Balancing Casters vs Fighters


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Will.Spencer wrote:
Mysterious Stranger wrote:
If you are going to fix something you need to address what is really wrong. Tinkering with the equipment rules will not do anything to fix the caster vs fighter problem. Since all characters use the same rules for equipment any change you make will be able to be used by both casters and martials.

You'e completely right. I totally forgot about wizards wearing armor. And how silly to forget that high-level wizards are constantly melee'ing bad guys with +5 daggers.

Wizards are not the only type of caster. A magus or a warpriest will gain as much if not more power from what you propose. So will an oracle of battle or a combat focused cleric.

You are right that the wizard is not going to be using a +5 dagger. An elven wizard with a high DEX would probably find it useful to invest in a magic bow. This way they can save money on low level wands and spend the money they will be saving on other equipment. The bow may allow the wizard to pick up a meta magic rod. Since wizards can craft items including weapons this would allow a wizard to make weapons at ¼ of the price. A 9th level wizard can easily afford 2,100 for a +2 bow. This is slightly cheaper than the cost of a 3rd level wand of magic missile.


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Run them on different xp schemes:

Non magical classes: fast xp
9th level casters: slow xp
Everyone else: medium xp

In the case of multi classing, use the class with most levels to determine scheme.


I smell a retraining exploit...


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So some of the problems are already addressed; namely, with the rules the way they are you are already capable of building fighters that can dispatch Pit Fiends in single combat but were not designed by the game to really do anything besides deal loads of damage. Giving them bigger and cheaper magic weapons and armor is merely enforcing what the fighter is already doing and not its lack of options to do anything else.

At the same time it buffs Clerics, who DO make use of magic weapons and armor and raises the specter of the magic weapons and armor-crafting battle-cleric looming over the fighter.

Which brings us to part one of my points of balance for Pathfinder:

Magic and 9th-level magic-users that can do the warrior's job for them have to go.

The fighter's role in the party is to be an obstacle to enemies that has decent AC and HP and strong multi-attacks.

The baseline assumption of how the Druid plays is that he transforms himself into a monster that has decent AC and HP and strong multi-attcks, is accompanied at all times by a second monster that has decent AC and HP and strong multi-attacks, and can summon a small battalion of expendable monsters that have decent AC and HP and strong multi-attacks. Part of the reason the Summoner gets so much heat is that his primary CLASS FEATURE is a slightly worse Fighter or Rogue (for Skill-Eidolons) in his pocket on top of being able to summon his own legions of helpers/defenders.

Summoning and Battle-polymorph both need to have a major axe taken to them to end the niche infringement of martial characters beyond "I might want to spend those spell slots on something else." Make them more difficult. Make them outright DANGEROUS. Make minionmancy a high-risk high-reward thing where the caster might be able to magic up some numbers for fights but if things go wrong risks dropping an entirely new encounter on the party every time they do it.

Similarly, proficiency with magic should be inversely proportional to your casting proficiency. The Druid and the Cleric and the Oracle and the Shaman and those other 9th-level casters need to get busted down to 1/2 BAB and stripped of armor proficiencies entirely to establish they are not combatants, they are CASTERS. Some adjustment to spell lists and class features can come with this, but not only does this improve the fighter's lot by not forcing him to compete with battle-clerics and shape-shifted druids leading strike teams of dinosaurs, it also improves more overlooked classes like the Warpriest's lot by making him the default battle cleric instead of a poor successor to his father class in most situations.

Secondly, no more bonus spells. At all. You get what it says on your class sheet. If you have 40 intelligence, whoop de doo. You still don't get extra spells per day, you get high save DCs. 5e did away with the idea of more spells for maxing out your casting stat and strongly capped the number of high-level spells you can cast in a day, and I feel like that was a step in the right direction. Time Stop is a very powerful ability. Being able to cast it once before you have to rest again rather than seven times a day helps keep you honest. Put the squeeze on spell slots and the GM doesn't need to be running a very deliberate treadmill to make even crafty mages start to feel the limits of their spells.

