I need some suggestions/ideas [3.5]

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I'm trying to come up with some houserules to address two issues that I see as a major reason why 3.5 is so unbalanced, especially at high level.

I'm going to focus on Druid-Ranger-Fighter for my examples and solutions. The Druid as one extreme, the Fighter as the other end, and the Ranger as a middle ground between the two. They represent Tier 1/3/5 classes, and my goal is to keep the Ranger about where he is, maybe boost a little, give the Fighter a big boost, and nerf the Druid somewhat.
I'd like to try to find rules that would also work for most of the other 3.5 classes, so things should affect Wizard or Cleric like they do Druid, Bard or Paladin like they do Ranger, Monk or Rogue like they do Fighter.

Issue 1
I see an imbalance between what I'd call the combat and noncombat investment. What I mean with that is that a Fighter needs to mainly invest in Str and Con to be effective in combat, but these have very little noncombat use. Druid and other casters have the advantage that their main combat stat is Wis which also has great noncombat use. The Ranger might be even worse off, as he needs both (MAD).
Initially I thought of a system where classes like the Fighter would get bonus Str/Con/Dex representing their "training" and leaving more stat points available for Int/Wis/Cha. I thought about basically giving +1 to a Physical stat for each level that doesn't give spellcasting advancement. The problem here is the Ranger and others like him as he does get spells so wouldn't get this boost, they're just so much poorer than the Druid that he should problably get almost the same boost as the Fighter.

Issue 2
There is a big discrepancy in the resources that characters get because of spells. Eveyone gets Items/gold, class features (ok, maybe not Sorcerers), BAB, Saves, Feats. Some a little more than others and for some the class features are better designed than for others (lol Monk).
But spells, especially buffs, is an additional resource that nonspellcasters simply do not get. Polymorph and Shapechange are just some of the worst offenders because they are the most versatile and powerfull buffs. I notice this effect on the Druid with spells like the Heart of Water/Air/Earth/Fire series, and even on the Ranger with the Primal Hunter/Instinct/Senses/Speed series.
The only way I see for a Fighter to duplicate these benefits is though magic items, but that's a resource the other classes have as well. A secondary effect there is that at high levels the prices for items go up faster than the wealth so the power gain of the Fighter slows down, while the amount of spellslots that casters get each level accellerates leaving more room for buffs.
To compensate for this, I have the feeling that either buffs need a major nerf, like reducing the duration, or that Fighter types need a new resource or just plainly more wealth to purchase items to keep up. The advantage they have in BAB, HP and feats isn't making up for the lack of access to buffs.
All of this assumes that the spellcasters aren't casting a lot of buffs on the Fighter type of course, just to keep the argument clear.

Now I've been milling around on possible houserules to change what I see as two big issues with 3.5. I like broad and simple rules instead of having to adjucate everything piece by piece. For example we've already got a houserule that just states no items can be used in Wildshape or polymorph & friends, they all meld into shape, unless you pay double the price (the equivalent of making them slotless).

I'm thinking of the following:
- Reducing the duration of all buffs by one step, if longer than rounds/level, but this would not just hurt the Druid, which can take it, but also the Ranger, which power level I'm quite happy with.
- As mentioned, granting bonus physical stats to classes without or with reduced spellcasting.
- Changing the stacking rules for spells.
- Adding additional wealth or item gains to nonspellcasters, or changing the cost of items.

There are also specific spells that need to be addressed, like the Polymorph/Shapechange stuff, I'm thinking of just giving them a costly material component or XP cost. I don't mind spells like that to see occasional use, but I want everyone to have a chance to shine, so I want to make it hard to use them nearly every combat.

I also need to keep in mind classes like the Sorcerer and Fav. Soul who have much less access to buffs because of their limited spell selection.

I know this will not fully balance 3.5, or make it impossible to break things. I just want to see if by addressing what I see as two main design flaws that affect 3.5 especially heavily, I can get a more balanced game. Fighters will still have a poor skill selection, Rangers will still have an Animal Compantion that is too weak at high level. But those could be minor tweaks.

I want to know if others have considered these issues, if other people also see these as major flaws in 3.5, and if people have ideas, or think my ideas might work.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)

Issue 1 - I can see this, though I don't think making Fighters better at fighting is a good way to make them better at not fighting. I do think Fighters should get more skills (Spot, Listen, maybe Knowledge (History) or Knowledge (Nobility and Royalty), or a choose-from-this-list kinda thing, maybe Survival) and maybe even 4 points per level, which might not give them a significant boost power-wise but would make them feel a lot less like sword-wielding lumps.

Issue 2 - Compare the cost of gaining a buff-like effect to the cost of gaining a feat. I'm not saying this makes a Fighter more powerful than a caster, but it's something to bear in mind. You could also just keep dropping them gear appropriate for the weaker players.

However, if buffs are your problem, consider suprising the party. I mean, what level are we looking at here? Once I get my Persistent Everything I have no worries about buffing, but a caster who spends several rounds in combat casting buffs on themselves is a dead weight. Give them variable chance to buff, and that's less of an issue.

The hour/level spells might still be something to consider. Heart of XXX do have drawbacks in that, once burned, they're gone (and you should be throwing them a second encounter to take advantage of that). They also eat up slots which, depending on your level, might be quite costly. However, if you feel they're causing issues, have an enemy NPC dispel them. Again, it depends on their level and build (two things you, as the DM, know well) but without some kind of Consumptive Field abuse you should be able to stat up a caster who can take down >50% of buffs easily (Dispelling Cord + Spellcaster's Bane is already a +4 boost). At higher levels, use Mord's. It's low, but it's an option.

I threw up a thread about this not so long ago - I'm not trying to suggest that actually, the game is balanced just fine. I'm suggesting that before trying to house-rule everything, try getting a bit smart within the rules first and seeing where that goes. 
To make this clear: I'm not a DM all the time, we rotate DM-ship. We're thinking about some houserules, as we've been houserule light but with improved system mastery things are getting more and more unbalanced. We're currently into high level 3.5 - level 16 now.

Issue 1 - I can see this, though I don't think making Fighters better at fighting is a good way to make them better at not fighting.

I think the Fighter should either be the most awesome sword wielding lump out there, or he should be able to choose to be on par with a buffed Cleric, Druid or Wizard and still have some nice noncombat options.

Currently, even if the Fighter pours every resource he has into being a better sword wielding lump, the Cleric, Druid or Wizard can still do it better.
Even with this change the Fighter isn't going to have Shapechange, Wish, Time Stop or Gate. There's only so much a sword wielding lump can do in combat, why not have him be absolutely the best at that? It would help the Rogue and Monk a lot as well.

I like this idea for classes like Fighter, Monk, Rogue which would basically get +20 to physical stats over 20 levels.
I have no compassion for classes like Wizard, Druid, Cleric. They have their Shapechange, Polymorph, Wildshape, Divine Power, Righteous Might, etc. So they shouldn't get anything.
I can figure things out for Prestige Classes, just every level where there is no "+1 to existing spellcasting class" you get +1 to physical stat instead.
I'm puzzled how much a class like Ranger, Bard, Duskblade or Paladin should get. That's where I get stuck.

I do think Fighters should get more skills (Spot, Listen, maybe Knowledge (History) or Knowledge (Nobility and Royalty), or a choose-from-this-list kinda thing, maybe Survival) and maybe even 4 points per level, which might not give them a significant boost power-wise but would make them feel a lot less like sword-wielding lumps.

Oh, I think some tweaks like that are needed as well. There need to be reasons for the Fighter to want to put points in the mental stats. I'm considering making everything class skills for everyone for example.

Issue 2 - Compare the cost of gaining a buff-like effect to the cost of gaining a feat. I'm not saying this makes a Fighter more powerful than a caster, but it's something to bear in mind.


I think that often the buffs are better. Maybe not one buff vs. a feat, but a high level caster might have 50-100+ spell slots vs. as Fighter's 7-11 bonus feats. A feat is not as good as 5-10 buffs (mostly hour/level or Extended 10 min/level).

You could also just keep dropping them gear appropriate for the weaker players.

As we rotate DMs that's not really an option. It also has to do with 2 players making a new character soon, what gear should they have (currently we use DMG Table 5-1)? (Their current characters are so overpowered that we all agreed to retire them)

However, if buffs are your problem, consider suprising the party. I mean, what level are we looking at here? Once I get my Persistent Everything I have no worries about buffing, but a caster who spends several rounds in combat casting buffs on themselves is a dead weight. Give them variable chance to buff, and that's less of an issue.

