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Belial_the_Leveler
2014-11-21, 04:03 PM
Posing this question purely from an ability score and mechanical PoV. In DnD, ability scores for PCs don't scale that much with level. Should they scale more with level to better reflect some archetypes, especially physical ones?


strength/power:
A score of 18 is considered "top human" and yet even mundane humans IRL exceed it sometimes. Going by lifting capacity alone, there are some rare people who should have base STR 20-22.
Now, getting to low-fantasy warriors like Conan or those guys in the Iliad, or Spock and Khan, or Buffy who have the strength of several men, being twice as strong as the strongest normal man would mean STR 25-27. And we're not even into high fantasy yet.
For mid-fantasy warriors, think Hercules from the "Legendary Journeys" series; people with the strength of "ten men" or "strength of a giant" are fairly common here. Strength of ten average humans is STR 28. Strength of ten reasonaby strong humans is 33.
Now, consider warriors from high fantasy like Hercules in the myths, Gilgamesh, or Spider Man. That's a STR 45 in the low end (lifting a truck), and potentially much higher (Hercules once held up the sky).
In DnD, even a 20th level warrior only has STR 23 without direct magical augmentation.


dexterity/speed:
Similarly, dexterity and action speed of DnD warriors lags behind that of fantasy or even RL examples. A guy without armor or other gear but "best ever" human dexterity will get hit 35% of the time by an untrained guy without any strength bonuses in DnD. Now, what would really happen if you had said untrained guy try to hit a good boxer, martial artist or navy SEAL? No need for them to be "best ever" levels of agile, either. DEX 24+ is needed to guarantee no normal hits by untrained attackers will land, except by accident.
Now, compare with some agile low-fantasy characters. Legolas in the movies is a good example of slightly beyond human dexterity, as is Captain America or Batman. In addition to avoiding getting hit, those guys have decent fighting speeds too. Time 6 seconds of your favorite fighting movie action scene and see how many times the protagonist attacks. Hell, time a martial arts exhibition. Some of those couldn't be done in DnD terms without DEX 28-30 and 6-10 attacks/round.
For high-fantasy levels of agility, this is a good yardstick. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPlT2uKruwM

NecroRebel
2014-11-21, 05:35 PM
3.5 optimizers demonstrated quite well that big numbers don't actually compensate for a lack of versatility. If spellcasters can do anything and physical heroes can't, the spellcasters will be able to neutralize or render impotent non-spellcasters' greater abilities. As such, the answer to your question is "it doesn't matter unless you give them some way of actually competing."

That said, a lot of the heroes of myth, including what are probably some of the best-known, such as Hercules and Gilgamesh that you mentioned as well as others like Beowulf, Anansi, and Sun Wukong, perform their heroics as much or more with cunning and guile as with sheer physical power. Even the mightiest warriors of legend routinely dealt with monsters far stronger than them, so they had to outsmart their opponents. Some great heroes (like Anansi, or Odysseus) aren't even depicted as being tremendously strong, yet their minds let them overcome many obstacles. Physical heroes in games should be allowed to do such things, and should have abilities that let them force such outwittings, just as spellcasters can force events in their favor through magic.

NichG
2014-11-21, 06:50 PM
I'm going to limit this to D&D since that was the example you gave.

If you take into account the breadth of options, things like a 45 Strength are actually achievable in D&D as it stands right now. It requires particular combinations of classes, templates, races, etc, but it can be done. Even then, stats alone are a tiny part of what a character can do. I can make a fairly low level character who is able to wield a feather so skillfully that he can use it to split stone (using Stone Dragon maneuvers from Tome of Battle). The character doesn't have to be particularly strong in the sense of having a high ability score, because he has other things which act as force-multipliers on that strength.

With enough op-fu, you can do more or less anything in D&D. You can make warriors who can throw the moon, sunder the world they stand on with a punch, etc.

It is of course another question entirely whether or not that kind of thing should require op-fu to achieve, or if e.g. every Lv20 Fighter should automatically be capable of performing all of the accomplishments of Hercules.

Terraoblivion
2014-11-21, 07:16 PM
Odysseus kinda is. According to the Odyssey he's the strongest wrestler of the Greek host, beating out several demigods for the title. He can also quickly and easily draw a bow too heavy for anybody else to even string while in his mid-50s, at the earlier, if not in his 60s or even 70s. It's not the feature that gets top billing for him, but it is still there.

In any case, I think it depends on what story you're trying to tell. But if you want warriors and wizards of various kinds to be able to compete on the same field, then either the magic has to be weak or inconvenient or the warriors have to be superhuman as well or possibly even both. On the other hand, it's also entirely possible to have great mythic heroes and monsters of great strength, but the only magicians are petty hedgewizards or divine themselves or to have a setting where everyone of any importance is a mage or a prophet commanding miracles or a god doing their god thing. It all depends on what you're trying to achieve.

Lawleepawpz
2014-11-21, 07:20 PM
I feel like many Greek and even some roman heroes had Divine Ranks and or the Paragon template. They were the pinnacle and exemplars of their species, which sorta explains their ability to do so much.

Heracles definately had paragon, which combined with an 18 strength, yields a base of 30, on top of surely getting something extra from his demigod status.

Vitruviansquid
2014-11-21, 07:32 PM
To answer the question in the title, it's as powerful as your high fantasy setting requires. The height of the fantasy in your setting has no bearing on how powerful warriors *should* be. What matters more is game balance (or whether game balance is important in your game), what kind of stories you're trying to tell, or what mood your game is supposed to put you in.

Now if you're talking DnD, it depends on your DM. Some DM's just don't want players surmounting obstacles in a mundane way. You have a warrior who can tear open wooden treasure chests like a shoddy pillow, and his DM's going to make the next chest out of adamantium. Suddenly, everything will be made out of adamantium because breaking stuff down with strength isn't clever enough for him, you gotta use a spell or a circuitous "clever" plan that actually involves reading the DM's mind. Then there are the DMs who just shorthand any character's strength to "the amount of strength I think a relatively tough guy IRL might have" and he'll stop you any time you try to actually do something with your strength that isn't already tabled out in the DMG. Of course, there are also DM's for whom a relatively strong character is the Hulk unless we can consult the DMG and see that he's not.

Am I bitter? e_e

NecroRebel
2014-11-21, 07:39 PM
Odysseus kinda is. According to the Odyssey he's the strongest wrestler of the Greek host, beating out several demigods for the title. He can also quickly and easily draw a bow too heavy for anybody else to even string while in his mid-50s, at the earlier, if not in his 60s or even 70s. It's not the feature that gets top billing for him, but it is still there.

Fair enough. I don't think I knew about his skill as a wrestler, and I didn't consider his bow as a mark of his strength. Still, not remotely the point, as Odysseus is known above all other things for his wits, and the point was that the heroes of legend get by as much or more on their brains than their brawn.

Frozen_Feet
2014-11-21, 08:17 PM
High Fantasy starts with wrestling trolls and bears down, killing bulls with one unarmed blow, still standing and fighting back after you've been impaled by dozens of spears and arrows, still standing and scaring off your opponents when you're dead, killing an ancient dragon with one arrow by shooting the chink in its armor at night, so on and so forth. Things which are not quite physically impossible, but defy expectations of what a human can do. If a fantasy warrior can't match or exceed real-life records, they aren't really fantastic at all.

Let's consider for a moment that real life actually has examples of "fell down at terminal velocity and survived", "was hit in the head by an explosive bullet; survived", "had an iron bar go through his head and take part of his skull and brain with it; walked off like it was no big deal", "killed a bull with his bare hands", "killed more than 200 people in just 100 days with obsolete equipment", "brought a sword to a gunfight and won", "never got promoted up from corporal; still took over a country", etc.

D&D is not a bad example of high fantasy warriors, all things granted. Especially in 3.x., a warrior, even without magic items and spellcasting ability, can go well beyond human. Pick the proper race, and you can fly under your own power before you're out of bootcamp. This just gets overlooked because casters get their neat toys earlier.

Personally, I favor setting where most people are fairly lowkey, but the best of the best can still be fairly absurd. In my games, I expect player character to run from, not fight, the troll equivalents untill they've got a few sessions under their belt. But after a dozen, I expect to see them wrestling with personifications of Death, diving to the bottom of the ocean, climbing to the highest mountains, balancing on clouds, leaping over houses, throwing houses at each other, catching and breaking steel weapons with their fingers, eating and drinking all the poisons and asking for seconds, going to the glacier and complaining its too warm, taking over nations and leading armies, cheating the Emperor of the known world and generally just having a jolly old time being unstoppable ubermensch.

Terraoblivion
2014-11-21, 08:48 PM
Fair enough. I don't think I knew about his skill as a wrestler, and I didn't consider his bow as a mark of his strength.

Yeah, for some reason bows have come to be considered light weapons in the modern world, despite historically being the most demanding of the user's strength. Far more so than a polearm or a two-handed sword. And the more powerful the bow, the more strength it takes to use unless it's a modern, mechanically assisted one.

Belial_the_Leveler
2014-11-21, 08:49 PM
it's as powerful as your high fantasy setting requires.
No bearing on the making of a good system. A good system can have fairly ordinary characters by simply being low level, typical heroic fantasy by being mid-level, myths and legends or superhero games by being high level. This works very well for how caster classes gain power at levels 1-6, levels 7-12 and levels 13-20. Unfortunately, the non-casters fail to follow this paradigm.

Sith_Happens
2014-11-21, 09:15 PM
Other people have already brought this up, I just want to say it in a funner way:

It's not about your Strength score, it's about what you can do with it.

NecroRebel
2014-11-21, 09:36 PM
No bearing on the making of a good system. A good system can have fairly ordinary characters by simply being low level, typical heroic fantasy by being mid-level, myths and legends or superhero games by being high level. This works very well for how caster classes gain power at levels 1-6, levels 7-12 and levels 13-20. Unfortunately, the non-casters fail to follow this paradigm.

It doesn't matter what the numbers are, though, as long as you can be effective and flavorful. If the average human had a strength of 10 and your hero had a strength of 11, but also the ability to move a mountain with a mighty heave, you'd still be able to fluff your character as immensely strong. You don't need to increase the numbers to match the legends, you just need the ability to replicate the legends directly, preferably in a vague enough fashion to emulate multiple legends with one ability.

VincentTakeda
2014-11-22, 07:18 AM
Unless I'm playing palladiums heroes unlimited, nobody in my campaigns are throwing houses and mountains around. If the 'heroic effect' your fighter is trying to have is a 'narrative one' that's not a stat or an ability a gm or a system can 'grant you'... If the hero you envy solves problems that are too difficult by 'doing clever things while still not doing anything beyond his normal physical range' then the only thing you can do is 'start being more clever'.

If you're 'being more clever' and your gm is still making it so that clever doesnt accomplish anything cool, thats a fiat problem that can be solved by talking to your gm or finding a new table. Believe me I've been at more than enough tables where I had a clever idea well within the range of my physical abilities and the gm's answer was 'nope'. Like robin hood and will scarlet launching themselves over the wall with a catapult. You still have to land in some hay. You still have to be batman in a world of supermans. But if you want to play a fighter, you better enjoy playing a batman more than a superman and your gm should at least entertain your 'clever batman antics.' Your character should feel more like indiana jones than like like thor. More like captain america without his shield and less like Ruffalo Hulk. That is your 'appropriate power band' unless you're playing a superhero campaign.

To 'choose an appropriate powerband for the fighter', I'd say he should only be so powerful that he still needs his allies. A very important feature of cooperative role playing is that you can't do it all by yourself. I hear so many 'how to make a fighter better' forums where the answer of the posters sounds a lot like 'I never want to be hurt and I never want anything bad to happen to me and I want to be able to do anything I want to do just by having thought about doing it.' It almost sounds like a fighter's 'missing trick' is that he doesnt have the ability to fiat that he wins every time alone without help. Even captain america and iron man agreed that in order for iron man to be able to spar with captain america he needed to 'put on the suit'... You are, at the end of the day, a guy who's physical limitations solidly 'put him out of his depth' but who's brave enough to go out of his depth anyway.

He's as powerful as a guy with no magic could be venturing out into a world full of magic. Powerful enough to be necessary but not powerful enough to solve problems on his own. I dont want fighters in my world swinging gargantuan dragons around by the tail just because they're in a world where a wizard has a wish scroll. He's not a god. He's just a tough brave dude who's brave enough to wade in over his head against the odds. Thats the whole point.

The only way to fix a fighter is to have an understanding with your gm that when you have a 'clever' idea that might get you an advantage or make a scenario easier... that cleverness *should* be relevant. And thats sometimes a hard thing for a gm to want to do. A 'tactician' who wants to 'solve an encounter' by outsmarting it is not a popular thing at a lot of tables. Particularly wargames. As an example, shadowrun handles the 'outsmart and completely avoid conflict as a victory condition' much better, because the campaign is 'entirely about victory through subterfuge'

You are the Mike Rowe of character classes. You are getting in over your head. You've never done this before. You are not qualified to do it. You will not be good at it. It will not be easy. You will get your hands dirty. But you do it anyway. That is what makes you superhuman in a world full of superhumans. And if you've lost sight of how heroic that makes you seem, maybe you're right that something needs to change. But it's not the class.

VincentTakeda
2014-11-22, 07:54 AM
TLDR: If your 6 foot non magical meat popsicle feels like it 'belongs' in a room with a thousand year old 200 foot long fire breathing lizard then nothing is ever going to 'feel' very heroic to you. Someone else on these forums also said it well. Murderhobos are born from consequence free gaming. Being a heroic mundane fighter and being awesome as a non magical meat popsicle should mean never feeling like you've got what it takes. Part and parcel of being non magical in a magical campaign... you should feel like you're bringing less supernatural raw bang to the table. Clever and brave should be your wheelhouse so you need to be clever and have a gm that lets being clever mean something.

Thats not a class feature. Thats a playstyle feature.

If you want to play mutants and demigods and godlings, play heroes unlimited. Your powerband is built right into the name of the system. You are a hero. And you are unlimited. But if your character sheet says 'fighter' then you shouldnt expect to be dragonball z.

Frozen_Feet
2014-11-22, 08:12 AM
VincentTakeda, you are outlining how to play a heroic underdog or a mundane in a magical setting.

Those are not, and have never been, synonyms with "warrior".

Both in real life and myth, warriors, especially of the heroic sort, tend to be exceptional both physically and mentally. They're professional. They know what they're doing. They fill the place between gods and men - originally, "hero" was pretty much synonymous wtih "demigod".

Restricting the fighter's archetype to Batman, when it just as well could include Hercules, Hulk and Thor, is pretty narrow. It has its place in Sword & Sorcery, but in high fantasy it shouldn't be the extent of a fighter.

VincentTakeda
2014-11-22, 08:15 AM
I'd agree with you if the fighter classes were built with rules that made it feel like a mutant or a demigod... Thats true in a heroes unlimited game. Thats not true in a d&d or pathfinder game. Thor and hercules are not warriors. They are gods and demigods. Hulk is not a warrior. He is a mutant. Calling them warriors is conflating terms. Even in a high fantasy setting, nothing in the fighter or warrior classes says anything about being superhuman.

Even if they are warriors, what makes them amazing isnt the fact that they are a warrior. Its the fact that they're a god or a demigod or a mutant. Captain america isnt awesome because he fights the good fight. He's awesome because he's a superhuman genetic coctail. Iron man and batman arent awesome because they are 'warriors'. They may be clever and do awesome stuff, but the thing that makes them awesome isn't the 'warrior' part of their build.

Vitruviansquid
2014-11-22, 08:22 AM
Look, man, if you want to play a setting with warriors as underdogs, that's fine. More power to you.

But if your game tells me a level X warrior is way less powerful than a mage of the same level, something has gone wrong.

VincentTakeda
2014-11-22, 08:30 AM
The reason I use heroes unlimited as an analogy here is that palladium separates occ and rcc. occupation and race... 'What you do' and 'what you are'.

If the question we're answering is 'how powerful is the fighter class in the game we're playing' and 'the game you're playing' is D&D or pathfinder... its very simple. Read the class. Oh poo. It's not Thor. It wasnt supposed to be Thor. It's never going to be Thor. *shrug*.

If your definition of warrior is only true when it ALSO means mountain throwing then you're doing Leonidas a disservice and again... Conflating terms.

That has nothing to do with gaming.

If we're ansering the question 'what is the appropriate powerband for something we call a warrior...' Well that can be the whole spectrum all the way from silver surfer down to a 'rather resilient cancer patient'. But if Leonidas doesnt count as a warrior because he isn't dragonball z, then the difference between what the gaming systems idea of what a warrior is and what your idea of what an appropriate powerband for what constitutes a 'feeling of warriorness' is not a 'system problem'. Its not a problem with the game. Its not a problem with 'the definition of a warrior'. The only way your definition of a warrior is going to play out to your satisfaction in any game is when your gaming system and your gm are in agreement with your definition of what the 'appropriate range of power is' to be called a warrior. You've made the definition a quantitative one instead of a qualitative one and thats fine until they no longer match the game or the system or the definition everyone else at the table is using.

Theres no question that 'a fighter' or 'a warrior' is a quantitative definition of a powerband within a system like d&d or pathfinder. The fact that that powerband 'doesnt feel right' to you doesnt make it a system problem. Thats a personal problem. If you *think* I'm wrong... If you *think* that's a system problem... That' okay... Change systems. You are free to game the way you want to game. Read the powerband, understand the powerband, play what you want to play. Just dont be upset when pathfinders definition of warrior never results in becoming Thor. On second thought. Do be upset. You are free not to like it. But if it *does* upset you... just don't play it.

Role playing is the hobby of infinite versatility. Its part and parcel of the very nature of gaming that fun shouldnt come with such levels of consternation. We are not limited in the number of games there are to play. Find a game that agrees with you and play that. I totally recommend a superhero system.

Never in the history of fun has it ever been so hard to have fun having fun.

VincentTakeda
2014-11-22, 09:14 AM
On some days I want to play in a campaign where mundanes cant throw buildings. On those days I play pathfinder. On the other hand...
Some days the 'warrior' I want to play is 'a combination of steven seagal, nightcrawler, and multipleman'. Am I going to achieve those results in pathfinder? Probably not. But in palladium? Absolutely.
Tabletop gaming is all about freedom and versatility. Not every system will give you what you want... But thats why we have more systems.
In the words of senzo tanaka... my shidoshi... Never limit yourself to one style.

To ask 'what is the appropriate powerband for a warrior' is, as the buddhist would say 'a question wrongly asked'.
The answer to that question is going to be subjective, and thus, not really be helpful to anybody. You dont really want an answer to that question.
You dont actually care what anyone else believes is the appropriate powerband for a warrior. Particularly if you disagree with it.
You don't want answers. You want questions.
Questions then where the answers are objective...
Questions like "If I want to play Thor... what system lets me do that?" or "If I want to play in a world where mundanes cant throw buildings, what systems would work"...
Questions are like diamonds. The answers always change but are always perfect for the moment in which the question is asked.

Tabletop gaming is about options. And sometimes that option means finding the appropriate venue to make a Richard Bach's Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Nerdfighters reference in the same post as a Jean Claude Van Damme movie reference. Thats how I role.

DFTBA

Sartharina
2014-11-22, 10:30 AM
Except D&dlD also has "power bands". They're called 'levels'. You want to play as an underdog in over your head? Play a low-level character in a high level adventure. Not restrict that to a certain class... actually there is a class about being an underdog that needs to use wit and luck to get by... the Rogue. The fighter is for those who want to kick ass and take names.

VincentTakeda
2014-11-22, 11:52 AM
I think you used the word 'except' when you mean 'and'. Why do folks on these threads gravitate so quckly to seeming contrary?
Between 3.0 and pathfinder at least, fighter and rogue are both notorious for not benefitting from the system mechanics, but instead having their success tied to their implementation, and dictated by, the system mechanics. Casters on the other hand are built to both subvert, ignore, or outright defy mechanics. This dichotomy is good at upsetting certain folks who desire a different 'thematic approach' to the mundane meaties.
I see not much separation in their roles in those systems, but agree with the remainder of your post. The op's question then is simply 'how much ass kickin should he be capable of' which again is subjective... And I think the rules of the system you choose do a pretty good job of spelling that out for you, and you're never beholden to only using a system that disagrees with your ideas on the matter.

Sometimes mundane meaties throwing houses is a fun campaign. Sometimes you just want to play a literal 'Giant in the Playground'... There is no such thing as a 'normal' or 'correct' objective assessment for how much a warrior should be able to do though. There are simply the rules you choose to play by. I'm glad to have systems that allow it, and I'm glad to have systems that don't.

Mastikator
2014-11-22, 11:57 AM
I'm going to limit this to D&D since that was the example you gave.

If you take into account the breadth of options, things like a 45 Strength are actually achievable in D&D as it stands right now. It requires particular combinations of classes, templates, races, etc, but it can be done. Even then, stats alone are a tiny part of what a character can do. I can make a fairly low level character who is able to wield a feather so skillfully that he can use it to split stone (using Stone Dragon maneuvers from Tome of Battle). The character doesn't have to be particularly strong in the sense of having a high ability score, because he has other things which act as force-multipliers on that strength.

With enough op-fu, you can do more or less anything in D&D. You can make warriors who can throw the moon, sunder the world they stand on with a punch, etc.

It is of course another question entirely whether or not that kind of thing should require op-fu to achieve, or if e.g. every Lv20 Fighter should automatically be capable of performing all of the accomplishments of Hercules.

Could you go from a "normal" warrior at level 1 with maybe 16 base str, and go to 45 str at level 15+ without having to bribe the DM with cake?

Jay R
2014-11-22, 12:15 PM
Lots of games exist. They are all different, and if you don't enjoy a certain class of games, that doesn't mean it's bad - merely that you aren't the target market. If we all have to play the most popular kind of game, we'd all be playing Farmville.


But if your game tells me a level X warrior is way less powerful than a mage of the same level, something has gone wrong.

Nothing's gone wrong. The game was simply designed that way. Ars Magica was pretty clear that the most powerful beings were the wizards. It's not wrong; it's just a different kind of game. In the SPI War of the Rings game, the thrid player was Saruman, far less powerful than the other two, and to play Saruman well required trying to keep the other two well-balanced, so they were defeat each other.


Except D&dlD also has "power bands". They're called 'levels'. You want to play as an underdog in over your head? Play a low-level character in a high level adventure. Not restrict that to a certain class... actually there is a class about being an underdog that needs to use wit and luck to get by... the Rogue. The fighter is for those who want to kick ass and take names.

This is like claiming that linemen in American football are underdogs, since the quarterbacks and running backs get to make the glory plays. It's true, but only because there's a strong line in front protecting them.

What keeps this from being a problem is the fact that the basic unit in D&D is the party, not the character. A group of wizards alone has more power than a mixed party, but they are also far more vulnerable. I have no problem being the shieldwall in front, while the people behind me are throwing around spells. I identify with the team, and get my share of treasure and heroics. When I'm holding off the enemy, it makes no difference to my actions or my fun whether the mage is casting Sleep on the remaining five kobolds or Wall of Fire on 1,000 ogres.

NichG
2014-11-22, 12:17 PM
Could you go from a "normal" warrior at level 1 with maybe 16 base str, and go to 45 str at level 15+ without having to bribe the DM with cake?

I'm not sure there really are any examples in mythology of someone starting as a normal, average human and becoming as strong as Hercules by the peak of their power. Hercules was born powerful - in the D&D sense, he had templates and arguably a half-human style race, and those are responsible for a big chunk.

Super-high strength is actually pretty easy in D&D:

- Start at 16 Str
- +5 Str from levels by Lv20
- +5 Str from Tomes/Wishes by Lv20
- +20 Str from 10 levels of War Hulk
- Human paragon at Lv3: +2
- Have some barbarian levels and rage during combat: situational +4
- Final Str: 48 (+52)

Its certainly possible to do better without TO stuff; this was just off the top of my head and the are no real 'combos' going on here. If you allow for templates/different races, you can certainly push it further (e.g. Water Orc/etc/etc).

Morty
2014-11-22, 12:19 PM
Using D&D as a baseline is a pretty bad idea, to start with. There are various approaches to handling 'warriors' and 'heroes' in high-powered settings. D&D has never been able to settle on one, nor provide a proper definition of what its non-magical classes are meant to represent on any given level. Is a high-level warrior supposed to be Gimli? Aragorn? Batman? Achilles? The game won't tell you that. All it gives you is numbers, and they're meaningless without context.

VincentTakeda
2014-11-22, 12:25 PM
While 30 years of gming makes a hulk smash escalationfu campaign seem like the most boring thing in the world to me personally...
I also know a player when I see one who's in the mood to play hulk smashy smashy carnagefest for a few days and I will not begrudge him his fitful thrashings.
A good gm knows when its time to let his players 'lay waste to some hordes'...
A player who chooses to play a strength based orcish barbarian doesn't want 'challenging fights'. He's asking you to take more time to carefully describe the sounds of the skull he's cracking.
For some folks thats the only kind of game they'll ever enjoy, which is sad to me personally, but I'll give them their kind of game if they really really enjoy it.
If they want their mundane hulky smasher to throw houses though, we'll be playing palladium, not D&D/pathfinder.
Because no matter how much of a warrior you are... you need something more than a job description of being a fighter to be able to throw a house. The limits are dictated by the system. And I appreciate those limits.
For me personally.
If you tell me I throw houses... what am I? My first four guesses will be 'God. Demigod. Mutant. Giant.' not 'Warrior'.
If you tell me I slew a thousand year old dragon in one blow... what am I? My first four guesses will still be 'God. Demigod. Mutant. Giant.' not 'Warrior'.
If you tell me I charge headlong in to battle thoughtless of the consequences to protect my friends and conquer my enemies... Maybe now my first answer would be 'warrior'.

Lentrax
2014-11-22, 12:38 PM
The biggest problem with trying to define warriors in a high fantasy setting comes down to one simple fact: magic.

It exists, and unless you are playing a system that has some kind of drawback to doing nothing but using magic all the time, then your level 20 fighter will be outclassed by the level 20 wizard. The thing is though, is that the fighter doesn't need to go through two or three encounters, then rest for 8 hours. That is the (often overlooked, and usually argued down) aspect of the fighter.

Until the fighter is about to drop dead, until he is about to drop to zero hp, until he needs to retreat for an encounter where he absolutely needs the backup provided by spellcasters, he can keep going. A DM, a good DM, should recognize this, and give the fighter the opportunity to shine with the room full of lower level baddies to clear out so that the wizards can save their spells for the bigger threats, the reason you needed to bring a wizard with you to begin with.

But when everyone "dips" into other classes for spells and spell like abilities or the ability to use wands and other magical items, the sheer, raw, keep 'em coming, "cause I am a sexy, shoeless god of war!" loses its meaning. Add gestalt, and you have to start asking where the fighter even is.

Lentrax
2014-11-22, 12:42 PM
@VincentTakeda :

I play a fighter to be the one who rises through the ranks to lead armies into the storm of oncoming evil (or good, depending on the campaign) the one who became so grizzled with so much experience in so short a time that generals who have been leading armies for decades nod their heads in respect or affirmation of the tactics I suggest.

And then I lead them into that battle myself. From the front. Sword drawn, teeth bared, screaming into the void.

VincentTakeda
2014-11-22, 12:45 PM
Totally agreed. As an aside, your multiclassing gestalting comment is kinda why I prefer pathfinder. Its a good system (not a great system) for discouraging level dips, multiclassing and gestalting. Nice to see another star trek online player by the way. Hope you're enjoying the new club 47.

Kelb_Panthera
2014-11-22, 01:34 PM
Vince, you have a somewhat skewed view of the power of 3e and pathfinder warriors. A 20th level warrior is capable of feats of physical prowess that put to shame even the most legendary people that ever lived..... when they trip..... without their gear. Thor may be pushing it but captain america would struggle to keep up. Once you gear them properly with the appropriate WBL Thor becomes easily doable.

For example, a raging barbarian 20 is rocking str 34 without even trying. That's capable of lifting 2800 pounds over his head. That's a moving truck and he can throw it as an improvised weapon up to 50ft. Sounding superhero-y yet? He's also capable of leaping 17 feet on a natural 1 with no running start. That's half again the RL world record and the barbarian basically tripped on launch. With a running start and taking 10 he can jump 12 feet into the air, again almost half again the world record. Both of those are assuming he didn't bother to pick up any speed or jump boosting boots. He can quite literally punch a typical person (commoner 1 or 2) hard enough to kill him outright twice over. A single feat and an enchanted sword with a particular enhancement can turn that into killing him 10 times over or most cr 12~ish creatures in a single blow; such as a purple worm or, speaking of Thor, a frost giant, albeit only cr 9.

I could go on, but I think I've made my point.

Terraoblivion
2014-11-22, 02:06 PM
The biggest problem with trying to define warriors in a high fantasy setting comes down to one simple fact: magic.

It exists, and unless you are playing a system that has some kind of drawback to doing nothing but using magic all the time, then your level 20 fighter will be outclassed by the level 20 wizard. The thing is though, is that the fighter doesn't need to go through two or three encounters, then rest for 8 hours. That is the (often overlooked, and usually argued down) aspect of the fighter.

Until the fighter is about to drop dead, until he is about to drop to zero hp, until he needs to retreat for an encounter where he absolutely needs the backup provided by spellcasters, he can keep going. A DM, a good DM, should recognize this, and give the fighter the opportunity to shine with the room full of lower level baddies to clear out so that the wizards can save their spells for the bigger threats, the reason you needed to bring a wizard with you to begin with.

But when everyone "dips" into other classes for spells and spell like abilities or the ability to use wands and other magical items, the sheer, raw, keep 'em coming, "cause I am a sexy, shoeless god of war!" loses its meaning. Add gestalt, and you have to start asking where the fighter even is.

That's the D&D speaking, it's by no means universal. Magic can be perfectly safe and harmless for the user, but take time that makes it impractical as a tool for killing somebody who is actively trying to kill you as an example. It's quite common in fiction, game systems and mythology as well. Or they can be good for different things, a nuclear physicists has knowledge that can kill millions in the blink of an eye or provide energy for a country, but you still need a plumber if your toilet isn't flushing properly. That's not a drawback to either, it's just that they do different things.

D&D has just taken the unusual position that not only can make do everything, it can do it quickly, easily and safely and any one person doing magic can potentially learn to do anything he feels like magically. Viewing everything through that lens is going to skew your perception of the whole issue.

NichG
2014-11-22, 02:10 PM
It exists, and unless you are playing a system that has some kind of drawback to doing nothing but using magic all the time, then your level 20 fighter will be outclassed by the level 20 wizard. The thing is though, is that the fighter doesn't need to go through two or three encounters, then rest for 8 hours. That is the (often overlooked, and usually argued down) aspect of the fighter.

Well, the issue here is that 'level 20' is not a well-defined thing. One might as well ask 'what should level 20 represent?'. If levels represent character ability to deal with challenges, the issue is that different characters can have different abilities at the same level due to the ability of players to choose different options. So in a system like D&D, where levels are not an after-the-fact classification but rather measure the number of character-build choices that a player gets to make, saying that a character is 'level 20' is actually not meaningful. And D&D provides no real tools for constructing the after-the-fact classification. So the situation means that its just hard to compare things, because we don't have a thing to point to and say 'here is a reference'.

If we imagine throwing out levels/build choices/etc for the time being, and instead say that there's some highly accurate way of measuring actual character ability, then we could ask these questions in a different way. Namely, something like:

- What is the set of wizard builds which do not outclass nor are outclassed by this particular fighter build?

Or to put it in the context of fictional warriors: If you have a warrior who has the abilities of, say, Aragorn, what fictional wizard has approximately the same level of ability to contribute to a group? It won't be Gandalf, but maybe a second-year Hogwarts student could qualify?

If you can apply that consistently, then I think you could actually end up having the 'wizard who is outclassed but manages to fight the good fight' alongside the 'warrior who just bashes through everything', or whatever combination you might like. But of course D&D doesn't have the tools to let you apply that kind of idea in an automated way.

Mark Hall
2014-11-22, 02:49 PM
The biggest problem with trying to define warriors in a high fantasy setting comes down to one simple fact: magic.

It exists, and unless you are playing a system that has some kind of drawback to doing nothing but using magic all the time, then your level 20 fighter will be outclassed by the level 20 wizard. The thing is though, is that the fighter doesn't need to go through two or three encounters, then rest for 8 hours. That is the (often overlooked, and usually argued down) aspect of the fighter.



There's a few aspects of this, and it's somewhat limited by mostly talking about d20. 3.x vastly increased the power of spellcasters, partially with the 5 minute workday... by reducing spell memorization to 1 hour, regardless of level, wizards could blow their entire loads and be back the next day; in 1e and 2e, with 10 minutes/spell level, a wizard that went through all their spells at high level would be rememorizing spells for days. Concentration rules made it less likely that spells would be disrupted; a 2e fighter would know that if he tagged the wizard every round, before the wizard could cast, the wizard wasn't able to cast. 3.x concentration skills and disruption rules meant that the wizard could PROBABLY cast on any round he wasn't knocked out. Furthermore, 3.x made saving throws less likely to succeed (by pinning the difficulty to the skill of the wizard), increasing the value of save or dies and save or sucks, and increased the spell load that magic users could carry by making scrolls, wands, and potions relatively easy and cheap to make. About the only thing they didn't actually improve on wizards was damage by spell... but then you have some spells that are Ranged Touch Attacks, no save.

