D&D 5E Why Has D&D, and 5e in Particular, Gone Down the Road of Ubiquitous Magic?

To an extent - you won't need to be returning petrified allies to flesh, gating into the BBEG's pocket dimension, or dispelling magical barriers. You still need to be able to get a party through a challenging combat without too many of them dying (especially given that you won't be resurrecting them the next day).
Yep, and the Rogue's Expertise means that skills are certainly a non-issue for such a party.
They should, but they don't even come close. Thought there's 5, they really fall into two categories, tough DPR, skilled DPR. Skills are covered, taking up space & sucking up damage is covered, beating down enemies one at a time is covered. Nothing else is.
What else would be needed for a no-magic game that can't be compensated for by feats and other available choices?
As I pointed out before, a DM who decides to run a no-magic game isn't going to throw challenges that require magic at the party. Large AoE control or damage effects, reliable in-combat healing, flight or teleportation etc are all the province of magic, and thus their absence will be compensated for.

Battlemaster subclass and shield feat can grant individual control. Healer and inspiring leader feat can grant the party a little more resilience for examples.


But, again, why are bards, clerics and druids gaining spells that replace their combat skills? Part of the class is that they actually HAVE reasonably decent combat skills. But, that gets overshadowed by pew pew magic because it makes too much sense to rely on that. Why bother trying to use Shillelagh to make my melee attacks equal my regular cantrip blasts? OTOH, IMO, it would make a LOT more sense for a druid to not have Thorn Whip and Produce Flame (at least as a cantrip) and instead only have Shillelagh. Makes a druid actually look like a druid instead of a nature themed wizard.
You appear to have a very specific and personal image of what a Druid is, and what they should look like.
 

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1. It would be, if the thread was about people complaining how mundane objects like swords and bows were feeling so mundane because all of a sudden anyone could just pickup and use them. Which i personally wouldn't find all that odd, but that's just me ;)
Well, that's why some classes get Martial weapon proficiencies, and some don't: Not just anyone can pick up a sword or bow and use it well. :p

2. I do not really consider "casting" and "magical" to be entirely the same thingy here, but i never the less agree. Both paladins and rangers and not just half magical (or more), they are half casters now. And some of us don't like it.
Fair enough. Why?

What is the distinction between a magical ability and a spell or spell effect that causes problems?

If a Paladin's Lay on Hands ability became a few extra spell slots (with which the Paladin could cast Cure Wounds or Lesser Restoration), I assume that that would be a problem?
Would changing it to cast Cure Light Wounds x times and Lesser Restoration y times per long rest, be a problem?
How about changing it to a touch with the effect of a Cure Wounds or Lesser Restoration spell x and y times per long rest?

Spell slots, Ki points, Superiority dice etc are all resources that can be spent as the player chooses on abilities from a set list, picking something that fits their specific situation. Its more fun, and better from a game design point of view than having a long list of x-per-day abilities, many of which may well rarely or never be used.
 

The key problem here is the difference between a schtick and a spell - or more accurately that a spell is a specific type of schtick.

Action Surge, to give one example familiar to almost everyone is a schtick. It shows that things are going down (and I'm calling timber) - and is very distinctive to the fighter. It's about as much a marker that things are going down and about as distinctive as a fireball spell is to a wizard. As mentioned the 1e monk's abilities are all schticks.

Spells are a type of schtick. Other than in 4e they are a type of schtick with a method and some set interactions attached (such as not working in an anti-magic field). And when people are objecting to the ranger spell list they are saying "I want my ranger to be awesomely skilled rather than sprinkling some magical pixie dust and chanting Bibbity Bobbity Boo - and because they are awesomely skilled this shouldn't interact with magic". Because although the specific words aren't specified, that's only a slight exaggeration for what is specified when something is declared to be a spell - you don't just get to say "That's no longer a spell", you need to work on the entire spell choosing mechanism because it is specific to spells. If you're going to make magic distinctive this way then this is a necessary consequence.