The buffs I have most issue with are those that are hour/level. Even extended 10 min/level gets pretty good at high level.

The hour/level spells might still be something to consider. Heart of XXX do have drawbacks in that, once burned, they're gone (and you should be throwing them a second encounter to take advantage of that).

But so will the Fighter burn though his limited use abilities from Feats and Items. The spellcaster might have a much easier time recasting his buffs than the Fighter has to renew his charges on a Belt of Battle. And the spellcaster might have a Belt of Battle too.

They also eat up slots which, depending on your level, might be quite costly.

As I said, I'm specifically trying to do something mostly for high level (15+) play.

However, if you feel they're causing issues, have an enemy NPC dispel them. Again, it depends on their level and build (two things you, as the DM, know well) but without some kind of Consumptive Field abuse you should be able to stat up a caster who can take down >50% of buffs easily (Dispelling Cord + Spellcaster's Bane is already a +4 boost). At higher levels, use Mord's. It's low, but it's an option.

It might work, but at level 16, Greater Dispel Magic is already ineffective because I basically need to roll a 21 to dispel anything on him. (One of the reasons why we're retiring the character)

I threw up a thread about this not so long ago - I'm not trying to suggest that actually, the game is balanced just fine. I'm suggesting that before trying to house-rule everything, try getting a bit smart within the rules first and seeing where that goes.


That works to a certain extent. We've got two players with good mastery of the rules details (not me), and when it's their turn to DM they are sometimes able to challenge each other's character. Any of the other in the group have a very hard time as DM to come up with anything challenging.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)

Here's my opinion on the state of things:

The d20 system imparts bonuses which are designed to increase linearly, be it to skills, attacks, or other statistics. Fighter and Rogue are both good examples of that dynamic with their linear feat progression, BAB, saves, and so on. If you know a Fighter's Attack bonus, or a Rogue's skill point bonus you have a good idea at their exact level. However, within D&D this dynamic quickly broke down as people designed other classes and monsters.

#1 The increasingly growing size and abilities of monsters over levels, outperforms the assumed linear progression of many of the Players Handbook staples such as combat healing and sword swinging. Boss level abilities for use against one level of player didn't match up as mook level abilites against another.
#2 A glut of spells were printed to keep spellcasters with full spellbooks and their options high, some seemingly without adequate play testing let alone balance consideration.
#3 Classes with a wide variety of abilities had ALL of their abilities increase linearly, even as they gained new ones (except for monks which they seem to have been unable to mechanically model after their thematic elements).

Suddenly, Fighters found that monster's were getting better faster than they did and spellcaster's options grew by leaps and bounds with every new spell while they were stuck with the same old feats and skill points. Many of these spells actually had effects above those available to class abilities (Glibness, Divine Might) that, were they class feature rather than spells, would likely have had the offending writer shot from a cannon.

To make matters worse, due to the problem solving nature of D&D, the increased versatility of a wide range of spells and other abilities to chose from was a bigger boon than expected. While Fighters and Rogues remained burdened with the same class based load out every day, Druids can swap out their animal companion, spell load out, or wild shape form with almost impunity. Adding to this problem was a steadily increasing number of magic items and spells which allowed casters to ignore whole sections of the system. Invisibility killing the Hide skill; Flight killing climb, jump, balance, and more; Monk's Belt killing monks. Magic items can be adequate rewards, but also can give bonuses and abilities for far less than they cost via classes. A quick look tells me that for only a few gold, a wide variety of feats can be purchased via magic items as well as... Well, everything else too.

The last straw was that basic classes such as Rogue and Fighter which lack any thematic dedication were easy to use in any situation while spellcasters and other classes received dedicated support via prestige classes, new spells, magic items, etc. Any new feats and skill uses, while useable by Fighters and Rogues, could also be used by classes able to impinge upon the Fighter and Rogue's previously established roles.


Now on to solutions:

Having seen that versatility is key we can make educated guesses as to what needs to be more versatile, what needs to be less, and what was a bad mistake.

Feats: Feats are incredibly static, remaining unchanged over levels and challenges. Feat trees are stupid.
Suggestion: More versatility is required to meet the growing needs of characters. Fighters especially need to be able to get new feats in a hurry.

Skill points: Skill points are also are incredibly static, remaining unchanged over levels and challenges.
Suggestion: In many respects these are as versatile as they reasonably need to be. De-powering options that negate them is preferable.

Spells: Spells are incredibly versatile, able to do anything and everything to extents above their level.
Suggestion: An entire encounter's spells (and other abilities) need to be less potent. Limiting spell lists and changing the level of spells would be a good start.

Magic Items: Magic Items can let anyone do anything for the right price. Eventually a PCs equipment is more important than their class.
Suggestion: Gut the Magic Items selection with a shotgun. What you do after that is beyond me, but starting from scratch may be better than starting from existing content.
Here's my opinion on the state of things:

The d20 system imparts bonuses which are designed to increase linearly, be it to skills, attacks, or other statistics. Fighter and Rogue are both good examples of that dynamic with their linear feat progression, BAB, saves, and so on. If you know a Fighter's Attack bonus, or a Rogue's skill point bonus you have a good idea at their exact level. However, within D&D this dynamic quickly broke down as people designed other classes and monsters.

#1 The increasingly growing size and abilities of monsters over levels, outperforms the assumed linear progression of many of the Players Handbook staples such as combat healing and sword swinging. Boss level abilities for use against one level of player didn't match up as mook level abilites against another.
#2 A glut of spells were printed to keep spellcasters with full spellbooks and their options high, some seemingly without adequate play testing let alone balance consideration.
#3 Classes with a wide variety of abilities had ALL of their abilities increase linearly, even as they gained new ones (except for monks which they seem to have been unable to mechanically model after their thematic elements).

Suddenly, Fighters found that monster's were getting better faster than they did and spellcaster's options grew by leaps and bounds with every new spell while they were stuck with the same old feats and skill points. Many of these spells actually had effects above those available to class abilities (Glibness, Divine Might) that, were they class feature rather than spells, would likely have had the offending writer shot from a cannon.

To make matters worse, due to the problem solving nature of D&D, the increased versatility of a wide range of spells and other abilities to chose from was a bigger boon than expected. While Fighters and Rogues remained burdened with the same class based load out every day, Druids can swap out their animal companion, spell load out, or wild shape form with almost impunity. Adding to this problem was a steadily increasing number of magic items and spells which allowed casters to ignore whole sections of the system. Invisibility killing the Hide skill; Flight killing climb, jump, balance, and more; Monk's Belt killing monks. Magic items can be adequate rewards, but also can give bonuses and abilities for far less than they cost via classes. A quick look tells me that for only a few gold, a wide variety of feats can be purchased via magic items as well as... Well, everything else too.

The last straw was that basic classes such as Rogue and Fighter which lack any thematic dedication were easy to use in any situation while spellcasters and other classes received dedicated support via prestige classes, new spells, magic items, etc. Any new feats and skill uses, while useable by Fighters and Rogues, could also be used by classes able to impinge upon the Fighter and Rogue's previously established roles.


I like your analysis, and yes, versatility is the key. It's the main yardstick used when deciding which class belongs in which "Tier".

What I'm trying to do is address some of the reasons that some classes are much more versatile than others, at least in my view.

Just looking at the linear progression of things like BAB isn't enough, you have to look at the things that don't progress linearly. I see bonusses from items actually progress slower than linear, as +3 is much more expensive than +2. I see spells to be the main problem because they progress super linear, and allow access to a completely new resource in the form of buffs.
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Now on to solutions:

Having seen that versatility is key we can make educated guesses as to what needs to be more versatile, what needs to be less, and what was a bad mistake.

Feats: Feats are incredibly static, remaining unchanged over levels and challenges. Feat trees are stupid.
Suggestion: More versatility is required to meet the growing needs of characters. Fighters especially need to be able to get new feats in a hurry.


Thanks for bringing up feats. What if you would be able to swap your feats for others after an 8 hour rest? That would dramatically increase the versatility of the Fighter I think.

Skill points: Skill points are also are incredibly static, remaining unchanged over levels and challenges.
Suggestion: In many respects these are as versatile as they reasonably need to be. De-powering options that negate them is preferable.

I agree here. I like how flexible the skill mechanic is at it's core. I think that for added versatility and diversity it would be nice to do away with the class skill mechanic. Let the Fighter have Speak Language or Knowledge(Arcana) if he wants to.