Conversely, 3.x didn't do much for fighters, and in some ways depowered them. While they increased everyone's HP (Con bonuses come earlier, can be larger, and apply to monsters), they mostly didn't change weapon damage that much, nor do much for bonuses to damage (strength bonuses to damage are bigger, but they're quickly outstripped by Con bonuses to HP, and aspects like Weapon Specialization have had the same damage bonus since Unearthed Arcana). They turned many manuevers into feats... still possible without the feat, but now drawing an attack of opportunity and carrying a significant penalty, whereas they were simply things you could try in earlier editions. They also reduced a fighter's number of attacks, and the efficiency of those attacks; a 7th level fighter in 2e would make 2 attacks a round with his specialized weapon, both at full efficiency, and (depending on how the DM read it), even with some movement in there. A 7th level fighter in 3.x can make 2 attacks in a round... IF he moves no more than 5', AND by accepting that the second hit will be at -5 from the first hit. While he's got a bigger strike bonus and damage bonus from his strength, everyone's got more HP from Con and a bigger AC from Dex.

It's really a system issue that makes wizards and such so powerful. In Palladium, high-level spells take WAY more time to cast, and cost more PPE than you're likely to have on hand. In Hackmaster, spell fatigue and point costs mean that mages need to be careful about the spells they cast and where they cast them. Fighters get faster as they level, more able to quickly do damage and more able to absorb it. Wizards, at least in Palladium and Hackmaster, have to deal with the fact that their most powerful spells are also slower, and that they may be simply unable to get off a spell anytime they wish.

In 3.x, they tried to solve this with the Tome of Battle... bring up the power of fighter-types to where they could compete with wizard-types. In designing a new system, it is better to simply make sure the problem doesn't appear in the first place through good, thoughtful, design.

Lentrax
2014-11-22, 03:02 PM
This is all pretty much true, but since the question, to me, seemed to be posed using a 3.x mindset, that is where my arguments came from.

It really is a game by game basis, but IMO, I have really yet to find a group anywhere where the wizard doesn't direct the entire parties actions by blasting everything in sight.

It also lends itself to why I enjoyed the rules for using the Force in the Revised Core SW ruleset. You could use your powers as much as you wanted, so long as you were willing to pay your own vp for it. There were so many other things that were not entirely right with it either, but I feel it got the whole "there is a cost to using your power without forethought" aspect quite nicely.

Belial_the_Leveler
2014-11-22, 03:17 PM
Super-high strength is actually pretty easy in D&D.
Every full caster gains 9th level spells eventually. Less than 10% of all warrior builds get that kind of physical ability, be it strength or dexterity; expectations are usually lower. That aside, the system doesn't reflect the bonuses those kinds of ability scores should give at all. If you got the "strength of a hundred men" (STR 45), you should be able to jump sixty feet or more, throw a spear a mile away, swim or climb as fast as most people can run, run five times as fast, perform tremendous feats of manual labor and physical ability and so on and so forth. But the way the system is built, it only caters to damage and attack rolls, with the other STR-based bonuses being minimal or nonexistent. THAT is the major problem; lack of high-end physical bonuses and effects, not the pure numbers. Though numbers definitely help.


unless you are playing a system that has some kind of drawback to doing nothing but using magic all the time, then your level 20 fighter will be outclassed by the level 20 wizard.
And why, exactly, is that? If Hercules can tame Cerberus with his bare hands, defeat an army by throwing boulders or reroute a river through manual labor, while an archmage can tame cerberus with Dominate Monster, defeat an army by Meteor Swarms and reroute a river with multiple Move Earth spells, I don't see any imbalance of power.


the fighter doesn't need to go through two or three encounters, then rest for 8 hours.
So, the fighter won't be using up his HP while fighting like the wizard uses up his spell slots? An average challenge will see the fighter taking at least a couple single attacks' (or a full attack) worth of damage, much like the wizard would be expending a few spell slots. Three encounters later, and the fighter will need to regain HP.

Hiro Protagonest
2014-11-22, 04:15 PM
So, the fighter won't be using up his HP while fighting like the wizard uses up his spell slots? An average challenge will see the fighter taking at least a couple single attacks' (or a full attack) worth of damage, much like the wizard would be expending a few spell slots. Three encounters later, and the fighter will need to regain HP.

And he'll take longer to recover, because he'll be recovering a measly amount of hit points per day, instead of all of them at once.

Vitruviansquid
2014-11-22, 05:27 PM
Nothing's gone wrong. The game was simply designed that way. Ars Magica was pretty clear that the most powerful beings were the wizards. It's not wrong; it's just a different kind of game. In the SPI War of the Rings game, the thrid player was Saruman, far less powerful than the other two, and to play Saruman well required trying to keep the other two well-balanced, so they were defeat each other.


Well that is untrue about DnD. Levels are equated to a certain number of creatures of a certain CR. If the game was designed such that levels have no bearing on player power, and a level 10 fighter is supposed to be a helpless baby compared to a level 10 wizard, then they would not both be expected to handle the same CR worth of enemy monsters.

NichG
2014-11-22, 07:18 PM
Every full caster gains 9th level spells eventually. Less than 10% of all warrior builds get that kind of physical ability, be it strength or dexterity; expectations are usually lower. That aside, the system doesn't reflect the bonuses those kinds of ability scores should give at all. If you got the "strength of a hundred men" (STR 45), you should be able to jump sixty feet or more, throw a spear a mile away, swim or climb as fast as most people can run, run five times as fast, perform tremendous feats of manual labor and physical ability and so on and so forth. But the way the system is built, it only caters to damage and attack rolls, with the other STR-based bonuses being minimal or nonexistent. THAT is the major problem; lack of high-end physical bonuses and effects, not the pure numbers. Though numbers definitely help.

I actually covered most of these points in my original post. I'll restate in brief to make sure its clear:

- As a system, D&D gives you the ingredients to make almost anything if you know how. However, the gap between what you can make and what you do make (or even what you know how to make) is absolutely huge.
- Furthermore, focusing on stats is a mistake because it is far more important what you can do than what your numbers are. If my goal is to make Hercules in D&D, my focus should be on what feats I want the character to be able to accomplish rather than the thought process 'Hercules was really strong, so lets max out Strength'

For example, I can certainly make a character who can throw a spear a mile away, swim and climb as fast as most people can run, and even jump 60ft or more. I'm not going to do it by focusing on strength though - I'll focus on classes that give access to maneuvers or class abilities which accomplish those specific tasks.

But not every Lv20 fighter will be Cuchulainn, Hercules, and Chuck Norris combined. The system gives the tools to do it, but for better or worse it takes a lot more system mastery to make it happen for martial archetypes than for magical ones. Part of that is that because of the way that spells mostly rack up in a central list, every Lv20 Wizard more or less automatically is every mythological wizard combined into one package. While its hard but possible to be Hercules in D&D, it's much harder to be Circe without also being Gandalf.

Lentrax
2014-11-22, 07:51 PM
It is also, from my experience (let me again emphasize my experience) to have a party in D&D where the entire parties actions are not entirely dictated by what the Wizard can or cannot do. I have tried to play pallys, fighters, non archery focused rangers, and barbarians, but everything I could do, regardless of whether or not I went the 'three encounters' without losing many hitpoints, and lets be honest, if your party's fighter can't go more than a couple of encounters without losing so many hitpoints they can't keep going (Where's the Cleric?), then I submit, your fighter is doing something wrong.

But I digress. My main point remains that the actions of the fighter, in a setting like 3.x, because all the party has to do is rest for eight hours, the wizard regains his spells, you clear a room or two, rest for eight hours again, rinse and repeat.

But why can a fighter not keep going? If he can, and has the backup, why is he forced because of the wizard (who is only 30 years old, and can cast 9th level spells?) to stop at all?

Jay R
2014-11-22, 10:32 PM
Well that is untrue about DnD. Levels are equated to a certain number of creatures of a certain CR. If the game was designed such that levels have no bearing on player power, and a level 10 fighter is supposed to be a helpless baby compared to a level 10 wizard, then they would not both be expected to handle the same CR worth of enemy monsters.

You carefully avoided quoting the half of my post that dealt with this issue, so I will repeat it:


This is like claiming that linemen in American football are underdogs, since the quarterbacks and running backs get to make the glory plays. It's true, but only because there's a strong line in front protecting them.

What keeps this from being a problem is the fact that the basic unit in D&D is the party, not the character. A group of wizards alone has more power than a mixed party, but they are also far more vulnerable. I have no problem being the shieldwall in front, while the people behind me are throwing around spells. I identify with the team, and get my share of treasure and heroics. When I'm holding off the enemy, it makes no difference to my actions or my fun whether the mage is casting Sleep on the remaining five kobolds or Wall of Fire on 1,000 ogres.

That's what I already said. Let me continue:
Neither the wizard nor the fighter is expected to handle that CR worth of enemy monsters. The party is. A first level party has a fighter or two protecting the wizard casting sleep. The tenth level party has a fighter or two protecting the wizard casting Wall of Fire. Without those wizards, the fighters cannot beat the challenge, but without the fighters, the wizards can't, either.

[Yes, yes, I know. No group of monsters attacks the way you would attack to defeat fighterless wizards. That's because the fighters are there. Without them, swarming the wizards in melee would win. The brute fact is that forty years after the start of D&D, people are still playing fighters, which is proof that they have value, and are fun to play.]

Hiro Protagonest
2014-11-22, 10:39 PM
But why can a fighter not keep going? If he can, and has the backup, why is he forced because of the wizard (who is only 30 years old, and can cast 9th level spells?) to stop at all?

Because that backup is magical healing from a spellcaster who also has just as many spell slots as the wizard.

Sartharina
2014-11-22, 11:36 PM
If you tell me I slew a thousand year old dragon in one blow... what am I?Eh... I guess it depends on where the deathblow of that dragon comes into play. And... I find myself largely agreeing with you (Though D&D has ways of becoming High-STR hulks as well).

For me... I don't see the Ultimate Warrior as requiring visibly supernatural strength, speed, or agility - No house-throwing, no crosses-seven-leagues-in-one-minute, no blur-of-repositioning. Instead, his 'strength' would be in his poise, precision, and initiative - he'd have incredible spatial and kinesthetic awareness on the battlefield, able to predict and counter blows

Of course, there are some supernatural traits, notably in his attack penetration and endurance and resilience, able to get back up after being pile-driven into the ground.

And, unfortunately for D&D 3.5, at any level of optimization worth discussing, wizards outclass fighters. A party with a druid, cleric, and two wizards is ~4x stronger than a party of a wizard, cleric, fighter, and rogue. A party of two wizards are twice as strong offensively and defensively as a fighter and a wizards. A lone wizard has greater solo power than a lone fighter. The only thing keeping a party of four wizards from completely outclassing the 'iconic' party setup is the latter's presence of a cleric.

I wish I'd saved the article somewhere. It was either a 4e or 5e design discussion thing, where the developers noted that a missing fighter or rogue could be completely ignored without incident in a high-level D&D game, while the absence of a wizard or other high-level caster meant the session is a waste of time as far as whatever was supposed to be happening was concerned (If you're lucky, you might be able to take a break from the caster-dominated plotline to go kill kobolds or something like that)

Kelb_Panthera
2014-11-22, 11:58 PM
I wish I'd saved the article somewhere. It was either a 4e or 5e design discussion thing, where the developers noted that a missing fighter or rogue could be completely ignored without incident in a high-level D&D game, while the absence of a wizard or other high-level caster meant the session is a waste of time as far as whatever was supposed to be happening was concerned (If you're lucky, you might be able to take a break from the caster-dominated plotline to go kill kobolds or something like that)

Well that's a bit of an exaggeration. The adventures that high level parties with casters and high level parties without take part in are fundamentally a bit different but a decent DM can do both without excess difficulty. To clarify, it's not even a difference of scale. A group of warriors can save the world from the Big Bad just as well as a cleric quartet, they'll just take a bit longer and require a bit more specfialization to do it. The biggest difference, by far, is that a party with no casters will find dealing with caster BBEG's extremely more difficult than a party that does have a caster or two, depending on optimization level of course.

Sartharina
2014-11-23, 12:05 AM
Well that's a bit of an exaggeration. The adventures that high level parties with casters and high level parties without take part in are fundamentally a bit different but a decent DM can do both without excess difficulty. To clarify, it's not even a difference of scale. A group of warriors can save the world from the Big Bad just as well as a cleric quartet, they'll just take a bit longer and require a bit more specfialization to do it. The biggest difference, by far, is that a party with no casters will find dealing with caster BBEG's extremely more difficult than a party that does have a caster or two, depending on optimization level of course.The instance that got attention was the case of players not being able to make it to a game, and no ability to play their character for them - if that player was not a caster and didn't have the plot contrive to revolve around them during that session, the party could continue just fine... and sometimes at greater adventure-solving capacity without having to babysit the mundane character. If it was a caster that was missing... unless the session was going to be largely level-agnostic (Such as a diplomatic or low-key adventure), the quest had to be put on-hold - either cancel the session and break out the boardgames for those who made it (I suggest Robo Rally or Super Dungeon Explore for such times), or they cobble-together an improvised session for those who made it tailored for a party without the caster (No such tailoring's required when a noncaster fails to show up)

Kelb_Panthera
2014-11-23, 12:21 AM
The instance that got attention was the case of players not being able to make it to a game, and no ability to play their character for them - if that player was not a caster and didn't have the plot contrive to revolve around them during that session, the party could continue just fine... and sometimes at greater adventure-solving capacity without having to babysit the mundane character. If it was a caster that was missing... unless the session was going to be largely level-agnostic (Such as a diplomatic or low-key adventure), the quest had to be put on-hold - either cancel the session and break out the boardgames for those who made it (I suggest Robo Rally or Super Dungeon Explore for such times), or they cobble-together an improvised session for those who made it tailored for a party without the caster (No such tailoring's required when a noncaster fails to show up)

That really strikes me more as a group problem than a game problem. I'd also presume that it's somewhat less than frequent in a reasonably functional group. Most damning to this particular argument is that it can largely be solved by photocopying everyone's sheet and letting the DM keep the copies. Even if another player isn't intimately familiar with the caster's prepared spells and build, he'll have certainly seen the character's owner run it often enough to parrot his usual activities. Even a somewhat poorly played caster is better than no caster at all in this particular corner case scenario.

Sartharina
2014-11-23, 01:15 AM
That really strikes me more as a group problem than a game problem. I'd also presume that it's somewhat less than frequent in a reasonably functional group. Most damning to this particular argument is that it can largely be solved by photocopying everyone's sheet and letting the DM keep the copies. Even if another player isn't intimately familiar with the caster's prepared spells and build, he'll have certainly seen the character's owner run it often enough to parrot his usual activities. Even a somewhat poorly played caster is better than no caster at all in this particular corner case scenario.Well... it was the game designers' own groups where this behavior was observed.

Kelb_Panthera
2014-11-23, 02:05 AM
Well... it was the game designers' own groups where this behavior was observed.

That's just hilariously ironic. Doesn't change anything.

It does make a certain amount of sense that the designers, many of whom are likely married with children and all of whom have full time jobs designing 5e and other games, might have less free time than they'd like and less recreational investment in playing a game that they spend huge swaths of time working on for their livelihoods. If you spend all day trying to cipher the mechanics for a well balanced troll then you may want to put down the troll stats after work and do something, anything, else on your off time for a while. Unless they all come to this point at the same time it's going to result in a few missed sessions.

In any case this is still a group problem, not a design problem.

Gettles
2014-11-23, 02:45 AM
A warrior in a high fantasy setting should be able to accomplish things against a high fantasy threat on its own power, just like everyone else. If a high fantasy warrior is facing off against a full sized dragon (and more importantly this is the type of game where this is an expected situation) his role shouldn't be a passive "don't die until the mage kills it" the warrior should be active in its defeat (i.e. "I uppercut the dragon onto its back so the mage can get a better attack on it). Evey one in a party should have tools to be relevant against the threats they are expected to face off against, and to be weaker than that should be opt-in rather than the default.

Tabletop RPGs are games where traditionally all success is tied directly to dice rolls, saying that a warrior in a game like that's role is the guy who defies the odds is a recipe for failure as by nature of the game, he is going to be literally shackled to the odds. Let Leonidas and Conan exist in lower power adventures, but at a certain point there is no way for them to realistically help, when that happens let them grow to become Dante and Kratos.

Arbane
2014-11-23, 03:26 AM
He's as powerful as a guy with no magic could be venturing out into a world full of magic. Powerful enough to be necessary but not powerful enough to solve problems on his own. I dont want fighters in my world swinging gargantuan dragons around by the tail just because they're in a world where a wizard has a wish scroll. He's not a god. He's just a tough brave dude who's brave enough to wade in over his head against the odds. Thats the whole point.


The obvious problem with this is that RPGs aren't novels, they're games. With dice. And as any gamer knows, the dice hate your character and want them to fail. ESPECIALLY when the odds are against them.

Or, what this guy says.


Tabletop RPGs are games where traditionally all success is tied directly to dice rolls, saying that a warrior in a game like that's role is the guy who defies the odds is a recipe for failure as by nature of the game, he is going to be literally shackled to the odds. Let Leonidas and Conan exist in lower power adventures, but at a certain point there is no way for them to realistically help, when that happens let them grow to become Dante and Kratos.





You are the Mike Rowe of character classes. You are getting in over your head. You've never done this before. You are not qualified to do it. You will not be good at it. It will not be easy. You will get your hands dirty. But you do it anyway. That is what makes you superhuman in a world full of superhumans. And if you've lost sight of how heroic that makes you seem, maybe you're right that something needs to change. But it's not the class.

"You suck compared to everyone else, so if you succeed, you're a REAL HERO!" is not exactly the best sales pitch for a character.


Well that is untrue about DnD. Levels are equated to a certain number of creatures of a certain CR. If the game was designed such that levels have no bearing on player power, and a level 10 fighter is supposed to be a helpless baby compared to a level 10 wizard, then they would not both be expected to handle the same CR worth of enemy monsters.

YES. And what's worse, a 10th level commoner is, in some weird metaphysical sense, supposed to be 'equal' to either of them.


A warrior in a high fantasy setting should be able to accomplish things against a high fantasy threat on its own power, just like everyone else. (SNIP)
Evey one in a party should have tools to be relevant against the threats they are expected to face off against, and to be weaker than that should be opt-in rather than the default.


YES. Relegating the warriors to the status of 'ablative meatshield' is just bad design. (3.5 is an especially bad offender in this regard with its general policy of 'you want to do anything cooler than HP damage? Either take feats or eat AoOs.")

NichG
2014-11-23, 03:44 AM
Tabletop RPGs are games where traditionally all success is tied directly to dice rolls, saying that a warrior in a game like that's role is the guy who defies the odds is a recipe for failure as by nature of the game, he is going to be literally shackled to the odds. Let Leonidas and Conan exist in lower power adventures, but at a certain point there is no way for them to realistically help, when that happens let them grow to become Dante and Kratos.

I don't buy that 'traditionally' bit. Old-school games followed the credo 'if you have to roll, you've already failed'. Just look at the odds a 1st level Thief has of successfully disarming a trap in 1ed D&D. And, looking at the table of traps and the dead-at-zero-hp default rule, his chance of surviving a failed roll. The whole 'success despite the odds' aesthetic comes from the stories in which a guy with a ten foot pole, a bag of marbles, and three chickens could clear out a deathtrap that claimed the lives of dozens of high level adventurers just by dint of his paranoia and cleverness alone.

In older editions, it was still relatively hard to do that for 'fightery' kinds of activities, but one aspect of that was to hire scads of minions and deploy them intelligently. Its a different kind of tale than Hercules and Odysseus, but there's room for the stories where the 'hero of legend who killed the 1000 year old dragon in one blow' was actually the one guy smart enough to drug the town's sheep, tithe a couple of dozen barrels of wine to the lair, and then wait for the dragon to be asleep.

Frozen_Feet
2014-11-23, 05:47 AM
I'd agree with you if the fighter classes were built with rules that made it feel like a mutant or a demigod... Thats true in a heroes unlimited game. Thats not true in a d&d or pathfinder game. Thor and hercules are not warriors. They are gods and demigods. Hulk is not a warrior. He is a mutant. Calling them warriors is conflating terms. Even in a high fantasy setting, nothing in the fighter or warrior classes says anything about being superhuman.

Even if they are warriors, what makes them amazing isnt the fact that they are a warrior. Its the fact that they're a god or a demigod or a mutant. Captain america isnt awesome because he fights the good fight. He's awesome because he's a superhuman genetic coctail. Iron man and batman arent awesome because they are 'warriors'. They may be clever and do awesome stuff, but the thing that makes them awesome isn't the 'warrior' part of their build.

First of: one of the Fighter's level titles, at least from 1st Edition AD&D, was superhero. The game used to have a score of magic items only usable by Fighters to emulate, specifically, the abilities of Thor and Hercules.

Your whole complaint is built on a false dichtomy. Warrior is one who fights. It's about what you do. It doesn't preclude one from being other things as well. Captain America is an awesome warrior because he has a superhuman genetic cocktail that makes him great at fighting the good fight. Hulk is a mutant warrior because his chief mutant ability is to become strong to the point of wrestling gods.

The idea that being a "demigod" is exclusive with being a "fighter" is false. Once upon a time, "fighter" was pretty much synonymous with "noble", following an idea of people who fight being of entirely different stock than those who don't. See, for example, India and Hindy mythology, or any other system of caste or nobility.

In later editions, this is even more apparent, because the tenet of human supremacy doesn't exist. On what grounds are you precluding a Half-Orc, Elf or Raptorian from "being superhuman", when they aren't even human? Their baseline is already different; their peak is different. Even if not supernatural, they don't, and have no reason to, conform to human limits. Yet they can be, and frequently are, warriors.



For me... I don't see the Ultimate Warrior as requiring visibly supernatural strength, speed, or agility...

What being the Ultimate Warrior means and requires depends on the setting. In the real world, where supernatural powers don't verifiably exists, the best fighters still stretch belief and human boundaries, usually being superior to ordinary people in one or more respect. When you account for genetics, it becomes possible, even plausible in some cases, that they were born with their abilities or potential and hence it would be impossible for anyone else to achieve what they did. They are or were, in some quality, visibly "superhuman", even if they aren't or weren't "supernatural".

Now, in high fantasy, if a human is limited to what's possible "for real humans", while something like a troll can have much greater strenght while still being "as good as human" in other respects that matter, the logical consequence is that in that setting, humans can no longer be "Ultimate Warriors". While the best of human warriors might be better than some troll warriors, they're still condemned to be the plucky underdog against the best of troll warriors. But if you allow your players to play trolls? They don't need to be that. They can be warrior and superhuman, because these two are not mutually exclusive.

And if you ask me, in High Fantasy, letting warriors be trolls is still fairly low.

Belial_the_Leveler
2014-11-23, 10:28 AM
@current fighter capabilities:
1) You can't make a high-level fighter that is tougher to kill and better at melee than an optimized caster.
2) Casters don't need melee defense beyond 10th level or so. Because AC relies mostly on items, they can have the same AC as the fighter unbuffed, and more than that buffed.
3) You can't make a high-level fighter that's more versatile overall than the average caster.
4) People still play fighters because they love the archetype. That doesn't mean they enjoy coming second to casters every time - thus all these discussions about improving fighters and stuff.


@possible fighter capabilities:
1) The failures of existing fighter representations in the system shouldn't limit how things can be fixed.
2) Simple test; can you tap a table, move 5-10 ft, take a shot of booze, tap the wall, move 5-10 ft and tap the table again in 6 seconds? It's not impossible to do with some practice and agility. If you managed it, congratulations; you just took 3 attack actions, 2 move actions and drank a potion in a single "round". You're either an epic level warrior with several custom abilities or the rules need to be fixed to account for a low-level mundane taking that amount of actions.

Jay R
2014-11-23, 11:23 AM
I don't buy that 'traditionally' bit. Old-school games followed the credo 'if you have to roll, you've already failed'.

We never thought so when playing. But you don't go where the major dangers are for the same reason that a 1st level party doesn't attack a family of dragons. The only real difference in old school gaming as I remember it is that sometimes you ran from the encounter, or snuck around it. They weren't CR-rated for the benefit of the PCs.


In older editions, it was still relatively hard to do that for 'fightery' kinds of activities, but one aspect of that was to hire scads of minions and deploy them intelligently. Its a different kind of tale than Hercules and Odysseus, but there's room for the stories where the 'hero of legend who killed the 1000 year old dragon in one blow' was actually the one guy smart enough to drug the town's sheep, tithe a couple of dozen barrels of wine to the lair, and then wait for the dragon to be asleep.

It's not as different from Hercules and Odysseus as you think. Hercules could never have defeated the hydra without Iolaus, and Odysseus would have been destroyed by the sirens without his crew.


4) People still play fighters because they love the archetype. That doesn't mean they enjoy coming second to casters every time - thus all these discussions about improving fighters and stuff.

You're saying that the fact that people like them for reasons other than just naked power is a flaw in the system?

Um ... I have no response, beyond the obvious. You and I play differently and for different reasons.

And that's fine. You enjoy games your way, and I'll enjoy them mine.


2) Simple test; can you tap a table, move 5-10 ft, take a shot of booze, tap the wall, move 5-10 ft and tap the table again in 6 seconds? It's not impossible to do with some practice and agility. If you managed it, congratulations; you just took 3 attack actions, 2 move actions and drank a potion in a single "round". You're either an epic level warrior with several custom abilities or the rules need to be fixed to account for a low-level mundane taking that amount of actions.

To make it seem like attack actions and drinking a potion, you need to change it to this:
1. Look at a table, study whether and where it's moving, and trying to tap it while it's trying to avoid you, while simultaneously being prepared to protect yourself with your weapon,
2. move 5-10 feet while guarding your flanks, never taking your eyes off the table, and prepared to respond to its actions,
3. find a bottle of booze stashed somewhere in your clothes, open it with one hand while keeping your guard up, drink it with one hand without being jostled by either the "wall" or the "table" enough to spill it, while never taking your eyes off either the table or the wall,
(and by the way, you are of course using only a one-handed weapon, with no shield, or you can't get the potion out at all, so you have deliberately handicapped yourself for the fight)
4. watch the "wall", try to get through its "defense" while trying keep up your defense against its attack,
5. withdraw while staying covered again, move back to the "table" guarding yourself from attacks from the wall you're leaving and the table you're approaching,
6. examine the wall's currently posture and make a plan for getting past its defense, then carry out that plan, watching to make sure the wall didn't follow.

The problem with your analogy is that it isn't analogous. You left all the combat out of your combat example.

In the SCA melees I've fought in, if I took time out to pull out a flask within a few seconds of attacking somebody, I would undoubtedly be hit by that person, unless he just "died". A fighter who just throws a random blow without watching the opponent's defense isn't making a real attack, and will almost certainly miss. And one who withdraws without watching his opponent will certainly be hit while he does it.

I'm guessing you've never done any boxing, fencing, karate, or other martial arts.

Beleriphon
2014-11-23, 12:14 PM
I'm going to dispute that my man Sun Wukong is any kind of physical combatant. Sure he's strong, but is also a master of Buddhist spell casting and kung fu. He's like a Divine Ranked Monk/Sorcerer that only gets stopped when The Buddha (not the Jade Emperor the most powerful figure in Celestial Beauracracy) decides to stop him.


Yeah, for some reason bows have come to be considered light weapons in the modern world, despite historically being the most demanding of the user's strength. Far more so than a polearm or a two-handed sword. And the more powerful the bow, the more strength it takes to use unless it's a modern, mechanically assisted one.

A composite recurve bow has a disproportianate strength compared to its draw weight. This a combination of the recurve as well as the materials the bow is made from. A straight selfbow (like the English longbow) has a stupid high draw weight from the amount of power because of how they were made.

Belial_the_Leveler
2014-11-23, 12:18 PM
You're saying that the fact that people like them for reasons other than just naked power is a flaw in the system?
Nope! I'm saying that people that like to play them often end up not enjoying it when overshadowed by casters. And that's the flaw in the system.



I'm guessing you've never done any boxing, fencing, karate, or other martial arts.
Whether I have or not, these guys certainly have;
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcgmhMaSy4g
As seen in the video, a dozen attacks per combat round in semi-real combat is obviously possible by purely human opponents with human levels of strength, dexterity, training and experience.

Arbane
2014-11-23, 04:18 PM
You're saying that the fact that people like them for reasons other than just naked power is a flaw in the system?

Um ... I have no response, beyond the obvious. You and I play differently and for different reasons.

And that's fine. You enjoy games your way, and I'll enjoy them mine.


No, we're saying that the fact they don't HAVE any 'raw power' is a flaw in the system. When the Fighter is is being beaten at his OWN NAME by other classes, that's bad.

Since this has (as always) devolved into a 3.5 debate, I'll just point out that Fighter's not only aren't the best at Fighting, they also tend to be bad at EVERYTHING ELSE, due to their pathetic supply of skill-points and need to wear a cast-iron straitjacket (stupid armor check penalties...).

Hiro Protagonest
2014-11-23, 04:33 PM
In a world with ghosts, warriors should be able to channel their souls into their weapons to fight them. This could mean simply wielding the weapon, or it could mean making a small cut on their finger and spreading their blood across the blade.

In a world with flying demons and dragons, warriors should be able to leap over tall buildings in a single bound.

In a world with power arcane and divine, warriors should be able to smash through force fields and easily break free from ensnarement and mind control (this is partially warriors being too weak and partially spellcasters being too strong).

Warriors wouldn't be mundane, their bodies enhanced by powerful souls, but their extraordinary powers would all be extensions of human ability, rather than the abilities to shoot lightning from your fingers and summon angels.

Or we could just make warriors the Sufficiently Advanced Technology to wizards' magic. Tony Stark. Terminator. Samus Aran. Megaman. Maybe even Ben Tennyson.

Morty
2014-11-23, 05:29 PM
The distinction between "mundane" and "supernatural" gets increasingly meaningless in fantasy settings as they gravitate towards the "high" end of the scale, and even in low-fantasy settings it's not terribly useful. A stone giant or an ox-sized spider can't exist by real-world laws of physics, and yet they don't disappear in a puff of logic when you cast Dispel Magic at them, usually.

It's also a relatively modern invention. I doubt that the people who first told the story of Beowulf got hung up on whether he was "magical" or not. He was mighty, and ripping off the arm of a demon-spawn that laughed at the sword-blows of strong warriors was what mighty heroes do. And it was quite separate from witchcraft. They're all beyond the ken of your everyday Harald the Anglo-Saxon Freeman, but they're not the same thing.

So, really. Quibbling over what counts as "magic" and "mundane" leads us nowhere. It all depends on what you're comfortable with people doing without tapping into some explicitly external power source. And what suits your game or story. Which defies a clear-cut distinction. No one who ever designed D&D bothered to examine it, so this is what we get. And it's spread to fantasy gaming in general.

NichG
2014-11-23, 05:58 PM
In a world with ghosts, warriors should be able to channel their souls into their weapons to fight them. This could mean simply wielding the weapon, or it could mean making a small cut on their finger and spreading their blood across the blade.

In a world with flying demons and dragons, warriors should be able to leap over tall buildings in a single bound.

I disagree with these two particulars. Each character archetype does not need to directly be able to match the powers of the opposition. They only need to have options to deal with them, which does not mean direct negation. If the powers of the opposition are just outright negated (oh its a ghost, so I smear blood on my blade and now we're good to go) then the opposition loses their distinctiveness.

E.g. 'the dragon is flying, so I flew up and killed it' is less interesting than 'the dragon is flying, so I lured it to the ground, grabbed on, and held until I had managed to slay it' (potentially using mechanical abilities to both lure it and grab on) or 'the dragon is flying, so I hurled an adamantine cable around its wings and pulled it to the ground with my strength.'

Similarly, when talking about the abilities of the opposition, its reasonable if no single character can actually deal with it, but characters can cooperate to do so. However, this must apply reflexively - it only works if neither the wizard nor fighter alone can deal with the ghost, but only the two of them together can. That's generally what fails in these wizard-vs-fighter things; the wizard can just replace the fighter.

Now, when comparing what two playable characters can do, I'm more in agreement. I would say however, 'for every significant thing that character X can do which character Y categorically cannot, there should also be a significant thing that character Y can do but which character X categorically cannot.' The issue is that the fighter categorically cannot e.g. fly, but the wizard is merely slightly disadvantaged if they wish to fight (and in practice, they can cover that disadvantage with spells).

Honestly though, the (far) bigger problem about 'fighters' as a thing is in the name of the class: they are people who fight. If there's a problem which needs to be solved which can't be addressed by combat, they have nothing to do. I'd far rather have fighters re-billed as leaders of men who can get others to follow them, inspire loyalty among thousands, and change the systems of the societies of the world than just give them more ways to beat things up in combat. Because even if you make the fighter better at beating things up in combat, the wizard can still fill that role if less well - but the fighter is going to have nothing to do when there's a planar breach or the king is dominated or whatever.

The fact that you need to rely on combat as your interface for the world is a far deeper restriction than not being able to get in range of the dragon or not being able to hit the ghost.

Belial_the_Leveler
2014-11-23, 10:06 PM
A stone giant or an ox-sized spider can't exist by real-world laws of physics.
Nope! 200 million years ago, there were spiders and scorpions the size of horses. 70 million years ago there were bipeds as large and strong as stone giants and with a shape with even thinner limbs than the humanoid. During that period, there were also animals significantly larger than a 3.5 edition dragon.



And that's with the grossly inefficient evolved life. Once someone starts using tech or magic to engineer life instead? Then is when you call the monster-slayers to rid you of the 300-foot-tall Cloverfield monsters.

Terraoblivion
2014-11-23, 10:16 PM
You do know that there are no extinct animals larger than the very much still existing blue whale, right?

Talakeal
2014-11-23, 10:25 PM
You do know that there are no extinct animals larger than the very much still existing blue whale, right?

Or rather, if there are we have not verifiably discovered their remains. The vast majority of life on Earth is a complete mystery to us, and even the best known extinct animals are just projected from a small sample of mostly incomplete specimens.

