Balancing the wizard class: how much are the mitigating factors worth?

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what kinds of magic I would like in D&D Next. I even started a thread on “How would you like your wizards?” in hope of seeing if there was an iconic D&D wizard the same way there’s an iconic D&D cleric.


And the answer I got the most was kind of surprising:  “I don’t care as long as it’s balanced”. And then it hit me, what the hell is this balance they are talking about? Is it all classes dealing roughly the same damage? At the same time, I keep hearing, “I don’t want fighters to be boring infinite sword swings”. So let's give the fighter some tactical options. So now we have a fighter that is resilient, deals decent damage and has tactical options. And since we want class balance, that means that classes that are less resilient need something to compensate. Classes should be balanced around at least three principals: “resilience”, “damage” and “tactical options“. You could also add “attack reliability” and “out-of-combat utility” in the overall balancing scheme.


So with this design goal in mind, let’s get back to the wizard. What are suitable mitigating factors for a wizard?


Traditionally, you have 2 factors: crap armor/low hit points and spells can be interrupted (2nd edition style). So that was both “resilience” and “reliability”.


Which of these factors would you keep? How much are these mitigating factors worth?


Do you guys want “glass cannons”? In other words, would you like to see classes such as a specialist wizard that can trade a lot of resilience for a lot of damage, even more damage than your rogue?


Should wizards get all these utility spells that a lot of people hate so much to compensate for these weaknesses?


Should wizards get significantly better “crowd control” spells to compensate?


Any of the above as class options: each wizard has a limited spellbook and depending on his choice of spells, a wizard will be more “tactical options”, “out-of-combat utility”, “damage” etc… But wizards can’t be all of these at the same time.


Another option would be to do it like in 4th edition where the wizard is a lot more resilient than in the other editions and can’t be interrupted. 4th edition wizards had to trade something for it: their versatility and the spell effects that wreak havoc.


Anyways, do you have an opinion on all of this?


 


Remarks:
Don’t bases your answer on your 3rd edition experience! None of what I just said applies to that edition; the mitigating factors were a fraud in that edition! With magic items that increase Constitution, hit points mostly come from Constitution, so you barely had the “low hit point” factor. You also had a lot more cheap items that increase your armor class so low armor wasn’t even true anymore (glamored mithril shirts, glamored mithril bucklers, seriously?). Your spells were mostly Standard actions and only required a pathetically easy Concentration check to check so you had no interrupts. And on top of that, your spells had an increased chance to succeed because the DC of your spells increased faster than monster saving throws (up to 80%-100% if you target the weaker saves). Basically spells were more reliable than ever. So 3rd edition removed all the mitigating factors with spells significantly better than fighter attacks... Great class balance here!


I also intentionally omitted one mitigating factor: the daily resource aspect. I don’t think that giving a class more daily powers is a good enough reason to give them crappie at-will. I would much rather have all classes with equal at-will options and something class-specific to compensate for the mitigating factors (extra damage to these at-wills through sneak attacks for a rogue; daily spells that deal 30%-40% more for wizards because they have shite hit points and armor; etc...). It makes class balance easier. And each set of at-wills/encounter powers option will have different tactical combat options.

Edit: I removed some part about people wanting fighters to be gods. I didn't realize some people might take offense. I didn't mean it as an attack but as an introduction on how to make classes balanced against one another.

 So with this design goal in mind, let’s get back to the wizard. What are suitable mitigating factors for a wizard?



To see what the appropriate mitigating factors are, we need to look at what the advantages they mitigate are.

Advantages they wouldn't be wizards without:

1) Being ranged. Being ranged means you can try and stay out of harms way, so you'll take less damage. The reduced HP and defences serve to cancel out this effect.

2) Having lots of Area of Effect abilities. 

3) Powerful single target debuffs.

Advantages they'll almost certainly have in DDN:

4) The ability to prepare different spells each day, allowing them to be much more potent if they know what they're facing ahead of time; even if their knowledge is only of a very general sort (tomb of undead, kings ball, dungeon near a volcano)

5) Access to powerful non-combat magics, which can achieve things that are impossible by mundane means.

6) A collection of daily resources that they can use up at a rate of their own choosing; allowing them to lose nothing from small fights, and completely dominate the larger fights.

That's not all of them, I'm sure, but it's a start. We need mitigating factors to counter out each of those. If one CAN'T be mitigated, then it must be changed.
The mitigating factor can either be a disadvantage of the wizard, or an advantage for other classes (the two are approximately equivalent after all) 
What are suitable mitigating factors for a wizard?

Traditionally, you have 2 factors: crap armor/low hit points and spells can be interrupted (2nd edition style). So that was both “resilience” and “reliability”.


Which of these factors would you keep? How much are these mitigating factors worth?




I think balancing by flaws is a doomed concept. Great power with great drawbacks is easy to abuse. I'd prefer if the wizard was balanced to the other classes in every aspect. That does not mean equal hps, equal damage, equal defenses or stuff like that; however it means roughly equal offensive power, defensive power and stuff like that. I like how 4E introduced formal roles that standardize the trade of greater offensive power for greater defenses or other similar stuff, but at the same time keep it simple and within a short range. I'd like wizards to be frail ranged characters that focus on crowd control. That means about 20% less hps than fighters, 20% less damage than rogues and 20% stronger control effects (whatever that means in the context of the combat system). Much like 4E.
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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

Yes, there is something wrong: You've created a strawman: no-one is asking for a fighter that's the most resilient, damaging, and versatile class. Please remove it. If you do I will remove this section of the reply, and we can all pretend it never happened, and avoid provoking any avoidable arguments.



Done. Thanks for pointing it out.
I think balancing by flaws is a doomed concept.



This, especially if you are using flaws as the major way to balance instead of a minor way.  Since you can often overcome flaws while keeping the super powerful part.

Having a slightly low AC doesn't usually matter when you can cast 3.5's time stop or matter much with mirror image or blur.   (The same was true for 2E to some extnet here) And often there were spells and items that you could take that would mean your AC/HP wasn't really that much lower anyways or that most enemy attacks would miss anyways.  Which also meant a low chance of spell disruption.  Making wizards slightly weaker defense wise is a good tradition since it forces them to play differently, but in and of itself it often does little to balance them out especially at higher levels.

Its much better to reign in the power of spells in the first place.  4E did balance this way and while wizards are one of the more powerful 4E classes and especially have good dailies because they have a lot of support, they aren't broken good.  4E doesn't have spell failure and while wizards usually have lower HP and surges (unless they are staff con builds), their defenses are not that bad.  Other classes contribute as much, either by doing different things or by doing some things better.  Druids and invokers are competetive as controllers and there are other classes that outshine them in lots of other areas.
Uriah Heep: The Wizard

to psychedelic music and 70s chicks swaying,

"A Cloak of Gold and Eyes of Fire..."

When you talk about What a wizard should be able to do, the better question is when?

I used to have this thing where wizards had 1-2 inches of beard for each character level.


Its much better to reign in the power of spells in the first place



Screw that. Beards, maaan.
Options are Liberating
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true">1) Being ranged. Being ranged means you can try and stay out of harms way, so you'll take less damage. The reduced HP and defences serve to cancel out this effect.