Spells: Spells are incredibly versatile, able to do anything and everything to extents above their level.
Suggestion: An entire encounter's spells (and other abilities) need to be less potent. Limiting spell lists and changing the level of spells would be a good start.


I'm thinking about going the other way around and giving those without spells a boost.

Magic Items: Magic Items can let anyone do anything for the right price. Eventually a PCs equipment is more important than their class.
Suggestion: Gut the Magic Items selection with a shotgun. What you do after that is beyond me, but starting from scratch may be better than starting from existing content.


I don't have a problem with magic items as everyone has access to them in a similar measure. I think they're vastly more important to the non-spellcasting classes and limiting them is to the advantage of spellcasters. A naked Druid is much more scary than a naked Fighter.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)

The extreme power and versatility of spellcasting, especially high-level spellcasting, is really the big nut to crack because almost everything else pales in comparison.  Given its extreme potential, it really needs to be more difficult to use one way or another (longer casting times, shorter durations, gold or XP costs, more limited selections and so on), but it's hard to apply a single solution that will cover everything because not all spells have the same strengths.  XP costs are probably the most viable broad option, since they meaningfully affect almost everyone in a way they care about, but the drawback is essentially temporary in the longer-term view due to the elastic nature of XP gain.

A basic possibility would be to institute a level-based cost based for spells above a certain spell level (in addition to any normal costs).  The exact amount is the bit to tinker with so it's not too cheap or too expensive.

Improving the fighter is something of a knotty problem, since you still want them to basically be the fighter, instead of redefining the nature of their abilities.  The thread about a custom "Fencer" class not too long ago covered similar territory, and what you really need to add is an additional subsystem to support the fighter's efforts.  The factotum's inspiration ability is a good model to follow if you're not planning a much more significant overall (one along the lines of the Tome of Battle's maneuver system, which unfortunately is likely to just make the fighter feel like a variant warblade).

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The extreme power and versatility of spellcasting, especially high-level spellcasting, is really the big nut to crack because almost everything else pales in comparison.  Given its extreme potential, it really needs to be more difficult to use one way or another (longer casting times, shorter durations, gold or XP costs, more limited selections and so on), but it's hard to apply a single solution that will cover everything because not all spells have the same strengths.  XP costs are probably the most viable broad option, since they meaningfully affect almost everyone in a way they care about, but the drawback is essentially temporary in the longer-term view due to the elastic nature of XP gain.

A basic possibility would be to institute a level-based cost based for spells above a certain spell level (in addition to any normal costs).  The exact amount is the bit to tinker with so it's not too cheap or too expensive.

I see two issues with spells:


  • The higher versatility that classes like Fighter don't get. I think the solution here is to increase the versatility of the Fighter, and maybe limit the most offending spells though XP, houserule or material component. (Thinking Shapechange no longer giving SpellLike abilities like Wish for example) I think the Fighter is not versatile enough not that the Druid is much too versatile.



  • The aditional resource through buffs that I explained above. This can be abused because a lot of things can be made to stack in 3.5. for now I'm thinking to nerf duration in some way accross the board. Maybe reduce duration categories, maybe make them end after an encounter although that might encourage 5 minute working days.



Improving the fighter is something of a knotty problem, since you still want them to basically be the fighter, instead of redefining the nature of their abilities.  The thread about a custom "Fencer" class not too long ago covered similar territory, and what you really need to add is an additional subsystem to support the fighter's efforts.  The factotum's inspiration ability is a good model to follow if you're not planning a much more significant overall (one along the lines of the Tome of Battle's maneuver system, which unfortunately is likely to just make the fighter feel like a variant warblade).



I think the way to improve the Fighter is though the thing that that class has first and formost: Feats.
I'm thinking a Feat pool of +1 per level + Fighter Bonus Feats + Feat/3 levels from which he can choose a selection of Feat/3 levels + Fighter Bonus Feats every day.

I would make Feats the Fighter's spells basically.

You could extend it to all classes but it would by far be the biggest boost to the Fighter because he gets the most "Feat Slots".

I'm not sure if I like the flavour of a Fighter being able to switch all kinds of weird feats on the fly but in general Feats are more powerful than spells on a 1-on-1 basis, so it could be a significant power boost.
To be able to switch out Cleave and Greater Cleave for Pierce Magical Protection and Mage Slayer when you know you're going to fight a Spellcaster should increase versatility.

You could even make some of it per encounter or someting like that.

I haven't figured it out completely yet, but I think some kind of mechanic w.r.t. Feats could work.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)

We're currently into high level 3.5 - level 16 now.

Hmm, yes, well the higher you go, the most the spellcasters start to take to the fore. Unfortunately, there's only so much a guy with a sword can do when faced with Horrors from the Great Beyond.

I think that often the buffs are better. Maybe not one buff vs. a feat, but a high level caster might have 50-100+ spell slots vs. as Fighter's 7-11 bonus feats. A feat is not as good as 5-10 buffs (mostly hour/level or Extended 10 min/level).

Not at all - but a high level caster is not going to have that many useful spell slots. All the prepared casters have to worry about having brought the wrong stuff, and the spontaneous ones are less of a problem. In fact, a DM can metagame a little and vary the encounters such that Wizards are cursing their inability to cast spontanously (unless they can, because there are ways to do that...)

The buffs I have most issue with are those that are hour/level. Even extended 10 min/level gets pretty good at high level.

Perhaps. Something like Heart of Earth is good, for example - even if you just consider it to be a swift-action, no-material-component Stoneskin with a short duration.

It might work, but at level 16, Greater Dispel Magic is already ineffective because I basically need to roll a 21 to dispel anything on him.

What was he using?
Dispelling
Off the top of my head, CL 16 + 1 Ioun Stone + 1 Ring of Arcane Might (?) + 4 Ring of Enduring Arcana = CL 22. If he buffed up whilst using a Bead of Karma, CL 26, and he could get it higher but it gets trickier. So DC 33-37 caster level check.
Meanwhile, GDM at max level is +20 so you need to roll a 13-17. I'm guessing he must have had more CL boosts? Even so, you could add in Spellcaster's Bane (+2) and a Dispelling Cord (+2) for an easy +4. If you really want to strong-arm them, Inquisitor Domain +4 and maybe Soultouched Spellcasting (doesn't stack with Spellcaster's Bane, but if you went for it you could get more than +2) gives +8 or more, and Reserves of Strength offers another potential +3. You could also use Chain Dispel which has a CL cap of +25, meaning you're looking at maybe +38, though that's probably pushing it. So now you dispel everything one a 1 (or, more likely, a 5 or something, if he has a higher CL). Check out the dispelling compilation. Remember even if the odds are poor, if he has several buffs up, you're likely to get one of them.

Of course he could have been using Consumptive Field, or Circle Magic, or whatever, for all I know, but they tend to be more specifics, since a lot of them are evil-only or setting-specific or whatever.

Also, Mord's.
Also, AMF.
Both low options, but options which do exist.

But anyway, I digress.
Your mention of durations does remind me of a similar idea I had, to change them to scale as 2 + 1/2 caster level or thereabouts, instead of with caster level. The problem is that at higher levels, even the short-duration buffs lasts well over a minute, meaning even if you use stalling tactics they're not going to run out in combat or even in any dangerous kind of time-frame. It also means that 10 min/level ones can't so easily be Extended to last all day. Of course, it's still more those all-day buffs you want to worry about.

The problem is that magic is just better. It's not a surprise, given that it's magic. IMO, it probably should be better. However, maybe you want to add some kind of drawback, like that Sanity system, or some sort of Spell Fatigue, or longer casting times or whatever. I've toyed with the idea of trying to change things so that the fights are still all about the spellcasting, but so that they're more the Fighter-types doing the hard work to ensure a spellcaster can cast safely and win the battle rather than the spellcasters doing all the work and making the others redundant.
The implicit assumption here is that every class has to be equally viable, for a given value of 'viable.'

That's entirely reasonable, but what about taking a different tack and saying, "You know what, the Fighter was created way back at the beginning of the system, but now the system has evolved. Rather than trying to retrofit and fix something that's broken, we're just going to start fresh with a different class. We'll let the Fighter be itself and let the new class be itself."

In other words, accept that Fighters have been left behind and encourage those who want to play melee characters to play one of the many new classes.
We're currently into high level 3.5 - level 16 now.

Hmm, yes, well the higher you go, the most the spellcasters start to take to the fore. Unfortunately, there's only so much a guy with a sword can do when faced with Horrors from the Great Beyond.

I think sometimes the guy with the sword needs to be able to go toe to toe with the Horrors from the Great Beyond and lob some heads off. (assuming they have heads)

Why should spellcasters have all the fun?

