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  1. - Top - End - #61
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Then why are fantasy book protagonists very commonly also warriors with powerful magic items, warriors that use magic to enhance their fighting with magic (ie GISH), or directly mages that still become warriors anyway and regularly fight despite their magic being a magnitude of power greater than mundane fighting? (Rand Al-Thor comes to mind as a great example of the last.)

    Even in novels, 'hit things with sticks' is rarely treated as boring or something the protagonists aren't skilled at.

    The problem is that most of the time, physical combat breaks down in TRPGs as one of two things:
    - hit targets defensive value
    - hit a static value, target either dodges or parries

    It's entirely on the game master and players to turn this into exciting fights with descriptions. But for most players and DMs, it gets tedious round after round after round.

    That's why 4e tried to spice it up with powers. IMO as a player, that was absolutely genius, but unfortunaley it didn't fly with the General D&D gaming populace.

    5e I use a different tactic: speed. Players have to declare what they're doing as soon as their turn starts. They need to know all the details of their move and more importantly casts. Even with a battle bat there is no slowly counting squares on your turn. Tell me where you move and what you do and what you target. Physical attackers have a solid fallback default action, they can hit something for very solid numbers, which feels good. Casters need to be on their A game, because they need to be able to pick from a bunch of options on the fly, and not make silly mistakes. They can (and often do) fall back on a cantrip, but that does significantly less damage (about 1/2) than a physical attacker.

    This has the advantages of making combat stressful, which enhances verisimilitude of sudden eruptions of violence. As well as getting them resolved quicker (about 15 minutes for most combats), and adding pacing to the game. Slow careful exploration, tense social negotiations/interactions, fast and scarier than they actually are combats.
    Points well made. I didn't mean to suggest beat stick heroism was boring in written form. I was going to make that same point about round based combat being the real killer of beatstick (beatstick: "I charge directly at them and smashy smashy" caster: *takes 5 to 10 real world minutes calculating and strategizing* "... okay, all monsters in this area save or are paralyzed.") and I forgot to do so, but you brought it right back around.

    I agree on all points here, but I didn't see much success in 4e. The idea to use more powers was nice, but they needed to differentiate the powers between classes more. If swinging your sword in a circle is barely different than the wizard using a spell that blasts adjacent targets, something just feels wrong.

    Kind of like that one time I had tacos from a dormitory cafeteria and the chicken and beef tacos tasted exactly the same.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post

    • Crit stacking
    • Vorpal
    • Rhino Hide Armor
    • Partial charge
    • Flurry of Blows ¿
    • Slower class feature acquisition
    • Limited abilities (like Int to AC) to class level
    • Haste*
    • Persist*
    • Monster HP
    • DR ¿
    • Item costs** ¿

    .
    Good point about the crit stacking and vorpal, I had forgot about those.

    I agree with some of the others, others I do not, for example the haste changes and loss of Int to AC hurt casters far more than they do martials.

    But I am really curious about Partial Charge. How exactly did it change? I don't have access to the 3.0 books to verify, but it seems the same to me aside from the name.


    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    A generic fighter isn't playing the game. We call that an NPC. A heroic Fighter is bloody awesome!
    And that is a problem unique to 3.X. Other editions work just fine out of the box.

    I personally have never had the inclination to go digging through a pile of books trying to make a competitive character out of a busted chassis, and I have never been in a game where we had access to all the books either because they hadn't been printed yet, we lacked the money or space to get them, or the DM didn't want to deal with all the work and declared the game core only.


    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    The Warlock gets his powers through an infernal contract. The Warlock does not explore ancient ruins in search of lost scraps of arcane knowledge.

    Of course, the 3e Wizard gets 2 (or more) spells automatically every time he levels, and just walks down to the corner Magic Mart to buy more spells, so I don't really find him interesting, either.

    No, 3e saw the end of the interesting archetype of "D&D Wizard" that I enjoy.
    From a fluff perspective this should be fairly easy to rework.

    On a mechanical level though, that class would be a real problem. If you can cast your spells at will but have access to an unlimited number of spells you are really going to be breaking the game; you will have a "quadratic" character on a whole new level, and the DM has to be super careful with how many spells they allow you to access.

    As is such a character would probably break the game (although a warlock who had access to every invocation would still be weaker than the default wizard / sorcerer) by being far to weak early on and far too strong near the end, like a 2E wizard on steroids.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Well-built fighters one-shotting ancient dragons was Fighters' low point. Now that's what I'm talking about. That's Heroic! That's what a PC's low point should look like!.
    A specifically optimized fighter could on shot an unoptimized dragon in certain situations, most of which were pretty easy to foil. But that meant playing the game in a really weird way that the designers never intended that breaks the fun of the game IMO. Its like saying a video game with a completely broken difficulty curve is awesome because you can just play with the cheat codes on.

    To use a mechanical analogy:

    Say monsters have a power rating that averages out to 5 stars out of 10.
    In AD&D you might say a normal fighter is a 5 star class and an optimized fighter a 6 star class.
    In 3.Xa normal fighter might be a 1 star class and an optimized wizard an 8 star class.
    Meanwhile a normal AD&D magic user might be a 6 star class and an optimized wizard a 7 star class.
    Then a normal 3.X wizard is a 6 star class and an optimized one a 999 star class.

    AD&D clearly has a much better balance, both between classes and monsters, members of the same class, and one class and the other.

    Now, some people might like a game with a completely wild difficulty curve they can feel superior to the "noobs", but imo tighter variations are almost always better, and I would much prefer a game like chess where actual skill in play was the deciding factor in power rather than which archetype you enjoy or how many books you can afford.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    No, my Wizard archetype no longer exists.
    Did a wizard who had to hunt down their spells but could then use them at will ever exist?
    Last edited by Talakeal; 2017-11-10 at 03:11 PM.
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  3. - Top - End - #63
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    The mechanics not matching the fluff is not in any way encouraging here. I want a chocolate cake. 2e had chocolate cake. 3e has a solid block of chocolate in a cake box. 5e has strawberry cake that they label chocolate cake. Somehow, that just isn't satisfying.
    Mechanics / fluff is a false dichotomy.

