Combat without expertise dice?

Do the extreme damage expressions that combat maneuvers generate invalidate any character trying to fight without maneuvers? It seems like a class that doesn't get to add a dice pool to damage rolls is so far behind in terms of damage output that there's no point in even attempting it. Consider a cleric who swings a mace on his turn. Should that be his standard round-to-round attack? Probably not. Should he be as good as it as a fighter? No. Should he use a spell to give himself a minor buff? Yes. But to me, the difference between using expertise dice and making "normal" attacks is too great.

The damage gap makes it too specialized. It puts weapon attacks out of reach for anyone who doesn't get expertise dice.

By level 4 it seems like fighters, rogues, and monks can and often will be getting at least as much damage output, probably more, from their expertise dice as from their weapon's damage die. By level 10 a fighter's longsword still contributes only 4.5 points on average, while his expertise dice could add an average of almost four times that, if he uses Deadly Strike. 

For more, I think this is an excellent discussion of some of the issues with combat maneuvers as they are presented in the most recent playtest packet.

5e's greatest single innovation so far has been bounded accuracy. I'm not saying we need to bind damage, too, but it should at least be gently restrained.
Why is the Cleric just swinging a mace on his turn rather than using a word of power that lets him cast a spell to benefit his party *and* swing his mace? That's what they get instead of increased damage as an additional effect. Damage shouldn't even be a priority for a Cleric. If it feels like the Cleric isn't contributing to the party as much as the expertise-die classes, then we should be looking at improving the Cleric's utility abilities, not trying to turn them into a damage dealing class.

I know the Cleric thing isn't the main jist of your post, but "caster melee" and "dps melee" are apples and oranges. Saying the fighter's sword is only a tiny part of their damage output at level 10 is like saying that Ray of Frost is only a tiny part of the Wizard's damage at level 10. It's like... yeah. That's exactly how it's supposed to be. If it wasn't the case, then fighters would be (once again) pointless at higher levels due to their inability to do anything, or we'd have to remove high level spells to keep them in-line with fighters, and then what would be point of gaining levels be if nobody gets anything?
Do the extreme damage expressions that combat maneuvers generate invalidate any character trying to fight without maneuvers?



Yes, that is a serious problem right now. Expertise dice scale to a ridiculous extreme right now, resulting in quadratic fighters. This results in all of the following problems, and more:

* Classes without expertise dice might as well not even bother fighting with weapons, as you mentioned.

* Expertise dice make up such a large portion of a character's damage at mid-high levels that it makes choice of weapon and magic weapons largely irrelevant. Who cares about the difference in damage between a longsword and a greatsword when you're adding +3d10 damage (or more)? And who cares about the +3 (at most) bonus from a magic weapon at that point?

* The damage potential is so great that it ruins the very maneuver system it was designed to support. Why? Because it's just not worth giving up so much damage to do a maneuver in most instances.

* Since maneuvers depend upon expertise dice, they're restricted to classes that have expertise. It's not like the feats in 3rd edition, where you could play a Cleric with Cleave if you wanted to.

* They've said now that they plan on expertise dice being the equivalent of attack bonus increases in the past. Instead of gaining attack bonuses, they want characters to scale in damage output instead. This is bad design for many reasons, but one of the most obvious ones is that not all classes get expertise dice. Even wizards got a higher attack bonus as they leveled up in the past.

Expertise dice need to be drastically scaled back.
   

5e's greatest single innovation so far has been bounded accuracy. I'm not saying we need to bind damage, too, but it should at least be gently restrained.



Agreed.
Do the extreme damage expressions that combat maneuvers generate invalidate any character trying to fight without maneuvers?



Yes, that is a serious problem right now. Expertise dice scale to a ridiculous extreme right now, resulting in quadratic fighters. This results in all of the following problems, and more:

* Classes without expertise dice might as well not even bother fighting with weapons, as you mentioned.

* Expertise dice make up such a large portion of a character's damage at mid-high levels that it makes choice of weapon and magic weapons largely irrelevant. Who cares about the difference in damage between a longsword and a greatsword when you're adding +3d10 damage (or more)? And who cares about the +3 (at most) bonus from a magic weapon at that point?

* The damage potential is so great that it ruins the very maneuver system it was designed to support. Why? Because it's just not worth giving up so much damage to do a maneuver in most instances.

* Since maneuvers depend upon expertise dice, they're restricted to classes that have expertise. It's not like the feats in 3rd edition, where you could play a Cleric with Cleave if you wanted to.

