How to make martial classes more fun without throwing out "realism" too much.

I know the word realism is loaded here so just let me say that it is an issue for a lot of people so I'm addressing those concerns.  If you didn't have a problem with the fighter encounter daily system, you probably don't care.

So here some ways to make fighters special....
1.  Make each class of weapon (heavy two handed, one handed sword and shield, dual wielding) have some mechanical difference.   Give feat chains for the different styles that feel different.
2.  Make the fighter able to play a light armored or heavy armored fighter.. Again feat chains would depend on this fact.
3.  Make powers be either at will or immediate reaction only.  
4.  When the enemy gives combat advantage let the fighter do an immediate reaction.
5.  When the enemy misses the fighter by a certain amount let the fighter do another immediate reaction.
6.  When the fighter hits by more than a certain amount let him do a follow-up immediate reaction.
7.  Let fighters do aggro things.  Don't make it automatic.  Give the enemy some way of saving but not a magical effect.  At least not unless the fighter has found a magic item that gives him this ability.
8.  Let the fighter have the non-healing part of the warlord.  Get rid of the warlord (or module him).  Let him move allies around and give them morale bonuses to attack.
9.  Bring back strongholds and followers.  Base it on Charisma.

Instead of having tons of fighter subclass types just let those things be things the fighter can specialize in...
1.  Wilderness survival -> Ranger
2.  Divinity Focus --> Paladin
3.  Stealth and Stealing --> Rogue (Thief)
4.  Stealth and Backstabbing --> Assassin
5.  Unarmed Combat --> Monk

I'd get rid of those extra classes entirely.  They would just be feat chains that are options for the fighter.

There are a lot of ways of making a fighter fun without turning him into a wizard with encounter/daily powers.  


 

Here is a great blog by themormegil that explains why we had an edition war. narrativism vs simulationism

 HoBby Award Winner metagame dissonance (plot coupon)

dissociative mechanics (same as my own metagame dissonance. A great article.)

The Five Minute Workday Fallacy

My view on hit points

If you bundle all those classes into the fighter, how many classes do you envision the system to have? 3? Fighter, Wizard, Cleric? 
If you bundle all those classes into the fighter, how many classes do you envision the system to have? 3? Fighter, Wizard, Cleric? 



You could also add Psion.
May as well remove classes entirely at this rate... have access to magic come from feats or something.

I think that rogues/assassins are significantly different from fighters to have their own class.  The divine elements of paladins really don't fit well with the 100% martial approach that the rest of this system is suggesting so they should probably have their own class (or be a kind of cleric specialised in martial abilities)

I like the overall approach, with a couple of minor concerns that are probably besides the point (I'm not a fan of shifting mechanics... or rather, I'm not a fan of some of the ways that they are used...)   
I'd like to see fewer classes and more paths.  Fighter, Wizard, Cleric.   Yeah maybe there is a way for wizards to be all feat at-will, encounter based with one build and vancian with another.  Same for Cleric.   I agree if Psionics are in the game then Psion is another type.

I think spell lists should drive class.  Fighter - No spell list,  Wizard - arcane list, Cleric - divine list,  Psion - pionic list.
Otherwise feats/options should define your customization further.


Also I would add even more variation than just the classes I mentioned.  My missile weapon as a fighter could define me.   Additional skill/background based packages of feats.   There could be some crossover too.  A rangerish paladin for example.  I think fighters should have some way to add in a little magic/divine/psion too using feats without multiclassing.  Multiclassing still available for the true full separation of powers types. (3e style I suppose).


 
May as well remove classes entirely at this rate... have access to magic come from feats or something.

First of all, I don't think you're ever going to see a game with the D&D label that doesn't have classes.  It's too ingrained a part of the concept.

That being said, if you do, why not just go whole-hog and go to a point-buy ability system?  Something based on, say, Mutants and Masterminds, and if you want an immediate-reaction ability that you can use once per 5 minutes that does X damage and effects A and B, you can make it.  There's even a M&M sourcebook  -- Warriors and Warlocks -- specifically geared towards running a fantasy campaign using the M&M rules, which were themselves originally based on the OGL from 3e.  (That being said, I don't have the sourcebook and haven't played in any games that use it, but would be curious to hear from someone who has.)
loose [loos] vt. to let loose; to release; to unfasten, undo or untie; to shoot or discharge. lose [looz] vt. to come to be without (something in one's possession or care), through accident, theft, etc., so that there is little or no prospect of recovery; to fail inadvertently to retain (something) in such a way that it cannot be immediately recovered; to suffer the deprivation of. LEARN THE DAMN DIFFERENCE. The pen is mightier than the character builder. Copy this to your sig if you like 4e but don't use the CB. "OD&D, 1E and 2E challenged the player. 3E challenged the character, not the player. Now 4E takes it a step further by challenging a GROUP OF PLAYERS to work together as a TEAM. That's why I love 4E." -RedSiegfried
Well I was asked what was ideal and I answered.  I wouldn't hate base classes like these - Fighter, Rogue, Wizard, Cleric, Psion.   My only issue is that Rogue is too form fitting.  Not every lightly armored Rogue is a Rogue in this system.  So naming wise maybe it's -->  Fighter, Light Fighter, Wizard, Cleric, Psion.   Even so some of the feat chains would then be accessible to more than just the Fighter.   Maybe the light Fighter can be a paladin too.  