Thirdly, make skills do more, and increase nonmagical skill access. Mastering magic is a lot of work, but our fighters and rangers and brawlers and barbarians have had to pick up a number of skills to live long enough to possess their combat prowess. Not only should martials have more skills than mages to reflect this, they should have easier access to skill tricks and masteries that elude mages. The wizard has learned a very potent stealthy power in his spell to become invisible, but the rogue must master stealth in her own way; it takes longer and more of an investment, but when Stealth MASTERY is achieved invisible mages must concern themselves with being detected by scent or blindsight while the rogue moves so softly and so stealthily even advanced senses cannot detect her presence without beating her stealth check. The mage can fly and walk up walls; the fighter can climb like a monkey and swim like a fish even in full armor, and take flying leaps that can carry him across huge gaps or high enough to make the flying fiend that thought to harry him from the air regret all its life decisions that brought it to this point.

Part the fourth, let the lords of the battlefield control it a bit, too. The warrior defending the wizard is all well and good to say, but tanking is more of a theory than a fact in Pathfinder as it currently exists. Ways for the martials to actually force enemies to confront them directly rather than focusing their attention on the more troublesome healers and mages first are sparse, and what few there are have been harshly criticized as making things too much like an MMO. But the fact is tanking only works if there is a mechanical way for the defender to FORCE even an intelligent adversary to ignore craftier battle tactics and expend its efforts trying to kill the enemy best-equipped to take its attacks first. Pit fiends are geniuses, and at the level they're fighting adventuring parties, well aware that clerics can keep that swordsman on his feet through all kinds of fire and fury while that mage is searching his memory for a spell that will dispatch it; naturally, the pit fiend would move to neutralize these two threats first, depriving the fighter of his force-mulitpliers and healing before their duel commences on much less even terms. Martials need more forms of crowd control and ways to ensure an enemy can't just shoot or run past them to geek the mage and silence the healer first; attacks of opportunity do not, in my view, do enough to keep squishier targets from being prioritized. A swipe from the fighter's sword might hurt but the thing that kills enemies is full attacks. If you move past the fighter to kill his friend you have taken a little damage but he has to give up on his full attack to come get you afterwards, and you've put the mage in a bad spot. 5e evades this once again with the Sentinel feat, which lets its user stop foes in their tracks with a successful attack, strike them if they try to withdraw, and get in attacks of opportunity if their careless foe continues trying to ignore them to attack other party members. Stand Still, the Pathfinder feat, is much less likely to impede a foe's advance as effectively.

Incidentally, running a game with the third party Spheres of Power and Spheres of Might system goes a ways towards implementing many of these ideas, but let's assume we're talking about fixing the first-party Pathfinder.


Blackwaltzomega wrote:

So some of the problems are already addressed; namely, with the rules the way they are you are already capable of building fighters that can dispatch Pit Fiends in single combat but were not designed by the game to really do anything besides deal loads of damage. Giving them bigger and cheaper magic weapons and armor is merely enforcing what the fighter is already doing and not its lack of options to do anything else.

At the same time it buffs Clerics, who DO make use of magic weapons and armor and raises the specter of the magic weapons and armor-crafting battle-cleric looming over the fighter.

Which brings us to part one of my points of balance for Pathfinder:

Magic and 9th-level magic-users that can do the warrior's job for them have to go.

...

Nice.

But not the quick fix Mr Spencer is looking for.

Liberty's Edge

If the problem is that Fighters have nothing to do outside of combat... what you want to do is give them something to do out of combat.

1. Give fighters more skill points.
... And possibly reduce the skill points on the classes that you feel are problematic?
... or base skill points on preferred class stat?
... or base skill points on stat of PC choice.
2. Reduce armor skill check penalties for fighters by 1/level. Fighters have a lot of skills that are useless if they do the intelligent thing and go for plate armor.
... and shields.


I feel my limited spell level rule is pretty quick and has fewer negative side effects.


