Can you live without I win buttons?

One thing I don't have a problem with in older editions of D&D is the so called "I win button".  It's that single spell or action that ends an encounter.   For me, I don't see an issue with them for most non-BBEG encounters and the reason is that my D&D game isn't focused on combat.   I want the party to make more progress through the story and I want them to explore more.  If the cavern is full of skeletons and the wizard kills them all with a fireball I don't really care.   That encounter just became part of the story and I'm happy with it.    Even when I'm playing a fighter, I don't care if the Illusionist scares off the orcs with a fake red dragon.    As the fighter, I'm not going to get jealous, I'm happy the illusionist did that.   After all, I'd rather see him use a spell slot than watch my character lose hit points, which might result in my character dying later on.

I'm even more happy when monsters include I win buttons as a weakness.  For example, if the party locates the vampire's coffin during the day, I have no problem with them staking him through the heart.  It's one less encounter I need to run anyway.     Besides, the players are going to feel good about themselves for out thinking the monster anyway.  

With that said, I might even make exceptions for BBEGs.   In the Web of Illusions module for Ravenloft the Rakshasa (a domain lord) can be instantly killed by a special silver bolt.   Now, when I ran that module the party had one shot to end the encounter, but the lord cast a darkness spell and caused them to miss.   Thinking back I have to wonder how the game would have played out if the lord was struck in the first round.   I really don't think I would have cared.   The game would not have ended.  

Even in the Hobbit, did it mater that Smaug was killed by a single arrow?  Or was the story that lead up to those events more important?   Even if I hand out an Arrow of Dragon Slaying in D&D Next I don't see that happening.  That extra 6d10 points of damage isn't going to slay the dragon...     
I'm just not sure I can live without the I win button (plot based or not).   Some of my most memorible D&D experiences, the ones that my group reminisces about, includes those very situations. 

 
 


Never had a problem with them, because there were always a ton of things to help mitigate their exploitation.

For example:

* casting limitations per day.  Yeah, that fireball might clear out a room, but you could only cast it once a day.  Resource managment 101
* casting restrictions.  did you learn it to begin with?  How did you acquire the spell?  Spell interruption very likely.
* the class was designed to be a glass cannon.  The occassional I win spell was more than balanced out by the other restrictions: low AC, low HP, horrible combat ability, etc
* never knew how many of what you'd be fighting between long rests.  The 15 minute day didn't exist.  You might have a dozen encounters before you had the opportunity to rest and regain resources, and even then you had the danger of wandering monsters.
I agree w/ you dmgorgon, "I Win Buttons" stole a lot of fun for me in earlier editions. It wouldn't have been bad if they were once-in-a-blue-moon occurances but they happened regularly and my preference would be to do away with them as much as possible.
As a DM, I never have a problem with it.  If a character defeats a large group of enemies quickly or kills the BBEG in a single stroke, that's just part of the story and what makes them heroic!  For that character, it becomes a moment that builds their personal mythos.  It won't happen every time but when it does it makes the players feel powerful and awesome.
My only problem with them is when you make an important BBEG, you have to somehow contrive a reason for him to be immune to every "I Win" button under the sun or he'll just get roflstomped every time.

Plot-related ones are fine, because that's plot reasons.
As a DM, I never have a problem with it.  If a character defeats a large group of enemies quickly or kills the BBEG in a single stroke, that's just part of the story and what makes them heroic!  For that character, it becomes a moment that builds their personal mythos.  It won't happen every time but when it does it makes the players feel powerful and awesome.



It certainly makes the game memorable.  I can't tell you the specifics of any battles I've had over the years where the combat was just pretty much attrition.  I can tell you that I vividly remember the party making their way down through a massive dungeon, beat the hell up and almost totally out of resources, but couldn't stop because there was no where safe to rest.  When they finally made it to the final boss, one of the party members used a final charge in a wand of paralylzation.  I failed a ST horribly.

That was memorable, because they were able to save their "I win" attempt until the very last moment, and I as the DM had my big baddie thwarted in 1 round.  Grr.... ;)  They certainly thought it was awesome   When the battle started, they were sure they were all going to die.
It's more fun when it's limited, as a one-shot possibility against very specific targets. They're less fun when they work on anything.