* They've said now that they plan on expertise dice being the equivalent of attack bonus increases in the past. Instead of gaining attack bonuses, they want characters to scale in damage output instead. This is bad design for many reasons, but one of the most obvious ones is that not all classes get expertise dice. Even wizards got a higher attack bonus as they leveled up in the past.

Expertise dice need to be drastically scaled back.
   

5e's greatest single innovation so far has been bounded accuracy. I'm not saying we need to bind damage, too, but it should at least be gently restrained.



Agreed.



Agreed, scaled back and possibly changed to allow only the highest die rolled to be added to damage.  Of course care will have to be taken to insure that the rogue does not end up being superior to the fighter in combat, that wouldn't make any sense.

Hey there,

This doesn't appear to be a session report, so I'm going to move it to Playtest Packet Discussion.

Thanks!

Monica
The issue is Deadly strike being too good to not use all your ED on it. There are too few instances where even other maneuver other than Parry really feels necessary.

Slowing the dice gain is an option.

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!

When Mearls started talking about maneuvers being tied to feats, I think he was talking about this issue. But I still don't quite see where he's going with it. 

The thing is, I love the idea behind expertise dice, maneuvers, Deadly Strike, and all that. Just the execution needs some reconsideration. I think one of the following ideas could help the situation:



Agreed, scaled back and possibly changed to allow only the highest die rolled to be added to damage.  Of course care will have to be taken to insure that the rogue does not end up being superior to the fighter in combat, that wouldn't make any sense.






They've said now that they plan on expertise dice being the equivalent of attack bonus increases in the past. Instead of gaining attack bonuses, they want characters to scale in damage output instead. This is bad design for many reasons, but one of the most obvious ones is that not all classes get expertise dice. Even wizards got a higher attack bonus as they leveled up in the past.




The issue is Deadly strike being too good to not use all your ED on it. There are too few instances where even other maneuver other than Parry really feels necessary. Slowing the dice gain is an option.

 
Agreed on most of the thoughts. My preferred solution is to reduce expertise dice values and create "control" style maneuvers that involve directly spending dice, rather than rolling them. My favorites were knockdown, push, and shift from packet 2. If the maneuvers are interesting enough and effective enough (yes, I realize knocking someone down isn't all that useful under the current rules) then spending a die or two to activate them is a great trade off for a moderate damage boost.

I don't agree. What clerics and wizards get instead of expertise dice are spells, and the DPR that they can put out with spells is nothing to laugh at. They also get nifty abilities that a fighter cannot even touch (like polymorph, fly, heal, and the like). Saying that fighters are quadratic is laughable. Fighters are a little overpowered compared to the other martial characters, but their balance with the spellcasters is so close that I hesitate to call it either way... if ED are drastically reduced, spellcasters will once again rule the roost. 

I do, however, feel that between two attacks a round and deadly strike that fighters are a little overpowered (though, like I said, I hesitate to come to this conclusion). I think deadly strike should probably only allow one to add their best EDie roll to any single attack (instead of being able to add all of their ED rolls to any single attack). 

I just want to get this out there, I do not care about DPR.  At least, I do not care about it in so much as, when trying to compare two different classes.  Comparing two fighters using their solo-dpr might be reasonable, if you also take into account their RPR (Resistance per Round).  That is to say, if a fighter is doing equivalent dpr while using a battleaxe and shield to a fighter using a greatsword, clearly the greatsword fighter needs some work to either increase is RPR or his DPR.  But to say a rogue or a monk, who have (or at least should have) abilities the fighter does not gain, should do comparable dpr is a bad mathematic expression because one refuses to take into account all variable of the game, not just combat.

The damage expression for the fighter getting further and further away from weapon choice, and being purely based on class level, is a a bit of a mixed bag.  The reason I say this is that people view the game quite differently, especially after 4th edition.  Pre 4e people viewed equipment choices and proficiencies as more important than people did after 4e.  If a defender did not wear heavy armor in 4e, that was okay, because at level 1 he was given a way to boost is RPR.  Same thing with weapons, it did not matter if you could not use a greatsword, you would be given either a second attack or a bonus die to roll to balance out the damage.  This was all done so that a person could fulfil their combat role as defined by the 4e ruleset.

Those things were put in place for a reason, in 4th Edition.  However, D&DN is not 4th edition.  That does not mean it need forget some of the ideas of 4th edition, there are many ideas of 4th that are not exclusively beneficial.  However, the homegenous dpr is a 4e construct, that is not found in any other RPG outside of video games.  You play a game like Dark Heresy, the only people who do a good deal of damage are the Assassin, Imperial Guard and Sister of Battle (highest chance to hit, best weapon proficiencies).  To many people who play RPGs outside of 4th edition, that is proper game design.