Or to bring back somehting from 3.X that should have been explored far more than it was, abilities were differentiated into normal, Extraordinary, Supernatural, Spell-like, and Spells on top of that. 4e said "These are abilities. Make them what you will" (and for some reason some people took that and in a flying leap of logic said "All abilities are therefore spells"). But when you want to churn out shovelware books the easiest way to create abilities is make them Spell-Like using pre-made parts off the shelf.

So monster abilities defaulted to spells. So did everything else. (2e had been a pretty bad offender in its own time to be fair).

Not all schticks are spells and not all of them should be. Not all magic is spells and not all of it should be. Some of it should just be. Why is that mountain upside down? "A wizard did it by casting Mordaniken's Mountain Mover" is possibly the least interesting and least magical answer possible.

I think the at-will cantrips make it seem more "Potterverse", more than anything else.

It's driven, I expect, by the McDonald's Effect.

People like to play casters (because, magic - it's a fantasy game after all), and as such they want their character to be magical, and that means being able to cast spells. As the default response to most things, from attacking monsters to locked doors to stubborn shopkeepers.

In previous editions, written in a different time with different assumptions and expectations of the real world to today, the concept of 'serving your time' as a fragile one/two shot caster with a Saturday night special crossbow as protection was acceptable, because paying your dues and then reaping rewards of your investment was worth it, and an accepted 'thing', culturally.

Oh, we can talk about the McDonalds Effect - remembering that McDonalds was far more popular in the 1980s than it is today. But from what you are saying you've got the reason backwards.

We no longer as a general rule need to behave like the villain in The Incredibles. We no longer need to hold other people down because "when everyone is super no one is". We can instead be happy that others are special without objecting that they haven't done any tedious makework that has been made deliberately and artificially boring just because we think they should.

And from this I'd go on to mention the edition wars. The idea that because the ranger can fire two shots in a round and it's called a power rather than one that means they must be using magic. No one can be special in a way the wizard isn't - except that skill with a bow is entirely different to the way the wizard does things.

In my experience nobody ever chose the wizard class because they actually gave a crap about "being a wizardly wizard," at least in terms of the in-game fiction. They chose the wizard class because it was the easiest way to break the game. Nobody actually wanted to have to deal with the spellbook, spell memorization, chances for memorization failure, spell components, XP drain, the whole "you must belong to a wizard school" assumed fictional positioning, weapon restrictions, etc.

They just wanted to be able to cast fireball, haste, prismatic sphere, and disjunction. Then after choosing the wizard class to "break the game," the typical players in my group spent the vast majority of their time trying to change their one-trick pony into a five-trick pony through multi-classing, feats, and prestige classes.

YMMV. That's not why I played a wizard. I do end up with characters that are pretty powerful - but gamebreaking is no fun.

But this kind of assumed broad competence is generally only possible in a classless, skill-based system. I don't know about 5e, but in 3e you'd have to be a multiclassed ranger/sorcerer of about level 8 and in all likelihood have a level of the Arcane Archer prestige class to do what I'm doing in Savage Worlds at the functional equivalent of level 2.

Where 4e and Apocalypse World are poster children for classless skill-based systems. Right.

In 4e there is assumed broad competence (it was another point edition warriors hated - that all your skills levelled up as you levelled up). It's simply that only certain classes are outstanding at some skills. And we recently had a situation in the game I was running where the bard making the diplomacy checks was absolutely the wrong thing to do and it was easier for the average CHA character who'd been playing good cop than the bard who'd broken the suspect's fingers to interrogate them.

Compared to real life medieval weaponry, D&D ranged combat is vastly more effective relative to
melee combat.

This is like comparing foam-covered boffer swords to nerf-darts however.

I can see what you're saying. If spellcasters have access to every spell in the game they'll only pick the best spells, thereby ensuring that every spellcaster has the same spell list. It's a valid concern for some groups.

But here's my counterpoint. More restrictive spell lists will just create different subsets of the best spells for this type of group. So an evoker and an illusionist might be different, but two evokers will still be the same. Moreover, if certain spell lists are considered more effective than others, you could end up with a bunch of evoker wizards who cast the same spells because the evocation spell list is considered the best one (for example). Those types of players will always flock towards the "best" options.

