So what are your experiences with 5e regarding class balance?


4th Edition

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I've had very limited experience with 5e so far. I've turned the core books upside down a few times now, but in actual playtime I haven't got too much in. I've been trying to get a feel for the new system from PbPs but so far i've only gone through a few encounters with 1st level parties had two battles with a tenth level party. So I cannot really say too much.

I am currently in the process of writing a campaign to play locally and I cannot decide whether I want to run it in PFRPG which is definitely not a system i'm going to abandon completely or if I want to go with 5e DnD.

So I've been trying to make myself a list of each system's strengths over the other. One thing i cannot gauge yet is how well balanced 5e is.

So on the risk of kicking loose a "martials can't have nice things" debate, I would like to ask for other peoples impressions and experiences. How do you feel about class balance, and balance between magic-using and non-magic-using characters?

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Keep in mind that all martials can have access to some magic via archetype, if they want to.


Petty Alchemy wrote:
Keep in mind that all martials can have access to some magic via archetype, if they want to.

Yes, like Eldritch Knight Fighters or conversely Bladesinger Wizards that's why i tried to specify with magic using and non-magic using. Rather than just Caster and Martial.


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Part of a long running homebrew campaign that is almost up to level 5. The group has shifted over the past year or so between different characters, but none of them felt particularly weak or useless from what I've seen.

Overall the base classes are quite well balanced in core, especially if you check over the errata. The only exception I would personally say to that is ranger, specifically beastmaster, which is a bit of a mess. It's the one thing without some homebrewing I would actively tell players to avoid as it just doesn't work well mechanically.

As for the remainder, general comments from what I've seen (note, we use point buy...if you roll to generate this can change a lot too):

Warlock - One I have the most experience with, my character. Depending on how your DM handles short rests they can be quite potent and they definitely have some solid consistent damage with eldritch blast. Admittedly nastier if you simply dip two warlock on a sorcerer build which saddens me, but is correct. Admittedly bit of a one shot wonder otherwise due to low spell slots and limited other abilities. Recovering spells on a short rest is amazing though.

Druid - Our moon druid is arguably one of the strongest in the party. The way their beast shape works makes them very tough and hard to take down. It'd be a contender for strongest overall class we've seen thus far.

Barbarian - Another of our longest played, rage gives them increased damage and an incredible amount of sturdiness combined with their high hit points. Generally pretty easy to hit though.

Rogue - Really effective. Sneak attack at once per round is solid for 5e but the fact it can crit makes for some very high burst damage when everything lines up. They can also be extremely mobile or hide easily with cunning action right out of the gate. Solid class all around.

Monk - One of the classes that if you roll stats can get pretty obscene. Otherwise it's overall alright from the little I've seen.

Bard - We only had a bard for a very short time but they are extremely versatile and inspiration makes them extremely good at supporting allies.

Cleric - Domains feel a lot more customized now. As always a strong class and the healing makes them well liked. I'd place them on the stronger side, but depends which domain you are using too.

Wizard/Sorc - Both use the same list. Metamagic with the sorc is where you'll see some nasty combos admittedly. Some wizard school stuff is thematic and cool as well. They're solid all around but changes to concentration and lowered numbers of spell slots (but better cantrips) have done a lot to make them much more balanced, even aside martials.

Fighter - Only seen a little fighter, but they are quite good. How good depends on archetype, but between action surge and the ability to heal themselves, they hold their own quite nicely.

Paladin - Strong and solid as ever. Good combination of spells and butt kicking. Same for ranger pretty much, except beastmaster as mentioned is basically a mess.

Hope this helps. As always the more options you add, the greater potential for more broken combinations but overall due to the graded curve it is much easier to balance everything and the fact that magic items aren't assumed is a big plus imo!


We have played a lot. Every class gets a chance to shine, and I don't recall any class not being pretty robust. Haven't seen every archtype


Sounds like this is going to be a point for 5e, if only for the fact that it's still so young. But I would love to hear more opinions and experiences.


Threeshades wrote:
(...) How do you feel about class balance, and balance between magic-using and non-magic-using characters?

I agree that the class balance is quite good, although they do not all progress equally.

I've played through all the tiers and each of our characters could participate relatively equally for one 5-6 round combat. It's in subsequent combats that differences started to really show. I wouldn't really consider that a flaw however.

Druid is indeed extremely durable thank to how wild shape works, but its "fire power" is in line with other characters.

Wizard is still the most versatile character at high level. I haven't seen the sorcerer in action much, but they are the best nova blasters thanks to metamagic, which only they have access to.

Cleric has awesome defensive magic, almost frustratingly so for the DM. Bard really depends on how it is built. IMO that's the class that requires the most system mastery to play. Warlock doesn't do much but what it does, it does extremely well and often.

Fighter/rogue/barbarian can hold their own about equally and multiclass well. Fighter does really well in short combat but quickly runs out of steam; barbarian shines in longer/overwhelming combats where its resistance to damage really shows. Rogue needs to care about it's hp to survive, but it has the abilities to do so. This one takes a crafty player to draw the most out of the class.

Paladin is arguably one of the most powerful "martial" in 5e. Ranger is hard to play as effectively; you need to consider its out-of-combat potential to take full advantage of the class.