I think that often the buffs are better. Maybe not one buff vs. a feat, but a high level caster might have 50-100+ spell slots vs. as Fighter's 7-11 bonus feats. A feat is not as good as 5-10 buffs (mostly hour/level or Extended 10 min/level).

Not at all - but a high level caster is not going to have that many useful spell slots. All the prepared casters have to worry about having brought the wrong stuff, and the spontaneous ones are less of a problem. In fact, a DM can metagame a little and vary the encounters such that Wizards are cursing their inability to cast spontanously (unless they can, because there are ways to do that...)


One guy in my party runs around all day with: Disguise Self, Alter Self, Heroism, Inner Beauty, Snow Song, Nixie's Grace, Longstrider, Primal Hunter, Barkskin, Might of Oak, Listening Lorecall, Cloud Wings, Heart of Water, Greater Magic Fang, Girallon's blessing, Scales of the Sealord, Heart of Earth, Enhanced Wildshape, Unicorn Blood, Heart of Fire, Unicorn Heart, Heart of Air, Primal Instinct, Energy Immunity (fire/acid/cold), Superior Resistance, Elemental Body.

Some last 24 hours, some last 8 hours and he needs to cast again when they run out but the day isn't over yet. (Caster level 24 with rod of extend = 8 hours)

This list of 30 odd (he casts more in combat if he can) buffs is the main reason I really think that buffs are part of the problem, no non-spellcaster is getting this much stuff from class features. Even someone getting 2 bonus feats per level would struggle to get this many benefits.

It might work, but at level 16, Greater Dispel Magic is already ineffective because I basically need to roll a 21 to dispel anything on him.

What was he using?
[sblock=Dispelling]Off the top of my head, CL 16 + 1 Ioun Stone + 1 Ring of Arcane Might (?) + 4 Ring of Enduring Arcana = CL 22. If he buffed up whilst using a Bead of Karma, CL 26, and he could get it higher but it gets trickier. So DC 33-37 caster level check.
Meanwhile, GDM at max level is +20 so you need to roll a 13-17. I'm guessing he must have had more CL boosts? Even so, you could add in Spellcaster's Bane (+2) and a Dispelling Cord (+2) for an easy +4. If you really want to strong-arm them, Inquisitor Domain +4 and maybe Soultouched Spellcasting (doesn't stack with Spellcaster's Bane, but if you went for it you could get more than +2) gives +8 or more, and Reserves of Strength offers another potential +3. You could also use Chain Dispel which has a CL cap of +25, meaning you're looking at maybe +38, though that's probably pushing it. So now you dispel everything one a 1 (or, more likely, a 5 or something, if he has a higher CL). Check out the dispelling compilation. Remember even if the odds are poor, if he has several buffs up, you're likely to get one of them.

I think it's DC 39 to dispel him, according to his character sheet he's got CL 28 for dispelling. He has the items you mention. He also uses Harmonic Chorus and Hymn of Praise while buffing, so probably gets the extra +2 from one of those.

Nice suggestions though. I hadn't gotten beyond using AMF: Beholder's and Deathbringers work against this guy but you can only use them so many times.

But anyway, I digress.
Your mention of durations does remind me of a similar idea I had, to change them to scale as 2 + 1/2 caster level or thereabouts, instead of with caster level. The problem is that at higher levels, even the short-duration buffs lasts well over a minute, meaning even if you use stalling tactics they're not going to run out in combat or even in any dangerous kind of time-frame. It also means that 10 min/level ones can't so easily be Extended to last all day. Of course, it's still more those all-day buffs you want to worry about.

At high caster level it still gets pretty good.

The problem is that magic is just better. It's not a surprise, given that it's magic. IMO, it probably should be better.

I don't have a problem with Magic being better. I'm having a trouble with Magic being better all day long. and I'm not limiting myself to combat when I say that. As I said, those spellcasters will have at least one good Int/Wis/Cha, probably two, boosting lot's of skills that stay relevant at high levels.

I mean that I have a problem when the spellcaster can outshine the noncasters 4+ encounters per day. Not just being more versatile, but just straight better at everything.
Everyone needs a moment to shine, otherwise noncasters just become an audience to the Tier 1 casters.

However, maybe you want to add some kind of drawback, like that Sanity system, or some sort of Spell Fatigue, or longer casting times or whatever.

I wrote this post exatly to see what suggestions people would give in that direction. Can you elaborate? Or should I just google?

I've toyed with the idea of trying to change things so that the fights are still all about the spellcasting, but so that they're more the Fighter-types doing the hard work to ensure a spellcaster can cast safely and win the battle rather than the spellcasters doing all the work and making the others redundant.


I don't think it should be that you especially need to set up the situation so that Fighters can feel marginally useful.
And the guy above gets 90+ AC, 220+ HP, AB ~40, 8 Attacks/round (He uses Draconic Polymorph into an Octopus Tree), Saves 24/26/32 or there about, 15 ft. reach. When do we need a Fighter exactly?
He's also got a few tricks like Lucent Lance, Assay spell resistance, challeled lifetheft, teleport, Languor, Wall of Thorns, Sheltered Vitality, for when he needs other options.

And yes, his character gets retired at the end of the adventure. Some of the stats above are due to being a bit liberal in rules interpretation, which wasn't a good idea with this guy in retrospect.

The Druid is also getting retired.

This post is part of an effort to come up with some houserules to limit the crazy when these two guys make new characters.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)

The implicit assumption here is that every class has to be equally viable, for a given value of 'viable.'

That's entirely reasonable, but what about taking a different tack and saying, "You know what, the Fighter was created way back at the beginning of the system, but now the system has evolved. Rather than trying to retrofit and fix something that's broken, we're just going to start fresh with a different class. We'll let the Fighter be itself and let the new class be itself."

In other words, accept that Fighters have been left behind and encourage those who want to play melee characters to play one of the many new classes.


The Fighter for me is just the example, I think all of the big pieces of metal swinging guys can use a little help, that's why I also included the Ranger in my write up, he's a stand in for the Hexblades and Duskblades out there.
I'm trying to come up with ideas that put classes like Druid and Wizard down a notch, leave guys like the Favoured Soul pretty much alone, keep guys like the Ranger, Duskblade equal or slightly stronger, and give classes like Monk, Figher Rogue a big boost.

The common theme there seems to be that better spellcasting should mean less of a boost, so I was thinking of tying it to not getting (improved) spellcasting Whatever buff to the weaker guys I am trying to come up with should only be received when you don't get better spells.

The weaker classes need help both in power and versatility, so I'm looking at at least two things I would try to tweak: raw power and increasing versatility for those with no or little spellcasting.

Such a tweak will not be perfect either, but I'd hope to bring the average power and versatility closer together.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)

There are two basic ways to adjust spellcasting down:

Reduce the Positive: Shorter duration, fewer choices, etc.
Increase the Negative: Longer casting time, extra costs, etc.

For buffs in particular, another thing you could do to drastically reduce the positive side is to simply place a direct limit on the number of buffs from which you can benefit at any one time.

The kraken stirs. And ten billion sushi dinners cry out for vengeance. - Good Omens

Co-Author of the Dreamfane, Euralden Eye, Gajuisan Crawler, Gruesome Lurker, Fulminating Crab, Ironglass Rose, Sheengrass Swarm, Spryjack, Usunag, and Warp Drifter, and author of the Magmal Horror from Force of Nature.

My most popular campaign item; for all your adventuring convenience.
Zauber's Mutable Rod: This rod has a number of useful functions that make it easier to live in the wilderness. It is made of polished wood, with five studlike buttons on one end. Each button produces a different effect when pressed. Unless otherwise noted, the rod’s functions have no limit on the number of times they can be employed. When button 1 is pressed, one end of the rod produces a small flame, equivalent to a candle. When button 2 is pressed, the rod unfolds into a two-person tent, complete with bedrolls and warm blankets. When button 3 is pressed, the rod becomes a one-handed hammer, suitable for pounding pitons into a wall. When button 4 is pressed, the rod becomes a sturdy iron spade. When button 5 is pressed, the rod becomes a wooden bucket able to hold 2 gallons of liquid. Once per day, it can be commanded to fill with fresh water. If the rod is seriously damaged or broken in any of its alternate forms (button 2, 3, 4, or 5), it reverts to its basic rod form and cannot be activated for 24 hours. Moderate conjuration; CL 9th; Craft Rod, minor creation; Price 375 gp; Weight 2 lb.
There are two basic ways to adjust spellcasting down:

Reduce the Positive: Shorter duration, fewer choices, etc.
Increase the Negative: Longer casting time, extra costs, etc.

