Three Pillars

I used to be a diehard 4E fan and remember the time, when WotC was previewing the game, when people demanded some classes be very good at combat and others outside of it. By then, it made no sense to me. It made more sense to balance them in combat and out of combat. The reasoning behind this always boiled down to not wanting people to feel left out: it is more fun when everyone contributes.

However, I realize now that such thinking was flawed. Imagine a game where there are 3 players using 4 characters. The most veteran player here is using 2 PCs while the rest is using one. Set that game in ultrabalanced 4E combat. Do you think that the player who is only using the Cleric feels left out? I don't think so. Sure, the veteran is contributing more through his rogue and fighter, but because they have a nice rounded party, everyone contributes to combat something important

I propose that we can make the game fun and balanced throught the three pillars (combined) if we follow the following principles:


  • We accept that the game by default will have relatively equal amounts of combat, exploration and interaction. If some campaing would break this rule it should be warned by the DM at character creation or be the result of the PCs decitions.

  • Each character (but not necesarily each class) should be able to contribute at least something somewhat unique to the party in each pillar. This means that there should be very few class features/feats/spells that obsolete each other in close levels. Creating a character with nothing to contribute to, for instance, exploration, should be  posible but it should come with red flags for the PC.

  • Each character should be somewhat balanced around the three pillars. I would propose you measure each class/race/other with 0 to 5 stars for each pillar and then make sure they all add up to the same amount (say 9).

  • The books explain a little at least what the three pillars are and how to find out what your character can provide to each.

  • If a character is very good at a given pillar, that should be seen as that character having many tricks for said pillar, not as him just being better at everything related to that pillar as other characters

I tend to agree though your details are a bit devilish.

It’s great that they defined the three pillars (combat, exploration, and interaction), but it is going to be a pita to really distinguish who is best at one pillar in comparison to the others. Especially since it is so hard to determine from an adventure or campaign standpoint what pillars will come into play and how often. It would be easier to define what is contained in each pillar and distribute it amongst all the classes, that way you balance the pillars within themselves, versus against each other. So regardless or the adventure or campaign there is a greater likelihood everyone can contribute. This is carried over into my preference of skil mastery being something everyone can get, versus just the rogue. What skills can be specialized in for each class may be dependent on backgrounds as an example.

Is there enough design concepts within each pillar so each class can contribute? I am not sure.

Well...how would you rate the 4 "core" classes in regards to the 3 pillars?

As of right now, not counting backgrounds, I'd say (on a scale of 1 - 10):
 
   

Thoughts? Am I about on-target, or am I off by a mile? 
Well...how would you rate the 4 "core" classes in regards to the 3 pillars?

As of right now, not counting backgrounds, I'd say (on a scale of 1 - 10):
 
   

Thoughts? Am I about on-target, or am I off by a mile? 



For the average PC, you probably have it right, but I'm sure some players can tweak their PCs to dip into other pillars and alter the ratio.   If I made a fighter who was a bounty hunter, I could probably go 4(since he probably won't wear heavy armor, maybe even just light armor)/3(since he gains stealth/3(since he gains streetwise).

I agree with the OP too.   Each PC should be able to do something for each pillar, and I think that that is one of the design goals that WoTC mentioned in some interview or article.

  

A Brave Knight of WTF

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

Well with the exception of the true casters do any of the classes influence the social or exploration side of things directly?

I mean it seems to me that background is taking over the social-exploration angle, and that seems like a good idea, keep the classes roughly balanced in combat, and then let backgrounds worry about being social and exploration platforms. 
Well...how would you rate the 4 "core" classes in regards to the 3 pillars?


I would classify it this way:


































ClassCombatExplorationInteraction
Cleric433
Fighter631
Rogue253
Wizard544
Well...how would you rate the 4 "core" classes in regards to the 3 pillars?


I would classify it this way:


































ClassCombatExplorationInteraction
Cleric433
Fighter631
Rogue253
Wizard544



So is that your ideal or how you feel the classes actually perform? (If so, in what system(s)?)

You have the wizard as just being better than the cleric, but at the same time not better than the fighter at combat and the rogue at exploring. (I suppose it raises an interesting point... could a class be just worse at all those of things then some other class but still have a worthwhile niche?)

----------------------

I think fighters should be the best in a straight up fight.  A fighter gets a boost to exploration over interaction in that the emphasis on physical stats push them that way, but mechanically the class itself doesn't lend itself to granting much other than combat utility.

I don't know what I feel about clerics... they exist to heal. It is their most iconic ability and their albatross.  Exactly how they fall on the balance scales here will probably depend greatly on their domain choice.  The Cleric spell list has quite a few utility spells - particularly divination and the ability to cure effects that can come from traps and hostile environments just as easily as from monsters. And high wisdom means good perception.  Socially they don't get a lot except for... well wisdom is handy again. Wisdom saves to see through bluffs and deception.  That's the classic cleric anyway.

