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D&D 5E What Single Thing Would You Add

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I want something no one else I know does: A mass combat system that uses tons of miniatures and works with 5e magic.

This quote from the original PHB always captured my imagination:


The problem is - It's tough for me to imagine that a couple of 5e 6th level wizards could not wipe out a medieval-sized army.

Even the Battle System series came up with a different set of rules for magic used in warfare.

There is certainly no real incentive to make such a set of rules commercially. I also recognize the vast majority of D&D players would much prefer a narrative approach for mass combat.

So, it remains a pipedream of mine.

This was already answered in part by @rmcoen, wizards would just be countered by wizards. But I also think people overestimate the effectiveness of wizards. Medieval battles regularly had soldiers in the thousands, if not tens of thousands. A 6th level wizard can cast, what 3 fireballs per day? Using the TOTM guidance from the DMG, that's 25 soldiers per casting. Pretty minimal when considering overall expected casualties.

Add in the fact that fireball has a range of 150 ft and the caster has to have line of effect, whoever casts that fireball just put a big neon blinking sign on their head to the couple hundred archers on where to place their next volley. Even if they're at disadvantage to hit, that kind of concentrated fire is going to be difficult to deal with.

I also suspect there would be other counter-tactics as well. Whenever someone invents a tank, someone else invents an anti-tank weapon and tactics. A handful of wizards vs an army that has no experience with wizards would be devastating because of the fear factor alone. But in a world where wizards regularly go to battle? They may have an outsized impact but they aren't going to tip the balance of war. B-)
 

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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Different monsters had different resistances back in 3.x and honestly, it was kind of painful. I always felt like I should have a caddy with a golf (weapon?) bag full of weapons to swap out.

So count me out of the "different weapons for different monsters" crowd. 🤷‍♂️
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
This was already answered in part by @rmcoen, wizards would just be countered by wizards. But I also think people overestimate the effectiveness of wizards. Medieval battles regularly had soldiers in the thousands, if not tens of thousands. A 6th level wizard can cast, what 3 fireballs per day? Using the TOTM guidance from the DMG, that's 25 soldiers per casting. Pretty minimal when considering overall expected casualties.
Unless your wizard can somehow - probably involving flight, invisibility, and protection from normal missiles - get into position to drop one or two into the enemy's command tent... :)
Add in the fact that fireball has a range of 150 ft
In 1e it's quite a bit more, outdoors. If you're straight above your target you can be pretty much out of effective archery range for hand-held weapons. Ballistae and catapults, on the other hand, can wreck your day in a hurry!
and the caster has to have line of effect, whoever casts that fireball just put a big neon blinking sign on their head to the couple hundred archers on where to place their next volley. Even if they're at disadvantage to hit, that kind of concentrated fire is going to be difficult to deal with.
This assumes anyone sees where the fireball comes from, and-or can get this info to anyone else. In the fog of war, I wouldn't guarantee that.
I also suspect there would be other counter-tactics as well. Whenever someone invents a tank, someone else invents an anti-tank weapon and tactics. A handful of wizards vs an army that has no experience with wizards would be devastating because of the fear factor alone. But in a world where wizards regularly go to battle? They may have an outsized impact but they aren't going to tip the balance of war. B-)
Yes, countermeasures are a much bigger factor.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Unless your wizard can somehow - probably involving flight, invisibility, and protection from normal missiles - get into position to drop one or two into the enemy's command tent... :)

In 1e it's quite a bit more, outdoors. If you're straight above your target you can be pretty much out of effective archery range for hand-held weapons. Ballistae and catapults, on the other hand, can wreck your day in a hurry!

This assumes anyone sees where the fireball comes from, and-or can get this info to anyone else. In the fog of war, I wouldn't guarantee that.

Yes, countermeasures are a much bigger factor.
Yes, well some of us have moved on from the ancient tomes of yesteryear and protection from normal missiles no longer works, you need improved invisibility to cast a spell (and you can't have improved invis and fly up at the same time). ;) If there were reports of a mage, I imagine there would be spotters looking for just where spells are being cast from, along with a way to signal position. If you're the defender, you could also have things like glyphs set up to go boom if someone casts a spell without saying the magic word.