For buffs in particular, another thing you could do to drastically reduce the positive side is to simply place a direct limit on the number of buffs from which you can benefit at any one time.


I've thought about something like that, but I can't come up with a variant that I'm happy with.

I think something like max. 4 buffs is too simple.
Maybe something like max. 4 buffs with durations > 1 hour.
Or 2 buffs +1 per 4 levels.

Any suggestions?

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)

I find the simplicity of a direct limit to be part of its appeal.  If you wanted to be really brutal with it, you could even take it down to a single buff (effectively eliminating buff combinations), though my first thought was for two or three.  You can get effective combinations with even just a couple of good buffs (divine power + righteous might being the first that comes to mind), and polymorphing spells probably deserve some special rule for counting as multiple buffs, or completely suppressing other buffs.

As another thought, you could possibly even have the duration step down as a direct result of adding additional buffs, instead of a hard limit.

Hmm, would it be simplest to assume that Divine Metamagic and/or Persistent Spell are "sent to live on a farm"?

The kraken stirs. And ten billion sushi dinners cry out for vengeance. - Good Omens

Co-Author of the Dreamfane, Euralden Eye, Gajuisan Crawler, Gruesome Lurker, Fulminating Crab, Ironglass Rose, Sheengrass Swarm, Spryjack, Usunag, and Warp Drifter, and author of the Magmal Horror from Force of Nature.

My most popular campaign item; for all your adventuring convenience.
Zauber's Mutable Rod: This rod has a number of useful functions that make it easier to live in the wilderness. It is made of polished wood, with five studlike buttons on one end. Each button produces a different effect when pressed. Unless otherwise noted, the rod’s functions have no limit on the number of times they can be employed. When button 1 is pressed, one end of the rod produces a small flame, equivalent to a candle. When button 2 is pressed, the rod unfolds into a two-person tent, complete with bedrolls and warm blankets. When button 3 is pressed, the rod becomes a one-handed hammer, suitable for pounding pitons into a wall. When button 4 is pressed, the rod becomes a sturdy iron spade. When button 5 is pressed, the rod becomes a wooden bucket able to hold 2 gallons of liquid. Once per day, it can be commanded to fill with fresh water. If the rod is seriously damaged or broken in any of its alternate forms (button 2, 3, 4, or 5), it reverts to its basic rod form and cannot be activated for 24 hours. Moderate conjuration; CL 9th; Craft Rod, minor creation; Price 375 gp; Weight 2 lb.
I find the simplicity of a direct limit to be part of its appeal.  If you wanted to be really brutal with it, you could even take it down to a single buff (effectively eliminating buff combinations), though my first thought was for two or three.  You can get effective combinations with even just a couple of good buffs (divine power + righteous might being the first that comes to mind), and polymorphing spells probably deserve some special rule for counting as multiple buffs, or completely suppressing other buffs.


I don't want to completely get rid of buffs. Wizards are assumed to have things like Mage Armor and our Favoured Soul would be hurt really bad without Divine Power+Righteous Might.
As another thought, you could possibly even have the duration step down as a direct result of adding additional buffs, instead of a hard limit.

I like the idea that more buffs shortens their duration.

Hmm, would it be simplest to assume that Divine Metamagic and/or Persistent Spell are "sent to live on a farm"?

Divine Metamagic is something we've banned, there was no discussion in the group. Persistent Spell hasn't ever come up yet. And unless you've got a way though PrCs or something like that to bring the +6 spell levels down, it's kind of hard to use.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)

I think sometimes the guy with the sword needs to be able to go toe to toe with the Horrors from the Great Beyond and lob some heads off. (assuming they have heads)

Well, here's the thing. The Horror can fly. Oh. Oops. Well, the Fighter can get Flying Boots. Who made those? The Wizard. The only point I was making was that the nature of the game is that you're going to have to use magic, and liberally, at these levels. Fighters are inherantly non-magical. Thus, the only thing they can possibly do is get a load of magic items etc. It's not good for balance, but it's no surprise the game ended up that way.

Inner Beauty ... Nixie's Grace ... Barkskin ... He also uses Harmonic Chorus and Hymn of Praise while buffing, so probably gets the extra +2 from one of those.

Wait, is this guy a Bard? Or a Druid or something?
I think it's DC 39 to dispel him, according to his character sheet he's got CL 28 for dispelling.

OK, fair enough, but as I said - you can hit that on a 1 if you really push it. In practice, you don't want to. You've listed over 20 buffs there. Even if you only dispelled on a 20, chances are you'd hit one or two of them. That's with a single L6 slot, whereas that array cost him how much to put up?

Also, a lot of those aren't actually as big a deal as they could be, I'd say. D&D already has stacking rules. He has +5 AC from Barkskin, but I'd be using Bite of the Wearbear for +16 Str anyway and getting +7 NA. Longstrider is a mere +10 which won't stack with Haste. Things like Nixie's Grace are enhancement. They don't stack with each other or with gear. Yes he can save himself a body slot and some cash, but if that does get dispelled, he's made himself more vulnerable. Girallon's Blessing is cool and all (especially if you can hold wands and Metamagic Rods and stuff in those other hands) but becomes moot when you shapechange into an Octopus Tree. And so on. In fact, I would suggest ruling that Energy Immunity doesn't stack with itself, so he can only have one of those active at once.

(he casts more in combat if he can)

Actually, I would worry less about this. If he's casting Quickened/Swift buffs it's one thing, but by and large time spend buffing is time spent not being useful to the party.

However, maybe you want to add some kind of drawback, like that Sanity system, or some sort of Spell Fatigue, or longer casting times or whatever.

I wrote this post exatly to see what suggestions people would give in that direction. Can you elaborate? Or should I just google?
The Sanity system is here. It looks a bit clunky to me, and may not suit your tone, but may be worth looking at. There's also the Taint system (Heroes of Horror has a newer one) and both could be weighted to make spellcasting tougher.

I think sometimes the guy with the sword needs to be able to go toe to toe with the Horrors from the Great Beyond and lob some heads off. (assuming they have heads)

Well, here's the thing. The Horror can fly. Oh. Oops. Well, the Fighter can get Flying Boots. Who made those? The Wizard. The only point I was making was that the nature of the game is that you're going to have to use magic, and liberally, at these levels. Fighters are inherantly non-magical. Thus, the only thing they can possibly do is get a load of magic items etc. It's not good for balance, but it's no surprise the game ended up that way.

I don't have a problem with the Fighter having Boots of Flying or something like that. It's expected at high levels.
My problem is that the Spellcaster can have Boots of Flying and a ton of buffs, or use a buff to fly and spend his money elsewhere. The spellcaster just has another pool or resources that the Fighter just doesn't have.

Inner Beauty ... Nixie's Grace ... Barkskin ... He also uses Harmonic Chorus and Hymn of Praise while buffing, so probably gets the extra +2 from one of those.

Wait, is this guy a Bard? Or a Druid or something?


Bard 2/Druid 3/Mystic Wanderer 1/Green Whisperer 2/Arcane Hierophant 7/Sublime Chord 1

I think it's DC 39 to dispel him, according to his character sheet he's got CL 28 for dispelling.

OK, fair enough, but as I said - you can hit that on a 1 if you really push it.


My first problem with that is that I'm not anywhere near as good at optimizing as this guy is, so my NPCs are often no match unless I make them much higher level.

Secondly, anything that can hit this guy is going to make mincemeat out of the rest of the party, except maybe the Druid. I need to find a way to tone builds like this down to at least "Druid Level".
In practice, you don't want to. You've listed over 20 buffs there. Even if you only dispelled on a 20, chances are you'd hit one or two of them. That's with a single L6 slot, whereas that array cost him how much to put up?

As I said, this guy didn't like the Deathbringer, as that monster casts CL 20 GDM every round.
And on average we dispel 1 buff I think.

Also, a lot of those aren't actually as big a deal as they could be, I'd say. D&D already has stacking rules. He has +5 AC from Barkskin, but I'd be using Bite of the Wearbear for +16 Str anyway and getting +7 NA. Longstrider is a mere +10 which won't stack with Haste. Things like Nixie's Grace are enhancement. They don't stack with each other or with gear. Yes he can save himself a body slot and some cash, but if that does get dispelled, he's made himself more vulnerable. Girallon's Blessing is cool and all (especially if you can hold wands and Metamagic Rods and stuff in those other hands) but becomes moot when you shapechange into an Octopus Tree. And so on. In fact, I would suggest ruling that Energy Immunity doesn't stack with itself, so he can only have one of those active at once.