Anyway.   I would be happy with a base core of classes and everything else be feat, and feat chain driven.  

I'm for retraining rules too but only at a cost. 
Yea... this doesn't sound like it captures the spirit of D&D (which is the whole point of 5e). It is interesting! I am sure it could make for a great RPG. But like 4e, I think it might step too far from the bounds of what makes D&D the thing it is. Having a fighter, thief, wizard, cleric, ranger, paladin, assassin, bard, and psion classes is sort of iconic.

That being said, I do think the various classes should be given talent trees of abilities that are similar to what you described:

Ranger: wilderness survival and guerrilla combat that makes use of natural environments.
Paladin: divine blessings and auras that enhance combat capability. 
Thief: stealth and stealing--less focus on damage and more focus on tricks that can be used to crowed control from stealth / deal with exploration based challenges.
Assassin: Stealth, poisons, and backstabbing--the typical 4e striker / lurker / glass cannon.
Monk: Unarmed combat.

I'm for retraining rules too but only at a cost.



If that cost is anything other than "some GMs might require that you use a trainer, and that trainer might charge you X sum of coin for their services," that cost is potentially a deal breaker for me. I hate system mastery. I don't want to see elements of the game cater to system mastery. Charging players for making tweaks to their characters (because they didn't fully understand the ramifications of their choices when those choices were first made) reeks of an element designed to cater to system mastery.
Yea... this doesn't sound like it captures the spirit of D&D (which is the whole point of 5e). It is interesting! I am sure it could make for a great RPG. But like 4e, I think it might step too far from the bounds of what makes D&D the thing it is. Having a fighter, thief, wizard, cleric, ranger, paladin, assassin, bard, and psion classes is sort of iconic.



Only since 3e.  Those iconic classes were the base in the early days.  Also I would allow for all those classes, they would just be builds.  You wouldn't call yourself a Fighter with the paladin feat chain.  Just Paladin would be fine.



That being said, I do think the various classes should be given talent trees of abilities that are similar to what you described:

Ranger: wilderness survival and guerrilla combat that makes use of natural environments.
Paladin: divine blessings and auras that enhance combat capability. 
Thief: stealth and stealing--less focus on damage and more focus on tricks that can be used to crowed control from stealth / deal with exploration based challenges.
Assassin: Stealth, poisons, and backstabbing--the typical 4e striker / larker / glass cannon.
Monk: Unarmed combat.



Yeah I like this



I'm for retraining rules too but only at a cost.



If that cost is anything other than "some GMs might require that you use a trainer, and that trainer might charge you X sum of coin for their services," that cost is potentially a deal breaker for me. I hate system mastery. I don't want to see elements of the game cater to system mastery. Charging players for making tweaks to their characters (because they didn't fully understand the ramifications of their choices when those choices were first made) reeks of an element designed to cater to system mastery.





I want system mastery but I want the gap to not be too great.  I want changing to just be bad enough that flippant changes every level are not common.   Think about it and make a decision but don't just do it willy nilly.  It is already harming realism doing it at all.  Don't make it into a mockery.   I guess serious money to a trainer might be ok.


 
The way to make martial classes fun without throwing out "realism" too much is to do exactly the same thing to the casters. If you're going to have casters who can fly and throw fireballs, you've got to have warriors on the same scale, and those aren't going to be realistic warriors. I don't mind just having two 'styles' of D&D -- one has realistic warriors and highly restricted wizards, one has over-the-top warriors and potent wizards -- the problem is that the martial classes are balanced for a different game than the caster classes, though both are balanced against other classes of the same type.
The way to make martial classes fun without throwing out "realism" too much is to do exactly the same thing to the casters. If you're going to have casters who can fly and throw fireballs, you've got to have warriors on the same scale, and those aren't going to be realistic warriors. I don't mind just having two 'styles' of D&D -- one has realistic warriors and highly restricted wizards, one has over-the-top warriors and potent wizards -- the problem is that the martial classes are balanced for a different game than the caster classes, though both are balanced against other classes of the same type.



I think too many people get caught up in  the trap that martial = low level fighter.  By epic tier you can be a demi-god.  Why must a demi-god be constrained by "realism".  An epic fighter should be able to leap 50 ft into the air and cleave boulders in two no problem.  