Despite the overall negative reception you tend to see online, the Ranger is not a weak class. It does have a broken path in the Beast Master, but Hunter Rangers are as good as any other secondary martial not named Paladin (who is only slightly better than the Barbarian and Hunter Ranger by virtue of Divine Smite), College of Valor Bard or Bladesinger Wizard (these two are both secondary martial types that get full spellcasting so they're going to have more power and versatility as a matter of course).

The ranger's real strength in combat comes from its spell list with the likes of Hunter's Mark (which is such a non-choice whether to take it that it should have just been a class feature like Divine Smite), Conjure Barrage, Conjure Volley, etc.

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I am going to add that Bard is hard to build around, especially for people who are either build averse, or new to gaming in general. My daughter's bard didn't really start to shine until she picked a college. Before that, she was only really effective in inspiring others, which to a new player is kind of lame. Bards can be a little MAD for 5th edition, but I imagine that a smart build might negate this problem.

That having been said, it takes a lot of effort to make the bard be an effective gish class.

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Threeshades wrote:

So I've been trying to make myself a list of each system's strengths over the other. One thing i cannot gauge yet is how well balanced 5e is.

So on the risk of kicking loose a "martials can't have nice things" debate, I would like to ask for other peoples impressions and experiences. How do you feel about class balance, and balance between magic-using and non-magic-using characters?

5E is leaps and bounds more well-balanced than Pathfinder in that respect. (I don't know yet whether the result is "good" or simply "less bad", but either way, the gap is enormous.)

5E did some really key things in regard to the balance of magical and non-magical engagement of the world: they lifted some of the limits of skill-based accomplishment while also removing most of the spell-based problem-solving.

See, in Pathfinder, skills (allegedly the primary way of interacting with the world outside of combat) have some awkward obstructions built in. First, some skills are trained-only, so the game just flat-out says "You can't engage this part of the world" if you haven't invested in that skill. Relatedly, the most important uses of most skills will scale with level, so even if the skill you want to use is NOT trained-only (or if it is and you invested one rank), it's not long before you're auto-failing unless you've made some serious investment. So there's sort of this wall saying that you don't get to engage the world via skills except with the ones you've devoted yourself to. Combine that with the size of the skill list and the relatively low number of ranks a lot of classes get, and the result is that the entire Skill mechanic—allegedly the primary means of interacting with the world—is instead a barrier telling you that you CAN'T interact with the world.

But in 5E, there's no "trained-only" skills, and there's "bounded accuracy" (bonuses and DCs stay low enough for the die roll to matter across all 20 levels), so whether you're at 1st level or 15th level, when you want to engage the world, the skill system actually lets you make a meaningful attempt.

To put it more succinctly: Pathfinder's skills are a checklist telling you which ways you are or are not allowed to engage the narrative. 5E lets you interact with the world however you want, and the skill system tells you how to resolve the results of your actions.

Furthermore, in Pathfinder, almost every (non-combat) obstacle you could possibly encounter has at least one spell (often at a very low spell level) that just flat-out overcomes that obstacle. All you need is access to the spell and you're golden. Poof. Any that are too situational to include in your prepared or known spells tend to also be low enough level that you can carry scrolls or even wands at a trivial cost. You don't have to be very many levels into the game before the casters are accumulating libraries of scrolls, each with an auto-win solution for a particular type of obstacle. As a result, Pathfinder casters aren't faced with the "You can only engage in these ways" restraint inherent to Pathfinder's skill system, and instead get to engage the world using whatever spell they need. Just whip out the appropriate scroll (again, at trivial cost) and BAM! World engaged.

In 5E, however, a LOT of those types of spells are gone. Additionally, 5E does not assume exponential wealth accumulation as part of character advancement like Pathfinder does. Combine these two facts together, and Pathfinder's "I've got an app for that" paradigm simply doesn't exist in 5E. Thus, casters are every bit as reliant on the skill system for governing their noncombat interactions as the martials are.

TLDR: In 5E, everybody can interact freely with the world, with the skill system showing you how to resolve the results rather than telling you whether or not you get to participate; meanwhile, casters don't get to bypass the process with trivially-costed shortcuts.

And I haven't even started on the combat-related balance yet!


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About the Ranger Beastmaster; it's not a weak class, it's pretty strong in fact, the problem is that in order to keep the class in check power wise,they had to put some action economy for using your companion, so you end up with a companion doing nothing unless you spend an action to tell him what to do. This cause the feeling that your companion feels like a robot more than a living being. But if you can somehow put that feeling aside, the class is pretty good.

As for class balance in general, we haven't seen a Barbarian yet at our table, but for the rest most of the classes have their strength and weakness and complete themselves pretty well. No one felt that the option they choose was completely useless to the party.

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Our party is 11th level. I play a hill dwarf cleric of Life. Pretty much everyone else out-damages, but my main job is buffing, not damaging. I can "nova" if needed, and I have lots of useful utility spells.

The rest of our party is an elf rogue (arcane trickster) archer, human wizard (diviner) blaster, human ranger (hunter) archer, halforc barbarian (berserker) two-handed basher, human fighter (eldritch knight) two-weapon fighter.

The rogue might have NOT gotten a sneak attack 3 times. The ranger archer is our main damage outputter (hunter's mark + Hordebreaker is pretty awesome, even when the secondary target doesn't get the extra damage from hunter's mark). The wizard is super versatile--those Portent Rolls are lifesavers! The barbarian is really good at smashing things--the only odd bit is that he went from 1d12 axe to a magical 1d10 glaive, to a 1d8 greatclub of speed.