    In this case, you're apparently wedded to the idea that "find x" = "new ability X". It sounds to me like you've missed the entire point of XP and gaining levels. They reflect that you're learning stuff based on your in-game experiences. Like I said, it's indirect. But it's there.

    Edit: if your complaint is you wanted to go into dungeons to find more magical power .... isn't that why every class goes into dungeons? To find riches and magical power.

    But I do get that it's kinda nice to learn a new spell because you found magical scroll. That's a warm fuzzy all right.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    I agree on all points here, but I didn't see much success in 4e. The idea to use more powers was nice, but they needed to differentiate the powers between classes more. If swinging your sword in a circle is barely different than the wizard using a spell that blasts adjacent targets, something just feels wrong.
    I've never understood this complaint. Playing a Fighter vs a Rogue vs a Wizard felt drastically different. Even playing a Fighter vs a Paladin vs a Warden was hugely different, and they were all defenders.

    To use you analogy, when people complain that a beef taco is just like a vegetarian lasagna because they're both food, I'm going to look at them funny. And think they're just looking for a way to complain without actually trying them out.
    Last edited by Tanarii; 2017-11-10 at 05:19 PM.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    For me the standard* solution is two part:

    Thematic Casters: D&D wizards might have been flavourful and interesting once, but they aren't any more. The things that could make them interesting have been abstracted ways as a matter of convenience. I think that focusing casters (at least as individuals) would go along way to fixing that as well as the balance issues people have already covered.

    Awesome Martials: Martials need more cool things. Casters master the mind, martials should master the body. People complain about that making them like casters and I've got to say: Your doing it wrong. Make them a different type of awesome. (Generally, I will agree in D&D where the caster's abilities are "all", it can be hard to add anything to the fighter without bringing them closer together.) What sort of types of awesome depends on what you are going for. "Hit with stick" becomes "goes to way" and you have tactics, allies and diplomacy on the table right away.

    I use ideas like these in my work, most of the time I feel it works out pretty well. But then again, I'm biased.

    * Non-standard solutions also valid, but if we try to solve this in a way that has a generic feel to it.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Good point about the crit stacking and vorpal, I had forgot about those.

    I agree with some of the others, others I do not, for example the haste changes and loss of Int to AC hurt casters far more than they do martials.

    But I am really curious about Partial Charge. How exactly did it change? I don't have access to the 3.0 books to verify, but it seems the same to me aside from the name.
    Int to AC was obviously a bad example But, as you said, many things are less dip-friendly now.

    Partial charge + haste was 3e pounce. IIRC, 3.5 doesn't have a standard action charge action.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    And that is a problem unique to 3.X. Other editions work just fine out of the box.

    I personally have never had the inclination to go digging through a pile of books trying to make a competitive character out of a busted chassis, and I have never been in a game where we had access to all the books either because they hadn't been printed yet, we lacked the money or space to get them, or the DM didn't want to deal with all the work and declared the game core only.
    Keen, Vorpal, Improved Crit, Mounted Combat, Spirited Charge, Rhino Hide Armor, and Lance were all core. As was 5.5K for fight, 8K for Haste (10r/day), and 12K to store 6 spell levels.

    And, no, the 2e 15th level Fighter who dealt 1d4 damage really wasn't heroic PC material either. It's not just a 3e issue.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    From a fluff perspective this should be fairly easy to rework.

    On a mechanical level though, that class would be a real problem. If you can cast your spells at will but have access to an unlimited number of spells you are really going to be breaking the game; you will have a "quadratic" character on a whole new level, and the DM has to be super careful with how many spells they allow you to access.

    As is such a character would probably break the game (although a warlock who had access to every invocation would still be weaker than the default wizard / sorcerer) by being far to weak early on and far too strong near the end, like a 2E wizard on steroids.
    Sorry, I'm presenting 2 different ideas (although I suppose that they could be merged...).

    One is the idea of the 2e Wizard, who hunts through ancient ruins for scraps of arcane lore, and turns those quite directly into power. As their only real source of power. That is an archetype that I sorely miss.

    The other is a balance issue of (mundane) versatility vs (magical) power, and placing those both on even footing; i.e., both being "at will".

    Putting those together... Hmmm... if the spells are stronger, then the Wizard should have fewer spells known than the mundane characters have skills / techniques. And gathering scraps of arcane lore should... hmmm... add options to which spells the Wizard could choose to learn when they get the option.

    Although, honestly, I'm probably just as happy with at will magic being weaker but more versatile than at will mundane skills. The Combat Master can learn "Vorpal", the "no save, just die" chop someone's head off technique, while the Wizard can choose which save and which special effects they want to apply to their "save or die" spell, for example.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    A specifically optimized fighter could on shot an unoptimized dragon in certain situations, most of which were pretty easy to foil. But that meant playing the game in a really weird way that the designers never intended that breaks the fun of the game IMO. Its like saying a video game with a completely broken difficulty curve is awesome because you can just play with the cheat codes on.

    To use a mechanical analogy:

    Say monsters have a power rating that averages out to 5 stars out of 10.
    In AD&D you might say a normal fighter is a 5 star class and an optimized fighter a 6 star class.
    In 3.Xa normal fighter might be a 1 star class and an optimized wizard an 8 star class.
    Meanwhile a normal AD&D magic user might be a 6 star class and an optimized wizard a 7 star class.
    Then a normal 3.X wizard is a 6 star class and an optimized one a 999 star class.