At heroic the fighter can be realistic (and the wizard too should be similarly restricted), but by paragon the fighter should be regularly performing feats no normal person could dream of.  This game is about heroes so it should model what can be done by the fighters of myth and legend.
The way to make martial classes fun without throwing out "realism" too much is to do exactly the same thing to the casters. If you're going to have casters who can fly and throw fireballs, you've got to have warriors on the same scale, and those aren't going to be realistic warriors. I don't mind just having two 'styles' of D&D -- one has realistic warriors and highly restricted wizards, one has over-the-top warriors and potent wizards -- the problem is that the martial classes are balanced for a different game than the caster classes, though both are balanced against other classes of the same type.



I disagree that it's impossible.  I think Pathfinder is perfectly playable along with 3e,2e,1e.  As I go back editions I need more DM skill of course which is bad but I'd do it rather than give up all the flavor.

I think my ideas for making a better fighter would go a long way to balancing the game with 3e wizards.  Maybe there are a few spells etc.. that need tweaking but I think it's possible.

Of course I never had that much trouble with fighters shining.   Rogues yes.  Fighters no.  In my games, the fighters were always front and center.  Maybe because I never allowed the 15 minute work day.  Maybe because I kept magic item consumables in check.  

I think at high level the wizard will be able to do a lot.  As it should be.  But by then fighters will be damage machines and possess many interesting wondrous items.  It's not so bad to me. 
I want a fighter that's fiddly, but I want that fiddliness to be about fighting style and play style, and not about overall effectiveness. Furthermore, I want the style options built into the class (a la 4E), and not creating optimization issues outside of class options (such as the all-feats-all-the-time 3E fighter build).

And I don't care about "realism". I want a class that can play it both gritty and fantastic, that can swing from a thug with a club all the way to plate-armor-parkour. I want something that is broad enough to serve what I want to play, yet detailed enough to make my character choices mean something in terms of both rules and story.
This is another continuum I guess outside of the simulationist vs narrativist debate.   Get another article ready there TheMormegil.   

I like build complexity.  If it can be done in a balanced way I'm for it.  I don't mind if it's only slightly imbalanced.  Meaning system masters are better but not overwhelmingly better.   In a tactical game there will always be players that are just better at it.

I like feats because they are independent of class to a degree.  Obviously in my mind there would be feat chains that a wizard would never take and the reverse also for fighters.   Still I can see some synergy in between.  I want a straightforward game when playing but I don't mind complexity when planning your character.  To me that is fun.

Dauntus - Invariable I find when the options are class specific that there aren't enough.  4e to me was boring and offered few options.  They were balanced (for the most part) but they were not fun for me.   3e was far less balanced but it had a lot more flavor.  Of course I would like some more balance than 3e had but not at the expense of variety and flavor. 
I disagree that it's impossible.  I think Pathfinder is perfectly playable along with 3e,2e,1e.  As I go back editions I need more DM skill of course which is bad but I'd do it rather than give up all the flavor.


Sure, they're playable. They're just not balanced.
I think my ideas for making a better fighter would go a long way to balancing the game with 3e wizards.  Maybe there are a few spells etc.. that need tweaking but I think it's possible.


Give fighters SR at level+10 and Dispel Magic as an at-will swift action? In 3e, at level 5, you can have a wizard who's got flight, mage armor, protection from arrows, invisibility for when he actually gets in trouble, and a wand of fireballs. He can burn down a medium sized city before he can be stopped by mundane means. A level 5 fighter should be able to kill him. Two level 5 fighters should be able to kill him trivially.

Seriously, the answer to 'making martial classes fun' is to throw out realism.
I think feats could be the answer (or a major part of it) for this. In my limited experience with 3.5, this is my general perception:
3.5: Fighters got tons of extra feat slots, but the feats were kinda crappy
4.0: Feats in general got way more powerful/useful, but Fighters no longer got extra slots.

If 5E combined these approaches, and featured powerful feats while providing Fighters and or Martial classes with extra feats slots, they'd be golden. These feats could cover things like:


  • Weapon bonuses

  • Armor bonuses

  • Combat styles

  • Combat manuevers like Power Attack and Cleave (but even more types)

  • Multiple attacks per turn like the Base Attack bonus system from 3.X


All of these would help put martial characters on par with the "power" of spellcasters, while keeping it line with the flavor/source of their abilities (physical prowess as apposed to magical/fantastic power)
1) Make fighter damage scale. 
If martial classes without outer scaling abilities (like the 3rd edition fighter, but NOT rogue) start doubling or tripling the dice from weapons, they're now playing closer to on par.  Consider the following variant: starting with a 3.5 fighter, remove the bonus feats at levels that are a multiple of 4 and replace them with...

Weapon Mastery (Ex): The fighter doubles the amount of base damage from all weapons starting at 4th level (So a greatsword will now do 4d6 damage, a greataxe 2d12, and so on).  At every 4th level thereafter (8, 12, 16, and 20) this damage increases by the base weapon damage again. (at 20th level, a fighter armed with a greatsword will deal a base of 12d6)

Fighters with this ability would compete with rogues (who are otherwise generally a tier above them).  In fact, they might have even leapfrogged higher...