The eldritch knight is often frustrated by the number of Bonus Action options he has. He originally built the character as an old school Fighter/Thief/Magic-User. Going EK 3/AT 3/Wiz 3 he would be CL 5 at level 9, but tons of 9th level cantrips, and even MORE bonus action options.

We all started at level 1 (except the barbarian, who joined us around level 8 or 9), and it's been a fun ride. There is a really fun power boost at level 5 for EVERY class, which is fun and exciting.


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I ran a group through Crimson Throne (with pretty accelerated levelling, since we wanted to try out all levels of play).

From that, I formed the view that the warlock was more powerful than the other classes due to it's "get everything back after a short rest" schtick, plus the fact that it's spells automatically scale. The "send through hell" class feature at level 14 or something seems decidedly better than other powers of that level (it's something like 10d10 psychic damage with no save, plus the enemy leaves the battlefield for a round, so everyone gets a round of buffing/healing/saving from effects. Having said that - my party are obsessive resters, so that would exacerbate any balance issue there.

The player of the warlock expressed the view that paladins were "too good" in their ability to divine smite (the paladin player rarely cast spells, he just burned through his spell slots doing monstrous amounts of damage).

The only real imbalance issue we had was early in the campaign - one player built a crossbowman/sharpshooter/archery-style fighter. He then used a handcrossbow, getting an additional bonus action attack every round on top of his already huge number of 19-20 critting attacks, could subtract 5 to hit to get +10 damage, could fight in melee and ignored cover and range penalties. There was some debate about whether you could get the bonus action attack if you're using a handcrossbow, but there was a twitter FAQ clarifying that yes, you can provided you've got the other hand free). All up, I think that combination was too good.

One factor which skews things is that my players generally just build for combat. I had to virtually beg them to get some utility spells near the end of the campaign. As such, there's always a hideous gap in their capabilities outside of combat and classes which are not combat focussed will tend to look weaker at our table (because they play the way they build :p).


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As a player, my experience has been different because I tend to play weird, suboptimal choices in our regular homegame. What I've been delighted about is that I'm still a meaningful contributor. Even though I'm clearly underpowered, I haven't been woefully so. I recently read terminology on this site about a "floor/ceiling" paradigm for evaluating classes and I'm happy to say that, in my experience, the floor of the various classes is much closer to the ceiling - so oddball character choices don't make people roll their eyes.

I played a first level bard, first level fighter, rest-of-the-levels warlock with a 14 in his casting stat. I also played a mobility based fighter who liked knives (and fought with daggers and a shortsword). Currently I'm playing a dwarven wizard who favors melee combat. None of them are as good as the more carefully constructed characters I'm adventuring with, but I don't feel like I'm just filling out the scene either.


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Lorathorn wrote:

I am going to add that Bard is hard to build around, especially for people who are either build averse, or new to gaming in general. My daughter's bard didn't really start to shine until she picked a college. Before that, she was only really effective in inspiring others, which to a new player is kind of lame. Bards can be a little MAD for 5th edition, but I imagine that a smart build might negate this problem.

That having been said, it takes a lot of effort to make the bard be an effective gish class.

I'm currently playing a bard in a PBP and I'm struggling to find a focus. Granted I've never played a bard before and the whole "magic through music" thing isn't something I've ever really got my head around. Nonetheless, when I think about it (both in levelling and in play), I feel like I have tons of options but there's always this lingering thought that I've chosen bad ones.

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We also have an "emergency" campaign of around 5th level. I play a really dumb parkour specialist rogue (thief) that is really fun. The rest of the party is a fighter (champion) two-weapon master, a tiefling dragonblooded sorcerer, a human (?) warlock with faerie familiar, a dwarf Tempest cleric and a dwarf bear barbarian. It's a fun, silly campaign where we're not very optimized. I share DMing duties with a guy who plays a Green Guardian paladin.

I also ran a short campaign with an elf rogue (assassin) archer (who LOVED the way 5E does sneak attack!!!!!), a red dragonborn paladin of vengeance grappler, and hill dwarf cleric of war.


The biggest gap in balance is flexibility of choice in D&D, with the exception of 4E, the caster is supreme. But for a fantasy setting, most will accept the limits of mundane/martial classes.


My only experience as of now has been playing a wizard. Most spells work the way they are supposed to except for charm spells due to a single line in the spell description that ruins their intended purpose. Aka, the target knows you charmed them without fail. So until they get around to fixing that oversight, social skills are vastly superior to comparative charm magic in everything except niche situations. Damaging spells end up being about as effective as those in 3.5 despite different design considerations, except for the improved cantrips. For example, burning hands is useful for a time until fireball is available. At least that's how it is for wizards.

Survival is a little easier as a wizard, and scaling cantrips avoid the Pathfinder situation of a wizard being forced to use a sling on downtime. Combat stats are more predictable, but so is combat itself. Limited options tend to make combat a bit samish over long campaigns.

There is a lot to love about 5th edition, but it feels like they are internally struggling against the urge to make things very mechanically balanced when that didn't work for them before. Sometimes it comes through like with the charm spell thing where they make the rules RP for the player, or the strange companion/familiar/pet rules.

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SmiloDan wrote:
The wizard is super versatile--those Portent Rolls are lifesavers!