Rogue, exploration champ. How much they dip into combat or interaction is more flexible though.  I think the system should guide people away from the pure "non-combat rogue" concept, but not every rogue need be a sneak attacking DPS champion.  Basically, I'm thinking some schemes may just be pure combat bonuses, but others might be a mix of combat and interaction. (though some, like an acrobatic scheme, might split between combat and exploration instead)

Wizard - Ah the wizard... If you don't hate wizards then they are hard to balance.  The concept of a wizard is overpowered.  Not the class (innately anyways), the concept.  Since the concept is overpowered, how do you make the class balanced while still staying true to the concept?  This is one reason I want to go back to calling them "mages".  Mage doesn't carry all the baggage that wizard does.  He shouldn't be able to exceed the masters of combat (fighters) or exploration (rogues) at their specialty.  His interaction powers are theoretically substantial - but many of them are risky.  Tossing out a charm person on an NPC you need to maintain good relations with is asking for trouble.

There is really no core class that is innately "the face", and I'm not sure that's a bad thing.  NPC interaction is one area that I absolutely don't want half the players to be stacking dice - because it their more than anywhere that players decisions that will drive the course of the story.
I think it's an interesting idea.  The only thing is I think exploration and interaction can change based on what backgrounds and specialties are chosen.  For instance I'm making a Rogue with the Spy background.  I would say the Spy choice will increase my options for interaction greatly in addition to the Thief Choice in class choice expanding on exploration.  Now I could try to focus on Dual-Wielding or something of that nature specialty to try and shore up some of the combat as well.  It depends on choices on this back end and not sure with the new system if it's as cut and dry.  I guess a lot of it will depend on the options as this grows organically.  Thanks for posting this thread.  Interesting read.

I like this as a design tool. Maybe this could fit into the books in a place on making your own classes; if I recall most editions have something on that somewhere (usually the DMG).


My one caution would be to really keep the OP's point about all classes being able to contribute something to every area of the game. It'd easy to see this kind of division as a balancing factor for classes and really, it should more be a way to track how a class is doing in each area so we can come up with ways for the ones that aren't contributing as much to expand their portfolio.


As a diagnostic tool, this could be very useful.

@slappylamer: I use the same standard as Hocus
At one time, as an exercise spawned of boredom and suggestion, I attempted to make a very rules lite RPG that made every class contain a feature that enhanced them in each pillar of the RPG. They were no way "equal" in each pillar but each class had something one their sheets that could be pointed to and apply to 80% of the situations. Like the soldier had a damage bonus to break locks, doors, and chests but the thief's Lockpicking Skill, the sorcerer's Portal, and wizard's Open Lock spell were easier to use.
Considering it was rules light and very dungeon crawly, it wasn't so hard to do.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

Speaking generically across editions, one thing about the interaction and exploration pillars is that they're things for which the floor is intrinsically higher. Consider an ordinary non-adventurer with no adventuring skills whatsoever. She's not proficient with any weapons, she has no special features to speak of, and her stats are all in the nine to eleven range. Nevertheless, simply by having a pulse, she can still look around, make a map, climb up knotted ropes or over some fences, carry a torch, look for suspicious things, follow footprints in the snow and a variety of other exploration tasks. She can succeed at many of these things pretty reliably too. She's a total non-adventurer, but is able to contribute significantly to exploration. Similarly, she can attempt to persuade, threaten, charm or bluff a creature. She can attempt to communicate simple concepts to creatures that don't share a language. She can negotiate. She can't do any of these things as well as a level ten bard or mind control her way out of having to do any of them like a level one wizard, but she can still contribute to interaction. She can contribute to interaction and exploration scenarios, even higher-level ones - particularly interaction.

What she can't contribute to is combat in a meaningful way. Contributing to exploration or interaction just requires being a warm body, although other benefits help. Contributing to combat requires something in the vein of special class features that allow you to do that. D&D knows this, which is why the majority of the abilities for the majority of the classes across editions are combat abilities. (Also, combat abilities are easier to design lots of that are meaningfully different.) Like, a 3.5 fighter can sometimes contribute to the exploration or interaction pillars despite having no class features that support doing so, because being a person is enough. A class that got the equivalent of what the fighter got, but for combat (like the commoner, although at least the commoner gets proficiency with one simple weapon and has a d4 hit die instead of just, like, zero hit points, and it can flank and stuff) would not be able to provide much in combat at all.
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
Well with the exception of the true casters do any of the classes influence the social or exploration side of things directly?

I mean it seems to me that background is taking over the social-exploration angle, and that seems like a good idea, keep the classes roughly balanced in combat, and then let backgrounds worry about being social and exploration platforms. 



+ 1

That's right!
No more vancian. No "edition war" for me, thank'you.
I thik that the numbers presented are pretty much spot on. (you cant be perfect on this cause you cant predict what your player will opt to use but...)

As for the wizard (caster) exploration/social abilities I think it all depends on the ritual system that we will have in the end. How easy it will be to use, how much the gp value will limit its use etc.

Forgetting rituals for a moment, if a caster chooses to use his spell points/slot for interaction/exploration that will be one spell they wont use in combat.

Now if we go make invisibilty or fly (spells useful to both combat and exploration/interaction) an encounter power Im not sure how we can balance that, perhaps we have to let the designers present it to us before I can have an opinion to that.
I thik that the numbers presented are pretty much spot on. (you cant be perfect on this cause you cant predict what your player will opt to use but...)

As for the wizard (caster) exploration/social abilities I think it all depends on the ritual system that we will have in the end. How easy it will be to use, how much the gp value will limit its use etc.

Forgetting rituals for a moment, if a caster chooses to use his spell points/slot for interaction/exploration that will be one spell they wont use in combat.