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Personally, I prefer to simply use both Spheres of Power and Spheres of Might. Magic is hardcapped through Advanced Talents, which restrict access to genuinely game-changing things. Meanwhile, martials are explicitly more effective at moving around the battlefield (instead of staying put to full attack), and have relatively easy access to a variety of skill boosts and out-of-combat options that improve their ability to affect the narrative.


Gyre Glenross wrote:

If the problem is that Fighters have nothing to do outside of combat... what you want to do is give them something to do out of combat.

1. Give fighters more skill points.
... And possibly reduce the skill points on the classes that you feel are problematic?
... or base skill points on preferred class stat?
... or base skill points on stat of PC choice.
2. Reduce armor skill check penalties for fighters by 1/level. Fighters have a lot of skills that are useless if they do the intelligent thing and go for plate armor.
... and shields.

Unfortunately, the skill system is also problematic as so much of it is obviated by low-level magic.


GM Rednal wrote:
Personally, I prefer to simply use both Spheres of Power and Spheres of Might. Magic is hardcapped through Advanced Talents, which restrict access to genuinely game-changing things. Meanwhile, martials are explicitly more effective at moving around the battlefield (instead of staying put to full attack), and have relatively easy access to a variety of skill boosts and out-of-combat options that improve their ability to affect the narrative.

That's a pretty major change though. Many groups wouldn't want to go with something that drastically different.


I really don't see any problem.
Regarding combat, unless the DM is running less than 3 combats per day, a well built only martial character is very consistent, contributes greatly to the combats and in almost every high level adventure I have played is needed to deal with the really big guys.

Out of combat, if you want a fantasy setting were the party needs to teleport, change plane of any high fantasy stuff, you need a caster, sure. You can contract the services of one if you decided to go only martial. But how is supposed anyone to do that stuff without access to magic?

If the problem is some people don't like high level fantasy, just play low to mid level campaigns, but do not take the fun for the people who likes it. There are no official 20 level campaigns anymore, do not reduce the level more, you can just stop playing them when they become boring to you.


LoBandolerPi wrote:
There are no official 20 level campaigns anymore, do not reduce the level more, you can just stop playing them when they become boring to you.

Isn't Return of the Runelords going to go all the way to 20? As I understand it, the reason most APs stop around levels 16-18 is as much about "finding space in the book for enough campaign material without sacrificing too much of the backmatter" as it is about "people don't enjoy running very high level stuff".

Of course, partly those two things are related since "an encounter that will challenge and entertain a party of, say, 4th level characters" occupies a lot less space on the page than "an encounter that will challenge and entertain a party of, say, 18th level characters".


RotR ends somewhere in the 16-18 range, IIRC.


John Mechalas wrote:

There's not really a mechanical fix to this (assuming it's even broken in the first place; fundamentally it is "broken by design"). Casters simply have more options for doing more things in the game, and it's not just numbers. Anything that you do to try and raise fighters up or bring casters down in a meaningful fashion will mess up other aspects of the game, such as the CR system.

You can apply band-aids to the problem such as giving fighters more skills and reducing their feat taxes (these are good ideas, btw, and some GMs do both of these) but those are small steps. Small steps may be enough, though, if you're dealing with issues like the fighter wanting to be a party face but not having the skills to be effective.

The "best" fix for game balance is really a social one: the casters and martials need to work together to ensure they are both having fun. It's a cooperative game. That means casters stepping out of the limelight to support martials and letting the martials be even better at the things they are good at. When the situation calls for a non-martial solution, then that's when the casters step forward and take over.