This one is hard to balance, because it is very party size dependent. Large party's can provide a lot of shelter for fragile glass cannons, but small ones can't. How 5e's combat mechanics are laid out will also make a difference. In 4e, the ease of charging and the fact that most monsters could charge with their best attacks meant that being ranged was not as big an advantage.

2) Having lots of Area of Effect abilities.

Generally traded with damage. Big area, low damage vs high damage single target. Being stuck with only area of effect can end up being it's own disadvantage when you can't use them without hitting party members.

3) Powerful single target debuffs.
I expect there will be at least some. The question here is how unique will this be to wizards? If every class has debuffs, wizards don't need any disadvantage to compensate.

4) The ability to prepare different spells each day, allowing them to be much more potent if they know what they're facing ahead of time; even if their knowledge is only of a very general sort (tomb of undead, kings ball, dungeon near a volcano)

How powerful this is will depend on game mechanics and how many useful spells wizards have access to. In 3e this was very powerful because wizards had a lot of spells that where very effective against specific types of targets and otherwise useless. In 4e it was useless because the range of spells was so limited and character design generally meant that there where only one or two spells worth casting at any level ever.

5) Access to powerful non-combat magics, which can achieve things that are impossible by mundane means.
Very likely. It isn't so much the "impossible by mundane means" that matters as the flexibility memorization gives wizards to have the right magic for whatever problem the party is facing. Certain magics that exist only to advance the plot for the party as a whole, such as travel rituals, shouldn't be held against the wizard class but spells like fly and invisibility are very powerful. Neither of those abilities are outside the range of natural abilities for D&D characters, but the ability to pick back and forth which one you want, plus others, means that overall it is more powerful then any one ability on it's own.

6) A collection of daily resources that they can use up at a rate of their own choosing; allowing them to lose nothing from small fights, and completely dominate the larger fights.
This has generally been traded for ineffective at-will attacks. Older editions tend to over value the power of consistent moderate damage though, as the ability of spell casters to focus their rare spells on the key fights increases their effective worth. Essentially, the ability to selectively focus the damage means that the overall damage for spell casters should be lower then consistent damage classes.

I'd like wizards to be frail ranged characters that focus on crowd control. That means about 20% less hps than fighters, 20% less damage than rogues and 20% stronger control effects (whatever that means in the context of the combat system). Much like 4E.

That was the idea in 4e, but it didn't work. 20% more crowd control isn't worth giving up 20% damage, becaue damage is always useful and crowd control isn't. 4e often ended up a reverse of the 3e situation, only worse. In 3e the fighters would wade through the minions in the unimportant fights, and then the wizard would join in for massive effects in the key ones. In 4e, the wizard would clean up the minions with area of effect, and then stand around doing trivial at-will damage in the key fights because he didn't have any good single target damage spells and the boss's +5 saves made control spells nearly worthless.



I think balancing by flaws is a doomed concept.



Isn't lower hit points and crap armor some kind of flaw that already exists in 4th edition?

Or where you talking about stuff like interrupts? If that's the case, I'm a bit surprised. It sounds like a fun way to make combats less static. 1-round casting times make mobility a whole lot more important because you basically have one round to go smack that wizard before you get fried. It also encourages teamplay because once you started casting your 1-round fireball, your team mates know that they need to clear the way and eventually use forced movements to group your opponents. Of course you already had that in 4th edition, but there's an extra incentive here: the spell is coming whether your team mates are ready for it or not.


Great power with great drawbacks is easy to abuse.



Overall, I agree with you. Mitigating factors should be mitigating factors. If they aren't or are highly situational, it's not a mitigiating factor. Alignment or any kind of roleplaying factor are not good mitigating factor.

And if you do have mitigating factors, make sure that you actually enforce them! Bracers of AC2, glamored armors... None of that!


I like how 4E introduced formal roles that standardize the trade of greater offensive power for greater defenses or other similar stuff, but at the same time keep it simple and within a short range. I'd like wizards to be frail ranged characters that focus on crowd control. That means about 20% less hps than fighters, 20% less damage than rogues and 20% stronger control effects (whatever that means in the context of the combat system). Much like 4E.



But 4th edition didn't have these kinds of ratios did it? Fighters with 6 hit points, rogues with 5 hit points and wizards with 4 hit points, that's fighters with a little less than 50% more hit points than wizards (6/4=1.5; it starts at about 30% because of the Constitution score to hit points) and fighters with a little less than 20% more hit points than rogues (6/5=1.2). And on top of that you have a lower AC, so the wizard is kind of "3 steps" away from the fighter in terms of resilience.

Ok, so let's assume that ranged is worth "one step" and that AOE damage is worth "two steps" that means that the wizard should do as much as a fighter with his AOE ranged attacks and 20% more with his single-target ranged attacks.

Of course that's assuming that you want "20% steps" in your class balance design. To be honest, I trust your judgment more than mine when it comes to balance. If you say that as implemented in 4th edition with a "20% step" is about right, I'll just trust you on it.
Generally speaking, low hit points and crap armor are mitigated by being a ranged attacker. Range is a big advantage.

I think balancing by flaws is a doomed concept.



Isn't lower hit points and crap armor some kind of flaw that already exists in 4th edition?

Or where you talking about stuff like interrupts? If that's the case, I'm a bit surprised. It sounds like a fun way to make combats less static. 1-round casting times make mobility a whole lot more important because you basically have one round to go smack that wizard before you get fried. It also encourages teamplay because once you started casting your 1-round fireball, your team mates know that they need to clear the way and eventually use forced movements to group your opponents. Of course you already had that in 4th edition, but there's an extra incentive here: the spell is coming whether your team mates are ready for it or not.



I'm not referring to 4E levels of "less hps and armor". I'm referring to the general thinking behind this. It's the same thinking that leads to "yeah, sure, wizards can gate in Pelor but only once per day!".


Great power with great drawbacks is easy to abuse.



Overall, I agree with you. Mitigating factors should be mitigating factors. If they aren't or are highly situational, it's not a mitigiating factor. Alignment or any kind of roleplaying factor are not good mitigating factor.

And if you do have mitigating factors, make sure that you actually enforce them! Bracers of AC2, glamored armors... None of that!


I like how 4E introduced formal roles that standardize the trade of greater offensive power for greater defenses or other similar stuff, but at the same time keep it simple and within a short range. I'd like wizards to be frail ranged characters that focus on crowd control. That means about 20% less hps than fighters, 20% less damage than rogues and 20% stronger control effects (whatever that means in the context of the combat system). Much like 4E.



But 4th edition didn't have these kinds of ratios did it? Fighters with 6 hit points, rogues with 5 hit points and wizards with 4 hit points, that's fighters with a little less than 50% more hit points than wizards (6/4=1.5; it starts at about 30% because of the Constitution score to hit points) and fighters with a little less than 20% more hit points than rogues (6/5=1.2). And on top of that you have a lower AC, so the wizard is kind of "3 steps" away from the fighter in terms of resilience.

Ok, so let's assume that ranged is worth "one step" and that AOE damage is worth "two steps" that means that the wizard should do as much as a fighter with his AOE ranged attacks and 20% more with his single-target ranged attacks.

Of course that's assuming that you want "20% steps" in your class balance design. To be honest, I trust your judgment more than mine when it comes to balance. If you say that as implemented in 4th edition with a "20% step" is about right, I'll just trust you on it.