Portent is the most ridiculous part of being a Wizard in my experience. It's hard to explain how disappointed my DM was when I declared my PC was casting Charm Person on the would-be enemy Cleric, and I've already foreseen that he would roll a 2 so his no doubt good Wisdom save wouldn't prevail.


Jiggy wrote:

5E is leaps and bounds more well-balanced than Pathfinder in that respect. (I don't know yet whether the result is "good" or simply "less bad", but either way, the gap is enormous.) ...

...And I haven't even started on the combat-related balance yet!

Ah but it was very informative and interesting. So feel free to go ahead with.

From what I've read so far it seems like 5e does a lot better, and seems to have a dressed a lot of the major concerns with the 3rd editions.

How is direct damage spellcasting holding up compared to the other forms (which in the PF and before were also held to be much better options?)

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Our divination wizard uses direct damage spells a lot: fire bolt, chromatic orb, fireball, lightning bolt, wall of fire, cone of cold. He also has a Rod of the Evoker, so he can avoid friendly fire, which is nice.

We're doing RotRL, so there are lots of battles with lots of targets, so AoE spells have been really useful. And with his Portent ability, he can give poor rolls to opponents.


I only played at levels one and two due to the GM coming down with a case of 'next new game' syndrome. The guy who runs it gets that a LOT, and the other person in the group who does most of the GM work wasn't going willing to purchase anything for 5E after the bad taste he still has from 4th (Why should I trust Hasbro ever again? were his exact words).

That said, I enjoyed what little we did do, and I'll chime in that at those low levels magic can really tilt an encounter (blasting magic is actually powerful again), but the casters have to be careful with their non-cantrip spells because there are fewer of them than in Pathfinder. However, when those spells are used, you know power has been applied.

However, we only played up to level 3, and had no actual sessions at that level beyond boosting the characters, so YMMV.

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Yeah, low level blasts are REALLY powerful.

I wanted to run an encounter with a coven of low-level witches, and had to make up a bunch of new magical powers for them because even one first level spell can kill a 1st or 2nd PC even if they make their saving throw. Even a single lucky cantrip can kill a non-d10 PC--or an even slightly wounded d10 or d12 PC.

But spellcasters do get a lot fewer spells per day, which is a real good balancing factor. And most primary casters (Circle of the Land druids, sorcerers, warlocks, and wizards) have ways to "recharge" and gain additional spell slots per day, if not per encounter.

So it's a delicate balancing act, but it IS balanced.

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Some classes do blasting better, because they can add their casting stat to damage.

That said, we've found Flaming Sphere to be very efficient early on for any caster that gets it.

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Yeah, my next PC will either be wood elf druid (Circle of the Moon) and I think I'll be using flaming sphere a lot, or I'll be a drow or tiefling bard (College of Lore) focusing on buffs and debuffs, getting bless and counterspell as his "bonus" spells at level 6.

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Threeshades wrote:
Jiggy wrote:

5E is leaps and bounds more well-balanced than Pathfinder in that respect. (I don't know yet whether the result is "good" or simply "less bad", but either way, the gap is enormous.) ...

...And I haven't even started on the combat-related balance yet!

Ah but it was very informative and interesting. So feel free to go ahead with.

From what I've read so far it seems like 5e does a lot better, and seems to have a dressed a lot of the major concerns with the 3rd editions.

How is direct damage spellcasting holding up compared to the other forms (which in the PF and before were also held to be much better options?)

Combat-wise, the balance has been looking pretty good so far. The baseline math is pretty great, and there's a lot more restriction on how much stuff a spellcaster can have going on at once.

Attack rolls, spell saves, and even spell attacks all use the same basic math, so you dodge some of Pathfinder's issues. Spellcasters firing rays are using the same math (primary stat + proficiency VS enemy's AC) as the martials swinging weapons, so you don't have this weird thing where martials need to keep stacking bonuses to keep their attacks relevant while the spellcasters get to target a Touch AC that actually goes down as you face tougher monsters. Everybody's running on the same accuracy.

Additionally, the different classes' HD size matters more than in Pathfinder. You're not assumed to accumulate +6 enhancement and +6 inherent bonuses to CON, so proportionally, your HD is a bigger factor in how much HP you have than it is in Pathfinder. This means that fighters being tougher than wizards is more than just technically true in 5E. Thus, the toughness balance is actually a thing.

Another issue in Pathfinder is that casters can have so many spells running: you can cast overland flight and a couple other things at breakfast, then extended heroism and a couple other things at the dungeon entrance, then have multiple ongoing combat spells (black tentacles, mirror image, create pit, haste, hold person, etc) all going at once. "Set it and forget it."

But in 5E, they have a "concentration" mechanic (very different from Pathfinder's) where it doesn't take you any extra actions or anything, but you can only have one concentration spell active at any given time, and taking damage forces a check to keep it going. And here's the key: most of the ongoing spells in 5E require concentration. Consider this sample list:
alter self
arcane eye
banishment
barkskin
bestow curse
blade barrier
bless
blindness/deafness
blur
call lightning
cloudkill
confusion
darkness
detect (whatever)
dominate person
enhance ability (aka, bull's strength, etc)
enlarge/reduce
evard's black tentacles
expeditious retreat
...

...You get the idea. Every one of those is a decent (or even great!) spell, but because they all require concentration, you can only have one of them running at a time. That simple measure of resource management is HUGE. You can't just pile on all these different buffs/debuffs/SoS's and let them all run on their own timers. You have to pick one. And if you have to change your mind, then the previous one is gone. And if someone hits you, you have to make a check or lose the spell.