However, a more open spell list allows players who aren't min-maxers more freedom and creativity. Rather than the illusionist who only creates illusions, you can make one who mixes up his magic. Did the illusionist really just polymorph the fighter into a giant ape or is it an illusion? That sort of thing.

Never said you were taking a stance, just offering a counterpoint. :)

First, there's nothing wrong with class proliferation for extra experiences.

Second necessity is the mother of invention. If we want the benefits of freedom and creativity let's throw out the entire 300 page rulebook that is the PHB. And the DMG. And the MM with it. On the other hand restrictions can drive creativity. Present me a blank sheet and I don't know what to do with it. Seed the water with ideas and I have dozens that build off them.
 

Tony Vargas

Legend
What else would be needed for a no-magic game that can't be compensated for by feats and other available choices?
Feats aren't necessarily available, but, that aside, there's the whole range of dynamics that make D&D challenges work, encounters, particularly.

As I pointed out before, a DM who decides to run a no-magic game isn't going to throw challenges that require magic at the party. Large AoE control or damage effects, reliable in-combat healing, flight or teleportation etc are all the province of magic, and thus their absence will be compensated for.
You're painting your way towards a tautology, here. Sure, if you assume that the DM will compensate for anything the party lacks, it doesn't matter what the party has going for it. You can posit a party who all do origami, and solve all their problems that way, because you assume the DM engineers all challenges so that origami works.

It's really not necessary to go there. Take flight, for instance. In a no-magic setting, no one's casting Fly, and you're not going to be facing creatures that levitate or live in cloud castles or anything. There might still be improbably large winged creatures flying around, so there may be enemies able to fly or reach places very difficult to reach without flight - but there will also be, well, large winged creatures that you ride. Similarly, teleportation - if no one else teleports, there won't be a lot of call to reach places that can only be reached by teleportation. There are problems that exist only because of magic, so not having magic to solve them because the setting lacks magic wouldn't even theoretically be an issue.

OTOH, three are problems that aren't magical in nature, that, in D&D, are still, by far, optimally solved by magic, even though, in genre, they are often solved by other means. AE damage lets a party blow through a lot of enemies efficiently. The party may still need to do that - there are enemies out there, no reason there couldn't be a lot of them, and heroes in genre do things like that sometimes. Extra attack can grind through groups of enemies, though not as efficiently as it can beat down one at a time, and SA can't. (In past Editions, Cleave, WWA, and Close attacks made that sort of things more practical. 5e has virtually nothing along those lines, but such options could be easily added.) Or in-combat 'healing' - D&D combat has always relied on PCs being able to get hps back in the middle of a fight, without that capability, there's too little margin for error, especially when PCs start dropping. (Non-magical in-combat healing was quite adequate in one past edition, it's not absent in 5e, but its inadequate - the game just needs more of it.)

Then you have battlefield control (3.5 fighter builds could generate a lot of it, 5e, not so much), single-target control (conditions, 'defender' mechanics, which, again could be done - barely adequately - in past editions without magic, but which 5e doesn't deliver to the same level, and should really exceed what past editions did to bring things up to where they 'should' be, both in terms of maintaining playability, and in evoking genre), multi-target control (even more so, something that's at best been nearly-adequate in the past, and which 5e has the flexibility and design space to do better), buffing, damage mitigation, condition mitigation, mobility, etc, etc... 5e at least has a tiny bit of each, establishing that they can be done without magic, it just needs to expand the range of choices and flexibility available to PCs in such campaigns to a workable level.


You appear to have a very specific and personal image of what a Druid is, and what they should look like.
The D&D Druid does have some basis in myth, fiction, and even history, and those sources don't exactly paint it as consistently a non-combatant. As with all casters, D&D tends to give it too great a range of abilities, to readily available to each individual member of the class, relative to what's actually displayed by individual characters from those sources of inspiration. Oddly, considering what Hussar's complaining about, it's not usually being able to pull one magical trick repeatedly that the problem, in that sense. If a Druid in fiction can conjure fire or change into an animal, he can probably do it quite a lot, but probably can't do a whole lot else without elaborate rituals, divine intervention, and/or special materials. It's the large number of know spells, length of class spell lists and the oddity of Vancian daily 'slots,' that make magic seem so casual and ubiquitous in D&D.