Scaling the damage of the fighter's basic attack means you can get a LOT more use out of the basic attack


2) Give the fighter situational moves and tactical options
3rd had this: Whirlwind Attack, Tactical Feats, and Weapon style feats were all cool.  The only problem was they were actually quite terrible from a CO perspective.  Fighters should not get the ability to fly, teleport, and leave a wake of fire behind them ( TOME OF BATTLE! )1, but they should get the ability to do something other than basic attack when it's beneficial.  Particularly, Fighters should be awarded for playing the battlefield and their opponents tactically.  Exactly how they do so is going to be a divergence in builds, but take for example a fighter focused on tripping: he'll have an ability that lets him attempt to freely trip an enemy that misses him, and another that gives him bonuses when attacking a prone target.  he may even get an option to take a free hit on a target that tries to stand from prone in his threatened area.

Of course, not all enemies are equal -- tripping a dragon might not be strictly impossible, but you shouldn't expect to pull it off, and tripping a gelatenous cube isn't going to happen.  So, a fighter should have enough option slots to take two paths2, having tactical options that cover each other's weak points.  And, to point 1, if a fighter does come across something his tricks don't apply to, basic attack should be a very much viable option.


3) Let fighters have the 'skills to pay the bills'3
AKA out of combat usefulness.  Magic has always had its useful place out of combat.  Assuming you're willing to prepare or otherwise gain access to them, there are spells for most everything.  This feels right, but in some ways it's got to burn.  Knock, Spider Climb, and the like need to have a drawback, some reason why they don't just eliminate the need to climb, swim, jump over gaps, or pick locks.  Perhaps Knock could simply be loud as hell, creating a great, booming knocking noise.   (Vancian4, as we know the "wizard" will be) Spells in general should represent an opportunity cost: AKA, no wands to save your measly little spells per day from trying to prepare your way out of everything.  That way you're inclined to let the physical guy do his thing, because it's when he can't that the magic ought to come out.  The fighter scales the cliffs and lowers a rope for the far less physically inclined wizard, because that one casting of Spider Climb needs to be saved for if they face a wall too slick and steep for the fighter.


1 I hate this book.  I hate it with my heart, my liver, my kidney and my spleen.  Tales recounting my hatred for this book are banned in seven countries.  I think I hate it more because it should have had potential.  It was addressing a real problem (Martials as low tier characters), but did so in what is in my opinion the most inane and backwards way possible.  Yeeees, let's balance martial characters by making them magic sword wizards who jump into the stratosphere, teleport, and shoot fire out their bums.  But wait, they're still totally martial, yeah!  It sickens me.  The disregard for logical consistancy sickens me.  The Miniatures Handbook was bad -- I mean, really bad.  But, you know, it doesn't offend me the same way Book of the Nine Swords did.  Rant over.

2 Or more, perhaps.  This is where modular complexity comes in: Simple!Fighter may pick a tactic tree and automatically get the abilities associated with it, while Complex!Fighter chooses abilities ala carte allowing him to, if desired, get a smattering of options from different trees at the cost of not having enough options in build to top-out everything.  Frankly, casters should be built on the same paragdim: Specialist or Master of None Generalist.  It makes for interesting choices rather than just taking everything.

3 This is more a commentary on the wizard then on the fighter.  Exploration spells are fine, but they should never remove the need or at least the desire to do it the old fashioned way.  Opportunity cost -- Real opportunity cost, not opportunity cost that's comically easily deferred into a gp cost -- is a good way of doing this, as the wizard who spends all day climbing and flying around the place will shortly discover "Wait a minute, I don't have fiery death to dish out today".  Of course, this assumes that an average adventure-day is going to represent a mix of the Pillars.  I don't think that's a bad assumption.

4 Okay, I said it so I'm not gettign out of this without talking about Vancian magic somewhat.  Look, fact of the matter is we're getting at least one Vancian spellcaster.  For all we know, we're also getting a ton of non-vancian spellcasters.  We've also gotten subtle confirmation that, whatever fighters scale as, wizards are linear (Fireball always does 5d6, not scalign upwards while new spells are added) or at least far closer to linear than they have been in the past with their potential damage output.  This isn't a thread about the merits and drawbacks of Vancian casting, though: this is a thread about fighters and how to make them interesting.   The mages are only germane to the topic as a point of comparison

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One thing I liked about the 4e martial classes was they had abilities that went after things other than a targets AC. So, if I wasn't hitting against AC I had some options. However, if I had one option that hit the sweet spot, but it was an encounter power I knew I probably wasn't going to hit.
What if feats were available that leant that kind of versatility to martial classes without them being limited use powers? They could key off of ability scores, weapon types or skills so that they would lend themselves to certain character concepts.
A fighter with high Cha could grant allies a +2 bonus to attack when he makes a hit
A fighter with a 2-handed weapon could attack Fortitude.
A fighter with a high Intimidate skill could attack Will.

