D&D 5E Wheelchair options. Do these seem balanced?

Vaalingrade

Legend
How is wanting to cure a fellow party member and friend PC in a fantasy D&D game not being decent?
I'm going to give benefit of the doubt here. Please, please, please don't make me regret this.

Okay, so some people like in our world where there's not easy peasy nice and squeazy fix to paralysis and amputation and other reasons one might be in a wheelchair... have to be in wheelchairs. It's part of who they are.

Those people, like all of us, sometimes want to play a character who is like them; to see people like them in their entertainment.

To deny them that and tell them to instead have their character use the super easy, barely an inconvenience solution to stop being how they are invalidates their experience and patronizes them for wanting to play someone like them. It is wrong-headed and rude at best and outright cruel and insulting at worst.

It's like telling me to have my character use skin bleach because there's no elves with my skin tone.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Voadam

Legend
Did you stick around for the fully ambulatory vs. wheelchair competition?
I know that the ones I saw I would not want to fight a duel with real swords. :)

Most actual modern fencing would be a bit terrible in a deadly sword fight against a competent opponent. The training is to hit competition targets more than you get hit and expect to be hit a lot, as opposed to actually fight while at risk of being pierced and dying.

I am fairly certain Mandy Patinkin and Cary Elwes would be torn up in a real swordfight against competent swordsmen. Inigo Montoya and the Dread Pirate Roberts are still fantastic models for fantasy swordsmen.

1666828343659.png
 

Jaeger

That someone better
Okay, so some people like in our world where there's not easy peasy nice and squeazy fix to paralysis and amputation and other reasons one might be in a wheelchair... have to be in wheelchairs. It's part of who they are.

Those people, like all of us, sometimes want to play a character who is like them; to see people like them in their entertainment.

I have no problem with this. At all.

My reductio ad absurdium point was that even within the context of D&D's default high-magic mode of play, the concept of a combat wheelchair is completely ridiculous.

Which for some reason people seem exceptionally reluctant to admit.

If people just owned it, and said: "Yeah, but the player wants to play a PC like this because (insert any reason here), so by the power of GM handwavium it happens..."

That, I can respect.

Yet when someone just taking things at face value simply points out the obvious:
I don't really have a problem with the mechanical concepts, I just don't think it would exist in a fantasy universe because having some living being carry you around is so much more functional. So much magic lets you treat a steed like a wheelchair that leaves your hands free, that I don't think most heroic types facing disabilities would opt for this sort of contrivance. In the long run, I think investing in strapping yourself to a loyal semi-sentient tiger you are empathically bonded to or what not just gives you so much more freedom and is a much more potent platform. Leave the chair for the freedom of your home, but a living steed for battle?

Instead of: "Yeah, but by the power of..." you get this endless series of rhetorical convolutions trying to justify the 'combat wheelchair' as an actual serious thing.

Current baseline D&D is plenty gonzo - when you turn the dial from 10 to 11, yet act as though it was set at 6 all along, you can hardly be surprised when people point it out.


I know that the ones I saw I would not want to fight a duel with real swords. :)

Most actual modern fencing would be a bit terrible in a deadly sword fight against a competent opponent. The training is to hit competition targets more than you get hit and expect to be hit a lot, as opposed to actually fight while at risk of being pierced and dying.

Not my point. My comparison is one of full mobility vs. heavily restricted.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
I have no problem with this. At all.
Good, but here comes the problem:
My reductio ad absurdium point was that even within the context of D&D's default high-magic mode of play, the concept of a combat wheelchair is completely ridiculous.

Which for some reason people seem exceptionally reluctant to admit.
...because you are literally making fun of the idea. And you either know that or don't know what 'reducto ad absurdum' means. Which can go either way because people don't normally proudly admit they're committing logical fallacies.
 

MGibster

Legend
While there wasn't a + in the thread title, the OP clearly wanted some feedback on whether their wheelchair rules were balanced. Clearly they've already decided that wheelchairs for characters is a desirable addition to their game, so regardless of how one might feel about their appropriateness as it relates to adventuring in D&D, it's progbably best to stick with the original question and provide the feedback and make suggestions to better assist the OP and others. That's what being a good buddy is all about.
 

Quartz

Hero
I also want to make it a more more interesting. Not just "same as people with legs" but something with it's own advantages and drawbacks.

A small restriction should be that the user of a non-magical chair can only wield a one-handed weapon or a shield in close combat, but not both. The person in the chair needs one hand on the weapon or shield and one on the wheel of the chair to manoeuvre.
 

mellored

Hero
A small restriction should be that the user of a non-magical chair can only wield a one-handed weapon or a shield in close combat, but not both. The person in the chair needs one hand on the weapon or shield and one on the wheel of the chair to manoeuvre.
How would you balance that?
I couldn't come up with a way that worked well for all classes. Since ones like paladins want a shield, but blade singers ignore it.
 