Now if we go make invisibilty or fly (spells useful to both combat and exploration/interaction) an encounter power Im not sure how we can balance that, perhaps we have to let the designers present it to us before I can have an opinion to that.



heh that's pretty much the mage curse, isn't it? If Red Mage casts a healing spell to save himself he will lose one of his daily allotment, which will make him less versatile!

Yup, thats how it should be imo kadim

And let me add something to lesp's good point. We are sometimes used to appraise exploration/interaction with our skill lists and modifiers, but thats not always the case in dnd.

Just because we have the duke negotiation with our skill list on hand that doesnt mean other parameters wont play a part of it as well. What if the duke was a great general of his time? Wouldn't it make more sense to hear the advice of the fighter/warlord more that that of the wizard or rogue?

How many troops are needed to defend the pass? what's the most defensible position?

What if he were pious? Wouldnt the cleric's words resonate more strongly in his mind than the rest of the group?

You know the old circumstance modifiers. Not every negotiation needs to be the same.

Just more food for thought.
rampant/mat.shogun:

While I agree in theory, I think Next has thus far failed to stick to that ideal.  I love that they divorced skills from classes, it's always been "let's ram our idea of a character archetype down everyone's throats for no other reason than that we can."  But backgrounds haven't taken up the whole burden of the other two pillars, and while I'm not convinced they should or must, this has left classes woefully unbalanced in the combat pillar.  The rogue, for instance, has clearly traded combat effectiveness for a second background and skill mastery - in other words, for more exploration/interaction perks.  He gets less armor, hit points, attack, and damage than the fighter (not damage if he can get sneak attack, but that requires an action to set up advantage AND they're talking about letting people trade out sneak attack, possibly for even more exploration/interaction perks).  Perhaps more to the point he has fewer combat options than anyone else in combat, making him relatively boring when that pillar comes to the fore, but relatively more interesting in other pillars because he is better at more things and is therefore the smart choice for point man on more obstacles. 

Lesp:

I disagree completely.  First of all, I believe your first paragraph is incorrect, but I'll move on to your broader point anyway (if you want a full explanation, here)
Show
Sure, someone with no good stats and no skills can participate in exploration and interaction.  She can follow footprints in the snow, but not as reliably as the character with wisdom or training.  She can climb a knotted rope, but if only one person needs to climb than the party is better off sending someone else and if everyone needs to climb than the party would actually be better off without her.  She can charm, intimidate, or bluff, but not as reliably as someone with charisma or training.  In point of fact, even without proficiency (which, by the way, is a pointless exercise since every PC ever has proficiency in something), she can also swing a weapon.  Granted, not as reliably as someone with good stats and training.  But the truth is she can contribute MORE to combat, because in combat a party of adventurers plus a useless commoner can do more than a party of adventurers without the useless commoners - even if only a small amount more and only in those encounters where she gets lucky.  In exploration or interaction, there will always be someone else better suited to the task, and the party will always be better off having that person make the roll while the boring commoner sits in the corner and hopes nobody notices her.  There's a small exception when the task is such that everyone gets exactly one crack at it, she rolls exceptionally well, and her more skilled compatriots roll exceptionally badly (e.g., a perception check, unless you're looking for a trap and it's 3.x), but that's one small chunk of exploration, an even smaller chunk of interaction (untrained knowledge checks), and requires a large chunk of luck even when the right situation arises.


First, I take your broader point to be that one does not need character features (be they class, background, or specialty) to make at least occassional contributions to the non-combat pillars.  This is more or less true, although I would argue that you don't need character features to contribute to combat either.  If we had the entirety of the exploration/interaction pillars rest on the attribute check system, all classes would have more or less equal amounts to contribute to those two pillars.  That would be a perfectly fine, rules light system.  In the right group, I would love to play that system.  The issue is that they don't.  Some classes get more or better skills than others (rogues, again), some classes get cool spells that let them do things other people can't no matter how well they roll (spellcasters).  Those classes inevitably get more spotlight time, they contribute more, they feel more needed, than the classes that don't (fighters).  If anyone is going to get cool extra swag in these pillars, than everyone should get cool extra swag.  Note: the cool extra swag everyone else gets should not be the same cool extra swag.  It needn't work the same way, in the same situations, against the same obstacles, with the same reliability; exactly nothing about it needs to be the same other than its overall usefullness over the course of an average adventure.  If you want to take everyone's swag away, that's fine too.  But don't rely on the fiction of an effectiveness "floor" (which does not and cannot exist for any pillar) to pretend that the system is balanced.
On the one hand yeah rogues have basically on combat trick, sneak, on the other hand they've got a million ways to pull it off, if they could trade some dice for status effects that'd make it fully awesome.

But yeah the fighter needs some help in the social/exploration area, what if we give fighters a henchman? A short guy who can carry a ton of stuff but doesn't fight. They have amillion uses.
Quantification of some of these ideas like investigation and interaction seem silly.  It seems that all this lends towards the idea of solving all of the problem the players face with "Well.... make a roll".  Numers for combat are essential because I personally dont want to fight a troll, that sounds dangerous and unrealistic, but let the players work for what they gain.  Let them tell you how they search the pedestal or how they shmooze the guard into letting them into where ever they aren't supposed to be. 