I think reduced hp progression and less damage would benefit D&DN greatly, as well as important choices when it comes to equipment.  I do not think that a fighter with just a dagger should do as much damage as a man with a greatsword, no matter how adroit he is, there are serious disadvantegeous when compared to a 5-foot lever-arm made of steel.

For D&DN to succeed, it has to look outside of D&D and at the other markets.  Not just Pathfinder, but Dark Heresy, WoD, Legend of the Five Rings, and maybe even Traveller, to see what ideas they implemented to convey martial superiority to those classes who are supposed to have it.

 
I'm not getting why people think Deadly Strike damage makes other maneuvers useless. First off, since dice refresh at the end of your turn now, you've already used any defensive options by the time you're taking your action. Second, when you look at the maneuver list, there are only a few maneuvers that actually compete with Deadly Strike: Composed Attack, Precise Shot, Volley and Whirlwind Attack, by my count. Of those, the first two are very powerufl but very conditional, and the latter two are basically a way of spreading out the same Deadly Strike damage. All the rest either trigger before your turn (all the defensive ones, Opportunist, Danger Sense, etc), or are only used when you're doing something other than making a normal attack action (Spring Attack when you're moving, Mighty Exertion when you're wrestling or breaking down doors, Glancing Blow when you've already missed, etc).

Now, when they bring back maneuvers like Hurricane Strike for fighters (knockdowns, pushbacks, disarms, etc), that's when we'll start to see how extra damage stacks up to other effects.

As for the damage gap, it seems to me that this should be addressed within each class. A war cleric should be getting spells and/or special abilities that let him kick butt in melee, but a wizard probably shouldn't. Why should it be "worth an action" for the wizard to attack with a dagger or crossbow at high levels? If we're going with different power structures for different classes (daily for wizards, at-will for fighters), this is one of the necessary consequences: the classes powered by daily resources (spells) are going to look more powerful when they're using those resources but much less powerful when they're out of juice or holding back.

@Ogrenomnom... it sounds like you're making a few different points here. First, I agree that not every class should have comparable DPR. But I don't know what you're saying about 4e here. I mean, 4e has clear differences in DPR by class. Any competent striker does way more damage than any competent defender of the same level.

If you're saying that equipment selection should have a bigger effect on DPR, I think it really comes down to how much they're able to build into different weapons or fighting styles. A guy with a greatsword should hit way harder than a guy with a dagger? That's fine, but it means that the monks and knife fighters and duelists out there need other benefits to make up for their lesser damage. Right now, a knife fighter simply does less damage than a greatsword fighter with absolutely no benefits... until that change that up, I wouldn't want to see the damage gap widened even further.
I don't agree. What clerics and wizards get instead of expertise dice are spells, and the DPR that they can put out with spells is nothing to laugh at.



Spells run out, unless you're talking about at-will spells, and Mearls has said that fighters will do more damage than casters will with their at-will spells. That leaves daily spells to fill in the gap, except that casters get a limited supply of those. A caster might be able to match or exceed a fighter's DPR when blowing his most powerful spells, but how often can he afford to do so? How many rounds and how many battles can he keep that up?

They also get nifty abilities that a fighter cannot even touch (like polymorph, fly, heal, and the like).



Wizards also have alot of weaknesses that fighters don't. They're also getting alot fewer spell slots than they used to, and thanks to other new rules, like concentration, they can't afford to have as many buffs, or as many buffs at a time, as they used to.

That said, I'm hoping fighters will get some cool abilities that go beyond combat. I don't find it acceptable for any class to be terrible in any of the three pillars of play no matter how good they happen to be at another. Trying to balance classes across pillars is an exercise in futility. Every class needs to have at least basic competence in all three pillars. There's plenty of design space for making fighters good in and out of combat. They can borrow alot of leadership, intimidation, and inspirational abilities from the warlord, for example.

Fighters are a little overpowered compared to the other martial characters, but their balance with the spellcasters is so close that I hesitate to call it either way... if ED are drastically reduced, spellcasters will once again rule the roost.



I don't want spell damage to scale out of control, either. In 4e, fireball, a 5th level spell, did 5d6 + Int mod damage. Meteor Swarm, a 29th level spell, did 8d6 + Int mod. I'm hoping that spell damage in Next is kept similarly sane. When I say fighter damage needs to be reduced, keep in mind that I don't want spellcasters to be doing insane damage either.
Spells run out,



So do hit points and at a faster rate than spells.  Want to try that again, chief?