My reductio ad absurdium point was that even within the context of D&D's default high-magic mode of play, the concept of a combat wheelchair is completely ridiculous.

Which for some reason people seem exceptionally reluctant to admit.
that's cause it ISN'T. There is nothing any MORE ridiculous between a hero in a wheel chair then there is a hero that gets hit by a giant's axe 3 times (including something we call a critical hit) and they can keep going like it's nothing.

If you don't understand that people in wheelchairs have very little they can't do, and we have a fraction of the abilities magic gives you.
 

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
For simplicity's sake, I'd go with something like this (a little handwavy, but still)
  • Count as Large creature when grappled, pushed or pulled. Advantage on saves and tests against such effects.
  • Count as one size larger for the purpose of carrying capacity.
  • Squeezing, Climbing and Swimming requires 4 feet of movement for each 1 foot moved.
  • Jumps without a 10 feet running start are reduced to 1/4 of their maximum distance.
 


Cadence

Legend
Supporter
that's cause it ISN'T. There is nothing any MORE ridiculous between a hero in a wheel chair then there is a hero that gets hit by a giant's axe 3 times (including something we call a critical hit) and they can keep going like it's nothing.

If you don't understand that people in wheelchairs have very little they can't do, and we have a fraction of the abilities magic gives you.

It certainly doesn't seem a hard thing to handwave in a lot of the typical fantasy worlds - especially if it makes a player happy.

Given it's high tech/magic (swims, jumps, climbs vertical walls, etc...), is it valuable? (But how often do thieves target the party for other valuables, and as far as "gear" isn't so and so's noble background valuable?) Are they commonly available to others who might benefit from it or is this special and only works for this one user? (How many people who would need one for mobility did the party run into before this character?) Does it fold if they come to a tunnel (how would a Goliath get through?) or for like riding in a wagon or boat (where is the Paladin's warhorse?). Are all the doors wide enough (did anyone worry about door width until this came up)? Does it allow full speed in standard woodland settings? (Do you have wagons get hung up on things if the party has one?). Does it have unlimited climbing ability to the point the thief would like to borrow it (does the Paladin have unlimited climb in his plate mail?). Why isn't this magic/tech used for all kinds of other things? (See threads on how magic in D&D doesn't always seem like it makes much sense as far as how it impacts society).

But I can certainly see someone taking a few minutes to process the handwaving the first time it comes up - especially if they are really into versimilitude outside of the usual D&Disms. Maybe this should be in the PHB as one of those D&Disms?
 
Last edited:


Seems like a fun, genre-appropriate way to approach the question.

FWIW the actual 16th-century German mercenary Goetz von Berlichingen made a prosthetic hand for himself and kept fighting after he lost one, so in a world of wizards and dragons spider chairs and race chairs seem fun and flavorful. (And why couldn't an enchanter or bard be Professor X?) Seems like it has enough pluses and minuses to be fair in game terms.

Also note the trope of the 'blind seer' going back at least as far as Tiresias in Greek myth, or the more recent example of Daredevil in comic books. Your benchmark for realism isn't Private Ryan, it's the Iliad or Odyssey.
 
Last edited:

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I've always found it odd that in many RPGs you can have high value combat or athletic skills while some of your attributes remain relatively low by comparison.
What is the term for the like vaguely star shaped diagrams where if you increase value B then value A and C also go up a little bit? Used in video games a lot. That’s a good model for ability scores, but I’ve no idea how you’d satisfyingly translate it to TTRPGs.

In my game, I just changed attributes to a set of resource point pools, representing your ability to draw upon that attribute when you need it. Eg, when climbing you might draw upon your Strength or Fortitude, or even Will, to keep climbing in the face of fatigue and fear and just a terribly difficult task, or you might draw upon Wits to activate a Technique wherein you study an opponent to “deduce” their vulnerabilities, strengths, level of fatigue, and bits of info about where they’ve been and what their habits are (see any Sherlock Holmes story). But skill checks (which cover all actions) are just about ranks of training with a success ladder and the ability to spend an attribute point or accept complications to Push the result up the success ladder. You don’t add Dexterity to Acrobatics checks, you just rolls action die plus rank dice.
 

Voadam

Legend
I know that the ones I saw I would not want to fight a duel with real swords. :)

Not my point. My comparison is one of full mobility vs. heavily restricted.
I should clarify then that I am not mobility restricted. :)

I think a big issue here is that fantasy wheelchair concepts can have more mobility than a real world one would. Fantasy D&D concepts are a bit action movie or animation logic and can allow more options. Also there are simplifications for game play and fantasy. A character with only one eye in 5e, for example is a narrative element by default, there are not mechanical issues for lack of depth perception or peripheral vision and such.