This is another continuum I guess outside of the simulationist vs narrativist debate.   Get another article ready there TheMormegil.   



I kind of think it's mostly the same one, actually...
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Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept.
Ideas for 5E
1) Make fighter damage scale. 
If martial classes without outer scaling abilities (like the 3rd edition fighter, but NOT rogue) start doubling or tripling the dice from weapons, they're now playing closer to on par.  Consider the following variant: starting with a 3.5 fighter, remove the bonus feats at levels that are a multiple of 4 and replace them with...

Weapon Mastery (Ex): The fighter doubles the amount of base damage from all weapons starting at 4th level



Love this. But, this is as far as I go in wanting to play a superman martial character.


2) Give the fighter situational moves and tactical options



Including the option to go after defenses other than AC perhaps.


3) Let fighters have the 'skills to pay the bills'3



That fighter would be a joy to play.


Only since 3e.  Those iconic classes were the base in the early days.  Also I would allow for all those classes, they would just be builds.  You wouldn't call yourself a Fighter with the paladin feat chain.  Just Paladin would be fine.



How many older editions have you played? I was not talking about 3e. Assassin was a class in 1e D&D. Psionics were in the 1e core three books as well (though, as wild talents, not a class. The class came a little later, but has been around since at least 2e. There might have been a class in 1e as well). The rest of the classes I named all existed in 2e, and I think they all existed in 1e as well (though my experience with 1e is limited, so don't quote me on that). Like I said, over the course of D&D's lifespan I feel that those classes are iconic. I don't like your idea for D&D. I think it divests itself too far from the spirit of the game. 

I want system mastery but I want the gap to not be too great.  I want changing to just be bad enough that flippant changes every level are not common.   Think about it and make a decision but don't just do it willy nilly.  It is already harming realism doing it at all.  Don't make it into a mockery.   I guess serious money to a trainer might be ok. 



I am not ok with "serious money" either. The only amount of system mastery I am willing to live with is the amount that creeps in by accident, because of bad design choices, like in 4e. Any mechanics that intentionally bring system mastery in, such as what you are describing, better be modular options which I can very easily extract from the game.

By the way, I just want to add my voice to those that don't want wizards and fighters held to a double standard of realism. If fighters are going to be constrained to a gritty/realistic model that emulates the honest capabilities of real life then wizards should be given a form of gritty/low key magic that is difficult to use, and sometimes has horrible miscast effects (think Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3e). On the other hand, if wizards are going to have unbelievable over the top magical powers, then fighters should be heroic characters modeled off the likes of Hercules or Achilles. If wizards start out having trouble with magic, but eventually master the power of the cosmos, then fighters should start out as gritty down to earth fighters and end up becoming warrior demi-gods. I find the double standard that some people like to hold wizards/fighters to very distasteful in the games I play. 


By the way, I just want to add my voice to those that don't want wizards and fighters held to a double standard of realism. If fighters are going to be constrained to a gritty/realistic model that emulates the honest capabilities of real life then wizards should be given a form of gritty/low key magic that is difficult to use, and sometimes has horrible miscast effects (think Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3e). On the other hand, if wizards are going to have unbelievable over the top magical powers, then fighters should be heroic characters modeled off the likes of Hercules or Achilles. If wizards start out having trouble with magic, but eventually master the power of the cosmos, then fighters should start out as gritty down to earth fighters and end up becoming warrior demi-gods. I find the double standard that some people like to hold wizards/fighters to very distasteful in the games I play. 




*slow claps*


By the way, I just want to add my voice to those that don't want wizards and fighters held to a double standard of realism. If fighters are going to be constrained to a gritty/realistic model that emulates the honest capabilities of real life then wizards should be given a form of gritty/low key magic that is difficult to use, and sometimes has horrible miscast effects (think Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3e). On the other hand, if wizards are going to have unbelievable over the top magical powers, then fighters should be heroic characters modeled off the likes of Hercules or Achilles. If wizards start out having trouble with magic, but eventually master the power of the cosmos, then fighters should start out as gritty down to earth fighters and end up becoming warrior demi-gods. I find the double standard that some people like to hold wizards/fighters to very distasteful in the games I play. 




*slow claps*



*Increases clapping speed and volume slightly.

@mikemearls The office is basically empty this week, which opens up all sorts of possibilities for low shenanigans

@mikemearls In essence, all those arguments I lost are being unlost. Won, if you will. We're doing it MY way, baby.

@biotech66 aren't you the boss anyway? isn't "DO IT OR I FIRE YOU!" still an option?

@mikemearls I think Perkins would throat punch me if I ever tried that. And I'd give him a glowing quarterly review for it.