VincentTakeda
2014-11-24, 06:00 AM
At the end of the day, every decision you make about how things 'work' in your world is pretty much an agreement of fiat of the imagination of everyone at your table.
Your description of what limitations and capabilities a warrior should have will always be different from others.
If a world with magic defacto dictates in your brain that a monk should be able to spin his bo staff above his head until he achieves lift like a helicopter, more power to you.
As long as everyone else at the table agrees that they want to play in a world where that is true.
If on the other hand a gm told me we were playing a pathfinder game and when the game started suddenly warriors were all throwing ki blasts and throwing rocket punches from across a chasm with no magic, I'd bail.
How much you should have to change the rules of the game system you're playing and how much you do have to change the rules of the game system you're playing in order to make those kinds of things happen is a conversation that will never reach a concensus.

The original post seems to be asking the question: what do you think. So I told you what I think. Like it or don't like it. If we can't come to an agreement about what the definition of a warrior actually is... If you can't see the difference between a warrior and an anime action hero... or if you willfully choose to conflate the two, then there's no point to us didgering on about it. Play the game you want to play and enjoy the fact that you've got enough people at your table to play it with you.

Morty
2014-11-24, 01:20 PM
Nope! 200 million years ago, there were spiders and scorpions the size of horses.

And as far as anyone can tell, they could breathe because there was something fundamentally different about Earth's oxygen levels back then. Which is why we don't have them around anymore.


70 million years ago there were bipeds as large and strong as stone giants and with a shape with even thinner limbs than the humanoid.

Bipedal really isn't the same thing as humanoid, you know.


And that's with the grossly inefficient evolved life. Once someone starts using tech or magic to engineer life instead? Then is when you call the monster-slayers to rid you of the 300-foot-tall Cloverfield monsters.

Which makes a difference how? Either way they're not magical enough to disappear when someone puts them in an anti-magic field.

Nargrakhan
2014-11-24, 03:08 PM
Warriors should be able to cleave fireballs, move so quickly it's like their teleporting, throw slashes of energy from their sword swings, redirect lightning blasts with the side of a blade, and other insane feats of martial prowess.

I've said this once, and I'll say it again: IMHO martials should be able to harness the magic that saturates their world, through acts of physical prowess... just how casters are able to harness that same magic through willpower and intellect. Mundane warriors are for the NPC plebs. PC martials should be pulling off insane feats of combat, because they aren't mundane. That's why they're PC's.

That being said... DnD's problem is because 90 pages of material are devoted to SPELLS. If that many pages was devoted to MARTIAL abilities/techniques/skills/etc... well... maybe we'd be arguing that martials are too OP. Casters get vastly more goodies to interact with the world and be creative with game rules. That's where I think the problem lies.

Arbane
2014-11-24, 07:26 PM
If we can't come to an agreement about what the definition of a warrior actually is... If you can't see the difference between a warrior and an anime action hero... or if you willfully choose to conflate the two, then there's no point to us didgering on about it.

Yeah, the guys who wrote about Cu Chulainn, Rama, and Gilgamesh were SUCH otaku.


I've said this once, and I'll say it again: IMHO martials should be able to harness the magic that saturates their world, through acts of physical prowess... just how casters are able to harness that same magic through willpower and intellect. Mundane warriors are for the NPC plebs. PC martials should be pulling off insane feats of combat, because they aren't mundane. That's why they're PC's.

Agreed. (That's how Earthdawn does it - all PCs have powers that are explicitly them using magic, even if they're not spellcasters.)


That being said... DnD's problem is because 90 pages of material are devoted to SPELLS. If that many pages was devoted to MARTIAL abilities/techniques/skills/etc... well... maybe we'd be arguing that martials are too OP. Casters get vastly more goodies to interact with the world and be creative with game rules. That's where I think the problem lies.

Probably. The hard part is balancing it out.

Tengu_temp
2014-11-24, 07:41 PM
Warriors should be able to cleave fireballs, move so quickly it's like their teleporting, throw slashes of energy from their sword swings, redirect lightning blasts with the side of a blade, and other insane feats of martial prowess.

I've said this once, and I'll say it again: IMHO martials should be able to harness the magic that saturates their world, through acts of physical prowess... just how casters are able to harness that same magic through willpower and intellect. Mundane warriors are for the NPC plebs. PC martials should be pulling off insane feats of combat, because they aren't mundane. That's why they're PC's.


Generally I agree, only in most settings I wouldn't call it magic. I'd call it martial techniques, or being just that good. Also, depending on the setting this could be more or less flashy - throwing sword beams might feel out of place in a standard Western fantasy setting, but killing a dragon with a single arrow to the eye much less so.

And of course, this is assuming the spellcasters are also capable of pulling off such insane feats as well. In general, all PC archetypes should be on roughly the same power level.

icefractal
2014-11-24, 08:36 PM
Better question - how powerful should playable characters be in a high fantasy setting?
And then second question - are warriors considered to be playable characters?

You can totally do an Ars Magica thing where mages are just better. But in that case, you would make that explicit, and one person wouldn't be (solely) playing a warrior while another was (solely) playing a mage. If you did it in a D&D leveling paradigm, you'd say that Fighter only went up to 6th level or whatever, and then after that people should change to another class.

But if you say that characters are the same level, they should actually be the same level.

Hiro Protagonest
2014-11-24, 08:46 PM
Yeah, the guys who wrote about Cu Chulainn, Rama, and Gilgamesh were SUCH otaku.

Well obviously otaku had to do SOMETHING before anime existed. :smallamused:

Arbane
2014-11-24, 08:54 PM
Well obviously otaku had to do SOMETHING before anime existed. :smallamused:

Writing slashfic about Benkei and Minamoto no Yo****sune?

(It's a legitimate Japanese name, cuss-filter, honest!)

Coidzor
2014-11-24, 10:11 PM
They need to be able to go toe-to-toe with powerful melee threats without being outclassed by them as a matter of course, for starters.

VincentTakeda
2014-11-25, 01:42 AM
Cu Chulainn, Rama, and Gilgamesh were SUCH otaku?

So uh. Proving my point again by choosing to define warrior by using Son of a God, Avatar of a God, and Demigod.
Warriors sure, but they aren't throwing buildings because they're warriors. They're throwing buildings because they're divine.
A lot of the conversation here seems to be that 'spirit of balance'... The reason I dont care for it is that I happen to play a lot of pathfinder and palladium, one of which doesnt seem to be mentioned much on these boards.
The pathfinder developers specifically state that their game isnt designed for martials to be as powerful as casters. Balance there was specifically considered, then specifically tossed out the window.
Palladium could potentially put a mundane street rat, a half ton mech pilot, and a godling in the same party, so 'balance' isn't exactly a necessity to some folks as much as others.

Milo v3
2014-11-25, 01:49 AM
Cu Chulainn, Rama, and Gilgamesh were SUCH otaku?

So uh. Proving my point again by choosing to define warrior by using Son of a God, Avatar of a God, and Demigod.

See. If you dont understand the difference, then we can't have a conversation.

Yes basically all the awesome warriors in myth are related to gods, but to be fair, most myths are related to gods.

Also could you name a warrior from myth who was defined by being worse at everything than everyone else, who you would want to play as? Because I cannot think of a single example. Fighters aren't meant to be underdogs. No player class is meant to be underdogs. If you want the non-mythic fighter, you play a warrior.

VincentTakeda
2014-11-25, 01:51 AM
Street rats playing alongside godlings is pretty much my definition of 'one class here is an underdog' but that hasnt stopped some of my players from picking it.
To each his own. All I'm saying is i'm just as devoted to my definition of the difference between a 'warrior' and a 'hero' and a 'god' as anyone else is about them all meaning pretty much the same thing.
The reason we have different words for those things is because they are not the same thing. Its not even a matter of semantics.
I never even said i'm opposed to pcs playing as gods... I've even bent the rules in one palladium game so that a player could play a 'mutant godling'...
Not just all the powers of being a godling, but here are the mutations my godling suffers that give him powers that other godlings dont have.
All I'm saying is if that sounds cool to you, maybe you should play some systems that allow for it, or houserule the system you're using now that doesnt allow for it.
Just undertand that if your system doesnt naturally allow for it, then it's a rule for a reason. The publishers wanted to create that dichotomy of power on purpose. It was not accidental. It was not a mistake. It wasn't 'inadequate playtesting'.
You're still free to houserule whatever you like because tabletop gaming is all about fiat and the power of imagination.
On the other hand some folks really love the idea of playing hiccup, or jar jar, or inspector gadget.
Of course most players don't think that when they write warrior on their character sheet that they're going to be playing a gungan. But maybe the powercap is Klingon in a world that has a Q.
If just because the game has a Q means that klingons need to have god powers, then its less like an epic space saga and more like a monty python sketch.
Sure you probably want to end up being the dragon warrior. Sometimes you just need to learn to love being Po. There is no charge for awesomeness... Or attractiveness.

Sartharina
2014-11-25, 01:57 AM
Warriors should be able to cleave fireballs, move so quickly it's like their teleporting, throw slashes of energy from their sword swings, redirect lightning blasts with the side of a blade, and other insane feats of martial prowess.

Martials cleaving fireballs... yeah, I can see that. Or at least blocking it with a shield or sending it back Tennis Boss style. (Same with reflecting lightning)

No to Teleporting by Running, though - Not only because it's absolutely ridiculous, but also because it's overpowered. The ability to safely travel between two unlocked points (No passing go/collecting $200/making stops in between) once or twice per day, or a few more times at risk of going to the wrong place or getting scrambled is NOT on par with the ability to go wherever, whenever, any distance, any path, all day long all the time. (And only 3.5 has the closest to unlimited teleportation).

Throwing energy from the sword is unnecessary. They should just be able to be as accurate with a magic sword that shoots sword beams as they are with it in melee, or be able to be as deadly with a ranged weapon as they are with a melee weapon.

Actually - all a fighter really needs to be good at is being the best at fighting a level-appropriate monsters/hordes of monsters (rogues and wizards can be better at bypassing said monster), and being able to fight what they want to fight. Fighting is a perfectly acceptable interface for the world if you apply it liberally enough, similar to Vaarsuvius' observation on the social applications of Fireball.
Y
Also could you name a warrior from myth who was defined by being worse at everything than everyone else, who you would want to play as?... several Discworld characters, such as Rincewind in almost all his books, and the Bard from The Last Hero.

And Sam Gamgee.

Or Jimmy Olsen

'Screentime', not Power, is what ultimately matters.

Milo v3
2014-11-25, 02:07 AM
several Discworld characters, such as Rincewind in almost all his books, and the Bard from The Last Hero.

And Sam Gamgee.

Or Jimmy Olsen

That must have been an amazing society of prophets to have made mythology with characters having the exact same names as modern day characters :smalltongue:

Also.... how is Sam a warrior.... he's a commoner who was favoured by the Random Number God.

Sartharina
2014-11-25, 02:09 AM
That must have been an amazing society of prophets to have made mythology with characters having the exact same names as modern day characters :smalltongue:I didn't see 'ancient' written anywhere. Just 'myth'. Modern myths are still myths.


... I guess Skeeve is also pretty awesome. But he was a wizard.

Milo v3
2014-11-25, 02:14 AM
I didn't see 'ancient' written anywhere. Just 'myth'. Modern myths are still myths.


... I guess Skeeve is also pretty awesome. But he was a wizard.

I do pity the people who think discworld and lord of the rings is real.

Sartharina
2014-11-25, 02:20 AM
I do pity the people who think discworld and lord of the rings is real.What makes you think people thought contemporary-of-their-day myths were real?

They're very much like comics. Or movies. Sort of.

VincentTakeda
2014-11-25, 02:20 AM
A handful of people on a leaky boat are going to save the world.

Geostationary
2014-11-25, 02:48 AM
Cu Chulainn, Rama, and Gilgamesh were SUCH otaku?

So uh. Proving my point again by choosing to define warrior by using Son of a God, Avatar of a God, and Demigod.


Does it matter? It's the nature of myth that many heroes drift towards the divine over time, and as mythic heroes (of whom these are undeniably some) are the standard we're measuring a fighter's capabilities against, it's entirely reasonable to ask if you can emulate their feats.
Further, a lot of these codifications are ignoring the original contexts in favor of later constructions around those terms. Demigods are a dime a dozen, and not all gods are even remotely similar in terms of power. For instance Norse gods are incredibly fragile compared to their peers (they can die! What's up with that?), whereas anime characters are downright normal compared to the shenanigans Hindu gods and heroes get up to. Anyways, I think I may be skirting close to forum rules, so I'll leave it at that.


Well obviously otaku had to do SOMETHING before anime existed.

In ancient Sumer, the first Ur-taku gathered.

Coidzor
2014-11-25, 04:34 AM
I didn't see 'ancient' written anywhere. Just 'myth'. Modern myths are still myths.

Pratchett is good, but the man isn't even dead yet, and if he were he'd be recently dead so it'd still be disrespectful. :smallannoyed:

Morty
2014-11-25, 07:54 AM
Just undertand that if your system doesnt naturally allow for it, then it's a rule for a reason. The publishers wanted to create that dichotomy of power on purpose. It was not accidental. It was not a mistake. It wasn't 'inadequate playtesting'.

Presumably, they also had some very good reasons for pretending otherwise. It can't possibly a mistake that he rules never account for the disparity, since a fighter and a cleric are assumed to be equally-contributing members of the party, and their Challenge Rating is equal if they're NPCs opposing the PCs.

Nargrakhan
2014-11-25, 08:13 AM
No to Teleporting by Running, though - Not only because it's absolutely ridiculous, but also because it's overpowered.

That's the point: it's ALL absolutely ridiculous. Casters are entirely ridiculous. These uber martials are entire ridiculous. They're fake. They're entertainment. They aren't bound by any sense of realism except to be awesome and cool to play.

Yea you're right, there has to be consideration for maintaining balance within the game rules... but we shouldn't be limited by the whole "it's not realistic" or "real people can't do that" mentality. When we enter a fantasy world, real-world-physics don't apply except for convenience.

Remember He-man? Yea, sure the Sword of Power imbued him with super strength and endurance after a transformation scene, but he was doing all sorts of cool things like reflecting Skeletor's beam spells, punching his spells to dispel them, cutting through vehicles (cause the series was sorta magi-tech), and shooting power blasts from the blade. If you're a serious nerd of the series mythos -- or move past the 80's series -- then you'll know King Greyskull was the real deal who DIDN'T need a magic sword to do all that.



So uh. Proving my point again by choosing to define warrior by using Son of a God, Avatar of a God, and Demigod.

Last I checked in a lot of fantasy settings and mythology, magic was often stated to be a power of the gods or a source of energy emanating from them. In fact Gandalf, one of most iconic western literature wizards of all time, was certainly not human.

This is how I look at it: DnD should be able to support all spectrums from low-magic to high-fantasy. A lot of settings have low-magic martials and high-fantasy casters. Well you know what? There are settings with high-fantasy martials and low-magic casters. DnD needs to devote as many pages to martials as they do casters because, gosh darn it, they can have just as many cool options. There's literature, films, mythology, anime, video games, and everything in between to pull inspiration from.

VincentTakeda
2014-11-25, 09:36 AM
I agree with your sentiment. I just don't agree with your conclusion. I don't think D&D should do that. The thing I've always liked about D&D is the difference in power levels. Magic does play by its own completely different set of rules in that system and that's what makes the system great. I don't want D&D to homogenize martial and magical levels of power. I'm happy that there are gaming systems that do make martial capabilities supernatural. I'm happy that D&D isn't one of those systems. I like a system where the mundanes need to seek magical help to deal with magical problems. To me that is the system's strength. It is a desirable feature and an asset. If they changed it then I'd no longer be interested in the product. They kind of did that with 4 and 5e, and instead I play pathfinder. My consumer dollars talk. Might be in the D&D publisher's interest to create a system where martials can throw buildings or a splatbook like 'mythic campaigns' the way pathfinder did. But I wouldnt enjoy the default being that warriors are supermen.

When I'm ready for natural men to have to deal with a supernatural world I play one system. When I want my characters to have the ability to throw houses, I play something else and i'm super glad I have the option. Cleary there is a market for both. I don't think giving warriors more supernatural abilities is the right answer for the player who wants to play a demigod. We've got plenty of other systems for that and I think D&D is great for remaining within its particular design space. When I play D&D there is an expectation that my warriors are mundane and that my magic is vancian. Just because you also like something esle doesnt mean the thing I like should become your something else. It means there should also be something else for you... And there is.

Jay R
2014-11-25, 11:05 AM
Also could you name a warrior from myth who was defined by being worse at everything than everyone else, who you would want to play as?

A. Fighters aren't "defined by being worse at everything than everyone else". They are defined by a set of abilities. That you believe these abilities are worse than everyone else is not the definition, even if true. (And it's not true. If Fighters are worse at everything in your world, then there are not enough area-effect attacks. The Fighter survives the 6d10 avalanche better than anyone else except the Barbarian.

B. I can't name a myth in which fighters weren't most of the people involved. For every Circe or Medea, there are scores of heroes who are basically fighters.

C. Yes, of course I can.
Iolaus is totally outclassed by Heracles, but was crucial to defeating the hydra.
Thjalfi and Roskva travel and adventure with Thor and Loki.
A brave little tailor, whose only claim to fame is that he once killed seven flies at once, winds up outsmarting and eventually defeating giants that the king's entire army couldn't defeat in straight battle.

Having said that, I don't like the changes in D&D that took away most of the fighter's advantages. When characters die from traps, having more hit points is a huge advantage. When the high level fighters are leaders of armies, they are much greater in power and prestige. The ever-growing collection of spells that allow wizards to do things wizards weren't supposed to do takes things away from the fighters.

But the worst distortion comes from the fact that magic items are bought and sold like commodities. Originally, 20% of magic items were swords, 15% were armor, and only a vanishingly small amount of the rest could improve AC for a wizard. And the only magic items you ever had were ones you found. This meant that most wizards were AC 10 (basically unarmored), or maybe just a little better, while most Fighters were AC 2 before they found magic armor, and much better within a few levels. Items that let you fly? None of my first two wizards had them. Invisibility ring? We had one, and gave it to the thief.

Start with a sort-of balanced system. Then keep giving the wizards more and more options. Result: over-powered wizards.

Nargrakhan
2014-11-25, 11:13 AM
But I wouldnt enjoy the default being that warriors are supermen.

I totally understand where you're coming from and respect that. In fact if DnD openly admitted that the system was designed so casters were more versatile and conceptually focused over martials, I would totally be onboard this train and play nothing but casters to crush those inferior filthy martials. But they profess to attempt balance and argue that martials are not filthy inferiors. So that bothers me.

You're right... a lot of people wouldn't like supreme martials cutting down fireballs and mowing wizards like grass. But then vanilla DnD is not gothic horror with steampunk. We get Ravenloft modules for that. Vanilla DnD is not a PC meat grinder in a wasteland dystopia. We get Dark Sun for that. Vanilla DnD is not an encounter all the strangeness of the multiverse saga. We get Planescape for that.

So why not a setting for high-fantasy martials and low-magic wizards? I don't see it as an issue with the game system: DnD has an outstanding set of rules to work with. I see it as a lack of effort to fully evolve martials beyond simplicity and compartmentalization.

VincentTakeda
2014-11-25, 11:35 AM
Now you're talking. I'm on board with that. While I dont think its appropriate for 'vanilla D&D' or the 'default' of the system to have warriors be superhuman, I'm entirely on board with the system including a setting where warriors are like gods. I wouldnt personally ever play in that setting as a matter of personal preference (in the same way that I stepped away from 2e when they started doing 'kits' or that I never touched darksun or dragonlance or spelljammer...) but I definitely think theres enough of a calling for it that it would sell.

The two analogies that I think represent this really well are Felicia Day's success with her show and the exotic supercar industry.

Felicia Day's show had a hard time gaining traction with networks because they felt it was 'too niche'... It would only appeal to gamers and so it wouldn't have the broad appeal that a network show thinks brings in the bucks. But what to a network seems like a drawback is in fact its greatest asset. There may be less folks who like it, but the folks who do like it like it with the power of a thousand suns. It feels like its a show built just for gamers because it is. Which gives the folks who like it a sense of ownership and a fierce sense of loyalty to it.

Same with exotic supercars. Sure ferrari could make an inexpensive family utility suv/station wagon that would serve the purposes of every man, woman, and burgeoning teenager entering the workforce... Instead they cater to a tiny tiny segment of the population and in exchange demand a downright ludicrous return on investment which, for those who are interested in 'premium performance at an exhorbitant cost such that it separates you from the everyman' are more than willing to pay.

I think a strong and dedicated niche of gamers exists where they would like to continue to use the D&D system in a world where warriors are like gods and wizards pump out silly parlour tricks.

The question for a publisher is 'does the vehemence of the niche offset its smallness'. Will they cling to it so adamantly (and invest in it to such a degree) that it offsets the cost of building somethig for a more specific, narrower audience...

Its sort of going in the opposite direction of gurps and palladium. Those systems were written with a networks studio's idea of a system. Any story you want to tell can be told with those systems, from revised recon to ragnarok. The good thing about publishing a 'setting' is that it is doing the opposite. It is saying 'this world will not include the stories about mundane meaties having to take on an all poweful wizards, but instead will only encompass the tales of great megameaties taking on casters of similar power'. The question is can a profit be made from publishing niche settings. Can enough of a profit be made from it to justify the efforts?

If it hasn't been done yet, is it because the publishers already know the answer to that question? Or is it because they're simply not brave enough to explore the possibility anymore? Leave it to the homebrewers?

Mark Hall
2014-11-25, 11:53 AM
In a world with ghosts, warriors should be able to channel their souls into their weapons to fight them. This could mean simply wielding the weapon, or it could mean making a small cut on their finger and spreading their blood across the blade.


I would suggest taking a look at Earthdawn. IMO, D&D (pretty much all editions) never really embraced highly magical fantasy... they took mundane warriors and thieves and stuck some wizards and clerics in there, without a heavy consideration for what all that magic would mean.

Earthdawn (and D&D 4e, which shares a lot of conceptual similarities) actively embraced the fact that magic was everywhere and that even mundane-type professions were going to have a bit of magic about them. Warriors use magic, both in learning to fight (it is far easier to learn the Melee Weapons talent than it is the skill), and in producing amazing effects.

Nargrakhan
2014-11-25, 01:47 PM
If it hasn't been done yet, is it because the publishers already know the answer to that question? Or is it because they're simply not brave enough to explore the possibility anymore? Leave it to the homebrewers?

My understanding is that Tome of Battle was the first real serious attempt of making martials badass in DnD. I believe the foreword to it even cited anime and video games as inspiration? The reviews for it seem rather praising. I even see people cite it in pro-martial arguments. Apparently it's one of the few DnD books where the word count for martial specific features, outnumbers the word count for caster specific features. Wikipedia claims some of the more interesting martial mechanics in 4e (and I assume 5e) were lifted from the book.

Why this never became the cornerstone of a new setting, redefining the limitations of martials, or revised for later editions? No idea.

NichG
2014-11-25, 03:25 PM
There's a fundamental problem, which is that you can't sell a nerf as a splatbook. WotC's philosophy with D&D has been 'splatbooks, not settings' after TSR flopped in part due to producing a ton of different settings that each only appealed to a subset of their market. But if I made a splatbook that said 'wizards lose their casting progression and instead only get X,Y,Z' then people would just ignore it, because splatbooks are basically player-driven optional rules.

So instead you have to up the power of the martials, which you can do (ToB). But there's a big missing chunk of game-space because the casters can already do everything a dozen times over in a dozen different ways. So to really make the martials competitive, you have to essentially make them able to do everything too. So you can't use a splatbook to create a game-space in which there are some things the martials can do, and some things the casters can do, and they don't really overlap much.

I think its also sort of problematic that the people who want the demigod-like martials are comprised of three camps - one camp that basically wants that because the casters get it, but they would prefer not to play a caster; another camp that actually really honestly wants to play demigods/superheroes/etc with all the trappings; and a third camp that basically wants all of D&D, but wishes that somehow it all played together like a big happy family. So essentially there's no one setting you can publish that everyone in this segment will like.

For example, Black Company d20 is a D&D-based setting where casters are much weaker than in regular D&D, because their effects take time to produce based on the power of the effect. They can make a cloudkill, for example, but only after five minutes of casting. In that setting, there's multiple scales of battle, with a large focus on army maneuvers, so the casters still have a role but its more focused to providing support for the large-scale fights where rounds are longer. In the skirmish fights, casters are basically commoners. So that kind of thing would satisfy camp #1, but at the same time you don't see people talking about their last Black Company game. The fact that you had to strip out a lot of D&D's options, which are basically the major draw of the game to camp #3, alienates a lot of players; and the fighters aren't really walking demigods, so that means that camp #2 isn't satisfied either.

I know of homebrew that tries to address camp #2, but I don't know how popular it actually is.

Anyhow, it seems like with D&D if you really want to get a lot of people on board together, you're fighting a lot of inertia and different views of the game. So a splat- or setting- book probably won't work too well. What might work is something like a 'guidebook to adjusting the theme', essentially something that gives you knobs to tweak to alter the game to anything from wizard-gods and plucky warriors to feeble wizards and walking martial myths, with some systematic way of referencing every option published in existing splatbooks as well as applying to future homebrew. But I think trying to come up with that sort of systematic approach, aside from saying 'play a T3 campaign', is really hard to do while trying to preserve the richness of options that already exists.

Hiro Protagonest
2014-11-25, 04:30 PM
My understanding is that Tome of Battle was the first real serious attempt of making martials badass in DnD. I believe the foreword to it even cited anime and video games as inspiration?

Uh, no, I don't think so. "It's anime" is a derogatory term applied to it, and "it's a video game" is a derogatory term applied to 4e.

Video game warriors are largely a matter of ability to draw aggro (usually or always with some kind of ranged move to do so, such as a taunt or a lasso), take hits, and deal a small but not inconsequential amount of damage. They are not diverse, although it is generally assumed that all classes can hit ghosts unless ghosts are rare and powerful enough to be like, only raid bosses, and as such require specific gear for said raid (I don't think this is actually a thing, but it could be).

Beowulf swam across the ocean in full combat kit, and claims to have only lost said swimming contest because he stopped to fight some underwater creatures. He's not an anime character. "Anime" is a pretty broad term though, and I can think of some people from One Piece who I'd consider proper warriors.

People say a lot about warriors being problem solvers and leaders. That's fine in other types of stories, a lot of warriors do that, from Odysseus to Samurai Jack. But that doesn't fit a tabletop RPG, really, where wizards are keyed off intelligence, clerics are keyed off wisdom, and both of them need a lot less brainpower to figure out which spell to apply. Now, if you're running a low-magic world where the wizards are just casting minor buffs and basic divinations, warriors don't need to be that powerful, but in a high-magic world, that's simply not an option.

So there's basically two things you can do.
1. Truly great warriors spend a lot of time meditating to attune their souls to their bodies. Achieving this form of enlightenment makes them undergo a minor transcendence. The warrior becomes either transhuman, or wholly human, depending on what exactly their soul is. All warriors of this type should achieve superhuman physical abilities and a greatly increased capacity to fight better against mystical forces, but how pseudo-magical you want to get is up to you. Soul Eater and RWBY are decent examples of this, on the "more magical" side of things.
2. Warriors are mutants. This is The Witcher's solution to the problem. They're selected for this either when still in the womb, at birth, or before they hit puberty, depending on the specifics of the process. Magic and alchemy make their bodies undergo accelerated, precise evolution. The end result is enhanced physical abilities and some magic power. In The Witcher books and video games, witchers use silver swords to fight monsters, but they're still easier to get their hands on than carrying a silver, a cold iron, and a ghost touch sword all powerful enough for your level at the same time. This is a spellsword option, for if straight warriors being that powerful simply doesn't fit.

Mark Hall
2014-11-25, 04:40 PM
Uh, no, I don't think so. "It's anime" is a derogatory term applied to it, and "it's a video game" is a derogatory term applied to 4e.

The ToB intro does specifically mention shonen fighting anime as being an inspiration, however. I don't have the book handy, but it is in there, likely in the single-digit page numbers.


Video game warriors are largely a matter of ability to draw aggro (usually or always with some kind of ranged move to do so, such as a taunt or a lasso), take hits, and deal a small but not inconsequential amount of damage. They are not diverse, although it is generally assumed that all classes can hit ghosts unless ghosts are rare and powerful enough to be like, only raid bosses, and as such require specific gear for said raid (I don't think this is actually a thing, but it could be).

Not all warriors are like that; various tank/defender types are like that, but you also wind up with "warriors" who are DPS or even crowd control in videogames.



Beowulf swam across the ocean in full combat kit, and claims to have only lost said swimming contest because he stopped to fight some underwater creatures. He's not an anime character. "Anime" is a pretty broad term though, and I can think of some people from One Piece who I'd consider proper warriors.

Now, Beowulf is a pretty great example of a legendary warrior without explicit divine ancestors... he likely had SOME (because pretty much everyone of note did), but it wasn't his father or even grandfather. But he still does fantastic things simply through strength of awesomeness.

Nargrakhan
2014-11-25, 04:48 PM
Uh, no, I don't think so. "It's anime" is a derogatory term applied to it, and "it's a video game" is a derogatory term applied to 4e.

Gottcha. I don't own the book, nor ever had a chance to read it. Just reciting what I've seen others post about it.



So there's basically two things you can do.

I think we can do more than just those two options as justification. In a world that's saturated with magic, the rules of real world physics don't apply.

Warriors could be channeling the world's magic fields through their acts of physical prowess.

They don't have to be "mutants" -- it's possible the limits of the humanoid body work entirely differently on this fantasy world. We could come up with all sorts of mythical fluff text to state that the humans of this totally fake dimension-world have vastly greater potential in superior strength, speed, endurance, etc than the mundane humans of planet Earth.

That sort of stuff is only limited by imagination. There's currently no shortage of that.

Hell... considering the amount of "half-elves" and "half-orcs" and "tieflings" that DnD likes to throw around... they're already not paying attention to real life human biology. And they don't have too. Why? Magic. :smallwink:

***EDIT***


The ToB intro does specifically mention shonen fighting anime as being an inspiration, however. I don't have the book handy, but it is in there, likely in the single-digit page numbers.

Oops... nevermind then.

I guess I should really find a cheap worn copy off Ebay, and see what this bible of martial greatness is all about. :smalltongue:

NichG
2014-11-25, 05:41 PM
People say a lot about warriors being problem solvers and leaders. That's fine in other types of stories, a lot of warriors do that, from Odysseus to Samurai Jack. But that doesn't fit a tabletop RPG, really, where wizards are keyed off intelligence, clerics are keyed off wisdom, and both of them need a lot less brainpower to figure out which spell to apply. Now, if you're running a low-magic world where the wizards are just casting minor buffs and basic divinations, warriors don't need to be that powerful, but in a high-magic world, that's simply not an option.

Tabletop RPGs don't have to have 'wizards and clerics' keyed off of 'intelligence and wisdom' though. There's no reason you can't make a setting where the primary mode of magic use is similar to sorcerors in D&D, namely 'some people just have innate ability for magic'. Or have a tabletop game where 'intelligence' and 'wisdom' are not in fact how the mental attributes of a character break down, and instead you have 'Cunning' and 'Wits' and 'Knowledge' or something like that.

One thing I like to do in making new settings/games is throw out the idea of pure, dedicated wizards entirely. Everyone has some magic just innately, but its always very specialized. Think something like Orson Scott Card's 'Alvin Maker' series, where basically everyone in the setting has a minor 'knack' - they can set fires, join things together, tell the future, etc. So your warriors in that setting would also have some kind of specialized magic, just as much as your 'mages' would. The difference is that someone who is a 'mage' has invested more character resources into improving their magic than into improving their combat ability or stealth or whatever.

So e.g. you get to pick your magic during chargen, and when you level up (or spend xp, or do whatever you use to advance in that system), some of your choices - feats, etc - can enhance that magic. Its up to you if you want to turn your propensity for flames into something that lets you throw a fireball or stand in a blaze unharmed, or if you'd rather get good at picking locks and hiding in shadows and just have the firebug thing be a backup trick you've got.

Milo v3
2014-11-25, 06:29 PM
A. Fighters aren't "defined by being worse at everything than everyone else". They are defined by a set of abilities. That you believe these abilities are worse than everyone else is not the definition, even if true. (And it's not true. If Fighters are worse at everything in your world, then there are not enough area-effect attacks. The Fighter survives the 6d10 avalanche better than anyone else except the Barbarian.


I think you misunderstand me, I'm saying that Fighters aren't defined by being worse at everything than everyone else with Myths as my example of fighters who get things done.

Mark Hall
2014-11-25, 10:11 PM
The ToB intro does specifically mention shonen fighting anime as being an inspiration, however. I don't have the book handy, but it is in there, likely in the single-digit page numbers.


Page 6 of ToB:


Thanks to the influence of Japanese anime, Hong Kong action movies, and popular video games, the notion of a fantasy setting has grown very broad in the last few years.
...
Tome of Battle: Book of the Nine Swords deliberately blends the genres of Far East action games and the “typical” D&D game world.
...
More than any other, this book represents “culture-blind” D&D: fantasy gaming in a world where silent ninjas and wandering kung-fu masters live side by side with noble paladins and fearsome monsters.


This is not to call Tome of Battle "bad" or "wrong"; I'm not making a value judgement on Tome of Battle's material. While "it's anime" may be a derogatory statement made about ToB, it's like saying AD&D is very Tolkien. The person may mean it as an insult, but it doesn't make it any less true that the game deliberately drew inspiration from it.

Sartharina
2014-11-26, 12:33 AM
Tome of Battle is fun.... but I really wish "Bounding Assault"(Spring attack as it should have been) were Iron Heart(Martial superiority) or Tiger Claw(I'm All Over The Place!) instead of Diamond Mind (The school of measured, precise, and deliberate movements and concentration).

