As a cleric I spent most of my combat turns casting Lance of Faith, unless someone needed to be healed desperately I just threw those Lance's at my opponents because I had no better options.
My Party's fighter archer pretty much just throw arrows at everyone every round unless she needed to take advantage of her precise shot maneuver.
And the melee fighter mostly swung her sword around.
I think our Rogue was the most versatile in actions attempted, though many of them were death rolls. (seriously, give them d8 already)
Wizard was able to throw a few different spells, but after running out, it was mostly ray of frost.
Maybe some of the problem will go away after us casters have a wider selection of spells, and the martial classes have more dice to spend on different manuevers, but honestly...I don't think it would harm anyone to let casters know a wider array of cantrips and give them the ability to choose what to do instead of simply casting and re-casting their go-to spell.
Can anyone who has played campaigns at a higher level comment on action variety per class?
I'm not sure what you're getting at? Our Fighter generally always swings with his sword, our second fighter with his axe, our Rogue tends to be bow oriented and our cleric melees with his spear. If you're looking for 4E style "attacks", they're simply not present.
My players tend to be descriptive so a few rounds with the fighter tend to go like this
1 - As I move into position I cut across the creature's belly.
2 - Reeling back from it's attack I change my hand grip and slide the steel through it's collar bone.
3 - I spin around, the blade catching my opponent across the upper chest.
The attacks are "I hit it with my sword, I put X number of Martial Dice into it". Mechanically, all the same. Descriptively entirely different.
For the spellcasters, at 14th level they can cast around 13 spells per day + Cantrips. We tend to eschew the 5MWD and tend to keep fair track of time so unless really pressed the PCs have a 12 hour "work day" and a regular sleep schedule. In that time, I've seen them get through 6 encounters if it's a tightly paced dungeon crawl. Our lower level group is far more reliant on Cantrips. Lots of Lance of Faith and Ray of Frost going on.
Once they get to about 5th level they know they can cast one or maybe two other spells per encounter and they're options open up. Our 14th level group, the Cleric has 13 spells and the Wizard has 17. They can usually throw 3 spells per encounter plus they're Cantrips. Given that most combats tend to top out at around 6 rounds, that's one "real" spell every other round. The question becomes when to pull out the big guns and which big gun?
Making combat feel dynamic is largely the province of the DM. While it is nice to have more than one option, until this packet my Cleric was comfortable lancing people or bashing them with his mace, depending on which was the better option. What stopped combat from feeling boring was the way the DM handled the monsters and forced us to make tactical decisions.
You can use a grid and still have dynamic combat if you make use of terrain obstacles and make the enemy keep the players changing their tactics.
We use a grid because that's what the players liked the most.
That being said, we're going though a war-type scenario with giants with a party of level 6 characters. The cleric did not even memorize Lance of Faith, because she's a human and decided that having light whenever she wanted was more important. Really though, it's all in the way that you play the character. She hit things with her warhammer, cast lightning bolt, channeled wrath, healed people, and thunderwaved an Orog of a cliff, ala FusRoDa.
The lifebringer cleric seemed the least interesting of the lot that was offered. Look at the rest of your party and make them think about working together. I mean, you guys are adventurers, living together on the road for weeks/months at a time, and constantly placing your lives in each others' hands. You would absolutely know that the fighter can parry a blow for half damage once per round, and that the monk can negate all damage from one source 1/rd as well (3/day with the right path). You know that if the rogue can attack with advantage he can do double the damage. You know those things, and so the choices you make when you memorize your spells every day can lead you to the playstyle that your party can survive.
That's what my group does and they love it. Sure the rogue is constantly looking for a way to backstab/sneak attack and the Mage is trying to cast spells as miserly as possible. Yeah, the fighter hits with his sword every round, but with the martial dice, he gets to decide *how* he's making that strike and that makes it feel a lot different. Same with the Rogue, monk and cleric.
Sorry Wizard, no love for you. Keep casting that ray of frost and maybe if you're good you'll get additional spell slots in the next packet.
It's up to the players to throw in flavour. The DM is responsible for creating flavour opportunities, but the players must act on it. Sure, it may be in the player's best interest to simply keep spamming their standard damage ability, but if they wanted to have more flavour in their combat then they should switch it around. Perhaps the fighter decides to use his action to bullrush an enemy so it gets knocked down. Then the archer may try to pin the target to the ground with his bow. That sort of thing.
I find it hard to believe that your are arguing for having less options rather than getting to make choices, having the DM spice an encounter is all fine and dandy but if you need to do that most of the time to keep things interesting, then the gimmicks are going to lose their value quick.
