The Real Issues of Class Balance

I'm going to start by saying that most of my experience has been with 3.5.  I've played and DMed some 4.0, but not much, and I've recently begun playing in a first edition game.  My knowledge of D&D is far from complete, but I'm quite familiar with the mechanics of the more recent editions.  I'm going to give my view of the class dynamics in these two systems, what was wrong with that, and then mention what possible alternatives I can think of.

Let's start with 3.5.  Class balance in that system was a nightmare.  The non-spellcasters were powerless compared to their magic-wielding companions, for the first few encounters of the day, after which point the spellcasters would run out of juice and become useless.  An intelligent party would, at this point, stop to rest and resume adventuring the next day when they had their power players back, meaning that martial characters would exist solely as a) a distraction and b) bodyguards for the casters at night.  Hardly ideal.  Beyond mere combat, magic quickly rendered most skills worthless.  Why jump if you can fly?  Why use the Heal skill when you can burn an orison to greater effect?  Hide?  Invisibility!  And so on.

4.0 leveled the playing field.  Rather literally.  The classes became flat, to the point where there was mechanically little difference between a Ranger and a Warlock.  The classes were balanced, but they lost their unique feel.  Fighters got their moment in the spotligh, but it happened at the cost of magic being magical.  That's really all I have to say.  In an effort to balance classes they destroyed class identity.

What would be ideal is where spellcasters are circumstantially better than nonspellcasters.  No, I don't mean go back to 3.5 where spellcasters are all-or-nothing compared to martial characters.  I mean, in the right circumstances, a wizard will massively outperform a same-level fighter 80-90% of the time, but outside of those  circumstances a fighter will significantly outperform a same-level wizard 80-90% of the time.  I'm not sure precisely how to go about this, but I have a few ideas.

1.)  Narrow the power of spells.  Give specific circumstances under which each particular spell will work, or limit potential targets.  Instead of fireball doing 1d6 per level to all targets in the area, perhaps a wider variety of spells that do, for example, 1d8 damage per level to all targets of a specific type in the area.  (i.e. one for Undead, one for Abberations, etc.) By removing damage-all spells like Fireball, the use of other effects like Banishment would become more prevelant.  In essence, make it so that the wizard is obviously more powerful in the situations for which the wizard has explicitly prepared, which should be significantly more specific than "Enemies resistant to fire/Enemies not resistant to fire"  (For which you use Orb Lightning and Fireball respectively)  Alternately, add more material components to spells with simple "xdx damage per level" effects.  If the Wizard knows that each fireball will cost 50 gp, they might decide to pick more narrowly targetable spells that don't have such a cost.

2.)  Make spells easier to interrupt.  Longer casting times, perhaps.  Easier counterspelling. (Though this is inideal because that only improves the wizard vs. wizard dynamic) And for the Gods' sake, get rid of "Cast defensively" as a concentration option (Flat DC for no AoO on spellcasting?  It's worse than Tumble!).

3.)  Make spells harder to learn.  Remove the "2 spells at each level" for Wizards, and remove sorcerer's auto-learn.  Make it so that discovering new spells is an exciting part of the treasure of each adventure, just as discovering a new magical sword is an exciting find for the fighters.


I'd love to hear other people's opinions on this, and any other suggestions.
2.)  Make spells easier to interrupt.  Longer casting times, perhaps.  Easier counterspelling. (Though this is inideal because that only improves the wizard vs. wizard dynamic) And for the Gods' sake, get rid of "Cast defensively" as a concentration option (Flat DC for no AoO on spellcasting?  It's worse than Tumble!).

3.)  Make spells harder to learn.  Remove the "2 spells at each level" for Wizards, and remove sorcerer's auto-learn.  Make it so that discovering new spells is an exciting part of the treasure of each adventure, just as discovering a new magical sword is an exciting find for the fighters.


I'd love to hear other people's opinions on this, and any other suggestions.



That actually sounds a lot like what AD&D did. In those editions, a wizard had a % chance based on INT to see if they could learn any specific spell (they had to have a scroll to learn it from, which was part of the treasure package), and if they failed it - couldn't ever really learn it. (Many of us houserule it to, 1 attempt per week etc instead of an all for one situation.)

EDIT:

Also, casters had to declare their intentions to cast a spell before the combat round began. If they lost initiative it was a big risk, as even a single point of damage made the caster loose the spell - no if-ands-or-buts.
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Do you play M:tG? Do you think Red and Blue are exactly the same because they cast with mana and use sorceries?

The thing with M:tG cards though is the differences are ILLUSTRATED. When I take two damage, be it from a bear or a fire, I can see it's a bear, I can see it's fire.

Thumbnail illustrations on power cardswould have gone a looong way to present 4e's powers better.
It's not the format itself, it's the lack of dressing on it.

I agree completely with your analysis of the difference in class balance between 3.x and 4e. I love the fact that classes in 4e are so much better balanced, but the way they were balanced took too much away from the diversity of the classes.

To some extent I'm ok with things being standardized (homogonized) in favor of class balance. Without some standardization the excercise of balancing the classes becomes difficult approaching impossible. However, balancing a small group of differnt systems should be doable.

I like the AEDU system in theory, but it took the homogonization a little too far. I think we need a set of options, like a subset of classes that use only at-wills and encounter powers, a subset that use only at-will and dailies, a subset that use augmentable at-will, and subsets that use combinations of those. I'm sure there are other variations that could fit in the system and be easily balanced.

I also think that rather than having, for example, 3 distinct encounter powers, each usable once, you should have a pool of maybe 5 encounter powers in your repetoire that you can use any combination of 3 of in a given encounter. In the same vain, spellcasters might know 10 daily spells, any 6 of which they could use in a given day. That makes it easier for me to swallow the fluff of the 'daily' and 'encounter' power.

I like the AEDU system in theory, but it took the homogonization a little too far. I think we need a set of options, like a subset of classes that use only at-wills and encounter powers, a subset that use only at-will and dailies, a subset that use augmentable at-will, and subsets that use combinations of those. I'm sure there are other variations that could fit in the system and be easily balanced.



That's the Knight, Bladesinger, and Psionic powers you just described.

Yeah, getting the best parts of 4e into 5e would be ideal.
I don't know about spells taking longer, that would involve a player sitting waiting. Anything that takes a player away from the action is bad.

Counterspelling... honestly, I've never liked the mechanics for it. It's always felt a bit clunky, save for a couple of classes that were just straight "expend a spell power of equal level" as special abilities (prestige classes-I think there's two)

Interrupts... I am actually all for making interrupts instant and auto. If you get hit as a caster-boom-spell gone. Perfectly fine with it. Mind you, as far as I see it, no caster other than a gish should be in combat. Retract that.. noarcane caster. Maybe a work around for divines? Though not necessarily, since if they're blasting with holy might, they probably don't need to be in melee anyways.