Anyway... Looking at RPGs outside of D&D is a useful exercise. I think the big problem with 3.5 was the wizards (Absolute power at no cost or drawbacks), though the sheer number of "No, you can't do that" facing fighters and rogues was crippling as well.

Mark Hall
2014-11-26, 12:51 AM
Anyway... Looking at RPGs outside of D&D is a useful exercise. I think the big problem with 3.5 was the wizards (Absolute power at no cost or drawbacks), though the sheer number of "No, you can't do that" facing fighters and rogues was crippling as well.

There was a whole mess of problems with 3.x full casters. Ease of recovering spells, more difficult saves, uncapped spellbooks, automatic spell choice at each level, concentration and greater difficulty in disrupting, increased access to magic items, spell speed remaining more or less constantly on par with mundane attacks, etc.

It's the problem when you have only very broad concepts for spellcasters and try to fit everything into those concepts.

Arbane
2014-11-29, 02:53 PM
ANOTHER part of the problem is that D&D is supposed to be a team game, so Lone Heroes Solving Everything isn't supposed to work well in it.

Morty
2014-11-29, 03:28 PM
So there's basically two things you can do.
1. Truly great warriors spend a lot of time meditating to attune their souls to their bodies. Achieving this form of enlightenment makes them undergo a minor transcendence. The warrior becomes either transhuman, or wholly human, depending on what exactly their soul is. All warriors of this type should achieve superhuman physical abilities and a greatly increased capacity to fight better against mystical forces, but how pseudo-magical you want to get is up to you. Soul Eater and RWBY are decent examples of this, on the "more magical" side of things.
2. Warriors are mutants. This is The Witcher's solution to the problem. They're selected for this either when still in the womb, at birth, or before they hit puberty, depending on the specifics of the process. Magic and alchemy make their bodies undergo accelerated, precise evolution. The end result is enhanced physical abilities and some magic power. In The Witcher books and video games, witchers use silver swords to fight monsters, but they're still easier to get their hands on than carrying a silver, a cold iron, and a ghost touch sword all powerful enough for your level at the same time. This is a spellsword option, for if straight warriors being that powerful simply doesn't fit.

Or you can stop worrying and let mighty warriors be mighty. You yourself used Beowulf as an example. He wasn't superhuman, transcendent or anything along those lines. He was simply a hero. And his superior might allowed him to rip off Grendel's arm with his bare hands, after his thick hide and witchery had turned away the swords of Hrotghar's strongest warriors.

Also, I personally would use Samurai Jack as a perfect example of what a good warrior type who takes on powerful, supernatural and even high-tech threats while remaining a warrior should be. He possesses superhuman fighting and athletic prowess, but it's all a result of his intense training, dedication and righteousness of purpose, plus a powerful magic blade.

Really, though. People talk in circles about how realistic warriors should be, but D&D's warrior types and non-magical heroes consistently fall below what a perfectly realistic and mundane but competent Joe the Pre-Gunpowder Warrior should be capable of. D&D's system for non-magical combat is just bad, period.

Talakeal
2014-11-29, 04:52 PM
Or you can stop worrying and let mighty warriors be mighty. You yourself used Beowulf as an example. He wasn't superhuman, transcendent or anything along those lines. He was simply a hero. And his superior might allowed him to rip off Grendel's arm with his bare hands, after his thick hide and witchery had turned away the swords of Hrotghar's strongest warriors.

Also, I personally would use Samurai Jack as a perfect example of what a good warrior type who takes on powerful, supernatural and even high-tech threats while remaining a warrior should be. He possesses superhuman fighting and athletic prowess, but it's all a result of his intense training, dedication and righteousness of purpose, plus a powerful magic blade.

Really, though. People talk in circles about how realistic warriors should be, but D&D's warrior types and non-magical heroes consistently fall below what a perfectly realistic and mundane but competent Joe the Pre-Gunpowder Warrior should be capable of. D&D's system for non-magical combat is just bad, period.

Agreed. I have said it before, but in real life if you take a "big thug with a metal stick" and let him beat on an "old man in a bath robe shouting gibberish" things are not going to end well for the latter; so the idea that a "realistic warrior" can never beat a "realistic wizard" is kind of odd to me.

2E managed this pretty well actually. Wizards could still warp reality and do all sorts of crazy stuff, but they had low HP and AC, limited spells, and needed to be protected for long times to maintain their concentration when both preparing and casting their spells. Warriors on the other hand, despite being limited to "mundane" things, had the best Thac0, HP, saving throws, and single target damage in the game.

Hiro Protagonest
2014-11-29, 05:05 PM
Or you can stop worrying and let mighty warriors be mighty. You yourself used Beowulf as an example. He wasn't superhuman, transcendent or anything along those lines. He was simply a hero. And his superior might allowed him to rip off Grendel's arm with his bare hands, after his thick hide and witchery had turned away the swords of Hrotghar's strongest warriors.

Also, I personally would use Samurai Jack as a perfect example of what a good warrior type who takes on powerful, supernatural and even high-tech threats while remaining a warrior should be. He possesses superhuman fighting and athletic prowess, but it's all a result of his intense training, dedication and righteousness of purpose, plus a powerful magic blade.

Really, though. People talk in circles about how realistic warriors should be, but D&D's warrior types and non-magical heroes consistently fall below what a perfectly realistic and mundane but competent Joe the Pre-Gunpowder Warrior should be capable of. D&D's system for non-magical combat is just bad, period.

Well yeah, but the only being that can't be killed with normal firepower in Samurai Jack's world is the ultimate big bad of the setting, and the fact that there are only two people known to have magic blades capable of killing the guy is a big deal. Such things don't exist at all in Beowulf's stories. Jack can also jump really high.

I forgot to mention though, that they don't have to attain their supernatural abilities through some kind of special training. The soul melding with the body is an idea I got from a 4e Epic Destiny, with the flavor text of "having survived so many battles, your soul has quickened and become more attached to your body".

Coidzor
2014-11-30, 02:57 AM
I would suggest taking a look at Earthdawn. IMO, D&D (pretty much all editions) never really embraced highly magical fantasy... they took mundane warriors and thieves and stuck some wizards and clerics in there, without a heavy consideration for what all that magic would mean.

Earthdawn (and D&D 4e, which shares a lot of conceptual similarities) actively embraced the fact that magic was everywhere and that even mundane-type professions were going to have a bit of magic about them. Warriors use magic, both in learning to fight (it is far easier to learn the Melee Weapons talent than it is the skill), and in producing amazing effects.

Oh, that does sound interesting. I'll have to check out Earthdawn sometime then, thank you.

Morty
2014-11-30, 06:12 AM
2E managed this pretty well actually. Wizards could still warp reality and do all sorts of crazy stuff, but they had low HP and AC, limited spells, and needed to be protected for long times to maintain their concentration when both preparing and casting their spells. Warriors on the other hand, despite being limited to "mundane" things, had the best Thac0, HP, saving throws, and single target damage in the game.

Not really. First off, boiling it down to an arms race between different character archetypes is a recipe for disaster. Second, "biggest numbers" and "single target damage" are both terrible niches to fill. So is standing in front of the actually important people and hoping the enemies target you instead.


Well yeah, but the only being that can't be killed with normal firepower in Samurai Jack's world is the ultimate big bad of the setting, and the fact that there are only two people known to have magic blades capable of killing the guy is a big deal. Such things don't exist at all in Beowulf's stories. Jack can also jump really high.

Sure, but Jack and the Scotsman wreck things that would otherwise take heavy weapons to take down single-handedly, with swords. I've always found D&D's habit of putting "you must be this tall to ride" markings all over the place obstructive. If you can use a sword to single-handedly combat a threat that otherwise requires superior firepower employed by a force of soldiers, you're a big deal. It doesn't require people below your level to be completely helpless against it.

However, such things do, in fact, exist in Beowulf. Like I mentioned, Grendel is mentioned to have laughed off the strokes of Hrotghar's warriors. Sure, they weren't using modern weapons, but in the context of the story, Beowulf single-handedly killed a monster lesser warriors couldn't so much as scratch.

As far as jumping goes, well, that's kind of exactly what I'm talking about. Jack learns to Jump Good from a tribe of monkeys, and it's simply a skill that could be mastered with a rigorous training regimen.


I forgot to mention though, that they don't have to attain their supernatural abilities through some kind of special training. The soul melding with the body is an idea I got from a 4e Epic Destiny, with the flavor text of "having survived so many battles, your soul has quickened and become more attached to your body".

The way I see it, power is power, to quote a certain lich. On high levels, it's just a matter of how you tap into a power beyond the ken of ordinary mortals. It might be powerful spells, a direct link to a god, a divine spark, eldritch secrets, esoteric martial techniques, attunement to powerful artifacts, a righteousness of purpose that transcends mortal limitations... all sorts of things. It's just a matter of marking a line between people who are simply very good at what they do (be it combat, magic, craft or guile) and those who wield such power.

Talakeal
2014-11-30, 03:17 PM
@Morty:

I really dont see where you are coming from, could you please elaborate?

Killing bad guys and not being killed in turn are a huge part of D&D, and relative character power is what most class balance debates boil down to. i am not sure how you can say these things are irrelevant.

I do agree that personality and social influence are both more important, both around the table and in affecting the world, but neither the earrior or the caster archetypes really have an edge over one another in those areas, although the fighter does get his own lands and followers at high level.

Morty
2014-11-30, 04:26 PM
Well, I'm not sure how I can say that either, so it's a good thing I'm not saying that.

Talakeal
2014-11-30, 04:33 PM
Well, I'm not sure how I can say that either, so it's a good thing I'm not saying that.

Ok my mistake. What did you mean by:


"biggest numbers" and "single target damage" are both terrible niches to fill. So is standing in front of the actually important people and hoping the enemies target you instead.

Roxxy
2014-11-30, 05:12 PM
I decided that the martial player characters aren't mundane warriors at all, and shouldn't be constrained as if they were. A lot of that gets into specifics of the setting, though. I find I always end up creating nicer, more optimistic game worlds that I'd live in, so the RP hooks shifted from standard adventuring to government employment, and the PCs are a fairly rare type of person. Think of it like America, except with magitech, Victoriana, Colonial New England, and Old West themes, and flintlock firearms instead of modern technology. The standard of living is high, but a lot of problems still exist, and the government still maintains elite agents. Most Americans don't go into military or police service, and those who do will most likely never be among those agents. Add in a monster population that causes problems but can't be wiped out because the source of the monsters isn't well understood and because some are smart enough to lay low, and add in the part of the mage population that just won't play nice, and a job for those agents presents itself. These agents are recruited because they are well suited to this sort of work, and those who are well suited are much more skilled than a normal foot soldier. I like the theme of a world recently saturated with much more magic than it had previously. This could maybe cause slight mutations among those who have been exposed to dangerous magics or bear some magical lineage but not enough to be a Sorcerer. This manifests in the form of higher stats and, at higher levels, magical abilities that mimic what magic items would do in a normal Dungeons & Dragons game (wanted to ditch the idea of players needing a massive number of magic items). Since PCs are the ones hunting down the monsters that NPC military and law enforcement can't handle, they are constantly being exposed to all sorts of magic, so of course they develop these mutations. So, basically, no player is actually mundane, and PCs are all pretty rare types of person (The reason more people don't intentionally expose themselves to magic to get these mutations is that doing so basically involves being around incredibly dangerous magical beasts and being subjected to their abilities and getting injured by spellcasters.). Also, combine feat chains into scaling feats and let one magical weapon enhancement bonus apply to all weapons wielded (except primary and off hand bonuses should be purchased separately and two handed weapons should use the primary bonus), so martials can do a better variety of cool things.

NichG
2014-11-30, 05:48 PM
@Morty:

I really dont see where you are coming from, could you please elaborate?

Killing bad guys and not being killed in turn are a huge part of D&D, and relative character power is what most class balance debates boil down to. i am not sure how you can say these things are irrelevant.

I do agree that personality and social influence are both more important, both around the table and in affecting the world, but neither the earrior or the caster archetypes really have an edge over one another in those areas, although the fighter does get his own lands and followers at high level.

The thing about 'killing bad guys and not being killed in turn' is that it's a very bad tool for being proactive in the setting, but its fine if you just want to be reactive. Proactively, its a blunt hammer - pick a target and it dies. But if you want to create an empire, save the lives of a million people, found a new religion, build a city, even become massively wealthy, then you can't just point and kill and achieve it. Instead, you need the DM to finish the circuit for you - the DM has to provide a guy who, if he were conveniently to die, would make it so that your goals came to fruition.

The reason it seems like it's so important in D&D to kill bad guys and not be killed is because the DM generally is always providing some guy who, if you kill him, things change for the better. But in a more sandbox game, this becomes far far less useful, because its an ability that does not inherently give you the power to create new plot hooks, only to resolve a certain type of plot hook - it isn't versatile.

In comparison (even leaving magic out of it), a rogue has much more versatility while still being mundane. They can kind of kill things a bit (backstabbing/sneak attack), survive a bit (evasion/good Save vs Breath/being hidden is nice for this), but they can also infiltrate places without violence in order to obtain information or steal things (good for situations where you want to do business in that society later on), etc. In older editions, thieves were the only class that could climb sheer surfaces, so they had a mobility advantage. And in 3.5, they get some abilities for social manipulation and contact-making (Bluff, Gather Information). Rogues can also make use gadgets and other unknown artifacts (UMD or Disable Device, 'activate randomly'). They may not be able to completely jump off the tracks, but now there's at least 4 or 5 different approaches they can use to try to achieve their goals given a particular scenario.

The overly strong focus on combat is, fundamentally, what holds warriors back. And that would be true even if there were no D&D-style wizards and clerics to overshadow them. Any adjustment to warriors which just makes their numbers bigger won't change that fundamental issue.

Morty
2014-11-30, 06:11 PM
Ok my mistake. What did you mean by:

What I meant by that is just what I said. AD&D's approach to representing skill at arms is bad, just like the entire combat system. Giving them bigger numbers to and against the attacks everyone always makes on every level isn't exciting, engaging or empowering, nor does it help a player with portraying a competent, much less heroic, fighter. It also means that every weapon-user is effectively the same - either way they're doing lots of damage to single targets.

Coidzor
2014-11-30, 10:09 PM
What I meant by that is just what I said. AD&D's approach to representing skill at arms is bad, just like the entire combat system. Giving them bigger numbers to and against the attacks everyone always makes on every level isn't exciting, engaging or empowering, nor does it help a player with portraying a competent, much less heroic, fighter. It also means that every weapon-user is effectively the same - either way they're doing lots of damage to single targets.

I beg to differ. Making it so that it takes four rounds of focus-fire from an expected standard encounter to kill the designated tough guy of the party instead of one or two rounds would make said tough guy characters more competent at their job of being tough.

It wouldn't be enough to make them more interesting, I agree with you there, but altering the system so that the "tank" characters don't die easily to expected threats that are supposed to be an average challenge is going to increase their competency at not dying too quickly, though there are many ways that could be accomplished, because that could be toning down enemies, toning down what's expected as an average challenge at any given point in the game, and/or increasing the numbers on the tough guy characters so they have more HP total and not just more HP relatively speaking.

Doing lots of damage to a single target is merely a stepping stone to other, more varied and interesting things, aye, a base metric of functionality for something that's going to be attacking things to death before getting into the real meat of what they're supposed to be doing above and beyond attacking things to death.

If your numbers are such that not every class or character that is supposed to be attacking things to death can do a large amount of damage to a single opponent, then you need to go back and look at why that's the case before moving on.

Talakeal
2014-11-30, 11:13 PM
Ok, got you. I agree that D&D's combat system is not very fun or engaging, but I thought we were talking about power and effectiveness, in which the 2E fighter was no slouch.

I agree, fighter skills have sucked in every edition, although they were least bad in 2E.

Also, going from 2E, no class really has innate world altering social power. Some classes have a higher CHA requirement (although nothing stops classes without having the requirement from having just as high a CHA) but aside from that it is mostly a matter of player cleverness and RP rather than character skills. If anything the fighters automatic keep and followers at level 9 helps them more.

Admittedly, a clever mage have a few tricks to help in social situations and alter the nature of the world, but nothing which would put another class at a serious disadvantage like 3E.

NichG
2014-12-01, 12:25 AM
In 2E, mages and clerics definitely have 'world-altering powers' in the sense that they can do things whose existence fundamentally changes what is possible in the world. Think about something like 'Raise Dead' and what it implies, for example. Now, it's a valid thing to say 'hey, lets bring back X guy who was important!'. That throws all sorts of wrenches into the works of things. Now killing someone doesn't necessarily keep them silent, or even take them out of the line of succession. It changes the very landscape of what 'risk' actually means.

The fighter keep, however, is an example of something very smart that older editions did that got streamlined away in newer editions for sake of focusing the game on the combat minigame. By explicitly giving fighters not just their strength of arms, but a representation of the legend that their strength of arms produces, they made fighters more than just 'someone who swings a sword and makes things die'. Essentially, it's an indication of a direction in which you can take fighters to make them escape the limitations of only being about combat.

Roxxy
2014-12-01, 01:09 AM
The fighter keep, however, is an example of something very smart that older editions did that got streamlined away in newer editions for sake of focusing the game on the combat minigame. By explicitly giving fighters not just their strength of arms, but a representation of the legend that their strength of arms produces, they made fighters more than just 'someone who swings a sword and makes things die'. Essentially, it's an indication of a direction in which you can take fighters to make them escape the limitations of only being about combat.Something I like about my Pathfinder setting is that the focus on government service means that, while the PCs see just as much combat and adventure as a standard adventuring party, the fact that they are employed by a government to protect one specific province (about the size of the San Francisco Bay Area and Santa Cruz county), and the easy availability of rail transit means that the players can develop longstanding relationships in their community. The Fighter isn't just some guy with a musket and a saber. He has somewhere he lives. He has stores he shops at all the time. He has a favorite cafe and a favorite tavern. He knows people in all these places, and he knows his neighbors. Maybe his parents or siblings live nearby. Maybe he's married. Maybe he has children. When he isn't killing monsters or training to kill monsters, he interacts with all these people and places. The world isn't just a backdrop, it's something he has tangible connections to.

Morty
2014-12-01, 12:28 PM
I beg to differ. Making it so that it takes four rounds of focus-fire from an expected standard encounter to kill the designated tough guy of the party instead of one or two rounds would make said tough guy characters more competent at their job of being tough.

It wouldn't be enough to make them more interesting, I agree with you there, but altering the system so that the "tank" characters don't die easily to expected threats that are supposed to be an average challenge is going to increase their competency at not dying too quickly, though there are many ways that could be accomplished, because that could be toning down enemies, toning down what's expected as an average challenge at any given point in the game, and/or increasing the numbers on the tough guy characters so they have more HP total and not just more HP relatively speaking.

Doing lots of damage to a single target is merely a stepping stone to other, more varied and interesting things, aye, a base metric of functionality for something that's going to be attacking things to death before getting into the real meat of what they're supposed to be doing above and beyond attacking things to death.

If your numbers are such that not every class or character that is supposed to be attacking things to death can do a large amount of damage to a single opponent, then you need to go back and look at why that's the case before moving on.

Well, yes. A character will have superior numerical values in that which they're good at. What I object to is making them the be-all end-all of martial prowess, because it reduces competent fighters to number dispensers.


Ok, got you. I agree that D&D's combat system is not very fun or engaging, but I thought we were talking about power and effectiveness, in which the 2E fighter was no slouch.

It's impossible to talk about power and effectiveness of a class without examining the sub-system it interacts with the most.


In 2E, mages and clerics definitely have 'world-altering powers' in the sense that they can do things whose existence fundamentally changes what is possible in the world. Think about something like 'Raise Dead' and what it implies, for example. Now, it's a valid thing to say 'hey, lets bring back X guy who was important!'. That throws all sorts of wrenches into the works of things. Now killing someone doesn't necessarily keep them silent, or even take them out of the line of succession. It changes the very landscape of what 'risk' actually means.

The fighter keep, however, is an example of something very smart that older editions did that got streamlined away in newer editions for sake of focusing the game on the combat minigame. By explicitly giving fighters not just their strength of arms, but a representation of the legend that their strength of arms produces, they made fighters more than just 'someone who swings a sword and makes things die'. Essentially, it's an indication of a direction in which you can take fighters to make them escape the limitations of only being about combat.

It was also a little arbitrary. PCs acquiring holdings, wealth, influence and notoriety should be its own system. Maybe I'd like to play a high-level warrior who doesn't have a keep and an army. But has a legendary spear he's bonded to instead, or maybe possesses an otherwise unknown, nigh-unstoppable technique.

NichG
2014-12-01, 07:32 PM
It was also a little arbitrary. PCs acquiring holdings, wealth, influence and notoriety should be its own system. Maybe I'd like to play a high-level warrior who doesn't have a keep and an army. But has a legendary spear he's bonded to instead, or maybe possesses an otherwise unknown, nigh-unstoppable technique.

Its the job of the system to encourage certain archetypes and ways of thinking. If you really want warriors to 'keep up', any system which encourages players to try to play a character whose only ability is combat ability is going to be a problem.

In other words, you should not be allowed to play a high-level warrior whose only power is that they 'possess a nigh-unstoppable technique' or 'possess a legendary spear'. In a system where level really does indicate the ability of characters to influence the world, that character concept is fundamentally a low level character in a system where there are other mid-level characters who can raise the dead or solve world hunger.

For your concept - that the only thing your character can do is combat - to work as high level, everyone else has to be playing E6.

Mr Beer
2014-12-01, 07:42 PM
A good solution to this kind of problem is often to just pick a system where the underlying assumptions roughly match your expectations. D&D has a lot of inertia to overcome if you simply find the way it does martial characters to be greatly flawed.

Jay R
2014-12-01, 07:58 PM
To answer the original question, for me the ideal is this:

A party should specifically *not* be balanced in the sense of all having equal powers and equal defenses.

Warriors should have less overall power but more overall defense and ability to withstand what comes. Wizards should have moments of awesome power, but need protection. The party should be such that without any one element, they are in much worse situation.

YMMV.

Milo v3
2014-12-01, 08:21 PM
'possess a legendary spear'.

That example actually can work at high levels, by just giving the spear extra magic powers. Like a spear that can control creatures with the dragon type, when stabbed into the ground it roars so loud an earthquake happens, and when used while mounted the mount can travel so fast they effectively teleport.

But, there is a fundamental flaw in having fighters powers come from increased magic items compared to other character, what happens when they lose the item or try to sell it.

Sasaisen
2014-12-01, 10:02 PM
Its the job of the system to encourage certain archetypes and ways of thinking. If you really want warriors to 'keep up', any system which encourages players to try to play a character whose only ability is combat ability is going to be a problem.

In other words, you should not be allowed to play a high-level warrior whose only power is that they 'possess a nigh-unstoppable technique' or 'possess a legendary spear'. In a system where level really does indicate the ability of characters to influence the world, that character concept is fundamentally a low level character in a system where there are other mid-level characters who can raise the dead or solve world hunger.

For your concept - that the only thing your character can do is combat - to work as high level, everyone else has to be playing E6.
This, so much. Too often do these discussions revolve around making the fighter fight harder, when the bigger problem is that "fighter", at least in a D&D context, is a one-dimensional concept mechanically.


That example actually can work at high levels, by just giving the spear extra magic powers. Like a spear that can control creatures with the dragon type, when stabbed into the ground it roars so loud an earthquake happens, and when used while mounted the mount can travel so fast they effectively teleport.

But, there is a fundamental flaw in having fighters powers come from increased magic items compared to other character, what happens when they lose the item or try to sell it.

Making fighters into (effectively) gadgeteers is viable if you can guarantee the fighter has access to those item powers. You can make him Thor and have an artifact built-in as a class feature at some point, or you can make him Iron Man and give him the ability to craft his own items, or you can make sure the party reliably finds magic items and that the fighter gets significantly more mileage out of them.

Gettles
2014-12-02, 05:14 AM
This, so much. Too often do these discussions revolve around making the fighter fight harder, when the bigger problem is that "fighter", at least in a D&D context, is a one-dimensional concept mechanically.



Making fighters into (effectively) gadgeteers is viable if you can guarantee the fighter has access to those item powers. You can make him Thor and have an artifact built-in as a class feature at some point, or you can make him Iron Man and give him the ability to craft his own items, or you can make sure the party reliably finds magic items and that the fighter gets significantly more mileage out of them.

The problem is that they are both defined too broadly and too narrowly. They are Fighters, they fight and thus there a temptation to make them solely focused on doing well in combat to hell with the rest. At the same time, looking at the fluff of the class is as vague and non-committal as possible meaning two people could read the description of the class, one could think Arnold as Conan one could think Kenpachi from Bleach neither has really been contradicted by the lore but both will find themselves lacking in key components of what they want in the actual game.

Morty
2014-12-02, 07:56 AM
Its the job of the system to encourage certain archetypes and ways of thinking. If you really want warriors to 'keep up', any system which encourages players to try to play a character whose only ability is combat ability is going to be a problem.

In other words, you should not be allowed to play a high-level warrior whose only power is that they 'possess a nigh-unstoppable technique' or 'possess a legendary spear'. In a system where level really does indicate the ability of characters to influence the world, that character concept is fundamentally a low level character in a system where there are other mid-level characters who can raise the dead or solve world hunger.

For your concept - that the only thing your character can do is combat - to work as high level, everyone else has to be playing E6.

:smallconfused: May I ask why you equate not having a keep and followers with being utterly incompetent outside of combat? You seem to be making an awful lot of assumptions based on my simple point that you shouldn't stick such a specific feature on an entire class or archetype. Or you're falling onto the old "warriors should do more than fight" truism without properly understanding my point. Now, if your argument is that every high-level character should have class features that equate socio-political push, you have a better case. But there's still so much more to it than simply making every high-level warrior a feudal lord/lady with a stronghold. And, frankly, being a powerful enough warrior to single-handedly take on an ancient dragon is socio-political push in its own way, provided it's not something every high-level character can do.

The assumption we should be making is that if we have two mid-level fighters, both of them has a robust skillset outside of simply making things die, because that's the way it should be. Then, once they advance to high levels (broadly speaking) one of them obtains a stronghold, together with followers, revenue and influence that come with it, while other obtains a weapon, item or technique that grants him new, personal abilities - not necessarily purely combat-related, really. Both have their uses. Another fighter might found a school of combat, and thus gain a number of students, who, while not bound to her by oaths of fealty, respect her greatly, spread her reputation and will gladly fight by her side for a chance to learn. This also has some advantages the other two do not. However, each of those fighters already has a broad base of skills and competencies they gained simply by advancing to their current level. A castle, powerful weapon, ultimate technique, students or loyal knights are simply high-level features that set them apart and make them exceptional. So long as the players are made to understand what each of them entails.

Also, mid-level characters solving world hunger with spells is a problem that should be fixed, not something we should assume.

Funny that you should mention E6, though, because I think D&D could do well to take some of its lessons to heart. Not the power level, necessarily, but the uneven progression. Beyond a certain level, character advancement should become more horizontal than vertical, with characters obtaining unique abilities, items and resources rather than pure power at the pace you see on lower levels. So, sort of what AD&D tried to do, but was far too narrow in application, and that 3e more or less forgot.

Grinner
2014-12-02, 08:27 AM
Funny that you should mention E6, though, because I think D&D could do well to take some of its lessons to heart. Not the power level, necessarily, but the uneven progression. Beyond a certain level, character advancement should become more horizontal than vertical, with characters obtaining unique abilities, items and resources rather than pure power at the pace you see on lower levels. So, sort of what AD&D tried to do, but was far too narrow in application, and that 3e more or less forgot.

Isn't that what happened in 5e?

NichG
2014-12-02, 08:39 AM
:smallconfused: May I ask why you equate not having a keep and followers with being utterly incompetent outside of combat? You seem to be making an awful lot of assumptions based on my simple point that you shouldn't stick such a specific feature on an entire class or archetype.

I'm basing it on the fact that your examples were focused on combat-specific things like a magical weapon or unstoppable move. Certainly you could have meant 'actually, the move infects people with a spreading goodness of spirit that makes the world a better place' or some other non-combat effect, but that isn't the parsimonious interpretation of what you said.


Or you're falling onto the old "warriors should do more than fight" truism without properly understanding my point. Now, if your argument is that every high-level character should have class features that equate socio-political push, you have a better case. But there's still so much more to it than simply making every high-level warrior a feudal lord/lady with a stronghold. And, frankly, being a powerful enough warrior to single-handedly take on an ancient dragon is socio-political push in its own way, provided it's not something every high-level character can do.

My point is that being able to point to the dragon and have it die (or do the equivalent through a more complex exercise of the combat mini-game) only equates to socio-political push when the DM creates a problem that requires this particular skill for you to solve. In non-dragon-infested kingdoms, the ability has much less weight.

Essentially, its the difference between being proactive or reactive. If all your abilities are reactive or weakly proactive, then in a regime of play that is centered around characters doing strongly proactive things, you're going to have problems. Fighting well is actually just reactive in most situations - it requires a DM who creates challenges that are solved conveniently by fighting. High level play is primarily a proactive regime of play, and when you try to run it as reactive then it breaks down.

This is just an aspect of what 'high-level' play means. When you change level ranges in D&D, the style of play itself changes at a deep level - you can do anything from gritty to wuxia to superheroes to walking gods. You can play E6 and the fighter is just fine, but when you're playing walking gods then the concept of 'a guy who fights' is just too limiting to really keep up. So you get a sort of parody of a walking god instead, or the DM has to fill it in for you.


The assumption we should be making is that if we have two mid-level fighters, both of them has a robust skillset outside of simply making things die, because that's the way it should be. Then, once they advance to high levels (broadly speaking) one of them obtains a stronghold, together with followers, revenue and influence that come with it, while other obtains a weapon, item or technique that grants him new, personal abilities - not necessarily purely combat-related, really. Both have their uses. Another fighter might found a school of combat, and thus gain a number of students, who, while not bound to her by oaths of fealty, respect her greatly, spread her reputation and will gladly fight by her side for a chance to learn. This also has some advantages the other two do not. However, each of those fighters already has a broad base of skills and competencies they gained simply by advancing to their current level. A castle, powerful weapon, ultimate technique, students or loyal knights are simply high-level features that set them apart and make them exceptional. So long as the players are made to understand what each of them entails.

The point is that the 'powerful weapon' or 'ultimate technique' is not going to do the trick unless it contributes a sufficient amount of out-of-combat versatility and power. A character who can cause ten entities of their choice to die without fail each round is still more constrained in how they can influence the world than, say, a Lv9 wizard in D&D.

VincentTakeda
2014-12-02, 11:22 AM
The point is that the 'powerful weapon' or 'ultimate technique' is not going to do the trick unless it contributes a sufficient amount of out-of-combat versatility and power. A character who can cause ten entities of their choice to die without fail each round is still more constrained in how they can influence the world than, say, a Lv9 wizard in D&D.

While I agree with the sentiment here... Each class being built to bypass certain inconveniences... Wizards teleport can bypass the inconvenience of travel time and fighter can bypass the inconvenience of hordes of enemies in your way... And the sentiment is 'yeah but wizards can also bypass hordes of enemies in your way'...

The trouble I keep seeing is twofold. I haven't seen a whole lot of 'here's what we actually want fighters to be able to do' that don't end up sounding like 'I want to fight moar'... Chop spells in half! Rar! If the case is being made that a fighter should have more relevance outside of combat, I'm not hearing as much in terms of 'suggestions for what people think they're lookin for' in that regard.

The other trouble is that there seems once again to be an unachievable desire to 'reach power parity'... sure we can look at ways to make a fighter more relevant outside of combat, but the wizards wheelhouse is 'doing wierd stuff' and while I may not be the best person for coming up with 'wierd stuff for the fighter to do to be relevant'... I don't think of the fighter as hamstringed outside of combat. What people seem to be talking about here is 'what kind of crunchy mechanical benefits can I get to make the fighter relevant outside of combat'. I can't imagine the kind of things people are looking for if they *want* a fighter to have some sort of wizard level mechanical bonuses outside of combat, and more adamantly I actually doubt that they should.

I actually like the game because it has wheelhouses, and most of the changes i've seen to the game in the last 2 decades are all about players trying to reach across to other classes wheelhouses. Cross classing this and multiclassing that. Jack of all trades and, if we can manage it, master of all trades as well. Homogenization and versatility of a class isn't a 'good goal' for a system in my mind... YMMV.

At least I can get on board with the notion of cross classing. If a fighter feels like his mundane skills arent measuring up in a way that will help him deal with a world full of magic, it makes sense to me that he'd cross class, put his sword away for a few levels, and learn a bit of arcana if he truly feels he needs it. I can't so much get on board with a fighter that feels like the arcana of the world is going to be more than he can handle so he's just going to 'gumption up' and suddenly be able to throw buildings. There sure are settings and systems out there that allow for it, and I play in some of those systems when I'm in the mood, but with say... pathfinder? I'm playing it because mundanes are mundanes. I play it because there are wheelhouses and power disparity.

So if the nature of the conversation is 'how can I make my fighter a super saiyan', I'm not even going to have suggestions because I don't share the goal. If the conversation is 'I want to be more relevant outside of combat but my answer to that is I want to be able to chop spells in half... We all know what a silly strawman that is...

If the conversation is about 'I want my fighter to be more relevant outside of combat'... I want to hear specifics on where players find fighters lacking in this regard. Outside of combat, the class you play starts to get pretty irrelevant at my table. Only when you're trying to use diplomacy to circumvent a beligerent npc does a crunchy mechanical stat bonus even become something to discuss. They seem definitely to be looking for some sort of 'printed in a rulebook crunchiness'... so other than diplomacy, what non combat crunchy really is it that these fighters are looking for?

