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


I mean without detail the answers must be similarly broad.

1. Any magical solution that could also be done in a mundane way, must have a negative effect. An example is Knock.

When you cast the spell, a loud knock, audible from as far away as 300 feet, emanates from the target object.

2. Casting spells within Melee distance should obviously trigger an opportunity attack from the enemies in melee. Being struck should force a Con check, or be interrupted as per the new Counterspell.

3. Increase the power and prevalence of Magical items for the Melee/Mundane classes.

Apply those, and then test.

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Yeah, I don’t see that as a problem though. If the wizard chose not to use their 9th level slot it was because they had lots of better options
That's not a problem & design accounts for it, but it becomes a problem when you turn a 9th level spell into a class power the player can expect to use every time they take a long rest.


Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Thanks for the responses so far. Rather than quote everyone or make a dozen replies, here's one with a few broad responses.

Mundane equivalents. While that is a good idea in general, it doesn't solve the problem. Taking 1 action and burning a spell slot to achieve what would otherwise take 100s of gold or weeks to months to accomplish can't really be balanced against each other. Besides, there's nothing stopping the wizard from spending 100s of gold or weeks to months to accomplish those same things. So focusing on that isn't a buff to martials in any real sense.

Expanded martials. While I really love the idea, there's only so far you can go before you get into explicitly magical territory and, unfortunately, there are a lot of people who are resistant to the idea of magical martials. I don't agree, but I get it. So taking the martial as far as possible while keeping them non-magical is something I'd like to see done. Trouble is, at best you could only get within striking distance of the wizard this way, not actually reach parity.

Take three spells as an example. Fly. Even expanding the fighter to near-magical proportions, the closest you could get to fly would be something like the monk's wall running. As long as you end your turn on a flat surface or somewhere you can hold on, you can run along surfaces. But that still falls short.
Okay yeah, if they have to be able to mimic spell effects to have parity with them, then there simply isn’t a way to make it happen in 5e. We all know seriously needing casters isn’t ever going to be on the table.

Fireball and Lightning Bolt. Basically the same spell with swapped damage type and AoE templates. For the fighter, this could easily be something like a swift attack down a line of movement (lightning bolt) or among a cluster of enemies (fireball). But this quickly runs into the "disassociated mechanics" problem. If this is something the fighter could do, why can't they just keep doing it? Limiting things with some kind of resource spend will always elicit a "that's just magic with a different word" style response.
I haven’t ever seen that response to the Battlemaster.
This problem gets worse the higher level you get. There's just no way to balance wish against anything a fighter could do.

The more resistant wizard players are to nerfs the more of a problem this becomes. If the casters can't be reigned in, even a little, then the non-casters have to be buffed a lot.

To me, this is the core of the problem. This is where the modern version of LFQW comes from. The fighter just gets better at fighting. The wizard gets better at fighting...and accumulates an incredibly vast amount of utility via spells. To the point that some other classes are made redundant.
Well no, no class in 5e is ever made redundant in actual play.

But yeah, if the fighter has to be able to do something similar to wish in order to have parity, parity requires a ground up rewrite of the entire system.

That's not a problem & design accounts for it, but it becomes a problem when you turn a 9th level spell into a class power the player can expect to use every time they take a long rest.
The problem with the whole proposal is if they are just copying Wizard spells, then you might as well give them access to spells.

I’d rather see non casters do amazing things with skills.


One a serious note
To Fix the caster / non-caster gap, we must describe what a non-caster looks like.

5th edition doesn't. It describes the tiers in terms of spells.

We know what an archmage is.
We know what an high priest is.
We know what a lich is.

What is an Arch-warrior?
What is an Arch-Expert?
What is the martial lich?

We need to describe those and add what is missing.


Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I was thinking of this.

To me Usain Bolt is the fastest person on Earth. I can’t imagine running that fast and the average person doesn’t have a chance of doing so. If, in Faerun, for example, the average person was the same speed but the fastest person was twice as fast as Usain, it wouldn’t be any more unimaginable. Part of it it just raising the bar for what’s possible in a fantasy setting.

I think, too, that making magic users ‘less magical’ at tier 1 would help to make get the feel that high level heroes are truly paragons of what mortals can be. If all of tier 1 play was more mundane where wizards used utility spells like divinations or subtle effects to sway the battle but at higher level did the typical universe altering stuff, it would reinforce that feeling.
Other than making spells more interruptible, the main adjustments I’d make to casters is fewer spell slots, and tighter class spell lists.

The Wizard, Cleric, Druid, all have huge lists that serve the entire mmm


B/X Known World
point is, DnD needs more parralel problem solving in it's design structure, the wizard can't be both casting fireball or hypnotic pattern on the guard golem and deactivating the magic broadcast tower,
While I agree, that’s really hard to pull off in a game without flashing neon signs. The players can choose to tackle a different objective or target and suddenly you have a problem. This works in comics and films because the writer controls everything.


One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
The problem with the whole proposal is if they are just copying Wizard spells, then you might as well give them access to spells.

I’d rather see non casters do amazing things with skills.
while i would like skills to have their own sets of abilities i do think there are some spells that i think martials could replicate through skill, an athletics 'overclock rush' replicating the effects of haste for example, or the spells that were just martial abilities wedged into the spell system like steel wind strike.

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
That’s cool but you get into the the Shadowrun/Cyberpunk issue where the team is doing something while the hacker is dealing with Systems and ICE. It’s kind of like splitting the party. It can be difficult for GMs to deal with.

That said, I like the concept of this.
I've never believed in the "Don't Split the Party" meme. You just run turn by turn stuff simultaneously with all players, and flip back and forth when appropriate in non-combat. It takes a little practice (and would benefit from some advice in the literature), but it's absolutely doable.

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
It doesn't stop the wizard from choosing to use their one ninth level spell to cast time stop instead of something else, it means the fighter is going to pop timestop pretty much every adventuring day like action surge & the wizard will still have adventuring days where they end off taking a rest with their ninth level slot unused

"The classic cast of the Justice League, from left to right: Green Lantern, the Flash, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and the Martian Manhunter." I mentioned them because justice league's superman <-> batman power spread sprang to mind, it wasn't until later I realized that doc strange hulk & ironman are on the same team as hawkeye (avengers). Batman is even present & involved in one of superman's well known
Batman is even one of the main protagonists in reigning him in after superman has a mental breakdown

We know how that game plays though & a lot of us have seen it week after week in the past. The hacker shows up early to do hacker stuff with the GM & then goes home or sits idle doing nothing when the rest of the group shows up & runs through the planned adventure. If the rest of the group finishes up being runners & the hacker gets to do something again they do it while the rest of the group goes out for pizza. That is the reason why the ways comics can allow batman to tackle Darkseid to rescue his teammate superman before launching into world of cardboard
I can't parse your last sentence, but yeah, its hard.

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