Making them harder to learn... not so much. Once again, things that make players wait, not good. I'm fine with classifying some spells as rare, but making someone take three times as long to learn a spell....I'm sure the player loves all the hours their character spends in his inn room studying.

I do like the idea of a subset class that has at wills and per days included. I actually have a build somewhere based on the Innate spell feat from FR. It's not terribly good, but it was a concept I wanted to explore.

I'd like a variety of classes, in fact I'd prefer if classes were so different the very idea of comparing them would be pointless.

I play casters, but I'd like to play something else and have it be just as enjoyable, memorable and unique. How.. I'm not sure...but thankfully there are people who are paid to figure this out. Though I'm sure with a stable income I could throw something at the wall Wink
Do you play M:tG? Do you think Red and Blue are exactly the same because they cast with mana and use sorceries?

The thing with M:tG cards though is the differences are ILLUSTRATED. When I take two damage, be it from a bear or a fire, I can see it's a bear, I can see it's fire.

Thumbnail illustrations on power cardswould have gone a looong way to present 4e's powers better.
It's not the format itself, it's the lack of dressing on it.





I don't know how much that helps your point. Essentially you're saying they ARE virtually identical, aside from concept.

For some people, the mental image is enough. In essence though you get people who expect magic and non-magic not to work the same... because they are NOT the same...
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Do you play M:tG? Do you think Red and Blue are exactly the same because they cast with mana and use sorceries?

The thing with M:tG cards though is the differences are ILLUSTRATED. When I take two damage, be it from a bear or a fire, I can see it's a bear, I can see it's fire.

Thumbnail illustrations on power cardswould have gone a looong way to present 4e's powers better.
It's not the format itself, it's the lack of dressing on it.



I'd like to point out that the mechanical differences between Red and Blue are generally different, not simply the flavour. Red seldom counters, Blue seldom boosts attack, Red seldom grants flying, Blue seldom deals direct damage.

To many people, the lack of any significant mechanical differences between the classes in 4th ed. were what caused it to feel flat and dull to them. Hence why the OP is proposing trying to create balanced differences between the melee and magic via mechanical means as opposed to simply flavour.

I like the AEDU system in theory, but it took the homogonization a little too far. I think we need a set of options, like a subset of classes that use only at-wills and encounter powers, a subset that use only at-will and dailies, a subset that use augmentable at-will, and subsets that use combinations of those. I'm sure there are other variations that could fit in the system and be easily balanced.



That's the Knight, Bladesinger, and Psionic powers you just described.

Yeah, getting the best parts of 4e into 5e would be ideal.



I realize that this idea isn't exactly revolutionary, but I think that if the system were built from the ground up with this in mind it could be done much more elegantly. Not to mention that I'm sure the professionals can come up with some more innovative, but similiar enough to be easily balanced, ideas to add to what is already available.

I started to write a long reply to this, with all sorts of ideas and input, then realized after pausing and thinking about it for a bit....

4E actually has most of it right, though they went a little overboard on the homogenization.


Class balance is important.  Extremely important.  It’s not just about damage, though.  It’s about the entirety of the class.  Survivability, adaptability, skills, etc.


I think perhaps they went a little too generic, especially early on when there was so few options, but the intent was right on the mark.  Balanced classes that were all fun to play.  That’s what the goal should be.


5E should continue with that theme, in my opinion.  I don’t want to see anything the cripples or limits a mage (for example).  If anything, give them more themes (school of magic).  Leave them reliant on others to survive.


The introduction of Domains and School was oh-so-welcome.  I want more of that feel for differences in classes and even inside the class itself.  But as far as power, I think 4E is very much on the right track.  Fireballs are still very cool, mass damaging spells that are limited in use and dangerous if used incorrectly.  But the Knight, War Priest, Ranger, and Rogue in the group also have things that are cool, impacting, and interesting to use, too, even if no one else can do as much mass damage in that one act.  But the Knight is holding the enemy’s attention while stalwartly standing against their assaults, the War Priest is granting Resists and enhancing Healing Surges, the Ranger slowing and hitting an important single target hard, and the Rogue is dishing out nasty damage while dodging in and out of melee, waiting for the chance to apply her skills to that locked chest in the back.


As long as no one character is dominate in all capacities, each reliant upon others and flawed in some regard, I will be content.

I don't know about spells taking longer, that would involve a player sitting waiting. Anything that takes a player away from the action is bad.

Counterspelling... honestly, I've never liked the mechanics for it. It's always felt a bit clunky, save for a couple of classes that were just straight "expend a spell power of equal level" as special abilities (prestige classes-I think there's two) 



Preciesely.  The mechanic is far too clunky, hard to use, and so rarely usable that everyone just forgets it exists.  (Much like Trip, Bull Rush, etc. if you're character is not structured around it, it never comes up)  I'm suggesting that counterspell become far easier to use.  The only issue with this is that, again, it's a wizard counter to wizards.  It doesn't actually make martial characters more effective. 


Interrupts... I am actually all for making interrupts instant and auto. If you get hit as a caster-boom-spell gone. Perfectly fine with it. Mind you, as far as I see it, no caster other than a gish should be in combat. Retract that.. noarcane caster. Maybe a work around for divines? Though not necessarily, since if they're blasting with holy might, they probably don't need to be in melee anyways.  



I'd argue against this.  This would make spellcasters much too weak.  But if all spellcasting times were a full round, that means that every enemy will get the chance to try to interrupt a spellcaster.  But 100% of hits ruining the spell?  That would be absolutely crippling.  The only way to make it balanced would be to make those spells that do go off extremely powerful, which would just make combat more spellcaster-centric.  (OK, guys, we all stand around the wizard while he casts his spell to give him cover, then duck when he's done...)



Making them harder to learn... not so much. Once again, things that make players wait, not good. I'm fine with classifying some spells as rare, but making someone take three times as long to learn a spell....I'm sure the player loves all the hours their character spends in his inn room studying.



In-game character time is barely ever a concern.  The reason I suggested this is because spells are to a wizard as weapons are to a fighter.  Except that the wizard gets their spells for free, whereas the fighter must pillage or buy his weapons.  I'm not saying make it harder to learn spells from a scroll or other spellbook.  I'm saying get rid of the free spells known at each level.
 
Going to play devils advocate here:

Why should a Spell Caster be "Limited"?  Why, to use the olde method of things, should a Spell Caster ever be limited in the number of Spells Per Day? (Per encounter, per hour, per whatever?)

A Fighter isn't limited in the number of attacks.  A Thief isn't limited in the number of Pick Pocket attempts as he/she walks through the city square (though a bad roll might end that...).  Politicians aren't limited in the amount of Bloviating they can do!

I get the "Unlimited Power" = "Overbalancing Character", but there are other ways to take care of this.  Make a "Draining Roll," where the Spell Caster has to make a roll - fail and take damage/pass out/something bad based off of how powerful the spell is (individualize it for each spell, perhaps?)  Make spells harder to learn, risky to cast, or have spell casting attract certain "monstrous creatures."