Plus, not everyone is going to find a great DM. =(
For those saying that using minis and a grid causes combat to be static - you should go check out the combat rules from HackMaster; They are made specifically for use with minis and grid and are the most dynamic and engaging RPG combat system I have ever experienced.
The difference: They aren't turn based. Character actions have their times measured in seconds and initiative is a "count up" that tracks the seconds since the encounter started. Players are able to move every second, which allows and encourages things like falling back while fighting so as to keep yourself from being surrounded and includes quick and easy rules for incidental knockbacks on heavy-hitting attacks. The system also relies on a mechanic of most things being opposed rolls, further keeping the player active and engaged.
Just in case, here's a TL;DR version: It's not the minis and grid that make things static - it's turn based combat with very little benefit built in for actions besides standing still and slugging it out.
As someone who loves playing a Wizard, I will agree that my first experiences with the class have left me underwhelmed. I've played a lot of 4E and it wasn't just the extra options because, to be honest, even if 4E, characters were often using their default favorites, it was how inadequate I felt in comparison to the fighters and rogues. At least cleric got to heal and channel occasional, adding to their usefulness.
I can't honestly blame the Fighters for doing the same thing. The 3d6 bonus they get in our current test campaign is so significant, the maneuvers need to be very good for them not just default to big damage. Even when they knew they didn't need to use the extra, sometimes they'd throw it on anyway just for the "oooh" factor. It felt very unfair when compared to my poor little magelet who had very few "oooh" power that I would never be able to use just for fun.
I don't mind faster combat with more direct results... it puts the focus back on the interaction between players and the roleplaying fun. There does need to be balance, though, between classes and even within the class so that the options we do have all offer something worth considering.
I agree about the disappointment of playing a caster in this ruleset - particularly a wizard. I'm going back to give 4e another try. I can tell from reading the forums that many feel that martial classes were cheated in prior editions, but I don't play a wizard to get a "ray o' frost gun" with unlimited bullets - the combat cantrips would just be cast over and over again.
I think the relevant classes should get one extra maneuver so as to give them more options in combat. If you choose your feats carefully you can get some extra stuff to do from that.
I think the DM should make the battles interesting at least 25% of the time by adding in terrain, special conditions, or special monster behaviors.
That isn't always possible, but as a player I always look for ways to do something interesting such as knock a monster off a ledge or things like that. It helps if you have manuevers and feats that give you options instead of a mere passive bonus. That is why I prefer systems where every choice you make has both an active and a passive ability attached to it.
It certainly would fit my idea of what a high level wizard is like...
What about this idea: Give everyone "ability slots" like a caster. Either that or power points to spend (like 4e psions or the 5e sorcerer that was out for a bit).
As you level up in any class you will get slots that you can us to memorize spells or have "strength reserves." For casters, this will be just be their spells as classically done in 1-3.5e. For martial classes this will be their manuevers. The higher level that you put a manuever in the more of an effect that it will have. So Cleave in a level 1 slot may only do +1d6 + Str damge to nearby enemies, for example. At higher levels and in higher slots it will do more damage. So a Cleave in a level 3 slot could do +6d6 + Str to nearby enemies. Or maybe it could be a really good deflection, where you use a level 4 slot to deflect an attack's damage (reduce by 4d6) and bash the enemy off balance. Or maybe an Arrow of Slaying in a level 6 slot that gets +2d4 attack and +8d10 damage for archers. For rogues, things like sneak attach could scale with higher levels. In essence, just like a wizard is storing energy to cast that one really big spell, a rogue could be waiting for the one really good sneak attack where he give it his all.
If you don't want to do slots, then do power points per day. Lvl1 manuevers/spells cost 1 point, lvl2 costs 2, lvl3 costs 4, lvl4 costs 8, ect. Make it to were you know different manuevers/spells and learn more per level. Then, in combat or out, you can spend power points to use the abilities. The more points spent on a manuever the more powerful it becomes. Caster's spells will all have certain ranks that cost an exact amount of power points. Enemies could have this as well. Some classes, like a psion or something, will have the ability to either transfer or steal power points from others, and some attacks will be so brutally draining on the enemy that they will eliminate enemy power points. I personally like this system and think that it has a lot of potentional. The number of power points given could be determined from a base at level up + some stat modifier (Int for wizards, Wis for clerics, Str for warriors, ect.)
Make a diverse list of manuevers (there's already a pretty good start), both offensive and defensive, and give all classes "ability slots" to be able to "cast" their stored energy. That will help out with balancing damage issues, give variety and strategy to how you play a character, and make it so that people will actually WANT to have more slots or power points to "cast" things, instead of taking away caster's slot because they are "overpowered."
The problem with resource systems is that they are defining features of the class. So if everyone has points or ability slots, than nobody feels special. This is a fairly common complaint about 4E and it is also an issue with MMOs, though obviously some people prefer it that way.
