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

CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
i wonder how it would go if you gave the four pure martials +3 bonuses for their ASIs, or [feat]+1, (half feats still have their own +1 so it'd come out at +2 total).

this would help compensate the fact that martials are inherently more inclined to being MAD, or let them branch out into feats without worrying about being left behind the curve in their bonuses, if you think this would be broken from players rushing to 20 in their main stat just remember that you can start with an 18 at level 1 from rolling.
 

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Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I still think new classes is the easiest option.

The fighter stays somewhat like it is and mostly relies on magic items. Perhaps as suggested earlier in this thread getting more atonement slots so they can have more magic items than anyone else.

The Barbarian does mostly like what it does now and get stronger and tougher and eventually become something closer to a comic book bruiser. Hulk. Thing Bane. Then then sub classes determine what utility aspects you get. World tree turns into Swamp Thing. Zealot turns you to Samson.

Then you get a swordsage class which goes full wuxia.

You get a gadgeteer class which is a warrior who gets infusions but no magic spellslots.

A psychic warrior that goes full Jedi. Your character straight up becomes Obi-Wan. D&D siccs Siths on party. And the BBEG is Darth Maul or Darth Vader instead some lich.

focus down on the image and archetype.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
i wonder how it would go if you gave the four pure martials +3 bonuses for their ASIs, or [feat]+1, (half feats still have their own +1 so it'd come out at +2 total).

this would help compensate the fact that martials are inherently more inclined to being MAD, or let them branch out into feats without worrying about being left behind the curve in their bonuses, if you think this would be broken from players rushing to 20 in their main stat just remember that you can start with an 18 at level 1 from rolling.
I think the issue is more fundamental than something that can be solved with bigger numbers or the feats that currently exist. Assuming they have the proper support (such as a magic weapon for dealing with monsters that are immune to non-magical damage, or a way to engage with flying enemies) martials can already deal damage that is competitive with caster (in many cases outpacing them).

It's all the rest that's an issue, such as the martial being largely useless without that support. It's akin to sticking the caster in an anti-magic zone, except that anti-magic zones are the exception, whereas the martial without magic is the default unless the GM chooses to give magic items. A high level fighter with the right magic items might not be on par with casters, but they're at least able to play on the same field. A high level fighter without magic items isn't effectively even in the same tier of play as a caster. The wizard is flying, teleporting, and destroying small armies. That fighter swings their non-magical sword at a golem that's many CRs below their level but deals no damage. Bigger numbers or feats can't solve that.

One option that could help alleviate it (and, as I've said before, this isn't my preference) would be a legacy system whereby some of a martial's gear becomes magical over time, as a result of their great deeds and legends. Basically, a class feature that allows the player to select a few magic items, similar to the Artificer. Why doesn't this happen for casters? Maybe this is a very subtle and old magic, and the energies casters regularly harness disrupt the process. Then, the items are actually baked into the class and not at the whims of the GM. Also those items probably should ignore any attunement requirements as well, for the reasons I stated in an earlier post.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
But only having sword-lile technology instead of having other options that are more advanced is also setting specific. Only having the weapons that are in the PHB and nothing better right now is a pure setting decision.

And like for me, in a medieval life fantasy setting with the technology that is shown in the PHB it makes absolut sense, that non magical characters will be weaker and left behind by magical characters. Because Magic for me is just another form of technology. And the non magical tech in the generic 5e D&D setting doesn't allow nonmagical people to compete with high level wizards/spellcasters, which is something I'm totally fine with.

So, the nonmagical martials/supportclasses either need to get their hands on magic or they need to advance their non magical technology.

I personally wouldn't like Anime/Manga Protagonists who just trough mundane training become as good as a 20th level wizard. That just feels wrong to me and I wouldn't want that in my game. If you have a supernatural explanation for their super strength or abilities, it is fine by me (so like One Piece is better than One Punch Man).

Even in the super hero genre if you want super powers you need to get hit by gamma radiation, take a "magical" serum or drug or build a suit or something.

Like Batman. In a fight with superpowers villains he isn't punching them super hard. He defeats them with planning, gadgets and often super powered allies.

Or Tony Stark. Without his suit he is just a more smarter, nicer, better looking version of Elon Musk.

And I think a lot of people think like me (at least in the West), that unless you have tech or magic/supernatural source, a mundane person, no matter the training, should never be better than somebody with magic/tech/supernatural abilities in direct competition. Should the mundane be able to defeat the super natural? Of course. But not trough brute force but trough cunning, planning and passion. Like Batman does.