I'll only accept realistic martial classes if they get rid of the Anime "fly at the speed of light firing lasers fro, every oriface" Wizard stuff they had in 3.5e
Lawolf has given the best response out of anyone here: every character, after passing a certain level, will be superhuman, extraordinary, and above all, unrealistic. This isn't restricted by class or even edition; the only difference was the scale of unrealism and, ultimately, balance between classes and editions.

 But, since I'm a fair thinker to a fault, here's some thoughts I've been kicking around on this martial "problem":

1. Do NOT remove options for martial-type characters that revolve around superhuman stunts, even at early levels. I don't care whether it takes training from hell, or divine blood to justify such features. Just don't get rid of it.

2. "Mundane" martial characters, as I'll name them from now on, will be more dependant on items, and as such gain much better features and bonuses from using items. Where a wizard will fly over a chasm, a mundane fighter will use a grappling hook to zip through it to relatively equal effectiveness (if slightly less).

3. Most importantly, mundane character get much better use out of magic items than any other character class. They'll get options that let them use special powers and properties from magic equipment exclusively, more  frequently, or more potently (ie: a mundane fighter with the Seven Leagues Boots will gain a bonus to speed at all times, while a wizard could only gain that bonus once every five mintutes). They also can get feats to gain better effects from expendable items (ie: more healing from a healing potion).

EDIT:

On the whole retraining "issue". If you're going to make retraining much harder than it was in 4e, than you're going to have to rationalize why a PC could learn more in weeks than it took them to learn in an entire lifetime.

I feel the tier system is really where "ridiculousness level" should be sorted.  If you want your gritty, sword swinging fighter, and a wizard that needs a mumified inflated lizard and a dried out pufferfish to cast magic missile, play heroic tier.  If you want warriors that can leap up mountains and hurl shockwaves from their axes, while the mages fly around pouring lightning from their ears, play Epic tier.

In regards to the OP, having weapon/style based talent/feat trees or whatnot for fighters is a great idea.  However, keep fighters fighters, and let paladins be paladins.
2. "Mundane" martial characters, as I'll name them from now on, will be more dependant on items, and as such gain much better features and bonuses from using items. Where a wizard will fly over a chasm, a mundane fighter will use a grappling hook to zip through it to relatively equal effectiveness (if slightly less).

3. Most importantly, mundane character get much better use out of magic items than any other character class. They'll get options that let them use special powers and properties from magic equipment exclusively, more  frequently, or more potently (ie: a mundane fighter with the Seven Leagues Boots will gain a bonus to speed at all times, while a wizard could only gain that bonus once every five mintutes). They also can get feats to gain better effects from expendable items (ie: more healing from a healing potion).



I actually like this idea(as long as it's a possible build for martial and not the only one). Has a Batman feel to it :P
I know the word realism is loaded here so just let me say that it is an issue for a lot of people so I'm addressing those concerns.

It's important that every side of every issue be aired.  

The selective aplication of realism, with casters getting a free pass to do anything, no matter how unrealistic, while fighters and other martial classes are held to a high standard that prevents them from doing anything interesting, varied, potent, dramatic or heroic is no less at odds with the heroic fantasy genre than demanding scrupulous mechanical balance in the name of gamism.  

However, you might do well to make a case for discriminating against the martial source, first, rather than just jumping in with the details of how that source should be marginalized and rendered broadly inferior.

If you didn't have a problem with the fighter encounter daily system, you probably don't care.

Oh, I certainly care. 

So here some ways to make fighters special....

1.  Make each class of weapon (heavy two handed, one handed sword and shield, dual wielding) have some mechanical difference.   Give feat chains for the different styles that feel different.

So, like 3.5 and 4e already have.  Take away dailies and encounters and tone down everything the fighte does, and in return, give them what they've had anyway.

2.  Make the fighter able to play a light armored or heavy armored fighter.. Again feat chains would depend on this fact.

The difference between light and heavy armor in 3e and 4e depended upon high stat, if you had a high DEX (3.x) or DEX/INT (4e) light armor was a viable option.   Both 3e and 4e fighters had options that made high DEX a rational choice, to, again, this option already exists. 

3.  Make powers be either at will or immediate reaction only.

Right, take away most of the fighter's flexibility, peak power and drama, and in return...
 
4.  When the enemy gives combat advantage let the fighter do an immediate reaction.
5.  When the enemy misses the fighter by a certain amount let the fighter do another immediate reaction.
6.  When the fighter hits by more than a certain amount let him do a follow-up immediate reaction.

Cute.  Hit stuff expanded to hit stuff even more often.

7.  Let fighters do aggro things.  Don't make it automatic.  Give the enemy some way of saving but not a magical effect.  At least not unless the fighter has found a magic item that gives him this ability.

So, make the fighter 'more special' by making his mark less dependable, and making him more dependent on items.

8.  Let the fighter have the non-healing part of the warlord.  Get rid of the warlord (or module him).  Let him move allies around and give them morale bonuses to attack.

So, in addition to taking away the fighter's toys, kill the warlord, and the fighter have a few of his.