The 20% was not there as an absolute measurement. To have an absolute measurement, we should know the system. The 20% was an indicator of "significant, but not overwhelming".
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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
Value of...


POSITIVES (Wizard benefits, meaning they need to pay a price)

Versitility: Effectiveness of benchmark with fewer options/number of options = effectivness of each option.  In short, if a fighter can only basic attack or a rogue pick locks, or a bard Diplomacy, but a wizard can fireball, magic missile, Charm Person and Knock, each of the wizards options should be at 25% or less of the efficacy of the standard option.  It's a little hard to work that out for the noncombat effects (Fail chance/backlash?) so let's go with the damage: Magic missile should, in this scenario, do 1/4 the damage of a same-level basic attack. (so if a 1st level fighter is expected to swing for 1d8+3, or an average of 7.5 damage, Magic Missile should hit for 1.875... call it about 2 damage, or 1d2 for ranged/melee).

If the benchmark specialists get more options though, it gets a little less brutal.  If the Generalist/Jack of All Trades (Wizard) can do 5 things, but a specialist can be expected to do 3, the Wizard's efficacy should be 3/5 that of the specalist.

AoE: 3 hits.  AoE should be inefficent on 2 or fewer targets, and over all just leave enough room for the big ones to fight it out.  Smaller areas might balance at 2 hits. (So if a figher hits for 3d6, fireball should deal 1d6 to each target it hits)

Range: Very little.  Situations where closing to melee is a problem come up about as often as situations where attempting to fire into melee is a problem.  If that can be mitigated (by the classic unerring magic missle, say), Range should cost a good deal more.


NEGATIVES (Wizard drawbacks, meaning they should recieve somethign in return)

Limited Spell Slots (5 or more relevant spells): NOTHING!  Once you have 5 spells that matter, you should be good to go for the day in my experience.

Limited Spell Slots (4 or fewer relevant spells): Efficacy*(5/spells) -- but only if there is no relevant at-will option.  If there is, you can't claim limited spell slots even if the limited effects are better than the at-will.  the "Spells" term is floored at 3 -- even if you only have 1 hadoken and then a big lot of nothing, it still counts as 3.

Unavoidable Spell Failure: Efficacy*(1 + Spell Fail Chance).  If your spells have a 25% chance of failure at minimimum, they should be 125% as strong as if they were balanced with no fail chance.

Avoidable Spell Failure: NOTHING! If you can optimize out of spell failure, you are expected to do so.

Detonation Chance (Chance the mage will get thwacked for horrid backlash): See Spell Failure, but add in a Backlash Nastyness Coefficent equal to the approximate % chance of killing yourself with the backlash, which if the backlash is in the form of damage is about equal to the % of your expected full-to-dead hp that the backlash can be expected to deal (so % of HP+10 in 3e, % of 1.5xHP in 4e).  The formula is now Efficacyfinal = Efficiacyinitial * [1+(Spell Fail*(1+Nastiness))].
Example: if Magic Missile has an initial expected efficacy of 3.5 damage (1d4+1, averaged) but has a 25% spell fail chance and a nastiness coefficent of 50% (that is, the backlash from failure is 50% likely to kill you, or likely to kill you if you've already lost 50% or more of your hp), the final expected damage from magic missile ought ot be 3.5*[1+(.25*1.5)] = 4.815 damage, which around 1d6+1 or 1d8.

Avoidable Detonation Chance: See avoidable Spell Failure.  Avoidables are used to make a class more MAD or impose a feat tax that others suffer for other reasons.

Long Cast Time: Efficacy = Efficacy*(actions/2).  So, a spell that eats 3 of your actions, assuming all actions are equal, ought to be 3/2 as effective as the same spell that only eats 2.  If a long-cast-time system is adopted, casting in 1 action is a privelage and not a right and should cost as such.

Low Hit Points (Will still assuredly survive an average attack sequence):  Suck it up, you get nothing for this, since you'll last to get your dumb rear healed.

Low Hit Points (Might drop to an average attack sequence): Efficacy * (1+Chance of dropping).  this should ONLY be used to pay off perks, not raise efficacy above neutral, or the name of the game becomes "protect the Glass Cannon"

Low Armor/Defense: Modifies Low Hit Point concerns, since getting hit (and thus taking damage, and thus dropping) is now more likely.  If Low HP is not a concern, neither is low Armor.  You'll get heals, you big baby.



Simplistic Example

The fighter has Hit Thing With Greatsword, which deals 2d6+4
The Rogue has Open Lock and Persuasion
The Cleric has Heathen Smiting (Damage) and Box o' Bandaids (Healing)
The Wizard has Magic Missile, Knock, Charm Person, and Fireball

Balancing Magic Missile
The Wizard has 4 options for action, one of which is single target damage.  The character with the fewest options for action, one of which is single target damage, is the fighter with 1 option.  Magic Missile should be 1/4 as effective as Hit Thing With Greatsword.  Hit thing expects 11 damage, so Magic Missile should expect about 3.  Magic Missile does 1d4 damage

Balancing Knock and Charm Person
The Wizard has 4 options for action.  The rogue (who has comprable options to both of these) has 2.  Knock and Charm Person should each be about half as useful as their skill equivalents -- that is, they might be equivalent half the time and totally useless half the time, or they might be poor substitutes all of the time.  The wizard has the privelage of filling in for the rogue when the Rogue is out of it, not stepping up in his place.

Balancing Fireball
As an AoE, Fireball should be one third as effective as its single target equivalent, Magic Missile.  Fireball does one sad little point of damage to anything in its radius.


But wait, that's kind of... lame.
Right you are!  But you know what, right now there are no mitigating factors -- this wizard is balanced to be able to Fireball and Magic Missile exactly as long as the fighter can swing his sword, and charm person as long as the rogue can talk.  of course he's objectivley weaker!  It's the only way nobody gets outshone.

So, we get mitigating factors.

General
The Wizard isn't paying for Ranged capability just yet.  Rather than doing an efficacy Buyoff, let's just say that Low but survivable Hit Points/Armor trade in for this.

Magic Missile
This spell is looking downright... normal.  But wait, Doesn't Magic Missile normally do 1d4+1?  We can nudge it there by saying that this wizard has 4 relevant spell slots.

Knock and Charm Person
These have gone up to 60% effeciacy.  This is a negligable difference

Fireball
Fireball still sits at 1 damage to the room, since the bump from Spell Slots was not nearly enough to get it so much as a second point.  This feels bad because it does strictly the minimum damage for ANYTHING in the whole game, EVERY TIME, and because it's a flat damage and not a die type.  Fireball needs some mitigating factors to pump it up.   So!  Let's introduce a Long Cast Times system to our Wizard.  All these spells now fire off in 2 actions (either 2 rounds or 1 full round depending on the action economy) rather than one, except... Charm Person isn't very convincing if it doesn't fire off in the tense moment between when the guard gives you the Angry Glare of Doom and when he attacks.  It gets cut to a 1 action cast time, which slashes its efficacy to 30%.  Meanwhile, fireball is going to be doubled to a 4-action cast (either 2-4 rounds depending on if move actions are worth a dime), increasing its expected efficacy to 2 damage... which can be handily expressed as d3.  We now have...