[/end Devil's Advocate]

Just Food for Thought.


~ F

Counterspelling... honestly, I've never liked the mechanics for it. It's always felt a bit clunky, save for a couple of classes that were just straight "expend a spell power of equal level" as special abilities (prestige classes-I think there's two)


Oh my god counterspelling in 3.5 was turrble. If memory serves, first you had to ready an action, so you're already skipping your turn on the off chance that the enemy is going to cast something nasty. Then you have to have that same spell available, though I think (hope) there were feats you could take to allow for more flexibility here, but I think you lose a spell regardless. 4e's design paradigm sort of eliminated the need for counterspells per se, but I think Lightning Rush and its ilk are the spiritual successors, and that's like my favorite power in the game. So yeah, if we're gonna have counterspelling, it should be something closer to 4e's approach. Like off the top of my head, have a class that gets X counterspells per day, where you can just be like "nop" to an enemy's attempted spell or something.

Zammm = Batman.

It's my sig in a box
58280208 wrote:
Everything is better when you read it in Bane's voice.
192334281 wrote:
Your human antics and desire to continue living have moved me. Just kidding. You cannot move me physically or emotionally. Wall humor.
57092228 wrote:
Copy effects work like a photocopy machine: you get a copy of the 'naked' card, NOT of what's on it.
56995928 wrote:
Funny story: InQuest Magazine (I think it was InQuest) had an oversized Chaos Orb which I totally rooked someone into allowing into a (non-sanctioned) game. I had a proxy card that was a Mountain with "Chaos Orb" written on it. When I played it, my opponent cried foul: Him: "WTF? a Proxy? no-one said anything about Proxies. Do you even own an actual Chaos Orb?" Me: "Yes, but I thought it would be better to use a Proxy." Him: "No way. If you're going to put a Chaos Orb in your deck you have to use your actual Chaos Orb." Me: "*Sigh*. Okay." I pulled out this huge Chaos Orb and placed it on the table. He tried to cry foul again but everyone else said he insisted I use my actual Chaos Orb and that was my actual Chaos Orb. I used it, flipped it and wiped most of his board. Unsurprisingly, that only worked once and only because everyone present thought it was hilarious.
My DM on Battleminds:
no, see i can kill defenders, but 8 consecutive crits on a battlemind, eh walk it off.
144543765 wrote:
195392035 wrote:
Hi guys! So, I'm a sort of returning player to Magic. I say sort of because as a child I had two main TCG's I liked. Yu-Gi-Oh, and Pokemon. Some of my friends branched off in to Magic, and I bought two pre-made decks just to kind of fit in. Like I said, Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon were what I really knew how to play. I have a extensive knowledge of deck building in those two TCG's. However, as far as Magic is concerned, I only ever used those two pre made decks. I know how the game is played, and I know general things, but now I want to get in the game for real. I want to begin playing it as a regular. My question is, are all cards ever released from the time of the inception of this game until present day fair game in a deck? Or are there special rules? Are some cards forbidden or restricted? Thanks guys, and I will gladly accept ANY help lol.
I have the same problem with women.
117639611 wrote:
198869283 wrote:
Oh I have a standing rule. If someone plays a Planeswalker I concede the game. I refuse to play with or against people who play Planeswalkers. They really did ruin the game.
A turn two Tibalt win?! Wicked... Betcha don't see that everyday.

The Pony Co. 

Is this my new ego sig? Yes it is, other Barry
57461258 wrote:
And that's why you should never, ever call RP Jesus on being a troll, because then everyone else playing along gets outed, too, and the thread goes back to being boring.
57461258 wrote:
See, this is why RPJesus should be in charge of the storyline. The novel line would never have been cancelled if he had been running the show. Specifically the Slobad and Geth's Head talkshow he just described.
57461258 wrote:
Not only was that an obligatory joke, it was an on-topic post that still managed to be off-topic due to thread derailment. RP Jesus does it again folks.
92481331 wrote:
I think I'm gonna' start praying to Jesus... That's right, RPJesus, I'm gonna' be praying to you, right now. O' Jesus Please continue to make my time here on the forums fun and cause me to chuckle. Amen.
92481331 wrote:
56957928 wrote:
It was wonderful. Us Johnnies had a field day. That Timmy with the Grizzly bears would actually have to think about swinging into your Mogg Fanatic, giving you time to set up your silly combo. Nowadays it's all DERPSWING! with thier blue jeans and their MP3 players and their EM EM OH AR PEE JEES and their "Dewmocracy" and their children's card games and their Jersey Shores and their Tattooed Tenaged Vampire Hunters from Beverly Hills
Seriously, that was amazing. I laughed my *ss off. Made my day, and I just woke up.
[quote=ArtVenn You're still one of my favorite people... just sayin'.[/quote]
56756068 wrote:
56786788 wrote:
.....would it be a bit blasphemous if I said, "PRAYSE RPJAYSUS!" like an Evangelical preacher?
Perhaps, but who doesn't like to blaspheme every now and again? Especially when Mr. RPJesus is completely right.
56756068 wrote:
I don't say this often, but ... LOL
57526128 wrote:
You... You... Evil something... I actualy made the damn char once I saw the poster... Now you made me see it again and I gained resolve to put it into my campaign. Shell be high standing oficial of Cyrix order. Uterly mad and only slightly evil. And it'll be bad. Evil even. And ill blame you and Lizard for it :P.
57042968 wrote:
111809331 wrote:
I'm trying to work out if you're being sarcastic here. ...
Am going to stop you right there... it's RPJesus... he's always sarcastic
58335208 wrote:
56957928 wrote:
112114441 wrote:
we can only hope it gets the jace treatment...it could have at least been legendary
So that even the decks that don't run it run it to deal with it? Isn't that like the definition of format warping?
I lol'd.
56287226 wrote:
98088088 wrote:
Uktabi Orangutan What the heck's going on with those monkeys?
The most common answer is that they are what RPJesus would call "[Debutantes avert your eyes]ing."
56965458 wrote:
Show
57461258 wrote:
116498949 wrote:
I’ve removed content from this thread because off-topic discussions are a violation of the Code of Conduct. You can review the Code here: www.wizards.com/Company/About.aspx?x=wz_... Please keep your posts polite, on-topic, and refrain from making personal attacks. You are welcome to disagree with one another but please do so respectfully and constructively. If you wish to report a post for Code of Conduct violation, click on the “Report Post” button above the post and this will submit your report to the moderators on duty.
...Am I the only one that thinks this is reaching the point of downright Kafkaesque insanity?
I condone the use of the word Kafkaesque. However, I'm presentely ambivalent. I mean, that can't be serious, right? We're April 1st, right? They didn't mod RPJesus for off-topic discussion when the WHOLE THREAD IS OFF-TOPIC, right? Right.
57545908 wrote:
56957928 wrote:
Save or die. If you disagree with this, you're wrong (Not because of any points or arguements that have been made, but I just rolled a d20 for you and got a 1, so you lose).
58397368 wrote:
58222628 wrote:
This just won the argument, AFAIC.
That's just awesome.
57471038 wrote:
57718868 wrote:
HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THE BEAR PRODUCING WORDS OF WILDING?! WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!
That's what RPJesus tends to do. That's why I don't think he's a real person, but some Magic Card Archive Server sort of machine, that is programmed to react to other posters' comments with obscure cards that do in fact exist, but somehow missed by even the most experienced Magic players. And then come up with strange combos with said cards. All of that is impossible for a normal human to do given the amount of time he does it and how often he does it. He/It got me with Light of Sanction, which prompted me to go to RQ&A to try and find if it was even possible to do combat damage to a creature I control (in light that Mark of Asylum exists).
71235715 wrote:
+10
100176878 wrote:
56957928 wrote:
57078538 wrote:
heaven or hell.
Round 1. Lets rock.
GG quotes! RPJesus just made this thread win!
56906968 wrote:
56957928 wrote:
143359585 wrote:
Blue players get all the overpowerered cards like JTMS. I think it's time that wizards gave something to people who remember what magic is really about: creatures.
Initially yes, Wizards was married to blue. However, about a decade ago they had a nasty divorce, and a few years after that they began courting the attention of Green. Then in Worldwake they had a nasty affair with their ex, but as of Innistrad, things seem to have gotten back on track, and Wizards has even proposed.
You are my favorite. Yes you. And moments like this make it so. Thank you RPJesus for just being you.
On what flavor text fits me:
57307308 wrote:
Surely RPJesus gets Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius?
56874518 wrote:
First: I STILL can't take you seriously with that avatar. And I can take RPJesus seriously, so that's saying something.
121689989 wrote:
I'd offer you a cookie for making me laugh but it has an Upkeep Cost that has been known to cause people to quit eating.
56267956 wrote:
I <3 you loads
57400888 wrote:
56957928 wrote:
"AINT NO LAWS IN THE SKY MOTHER****." - Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran
10/10. Amazing.