Yeah yeah not everyone has a silver tongue but let them try.  If stats NEED to be employed for social interaction and investigation then maybe pen and paper/face to face is not where they should be.  They may like WoW or final fantasy more

I expect some campaigns will be more free form, and thus skills will have less of an impact in regards to exploration or interaction, so basically that removes the pillars from play on a mechanical basis, except for spells, and all you have left if the combat tier. Which overall is the tier I am less concerned about in regards to classes being able to do something.

But the crux of the matter, which was already mentioned, is magic.  It can have the same effect on combat as it does on the other tiers, by always having a solution for a specific problem or being able to bypass it.

The other aspect of magic is being able to replace a skill. In this arena magic should be able to enhance skills, but not replace them. So a wizard using a knock spell gets a skill bonus. It should also take longer to use knock, versus a rogue using the skill.

How they treat rituals in respect to utility spells will be very important as already mentioned.

My group handles diplomacy and lore skills in a more or less totally subjective way. The rolls will influence things to a point but really it's down to the player to sell it.


The one nice thing about the skills being there is it gives people who don't know/lack experience a chance at playing really knowledgable and social characters. As they get better about it the role that the roll (tee hee) plays in their success or failure diminishes.


For us, pulling off a feat of diplomacy doesn't necessarily require any diplomacy skill to do, but someone with a really high diplomacy skill will be able to recover from a social blunder a lot more easily than someone without it, even if their chances for success are about the same.

@uchawi:

I have to disagree with this "spells as skill bonuses" concept.  Personally, I think it's a bore and a frustration.  First of all, it's flavorless.  Being invisible is a completely different thing from being stealthy, more helpful at some times, less helpful at others, most helpful to someone who'se already stealthy.  If you're 200' away, in broad daylight without intervening cover, invisibility should work perfectly while the stealthiest man alive shouldn't even get to attempt a roll (maybe if he's got camo clothing, but it's still gotta be really hard compared to auto-success for the invisible guy).  If it's pitch dark but the floor is covered in dry, crumbly leaves, invisibility should get you absolutely nothing while being stealthy can be really helpful.  Reducing invisibility to "bonus to stealth" divorces the mechanics from the fluff, which is never a good idea if you can help it.  

Second, assuming a bonus of less than +10, bonuses are irrelevant more often than they are relevant.  Any time you fail the roll, you were already going to fail.  Most of the time that you succeed, you were already going to succeed.  I don't think I'm the only one that would find it terribly annoying to waste one of my precious daily spell slots on "knock" only to discover that I fail the check anyway, or that I would have succeeded anyway.  Especially since the penalty for failure is typically "try again."  

Then theres the fact that, if all utility spells do is let the wizard pinch-hit for the rogue with some skill bonuses that still leave him less effective than someone with stats and training, a wizard in a balanced party shouldn't take utility spells.   Why take knock or invisibility when you've got a rogue?  Why take spider climb when you've got a fighter?  Why take cure disease (I know, cleric spell, but the same holds true for them) when you've got someone with a good heal check?  

I want spells to do things that skills can't, without replacing the usefulness of people with skills.  I don't think that's an impossible goal, especially in a world where spells are a limited resource (unlike in 3.x, where wands/scrolls/near-infinite low level spell slots removed that constraint on high level casters).  I want knock to work when there's no keyhole, but it takes up a precious spell slot that could have housed something else (I'm not so sure about taking longer, picking a real lock in 6 seconds is no easy feat, and I like the idea of knock not taking longer than, well, knocking, makes it more magical if you just snap your fingers).  I want invisibility to actually make you invisible, but people will still know you're there if you bump into things or make noise (and again, spell slots).  I want charm person to work on somebody that wasn't going to hear you out long enough for diplomacy to do its work, but he'll come to in a few minutes and be pissed if he figures out what you did.  To counteract the fact that spellcasters get all this cool stuff AND skills, I want rogues who can do stuff with stealth and diplomacy that other guys can't.  Maybe they can run without taking stealth penalties, or they get to read a free detail about the person they're interacting with to make their bluff/diplomacy more convincing (anyone watched psych?), or their skills are just more reliable (not that I think skill mastery is well-executed in Next).  More to the point, I want fighters who can do stuff besides smash in the doors that rogues failed to lockpick and tie the wizard to his back when the party needs to climb a rope or leap a chasm.  Maybe they can get better attitudes out of fellow warriors based on reputation or winning those subtle pissing contests of who's going to back down first.  I think there are ways you can make this work even in a system where you don't roll dice for exploration and interaction, but even if you can't it's worth getting right for those who do.  If you're going to have rules for rolling dice, they might as well be good ones.   
As many posters in this thread seem to realize, the real issue is not so much perfect balance in every pillar as it is meaningful options in every situation.  (And I would not count a rogue's ability to risk life sneaking past guards, scaling a tower to enter a high window, then rifling through a corrupt duke's chambers to find a stolen holy relic as a meaningful option when a wizard could simply cast scrying to accomplish the same end without risk.)  I don't care that my war cleric, when he rarely hits in combat does a paltry 1d6 damage because he meaningfully functions as a high hit point, high AC defender with useful utility (healing and command spells) -- functions other characters in his party can't fill.  So do I rank him a poor in combat (because he really never defeats anything) or great because he frequently saves colleagues' lives?  I don't think a number adequately describes the situation -- that I am satisfied playing him is what matters.