    AD&D clearly has a much better balance, both between classes and monsters, members of the same class, and one class and the other.

    Now, some people might like a game with a completely wild difficulty curve they can feel superior to the "noobs", but imo tighter variations are almost always better, and I would much prefer a game like chess where actual skill in play was the deciding factor in power rather than which archetype you enjoy or how many books you can afford.
    Let's try that again. IMO, the power rating of even remotely competent characters looks like this after a few months of play:

    Normal 2e Wizard: *
    Normal 2e Fighter: *****
    Normal 3e Wizard: *** (lower at low levels)
    Normal 3e Fighter: ** (higher at low levels)

    Whereas an optimized character after several months or more might look more like this:

    Optimized 2e Wizard: ***** ***
    Optimized 2e Fighter: ***** **
    Optimized 3e Wizard: ***** ***** *****
    Optimized 3e Fighter: ***** *****

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Did a wizard who had to hunt down their spells but could then use them at will ever exist?
    Again, me not being clear, and my two separate ideas being conflated. But if someone built that, I'd probably not mind.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Mechanics / fluff is a false dichotomy.

    In this case, you're apparently wedded to the idea that "find x" = "new ability X". It sounds to me like you've missed the entire point of XP and gaining levels. They reflect that you're learning stuff based on your in-game experiences. Like I said, it's indirect. But it's there.

    Edit: if your complaint is you wanted to go into dungeons to find more magical power .... isn't that why every class goes into dungeons? To find riches and magical power.

    But I do get that it's kinda nice to learn a new spell because you found magical scroll. That's a warm fuzzy all right.
    Hmmm... I believe there have been discussions where certain Playgrounders have expressed a dislike for disassociated mechanics, no? Consider this the... Contrapositive? I'm expressing a like (perhaps even a preference?) for strongly associated mechanics. XP is fine as far as it goes, but I'd love to have the more directly associated "find X scrap of knowledge, gain potential to learn Y spell".

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    I've never understood this complaint. Playing a Fighter vs a Rogue vs a Wizard felt drastically different. Even playing a Fighter vs a Paladin vs a Warden was hugely different, and they were all defenders.

    To use you analogy, when people complain that a beef taco is just like a vegetarian lasagna because they're both food, I'm going to look at them funny. And think they're just looking for a way to complain without actually trying them out.
    To most people, 4e characters felt very much the same. Anyone who can't see that should not be in game development, especially not of D&D.

    That having been said, someone who cannot also see how they are different is also someone I don't want designing games for me.

    Just like the 8... What did Angry rename the 8 "aesthetics" to again?... Anyway, just like not everyone is attuned to the same "aesthetics" of play, and most people who haven't researched it just can't "get" those who are attuned differently, so, to, is 4e on completely different drugs than previous editions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    For me the standard* solution is two part:

    Thematic Casters: D&D wizards might have been flavourful and interesting once, but they aren't any more. The things that could make them interesting have been abstracted ways as a matter of convenience. I think that focusing casters (at least as individuals) would go along way to fixing that as well as the balance issues people have already covered.

    Awesome Martials: Martials need more cool things. Casters master the mind, martials should master the body. People complain about that making them like casters and I've got to say: Your doing it wrong. Make them a different type of awesome. (Generally, I will agree in D&D where the caster's abilities are "all", it can be hard to add anything to the fighter without bringing them closer together.) What sort of types of awesome depends on what you are going for. "Hit with stick" becomes "goes to way" and you have tactics, allies and diplomacy on the table right away.

    I use ideas like these in my work, most of the time I feel it works out pretty well. But then again, I'm biased.

    * Non-standard solutions also valid, but if we try to solve this in a way that has a generic feel to it.
    How about bringing back awesome casters, to adventure beside awesome martials?

  6. - Top - End - #66
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    To Quertus: I'm doing that as well in my current homebrew project, but that isn't what this thread is about. (Although I am not switching it to "Martial beats Caster" either.)

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    For me the standard* solution is two part:

    Thematic Casters: D&D wizards might have been flavourful and interesting once, but they aren't any more.

    ...
    Awesome Martials: Martials need more cool things.
    I did work on that, actually. I made a version of D&D without Magic-Users or Clerics... only reworked Druids and Illusionists. I also worked on expanding the OA martial arts rules so they could be used by anyone... especially fighters, since they had more WPs.

    It lead to warriors who could do really neat things and spellcasters who were more thematically limited.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    And, no, the 2e 15th level Fighter who dealt 1d4 damage really wasn't heroic PC material either. It's not just a 3e issue.
    Not talking about intentionally gimped characters.

    Talking about the basic guy with a high strength and decent dex and con who wears the heaviest armor he can afford, wields a long sword and shield, and takes direct fighter abilities like weapon specialization.

    In 2E that guy will be a beast, especially if he gets decent magic items, in 3E he will get his but handed to him by equal CR beat stick monsters, let alone casters.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Sorry, I'm presenting 2 different ideas (although I suppose that they could be merged...).
    IIRC You said you wanted an at will caster, to which I replied you should try a warlock, to which you replied that a warlock doesn't fit your concept of a guy who hunts down spells. Not sure where I miscommunication was.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Partial charge + haste was 3e pounce. IIRC, 3.5 doesn't have a standard action charge action.
    It does, although you can't use it along with a move action. But IMO this is more about the change to haste than the change to charges, which is really more of a nerf to casters than martials.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Normal 2e Wizard: *
    Normal 2e Fighter: *****
    Normal 3e Wizard: *** (lower at low levels)
    Normal 3e Fighter: ** (higher at low levels)

    Whereas an optimized character after several months or more might look more like this:

    Optimized 2e Wizard: ***** ***
    Optimized 2e Fighter: ***** **
    Optimized 3e Wizard: ***** ***** *****
    Optimized 3e Fighter: ***** *****
    You really think a normal 2E fighter is better than a normal wizard in any edition? I am rather skeptical of that claim.


