D&D 5E Truly Understanding the Martials & Casters discussion (+)

Asisreo

Patron Badass
The point of this thread is to get into the meat-and-potatoes of the ongoing discussion about martials and casters. By now, it's been 8 years since WoTC released 5e, and the debate has built up more and more over the years. It's been covered almost exhaustively and there are even threads continuing that debate. I also fear that this very thread may invoke a 50+ page war, but I'm hoping that it won't be too cumbersome.

This thread is for understanding each other's point-of-view. It will involve disagreements, but the point isn't to agree, it's to understand. This let's homebrew creators understand the desires of those they're homebrewing for, as well as seeing things from beyond your own perspective.

So, I would like to start by going through some surface level arguments that represent both sides of the discussion as well as counter-arguments that I have commonly experienced. Feel free to quote whichever argument you would like to expand on or explain your disagreements with.

Martials have equal combat-effectiveness, so there should be no problem.

Counter: The divide between martials and casters stem from the lack of versatility both in-and-out of combat. A caster has the tools to end the encounter too easily and quickly while a martial can only rely on damage to end the encounter and are much less flexible. Outside of combat, the caster can do everything the martial can do and more.

counter-counter: "Caster" is being used broadly to cover a large amount of classes. Most classes have the spellcasting feature yet there are some classes that have limited or no access to certain abilities. They also have a limit to how much they can prepare/know, so it's not fair to look at any possible spell since they might not have access to it, especially known-spellcasters like wizards, Bards, Warlocks, and Sorcerers.


Most games take place with few encounter days, which means casters can NOVA through them while also having powerful utility.

Counter: The game's balance is set for 6-8 encounters in a day so it's expected that balance fails going below this criteria. Martials are very useful for longer stretches of days since they can always run with maximum efficiency until the end of the day.

Counter-counter: 6-8 is ridiculous for most narratives and is a slog. Even if they aren't all combats, most noncombat encounters can be resolved without expending resources. Also, martials have limited resources, not only with HP, but also most have a resource like Action Surge, Ki, or Rage. So they actually don't run on maximum efficiency.


Just reflavor the casters into a martial by reflavoring magic.
Counter: Reflavoring can only go so far. How would you reflavor dispel magic stopping your attacks? And what would spells that can't translate nonmagically like illusions or teleportation or mind manipulation work? They can't.

Counter-counter: With a DM, they can reflavor anything with ease. A dispel-magic can be Disrupt Focus so it explains why both a martial and caster doesn't get the benefits. Teleportation can be extremely quick and far movement or bursts of supernatural speed. Illusions and mind manipulations may be done with homemade smoke and mirrors or by dazing/confusing the opponents with words. Or they can be excluded from your martial play entirely.


I want high-level martials to feel like a superhero/mythical figure/demigod. Casters get to feel that way, but martials do not.
Counter: Not everyone wants a martial that can throw buildings or destroy mountains. It wouldn't fit my fantasy or it would force a fantasy that I'd dislike.

Counter-counter: High-level casters get to force their fantasy. Plus, if you dislike the one class that can throw buildings, don't play them. I do not want all other classes removed, I just want my one complex, powerful, utility martial.



I don't necessarily believe everything above, but I've seen the topics before and want to get a head-start. Clarifying is more than welcome, but try to avoid restating the same points posted above. I don't expect you to read everything in this thread, but also try to avoid restating other's responses as best you can.

Please be kind and courteous to your fellow forum-goers. Expect to be disagreed with and try to truly understand. Don't shame or make others feel bad, and ask as many genuine questions as you can. Also, please avoid trolling. I'm hoping to get better insight.

Thank you for your time,
Asisreo

Edit: Hmm...it seems I accidentally started something else. Although the additional points, counter-points, and counter-counters are welcome.
 
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payn

Legend
Nerf magic down to Martial level to even out the divide.
Counter: I dont want magic nerfed, I want martials buffed. I expect gonzo fantasy at some point in the system.

Counter-counter: I expect a lower power level from the system and casters are the problem from where I'm standing.

