Legends & Lore: Expertise Dice

459 posts / 0 new
Last post
Legends & Lore
Expertise Dice

By Mike Mearls

Expertise dice play a role in the fighter, rogue, and monk classes. Read an overview of what they do now and could potentially do in the future in D&D Next.

Talk about this column here.

This Week in D&D

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

Expertise dice the mechanic
Is starting to get gigantic
The expertise dice
Our favorite device
Is starting to get romantic
Do you have an opinion on what campaign settings should be printed in D&D Next? If so, please cast your votes in this poll! Poll: What campaign settings do you want to see printed in D&D Next?
Okay.  Let's see how this works out.
This one felt like Mike ran out of space before he ran out of things to say. Either that or he's saying something he hadn't quite got straight in his head yet. 

I'd probably have liked him to finish what he was trying to say.

As for this "new" mechanic, I'm not convinced a mountain of Hit Points and a mountain of damage is the best way to do this. I do know that those monsters need to be a bit more accurate and their attacks need to give players pause when they encounter them or this game will be known as the cakewalk edition.

Even with faster fights there are players yawning through them. For players that only play D&D for the combat and gear this will certainly become very boring very fast. 
Either that or he's saying something he hadn't quite got straight in his head yet.

That does seem to be the running theme of DDN.

I want to post this one particular thing that I already posted in the comment section of the article:

While I certainly agree that Expertise can't shoulder the entire burden of making the Fighter unique since it will now be a mechanic offered to all martial classes, I'm not sure that Parry is the right way to go with it. After all, I can think of no good reason why, say, a Monk shouldn't be able to Parry. I'd prefer to see something done here that's more difficult to do with maneuvers or maybe even something augments maneuvers and expertise dice themselves. For example, it'd be great to see a more Defender-like ability, not necessary a marking mechanics but maybe something like... I don't know, maybe they get an additional free expertise die to use when they make an opportunity attack? Or an additional free expertise die to use on their next turn if they hit with an opportunity attack? Or the opposite, if they miss with an opportunity attack?
...
How about this? For all classes, Expertise Dice are something that they can only use on their own turn, period. Simple. The Fighter's signature ability is that it gets an additional pool of expertise dice to use between turns for opportunity attacks. Maybe it's equal to it's normal pool or maybe it's half or something else, whatever. The point is that Expertise gets simplified and the Fighter gets something unique that can't be replicated by maneuvers that other classes should be able to access.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
What if Fighter is the only one who gets to use ExD as a Round resource, while everyone else has to be content with ExD as an Encounter resource?
I agree that parry would be a poor choice for a fighter only feature.  That just tells me that the developer haven't thought things through completely, or the article writer used a bad example not actually on the table. 

My problem is with the math presented with the ED so far; tt doesn't add up properly.  The classes are badly balanced in damage output.  From the article, it sounds like this shouldn't be the case.  It represents hit progression, and certain classes just get jacked in the process.  Maybe class unique abilities would help alleviate this; I guess we'll see in a couple of months.  It's just hard to see with the current material.

Maybe they'll get rid of the ridiculous Skill Mastery maneuver when they attempt to give classes unique features.
While I enjoy the clarification, I would be lying if I said I liked the particulars.  I feel all classes need to benefit from the potential to avoid deadly hits.  Damage avoidance needs to not be purely a martial advantage.

Making Parry, an ability all classes should be able to do, into a Fighter only ability only makes things worse.  Monks in particular would be more advanced in the particulars of parrying than all but the most advanced Fighters, and even a lowly Wizard can use his staff to avoid a blow.

I do like the idea of granting maneuvers to classes via Feats.  I also like the idea of providing a module that allows every class the ability to have expertise dice should deadly hit avoidance remain in the expertise system.  I would hope that it is presented in such a way that it can exist outside of grid based combat, however.

Personally, though, I see much of this as examples of an ever increasing problem being created by the expertise system.  When it was the sole purview of Fighters, it was an elegant system that made a relatively generic class unique.  I find that in expanding it, not only do Fighters lose their uniqueness, but the mechanic loses focus on the initial vision that made it the beautiful thing it once was.