It's really that simple. Everyone needs to be having fun. If the casters are getting in the way of fighters then someone is playing the game wrong. The only wrong way to play the game is at other peoples' expense.

hear hear! certain people feel the need to trivialize the presence of everyone else around them, and by extension ruin the fun of their companions and even the gm. screw that guy. its not a problem unique to tabletops either - im still pretty new to pathfinder, still theorycrafting my first character, a charisma-heavy bow oradin (incidentally, a structure i was only able to settle on with the help of the community here) - but ive still had to deal with that same garbage in many places, many times.

the tools are there to be used, clearly, but some people use them to become so self-sufficient that everyone else may as well go home, and thats not fair to them.

someone posted regarding the "feat tax" and easing up on that, and someone else (or maybe it was the same person, im not sure) mentioned making skills more useful (i think the unchained skills is supposed to do this maybe?)

these seem like good ideas that honestly help everyone, not just martials. and thats okay. it looks really easy to get feat-starved in this game, especially for partial casters who don't get as many bonus feats as pure martials and cant apply as much magical pressure as pure casters. now that's obviously by design, and a sensible and balanced approach, but its current form almost shoehorns you into playing human or half-human to even have a chance at enough feats to get by.

as for the proposed changes to combat, while im not sure automatically rooting enemies in place is a good idea, implementing some measure to make whether or not to attempt pushing past a tank to go after the back line a carefully calculated decision (such as through inflicting massive damage, crippling effects, or some blend of the two) would be better than a simple attack of opportunity for (relatively) low damage.

remember, you're subject to the same rules as the enemies are. how would you feel if getting hit by one of that horde of skeleton knights blocking the real threat, their lich master, locked you in position unable to move, without even a save against it, for no other reason than that said skeleton knight had levels in a given class and landed a hit?


Omnius wrote:
RotR ends somewhere in the 16-18 range, IIRC.

Return of the Runelords, the forthcoming Adventure Path (starting August 2018 I think), being the third part of the trilogy started by Rise of the Runelords and continued by Shattered Star.


"Balance" like "Fair" is a .... specious concept. And thats after editing to remove my original word selection.

Balance will always be subjective, and there's no reason to believe that any set of prescriptions to make the game more "balanced" will make a better game experience.


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Priyd wrote:
hear hear! certain people feel the need to trivialize the presence of everyone else around them, and by extension ruin the fun of their companions and even the gm. screw that guy. its not a problem unique to tabletops either - im still pretty new to pathfinder, still theorycrafting my first character, a charisma-heavy bow oradin (incidentally, a structure i was only able to settle on with the help of the community here) - but ive still had to deal with that same garbage in many places, many times.

The argument that the problem is the result of your friend being an a%~*~~$ rather than an issue with the rules is deeply problematic, and shifting the blame.

This is a game. A game is meant to be played. When you are met with a mechanical challenge in the game, you should be able to put forth a good faith effort into engaging those rules to overcome it. And if the natural result is someone being irrelevant because one player has the class ability of spellcasting that gives them options to do literally anything while the other has sword-swinging and two skill points a level, the problem isn't that the person playing the spellcaster is being an ass. The problem is the game. And accusing the person playing the spellcaster of being an ass just for playing the game everyone came to play is a cruel way to treat your friends. What's more, expecting them to stop playing the game when they very clearly have the solution to the situation and no in-character reason to not use it, because it would make someone else in the party feel unimportant? That's an unreasonable expectation to put on that player, and now you are the one being the selfish ass for expecting that from them.

If, instead, you have your session zero, where you actually create characters who are relevant standing next to one another and on the same level of power, the same people can engage the game just as aggressively without rendering one another irrelevant, then everyone can have fun without wasting energy on trying to manually rebalance the game by ignoring most of certain individual characters' abilities.


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Or maybe just give the not spell casters something else to do while the spell casters cast spells.

And honestly, I have advanced the plot as a martial character far more often than any of the spell casters in the party. Barbarians and ninjas are an impulsive lot and generally hate waiting for the spell caster to stand around and spend 30 minutes trying to pick the "right" spell for what ever.

The game I am GMing running right now the Fighter and Swashbuckler have done more to figure out how to do things and keep the plot moving more than the magic users.


like here's a common example. You have a rogue with stealth... or you have the wizards familiar that is better at stealth and if caught will just look like any other rat instead of a person.
Or the rogue is trying to find traps, but the druid in the party has a better perception.
or the rogue is trying to be a face, but the bard wins.