He doesn't really wear any gear, he's the "loincloth warrior". His character considers himself so beautiful that it would be a sin to hide more than the bare minimum...
It leads to some interesting roleplay. He's done a great job figuring out what stacks and is able to get very impressive results, like 40 Charisma and 97 AC.
On the one hand I want to applaud him for how good and inventive he is, on the other hand it breaks our game. He's even worse in games like MtG where his inventiveness and knack for combining things is quite lethal.

(he casts more in combat if he can)

Actually, I would worry less about this. If he's casting Quickened/Swift buffs it's one thing, but by and large time spend buffing is time spent not being useful to the party.

I mean things like Bardic Song with Inspirational Boost, (Draconic) Polymorph, Sheltered Vitality.

However, maybe you want to add some kind of drawback, like that Sanity system, or some sort of Spell Fatigue, or longer casting times or whatever.

I wrote this post exatly to see what suggestions people would give in that direction. Can you elaborate? Or should I just google?
The Sanity system is here. It looks a bit clunky to me, and may not suit your tone, but may be worth looking at. There's also the Taint system (Heroes of Horror has a newer one) and both could be weighted to make spellcasting tougher.

I'll look into that, thanks for the suggestions.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)

My first problem with that is that I'm not anywhere near as good at optimizing as this guy is, so my NPCs are often no match unless I make them much higher level.

Well, this is kind of the thing. That's not something specific to casters, though - if everyone played lame Fighters, his would probably be less lame than everyone else's, and you'd have the same problem (though maybe to a lesser extent).

Secondly, anything that can hit this guy is going to make mincemeat out of the rest of the party, except maybe the Druid. I need to find a way to tone builds like this down to at least "Druid Level".

Hence why I suggested Dispelling. That's not going to do much to the Figther-types, unless you aim a targetted Dispel at their gear. Another nasty trick would be to have a caster use Reaving Dispel [SpC], and steal his buffs. 

I mean things like Bardic Song with Inspirational Boost

As a side note - Inspire Courage (by far the best) doesn't stack with Heroics, as they're both morale.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to say that casters are actually balanced and that you're just wrong (and it could be worse - he could be an Archivist, with Divine Bard, Cleric, Druid, Paladin and Ranger spells all on the one class, or a Persistant Spell Incantatrix). Just, you need to think carefully before shaking up the game about what's actually the problem, and what you're trying to achieve.

Personally, I find flat limits on buffs both arbitrary and kind of inelegant. I suppose you could make some argument about the clashing of magical energies etc and maybe make them unstable, last less time the more buffs there are, have a chance of dealing backlash damage, etc but when you can just strip the guy's spells with a Mord's, it seems... unecessary. 
My first problem with that is that I'm not anywhere near as good at optimizing as this guy is, so my NPCs are often no match unless I make them much higher level.

Well, this is kind of the thing. That's not something specific to casters, though - if everyone played lame Fighters, his would probably be less lame than everyone else's, and you'd have the same problem (though maybe to a lesser extent).

His Fighter was a Totemist 2/Stoneblessed3/Barbarian (Goliath)1/Fighter2/Battle Rager5/Deepwarden2/Tribal Protector (Goliath)2/Rogue (Goliath)2
It would have made most Tier 1 builds cry for their mommy.

Secondly, anything that can hit this guy is going to make mincemeat out of the rest of the party, except maybe the Druid. I need to find a way to tone builds like this down to at least "Druid Level".

Hence why I suggested Dispelling. That's not going to do much to the Figther-types, unless you aim a targetted Dispel at their gear. Another nasty trick would be to have a caster use Reaving Dispel [SpC], and steal his buffs. 

I mean things like Bardic Song with Inspirational Boost

As a side note - Inspire Courage (by far the best) doesn't stack with Heroics, as they're both morale.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to say that casters are actually balanced and that you're just wrong (and it could be worse - he could be an Archivist, with Divine Bard, Cleric, Druid, Paladin and Ranger spells all on the one class, or a Persistant Spell Incantatrix). Just, you need to think carefully before shaking up the game about what's actually the problem, and what you're trying to achieve.

Which is why I posted this thread.

I want to bring the full casters down a notch and the pure melee noncasting classes up a notch both in power and versatility. To do this I've identified three areas:
- Making it easier for melee classes to have positive Int/Wis/Cha modifiers and the associated skills.
- Making large stacks of buffs less powerful.
- Making characters without spellcasting more versatile.

Personally, I find flat limits on buffs both arbitrary and kind of inelegant. I suppose you could make some argument about the clashing of magical energies etc and maybe make them unstable, last less time the more buffs there are, have a chance of dealing backlash damage, etc but when you can just strip the guy's spells with a Mord's, it seems... unecessary. 



Thanks for the reply, any alternative suggestions?

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)

Well, I would say it comes down mroe or less to what Slagger suggested:
- Make spellcasting less good. In particular, there are certain canditates for nerfing (I once played using the Pathfinder Shapechange rules instead; less fun but also less broken), and you could slash durations etc too.
- Make spellcasting harder. Things like longer casting times make it harder to get spells off. Some sort of "spell fatigue", Sanity, Taint etc system could make it harder in the long run to maintain.
Plus, as you said, make non-spellcasters more versetile. The Martial Adepts from ToB are all good examples of things which are better than the standard Fighter. Without needing to specialise, they can have an array of actually useful abilities. Their resources are limited but they still get to do more things than "charge, full-attack" etc.

The point I was making, however, was that whilst spellcasting vs non-spellcasting can be a thing, it sounds more like your problem is that some of the players are better at optimising than others. If you buff up the melee classes you will still see that discrepancy.
Something occurred to me while I was thinking about the buff problem discussed above. It strikes me that you can simultaneously solve the duration problem and the multiple buff problem with the same mechanic and get it down to a single roll, although the rough draft here is only an example and this might take some tuning (particularly when it comes to buffs with different durations, i.e. hours vs minutes vs rounds).

Thematically, buffs might require maintenance to keep them going - no longer are they "fire fortify and forget". To prevent mucking up the action economy, doing this doesn't take any specific time in and of itself (it's sort of like a magical reflex), but it isn't trivial - multiple buffs may interfere with each other and send the whole thing toppling down, and more powerful buffs are more subtle and delicate, but more experienced spellcasters have more practice with this delicate balancing act..

The basic idea is similar to 4e's saving throw mechanic - at the end of your turn, make a caster level check. The DC is based on the number of buffs you've got active at a time (more buffs = higher DC), and possibly also their spell level or caster level. (Specific exceptions for powerful buffs like Polymorph can be added if you wish, but the basic idea is simple.) If you fail the check, all the buffs expire due to catastrophic interference. You're encouraged to use either multiple weak buffs or a single strong buff, and how risky you're willing to be with this increases with level. You can add the situational modifiers to Concentration checks to this if you want to make it a bit more dynamic; they're on more or less the same scale. Dispels would simply force an additional check like this (so the more magic you're using, the more likely a dispel is to work), perhaps also imposing a penalty on the check if you're using a targeted dispel.

I'm not entirely sure how to retrofit this onto the existing buff spells - assorted possibilities are to borrow from the psionic system (where buffs can take effect at a lower caster level / spell level - here, that'd make them easier to sustain), to use buff duration as a stability modifier (duration becomes "maximum duration" and shorter-lived buffs get a DC increase), or even use self-sustaining magic (the advantage to hour/level spells is that they don't expire if you fail the check - they might re-establish themselves automatically at the end of the encounter. A special "restabilize" spell might exist to do this to all the buffs that just collapsed as an immediate action as well, at the cost of a spell slot - this is another area to borrow from psionics, particularly if it's spell-level-limited but comes with a built-in Heighten). 

A similar system - perhaps even the same roll, or a similar one - could work  for sustained area of effect spells that don't also require Concentration actions (i.e. the fire-and-forget spells like Black Tentacles, or summons), but I haven't really thought about this that much.

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

Weekly Optimization Series

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These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style)

[TS] Assassin's Speed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

Well, I would say it comes down mroe or less to what Slagger suggested:
- Make spellcasting less good. In particular, there are certain canditates for nerfing (I once played using the Pathfinder Shapechange rules instead; less fun but also less broken), and you could slash durations etc too.