For the folks who are indeed looking to make fighters more relevant by giving them wu shu running on air saiyan power, I think that conversation should be kept separate from the folks who think fighters are less fun to play because they don't feel relevant outside of combat... These problems are two separate issues and talking about them both at the same time creates a badminton game where focus can be easily swayed away from a point as it is made. If the conversation at the end of the day is that we just want to make fighters superhuman because they live in a world where magic exists... To me the very suggestion is essentially saying 'can we please make a fighter not be a fighter'. If thats what you want, we already have them. We call them gishes, and they've done what you suggest. They upped their fightin game by adding magic to their repertoire. The fighter's wheelhouse, in pathfinder at least, is to be the guy who gets through life without being able to cast a spell. Its who he is. Its what makes him a fighter. It defines him.

Milo v3
2014-12-02, 06:12 PM
The fighter's wheelhouse, in pathfinder at least, is to be the guy who gets through life without being able to cast a spell. Its who he is. Its what makes him a fighter. It defines him.

That'd be fine if he did get through life without magic. But they don't. At the very least, they need to be covered in magic items from head to toe, and that's to just survive in combat, not to excel.

The thing that defines a fighter shouldn't be "He needs magic to fulfil his name", it should be "I am the best warrior".

Talakeal
2014-12-02, 06:43 PM
The OP asked about the power level of a fantasy warrior.

Versatility, social ability, and engaging mechanics are all good things for all characters to have, but I dont think they neccessarily have any baring on the warriors power level.

VincentTakeda
2014-12-02, 08:10 PM
Not to be contradictory but the 'power' to do more than just fight is a 'power level.'

All I'm saying is that fighters could never do what casters could do waaaay back in 2e, but I never heard a 2e fighter say 'my class needs to change so that i'm on power par with the casters in this game.' And for me personally I think the game was better for it.

By the same token I never heard a 2e fighter complaining that they didnt have enough options of ways to be useful outside of combat.

Why surnny in mah dey a fighter din get no power or out o combat relevance jis handed to 'im. They had ta earn it! In the snow. Uphill. Both ways! Annn they liked it!

NichG
2014-12-02, 08:51 PM
Well, my argument was that in 2e, when you get to high level the game explicitly changes to one more focused on sort of empire-managementey things. Each class gets a headquarters and followers and things like that, and the class determines what sort of people flock to your banner. So in this regard, the fighter becomes a leader of men - a liege lord, a king, etc. The thief becomes the master spy with informants in every city, able to acquire anything in the world no questions asked. The cleric gets a congregation, where his words get to redefine the beliefs of people throughout the world, and he gets to have an ear to the state of their souls and their problems. The wizard gains the ability to create magic items, which is actually kinda meh compared to the others, but sticking with the concept - they have the ability to distill their knowledge and experience into a legacy for future generations of adventurers.

In this sort of change of focus, the game doesn't need to give the fighter super-saiyan powers to still have influence. All the game needs to do is to explicitly state 'people in the world respect martial might enough to follow someone who proves they have courage, strength of arms, and a legend of great deeds'.

But that change of focus isn't really integrated into the game in 3.5ed. There is a change of focus, but its more involuntary than intentional. At certain levels, bypasses exist - they've been imported from previous editions of the game, mostly, but sometimes its just the odd rule interaction that the designer didn't notice ahead of time. So a Lv20 game in D&D 3.5ed can't really be about delving into a stone ruin and fighting a sequence of battles one at a time, unless the party is explicitly going along with it and humoring the premise. An adamantine dagger, a teleport spell, etc can bypass all of that. But the game doesn't actually give much guidance to what it should be about instead, so things are a bit incoherent. The wizard/cleric/druid/etc sees his spells that let him raise a castle as a standard action and rightly concludes 'the game is about turning the world into silly putty and shaping it into our image', or spells which let him go anywhere in the multiverse at a whim and concludes 'the game is now about exploring the furthest reaches of existence, sipping tea with the gods, etc', or whatever. The fighter looks at his BAB progression and extra feats and concludes 'the game is the same as it was before, but the numbers are bigger'.

If the game explicitly started presenting rules that made the transition to a particular different type of play, I think it would be a lot more obvious how to 'fix' problems. But without someone making an explicit choice about that transition, disagreements about what the classes should be able to do are just masking the underlying disagreements about what style of game people want to play.

Yora
2014-12-03, 07:06 AM
Not to be contradictory but the 'power' to do more than just fight is a 'power level.'

All I'm saying is that fighters could never do what casters could do waaaay back in 2e, but I never heard a 2e fighter say 'my class needs to change so that i'm on power par with the casters in this game.' And for me personally I think the game was better for it.

By the same token I never heard a 2e fighter complaining that they didnt have enough options of ways to be useful outside of combat.

Why surnny in mah dey a fighter din get no power or out o combat relevance jis handed to 'im. They had ta earn it! In the snow. Uphill. Both ways! Annn they liked it!

I think the best compensating factor for the magic powers of wizards should be a sword in the chest. There is no problem with wizards being able to cause massive destruction at a distance if they drop down quickly once someone with a sword gets close to them. They have no armor and no shield, and lack the skill with weapons to keep an experienced warrior at bay. When a fighter reaches a wizard, he shoves away his dagger or cleaves through his staff, and then it's sword to the chest or axe to the brain.

But then people came up with all those great ideas for D&D, like spells that make wizards immune to attacks and to increase their hit points, and nonsense like that. If you play rock paper scissor with scissors that can cut through rock and other scissors, of course things end up silly.

Nargrakhan
2014-12-03, 08:25 AM
But then people came up with all those great ideas for D&D, like spells that make wizards immune to attacks and to increase their hit points, and nonsense like that.

That was just the start of it. Eventually the wizard was BETTER at using that sword than the fighter was. Fighter became outmoded and obsolete, at the only thing he was supposed to be good at.

VincentTakeda
2014-12-03, 10:41 AM
I wonder if this is a 3.5 thing. I've been playing pathfinder for a few years and 2e before that... kinda skipped over 3.0 and 3.5... As a guy who loves playing casters, I've never been able to match the sheer death on rollerblades that a fighter can dish out, even with buffs. Pathfinder wizard is not exactly a merchant of death. Even as a summoner the higher my levels got, the less relevant my eidolon was relative to the actual combat classes. A very basic no frills pathfinder dwarven warrior with an axe at 15th level is a devastating wrecking ball.

We could not have beaten our adventure path without our dwarven chopper, and when our current party picked up an orc barbarian, it changed the combat capabilities of the party by more than a full order of magnitude.

Of course these characters weren't super influential outside of their moment to chop the enemy down, but the guys who built those characters weren't building them to do much else and were pretty happy with the results.

Morty
2014-12-03, 10:45 AM
The point is that the 'powerful weapon' or 'ultimate technique' is not going to do the trick unless it contributes a sufficient amount of out-of-combat versatility and power. A character who can cause ten entities of their choice to die without fail each round is still more constrained in how they can influence the world than, say, a Lv9 wizard in D&D.

That's a fair point, certainly. But I still think that arbitrarily giving every fighter above a certain level a keep with followers was clumsy and restrictive. Now, a robust system for resource management, domain building and influence, with every class's abilities and capabilities taken into account - that's a different story. There's a lot more martial characters can do to exert influence on the world than becoming a feudal lord. That, and trying to match magic users' effortless ability to strangle reality isn't a good goal.

Nargrakhan
2014-12-03, 10:53 AM
Pathfinder wizard is not exactly a merchant of death.

Personally, it was in Pathfinder campaigns that I encountered the most broken casters. I've seen caster builds that could singlehandedly take down juggernauts like the Tarrasque.

I was even blacklisted from a group because I wanted to play a martial, and their adventure was specifically geared for min-maxing. Was told I'd be deadweight and not find their play style fun.

VincentTakeda
2014-12-03, 10:55 AM
Stunning. I'll take your word for it. I've somehow had a measurably different experience with it so far...

Mark Hall
2014-12-03, 01:18 PM
Stunning. I'll take your word for it. I've somehow had a measurably different experience with it so far...

I've mentioned earlier a few things that 3.x (and I include PF in this) did to increase the power of wizards... harder-to-make saves, decreased time to reacquire spells, and more plentiful spell-casting items (scrolls and wands) are among them. Conversely, the system reduced a lot of options for fighters... iterative attacks being less effective, inability to move and make iterative attacks, requiring feats for a large number of abilities to be effective, etc. The simple fact that "power attack" and "combat expertise" are feats instead of standard options is an example of this. As feats, they require resources to acquire; if they were simply standard options, then fighters would be able to use them, and be more likely to use them, as they have more resources to work with (i.e. a bigger BAB lets them lose a couple points to gain damage or AC, which rogues and clerics can not as well afford).

I think one of the central problems is the balance between "Fighters have to be bound by the laws of physics" v. "Wizards tell the laws of physics to sit down and shut up." The first keeps fighters constrained to what the person talking thinks humans should be capable of... the second leave spellcasters unrestrained (except, wizards can never heal, and clerics are supposed to provide lip service to not casting damaging spells, most of the time).

It becomes a problem because, quite frankly, there's really no reason for fighters in a magical world to be bound by the laws of physics as they exist in the real world. IF magic exists AND is as plentiful, flexible, and easy as 3.x portrays it (i.e. anyone with an average attribute can learn the basics of spellcasting of several different flavors), then there's little reason to assume that magic isn't also a part of a warrior's training. It's a line of thought that leads to Tome of Battle in 3.x, but was borne out in Earthdawn well before. Because, when you get right down to it, Wizards don't tell physics to sit down and shut up... they simply have a different set of physics to work with than we do in the real world. And fighters should be able to take advantage of the same physics, but in their own ways.

NichG
2014-12-03, 07:13 PM
That's a fair point, certainly. But I still think that arbitrarily giving every fighter above a certain level a keep with followers was clumsy and restrictive. Now, a robust system for resource management, domain building and influence, with every class's abilities and capabilities taken into account - that's a different story. There's a lot more martial characters can do to exert influence on the world than becoming a feudal lord. That, and trying to match magic users' effortless ability to strangle reality isn't a good goal.

Well, clumsy and restrictive or not, its still good at making the point of how things can be different. Most of the time when I see people post a 'fighter fix' on these boards, they take the fighter's combat ability or raw combat-related numbers and try to amp that up. Getting out of the mindset that 'warriors would be okay at high levels if only they could be better combatants' is really the first step. Once you've done that, then you can start to think about different ways for martials to become more than just combatants. The most important part of that is abandoning the idea that 'fighter' is just 'someone who fights' (or alternately, abandoning the idea that 'leveling up' is mandatory in D&D, and just sticking to a single power scale in which that still works).

The 'magic users effortlessly strangle reality' aspect of the game is, actually, something that appeals to people, and there's a place for it. The place for it is ostensibly 'high level', where the characters are single-handedly changing the fate of the planes, dealing with demon lords, gods, elder evils, and who knows what else. But the problem is that leveling up just 'happens' so people get catapulted into that range (or, half the group wants to play Nobilis and the other half wants to dungeon crawl, so the first half pushes for a high level game and the other half ends up grumbling and going along for the ride). In other systems with a ride range of scales, this kind of thing is prevented by explicitly having different tiers of power without any advancement mechanics which take you between those tiers. So e.g. in a superheroes system it explicitly identifies the Spidermans and Batmans as separate from the Supermans, Green Lanterns, and whatnot, so you don't end up with a group where one guy is saying 'The most important thing we should be doing is to stop the sun from going out!' and the other guy is saying 'But there's a crime wave in Gotham city and they're using orphans in their schemes. Orphans!'

The existence of the supermans doesn't make the spidermans irrelevant - they just operate at different scales in the setting. If you want to bring a warrior into a Nobilis game, you'd better be prepared for him to do things like challenge Pestilence to a duel to the death in order to lift a plague from the world, cleave hate itself in twain to stop a war, or drink half of the oceans in order to raise Atlantis from the sea floor.

Jay R
2014-12-03, 08:50 PM
If you play rock paper scissor with scissors that can cut through rock and other scissors, of course things end up silly.

Perfect, and exactly correct. Wizards were given the greatest powers and the greatest liabilities. Then we have systematically taken away each wizard liability, and then want to complain that the Fighter is broken.

The fighter is fine. The wizard is broken.

Arbane
2014-12-03, 10:31 PM
Perfect, and exactly correct. Wizards were given the greatest powers and the greatest liabilities. Then we have systematically taken away each wizard liability, and then want to complain that the Fighter is broken.

The fighter is fine. The wizard is broken.

Yep. And this makes things REALLY tough for the homebrewers who want to uplift the fighter, since the idea of nerfing the casters down to near-omnipotence is anathema to a lot of players.

Hiro Protagonest
2014-12-03, 10:36 PM
Perfect, and exactly correct. Wizards were given the greatest powers and the greatest liabilities. Then we have systematically taken away each wizard liability, and then want to complain that the Fighter is broken.

The fighter is fine. The wizard is broken.

Well, just because the wizard is broken doesn't mean the fighter is fine. The wizard is broken. But the fighter has to get separate weapons to deal with ghosts, demons, devils, werewolves. Such a thing is neither practical within the WBL, or all that desirable as a design goal (there are ways to make the fighter Batman without having him carry twenty pounds of different swords everywhere).

NichG
2014-12-03, 11:49 PM
Well, just because the wizard is broken doesn't mean the fighter is fine. The wizard is broken. But the fighter has to get separate weapons to deal with ghosts, demons, devils, werewolves. Such a thing is neither practical within the WBL, or all that desirable as a design goal (there are ways to make the fighter Batman without having him carry twenty pounds of different swords everywhere).

I'd say it's a desirable design goal if you want to make a game that is more about recon and planning than the actual fighting/take-down. If no one can just generically deal with a given threat without prep (and this is important - there must be no 'one size fits all' option), then it forces the party as a whole to first find out what they will be fighting before committing to the fight. In such a game, you wouldn't just go into a dungeon and expect to survive. You'd have to carefully scout out what you will be dealing with, research the dungeon, and then specifically outfit yourself for that particular challenge before entering.

Also interesting, such a game setting would naturally give rise to specialist groups. Instead of 'adventurers' you'd have 'vampire hunters' and 'ghost hunters' and so on, because if they put all their resources into having the weapons that work on vampires they will generally be better off than trying to be generalists. So then it might flip around and you'd get groups trying to find the adventures that are suited to their particular focus.

For reasons mentioned already, D&D doesn't do this by default.

Eric Tolle
2014-12-04, 08:44 AM
Wizards are overpowered, AND fighters are underpowered in 3.5. There's been a lot of analysis over the last decade or so that bears this out. Some basic problems with the Fighters:

The WOTC designers assumed for some bizarre reason that a 1/1 BAB and 1 feat per level was an incredible advantage- equal to 1 spell level/2 levels. As it turned out, feats were either incredibly weak or gatekeepers for abilities fighters had as standards in 1st/2nd edition.

Iterative attacks, with their minuses to hit, were worse than what fighters had in 2nd. Edition.

The Full Attack vs. Move and Attack choice meant that fighters couldn't take advantage of a dynamic battlefield unless they got the final feat in a long and annoying feat chain.

Don't EVEN talk to me about Specialization.

Sure Fighters had a lot of Hit Points, but then everything got more hit points.

Oh god, saves. In AD&D Fighters had excellent saves. And Wizards could not specialize in getting past saves. 3.X saves are a gaping hole in Figter defenses. Seriously, who was the idiot who decided that Fighters needed poor Will and Reflex saves?

The bottom line is that Fighters weren't properly playtested in 3.0, and now we have a legacy problem with them. But there's hope: just fix the above problems, and fighters are fairly viable as a class.

Or you know, play something like Dungeon World or Tianxia.

Nargrakhan
2014-12-04, 09:15 AM
Sure Fighters had a lot of Hit Points, but then everything got more hit points.

Which really didn't matter, because casters got a catalog of spells that ignored hit points to kill stuff.

Yora
2014-12-04, 09:32 AM
Any discussion about warriors and mages in fantasy should always ignore D&D rules. Because the rules of D&D completely ignore them.

Nargrakhan
2014-12-04, 10:10 AM
Any discussion about warriors and mages in fantasy should always ignore D&D rules. Because the rules of D&D completely ignore them.

Or better yet, just rename that line to Dungeons & Casters, cause dragons are NOT the apex predators anymore.

***EDIT***
Dragons... they've gotten so soft and lazy. In my day, when our level 20 party saw an ancient red dragon, we dove into the nearest ditch and didn't climb out until it vanished over the horizon. Today, when a level 20 caster sees an ancient red dragon, he announces, "I've been looking for a new familiar," and enslaves it. :smalltongue:

Jay R
2014-12-04, 11:22 AM
Well, just because the wizard is broken doesn't mean the fighter is fine. The wizard is broken. But the fighter has to get separate weapons to deal with ghosts, demons, devils, werewolves. Such a thing is neither practical within the WBL, or all that desirable as a design goal (there are ways to make the fighter Batman without having him carry twenty pounds of different swords everywhere).

And once again I disapprove of the changes to D&D with the third edition. The idea that you decide what kind of magic weapons you should have is part of the same problem, as is WBL.

By the time you face ghosts, if you do, the DM should have arranged that you have the items needed to fight ghosts. Alternatively, run way. It's not true that fantasy heroes should never face anything they can't kill, so add CR to the list of how modern D&D is broken. The Fellowship ran from the troll and his goblins. Bilbo and the dwarves ran from goblins. Peter, Susan and Edmund ran from the White Witch's wolves. D'Artagnan ran from the Cardinal's ambushes. Rincewind ran from .. well, everybody.

Morty
2014-12-04, 11:37 AM
Well, clumsy and restrictive or not, its still good at making the point of how things can be different. Most of the time when I see people post a 'fighter fix' on these boards, they take the fighter's combat ability or raw combat-related numbers and try to amp that up. Getting out of the mindset that 'warriors would be okay at high levels if only they could be better combatants' is really the first step. Once you've done that, then you can start to think about different ways for martials to become more than just combatants. The most important part of that is abandoning the idea that 'fighter' is just 'someone who fights' (or alternately, abandoning the idea that 'leveling up' is mandatory in D&D, and just sticking to a single power scale in which that still works).

Oh, certainly. No arguments here. Really, the 'fighter' just has no place as a class. It's a concept, just like 'spellcaster' or 'skill-user'. Fighter can only be a class if the others are 'cleric', 'thief' and 'mage'. At which point you have to ask yourself why you're even bothering with classes.

"Someone who fights" is simply not a concept that works. Everyone fights in a game of D&D. A lot of them fight with weapons. So that's not enough. A high-fantasy warrior needs definition. What is it that sets them apart from everyone else that picks up a weapon? What gives them the martial edge they need to take on monsters, hordes of lesser warriors, spellcraft or God knows what else? Is it their tremendous resistance to damage and hardship? Unparalleled aggression and mobility? Towering charisma that inspires their companions? Impeccable tactical instinct? It can be a lot of things, but it needs to be there.

Gettles
2014-12-04, 01:47 PM
Oh, certainly. No arguments here. Really, the 'fighter' just has no place as a class. It's a concept, just like 'spellcaster' or 'skill-user'. Fighter can only be a class if the others are 'cleric', 'thief' and 'mage'. At which point you have to ask yourself why you're even bothering with classes.

"Someone who fights" is simply not a concept that works. Everyone fights in a game of D&D. A lot of them fight with weapons. So that's not enough. A high-fantasy warrior needs definition. What is it that sets them apart from everyone else that picks up a weapon? What gives them the martial edge they need to take on monsters, hordes of lesser warriors, spellcraft or God knows what else? Is it their tremendous resistance to damage and hardship? Unparalleled aggression and mobility? Towering charisma that inspires their companions? Impeccable tactical instinct? It can be a lot of things, but it needs to be there.

Why does it have to be just one of them? Why can't there multiple types of high level fighter? A wizard might specialize in necromancy or illusion, so why can't a fighter specalize in super human power or political insight or master tactician? And if some end up much more viable than other, who cares casters are still super strong by themselves. Either balance doesn't matter and its fine is some archetypes be stronger than others or balance is important and all classes martial and caster should be.

It seems silly that a class that is as broad and vaguely defined as the fighter is always ending up with "landholding nobility with minions" as an endpoint being looked back at fondly.

Morty
2014-12-04, 01:51 PM
Did I say it had to be just one of them?

Sartharina
2014-12-04, 04:30 PM
It seems silly that a class that is as broad and vaguely defined as the fighter is always ending up with "landholding nobility with minions" as an endpoint being looked back at fondly.Or, if you do go with D&D's "Only casters are relevant at high levels", have Fighters turn into casters at high levels. You can go with "Knight" (Standard landholding noble), "Paladin"(Divine champion who gains cleric-style casting), or "Eldritch Knight" (Warrior that augments his ability with wizard-style casting), among other things. The important thing that D&D-style games seem to **** up here is giving these guys low-level casting, when they should be coming into high-level casting.
Low-level characters are the four basic classes - Cleric is needed for keeping the party alive, Wizard is needed for controlling the flow of encounters, Fighter is needed for handling successive encounters and pulling his weight, and killing enemies, Rogue is needed for not dying to traps and controlling the battlefield.

At high levels, full casters have more versatility than the half-casters, but either can bring out the 'big' guns - instead, while the early levels of a Fighter increased his survivability and direct damage, a wizard and rogue has low-level spells that continue to provide utility and buffing.

... or maybe I just want to play Katt from Breath of Fire 2.

Sasaisen
2014-12-04, 05:09 PM
Why does it have to be just one of them? Why can't there multiple types of high level fighter? A wizard might specialize in necromancy or illusion, so why can't a fighter specialize in super human power or political insight or master tactician? And if some end up much more viable than other, who cares casters are still super strong by themselves. Either balance doesn't matter and its fine is some archetypes be stronger than others or balance is important and all classes martial and caster should be.The important thing here is that we're at least looking at that conceptual level when talking about fighters specializing. Even though that's still narrower focus than what any other capable class is selecting, it can compete in the same ballpark. "Hits people with a falchion," "gets more AC out of wearing heavy armor than anyone else," "makes lots of attacks each round," or "stares down my opponent in battle" don't cut it.


It seems silly that a class that is as broad and vaguely defined as the fighter is always ending up with "landholding nobility with minions" as an endpoint being looked back at fondly.Mostly because that's the only "high level fighter" concept that's passed the bar in at least some edition of D&D.

NichG
2014-12-04, 06:44 PM
Also, the 'become a king automatically' thing is actually something which the casters in D&D 3.5 would really have to invest a lot of resources (in the form of their time) to duplicate, so its actually something with the potential to create a new niche despite the high power level of casters rather than just saying 'okay, when the fighter grows up he can borrow a few wizard toys'.

The casters in 3.5 fill such a huge design space that anything they don't easily fill is a rare gem indeed.

NoldorForce
2014-12-04, 09:24 PM
Ultimately I'd say that there's an implicit question that should be asked first: "how powerful should characters be in a high fantasy setting?" There will be multiple answers to this, and it doesn't matter which we choose terribly much so long as we choose something. And once we answer that, then we can drill down and ask what the fighter's particular niche should be within that high fantasy setting we're setting up.

(A number of folks have been more or less implying this already, to their credit; I'd just not yet seen anyone making it explicit.)

Morty
2014-12-05, 02:17 PM
Trying to "catch up" with the ludicrously overpowered D&D spellcasters is a lost cause. Especially since their versatility has become so ingrained in the culture that everyone takes it for granted. I suppose some people just like a power trip. The goal is to make non-magical characters, especially warriors, play like interesting, compelling characters who can affect the world and story around them in different ways.

Yora
2014-12-06, 08:03 AM
High level D&D is like superheroes. If you have no magic powers, you can't be a protagonist.

If you want to play a game with nonmagical warriors, play D&D at low levels or play something else.

Morty
2014-12-06, 08:06 AM
I would also describe it as "magic" and "non-magic" being a frankly meaningless distinction at that point.

Kelb_Panthera
2014-12-06, 09:59 AM
High level D&D is like superheroes. If you have no magic powers, you can't be a protagonist.

This is true enough.


If you want to play a game with nonmagical warriors, play D&D at low levels or play something else.

This I have to disagree with. See Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne, aka Iron Man and Batman. Reliance on equipment is a perfectly valid course to take. It's a different feel to the game, certainly, but no less playable for the difference.

What's difficult is playing batman next to superman when cryptonite isn't a thing. Even so; difficult, not impossible.

Sartharina
2014-12-06, 10:06 AM
What's difficult is playing batman next to superman when cryptonite isn't a thing. Even so; difficult, not impossible.
Or playing as Batman next to [superpowered character] who also has all of Batman's money and even better gadgets at half price.

Like... what if you have Ironman next to Thor who's ALSO in a suit of power armor. And using a vibranium shield.

Gettles
2014-12-06, 12:40 PM
Or playing as Batman next to [superpowered character] who also has all of Batman's money and even better gadgets at half price.

Like... what if you have Ironman next to Thor who's ALSO in a suit of power armor. And using a vibranium shield.

And also Tony can't make his suit, he has to hope he just stumbles upon parts of it as he goes through his day.

But comparing how things work out in a story to how rules interact in a game is a pointless exercise. There is never a balance problem in a story because all the author has to do to have both Batman and Superman be relevant is for Supes to not do somethings he could do. In a game, the person playing Batman has to hope the Superman player doesn't just say "I can handle that" and negate Batman before he has a chance to do anything.

Kelb_Panthera
2014-12-06, 07:13 PM
Or playing as Batman next to [superpowered character] who also has all of Batman's money and even better gadgets at half price.

Like... what if you have Ironman next to Thor who's ALSO in a suit of power armor. And using a vibranium shield.

The thing of it is this, Superman isn't getting better gadgets. He's not gettting gadgets at all. He's simply getting tools to amplify his already prodigious abilities.

Batman's gear expands his options to a functional level, as was intended by the inclusion of the WBL mechanic, while superman just gets better at what he was already doing.

The half price thing is both strictly a choice that superman has to make at the expense of relatively better available options and one he may be prevented from making in any case. (he has to choose the item creation feats and a DM may [should IMO] pull him back to WBL) but there's no need to quibble over the details, my point is merely that the half-price comment is a "maybe" at best, not a given.


And also Tony can't make his suit, he has to hope he just stumbles upon parts of it as he goes through his day.

Nonsense. There are a number of ways for a non-caster to gain the ability to craft their own gear and an inability to simply buy what he needs (ala batman) is the fault of a DM departing from the actual rules, usually in a misguided, and typically doomed, attempt to achieve a more mystical feel to magic.


But comparing how things work out in a story to how rules interact in a game is a pointless exercise. There is never a balance problem in a story because all the author has to do to have both Batman and Superman be relevant is for Supes to not do somethings he could do. In a game, the person playing Batman has to hope the Superman player doesn't just say "I can handle that" and negate Batman before he has a chance to do anything.

You misunderstand my comparison. My point was, and is, that there are plenty of stories, including two very famous sagas that I mentioned, in which a hero is highly reliant on his gear to survive against the blatantly supernatural foes they often face. It is as valid a choice for a player to make as any that has more direct access to magical ability.

As for how they stack up when playing along side one another, that is -very- dependent on the actual gaming group playing them. A skillful DM can and should arrange encounters such that -everyone- has stuff to do and a wizard that knows what he's doing uses his spells to amplify his allies effectiveness, not overshadow them.

Sartharina
2014-12-06, 11:17 PM
The thing of it is this, Superman isn't getting better gadgets. He's not gettting gadgets at all. He's simply getting tools to amplify his already prodigious abilities.Or he can get better gadgets, because he has the same access to wealth as Batman.

Batman's gear expands his options to a functional level, as was intended by the inclusion of the WBL mechanic, while superman just gets better at what he was already doing.Superman renders Batman completely obsolete - there is nothing Batman can do with his gadgets that Superman can't do with the gadgets he also gets because WBL.

The half price thing is both strictly a choice that superman has to make at the expense of relatively better available options and one he may be prevented from making in any case. (he has to choose the item creation feats and a DM may [should IMO] pull him back to WBL) but there's no need to quibble over the details, my point is merely that the half-price comment is a "maybe" at best, not a given.A wizard only needs to spend one of their bonus feats on Craft Wonderous Item for full access to all magic items of significance. It's NOT a serious investment.

Nonsense. There are a number of ways for a non-caster to gain the ability to craft their own gear and an inability to simply buy what he needs (ala batman) is the fault of a DM departing from the actual rules, usually in a misguided, and typically doomed, attempt to achieve a more mystical feel to magic.There are absolutely no martial characters with enough Feats or Skill Points available to craft their own gear - Wizards don't need many feats because they have spells that are like feats but better, and the skill they use to craft is also the skill they use for everything else. If a martial character tries going a Crafting route, they will be absolutely terrible at what they're supposed to be using their stuff for... and there's STILL no way for them to make most stuff, because they don't have the spells known or caster level required to actually craft stuff.

You misunderstand my comparison. My point was, and is, that there are plenty of stories, including two very famous sagas that I mentioned, in which a hero is highly reliant on his gear to survive against the blatantly supernatural foes they often face. It is as valid a choice for a player to make as any that has more direct access to magical ability.But it doesn't work when they both get equal access to gear.

As for how they stack up when playing along side one another, that is -very- dependent on the actual gaming group playing them. A skillful DM can and should arrange encounters such that -everyone- has stuff to do and a wizard that knows what he's doing uses his spells to amplify his allies effectiveness, not overshadow them.Or a wizard can realize his party members are dead weight, and have them reroll as wizards.

2 wizards > 1 wizards+1 fighter+1 rogue.

Talakeal
2014-12-06, 11:36 PM
Or a wizard can realize his party members are dead weight, and have them reroll as wizards.

2 wizards > 1 wizards+1 fighter+1 rogue.

This is all a very 3.X centric approach. Even in other editions of D&D (or even certain levels and player competency levels in 3e), let alone other RPGs this is not going to hold true.

Frozen_Feet
2014-12-07, 04:22 AM
Or a wizard can realize his party members are dead weight, and have them reroll as wizards.

This requires allowing a very specific sort of metagame thinking for the wizard, running counter to player-character-separation.

Just because the wizard's player knows the other players could choose to play wizards instead of more optimal choices, it does not follow that the in-game wizard has any reason to assume the in-game fighter and thief could've become wizards, or could be replaced with wizards.

Gettles
2014-12-07, 07:18 AM
I want someone to really take a stab at this. At high level, what purpose does does the Fighter(not the diplomat, not the noble, the character who has spent his career up til this point improving his skill at fighting) have? When the threats are Elder Dragons and Gods what is the Fighter, the Rouge, and the Monks way of contributing to an adventure?

NichG
2014-12-07, 07:46 AM
My question is, why should there necessarily be a Fighter - meaning specifically and only someone who is specialized at skirmish-level combat - way of contributing to, e.g., an adventure centered around dealing with the aftermath of Death's demise - which I'd take to be a reasonable plotline for something at epic levels.

Or to put it another way, why do we have this expectation that personal-scale combat should be able to solve problems at every scale?

You can certainly make ways for that to be the case, but I guarantee that they're going to either look like railroads (you can fix the problem if you kill X!), or they're going to look really psychedelic and risk looking like some thinly refluffed version of magic. For example, you could have a high-level Fighter power: 'the character can challenge ambient abstract concepts to duels - if they win, they can make a demand of said abstract concept that may apply locally or universally'. That would let them deal with things like 'Death died, what do we do now?'. But it doesn't really look like the special thing is how awesome they are at fighting, it looks like the special thing is that somehow they can chat with Change itself and challenge it to a fight.

Sartharina
2014-12-07, 08:38 AM
Just because the wizard's player knows the other players could choose to play wizards instead of more optimal choices, it does not follow that the in-game wizard has any reason to assume the in-game fighter and thief could've become wizards, or could be replaced with wizards.Actually, after a while, it becomes very clear to the wizard that he'd be more effective travelling with another wizard or a Cleric or a Druid instead of dressed-up peasants.


I want someone to really take a stab at this. At high level, what purpose does does the Fighter(not the diplomat, not the noble, the character who has spent his career up til this point improving his skill at fighting) have? When the threats are Elder Dragons and Gods what is the Fighter, the Rouge, and the Monks way of contributing to an adventure?The fighter's SUPPOSED to be slaying that elder dragon and withstanding its assault. The monk is SUPPOSED to kick its ass with kung fu. The rogue's supposed to steal its hoard.
My question is, why should there necessarily be a Fighter - meaning specifically and only someone who is specialized at skirmish-level combat - way of contributing to, e.g., an adventure centered around dealing with the aftermath of Death's demise - which I'd take to be a reasonable plotline for something at epic levels.

Or to put it another way, why do we have this expectation that personal-scale combat should be able to solve problems at every scale?

You can certainly make ways for that to be the case, but I guarantee that they're going to either look like railroads (you can fix the problem if you kill X!), or they're going to look really psychedelic and risk looking like some thinly refluffed version of magic. For example, you could have a high-level Fighter power: 'the character can challenge ambient abstract concepts to duels - if they win, they can make a demand of said abstract concept that may apply locally or universally'. That would let them deal with things like 'Death died, what do we do now?'. But it doesn't really look like the special thing is how awesome they are at fighting, it looks like the special thing is that somehow they can chat with Change itself and challenge it to a fight.Simple - they feed the Lady of Pain her own blades, and follow up with "Who's next?" A sufficiently high-level fighter can bully Gods and slay those that get out of line.

NichG
2014-12-07, 11:10 AM
Simple - they feed the Lady of Pain her own blades, and follow up with "Who's next?" A sufficiently high-level fighter can bully Gods and slay those that get out of line.