    Also, keep in mind that if you are allowed to play an optimized fighter you are likely going against optimized monsters as well, so you are really just kind of running in place at that point.
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  9. - Top - End - #69
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Also, keep in mind that if you are allowed to play an optimized fighter you are likely going against optimized monsters as well, so you are really just kind of running in place at that point.
    Buy a module. Run it as written. 3e optimized Fighter rocks house.

    EDIT: actually, apply that logic of going against published modules to all discussions of character strength. Because anything else is an unfair moving target, and not a real measure of their actual strength.

    In 2e, far too many modules had, "and this is where the party dies" moments, where massive AoE damage was all but unavoidable. From dragon breath to invisible casters to positive and negative energy explosions to bloody 7(!) Flame Strikes. A Fighter who rolled well for HP and made his Saves was often the only one conscious at that point; sometimes, even Wizards who made their saving throws were dead.

    And I believe the last 2e module I ran, an unwary party would have had to make somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 saves vs poison or die. Guess which 2e class was most likely to survive?

    Now, optimize that Wizard, level him to the point where he can cast Contingency, and/or apply heavy cheese, and, if you play him just right, and use your spells just right (cheating and reading the module ahead of time, for example), and you'll do really well. Mess up, and there's a good chance you're dead you're probably a saving throw away from being dead, and/or you're pulling a Duncan and never have the right spell prepared.

    In 3e, a reasonable Fighter can do reasonably well against most modules, IME. Whereas "My First Wizard", not so much.

    A 3e optimized Fighter, as I said, is one-shotting ancient dragons. That a Tainted Sorcerer / Incantrix unholy monstrosity has a few more choices as to how to totally wreck house and make the module beg for mercy is just fluff.
    Last edited by Quertus; 2017-11-11 at 04:37 AM.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Buy a module. Run it as written. 3e optimized Fighter rocks house.
    So does 3e optimized Commoner. This says more about the balance in 3e than anything else.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    It doesn't really tell you anything, actually. Modules are generally designed to be winnable, so of course optimization tends to lead to victory. For such scenarios it is more telling if non-optimal commoner can't win but a non-optimal Fighter/Wizard/whatever can.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Keen, Vorpal, Improved Crit, Mounted Combat, Spirited Charge, Rhino Hide Armor, and Lance were all core. As was 5.5K for fight, 8K for Haste (10r/day), and 12K to store 6 spell levels.
    Let's look at this build for a moment, shall we?

    Now, I no longer have my 3.0 books so I may get a few things wrong, but:

    This guy still has terrible fighter saving throws, if the dragon goes first it can simply cast a save or lose spell on him (or his mount!) and end the fight right there. And if he makes his save the dragon can probably then fly away and outpace the fighter and repeat, dragons have insane fly speeds.

    This guy is wearing +2 hide armor, so he is super squishy for a guy who is usually considered to the party's front line tank.

    Vorpal weapons have been Russian roulette in every edition. They are slightly more reliable in 3.0 than others, but the odds are still against it working in a short fight, and that is assuming the enemy isn't immune to it. I would personally not sink five points of enchantment into a weapon for this effect. Also, it isn't really great with a charge build as you need a lot of attacks to really bring up the odds of that crit, and furthermore I believe vorpal does not work with a lance; I am not sure about the 3.0 version but the 3.5 version only applies to slashing weapons which lances are not.

    What spells are in the ring? True Strike? Now, I am not sure about the 3.0 version, but the 3.5 ring of spell storing is always a standard action to use so quickened spells don't work. Also, this requires a wizard to donate the spell slots to you, so it is questionable as to whether it really counts for helping the fighter class.

    Ok, so this guy does x2 damage for lance, x2 for rhino hide, x2 for spirited charge, and x3 on a crit. Let's assume he automatically hits (although I am fairly certain 3.X dragons ACs scale better with attack bonuses than their 2E counterparts) and has a 15% chance of a crit. So this is one attack that auto hits, deals 4x damage, and has a 15% chance of critting which does x7 damage and auto kills with vorpal, but let's just say he has a +5 weapon instead for the sake of this analysis.

    So, assuming he can get the charge of, which is likely with flight and haste but not garunteed, he will deal, lets say, 4.5 base, +5 for enhancement, +15 for strength (we will give the guy a 31 strength, about the max a fighter can have short of innate bonuses), +2 for weapon specialization, and let's say a +5 miscellaneous damage bonus. This hits for 126 damage (220.5 on a crit), and an extra 31.5 for his haste attack. That's off of a dragon with 660hp, so a little over a sixth of its life (a third on a crit).

    Now, if the dragon for some reason started out in close range of the fighter, but for some reason isn't in melee range of him, he also gets a full attack after his partial charge, but the guy really isn't built to do a let of damage on a full attack. If you were hoping on the vorpal I don't know why you built a lancer instead of committing to a crit fishing build by duel wielding scimitars or something.

    Your charger is now in melee range of an ancient dragon with only his +2 hide armor to protect him, and unless he has something really amazing in that ring of spell storing isn't going to get the opportunity to charge again, especially if the dragon takes out the mount.

    Speaking of the mount, is it a Pegasus or does it have an item which gives it flight as well?



    Lets compare this to a generic 2E fighter:

    Let's give him a +5 long sword, a belt of frost giant strength, a decent ring of protection, and a flying carpet to close with the dragon. He is going to be getting three attacks (again lets say auto hit, which is more likely iirc, especially when he doesn't have to deal with iterative attack penalties) which deal 6.5 base damage, +5 for magic, +2 for specialization, and +10 for strength. This is 70.5 damage to a creature with 104 HP, or over two thirds of its life. And unlike our 3E charger the 2E fighter will hit almost as hard the next round and is almost certain to finish the beast off. Plus, with his proportionally much much higher saving throws he is a lot less likely to be taken out in turn.