I was recently playing a Pathfinder game, and decided to try out a witch. At level 1, the witch can choose the power to make any living target fall asleep for a number of rounds equal to your level (as an at-will supernatural ability, but only once per target per day). Between levels 2 and 8, this ability proceeded to trivialize every singular boss we came across, prompting me to retire that character as "too powerful to be fun".

The metagame is not the game.

I don't mind "I win" buttons, but those buttons also are more than just save or die spells in combat.  Illusion and Enchantment school of spells can often create "I Win" situations outside of combat, and in those cases (especially in a less dangerous scenario like being safe in town) they may be used more often.  

Overall, the out of combat spells are the ones that bother me more than the in combat "save or suck/save or die" spells.

I'm more ok with them as long as the DMG gives DMs really good guidelines on how to work around them (and have it be more than just anti-magic spells/zones and protection from scrying).   
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As a DM, I never have a problem with it.  If a character defeats a large group of enemies quickly or kills the BBEG in a single stroke, that's just part of the story and what makes them heroic!  For that character, it becomes a moment that builds their personal mythos.  It won't happen every time but when it does it makes the players feel powerful and awesome.



It certainly makes the game memorable.  I can't tell you the specifics of any battles I've had over the years where the combat was just pretty much attrition.  I can tell you that I vividly remember the party making their way down through a massive dungeon, beat the hell up and almost totally out of resources, but couldn't stop because there was no where safe to rest.  When they finally made it to the final boss, one of the party members used a final charge in a wand of paralylzation.  I failed a ST horribly.

That was memorable, because they were able to save their "I win" attempt until the very last moment, and I as the DM had my big baddie thwarted in 1 round.  Grr.... ;)  They certainly thought it was awesome   When the battle started, they were sure they were all going to die.



Yeah, I don't think I'd ever forget that either.    In that case, the DM did not need to make a special plot device, the game organically played out that way.   I fear those kinds of events will be lost if I win buttons are removed from the game. 

I think Magical items are easy for the DM to control provided his game doesn't include a magic mart or magic factory (crafting PCs).      

Mearls should design D&D Next in a way that intellgently keeps them in the game.    If he continues to remove them all something great and fun about D&D will be lost.   

Remove the abuses but don't remove the button.


Even when I'm playing a fighter, I don't care if the Illusionist scares off the orcs with a fake red dragon.    As the fighter, I'm not going to get jealous, I'm happy the illusionist did that.   After all, I'd rather see him use a spell slot than watch my character lose hit points, which might result in my character dying later on.



"I'm happy that others characters can obviate the use of my characters main skill set, because at least then I won't need to contribute the thing my class is supposed to be good at to the group!"

It's very easy to spot a primary caster player.

I'm fine with abilities that end encounters instantly. As long as the game is BUILT around them. If they are the NORM, I'm fine with it, but when they are a thing that only a certain subset of characters get while another subset must use a slower, less reliable, and more risky method it is a problem. If the game assumed that fights didn't involve HP attrition and instead Fighters and other martial characters could simply kill enemies then it would be fine if casters got some things that also simply killed or otherwise instantly defeated enemies, but that is not what NEXT nor any edition has actually been built on.

I should never be expected to be "happy" that what I was informed was my characters main expertise is simply a less effective version of something another character who I was informed was NOT as effective in that area. You can have your "I-Win-Buttons" just as soon as my informed martial expertise means that I get to jam on my own button when I enter the battlefield.
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Even when I'm playing a fighter, I don't care if the Illusionist scares off the orcs with a fake red dragon.    As the fighter, I'm not going to get jealous, I'm happy the illusionist did that.   After all, I'd rather see him use a spell slot than watch my character lose hit points, which might result in my character dying later on.



"I'm happy that others characters can obviate the use of my characters main skill set, because at least then I won't need to contribute the thing my class is supposed to be good at to the group!"

It's very easy to spot a primary caster player.



ALERT ALERT ALERT.  COMMON BIG LIE DETECTOR ACTIVATED.

I've never played a wizard and very rarely a cleric.  STOP THIS ATTITUDE.  THIS IS NOT A WAR BETWEEN WIZARDS AND FIGHTERS.   People just prefer their own playstyles.   Those people are just as likely to play fighters as wizards.   Drop the conspiracy theories.