Fair enough. Why?
Well, on one level, it's simply a preference, and doesn't really need to be justified. Some folks want more in a non-magical wilderness-oriented warrior than they can wring out of a Fighter with the Outlander background.

But to get to the core of why, the answer is probably simply that 5e, in trying to take the best from all prior editions, and capture the feel of the classic game, in particular, has gone back to mapping specific mechanics to specific fluff. Spells aren't just bundles of mechanics that can readily be re-defined to represent psychic powers, extraordinary skill, uncanny knacks, or outrageous luck - their magical nature is woven into the way they're described, what they do, how they do it, what it takes from the user to make them work, and how the game resolves them.

What is the distinction between a magical ability and a spell or spell effect that causes problems?
Between those two, not a huge amount - slots, mostly, I'd guess - oh, and casting & components, too.

Spell slots, Ki points, Superiority dice etc are all resources that can be spent as the player chooses on abilities from a set list, picking something that fits their specific situation. Its more fun, and better from a game design point of view than having a long list of x-per-day abilities, many of which may well rarely or never be used.
I have to agree with that. It's also expedient to have any non-spell abilities still use some sort of very flexible resource, so as to make them more nearly comparable when evaluating classes. And, it's also better for classes to have such abilities instead of depending entirely on unlimited-use contributions to the party, even if they are only locked-in & x/day.
 
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You're painting your way towards a tautology, here. Sure, if you assume that the DM will compensate for anything the party lacks, it doesn't matter what the party has going for it. You can posit a party who all do origami, and solve all their problems that way, because you assume the DM engineers all challenges so that origami works.
The tautology has been my point all along.

I assume that the DM would compensate for anything the party lacks if removing those options was the DM's decision.
I posit a party with no magic who solve all their problems in a non-magical manner because I assume that the DM engineers all challenges so that not using magic works - if its a no-magic game.

As the DM, throwing something at the party that they do not have the ability to handle has always been a jerk move, but throwing something at the party that they do not have the ability to handle because you banned the options that would give them the ability is an order of magnitude more jerk.

A non-magic party can compensate a little for lack of AoE, healing etc by using different tactics, terrain, being willing to swap out on the front line and such like. However the DM is going to have bear that its a no-magic game in mind when designing encounters.


The D&D Druid does have some basis in myth, fiction, and even history, and those sources don't exactly paint it as consistently a non-combatant. As with all casters, D&D tends to give it too great a range of abilities, to readily available to each individual member of the class, relative to what's actually displayed by individual characters from those sources of inspiration.
Historically, the name is probably closer to a bard isn't it? I thought the class was mostly based upon the "Wise man/woman of the woods, who lived apart from people but who could talk with or even turn into the animals" found in European folk tales. - With a splash of 1960s/70s environmental activism added into the mix.
The druids based on those sources tend to act like wizards because unlike D&D, the tales don't make the distinction; - the character could be a Wizard as a Druid.

The only fiction that I recall Druids matching the D&D concept of druids are some of the books set in D&D worlds. Those Druids pulled out scimitars and staves and fought when they weren't casting spells because that is what the rules of the edition that those novels were based on were.

Oddly, considering what Hussar's complaining about, it's not usually being able to pull one magical trick repeatedly that the problem, in that sense. If a Druid in fiction can conjure fire or change into an animal, he can probably do it quite a lot, but probably can't do a whole lot else without elaborate rituals, divine intervention, and/or special materials. It's the large number of know spells, length of class spell lists and the oddity of Vancian daily 'slots,' that make magic seem so casual and ubiquitous in D&D.
Aside from one science-fiction series and books derived from D&D itself, the idea of spell slots is not a common one. Most settings of D&D are among the most "high-magic" settings out there. There are more settings in novels and suchlike that don't have easily-castable combat magic and rely almost solely on rituals or magical items.
Whether magic is relatively common for adventurers in the game because that is part of the setting, or whether its part of the setting because magic is relatively common for adventurers in the game is one of those chicken/egg questions.