My ideal DDN would uncouple TWF, Rapid Shot, and defenses from expertise, and returning the system to only Fighters and maybe one or other two classes (specifically a gish class and a new Factotum).  Other martial classes could gain damage in their own unique ways, and all classes could gain TWF and Rapid Shot through Feats.

I understand in DDN Feats are supposed to be optional.  I don't think the solution is to take these aspects of the game and make them part of a non-optional new mechanic.  If I had to choose between one or the other, at my table I would choose Feats over expertise.  As it stands, I doubt there will ever be a non-expertise option, and even if there was, it would never be permitted in common Encounters, Living, or convention play.

Qmark: they're all per round resources for everyone, but the rules aren't very clear on that point. At least, that's my reading of the rules.



To be honest, the article sounds like an off the cuff justification for using it everywhere than any meaningful exploration on what the intentions of the mechanic are. I actually don't care if it's a generic system. It's an easy way to differentiate between mundane and magic effects. The thing I've always been focused on is what abilities the expertise dice are used to access. For me, that's where the uniqueness is.


I'd actually be happier if there was a generic list of combat maneuvers that expertise just accessed, generally. Just admit that it's part of combat and the reason a wizard doesn't get access to these maneuvers is they don't have the training to pull them off in any meaningful way. Then each class can have its own list of options they can pick as they progress that delineates fighting style and whatnot without sacrificing on the basics.


I don't really want feats to become attached to expertise though. I'd like to be able to make a wizard melee character for a laugh and know that I've got a few options with my feat selection. Might not be the most optimised thing in the world but I'd like to be able to try weird things and feats are a really great way to make those weird things work.


Finally, if damage increases are supposed to do it, why have an attack bonus at all? Why split magic attack from weapon attack? See, I don't buy that expertise are meant to replace even some of that. Right now monster design feels really strange 'cause everyone's accuracy is so farging high that it doesn't really feel like you can miss. Why bother even making an attack roll if you're gonna hit 80% of the time? I guess you can see if you crit or not and there is that 20% miss chance but basically, misses are the exception and not the rule. My players are reacting to expertise dice with 3e ideas of accuracy and going "hey well if the AC is really high, I can pick this over that and save my dice." There's a real depth to the economy of expertise dice that is basically wasted 'cause there's no real risk of missing anything.


And if damage is the key, then let's make the mobs gain a ton of hp as they go up. Right now I struggle to find something straight out of the book that my players aren't just one shotting anyway, but I can't help but wonder if the consequence of this design will be that there will be no real reason to do anything but deal damage. That'd be a shame on many levels.

Qmark: they're all per round resources for everyone, but the rules aren't very clear on that point. At least, that's my reading of the rules.

That's the point:  Downgrade other classes to ExD as an encounter resource.

Qmark: they're all per round resources for everyone, but the rules aren't very clear on that point. At least, that's my reading of the rules.

That's the point:  Downgrade other classes to ExD as an encounter resource.




oh right. Not my favourite solution, to be honest. I'd prefer the mechanic work the same for everyone that gets it for the most part, like spell slots/casts are daily. There are a variety of ways the spell slots or casts can be accessed - spontaneious/prepared/something in between - but they're all daily resources and it makes it easier to understand at-a-glance.

I'd prefer the mechanic work the same for everyone that gets it for the most part, like spell slots/casts are daily.

But Cleric is a spontaneous caster now.  Differing workings for highly similar systems is nothing new.

This is a good analysis on the role of Expertise dice. Basically Expertise dice are just another scaling mechanism. It's functional and it's not any worse or better than a flat bonus to weapon damage or other damage-scaling mechanisms.

But if Expertise dice represent improved proficiency and training, then I think every class should get them. A cleric for instance is proficient in basic weapons. If as part of his initial training he learned how to use a mace, that means he intends to use it and learn how to use it better. He should also get expertise dice. Expertise should be part of the character advancement table.

Then each class would have ways to use them. They could be used as the scaling mechanism of spells instead of the clunky "memorized in a higher level spell slot". Martial classes would be able to use them on maneuvers like in the current system. There are many ways these Expertise dice could be used.