Spells run out,



So do hit points and at a faster rate than spells.  Want to try that again, chief?




Being condescending about it doesn't contribute to the conversation.

Also, this is just not true. Spells run out faster than the party's other resources. Hence, the 5-minute work day.
Spells run out,



So do hit points and at a faster rate than spells.  Want to try that again, chief?




Being condescending about it doesn't contribute to the conversation.

Also, this is just not true. Spells run out faster than the party's other resources. Hence, the 5-minute work day.


The common counter argument for the 5MWD (outside of the insulting, it's BAD GMING, MAAAN!) is pacing.  And I've had all melee parties and attrition is massive.  If you have spells, any spells that have a basic combat application (from Sleep to Grease to actual attack spells) then the party lives.  If you have no magic, the party can die even in 4e within a couple of rounds, depending, of course on die rolls.

So no, Magic is better than Hit Points, especially if it's the Vancian system because they ALWAYS work, saving throws are resistences not caster failure.  And a lot of spells have half effects (Like Fireball, where even half damage is enough to end the fight.)
another way you could down play the ED is to just have the ED pool refresh at a slower rate. say one die per round.  that would force players to choose how they spend there ED more carefully.  the extreme version of this would be to not have it refresh at all until the next combat encounter.

I don't agree. What clerics and wizards get instead of expertise dice are spells, and the DPR that they can put out with spells is nothing to laugh at.

 

Spells run out, unless you're talking about at-will spells, and Mearls has said that fighters will do more damage than casters will with their at-will spells. That leaves daily spells to fill in the gap, except that casters get a limited supply of those. A caster might be able to match or exceed a fighter's DPR when blowing his most powerful spells, but how often can he afford to do so? How many rounds and how many battles can he keep that up?



Which is why, when you calculate a wizard's potential damage output, you calculate its nova damage output and its damage output over an assumed certain number of rounds of combat per day. I have done all my calculations for a 16-20 round day. 

Like I said, right now, up to level 10, I like things pretty much as they are. Fighters are a little overpowered. We also know, however, that wizards will be getting more spell slots in the next packet. That will likely bring complete parity between fighters and spellcasters as the key word that I used is "a little." I don't think reducing expertise dice is the right answer. I would also like to see the sort of damage numbers on spells you described. But with enough AoE effects, and enough spell slots, those sort of damage values can add up very quickly in the wizard's favor. 

So, like I said, I like things as they are now. I just want to see a little more parity between fighters and other martial classes.  

I don't agree. What clerics and wizards get instead of expertise dice are spells, and the DPR that they can put out with spells is nothing to laugh at.

 

Spells run out, unless you're talking about at-will spells, and Mearls has said that fighters will do more damage than casters will with their at-will spells. That leaves daily spells to fill in the gap, except that casters get a limited supply of those. A caster might be able to match or exceed a fighter's DPR when blowing his most powerful spells, but how often can he afford to do so? How many rounds and how many battles can he keep that up?



Which is why, when you calculate a wizard's potential damage output, you calculate its nova damage output and its damage output over an assumed certain number of rounds of combat per day. I have done all my calculations for a 16-20 round day. 

 

Where are you getting the 16-20 round day figure from?

This is the problem with trying to balance at-will vs. daily resources, the number of rounds of combat in a day will vary wildly from one day to the next, from one adventure to another and from one gaming group to another. In a day with only one battle, a wizard can afford to leave the other classes in the dust, because he can afford to blow all of his daily resources. But in a day with several combats, he will be forced to rely on at-will spells most of the time, either because he is wise and uses his daily spells sparingly, or because he used them all earlier in the day. Since fighters are doing more with their at-will attacks than wizards are, that makes playing a wizard in such situations alot less fun.

People might say that the one extreme balances the other, but they don't. The same is true of the idea in past editions that it's okay for wizards to totally suck at low levels but be gods at high levels, and that those two extremes somehow balance each other. They don't. Different classes need to be balanced throughout all levels of play, and likewise, different classes need to be balanced throughout the adventuring day, and in different kinds of adventures that place different levels of emphasis on each of the three pillars of play: combat, exploration and interaction. 

And don't mistake this as coming from any kind of bias for wizards. The fighter also suffers from this bad design. What if your adventuring day, or adventure in total, has much more social stuff going on than combat? The wizard is going to be having a blast with enchantment spells, illusions, and divinations, right along with other classes like Bards and Rogues that can excel in social situations. The fighter player will be sitting there bored, having nothing comparable to contribute. That is no more acceptable than the wizard player being bored because all he can do is shoot a crossbow or ray of frost for pitiful damage.