I am with you in finding the wizard disappointing. I played one and was just casting ol' Ray of Frost almost the whole time. Only having two 1st level spells meant there was liitle other choice. I understand that will improve at higher levels, but that does me no good as I will not go through the boredom to get to those levels.
And on a tangent, what is with Detect Magic being 1st level with no ritual option? The idea of taking that over something that actually keeps me alive seems foolish. I can't see taking that at any level where I actually care about 1st level spells.
I too found that the current system has a degree of limitation in action if you are trying to grab the "special ability" feel. The maneuvers are not worth converting martial damage die for in most cases. I like the direction of cantrips contributing to damage stability for casters over time but it is even harder to narrate a spell effect differently then a Fighter's swing of his weapon so it can be redundant.
Something that keeps poping up is the need for more DMing if you are doing the same thing over and over again, an example from my group is we have a wizard who will do the whole 1-2 importaint spells per encounter, but then when its time to ray 'o frost gun them, he instead breaks out the minor illusion and starts playing with the creatures mind, creating coppies of allies, coppies of enemies who attack them, giant brick walls blocking creatures paths, at one point he created a huge Ice elemental and used ray 'o frost to simulate it striking enemies.
Perhaps its a case of, sure you CAN just shoot off your Frost gun but why not try a little harder?
When it comes to other classes however it can get a little harder, for example as a bow using fighter I have said I volly x,y, and z about a hundred times, sometimes I wish I could run out of spell slots as it were and be forced to do something intresting, rather then doing pretty decent damage to three targets.
I don't get the problem. If a fighter is trying to kill a monster, logic dictates that he should hit it with his sword until it dies. Attacking several turns in a row shouldn't seem unusual nor should it be discouraged.
Dardstar: While you do have a point about allowing creativity (something that I DEFINITELY encourage in players, no matter the edition), the biggest problem with that is actually having players that are creative. If you're playing in a closed group and often it's a lot easier to teach eachother how to really invest in it and get people to be creative. On thing that I "hinted" at a player was that the enemy had really good armor on, but armor has straps that can be cut. He went after those and roled a disadvantage to hit and cut the straps. But then you've got public groups at gaming stores with people that can show up and just play. It's less personal and they don't tend to invest in the game and get creative. It's just, "I swing/shoot/ray gun" and that's it. The fact that the rules seem to funnel people into this choices just makes matters even worse.
So you have a good point, but it's not a realistic point for many groups.
Karnos: Your right, a warrior would swing a sword at something until it dies. But how many ways are there to swing, react, counteract, and dodge in sword fighting? These rules give those options, but like what a previous poster stated, it's usually more worth it to simple bash the enemy then spend the points on parrying or doing other tactics. Wizards are the same way. Yes, they have spell selection, but no slots. So a player will be FAR more likely picking an attack spell every time just to do decent damage to stay alive. And the biggest difference between a wizard and a warrior is that the wizard has extremely limited extra options to choose beside his ray gun, while the warrior can decided on what he wants to do every turn for an infinite number of turns. That's were the biggest imbalance comes in.
As it is, you can spend all your martial damage dice on the attack and then use them again to parry, so there isn't even a debate about that.
I actually think things like Manuevers or a Power that dictates to a player what their character is doing is over repetitive/redundant. The Idea that a Player is imagining what they are doing or trying something creative (with the DM working with them) lends itself to more spirited gaming. If that is not happening perhaps it should be suggested before the game.
Hopefully the "Middle Ground" is where this has to go. Without Manuevers the game is dead and with too many it is dead also. As has been stated of late, "Fluff" may be the answer. I only hope we get some things like Paladin, Bard, Ranger, Druid, Half Elves, Half Orcs, and Gnomes to add to system.
As for Sicari, after 35 years of playing this game and still playing, we have found creativity, mystery, and adventure keep us coming back for more. Our daily lives may get busy and hectic but we know one or two nights a week we might delve an ancient ruin, stamp out a band of brigands, or maybe discover the secrets of a fallen god and the legacy that was left in the wake. Mechanics add some flavor at times but the story of how these character react and deliver themselves from situations is in the game yet they should not dictate all aspects. If the character are beaten down, which doesn't happen over much, but if it does they find a defensive point to lick there wounds, recover, and make new plans. Unless they have some strange ability like regeneration from a magic item or a legacy of becoming a shade, it takes time for their wounds to heal. It makes for excitement and unravels a good collective yarn between friends, that depends upon our extention of disbelief which the game should define within due bounds depending upon the flavor of game (wicked, funny, or honorable). Perhaps we are hard core and creative, but that's how our game Rolls. Wish you the same for your game!
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