They could even be used as a balancing mechanism for the more controversial save or die/suck spells. I don't know what happened to hit point thresholds, but you could imagine a system in which you roll your Expertise dice against some kind of threshold to affect a creature with your Hold Person spell.

You could also imagine some kind of "upkeep" mechanism using Expertise dice. In the current system, we have concentration. Well a high level wizard would be able to concentrate on multiple low-level spells or a single high level spells. While a wizard is concentrating on a spell, he gets fewer Expertise dice each round. Fighter could get fighting stances that give them fun colorful benefits using this upkeep mechanism.

Martial characters would get bonus Expertise dice to use on weapon attacks, or maybe use higher dice when using them on weapons. Multiple attacks might just be enough. Because the primary scaling mechanism is Expertise dice, mutiple attacks aren't as bad as in the previous editions.

Bottom line, if they want to use Expertise as a scaling mechanism, I think they should go all the way.

sure, but it's still spontaneous casts/day. The refresh cycle is the same and we know from looking at the chart  how many spells it's got relative to the wizard. If expertise are round-to-round for some and encounter for others, it forces you to sift through the fine print to find out and the table doesn't necessarily let you know.


You could call it something else I suppose, but I'd just prefer they made the maneuvers different and added a couple of new class features for everyone so they all get a different slice of the pie

But if Expertise dice represent improved proficiency and training, then I think every class should get them.

And then we're back to Fighter just being a nothing-class that doesn't really do anything any other class can't also do slightly worse.
If expertise are round-to-round for some and encounter for others, it forces you to sift through the fine print to find out and the table doesn't necessarily let you know.

Well, it was an idea.  Turns out it's not a very good one.
But if Expertise dice represent improved proficiency and training, then I think every class should get them.

And then we're back to Fighter just being a nothing-class that doesn't really do anything any other class can't also do slightly worse.

Thinking that expertise dice were going to somehow eliminate martial/magical imbalances always seemed like folly to me.

As a way to scale damage appropriately but walled off from the actual method of doing damage I appreciate the idea of expertise die, especially if it is tied to some sort of improvisation method. Imagine a high level fighter or rogue, it doesn't matter whether they drop a chandelier on a foe, punch them in the face, of stab them with a sword, the damage will be appropriate since expertise outpaces the size of the weapon die. It also allows PCs to choose a weapon appropriate to their archetype rather than the one with the biggest die. This is great for the game.

But I definitely don't think it is necessary for all classes or as the sole scaling method for damage in the game to model the differences between a high-level PC and a low-level PC that was lost with the flatter math. Different archetypes pursue their goals in different ways, the rules should help reinforce that to some extant. Wizard's don't need expertise die because careful spell choice is their path to success. This makes them planners, and is a good distinction. It also makes for a different play style which makes the game more interesting and dynamic.


I know power source is somewhat of a dirty word in next. But I think it's really useful to look at that distinction in how design different classes. When I imagine a high level paladin, I imagine righteous fury and smites. Right now expertise dice does dropping chandeliers on people well, but I'm not so sure it does a good job of representing a divine power's intervention in the game world. I'm not saying it can't, and I look forward to seeing an attempt to use it for damage scaling that makes different classes feel different. But the rogue, fighter, and monk already feel dangerously similar. If it becomes a universal mechanic, the classes are definitely going to need more than they have right now to make them feel special and different. I don't want a game where each class is essentially a +1-3 to hit, expertise damage, and a few minor bells or whistles so you can say it's a different class.


tldr; expertise dice as scaling damage is good, especially for improvising and stunting, but as a universal method maybe not so much. One of the reasons fighters and wizards feel unique at the table is because they use a different system to model the way they become more powerful.

I don't want a game where each class is essentially a +1-3 to hit, expertise damage, and a few minor bells or whistles so you can say it's a different class.

Isn't that how pretty much every edition ever has worked?

But if Expertise dice represent improved proficiency and training, then I think every class should get them.

And then we're back to Fighter just being a nothing-class that doesn't really do anything any other class can't also do slightly worse.