I should never be expected to be "happy" that what I was informed was my characters main expertise is simply a less effective version of something another character who I was informed was NOT as effective in that area. You can have your "I-Win-Buttons" just as soon as my informed martial expertise means that I get to jam on my own button when I enter the battlefield.



I couldn't disagree more and I think this is a false choice.   The wizard is often round after round plinking away with a very weak power.  The fighter is mowing down enemies.   The wizard having an occasional area of effect or bigger damage power is not a bad thing.  We don't want every class being the same thing.  It's okay for their to be artillery and infantry.  Both win wars.

 
I wouldn't have too many issues with it if the non-casters had I win button actions as well. The problem is that casters get like 99% of the PC availiable I win buttons and get to have them sooner and on a larger scale.

Staking a vamp while it sleeps is smart for the whole party.

The mage using polymorph to  frog everything is only fun for the mage. 
"You can have your "I-Win-Buttons" just as soon as my informed martial expertise means that I get to jam on my own button when I enter the battlefield."

Vorpal Sword.
Even when I'm playing a fighter, I don't care if the Illusionist scares off the orcs with a fake red dragon.    As the fighter, I'm not going to get jealous, I'm happy the illusionist did that.   After all, I'd rather see him use a spell slot than watch my character lose hit points, which might result in my character dying later on.



"I'm happy that others characters can obviate the use of my characters main skill set, because at least then I won't need to contribute the thing my class is supposed to be good at to the group!"

It's very easy to spot a primary caster player.



ALERT ALERT ALERT.  COMMON BIG LIE DETECTOR ACTIVATED.

I've never played a wizard and very rarely a cleric.  STOP THIS ATTITUDE.  THIS IS NOT A WAR BETWEEN WIZARDS AND FIGHTERS.   People just prefer their own playstyles.   Those people are just as likely to play fighters as wizards.   Drop the conspiracy theories.


I should never be expected to be "happy" that what I was informed was my characters main expertise is simply a less effective version of something another character who I was informed was NOT as effective in that area. You can have your "I-Win-Buttons" just as soon as my informed martial expertise means that I get to jam on my own button when I enter the battlefield.



I couldn't disagree more and I think this is a false choice.   The wizard is often round after round plinking away with a very weak power.  The fighter is mowing down enemies.   The wizard having an occasional area of effect or bigger damage power is not a bad thing.  We don't want every class being the same thing.  It's okay for their to be artillery and infantry.  Both win wars.

 




Emphasis mine.  Seriously, where are these D&D games where the magic user has access to all of these spells, all the time, and doens't have to worry about being interrupted or outright killed?


Prior to 4e, there were times when the fighter just obliterated enemies and the wizard watched.  There are times when the wizard threw everything he had at a BBEG and it kept coming.  The fighter stood in the breach and fought it off or killed it.   

I am so sorry that some of you are so full of bile and resentment over what the wizard in your party is doing.   I'm sorry your mind even works the way it does leading you to be so full of resentment.  It's sad really.

You want a wizard flavored as a fighter.  I get that.  Some of us though want to play a game with some shred of verisimilitude.   Where a fighter can't affect twenty enemies at once with his sword.  He hits hard and he has a place in any rational groups game but he doesn't have to do everything that magic does.   People's insistence on this fact is going to do one of two things.  It's going to turn fighters wuxia or it's going to water down wizards to total blandness.   I want neither result.  4e tried a little of both.

If the price of a fun game with exciting spells and magic items, is an unbalanced game by rampants notions of balance, then I cheer it's imbalance.  I want fun.  This balance goal of his will lead us nowhere but into the land of no fun.



 
Prior to 4e, there were times when the fighter just obliterated enemies and the wizard watched.


In 3.x, this only happened if the Wizard let the Fighter.
For pre-3.x, I won't comment on it because I don't know anything about them.

 
There are times when the wizard threw everything he had at a BBEG and it kept coming.  The fighter stood in the breach and fought it off or killed it.   


If the BBEG was powerful enough to not even blink after the Wizard threw his entire arsenal at it, the Fighter might as well be tissue paper for all the good he'll do at keeping the thing back. Or the enemy was designed so only the Fighter could kill it, but the Fighter only being useful because the DM went out of his way to make sure the Fighter was literally the only one who could kill it  doesn't exactly help me think the Fighter's a good class.