So instead of just filling your spellbook with all the greatest control/SoS spells, you've got to make sure you also include some instantaneous spells so that you've got ways to contribute while your one concentration spell is running (either that, or make your peace with every combat being "one spell plus cantrips").

Additionally, lots of the durations have not only been tied to concentration, but also had their maximum reduced. There's not much that can last more than one encounter, let alone all day. Blasting damage has been made more relevant by the lowering of typical HP totals, you don't get bonus spell slots (and for really high level spells, get only 1/day) so you have to manage your resources more, and stats cap out at 20 so you can't just SAD your way to astronomical save DCs.

I've got limited experience with the really high-level stuff, so it's possible that casters still eventually dominate. However, what I've seen so far has looked like a whole different ball game than Pathfinder.


SmiloDan wrote:

Yeah, low level blasts are REALLY powerful.

I wanted to run an encounter with a coven of low-level witches, and had to make up a bunch of new magical powers for them because even one first level spell can kill a 1st or 2nd PC even if they make their saving throw. Even a single lucky cantrip can kill a non-d10 PC--or an even slightly wounded d10 or d12 PC.

But spellcasters do get a lot fewer spells per day, which is a real good balancing factor. And most primary casters (Circle of the Land druids, sorcerers, warlocks, and wizards) have ways to "recharge" and gain additional spell slots per day, if not per encounter.

So it's a delicate balancing act, but it IS balanced.

On the player side I liked it. Magic feels powerful right away, but by having fewer spells it doesn't make non-magic using characters feel redundant.


If I were to use the Tier system, I'd rate the 5e classes anywhere from 3+ to 3-. They're very well balanced without being cookie-cutter classes.

With Moon Druids being among the most powerful (3+) and the frenzy barbarian and wild magic sorcerer bring amongst the worst (3-). But even with that, they're still very well balanced and I doubt you'll see any given character feeing like they're over powering the rest of the group or feeling like that can't contribute to the game.

There are no classes in tiers 1-2 (over powers neary everyone and can do with other classes specialize in with ease) and no classes in tiers 4-5 (single specialization and can't do anything beyond that or can't even do their own specialty well).


Also the fact you can always contribute with some magic (since cantrips/orisons are unlimited and actually deal an alright amount of damage or have an additional useful effect) makes mages feel more mage-y. Not the guy that throws a couple spells then sighs as he pulls out his crossbow.

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I really like how they did spells.

For clerics, druids, paladins, and wizards, you can prepare a number of spells per day equal to your class level (half your class level for paladins) + your spellcasting ability modifier.

At low levels, you can prepare a ton of spells per level, but only cast a few per day. At higher levels, you can prepare a few spells per level, but have more spell slots per day. You can even cast many low level spells with higher level spell slots for more powerful effects. This leads to some real versatility and some real interesting resource management decisions.

My group is 11th level, and everyone is contributing equally. My cleric might not be a big damage dealer, but he is definitely a force multiplier. Everyone else in the party deals a ton of damage: barbarian, two-weapon fighting fighter (7 attacks when he surges!), the rogue consistently sneak attacks (but didn't one night!), the ranger is REALLY lethal (magic longbow + Sharp Shooter feat + hunters mark spell can be 1d8+6 + 10 + 1d6 = around 24 per hit), and the wizard does awesome AoE damage even if he usually botches the damage rolls.


there is a lot of balance between classes, any class feels very diferent (even one caster from another)
i dont like 5th, but i can asure you that balance is there, also, you can skip the d20 and replaced it with a coin, thats the level of balance that 5th has


I'm tending toward 5e more and more. I think i will make the final decision together with my players though, I hope i can lay out both systems' upsides over each other fairly.

If I understood that right prepared casting in 5e is more akin to what PF's arcanist does than any other previous prepared caster: you choose each spell to prepare once and then can cast it until you run out of slots for its own level or higher. With the added difference that you apparently no longer have to choose specific numbers of spells of certain levels. Just the set number of spells [level or 1/2 level]+ ability mod and they all can be of any level you can cast.

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Exactly.

5th Edition is very elegant and easy to run and play.

Pathfinder is more complex with a lot of options to choose from.

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Juda de Kerioth wrote:
you can skip the d20 and replaced it with a coin, thats the level of balance that 5th has

lol

Spoken like somebody who skimmed the book but hasn't played past first level. :)

My party includes a wizard in light armor (he dipped rogue) with AC 15 and a sword-and-board fighter with AC 21. There's a big difference between my monsters hitting on an 8 or hitting on a 14, especially when the latter has approximately twice the HP of the former.

5E will fool you like that: there are lots of little changes, and any one of those changes would produce weird or undesirable effects if applied in isolation to Pathfinder. But when you put them all together to create the whole 5E system, the net result is worlds different.

Makes it really easy to tell who's actually explored the system and who took a quick look and perceived it as merely a couple of key modifications to 3.X/PF. ;)

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Exactly. The ranger looks really lame in the book (What--Favored Enemy doesn't give you a bonus to attack or damage rolls???) but is super effective in play (Oh....the Archery Fighting Style is +2 to hit against EVERY opponent, and hunter's mark is +1d6 damage AND doubled on a crit...).