Casters can do too much in each pillar, martials can not do enough outside combat.
Counter: Wizards are much weaker early on. GMs dont follow the rules correctly to curb caster power as intended.

Counter-counter: Martials need more non-combat class abilities if the game is truly intended to be 3 pillars.
 

"The power difference between casters and non-casters all too often leads to conflict, negatively affecting groups and especially DMs."

Counter: "Balance is context-specific in D&D, and thus always requires DM effort. DMs need to learn to address problems when they arise; trying to swat down every possible problem is doomed to failure, so we shouldn't try."

Counter-counter: "While the DM's role is vital, we shouldn't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. The DM role is already demanding enough, and efforts to make problem-solving easier would be better for the game's current and future health."

"Things every character can do should not be considered when evaluating class balance."

Counter: "They absolutely should. Much, perhaps most of D&D is made of 'things every character can do,' and ignoring that aspect of the experience means designing for only a subset of what D&D is."

Counter-counter: "While we should not totally ignore these things, the whole point of class choice is the differences between them. Each class should account for the common, shared actions, but it must also bring its own contributions."
 

HammerMan

Legend
Okay, from my POV (and that of at least 2 player/DMs in my circle of friends one who was reading the first PHB I bought with me long long ago) the problem is that casters control major points of the game that marshals can not... when classes get made to effect such things they are just given spells (see EK and AT subclasses).

I will consider if you run 6+ encounters per day (every adventuring day) and play at 12th or less level you will find the divide small enough that some house rules and some general agreement between players can adjust it. Of course we can not aggree on WHAT house rules and agreements work enough so that is still an issue.

the issue comes up when people want to play complex characters (options on sheets... some like to dismiss this as video gamey 'button pushing') and then find that every one of those is some form of caster. SO they play 1 caster, then another... and we find that no one is playing anything but casters.

Our work arounds already have been to give martial boons trained by other 'heroes of legend' but it is hard to work on your own subsystems... or to take spell casters (especially 1/2 and 1/3 casters but sometimes bards as full casters) and pick spells and refluff them until they are martial... but that often falls flat when you still need to reference the spell.

My proposed goal is to keep the simple fighter (the same way warlock is a simpler caster) and make 1 or 2 new classes more in line with the power scope and complexity of wizards and clerics.
 

HammerMan

Legend
"Things every character can do should not be considered when evaluating class balance."

Counter: "They absolutely should. Much, perhaps most of D&D is made of 'things every character can do,' and ignoring that aspect of the experience means designing for only a subset of what D&D is."

Counter-counter: "While we should not totally ignore these things, the whole point of class choice is the differences between them. Each class should account for the common, shared actions, but it must also bring its own contributions."
in my thread about Shenagins I pointed out that I counted out the ones casters did and the ones non casters did (that we could remember) but then readjusted becuse some of the things a caster player did a fighter COULD have done...it didn't need the subsystem of spells.

I have at least 2 dozen stories that I can tell about characters doing things like that... things that blew me away as a DM.

In one such case I literally had a 11th level party kill a Divine rank 30 mindflayer god in a surprise round, and I argued I could free action say something before I died... so I chose "I just want to go on record as saying this is bull naughty word, this was my plan" then he died...

So I went back through my head how many of these were level 10+ (about 2/3 of the ones I could think of) how many were epic level (21+ and not many only 2 one in 4e one in 2e) So then I started thinking how many where item/rp/anyone could do and it was a few (including the above example of the god death, and a fighter picking up and suplexing the tarrasque in 3.5) but almost all of them involved spells. SO I asked last night my tuesday night group to make a list with me after game... and so we did.

we stopped at 32 times we could more or less esialy remember, then we went back and through them to see how many where arcane spells cast... 22. of the 10 left 3 were divine/primal-nature spells (some of the 22 were on both divine and arcane list though) leaving 7 that were not 2 of those used psychic abilities (in 3e+ that is easy to gage level but in 2e the system just wasn't level based) and 5 were things done by (or could be done by because 1 is still a warlock story and 1 is still a wizard story just without spells...that tent still bugs me)