Again, I speak for 3.x, what I say may or may not apply to pre-3.x.
Vorpal sword is not a class feature, thus it does not address the fighter class's lack of I win buttons.

 
I like win buttons

But win buttons should be few per PC. Thats why I LOVE high level spells being 1 slot each.

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Even when I'm playing a fighter, I don't care if the Illusionist scares off the orcs with a fake red dragon.    As the fighter, I'm not going to get jealous, I'm happy the illusionist did that.   After all, I'd rather see him use a spell slot than watch my character lose hit points, which might result in my character dying later on.



"I'm happy that others characters can obviate the use of my characters main skill set, because at least then I won't need to contribute the thing my class is supposed to be good at to the group!"

It's very easy to spot a primary caster player.




Don't make assumptions.  It's a party based game.    The idea that every single character must always have the chance to contribute to every single encounter is ridiculous.  

When one character removes an encounter or two from the game it doesn't reduce the contribution made by the other characters.   The game does not go from one encounter to the next with the wizard always pressing the "I win button".  If that's what's happening then something is wrong with your game.   I mean what did you do? Did you give the character an endless suppy of Arrows of Slaying?  IMO, everyone at the table gets their chance to shine AND suck.

Was Bilbo's contribution reduced because smaug was slain with a single arrow?  I don't think so.   Bilbo wasn't upset because he couldn't backstab smaug. 

Likewise if the Cleric turns all the undead to dust, the fighter shouldn't be crying that he didn't have the chance to contribute.  After all, he might have been energy drained had the Wights attacked.   So yes, he should be thankful for encounter ending powers (his or not).  


I'm fine with abilities that end encounters instantly. As long as the game is BUILT around them. If they are the NORM, I'm fine with it, but when they are a thing that only a certain subset of characters get while another subset must use a slower, less reliable, and more risky method it is a problem. If the game assumed that fights didn't involve HP attrition and instead Fighters and other martial characters could simply kill enemies then it would be fine if casters got some things that also simply killed or otherwise instantly defeated enemies, but that is not what NEXT nor any edition has actually been built on.

I should never be expected to be "happy" that what I was informed was my characters main expertise is simply a less effective version of something another character who I was informed was NOT as effective in that area. You can have your "I-Win-Buttons" just as soon as my informed martial expertise means that I get to jam on my own button when I enter the battlefield.



I'm all for martial "I win buttons".  When I play 2e we play with a kill shot rule.   The rule allows fighters to kill someone in one shot.   Even some magical items grant the fighter similar powers. Vorpal swords and Arrows of Slaying work the same way.

I think that if the chance of success is low I win buttons in the form of spells and martial abilities can work perfectly.   

Trading a resource (spell slot ) for an encounter win is also acceptable.   You can reduce the chance of success by adding more rounds (2 or 3 round save rule) or simply decrease the chance of success by an equal amount in the first round.   Curtailing abuse isn't that hard.    In 2e, magic resistance and a quadradic saving throw mechanic helped in this regard.    Sadly, in some cases 3e made it more difficult to make saves and 4e put everyone on a treadmil. 

As for Next,  I think D&D is going to suffer without I win buttons.  


iWin Buttons are okay, I guess, if the game is built around them and everybody has access to them.

Though I very much prefer weWin levers or keys that players have to pull or turn simultaneously.
Don't make assumptions.  It's a party based game.    The idea that every single character must always have the chance to contribute to every single encounter is ridiculous.


Every character contributing equally in every combat is not something that's the norm, nor should it be, no.

The problem comes, however, when you have a situation like 3.x where there were a minority of classes that could do everything every other class can do, usually BETTER in areas that are an aftertherthought to the class than other classes that specialize in that area.
If we're going to get "I Win" buttons then it needs to be spread out more. If a Wizard can cast a spell that can instantly slay a monster a good majority of the time then I'd like something that non-spellcasters get. I don't care if it's better coup de grace rules at X level, a unique exploit that instantly slays, or whatever.
Fighters, barbarians, and rogues all gain this ability.

Killing Blow
Once per day when you hit with a weapon attack, you can declare it was a killing blow. The target must make a Con save (DC 13 + Your Strength or Dexterity modifier) or instantly die. You gain an additional use of this ability at every even level.

That puts them about on par with casters in terms of iWin buttons for combat related stuff.