FIGHTER: Hits things with Greatsword for 2d6+4
ROGUE: Opens Locks and uses Persuasion
CLERIC: Heathen Smites for 1d6+2 and Box o' Bandaids Heals.
WIZARD: Gets 4 total 2-action-cast spells per day which can be prepared between Magic Missile (1d4+1 to a single target), Knock (60% Chance of doing what open locks does), Charm Person (30% chance of doing what Persuasion does, 1 action), and Fireball (1d3 AoE Damage, 4 actions)

"Enjoy your screams, Sarpadia - they will soon be muffled beneath snow and ice."
On Worldbuilding - On Crafting Aliens - Pillars of Art and Flavor - Simulationism, Narritivism, and Gamism - Shub-Niggurath in D&D
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

I don't think Wizards were properly tuned down as their original mitigating factors were lifted or power creep created easy fixes.  You can not like the balance over levels or the balance of at wills compared to daily resources, but those were the mitigating factors. 

I think the best solution would be to continue on with the mitigating factors of every class, but make them smaller.  So Wizards have less HPs than Fighters but no so few as to call them glass cannons.  Wizards might do more damage, but not so much more than the Fighter.  Keep all the classic differences, D&D is an iconic game for this reason, but make them smaller. 

Being the character that does ten times the damage but only hits one in ten times is not fun.  Being the character that is undefeatable but can't actually win a fight is not fun.  Bring everyone closer together without losing the differences we love.

Tune down the god-wizard and make them more consistant at every level.  Give the fighter some more oomph and cool fantasy options at higher levels.
Or...

We could just say to the fighter,

Avoidable Class Failure: NOTHING! If you can optimize out of class failure, you are expected to do so.
Suck it up.

Wizards should be compensated for everything they lose, or they shouldn't lose it. The idea that 5 spells is a match to a fighter is the product of a logic system not native to this or any plane of existence.

If the fighter attacks twice per round against 5 encounters and takes an average of three rounds to slay each, with a sword dealing 1d12/2d6+4 damage per hit (highly conservative), his minimum damage output per round is 10, tripled by rounds, then quintupled by encounters, for 150 damage. Knowing that Magic missiles and fireballs do d4s and and d6s, you are looking at 15-30 fireballs and 16-75 castings of magic missiles, or a combination thereof. Maximum damage for the fighter is 32 per round or 480 spread over the encounters, which is 8-16 fireballs, or 96 individual magic missiles.

If the fighter is in a war zone, they may kill 20-100 enemies a day and realistically crank out 1d10+12 damage 3 times per round, yielding 66 damage split over an average of 60 enemies for just shy of 4 thousand damage a day. When you convert that damage output back into spells, you end up with what appears to be a force of reckoning, each spell level 1-9 averaging 88 damage per hit, not counting anything utility.

We haven't even accounted for the fact that the wizard had up to 1/3rd the hp of the Fighter, which means something else should be tripled in their favor, or perhaps some SoD effects.

The argument that Fighters have no range lacks the common sense of fighters with bows, cross bows, blow guns, and machines of war such as ballistas and catapults. Many of these weapons large and small had greater range than the wizards, on average, therefore the wizard should have another advantage.  

The wizard has crap armor and all the implements of the fighter are made by some wizard somewhere, so there should be a tax, but since there isn't and clearly the fighter fans don't care if the wizard lives or dies, we should probably give them some other means of compensating, perhaps the power to turn enemies into weakened beings like polymorph?

Then you realize no one would follow a wizard because he's scrawny and old, but they will follow the Fighter, so lets' see, a group of 50 is 100d8 per round with archers with a modest chance to hit, and about 200 hit points worth between them (assuming level 0, 4 hp a piece. They probably have more. In 4e, at least their Con, which puts them at 500+). Converting that back, we have the ability of Wizards to summon monsters, or use polymorph weak things like mice into things like giants, a handful of times per day at great cost.

Of course, a high level fighter can command Legions of men, 3000-6000 at a time, complete with engineers and war machines. No reason not to factor this in, we can simply allow wizards (and their druid buddies) colossal elementals, and allow polymorph to include more powerful monsters, perhaps even some kinds of dragons - not that they have a 100% chance of matching these armies, but at least it wouldn't be absolutely lopsided in favor of the fighter - who by this time cranks out 10,000+ damage per round. Example: Alexander the Great.
Options are Liberating
Wizards should be compensated for everything they lose, or they shouldn't lose it.


Every meaningful loss is compensated.  Wizards technically had "low hit points" in 3.x, but it wasn't meaningfully so in most cases because the d4 hd paled in comparison to the optimizable hp from con.  A decently managed wizard lost nothing in practice despite their weakness on paper, thus the "loss" is worth nothing.

"Enjoy your screams, Sarpadia - they will soon be muffled beneath snow and ice."
On Worldbuilding - On Crafting Aliens - Pillars of Art and Flavor - Simulationism, Narritivism, and Gamism - Shub-Niggurath in D&D
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

Anyways, do you have an opinion on all of this?

Low AC - is easily fixed with spells, it was only a choice of prep these spells or more attack spells.

Low HP - varies with edition, when rolling for HPs both a Wizard and Fighter can roll a 1.

Interruption - I don't think people want to return to multi round spells, and Concentration Skill in 3rd made this a moot point.  Not fun when it happens to you, either. 

Utility Spells - work great with Vancian magic, being able to do something once is not that hype.

Crowd Control - I love minions, but I don't remember as big a crowd in combat pre4e.  Controller role was so poorly realized in Wizard class, imo.

Daily Resource - I don't want to say your doing it wrong, but when 5 minute days become the norm...

Daily Resouce - I don't see this changing in D&D Next.  I would like to see what they come up though.

POSITIVES (Wizard benefits, meaning they need to pay a price)



Versatility - I like the Vancian system for this, the 5 minute day comes from combat.  Find a way to make MM and Fireball encounter based and leave all the other fun Wizard stuff to Vancian and there will be less crying about being low on spells.

Area of Effect - Are we keeping 4e's monster parties?  Then that's a good rule.  I would prefer less monsters thuse AoE are less effective.  You really can't DPR a fireball assuming every square is occupied (in three dimensions!).

Range - works well with interrupting spells.  I think there should be a damage v range balance.


NEGATIVES (Wizard drawbacks, meaning they should recieve somethign in return)



Spell Slots - I'd like to see a bubble table.  Where Wizards have more level appropriate spells, so more early one less later on - but all at or around level.

Spell Failure - I love this... as long as it's not easily sidestepped. 

Detonation Chance - I like an avoidable chance, this might double as the ranged mitigation where an enemy is standing next to a Wizard casting Fireball and boom, it goes of in the Wizard's face.  I'd like to see an attack roll for everything, even if it's not to hit an enemy.

Long Casting Time - rough.  From memory, this is rough.  I would like to see action based sustainablity!  If you summon a monster, you have to use your standard action to maintain it's presence in that world (but you get to make the monster attack!)  If you create a wall of fire, you have to concetrate on it, that' what your doing for this encounter.

Great examples!

I'd also suggest balance among the Combat, Exploration, Social. 