Rogues can sneak attack only once a round??? But pretty much EVERY round! And sneak attack damage is ALSO doubled on a crit! WOW!

It's actually a really fun and elegant system.


I haven't played enough to tell yet: I see how the concentration changes make a nice nerf to full casters, but how do they work with gish types?
The partial caster, martial types can't really rely on having personal buffs last. Is that a problem or are they effective enough otherwise? What do they tend to do with their spell slots?

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thejeff wrote:
The partial caster, martial types can't really rely on having personal buffs last. Is that a problem or are they effective enough otherwise? What do they tend to do with their spell slots?

Unlike Pathfinder, 5E doesn't have the assumption that gishes need active buffs to keep up. Any two characters attacking with a weapon/spell they're proficient with and using equal-sized ability score modifiers are going to have equal accuracy. So where a Pathfinder gish needs buff spells and/or class features (magus arcane pool, etc) to make up the gap from their 3/4 BAB, the 5E gish's accuracy is hard-coded into the system.

As a result, they can use their spell slots for other things. It'll make a difference what being a "gish" means to you: do you default to a sword, but have ranged/AoE blasting spells for additional tactical options? You can do that. Do you want to be a fighter in combat then have various utility spells for noncombat situations? You can do that.

There's a little bit of a void for a magus-esque, single-classed arcane half-caster, but overall you can make most gish-type concepts work.


Jiggy wrote:
thejeff wrote:
The partial caster, martial types can't really rely on having personal buffs last. Is that a problem or are they effective enough otherwise? What do they tend to do with their spell slots?

Unlike Pathfinder, 5E doesn't have the assumption that gishes need active buffs to keep up. Any two characters attacking with a weapon/spell they're proficient with and using equal-sized ability score modifiers are going to have equal accuracy. So where a Pathfinder gish needs buff spells and/or class features (magus arcane pool, etc) to make up the gap from their 3/4 BAB, the 5E gish's accuracy is hard-coded into the system.

As a result, they can use their spell slots for other things. It'll make a difference what being a "gish" means to you: do you default to a sword, but have ranged/AoE blasting spells for additional tactical options? You can do that. Do you want to be a fighter in combat then have various utility spells for noncombat situations? You can do that.

There's a little bit of a void for a magus-esque, single-classed arcane half-caster, but overall you can make most gish-type concepts work.

Accuracy, sure, but damage, number of attacks, etc? Straight fighters do have some advantages in combat over casters or partial casters, right?

Do gish style partial casters wind up being just as good as straight martials in a fight and have spells for other things? Or are they just dialed back in a fight, but more versatile with out of combat spells or blasty spells?

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thejeff wrote:
Accuracy, sure, but damage, number of attacks, etc? Straight fighters do have some advantages in combat over casters or partial casters, right?

Probably the main thing that makes you legitimately "martial" enough to be a gish (as opposed to "wizard with a sword") is getting that second attack at about 5th level.

One form of the gish is to play straight fighter, taking the "Eldritch Knight" option when you have to pick a path at 3rd level. This gives you 4-level spellcasting (much like PF rangers/paladins, plus cantrips) alongside all your normal fighter goodies, like getting more attacks and more stat boosts than anybody else.

Another is to play straight rogue and take "Arcane Trickster", which is basically the same concept as the Eldritch Knight: a little bit of spellcasting on top of the rogue chassis (so you've got full Sneak Attack progression, etc). (Note: rogues don't actually get Extra Attack, but Sneak Attack makes up for it.)

Yet another is to play a bard (which in 5E is a full 9-level caster), then at 3rd level choose the "Valor" college, which gives you medium armor/shields at 3rd, and Extra Attack at 6th.

There's also the Warlock, whose entire spellcasting paradigm is a little... different, but more importantly they get light armor and, if they pick certain class options, get Extra Attack at 5th. (It's not uncommon to dip a level of fighter in this build for better proficiencies.)

If your notion of "gish" can include divine casters, then you can just play a ranger or paladin right out of the box, as they're both half-casters in 5E.

Does that answer your question?


Jiggy wrote:
Juda de Kerioth wrote:
you can skip the d20 and replaced it with a coin, thats the level of balance that 5th has

lol

Spoken like somebody who skimmed the book but hasn't played past first level. :)

My party includes a wizard in light armor (he dipped rogue) with AC 15 and a sword-and-board fighter with AC 21. There's a big difference between my monsters hitting on an 8 or hitting on a 14, especially when the latter has approximately twice the HP of the former.

5E will fool you like that: there are lots of little changes, and any one of those changes would produce weird or undesirable effects if applied in isolation to Pathfinder. But when you put them all together to create the whole 5E system, the net result is worlds different.

Makes it really easy to tell who's actually explored the system and who took a quick look and perceived it as merely a couple of key modifications to 3.X/PF. ;)

MM i have to admit that i played a charactor until lvl 5th then the dm went weird and he took the actions for me at my character, so i left the table. but as i could watch, the bonuses were well ballanced, but i use feats, and human alternate abilities, so, i took polearm master and fighter polearm archetype, at lvl 4 i took centinel feat and the game broke. and thats why the dm kill my character in an encounter so arbitrary that i left the table.

from 5th i loved the spell mechanics, the rest short and long, and the movement in combat (using that movement was so elegant that they threw away like 50 feats with that) i loved the thing that some classes have now some feats as class abilities (monk´s deflect arrows and only monks can do was a perfect choice). the spell scallating and of course, and for sure, spells as rituals are great adition (from 4th). but i still dont like it at all, with the monsters i loved the way they use their abilities and legendary and lair actions were great as hell!!