4.0 leveled the playing field.  Rather literally.  The classes became flat, to the point where there was mechanically little difference between a Ranger and a Warlock.  The classes were balanced, but they lost their unique feel.  Fighters got their moment in the spotligh, but it happened at the cost of magic being magical.  That's really all I have to say.  In an effort to balance classes they destroyed class identity.


I have NEVER understood this particular criticism about 4e (probably because it isn't true). You admitted that most of your experience was in 3.5, which is pretty evident, and it's also evident that you didn't spend a whole lot of time playing and DM-ing 4e. Rangers and Warlocks play NOTHING alike. Fighters and Paladins play NOTHING alike. Clerics and Warlords play NOTHING alike.

You, and anyone else who has levied this particular charge, are going to have to explain themselves with specific facts, because I just do not understand how anyone with any real experience playing 4e can say that the classes have no identity or have no mechanical difference.
I would caution folks to remember that combat ability isn't the only benefit a class brings to the table.  A skill-heavy non-combat character can be just as useful in a campaign that's written to accomodate it.  I think that if a character has wasted talent, the DM isn't doing their job, or the focus of the particular campaign wasn't properly discussed before play.  

I also feel strongly that a properly tooled campaign (if we're discussing 3.x or below, which is where this class balance issue seems to be started) can provide adequate challanges and uses for all classes in combat situations. I've played in games that have ran for months and months, well into epic levels using 3.x, and the 'fighter types' were still useful and a force to reckon with when compared to the wizard and cleric.  What the fighter types brought to the table just was different than what the casters did.  Different - not as flashy - but not any less important.  
Going to play devils advocate here:

Why should a Spell Caster be "Limited"?  Why, to use the olde method of things, should a Spell Caster ever be limited in the number of Spells Per Day? (Per encounter, per hour, per whatever?)

A Fighter isn't limited in the number of attacks.  A Thief isn't limited in the number of Pick Pocket attempts as he/she walks through the city square (though a bad roll might end that...).  Politicians aren't limited in the amount of Bloviating they can do!

I get the "Unlimited Power" = "Overbalancing Character", but there are other ways to take care of this.  Make a "Draining Roll," where the Spell Caster has to make a roll - fail and take damage/pass out/something bad based off of how powerful the spell is (individualize it for each spell, perhaps?)  Make spells harder to learn, risky to cast, or have spell casting attract certain "monstrous creatures."

[/end Devil's Advocate]

Just Food for Thought.


~ F



Well, all those things that you suggest are limits as well.  The point of limiting the frequency of spellcasting is that it allows those spells to be more powerful in effect, to make magic feel more awesome.  I like the draining roll idea, where perhaps each spell increases the danger of future spellcasting without rest.

Though your comment on how "A Fighter isn't limited in the number of attacks" happens to perfectly describe my rejection of the AEDU system.  A Fighter has learned a combat maneuver.  However, completely inexplicably, he cannot perform it more than once per day.  With spells, that at least makes sense, that that just happens to be the way magic works.  With swords?  Not so much.  (I would urge a return to more 1st-3.5ish mechanics for nonmagical characters, it just makes more sense)



2.)  Make spells easier to interrupt.  Longer casting times, perhaps.  Easier counterspelling. (Though this is inideal because that only improves the wizard vs. wizard dynamic) And for the Gods' sake, get rid of "Cast defensively" as a concentration option (Flat DC for no AoO on spellcasting?  It's worse than Tumble!).

3.)  Make spells harder to learn.  Remove the "2 spells at each level" for Wizards, and remove sorcerer's auto-learn.  Make it so that discovering new spells is an exciting part of the treasure of each adventure, just as discovering a new magical sword is an exciting find for the fighters.


I'd love to hear other people's opinions on this, and any other suggestions.



That actually sounds a lot like what AD&D did. In those editions, a wizard had a % chance based on INT to see if they could learn any specific spell (they had to have a scroll to learn it from, which was part of the treasure package), and if they failed it - couldn't ever really learn it. (Many of us houserule it to, 1 attempt per week etc instead of an all for one situation.)

EDIT:

Also, casters had to declare their intentions to cast a spell before the combat round began. If they lost initiative it was a big risk, as even a single point of damage made the caster loose the spell - no if-ands-or-buts.