9.  Bring back strongholds and followers.  Base it on Charisma.

Make the fighter MAD at high level, and give him useless minions and a potential victims to worry about protecting.  Makes sense, thematicaly, the caster gets to blow up armies, the fighter provides gets the armies to be blown up.  At least there's symetry.

Instead of having tons of fighter subclass types just let those things be things the fighter can specialize in...
1.  Wilderness survival -> Ranger
2.  Divinity Focus --> Paladin
3.  Stealth and Stealing --> Rogue (Thief)
4.  Stealth and Backstabbing --> Assassin
5.  Unarmed Combat --> Monk

So you want to nudge towards a classless system?   Not a horrid idea, but not one that's likely to fly in D&D.  So, really,  you're not just talking about nerfing the fighter, but the entire martial source, by folding it into the nerfed fighter.

There are a lot of ways of making a fighter fun without turning him into a wizard with encounter/daily powers. 

Fun for whom?  The poor schmuck playing him, or the casters lording it over him? 

You have made no case for realism (in a /Fantasy RPG/), nor for selectively aplying it to the martial source as a transparent excuse to make it starkly inferior to casters.  Yet, that is /exactly/ what your proposal does.



As an alternative, how about non-selective realism?  Fighters can work as you describe, divine characters can have Faith (which doesn't do anything, but they reeeeeallly beleive in it) and arcanists can have a little alchemy and perform slight of hand.  That'd be realistic. 


Or, we could just chuck realism and try for a game where any character from genre has a shot at being playable, in a balanced system where players don't hang their 'fun' on ruining that of others at the table.  Would that be too much to ask?





 

 

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yay another fighter vs. wizard, 3 vs. 4 thread. woohoo.

I don't get to play characters much but when I do I play martial characters. And, at the same time, I don't like 4e. isn't that weird? maybe the OP is asking for very capable fighters just done a different way. He never said he wanted them to be weak or boring. Why not try to help put those three things together:
1)capable/valid
2)fun to play
3)done differently

There is no reason why this has to be a flaming edition war.
maybe the OP is asking for very capable fighters just done a different way.


Then he would have left out the 'realism' word.

That is just silly. Realism does not automatically equate to imbalance. A large number of people on these boards seem to equate it with imbalance, on both sides of the fence, but it is not an automatic equation. If you are going to pan the original poster's argument do it on the basis of his argument, not on the basis of what terminology he chose to use.

And, for the record, I would also like to add my voice to the people who would like to see the abilities of casters and fighters modeled in different ways, including different methods of resource allocation, in the interest of making magic and martial capabilities feel different both from the point of view of fluff and mechanics.  

That is just silly. Realism does not automatically equate to imbalance.


It does when it only applies to some classes.
And this is why realism is a sticky word.  Playing in a fantasy setting, where magic exists, does not automatically mean "magical superpowers for everybody!".  Largely, warriors in fantasy fiction do fighty things.  They might manage fantastic feats of strength and durability, but there is no implicit magic-ness to them.

This does not mean that they cannot be balanced against each other.  You do not need to give martials magical superpowers to make them work in the same universe as wizards with magic.  I may not apply *realism* to Wizards, but I do apply versimilitude, simulationism, reasonability to how their magic works

A few threads back, ardent supporters of martial magic latched onto the argument that people like me, who would prefer martial types be badass normals, would not let the fighter shove the dragon but would let the Wizard do the same.

While it may have been possible to magically shove a dragon in 3e, with enough sourcebooks involved (Explosive spell?), that's more of the exception.  It's overpowered and just as goofy as the fighter shoving such a massive opponent around.  A more reasonable comparison would be to the Bigby's Hand spells as opposed to the Bull Rush action.  The Bigby's Hands could no more shove the dragon than an equivalent fighter (though the Hands ultimatley became quite strong, that's a story for another day).  I prefer this.  I prefer my fighters badass normals and my magic, once invoked, to follow consistent roles of its own.  If you want to push something, you exert force to do so (the effective strength score of the hand).  If you want to use teleport offensivley, that's another story.  Both the magical and nonmagical aspects of the game need to be reasonable and internally consistant, which is a far cry from the call to "give martials magic or give nobody magic" that I see far too often.

"Enjoy your screams, Sarpadia - they will soon be muffled beneath snow and ice."

 

Follow me to No Goblins Allowed

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THE COALITION WAR GAME -Phyrexian Chief Praetor
Round 1: (4-1-2, 1 kill)
Round 2: (16-8-2, 4 kills)
Round 3: (18-9-2, 1 kill)
Round 4: (22-10-0, 2 kills)
Round 5: (56-16-3, 9 kills)
Round 6: (8-7-1)

Last Edited by Ralph on blank, 1920

And this is why realism is a sticky word.  Playing in a fantasy setting, where magic exists, does not automatically mean "magical superpowers for everybody!".