What?!? Fighters would get their own maneuvers just like in the current playtest. That's the benefit of playing a fighter and whatever other unique class features the game designers can come up with (like multiple attacks).

10th level cleric making an attack with his mace: 1d6+4 damage (average, 7.5).
10th level fighter making an attack with that same mace: 2x(1d6+4)+3d10 (average 31.5).

That's my problem with the current scaling mechanism. Should the fighter really be more than four times better than a cleric with weapons? I understand that fighters need to be the best in combat, but that's really overdoing it! 7.5 damage in a round is a non-option. It's like shooting darts in AD&D. Now if the cleric is dealing 20ish damage with his mace, it becomes an option and the fighter is still 30% more effecient in melee.

I don't understand how you came to the conclusion that using the same scaling mechanism for all classes means that the fighter will suck.
Should the fighter really be more than four times better than a cleric with weapons?

If the Cleric isn't using the aid of divine magic? Absolutely, yes, at least.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
I don't understand how you came to the conclusion that using the same scaling mechanism for all classes means that the fighter will suck.

Because, Deadly Strike is about the only fighter maneuver that's partcularly useful.  Giving variants to other classes just makes fighter redundant.

I don't want a game where each class is essentially a +1-3 to hit, expertise damage, and a few minor bells or whistles so you can say it's a different class.

Isn't that how pretty much every edition ever has worked?




No. For instance, fighter vs. wizard with the exception of 4E had very different methods of resource allocation, effects, and playstyle. They were very different. 4E classes may have looked similar on paper, but class abilities had a large impact on how they played at the table due to role enforcing mechanics, and while many powers were similar, there were a lot of powers that were wildly different, and power selection again made for very different class because they had different effects beyond just to-hit and damage.


Right now in next, difference between the monk, rogue, and fighter are essentially just bells and whistles, the different between them and say the wizard is pretty substantial. All classes can feel different because of how you roleplay them, but mechanics can be designed to make them play differently too. And many people enjoy the game aspect of using unique mechanics.


For instance, you could have a paladin that uses expertise dice to fuel a smite, but then the smight is essentially just a renamed martial maneuver. A paladin that has a collection of domain based encounter abilities would play and feel differently at the table, as well as have unique gameplay challenges to explore. I'm not saying that particular solution is the answer, just that there's probably a solution out there that could do a good job of demonstrating that paladins recieve their power from a divine source while fighters recieve it through skill, as well as make the gameplay of each class have unique challenges or difficulties.

I don't want a game where each class is essentially a +1-3 to hit, expertise damage, and a few minor bells or whistles so you can say it's a different class.

Isn't that how pretty much every edition ever has worked?




No. For instance, fighter vs. wizard with the exception of 4E had very different methods of resource allocation, effects, and playstyle.


But, within the context of Fighter vs. Barbarian vs. Paladin vs. Ranger, or Wizard vs. Illusionist (or even Wizard vs Cleric), they are just math tweaks and minor bells and whistles.
Should the fighter really be more than four times better than a cleric with weapons?

If the Cleric isn't using the aid of divine magic? Absolutely, yes, at least.

I don't think the best weapon class should be four times better than the worst weapon class with weapons.  Where is the flat math in that kind of imbalance?

I'm glad that they've admitted Expertise Dice to be the direct equivalent of BAB, all the way down to the "spend it to power your maneuvers that are gained by feats," modified only enough to account for the Bounded Accuracy model.

I just wish they'd see that they're re-hashing 3E in time to correct it.  I don't (as of yet) care what changes they make with 5E, but if the final product is not meaningfully different from 3E, then there won't be a reason to buy it.
The metagame is not the game.
I don't think the best weapon class should be four times better than the worst weapon class with weapons.  Where is the flat math in that kind of imbalance?

It's not an issue of Expertise Dice, but the inexplicable scaling of those Expertise dice.

I don't think the best weapon class should be four times better than the worst weapon class with weapons.  Where is the flat math in that kind of imbalance?

