"Caster Supremacy:" What it means, how it's created, and what it changes (p. much an essay)

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So there's a lot of talk about 3e and 4e and AD&D and Basic and even some OD&D, and IT'S A LOAD OF FUN!  But I wanted to talk a bit about one of the defining bits that separated 3e and 4e, and to a smaller degree 3e and previous editions.  We've all heard the phrase "Caster Supremecy" or "Caster Superiority."  There's other stuff we've heard too, like "Linear Fighter, Quadratic Wizard."  I thought I'd nerd the hell out and write a bit - ok, a lot - on what it means, how it's created, and how it can change a game.  And maybe - hopefully - how it can be avoided, or at least how certain parts of it can be avoided.

I'm sorta limited on where I post stuff so if you go to other forums and think this is way keen you are totally free to post this there and get some other discussion going or, hell, I'll even say you totes should post it elsewhere if you like it.  Go on.  You only live once.

So CASTER SUPREMIRIORITY.

NUMBER ONE.  MATH WIZARDS, LESS MATH FIGHTERS.

So most of the time when almighty spellcasters come up, "linear fighter quadratic wizard" is not far behind, but what the heck does this even mean?  Well, simply put, as fighters level up, they typically gain a +1 to one of their previous abilities, or sometimes the option to choose a new ability.  In AD&D this was shown by fighters gaining a linear line of power through their THAC0; each level made them hit better and really that was about it.  But wizards gain new options, and all their old options get better.  This is what makes them quadratic - not only does their power grow with each level, but the more powerful they are, the faster their power grows.  Sometimes this is literal - in AD&D wizards had a slow XP track for the first few levels but, right as they started to gain their amazing power of fireballs and lightning bolts, their XP track shot up like a rocket and became faster then the fighter's.  They literally became better at growing powerful as they grew powerful.  But sometimes it's not so clear cut, and this is where THE MAGIC OF JACK VANCE comes into play.

See the issue with Vancian Magic previously is how so many different things were dependent on your level.  Your damage, your range, your number of targets, it's damn well near everything!  The potency of almost EVERY SPELL was built on your level, so they were weak when you were weak, and they were godly when you were higher level.  But you didn't only have four or five options that grew in power and that was it - Every other level with a few skips, you gained access to a new "circle" of magic.  And EVERY level you gained more spells you could memorize.  That means you were gaining new options and new powers even while ALL your powers grew in level.

So that's linearrrraaah.  So this sorta belongs extra important on these forums because this is something the 5e developers HAVE pointed at towards fixing, which is a good thing.  In theory.  The idea being, that a spell's level is connected to it's spell slot, not your level.  If you want a high level fireball it's gotta go in a high level slot.  This is very similar to how 3.x psionics worked, and hey I'm a fan of those so GREAT!

NUMBER TWO.  FICTIONAL SPACE.

Wizards in D&D have always held a very awkward place, because they don't really exist outside of D&D, or D&D based materials if you wanna be a joker about it.  The idea of a single person who has all the powers a wizard has is nearly unheard of.  Wizards in fiction tend to know a drastically small number of spells and are pretty great at those rather then being masters of everything!  But the real problem in this isn't with the wizards at all - it lies in the fictional space of magic itself.

So a lot of mythology and fiction and fantasy and even sci-fi doesn't have a sorta clear cut dividing line between most stuff.  I mean the Greek heroes were ALL pretty much amazing characters doing amazing things and some were gods and others were the sons of gods and some weren't related to the gods at all but were just really cool and etc.  They had power because that's what heroes have - something that makes them rise above the rest of humanity.

But in D&D this doesn't hold true.  D&D has this weird split mind where it's separated everything into sections that must NE'ER TOUCH ANOTHER.  Divine magic and arcane magic are held to be entirely separate things that do not relate to each other in the fluff regardless of their similarities in mechanics, but this is a strange separation that doesn't really exist elsewhere, and the reason for this is balance.  Yes, I'm talking about OD&D having parts of "balance" written in, what, you think it was a four letter word back then?  No, the separation was simple - wizards don't heal.  There, that's why it exists.  But it isn't the only separation, is there?  Let's talk supernatural.

Now D&D flirted a bit with giving non-magical things extranormal powers.  There was the occasional 2e kit that got something nifty that didn't really have a non-magical explination other then "IT'S KINDA COOL."  And it was generally accepted that all classes, even the fighter, weren't "normal men."  But for the most part there was this strange hard line - normal stuff is nonmagic, not normal stuff is magic.  And only magic!  In other words, and I'm bolding this not for humorous reasons but because it's important, the supernatural was a form of magic.  It got really weird because you could people trying to stretch out and make the characters D&D was ostentiably designed to emulate, but really couldn't.  Conan was once statted out in AD&D and had psionic powers for crying out loud, because only by giving him MIND MAGIC could they properly emulate him.  I mean damn, even supernatural monsters were called "Magical beasts."  Do you think of a wizard when you think of Medusa or the Hydra?  Well apparently you should!

So here's the thing, and I'm gonna go ahead and state this as a objective fact.  And keep in mind this is legitimately important.  Magic is a form of the supernatural.  That means every cool supernatural thing a fighter could potentially do is supernatural, not magic.

A-whaaaaaaa?

This was toyed around with in Tome of Battle and really came to a head in 4e.  See fighters in 4e don't use magic.  They don't teleport, they don't throw fireballs, they don't summon pixies, they don't control plant matter.  They do mundane things - but SUPERNATURALLY!  I'm not talking heroic fighters mind you, but paragon and much more epic ones, fighters who could cheat death or bust down gates without rolling a vs doors or bend vs bars strength check.  Shrugging off wounds that could fell a lesser man, doing incredibly feats of acrobatics, that sorta thing.  Dudes who were "normal" in capability but not in scope.

So this is where 5e needs to step up and decide how it's gonna be.  Is there room for the supernatural outside of magic?  Or are we confined to wizards playing a game of superheroes while fighters have to be Their Pal Jimmy Olson?

NUMBER THREE.  VERSATILITY.

So now that we know WHY magic is so pervasive, what does that mean?  Well, simply put, it means that everything is magical.  After all, if magic is the sum total of all supernatural acts, then all potentially supernatural acts must fall under magic - which means the people who utilize magic can in turn do anything.  Every problem must by default have a magical solution - hell even anti-magic was in of itself a magical field!  This was one of the key problems with wizards in particular over clerics and druids in 3e; there was a spell for anything.  Wanted to be a fighter?  Pick a lock?  Skulk around?  Climb a cliff?  Bypass a guard through wicked cunning and wordplay?  Disguise and sneak into a fancy ball?  It didn't matter!  There was a spell for every occasion, and usually several spells at that.  Perhaps humorously, a wizard could do literally everything...except heal.  And the only reason for that was because of the weird arcane/divine divide created in OD&D.

So hey, I'll square with you.  Personally, I have a big issue with this not for reasons of balance, but because I find it really freaking boring.  I don't enjoy superman, because superman is the guy who's power is often times "Has all the powers."  And wizards are supermen.  Come on, they run faster then a speeding bullet, they fly around without any need of a magical item or otherworldly assistance, shoot cones of cold from their breath and fire X-ray vision eyes.  It's just...really dull, having a class who's class feature is "CAN DO EVERYTHING."

NUMBER FOUR.  BYPASSING THE RULES.