    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Buy a module. Run it as written. 3e optimized Fighter rocks house.

    EDIT: actually, apply that logic of going against published modules to all discussions of character strength. Because anything else is an unfair moving target, and not a real measure of their actual strength.

    In 2e, far too many modules had, "and this is where the party dies" moments, where massive AoE damage was all but unavoidable. From dragon breath to invisible casters to positive and negative energy explosions to bloody 7(!) Flame Strikes. A Fighter who rolled well for HP and made his Saves was often the only one conscious at that point; sometimes, even Wizards who made their saving throws were dead.

    And I believe the last 2e module I ran, an unwary party would have had to make somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 saves vs poison or die. Guess which 2e class was most likely to survive?

    Now, optimize that Wizard, level him to the point where he can cast Contingency, and/or apply heavy cheese, and, if you play him just right, and use your spells just right (cheating and reading the module ahead of time, for example), and you'll do really well. Mess up, and there's a good chance you're dead you're probably a saving throw away from being dead, and/or you're pulling a Duncan and never have the right spell prepared.

    In 3e, a reasonable Fighter can do reasonably well against most modules, IME. Whereas "My First Wizard", not so much.

    A 3e optimized Fighter, as I said, is one-shotting ancient dragons. That a Tainted Sorcerer / Incantrix unholy monstrosity has a few more choices as to how to totally wreck house and make the module beg for mercy is just fluff.
    In my opinion judging a variable like optimization level against a static point like a module doesn't really say anything. When the bar for the module is set so low (or the bar for optimization set so high) that even the worst class can stomp the module, that doesn't make for a fun game, and it still doesn't say anything about the quality of the fighter compared to other classes.

    I am not interested in playing a character who is all powerful, I am interested in playing a character who has the tools to overcome a wide variety of legitimate challenges.

    Also, I am not sure a fighter would have such an easy time in most modules. Sure, they could win fights which occur on their terms, but if they have to deal with, say, sneaky foes with lots of save or lose effects, they are going to be pretty screwed. That's the thing about fighter optimization, they tend to be very good in a very narrow area, not so great all around.
    Last edited by Talakeal; 2017-11-11 at 06:26 PM.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Ah yes,mid forgotten about saving throws. That's another thing the AD&D to d20 change fubared for Fighters (specifically) vs magic. They went from being the best at all of them, nigh invulnerable even at highest levels, to being sub-par in the ones magical assaults tend to use.

    While at the same time overall, creatures successfully Saving vs spells become less likely, not more likely, as casters went up in levels.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Ah yes,mid forgotten about saving throws. That's another thing the AD&D to d20 change fubared for Fighters (specifically) vs magic. They went from being the best at all of them, nigh invulnerable even at highest levels, to being sub-par in the ones magical assaults tend to use.

    While at the same time overall, creatures successfully Saving vs spells become less likely, not more likely, as casters went up in levels.
    This is a huge change too - while some of the changes to saving throws were good ideas (Fort, Ref, Will is a good set of categories) fighters and other martials getting screwed wasn't among them. Plus, it's not like there is any shortage of warriors shrugging off mental effects through sheer determination in the source literature - Iron Heart Surge is basically just Conan uttering a "primal scream" or "savage yell" or other "[indicator of tribal heritage] [non-verbal vocalization]".

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Vorpal weapons have been Russian roulette in every edition. They are slightly more reliable in 3.0 than others, but the odds are still against it working in a short fight, and that is assuming the enemy isn't immune to it. I would personally not sink five points of enchantment into a weapon for this effect. Also, it isn't really great with a charge build as you need a lot of attacks to really bring up the odds of that crit, and furthermore I believe vorpal does not work with a lance; I am not sure about the 3.0 version but the 3.5 version only applies to slashing weapons which lances are not.
    Once iteratives start stacking up the odds get pretty good. A 17-20 crit has a 59% chance of going off at least once per round given four attacks that hit on 17+. That's one round of attacks, a second round brings that up to 83%. This does ignore crit confirmations, mostly because I don't remember if it needs them (and because the math gets a bit trickier).

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    Once iteratives start stacking up the odds get pretty good. A 17-20 crit has a 59% chance of going off at least once per round given four attacks that hit on 17+. That's one round of attacks, a second round brings that up to 83%. This does ignore crit confirmations, mostly because I don't remember if it needs them (and because the math gets a bit trickier).
    Yeah, it isn't a bad strategy, especially in 3.0 where you could make a character who threatened on a 12+ IIRC. IMO its just an incompatible strategy with a charger who is only getting a single attack that is at best critting on an 18+ IIRC.

    I still don't much care for vorpal weapons, they make combat overly swingy, and if you are fighting an enemy who is immune to decapitation (a surprisingly high number of them) your +5 bonus is suddenly worthless.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    This is a huge change too - while some of the changes to saving throws were good ideas (Fort, Ref, Will is a good set of categories) fighters and other martials getting screwed wasn't among them.
    yeah, insert an image of me /faceplaming that I previously focused on the fragibility of wizards (in particular), plus the speed of advancement to high level spells then vs now, and left this part out.

    Save spells were still nice vs hordes, but vs a big monster (or high level enemy Fighter), it was all about your Fighters going to town with their magic swords. Or digging out those no-save spells for clever use.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Partial charge + haste was 3e pounce. IIRC, 3.5 doesn't have a standard action charge action.
    I thought this was true as well, but just a moment ago, I was looking at charging rules during a session and found this:

    Quote Originally Posted by PHB, Pg 154-155
    Movement During a Charge:.... You must move at least 10 feet and may move up to double your speed directly toward the designated opponent.... If you are able to take only a standard action or a move action on your turn, you can still charge, but you are only allowed to move up to your speed (instead of double your speed). You can't use this option unless you are restricted to taking only a single standard action or move action on your turn (such as during a surprise round).
    Probably still not the 3e pounce you were looking for, but matches the description of "standard action charge action."