Well, on one level, it's simply a preference, and doesn't really need to be justified. Some folks want more in a non-magical wilderness-oriented warrior than they can wring out of a Fighter with the Outlander background.
They seemed to object more to the classes using the spell slot system rather than to the classes having magical abilities.
For example they aren't objecting to Monks being a magical class with a different magical resource system. They don't even seem to be objecting to Paladins having Lay on Hands. They do seem to be objecting to Paladins having spells and using spell slots though. Hence why I'm asked about that distinction.

But to get to the core of why, the answer is probably simply that 5e, in trying to take the best from all prior editions, and capture the feel of the classic game, in particular, has gone back to mapping specific mechanics to specific fluff. Spells aren't just bundles of mechanics that can readily be re-defined to represent psychic powers, extraordinary skill, uncanny knacks, or outrageous luck - their magical nature is woven into the way they're described, what they do, how they do it, what it takes from the user to make them work, and how the game resolves them.
Yep, but neither of those classes has been free of that fluff for a while. Rangers and Paladins have always used spell mechanics haven't they?
 

TheLoneRanger1979

First Post
Well, that's why some classes get Martial weapon proficiencies, and some don't: Not just anyone can pick up a sword or bow and use it well. :p
Ah, don't get me started on the liberal proliferation of weapon proficiencies. As i mentioned, that's not what the thread is about :p

Fair enough. Why?

What is the distinction between a magical ability and a spell or spell effect that causes problems?

If a Paladin's Lay on Hands ability became a few extra spell slots (with which the Paladin could cast Cure Wounds or Lesser Restoration), I assume that that would be a problem?
Would changing it to cast Cure Light Wounds x times and Lesser Restoration y times per long rest, be a problem?
How about changing it to a touch with the effect of a Cure Wounds or Lesser Restoration spell x and y times per long rest?

Spell slots, Ki points, Superiority dice etc are all resources that can be spent as the player chooses on abilities from a set list, picking something that fits their specific situation. Its more fun, and better from a game design point of view than having a long list of x-per-day abilities, many of which may well rarely or never be used.

I guess i we ask this question a large enough number of times, we'll get lots of different answers. But i won't go too much with redundancy here, as Neonchameleon and Tony Vargas (among others) have already put it well and in enough words.

I can just add 2 things of a most personal nature. Lore and game mechanics.
Lore is what makes a unicorn's touch different from a healer's cure light wounds.
Game mechanics is what this difference means at the table.
Both are "magical" in essence. One of them is a spell. And if both are made spells, then both are made subject to the same game world repercussions. The lore can be "fluffed" with a relative ease. The game mechanics not so much. Not that it's impossible, it's just not not easy. Others have noted why. I'll just add, it requires both a cooperative DM and a cooperative table on top of all else. And neither of those are readily available.

They seemed to object more to the classes using the spell slot system rather than to the classes having magical abilities.
For example they aren't objecting to Monks being a magical class with a different magical resource system. They don't even seem to be objecting to Paladins having Lay on Hands. They do seem to be objecting to Paladins having spells and using spell slots though. Hence why I'm asked about that distinction.
.......
Yep, but neither of those classes has been free of that fluff for a while. Rangers and Paladins have always used spell mechanics haven't they?

Yes. And i think it worthy of explanation. You see, the magical abilities of the ki, and the "lay on hands" are distinctive both from a lorewise and mechanical standing point, that make that class have its own identity (all this aside from personal preference). The casting doesn't. It not just slaps a game mechanic not associated by us to the glass, it slaps the same effects of that mechanic to it, thus "blending" it with other classes that do have that feature as their primary distinction. That is why we don't object to auras and lay on hands or smites, but we do object to casting. Personally i would not have objected to casting so much if it was there just in small amounts, here and there. But 5E made them almost onmipresent to the point where half the class in game capability is defined through casting.
 
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Hussar

Legend
/snip


You appear to have a very specific and personal image of what a Druid is, and what they should look like.