One of the BIG reasons for caster superiorimremacy isn't just that it does everything, it's that it does everything better.  And the reason for this is because they just don't follow the rules.  I don't mean "they don't obey physics" because hey, it's magic, I get that they aren't meant to.  It's that they don't follow the rules of the game.  Like take lock picking.  How do you pick a lock in D&D?  You roll your appropriate skill, be it 4e thievery, 3e lockpicking, AD&D...lockpicking again, or what have you.  If you succeed, the lock opens.  But what this implies is that you have a skill, one that you devout points into.  A rogue needs to continue to put points into lockpicking in AD&D in order to get better at it, and a 4e rogue needs to take it as one of their learned skills.

But screw that.  I cast knock.  I ignore all of that and the door opens, voila!

It hits in combat, too.  How does a non-wizard beat an enemy?  You attack them, attempting to bypass their AC and other defenses, and, if you hit, do HP damage, and if you do enough HP damage the baddie dies, but wait no the wizard just throw out a save vs hah hah spell and the entire combat system is negated.  How do you protect yourself?  You build up your dexterity and wear the best armor you can find and try to find magical items and all of this is tested against the enemy's attack bonus or THAC0 and depending on the difference wait no I cast a spell that ignores all of that and gives me a straight 20% chance to be missed.  Doesn't matter.  Doesn't freaking matter who the enemy is.  It could be a god, literally the god of war and weaponry, and he's going to miss 20% of the time.

See, the spells don't just do everything, they do it while ignoring all other potential outcomes.  How do you climb a cliff?  Well, YOU can put points into "climb" if you want, but I just cast levitate and ignore everything involved in a climbing challenge.  You need to make a disguise and forge documents well I just throw a spell at the problem until it goes away!  We have to very carefully sneak past these set of barracks and it's perfect for the thief who spent all his percentage points in hide and move silently but BZAP INVISIBILITY!

There's no freaking reason not to ever use a spell!  It's fast, it's easy, it's efficient, it's the STRONGEST OPTION IN THE GAME.  I mean imagine if you were building a game with the full knowledge that one character could turn invisible, fly, and throw out SoDs or fireballs; you'd never make someone as redundant as a sneaking guy or a fighter.  The game would probably just be all about the casty invisible guy, and that's exactly how 3e turned out.  Magic doesn't even obey its own rules!  If you get hit you lose your spell unless you cast this other spell!  if an enemy has magic resistance then you have a chance to fizzle out unless you cast this spell to negate it!  Magic doesn't play by any rules, not even the system's internal ones, and the end result is a mess.

NUMBER FIVE.  THE METAGAME.

Spells in D&D were essentially the meta.  You needed to know what challenges you were going to face and build your spells accordingly.  And the spells themselves had no distinct anchor in the setting or world - it was essentially the wizard telling the DM "This happens."  You wanted a big wall of fire, you cast Wall of Fire, and boom, you have a wall of fire.  No asking the DM required.  Spells were a "Get out of talking to your DM free" card.  They were narrative abilities, a phrase that will no doubt drive some to suicide just on hearing it.  But there's nothing about learning Charm Person that was "simulationist," and indeed if you wanted an "immersion style" game then D&D wizards are your anathema.  You'd want a freeform system where magic is exceedingly loosely defined, not a long list of meta-effects.  The biggest chunk of space in any spell, and I don't care what edition, is devoted to it's mechanical effects.  It's a pure meta concept from start to finish.

But in 4e, access to narrative abilities - to the metagame - was spread out.  Now all classes had powers that let them dictate something.  Now there was a lot of complaining about "magic" but let's be clear - "Come And Get It" has exactly as much meaning in the game world as fireball or charm person does.  It's a narrative ability - the fighter saying "the baddies all rush towards me as a waggle my eyebrows at them daringly" is no different from the wizard saying "the baddies all rush towards me as I waggle my fingers at them magically."  Batman just so happening to have shark-repellant on him is no different from Superman just so happening to be able to throw the S on his shirt and make it really large.  The usage of "magic" is not a reason, it's a narrative excuse, and one that has far fallen aside as time has marched on.

So, 5e.  We have a metagame that already exists.  Heck, we all know wizards are in there.  Will they once more be the only ones allowed to metagame?

NUMBER SIX.  CHARACTER ROLES.

We often hear that D&D has "character roles."  Why, you have the Stabby Man, the Sneaky Man, the Healy Man, and the Casty Man.  But that last one stands out.  What does the casty man do.  We know he casts spells, but what do the spells do?  The wizard above all classes never truly had a role.  We talk about the "fifth member of the party" in reference to those "classic four" but I put this to you - isn't that exactly what the wizard is?  He's the "fifth member," the one who can change his class and character to spackle any open spots.

So the wizard doesn't have a role, and he ends up getting everything as his role.  My end point here is that "casts spells" isn't enough to go on.

NUMBER SEVEN.  ANNOYING WEAKNESSES

So we all know spellcasters in 3e were a bit extreme but they weren't always that way - not entirely.  It's been bandied about on these forums how AD&D wizards had a number of other weaknesses.  But this defense has a problem - most of those weaknesses were really annoying.  I mean sure you could "balance" a wizard by just making his spell fail half the time, just poof, but are you really adding something interesting to the table?  Or are you just hoping that if you annoy players enough, they won't play a bad class?  See 3e took a lot of the former "balances" for wizards off the table, and I'm gonna go ahead and say it was the right decision.  A lot of those balances were just really boring.  They didn't add excitement, they took it away.  Getting a scroll to scribe into your spellbook should be exciting, you shouldn't have a "roll to see if it's actually boring" check.

Let me throw this out now - the "annoying weaknesses" approach doesn't work.  People are still going to make wizards and be gods of the universe, they're just going to feel more annoyed about it.  Proper balance is something that occurs on the game level, not the player level.

THE EPILOGUE: FFFFFFFFFFFFFF

Look I just think this stuff should be examined.  I'm a pretty big nerd and I've played D&D a good long while now and this has always sorta bugged me.  The tipping point was realizing that the Balor, a massive demon characterized by being made of fire and driving a flaming whip and titanic sword, was best played in 3e as a wizard, teleporting out of range and throwing dumb spells at the party.  I want fighters to feel like heroes, not caddies.  And I want wizards to feel like heroes, not gods.  And really, I think that's the biggest problem - that so much of what I've listed here hasn't been examined, not all put together.  It's taken for granted, or at least for "tradition."  So hey, give it a read.  Comment!  Spread it around.  Comment some more!  And at least consider it.
I did say it was basically an essay!
I agree with what you're trying to say but in all honesty I think the argument could be presented better.

Then again,I started playing D&D at Fourth Edition, so my knowledge my prior editions is zilch.
You write a lot and argument well for your opinion... but in the end as with all the discussions regarding magic, that's all it's goinng to boil down to.... someones opinion.


People who loved pre-4th magic is going to keep loving it, because of their reasons and people who loved post-4th magic is going to love it for their reasons. I think this is the nitroglycerine that WotC needs to stabilize in modules before releasing DnDNext....


With only one of the options available, DnDNext will blow up in their face.    


The Character Initiative


Every time you abuse the system you enforce limitations.
Every time the system is limited we lose options.
Breaking an RPG is like cheating in a computer game.
As a DM you are the punkbuster of your table.
Dare to say no to abusers.
Make players build characters, not characters out of builds.




