reduce the sameyness from the DM side but from the players' side it won't change a thing - you still need to roll the die and hit the target number.
I think we need a definition of "sameyness".

IMO every character having a niche IS "sameyness" because every fighter is the same, every Monk is the same, every Rogue is the same.

I played a Ranger with multiple casting feats who fought more like a battlefield control caster than a martial. He was as mobile as a Rogue and was better at the social skills than a Bard. This is what made him different and prevents the "sameyness". Taking away those feats and subclass abilities would have made him "the same ole Ranger" or he would have been very poor and statistically inferior as a character playing "differently".

IMO the answer to this is more options for customization, not less.
 
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ECMO3

Hero
2. You'll notice Druids, Monks, and Rangers are all only strong saves. This is intentional as IMO Druids and Rangers are two of the less appealing classes due to their design in 5E. Monks eventually get all saves with Diamond Soul, so starting them with two strong saves didn't seem a stretch.

We see plenty of Rangers in tables I play and they are pretty powerful with the Tasha's editions. Considering all 3 phases they are probably the most powerful class in the game with only the Rogue really being competitive. We also see a fair amount of Monks even though they are by most accounts one of the weaker classes.

The only one of these three my tables don't seem to find appealing is Druids.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
How’s that been working out?
Fantastic. A point, however, is you probably want to un-link HP from CON, otherwise Sorcerers benefit in two ways for one ability. Given the abstract nature of HP, linking it to CON is a carry over from prior editions that needs to go IMO.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
I think we need a definition of "sameyness".
It's up to you, what makes two characters feel too "samey". For me, it is the overlap between classes that is the most annoying. There is too much magic overlap, too many classes and subclasses (especially) which have access to spells, etc.

IMO every character having a niche IS "sameyness" because every fighter is the same, every Monk is the same, every Rogue is the same.
If that is your opinion, that is fine, but IME not every fighter IS the same, nor is every Monk, every Rogue, etc.

I played a Ranger with multiple casting feats who fought more like a battlefield control caster than a martial. He was as mobile as a Rogue and was better at the social skills than a Bard. This is what made him different and prevents the "sameyness". Taking away those feats and subclass abilities would have made him "the same ole Ranger" or he would have been very poor and statistically inferior as a character playing "differently".
Then what really "made him a Ranger"? How would it have been different from any other class when you made the same choices. This is exactly why how you play a character and what choices you make for them is more important than their class. You just gave an example of how one character was not like every other Ranger.

IMO the answer to this is more options for customization options, not less.
Who is giving less options? We aren't even talking about options. So far I have discussed saving throws (which everyone has) and spells (which by making them more unique, makes each class more unique).
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
We see plenty of Rangers in tables I play and they are pretty powerful with the Tasha's editions.
Which, for the time anyway, we aren't using because Tasha's has the tendency to make everything OP, just like nearly every new book...

We also see a fair amount of Monks even though they are by most accounts one of the weaker classes.
We've made them better. ;)

The only one of these three my tables don't seem to find appealing is Druids.
Which we've also improved. :)

Eventually, once I have every thing done, I'll post it on the forum.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I think we need a definition of "sameyness".

IMO every character having a niche IS "sameyness" because every fighter is the same, every Monk is the same, every Rogue is the same.
Every Fighter being more or less mechanically the same is fine. You're a Fighter, which means you can do X Y and Z really well but you're really not suited for A B and C. Build your characterization and personality around that chassis.

It's when the Fighters and the Monks and the Rogues and the Clerics are the same as each other, or same enough that they become interchangeable, that it becomes a problem.
I played a Ranger with multiple casting feats who fought more like a battlefield control caster than a martial. He was as mobile as a Rogue and was better at the social skills than a Bard.
Which means you're using that "Ranger" to trample on the niches of both control-casters and Bards.

If you want to play a Bard, play a Bard. If you want to play a battlefield control caster, play a Wizard.

But if you're trying to have your cake and eat it too i.e. be as good as a Bard and as good as a Wizard while still having the outdoorsy and combat advantages of a Ranger as well, I have no sympathy at all. One-man-band characters with few if any real weaknesses who don't need to be in a party in order to adventure aren't exactly conducive to party-based play.
IMO the answer to this is more options for customization, not less.
More options for customization within the class' niche, sure. Options that take a character out of its niche and impinge on the niches of others, not so much.
 

One thing I would do is get rid of generalist wizards altogether. Take all the wizard specializations and approach each individually without the assumption that they would follow the same basic build that WotC takes with full casters. Necromancers, enchanters, diviners, et al. should all play differently and have different niches. I think the weakness of full/half caster design template became painfully clear when they pushed out the artificer.

It also would help the other classes in general for casters to be both more flavorful and more limited. Pay closer attention to surrounding fiction in design. I don't think I've ever heard anyone look at the arcane necromancer and say "yeah, that definitely meets my expectations of what a necromancer would play like."
 

ECMO3

Hero
Every Fighter being more or less mechanically the same is fine. You're a Fighter, which means you can do X Y and Z really well but you're really not suited for A B and C. Build your characterization and personality around that chassis.

It's when the Fighters and the Monks and the Rogues and the Clerics are the same as each other, or same enough that they become interchangeable, that it becomes a problem.

Which means you're using that "Ranger" to trample on the niches of both control-casters and Bards.

If you want to play a Bard, play a Bard. If you want to play a battlefield control caster, play a Wizard.