Yes, I'd definitely like to see a return to the former feature, at least to some extent.  It forces spellcasters to work with the spells that they know, rather than cherrypicking those that they think are "best".  Although, 1st AD&D spellcasting was even less balanced than... well, anything.  I currently play an illusionist in a 1e AD&D game.  Invisibility has an indefinite duration.  Phantasmal Forces is bascially a 1-st level spell that does the same thing as Shadow Evocation, but for any spell.  Or creature.  Or natural disaster. 
I think the ubiquitious nature of the attack round was an important part of the balance that made fighters-rogues and the betweens always useful, too.  Sure they can't sling spells (normally), they can't make flashy explosions or fly or heal themselves.  They can slash, cut, and bash.  They generally do it well, they do it reliably, and they can do it until the cows come home.  Where as the wizard has to be miserly about how he uses his spells.  And as I recall, the average output of damage between an equally leveled fighter (with gear) and a caster was more or less even.
Except in practice there's two faults with that.  The first is that spells per day are balanced against a certain number of encounters per day, usually four.  No DM runs the same number of encounters per day every day, and the balance usually swings in favor of less encounters per day than more, since the rest of the party doesn't want to continue when the wizard and cleric are out of spells if they can help it, and any reasonably intelligent group can.  That means the wizard gets to wipe out a few encounters, then everyone rests, then the wizard gets to wipe out a few more encounters, repeat.  Being able to do something as much as you want means nothing when your workday is restricted by the party member with the lowest endurance.  That may not be what happens in your group, but it's very common, especially in groups of new players.  They're not trying to cheese, it just seems like a good idea to take a break when the caster runs dry, because it is.

The second is that when it comes time to do anything but fight, casters rule the day every day.  Single low-level spells eradicate the purpose of entire sets of skills.  Why use Climb, risk failure and have difficulty getting up sheer surfaces, when you can just Spider Climb up, or Fly?  Why be mundanely stealthy when you have Invisibility and Silence?  Why pick locks when there's Knock?  Why bluff the guard and risk raising a ruckus when a simple Charm Person will get you in just as easily?

In my opinion, it shouldn't be that "oh, the wizard casts Greater Invisibility and Silence on the rogue", it should be that by the time they're in the teens a rogue is such a master of stealth and infiltration that he might as well be invisible.  High-level characters are superhuman, able to take on mighty dragons and powerful fiends.  They shouldn't be restricted by the rules of reality just because they don't wear robes and cast spells.

Personally, I'd like to see an end to the daily resource.  I've said my piece on magic, and daily powers in 4E generally exist to make one fight hopelessly easy and otherwise go unused.  Combat should be based around cycling encounter resources, where all the fun powers typically lie in 4E, and out of combat people should get unique, varied, and helpful abilities regardless of class.  Instead of the wizard being able to cast Spider Climb, that's a rogue ability.  Instead of a spell to see invisible foes, the fighter's battle-hardened senses are so tuned that even faint disturbances in the air are enough for him to know something's wrong.  The demand that one set of classes be held to realism while the other is warping the fabric of reality on a whim is ridiculous and has been holding the game back ever since its inception.  It's the sacred cow that needs slaughtering more than any other, and flawed though the powers system is, it was a mighty fine step in the right direction.


4.0 leveled the playing field.  Rather literally.  The classes became flat, to the point where there was mechanically little difference between a Ranger and a Warlock.  The classes were balanced, but they lost their unique feel.  Fighters got their moment in the spotligh, but it happened at the cost of magic being magical.  That's really all I have to say.  In an effort to balance classes they destroyed class identity.


I have NEVER understood this particular criticism about 4e (probably because it isn't true). You admitted that most of your experience was in 3.5, which is pretty evident, and it's also evident that you didn't spend a whole lot of time playing and DM-ing 4e. Rangers and Warlocks play NOTHING alike. Fighters and Paladins play NOTHING alike. Clerics and Warlords play NOTHING alike.

You, and anyone else who has levied this particular charge, are going to have to explain themselves with specific facts, because I just do not understand how anyone with any real experience playing 4e can say that the classes have no identity or have no mechanical difference.



Here are my examples, assuming an archery ranger.
3.5:
Ranger-- Find cover, preferably 100-200 ft. from target (Maybe more).  Attack, using rapid shot for the extra hits, possibly with poisoned arrows.  Have animal companion harry opponents, provoking AoO if they move to close with you, splitting their attention otherwise.  (Mobile AC better, use hit-and-run if necessary).  If they get too close, use superior movement speed (Via longstrider spell) to gain distance, or switch to melee if enemies sufficiently weakened.
Warlock--Open with invisibility, allowing you to get in close range and use an area Eldritch Blast (Hellrime or Sickening for the debuffs).  Use Darkness (And devil's sight, but that's before combat) and Entropic Warding to make yourself nigh impossible to hit with mundane ranged attacks, then use Voracious Dispelling to counterspell all magic until opponents are out of spell slots while using flight to stay out of melee range.  Finish off with as many eldritch blasts as it takes.
4.0:
Ranger--Mark a target with Hunter's Quarry.  Remain close to that target for the Prime Shot bonus.  Focus on that single target with high damage attacks while hindering its ability to affect you or your allies by restricting it movement or reducing its attack bonuses, shifting frequently to avoid being pinned down or surrounded.  When this target falls, pick a new one and repeat.
Warlock--Mark a target with Warlock's Curse.  Remain close to that target for the Prime Shot bonus.  Focus on that target with high damage atacks while hindering its ability to affect you or your allies by sliding it out of position and hindering its mobility, teleporting frequently to avoid being pinned down or surrounded.  When this targe falls, use your pact boon, pick a new one, and repeat.

Or perhaps you'd rather I compare the ranger to a real spellcaster, since the warlock's not a core class?

But we're not here for an edition war.  We're here for a better tomorrow.  If you wish to provide counterexamples, kindly do so in a private message rather than attempting to instigate conflict in a thread intended for discussion on how to find an appropriate mix of class balance and identity. 
Except in practice there's two faults with that.  The first is that spells per day are balanced against a certain number of encounters per day, usually four.  No DM runs the same number of encounters per day every day, and the balance usually swings in favor of less encounters per day than more, since the rest of the party doesn't want to continue when the wizard and cleric are out of spells if they can help it, and any reasonably intelligent group can.  That means the wizard gets to wipe out a few encounters, then everyone rests, then the wizard gets to wipe out a few more encounters, repeat.  Being able to do something as much as you want means nothing when your workday is restricted by the party member with the lowest endurance.  That may not be what happens in your group, but it's very common, especially in groups of new players.  They're not trying to cheese, it just seems like a good idea to take a break when the caster runs dry, because it is.

The second is that when it comes time to do anything but fight, casters rule the day every day.  Single low-level spells eradicate the purpose of entire sets of skills.  Why use Climb, risk failure and have difficulty getting up sheer surfaces, when you can just Spider Climb up, or Fly?  Why be mundanely stealthy when you have Invisibility and Silence?  Why pick locks when there's Knock?  Why bluff the guard and risk raising a ruckus when a simple Charm Person will get you in just as easily?

In my opinion, it shouldn't be that "oh, the wizard casts Greater Invisibility and Silence on the rogue", it should be that by the time they're in the teens a rogue is such a master of stealth and infiltration that he might as well be invisible.  High-level characters are superhuman, able to take on mighty dragons and powerful fiends.  They shouldn't be restricted by the rules of reality just because they don't wear robes and cast spells.