While a few of your points individually I might agree with, I think overall I wouldn't want the game you would design in place of traditional D&D.  

Quadratic/Linear - I think 5e's idea of making you take a higher level of spell is good.

Fictional Space - I disagree here a lot.  It sounds good but my experience differs.  My high level fighters in all previous editions felt like gods.
 
Versatility - that is the wizards shtick.  More in the next section.  I'd prefer they do even less damage than lose their hard magic fun.

Bypassing the Rules - not really.  I agree that if you got a knock spell that almost always works it should not be something you can cast all the time.  Taking knock when you have a good Rogue should be a questionable act.  I'm also for it being a spell that grants some high level of open locks ability.  Not super high but high.  Without 50 charge wands and endless scrolls this really isn't a problem.

Metagame - I couldn't say no to this fast enough.  There is a very big difference between fireball and a fighter daily.  It may not be a problem for a lot of people but it is a problem for a lot of others.  We can judge these things pretty consistently too.

Character Roles - I rarely saw a wizard do close up combat.  He was control and artillery that was his roll.  

Annoying Weaknesses - I loved them.  It's one thing about 3e that I disliked.  I also though liked a lot of other "annoying" things that many disliked from earlier editions.  Level drain, rust monsters, and medusea's turning to stone are all examples of magic lost in 3e.

Epilogue - I agree here that it should be examined.  It's key to making a game we all like.  I appreciate the mostly friendly and clear explanation of your position.  It is often hard when you are passionate to stay dispassionate.  To be honest though I don't want the game you want.  I hope 5e is flexible enough to support both of our styles and others too.



 
While a few of your points individually I might agree with, I think overall I wouldn't want the game you would design in place of traditional D&D.  

Quadratic/Linear - I think 5e's idea of making you take a higher level of spell is good.

Fictional Space - I disagree here a lot.  It sounds good but my experience differs.  My high level fighters in all previous editions felt like gods.
 
Versatility - that is the wizards shtick.  More in the next section.  I'd prefer they do even less damage than lose their hard magic fun.

Bypassing the Rules - not really.  I agree that if you got a knock spell that almost always works it should not be something you can cast all the time.  Taking knock when you have a good Rogue should be a questionable act.  I'm also for it being a spell that grants some high level of open locks ability.  Not super high but high.  Without 50 charge wands and endless scrolls this really isn't a problem.

Metagame - I couldn't say no to this fast enough.  There is a very big difference between fireball and a fighter daily.  It may not be a problem for a lot of people but it is a problem for a lot of others.  We can judge these things pretty consistently too.

Character Roles - I rarely saw a wizard do close up combat.  He was control and artillery that was his roll.  

Annoying Weaknesses - I loved them.  It's one thing about 3e that I disliked.  I also though liked a lot of other "annoying" things that many disliked from earlier editions.  Level drain, rust monsters, and medusea's turning to stone are all examples of magic lost in 3e.

Epilogue - I agree here that it should be examined.  It's key to making a game we all like.  I appreciate the mostly friendly and clear explanation of your position.  It is often hard when you are passionate to stay dispassionate.  To be honest though I don't want the game you want.  I hope 5e is flexible enough to support both of our styles and others too.



 

I couldnt agree more with Emerikol.

I see the points you are making. I understand them, I dont agree but-I dont hate you for it. I do feel this is why a system with options galore that allows the DM to modify ius what they are working on. I hope they can figure it out.

 I just want a system that allows for a mixture of all of the editions. the best from each.


I believe the trick to keep casters and martial characters in the same playing field is to limit the scope of magic, in reference to duration, range, etc. GURPS did this very well, while keeping magic users varied and interesting. But GUPRS also suffered from martial types falling behind because of the versatility of spells. So if they introduce an equivalent for martial characters in 5E, like styles, poisons, maneuvers, fletching, armorer, etc. and allow martial characters to pick and choose similar to spells, you should be able to keep both camps happy as long as they are varied (since alot of people can not accept a power system from 4E).

This biggest effect I see from magic, is everyone waiting for the wizard to prepare a spell that is auto-success, versus relying on a skill roll, or something similar that may fail. Areas that get abused are movement based (teleport, fly, invisibility, etc.), or knowledge based (divination), or the enchancements (mage armor, shield, etc.). It also drives the martial characters to mulit-class to gain some of these benefits.

The common ground between all classes are ability scores, defenses, saves, hit points and skills, so martial abilities and/or spells should be extensions of those whenever possible. Versus creating new effects that create unique sub-systems that conflict with the core rules.
I agree with the OP on a lot of points, actually.  One thing I think that is out of hand with magic, and that nearly all of his arguments boil down to, is that under the current system (or at least the 3.x system I'm used to) is that you need magic to counter magic.

There needs to be nonmagical ways to counter a given spell. For example, Knock could be a perfectly okay spell to have, but there needs to be a way to build a nonmagical lock that can resist that.  For example, this lock has a DC XX against magic, and a DC YY against lockpicking. Some locks are easier to pick open, others are easier to spell open, but it's not impossible for either of them, and suddenly the rogue with a maxed Open Lock skill and the wizard with Knock both have a use, right alongside one another.

You should be able to craft armor that resists fire, or cold, or acid, without resorting to having magical armor.  People do that in real life, after all. It can't be that hard.  Yet I've seen nothing in any rulebooks that can do that, without resorting to magic armor or special supernatural materials. (I could be wrong, of course...maybe there is and I just don't have that rulebook.)

 The other tricky part is that non-spellcasters are expected to not have any expertise in terms of magic, other than how to operate their own personal magic items. Spellcraft is cross-class for fighters, but why should it be? Shouldn't "What Spellcasters Can Do To You, And How To Counter Them" be part of fighter training?  It's just a different application of the same area of knowledge, isn't it?
Fictional Space - I disagree here a lot.  It sounds good but my experience differs.  My high level fighters in all previous editions felt like gods.

Emerikol, this isn't about your previous edition fighters.  I know you liked them, I did too.  I'm a chump that way, I'll play anything you label "Fighter" even if the mechanics are a steaming pile pressed against a page.  But this isn't about fighters.  It's about wizards being everything, and getting away with it because arcane magic in D&D only has one limit: Don't touch the heals.  

The dark necromancer with an army of undead.  The fickle enchantress spinning a web of lies and glamours.  The wise oracle divining the future.  The shapeshifting master.  The summoner with a pack of enslaved creatures at his beck and call.  The blaster with the forces of nature crackling at his fingertips.  The grand trickster with his illusions.  The warder, with his counterspells and alarms and wards.  These are wildly different characters, each one has enough fictional space(as Cirno put it) for an entire class.  But they aren't eight classes.  They're one class.  Wizard mixes all these together and can go between them from day to day.

Try to put that in fighter terms for a moment.  It would be like if I presented you with one class, we'll call it "Hero".  Hero can:

- Be the best defended guy in heavy armor.
- Be the best defended guy in no armor.
- Be the best(most accuracy, damage and amount of tricks) with melee weapons
- And with Ranged weapons.
- And with no weapons.
- Be the strongest in terms of feats of strength like breaking down doors or lifting boulders.
- Be the stealthiest
- Pick locks
- Find tracks
- Survive the wilderness
- Have an animal companion
- Brew and use poisons
- Get a hefty bonus for attacking an unaware or distracted foe
- Scale walls
- Be as swift as the coursing river
- With all the force of a great typhoon
- With all the strength of a raging fire
- Mysterious as the dark side of the moon
- Be the master of social situations
- Act as an expert scholar
- Create alchemical items that can put people to sleep, stick them in gunk, or blow them up
- And anything else cool we can ever, ever think of, and print in a supplement.