I can't help but wonder if the solution to the "wizard is a better thief than the rogue" problem is to reflect that, in addition to the engines of civilization put to use to create better technology with which to kill or avoid being killed via mundane technology, the people in our fantasy world have also developed a lot of technology with which to detect and discourage magic in specific situations.

Magic is, after all, a detectable quantity so some detector that will trigger whenever something magical crosses a specific line, or the level of ambient magic in the room changes suddenly, etc. You can make these sorts of bulky, so invisibility is still a good way to escape the guard patrol that's looking for you, but not so good at sneaking into a vault undetected (since they won't detect you specifically, but they will know that something magical is going on and so will be especially on guard. I have to imagine that "alarm bells that go off whenever anybody does magic that reaches behind the counter" is the sort of thing that any merchant's guild worth its salt will want to make available for a minimal fee.

"Exceptional skill" is something that's harder to detect and harder to control for.


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Nodrog wrote:

Or maybe just give the not spell casters something else to do while the spell casters cast spells.

And honestly, I have advanced the plot as a martial character far more often than any of the spell casters in the party. Barbarians and ninjas are an impulsive lot and generally hate waiting for the spell caster to stand around and spend 30 minutes trying to pick the "right" spell for what ever.

The game I am GMing running right now the Fighter and Swashbuckler have done more to figure out how to do things and keep the plot moving more than the magic users.

What if those players were playing Wizard and Cleric instead?


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*Looks up* ...I really need to finish my "common protections against spells by level" list. Figuring out what's actually necessary to protect things at any given point could lead to interesting worldbuilding.


Chess Pwn wrote:

like here's a common example. You have a rogue with stealth... or you have the wizards familiar that is better at stealth and if caught will just look like any other rat instead of a person.

Or the rogue is trying to find traps, but the druid in the party has a better perception.
or the rogue is trying to be a face, but the bard wins.

That’s more a rogue problem than a wizard problem though. And the unchained rogue helps with many of these problems.


Omnius wrote:
Priyd wrote:
hear hear! certain people feel the need to trivialize the presence of everyone else around them, and by extension ruin the fun of their companions and even the gm. screw that guy. its not a problem unique to tabletops either - im still pretty new to pathfinder, still theorycrafting my first character, a charisma-heavy bow oradin (incidentally, a structure i was only able to settle on with the help of the community here) - but ive still had to deal with that same garbage in many places, many times.

The argument that the problem is the result of your friend being an a#!~*$@ rather than an issue with the rules is deeply problematic, and shifting the blame.

This is a game. A game is meant to be played. When you are met with a mechanical challenge in the game, you should be able to put forth a good faith effort into engaging those rules to overcome it. And if the natural result is someone being irrelevant because one player has the class ability of spellcasting that gives them options to do literally anything while the other has sword-swinging and two skill points a level, the problem isn't that the person playing the spellcaster is being an ass. The problem is the game. And accusing the person playing the spellcaster of being an ass just for playing the game everyone came to play is a cruel way to treat your friends. What's more, expecting them to stop playing the game when they very clearly have the solution to the situation and no in-character reason to not use it, because it would make someone else in the party feel unimportant? That's an unreasonable expectation to put on that player, and now you are the one being the selfish ass for expecting that from them.

If, instead, you have your session zero, where you actually create characters who are relevant standing next to one another and on the same level of power, the same people can engage the game just as aggressively without rendering one another irrelevant, then everyone can have fun without wasting...

perhaps i was unclear. im not shifting blame. im not even really talking about bringing casters and martials in line with each other yet by that part of the post.

some people genuinely are complete and utter a$#$$+*s. these people can and do find their way into gaming circles, particularly the more broadly open to all comers sorts, and can and do ruin things for everyone. these people are in no way shape or form anything resembling any friend of mine, and they deserve every ounce of the flak they catch.


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Its very simple: Give martials more utility tools.