I could see some more balance lowering a Wizard's social standing while increasing a Fighter's.  The book worm who doesn't interact with real people well.  The heroic fighter everyone wants to talk to.  One eventually locking themselves in a tower near the swamp.  The other becoming a king or queen. 
Wizards should be compensated for everything they lose, or they shouldn't lose it.


Every meaningful loss is compensated.  Wizards technically had "low hit points" in 3.x, but it wasn't meaningfully so in most cases because the d4 hd paled in comparison to the optimizable hp from con.  A decently managed wizard lost nothing in practice despite their weakness on paper, thus the "loss" is worth nothing.




if the loss is nothing, then the cost of fixing it is also nothing, so give them fighter hit points, or return from whence thou came.
Options are Liberating
Wizards should be compensated for everything they lose, or they shouldn't lose it.


Every meaningful loss is compensated.  Wizards technically had "low hit points" in 3.x, but it wasn't meaningfully so in most cases because the d4 hd paled in comparison to the optimizable hp from con.  A decently managed wizard lost nothing in practice despite their weakness on paper, thus the "loss" is worth nothing.




if the loss is nothing, then the cost of fixing it is also nothing, so give them fighter hit points, or return from whence thou came.



I swear, I try to understand what you write, but I always end up terribly confused. What do you mean by that?
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Ideas for 5E
Value of...


POSITIVES (Wizard benefits, meaning they need to pay a price)

...

NEGATIVES (Wizard drawbacks, meaning they should recieve somethign in return)

...



Some interesting thoughts here (shortened drastically for the sake of readability), but I think you may be overlooking the role of variance and the significance of failure. Also, there are some tactical considerations to AoE damage that make it inefficient at times.

Variance: Risk is usually a bad thing. Dealing predictable damage is valuable. Also, spell failure/interruption potentially means wasted actions and wasted resources. Generally speaking, something more unpredictable needs to be disproportionately more rewarding to be worthwhile. Why bring a wizard who can hit for a little extra as long as he has a wall of bodyguards that prevent him from being interrupted - you could have a fighter hit less hard but more frequently.

In some editions, the answer was to let the wizard hit HARD. This can be scary. If you have a low-level wizard without sufficient bodyguards, he rarely gets to act and may see his spells fizzle a lot. If you have a higher level wizard, you have to account for him in every fight, or he will hover over the battle field making heads explode. At some point, utility and movement spells will effectively negate spell failure chance. Or maybe the rest of the party will become such good bodyguards that the wizard can stop worrying. Either way, variance seems like an extreme penalty at low levels (when resources are scarce and gambling is scary) and a minimal hindrance past some point in the game.

One idea might be to let most spells go through more easily (at-wills and maybe encounters, if those are in DDN) and let others (dailies) require a careful set-up. In this system, only interruptable spells would have this negative and whatever positives would balance it. That still doesn't solve the high level issue, however. Even if, say, flight and levitation distract the wizard from using dailies, parties should get better at battlefield control, giving the wizard more space to nuke with impunity.

Jack of all trades, master of none: Uh oh. We've seen this guy before. He fails more often than the specialist, but he has some chance to do just about anything. This is OK when nothing is on the line, but in practice, you want specialists. It's one thing to have an acceptable but not awesome chance at, say, Perception or Sense Motive or a knowledge skill. If everyone can roll, the group loses nothing when one more character has a moderate chance to succeed. It's another thing to be "pretty good" at climbing or socializing. Failure matters more, so a generalist is a bad thing. A moderate chance to succeed at leaping across a chasm or intimidating an orc chieftain means a damaging failure is uncomfortably likely. The jack of all trades is OK as a last resort, but this role sounds more like a minor perk to me. Versatility is definitely worth having in the game, as long as the cost to the character is rather low.

Efficient AoE: The above example of doing, say, X/3 damage to 3 enemies is very situational. Single-target damage takes an enemy out of the fight faster. That saves healing resources and creates tactical advantages. For AoE to be worthwhile, it would have to help the party win. For example, minions and severely wounded foes who would take a lot of overkill damage from single target attacks are good AoE targets. Using AoE as you describe it on standard monsters maximizes the damage your party takes, unless there is some kind of status effect or extra damage that hinders the enemy or ultimately speeds up the kill. 

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iserith: The game doesn't profess to be "just like our world." What it is just like is the world of Dungeons & Dragons. Any semblance to reality is purely coincidental.

 

Areleth: How does this help the problems we have with Fighters? Do you think that every time I thought I was playing D&D what I was actually doing was slamming my head in a car door and that if you just explain how to play without doing that then I'll finally enjoy the game?

 

TD: That's why they put me on the front of every book. This is the dungeon, and I am the dragon. A word of warning though: I'm totally not a level appropriate encounter.

What are suitable mitigating factors for a wizard?

Traditionally, you have 2 factors: crap armor/low hit points and spells can be interrupted (2nd edition style). So that was both “resilience” and “reliability”.


Which of these factors would you keep? How much are these mitigating factors worth?




I think balancing by flaws is a doomed concept. Great power with great drawbacks is easy to abuse. I'd prefer if the wizard was balanced to the other classes in every aspect. That does not mean equal hps, equal damage, equal defenses or stuff like that; however it means roughly equal offensive power, defensive power and stuff like that. I like how 4E introduced formal roles that standardize the trade of greater offensive power for greater defenses or other similar stuff, but at the same time keep it simple and within a short range. I'd like wizards to be frail ranged characters that focus on crowd control. That means about 20% less hps than fighters, 20% less damage than rogues and 20% stronger control effects (whatever that means in the context of the combat system). Much like 4E.



Pretty much this.  Control, low damage, squishy.  Totally fine to add on swiss army tools, provided that other classes get amenable tools for their intended roles.
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quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]
Wizards should be compensated for everything they lose, or they shouldn't lose it.


Every meaningful loss is compensated.  Wizards technically had "low hit points" in 3.x, but it wasn't meaningfully so in most cases because the d4 hd paled in comparison to the optimizable hp from con.  A decently managed wizard lost nothing in practice despite their weakness on paper, thus the "loss" is worth nothing.




if the loss is nothing, then the cost of fixing it is also nothing, so give them fighter hit points, or return from whence thou came.



I swear, I try to understand what you write, but I always end up terribly confused. What do you mean by that?



There are two schools of thought. Those who believe that good should balance or outweigh the bad, and those who don't believe in concepts like good and bad. Things I'm saying make sense of high level AD&D magic intense campaigns. They do not make sense in 4e or games where 12th level is considered the highest anyone will ever reach.  In my left hand, I have Kobalds and 2 hit point wizards with Detect Magic, once per day. In my Right hand, I have Draedens, and Ascended Immortal beings Who make wishes with but a thought.

Between these extremes is the whole of D&D. Balance was already there, and any moment of imbalance is merely difference percieved through a negative, often envious and jealous lens.
Options are Liberating

AoE
: 3 hits.  AoE should be inefficent on 2 or fewer targets, and over all just leave enough room for the big ones to fight it out.  Smaller areas might balance at 2 hits. (So if a figher hits for 3d6, fireball should deal 1d6 to each target it hits)



This is debatable. If your expected encounter is 4 PCs vs. 4 opponents, then you usually end up hitting at most 2 critters. If the game has a lot of forced movement or the game expects larger parties, I suppose 3 might be about right though.