But i rather to import those little things that i loved than moving myself and my party to a new setting.


Really interesting comments. I have just started DMing one game and it is really positive to see so many complimentary comments about the system. My group is trying to get our head around the flattened maths on base attacks, saves and skills +1 to 6 rather than +1 to +20.

I think my players, myself included love customisation and complexity which isn't a vice in itself. We enjoy the nuances and quirks that you can create with such a rich system as pathfinder. As a DM I also like the relatively comprehensive rule system. 5th edition relies heavily on DM calls.

I recently tried to bring two new players into the group to start a Shattered Star campaign using Pathfinder and you realise just how complicated it is to take someone through. Race modifiers, alternate racial abilities, favoured class, traits, class, archetype, skills, feats, equipment. There is a lot of stacking and synergy involved there. As the rest of the group have been playing a long time I didn't take out the optional bits. It was a bit like trying to teach someone to play 'Go Johnny go go go go'... "You'll pick up the rest as we play"

I think for us 5th ed will form an alternate campaign, like high magic, grim dark, horror, real world. Not something we do all the time but a nice change for a campaign. There is always something satisfying about being able to use a legitimate beholder or mind Flayer!

Liberty's Edge

How well does 5e work to balance attributes, specifically strength vs dexterity?

I know characters are able to somewhat freely use dex for damage with certain weapons. Are there options that make strength more valuable? I've heard certain attacks 'target' stats as a defense but how often does strength come up as a defense?

I was looking to give 5e a shot in the near future but I'm not looking for a repeat of 3.5/Pathfinder. I'd like something different.

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Feral wrote:
How well does 5e work to balance attributes, specifically strength vs dexterity?

Very well.

For attacks and damage, any weapon with the "finesse" property gives you the option of using DEX in place of STR. However, finesse weapons have smaller damage dice than non-finesse weapons, and in 5E your weapon damage dice actually matter. Conversely, thrown weapons can use your STR in place of your DEX, but have less range/ammo than bows.

Going a little deeper, STR-based characters have a slight advantage in being able to (typically) use heavier armor, resulting in slightly higher AC than what DEX characters can achieve. Additionally, they're generally able to either use a two-handed weapon for higher damage or add a shield for +2 AC, while DEX PCs are stuck with one-handed weapons and often aren't proficient with shields. But on the other hand, DEX-based PCs will have higher initiative and better saves (more on that later).

So all in all, it's pretty balanced.

Quote:
I've heard certain attacks 'target' stats as a defense but how often does strength come up as a defense?

This is slightly off. What's actually going on is that there's no such thing as Reflex, Fortitude or Will saves; instead, every stat has its own save (that is, you might make a DEX save or a CHA save or a WIS save or whatever).

Interestingly, DEX/CON/WIS are still the most common saves, and then every class is proficient in one "common" and one "uncommon" save. For instance, rogues get DEX/INT, fighters get STR/CON, clerics get WIS/CHA, etc. Hey look, more balance! ;)

Quote:
I was looking to give 5e a shot in the near future but I'm not looking for a repeat of 3.5/Pathfinder. I'd like something different.

It is very much NOT a repeat of 3.PF. I wouldn't be playing it if it were. :/


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Juda de Kerioth wrote:
... but i use feats, and human alternate abilities, so, i took polearm master and fighter polearm archetype, at lvl 4 i took centinel feat and the game broke....

I've played a sentinel/pole arm specialist. In what way did the game break? Did you remember that you're only allowed one opportunity attack per turn?


I'm currently running a RotRL game that we converted to 5E going into Book 5. Party is currently 13th level, and I feel like the PCs are all pretty well balanced with each other. The current party consists of:

Half-elf Fighter 1/Rogue (Assassin) 12: Uses a rapier and shield (the latter thanks to his Fighter level) and I don't think he's ever not gotten sneak attack, as he either goes first (allowing his assassin ability to give him advantage against anyone who hasn't gone yet) or gangs up on someone that another party member is engaged with. His Mobility feat allows him to move in, attack and then duck back behind cover (and potentially Hide due to Cunning Action.)

Half-Orc Fighter (Battlemaster) 13: Uses Shield Master to trip (shove) foes and then follows up with the flail. If the initial shove doesn't work and it's a tougher foe, he'll follow up with Tripping Attack to try to get them down. He'll also tag the Rogue with a Commander's Strike from time to time to give him an additional chance to Sneak Attack.

Human Barbarian (Wolf Totem) 8/Druid (Moon) 4/Ranger 1: Spends a lot of time in Dire Wolf form for scent and extra HPs, but can lay on the pain with Rage and Great Weapon Master when she wants to. The Wolf Totem ability to grant advantage to her allies when raging makes her pretty popular with the rest of the party, too.

Human Cleric (Light) 13: Is the party's main blaster, as well as primary healer. Is a little too obsessed with Inflict Wounds because of the potential damage on a crit, but otherwise contributes a lot with AoEs like Fireball, Flame Strike and Firestorm. Radiance of the Dawn is a nice little nuke to use in close quarters where a fireball would be too dangerous.