So I asked everyone to think about it. Saturday some of us (and a couple others) get together. I will see what we get for different answers. I did wake up this morning to 2 other "OMG" moments texted to me by becky and both were 2e fighter moments we didn't think of last night (so up to 34 7 of them didn't need magic at all)

To be fair we didn't count some things. the first time anyone used a "once per day when you die" epic destiny power we all remember from Ross's first warlord we didn't count becuse as cool as it was at the moment we all had uses of those abilities and it only stands out as everyone being like "WTF," but we got used to it. (so that was martial) and 3 different dumb jokes we make that have stuck from campaign to campaign (I do push ups for insight) because we didn't think just being memorable was enough it had to be a positive impact AND remember able.

We did also discount a lucky bard set of attacks from 2e that kind sorta didn't need magic but kinda did and was house ruled (a bard that was made useing skills and powers so he could specialize in daggers who had been gifted by the good of speed a semi permanent haste. He made 5 or 6 attacks we couldn't remember the exact number with his +5 knife and his +3 dagger. He dropped on teh table his dice for his attack and 3 of them landed on 20... while dominated by a bad guy and hitting the mage/thief(me) and me jaw dropped saying "3 twenties what are the odds" and I survived with single digit hp, but by the next turn he was still dominated and he dropped the dice this time in the dead center of the table and 3 came up 20 to my now dead character and all I could say was "Ow come on 3 twenties again?!?"

if we added those we would have 36 (so slightly more then 1 per year) 9 of witch martial characters could do...

this is my problem. wizards have A LOT of easier ways to say "Hey lets change the game real quick" in general caster do over non casters...

and remember this isn't counting all of the (humdrum just what casters do) times we saw teleport, on a spell negate a hit, or flight superseding encounters, or even just knock making the rouge ask why he put points in open locks. This isn't counting all of the healing, the ressurecting, the divination, the SoDs that ended encounters...
 

Asisreo

Patron Badass
I expect a lower power level from the system and casters are the problem from where I'm standing.
Where does this expectation come from? Previous editions? The tone from previous, more mundane adventures that occur before the high-level things? Or from the way the book is written? Personally, from the way the book describes high-level adventures, I can understand why people expect all characters are assigned powers that seem to scale appropriately to the danger at-hand.
Martials need more non-combat class abilities if the game is truly intended to be 3 pillars.
I suppose the implication is that the three pillars are equally as important. With the terminology "pillars," I can understand that it may imply that they are supposed to be equivalent or the whole structure will be lopsided, but the game doesn't mention that exploration and social encounters actually share equal importance as combat. Frankly, it makes sense. In "typical" D&D, the only time your character is threatened with death in 5e is using combat stats. Failed speech might lead to combat, and your combat stats are still relevant in exploration.
"While the DM's role is vital, we shouldn't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. The DM role is already demanding enough, and efforts to make problem-solving easier would be better for the game's current and future health."
At the end of the day, D&D is a game that the designers just cannot predict. They can go the way of the board game with well-established, unyielding rules of play, but that tarnished the TTRPG experience. Even if the rules were completely balanced RAW and were required, some groups will end up homebrewing and getting frustrated by the rules without realizing how their homebrew effected it anyways. Like in monopolies case.
"While we should not totally ignore these things, the whole point of class choice is the differences between them. Each class should account for the common, shared actions, but it must also bring its own contributions."
Do those contributions have to include out-of-combat utility? In combat, all classes add unique contributions that differentiates them far enough that even playing a barbarian or fighter can greatly change the way you play and the roles you fill, despite them seeming similar on the surface.

Note: I'm not being hostile in these discussions. I would like clarification and understanding exactly what you're expecting and desire.
 

Weiley31

Legend
I'm still happy that during my second session ever as a Half-Elf Battle Master, I took out seven Drow assassins with one attack (Combat Maneuver: Sweeping Attacking) and it was hella cool.


Okay yeah, the Druid of the party helped with the set-up, but shhhhh, I had fun.
 