On the other hand, I do strongly believe attention needs to be given to classes at least having options in exploration and interaction pillars.  In general, I have found that casters (at least if they choose their magic with intent to have flexibility -- as opposed to a wizard who only takes flashy, high damage spells) can usually come up with something creative and useful in most situations.  But the mundane characters (especially fighter) are, by class design, often almost useless in many exploration/interaction situations.

Ability to contribute to exploration usually involves one of the following: ability to get past obsticals (locks, traps, terrain like cliffs or rivers, etc.), ability to scout (notice and interpret tracks, see/hear beyond normal limits of perception -- as behind a closed door, understand conversations/writings, locate objects/people, etc.), ability to manipulate objects from a range (e.g. tie a rope around a tree across a chasm), ability to avoid notice/attention, ability to travel rapidly, or ability to communicate long distances.  Have I missed any?  Spells often allow many of these things.  Rogue skills facilitate many (although they are easily superceded by spells), but fighters inately get no advantages in any of these areas.

Interaction to me is primarily role playing, but a few abilities can contribute, abilities such as: ability to influence (e.g. charm, diplomacy, intimidate), ability to communicate appropriately (tongues, knowledge of culture/language/protocalls, etc.), ability to learn/perceive details (detect thoughts, know alignment, zone of truth, comprehend languages), ability to enter into interactions (disguise, talents like performing that might lead to audiences).  Again, spells can provide many useful abilities.  Some skills help, and fighters are traditionally left out.
I for one am HIGHLY dissappointed in the decision to allow some classes to have de facto superiority in one pillar of play at the expense of another pillar of play.

I prefer 4th eds (admittedly imperfectly implemented) paradigm of competence across the board and encouraging ensemble player participation in play to earlier editions' design defaults that allowed each character class to shine in a broad or narrow niche and made it the DM's job to script the game to ensure that each player get's enough screen time.

In discussing this relative proficiency in each pillar another flaw has been brought to bear.  Caster classes with broad spell lists have the opportunity to respecialize each time they choose spells.  The impact of this is highly dependant on how much the DM telegraphs the coming adventures, their pacing, and whether the DM chooses to feint (suggesting that the adventuring day will be mostly combat and then presenting social delimmas for example).  The ability to selectively focus is potent and is a design consideration that I don't see being fully considered.
I am quite surprised seeing these ratings for the different classes.

In my games and experience I would rate the classes quite differently:

Interaction/Social:

Fighters totally dominate this, they are usually the leader types naturally making them the party leaders and the front towards many NPCs.

Rogues come second, but mostly on their own or in some roundabout way.

Wizards last. They are most often the worst at social skills and have a tendency to be too excentric or too shady. The rest of the party generally wants to keep the wizards away from sensitive situations. Spells seldom have any decent uses in these situations, they are at best a blunt last-chance option.

Exploration:

This is quite equally balanced for most classes. I can't see any one class totally dominating or being left behind.
On lower levels the main exploration problem is usually to figure out how get the wizard and cleric past various obstacles that the fighter and rogue pass with ease. On higher levles, the wizard is more capable of helping himself so it balances out.

Combat:

The damagedealers of a group usually does their best to take the spotlight regardless of class, but generally the fighter becomes a central figure together with warlike casters. Those who gets left out during combat is usually those that decided right from the start to not make a combat character.

I have mostly left out the Cleric class, this is because they dffer too much, they cover the entire spectra.
Speaking generically across editions, one thing about the interaction and exploration pillars is that they're things for which the floor is intrinsically higher. Consider an ordinary non-adventurer with no adventuring skills whatsoever. She's not proficient with any weapons, she has no special features to speak of, and her stats are all in the nine to eleven range. Nevertheless, simply by having a pulse, she can still look around, make a map, climb up knotted ropes or over some fences, carry a torch, look for suspicious things, follow footprints in the snow and a variety of other exploration tasks. She can succeed at many of these things pretty reliably too. She's a total non-adventurer, but is able to contribute significantly to exploration. Similarly, she can attempt to persuade, threaten, charm or bluff a creature. She can attempt to communicate simple concepts to creatures that don't share a language. She can negotiate. She can't do any of these things as well as a level ten bard or mind control her way out of having to do any of them like a level one wizard, but she can still contribute to interaction. She can contribute to interaction and exploration scenarios, even higher-level ones - particularly interaction.

What she can't contribute to is combat in a meaningful way. Contributing to exploration or interaction just requires being a warm body, although other benefits help. Contributing to combat requires something in the vein of special class features that allow you to do that. D&D knows this, which is why the majority of the abilities for the majority of the classes across editions are combat abilities. (Also, combat abilities are easier to design lots of that are meaningfully different.) Like, a 3.5 fighter can sometimes contribute to the exploration or interaction pillars despite having no class features that support doing so, because being a person is enough. A class that got the equivalent of what the fighter got, but for combat (like the commoner, although at least the commoner gets proficiency with one simple weapon and has a d4 hit die instead of just, like, zero hit points, and it can flank and stuff) would not be able to provide much in combat at all.

Wow! No!

You can't typical just contribute to D&D combat without class features because D&D combat is set to inmense challenges: killing a medusa, dragon, horde of zombies, etc. If you were playing a game where the average combat challenge was other classless people, then everyone could contribute.
As the game advances, exploration and interaction in the D&D game also become pretty hardcore. However, those pillars (particularly the exploration one) have very much more varying objectives and situational considerations than combat, so the posibility for a mirad of features/feats exists, just ask any World of Darkness game.