But if you're trying to have your cake and eat it too i.e. be as good as a Bard and as good as a Wizard while still having the outdoorsy and combat advantages of a Ranger as well, I have no sympathy at all. One-man-band characters with few if any real weaknesses who don't need to be in a party in order to adventure aren't exactly conducive to party-based play.

More options for customization within the class' niche, sure. Options that take a character out of its niche and impinge on the niches of others, not so much.
Each to his own. I love the idea that you can have a party of 3 players and have all bases covered. Personally I like the idea that I can build a fighter that is good at C. Maybe he gives up a little in Z for that.

In my example Ranger gave me the tools to most closely build the character I wanted to play. I wanted a character who had extra attack and good hit points, expertise, great social skills and a ton of spells and battlefield control and ability to disengage as a bonus action. Goblin Fey Wanderer with Fey Touched, Shadow Touched and Telepathic and a 10 constitution did that perfectly. This character had a wand of fear and she used that instead of attacking often on the first turn. She used summon Fey a lot instead of attacking. To me, knowing that your Ranger is always going to pull a longbow or a pair of shortswords on the first turn and attack all the time because he is a "Ranger" and that is what Rangers do is boring to play as a character. Sure I could do that (well with a shortbow not a long bow) and I was good at it, but it would not be as fun and at the end of the day, that is what it is about.

I don't think I was trampling anybody. I built and played the character I wanted to play and her backstory fit neatly into that concept, which is how I got it instead of picking a class and choosing a backstory to fit. Anyone else at the table could have made the same build if they wanted. Our party was a Human Evoker, Human Divine Soul, Kobold Swashbuckler and Goblin Fey Wanderer (me). We had no traditional "tank" no traditional "face" and yet it was an awesome party.

The term weakness is relative to what you are talking about. If I took Gloomstalker instead of Fey Wanderer and if I focused solely on combat, pumped constitution, took combat ASIs and feats and a combat focused race like half orc ..... if I did that, I would have had a character who was much more narrow than my character but she would have been better at melee (perhaps marginally better, but still better). If that is what you want to play, then play it!

Likewise a pure caster is a more powerful combat caster than I was, because even though I had a ton of spells, including many off-class spells; when I finished the game at 15th level, I did not have 5th-8th level spells and a full caster is a more powerful caster even if he did not have any more known spells and could not cast many more spells than I could.

There is room for all of these builds and more.

You get a lot of people on this board complaining about martials and how they are so limited, that is really because they choose to build them that way though. With races, backgrounds, feats and subclasses you can make any class good an any aspect of the game. Maybe not the best possible, but certainly good.

This also means you can play with fewer players which speeds up the game and makes it more fun. If every party needs a Rogue for traps and a divine caster for healing and an arcane for control and bard for social and a martial for tanking ..... you very quickly find out that either people need to play characters they don't want to play or you need a huge party because 5 people wanted to be Wizards and you still need a tank, healer, Rogue, striker and face. Much better when you can have three players and have your bases covered.
 
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ECMO3

Hero
Then what really "made him a Ranger"? How would it have been different from any other class when you made the same choices. This is exactly why how you play a character and what choices you make for them is more important than their class. You just gave an example of how one character was not like every other Ranger.

The character is defined by the character IMO, not the class written on the sheet and having mechanics that give you options to build to what you want is a good thing. "Ranger" is just a word written on the top of the character sheet that corresponds to a set of mechanics enabling the character you want to play and ensuring balance with other potential builds.

You could have made other classes that were similar. It would not be identical. She had expertise in Athletics, D10 hit dice, and extra attack. An Arcane Trickster build with expertise in Athletics, Persuasion, Deception and Intimidation would have been about the same at those 4 skills, would have traded d10 and extra attack for d8 and sneak attack, would have had fewer spells, but different spells and other abilities to make up for it.

I played all the way back to basic in the early 80s and I LOVE the freedom that comes with the current rules set.

Who is giving less options? We aren't even talking about options. So far I have discussed saving throws (which everyone has) and spells (which by making them more unique, makes each class more unique).
You quoted a post which was a reply to someone who said less options was the answer.
 
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Doesn't this change to saves give Druid, Monk, and Ranger a power-up relative to other classes? Con, Dex, and Wis saves are both dramatically more common and generally worse to fail (particularly Wis saves). Or have you changed the saves called for by spells as well, so each different type of save is more on a level playing field? Edit: Ignore me, missed that bit at the end saying this was intentional. I disagree with that choice, and think the reasoning for it is especially...odd...since it isn't even "this is actually bad," it's just "people in our group didn't seem interested," which is entirely unrelated to whether the class is powerful!

Fantastic. A point, however, is you probably want to un-link HP from CON, otherwise Sorcerers benefit in two ways for one ability. Given the abstract nature of HP, linking it to CON is a carry over from prior editions that needs to go IMO.
...so...what does Con do, exactly, other than saving throws? It's not HP, there's no skills tied to it. Only Sorcerers care about it for their own stuff. Literally the only thing it does is an important class of saving throws (which includes Concentration checks.)
 

I think we need a definition of "sameyness".
This. What is referred to in the OP is not remotely I thought of. The sameyness issues that occurred to me are:

1) Cosmetic sameyness. The generic fantasy look across widely different settings and media.

2) Monster samyness. There are too many monsters that are nothing but sacks of hit points.
 


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