But if you want a level playing field, where a mundane person goes toe to toe with high level supernatural beings like Wizards or Hulks, you need an Iron Man suit or the fantasy equivalent in my book.

Because in my fantasy worlds, the abilities of mundane folk compares to Frodo, Bilbo, Boromir, Aragon, Gimli, Legolas and not One Punch Man or Kirrin from Dragon Ball.
Considering level 5 Fighters and level 5 Wizards are mostly balanced I don’t think any of that is required at all.
 

CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
I think the issue is more fundamental than something that can be solved with bigger numbers or the feats that currently exist. Assuming they have the proper support (such as a magic weapon for dealing with monsters that are immune to non-magical damage, or a way to engage with flying enemies) martials can already deal damage that is competitive with caster (in many cases outpacing them).

It's all the rest that's an issue, such as the martial being largely useless without that support. It's akin to sticking the caster in an anti-magic zone, except that anti-magic zones are the exception, whereas the martial without magic is the default unless the GM chooses to give magic items. A high level fighter with the right magic items might not be on par with casters, but they're at least able to play on the same field. A high level fighter without magic items isn't effectively even in the same tier of play as a caster. The wizard is flying, teleporting, and destroying small armies. That fighter swings their non-magical sword at a golem that's many CRs below their level but deals no damage. Bigger numbers or feats can't solve that.

One option that could help alleviate it (and, as I've said before, this isn't my preference) would be a legacy system whereby some of a martial's gear becomes magical over time, as a result of their great deeds and legends. Basically, a class feature that allows the player to select a few magic items, similar to the Artificer. Why doesn't this happen for casters? Maybe this is a very subtle and old magic, and the energies casters regularly harness disrupt the process. Then, the items are actually baked into the class and not at the whims of the GM. Also those items probably should ignore any attunement requirements as well, for the reasons I stated in an earlier post.
that's fair, i wasn't really trying to suggest as such that just 'bigger numbers' is the solution to all martial problems but it's one of multiple smaller leg-ups they could get to support them onto actually standing on the same playing field as casters, alongside inbuilt magic items and a worthwhile standard combat maneuvres system.

while i understand that moar stats and the current feats are a band aid to the problem rather than solving the root problem they would still be a worthwhile intermediate contribution for martials to widen their capabilities, both by being able to more freely invest in nonessential secondary stats or gaining specialised abilities with feats.
 

Here are some of the things that I’ve done (that are currently in playtesting with my group):
  • 3rd-5th level spells drain 1 HD, 6th+ drain 2;
  • Racial features and class features that refresh “on a short rest” now take a HD to use. This gives martial classes more stuff to do;
  • Martial classes get “martial disciplines”: they choose from tricks that provide greater customization (at higher levels you get more, to a maximum of 7). All of these contribute to the exploration or social pillar, rather than the combat pillar. For instance, “widely travelled” grants you 3 languages, “courtly graces” gives you bonuses on skill checks with nobility and merchants (and notably, apply to ALL skill checks, so knowledge checks, persuasion and deception);
  • all classes get expertise in one skill as part of their class. For some classes, they don’t choose the skill (Wizards get Arcana). Others do (Barbarians Athletics or Nature, Fighters Athletics or Society (which replaces History)).
 
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M_Natas

Hero
Considering level 5 Fighters and level 5 Wizards are mostly balanced I don’t think any of that is required at all.
Yeah, utterly Level 5 is like still a beginner adventurerer. Yes, they are not total noobs anymore, but they just graduated from slaying giant rats and baby dragons. I don't think a lot of people have a problem with Wizards and fighter at Level 5. It's the Levels above 12 that make problems.
 


Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Yeah, utterly Level 5 is like still a beginner adventurerer. Yes, they are not total noobs anymore, but they just graduated from slaying giant rats and baby dragons. I don't think a lot of people have a problem with Wizards and fighter at Level 5. It's the Levels above 12 that make problems.

I guess one piece of guidance that would be helpful for me in campaign building as a DM and navigating the world as a PC is to know what the standard CRs of what you run into are. We had a game once where our characters entered a "fight club" kind of set-up and were pretty sure we would be plenty competent for it... and, uhm, weren't.

What CR is a typical city guard? Really competent city guard? Usual soldier? Typical everyday thing in the nearby woods? Thing that is known to show up but uncommon? The local priest? The wandering regional priest?
 


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