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    THE simple fact of the matter is that if you can just be equivalent without magic or if magic was too inconvenient to use, magic wouldn’t be used or developed.

    So as magic is suicidal to use in combat, all mages are now non combat characters and cannot participate in combat or adventures in general.

    Ergo the conceit of an adventuring game has broken down.
    Last edited by Snowbluff; 2017-11-11 at 10:55 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowbluff View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowbluff View Post
    So as magic is suicidal to use in combat, all mages are now non combat characters and cannot participate in combat or adventures in general.

    Ergo the conceit of an adventuring game has broken down.
    That's suck if the game is D&D, obviously. But there's no reason that can't hold true for non-D&D fantasy games.

    As well as all the other ways already discussed that magic-casters can still be for adventurers even if magic is very dangerous and nigh-suicidal in melee combat range, and not have to be universally superior to non-magic-casters, of course.
    Last edited by Tanarii; 2017-11-11 at 11:28 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowbluff View Post
    THE simple fact of the matter is that if you can just be equivalent without magic or if magic was too inconvenient to use, magic wouldn’t be used or developed.
    Not necessarily. You just need magic to handle things that either can't be done or would be a massive pain without magic. Foretelling the future, controlling the weather, cursing people, raising the spirits of the dead to ask them questions, shapeshifting...the sort of things magicians in myth and folklore did.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowbluff View Post
    THE simple fact of the matter is that if you can just be equivalent without magic or if magic was too inconvenient to use, magic wouldn’t be used or developed.

    So as magic is suicidal to use in combat, all mages are now non combat characters and cannot participate in combat or adventures in general.

    Ergo the conceit of an adventuring game has broken down.
    Going from "in combat" to "adventures in general" is a pretty huge jump. On top of that, the inability to use a particular skill set in combat doesn't mean that someone isn't a combatant - the engineers of the Roman legion didn't do a great deal of engineering after fights had broken out (as in during the fray, not during general battles), yet they still fought.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Let's look at this build for a moment, shall we?
    It's not a build, it's a list of a few key items that got noticeable more expensive in 3.5.

    You want a build. Fine. I don't publish my builds online, but core only is pretty pathetic, and this will only be a build stub. Or two. And I'm AFB, so this may not work anyway.

    First off, it's not a ring, it's an ioun stone. You get the party wizard to put Contingency into the stone. You put True Strike into your Contingency. Which means we're looking at the core übercharger first.

    You get the party Cleric to give you standard CoDzilla buffs, using his Bead of Karma to give you +4 BAB, boost your armor & weapons, etc. If, you know, he had the spells left after buffing the much better Rogue chassis. Let's pretend he does.

    Even Core only, full power attack, you should have a minimum attack bonus of hmmm... 20(True Strike)+5(Wpn)+4+6+1(Str)+5(Luck)+1(WF), and that's before higher ground, charging, and your animated object's held action to flank. All in all, you should be sporting at least a +47 at level 12. Custom items to grant other bonus types can improve that further, as custom items are in core.

    So, at level 12, you're power attacking for 16, doubled if you wield your lance 2-handed. That's +32(PA)+11(str)+5(wpn)+2(WS)=50 damage, so over 200 base damage in a hit by a level 12 core only Fighter.

    Obviously, those numbers can go much higher once you get out of core, as the real übercharger attests.

    Even using Haste to move and full attack, the Improved Crit Keen Vorpal core only build is getting 4 attacks which crit on a 12-20. Admittedly, you've almost got to use custom items to go above a +40 on your first attack. So it's not perfect for killing bosses or for killing minions in core only, but it is a no save just die to around 2 "lieutenant"-class monsters per round, sustainable.

    Outside core, you're critting on a 2, and great cleaving as many monsters as you can reach.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    This guy still has terrible fighter saving throws, if the dragon goes first it can simply cast a save or lose spell on him (or his mount!) and end the fight right there. And if he makes his save the dragon can probably then fly away and outpace the fighter and repeat, dragons have insane fly speeds.
    The übercharger can afford the cloak of resistance. The Vorpal build is hurting for money until higher levels (unless they apply maximum cheese), so, yes, probably didn't have great saves.

    However, if a supposedly intelligent dragon a) targeted the Fighter in the party, let's call that a win for the party; b) left its hoard unguarded for the party to loot, let's call that a win for the party. This is where that cheap portable hole comes in.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    This guy is wearing +2 hide armor, so he is super squishy for a guy who is usually considered to the party's front line tank.
    It's +5, thank you party Cleric. But, no, the übercharger is traditionally something of a glass cannon, at least at my tables.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    What spells are in the ring? True Strike? Now, I am not sure about the 3.0 version, but the 3.5 ring of spell storing is always a standard action to use so quickened spells don't work. Also, this requires a wizard to donate the spell slots to you, so it is questionable as to whether it really counts for helping the fighter class.
    Probably Heal. Or Teleport. But it's what spells were in the ring stone that matters.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    (although I am fairly certain 3.X dragons ACs scale better with attack bonuses than their 2E counterparts)
    Sure do. But I wasn't limiting myself to core only when describing just how amazingly awesome Fighters can be.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Speaking of the mount, is it a Pegasus or does it have an item which gives it flight as well?
    Pegasus isn't bad. A bit squishy, though. Depends on the campaign. I can't remember if the flying horseshoes (Horseshoes of a Zephyr, maybe?) were super cheap, or if that was just the Horseshoes of Speed.

    But, again, I didn't really play core only (after Y2K, at least), so my parties had a lot more options for mounts.