In a way it would be interesting to war-game it out to see what people could come up with. The hard part would be ground rules, since I do have magic that doesn't appear in the book in my world in the form of ritual magic.

Of course the absolute last resort would be to hire some mercenaries adventurers to help counter the threat.
 

Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
Yes, well some of us have moved on from the ancient tomes of yesteryear and protection from normal missiles no longer works, you need improved invisibility to cast a spell (and you can't have improved invis and fly up at the same time). ;) If there were reports of a mage, I imagine there would be spotters looking for just where spells are being cast from, along with a way to signal position. If you're the defender, you could also have things like glyphs set up to go boom if someone casts a spell without saying the magic word.

In a way it would be interesting to war-game it out to see what people could come up with. The hard part would be ground rules, since I do have magic that doesn't appear in the book in my world in the form of ritual magic.

Of course the absolute last resort would be to hire some mercenaries adventurers to help counter the threat.
I like adding dedicated battlefield magic to my game world. The PCs can learn it too, if they want to and can find someone willing to share a copy (or invent their own, similar spells). The most flashy is the 4th level Ballistic Fireball, which has longer range and allows blind fire by arcing the bead of fire over obstacles. It pairs well with the 1st level, short range Designate Target that feeds targeting information to allied mages hidden behind full cover. There's also the 2nd level, particularly nasty (and highly restricted) Designate False Target, but at least that allows an Intelligence check (not a save) to recognize something is fishy. The 4th level Blast Wave is another Fireball variant that fills a constant volume, which can be devastating (or accidentally suicidal) in tunnel fighting. There's also defensive, communication, scouting, and utility battlefield magic.

It can be a lot to fun for PCs: intelligence operations (i.e. hiring adventurers) to steal copies of the opponent's newest spells are standard tactics, even in peacetime. And a hit-and-run to disrupt the caster who is concentrating on Project Map can swing the tide of battle (recasting it risks losing much of the accumulated data added from field reports over the original casting's duration).

On the other hand, in the handful of countries with professional militaries who have access to such magic, armies spread out a lot and stick to cover. You're not going to catch 25 people in a fireball on a battlefield outside of an ambush, so this specialized magic isn't quite as devastating as it might otherwise seem.

Also, in practice, while the players tend to geek out on the possibilities, it's been years and years since I've had a group of PCs decide to actually focus on a plot hook related to a war between such heavily militarized nations (except to try to prevent the conflict), so these homebrew spells tend to remain only as background elements of the setting (and, so-far, limited to one geographic region) rather than come up in actual play.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I like adding dedicated battlefield magic to my game world. The PCs can learn it too, if they want to and can find someone willing to share a copy (or invent their own, similar spells). The most flashy is the 4th level Ballistic Fireball, which has longer range and allows blind fire by arcing the bead of fire over obstacles. It pairs well with the 1st level, short range Designate Target that feeds targeting information to allied mages hidden behind full cover. There's also the 2nd level, particularly nasty (and highly restricted) Designate False Target, but at least that allows an Intelligence check (not a save) to recognize something is fishy. The 4th level Blast Wave is another Fireball variant that fills a constant volume, which can be devastating (or accidentally suicidal) in tunnel fighting. There's also defensive, communication, scouting, and utility battlefield magic.

It can be a lot to fun for PCs: intelligence operations (i.e. hiring adventurers) to steal copies of the opponent's newest spells are standard tactics, even in peacetime. And a hit-and-run to disrupt the caster who is concentrating on Project Map can swing the tide of battle (recasting it risks losing much of the accumulated data added from field reports over the original casting's duration).

On the other hand, in the handful of countries with professional militaries who have access to such magic, armies spread out a lot and stick to cover. You're not going to catch 25 people in a fireball on a battlefield outside of an ambush, so this specialized magic isn't quite as devastating as it might otherwise seem.