This falls under the 'railroad' case, IMO. E.g. here, if you want to change something about the world, there has to be a singular entity whose continued existence is responsible for the thing you don't like. If all war is because of the war god, then sure, you can go hunt him down and kill him to end war. But if the war god is just a god who is associated with war and not the actual cause or controller of war, then you can't end all wars by bullying him.

'Lets go beat up the Lady of Pain' is certainly something that the epitome of combat could go and do, but it leaves unanswered the question: 'to what end?'. How does doing that actually help them achieve their goals? That kind of character is basically a hammer looking for nails - they can find big things and use their hammer on them and hope something interesting breaks, but that's about it.

Sartharina
2014-12-07, 11:39 AM
This falls under the 'railroad' case, IMO. E.g. here, if you want to change something about the world, there has to be a singular entity whose continued existence is responsible for the thing you don't like. If all war is because of the war god, then sure, you can go hunt him down and kill him to end war. But if the war god is just a god who is associated with war and not the actual cause or controller of war, then you can't end all wars by bullying him.

Why are you assuming that the world has to be able to be changed on the level you think it should be? Wizards can't end all war, so why should fighters? Nobody can remove the universal behavioral constants of the world. Not even wizards.

And... actually, the way to End All War is simple - troubleshoot it on a case-by-case basis.

'Lets go beat up the Lady of Pain' is certainly something that the epitome of combat could go and do, but it leaves unanswered the question: 'to what end?'. How does doing that actually help them achieve their goals? That kind of character is basically a hammer looking for nails - they can find big things and use their hammer on them and hope something interesting breaks, but that's about it.
That's all it needs to be. By using their hammer, they can break apart parts of the world they don't like, and rebuild parts they do like by hammering things into position.

Alberic Strein
2014-12-07, 11:53 AM
'Lets go beat up the Lady of Pain' is certainly something that the epitome of combat could go and do, but it leaves unanswered the question: 'to what end?'. How does doing that actually help them achieve their goals? That kind of character is basically a hammer looking for nails - they can find big things and use their hammer on them and hope something interesting breaks, but that's about it.

I can enjoy playing a guy who's sole solution to problems is to walk up to the person in charge and slap her/him until s/he backs down.

Jay R
2014-12-07, 12:40 PM
Or a wizard can realize his party members are dead weight, and have them reroll as wizards.

That's meta-gaming. A wizard does not know anything about re-rolling. You're proposing that the wizard says, "Why don't you guys kill yourselves,so more powerful people will happen to run into me at a tavern."


2 wizards > 1 wizards+1 fighter+1 rogue.

The two wizards would be taken out at first level by an ambush from a small group of goblins, since there's nobody to hold them off while the casters cast sleep.

It's possible that a party that magically starts at mid-to high-level might be better off without casters, but there's no real way for them to get there. If they actually lived a real life, they had fighters with them, so there was never any incentive for a wizard to back off wizardry enough to pick up fighter and thief skills.

And they wouldn't do so, just as a rich man in an estate is more likely to hire a full-time gardener than to look how to mulch, even if he could do it better.

Besides, those two wizards need eight full hours of sleep each. Either they guard each other, using 16 hours out of every day, or they hire (guess what?) fighters. And if they guard each other, the wakeful one will soon have his throat cut by (Oh lookie!) a rogue. They can also be taken out by any area-effect trap, since they don't have the hit points. They need a high-hp fighter to dig them out and rescue them.

Only by ignoring all kinds of reality, such as early development, ambushes. etc., can you create an effective caster-only party.

Originally, wizards had the highest powers and the highest disadvantages. 3E tilted the rules grossly in favor of the casters by systematically eliminating all their disadvantages

VincentTakeda
2014-12-07, 01:29 PM
I want someone to really take a stab at this. At high level, what purpose does does the Fighter(not the diplomat, not the noble, the character who has spent his career up til this point improving his skill at fighting) have? When the threats are Elder Dragons and Gods what is the Fighter, the Rouge, and the Monks way of contributing to an adventure?

We actually answered this question all the way back in the early 80's... Their purpose is called 'canon fodder'

Sartharina
2014-12-07, 02:04 PM
That's meta-gaming. A wizard does not know anything about re-rolling. You're proposing that the wizard says, "Why don't you guys kill yourselves,so more powerful people will happen to run into me at a tavern."Nah, it's more like saying "You guys are dead weight, so how about you go back home to your lives", then make a new contract with new wizards. Of course, they'd keep their 'dead weight' companions as what amount to henchmen until they can find more wizards/clerics to join them.


The two wizards would be taken out at first level by an ambush from a small group of goblins, since there's nobody to hold them off while the casters cast sleep.The wizards act first, and have good defenses from their Mage Armor up. And possibly a few charmed bodyguards as well.

It's possible that a party that magically starts at mid-to high-level might be better off without casters, but there's no real way for them to get there. If they actually lived a real life, they had fighters with them, so there was never any incentive for a wizard to back off wizardry enough to pick up fighter and thief skills.

And they wouldn't do so, just as a rich man in an estate is more likely to hire a full-time gardener than to look how to mulch, even if he could do it better.So he hires a hireling. The Rich man doesn't divide his income equally with his gardener.

Besides, those two wizards need eight full hours of sleep each. Either they guard each other, using 16 hours out of every day, or they hire (guess what?) fighters. And if they guard each other, the wakeful one will soon have his throat cut by (Oh lookie!) a rogue. They can also be taken out by any area-effect trap, since they don't have the hit points. They need a high-hp fighter to dig them out and rescue them.You mean the rogue that is auto-detected by the mage's defenses? (Alarm+Detect Magic or Arcane Sight don't care about how well a rogue can sneak, and no wizard past level 4 sleeps somewhere someone else can access)

Only by ignoring all kinds of reality, such as early development, ambushes. etc., can you create an effective caster-only party.Or just play 3.P.

Originally, wizards had the highest powers and the highest disadvantages. 3E tilted the rules grossly in favor of the casters by systematically eliminating all their disadvantagesThis is absolutely true.

Talakeal
2014-12-07, 04:42 PM
Nah, it's more like saying "You guys are dead weight, so how about you go back home to your lives", then make a new contract with new wizards. Of course, they'd keep their 'dead weight' companions as what amount to henchmen until they can find more wizards/clerics to join them.

The wizards act first, and have good defenses from their Mage Armor up. And possibly a few charmed bodyguards as well.
So he hires a hireling. The Rich man doesn't divide his income equally with his gardener.
You mean the rogue that is auto-detected by the mage's defenses? (Alarm+Detect Magic or Arcane Sight don't care about how well a rogue can sneak, and no wizard past level 4 sleeps somewhere someone else can access)
Or just play 3.P.
This is absolutely true.

How the heck many spells does this low level mage have? And how are they keeping that many spells active at a time? And how do they actually deal with the enemy party once they have spent all of their spells on defenses? And how do they deal with their own body guards if they happen to make a will save against charm?

Kelb_Panthera
2014-12-07, 05:38 PM
Or he can get better gadgets, because he has the same access to wealth as Batman.
Superman renders Batman completely obsolete - there is nothing Batman can do with his gadgets that Superman can't do with the gadgets he also gets because WBL.

A wizard that spends his WBL on the same gadgets as a non-caster has utterly wasted his WBL. The ability of a wizard to ape any other class with his spells and use the same items they do is comparable to Superman pretending he can't fly and using a grappling gun to get to the top of a building.


A wizard only needs to spend one of their bonus feats on Craft Wonderous Item for full access to all magic items of significance. It's NOT a serious investment.

Rods, wands, and rings beg to differ.


There are absolutely no martial characters with enough Feats or Skill Points available to craft their own gear - Wizards don't need many feats because they have spells that are like feats but better, and the skill they use to craft is also the skill they use for everything else. If a martial character tries going a Crafting route, they will be absolutely terrible at what they're supposed to be using their stuff for... and there's STILL no way for them to make most stuff, because they don't have the spells known or caster level required to actually craft stuff.

Skill points are a non-issue. They aren't necessary to craft magic items in the least though some are necessary to qualify for the options that do allow them to access magic item crafting.

As for the feat sink issue, all the fighter feats in the world don't mean much if you don't have the gear you need that allows you to apply them to the enemy. Early access to magic items, brought on by crafting ability, more than makes up for a slight delay in getting combat feats, which are far less numerous in need than you seem to think; power attack, shocktrooper and its prereq's, and that's about it or, alternately, PA, expertise, and improved trip. Combined with the fact that most ways for warriors to access crafting give them the feats as bonus feats makes this argument almost entirely invalid.


But it doesn't work when they both get equal access to gear.

Nonsense. Caster supremacy -is- a thing, that can't be denied. It most certainly does -not- invalidate the option of playing non-casters.


Or a wizard can realize his party members are dead weight, and have them reroll as wizards.

2 wizards > 1 wizards+1 fighter+1 rogue.

This is laughably nonsensical. A fighter is a -much- better platform for the typical buffs that a wizard uses to pretend to be a warrior and an invisible rogue is immensely more difficult to detect than an invisible wizard. For that matter, a properly kitted fighter or rogue, ones who hasn't been gimped by DM WBL screw, is actually fairly comparable to a wizard who's aping them through his spells and without burning off a wad of daily resources to do it.

This argument only begins to resemble validity when you stop talking about straight casters and start talking about fully built characters with PrC's that blend casters with rogues and warriors. That is; it becomes true when the second wizard -is- a fighter or rogue.



I want someone to really take a stab at this. At high level, what purpose does does the Fighter(not the diplomat, not the noble, the character who has spent his career up til this point improving his skill at fighting) have? When the threats are Elder Dragons and Gods what is the Fighter, the Rouge, and the Monks way of contributing to an adventure?

Same thing it was at low level. To put pointy bits of metal or blunt bits of wood or some other combination of material and damage type into the flesh of the party's enemies.

Sometimes you don't -want- to be the guy who drives the story. Sometimes you just want to go along for the ride and kill crap along the way. There's nothing wrong with that. More importantly, becoming someone important is much more about what you've done than what you're capable of doing.

Bob of Mage
2014-12-07, 06:11 PM
How the heck many spells does this low level mage have? And how are they keeping that many spells active at a time? And how do they actually deal with the enemy party once they have spent all of their spells on defenses? And how do they deal with their own body guards if they happen to make a will save against charm?

They don't and therefore die. All it takes to stop a wizard only team (not so much at high level) is for one group of foes to get good rolls. First said foe could do better stealth cecks than the wizards (how hard is it to beat someone who has no points invested with a lucky roll?), then they need to land as little as one hit to kill a low level wizard. Also I'm not sure of any low level spell that will let a wizard wall away from a trap. Sure they might find said trap, but how do they bypass? Yeah clearly that level one dude with a class skill for traps is never going to be useful or as cheap as super magic, but how much more does the bypass cost?

I think the issue is that the setting is "High" Fantasy, therefore magic must be powerful. The best way to give warriors a chance is to make sure the wizard can't just use all the same tricks they do. One way is to just ban wizards from using things like armour. Around options is to do things like have some power-up go by % and not flat numbers. Giving +5% to a stat instaed of say a +1 might help out a bit. Said wizard would get a minor boost, but the warrior who heavily invested in that area (say melee damage, or AC) would get super-charged.

Jay R
2014-12-07, 06:41 PM
I want someone to really take a stab at this. At high level, what purpose does does the Fighter(not the diplomat, not the noble, the character who has spent his career up til this point improving his skill at fighting) have? When the threats are Elder Dragons and Gods what is the Fighter, the Rouge, and the Monks way of contributing to an adventure?

The Fighter, the big grunt with all the hit points, is there to be the one person who can dig out of the area effect avalanche and save the others. It's his job to keep the enemy off the wizard so the wizard can cast the spells.

Now, if the DM never uses large area effect dangers, because they could hurt the wizards, and doesn't send enemies to ambush and engage the wizard in melee so he can't cast, and never has a swarm of minions jump the party to prevent casting, then the Fighter is far less important. But that's just because the DM is only playing the part of the game which emphasizes wizard strengths, and not playing the part that emphasizes Fighter strengths. and avoids wizard weaknesses.

Furthermore, I reject the attitude that we need to deal with a Fighter who isn't any of the things a high-level Fighter grows into. Yes, of course, if you pretend that the Fighter is only good at swinging a sword, and not better at leading an army, running a fief, or dealing with the king, then he is less valuable. Any character who only does the low-level stuff is less valuable. A Fighter as you wish to limit him is the same as a tenth level wizard who didn't bother to learn any spells above first level.

Kelb_Panthera
2014-12-07, 06:59 PM
Furthermore, I reject the attitude that we need to deal with a Fighter who isn't any of the things a high-level Fighter grows into. Yes, of course, if you pretend that the Fighter is only good at swinging a sword, and not better at leading an army, running a fief, or dealing with the king, then he is less valuable. Any character who only does the low-level stuff is less valuable. A Fighter as you wish to limit him is the same as a tenth level wizard who didn't bother to learn any spells above first level.

Except a high level fighter -doesn't- necessarily grow into any of those things. A high level -character- may, but those things simply aren't tied to any class and probably shouldn't be.

Being a leader of men is something fairly independent of combat skill or the ability to process extremely complex information. The simple fact is that the bard and rogue are much better equiped to be a leader than any warrior or dedicated caster.

Morty
2014-12-07, 07:55 PM
Picture this, if you will: Drizzt D'ourden, and his arch-nemesis, Artemis Entreri. They're both extraordinary swordsmen, masters of battle tactics and able to control the ebb and flow of armed combat with unparalleled skill. Each of them is lethal on his own. When they duel, seasoned adventurers, scheming wizards and ruthless drow mercenaries alike can't help but stand around and gawk in amazement. When circumstances force them to fight together, they turn into a force of nature and sharp steel. It's hard to find more iconic examples of D&D warriors, right?

And yet, if you were to represent them in any edition of D&D apart from fourth, their sublime mastery of the martial arts is reduced to a big pile of HP and attacks - weak attacks, since it took them until 5e to get the idea of a nimble and quick warrior into their heads. Even then Entreri is out of luck, since you can't use a longsword with finesse like he does. Sabres still don't exist at all, because if Gygax didn't think to include them, by golly they don't deserve to be. If you were to have them duel, it would be a long, long litany of attacks until one of them fell over. You could try to bend the rules, but in any edition you can name, it would have very little to do with the skills their classes and other mechanical traits actually give them. 4e simply isn't written with duels between characters possessing PC-level abilities in mind.

I believe this example illustrates nicely that if you want to talk about the problems with warrior-types in the D&D franchise, the problem goes a lot deeper than "what does a fighter do confronted with a god or dragon"?

Jay R
2014-12-07, 08:46 PM
Except a high level fighter -doesn't- necessarily grow into any of those things. A high level -character- may, but those things simply aren't tied to any class and probably shouldn't be.

Being a leader of men is something fairly independent of combat skill or the ability to process extremely complex information. The simple fact is that the bard and rogue are much better equiped to be a leader than any warrior or dedicated caster.

... starting in 3E.

In AD&D 1E and 2E, a 9th level Fighting Man gets a body of fighters to defend his keep, and automatically collects more revenue from it. Fighters grew from individual warriors to leaders and nobles. This was to simulate the difference between Arthur and Merlin, or between Aragorn and Gandalf, between When 3E eliminated this, it was taking away an important aspect that had always been part of what makes a complete Fighter.

Once again, the worst aspects of the problems with Fighters can be traced back to the changes in 3E.

NichG
2014-12-07, 09:41 PM
Why are you assuming that the world has to be able to be changed on the level you think it should be? Wizards can't end all war, so why should fighters? Nobody can remove the universal behavioral constants of the world. Not even wizards.

Because in high level D&D, Wizards actually can effectively do this kind of thing. Tippyverse is an extreme example, but whenever there's a necromancer who wants to make a nation of undead because they're more easily managed and everyone gets to live forever, or a cleric who creates a new religion or splinter of their faith with new precepts, they are in fact doing this kind of thing. To me, that is more defining of 'high level' and 'epic level' than that every character in the party has >20 hitdice.



And... actually, the way to End All War is simple - troubleshoot it on a case-by-case basis.

That's all it needs to be. By using their hammer, they can break apart parts of the world they don't like, and rebuild parts they do like by hammering things into position.

This really doesn't keep up. And when players believe it keeps up and are shown that it doesn't, it becomes very frustrating. The other end happens too - if there are people in the party who are able and ready to deal with more nuanced situations than 'go to the next fight, kill the next bad guy' then they feel held back if the DM forces the game to follow that form. Essentially, you've got two sets of people at the same table who are playing an effectively different game. Both games are fun on their own, but its problematic when you force characters meant for one into the other. Making the Fighter better at killing things is not going to suddenly make it so that they're playing the same game.

For example, lets say I run a fairly realistic hostile kingdom to the north threatening the PCs' homeland. One would think that should be a reasonable plotline for, say, a Lv11 party to deal with personally.

However, when I say 'fairly realistic' that means that it isn't just the one king who wants to go conquer the PCs' homeland. Maybe it started with him, but he got the rest of his kingdom down for some conquering - he convinced the people around him that it was a good idea too for its own sake, not just because he's the king and he says so damnit. In that kingdom, there's going to be dozens of advisors, other members of the king's dynasty who can take over, dukes, barons, warband leaders, etc.

So if the PCs decide, like PCs often do, to try to cut the head off the serpent they find that, sure, they can assassinate the king no problem - but it has almost no impact on the war, because the king was not actually the source of the desire to war - that source was a difference in available manpower and martial strength coupled with a difference in the richness of lands, resources, and economic power going in the opposite direction. Removing a person who noticed that the southern lands were ripe for the plucking won't make them less ripe for the plucking for the next guy.

Even if the PCs kill everyone in the castle in the capital and basically claim it for themselves, that's just one of a hundred fortifications throughout the land. Those dukes and barons are still leading their own armies to invade the PCs' homeland. With the king dead, some new member of his dynasty takes over, even if he has to declare his summer home the new capital and move the court there. So, sure, the 'hammer' PCs can do a little damage, but its at the person scale not the army scale. Even if you airdrop the Lv11 Fighter into the midst of the troops, he can't really kill all of them. He might take out, say, a few 100, but the rest of the troops can keep moving and regroup, or just get a bunch of archers together until the natural 20s add up.

The hammer approach just isn't very good at this kind of problem, because the problem isn't a nail.

In this situation, you have to look for points where there's a lot of leverage if you want to really fix things. So for example, the Rogue could spy on meetings where the plans of battle are discussed and then give them back to allied commanders to set and avoid traps. A Wizard armed with Dominate can take over key people in the hierarchy and have them willingly step into those traps, or even create situations where the enemy's armies attack each-other before figuring out what's going on (e.g. use a Dominated pawn in a situation with poor visibility, such as during a fog or during the night). A good Bard could try to actually convince the enemy court en masse that the war is a bad idea using Perform, Bluff, and Diplomacy in that order - a better thing to do though would be to find a charismatic Duke who commands a good portion of the troops and convince him. Or alternately start up a peasant rebellion and make this a war on two fronts. A Druid can cast battlefield-scale spells at this level, so they can help build battlefield fortifications and the like using Move Earth and Wall of Stone. A Cleric could raise an army of undead. All of the casters have things that let them spy (Scrying) or be very rapid messengers to improve the speed of battlefield communication.

In other words, the Fighter is a force, but everyone else is a force multiplier. That means that the Fighter doesn't scale well when situations become very grand in scope.

Mark Hall
2014-12-07, 09:42 PM
And yet, if you were to represent them in any edition of D&D apart from fourth, their sublime mastery of the martial arts is reduced to a big pile of HP and attacks - weak attacks, since it took them until 5e to get the idea of a nimble and quick warrior into their heads. Even then Entreri is out of luck, since you can't use a longsword with finesse like he does. Sabres still don't exist at all, because if Gygax didn't think to include them, by golly they don't deserve to be. If you were to have them duel, it would be a long, long litany of attacks until one of them fell over. You could try to bend the rules, but in any edition you can name, it would have very little to do with the skills their classes and other mechanical traits actually give them. 4e simply isn't written with duels between characters possessing PC-level abilities in mind.

Sabers were in 2e's Arms and Equipment guide, at the very least, if not earlier. In 2e, if all they were going to do is flail at each other, it would take some time, but Complete Fighter's (and Combat and Tactics) both had a variety of special manuevers one could attempt, which might be advantageous when fighting another high-level fighterish type (I wouldn't really call either of them the iconic examples of D&D warriors; I think Flint Fireforge, Caramon Majere, and Sturm Brightblade are arguably more iconic fighters; Enteri and Do'Urden are an assassin and ranger, respectively).

Earlier editions included nimble and quick warriors, but they tended to fall to strong warriors... even when using a finesse weapon, the +X to hit is somewhat overmatched by someone using a regular weapon and getting +X to hit and damage (so much so that they later included feats and such to let you use dex and such to damage). With the nature of AC (as opposed to an armor-as-DR system), lightly armored, nimble, warriors were often going to have trouble with fighting someone in decent armor... after all, there's a reason people wore armor instead of counting on their speed to save them.

Kelb_Panthera
2014-12-07, 10:08 PM
... starting in 3E.

In AD&D 1E and 2E, a 9th level Fighting Man gets a body of fighters to defend his keep, and automatically collects more revenue from it. Fighters grew from individual warriors to leaders and nobles. This was to simulate the difference between Arthur and Merlin, or between Aragorn and Gandalf, between When 3E eliminated this, it was taking away an important aspect that had always been part of what makes a complete Fighter.

Once again, the worst aspects of the problems with Fighters can be traced back to the changes in 3E.

Even if you set aside D&D altogether my point remains. Leadership is a role in itself, not a subset of the warrior's role. I don't see any compelling reason to try and shoehorn them into the same character class in -any- system.

Bob of Mage
2014-12-07, 10:36 PM
Even if you set aside D&D altogether my point remains. Leadership is a role in itself, not a subset of the warrior's role. I don't see any compelling reason to try and shoehorn them into the same character class in -any- system.

I think that where the issue is. The class known as Fighter is poorly done and in fact is only a step above a NPC class. What we also need to look at are things like Knights (PHBII), Barbarians, Slayers (Pathfinder), Cavalier (Pathfinder), Gunslinger (Pathfinder) and so on. Also some degree of looking at Paladin and Ranger types would also help.

When you look at these classes they all have something to do beside hit someone else over the head. The only really good reason to ever play a Fighter is for some crazy build that needs way too many feats. Even then it's clearly not that good.

I don't think in a "high fantasy setting" that the warrior types should ever be out right equal to magic users. However they should at least be useful and able to do something at far less cost and at much lower level than a pure mage. Mostly this is stuff like being able to take a dip in lava unperpared and still walk away, and killing whole armies of weak foes with out breaking a sweat.

Jay R
2014-12-07, 11:05 PM
Even if you set aside D&D altogether my point remains. Leadership is a role in itself, not a subset of the warrior's role. I don't see any compelling reason to try and shoehorn them into the same character class in -any- system.

The only problem with this idea is that it isn't true. Throughout medieval history, great warriors grew to be powerful leaders far more often than scholars have.

The scientists who developed and improved gunpowder and the cannon are probably the closest real-world equivalents to the wizards. They very likely killed far more of the enemy than the mere warriors did. They were very useful to the warriors who led the armies, but did any of them lead armies themselves?

Mark Hall
2014-12-07, 11:52 PM
Even if you set aside D&D altogether my point remains. Leadership is a role in itself, not a subset of the warrior's role. I don't see any compelling reason to try and shoehorn them into the same character class in -any- system.

But in AD&D, pretty much EVERYONE got to be a leader at higher level. Fighters got a cadre of experienced warriors. Clerics got a group of 0th levels. Thieves got a group of scoundrels; rangers some friends, and bards a small group of warriors (similar to the cleric, really). Druids got lower level druids to serve them. Only mages and paladins didn't explicitly, as a class feature, get a unit of followers. Advancing into leadership, not mere murderhoboism, was seen as a natural evolution within the game.

Talakeal
2014-12-08, 12:15 AM
Personally I don't like how D&D marries so many character concepts together. I really wish they let everyone have an even playing field when it comes to skills, social ability, and other non combat or RP concerns.

Crafting abilities, wealth, ruling a keep, etc. are all fine ways to compete with mages, but I don't think they should be fighter exclusive (or any class exclusive for that matter).

Really, I don't know why you need to balance a character's combat abilities around their out of combat power, which I really feel is more that this thread is about. "Warrior" should just describe how you go about combat, which should not be the end all and be all of your character, but I don't think it should necessarily be more or less powerful than "Guy who conjures fire to burn enemies" as a combat role, and in most games it isn't.

Kelb_Panthera
2014-12-08, 12:20 AM
The only problem with this idea is that it isn't true. Throughout medieval history, great warriors grew to be powerful leaders far more often than scholars have.

The scientists who developed and improved gunpowder and the cannon are probably the closest real-world equivalents to the wizards. They very likely killed far more of the enemy than the mere warriors did. They were very useful to the warriors who led the armies, but did any of them lead armies themselves?

This completely misses my point. In medieval history the -first- kings took power by the sword and even then they -also- knew or quickly learned how to sway people to their point of view with words as well as weapons.

Being a skilled swordsman allows other swordsmen to identify with you and that gives you the opportunity to -try- to sway them to your cause. Actually swaying them to your point of view, however, is a completely different skillset.

Leadership is in a person's words and charisma. Deeds only create the opportunity to use those words and charisma by getting people to pay attention.

That's why I highlighted the bard earlier. It has nothing to do with magic but instead the ability to relate to people through well known stories and sway them with charisma.

EDIT:

Also of extreme importance to your argument, the rise to power those old kings experience far more often resulted from their ability to direct troops strategically and tactically than it did from any degree of personal combat skill they may have had.

NichG
2014-12-08, 03:17 AM
The reason that roles get lumped together is the intersection of two things:

- D&D is a class-based system.
- A character generally needs more than one role in order to participate consistently in a game which can have a wide variety of possible scenarios

Furthermore, the particular problem with having 'combat' be a character's role is that in D&D, combat is important enough to the system that everyone must have a combat role. What you're left with is that 'guy who fights' is just a bad concept all around. I'd argue it isn't something that should actually exist in the system at all, because everyone has to be a 'guy who fights'. It's the absence of a class/role.

Kelb_Panthera
2014-12-08, 03:30 AM
The reason that roles get lumped together is the intersection of two things:

- D&D is a class-based system.
- A character generally needs more than one role in order to participate consistently in a game which can have a wide variety of possible scenarios

Furthermore, the particular problem with having 'combat' be a character's role is that in D&D, combat is important enough to the system that everyone must have a combat role. What you're left with is that 'guy who fights' is just a bad concept all around. I'd argue it isn't something that should actually exist in the system at all, because everyone has to be a 'guy who fights'. It's the absence of a class/role.

I disagree. Quite simply, the role of "guy who fights and does nothing else" is a role that -should- exist. For some players that's exactly what they want to do. They want to smash enemy face with a fancy sword/club/axe/whatever and otherwise just hang out with their buddies both in and out of character.

To borrow from a D&D licensend novel series, what is Caramon Majere if not a simple fighting man that wants nothing more from life than to smash draconian face and be with his loved ones (not counting his unhealthy codependence on his brother)?

Gettles
2014-12-08, 03:53 AM
I disagree. Quite simply, the role of "guy who fights and does nothing else" is a role that -should- exist. For some players that's exactly what they want to do. They want to smash enemy face with a fancy sword/club/axe/whatever and otherwise just hang out with their buddies both in and out of character.

To borrow from a D&D licensend novel series, what is Caramon Majere if not a simple fighting man that wants nothing more from life than to smash draconian face and be with his loved ones (not counting his unhealthy codependence on his brother)?

But then why does the classes ability to fight always end up incapable of going head to head with high level threats. I agree the guy who fights well is a worthwhile concept, but as long as they are hamstrung by at the same time being the "average human" at the same time it will always struggle to keep up.

When the class is at upper levels, they should be able to single tear down castle walls, grapple with massive monsters and all but immune to damage by early game foes. Monks should stop being Bruce Lee and start being Akuma. Barbarians should be dishing out save or dies on successful attacks while raging. The idea that the abilities of casters grow in scale and power as the level up but martials just stay the same with a few more numbers should die.

NichG
2014-12-08, 04:41 AM
I disagree. Quite simply, the role of "guy who fights and does nothing else" is a role that -should- exist. For some players that's exactly what they want to do. They want to smash enemy face with a fancy sword/club/axe/whatever and otherwise just hang out with their buddies both in and out of character.

To borrow from a D&D licensend novel series, what is Caramon Majere if not a simple fighting man that wants nothing more from life than to smash draconian face and be with his loved ones (not counting his unhealthy codependence on his brother)?

Cameron Majere works out alright when the game is at low levels, but even in the books he got depressed and let himself go once stuff started to go beyond slinking through caves and ruins and protecting his brother. Cameron wanted to still be playing the dungeon-crawler game, but Raistlin wanted to move on to the empire-builder stage of the game, and did so. He was simply not a good character for that stage of the campaign - he didn't belong in those plotlines, and so he returned to his inn and moped.

I would say to players who just want to be the 'guy who fights and does nothing else', you should play E6, or some other game or variant D&D ruleset which does not have forced level-ups. And play a Swordsage, or a Barbarian, or someone who fights in a particular and distinctive way. If you're playing at a fixed level, you can keep having the same kind of adventure you've been having all along and nothing has to change. If you are constantly leveling up, new abilities come into play and fundamentally the game becomes about something new.

D&D is sort of like a big conglomeration of different games. At one end there's gritty, swingy, highly lethal low level play. At the other end you're stopping just short of Nobilis, with walking god-emperors who can reshape the world at a whim. If you're playing Nobilis, you shouldn't play a guy whose only thing is fighting, any more than you should play an accountant in low-level dungeon-crawling D&D.

Kelb_Panthera
2014-12-08, 05:34 AM
But then why does the classes ability to fight always end up incapable of going head to head with high level threats. I agree the guy who fights well is a worthwhile concept, but as long as they are hamstrung by at the same time being the "average human" at the same time it will always struggle to keep up.

Except a high level fighter -doesn't- struggle to keep up unless you're pitting him, almost exclusively, against high level full casters and there's nothing "average" about them by mid level much less high.


When the class is at upper levels, they should be able to single tear down castle walls, grapple with massive monsters and all but immune to damage by early game foes. Monks should stop being Bruce Lee and start being Akuma. Barbarians should be dishing out save or dies on successful attacks while raging. The idea that the abilities of casters grow in scale and power as the level up but martials just stay the same with a few more numbers should die.

..... this is already true. The kind of damage a properly kitted high level warrior is capable of is more than enough to rip holes in castle walls, a dedicated grappler can outwrestle just about anything in the game in spite of size differences, and the massive damage rule says that every hit that does 50 or more damage -is- a dc 15 save or die.

I'll give you that monks really don't quite stack up like they should though.


I would say to players who just want to be the 'guy who fights and does nothing else', you should play E6, or some other game or variant D&D ruleset which does not have forced level-ups. And play a Swordsage, or a Barbarian, or someone who fights in a particular and distinctive way. If you're playing at a fixed level, you can keep having the same kind of adventure you've been having all along and nothing has to change. If you are constantly leveling up, new abilities come into play and fundamentally the game becomes about something new.

The new abilities casters get do open new doors that simply weren't available prevoiusly as they level up but that doesn't mean they have to walk through those doors, much less drag the non-casters through them kicking and screaming. Just because Wizard McGuano-hands wants to use his ultimate cosmic power to sculpt a kingdom in the image of his idea doesn't mean that Fighty McFighterson can't still just have things to fight.


D&D is sort of like a big conglomeration of different games. At one end there's gritty, swingy, highly lethal low level play. At the other end you're stopping just short of Nobilis, with walking god-emperors who can reshape the world at a whim. If you're playing Nobilis, you shouldn't play a guy whose only thing is fighting, any more than you should play an accountant in low-level dungeon-crawling D&D.

This isn't quite right. While it's certainly true that low levels are more swingy and lethal than mid and -some- high level characters can be truly world-shaking powers just on their own personal power doesn't change certain fundamental facts about the game.

At -all- levels there will be foes that can only be dealt with via combat. At -all- levels there will be non-combat challenges that require critical thinking as much or more than any particular spell or class feature. The former doesn't favor either warriors or casters with the notable exception of caster enemies and the latter doesn't care about class at all.

What some find utterly tedious others find relaxing in their simplicity and what some find delightfully broad of scope others find needlessly complex. There's a degree of subjectivity here that's either being glossed-over or outright ignored by maintaining the attitude that basic combat is for low-level characters and not for high level play. Combining the two playstyles succesfully is no simple task but it's a task that -is- achievable even as the game currently stands.

NichG
2014-12-08, 06:01 AM
The new abilities casters get do open new doors that simply weren't available prevoiusly as they level up but that doesn't mean they have to walk through those doors, much less drag the non-casters through them kicking and screaming. Just because Wizard McGuano-hands wants to use his ultimate cosmic power to sculpt a kingdom in the image of his idea doesn't mean that Fighty McFighterson can't still just have things to fight.

The issue is that now you're running two separate games in one. The DM is forced to make stuff for Fighty McFighterson to do. In the superheroes analogy, you're having to make stories specifically designed to make Aquaman remain relevant.

This tension is at the heart of the problems with Fighters and martial characters in general in D&D. They keep on playing one game, while everyone else has the door opened to another game. That other game is also very fun to play, but if you play it you're leaving Fighty McFighterson behind. So now you have a few characters whose existence demands that everyone else 'play down to their level', or requires the DM to really go out of their way to keep them relevant, or people simply don't accommodate the fighter and he feels useless.



This isn't quite right. While it's certainly true that low levels are more swingy and lethal than mid and -some- high level characters can be truly world-shaking powers just on their own personal power doesn't change certain fundamental facts about the game.