I've seen it with Path of War and it only exacerbates the problem of martials in that they are still mostly good at one thing and that one thing is combat. Congratulations you hit things more often and/or harder. Anything else you want to share with the class? No? Then your attempt was good but extremely flawed. As I've had quite a bit of chatting with experienced GMs that used PoW and they tend to tell me that outside of combat, martials usually face the same problems as they do in first party material.

The only martials that really even seem to have a modicum of this is Barbarian, Monk and Gunslinger in that they have various options that is not necessarily combat. As combat is not really an issue for martials who can basically 2-shot the Tarrasque by end game.

Its never a quick fix for martials. This requires in depth working with the system and remodeling it to actually give martials options that are not necessarily combat.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
Isn't Return of the Runelords going to go all the way to 20? As I understand it, the reason most APs stop around levels 16-18 is as much about "finding space in the book for enough campaign material without sacrificing too much of the backmatter" as it is about "people don't enjoy running very high level stuff".

Didn't know that, great news! I know most people don't like the high level modules. Luckily most of the adventures paths have some sort of ending so there can be fun for every one regardless of their interests.

BTW, I totally like your point about magic detectors to give relevance to the rogue which is IMO the only class that stays behind, even with the improved unchained version.


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Thassilonian Wizard wrote:
I've seen it with Path of War and it only exacerbates the problem of martials in that they are still mostly good at one thing and that one thing is combat. Congratulations you hit things more often and/or harder. Anything else you want to share with the class? No? Then your attempt was good but extremely flawed. As I've had quite a bit of chatting with experienced GMs that used PoW and they tend to tell me that outside of combat, martials usually face the same problems as they do in first party material.

In my limited experience (I played a warlord in Mummy's Mask, levels 1-16, over about a year) Path of War does actually offer a decentish amount of utility, but it's not necessarily obvious.

All of the PoW classes I've seen to date get at least four skills/level, a robust class skill list, and are encouraged to invest in at least one mental stat. Since most (all?) disciplines have an associated skill you're also really strongly incentivized to invest in a skill, most of which are quite good in their own right. As a result Golden Lion Warlords make fantastic faces, for instance. They're like competent paladins without the alignment baggage and pitiful skill ranks.

As far as the disciplines go, there are some utility gems but you have to sift for them. Veiled Moon gives you various short-range teleportation maneuvers, which has all kinds of utility included. Silver Crane and Black Seraph both give all-day flight, Silver Crane also gives numerous healing options. Primal Fury gives Scent. Elemental Flux gives you energy resistances and swim/burrow/fly speed, based on your element.

It's a very small section of the rules overall though, boosts and "you deal damage and X"-strikes has a much higher focus. My main concern was that while I played a POW Warlord with focus on Golden Lion/Silver Crane/Veiled Moon and felt that granted me a great deal of utility, I'd be very hard-pressed to play another POW character without picking many of the same disciplines and utility powers again. A lot of the available disciplines are "pure" combat, which I personally find a bit dull.

Silver Crusade

Fighters must get a bit more of skill ranks and class skilss.

And fighters must be toughers. D12 like barbarian, maybe. And indeed better against magic, against spells that inutilize them.

Maybe spell resist. Or maybe the fear bonus to ST to all spell effects. Or maybe all ST goods like traditional monks.

A fighter must be tought and reliable, and (like others characters) fun to be played.


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Too much sarcasm in here.

Couple of things, and this is my opinion:

1. I don't enjoy being useless and meaningless, just being the comical relief doesn't do it for me either. When you reach the level in where weapon damage is the least effective way to end encounters is when martials stop being useful and just become furniture

2. There's this thing called levels, which measure the power of a character, characters of the same level should have similar power. I don't get why people think casters SHOULD be more powerful than martials at the same level. If it takes the same exp to reach X level as a martial and as a caster, why caster SHOULD get way more benefits?

I know true balance is hard to achieve, but the disparity between some classes is absurd and pretty obvious. Luckily I found a nice and experienced group (after some bad) so the disparity problems are reduced quite a lot


Will.Spencer wrote:


I really don't want to turn fighters into casters.

Fighters, in general, don't want to be casters -- or they would have rolled up casters.