They are still miles behind in terms of non-combat iWin buttons though.

The Society for Caster Supremacy would have a cow if fighters, barbarians, and rogues got an ability like that, even though in practice it is no different from Hold Person or Polymorph.
If we're going to get "I Win" buttons then it needs to be spread out more. If a Wizard can cast a spell that can instantly slay a monster a good majority of the time then I'd like something that non-spellcasters get. I don't care if it's better coup de grace rules at X level, a unique exploit that instantly slays, or whatever.



I don't know of a D&D edition where wizards could instantly slay an enemy AT LEVEL on a consistent basis.  Maybe in rare cases power word kill but that would almost always be once per day and even then it was only situationally effective.   (Mostly anti-caster)

One thing about a SOD/S spell is that if the enemy saves there is no effect.

Most of the time the odds of failure were high enough to make it an impractical strategy to use save or dies against any serious enemy.   I can only assume that your game had massive stat boosting items in it if you got your DC's up that high.
Em..wtf are you talking about?

Sleep...at level 1, a 3e wizard can cast it 4 times a day with a DC such that most monsters only succeed 20% of the time. It could easily take out a group of 4 enemies no sweat.

IT was our frikkin go to tactic in early level 3. Sleep and slay we called it...

It is a level 1 instant kill for all intents and purposes.

In 3.x, this only happened if the Wizard let the Fighter.
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My 3.x experience doesn't match that at all.  Of course, most of my time playing 3.x was between level 1-7 or 8.  I suppose if you start at high levels, you might have different experiences.  But in the single digits?  Resource management was a big deal.

Fighters, barbarians, and rogues all gain this ability.

Killing Blow
Once per day when you hit with a weapon attack, you can declare it was a killing blow. The target must make a Con save (DC 13 + Your Strength or Dexterity modifier) or instantly die. You gain an additional use of this ability at every even level.
.



Oh good lord that is such a horrible ability.  Do you know that a DC 17-19 in Next is really hard to pass?  So a 10th level fighter pretty much slays up to 5 creatures a day, no matter who or what they are?
Vorpal sword is not a class feature, thus it does not address the fighter class's lack of I win buttons.

 



I do agree, that the fighter needs some death blows   In fact, I'd like to see an ability called "Decapitation".   

When I look back at my high level 2e martial characters I really don't think they would live long without magical items.  

I'd have to wonder how Drizzt would fair without his swords, bracers, bow, and pet cat figurine.   Thinking back to those novels I think he would be dead without them.   His cat item saved his ass several times. 

The problem with D&D is that it contains magic. Magic can do anything imaginable.   The wizard uses magic directly and the fighter uses it indirectly.   In the end all characters use magic.   Now, unless you want to reduce the power of magic to the level of a sword swing that fact isn't going to change. 

That might be in conflict with the idea that the game does not assume magical items, but at this point, lets face the facts;  D&D Next DOES assume the use of magical items.   I don't care what the designer say.   Every single module so far contains magical items for the martial characters and that won't stop.    



 


Vorpal sword is not a class feature, thus it does not address the fighter class's lack of I win buttons.

Specific spells are not class features for wizards either. Spell casting is a general ability on par with using a weapon.

Prior to 4e, there were times when the fighter just obliterated enemies and the wizard watched.  There are times when the wizard threw everything he had at a BBEG and it kept coming.  The fighter stood in the breach and fought it off or killed it.

If the wizard was smart there where not many where the fighter was more important then the wizard. It took a very good DM to keep things balanced. At high level the imbalance between daily / at-will powers is just too big and the spell casters have too many ways to indirectly destroy bosses or negate problems. Unless the DM goes to great lengths to balance things there are far more situations where the party knows they are only facing one or two fights for the day and the spell casters can unload then long extended sessions where the party has to slog through many fights and the at-will melee warriors get to shine.

I was recently playing a Pathfinder game, and decided to try out a witch. At level 1, the witch can choose the power to make any living target fall asleep for a number of rounds equal to your level (as an at-will supernatural ability, but only once per target per day). Between levels 2 and 8, this ability proceeded to trivialize every singular boss we came across, prompting me to retire that character as "too powerful to be fun".

Yep, the pathfinder witch has some rather broken save or die at-will effects. All of the pathfinder classes can get some stupid powerful stuff at 15+ level but the witch gets these at-will save or die at far too low a level.