That comes when the Cleric actually starts doing Cleric-y things. We don't ask that the Fighter be anywhere near as competent a divine caster as the Cleric is, so why should we ask the reverse, that the Cleric be anywhere near a martial combatant as the Fighter is? Clerics should be exactly as incompetent at duplicating the Fighter's style as the Fighter is at duplicating the Cleric's style. I feel like I'm being generous enough as it is leaving room open for the Cleric to use its spells buff itself to temporary melee weapon competency; I will remind you that's part of what made the Cleric overpowered in 3.5 was that it took little effort to duplicate with some spells what the Fighter's whole class is all about. We don't need the Fighter to be useless again. 4E moved us away from that, and we don't want to go back.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!

My group loves expertise dice and whether or not we switch to 5e or buy 5e there are certain things we're going to integrate into our 3e bames. Expertise dice is one of them.


We see it as a blanket mechanic rather than a class specific one, though I agree I'd rather it be used for a subset of characters rather than all characters. I also want some clear differences in progression - pure warriors get best, hybrids get progressively worse the less they rely on physical maneuvers the same way spell progression tapers off (wizard/cleric most, bard middle, paladin/ranger least) in 3e.

I don't think the best weapon class should be four times better than the worst weapon class with weapons.  Where is the flat math in that kind of imbalance?

That comes when the Cleric actually starts doing Cleric-y things. We don't ask that the Fighter be anywhere near as competent a divine caster as the Cleric is, so why should we ask the reverse, that the Cleric be anywhere near a martial combatant as the Fighter is? Clerics should be exactly as incompetent at duplicating the Fighter's style as the Fighter is at duplicating the Cleric's style. I feel like I'm being generous enough as it is leaving room open for the Cleric to use its spells buff itself to temporary melee weapon competency; I will remind you that's part of what made the Cleric overpowered in 3.5 was that it took little effort to duplicate with some spells what the Fighter's whole class is all about. We don't need the Fighter to be useless again. 4E moved us away from that, and we don't want to go back.

Cleric-y or Wizard-y things don't really apply here though.  Nobody should think that one character being able to do 4 times the damage of another with the same weapon in a single non-magically (or Feat) modified attack is logical or rational.  Where is the D&D or real lfe precedent for that?

Fighters should get extra attacks or versatility to raise their damage, not something that raises singular non-magical attacks to the equivalent of a Save vs. Die spell.  Classes bring different things to the table after all, don't they?
Keep in mind that many Wizards will also be making crossbow attacks with regularity.  

If the Wizard is only casting a useful spell once every three rounds, and the Fighter at-will attack does four times the damage of the Wizard at-will attack, then what spells the Wizard does cast will need to be 2-3 times as powerful as the Fighter's attack to keep everyone at the same contribution per-encounter.
The metagame is not the game.
If the Wizard is only casting a useful spell once every three rounds, and the Fighter at-will attack does four times the damage of the Wizard at-will attack, then what spells the Wizard does cast will need to be 2-3 times as powerful as the Fighter's attack to keep everyone at the same contribution per-encounter.

So...  bloated expertise dice is an attempt to avert the five-minute workday by giving the party a reliably-large minimum damage?

"Well, I'm all out of spells."
"That's okay, Mr. Fighter averages about 25 damage each attack, so just hide in the back and finish things off with your crossbow when the fighter somehow doesn't one-shot something."

Cleric-y or Wizard-y things don't really apply here though.

Why not? If Fighter-y things apply, why not Cleric-y things or Wizard-y things?

Nobody should think that one character being able to do 4 times the damage of another with the same weapon in a single non-magically (or Feat) modified attack is logical or rational.

Why not? Because you're not used to Fighters being able to pull their own weight and actually be effective alongside the Cleric's and Wizard's spells?

Where is the D&D or real lfe precedent for that?

I guarantee you that if I punched you I would leave you with a light bruise at most while my buddy, who's really not that much stronger than me, could probably fracture your skull just because he actually use to be a boxer.

Fighters should get extra attacks or versatility to raise their damage

That's exactly what Expertise Dice represent, so what's the hold up? Adding more damage to an attack is just one of the things that they can do with that versatility.

Classes bring different things to the table after all, don't they?

Then why do you want the Fighter to get outclassed again?