Don’t know if this is the time to bring this up, but I have a hard time understanding the so-called issue. As in, I haven’t experienced it as a player or have it be a problem in any of the games I run. I typically play a martial class, Barbarian being my favourite (Me big, me stronk). And I’ve never felt outclassed or out-powered by a wizard (not that any of my Barbarian characters would ever admit that!).
I will say this however: The rules changes I’ve made as a DM in my current campaign have perhaps “toned down” casters. The biggest changes are:
1. No more spell slots. Once a spell is cast, it’s gone for the day. Cantrips do not apply.
2. Magic users have to roll a 10 or higher to cast spells. Cantrips and spells that require a spell attack roll, need not be rolled for. This is rarely an issue as ability modifiers are also added to the roll, but when it does come up, it brings some tension to being a caster. I’ll also add that if the roll fails you don’t lose the spell for the day, you just burn an action.
So in a way I guess I agree that there is some disparity, but maybe not enough to launch forum jihads against my fellow gamers. Wow, I learned something about myself just now.
 

HammerMan

Legend
Don’t know if this is the time to bring this up, but I have a hard time understanding the so-called issue. As in, I haven’t experienced it as a player or have it be a problem in any of the games I run. I typically play a martial class, Barbarian being my favourite (Me big, me stronk). And I’ve never felt outclassed or out-powered by a wizard (not that any of my Barbarian characters would ever admit that!).
as one of the biggest proponents of "martials need more toys" I will say, I understand your POV on this.

I will (as an olive branch across the isle) add that my ex brother in law NEVER understood why someone would play a caster and felt fighters and Barbarians were the best 2 classes... when Becky would complain she wanted to play a martial swords master he would always tell her "Pop a high str and con, throw on some armor"

I will also say that in my first roll20 campaign I played in our MVP was a barbarian that threw crazy damage (27 str, huge size axe for 3d12 damage) and he was lots of fun... but that player did get board alot, and even ended up splitting time between playing x box and playing with us on lap top because even dealing the most damage, have the most hp having the best AC (when the rest of us didn't pop something like shield) and half damage from all non psychic damages... he felt he didn't do much OTHER then fight.
 

payn

Legend
Where does this expectation come from? Previous editions? The tone from previous, more mundane adventures that occur before the high-level things? Or from the way the book is written? Personally, from the way the book describes high-level adventures, I can understand why people expect all characters are assigned powers that seem to scale appropriately to the danger at-hand.
I'd say you got the right of it. The old school sword and sorcery definitely shaped many older gamers perceptions.
I suppose the implication is that the three pillars are equally as important. With the terminology "pillars," I can understand that it may imply that they are supposed to be equivalent or the whole structure will be lopsided, but the game doesn't mention that exploration and social encounters actually share equal importance as combat. Frankly, it makes sense. In "typical" D&D, the only time your character is threatened with death in 5e is using combat stats. Failed speech might lead to combat, and your combat stats are still relevant in exploration.
This begs the question, if only combat matters, then why are casters and rogues so good outside of it? I believe the game goes well beyond combat. If you cant pick a lock, then you could be forced down a more dangerous path. If you cant circumvent traps besides walking into them face first, that can be pretty lethal. If you have no way to work with people to gain favors or collect clues, you cant progress the adventure.

Some argue for a rock, paper, scissors kind of thing. Martials good at fighting, bad at skills and social. Rogues good at skills and social bad at combat. Casters tho, good at everything due to nature of spell casting. Some folks are fine with this as they see the game as a niche protected team sport. Others, want equal ability in each category. Others still, just want some ability in each pillar for any class/character. YMMV.
Note: I'm not being hostile in these discussions. I would like clarification and understanding exactly what you're expecting and desire.
No hostility detected. Also, im not saying all these things, im just saying them in spirit of discussion.
 

"Martials are not so much better at combat than the other classes to justify having little to no class-based capability outside of it."