Fighters, barbarians, and rogues all gain this ability.

Killing Blow
Once per day when you hit with a weapon attack, you can declare it was a killing blow. The target must make a Con save (DC 13 + Your Strength or Dexterity modifier) or instantly die. You gain an additional use of this ability at every even level.
.



Oh good lord that is such a horrible ability.  Do you know that a DC 17-19 in Next is really hard to pass?  So a 10th level fighter pretty much slays up to 5 creatures a day, no matter who or what they are?



I'm glad you agree.

Hold person, will have a DC 17 by that point for a wizard. Most creatures have +0 or +1 wis mod, so hold person is basically slays 5 people a day at that point.

Cause fear works similarly, except it requires a check to escape from (which the target has disadvantage on). Let us not forget that at level 10, the mage has a few polymorphs available too.

It is so strange to see that as soon as you give an ability a mage can do 10 times over to a martial PC, how it all of a sudden becomes overpowered or broken...
I can only assume that your game had massive stat boosting items in it if you got your DC's up that high.

It was pretty bad in 3.0, back when Spell Focus gave +2/+4, but it was noticeable in any game where you could roll or point-buy to start with an 18. It's not quite as bad if you use the system assumption 15 in your casting stat, but if you consider the relative ease of item crafting in the third editions, it was otherwise fairly difficult to avoid ending up with a stat of 24 by the time you reached level 10. (Part of that was due to SAD - Single Ability Dependency - that allowed a wizard to start with Int 18 without being horribly penalized for it.)

The metagame is not the game.


In 3.x, this only happened if the Wizard let the Fighter.
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My 3.x experience doesn't match that at all.  Of course, most of my time playing 3.x was between level 1-7 or 8.  I suppose if you start at high levels, you might have different experiences.  But in the single digits?  Resource management was a big deal.



For the most, single digits were, while still good for the Wizard, better mostly because Wizards didn't have enough spell slots to be able to fire off win buttons every fight. After that though, all bets are off.

Pathfinder seems better right now, but the game of it I'm in is only 10th level atm, but still fairly balanced.(though no one in the party is really a full caster though)
Fighters, barbarians, and rogues all gain this ability.

Killing Blow
Once per day when you hit with a weapon attack, you can declare it was a killing blow. The target must make a Con save (DC 13 + Your Strength or Dexterity modifier) or instantly die. You gain an additional use of this ability at every even level.

That puts them about on par with casters in terms of iWin buttons for combat related stuff.

They are still miles behind in terms of non-combat iWin buttons though.

The Society for Caster Supremacy would have a cow if fighters, barbarians, and rogues got an ability like that, even though in practice it is no different from Hold Person or Polymorph.




Yes, and if you don't like instant death you can stage it with setup shots.   If you hit on round 1 you set up the creature for a killing blow on round 2.    

 


Fighters, barbarians, and rogues all gain this ability.

Killing Blow
Once per day when you hit with a weapon attack, you can declare it was a killing blow. The target must make a Con save (DC 13 + Your Strength or Dexterity modifier) or instantly die. You gain an additional use of this ability at every even level.
.



Oh good lord that is such a horrible ability.  Do you know that a DC 17-19 in Next is really hard to pass?  So a 10th level fighter pretty much slays up to 5 creatures a day, no matter who or what they are?



I'm glad you agree.

Hold person, will have a DC 17 by that point for a wizard. Most creatures have +0 or +1 wis mod, so hold person is basically slays 5 people a day at that point.

Cause fear works similarly, except it requires a check to escape from (which the target has disadvantage on). Let us not forget that at level 10, the mage has a few polymorphs available too.

It is so strange to see that as soon as you give an ability a mage can do 10 times over to a martial PC, how it all of a sudden becomes overpowered or broken...



Yeah, except you're forgetting that casters give up a lot in a lot of other areas that fighter types thrive in.

There's a reason why casters get some of those spells.  It's becuase they have **** hit points, are squishy, and can't fight in combat worth a damn without their spells.

I can only assume that your game had massive stat boosting items in it if you got your DC's up that high.