Anyway, before this becomes a long discussion where mostly the same people comment (if it does become that) I want to point out that I'm happy a lot of people catched my drift and like my view. 
I for one am HIGHLY dissappointed in the decision to allow some classes to have de facto superiority in one pillar of play at the expense of another pillar of play.

I prefer 4th eds (admittedly imperfectly implemented) paradigm of competence across the board and encouraging ensemble player participation in play to earlier editions' design defaults that allowed each character class to shine in a broad or narrow niche and made it the DM's job to script the game to ensure that each player get's enough screen time.

In discussing this relative proficiency in each pillar another flaw has been brought to bear.  Caster classes with broad spell lists have the opportunity to respecialize each time they choose spells.  The impact of this is highly dependant on how much the DM telegraphs the coming adventures, their pacing, and whether the DM chooses to feint (suggesting that the adventuring day will be mostly combat and then presenting social delimmas for example).  The ability to selectively focus is potent and is a design consideration that I don't see being fully considered.

Your last paragraph raises a good point, however, as I said in the initial post, I don't have a problem (conceptual or practical) with the idea of some characters being better for a pillar than another, so long as each can provide to each pillar.
Wow! No!

You can't typical just contribute to D&D combat without class features because D&D combat is set to inmense challenges: killing a medusa, dragon, horde of zombies, etc. If you were playing a game where the average combat challenge was other classless people, then everyone could contribute.
As the game advances, exploration and interaction in the D&D game also become pretty hardcore. However, those pillars (particularly the exploration one) have very much more varying objectives and situational considerations than combat, so the posibility for a mirad of features/feats exists, just ask any World of Darkness game.

Anyway, before this becomes a long discussion where mostly the same people comment (if it does become that) I want to point out that I'm happy a lot of people catched my drift and like my view. 

That's what I said, isn't it? In fact, some of my reasons for noting the distinction come from WoD.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying that class features dealing with noncombat situations aren't important, just that the floor is higher in the other pillars.
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
I am quite surprised seeing these ratings for the different classes.

In my games and experience I would rate the classes quite differently:

Interaction/Social:

Fighters totally dominate this, they are usually the leader types naturally making them the party leaders and the front towards many NPCs.

Rogues come second, but mostly on their own or in some roundabout way.

Wizards last. They are most often the worst at social skills and have a tendency to be too excentric or too shady. The rest of the party generally wants to keep the wizards away from sensitive situations. Spells seldom have any decent uses in these situations, they are at best a blunt last-chance option.

Exploration:

This is quite equally balanced for most classes. I can't see any one class totally dominating or being left behind.
On lower levels the main exploration problem is usually to figure out how get the wizard and cleric past various obstacles that the fighter and rogue pass with ease. On higher levles, the wizard is more capable of helping himself so it balances out.




I think the reason my ratings would substantially differ from yours is that you are looking at the ways you have seen the classes played (and perhaps even the nature of the players you have observed playing those classes), while I focus on what I see as inate class abilities that facilitate effectiveness in these pillars.  Even at 1st, wizards can access the spells detect magic, ghost sound, light, detect magic, alarm, cause fear, charm person, comprehend languages, featherfall, grease, and sleep, all of which can be used during exploration and/or interaction providing capabilities a fighter can never achieve.  I can think of nothing a fighter innately has that a wizard could not get (albiet at the cost of some awkwardness like sacrificing intelligence for strength).  Of course, if the wizards you have experienced tool out with spells like burning hands, shocking grasp, magic missile, and thunderwave, I would submit that the weakness of wizards in exploration and interaction is not inherent in the class capabilities but in the character design.  I personally have never played a wizard that felt shackled when it came to exploration or interaction, while I have really struggled to create a fighter that did not feel shackled.

I think the reason my ratings would substantially differ from yours is that you are looking at the ways you have seen the classes played (and perhaps even the nature of the players you have observed playing those classes), while I focus on what I see as inate class abilities that facilitate effectiveness in these pillars.  Even at 1st, wizards can access the spells detect magic, ghost sound, light, detect magic, alarm, cause fear, charm person, comprehend languages, featherfall, grease, and sleep, all of which can be used during exploration and/or interaction providing capabilities a fighter can never achieve.  I can think of nothing a fighter innately has that a wizard could not get (albiet at the cost of some awkwardness like sacrificing intelligence for strength).  Of course, if the wizards you have experienced tool out with spells like burning hands, shocking grasp, magic missile, and thunderwave, I would submit that the weakness of wizards in exploration and interaction is not inherent in the class capabilities but in the character design.  I personally have never played a wizard that felt shackled when it came to exploration or interaction, while I have really struggled to create a fighter that did not feel shackled.



Charm person and Intimidate is just about as situationally useful. Some people seem to regard it as automatic social interaction win... well, at least in our world people do not take kindly to being mindcontrolled (that's why the comparison to being bullied with intimidate is fitting). If you want to keep someone on your side, you better not just compulse them into doing what you want. Sure, wrapped into a thick layer of mundane manipulation a sneaked in charm spell can be really powerful, but that requires a lot more than just a spellcast.

I basically agree with Lesp here:
Contributing to exploration or interaction just requires being a warm body, although other benefits help.


