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

overgeeked

B/X Known World
In 1e the wizard aged 3-5 years each time they cast wish. Magical aging triggers a system shock roll. So, each time a wizard used wish they could die, based on their Constitution. Could they be raised? Sure. It cost a Constitution point and aged the cleric. I made raise dead an exception to the system shock roll rule, but BTB you could have the cleric raise the target and lose their life to do so. Now, I'm not necessarily advocating that, but if we are looking at "providing real costs for using magic" (below) then a risk of debility or death, no matter how small, gives one pause.

I also don't think you should try to balance wish against what a fighter could do. You just make it costly to use, and expect it to be used once or twice per level. I'm a firm believer in that fighters should be short rest / encounter based and wizards be long rest / daily based.
Or you just remove it from the list of PC options. Having it as part of the Deck of Many Things, a Ring of Wishes, or a Genie's Lamp are fine because the referee controls whether those are in the game and they are limited use. Having it be a player option, even one that's "only once a day" is still wildly overpowered. Even the stress effects of the spell in 5E aren't enough to balance it.
 

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Tony Vargas

Legend
Once per long rest." A wizard is only going to be able to cast one ninth level spell a day, so that's equivalent. The wizard does have an advantage that they might be able to have a choice from more than one ninth level spell, but given the choices available they are only likely to have three or so at 20th level.
Or, y'know, upcasting any other spell, or use wish to Cast any 8th or lower level spell. So, yeah a bit more flexible than exactly one thing.
In 1e the wizard aged 3-5 years each time they cast wish. Magical aging triggers a system shock roll.
Aging was also an absolute in 1e. You had a randomly determined max age, after which you died - and the very few ways of reversing aging, like the Longevity potion, couldn't be counted on.

So, yeah, 1e tried.
 

M_Natas

Hero
I like the idea of non-magical options, but the guaranteed existence of such things is boxing the DM's worldbuilding into too tight a box for me. Some advice on worldbuilding to include such things where they make sense and draw the players attention to them would be the better approach IMO.
One solution would be, to do non-magical options on a item level. Nonmagical Items, that can be used by martial to mimic or do even other stuff than magic can do.
You just need to advanced from medieval fantasy to renaissance fantasy and have a Leonardo Da Vinci run rampant with Fantasytech. You want a fireball equivalent for casters? Here is a powder bomb to throw! Lightning bolt? Here is a Tesla Coil to wind! (Or pretend, you can have charges where the martial has to charge condensators on a long rest in order to use items). You wanna fly? Here is an ornithopter.

The answer to too strong magic is always science. Science and advancement always level the playing field.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Or you just remove it from the list of PC options. Having it as part of the Deck of Many Things, a Ring of Wishes, or a Genie's Lamp are fine because the referee controls whether those are in the game and they are limited use. Having it be a player option, even one that's "only once a day" is still wildly overpowered. Even the stress effects of the spell in 5E aren't enough to balance it.

Yeah Wish and Raise Dead/Ressurection are the spells I ban from PC lists outright. Only Genie can cast wish and ressurection requires a quest to find a soul and directly petition/defy a diety. Having them directly in PC hands on a daily basis is ridiculous
 

ECMO3

Hero
If we are talking about realistic options for official 5E, I think we need to rule out anything that would either complicate or reduce the number of spells and spell slots. I think it is pretty clear the designers are not going to go in that direction and what little they tried was aparantly not well received in the playtest.
 

ECMO3

Hero
1. Rework all the stupidly overpowered spells for their spell level. (Especially the lower level ones like shield, absorb elements, silvery barbs).
2. Martial defenses (AC and all saves) need to scale with class level. (I'm thinking +1 at each level cantrips scale). This prevents casters from being as good with armor as martials.
3. The skill system needs completely reworked. There's only a handful of skills that matter from level 1-20.
3. Martials in general need their level 11+ abilities completely reworked - they get far to little at those levels.

I am strongly against #2 considering my experience from 3.5E. I hated the saving throw scaling and the effective AC scaling that came from this dodge bonus and that natural armor bonus.

I am also against #1, but less so. I really like the OP 1st level spells (although I would not consider Silvery Barbs one of them) and it is pretty easy for martials to get access to shield and absorb elements. I am not as against this as I would be against #2 though.

In the vain of limiting caster combat power, one thing I think that could work is revamping Constitution and half the bonus (rounding down) for anyone that can cast spells. Non casters (Barbarians, Rogues, fighters and Monks) would get the full bonus, but only if they do not have spell casting through a feat, race, multiclass or subclass. All others would have to invest a TON into constitution to get anything and would be limited to +2 at 18+. I think this would tamp down the martial combat abilities of the half casters and full casters and get them closer to the non-casters and additionally it would make the disparity due to hit dice larger, so the difference between a d6 and a d10 would effectively be a larger portion of total hit points than it is now.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Would allowing non-magical martials have physical ability scores of up to 20+tier do anything?
So, the logistically plausible way to do this, I think, would be to give the fighter, rogue, Barbarian, and monk, extra ASI bumps and a higher cap past level 11 or so. The fighter is easiest to do because you just change it’s extra ASI levels to be “you gain aN ASI feat and one other feat of your choice for which you meet the prerequisites” and then for the ones after 11 add, “additionally, your maximum ability score increases by 2”.

The other classes would probably have fewer, with rogue in second place and Barbarian and monk tied for third as the less mundane martials.

An alternative to that would be to give only those classes a flat +1/2/3/etc bump to all d20 tests at certain levels. Again, fighter gets the most, then rogue, then Barbarian and monk.

Maybe the strictly mundane subclasses for each also get a bonus bump at thier 2nd or 3rd subclass slot.

ETA: I wouldn’t restrict it to physical ability scores. Martial doesn’t mean that you charisma, wisdom, and intelligence, can’t be what is most remarkable about you. A Sherlock Holmes character shouldn’t be behind anyone in intelligence, and should definitely be purely non-magical. He would never take the extra time and mental space to learn spellcraft, he didn’t want to know how the solar system works! 😂
 
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