It'd be flat out ridiculous.  No one would be cool with it, ever.  You'd turn your nose up in disgust, and I wouldn't even be able to blame you.  But that is what Wizard does, and the only difference is that when we're talking about the Wizard, well, it's magic.  That trumps any other concern, apparently.

Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
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4enclave, a place where 4e fans can talk 4e in peace.
I like what you say about reducing the quadratic down to the linear and I think you have a good point.

However I think a lot of what you call: "Caster Supremacy" is based on a lot of unfounded assumptions:

a i) assuming that a Wizard always has access to the right spell for the occassion in his spell book and

a ii) assuming that a Wizard has memorised the right spell for the occassion.  

I see this assumation a lot on the forums.  Superman can always fly, but can your Wizard?

b) assuming that the Wizard is a high level. I also see this assumation a lot on the forums most probably because if your wizard only has 2 spells it is harder to assume that a ii) he has memorised the right spell

c) assuming that all those "boring" weaknesses that wizards used to have were just so that the player would be bored when they failed to scribe a spell (which would directly influence a i), or could not cast a spell because the fighter had them in a head lock.  These were actually part of the balancing system which you seem to have restricted down to a simple "Wizards can not heal".

d) assuming that a Wizard player has access to both i) infinite money and ii) infinite time which feeds a lot of the assumptions made in a i and ii.

e) assuming that in the presence of other party members, that a Wizard choosing to learn and memorise a spell is the most effective use of party resources.  For example: A wizard, a rogue and a paladin walk into a bar.  The wizard could cast charm person on the bar tender absolutely, but is that the best use of the party resources given that the party face (paladin) and party skill monkey (rogue) could also use their non-limited resources to get the same effect.

f) assuming that no one else has access to magic ie the wizard can fly but so can the fighter, the wizard can turn invisible but so can the monk.

So in summary, while you do have some generally good points to make, a lot of your argument is based on unfounded assumptions that sound good in theory.  But as they say the difference between theory and practice is that in theory: theory and practice are the same, but in pratice: they are not.
 

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I think if you were writing D&D for the first time then I'd say have at it.  I'm not even against adding new more specialized classes.  I just think good old traditional D&D is tons of fun.  Yeah I'd like a few things streamlined and a bit more balance but the overall concept is good for me.  I'd rather see alternate fantasy games instead of changing what D&D essentially is because it's loved as it is.  Maybe I should say as it was in 1e,2e,3e.  Thats why so many have rebelled against 4e. 

I am for expanding the game but not losing the game.  If expanded people can pick and choose and play as they choose.

 
Historically, this wasn't a problem. It became a problem when people started thinking that wizards were entitled to specific spells. Originally, spells were treated in a fundamentally similar way to magic items. You rolled to see what you got, you didn't get to just pick them.

Imagine if a fighter, at every level, got to pick two magic items from the list, within a price range. Now - if he randomly finds those items in treasure, some are useful always, some occasionally useful, some useful rarely. Some are powerful, some mediocre, some weak. If he picks them from the list, they will all be powerful and constantly useful. Same with wizards and their spells. Every wizard will know "Fly" and "Knock" etc. Every fighter will have Wings of Flight and a Chime of Opening.

A side effect is that everyone has a very similar list of magical items, and a very similar list of spells. That's just boring as heck to me.
e) assuming that in the presence of other party members, that a Wizard choosing to learn and memorise a spell is the most effective use of party resources.  For example: A wizard, a rogue and a paladin walk into a bar.  The wizard could cast charm person on the bar tender absolutely, but is that the best use of the party resources given that the party face (paladin) and party skill monkey (rogue) could also use their non-limited resources to get the same effect.
 



I'll comment on the other bits later as I'm in the midst of some work, but this bit here I do want to comment on as I meant to put it in my bizarro thesis but forgot.

How often do you climb cliffs in a single day in your game?  No, really.  How often?

How often do you have long heated diplomatic battles with multiple parties?

How many doors do you typically encounter that need to be lockpicked?

See it's great that a fighter can "climb cliffs all day," but that only has importance if he is climbing cliffs all day.

Limitless resources matter in comparison to limited resources only if the limited resource isn't enough to get the job done.  But quite frankly, the vast majority of the time, it is.  Having fly, or even just spider climb, even if you can only cast it once, is quite frankly enough to completely remove the need for climb, because I've yet to ever see a case where you require climb multiple times seperated out across a single day.

As for my post making such and such assumptions, I disagree.  I'm not assuming spellcasters have whatever spells at their disposal, I'm point out that the way spellcasting works in the first place is what leads to the "superiority."  Again, there is never a point in time in which the non-spell option is better then the spell-option.  The only time it's better is if you don't have the spell.  And that just echoes back to the "meta" I commented on.

Certainly 3e blew the doors off and made things even worse with easily made wands and scrolls, but I put this to you - did they create the problem, or merely make it more accessable?  Knock was always a problematic spell, because the way thief skills in AD&D worked meant that you had less then a 50% chance to succeed at picking a lock by the time wizards got their spell - and if you focused just on lockpicking to get better then a 50% chance, that meant you couldn't do ANYTHING else you were expected to.  There was no reason not to be a thief/wizard or, hell, even just plain a wizard - literally everything your thief skills could do, your spells could do better.  But it was a problem that was sorta hidden by not being upfront about it.  In 3e, it was far more upfront, but the nature of the problem was always there to begin with.

Also I don't think you understood my bit on the annoying weaknesses.  Of course it was there for balance.  I just don't think it worked.  It obfuscated rather then actually balanced.  So you have to rely on your DM to drop certain spells, and then you have a chance for failure.  But was that really "balancing" the wizard?  Or was it admitting that, yeah, the spells are too powerful, and then putting a few stopgaps to try and squeeze people away?
Good work, Professor. A bit overstated, but otherwise I agree wholeheartedly.

@Shasarak

90% of those "unfounded assumptions" fall under "C: Annoying Weaknesses", so I'll respond to that. No, Cirno's right: you can't just "balance" powerful abilities by hindering them with a couple of roadblocks. Greater difficulty is not an excuse for greater capabilities. Hell, much of those reasons go hand in hand with "Linear Fighter, Quadratic Wizard's" existence.

Point E's a given. Point F is just plain old ridiculous on your part.

EDIT: I really should stop getting distracted while typing...


@ OP: Sir/Madam, you have truly earned the "professor" in your name.  That is one of the most well-considered evaluations of D&D magic I have ever seen.  Particularly, I applaud your reasoning that magic is a form of the supernatural and not the other way around.

The only thing I saw that you forgot is that wizards can heal now (as of 3e eberron).  In Eberron, wizards have access to the repair damage spells.  This crosses the final line of what is barred to wizards.  Provided you are a warforged, a wizard can heal you.
There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

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Gotta say that I agree with the Professor/OP.