Social interaction especially and also much of exploration just requires a personality and some roleplaying. A couple of skils help, but all classes have those (except for those that have only lore skills). And even if a character has no skills, they do have ability scores.

Much of interaction is just about roleplaying (or at least it should be in my mind), and exploration is mostly a shared task/problem. Few characters are really bad at exploration since they all have some skills or other. Spells help yes.. but often less so than skills and proper equipment.

I think putting a lot of effort to 'equalize' every class in all 'pillars' would treathen to ruin the roleplaying aspect of the game by wrapping into too much mechanic and too much balance.

Sorry, you have already spoken a kind word to the king this encounter. You may try to bully him, you still have that encounter ability... oh yea.. I know you are a neutral good halfelf bard and that you actually want to help that guy.. but letting you do the right thing over and over would be totally unbalanced...
I can see where limiting all spells to just skill bonuses is boring, but it may be one method for certain spells to bring them more in line. Why should knock be an automatic open, then the wizard knows nothing about locks? Unless knock does not work on mundane locks and is a counter to arcane locks cast by other wizards. Similar to glyphs being magical traps. Or if invisibility is cast, it is not automatically a huge bonus to stealth, because vision is only one of the five major senses.

The vancian spell system is a great way to limit wizard choices, but I see that being further eroded with the ritual system especially for utility spells.

There is another feature I liked from 4E which restricted certain powers, including the wizards, based on the action economy. You could take away a move, standard or minor action in order to maintain a power. But that is lost with 5E. 4E also started to offer niche abilities for each class to cover the other tiers based on class features, utility powers, and skill powers.

   

  


The problem with making one class better at a particular pillar than other classes is that not all adventures, campaigns, or play styles are balanced along an even distribution of combat, exploration, and interaction.

What this means is if the adventure/campaign is a mostly exploration campaign then the other classes will be bored or not contribute very much.

If its a mostly social adventure/campaign then the most charismatic class (say Bard for instance) will dominate and other classes will barely contribute.

The same goes for the combat pillar.

So every class should be balanced with other classes within each pillar, but do so in a different way. For instance the Cleric might not hit as hard as the fighter, but they can heal and buff the party and debuff the enemies so they contribute equally.

If they would separate out skills that are exploration based and social based and spread them out evenly between the backgrounds and classes so that each background gave an equal amount of each then the characters will be balanced much better with each other within each pillar. Maybe the Fighter automatically gets intimidate, the Rogue gets bluff, and the Wizard and cleric get relevant knowledge skills or whatever that deal with interaction, or tie them to backgrounds but give one social skill and 2-3 exploration skills, so that each background is balanced. Then get rid of the Rogue's extra background and find a balanced way to represent their ability to improvise and deceive rather than 'skill monkey'. 'Skill Monkey' should be a Specialty not a class feature.Smile
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
The problem with making one class better at a particular pillar than other classes is that not all adventures, campaigns, or play styles are balanced along an even distribution of combat, exploration, and interaction.

What this means is if the adventure/campaign is a mostly exploration campaign then the other classes will be bored or not contribute very much.


This is why I said that the first rule is
We accept that the game by default will have relatively equal amounts of combat, exploration and interaction. If some campaing would break this rule it should be warned by the DM at character creation or be the result of the PCs decitions. 



Balancing each character in each pillar has much more design problems than just adhering to the list I made in the initial post (please read it)
@Sesdun: 
I don't think balanced classes necessarily impinges on role playing at all.
I think putting a lot of effort to 'equalize' every class in all 'pillars' would treathen to ruin the roleplaying aspect of the game by wrapping into too much mechanic and too much balance. 

Sorry, you have already spoken a kind word to the king this encounter. You may try to bully him, you still have that encounter ability... oh yea.. I know you are a neutral good halfelf bard and that you actually want to help that guy.. but letting you do the right thing over and over would be totally unbalanced...



First, insofar as I actually believe that the bard should not be able to gain the benefit of two kind words in one encounter, it is not an effort to balance charismatic classes against the others, but merely a reflection of the fact that the king already appreciates that you're a nice guy and harping on it a bit longer isn't going to help convince him that he should do what you say.  

More to the point, balancing the classes is not about imposing arbitrary restrictions on the classes that are better at certain pillars, it's about giving more opportunities to the lesser classes to contribute.  Giving fighters some kind of ability that lets them contribute to interaction encounters does not mean nobody should be actually role playing what they say, or that what they say has no impact on the outcome, or that the internal logic of the game world must be shattered.  I'm not going to get into the debate about whether social interactions should have associated rolls (ie., let players get away with less polished speeches and let bad dice ruin good speeches, or let players without stellar rhetoric or acting play characters with stellar rhetoric and acting).  Let's assume absolutely every DM on the planet does not bother with social skill/ability checks and let's the players words alone determine success or failure.  Even in that hypothetical, there could be tools that balance out charm person/legend lore (which, granted, are not all-powerful when properly handled) for the non-magical classes.  There could be tools that give a bit of extra flavor to a class, so that a given player with a given level of role playing talent can feel like two classes play differently in social settings without either of them being better or worse on average.  There could be tools that let someone a little less talented contribute in a meaningful way.  