I can already build nearly unhittable fighters and barbarians that one-round nearly all published creatures.

Increasing the numbers won't have any impact on that.

The difference between a fighter and a wizard is not their combat ability, it is their out-of-combat utility.

Kageshira wrote:
1. I don't enjoy being useless and meaningless, just being the comical relief doesn't do it for me either. When you reach the level in where weapon damage is the least effective way to end encounters is when martials stop being useful and just become furniture

Dead is dead. It does not matter if it was the fighter hitting for 500 points or the wizard casting Flesh to Stone. The outcome is the same either way.


Path of War doesn't fix out of combat utility (though there's definitely a few utility powers in there). What it does fix is in combat utility. You can force Fort/Reflex/Will saves with rider effects. You can reach distant enemies (flight, teleportation, special ranged attacks). I know of at least one stance to ignore invisibility (there's probably other ways). I know that doesn't bring them up to parity with full spellcasters but it's the bare minimum they should be able to do. And, honestly, until the WMH and AMH came along the only way the Fighter could do anything like that was with magic items.

Silver Crusade

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Volkard Abendroth wrote:
The difference between a fighter and a wizard is not their combat ability, it is their out-of-combat utility.

That's why I allow Fighters to have some at-will spells:

- Open/Close. S,V(if the door is locked): like the cantrip, but it has range: touch. If the door is locked, either the lock or the door are shattered (player's choice) with a loud scream.
- Create Water. S,M(filled waterskin): conjure half a liter of water.
- Fighter's Blessing: as a free action, the fighter can bless his party by giving +2 to attack rolls to himself and an ally when attacking the same target from opposite sides (this bonus does not stack with flanking bonus).
- Fighter's Curse: as a free action, the fighter can curse an enemy by giving him -2 to AC against attacks made by himself and an ally attacking him from opposite sides. If the Fighter and the ally flank the target, the penalty to AC is reduced by 2.
- Conjure Shield. F(heavy shield): conjure a heavy shield that can be used as a regular heavy shield. The shield persists until broken or dismissed (move action).


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Having played a Path of War using Rogue (Specifically a Hidden Blade stacked with Eldritch Scoundrel Unchained Rogue), I obtained immense out of combat use out of Ghostwalk, particularly to phase through walls, doors and floors. Being able to do it effectively at will made me a far better scout than I would have been otherwise, and the constant stance effects certainly helped (use of Obsidian Reflection Stance actually turned me into quite the tank whenever I got in over my head).

That said, I will note that Path of War has less use out of combat than something like Spheres of Might, where several spheres give you skill ranks and ways to buff those skills, as well as newer abilities rarely seen on a martial. Alchemy Sphere and Scout Sphere are prime examples.

Scout Sphere gives free ranks in Stealth, has the potential to give free ranks in Perception, and lets you scout enemy weaknesses, using Perception in place of Knowledge checks. Higher level Scout abilities include a "hide in plain sight" ability without the necessity for dim light, an ability to detect & resist scrying, and even a true sight ability at very high levels.

Alchemy Sphere gives free ranks in Craft (Alchemy), and lets you create specialized alchemical items that deal damage that scales with your ranks in Craft Alchemy. You could also gain a talent that lets you heal hit points, or another talent that allows you to cleanse debuffs. Then there's the host of poisons you can make with the sphere, with some of them even being beneficial, like a numbing poison that turns lethal damage into nonlethal, or a psuedo-mutagen.

Spheres of Might certainly helps to shorten the gap between martials and spellcasters, especially when spellcasters are also using Spheres of Power. But I won't say it closes that gap completely. Still, a pretty fun system all around.


We're on a Starfinder binge right now so there hasn't been too much PF going on, but I really should give Spheres of Might a try down the line. I keep hearing great things about it. :)


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Like the magical spheres, Spheres of Might heavily emphasizes flexibility and creating the kind of character you want to play. ^^ Want to be great at combat maneuvers? You can do that. Want to patrol a large area and impale foes to stop them from reaching your squishy allies? You can do that. Want to counter people with a punch to the face, boast so much you demoralize foes, shout out tactics, or throw down traps? You can do that. Want to do way more with your skills? Yup, that's possible as well.