Outside of D&D and explictly D&D related media, you virtually NEVER see elements such as Vancian magic and the divine/arcane divide. Even many of the D&D novels completely abandon the game rule concepts of these things in the name of narrative licence. For example, I can not recall Raistlin or Palin ever worrying over which spells they had memorized and how many spells they had left.

Even in the realm of RPG's, Vancian magic is one of the first things other game designers dropped in favor of better mechanics as they sought to improve upon the basics of D&D. Likewise, from my days of playing 1e and 2e, dropping Vancian for a spell points system (usually equal to the total spell levels you could cast in a day) was pretty much the norm in just about every 1e/2e campaign I ever played in despite some of those campaigns taking place in entirely different cities with entirely different DM/player bases.

In terms of magic mechanics, 4E was the first time I've ever played a wizard and had them actually FEEL like a wizard from popular literature/media. Magic in popular media tends to lean either towards the "mana" style of casting (i.e. a fairly limited selection of spells actually KNOWN by the caster with basic spells available virtually at-will and more potent spells requiring varying degrees of rest in order to recover the magic energy needed to cast them again) or towards the "ritual" style casting (i.e. requires referencing some written form of the magic, significant periods of time to cast it and/or material components in order to bring about a magical effect). And BOTH of those forms of magic are reflected in the 4E AEDU and ritual systems.

For all the complaints about "video games" and which RPG is most like a video game, I think it's a huge mistake to discount how video games handle magic out of some misplaced neo-luddite urge. The fact of the matter is that games like Dragon Age and WoW and Everquest have sold far more copies than any P&P product could even dream of selling. That means they're doing something right.


Honestly? If I were to redo the action system from scratch and wanted to try something really different I'd shoot for something like the following (note that the specific numerical values in this example are just examples for the sake of demonstrating the concept)...

- A 1st level caster would have a mana-pool of 10.
- At the start of each turn they regain 2 mana points (to a limit of the mana-pool).
- Basic attack spells like 4E magic missile would cost 1 mana to cast.
- A starting spell on par with the stronger 4E at-wills would cost 2 mana to cast.
- A starting spell on par with starting 4E encounter spells would cost 4 mana to cast.
- A starting spell on par with starting 4E daily spells would cost 8-10 mana to cast.
- A first level caster gets to pick ANY five combat spells that have a mana cost of 10 or less (if they want 5 spells that cost their full mana pool to cast, then they'll be popping off a big spell every 5 turns or so... if they want 5 spells that cost only 1-2 mana to cast then they never have to even worry about the size of their mana pool and can use any of their spells every turn... the best option is probably a mix of a cost 1, 2, 4, 4, and 8-10 so you can take full advantage of both the mana pool's depth and your ability to always be able to cast at least a little something each turn).
- Every level the caster's mana-pool is increased by 1 point.
- Every 5 levels the caster's mana-recovery is increased by 1 point.
- Every 2 levels the caster gets to pick a new spell with a mana cost less than their current mana-pool.
- Progressively more powerful spells would cost anywhere from 11 all the way up to 40 mana to cast (presuming a system with 30 character levels).
- Just to make it clear, these spells do NOT increase in strength as you level up. If you want more power then you need to spend more mana.

The recovery of mana each turn means they'll always have the energy for the basic spells, but once that pool is expended on a few encounters or a single big daily attack they then have to choose between using the stronger at-will spells (and not replenish their mana pool at all), the magic missile spell (to bank the 1 extra mana per turn and slowly rebuild their pool) or even forego casting a spell entirely (to bank the 2 mana per turn and quickly rebuild their mana pool).

As they go up in level, the size of the mana pool means they can cast slightly bigger spells as their "at-wills" while still balancing between casting a few big spells or more moderate strength spells intermixed with various at-wills while recharging their mana pool.

The same mechanics could also be used for martial characters as well, only using "Stamina" in place of "Mana" and different martial manuvers consuming different amounts of Stamina in order to perform them.

I'll admit its NOT Vancian by any stretch and so probably wouldn't appeal to the people who still haven't abandoned previous editions of D&D, but then again they didn't abandon those older editions for a reason and I really doubt a "new shiny" is going to appeal to them any more than the prior new editions will. If the odds of getting people who've held out for more than a decade are slim to none, you're better off trying to seek new customers by actually BEING innovative.
e) assuming that in the presence of other party members, that a Wizard choosing to learn and memorise a spell is the most effective use of party resources.  For example: A wizard, a rogue and a paladin walk into a bar.  The wizard could cast charm person on the bar tender absolutely, but is that the best use of the party resources given that the party face (paladin) and party skill monkey (rogue) could also use their non-limited resources to get the same effect.
 



I'll comment on the other bits later as I'm in the midst of some work, but this bit here I do want to comment on as I meant to put it in my bizarro thesis but forgot.

How often do you climb cliffs in a single day in your game?  No, really.  How often?

How often do you have long heated diplomatic battles with multiple parties?

How many doors do you typically encounter that need to be lockpicked?

See it's great that a fighter can "climb cliffs all day," but that only has importance if he is climbing cliffs all day.



And this is the exact point that you seemed to have forgotten.  If your wizard casts his one fly spell that he has memorised to get up the one cliff that the party comes across in the day, then obviously he can not cast it again the next time the party comes across a second cliff or is attacked by X or whatever else he wants to do that day.

Using limited resources to by pass encounters that can be bypassed with unlimited resources is just bad play.

Using bad play as a basis of your thesis undermines the whole exercise.

Limitless resources matter in comparison to limited resources only if the limited resource isn't enough to get the job done.  But quite frankly, the vast majority of the time, it is.  Having fly, or even just spider climb, even if you can only cast it once, is quite frankly enough to completely remove the need for climb, because I've yet to ever see a case where you require climb multiple times seperated out across a single day.



Actually it is the converse - limited resources only matter if the limitless resources are not enough to get the job done - which is actually why most knock spells come from scrolls that the wizard prepared earlier (again unlimited resources and time mean no restrictions to the amount of scrolls that can be available)

As for my post making such and such assumptions, I disagree.  I'm not assuming spellcasters have whatever spells at their disposal, I'm point out that the way spellcasting works in the first place is what leads to the "superiority."  Again, there is never a point in time in which the non-spell option is better then the spell-option.  The only time it's better is if you don't have the spell.  And that just echoes back to the "meta" I commented on.



If you have limited resources (like wizard spells) then you have limited chances to put them to use during the adventuring day.  Is fly strictly superior to climb?  Yes, obviously.  But if your 5th level wizard has 1 3rd level spell and he uses it to cast fly to bypass a cliff that the party rogue or fighter could have easily bypassed with a rope.  So why would you use fly to bypass an encounter that could be easily bypassed with a non-magical solution.

Again if you have unlimited fly spells then you are correct - why wouldnt you use magic to bypass every encounter.  But that is not how things usually work in a DnD game.

Certainly 3e blew the doors off and made things even worse with easily made wands and scrolls, but I put this to you - did they create the problem, or merely make it more accessable?  Knock was always a problematic spell, because the way thief skills in AD&D worked meant that you had less then a 50% chance to succeed at picking a lock by the time wizards got their spell - and if you focused just on lockpicking to get better then a 50% chance, that meant you couldn't do ANYTHING else you were expected to.  There was no reason not to be a thief/wizard or, hell, even just plain a wizard - literally everything your thief skills could do, your spells could do better.  But it was a problem that was sorta hidden by not being upfront about it.  In 3e, it was far more upfront, but the nature of the problem was always there to begin with.