If you have a flying wizard with protection from arrows (level 3 and 2 spells), a fighter needs magical superpowers to beat that wizard. Yes, it's possible to have a magic system where relatively normal-seeming fighter will be effective, but that magic system is not the D&D magic system.
That is just silly. Realism does not automatically equate to imbalance.


It does when it only applies to some classes.



Oh I could enforce realism on spellcasters too.  It would suck
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

I was definitely not wanting to start a flame war or edition war.  I said right at the beginning that SOME people want "realistic" fighters.  Now I put realistic in quotes so it would drive some of the 4e people up the wall.

Anyway here are some facts...
1.  There is no correlation between the real world and a fantasy world when it comes to magic.  We have no magic in our world.  If I made up a world where wizards could power word kill at level 1 it would not be unrealistic.  We just don't have magic so it can in theory be anything.

2.  We DO have a correlation in the real world for the non-magic part of the game.  We do have swords.  We do have armor.  

So as a game solution it is never going to be ok to make fighters do things that are completely unrealistic even if the reason is balance.  Obviously since magic is magic anything can be realistic.  So of course we adjust magic so we have a world where things make sense game wise.  

I was just trying to come up with rules for fighters that make them interesting contributors to the game without becoming casters.  Daily and Encounter powers to me are too far over the edge realism wise.  Everyone has their own edge and I know for some of you it's ok.

I will say that in all the editions of D&D I've played I never had a problem getting fighters.  Clerics yes.  Fighters no.  I always had two in every group.  Somehow they found a way to have fun without becoming obsessed with the wizard.  Now I am a tough DM and I didn't hand out magic items like free candy in those editions.  Maybe thats the difference.  If you don't give tons of wands and staves to a wizard he really isn't that powerful.  Maybe getting there at 18 but definitely not at 12.

Also whenever I saw a particular spell getting abused in the game, I rule 0'd it.  I also didn't expect a pvp game.  It matters not to anyone in my campaign who can kill who one on one.  The important thing is contributing to the group and working as a team to achieve objectives.  My groups did it in 3e and loved it.  In fact 3e may have been my most successful campaign fun-wise.  4e surely was not.  1e/2e was better for me than 4e.   For me (emphasis).  I encourage all editions be played by those that like them.

I really wanted to discuss options with people who cared about such options.  Not debate the merit of options even existing. 
So of course we adjust magic so we have a world where things make sense game wise.


So you're in favor of extensively nerfing higher level casters? The problem with realistic fighters is thermonuclear casters. Essentially, balance would mean that in the example I gave (flying wizard with protection from arrows), a level 5 fighter can pick up a ranged weapon and kill the wizard in two rounds. If he gets next to a wizard who isn't stacking multiple defenses, he should kill the wizard in one round.
To me the most Fun Fighter has been the 3E fighter.  I enjoyed that one most because I could build my fighting style out of the feat system.  I enjoyed that; thinking up how my fighter fought and then going through feats to figure out how to reprisent that.  I've made a lot of interesting fighters that way.

the big problem of course is that not all combat feats were created equal and they did not all scale well.  PF fixed some of that but there are still issues.


My ideal Fighter is one like the 3E where I can create his style as I see fit, but where the combinations of Feats lets me create moves like some of those in 4E. 

Basically where Different combinations of Combat Feats create 4E Martial maneuvers (without the idiotic AEDU mechanics)
To me the most Fun Fighter has been the 3E fighter.  I enjoyed that one most because I could build my fighting style out of the feat system.  I enjoyed that; thinking up how my fighter fought and then going through feats to figure out how to reprisent that.  I've made a lot of interesting fighters that way.

the big problem of course is that not all combat feats were created equal and they did not all scale well.  PF fixed some of that but there are still issues.


My ideal Fighter is one like the 3E where I can create his style as I see fit, but where the combinations of Feats lets me create moves like some of those in 4E. 

Basically where Different combinations of Combat Feats create 4E Martial maneuvers (without the idiotic AEDU mechanics)



+1


So you're in favor of extensively nerfing higher level casters? The problem with realistic fighters is thermonuclear casters.


I know I am.  For me, the fun balance was around tier 3 of 3.5.  a fighter can still be "realistic" (in a badass normal sort of way) and mages can still be magical -- but not Superman deity-punting broken.

The wizard should not obsolete the fighter, and the reason for this is not that fighters get the ability to fart bombs.

"Enjoy your screams, Sarpadia - they will soon be muffled beneath snow and ice."

 

Follow me to No Goblins Allowed

A M:tG/D&D message board with a good community and usable software

 


THE COALITION WAR GAME -Phyrexian Chief Praetor
Round 1: (4-1-2, 1 kill)
Round 2: (16-8-2, 4 kills)
Round 3: (18-9-2, 1 kill)
Round 4: (22-10-0, 2 kills)
Round 5: (56-16-3, 9 kills)
Round 6: (8-7-1)

Last Edited by Ralph on blank, 1920