Counter. -Buff/debuff and control spells are undoubtably effective, but victory requires your enemy to be dead. Killing one opponent at a time is better than merely damaging many, because it removes a source of damage to the party. A well-built fighter can deal massive amounts of single-target damage, and at the end of the day, that is what ultimately wins fights.

Counter-counter. - Basing an evaluation of a class on just a few of the potential builds or subclasses is a bad representation of the class as a whole. If a fighter must be a BM, RK, or EK, or they must rely on a CE/SS or GWM build, that doesn't mean that class is good, just that a few options are overly better than others.

"Martial classes like Fighters have almost no class-cased out-of-combat utility."

Counter. - Having a physically-powerful team member is vital for carrying or moving things, climbing, swimming and other feats that require great strength. A Str-based fighter gets to do that sort of thing all the time, whereas in the same situation a caster may have to use spells, or just fail.

Counter-counter. - Strength and athletics are just ability checks, and the Fighter gets no more than any other class. They are worse than casters on the basis of total bonuses, and physical challenges like climbing/Swimming/moving great weight are often the most easily bypassed by spells or imaginative work-arounds.

"Spells give casters much better capability than a martial in any situation that isn't single-target damage."

Counter. - This claim relies on a caster having the perfect loadout for every challenge. Even casters as versatile as wizards won't always have exactly the right spell for the right situation. "Quantum casters" only exist in white rooms and where the player has read the adventure - They're unrealistic in actual play.

Counter-counter. - Spells can be very versatile for solving problems, but even if the caster has no spells left or none applicable for the situation, they have just as many options through ability checks and imaginative play as a martial.
 

payn

Legend
Don’t know if this is the time to bring this up, but I have a hard time understanding the so-called issue. As in, I haven’t experienced it as a player or have it be a problem in any of the games I run. I typically play a martial class, Barbarian being my favourite (Me big, me stronk). And I’ve never felt outclassed or out-powered by a wizard (not that any of my Barbarian characters would ever admit that!).
I will say this however: The rules changes I’ve made as a DM in my current campaign have perhaps “toned down” casters. The biggest changes are:
1. No more spell slots. Once a spell is cast, it’s gone for the day. Cantrips do not apply.
2. Magic users have to roll a 10 or higher to cast spells. Cantrips and spells that require a spell attack roll, need not be rolled for. This is rarely an issue as ability modifiers are also added to the roll, but when it does come up, it brings some tension to being a caster. I’ll also add that if the roll fails you don’t lose the spell for the day, you just burn an action.
So in a way I guess I agree that there is some disparity, but maybe not enough to launch forum jihads against my fellow gamers. Wow, I learned something about myself just now.
To sort of reframe this in thread terms;

I have never experienced the issue personally, and don't think it is a problem.
Counter: You perhaps don't play with folks who push the system to the extreme. A more casual approach and/or lower level game does not often experience the problem at its worst.

Counter-coutner: I have a few houserules to keep the game on track, so perhaps there is an issue, but its a small one.

Counter-counter-counter: That may work for you, but I prefer a system that works out of the box and not rely on Oberoni based solutions at the table.
 

HammerMan

Legend
Martials good at fighting, bad at skills and social. Rogues good at skills and social bad at combat. Casters tho, good at everything due to nature of spell casting. S
back when I started thieves (now called rogues) could at best get 1 good shot in during combat (backstab) but where for the most part limited to weaker weapons and AC, and in a prolonged fight could not keep up. the wizard was lucky if he didn't get 1 shoted even at 5th or 6th level (it was not uncommon for a 6th level wizard to have 20 or less hp)

wizards could cast an encounter ender...but they were super limited. A thief could one shot for a ton of damage, but he better hope he kills it. the fighter in THAT world was the king of combat (paladin and ranger second and even then i think it was only later optional rule that let them specialize)

in 2000 thieves became rogues and went from backstab 1 time per fight at best, to sneak attack alot of times. Wizards got more spells and everyone got more hp... the riseing tide never quite helped the fighter as much and he went from the stand out best in combat to 'slightly better then others' and didn't get much in it;s place.
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
The biggest issue is that there is little consensus as to the problem and even where there is agreement as to the problem there is often a lot of disagreement as to the solution.
So some issues are kind of structural and some may need new mechanics and some better DM guidance.