ADnD had a lot more restrictions then easily made wands and scrolls like random spell access and random chance of being able to learn spells which meant that an average wizard may not be guaranteed to have access to the knock spell.  But you see those as things that made the wizard class boring along with, I assume, innately lower AC and hp's.

Also I don't think you understood my bit on the annoying weaknesses.  Of course it was there for balance.  I just don't think it worked.  It obfuscated rather then actually balanced.  So you have to rely on your DM to drop certain spells, and then you have a chance for failure.  But was that really "balancing" the wizard?  Or was it admitting that, yeah, the spells are too powerful, and then putting a few stopgaps to try and squeeze people away?



As I said, I agree with you about the problem with spells getting quadratrically more powerful with level so yes spells are powerful.

Are spells too powerful if you ignore all the restrictions?  Of course.  1st level wizards casting meteor swarms, time stops and gates while flying invisible covered with stoneskins would be insane.  

But assuming that wizards have the exact spell to counter every encounter, everytime, all day long is unreasonable and weakens your argument.

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@Shasarak

90% of those "unfounded assumptions" fall under "C: Annoying Weaknesses", so I'll respond to that. No, Cirno's right: you can't just "balance" powerful abilities by hindering them with a couple of roadblocks. Greater difficulty is not an excuse for greater capabilities. Hell, much of those reasons go hand in hand with "Linear Fighter, Quadratic Wizard's" existence.

Point E's a given. Point F is just plain old ridiculous on your part.

EDIT: I really should stop getting distracted while typing...





No, you can not remove "annoying weaknesses" and then complain that wizards and spells are too powerful.  That just does not make any sense.

It would be like having a powerful gun that can only be fired once per day, and then removing the "annoying weaknesses" of being only able to fire it once per day and complaining about how powerful it is because you can use it all the time.

Point F refers to the fact that everyone is expected to have access to magic.  Often people forget that part when comparing Fighters to Wizards.  Wizards can fly and so can Fighters.


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As I see it, intended improvements to the game created these problems. The solutions have existed for decades.
Where was it said about the higher level spell slots for higher damage spells? I'm just curious, since I haven't read it yet. To me it seems a great idea to take the 3rd level fireball spell and put it in a 5th level slot for more damage (or is it that there is a 3rd level fireball, and a 5th level spell (inferno or whatever) that you can replace fireball with?
Where was it said about the higher level spell slots for higher damage spells? I'm just curious, since I haven't read it yet. To me it seems a great idea to take the 3rd level fireball spell and put it in a 5th level slot for more damage (or is it that there is a 3rd level fireball, and a 5th level spell (inferno or whatever) that you can replace fireball with?


I think it's the same spell, just bumped up to a higher slot for higher damage.
There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

This seem pretty brilliant to me, keeping the flavor of the old casting style but placing it in a higher slot for more damage, giving up a different spell of that level. Seems like a good tradeoff.

Of course seeing it in action would be the deciding factor.
Fictional Space - I disagree here a lot.  It sounds good but my experience differs.  My high level fighters in all previous editions felt like gods.

Emerikol, this isn't about your previous edition fighters.  I know you liked them, I did too.  I'm a chump that way, I'll play anything you label "Fighter" even if the mechanics are a steaming pile pressed against a page.  But this isn't about fighters.  It's about wizards being everything, and getting away with it because arcane magic in D&D only has one limit: Don't touch the heals.  

The dark necromancer with an army of undead.  The fickle enchantress spinning a web of lies and glamours.  The wise oracle divining the future.  The shapeshifting master.  The summoner with a pack of enslaved creatures at his beck and call.  The blaster with the forces of nature crackling at his fingertips.  The grand trickster with his illusions.  The warder, with his counterspells and alarms and wards.  These are wildly different characters, each one has enough fictional space(as Cirno put it) for an entire class.  But they aren't eight classes.  They're one class.  Wizard mixes all these together and can go between them from day to day.

Try to put that in fighter terms for a moment.  It would be like if I presented you with one class, we'll call it "Hero".  Hero can:

- Be the best defended guy in heavy armor.
- Be the best defended guy in no armor.
- Be the best(most accuracy, damage and amount of tricks) with melee weapons
- And with Ranged weapons.
- And with no weapons.
- Be the strongest in terms of feats of strength like breaking down doors or lifting boulders.
- Be the stealthiest
- Pick locks
- Find tracks
- Survive the wilderness
- Have an animal companion
- Brew and use poisons
- Get a hefty bonus for attacking an unaware or distracted foe
- Scale walls
- Be as swift as the coursing river
- With all the force of a great typhoon
- With all the strength of a raging fire
- Mysterious as the dark side of the moon
- Be the master of social situations
- Act as an expert scholar
- Create alchemical items that can put people to sleep, stick them in gunk, or blow them up
- And anything else cool we can ever, ever think of, and print in a supplement.

It'd be flat out ridiculous.  No one would be cool with it, ever.  You'd turn your nose up in disgust, and I wouldn't even be able to blame you.  But that is what Wizard does, and the only difference is that when we're talking about the Wizard, well, it's magic.  That trumps any other concern, apparently.




So, so, SO MUCH this.
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Ideas for 5E
Only version of D&D I played where such was remotely the case was 3e. Previous to this, wizards don't get to do all this stuff because wizards don't choose what spells they get.

edit: A wizard in the first 25 years of D&D might get to be able to do all this stuff - if he got cheater's luck on his spell rolls, had an insanely generous DM, etc. But, of course, a fighter can do all that stuff too - if he gets cheater's luck on treasure rolls, and has an insanely generous DM.
There are two problems with casters. They are only one stat dependent and spells are pretty static. The only thing that changes spells is your level and your main stat. Even these dont really effect a lot of spells that much. I would suggest that spell schools are tied into various stats and the higher your stat is in that school the more effective your spells are. So instead of having general wizards most would be specialist. So instead of every spell cast being earth shattering only ones from their school would have that kind of effect, the rest would be more like a sparkler. This would cut down on them stacking hero abilities from other classes. Also think that the wizard spell list and definition of what a wizard can cast should be re-evaluated. I think clerics should cast boons, curses, and gifts and wizard should alter reality with their spells. Then figure out what is a wizard spell and what is a cleric spell. I think they can acheive the same goal just go about it differently. Like enlarge would increase strenght as a wizard spell but bull strenght would be a cleric spell. Also a wizard would cast darkness to blind and a cleric would curse you with blindness.
I think the OP is correct. In all the games that I have played with many different people and playstyles and almost all editions, it always boiled down to caster supremacy.

The OP is especially correct here:

So this is where 5e needs to step up and decide how it's gonna be.  Is there room for the supernatural outside of magic?  Or are we confined to wizards playing a game of superheroes while fighters have to be Their Pal Jimmy Olson?



I would love fighters to be able to do supernatural stuff outside of magic as the current modern version of DnD allows me to play.
I am sure the designers realize that there are a lot of current fans that will definetely want that in their games as well.
The Jimmy Olsen comment of course is a real anger trigger for me.  I hear the 4vengers comment about it a lot but I've never seen it.