At -all- levels there will be foes that can only be dealt with via combat. At -all- levels there will be non-combat challenges that require critical thinking as much or more than any particular spell or class feature. The former doesn't favor either warriors or casters with the notable exception of caster enemies and the latter doesn't care about class at all.

What some find utterly tedious others find relaxing in their simplicity and what some find delightfully broad of scope others find needlessly complex. There's a degree of subjectivity here that's either being glossed-over or outright ignored by maintaining the attitude that basic combat is for low-level characters and not for high level play. Combining the two playstyles succesfully is no simple task but it's a task that -is- achievable even as the game currently stands.

To me, it makes more sense to say 'high levels is the realm of characters who have truly world-shaking powers', 'mid levels is the realm of characters who do X', 'low levels is the realm of characters who can only do Y', etc, instead of trying to tie it to the actual number of hitdice that characters have in the actual game. The issue is, when 'some' characters have truly world-shaking powers, that means that they're going to drag the standard of play up to that point. The guy who doesn't have those powers isn't going to drag the standard down to his level.

I agree that playing empire-builders and playing dungeon-crawlers is going to appeal differently to different people. But that's even more reason to drop this idea that the natural progression of the game is to continuously keep on leveling up. If you find basic combat tedious, then just play empire builders - start at high level and go from there. If you find those broad-of-scope things needlessly complex, just play dungeon-crawlers - start at lower levels and play E6 or E8 or whatever suits your tastes. If you know where the sweet spot is for you in the game, then you shouldn't feel compelled to push past it just because the game says 'such and such number of encounters means gain a level'.

To put it another way, if you're doing very basic combat, it basically doesn't change much past level 6. So you don't actually need to go beyond level 6 in order to explore that fully. Those extra levels effectively do not add anything to a game of Fighters. So why have them at all, if that's what you want to play? All that leveling up gets you past there that an E6-like feat system cannot is to make the numbers bigger.

Morty
2014-12-08, 07:49 AM
Sabers were in 2e's Arms and Equipment guide, at the very least, if not earlier.

That's a hyperbole I could have done without, I guess. Even less of a reason for 5e's weapon list to be such a sad excuse.


In 2e, if all they were going to do is flail at each other, it would take some time, but Complete Fighter's (and Combat and Tactics) both had a variety of special manuevers one could attempt, which might be advantageous when fighting another high-level fighterish type (I wouldn't really call either of them the iconic examples of D&D warriors; I think Flint Fireforge, Caramon Majere, and Sturm Brightblade are arguably more iconic fighters; Enteri and Do'Urden are an assassin and ranger, respectively).

They're warriors - which precise class we use for them doesn't really matter. Their identity is built around personal combat prowess. Drizzt was also already a master swordsman more than a match for any other drow fighter before he left the Underdark for good and became a ranger. If anything, it just points out why "fighter" shouldn't be a class.


Earlier editions included nimble and quick warriors, but they tended to fall to strong warriors... even when using a finesse weapon, the +X to hit is somewhat overmatched by someone using a regular weapon and getting +X to hit and damage (so much so that they later included feats and such to let you use dex and such to damage). With the nature of AC (as opposed to an armor-as-DR system), lightly armored, nimble, warriors were often going to have trouble with fighting someone in decent armor... after all, there's a reason people wore armor instead of counting on their speed to save them.

Well, I guess Drizzt never got this memo. Or Entreri. Or Wulfgar, who is super-strong but doesn't wear much in terms of armour. Or the entire drow school of combat. The surface elven school of combat too, come to think of it. I do wonder what makes people suddenly decide realism is important for D&D combat whenever I bring it up instead of admit that D&D has always failed at representing a huge fantasy warrior archetype. Of course, it's largely irrelevant to my point, since it would be no different if they were all decked out in plates and fighting with two-handed greatswords or heavy shields.

Kelb_Panthera
2014-12-08, 08:14 AM
The issue is that now you're running two separate games in one. The DM is forced to make stuff for Fighty McFighterson to do. In the superheroes analogy, you're having to make stories specifically designed to make Aquaman remain relevant.

Except aquaman is -genuinely- useless. Or would be if he wasn't a monarch with an army at his disposal anyway.

Let's go back to batman though. Without his gear, all batman is can be described as a particularly intelligent fighter. He works as a character because of two things; 1) his gear: he has a myriad of gadgets that allow him to perform beyond the scope of someone who's simply good at beating people up. 2) The much more nebulous quality of being able to look at a situation and choose the best course to reach its resolution.

In a D&D character the former is trivial, eveyone gets WBL and skillfully spending it can have a -much- more dramatic effect on a character's overall effectiveness than its generally given credit for. The latter is much more difficult but can't be generated by a class feature for -any- class. It's a quality of the player and can easily surpass any almost any challenge put in front of it unless the DM deliberately makes it impossible to do so.

For another analogy, because we're not using enough of those already, the casters' spells and the gear that supplements them are like a full size tool box full of specialized tools while a warrior's gear and class features add up to a pretty decent multitool.

While a full toolbox will let you do most any job you care to approach you'd be stunned at how much can be accomplished with a simple multitool and a bit of ingenuity.


This tension is at the heart of the problems with Fighters and martial characters in general in D&D. They keep on playing one game, while everyone else has the door opened to another game. That other game is also very fun to play, but if you play it you're leaving Fighty McFighterson behind. So now you have a few characters whose existence demands that everyone else 'play down to their level', or requires the DM to really go out of their way to keep them relevant, or people simply don't accommodate the fighter and he feels useless.

Adding a few mooks to encounters is going really out of the way? Really? Because that's all it takes to engage a dedicated warrior at a minimum. Now a more elegant solution probably does exist for any particular warrior but that depends on the particulars of that player's build and gear. As for out-of-combat encounters, two immediate thoughts occur; either the player's not all that interested in non-combat in which case "fixing" the warrior classes is both unnecessary and will go to waste anyway, or they'd rather solve it through their own cleverness than simply throwing a class feature at it, in which case "fixing" the warrior classes is actively impeding their fun or they're going to ignore the fix again. Either way you're trying to fix something that isn't broken.


To me, it makes more sense to say 'high levels is the realm of characters who have truly world-shaking powers', 'mid levels is the realm of characters who do X', 'low levels is the realm of characters who can only do Y', etc, instead of trying to tie it to the actual number of hitdice that characters have in the actual game. The issue is, when 'some' characters have truly world-shaking powers, that means that they're going to drag the standard of play up to that point. The guy who doesn't have those powers isn't going to drag the standard down to his level.

To me it makes no sense to say to the player that just wants to smash face that he can't play with us because the other guy wants to build an empire. The two -can- coexist. The tricky part is being able to put yourself in that other mindset and understand that the other guy is, in fact, having fun just bashing heads as they come without any desire to move beyond that or, alternately, that all that maddening and daunting complexity is actually enjoyable and what the other guy is looking for in the game.


I agree that playing empire-builders and playing dungeon-crawlers is going to appeal differently to different people. But that's even more reason to drop this idea that the natural progression of the game is to continuously keep on leveling up. If you find basic combat tedious, then just play empire builders - start at high level and go from there. If you find those broad-of-scope things needlessly complex, just play dungeon-crawlers - start at lower levels and play E6 or E8 or whatever suits your tastes. If you know where the sweet spot is for you in the game, then you shouldn't feel compelled to push past it just because the game says 'such and such number of encounters means gain a level'.

To put it another way, if you're doing very basic combat, it basically doesn't change much past level 6. So you don't actually need to go beyond level 6 in order to explore that fully. Those extra levels effectively do not add anything to a game of Fighters. So why have them at all, if that's what you want to play? All that leveling up gets you past there that an E6-like feat system cannot is to make the numbers bigger.

Basic combat doesn't change -much- in mid and high levels but it does change some and not just by numbers. For some, keeping up with those changes without picking up a bunch of, to them, extraneous flotsam, in the form of non-combat abilities, is a source of endless entertainment.

Then there's the scope of the challenges. There's a certain satisfaction in knowing that you went toe-to-toe with a creature that can fell whole armies of normal men and, not only survived, but won. Even if it -is- a shared victory and even if you maybe -did- get a little help from the finger wiggler in the pointy hat. It's just not something you're going to experience in an E6 environment, though I'll admit that this is an easy thing for a DM to miss in how he presents the game.

Yora
2014-12-08, 08:43 AM
So, what's the current discussion? How powerful should a high level wizard be in 3rd edition D&D?

NichG
2014-12-08, 10:55 AM
Let's go back to batman though. Without his gear, all batman is can be described as a particularly intelligent fighter. He works as a character because of two things; 1) his gear: he has a myriad of gadgets that allow him to perform beyond the scope of someone who's simply good at beating people up. 2) The much more nebulous quality of being able to look at a situation and choose the best course to reach its resolution.

In a D&D character the former is trivial, eveyone gets WBL and skillfully spending it can have a -much- more dramatic effect on a character's overall effectiveness than its generally given credit for. The latter is much more difficult but can't be generated by a class feature for -any- class. It's a quality of the player and can easily surpass any almost any challenge put in front of it unless the DM deliberately makes it impossible to do so.

Believe me, I know that skilled players can keep up while playing Fighters because of their skill. Heck, I've seen someone keep up with a Lv1 character in a party of Lv20 characters because of out of character cleverness. I've done similar things myself in games. And actually I'm all in favor of that as something a player can take upon themselves as a challenge. The issue is, neither cleverness nor standard WBL gear used in clever ways is an aspect of the Fighter in particular. Remember how I said that 'Fighter' is sort of a non-class because its 'role' is what everyone is supposed to be good at anyhow? This is an example of that.

If you might as well replace it with Class: N/A at some point, that's telling you something from a game design point of view - it says that 'guy who fights' isn't enough on its own to keep up, and instead you need to be 'guy who uses items to be batman' or 'guy who is really clever and plays Xanatos speed chess with the universe', and the 'oh I can fight too' thing is more of an aside.


Adding a few mooks to encounters is going really out of the way? Really?

The party is Lv17. The plotline has to do with a crazed sub-faction of the Doomguard working with Ilsensine to imprison a powerful Signer in his own mindscape with the end goal of convincing him that nothing but himself exists, and therefore ending reality except for the Signer and Ilsensine (who is planning to sneak along for the ride and have a chance to rewrite the multiverse from scratch). The Signer is already starting to believe it and patches of the multiverse are fading from existence or being replaced with nightmares drawn from his subconscious. The party does not yet have all this information, and just knows that bits of the multiverse are disappearing and 'what the hell, we're high level, lets fix it'.

So, sure, the party can go beat up some mooks I guess. But it doesn't really matter - its what one might call a 'popcorn fight'. The core problems that must immediately be dealt with are: "We don't know why this is happening", "Things we like are being erased from existence. We would like to be able to actually protect things from this effect.", and eventually "We need to wake up this Signer and/or convince him that reality is real"

The wizard and cleric can use various divinations to attempt to address the why. They may even hoof it and scour Sigil for information about if this has happened in the past (and they can provide their own transportation for said task). They might question the Doomguard or Signers, or research the phenomenon in the Guvners' faction hall. They may try to use various spells of detection on the rifts, poke objects through, etc. The fighter, as a clever player, can find ways to participate in all of this. They can have magical gear that lets them planeswalk, or just use their cunning to locate portals or hitch a ride. They can do all the RP stuff with the other characters. But the fighter's 'role', that is, the guy who beats up people, isn't really coming up.

Maybe later when they have to gain physical access to the prisoner he might beat up some Doomguard guardians or something. Maybe inside the Signer's mindscape he can beat up the Signer's nightmares. But he can't really make things move forward by doing so - his class' role is purely reactive. The DM creates a hostile and he deals with the hostile, and the situation is back to status quo. Even if he e.g. goes and kills Ilsensine, that's not actually a solution to the problem (because the Signer is still undreaming reality). And if he kills the Signer? That might be the last bit of unbelief that pushes him over the edge into solipsism - refusing to believe his own death (e.g. he triggers a Forced Dream psicrystal reset to the beginning of time and...).


As for out-of-combat encounters, two immediate thoughts occur; either the player's not all that interested in non-combat in which case "fixing" the warrior classes is both unnecessary and will go to waste anyway, or they'd rather solve it through their own cleverness than simply throwing a class feature at it, in which case "fixing" the warrior classes is actively impeding their fun or they're going to ignore the fix again. Either way you're trying to fix something that isn't broken.

My fix in this case would be to run a lower-level game where more of the focus can be on combat without it being relevant only because the Wizard/Cleric/etc are holding back from using their travel powers that can skip most encounters.

That's all I'm saying - once you get into the high levels, the game just isn't really about combat anymore because its trivial to skip or bypass. At low levels, it very much is about combat. So if what you want is a character who is just about combat, the place for that is low levels. If you still want progression, you can use something like E6 to sustain progression (and get most of the stuff a high level martial fighter would get eventually) without actually moving to a different power-scale where the nature of the game changes.

And if you do want to try that change of scale, then you need one of these fixes.



To me it makes no sense to say to the player that just wants to smash face that he can't play with us because the other guy wants to build an empire. The two -can- coexist. The tricky part is being able to put yourself in that other mindset and understand that the other guy is, in fact, having fun just bashing heads as they come without any desire to move beyond that or, alternately, that all that maddening and daunting complexity is actually enjoyable and what the other guy is looking for in the game.


This dilutes time at the table. You can patch this together but if someone really just wants to do the one thing, and everyone else is on board with the other, I think its unfair to the 'everyone else'. And if its unspoken its even worse, because then people are just sitting there wondering why they're so bored. This is the kind of thing you really need to get out in the air, talk about, and understand. And then run the game tuned to what the players want.

If you just assume that playing D&D as is will give that to you, you end up with something pretty crappy instead where people feel overshadowed or bored or whatnot.


Then there's the scope of the challenges. There's a certain satisfaction in knowing that you went toe-to-toe with a creature that can fell whole armies of normal men and, not only survived, but won. Even if it -is- a shared victory and even if you maybe -did- get a little help from the finger wiggler in the pointy hat. It's just not something you're going to experience in an E6 environment, though I'll admit that this is an easy thing for a DM to miss in how he presents the game.

Why can't you do this in E6? One fun thing to do is E6 but permit Epic Feats so long as characters have the prereqs. It gets kind of crazy, but at the same time the actual type of effects don't expand so much. I've run a game with an E6 arc transitioning to 'breaching' the level cap where characters could do this. The end-boss of the E6 arc was a Solar. The entire universe was an E6 environment, which meant that the Solar's Holy Word and Dictum were basically a huge no-save-just-die. The PCs knew about it in advance because people talked about a place in space where ships would never return from, and they had to figure out how to specifically prepare against it before they could take it out. The same game had E6 characters using epic deflection to redirect starship-scale weaponry. At Lv6. Great fun.

Nargrakhan
2014-12-08, 10:56 AM
The only problem with this idea is that it isn't true. Throughout medieval history, great warriors grew to be powerful leaders far more often than scholars have.

The scientists who developed and improved gunpowder and the cannon are probably the closest real-world equivalents to the wizards. They very likely killed far more of the enemy than the mere warriors did. They were very useful to the warriors who led the armies, but did any of them lead armies themselves?

The medieval age was an era of might makes right -- those who were best at killing and not being killed, were those who stayed in charge. In this kind of environ, the greatest intellectual are strategists. Case in point: the much cited Sun Tzu was not an exceptional warrior... indeed he might have completely lacked personal fighting prowess. You don't read much about Tzu's younger warrior exploits... unlike say, the swordsman Miyamoto Musashi. In fact a lot of Tzu's contempt for "peon infantry" autonomy and self-ingenuity is rather telling, compared to thinkers like Miyamoto and Suvorov.

In an age with artillery like canons or even more primitive catapults, mathematicians are valued as much as a general... for the science of ballistics. Cannons are useless if you can't get the shell to land and bounce (yes... bounce) where it's supposed to. There's a reason why the Great Renaissance Masters had a lot of journals on trajectories, velocities, and powder measurements.

All that being said... just because you're a warrior, doesn't mean you can't be a scholar: see the entire samurai caste throughout the Tokugawa golden age. The greatest Roman generals were highly intelligent... some were architectural engineers, agricultural experts, and philosophers.

Sartharina
2014-12-08, 12:28 PM
Barbarians should be dishing out save or dies on successful attacks while raging.Why would Barbarians want to go with a "Save or Die" over their default "You die now"?

Kelb_Panthera
2014-12-08, 12:44 PM
Believe me, I know that skilled players can keep up while playing Fighters because of their skill. Heck, I've seen someone keep up with a Lv1 character in a party of Lv20 characters because of out of character cleverness. I've done similar things myself in games. And actually I'm all in favor of that as something a player can take upon themselves as a challenge. The issue is, neither cleverness nor standard WBL gear used in clever ways is an aspect of the Fighter in particular. Remember how I said that 'Fighter' is sort of a non-class because its 'role' is what everyone is supposed to be good at anyhow? This is an example of that.

Except everybody's -not- as good at it as the fighter. They're adequate at it and can do other things.

A wizard doesn't fight nearly as well as a fighter unless he spends his daily resources on it or is a fighter/wizard hybrid. In the latter case he's likely -still- not as good as a fighter until he spends a minimal amount of daily resources, in the form of cast spells, on doing so. Same goes for a cleric.

A rogue isn't even close and I don't -think- I need to explain that.


If you might as well replace it with Class: N/A at some point, that's telling you something from a game design point of view - it says that 'guy who fights' isn't enough on its own to keep up, and instead you need to be 'guy who uses items to be batman' or 'guy who is really clever and plays Xanatos speed chess with the universe', and the 'oh I can fight too' thing is more of an aside.

"I can fight too" is an aside at any level. Of the other two, the first exists outside of the framework of any class that isn't a dedicated caster and the other concept exists outside the framework of -any- class. In this particular part of the design space casters are the odd men out, not warriors. Good design should involve bringing the casters excessive power down to the level of actually requiring gear, eliminating non-casters altogether, or (and this is my preferred option) find a way to marginalize the difference. That last one can be done in the design space that is necessarily left open for a DM for building adventures.


Moved for convenience

Coming back to that.


My fix in this case would be to run a lower-level game where more of the focus can be on combat without it being relevant only because the Wizard/Cleric/etc are holding back from using their travel powers that can skip most encounters.

If travel powers are skipping encounters it's because you're planning the wrong encounters. If the -party- is capable of quick travel because of a spell available then the DM has no one to blame but himself if he planned encounters for overland travel that he could've easily predicted would never occur.

I'd like to think we can at least agree that a DM railroading the party back into traveling overland so that he can use his planned encounter is bad DM'ing.


That's all I'm saying - once you get into the high levels, the game just isn't really about combat anymore because its trivial to skip or bypass.

If I disagreed with this any harder I'd hurt myself. The core of -any- story is conflict. Encounters that can be bypassed aren't encounters at all. The actual encounters are the ones you -can't- trivially bypass and when those occur you need somebody to stick pointy bits into the bad guys. Having a guy around that's better at that particular task than anybody else is -not- a bad or worthless thing.


At low levels, it very much is about combat. So if what you want is a character who is just about combat, the place for that is low levels. If you still want progression, you can use something like E6 to sustain progression (and get most of the stuff a high level martial fighter would get eventually) without actually moving to a different power-scale where the nature of the game changes.

And if you do want to try that change of scale, then you need one of these fixes.

Those fixes are stop-gap measures that require just as much or perhaps more skill to work out properly. Changing one problem for another isn't much of a solution, IMO.


This dilutes time at the table. You can patch this together but if someone really just wants to do the one thing, and everyone else is on board with the other, I think its unfair to the 'everyone else'. And if its unspoken its even worse, because then people are just sitting there wondering why they're so bored. This is the kind of thing you really need to get out in the air, talk about, and understand. And then run the game tuned to what the players want.

I agree with this in principle but when the one thing you want to do is something that -will- happen it's not much of a dilution. In D&D fighting -will- happen except in the rarest of games that would probably be better run with an entirely different system.


If you just assume that playing D&D as is will give that to you, you end up with something pretty crappy instead where people feel overshadowed or bored or whatnot.

This comes from expecting more of the system than it, or any system, purports to provide. The system is a framework. It's up to the DM and his players to use that framework to make a cohesive game.


Why can't you do this in E6? One fun thing to do is E6 but permit Epic Feats so long as characters have the prereqs. It gets kind of crazy, but at the same time the actual type of effects don't expand so much. I've run a game with an E6 arc transitioning to 'breaching' the level cap where characters could do this. The end-boss of the E6 arc was a Solar. The entire universe was an E6 environment, which meant that the Solar's Holy Word and Dictum were basically a huge no-save-just-die. The PCs knew about it in advance because people talked about a place in space where ships would never return from, and they had to figure out how to specifically prepare against it before they could take it out. The same game had E6 characters using epic deflection to redirect starship-scale weaponry. At Lv6. Great fun.

You can do it in E6 to a certain extent but, as your explanation demonstrates better than I ever could, its really not any simpler than making it work in high level play.

Now for that scenario:


The party is Lv17. The plotline has to do with a crazed sub-faction of the Doomguard working with Ilsensine to imprison a powerful Signer in his own mindscape with the end goal of convincing him that nothing but himself exists, and therefore ending reality except for the Signer and Ilsensine (who is planning to sneak along for the ride and have a chance to rewrite the multiverse from scratch). The Signer is already starting to believe it and patches of the multiverse are fading from existence or being replaced with nightmares drawn from his subconscious. The party does not yet have all this information, and just knows that bits of the multiverse are disappearing and 'what the hell, we're high level, lets fix it'.

Sounds like fun. Let's go.


So, sure, the party can go beat up some mooks I guess. But it doesn't really matter - its what one might call a 'popcorn fight'. The core problems that must immediately be dealt with are: "We don't know why this is happening", "Things we like are being erased from existence. We would like to be able to actually protect things from this effect.", and eventually "We need to wake up this Signer and/or convince him that reality is real"

Who would think that randomly beating baddies up would be productive? Anyway, moving along.


The wizard and cleric can use various divinations to attempt to address the why.

The only thing I can think of that would matter is contact other plane. If the gods are aware of the situation, what is a piddling party of 17's going to do that gods can't? If they're not then the spell route is going to get you a crumb that leads in the direction of the next clue. The spell option has been reduced to an easily replaceable plot-device.


They may even hoof it and scour Sigil for information about if this has happened in the past (and they can provide their own transportation for said task). They might question the Doomguard or Signers, or research the phenomenon in the Guvners' faction hall.

None of this is class specific except the parenthetical. That's irrelevant because of the existence of natural and man-made portals that can get you to sigil in plot appropriate time.

You -do- know that this apocalyptic event moves at the pace the plot demands unless your group plays a particularly rigorous meatgrinder of a game. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, but I'd hazard that it's atypical.


They may try to use various spells of detection on the rifts, poke objects through, etc. The fighter, as a clever player, can find ways to participate in all of this. They can have magical gear that lets them planeswalk, or just use their cunning to locate portals or hitch a ride. They can do all the RP stuff with the other characters. But the fighter's 'role', that is, the guy who beats up people, isn't really coming up.

Here's the thing; the fighter's role doesn't come up -if- the DM has decided that the doomguard and ilsensine don't send minions to try and thwart the players' investigation. Rather an unlikely decision in my opinion.


Maybe later when they have to gain physical access to the prisoner he might beat up some Doomguard guardians or something. Maybe inside the Signer's mindscape he can beat up the Signer's nightmares. But he can't really make things move forward by doing so - his class' role is purely reactive. The DM creates a hostile and he deals with the hostile, and the situation is back to status quo. Even if he e.g. goes and kills Ilsensine, that's not actually a solution to the problem (because the Signer is still undreaming reality). And if he kills the Signer? That might be the last bit of unbelief that pushes him over the edge into solipsism - refusing to believe his own death (e.g. he triggers a Forced Dream psicrystal reset to the beginning of time and...).

This is only as true as it is. While the DM could decide that killing various creatures is irrelevant he could just as easily decide that there are important figures that need to be killed or important, guarded sites that need to be besieged or even set these up as a red-herring to get the party to weaken reality by attacking these things making the fighter's role just as important to the plot as finding these things in the first place in either case.

Say, for example, the doomguard is holding someone closely related to or at least greatly knowledgeable about the Signer (whatever that is) and getting to him requires slaughtering your way through a well warded prison that you can't simply scry and fry your way in and out of, complete with a boss encounter that demands good teamwork to overcome (I'd rather not have to go into detail about proper encounter design, suffice it to say that setting up such an encounter is not significantly different for a party with a wizard and a fighter than it is for two wizards.)

Talakeal
2014-12-08, 02:11 PM
On the subject of Caramon:

Caramon is a fine character. But he should be an option for a fighter, not the default. Tanis and Flint are both fighters, and they have plenty of non combat skills and abilities, as are Riverwind, Sturm, and Kitiara iirc. I think even Laurana and Tika are considered fighters in the original modules, but don't quote me on that.

Even in the case of Caramon though, he isn't useless. In Legends he accomplishes great things, not all of them involving hitting stuff with a sword. Raistlin sees his value and intentionally manipulates things so that Caramon will be there to protect him when it is most important, and there are several times when Raistlin would have died if not for Caramon. In the end Caramon does save the world, and his fighting skills only play a small part in his heroism.

NichG
2014-12-09, 08:33 AM
Good design should involve bringing the casters excessive power down to the level of actually requiring gear, eliminating non-casters altogether, or (and this is my preferred option) find a way to marginalize the difference. That last one can be done in the design space that is necessarily left open for a DM for building adventures.

I agree that these can each work. In the context of my point about what levels really mean, I'd rephrase it as follows:
- The first option is clamping the level to a lower bracket by removing those things that transform the game at high levels. Characters may have 20HD, but they don't have the scope of options of vanilla Lv20 D&D characters, so this is effectively a variation on the spirit of E6 and the like.
- The second option is generally my preferred option (except rather than 'non-casters' I'd rephrase it as 'one-trick-ponies'). Essentially, you give everyone growth paths that eventually end in having a lot of self-directed versatility, and then its up to the players to decide how and when to use that. This isn't exactly 'clamping to high level', but thats kind of the spirit of it.
- The third option can work as well, but it relies on keeping the main source of direction of the game as the DM's responsibility. If everyone agrees to the premise of playing that kind of game and doesn't use their abilities to derail things then its fine, but I think it doesn't really work for games intended to be very open and sandbox-y, because to maintain the balance the DM has to be actively course-correcting constantly.


If travel powers are skipping encounters it's because you're planning the wrong encounters. If the -party- is capable of quick travel because of a spell available then the DM has no one to blame but himself if he planned encounters for overland travel that he could've easily predicted would never occur.

I'd like to think we can at least agree that a DM railroading the party back into traveling overland so that he can use his planned encounter is bad DM'ing.

If I disagreed with this any harder I'd hurt myself. The core of -any- story is conflict. Encounters that can be bypassed aren't encounters at all. The actual encounters are the ones you -can't- trivially bypass and when those occur you need somebody to stick pointy bits into the bad guys.

We agree there except for the 'when those occur you need to stick pointy bits into the bad guys'. It's even kind of the point I was trying to make - at high levels, the DM shouldn't be relying on random environmental encounters to provide much gameplay because the party can skip them. Structure-exploration challenges break down for similar reasons - adamantine weapons, Passwall, Teleport, Fly, etc. If you have a room with a monster, it becomes easier and easier to just go around the room, and so a savvy DM understands that the game at those levels is built out of different kinds of challenges than the stuff of low levels. A pit with a locked door on the other side and no ledge is a nice challenge at Lv1, but at Lv6 its just a resource tax and by Lv11 its likely to be solved without expenditure.

The thing is, there's more to 'conflict' than 'combat'. What I'm arguing is that 'sticking pointy bits into the bad guys' breaks down too eventually, when the scale of conflict becomes larger than the individual scale.


Those fixes are stop-gap measures that require just as much or perhaps more skill to work out properly. Changing one problem for another isn't much of a solution, IMO.

I agree with this in principle but when the one thing you want to do is something that -will- happen it's not much of a dilution. In D&D fighting -will- happen except in the rarest of games that would probably be better run with an entirely different system.

This comes from expecting more of the system than it, or any system, purports to provide. The system is a framework. It's up to the DM and his players to use that framework to make a cohesive game.

You can do it in E6 to a certain extent but, as your explanation demonstrates better than I ever could, its really not any simpler than making it work in high level play.

I agree with this in the general sense, but my take on it is different. I'd say that basically, this is a really deep problem in game design. From any angle you want to solve it, resolving it requires skill. That's why this problem has hung around for the last 15 years and keeps cropping back up. Its difficult to really understand at a visceral level, and more difficult still to understand why in some cases it's a problem and in other cases things go smoothly. Some groups never have a 'fighter vs wizard inequity' because of the implicit assumptions built into their playstyle choices, whereas it hits other groups particularly hard.

So yeah, it may take work to run a really epic E6 game. Or to make a Fighter with the eventual versatility and world-shifting power of a high level caster. Or to manage player expectations and get everyone to ignore the fact that they could just teleport past most of the dungeon. Those are all things that can be done, but none of them are served by not actually looking at how different kinds of challenges and different kinds of playstyles can break down.

That's all I'm pointing out - that the assumption that 'being good in combat will always keep me relevant' is a flawed one when exposed to the spectrum of possible games. There are specific styles of game where it remains true, but you have to verify or ensure that you are playing a game with that style. Maybe calling it 'high level play' is a bad choice here - its probably a bit inflammatory, as it seems a bit like saying that the people who aren't doing that are 'lower' somehow (though that is certainly not my intention). Maybe instead call it 'Tier 1/2 play', though that's a bit tautological for my taste. 'Epoch 1', 'Epoch 2', and 'Epoch 3' play, where #1 is personal-scale conflicts (e.g. conflicts involving maybe 10-20 participants at once), #2 is nation/society-scale conflicts, and #3 is cosmic-scale and existential conflicts? E.g. in Epoch 1 you rain a bandit lair. In Epoch 2 you deal with the threat of a pirate nation raiding the ships of your country. In Epoch 3 you deal with the hyper-advanced civilization you will one day become stealing moments from people's histories in order to power their Infinite Tautology Engines.


The only thing I can think of that would matter is contact other plane. If the gods are aware of the situation, what is a piddling party of 17's going to do that gods can't? If they're not then the spell route is going to get you a crumb that leads in the direction of the next clue. The spell option has been reduced to an easily replaceable plot-device.

For concreteness, lets say the gods in this version are not omnipotent/omniscient (since that leads to a lot of boring conclusions). So the casters use Contact Other Plane, Commune, etc and get some crumbs. The spell option could be replaced by a plot-device, but this is kind of important. For the spell option to be replaced by a plot-device, the difference is whether the responsibility in the situation lies on the DM to move things forward or whether moving it forward is a responsibility of the PCs. The DM can replace this, but because of character class abilities, the DM does not have to. That means that in this regime of play, the DM can make challenges for the party that he himself cannot figure out how to solve, because they have enough tools that there will always be a solution to be found. That's a characteristic of this sort of play.


None of this is class specific except the parenthetical. That's irrelevant because of the existence of natural and man-made portals that can get you to sigil in plot appropriate time.

You -do- know that this apocalyptic event moves at the pace the plot demands unless your group plays a particularly rigorous meatgrinder of a game. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, but I'd hazard that it's atypical.[/quote]

Well, as I said, a clever player can make up for a lot. The point is more, what is the Fighter actually bringing to the table as a game mechanical class in this situation? It isn't really. The Wizard and the Cleric on the other hand can take responsibility for providing the things that previously would need to be provided by DM fiat to move things forward. In other words, because of their class features, the DM isn't forced to make there be a portal. More importantly, the DM doesn't have to pre-plan where the party should be. For example, maybe the PCs decide of their own volition to check out Pandemonium because they think that the nightmares emerging from the empty spaces seem like creatures that would exist there.

In the Epoch 1 equivalent, the DM would have to prepare a portal to Pandemonium for the party, or they could say 'nah, I don't want them to go off chasing that red herring, so no portal'. The party isn't responsible for providing the means, they're just responsible for surviving the trip. At Epoch 3, the party has the responsibility to provide the means. That means you can have a very exploratory style of play - there may be places the party can go only if they can figure out how, and if they can't figure out how then they never get to go there.


Here's the thing; the fighter's role doesn't come up -if- the DM has decided that the doomguard and ilsensine don't send minions to try and thwart the players' investigation. Rather an unlikely decision in my opinion.

This is only as true as it is. While the DM could decide that killing various creatures is irrelevant he could just as easily decide that there are important figures that need to be killed or important, guarded sites that need to be besieged or even set these up as a red-herring to get the party to weaken reality by attacking these things making the fighter's role just as important to the plot as finding these things in the first place in either case.

Say, for example, the doomguard is holding someone closely related to or at least greatly knowledgeable about the Signer (whatever that is) and getting to him requires slaughtering your way through a well warded prison that you can't simply scry and fry your way in and out of, complete with a boss encounter that demands good teamwork to overcome (I'd rather not have to go into detail about proper encounter design, suffice it to say that setting up such an encounter is not significantly different for a party with a wizard and a fighter than it is for two wizards.)

The transition between 'the DM decides that' and 'the party decides that' is the transition between styles of play at low versus high level D&D (or 'Epoch 1' versus 'Epoch 3' or whatever) that I'm talking about. The point being, high level casters (and even many non-casters who have out of combat abilities) have the ability to direct play on their own. But high level 'combat-only' characters are stuck being reactive - they're dependent on the DM making them matter, rather than having the ability to make themselves matter.

Kelb_Panthera
2014-12-09, 10:55 AM
On the subject of Caramon:

Caramon is a fine character. But he should be an option for a fighter, not the default. Tanis and Flint are both fighters, and they have plenty of non combat skills and abilities, as are Riverwind, Sturm, and Kitiara iirc. I think even Laurana and Tika are considered fighters in the original modules, but don't quote me on that.