Indeed, this is exactly what the problems are with the 3.5 balance.  I do, however, disagree with your claim that cycling encounter powers is the way to go.  What 3.5 did have, that should definitely be making a return in 5.0, is the different feel of each class. Spellcasters functioned on a different system of abilities than psionics, who were different from martial characters.  If anything, the rules deserve a fourth power system for divine spellcasters.  The characters all draw power from different sources, there should be a large, distinct mechanical difference between them.

Funny, because minus the animal companion part, I can accomplish much the same thing in 4e with the Ranger's powers that you did with the 3.5 Ranger. Except with attacks that are actually effective and don't get stepped all over by a Wizard's spell that puts the damage my arrows do to shame. Your examples fail miserably. Try again.
  What 3.5 did have, that should definitely be making a return in 5.0, is the different feel of each class. Spellcasters functioned on a different system of abilities than psionics, who were different from martial characters.  If anything, the rules deserve a fourth power system for divine spellcasters.  The characters all draw power from different sources, there should be a large, distinct mechanical difference between them.



See, I feel both the opposite and the same, which is a curious thing to say, but let me explain.  I think what makes powers not work isn't that they all run on the same system, in fact I think it's the strongest point of 4E.  What makes powers not work is that there's not enough variation in what they can do, and as a result, there's not enough variation in what they do do to distinguish a warlock from a ranger besides some keywords and a focus on straight damage versus damage and status effects.  Powers don't get big enough or grand enough or flavorful enough to make that distinction, as evidenced by nearly every single class in the game having a level 29 daily that's just a single-target 7[W] attack, maybe with some rider or Reliable or something.  Hardly thrilling, and hardly representative of the kind of scope epic-level play should demonstrate.

I agree with you when you say that each power source should have its own distinct mechanics, but I believe there are ways to do this without making each class have its own subsystem.  Take a look over this and tell me what you think, it sums up what I'd like to see 5E's classes look like more efficiently than trying to explain it all here.
I'm confused, how is a mage better than a non mage in 3.5?


I currently play a wizard, and it is commonplace for both the paladin and ranged base fighter to do equal or more damage than me over the course of the adventure. On top of that I have less hit points than either, meaning I die if i dont have their protection. What I am getting from this post, is their are a lot of people who play d&d as they would a video game. It is NOT a video game, its a role playing game. The difference is that your character shouldn't be just "I can do X, Y, and Z", but "I have a personality of X, History of Y, and can do Z". My point is, the important part isn't what your character can do, but how you play your character.
On class "flatness"

I've gotta say that I can see both sides of the argument. For myself I feel that the classes are too flat, mostly for the reasons TrueMalowman stated.

Currently I'm playing in two games. In one, I'm an Avenger. In the other, a Bard. Both are hugely different.

In one of the two games we have both a Ranger and a Warlock. Both of them are fairly vanilla ranged strikers, and both are quite similar. The majority of their turns are quarry/curse, move around a bit, then shoot. The ranger's dailies and encounters hit harder, and the Warlock's have some decent situational control and a couple great zones. Sure they could have been built differently, but that would require more system knowledge than either player is interested in obtaining.

I've also noticed that the majority of what the rogue does in one game is the same as what I do with my Avenger. We both have a few stealth tricks, move into flanking, then hack away until the target dies, using minor action and granted attacks to kill faster. Sure he's got some cool dagger throwing abilities, and I've got some fun charging stuff, but that doesn't change the fact that we're both quite similair.

Heck, even the Fighter and the Paladin are quire similar. Pally has multiple AoE Sanctions, and a range of close burst and single target encounter powers. Fighter has Come and Get It, an AoE Mark, some close burst and single target encounter powers. Their daily powers are fairly different, with the Fighter focused on auto-damage abilities, but their playstyle is mostly the same. Charge in and mark everything in sight. Sure the difference in how they punish their mark is different, which does cause some tactical differences, but this doesn't come up all that often.


Back to the other side of the argument, there are certainly some characters that have been quite unique in our groups. I had a Ranger that focused on burst damage while bloodied. The Monk's focus on Melee AoE is cool. All four leaders (Artificer, Bard, Cleric and Warlod) certainly have some overlap, but the majority of what they do is different.


So ultimately I maintain that the classes have too much sameness. There's certainly a lot of differences possible, but in a lot of cases it's not enough.
I'm confused, how is a mage better than a non mage in 3.5?


I currently play a wizard, and it is commonplace for both the paladin and ranged base fighter to do equal or more damage than me over the course of the adventure. On top of that I have less hit points than either, meaning I die if i dont have their protection. What I am getting from this post, is their are a lot of people who play d&d as they would a video game. It is NOT a video game, its a role playing game. The difference is that your character shouldn't be just "I can do X, Y, and Z", but "I have a personality of X, History of Y, and can do Z". My point is, the important part isn't what your character can do, but how you play your character.




But what you can do matters, and it matters a lot.  You can roleplay with anything, you can even roleplay with FATAL.  It doesn't excuse poor game design, and in this day and age having one set of classes be better than another isn't acceptable game design, nor is having players be sitting around doing nothing because their characters can't contribute in any meaningful way to the problem at hand.

If I'm a fighter in 3.X, I have my 2+Int skills and my wits when it comes to doing things that aren't fighting.

If I'm a wizard in 3.X, I have my 2+Int skills, my wits, and a whole library of spells to use those wits with that make the 2+Int skills pretty much an afterthought when it comes to doing things that aren't fighting.

If I'm a fighter in 3.X, I can fight monsters by hitting them with my sword until they fall.

If I'm a wizard in 3.X, I can fight monsters by hitting them with my fireballs until they fall, or killing them in a single blow with a Save-or-Die, or putting them to sleep, or teleporting them to Pandemonium, or encasing them in a block of solid ice, or collapsing the ceiling on them, or turning into a dragon and eating them, or charming them into becoming my friend so they don't want to fight me at all.

This isn't fair, no matter how much you try to claim it is.  Players should roleplay, but roleplaying with no abilities to back it up shouldn't be the only thing they can do.
I'm confused, how is a mage better than a non mage in 3.5?


I currently play a wizard, and it is commonplace for both the paladin and ranged base fighter to do equal or more damage than me over the course of the adventure. On top of that I have less hit points than either, meaning I die if i dont have their protection. What I am getting from this post, is their are a lot of people who play d&d as they would a video game. It is NOT a video game, its a role playing game. The difference is that your character shouldn't be just "I can do X, Y, and Z", but "I have a personality of X, History of Y, and can do Z". My point is, the important part isn't what your character can do, but how you play your character.


First off, are you above level 5? If not then it's obvious why you haven't noticed.