More an image of what they shouldn't look like. My druid shouldn't look like a wizard. He should at least be as different from a wizard as a warlock is from a wizard. Note, I've not really made much of an issue with a warlock because warlocks are very different, both on paper and in play, from a wizard. They play very differently. It's not unusual to see a warlock mixing it up in melee and then switching back to ranged support then switching out to scouting/skill monkey. Depending on what invocations they take, and what base warlock they take, you can have a very large range of warlocks, all over which are equally viable.

OTOH, druids wind up looking a lot like a wizard in drag. Like Tony Vargas says, Controller. Lots of AOE action denial spells, AOE damage spells and blasting. If you look at the Circle of the Land spell lists, most of the terrain spells are half wizard spells - Spider Climb, Invisibility, Melf's Acid Arrow, etc. My Grassland Druid has the least number of crossover wizard spells and he still gets invisibility and haste. Why on earth does a druid get haste? or Dream? Bwuh? My druid is now capable of psychic assaults on sleeping targets? In what way does this say druid to you?

Again, it's not that I have a specific image of a druid. I don't. I have no problems with the idea of a nature caster who uses/preserves nature and fey forces to further his goals. I do have a problem with a caster that's chucking balls of fire whenever he wants to, turning invisible and then murdering people in their sleep. I don't know about you, but, none of that says druid to me.
 

GSHamster

Adventurer
More an image of what they shouldn't look like. My druid shouldn't look like a wizard.

I'm not sure I would agree with you here. My iconic druid is Getafix, from the Asterix and Obelisk comics. And Getafix is very much like a wizard (even has the long white beard). I think druid as "nature wizard" is actually older and more iconic than the druid you seem to be envisioning.
 

I'm not sure I would agree with you here. My iconic druid is Getafix, from the Asterix and Obelisk comics. And Getafix is very much like a wizard (even has the long white beard). I think druid as "nature wizard" is actually older and more iconic than the druid you seem to be envisioning.
In the context of Asterix and Obelix, wizards aren't real, and a druid is the next closest thing. If you wanted to integrate that sort of druid into D&D, it would be as a sub-class of wizard (or possibly cleric), but certainly wouldn't justify being its own class.
 

Tony Vargas

Legend
The tautology has been my point all along.

I assume that the DM would compensate for anything the party lacks if removing those options was the DM's decision.
I posit a party with no magic who solve all their problems in a non-magical manner because I assume that the DM engineers all challenges so that not using magic works - if its a no-magic game.
That's a tautology all right.

Even within that tautology, 'compensating' could including adding optional classes from outside the PH or optional rules or DMG modules.

Now, outside that tautology: What about the DM who wants to run a low-/no- magic game that restricts PC choices with magic, but still wants to put the range of challenges before them that are common tropes in heroic action or 'low' (by D&D standards) magic fantasy sub-genres? What about a group of players who want mostly (or all) martial concepts for their characters?

Historically, the name is probably closer to a bard isn't it?
'Historically' is a little dicey, since the written history is all from the Roman PoV, but in Celtic tradition, bards were, indeed, trained by Druids, who were a distinct class of priests and judges. So, no, Bard and Druid are not synonymous, though they are related in having roots in the same culture. The D&D Bard, also draws inspiration from myths like Orpheus, and, a bit, from the Nordic Skald.

I thought the class was mostly based upon the "Wise man/woman of the woods, who lived apart from people but who could talk with or even turn into the animals" found in European folk tales. - With a splash of 1960s/70s environmental activism added into the mix.
IIRC, the 1e PH actually came right out and said that it was based on what the Druids might have become.

The only fiction that I recall Druids matching the D&D concept of druids are some of the books set in D&D worlds.
The same is true of D&D Wizards and D&D Clerics and... well, D&D doesn't do a great job of closely matching genre.

Whether magic is relatively common for adventurers in the game because that is part of the setting, or whether its part of the setting because magic is relatively common for adventurers in the game is one of those chicken/egg questions.
Neatly summed up. If we're talking stuff in print, the game predated the settings. But Gygax & Arneson were running Greyhawk & Blackmoor long before they saw print.