Low Hit Points (Will still assuredly survive an average attack sequence):  Suck it up, you get nothing for this, since you'll last to get your dumb rear healed.

Low Hit Points (Might drop to an average attack sequence): Efficacy * (1+Chance of dropping).  this should ONLY be used to pay off perks, not raise efficacy above neutral, or the name of the game becomes "protect the Glass Cannon"

Low Armor/Defense: Modifies Low Hit Point concerns, since getting hit (and thus taking damage, and thus dropping) is now more likely.  If Low HP is not a concern, neither is low Armor.  You'll get heals, you big baby.



This directly impacts your game play and therefore should be a mitigating factor. If it isn't a mitigating factor, then fighters should get no armor and d4 for hit points too. After all, it doesn't matter right? The cleric will heal you anyways.

Also, your opponents sometimes have AOE attacks. If it's much easier to take you out of combat, this should be compensated.


But overall, very nice analysis. I'll finish reading your post now.
Wizards should be compensated for everything they lose, or they shouldn't lose it.


Every meaningful loss is compensated.  Wizards technically had "low hit points" in 3.x, but it wasn't meaningfully so in most cases because the d4 hd paled in comparison to the optimizable hp from con.  A decently managed wizard lost nothing in practice despite their weakness on paper, thus the "loss" is worth nothing.



Don't base your conclusions on your 3rd edition experience! If your class has all the goodies from the former editions and no mitigating factors and a higher chance to land your spells, you just invented a broken system!
Wizards should be compensated for everything they lose, or they shouldn't lose it.


Every meaningful loss is compensated.  Wizards technically had "low hit points" in 3.x, but it wasn't meaningfully so in most cases because the d4 hd paled in comparison to the optimizable hp from con.  A decently managed wizard lost nothing in practice despite their weakness on paper, thus the "loss" is worth nothing.




if the loss is nothing, then the cost of fixing it is also nothing, so give them fighter hit points, or return from whence thou came.



I swear, I try to understand what you write, but I always end up terribly confused. What do you mean by that?



He's saying that if low hit points and no armor is not a mitigating factor, then wizards should get the same hit points fighters do and be able to wear scale/plate armor (pick your edition).

(edited: Masking)
Wizards should be compensated for everything they lose, or they shouldn't lose it.


Every meaningful loss is compensated.  Wizards technically had "low hit points" in 3.x, but it wasn't meaningfully so in most cases because the d4 hd paled in comparison to the optimizable hp from con.  A decently managed wizard lost nothing in practice despite their weakness on paper, thus the "loss" is worth nothing.



Don't base your conclusions on your 3rd edition experience! If your class has all the goodies from the former editions and no mitigating factors and a higher chance to land your spells, you just invented a broken system!


I was citing 3.x wizard HP as an example of a mitigating factor that failed to mitigate. you said the same thing.

Hence why I scream "nothing!" for fradulent forms of mitigating factors, like low-but-survivable hp on a character who isn't a frontliner in the first place  (I felt it went without saying that Wizards are not tanks) or "failure chances" that can be optimized away into nothingness and thus never actually come into play except as "trap" options forcing system mastery.

"Enjoy your screams, Sarpadia - they will soon be muffled beneath snow and ice."
On Worldbuilding - On Crafting Aliens - Pillars of Art and Flavor - Simulationism, Narritivism, and Gamism - Shub-Niggurath in D&D
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

for our 3e game, we had 3 psions, 2 monks, and a ninja. Naturally our group doesn't have a clue how 3e/3.5 magic works or whether mages are balanced. The grain of salt for anything I say should keep "AD&D" not "3e" in mind. Glass cannons was the norm. If you didn't like it, drop two schools of magic and take better hit points.
Options are Liberating
Some interesting posts.  Personally I think the main type of balance I want to see is more of a balance in terms of overall amount of useful things done per session by a particular character within the real world time it takes to finish an adventure.  I don't want a particular class getting significantly less time or more time in the overall spotlight on average.  You shouldn't have one character class that on average dominates the game most of the time in most groups. When a class is left out in the cold most of the game or is hogging all the attention most of the game that's what I'd consider to be an imbalance worth fixing somehow.


In terms of combat, though, I think individual character balance is less important that how an average party performs against typical opponents. It's ok for some classes to be a little better than others in combat, but assuming a party is made up of a reasonable mix of class-types a particular class shouldn't make combat for the party as a whole either too easy or too difficult. If having a particular class ends up being either an "I win" button or "I lose" button for combat then something is wrong.


So while one-on-one comparisons of classes in terms of damage is all well and good, I think a better approach is to look at how parties made up of various mixes of classes play out over the course of an adventure. When you see one class standing out too much or not enough over time that's an imbalance. 
Generally speaking, low hit points and crap armor are mitigated by being a ranged attacker. Range is a big advantage.



That seems such a done deal.

I think area effect multi-attacker needs paid for with things like spell takes two rounds to cast or something similar with minor incidental effects on round one and maybe a whiplash where the caster is well maybe stunned (ok not quite) afterwards.... look he had too incidental rounds and one big one.
  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 agree with Bodyknock.  As long as each class has interesting options, and over the course of a few games each PC gets a chance to shine roughly the same amount of times, that's nice balance.

But, I do feel that each class should have the chance (whether it is through random rolls like with critical hits, daily options,  or through spells that have interesting and sometimes encounter tipping effects) to affect encounter tipping effects (some refer to it as "I win" button, but I just like to think of it as "we got lucky and something worked really well so we don't have to slog through 5 more rounds of combat" button.)

If a mage can cast sleep, let the fighter try to attack with a stunning blow, or only give martial PCs chances to crit.  Now that I look back at earlier versions of the game, perhaps that was one reason why spells never could score a critical hit.  Leave that to the melee experts.

In addition, I'd love for players to just play the class they want to play based on the persona they build not the power they will have.  I'd like a D&DNext that allows a party of 4 to be whatever players want to play.  I'd love a way for a group to play 4 fighters (or 4 mages, or 4 rogues) as long as the rules allow the PCs to be unique enough.   

A Brave Knight of WTF

 
But, I do feel that each class should have the chance (whether it is through random rolls like with critical hits, daily options,  or through spells that have interesting and sometimes encounter tipping effects) to affect encounter tipping effects (some refer to it as "I win" button, but I just like to think of it as "we got lucky and something worked really well so we don't have to slog through 5 more rounds of combat" button.) 



Except the wizard gets to have strategy because he gets to have important choices and that will never ever be balanced by fluke benefits from crits.. sorry... no thanks try again. Some people are big in to gambling and others like to feel the actual choices had impact, you cant relegate those based on archetype prejudices. 

I know you didnt ummm defined what classes were allowed what kind of shine times, but with vancian being default it seems to come shining through these days. 

What would be wrong to have a Chaos Mage and Strategist fighter.  
  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 like how 4e chose to use a similar character progression of character power for all classes, as opposed to the extra weak early but extra strong late method of balance.  I find this style of balance much more suited to single player video games, where the designers are able to control how much time the PC will spend in each power level.  

The variability of content of in a campaign from table to table adds to the difficulty of balancing a system that needs to be so robust.  

In general (i.e. for all classes), I would like to see the designers:


  • Balance the combat and non-combat systems individually; not against one another.  