    But, yes, if the dragon's random spell selection includes dispel effects, and it sees something flying that shouldn't be able to, it's certainly smart enough to be able to target the item. So that's a definite vulnerability of the build. If the dragon gets to go, that is. And chooses to target an item on the Fighter's mount. When facing a 3e party.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Lets compare this to a generic 2E fighter:

    Let's give him a +5 long sword, a belt of frost giant strength, a decent ring of protection, and a flying carpet to close with the dragon.
    Sure, he might have those. Or he might have a Sunblade, a Ring of Fire Resistance, a Figurine of Wondrous Power (goat), Dust of Disappearance, and an Amulet of Caterpillar Control. 2e items were completely random - there were no magic item marts.

    Mind you, that's the way I personally prefer it - I hate this whole build mentality. I just bring it up to point out that the 2e Fighter was randomly awesome.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    He is going to be getting three attacks (again lets say auto hit, which is more likely iirc, especially when he doesn't have to deal with iterative attack penalties) which deal 6.5 base damage, +5 for magic, +2 for specialization, and +10 for strength. This is 70.5 damage to a creature with 104 HP, or over two thirds of its life. And unlike our 3E charger the 2E fighter will hit almost as hard the next round and is almost certain to finish the beast off. Plus, with his proportionally much much higher saving throws he is a lot less likely to be taken out in turn.
    A 2e Fighter who randomly has nearly optimal gear, compared to a 3e Fighter limited to core only? This doesn't seem quite fair.

    The optimal 3.x Übercharger is dealing 1000+ damage to the 660 HP dragon. The optimal 3e Vorpal build is beheading as many dragons as it can reach. The optimal 2e Fighter is an archer, and, AFB and haven't done the math, but can probably roughly kill the Dragon in one salvo. If it's an elf, he is probably willing to lose a year to the party Mage casting Haste, at which point he definitely kills the dragon, and its little dog, too.

    The least optimized 2e Fighter compared to the least optimized 3e Fighter will a) kill his dragon faster, due to the massive difference in Dragon HP; b) survive most things much longer, due to low monster attack bonuses (also due to lower HD) and great saving throws; but c) die to a Dragon about as fast, due to high dragon attack values and breath weapon damage.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    In my opinion judging a variable like optimization level against a static point like a module doesn't really say anything. When the bar for the module is set so low (or the bar for optimization set so high) that even the worst class can stomp the module, that doesn't make for a fun game, and it still doesn't say anything about the quality of the fighter compared to other classes.
    Why would you compare yourself to other classes? You can build a Fighter who can be awesome in the module. If the GM is toning you back, but not toning other classes back to your reduced level, that's on them. I'm not seeing the problem here. 3e Fighters can be bloody awesome. What stops them?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Also, I am not sure a fighter would have such an easy time in most modules. Sure, they could win fights which occur on their terms, but if they have to deal with, say, sneaky foes with lots of save or lose effects, they are going to be pretty screwed. That's the thing about fighter optimization, they tend to be very good in a very narrow area, not so great all around.
    I haven't really run across module x Fighter combinations where there was a significant issue, barring one particularly unoptimized Fighter running through something I wrote.

    Not saying it can't happen, just that I haven't seen it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I still don't much care for vorpal weapons, they make combat overly swingy, and if you are fighting an enemy who is immune to decapitation (a surprisingly high number of them) your +5 bonus is suddenly worthless.
    That is a good point. I remember one module where a Vorpal build would have been sad, and another where a mounted charge build would have been sad. Happily, those weren't the builds that ran through those modules.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    I thought this was true as well, but just a moment ago, I was looking at charging rules during a session and found this:

    Probably still not the 3e pounce you were looking for, but matches the description of "standard action charge action."
    Huh. Not sure if I was misremembering, or if we were playing that wrong / with houserules. I'll want to look into that. Still works as pounce if you just use Haste to move, at least.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Huh. Not sure if I was misremembering, or if we were playing that wrong / with houserules. I'll want to look into that. Still works as pounce if you just use Haste to move, at least.
    IIRC it was very common for people used to 3e to think Partial Charge was just gone in 3.5, since it was buried in Charge.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    snip
    I guess we had another misunderstanding, I thought those were elements of an optimized 3.0 fighter that was restricted to core only; if it was merely a list of nerfs then I don't disagree with you.

    A couple of things though:

    Putting haste in a ring of spell storing is a brilliant idea, but I am not entirely sure if it is RAW legal or is in the spirit of an advantage in the fighter's court as it requires a friendly wizard to supply them with the spells.

    Even with a cloak of resistance a 3E fighter's saving throws are pitiful compared to the 2E fighter's, who also usually had a ring of protection boosting them as well.

    My sample fighter didn't have tailored magic items to give him the best odds, just fairly generic high end gear, I could have made a much better one if I was actively going through my DMG trying to cherry pick the things an aspiring dragon slayer would need. I never played with a DM who used purely random treasure, they almost always customize it to the character and/or allow some form of crafting, trading, or buying magic items.





    But really, it just comes down to a gut feeling based on experience and a rough understanding of all the numerical factors.

    In AD&D fighter's always felt awesome and DMs always felt the need to tone them down for fear that they would break the game. In 3E fighters are always struggling to contribute, both in and out of combat, or being incapacitated but an errant save or lose spell.

    Its not that you can't make a fighter who isn't good in combat, its just hard to make one who is good outside of combat and who can participate in all types of combat, both defensive and offensive, as most fighter builds are more or less one trick ponies that can trivialize a very specific set of encounters but are more or less dead weight outside of them.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    Going from "in combat" to "adventures in general" is a pretty huge jump. On top of that, the inability to use a particular skill set in combat doesn't mean that someone isn't a combatant - the engineers of the Roman legion didn't do a great deal of engineering after fights had broken out (as in during the fray, not during general battles), yet they still fought.
    Well, two things.

