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D&D 5E [+] Ways to fix the caster / non-caster gap


B/X Known World
Note this is a plus thread.

If your response to the thread title is any variation of "nothing" or "there is no problem" or "I haven't experienced this problem" or "I like that this is a problem," then this thread isn't for you. Please keep that comment to yourself and move on.

The premise of the thread is: in D&D 5E there is a caster / non-caster gap and casters dominate non-casters.

If you want to argue against the premise of the thread, then this thread isn't for you. Please keep those comments to yourself and move on.


So the question is: what specifically can D&D 5E do to fix this problem?

The two obvious broad solutions are varying degrees of nerf the casters and buff the non-casters.

Cool. But how?
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Let non casters be heroic without needing magic. In a fantasy world where crazy stuff can happen, it makes sense that mundane skills can do fantastic things without people needing to justify it with, “oh, they must be magical in some way, or the son of a deity”. In a fantastic setting, not every skill needs to follow natural physical laws because, ina world of magical beasts, physics doesn’t always work the way people would expect.

Once people can bridge that gap, then fighters and rogues can be given abilities and powers that aren’t copies of existing spells but, instead, powerful tools that can do mythic things.

I’m all for boosting non casters rather than needing magic.

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
Spell rarity based on item rarity, meaning that most caster (maybe except sorcerers) dont have access on level up to all the spells. Some of them are ''treasure spells'' a caster can find by interacting with the setting. Methods to learn would differ from class to class:
  • Wizard scrolls to scribe
  • Arcane Mutagen/shards to attuned with for Sorcerers
  • Eldritch Secrets for Warlock
  • Songs to learn for Bards
  • Forgotten prayers for Clerics
  • Spirit Incense for Druids

My opinion is you need to take a two step approach:

1: Tone down the flexibility of casters quite a bit, but leave them quite flexible
2: Make all non-casters better at their specialty, chosen at character creation

The second point is exemplified by comparing a level 1 wizard with a level 20 wizard, and a level 1 fighter with a level 20 fighter. The wizard clearly improves, markedly, in whatever it chooses to specialise in over that interval, but the fighter will pretty much only hit harder.

The wizard can easily respec any day by just picking different spells. It is more flexible and more powerful.

Thus the major difference should be that your fighter needs to progress in more ways than just gaining mightier attacks. I want to see options for better intimidate, improved potential for movements and jumping, better supportive maneuvers. Not necessarily all on the same fighter, but each martial class should have some options for further specialisation that should take them beyond whatever they start with.

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