  • Narrow the gap between the extremes.  

  • Versatility trades off with effectiveness (i.e. Jack of All trades and master of none)

  • Offence trades off with resilience


It's NOT about everyone being able to do everything with equal effectiveness at any given moment.  For me it's about having characters that can do similar things in different ways, and with a controlled/limited amount of variability in their effectiveness.  Savants are one dimensional and boring to me; it ends up feeling like everyone has a job of running one tool on a shared Swiss Army knife.  

 
"Do androids dream?" Rick asked himself.
Garthanos, I am not saying that other classes should not get those options.  Crits was just one example.  If a fighter can push, knock prone or trip, disarm, have a chance to blind a foe, or whatever that would change the encounter too.

To balance perhaps, each melee PC could have something like option points that he or she could spend to have a chance for an interesting effect to happen.  These option points could be balanced to match up with spell slots for an appropriate level spell caster.  So, if a spell caster has 5 spells available daily, a martial PC could have 5 option points.  (That would be the vancian portion of spell casting...but maybe there would also be some standard "at wills" for casters and other classes too).

What about that?

A Brave Knight of WTF

(some refer to it as "I win" button, but I just like to think of it as "we got lucky and something worked really well so we don't have to slog through 5 more rounds of combat" button.)



The problem is, "I win" spells weren't any kind of lucky fluke or random occurence that shifted the combat to a favorable direction, they were just spells the Wizard could look up and stick on his spell list as many times as he was allowed to.

It seems that a few flaws are missing from the list.

Spell casters have to deal with costly components. Wall of force is great but at 5K a pop it gets a bit expensive.
Wizards have to obtain their spells (expensive and hard to find) and learn them (chance of failure). This is a big issue as it is not like a fight has a chance to fail knowing how to use a sword.
Counter spell abilities can shut down a wizard and make him useless for an encounter all the while he burns his precious resources (component and spell slots).
Grapple abilities totally shut down a caster. I know being grappled sucks for thieves and clerics but not as bad as it sucks for wizards.

 That said I would like to see some changes with Wizards.
Maybe saving the most powerful spells of each school to make them specialist only would be a good one. This would mean that in order to cast the best spells from a school you would have to give up spells from another school entirely.
Also if the damage or effect output is lowered then maybe some way to increase the effect through self sacrifice (I always love it in books when spell casting was physically draining to the Wizard.)

Other than that the basics of crappy armor, low hit point, interruptible actions, costly component, having to learn and obtain your spells, I don't know what other penalties you would give a wizard but the benefits they get are not to far out of whack. Every great spell that a wizard casts has an opportunity cost unlike a back stab from a thief or a smack with an axe from a fighter.

(some refer to it as "I win" button, but I just like to think of it as "we got lucky and something worked really well so we don't have to slog through 5 more rounds of combat" button.)



The problem is, "I win" spells weren't any kind of lucky fluke or random occurence that shifted the combat to a favorable direction, they were just spells the Wizard could look up and stick on his spell list as many times as he was allowed to.



But many of the spells people say are "I win" spells did not work 100% all the time.  Victims had to save and often equally leveled victims could save enough so that the spell only helped the situation, it did not end the combat.   If the spell is not automatic, I think that's fair (as long as the spell caster doesn't load up).  If loading up on a specific spell is the problem then the DM/Game should prevent loading up. 

A Brave Knight of WTF


 Every great spell that a wizard casts has an opportunity cost unlike a back stab from a thief or a smack with an axe from a fighter.





I love that sentence.  Well said.

A Brave Knight of WTF

That said I would like to see some changes with Wizards.
Maybe saving the most powerful spells of each school to make them specialist only would be a good one. This would mean that in order to cast the best spells from a school you would have to give up spells from another school entirely.


This pretty much hits it on the head for me.  Have all wizards be specialists and they can have powerful abilities in their specialty.  Give a Fighter powerful melee abilities.  Give a Rogue powerful trickster abilities. 

It is only when casters get powerful in all areas at all times that things get completely out of whack. 
Garthanos, I am not saying that other classes should not get those options.  Crits was just one example.  If a fighter can push, knock prone or trip, disarm, have a chance to blind a foe, or whatever that would change the encounter too.

To balance perhaps, each melee PC could have something like option points that he or she could spend to have a chance for an interesting effect to happen.  These option points could be balanced to match up with spell slots for an appropriate level spell caster.  So, if a spell caster has 5 spells available daily, a martial PC could have 5 option points.  (That would be the vancian portion of spell casting...but maybe there would also be some standard "at wills" for casters and other classes too).

What about that?



Nods, much more acceptable.. although option points sounds a bit bland ;p
  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’ve been thinking a lot lately about what kinds of magic I would like in D&D Next. I even started a thread on “How would you like your wizards?” in hope of seeing if there was an iconic D&D wizard the same way there’s an iconic D&D cleric.


And the answer I got the most was kind of surprising:  “I don’t care as long as it’s balanced”. And then it hit me, what the hell is this balance they are talking about? Is it all classes dealing roughly the same damage? At the same time, I keep hearing, “I don’t want fighters to be boring infinite sword swings”. So let's give the fighter some tactical options. So now we have a fighter that is resilient, deals decent damage and has tactical options. And since we want class balance, that means that classes that are less resilient need something to compensate. Classes should be balanced around at least three principals: “resilience”, “damage” and “tactical options“. You could also add “attack reliability” and “out-of-combat utility” in the overall balancing scheme.


So with this design goal in mind, let’s get back to the wizard. What are suitable mitigating factors for a wizard?


Traditionally, you have 2 factors: crap armor/low hit points and spells can be interrupted (2nd edition style). So that was both “resilience” and “reliability”.


Which of these factors would you keep? How much are these mitigating factors worth?


Do you guys want “glass cannons”? In other words, would you like to see classes such as a specialist wizard that can trade a lot of resilience for a lot of damage, even more damage than your rogue?


Should wizards get all these utility spells that a lot of people hate so much to compensate for these weaknesses?


Should wizards get significantly better “crowd control” spells to compensate?


Any of the above as class options: each wizard has a limited spellbook and depending on his choice of spells, a wizard will be more “tactical options”, “out-of-combat utility”, “damage” etc… But wizards can’t be all of these at the same time.


Another option would be to do it like in 4th edition where the wizard is a lot more resilient than in the other editions and can’t be interrupted. 4th edition wizards had to trade something for it: their versatility and the spell effects that wreak havoc.


Anyways, do you have an opinion on all of this?


 


Remarks:
Don’t bases your answer on your 3rd edition experience! None of what I just said applies to that edition; the mitigating factors were a fraud in that edition! With magic items that increase Constitution, hit points mostly come from Constitution, so you barely had the “low hit point” factor. You also had a lot more cheap items that increase your armor class so low armor wasn’t even true anymore (glamored mithril shirts, glamored mithril bucklers, seriously?). Your spells were mostly Standard actions and only required a pathetically easy Concentration check to check so you had no interrupts. And on top of that, your spells had an increased chance to succeed because the DC of your spells increased faster than monster saving throws (up to 80%-100% if you target the weaker saves). Basically spells were more reliable than ever. So 3rd edition removed all the mitigating factors with spells significantly better than fighter attacks... Great class balance here!