The number of encounters and rest mechanics:
I am not a fan of the 6 - 8 encounters per long rest myself and I think some explicit guidance to DMs as the effects of different encounter levels would be appreciated.
I think the game would benefit from additional rules to make the game more gritty (may be long term injuries), actual use made of the exhaustion mechanics in regular play. (ways of restricting casters and how to balance that, with the encounter system)
On the other side some rules on plot coupons (fate points or some such) would be good also.

The Gonzo martials.
Some optional rules to dial high level non casters to gonzo heroic, perhaps high level prestige classes.

The Exploration Pillar Issues
This area is practically a vestige from the early game. It is still ok, for old school exploration, where the wandering monster, random location and the careful tracking of supplies is the point of play but even there there are issues with "I win" buttons, like Goodberry, Rangers, and the Wanderer feature from the Outlander background. All of which negate that type of play.
The Wilderness navigation table are a complete joke and could do with a complete rework by someone that actually understands wilderness navigation and the logistics of supply in different terrain types and climates, and weather effects.

However, there is another problem, such rules are primarily of interest to people, that are interested in exploration as a primary focus. Many of us are interested in wilderness survival as a complication to a larger story. I am not sure what subsystems would apply in that case.

Social/Investigation and so forth.
The game could do with better DM advice on how to do social and the characters could do with some more resources to put into social other than spells. I personally think that all classes/races could do with some ribbon abilities, many of which, I would replicate some of the weaker feats to gain expertise in a skill related to their class or advantage.
 

It's bound to be brought up so it might as well be me. The idea that six to eight medium encounters acting as a baseline is a misconception and it leads to all kinds of misunderstandings. At most it's a suggestion of how much a party can handle in a adventuring Day based on play test feedback assuming absolutely nothing about the party past not including optional rules. It's a suggestion on how not to murder your party with a built-in buffer.
So in the context of discussion when you are comparing one type of resources like spells against another resource like skills and or class features there isn't a pacing guideline in place.
 

payn

Legend
It's bound to be brought up so it might as well be me. The idea that six to eight medium encounters acting as a baseline is a misconception and it leads to all kinds of misunderstandings. At most it's a suggestion of how much a party can handle in a adventuring Day based on play test feedback assuming absolutely nothing about the party past not including optional rules. It's a suggestion on how not to murder your party with a built-in buffer.
So in the context of discussion when you are comparing one type of resources like spells against another resource like skills and or class features there isn't a pacing guideline in place.
So, its just a suggestion and none of the mechanics are tied to it? At wills, compared to encounters, compared to dailies were not tested against it? Just trying to understand the 6-8 encounters because I always thought 5E was built around it.
 

TheSword

Legend
Here’s where I see a divide and it comes from different expectations of campaigns. There are three main reasons why many people don’t see a martial caster divide in terms of influence or power.

If you play Pathfinder style adventure path/D&D campaigns at high levels they tend to have relatively tight timescales, dungeons and threats. They are significantly weighted towards combat and have little opportunity to prepare for those combats. Combats are often against powerful single foes in bounded spaces. In these circumstances being able to contribute heavily in this kind of combat is the single most important contributor to success of the party.

Secondly outside of the combat pillar exploration challenges and roleplay changes just aren’t as difficult as combat challenges. Perhaps you might ask someone to make a skill check or come up with a solution but ‘failing’ explorations or roleplay usually mean the story still fails forward. Whereas in combat failure = death and the end of the game usually. Thus a wizards ability to cast charm person or suggestion is less impactful on the group, even though it creates an effect that the fighter might not be able to do.

Lastly many abilities that spellcaster have that martials don’t - teleport for instance - are still accomplishable by a fighter. Either because the story requires access be granted, or because the effect can be achieved through mundane means and the application of time/effort/resources. This is the single most important reason I don’t see the divide as meaningful. You can’t write an adventure (or shouldn’t) that requires a particular character ability or spell to be a success because that is dictating party make up. So by extension not having one of these powers is no barrier to play either.