I wish you guys could see the 3.5e campaigns in my area.  No question the kill count leaders are fighters.  Don't need to count it's obvious.  I might agree Rogues are too weak but not fighters.  Yes they do have a decent wealth by level appropriate set of magic items but nothing outside RAW.  Wizards do some neat utility stuff and they help the group but they are by no means Gods.  They are by no means superman and the fighter Jimmy Olsen.

I think if you play the game using RAW and your DM is competent you have a fun game where the spotlight is spread around just fine.  I agree if you fail in these areas you end up with less of a game and maybe new inexperienced DMs sometimes get in trouble.

(sidenote: we played vancian 1e through 3e and never introduced spell points.  I saw dozens of campaigns over the years.)

I prefer the 1e way of balancing magic to the 3e way of doing it.  I want drawbacks and chances for the wizard to get disrupted.  You do realize that if the wizard was hit his spell was disrupted no save no concentration in 1e.  I also don't want scrolls and wands with charges.  Take that away and you won't have to give out as much magic to everyone else.  You can do it either way but I prefer the 1e way in this regard.  While I like some of the innovations of 3e,4e, I really want AD&D with some improvements.   



 
balancing bad mechanics with bad workarounds is like saying "the pinto is a fine car that should never have been discontinued, you just need to not get rearended and assuming all drivers are competant, it should be a non-issue"

pre-4th magic simply allowed for too much and the restrictions placed were generally more of an inconvenience then anything else. 

 

I wish you guys could see the 3.5e campaigns in my area.  No question the kill count leaders are fighters.  Don't need to count it's obvious.  I might agree Rogues are too weak but not fighters.  Yes they do have a decent wealth by level appropriate set of magic items but nothing outside RAW.  Wizards do some neat utility stuff and they help the group but they are by no means Gods.  They are by no means superman and the fighter Jimmy Olsen.


I wish I could see them, too.  Oregon, by any chance?  Probably not.  But your campaigns sound like literally no 3.5 campaign I have ever seen.  I've seen all of one game where the Fighter was respectably powerful, and the rest of the party were a Rogue, Monk and Ranger.  When we got a new guy in and he took up a caster, that ended.
I think if you play the game using RAW and your DM is competent you have a fun game where the spotlight is spread around just fine.  I agree if you fail in these areas you end up with less of a game and maybe new inexperienced DMs sometimes get in trouble.


I'd be willing to say I wasn't the hottest DM back then, but I think higher of some of the ones I played with.  In my experience, especially if we're using RAW, a competent DM is only one out of six people at the table who needs to know what he's doing and to be trying to keep the balance.
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I agree to a degree but these things are not workarounds in my opinion they are RAW ( for edition)

1.  Giving out level appropriate magic items as treasure (1e through 4e)
2.  Allowing magic item creation with gold found (3e, 4e)
3.  DM not allowing the 5 minute workday to be ridiculously abused. (1e through 4e)
4.  DMs designing dungeons that challenged the abilities of his PCs (1e through 4e)

In reference to #3.  I never felt the need to control this every time.  Some days you had 1 encounter and some days you had 8.  In the 1 case the daily casters (if he knew it and that was rare but sometimes) got an advantage and in the 8 case the non-daily casters got an advantage.

In reference to #1 and #2.  A fully equiped fighter with four attacks is going to do more damage than any caster on average.  In most campaigns I've seen damage is not the casters main shtick.  He helps with crowd control some but his big thing is travel (including escape), allied force multiplier and enemy force weakener.

In reference to #4.  Rewarding a rogue is the challenge.  The rest are easy.  


If the game is fast paced, not every character has to get the spotlight in every situation.  I find it ridiculous that low charisma barbarian has to have something to do during a negotiation.  He has to roll something so we give him intimidate.  I find this approach very contrived.  Everyone needs to be contributing to the goal of the group and the objective of the adventure.  It's ok if some shine at different times.

Keep in mind that I am saying all this while emphasizing the bolded part.   

 
youre aware you could create magic items in every edition right? bc it sure doesnt look like it.
I think powerful pre-4e spells by themselves are generally okay, with a few notable exceptions. The problem is that the implied balancing aspect of having superpowers, limited uses per day, was easily bypassed at low levels and nonexistant at higher. At entry levels, 3e casters sort of feel the limitation imposed by their awesome specialness...until they spend some of their loot to make scrolls. At some point the limitation of spells per day becomes laughable, as even the guys with the fewest spell slots have more than enough to last an entire adventuring day. As a guess, I'd say both of these aspects cropped up to make up for a lack of At-Will magic.

I'd bet 3e casters wouldn't be the egregious spotlight-hogs if the following were true:
* Scrolls have a casting time long enough to be unusable in combat. 1 minute, + 1 minute/spell level.
* After hitting 8-10 spell slots per day, casters stop gaining new spell slots, instead replacing lower-level slots with higher-level.
* Wands are usable only a few times a day (like Eternal Wands). Staffs are expensive enough that perhaps the Pathfinder fix is good enough.
* "Defensive Casting" doesn't exist, but Touch and spells that originate from the caster don't provoke (4e-style). The "Combat Casting" feat would grant a +4 Dodge bonus to AC (as the Mobility feat).
* Perhaps to compensate for lack of spells, have a few At-Will spells; an attack spell that slowly becomes about as good as a crossbow (lower damage & range since it hits more easily), and then a few cantrip/orison-level abilities.
4e D&D is not a "Tabletop MMO." It is not Massively Multiplayer, and is usually not played Online. Come up with better descriptions of your complaints, cuz this one means jack ****.
There is an aspect of Caster Superiority I think you may have left out:  targets.
4E wizards, despite being as linear as martial classes, are still overpowered.  Their secret is in AoE.  They have the best AoE and hit as well as a Fighter does.  While their damage per shot is lower, they shoot so many more times that martial classes are just token players even before paragon.  It doesn't matter how much damage you give Twin Strike if the mage is hitting 6 or more mobs with every Thunderwave.  This stacks with the OP mentioned "save vs. hahaha" advantage (still present in 4E), making a Fighter trying to hit AC (often the highest defense an opponent has) look absolutely ridiculous.
I don't want to degrade into edition bashing.  I just want to point out that 4E is no better than 3.5E at addressing this basic flaw of the mechanics.  I think the OP does a very good job of showing how the base assumptions behind D&D magic make balancing it so hard.
youre aware you could create magic items in every edition right? bc it sure doesnt look like it.



Not the way you could in 3e,4e.  There was no system in 1e,2e other than DM judgment.  The DMG's advice was to make it cost far more than it was worth.  It was an epic quest kind of thing and not a routine act.  

So in theory yes.  In practice almost never. 
Fictional Space - I disagree here a lot.  It sounds good but my experience differs.  My high level fighters in all previous editions felt like gods.

Emerikol, this isn't about your previous edition fighters.  I know you liked them, I did too.  I'm a chump that way, I'll play anything you label "Fighter" even if the mechanics are a steaming pile pressed against a page.  But this isn't about fighters.  It's about wizards being everything, and getting away with it because arcane magic in D&D only has one limit: Don't touch the heals.  

The dark necromancer with an army of undead.  The fickle enchantress spinning a web of lies and glamours.  The wise oracle divining the future.  The shapeshifting master.  The summoner with a pack of enslaved creatures at his beck and call.  The blaster with the forces of nature crackling at his fingertips.  The grand trickster with his illusions.  The warder, with his counterspells and alarms and wards.  These are wildly different characters, each one has enough fictional space(as Cirno put it) for an entire class.  But they aren't eight classes.  They're one class.  Wizard mixes all these together and can go between them from day to day.