I also intentionally omitted one mitigating factor: the daily resource aspect. I don’t think that giving a class more daily powers is a good enough reason to give them crappie at-will. I would much rather have all classes with equal at-will options and something class-specific to compensate for the mitigating factors (extra damage to these at-wills through sneak attacks for a rogue; daily spells that deal 30%-40% more for wizards because they have shite hit points and armor; etc...). It makes class balance easier. And each set of at-wills/encounter powers option will have different tactical combat options.

Edit: I removed some part about people wanting fighters to be gods. I didn't realize some people might take offense. I didn't mean it as an attack but as an introduction on how to make classes balanced against one another.


I would just observe that IMHO 'balance' in a meaningful sense doesn't revolve all that much around purely combat-centered factors. Combat balance is certainly ONE element, but it is actually the easiest thing to attain in a reasonable system.

What really matters most is 'plot power'. Lets imagine your characters are sitting down at a table in the back of their favorite tavern plotting out how to get past some nasty problem in order to achieve some goal or other. Many things might factor into this. There is going to be potentially information gathering, preparation, and circumventing difficulties along the way, and then confronting whatever the main obstacle is. Ideally every PC in the group is roughly equally useful here.

The problem I always saw with wizards and other casters back in the day was that they simply had a lot more flexibility and capability to step in at any time. If you were plotting out this aforesaid adventure you could rely on the casters being able to martial the proper magics to at least make a credible stab at carrying out any given task that might need to be done or neutralizing any given obstacle or opponent. The tendency was in general that the casters would determine how they would use their magic and anything they couldn't come up with an answer for then fell to some non-magical fallback plan, or some part of it might involve something non-magical. Often parts of the plan might be executed either magically or not and then the non-magical option is  usually more efficient (IE the rogue can pick any number of locks, the wizard can only knock open a few at most in a day at the expense of other options).

This is plot power. It extends beyond 'set-piece' situations of course, often it would come up spontaneously in the midst of play when some balky NPC needed to be charmed or some unanticipated obstacle appeared. Again, the chances were not bad that some caster would have a reasonable solution to the problem or at some decent way of mitigating it.

Thus the issue is really one of overall scope and flexibility.

Honestly, I don't think the 4e casters are as much less capable in these ways than their AD&D counterparts were as some people like to make out. Adventurers tend to deal with magic on a frequent basis. Wizards and such are clearly in their element here and 4e wizards in particular are VERY often leading the charge. They have high skill bonuses in Arcana (and usually Religion as well). They can detect the magic, investigate it, often are called on to perform various magical feats (IE close some gate or something). 4e utility magic, especially when you consider rituals that wizards are also the experts in, really isn't as 'scaled back' as many people seem to think. You can still block passages with magical walls, create a bridge, turn characters invisible, fly, etc. The effects are usually more limited for utility powers, but USUALLY you don't NEED to fly for 5 minutes, just long enough to get to some spot you can't reach another way, etc. If you do need longer effects, then ritual magic is your friend.

So I think, in comparison to 4e casters, the other classes are already starting out a BIT on the shorter end of the stick STILL. This is kind of inevitable with magic being an unbounded fictitious force with no logical limits. Still, combat parity exists, and most other classes in 4e have some rough equivalents to some of the utility magic that casters get. It isn't quite so lopsided as it used to be. The wizard still gets to be 'magical' and most other PCs will at least have some vital role in the proceedings even if your wizard is a bit more likely to be able to pull off the cool thing that makes the whole plan click.

That's what I want to see in 5e. I want to see plot power reasonably distributed, and not by the mechanism of "well, the DM should be able to work it out so everyone else is important." Yeah, the DM can do that, if the DM is sharp enough, but often only at the expense (especially at high levels) of actually having to actively create 'caster proof' obstacles and twisting the plot around in inconvenient ways. I really enjoy the way that doesn't happen much in 4e, even at high levels. I feel much more free to structure plots in a natural way and not have to put a huge amount of effort into trying to anticipate every plot hole that some entirely open-ended magical effect will generate.

As for the exact mechanics. As you found in your previous thread, not many of us are really all that concerned about the precise details beyond "they work". Casters could be more frail and have more trouble using magic in combat, like in AD&D, or not, like in 4e. Either way can probably be made to work, but it needs to actually work, not be papered over with "well, they're really weak at low levels" or "The DM can fix that".
That is not dead which may eternal lie

You are right in combat parity alongside very distinct play was pretty well covered in 4e 

 
That's what I want to see in 5e. I want to see plot power reasonably distributed, and not by the mechanism of "well, the DM should be able to work it out so everyone else is important." Yeah, the DM can do that, if the DM is sharp enough, but often only at the expense (especially at high levels) of actually having to actively create 'caster proof' obstacles and twisting the plot around in inconvenient ways. I really enjoy the way that doesn't happen much in 4e, even at high levels. I feel much more free to structure plots in a natural way and not have to put a huge amount of effort into trying to anticipate every plot hole that some entirely open-ended magical effect will generate.  



This right here... is done in other games using techniques that give old schoolers and even some who dont think they are so oldschool the heebeejeebees .... grand scale plot coupons and explicit luck handed out to players for instance. 

Better out of combat roles and specializations even in ritual knowledge arenas probably cant hurt.... oh look limiting spell caster versatility.. sigh.

  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)
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Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

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"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."

 


 Every great spell that a wizard casts has an opportunity cost unlike a back stab from a thief or a smack with an axe from a fighter.





I love that sentence.  Well said.

Everything has an opportunity cost, unless you have NO other options. So, OK, in a fight your AD&D thief isn't losing anything by trying to get in a backstab, but he's also got NO other option (except try to hide and hope the party wins). The opportunity cost thus for the non-casters in AD&D was spread all over the entire game and hit them at every single opportunity. They were ALWAYS paying that cost constantly, the cost of not being a caster.

It was masked by the fact that it was ALWAYS there, so it wasn't in your face every round, and the game kind of eased you into it by making the wizard's opportunities only at best moderately better than the options the non-casters had at low levels, but that cost just kept climbing and climbing for those same non-casters, while the opportunity cost for the wizard kept falling at every level as he had more and better options all the time.

So, no, it really doesn't turn out to be an accurate statement when you really analyze the WHOLE GAME and not one melee round.
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I agree with Bodyknock.  As long as each class has interesting options, and over the course of a few games each PC gets a chance to shine roughly the same amount of times, that's nice balance.

But, I do feel that each class should have the chance (whether it is through random rolls like with critical hits, daily options,  or through spells that have interesting and sometimes encounter tipping effects) to affect encounter tipping effects (some refer to it as "I win" button, but I just like to think of it as "we got lucky and something worked really well so we don't have to slog through 5 more rounds of combat" button.)

If a mage can cast sleep, let the fighter try to attack with a stunning blow, or only give martial PCs chances to crit.  Now that I look back at earlier versions of the game, perhaps that was one reason why spells never could score a critical hit.  Leave that to the melee experts.

In addition, I'd love for players to just play the class they want to play based on the persona they build not the power they will have.  I'd like a D&DNext that allows a party of 4 to be whatever players want to play.  I'd love a way for a group to play 4 fighters (or 4 mages, or 4 rogues) as long as the rules allow the PCs to be unique enough.   



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