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
So...  bloated expertise dice is an attempt to avert the five-minute workday by giving the party a reliably-large minimum damage?

That's a theory, except the obvious extension is for the even more powerful Wizard (scaled up to compensate for the strong Fighter attacks) to go all out every round - and show up the rest of the party even more - and then call it quits for the day.

It would be preferable for the Wizard to deal ~75% of the Fighter's damage with her own at-will abilities, such that her spells need be only 50% more powerful than the Fighter's at-will in order to retain balance.  That makes for less reward to going all-out.

The metagame is not the game.
Should the fighter really be more than four times better than a cleric with weapons?

If the Cleric isn't using the aid of divine magic? Absolutely, yes, at least.



*scratch his head in disbelief*

What's the point in giving the cleric weapon proficiencies if he's not going to use his weapons?

But ok, the cleric needs the the help of divine magic to be better in combat. Let's see, a Cleric with Divine Favor and Divine Power. Oh wait, they both require Concentration. Scratch that. Cleric with Divine Power.

10th level cleric damage with a mace: 1d6+6 (average 9.5)
10th level fighter damage with a mace: 2x(1d6+4)+3d10 (average 31.5).

So with the aid of divine magic, the fighter is still more than 3 times better than the cleric. And on top of that, if the cleric takes damage, he has a chance of losing his concentration.

And what about a cleric that worships the god of war? He gains proficiency in martial weapons. Great, he's now dealing 10.5 damage per round with a warhammer instead of 9.5. If you're playing that kind of cleric, you want to be in melee and fight with your weapons.

It's my personal opinion, but I like it when all classes have a decent at-will option (especially with fewer spell slots). Right now, I'm not seeing any for casters at higher level. It works fine at lower levels, but it's not quite there yet at higher levels. Your only real option as a 10th level cleric right now is to spam those nasty inflict wound spells.

I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.
What's the point in giving the cleric weapon proficiencies if he's not going to use his weapons?

That's a good question. Because D&D has this stupid tradition of having its white mages armed and heavily armored, covering a trope that should be left to the Paladin class. If the Cleric is going to wade into melee, their formidably should come from their spells, not from the absurd idea that they should be as competent at melee combat by default as the Fighter is. If they were, then the Fighter class would be obsolete, as was the case back in 3.5, for example.

If the Cleric is lacking some of the requisite spells to make it formidable in melee, then that's a problem with the available spell list and not anything else. Though, I'd still rather they get back to being white mages and let the Paladin do its job and take up the definitive Divine-Martial hybrid.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
It would be preferable for the Wizard to deal ~75% of the Fighter's damage with her own at-will abilities, such that her spells need be only 50% more powerful than the Fighter's at-will in order to retain balance.  That makes for less reward to going all-out.



Which brings us back to at-wills scaling to that number... which means it needs to shadow expertise in some way. I mean, you could throw expertise at the wizard under a different name... but all I can say to that is "ugh". I like the mechanic but I really don't want all the classes to have it. I don't mind it as part of the monk's shindig and I think the rogue (as much as it sucks) gives us a reasonable difference in the basic maneuvers (the ones you get after level 1 leave a lot to be desired).


Part of what I like in this article is it shows an active exploration of how one could bring uniqueness to a class without expertise. Maybe the example wasn't great and maybe nothing will come of it but I'm glad they haven't settled on expertise being the solution to everything.

I don't want a game where each class is essentially a +1-3 to hit, expertise damage, and a few minor bells or whistles so you can say it's a different class.

Isn't that how pretty much every edition ever has worked?




No. For instance, fighter vs. wizard with the exception of 4E had very different methods of resource allocation, effects, and playstyle.


But, within the context of Fighter vs. Barbarian vs. Paladin vs. Ranger, or Wizard vs. Illusionist (or even Wizard vs Cleric), they are just math tweaks and minor bells and whistles.



True in earlier editions. But 4E created some pretty different mechanics between power sources and roles,  the barbarian and fighter played very differently, and so did individual strikers due to their varied extra damage mechanic. 3.5 had warlocks, binders, and the book of 9 swords.  And DnD next had a really unique way of modeling what made a fighter or even a martial class unique before they started giving it to everyone else. All those are distinctions are more than just bells and whistles, and again exist in both 4E and 3.5, and between non-casters. I would like to see more of that kind of design.