And of course, that isn't the world we live in.  For starters, organized play doesn't work that way, and probably won't change to work that way any time soon.  Some DMs are more insistant than others that you role play your conversation, some are more willing to give bonuses or penalties for good or bad role playing than others, but certainly the number who use dice on some level to determine success or failure is not small enough that the rules should ignore them (if they were, we wouldn't have rules for using dice in social interactions in the first place).  If we're going to have  rules for social skills, than those rules should not force fighters to stand in a corner and keep their mouth shut whenever you need to be nice to someone (or flunk the encounter for the whole party).  If you want to ignore those rules, go ahead.  But just because you ignore them doesn't mean they shouldn't be fixed.

@Androkguz:
Your argument is fatally flawed.  Supposing that a campaign does follow your default and has relatively equal amounts of combat, exploration, and interation.  That would not preclude any given game session being mostly or entirely filled with one particular pillar.  Even if every individual session were balanced between the three pillars (a restriction that would put a huge crimp in narrative flow), there are likely to be blocks of time exceeding half an hour devoted to a single pillar.  Should the goal of balanced design be to make sure nobody is bored for longer than anybody else, or to make sure nobody is bored for long?  And that's not even considering the possibility that the campaign goes in a direction the DM did not expect and favors a single pillar without giving the players a chance to prepare, or the possibility that you might really want to play a fighter but at the same time enjoy campaigns that favor the interaction pillar.  I'm not saying it's easy - although I don't think it's as hard as you seem to - but they've got an awful lot of people on payroll who do this stuff for a living. "It's hard" is no excuse for not trying.
@Sesdun: 

And of course, that isn't the world we live in.  For starters, organized play doesn't work that way, and probably won't change to work that way any time soon.  Some DMs are more insistant than others that you role play your conversation, some are more willing to give bonuses or penalties for good or bad role playing than others, but certainly the number who use dice on some level to determine success or failure is not small enough that the rules should ignore them (if they were, we wouldn't have rules for using dice in social interactions in the first place).  If we're going to have  rules for social skills, than those rules should not force fighters to stand in a corner and keep their mouth shut whenever you need to be nice to someone (or flunk the encounter for the whole party).  If you want to ignore those rules, go ahead.  But just because you ignore them doesn't mean they shouldn't be fixed.



Well I do admit that my viewpoint does not include much about organized play.
I almost exclusively play with three of four local groups of people and most of the people in those groups have a quite relaxed attitude to rules in interaction situations.
The problem with making one class better at a particular pillar than other classes is that not all adventures, campaigns, or play styles are balanced along an even distribution of combat, exploration, and interaction.

What this means is if the adventure/campaign is a mostly exploration campaign then the other classes will be bored or not contribute very much.


This is why I said that the first rule is
We accept that the game by default will have relatively equal amounts of combat, exploration and interaction. If some campaing would break this rule it should be warned by the DM at character creation or be the result of the PCs decitions. 



Balancing each character in each pillar has much more design problems than just adhering to the list I made in the initial post (please read it)



Actually it doesn't, it solves many more problems than it makes. Assuming that everyone will have equal amounts of each pillar in every adventure is just folly. Simply put, its just not going to happen. Its much better to plan around the likely, than it is to plan around a default that is going to be the exception...Smile
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
Myexperience with mid paragon bard in 4e was that I traded a negligible combat use for tremendous ability in interaction and exploration.   Enough that I exploration always came down to us listing my spells and theN us listing mundane items. ("if only we had a wheelbarrow"). It made exploration much less fun, and made us seek out combat so everyone could shine.  our fate experience has been much better - one guy can buy anything, one guy can make any illusion, one guy cany understand any anatomy.   Obviously, even in that system, there are better powers and worse powers.  

If they don't fix the wizard and rogue next playtest, I'm goingfeed make it clear in my feedback.   We need toys for all classes

(actually for interaction, next time I'm going to try a house rule: " no matter what player talks, we always use the best characters modifier.  " that way, no one feels penalized for interacting.   )

@Androkguz:
Your argument is fatally flawed.  Supposing that a campaign does follow your default and has relatively equal amounts of combat, exploration, and interation.  That would not preclude any given game session being mostly or entirely filled with one particular pillar.  Even if every individual session were balanced between the three pillars (a restriction that would put a huge crimp in narrative flow), there are likely to be blocks of time exceeding half an hour devoted to a single pillar.  Should the goal of balanced design be to make sure nobody is bored for longer than anybody else, or to make sure nobody is bored for long?  And that's not even considering the possibility that the campaign goes in a direction the DM did not expect and favors a single pillar without giving the players a chance to prepare, or the possibility that you might really want to play a fighter but at the same time enjoy campaigns that favor the interaction pillar.  I'm not saying it's easy - although I don't think it's as hard as you seem to - but they've got an awful lot of people on payroll who do this stuff for a living. "It's hard" is no excuse for not trying.


The reason to have classes be balanced over the whole of the pillars is so that players have a nice incentive to play any class. If the campaing takes unexpected directions or if every session is about just one pillar, that doesn't change the fact that taking a fighter was not a subpar idea, even if the cards turned against you latter.
The reason to have each class (actually, each character) be good at something in each pillar is so that no one gets bored, because you got something to do, even if you provide less than others some times.
And finally, while I might enjoy a fighter in an interactive campaing, it is also very likely that I won't. Normally, I expect to fight if I make a fighter, so that's why no campaing should be planned as interactive all the time without a fair warning to the players