It was pretty bad in 3.0, back when Spell Focus gave +2/+4, but it was noticeable in any game where you could roll or point-buy to start with an 18. It's not quite as bad if you use the system assumption 15 in your casting stat, but if you consider the relative ease of item crafting in the third editions, it was otherwise fairly difficult to avoid ending up with a stat of 24 by the time you reached level 10. (Part of that was due to SAD - Single Ability Dependency - that allowed a wizard to start with Int 18 without being horribly penalized for it.)




Yes, 3e played very differently from 2e in that regard. 

In 2e your base chance ( on average) to save at low levels against an equal level spell was about 25%. At high levels against an equal level spell it was about 75% chance.   Those numbers are without any ability mods, magical items, or magic resistance.

So by the time you had SoD spells the chance of them working against the same level creature was very low.    On the other hand, they were very fun to use against lower level creatures.   
 


Don't make assumptions.  It's a party based game.    The idea that every single character must always have the chance to contribute to every single encounter is ridiculous.


Every character contributing equally in every combat is not something that's the norm, nor should it be, no.

The problem comes, however, when you have a situation like 3.x where there were a minority of classes that could do everything every other class can do, usually BETTER in areas that are an aftertherthought to the class than other classes that specialize in that area.



I've heard this before and I just don't see it. The big claim is that wizards could do everything rogues could, and in many cases, do it better. This is only partially true, and it kind of ignores a major bump in the proverbial road. One, in 3.x, if you wanted to be able to disable traps, you needed the trapfinding class feature, straight-up. Something most people don't seem to get about disable device, is that it had arbitrary role protection, in that things that other characters could do to disable a trap that would make sense, say, building a bridge over an area they suspected was a pit trap, it would auto-fail in some way or another because you're trying to bypass the trap, a function explicitly covered by disable device, and you don't have the trapfinding class feature. And traps could be right scary in 3.x. They don't explain why. The class feature just says that it is a requirement to have in order to disable or bypass traps in anyway. You couldn't even locate traps that had a DC of 20 or higher using the search skill without trapfinding. Not even using detect magic to spot magical traps with a DC of 20+ would work, because you can't find the trap in order to detect the magic.

But what about other areas, like scouting or socializing? This is where we come to that proverbial bump in the road that I mentioned earlier. Sure, a wizard could pop invisibility, fly, and silence and be a really good scout. But there's two major problems with this. First, is that you've wasted three spells on doing something that someone else in your party is already perfectly capable of handling, spells that could have likely been put to better use. Second, relying on magic all the time in that fashion can be dangerous. You never know when you're going to hit a dead magic zone, or if an enemy caster in a dungeon happens to have perma-detect magic, sees the auras, spellcrafts them, puts two and two together, dispells you, and you get surrounded and ganked while separate from the group. There might even by some funny involved if the mage gets dispelled over a chasm or something. Third, if a wizard has those spells prepared, for whatever reason, if they're going to be cast at all, they should be cast on the person who has native nonmagical scouting talent. That's just smart playing. Only selfish wizard players keep other PCs from shining. The best ones do well and aid the group in doing well.

Only bad wizards cast bull's strength on themselves.

As for socializing, well, unless you've got silent and still spell as feats, and there are way better wizard feats out there unless you're going for a couple very specific builds, people might take issue with you magicing them mid-conversation. 
Oh all the money that e'er I spent,I spent it in good company And all the harm that e'er I've done, Alas, it was to none but me, And all I've done for want of wit, To memory now I can't recall, So fill to me the parting glass. Good night and joy be with you all
If we're going to get "I Win" buttons then it needs to be spread out more. If a Wizard can cast a spell that can instantly slay a monster a good majority of the time then I'd like something that non-spellcasters get. I don't care if it's better coup de grace rules at X level, a unique exploit that instantly slays, or whatever.



I don't know of a D&D edition where wizards could instantly slay an enemy AT LEVEL on a consistent basis.  Maybe in rare cases power word kill but that would almost always be once per day and even then it was only situationally effective.   (Mostly anti-caster)

One thing about a SOD/S spell is that if the enemy saves there is no effect.

Most of the time the odds of failure were high enough to make it an impractical strategy to use save or dies against any serious enemy.   I can only assume that your game had massive stat boosting items in it if you got your DC's up that high.