Again, I'm not opposed to expertise dice as a scaling mechanic if the other differences are substantial enough. I just think they could do more, especially between power sources, to make the game play differently. I definitely think there were more than just a few bells and whistles worth of differences between some of the classes in previous editions. Making expertise dice a semi-universal damage scaling mechanic seems a step backward from that kind of design, but look how great that kind of design worked to make playing a caster vs. a warrior really feel different.


I say, if it's truly a universal mechanic, make it universal like the d20. If it's not, then perhaps there is a way to break the classes down a little more than what amounts to caster with bells and whistles or fighter with bells and whistles.

Clerics should be exactly as incompetent at duplicating the Fighter's style as the Fighter is at duplicating the Cleric's style. I feel like I'm being generous enough as it is leaving room open for the Cleric to use its spells buff itself to temporary melee weapon competency; I will remind you that's part of what made the Cleric overpowered in 3.5 was that it took little effort to duplicate with some spells what the Fighter's whole class is all about. We don't need the Fighter to be useless again. 4E moved us away from that, and we don't want to go back.



Divine Metamagic and Persistent/Quicken spells, and spell stacking were the root of the problem, not individual spells. With the concentration mechanism, you're down to 1 personal buff. Without the persistent/quicken spell, you are using one round dealing zero damage to get your buff.

Divine Power vs. Inflict Critical Wounds:

Damage over 3 rounds with Divine Power: /9.5/9.5 (total: 19)
Damage over 3 rounds with Inflict Critical Wounds: 45/7.5/7.5 (total: 60)
Damage over 3 rounds for a fighter: 31.5/31.5/31.5 (total: 94.5)

Oups...

Just to make things clear. I want the fighter to be better in melee combat than a cleric, even a buffed up cleric. I agree that getting rid of that in 4th edition was a very welcomed change. But in 4th edition, the cleric did not suck like this. Just look at the numbers, melee fighting, even with divine aid, is not an option right now for the cleric.

Am I the only one to think that every class needs something interesting to do every round? Even if it's just using your "filler attack".
What's the point in giving the cleric weapon proficiencies if he's not going to use his weapons?

That's a good question. Because D&D has this stupid tradition of having its white mages armed and heavily armored, covering a trope that should be left to the Paladin class.

The reasons why are simple to explain.  As to whether those reasons are still valid is up for debate.

The Cleric in Chainmail and D&D74 is essentially a Support unit, with Fighting Man and Magic User being Infantry and Artillery units, respectively.  This is because D&D was initially a spin-off from tabletop wargaming.

When D&D split off into BECMI and Advanced, these traits remained because the Cleric has to have some survivability to reach the fighter, heal, and retreat without getting dead in there somewhere, and it needed to remain somewhat competent in dealing damage in an attempt to avert getting "stuck" as the healer (this is also mostly why Cleric evolved into CoDzilla in the 3E era).
But 4E created some pretty different mechanics between power sources and roles,  the barbarian and fighter played very differently, and so did individual strikers due to their varied extra damage mechanic.

(Mostly) discrete maneuver lists seems to be covering the same purpose as Power Sources, which really is just a means of distributing bells and whistles.
It seems we may disagree on how significant a relative difference those bells and whistles cover in 4E.
Just look at the numbers, melee fighting, even with divine aid, is not an option right now for the cleric.

I would be lying if I said that I was sad. Either way, the proper "solution" to this "problem" is better spells and nothing else.

The reasons why are simple to explain.  As to whether those reasons are still valid is up for debate.

I'm aware of this history. I just think that it's outdated and was the wrong approach to begin with. They took the question of "How do we make casting divine spells fun?" and, instead of actually making casting divine spells fun, they said "Screw it. Let's just let them be Fighters too." It was lazy back then, and it's lazy now. I get that it's legacy and that it isn't going away, but that doesn't mean that I'm not still going to call it out.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!