Fantasy wheelchair fencer character being equal in the game to fantasy non-wheelchair fencer seems analogous to a max strength 3-foot tall halfling warrior being equal in the game to a max strength 7-foot tall goliath warrior. In real life height and mass can be decently impactful issues, but in 5e a 20 Strength halfling has the same melee combat bonus as a 20 Strength human or goliath.
 

mellored

Hero
Looking at the solid sport chairs again, a modification that lets the wheels act as a shield.
Then you just gave several classes shield proficiency, and some of them specifically can't use shields.

You gain the following benefits while you are unarmed or wielding only monk weapons and you aren't wearing armor or wielding a shield:
Not to mention any dual wield build.
 
Last edited:

Voadam

Legend
Then you just gave several classes shield proficiency, and some of them specifically can't use shields.
That seems like a chair with built in shield wheels would mechanically impair monks just as much as wearing a suit of armor with built in chair/chair with integrated armor.
 

mellored

Hero
Given it's high tech/magic (swims, jumps, climbs vertical walls, etc...), is it valuable? (But how often do thieves target the party for other valuables, and as far as "gear" isn't so and so's noble background valuable?) Are they commonly available to others who might benefit from it or is this special and only works for this one user? (How many people who would need one for mobility did the party run into before this character?) Does it fold if they come to a tunnel (how would a Goliath get through?) or for like riding in a wagon or boat (where is the Paladin's warhorse?). Are all the doors wide enough (did anyone worry about door width until this came up)? Does it allow full speed in standard woodland settings? (Do you have wagons get hung up on things if the party has one?). Does it have unlimited climbing ability to the point the thief would like to borrow it (does the Paladin have unlimited climb in his plate mail?). Why isn't this magic/tech used for all kinds of other things? (See threads on how magic in D&D doesn't always seem like it makes much sense as far as how it impacts society).
For my version..

As valuable as armor leggings and boots, or magic boots at higher levels.
It's a available for anyone, but you need proficiency for combat.
No difference in squeezing or size. You're a bit wider, but also a bit shorter.
Doors as all 5' by default, so yes you can fit.
There is an extra penalty for difficult terrain, wood or otherwise.
It uses your "leg" strength, so you can get tired out. It's also the reason people don't usually use it.

It's not supposed to be an advantage or disadvantage. Just a different way of moving
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I'm going to give benefit of the doubt here. Please, please, please don't make me regret this.

Okay, so some people like in our world where there's not easy peasy nice and squeazy fix to paralysis and amputation and other reasons one might be in a wheelchair... have to be in wheelchairs. It's part of who they are.

Those people, like all of us, sometimes want to play a character who is like them; to see people like them in their entertainment.

To deny them that and tell them to instead have their character use the super easy, barely an inconvenience solution to stop being how they are invalidates their experience and patronizes them for wanting to play someone like them. It is wrong-headed and rude at best and outright cruel and insulting at worst.

It's like telling me to have my character use skin bleach because there's no elves with my skin tone.

I 100% agree with you that representation matters and that players should be accommodated.

But I'm not clear how to do this well. Could there be a "magic wheelchair" that can go up stairs etc and pivot quickly in a fight (modern fencing is in a piste - a back and forth track - and that really does not mimic actual melee combat well), and duck away from fireballs so that the PC is not negatively affected? Absolutely, sure, I can get behind that. But then I run in 2 problems

1 is "veracity" - sure again, I accept the magic wheelchair. But if we are in a world where this is possible, why a wheelchair and not... I don't know, golem legs? This is the lesser of the two problems, by far, but it is there.

2: Is the magic wheelchair invalidating the experience? If the magical wheelchair deals with all the mobility problems and other issues the player has to deal with in real life... if the wheelchair has no impact on the game, then it's just... a cosmetic choice? On the other hand, if the wheelchair has issues/challenges (difficult terrain? you can't pass!) then it would become rather unpleasant to the player I imagine.

I definitely can ignore problem 1. But I think understanding how to do it well, to solve problem 2, is key (for me at least). And it's not so much a mechanical rules problem, it's a "how to best approach it" problem.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Fantasy wheelchair fencer character being equal in the game to fantasy non-wheelchair fencer seems analogous to a max strength 3-foot tall halfling warrior being equal in the game to a max strength 7-foot tall goliath warrior. In real life height and mass can be decently impactful issues, but in 5e a 20 Strength halfling has the same melee combat bonus as a 20 Strength human or goliath.
Or the fact that being able to climb at full speed is not impacted by weight until you are encumbered.

D&D simplifies all sorts of things, we can continue to do so to include disabled gamers in our representation of these fantasy worlds.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top