I do think that the PF rules are better than anything that WotC has come up with. But they do lose a lot of the flavour in the process.
There seems to be a lack of imagination from the developers on what noncombat uses a spell might have, everything in 3E and PF seems to be more and more towards what combat use a spell has.

- Make spellcasting harder. Things like longer casting times make it harder to get spells off. Some sort of "spell fatigue", Sanity, Taint etc system could make it harder in the long run to maintain.
Plus, as you said, make non-spellcasters more versetile. The Martial Adepts from ToB are all good examples of things which are better than the standard Fighter. Without needing to specialise, they can have an array of actually useful abilities. Their resources are limited but they still get to do more things than "charge, full-attack" etc.

I like some of the things in ToB a lot, but somehow find the book hard to read.

The point I was making, however, was that whilst spellcasting vs non-spellcasting can be a thing, it sounds more like your problem is that some of the players are better at optimising than others. If you buff up the melee classes you will still see that discrepancy.


Oh that's definitely a problem as well. I'm also trying to figure out ways to reduce the design space for optimizers. but even non-optimizers get very powerful when playing high level Tier 1.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)

Something occurred to me while I was thinking about the buff problem discussed above. It strikes me that you can simultaneously solve the duration problem and the multiple buff problem with the same mechanic and get it down to a single roll, although the rough draft here is only an example and this might take some tuning (particularly when it comes to buffs with different durations, i.e. hours vs minutes vs rounds).

Thematically, buffs might require maintenance to keep them going - no longer are they "fire fortify and forget". To prevent mucking up the action economy, doing this doesn't take any specific time in and of itself (it's sort of like a magical reflex), but it isn't trivial - multiple buffs may interfere with each other and send the whole thing toppling down, and more powerful buffs are more subtle and delicate, but more experienced spellcasters have more practice with this delicate balancing act..

The basic idea is similar to 4e's saving throw mechanic - at the end of your turn, make a caster level check. The DC is based on the number of buffs you've got active at a time (more buffs = higher DC), and possibly also their spell level or caster level. (Specific exceptions for powerful buffs like Polymorph can be added if you wish, but the basic idea is simple.) If you fail the check, all the buffs expire due to catastrophic interference. You're encouraged to use either multiple weak buffs or a single strong buff, and how risky you're willing to be with this increases with level. You can add the situational modifiers to Concentration checks to this if you want to make it a bit more dynamic; they're on more or less the same scale. Dispels would simply force an additional check like this (so the more magic you're using, the more likely a dispel is to work), perhaps also imposing a penalty on the check if you're using a targeted dispel.

I'm not entirely sure how to retrofit this onto the existing buff spells - assorted possibilities are to borrow from the psionic system (where buffs can take effect at a lower caster level / spell level - here, that'd make them easier to sustain), to use buff duration as a stability modifier (duration becomes "maximum duration" and shorter-lived buffs get a DC increase), or even use self-sustaining magic (the advantage to hour/level spells is that they don't expire if you fail the check - they might re-establish themselves automatically at the end of the encounter. A special "restabilize" spell might exist to do this to all the buffs that just collapsed as an immediate action as well, at the cost of a spell slot - this is another area to borrow from psionics, particularly if it's spell-level-limited but comes with a built-in Heighten). 

A similar system - perhaps even the same roll, or a similar one - could work  for sustained area of effect spells that don't also require Concentration actions (i.e. the fire-and-forget spells like Black Tentacles, or summons), but I haven't really thought about this that much.


I like the core of the idea, but it definitely would need more work. I'll think about it if I can improve on this.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)

There seems to be a lack of imagination from the developers on what noncombat uses a spell might have, everything in 3E and PF seems to be more and more towards what combat use a spell has.

True - though even if I could never use it in combat, I'd still totally Persist Shapechange if I could. All sorts of Su abilities, any kind of movement mode you want, survive anywhere... it's the world's best utility spell! 

but even non-optimizers get very powerful when playing high level Tier 1.

T1 certainly gives them a better baseline. Usually. I mean, I've seen some pretty bad Wizards. Something like a Cleric or Druid is pretty solid - even when played badly they have a decent chassis and can change spells each and every day. A Wizard, or worse, a Sorcerer, has a lot less flexibility, though. It does irk me a little when I see people saying "spellcasters are more powerful" when some of the worse builds ever are Wizards with a book full of Rays of Frost. (This is a side point, not saying I disagree with you)
There seems to be a lack of imagination from the developers on what noncombat uses a spell might have, everything in 3E and PF seems to be more and more towards what combat use a spell has.

True - though even if I could never use it in combat, I'd still totally Persist Shapechange if I could. All sorts of Su abilities, any kind of movement mode you want, survive anywhere... it's the world's best utility spell!


Shapechange is very broken and I'm totally puzzled why over the course of 3/3.5E none of the polymorph errata and other changes ever addressed it's core problem.

but even non-optimizers get very powerful when playing high level Tier 1.

T1 certainly gives them a better baseline. Usually. I mean, I've seen some pretty bad Wizards. Something like a Cleric or Druid is pretty solid - even when played badly they have a decent chassis and can change spells each and every day. A Wizard, or worse, a Sorcerer, has a lot less flexibility, though. It does irk me a little when I see people saying "spellcasters are more powerful" when some of the worse builds ever are Wizards with a book full of Rays of Frost. (This is a side point, not saying I disagree with you)


Sorcerer is known to be a Tier lower, exactly because of the decrease in versatility.
I agree that a poorly played Wizard can be weak, while a Druid or Cleric probably still is decent. But the advantages that all Tier 1 casters have, is that as the player gets a better grip on the game, they can improve their character dramatically, while a Fighter would be much more locked into earlier choices. The Wizard just needs to get his hands on some better spells, the divine casters only need to wait a day.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)

Oh, absolutely. The class certainly have more versitility in that respect, and the capability to be very powerful. People will often just look at a Wizard and discriminate, however, whilst the problem is more powergaming itself than what class you play.
Oh, absolutely. The class certainly have more versitility in that respect, and the capability to be very powerful. People will often just look at a Wizard and discriminate, however, whilst the problem is more powergaming itself than what class you play.



Some classes do hand you a much more powerful foundation than others though. Even a very optimized Monk will have a hard time against a poorly played Druid at high level.

In general Spells are just more powerful and any class that has access to a wide selection of them, has many ways to outperform the noncasters, even if they don't use the most overpowered options.

Just being able to fly and turn invisible and throw fireballs would already make you a challenge for most noncasting classes unless they know what they're doing, like was discussed in another thread about a barbarian and a rogue trying to beat a pixie sorcerer.

Even the most basic powerlevel of the Tier 1 classes is more than what a lot of other classes can achieve without heavy optimizing.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)

Just a small thought;
In the Conan rules every 6th level players get 1pt to all abilities in addition to the 1 point/4levs. This game has less magic in it, and I think this rule (tweaked slightly) may help balance things out. Maybe making the 6th lev boosts 6 pts no more than 3 of which can go to one stat, but otherwise free to place wherever.

On the other hand if we're solely discussing the Fighter here, allowing for more points to physical abilities than mental may make more sense... perhaps 1 to any mental stat and 4 to spread between the physicals??


The fighter's feat progress bugs me on many fronts. for one it's too slow and limited. Before u learn to use weapons, training is usually done unarmed, that one REALLY bugs me. lol

I'm a martial arts fan, and I personally think Martial arts are under represented in D&D. The Monk is close, but I don't like the Ki stuff, and the ninja is close, but for that ki-pool, AND the lack of unarmed combat. Many aspects of unarmed combat are completely ignored, or placed on the back-burner. ESPECIALLY in light of the MMA world's success, I would think they would have put some more into that area. Punches, kicks, knees and elbows wouldn't all do the same damage. a kick is WAY more damaging than a punch, and an elbow is more likely to make you bleed or stun you... and fighters are better with some areas than others, indeed some fighting schools are. But in D&D it's all the same. Alternative game books I've read have tried to address this, but to use those rules with the typical monk would almost seem like a Gestalt character because of all the features that come with the training... I'm planning on trying it, actually by replacing MMA training with the Monk's ki powers and mystical poodoo.  annnnnnyways, I digress...

What I'm doing is allowing certain class feats to be modified and added as extra feats. Depending on the class and feat (ie allowing my ninja variant to use the swashbuckler's Insightful Strike instead of one of the ki-pool feats. Or giving my scout an animal companion as per the Ranger class.);
EXAMPLE: Fighter
should have unarmed at 1st level regardless. if they want to be a dexterous fighter give them finess for free at 2nd lev, and scatter some of the prerequisite feats like dodge and mobility in there as freebies so the player doesn't have to spend every feat up to lev 20 to get stupid spring attack...   if they want to be a power combatant do the same, power attack at 2nd, cleave and gr cleave...  If it makes sense just GIVE it to them. this way the fighter can spend some focus on non-combat feats and have a little versatility. 