The big problem with spellcasters in 3.5 was that from about high-teens on, they could out fighter most fighters. If they chose to use their spells to buff themselves, they were tougher and did more damage as a melee combatant, while still having spells to spare. Worst of was CoDZilla (Cleric or Druid) who could have that level of fighterness all day long. Heck, I had a 10th level wizard who's one spell would summon two crocodiles that were each as potent as the fighter. On top of that, buffing themselves in this manner, or using sumons, was actually one of the least useful ways to use their spells. It was trivial to end most encounters with one or two well placed high-level spells.

Sure there's a lot to be said for roleplaying, but it's not good for game balance to have a class who's so much better than you at everything you do, plus has a lot of random creative spells on the side.
I'm confused, how is a mage better than a non mage in 3.5?


I currently play a wizard, and it is commonplace for both the paladin and ranged base fighter to do equal or more damage than me over the course of the adventure. On top of that I have less hit points than either, meaning I die if i dont have their protection. What I am getting from this post, is their are a lot of people who play d&d as they would a video game. It is NOT a video game, its a role playing game. The difference is that your character shouldn't be just "I can do X, Y, and Z", but "I have a personality of X, History of Y, and can do Z". My point is, the important part isn't what your character can do, but how you play your character.



In 3.5, if you were playing a wizard and concentrated on damage, you were doing it wrong.  A high level (or even moderately leveled) wizard can simply avoid being attacked at all (to a large degree anyway), annihilate an encounter without doing damage using status effect, control, or other ways to render the monsters either dead (save or die) or so completely combat ineffective that all your melee companions have to do is mop up, and then disengage.  True you could only do that with a limited budget but once you had Rope Trick or it's assorted cousins, you could pretty much rest (and recharge) with impunity.


The fact a wizard had less base hit points was almost completely irrelevant, and a wizard's saves and AC could be just as high (if not higher) than any other character in the party (and often was!)....and that doesn't count ongoing effects that simply render any attacker ineffective (such as concealment, mirror image, or even displacement).


-Polaris     
Interrupts... I am actually all for making interrupts instant and auto. If you get hit as a caster-boom-spell gone. Perfectly fine with it. Mind you, as far as I see it, no caster other than a gish should be in combat. Retract that.. noarcane caster. Maybe a work around for divines? Though not necessarily, since if they're blasting with holy might, they probably don't need to be in melee anyways.



I agree with pretty much everything else you said, but I'm kind of curious on your reasoning here.

In the past that was needed as a balance mechanic and because it mimicked Vancian casting per Jack Vance's Dying Earth. In 3rd, it was avoided by a skill tax. In 4th they just did away with it altogether because skill taxes suck, losing an action sucks, and because casters were balanced better compared to their compatriots.

In a post 4e world, I know I have no interest in returning to that paradigm.

If spells take concentration, why are we singling out arcane vs. any other caster? If it's just flavor/style influencing mechanics, it's just plain unfair for no good reason other than "because". Why should a divine (or other) caster have yet another benefit over arcane?

It could also be argued that a warrior or archer requires enough concentration that if they are hit in melee combat, they lose their aim. (Archer could misfire while dodging a blow [successfully or not] and much the same if you stab someone while they are swinging.) Cinematically, this *is* the case. IRL, I've seen and done enough (mock) melee combat to know that this can be the case.

If it's a ranged people in melee issue, I can agree with that 100%. But again, it should be universal to all ranged attackers.

Incidentally, none of the games I've played with spellcasters or their equivalent have such a rule.

Finally, if it's just your preference? Well, I can't, and won't, argue with that. I respect your preference, even if I may disagree.

-Calestin Kethal


I was asking a question, and you answered pretty well. You did avoid one point though, my measly d4 hit die. A fighter on average wil have 3 more hit points per level than me. So what happens when you play 4 level 7 wizards against the dragon we faced? we would have party wiped. The only reason we happened to actually get anywhere was we had a fighter specialized in ranged combat. That person shoots 3 or 4 times a round, soo.... 3 x (d8 + strength + magic + PBS + ...). you see where I am going, right? Also, take into account I have to overcome spell resistance, then they make their save, where the ranger has to just beat out AC. at 1st level, the mage is even because most things dont have SR, but they can only do a d4 of damage. The wizard has to constantly stay away from the monsters. or their hp will drop faster than anything.
I was asking a question, and you answered pretty well. You did avoid one point though, my measly d4 hit die. A fighter on average wil have 3 more hit points per level than me. So what happens when you play 4 level 7 wizards against the dragon we faced? we would have party wiped. The only reason we happened to actually get anywhere was we had a fighter specialized in ranged combat. That person shoots 3 or 4 times a round, soo.... 3 x (d8 + strength + magic + PBS + ...). you see where I am going, right? Also, take into account I have to overcome spell resistance, then they make their save, where the ranger has to just beat out AC. at 1st level, the mage is even because most things dont have SR, but they can only do a d4 of damage. The wizard has to constantly stay away from the monsters. or their hp will drop faster than anything.



The d4 hit-dice after the very lowest levels is simply a non-factor.  You have False-Life that last for hours and that virtually makes up for it right there.  A good wizard really only needs a high Int to be effective which means his second highest stat can be (and should be) in Con.  Fighters, OTOH need Str, Dex, and Con at the very least.  The upshot of this is that a wizard will often have con mods as good (if not better) than most fighters.

Finally, a wizard can do a LOT after the very lowest levels either not to be targeted at all, or to be such a difficult target that his lower hit points simply don't matter (or matter so much).  Such spells include (but are not limited to) Blur, Mirror Image, Displacement, Invisibility, Improved Invisibility, and much more.

I've played a lot of wizards in all editions.  In 3.5 after the lowest levels, if you took significant damage (or were even targeted successfully), you were doing something wrong.


-Polaris


Edit PS:  Spell Resistance is virtually non-existant at the lower levels.  When it starts to become a factor consider:


Conjurations never check for SR and that includes the "orb" line of spells.
Partymembers are not affected by monster SR
With the right items, feats, and abilities, you could virtually ignore SR because your bonus to your caster level vs SR would make almost all SR irrelevant.  Many spells would do the same.

         
One issue with early edition spellcasters that has not really been mentioned that would have to be looked at is the width and bredth of their spell lists. Things would of been far better balanced if each spellcasting class list was limited to a strict theme, thus you would not have spellcasters being the ultimate toolbox.
One issue with early edition spellcasters that has not really been mentioned that would have to be looked at is the width and bredth of their spell lists. Things would of been far better balanced if each spellcasting class list was limited to a strict theme, thus you would not have spellcasters being the ultimate toolbox.



True, and that's because the early Devs (starting with EGG himself) simply pulled a hogpodge of all possible spells, tricks, and other magic from fables, stories, and fiction from all sources and put them into a large pot.  For a very long time, this was fine because of the inherent limitations of spellcasting (many of which were taken away in 3E...a long thread in it's own right) but more importantly because virtually no character adventured long enough to reach levels where spellcasting became really abusive. 