- For instance, let’s say the enemy (an evil wizard) has a lair in the middle of a deadly wasteland. If the party has a wizard of their own they can teleport there which saves time. However travel time is easily handwaved. If the party doesn’t have access to teleport (because the wizard hasn’t taken it for instance) the party just walks. Other than perhaps the chance to surprise the evil wizard, Teleport access hasn’t granted the party any more narrative control (other than perhaps chance to surprise the enemy).

- If we take this a step further and the wizard is on a different plane of existence. The DM must write into the adventure a way to get there… portal… NpC wizard etc. Writing an adventure that forces a party to have a particular power is just poor writing… it’s a spell tax if you like… on a particular character. Forced to make an ability choice to keep the adventure moving. That’s actually a penalty not a benefit. Remember the DM has chosen to set the adventure up this way. The same applies to artificial time limits and the like, which force a party to use teleport to travel quickly or fail. It’s just bad writing… and almost never seen in published adventures.

- The same principles can apply to other ‘narrative control’ spells. They’re just indulging arbitrary restrictions that the DM has put in place - restrictions that in the absence of a wizard would have another solution. Fly, dispel magic, divination, scrying etc etc, they’re all the same.

Now if you run adventures where the DM writes challenges after knowing the capabilities of the party, or intimates to the party that they need these powers, then I can see why the above doesn’t apply. However remember - the DM has chosen and directed that style of play. Similarly, I can see this won’t apply if the DM has open ended campaigns where players have unlimited prep time, and the kind of resources that allow for unlimited simulacrum etc then I can also see how this won’t apply… that just isn’t how I play though, and not how most published campaigns are written.

Just my thoughts.
 
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Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
My proposed goal is to keep the simple fighter (the same way warlock is a simpler caster) and make 1 or 2 new classes more in line with the power scope and complexity of wizards and clerics

MORE MARTIAL CLASSES!

Counter: We have enough classes already. It's hard enough tracking it all now.

Counter Counter: Use Setting appropriateness and DM rights to ban whatever classes you don't want at the table.
 

You’ve opened the floodgates, so this is on you! 😀

The more I think about it, the more I have come to the conclusion that the problem is looking at the games through the lens of RAW. Looking at the game through the paradigm of “the game is what’s written in the books, no more no less” may have served a purpose in 3e or 3.5e, but no longer serves a useful purpose in 5e. Instead, I think it was the designer’s hope (not intention), that the focus should be on a DM’s individual table.

To illustrate what I mean, there are ways to reduce high-level martial caster disparity, such as:
  • longer adventure days;
  • more restrictive rest rules;
  • use of more enemies that are magic resistent;
  • custom monsters with a greater variety of immunities;
  • environmental effects that interact with spellcasting rules (Such as environmental effects that favour melee over ranged, wild magic zones with more negative possible outcomes, etc);
  • anti-magic zones;
  • enemies with counterspell and dispel magic;
  • structuring encounters so that magic is less effective (waves of enemies, enemies that attack from multiple directions);
  • etc.

Instead of exploring those options, we get stuck debating whether in the Platonic ideal of a game, there exists a problem or not.

The focus should be on:
  • which solutions work for an individual table;
  • if a solution doesn’t work for your table, can it be tweaked so that it does;
  • understanding why certain solutions don’t work for certain tables and what alternatives exist (in my games, the party is often fighting fairly unsophisticated monsters, so monsters using dispels and counterspells are unlikely);
  • identifying potential problems ahead of time and communicating them to your players.
 

Nerf magic down to Martial level to even out the divide.
Counter: I dont want magic nerfed, I want martials buffed. I expect gonzo fantasy at some point in the system.

Counter-counter: I expect a lower power level from the system and casters are the problem from where I'm standing.
Or both! Boost martials a bit, and nerf casters a bit to compensate.
 

Dungeon Delver's Guide

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