A trick (a MEAN one) I played on my last party was making components HARD to get. They had to pay for components, keep track like it's ammo, and when it's out the spell can't be cast... I found that it really leveled things out after a week straight in the wilds, supplies running low... the wizard really had a problem when she realized it would be a week before she got supplied with components IF she ran full speed all the way. LMAO 


Of course, if you want my honest preference for evening out the playing field... only villians get Magic. I revert to Conan plots. The heroes are regular people with exceptional abilities, but the Arcane is the realm of evil doers (Divine too. lol ESPECIALLY Divine. :P) I always find it more fun when the heroes have to percevere over unkowable and unthinkable horrors using pure wit and brute strength over the ability to say; "No, I don't want to fight the necromancer and his hoarde, let's make it hail balls of frozen holy water out of my god's arse!!" I H8 MAGIC. LOL
Just a small thought;

LMAO!!! the jokes on you!! lol  sorry.
I believe the 2e OA Kara Tur book had some different damage and stuff for different martial art techniques. 

That said, I don't think you fully understand what 'martial arts' is.  For example, a Fighter in D&D is a martial artist.  So is any class that's trained in any form of melee, actually.  So yeah, I think D&D does a fair job representing martial arts.
Resident Prophet of the OTTer.

Section Six Soldier

Front Door of the House of Trolls

[b]If you're terribly afraid of your character dying, it may be best if you roleplayed something other than an adventurer.[/b]

So a marshal named Marshall is a martial artist?
"Today's headlines and history's judgment are rarely the same. If you are too attentive to the former, you will most certainly not do the hard work of securing the latter." -Condoleezza Rice "My fellow Americans... I've just signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. Bombing begins in five minutes." - Ronald Reagan This user has been banned from you by the letters "O-R-C" and the numbers "2, 3, 4, and 6"
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56788208 wrote:
I do, however, have one last lesson on this subject. That last one? The only build in this post that can one-shot average opponents[by dealing twice as much damage as they have HP? I would argue that it is not optimized. Why isn't it optimized? Because it's overkill. Overkill is NOT optimizing. This means that there are portions of this build dedicated to damage which can safely be removed and thrown elsewhere. For example, you probably don't need both Leap Attack AND Headlong Rush at the same time. You could pick up Extra Rage feats for stamina, feats to support AoO effects, feats that work towards potential prestige classes, and so on. However, you could also shift our ability scores around somewhat. I mean, if you're getting results like that with 16 starting Strength, maybe you can lower it to 14, and free up four points to spend somewhere else - perhaps back into Charisma, giving you some oomph for Intimidating Rage or Imperious Command if you want. You can continue to tune this until it deals "enough" damage - and that "enough" does not need to be "100%". It could easily be, say, 80% (leaving the rest to the team), if your DM is the sort who would ban one-hit killers.
Tempest_Stormwind on Character Optimization
So when do you think Bachmann will be saying she met a mother the previous night that had a son who got a blood transfusion using a gay guy's blood, and now the son is retardedly gay?
When she meets CJ's mom?
Resident Pithed-Off Dragon Poon Slayer of the House of Trolls
Triply so if you care more about phonetics than spelling. 
Resident Prophet of the OTTer.

Section Six Soldier

Front Door of the House of Trolls

[b]If you're terribly afraid of your character dying, it may be best if you roleplayed something other than an adventurer.[/b]

Just a small thought;

I like small thoughts like this.
In the Conan rules every 6th level players get 1pt to all abilities in addition to the 1 point/4levs. This game has less magic in it, and I think this rule (tweaked slightly) may help balance things out. Maybe making the 6th lev boosts 6 pts no more than 3 of which can go to one stat, but otherwise free to place wherever.

On the other hand if we're solely discussing the Fighter here, allowing for more points to physical abilities than mental may make more sense... perhaps 1 to any mental stat and 4 to spread between the physicals??

The fighter's feat progress bugs me on many fronts. for one it's too slow and limited. Before u learn to use weapons, training is usually done unarmed, that one REALLY bugs me. lol

The problem is that the Fighter only has versatility in that one Fighter can be different from another, a specific Fighter is very much locked into his choices.

I'm a martial arts fan, and I personally think Martial arts are under represented in D&D. The Monk is close, but I don't like the Ki stuff, and the ninja is close, but for that ki-pool, AND the lack of unarmed combat. Many aspects of unarmed combat are completely ignored, or placed on the back-burner. ESPECIALLY in light of the MMA world's success, I would think they would have put some more into that area. Punches, kicks, knees and elbows wouldn't all do the same damage. a kick is WAY more damaging than a punch, and an elbow is more likely to make you bleed or stun you... and fighters are better with some areas than others, indeed some fighting schools are. But in D&D it's all the same. Alternative game books I've read have tried to address this, but to use those rules with the typical monk would almost seem like a Gestalt character because of all the features that come with the training... I'm planning on trying it, actually by replacing MMA training with the Monk's ki powers and mystical poodoo.  annnnnnyways, I digress...

I have no clue what you mean with MMA.

I do agree that (Eastern) martial arts are poorly represented. No matter if you want Chuck Norris, Jacky Chan, Jet Li, Neo or Goku as the reference.

What I'm doing is allowing certain class feats to be modified and added as extra feats. Depending on the class and feat (ie allowing my ninja variant to use the swashbuckler's Insightful Strike instead of one of the ki-pool feats. Or giving my scout an animal companion as per the Ranger class.);
EXAMPLE: Fighter
should have unarmed at 1st level regardless. if they want to be a dexterous fighter give them finess for free at 2nd lev, and scatter some of the prerequisite feats like dodge and mobility in there as freebies so the player doesn't have to spend every feat up to lev 20 to get stupid spring attack...   if they want to be a power combatant do the same, power attack at 2nd, cleave and gr cleave...  If it makes sense just GIVE it to them. this way the fighter can spend some focus on non-combat feats and have a little versatility.

I was looking for solutions that don't need going through each class and feat separately.

A trick (a MEAN one) I played on my last party was making components HARD to get. They had to pay for components, keep track like it's ammo, and when it's out the spell can't be cast... I found that it really leveled things out after a week straight in the wilds, supplies running low... the wizard really had a problem when she realized it would be a week before she got supplied with components IF she ran full speed all the way. LMAO

Escew Materials and Component Pouch negate this problem entirely, unless you ban those first.
I don't like the solution as it leads to a lot of bookkeeping, while I think there is already too much book keeping.

Of course, if you want my honest preference for evening out the playing field... only villians get Magic. I revert to Conan plots. The heroes are regular people with exceptional abilities, but the Arcane is the realm of evil doers (Divine too. lol ESPECIALLY Divine. :P) I always find it more fun when the heroes have to percevere over unkowable and unthinkable horrors using pure wit and brute strength over the ability to say; "No, I don't want to fight the necromancer and his hoarde, let's make it hail balls of frozen holy water out of my god's arse!!" I H8 MAGIC. LOL

That would be a possibility but at the cost of severely limiting players in what they can play. I have several players in my group who only like D&D because they can play Vancian casters. It's certainly not the kind of game that would work for our group.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)

The problem is that the Fighter only has versatility in that one Fighter can be different from another, a specific Fighter is very much locked into his choices.

That's true, but if you allow retraining, it's less of a deal.

I have no clue what you mean with MMA.

I think, Mixed Martial Arts.

A trick (a MEAN one) I played on my last party was making components HARD to get.
...

Escew Materials and Component Pouch negate this problem entirely, unless you ban those first.
I don't like the solution as it leads to a lot of bookkeeping, while I think there is already too much book keeping.

If your casters have to take Eschew Materials, it's still a spent feat. However, I agree, it's a lot of book-keeping. For expensive components it's OK, though. The other thing is the "you lose all your gear" scenario - I started a game once (which ended before it really got going, sadly) where we started in prison (yeah, old intro) and the first thing I did was grab the left-overs of my dinner in the hope of finding a bit of fat so I could cast Grease. It's not something which should really come up often, though.

Some classes do hand you a much more powerful foundation than others though.

Absolutely, though I would say this is more the Druid's forte, rather than the Wizard's. It harder to build a bad Druid; it's a very solid class. However Wizards can range wildly from useless to godly.