Try to put that in fighter terms for a moment.  It would be like if I presented you with one class, we'll call it "Hero".  Hero can:

- Be the best defended guy in heavy armor.
- Be the best defended guy in no armor.
- Be the best(most accuracy, damage and amount of tricks) with melee weapons
- And with Ranged weapons.
- And with no weapons.
- Be the strongest in terms of feats of strength like breaking down doors or lifting boulders.
- Be the stealthiest
- Pick locks
- Find tracks
- Survive the wilderness
- Have an animal companion
- Brew and use poisons
- Get a hefty bonus for attacking an unaware or distracted foe
- Scale walls
- Be as swift as the coursing river
- With all the force of a great typhoon
- With all the strength of a raging fire
- Mysterious as the dark side of the moon
- Be the master of social situations
- Act as an expert scholar
- Create alchemical items that can put people to sleep, stick them in gunk, or blow them up
- And anything else cool we can ever, ever think of, and print in a supplement.

It'd be flat out ridiculous.  No one would be cool with it, ever.  You'd turn your nose up in disgust, and I wouldn't even be able to blame you.  But that is what Wizard does, and the only difference is that when we're talking about the Wizard, well, it's magic.  That trumps any other concern, apparently.




So, so, SO MUCH this.



I can't find anything there that I don't completely agree with.  Break the wizard into separate classes.  The wizard is Ma Bell, it's time to bring the anti-trust laws down on his robed behind.

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

youre aware you could create magic items in every edition right? bc it sure doesnt look like it.



Not the way you could in 3e,4e.  There was no system in 1e,2e other than DM judgment.  The DMG's advice was to make it cost far more than it was worth.  It was an epic quest kind of thing and not a routine act.  

So in theory yes.  In practice almost never. 


uh yeah, no, youre just flat out wrong dude. theres dm judgment in any game of dnd but to say there isnt a system just means you dont know what youre talking about. or havent read the books. im thinking based on a lot of your posts its a mixture of both
youre aware you could create magic items in every edition right? bc it sure doesnt look like it.



Not the way you could in 3e,4e.  There was no system in 1e,2e other than DM judgment.  The DMG's advice was to make it cost far more than it was worth.  It was an epic quest kind of thing and not a routine act.  

So in theory yes.  In practice almost never. 


uh yeah, no, youre just flat out wrong dude. theres dm judgment in any game of dnd but to say there isnt a system just means you dont know what youre talking about. or havent read the books. im thinking based on a lot of your posts its a mixture of both


I do recall that there was a system in AD&D 2e, the only pre-3e edition I have played.  I don't have the AD&D DMG anymore or I'd quote it.
There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

The Jimmy Olsen comment of course is a real anger trigger for me.  I hear the 4vengers comment about it a lot but I've never seen it.

I wish you guys could see the 3.5e campaigns in my area.  No question the kill count leaders are fighters.  Don't need to count it's obvious.  I might agree Rogues are too weak but not fighters.  Yes they do have a decent wealth by level appropriate set of magic items but nothing outside RAW.  Wizards do some neat utility stuff and they help the group but they are by no means Gods.  They are by no means superman and the fighter Jimmy Olsen.

I think if you play the game using RAW and your DM is competent you have a fun game where the spotlight is spread around just fine.  I agree if you fail in these areas you end up with less of a game and maybe new inexperienced DMs sometimes get in trouble.

(sidenote: we played vancian 1e through 3e and never introduced spell points.  I saw dozens of campaigns over the years.)

I prefer the 1e way of balancing magic to the 3e way of doing it.  I want drawbacks and chances for the wizard to get disrupted.  You do realize that if the wizard was hit his spell was disrupted no save no concentration in 1e.  I also don't want scrolls and wands with charges.  Take that away and you won't have to give out as much magic to everyone else.  You can do it either way but I prefer the 1e way in this regard.  While I like some of the innovations of 3e,4e, I really want AD&D with some improvements.   



 



Agreed. In the 3.5 Ptolus game I'm running, we don't have spellcasters dominating anything at all. In fact, it's the Fighter and the Barbarian that are usually kicking some serious ass at the moment. We have one Wizard in the party, and he doesn't do anything super over-the-top. The worst two things he can do are cast Dimension Hop (from PHB2 if I recall properly), and he took an alternate class ability (again from the PHB2) that allows him to teleport 10 feet as an immediate action a number of times per day equal to his Intelligence bonus. I think he's used it once, maybe twice. 

The characters are presently 6th level, so the natural argument I expect to see is that they aren't high enough level for the Wizard to have any of his really powerful spells yet. Even so, the last time I ran Ptolus, we got into the teens level-wise, and the spellcaster there still wasn't overpowering the rest of the party. He could absolutely do some damage, but he more often was pulling buff/debuff/healing duties (he was a multi-class Cleric/Wizard who then went Mystic Theurge). 

While I'm certainly not saying the problem doesn't exist - with such outcry, it absolutely does - I'm just saying I've not personally run into it, and have never had a problem balancing other classes with the existence of Vancian magic. That's not to say that I wouldn't like to see some changes, though.


For those confused on how DDN's modular rules might work, this may provide some insight: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/11/the-world-of-darkness-shines-when-it-abandons-canon

@mikemearls: Uhhh... do you really not see all the 3e/4e that's basically the entire core system?

 

It is entirely unnecessary to denigrate someone else's approach to gaming in order to validate your own.

frothsof: The system prior to 3e is: Cast enchant an item. Perform a series of tasks created from whole cloth by the individual DM, entirely at his judgment. Use permanency if you want it to be something besides an expendable item.

Enchant an item has a 'system' for how it works - but that system is a bunch of saving throws built around the central task, which is "find materials and perform tasks at the whim of the DM".  
Strider1276, many players do not play casters to their full potential in 3.xE.  Many don't want to.  I know I never wanted to.
While DM fiat helps to prevent OP feats and prestige classes from creeping in, the math geeks over at brilliant gameologists have pretty conclusively shown how OP casters can get in 3.xE.  If you are unfamiliar, doing a Google search for "JaronK tier guide" is an excellent beginning.
Brilliant gameologists helped me to see how OP Wizards still are in 4E.  Many of the critical issues were never addressed between the editions.
It's weird that over here, in this context, casters are fine, but I can go to ENWorld, Giant in the Playground, Brilliant Gameologists, Paizo, or the previous edition forums right here and find current and past 3E and PF enthusiasts (not detractors) discussing how to work around the different tiers of classes. There's some debate over which ones belong where, though I've never seen anyone seriously suggest that casters aren't at the top. The "God Wizard" and DMM cleric guides out there are fun reads as well.

And yes, a lot of that stuff needs to be shot down by the DM. When I played 3E, my players weren't trying to disrupt the game. Martial classes can still contribute as long as the caster players are being gentlemen about it and the DM isn't forced to keep encounters at the level of the casters. Anyway, I'm not going to credit a system for the stuff that DMs and players do to make it work.

truth/humor
Ed_Warlord, on what it takes to make a thread work: I think for it to be really constructive, everyone would have to be honest with each other, and with themselves.

 

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.