It's easy to forget now, but for a very long time, the XP system became so steep after 6th level or so, that it essentially stagenated most characters by name level or so (and that was with dedicated groups!) thus no one (when 3E was being developed) thought to test how the spells worked at the higher levels because until then, very few players actually played at such exalted levels!

-Polaris    
@Polaris: really? a better reflex save than a rogue? a better fortitude save than a fighter? a better will save than a cleric?
 Mirror Image? 1d4(or 1d3, dont remember)+2 duplicates? that means.... the oppnents has a 1 in 6(or 7) chance of hitting the actual you And then you have one less spell slot for nuking.



@Pallanor: Yes, the party is level 7.


@both: I challenge you to take a party of 4 wizards from 1 to level 20. No NPC's allowed to aid you. And you would be facing what would be normal for a regular party to face. I think in the first encounter at least one of the charactes would die. 
@Polaris: try sticking with the core rulebooks, ok? Other books are not a problem with the system, but people abusing the system. 
So what I am hearing from your responses, is that maybe the strength of spells need to be redone, scaled down to make it comparable. But that itself is not something inherently wrong with the spell system from 3.5, it's the actual spells. Not that i am admitting that their is some thing wrong with the current power of spells, will talk it over with my DM, as he is more knowledgeable than me.
@Polaris: really? a better reflex save than a rogue? a better fortitude save than a fighter? a better will save than a cleric?
 Mirror Image? 1d4(or 1d3, dont remember)+2 duplicates? that means.... the oppnents has a 1 in 6(or 7) chance of hitting the actual you And then you have one less spell slot for nuking.



Nuking is NOT where it's at especially not at 7th+ level.  The ability to make an enemy AUTOMISS 5 out of 6 times (it's d4+2 at your level) is priceless.  Most fighters would kill for such an ability...and it STACKS with any sort of concealment btw.  As for saves consider that the base saves for a wizard of your level is +2 Fort/Ref and +5 Will and that Fort is modified by Con and you likely have a very good Con as a wizard (or you should).  Will is modified by Wisdom and your wisdom is probably not nearly as high.  So while your reflex will be lower than a rogue's certainly (but reflex is the save you need the least), your Will and Fort should both be very solid.  The fighter MAY have a better Fort than you, but it won't be by too much in all likelihood.

Seriously, a well crafted 3.5 wizard is hard to attack, and owns the battlefield because he CONTROLS the battlefield.  If you equate spells with nuking, you're doing it wrong.  Also don't forget to use wands and scrolls (and all 3.5 wizards can make scrolls for next to nothing) to use spells that are useful to have but you don't want to waste a spell-slot on (like remove curse).    



@both: I challenge you to take a party of 4 wizards from 1 to level 20. No NPC's allowed to aid you. And you would be facing what would be normal for a regular party to face. I think in the first encounter at least one of the charactes would die. 



I could do it.  The hardest part would be healing.  Let me throw this back at you:

Take a party of four clerics/druids from level 1-20.  Doable?

Heck yes.  In fact it is arguably the most powerful party combination.


-Polaris    
@Polaris: try sticking with the core rulebooks, ok? Other books are not a problem with the system, but people abusing the system. 



Other books are part of the system, but mirror image and rope trick (and displacement and blur) are all part of the core set.  I have not deviated from the core set yet.  For that matter, a Druid will overpowe just about anything short of a cleric with nothing but the core rules (see Natural Spell).


-Polaris


Edit PS:  OK orb spells aren't 'core' but Acid Arrow is and it's a conjuration attack spell that ignores SR.  There are many good spells that win battles that either ignore SR or SR is simply irrelevant to how they function.  
So what I am hearing from your responses, is that maybe the strength of spells need to be redone, scaled down to make it comparable. But that itself is not something inherently wrong with the spell system from 3.5, it's the actual spells. Not that i am admitting that their is some thing wrong with the current power of spells, will talk it over with my DM, as he is more knowledgeable than me.



Winnah, winnah, chicken dinner :D

Seriously though, that is EXACTLY the problem with the spells in 3.5 (and to a lesser but real extent prior editions of ADnD as well).  The spells themselves were overpowered based on outdated concepts of balance and balance mechanics and they were never updated or revised later on.


Where 4E got it wrong (IMHO) was instead of going through the spell list and doing a massive and much needed overhaul after thirty years, they (Wotc) instead simply DUMPED the entire system into a one-size-fits-all powerframework making wizards (and other casters) no longer "feel" magical.  The fact the then dev team didn't seem to understand what a controller role was at the time or how to make one, made a bad situation worse.


FWIW Pathfinder/Paizo also bitterly dissapointed me.  This would have been the perfect time to examine and completely overhaul a spell list that had thirty years of accumulated trash but instead they made a few cosmetic changes, bowed to those that were irate at the thought of ANY change and called it a day....and now Pathfinder has the same problem with casters that 3.5 did.


-Polaris        
@Polaris: try sticking with the core rulebooks, ok? Other books are not a problem with the system, but people abusing the system. 


This is just wrong. Spellcasters are broken in 3e straight out of the PHB. Additional rule books are just icing on the cake.

The PHB has a lot of extremely useful save or lose spells starting at the very lowest of levels. Sleep is a 1st-level spell, as is color spray, and both can potentially end encounters in a single round.

Druids are even worse, because 3.5 gave them Wild Spell (or something, I can't remember the exact name), meaning that after 6th level they could basically be a spellcasting animal that deals death with one hand and **** with the other.

Back when I still played 3.5 actively most of our groups ended up not having a single pure warrior character, everyone was either a spellcaster or some hybrid thereof. It's ironic that one of the statements regarding 4e used to criticize it is that "Everyone is a Wizard!", because my experience of 3.5 is that everyone is a Wizard simply because being anything else at higher levels isn't as rewarding.

However, I do agree that 4e went way overboard in balancing the characters: the characters are balanced, sure, but they are balanced too linearly. From what I've heard, Essentials does some good things with the classes, breaking some of them away from the AEDU framework, and I personally think that this could be done to a greater degree in 5e and for the game still be balanced.

Take a look at the Legend RPG by Rule of Cool. It's a great example of a system where the fighty classes work on a completely different power framework from the spellcasters, yet the game is balanced because the spells have been completely rewritten and the fighty classes like Barbarian, Monk, Paladin, Ranger and Rogue (with Fighter notably absent from the game) have been given some neat little tricks to make them viable even at higher levels.
Druids are even worse, because 3.5 gave them Wild Spell (or something, I can't remember the exact name), meaning that after 6th level they could basically be a spellcasting animal that deals death with one hand and **** with the other.



You are thinking of Natural Spell.  Have your full spellcasting, with all the advantages of a super-saiyan animal form to boot (and often with armor and other devices active as well via special enchantments...incuding the wild enchantment which is core).


-Polaris  
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