Halfling Warlock (GoO) 2/Bard (Lore) 11: This was the second-toughest to convert from PF, as she was originally a Dual-Cursed Oracle of the Dark Tapestry. However, between Great Old One Warlock, re-flavoring Bardic Inspiration and Cutting Words as her manipulating fate rather than her making people feel good/bad about themselves and the Lucky feat, her feel is pretty similar to how she was in PF, with additional blastiness due to Eldritch Blast and Hex. Which is actually good, as in PF she passed on her turns a lot because it wasn't worth wasting a debuff spell on an enemy that was likely to die within a round.

Half-Orc Alchemist (Antimony) 13: The toughest one to convert, ended up creating a homebrew alchemist class. He typically mutates and uses longsword and shield (whereas in PF he used a long spear. But the lack of AoOs due to reach in 5E made the extra AC from the shield more attractive to him.) and puts out decent damage. He's the biggest change in play from PF, as he previously had about 6-8 buffs running at any given time in PF, whereas now he has to settle for 2 or 3 due to the Concentration mechanic.

My only concern as DM is trying to challenge them properly, since they can dish out a lot of damage really quickly and I'm having to convert all the enemies over from PF into 5E. We did have a really close fight between them and a horde of Fighter/Mages last session that was a lot of fun, but it pretty much burned through all their resources and was only their second fight of the day. (I also could have outright slaughtered them by having all of the enemies pepper them with fireballs until they could close the distance, but since that wouldn't be very fun, I had about half of them cast Haste and charge into melee.)

Dark Archive

I don't know. Sometimes I like the the ideas of 5E. Cutting the fat and the lean look of it, but then I'm brought back to Pathfinder, and like a lot of the stuff in that. It's weird.


My experiences are very much like Jiggy's near the top.
Nothing but awesome due to every character actually being able to contribute in a variety of arenas.

Also, multiclassing actually works in 5e.
We had a barbarian/warlock/fighter at 7th level that was able to contribute in a variety of ways.
And didn't suck at any particular task (we called him the "king of the short rest").

Interestingly, due to the "archetype" features and the way that backgrounds work in 5e, I was able to faithfully recreate a gestalt character that I was intending to run in a PF game.
With only one class.

Overall, I'd say that 5e is leaps-and-bounds more balanced than PF in terms of character design.

Just build a character and run with it.
Surprise yourself.

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Also, leveling up is a breeze!

Leveling up (usually) isn't about bigger and better numbers. It's about more choices and options.

And a lot of the options are already cooked into the class designs.

If you choose Champion Fighter at 3rd level, your archetype features are pretty much set in stone for levels 7, 10, 15, and 18. You still get to choose your feats/ability score increases at levels 4, 6, 8, 12, 14, 16, and 19, so there is customization still. And if you really want a customizable Fighter, you'll probably choose Battlemaster at level 3 instead of Champion. Champion is the "simple" option and Battlemaster is the "complex" option and Eldritch Knight is the "magic" option.

Many of the archetypes are choices between "simple" and "complex," which is also a pretty elegant design element. For example, barbarians can choose the Path of the Berserker, which is a pretty straightforward Cuisinart of death, or the Path of the Totem Warrior, which gives you some real subtle magic and some interesting choices at levels 3, 6, 10, and 14. Well 3, 6, and 14.


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The Sword wrote:
I think my players, myself included love customisation and complexity which isn't a vice in itself. We enjoy the nuances and quirks that you can create with such a rich system as pathfinder.

This is the most significant weakness with 5E, in my opinion. There isn't a lot of tinkering you can do other than 'around the edges'. That suits me fine (I'd prefer less), but some of the people in our group are starting to feel that they're exhausting the options they're interested in which are allowed by the system.

It's worth bearing in mind that the customisation is part of what you're giving up going from Pathfinder to 5E (granted the majority of character-building options you're losing aren't terribly good, nonetheless the process is significantly different).

Quote:
As a DM I also like the relatively comprehensive rule system. 5th edition relies heavily on DM calls.

I'd actually say 5E's resolution system is comprehensive, it's just simple.

Although there is DM judgement to some degree, it's basically assumed within the system that you'll just allow plus or minus two or grant (dis)advantage on the check - so there isn't a plethora of options you have to adjudicate between, nor do you have to come up with a whole subsystem.

That's kind of a quibble, but I think it's another point worth noting in shifting between PF (or other more simulationist games) to 5E. The focus in 5E is very much on swift, easy resolution rather than a pursuit of what is often labelled 'realism'. If you have disadvantage and then stop and think "Climbing the smooth wall with no tools is no harder than climbing the same wall with no tools when it's raining" it may rub you up the wrong way if you're coming from the same mindset as one adopts when playing PF.

I think it's useful in 5E to focus on the results rather than the mechanics generating the results. The system's strength is quick, fast resolution where every player is engaged - one of the things it gives up to achieve that is the satisfaction of an internally consistent, simulationist approach.


i meant more judgement calls in terms of setting skill DCs which aren't far less prescribed. How to influence a character; jumping down carefully; crafting an item etc.

These all require judgements by the DM. Of course such judgements are part of pathfinder but there are far more examples and guidelines provided in PF.

I do like the idea of start with the result and how likely you want that thing to happen and set the DC appropriately. I also like the fact that one character can take feats, traits, racial abilities, stats and ranks to make uber skills that almost invalidate checks even at low levels.

My players have asked to have a feat and a stat increase as they miss pathfinder feats. Has anyone tried this?

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