Also, in practice, while the players tend to geek out on the possibilities, it's been years and years since I've had a group of PCs decide to actually focus on a plot hook related to a war between such heavily militarized nations (except to try to prevent the conflict), so these homebrew spells tend to remain only as background elements of the setting (and, so-far, limited to one geographic region) rather than come up in actual play.
I do mine a little different in that there are two separate types of magic - ritual casters and prepped spell casters. NPCs are the former, PCs are the latter. There's magic that takes time to prep but can be quite powerful or utilitarian while frequently requiring multiple casters then there are spells you can release with a word or the flick of a hand.

It's kind of like a dentist versus a GP. They may each understand each other's profession, but you don't go to the dentist when you break your leg.

Beyond that, I think there could be a whole mass combat subsystem developed but as you found out I'm not sure it has broad appeal.
 

Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
Beyond that, I think there could be a whole mass combat subsystem developed but as you found out I'm not sure it has broad appeal.
I think having the subsystem (or homebrew spells) is valuable even if it doesn't see play, because it adds depth to the setting. The players can better feel how warfare and magic mix in the setting if they can see the rules designed to support it.

Whether the added depth is worth the trouble of designing such a system, or the page count required to print it, is a different question. It would probably work best as a free, online supplement, but that doesn't help with the required design time.
 

Sithlord

Explorer
Different monsters had different resistances back in 3.x and honestly, it was kind of painful. I always felt like I should have a caddy with a golf (weapon?) bag full of weapons to swap out.

So count me out of the "different weapons for different monsters" crowd. 🤷‍♂️
I like the idea of figuring out what monsters are vulnerable too and having the right tool for the job. And playing up the necessity to know the strengths and weaknesses of your enemy. Not that what u like is wrong. Just different players like different things.
 

I like the idea of figuring out what monsters are vulnerable too and having the right tool for the job. And playing up the necessity to know the strengths and weaknesses of your enemy. Not that what u like is wrong. Just different players like different things.
Lots and lots of very popular videogames lean heavily into it - so obviously there's a market (so to speak).

I think the issue is that ttrpgs are ultimately a non-visual medium: the players don't see anything you don't specifically tell them about. If you call out the 'burning heat' coming off a creature, they immediately know it's fire-based. In a picture, you can leave tiny heat distortions. So you can't really rely on subtle visual cues, which makes the puzzle of figuring out what this monster is weak/strong against more difficult to do in a fun way. Either you tell them indirectly (and once they learn all the key words, you're telling them directly - not a challenge), you make them roll for it (which isn't nearly as much fun as actually puzzling it out although it adds a strategic layer), or you don't give them the info and they learn by trial and error. (which is a frustrating phase, or over very quick.)

There's also balance issues - it need to be important enough to be worth the effort but not so important that it invalidates other options, you need enough damage types to make it hard to memorize but not so many that it's impossible to learn the rules, and you need to be subtle enough that the knowledge feels earned but not so obscure that it feels random. IT's tough.

And, of course, it also means martials will need to carry several if not a dozen or more different weapons if they want to engage with the system, which many people think looks silly.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
Lots and lots of very popular videogames lean heavily into it - so obviously there's a market (so to speak).
Sure, but a lot of those have saved games so that if you don't figure out the puzzle on the first, second, third, etc try, you can try again with little muss or fuss - costing just your tolerance for repeated trials.
 




Sithlord

Explorer
Lots and lots of very popular videogames lean heavily into it - so obviously there's a market (so to speak).

I think the issue is that ttrpgs are ultimately a non-visual medium: the players don't see anything you don't specifically tell them about. If you call out the 'burning heat' coming off a creature, they immediately know it's fire-based. In a picture, you can leave tiny heat distortions. So you can't really rely on subtle visual cues, which makes the puzzle of figuring out what this monster is weak/strong against more difficult to do in a fun way. Either you tell them indirectly (and once they learn all the key words, you're telling them directly - not a challenge), you make them roll for it (which isn't nearly as much fun as actually puzzling it out although it adds a strategic layer), or you don't give them the info and they learn by trial and error. (which is a frustrating phase, or over very quick.)

There's also balance issues - it need to be important enough to be worth the effort but not so important that it invalidates other options, you need enough damage types to make it hard to memorize but not so many that it's impossible to learn the rules, and you need to be subtle enough that the knowledge feels earned but not so obscure that it feels random. IT's tough.