Yep, but neither of those classes has been free of that fluff for a while. Rangers and Paladins have always used spell mechanics haven't they?
Hmm... In 1e neither got spells until around name level, so you could play one w/o spells for quite a long while, retiring when they got to that point if spells were really an issue - but, the Paladin had other magical abilities kick in much sooner. In 1e UA, the Paladin was moved to a sub-class of the Cavalier, so the Cavalier was, in a sense, a non-casting Paladin. In 3e, Paladin & Ranger were spell-free for only the first 3 levels, but, while the Paladin got other magical abilities at 1st level, the Ranger just got some feats, so you could incorporate a few levels of ranger into a non-caster/magical build. 3.5 also added a Knight class, which could, I suppose, be taken as a non-magical Paladin-alternative, and the Scout class, a more rogue-like take on the Ranger that lacked casting/magic entirely. In 4e the Paladin was a split-primary class with the STR version ostensibly slightly less magical than the CHA version, but the Ranger was 100% martial. In Essentials, the Ranger got two sub-classes (one ironically called the Scout) that gained Primal utility powers, making it a little more magical, and the Paladin got a Cavalier sub-class that was still plenty magical.


More an image of what they shouldn't look like. My druid shouldn't look like a wizard. He should at least be as different from a wizard as a warlock is from a wizard.
While that's different mechanically, it's not that different conceptually. To complicate things from a sources-of-inspiration perspective, Merlin, for instance, among the most iconic wizards, was arguably a figure based on a Druid. The further complicate things the 19th century English made up all kinds of stuff for their 'Druid revival,' some of it taken from Masonic traditions. To further, further, complicate things, the Druid revival informed Crowley's er, works, which (along with Hermes Trimagest, John Deep, Paracelsus, &c - and of course, fantasy fiction, and let's not forget Theosophy, for good measure) helped form our hazy modern vision of the Wizard as bearded old Hermetic scholar.

So the line between Druid and Wizard is actually pretty blurry.

Note, I've not really made much of an issue with a warlock because warlocks are very different, both on paper and in play, from a wizard. They play very differently. It's not unusual to see a warlock mixing it up in melee and then switching back to ranged support then switching out to scouting/skill monkey. Depending on what invocations they take, and what base warlock they take, you can have a very large range of warlocks, all over which are equally viable.
So at-will magic is OK for them? In 3.5, that was the Warlock's thing, as spontaneous casting was the Sorcerer's. But, being the short-rest-recharge caster also seems to differentiate them pretty nicely.

OTOH, druids wind up looking a lot like a wizard in drag. Like Tony Vargas says, Controller. Lots of AOE action denial spells, AOE damage spells and blasting.
I actually kinda like the 5e take on the Druid, having very much enjoyed the 1e version back in the day.

And, yes, I do think the D&D Druid has been a more wizardy caster than, say, the Cleric, since the early days. He's always had some fire spells, summoning spells, and offensive spells, more so than the early cleric did, and a bit less of the healing/restoring schtick, early on. And he couldn't wear metal armor.

If you look at the Circle of the Land spell lists, most of the terrain spells are half wizard spells - Spider Climb, Invisibility, Melf's Acid Arrow, etc. My Grassland Druid has the least number of crossover wizard spells and he still gets invisibility and haste.
Melf's is a particularly odd choice. Invisibility and creating illusions were things Celts attributed to sorcerers, which didn't have a really clear dividing line from druids, either. Druids were credited with prophecy and shape-changing, most notably.

Why on earth does a druid get haste?
One of the few things that is recorded about the Druids was that they'd whip their tribesmen into a frenzy before battle. That's not too wildly far off of Haste.

or Dream? Bwuh? My druid is now capable of psychic assaults on sleeping targets? In what way does this say druid to you?
Druids were Seers known for prophetic dreams, including evoking them intentionally with a potion or ritual (OK, so they were probably just getting high). No, not very close.

Again, it's not that I have a specific image of a druid. I don't. I have no problems with the idea of a nature caster who uses/preserves nature and fey forces to further his goals. I do have a problem with a caster that's chucking balls of fire whenever he wants to, turning invisible and then murdering people in their sleep. I don't know about you, but, none of that says druid to me.
The Druid has been casting Produce Flame, and thus chucking little bitty balls of fire, since the get-go, FWIW.
 
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