Since I mostly played 3E with "I Win" buttons, yea the DCs were pretty high but monsters have saved against them at least 40% of the time. Also, I wasn't really talking about having these sorts of "I Win" options at every level, just towards the higher level side where wizards get spells like Circle of Death, Flesh to Stone, yadda-yadda. At these levels (starting approx. 11 maybe?) I'd like to see something where the fighter could pull off something like a instant-kill under specific circumstances that HE puts into motion. Waiting for the wizard to cast hold person and then chopping off the head with a coup de grace don't really count because you NEED the wizard there to perform the stunt. Something like if you hit with all of your attacks in a round you can attempt a "finish move" and if the target saves, then nothing happens.

Em..wtf are you talking about?

Sleep...at level 1, a 3e wizard can cast it 4 times a day with a DC such that most monsters only succeed 20% of the time. It could easily take out a group of 4 enemies no sweat.

IT was our frikkin go to tactic in early level 3. Sleep and slay we called it...

It is a level 1 instant kill for all intents and purposes.



Yea, that was my experience at low-level 3E games. Party goes, wizard casts Sleep and most of the kobolds, goblins, or orcs go bed-time. Then the players just walk around coup de grace them in their sleep. As a DM running the edition, it got pretty bland and vanilla to see it time and time again until about 2nd or 3rd level. By that time they had a new tactic that was similiar.
At these levels (starting approx. 11 maybe?) I'd like to see something where the fighter could pull off something like a instant-kill under specific circumstances that HE puts into motion. Waiting for the wizard to cast hold person and then chopping off the head with a coup de grace don't really count because you NEED the wizard there to perform the stunt. Something like if you hit with all of your attacks in a round you can attempt a "finish move" and if the target saves, then nothing happens.

I've been tossing around an idea where some fighters could chain together multiple attacks for increased effect. The way I was thinking, you would make your attacks one at a time, and a single failure would end your chain. Then, based on how many attacks you landed, your enemy would suffer certain effects - maybe one hit would reduce move speed, while two hits would add a Daze effect, three hits would be a Stun, and four hits would be Death (save negates the condition in every case).

There are lots of ways to tweak this, too. Maybe the fighter has to declare the end of the chain in advance, and missing an attack would prevent any condition from being applied. Maybe the effect could be consistent (Dead if less than your level, Stunned if your level or higher) but the DC scales based on how many hits you land. It's just something I thought of while on the way to work, so I haven't gone through all of the ramifications and permutations as of yet.

The metagame is not the game.

I like I-Win buttons when I'm playing a wizard, but generally when I'm playing a fighter they have the effect of making me feel like a sidekick, which I don't enjoy. If there's a way to preserve the fun for casters, without resulting in a situation where other classes are pretty useless in most key encounters, I'd be on board with it, but I'm skeptical that there is. Giving fighters the ability to deliver a killing blow if they get in melee range might do it, but I suspect the usual suspects who hate fighters who do anything but attack would have a problem with it--despite the fact that a fighter skilled enough to consistently deliver killing strikes is just as "realistic" as a wizard who kills people by pointing his finger at them.
Easiest solution ever: include lots of optional limited-use "I win" ITEMS in the game. The ranger can whip out an Arrow of Slaying at the decisive moment, wizards can read out Ancient Scrolls with non-PC-castable effects, and so on. Plenty of crazy permanent artifacts too - vorpal swords, exodus knives, etc. The DM can load up the group with whatever number of instant win items he wants, and there are no class balance repercussions unless the DM causes them by giving out a bunch of crazy stuff to certain members of the party.
I like I-Win buttons when I'm playing a wizard, but generally when I'm playing a fighter they have the effect of making me feel like a sidekick, which I don't enjoy. If there's a way to preserve the fun for casters, without resulting in a situation where other classes are pretty useless in most key encounters, I'd be on board with it, but I'm skeptical that there is. Giving fighters the ability to deliver a killing blow if they get in melee range might do it, but I suspect the usual suspects who hate fighters who do anything but attack would have a problem with it--despite the fact that a fighter skilled enough to consistently deliver killing strikes is just as "realistic" as a wizard who kills people by pointing his finger at them.



Its already happened in this thread. I suggested a killing blow ability and someone immediately said it was broken. (despite the fact that mages can do it about twice as often and from range).

Edit: I in now way endorse such an ability. I feel it is anti-climatic. I would rather iwin buttons just not exist. They make for boring stories. 
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