    You make a good point for LARGE combat if you have LEGION between your caster and their enemy. But in a lot of games the skill investment or level investment precludes any ability to train for fighting. Since of a lot of games don't have mechanics to keep people from just shooting your caster or pummeling them, casters become worse as the scale of fights gets smaller.

    Given that, the skill investment for casting also reduces the number of useful adventuring skills they can have as well. Combined with the lack of ability for a small group to defend them, they are the load.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowbluff View Post
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    I dub this the Snowbluff Axiom.

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Snowbluff View Post
    Well, two things.

    You make a good point for LARGE combat if you have LEGION between your caster and their enemy. But in a lot of games the skill investment or level investment precludes any ability to train for fighting. Since of a lot of games don't have mechanics to keep people from just shooting your caster or pummeling them, casters become worse as the scale of fights gets smaller.

    Given that, the skill investment for casting also reduces the number of useful adventuring skills they can have as well. Combined with the lack of ability for a small group to defend them, they are the load.
    i think i fail to understand something. are you saying "casters aren't as versatile in a fight" or are you talking theoretical applications here? i'm currently in a party with only one full caster, and the rest are half-casters. i can say without shame that the load in the party is the bard during fights. the oracle, the inquisitor, the paladin, and the cleric are quite active in the fray, and the monk covers the oracle who's the only ranged combattant. my character, the inquisitor, is more of a skill monkey than the bard in terms of skills opened, and it may be playstyle, but i regularly use skill checks in combat to move around as much as class features or spells.

    then again, the cleric is heavily coached by the more experienced players (who've all played cleric at least once), and the bard is a total newbie unfit for a "face" role, so players are indeed a factor.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by rs2excelsior View Post
    There's a general consensus here (and elsewhere) that casters, especially once they reach a certain power level, just beat non-casters.
    Not since 5e there isnt. In 5e, almost every subclass has magic anyway, and spells are weaker and full casters overnerfed with concentration (one spell at a time, and can be broken- should have been one or the other). Also, anyone can pick up rituals or cantrips via a feat.

    Having said that, I prefer to partly balance magic by making it somehwat unpredictable/dangerous to everyone in the vicinity (not just the caster, but often moreso). Something like: https://lowfantasygaming.com/2016/05...ngerous-magic/
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Whatever you do, I'm against the very notion of punishing a PC for doing what he's supposed to be doing. No PC should suffer a penalty for using an ability. What constitutes a penalty/punishment could be subjective, but to put a definition on it it's anything that makes it easier for the character to suffer injury/death or be useless. For example, losing hit points, risk insanity, suffer long lasting minuses to game statistics, flat out can't do anything for a round or more. If some effect is too powerful for your aesthetic taste don't blame the PC for using it. Either don't have it exist at all or limit how often it can be used and let the PC do something else useful.
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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Pex View Post
    Whatever you do, I'm against the very notion of punishing a PC for doing what he's supposed to be doing. No PC should suffer a penalty for using an ability. What constitutes a penalty/punishment could be subjective, but to put a definition on it it's anything that makes it easier for the character to suffer injury/death or be useless. For example, losing hit points, risk insanity, suffer long lasting minuses to game statistics, flat out can't do anything for a round or more. If some effect is too powerful for your aesthetic taste don't blame the PC for using it. Either don't have it exist at all or limit how often it can be used and let the PC do something else useful.
    So is this an absolute line even if it is up to player choice?

    Things like the shocktrooper feat which lets you (iirc) trade AC for to hit or a hypothetical feat which let you trade HP for more spell slots?

    Also, if you look at this from far enough back, trading HP for the ability to cast spells is a core feature of the wizard class and their d4 HD.


    Edit: And to pull the camera back even further, difference between a defensive option and no action and an action with a harmful consequence are effectively identical accept for phrasing. For example, any attack NOT made fighting defensively effectively penalizes AC, and any spell slot not used as a heal / defensive buff is effectively harming the character in exchange for a positive benefit; for example if an injured cleric decides to cast Inflict Light Wounds instead of Cure Light Wounds they are in effect trading their own HP for the ability to damage an enemy.
    Last edited by Talakeal; 2017-11-13 at 01:43 AM.
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  30. - Top - End - #90
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: Changing the "Caster beats Mundane" paradigm

    Quote Originally Posted by Pex View Post
    Whatever you do, I'm against the very notion of punishing a PC for doing what he's supposed to be doing. No PC should suffer a penalty for using an ability. What constitutes a penalty/punishment could be subjective, but to put a definition on it it's anything that makes it easier for the character to suffer injury/death or be useless. For example, losing hit points, risk insanity, suffer long lasting minuses to game statistics, flat out can't do anything for a round or more. If some effect is too powerful for your aesthetic taste don't blame the PC for using it. Either don't have it exist at all or limit how often it can be used and let the PC do something else useful.
    Yeah, I have problems with this, too.

    I'd tell the player complaining (say for example, suffering insanity) "it's not a punishment, you are being allowed to do magic. Did you think such powers come without some kind of tradeoff?"

    It's really more about the Setting than anything. If magic is just abilities like anything else people do, then in your setting either Everyone's a Magician (because anyone has access and there is no great cost to using magic) or a small few just happen to be Superhuman (because the freebie magic just hasn't become popular yet...).

    But if there is a more substantial cost to magic, like alignment shifts and insanity, it starts invoking different fantasy tropes. Spellcasters are now dangerous outlaws playing with fire or else wise sages that use minimal magic to guide and protect villages.

    It's not about penalizing abilities. It's about weighting the natural market price markup to establish thematic tones where it makes sense to use a sword instead of a spell.

    In freebie magic, it's kind of a bad investment to use a sword when you could be buying spell components with that same money.

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