And, of course, it also means martials will need to carry several if not a dozen or more different weapons if they want to engage with the system, which many people think looks silly.
I really wouldn’t even go that far. They would have to try it and see if it works.
 

rmcoen

Explorer
what is it that you and your group diss agree upon?
I like more crunch - my "add one thing" was more distinction in weapons (and armor, but mostly weapons). Like the whole conversation about the Trident (was that this thread? or the "bugs me" thread?) being "Martial", and mechanically identical to the Spear (despite costing more, being heavier, and the spear is "Simple"). If weapons had more distinctions - even a "joke" distinction like "+2 on Survival checks to Forage, because 3 tines are better than one when fishing"! - picking a weapon is a more interesting decision.

I like PF2's more levels of proficiency with skills. I like the defined tiers of "Experts can do this", even if the DC is low enough an untrained person can't fail... they can't try. I like their skill quirk/feat ideas. Again, more crunch, more distinctions, more "my Acrobat (master of balance) is different from your Acrobat (master of tumbling and falling)".

My players like [RAW] because they can look things up in online tools, use online character builders and sheets, and sometimes min-max within the confines of a known system. They tend to forget little details, even on their own unique magic items. Too many choices or details, and combat turns take 10 minutes each.
 

I really wouldn’t even go that far. They would have to try it and see if it works.
Cycling through all the damage types results in a boring first phase of combat. You're not making decisions or really playing a game, just picking stuff at random until you flip the right card over. It has neither tactical nor strategic depth.

And still results in magical-longsword-caddies.
 

rmcoen

Explorer
In our previous - 4e - campaign, the martial characters generally had two weapons: the one they preferred to use, and the backup. In that particular party, most of the backup weapons were cold-based because they had an ice mage with them who frequently imposed "Vulnerable 5 cold" to his targets. The ranger, whose main weapon was cold-based (a chillwind longsword) had a radiant-based backup; I think the warforged juggernaut had a poison-based armbow as a tertiary choice. If monsters had resistances or vulnerabilities to other elements, it was up to the spellcasters to bypass/exploit them. There was no instance of the "magic weapon caddy".

Even in our previous 3.5e campaigns, which was awesomely/awfully filled resistances and vulnerabilities... most characters didn't carry more than three weapons. And many times, it was just more efficient to beat through the DR than to switch: the specialized greataxe barbarian would rather do 1d12+12, minus 10 (DR) than switch to the backup 1d8+4 longsword (which was less accurate besides).

So, despite this popular objection, I never saw it in play. Instead I saw "Hey mage! This guys resists my stuff! You get him, I'll go kill this other thing."
 

In our previous - 4e - campaign, the martial characters generally had two weapons: the one they preferred to use, and the backup. In that particular party, most of the backup weapons were cold-based because they had an ice mage with them who frequently imposed "Vulnerable 5 cold" to his targets. The ranger, whose main weapon was cold-based (a chillwind longsword) had a radiant-based backup; I think the warforged juggernaut had a poison-based armbow as a tertiary choice. If monsters had resistances or vulnerabilities to other elements, it was up to the spellcasters to bypass/exploit them. There was no instance of the "magic weapon caddy".

Even in our previous 3.5e campaigns, which was awesomely/awfully filled resistances and vulnerabilities... most characters didn't carry more than three weapons. And many times, it was just more efficient to beat through the DR than to switch: the specialized greataxe barbarian would rather do 1d12+12, minus 10 (DR) than switch to the backup 1d8+4 longsword (which was less accurate besides).

So, despite this popular objection, I never saw it in play. Instead I saw "Hey mage! This guys resists my stuff! You get him, I'll go kill this other thing."
Both of these solve the issue of making it overly tedious by making it not very impactful As you note - you can just power through. So it doesn't matter all that much if you note the resistance.

Basically, they become ribbons rather than significant gameplay elements.
 

Sithlord

Explorer
Cycling through all the damage types results in a boring first phase of combat. You're not making decisions or really playing a game, just picking stuff at random until you flip the right card over. It has neither tactical nor strategic depth.

And still results in magical-longsword-caddies.
Yes. I hit with my long sword again is much more fun.
 

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