Unfortunately, they seem to be adamant about wizards having daily spells. The more of the wizard's power that is invested in the daily portion of the class vs. the at-will portion, the greater the imbalances are going to be. Since they insist on keeping daily spells, I hope that they will not be where most of the class's power resides. If daily spells are only marginally better than at-will spells, it won't be a huge deal when a wizard goes "nova." It also won't be a huge deal if the wizard runs out of spells, since his at-will spells would need to be more balanced with other classes. That, and fighters need stuff for the other 2 pillars of play. I don't care how good they are at combat, it doesn't excuse them being worthless in the other pillars.
Where are you getting the 16-20 round day figure from?



4-6 encounters that each last about 3-4 rounds seems to be pretty standard for a D&DN adventuring day right now. So, I guess it is a holistic judgement that seems to be shared here on the forums...


This is the problem with trying to balance at-will vs. daily resources, the number of rounds of combat in a day will vary wildly from one day to the next, from one adventure to another and from one gaming group to another. In a day with only one battle, a wizard can afford to leave the other classes in the dust, because he can afford to blow all of his daily resources. But in a day with several combats, he will be forced to rely on at-will spells most of the time, either because he is wise and uses his daily spells sparingly, or because he used them all earlier in the day. Since fighters are doing more with their at-will attacks than wizards are, that makes playing a wizard in such situations alot less fun.

People might say that the one extreme balances the other, but they don't. The same is true of the idea in past editions that it's okay for wizards to totally suck at low levels but be gods at high levels, and that those two extremes somehow balance each other. They don't. Different classes need to be balanced throughout all levels of play, and likewise, different classes need to be balanced throughout the adventuring day, and in different kinds of adventures that place different levels of emphasis on each of the three pillars of play: combat, exploration and interaction.




I don’t agree with you. The problem with balancing classes across levels is that the moments of imbalance last too long. Short localized moments of imbalance that constantly shift between the group, however, I find quite fun. I know a lot of other people that agree. This is why I prefer spotlight balanced games to games balanced via constant homogenization. So, I think one extreme does balance out the other. As long as the average number of rounds of combat per any day in which combat occurs sits at around 16-20 rounds the game works. And, on those short days, a wizard will still have to watch its spell use; you don't know if a day will be a short day or a long day until after the fact.

That being said, it is nice that even during an 11 round day (in which the wizard can cast a daily spell every round) the wizard cannot outdamage a fighter in terms of single target damage (though it can deal more AoE damage). That is how I think it should be. That way, even when you have days that are short, the fighter class has some area in which it can shine (single target damage), even if the wizard can outperform the fighter in that area for few rounds in which it casts its highest level spells. 

I do, however, still want all classes to have some amount of capability at all times. Even spotlight balanced games can’t afford to swing too far in terms of affectivity. Even spotlight balanced games can’t afford to not give someone something interesting to do in all of the three pillars of the game. 


And don't mistake this as coming from any kind of bias for wizards. The fighter also suffers from this bad design. What if your adventuring day, or adventure in total, has much more social stuff going on than combat? The wizard is going to be having a blast with enchantment spells, illusions, and divinations, right along with other classes like Bards and Rogues that can excel in social situations. The fighter player will be sitting there bored, having nothing comparable to contribute. That is no more acceptable than the wizard player being bored because all he can do is shoot a crossbow or ray of frost for pitiful damage.

Unfortunately, they seem to be adamant about wizards having daily spells. The more of the wizard's power that is invested in the daily portion of the class vs. the at-will portion, the greater the imbalances are going to be. Since they insist on keeping daily spells, I hope that they will not be where most of the class's power resides. If daily spells are only marginally better than at-will spells, it won't be a huge deal when a wizard goes "nova." It also won't be a huge deal if the wizard runs out of spells, since his at-will spells would need to be more balanced with other classes. That, and fighters need stuff for the other 2 pillars of play. I don't care how good they are at combat, it doesn't excuse them being worthless in the other pillars.




Yea, ever since mighty exertion came out this complaint is not really valid anymore. Certainly the fighter does not have as much invested in the social or exploration areas of the game as the rogue, for example. He does, however, if he chooses to invest in mighty exertion, gain quite a bit. That power can be used for great affectivity during exploration challenges, and via intimidate can even be used to great effect in some social encounters.