That Caramon should be a valid and available option was kinda my point. I really don't see him as the default. As for the others, fighter isn't the only class anymore and the vast majority of what is done in those novels could easily be described as basic skill uses.


Even in the case of Caramon though, he isn't useless. In Legends he accomplishes great things, not all of them involving hitting stuff with a sword. Raistlin sees his value and intentionally manipulates things so that Caramon will be there to protect him when it is most important, and there are several times when Raistlin would have died if not for Caramon. In the end Caramon does save the world, and his fighting skills only play a small part in his heroism.

As much as I love those novels, Caramon was only as useful as his brother made him. It wasn't until he was leading the army of Fistandantilus that he was mildly useful and even then he wasn't leading alone. The fame of his brother's assumed identity went a long way and for that matter I don't recall any significant strategic or tactical decisions falling exclusively on his shoulders to make.

If it weren't for the internal conflict of both brothers and the familial conflict between them, Caramon would've been completely incidental to the plot. Tasselhoff was more important.


- The third option can work as well, but it relies on keeping the main source of direction of the game as the DM's responsibility. If everyone agrees to the premise of playing that kind of game and doesn't use their abilities to derail things then its fine, but I think it doesn't really work for games intended to be very open and sandbox-y, because to maintain the balance the DM has to be actively course-correcting constantly.

The thing is, the DM ultimately -is- the main source of direction for the game. This is unavoidable. He sets up the world for the players to act on and in. Even once the players have decieded where to go and what to do, the DM has to design what they find when they get there and how whatever they find will impede them.

Player agency is important, at least as a possibility, but it cannot exist without a DM setting things up.


We agree there except for the 'when those occur you need to stick pointy bits into the bad guys'. It's even kind of the point I was trying to make - at high levels, the DM shouldn't be relying on random environmental encounters to provide much gameplay because the party can skip them. Structure-exploration challenges break down for similar reasons - adamantine weapons, Passwall, Teleport, Fly, etc. If you have a room with a monster, it becomes easier and easier to just go around the room, and so a savvy DM understands that the game at those levels is built out of different kinds of challenges than the stuff of low levels. A pit with a locked door on the other side and no ledge is a nice challenge at Lv1, but at Lv6 its just a resource tax and by Lv11 its likely to be solved without expenditure.

No one's talking about -random- environmental factors. Intentional and directed environments and foes are what I'm getting at. A skilled DM can, indeed should, make it -necessary- to utilize some of the players available options and difficult or impossible to use others.

If you have a room with a monster in it, you can go around it, sure, but if you have a decent warrior along then you don't have to. You can go through it and collect whatever treasure it's standing over and/or wearing.


The thing is, there's more to 'conflict' than 'combat'. What I'm arguing is that 'sticking pointy bits into the bad guys' breaks down too eventually, when the scale of conflict becomes larger than the individual scale.

Except it doesn't. At least not in a game where combat makes up such a large portion of the game. If that's not the kind of game you're playing then why use such a system at all?


I agree with this in the general sense, but my take on it is different. I'd say that basically, this is a really deep problem in game design. From any angle you want to solve it, resolving it requires skill. That's why this problem has hung around for the last 15 years and keeps cropping back up. Its difficult to really understand at a visceral level, and more difficult still to understand why in some cases it's a problem and in other cases things go smoothly. Some groups never have a 'fighter vs wizard inequity' because of the implicit assumptions built into their playstyle choices, whereas it hits other groups particularly hard.

So yeah, it may take work to run a really epic E6 game. Or to make a Fighter with the eventual versatility and world-shifting power of a high level caster. Or to manage player expectations and get everyone to ignore the fact that they could just teleport past most of the dungeon. Those are all things that can be done, but none of them are served by not actually looking at how different kinds of challenges and different kinds of playstyles can break down.

You can't teleport past the dungeon if your goal is at the bottom of it. My point remains that system mastery is a -much- more able and reliable way to make a game work than trying write a system that can't break down.


That's all I'm pointing out - that the assumption that 'being good in combat will always keep me relevant' is a flawed one when exposed to the spectrum of possible games. There are specific styles of game where it remains true, but you have to verify or ensure that you are playing a game with that style. Maybe calling it 'high level play' is a bad choice here - its probably a bit inflammatory, as it seems a bit like saying that the people who aren't doing that are 'lower' somehow (though that is certainly not my intention). Maybe instead call it 'Tier 1/2 play', though that's a bit tautological for my taste. 'Epoch 1', 'Epoch 2', and 'Epoch 3' play, where #1 is personal-scale conflicts (e.g. conflicts involving maybe 10-20 participants at once), #2 is nation/society-scale conflicts, and #3 is cosmic-scale and existential conflicts? E.g. in Epoch 1 you rain a bandit lair. In Epoch 2 you deal with the threat of a pirate nation raiding the ships of your country. In Epoch 3 you deal with the hyper-advanced civilization you will one day become stealing moments from people's histories in order to power their Infinite Tautology Engines.

No one is -always- relevant. The expectation that your character will always have something to do without fail is an unrealistic one. If you've chosen to play a warrior class then it's only natural that your primary skill set will -not- be relevant at times when there is no combat. However, if you've chosen a warrior class it would be irresponsible of the DM to include -no- combat in the campaign. If the entire group is down on combat then you may need to seriously reconsider your group rather than your character because there's clearly an issue there that runs deeper than game design.


Breakpoint



For concreteness, lets say the gods in this version are not omnipotent/omniscient (since that leads to a lot of boring conclusions). So the casters use Contact Other Plane, Commune, etc and get some crumbs. The spell option could be replaced by a plot-device, but this is kind of important. For the spell option to be replaced by a plot-device, the difference is whether the responsibility in the situation lies on the DM to move things forward or whether moving it forward is a responsibility of the PCs. The DM can replace this, but because of character class abilities, the DM does not have to. That means that in this regime of play, the DM can make challenges for the party that he himself cannot figure out how to solve, because they have enough tools that there will always be a solution to be found. That's a characteristic of this sort of play.

No. I must reject, in principle at least, placing challenges in front of a party that you have no idea how to solve. If the party comes up with something you didn't think of, that's fine, but you should have had at least one solution in mind when you created the scenario. To do otherwise is just bad adventure/campaign design.

Both the players and the DM share responsibility in moving the plot forward but the DM has a larger share of that responsibility and always did. The CoP isn't replaced by a plot-device, it -is- a plot-device in this scenario. That the players provided it instead of the DM really only matters to the player(s) that cast the spell. If no one in the party knew the spell then the plot would've still had to move forward and the DM should have had -something- ready even if it was something as trite as a friendly NPC that does know CoP.


Well, as I said, a clever player can make up for a lot. The point is more, what is the Fighter actually bringing to the table as a game mechanical class in this situation? It isn't really. The Wizard and the Cleric on the other hand can take responsibility for providing the things that previously would need to be provided by DM fiat to move things forward. In other words, because of their class features, the DM isn't forced to make there be a portal. More importantly, the DM doesn't have to pre-plan where the party should be. For example, maybe the PCs decide of their own volition to check out Pandemonium because they think that the nightmares emerging from the empty spaces seem like creatures that would exist there.

Changing the destination doesn't change much. Wherever the party decides to go, the DM needs to plan on them getting there somehow. If they have a means of getting there quickly and easily, cool. If not then the DM can -either- plan an overland adventure to get there -or- simply hand wave it. "After a few days of research you discover the location of a portal to [destination]. You then spend the next [X] days traveling to the portal and are now in [destination]. What do you do?" vs "[cleric] casts planeshift and you are now in [destination]. What do you do?"

Whatever the case, that'll be the end of the session unless the DM either has something planned or is good at winging it.


In the Epoch 1 equivalent, the DM would have to prepare a portal to Pandemonium for the party, or they could say 'nah, I don't want them to go off chasing that red herring, so no portal'. The party isn't responsible for providing the means, they're just responsible for surviving the trip. At Epoch 3, the party has the responsibility to provide the means. That means you can have a very exploratory style of play - there may be places the party can go only if they can figure out how, and if they can't figure out how then they never get to go there.

Here's where we're finally disagreeing. At -all- points the responsibility for where to go and what to do is shared between both the players and DM. Epoch 1 is easier for a DM to impose his own designs on but that's bad DM'ing in my opinion.




The transition between 'the DM decides that' and 'the party decides that' is the transition between styles of play at low versus high level D&D (or 'Epoch 1' versus 'Epoch 3' or whatever) that I'm talking about. The point being, high level casters (and even many non-casters who have out of combat abilities) have the ability to direct play on their own. But high level 'combat-only' characters are stuck being reactive - they're dependent on the DM making them matter, rather than having the ability to make themselves matter.

I respectfully disagree.

NichG
2014-12-09, 03:42 PM
The thing is, the DM ultimately -is- the main source of direction for the game. This is unavoidable. He sets up the world for the players to act on and in. Even once the players have decieded where to go and what to do, the DM has to design what they find when they get there and how whatever they find will impede them.

Player agency is important, at least as a possibility, but it cannot exist without a DM setting things up.

This feels like an issue of ignoring a huge gap in the sorts of player agency in the different epochs of play because 'the DM still matters'. What changes between the epochs is the scale at which the DM is required to finally intervene if you're trying to run the most sandboxy game you can.

At Epoch 1 (personal scale), if you leave as much choice to the players as possible, they're still bound by geographic locality (because travel is still hard), access (because mostly the only places they can go are places that a mundane human could physically get to and enter, you can't ask them to clear away 20 tons of rock), and information (because they have to rely primarily on rumor or direct conversation with other people who know things to find out). At this Epoch, many physical things are still absolute boundaries - no matter how much the players want to cross them, they're simply impossible unless the DM provides a mechanism which bypasses the boundary. You can for example have things like a 200ft wide chasm filled with lava with a chest on the other side, and the PCs simply cannot get to it unless they can lower the drawbridge.

At Epoch 2, the PCs generally can get anywhere if they spend the resources and time needed. Information sieves can be generated proactively now - a PC could use divinations, networks of followers, etc to proactively stay abreast of some information - 'let me know when the Dark King moves his troops', etc. So planning gains a higher strategic level, because now PCs can not only follow up on information given directly by the DM, they can make long-term choices which modulate their access to information. At this level, PCs have enough ability and reknown that things like physical access, gaining information, etc start to show up as day-to-day challenges that are the PCs' responsibility to overcome. You can make a 200ft wide chasm filled with lava and a chest on the other side, and as a DM you don't have to provide a bridge because the PCs can fly or teleport over, or use magic/followers to construct a bridge. You can bury the dungeon entrance under 20 tons of rock and the PCs can find a way to move that rock if they want access. If the PCs want to go to another country and adventure there, its usually just a matter of spending resources, not a matter of whether the travel is possible or not, and so in the most open game PCs can freely choose where their adventures are based, etc. In a very open game, here's where one player might say 'I don't care about these kingdoms on the Prime; lets go to the planes!' or things like that.

The things that are still limited without direct DM intervention in Epoch 2 are that there are still 'just so' facts of life that the PCs can't really do anything about directly. E.g. they can't reasonably pursue 'I want personal control of the actions of everyone on this planet' or 'I want to replace the economy' or 'I think that bad things shouldn't happen to good people' unless the DM says 'you know, there's a McGuffin that lets you change one law of the cosmos every thousand years, and that time is coming up right now' or things like that. You can still do those plots in Epoch 2, but they're DM-bound rather than player-bound.

I'd hazard that most high-level D&D games end up in Epoch 2 territory.

At Epoch 3, the PCs can decide to oppose 'the way things are' at a deep level. If you're running a game with a devil army attacking the kingdom, the players might reasonably decide on their own to pursue solutions like 'lets get rid of devils as a thing that exists in this multiverse' - e.g. 'lets steal the Pact Primeval and change the wording' or 'lets talk with the gods and get the Upper Planes to finally invade the hells' or other plans of that sort. They can't do such things trivially, and may fail, but to me the thing that characterizes this epoch of play is that such things become theoretically possible - they become legitimate plans for the PCs to proactively pursue of their own volition. You can still do these plotlines at Epoch 1 and Epoch 2, but the DM needs to explicitly create the leverage at those scales. At Epoch 3, the PCs can create that leverage.

For a lot of people, Epoch 3 is a bit much, and as a matter of taste players will often explicitly avoid going there - it really takes confidence to propose something like 'hey guys, lets get rid of one of the elemental planes' or 'hey guys, lets steal some guy's godhood' and then figure out how to follow through with that. Things like the Tippyverse belong there, and often it looks like the way players make it happen is by rules abuse (e.g. TO shenanigans). So this one doesn't show up so much in practice, but once you get things like Greater Planeshift, Energy Transformation Field, Limited Wish, etc - around 8th level spells - players who have the taste for it can start really proactively pursuing it which can be a bit of a shock if you aren't expecting that (with TO you can do it earlier of course, but putting aside TO). If you go into epic and allow epic spellcasting then that tends to blow the lid off and puts you squarely in Epoch 3 territory.



No one's talking about -random- environmental factors. Intentional and directed environments and foes are what I'm getting at. A skilled DM can, indeed should, make it -necessary- to utilize some of the players available options and difficult or impossible to use others.

If you have a room with a monster in it, you can go around it, sure, but if you have a decent warrior along then you don't have to. You can go through it and collect whatever treasure it's standing over and/or wearing.

Except it doesn't. At least not in a game where combat makes up such a large portion of the game. If that's not the kind of game you're playing then why use such a system at all?

You can't teleport past the dungeon if your goal is at the bottom of it. My point remains that system mastery is a -much- more able and reliable way to make a game work than trying write a system that can't break down.


The thing is, there are lots of other things that make up a huge portion of the game in D&D too. The way it works out is, a good half of the system is basically a list of spells. A good half of those spells are non-combat, or have huge non-combat applications and significance.

So its not that 'running a non-combat game at high level is going against the grain of the system'. It's actually going with the grain, but its a particular grain that emerges very starkly at high levels compared to low levels. D&D basically contains something like two or three distinct games within it, and as you level up you tend to shift from one to the other as being the dominant kind of play if everyone is fully stretching their abilities.

What it feels to me like you're arguing is 'no, the other kinds of play don't exist, just ignore them and it will be alright!'. But that strikes me as willfully ignoring what's there in order to hold an ideal of what you want to be there. The thing is, I think you actually get what I'm saying based on your responses, but you're sort of saying 'I have enough system mastery that I can suppress this tendency and make the system play the way I like'. The thing is, being able to suppress the bias in the system is not the same as the bias not actually existing in the first place. To do that, you need to be aware of it.

That's mostly my point - first to explicitly examine that bias and point out its existence, and secondly to say that if you don't want to suppress it but instead would rather embrace it, there are going to be consequences in that some kinds of contributions don't have the same flexibility as others.

E.g. 'yes, you can run things differently, but this multiple-play-style effect is something that is part of the game and you have to consciously take it into account'. Part of that is that if you know what you're doing you can run a high level game that behaves the same as a low level game (or a low level game that behaves like a high level game) with respect to this kind of player agency transition.



No one is -always- relevant. The expectation that your character will always have something to do without fail is an unrealistic one. If you've chosen to play a warrior class then it's only natural that your primary skill set will -not- be relevant at times when there is no combat. However, if you've chosen a warrior class it would be irresponsible of the DM to include -no- combat in the campaign. If the entire group is down on combat then you may need to seriously reconsider your group rather than your character because there's clearly an issue there that runs deeper than game design.


No real disagreement here. My main point is, in certain regimes of play (e.g. high level sandbox) you can find yourself running a game that is effectively without combat even though you didn't expect that to be the case. The system enables players who were 'meh' on combat but not consciously so to drive things in a direction where combat is generally avoided. So before you get to that point, be clear on what your players want. If you have a group where some of the players are okay with combat but don't really care for it, but others are really gung-ho about combat, then be prepared for high level play to exacerbate that difference because it becomes easier for the 'meh on combat' players to enforce their preference through game mechanics unless you explicitly agree ahead of time that 'we won't do that'.


No. I must reject, in principle at least, placing challenges in front of a party that you have no idea how to solve. If the party comes up with something you didn't think of, that's fine, but you should have had at least one solution in mind when you created the scenario. To do otherwise is just bad adventure/campaign design.

Both the players and the DM share responsibility in moving the plot forward but the DM has a larger share of that responsibility and always did. The CoP isn't replaced by a plot-device, it -is- a plot-device in this scenario. That the players provided it instead of the DM really only matters to the player(s) that cast the spell. If no one in the party knew the spell then the plot would've still had to move forward and the DM should have had -something- ready even if it was something as trite as a friendly NPC that does know CoP.

The way I'd run it is to saturate the game with hooks that the PCs can follow that are generally not directly related to this plotline. If the PCs get stuck on pursuing the rifts, or decide that they don't care, they can do other things instead - the game must go on. Along the way, PCs will have lots of opportunities to increase the versatility of their abilities, since that tends to feature largely in my games, but those opportunities are not specifically geared towards 'this is how the PCs will solve the rifts'. For example, after one adventure they might find a well that lets them each ask a question of a single entity's subconscious; after another adventure, they might find a wand that has the power to undo one event; after another adventure, they might find a deck of tarot cards that lets them travel to the place in the multiverse most strongly associated with each card.

So that's a lot of opportunities for them to think 'hey, maybe I can use this thing to do something about the rifts', but they still need to come up with that on their own.

I spam them with tools and options, but I never say 'this is the way that I think they will solve it' and at the high end I strongly avoid 'I'm putting this thing here specifically to get them unstuck'.

And if they still don't make progress, they'll see evidence of the rifts problem escalating as they leave it alone for longer and longer, and may find eventually find that many of their adventure hooks center around problems caused by the rifts because that's the natural consequence of letting it get worse. In practice this means that the investigation is easier, sort of how if you're solving a serial murder mystery waiting for someone else to get killed can mean there's more evidence to pursue, but it also means that the collateral damage is worse. That's the consequence of failure, basically.

If they still don't find a way to solve it, then the 'Planar Heroes' game becomes 'Void Heroes' and instead of stopping the multiverse from being destroyed they have to rebuild it. But the game keeps going on regardless.



Changing the destination doesn't change much. Wherever the party decides to go, the DM needs to plan on them getting there somehow. If they have a means of getting there quickly and easily, cool. If not then the DM can -either- plan an overland adventure to get there -or- simply hand wave it. "After a few days of research you discover the location of a portal to [destination]. You then spend the next [X] days traveling to the portal and are now in [destination]. What do you do?" vs "[cleric] casts planeshift and you are now in [destination]. What do you do?"

Whatever the case, that'll be the end of the session unless the DM either has something planned or is good at winging it.


At Epoch 1, 'you simply can't get there' is actually a reasonable answer. A group of Lv3 PCs wants to get to the 9th layer of Baator because of some cockamamie scheme they've come up with, the DM can reasonably say 'okay, tell me exactly how you go about doing this' with the expectation that because of the natural barriers built into the setting they're just not going to be able to figure out how and will have to give up or just 'no, that's not gonna happen'.

At Epoch 3, they are simply going to get there if they want to, pretty much whatever the DM might do unless the DM directly fiat-prevents it or runs a distraction maneuver.

It comes down to reasonable assumptions of what can be accomplished. An Epoch 1 PC cannot assume 'I can gain access to any location on the planes that I desire to'. An Epoch 3 PC can safely assume that, so long as they're willing to deal with the hazards. It becomes a valid move for them to include in their plans, whereas if an Epoch 1 PC assumed that 'there'll be a portal or something' then they can simply be wrong, and that can break the plan.



Here's where we're finally disagreeing. At -all- points the responsibility for where to go and what to do is shared between both the players and DM. Epoch 1 is easier for a DM to impose his own designs on but that's bad DM'ing in my opinion.

I respectfully disagree.

Do you at least see how the game itself provides tools that change what the party can assume will be possible or not for them to rely on?

Kelb_Panthera
2014-12-09, 05:47 PM
This feels like an issue of ignoring a huge gap in the sorts of player agency in the different epochs of play because 'the DM still matters'. What changes between the epochs is the scale at which the DM is required to finally intervene if you're trying to run the most sandboxy game you can.

I get what you're saying and you're not wrong. At higher epochs of play player agency does make it a lot -easier- to keep things going without having to throw the part a bone but ultimately the DM -has- to provide whatever is actually -at- the locations the players eventually reach. Adding in a way to get there if the PC's don't have one as a class feature is trivial at best and for some DM's automatically done without thought.


At Epoch 1 (personal scale), if you leave as much choice to the players as possible, they're still bound by geographic locality (because travel is still hard), access (because mostly the only places they can go are places that a mundane human could physically get to and enter, you can't ask them to clear away 20 tons of rock), and information (because they have to rely primarily on rumor or direct conversation with other people who know things to find out). At this Epoch, many physical things are still absolute boundaries - no matter how much the players want to cross them, they're simply impossible unless the DM provides a mechanism which bypasses the boundary. You can for example have things like a 200ft wide chasm filled with lava with a chest on the other side, and the PCs simply cannot get to it unless they can lower the drawbridge.

I don't see it. Physical obstacles are more difficult to bypass at this level but anything shy of a large expanse of directly damaging material, lava for example, can be bypassed at level 1. 20 tons of rock? pickaxe and time (though I prefer SoS' explosive packs). Mountain range? A bit of climbing gear, some warm clothes, and time. Lava chasm? that one I admit is a bit more involved depending on details but I have no doubt that with a bit of time and effort it -is- passable unless the DM is specifically blocking it.


At Epoch 2, the PCs generally can get anywhere if they spend the resources and time needed. Information sieves can be generated proactively now - a PC could use divinations, networks of followers, etc to proactively stay abreast of some information - 'let me know when the Dark King moves his troops', etc. So planning gains a higher strategic level, because now PCs can not only follow up on information given directly by the DM, they can make long-term choices which modulate their access to information. At this level, PCs have enough ability and reknown that things like physical access, gaining information, etc start to show up as day-to-day challenges that are the PCs' responsibility to overcome. You can make a 200ft wide chasm filled with lava and a chest on the other side, and as a DM you don't have to provide a bridge because the PCs can fly or teleport over, or use magic/followers to construct a bridge. You can bury the dungeon entrance under 20 tons of rock and the PCs can find a way to move that rock if they want access. If the PCs want to go to another country and adventure there, its usually just a matter of spending resources, not a matter of whether the travel is possible or not, and so in the most open game PCs can freely choose where their adventures are based, etc. In a very open game, here's where one player might say 'I don't care about these kingdoms on the Prime; lets go to the planes!' or things like that.

The only difference I see at this level is the PC's owning the information network rather than just tapping one that already exists and being able to use magical access to information that might otherwise be inaccessible without having to shell out cash. Obstacles take less time -if- the PC's are willing to spend daily resources on them, though those expenditures are relatively cheaper now. Overland travel has never been more difficult than picking a direction and walking and even crossing a sea was never more than taking a job as a swabby away. I sometimes get the impression that people have been spoiled by the existence of higher level options from taking more mundane but still perfectly valid routes to their eventual destination both figuratively and literally.


The things that are still limited without direct DM intervention in Epoch 2 are that there are still 'just so' facts of life that the PCs can't really do anything about directly. E.g. they can't reasonably pursue 'I want personal control of the actions of everyone on this planet' or 'I want to replace the economy' or 'I think that bad things shouldn't happen to good people' unless the DM says 'you know, there's a McGuffin that lets you change one law of the cosmos every thousand years, and that time is coming up right now' or things like that. You can still do those plots in Epoch 2, but they're DM-bound rather than player-bound.

I'd hazard that most high-level D&D games end up in Epoch 2 territory. Such things are beyond even what I'm thinking of for epoch 3, though. I honestly think that pursuing things like "bad things shouldn't happen to good people" as a goal lands somewhere deep in epic play for D&D 3.X and PF. It's certainly beyond the scope of where -most- groups want to play, I'd wager.


At Epoch 3, the PCs can decide to oppose 'the way things are' at a deep level. If you're running a game with a devil army attacking the kingdom, the players might reasonably decide on their own to pursue solutions like 'lets get rid of devils as a thing that exists in this multiverse' - e.g. 'lets steal the Pact Primeval and change the wording' or 'lets talk with the gods and get the Upper Planes to finally invade the hells' or other plans of that sort. They can't do such things trivially, and may fail, but to me the thing that characterizes this epoch of play is that such things become theoretically possible - they become legitimate plans for the PCs to proactively pursue of their own volition. You can still do these plotlines at Epoch 1 and Epoch 2, but the DM needs to explicitly create the leverage at those scales. At Epoch 3, the PCs can create that leverage.

For a lot of people, Epoch 3 is a bit much, and as a matter of taste players will often explicitly avoid going there - it really takes confidence to propose something like 'hey guys, lets get rid of one of the elemental planes' or 'hey guys, lets steal some guy's godhood' and then figure out how to follow through with that. Things like the Tippyverse belong there, and often it looks like the way players make it happen is by rules abuse (e.g. TO shenanigans). So this one doesn't show up so much in practice, but once you get things like Greater Planeshift, Energy Transformation Field, Limited Wish, etc - around 8th level spells - players who have the taste for it can start really proactively pursuing it which can be a bit of a shock if you aren't expecting that (with TO you can do it earlier of course, but putting aside TO). If you go into epic and allow epic spellcasting then that tends to blow the lid off and puts you squarely in Epoch 3 territory.

This really feels like it's more of an epoch 4 than where I was thinking. For epoch 3 I was thinking more take over the world level stuff or become important on the planar scale more than "let's change the fundamentals of reality." This goes so far beyond the pale that I really don't think trying to tie it to the same system that makes epoch 1 a decent game is a good idea.


The thing is, there are lots of other things that make up a huge portion of the game in D&D too. The way it works out is, a good half of the system is basically a list of spells. A good half of those spells are non-combat, or have huge non-combat applications and significance.

So its not that 'running a non-combat game at high level is going against the grain of the system'. It's actually going with the grain, but its a particular grain that emerges very starkly at high levels compared to low levels. D&D basically contains something like two or three distinct games within it, and as you level up you tend to shift from one to the other as being the dominant kind of play if everyone is fully stretching their abilities.

What about the -other- half? It's just supposed to lay down and die? What you've described here is only true if the entire play group is on board. You've basically just said that 1/4th of the game is non-combat so it's only natural that the game would become non-combat oriented. That doesn't follow at all. The existence of those non-combat options makes a zero combat games possible but possible does not a natural progression to the game make.


What it feels to me like you're arguing is 'no, the other kinds of play don't exist, just ignore them and it will be alright!'. But that strikes me as willfully ignoring what's there in order to hold an ideal of what you want to be there. The thing is, I think you actually get what I'm saying based on your responses, but you're sort of saying 'I have enough system mastery that I can suppress this tendency and make the system play the way I like'. The thing is, being able to suppress the bias in the system is not the same as the bias not actually existing in the first place. To do that, you need to be aware of it.

I do get what you're saying. I just don't necessarily agree with your conclusion. I'm fully aware of the caster supremacy phenomenon and the fact that a lack of system mastery can make its effects on the game quite pronounced. My argument is that unless -everyone- is on board with discarding the combat portion of the game then combat will be a portion of the game and if somebody is really into that portion there's no good reason that they can't continue to play right into higher levels as simply a master of combat. If everyone but the would-be-warrior is so down on combat that not removing it would be unfair to them then there's simply no design move to be made. It's a matter of incompatible playstyles that can only be addressed on the personal level, not the game design level. (I'd also suggest that the group might do better with another system since there are many that are much more geared to that sort of game, though that isn't strictly necessary.)


That's mostly my point - first to explicitly examine that bias and point out its existence, and secondly to say that if you don't want to suppress it but instead would rather embrace it, there are going to be consequences in that some kinds of contributions don't have the same flexibility as others.

E.g. 'yes, you can run things differently, but this multiple-play-style effect is something that is part of the game and you have to consciously take it into account'. Part of that is that if you know what you're doing you can run a high level game that behaves the same as a low level game (or a low level game that behaves like a high level game) with respect to this kind of player agency transition.

We're in general agreement on some level, I think. I believe the fundamental difference we're bumping into here is that I don't necessarily see higher levels as a different game so much as the same game with broader and more nuanced options. The potential for it to -become- a different game exists. I won't deny that. I -will- deny that it -must- become a different game, however. I think that it's a much less common occurrence than you seem to be suggesting.


No real disagreement here. My main point is, in certain regimes of play (e.g. high level sandbox) you can find yourself running a game that is effectively without combat even though you didn't expect that to be the case. The system enables players who were 'meh' on combat but not consciously so to drive things in a direction where combat is generally avoided. So before you get to that point, be clear on what your players want. If you have a group where some of the players are okay with combat but don't really care for it, but others are really gung-ho about combat, then be prepared for high level play to exacerbate that difference because it becomes easier for the 'meh on combat' players to enforce their preference through game mechanics unless you explicitly agree ahead of time that 'we won't do that'.

I don't see it. If some players are "meh" on combat then they can only accidentally marginalize combat if the DM and the "gung-ho" players allow it. It's hardly ideal but the old "leroy jenkins" maneuver is something that does happen if the warriors are denied combat too often. I really think this is more a matter of managing group expectations than a matter for directing design goals.


The way I'd run it is to saturate the game with hooks that the PCs can follow that are generally not directly related to this plotline. If the PCs get stuck on pursuing the rifts, or decide that they don't care, they can do other things instead - the game must go on. Along the way, PCs will have lots of opportunities to increase the versatility of their abilities, since that tends to feature largely in my games, but those opportunities are not specifically geared towards 'this is how the PCs will solve the rifts'. For example, after one adventure they might find a well that lets them each ask a question of a single entity's subconscious; after another adventure, they might find a wand that has the power to undo one event; after another adventure, they might find a deck of tarot cards that lets them travel to the place in the multiverse most strongly associated with each card.

So that's a lot of opportunities for them to think 'hey, maybe I can use this thing to do something about the rifts', but they still need to come up with that on their own.

I spam them with tools and options, but I never say 'this is the way that I think they will solve it' and at the high end I strongly avoid 'I'm putting this thing here specifically to get them unstuck'.

See that's just a difference in DM'ing style on our respective parts. I do much the same as you do but there's one key difference. That last bit. I never put an obstacle in front of the players without -some- idea of how it might be solved. I don't pick a one-and-only solution that they must somehow pluck from my mind but I do have something to fall back on if they run completely out of ideas. Even in the sandiest of sandboxes the players sometimes need a nudge or they just flounder.


And if they still don't make progress, they'll see evidence of the rifts problem escalating as they leave it alone for longer and longer, and may find eventually find that many of their adventure hooks center around problems caused by the rifts because that's the natural consequence of letting it get worse. In practice this means that the investigation is easier, sort of how if you're solving a serial murder mystery waiting for someone else to get killed can mean there's more evidence to pursue, but it also means that the collateral damage is worse. That's the consequence of failure, basically.

If they still don't find a way to solve it, then the 'Planar Heroes' game becomes 'Void Heroes' and instead of stopping the multiverse from being destroyed they have to rebuild it. But the game keeps going on regardless.

I'm with you right up until that last part. In a multiverse destruction plot there are really only two possible outcomes: the players win and save everything, or at least a small part of it, or they fail and it's game over. On a lesser plot I'd probably be right there with you all the way. If the bad guy succeeds in taking over the kingdom you switch gears to running a resistance to the new regime. If your guild is ousted you either try to rebuild or move on to some other goal. However, in either of those cases I, at least, will have had some idea how it could've been prevented even if the players never came up with anything or seriously screwed it up.


At Epoch 1, 'you simply can't get there' is actually a reasonable answer. A group of Lv3 PCs wants to get to the 9th layer of Baator because of some cockamamie scheme they've come up with, the DM can reasonably say 'okay, tell me exactly how you go about doing this' with the expectation that because of the natural barriers built into the setting they're just not going to be able to figure out how and will have to give up or just 'no, that's not gonna happen'.

Meh. "You can't get there" never stops being an option it just gets harder and more railroady to implement. I prefer the opposite approach. You can get there unless its specifically barred from general entry. It just takes a lot longer at lower levels.


At Epoch 3, they are simply going to get there if they want to, pretty much whatever the DM might do unless the DM directly fiat-prevents it or runs a distraction maneuver.

For general areas like nessus? sure, why not. For Asmodeus' private residence or the like? not so much. There's nothing fiat-y about important figures defending their holdings from intrusion. Whether it's a good idea or not is another matter entirely. If the players ever reach a point of feeling invulnerable then you're either doing something wrong or you're a devious bastard that's about to pull the rug out from under them.


It comes down to reasonable assumptions of what can be accomplished. An Epoch 1 PC cannot assume 'I can gain access to any location on the planes that I desire to'. An Epoch 3 PC can safely assume that, so long as they're willing to deal with the hazards. It becomes a valid move for them to include in their plans, whereas if an Epoch 1 PC assumed that 'there'll be a portal or something' then they can simply be wrong, and that can break the plan.

Again, it's a question of DM'ing style. I don't see any good reason not to let the PC's go wherever they want (in the general sense) as long as they're willing to accept the risks and difficulties inherent in going to that place right from level 1. Some places will be reasonably off limits because going there is pretty much certain death but those are atypical on the material plane and not as common as you'd think even beyond the mortal realm.


Do you at least see how the game itself provides tools that change what the party can assume will be possible or not for them to rely on?

Very few. I see many tools that can allow them to accomplish goals faster and easier than the mundane ways but the tools that allow them to do what was truly impossible before are relatively few. Reliability is and always has been relative. The tools you're talking about...... okay let's get real here for a second. The spells that you're talking about are only as reliable as the DM's ability and willingness to counter them without resorting to fiat and they are, by default at least, available much earlier than when the casters can cast them directly in the form of scrolls that are fairly inexpensive and trivial to activate.