The entire spheres system basically runs on the idea of going "It would be cool if I could..." and letting you make a character who can do that. ^^ And most of it runs off of standard actions, allowing characters to stay mobile instead of settling in place and full attacking all the time.


Gray Warden wrote:

- Fighter's Blessing: as a free action, the fighter can bless his party by giving +2 to attack rolls to himself and an ally when attacking the same target from opposite sides (this bonus does not stack with flanking bonus).

- Fighter's Curse: as a free action, the fighter can curse an enemy by giving him -2 to AC against attacks made by himself and an ally attacking him from opposite sides. If the Fighter and the ally flank the target, the penalty to AC is reduced by 2.

I'm confused here, how is your fighter's blessing ever used? It seems you're saying, "when flanking you get a +2 that doesn't stack with flanking" same with fighter's curse, "when flanking reduce AC by 2 unless flanking." and the cures and the blessing have the exact same effect, so there's really no point in having 2 versions of the exact same effect.


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Chess Pwn wrote:
Gray Warden wrote:

- Fighter's Blessing: as a free action, the fighter can bless his party by giving +2 to attack rolls to himself and an ally when attacking the same target from opposite sides (this bonus does not stack with flanking bonus).

- Fighter's Curse: as a free action, the fighter can curse an enemy by giving him -2 to AC against attacks made by himself and an ally attacking him from opposite sides. If the Fighter and the ally flank the target, the penalty to AC is reduced by 2.
I'm confused here, how is your fighter's blessing ever used? It seems you're saying, "when flanking you get a +2 that doesn't stack with flanking" same with fighter's curse, "when flanking reduce AC by 2 unless flanking." and the cures and the blessing have the exact same effect, so there's really no point in having 2 versions of the exact same effect.

I feel like that's the joke, much like conjuring a waterskin's worth of water with a filled waterskin as a material component.

Scarab Sages

Seeing this reminds me of how 5th edition D&D does its backgrounds: In addition to mechanical ramifications, each background provides a unique benefit that exists as a character-building tool. For example:

A person with the Criminal background has a contact. The nature of that contact is up to the player and DM, but this contact can grant you information, help smuggle you somewhere, etc.: basically, anything that has a direct narrative purpose, but he doesn't join you in combat, adventuring, etc. He's just an old/current buddy.

If you wanted to have martial characters with more narrative impact, you need abilities like this. Not exactly, of course. It's just an example. But maybe your Fighter takes the Heroic fighter quality at X level, similar to the way that Vigilante Social Talents work, and now he can get free lodging and drinks at any tavern he goes to as long as he tells a story about his exploits. Maybe the Slayer takes the Shifty quality, allowing him to automatically succeed at stealth checks while doing recon missions and granting a bonus to Perception checks, but there's a story caveat that he cannot gain these bonuses if he intends to engage in combat. Heck, maybe your Rogue has Friends in High Places with a guild of Mages, and once a week he can arrange for teleportation services free of charge because he did a job for them that he doesn't talk about any more.

I realize these are all just ideas, but having a mechanical effect to back them up might help somewhat the caster/martial disparity from a narrative sense.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

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GM Rednal wrote:

Like the magical spheres, Spheres of Might heavily emphasizes flexibility and creating the kind of character you want to play. ^^ Want to be great at combat maneuvers? You can do that. Want to patrol a large area and impale foes to stop them from reaching your squishy allies? You can do that. Want to counter people with a punch to the face, boast so much you demoralize foes, shout out tactics, or throw down traps? You can do that. Want to do way more with your skills? Yup, that's possible as well.

The entire spheres system basically runs on the idea of going "It would be cool if I could..." and letting you make a character who can do that. ^^ And most of it runs off of standard actions, allowing characters to stay mobile instead of settling in place and full attacking all the time.

We also tried to expand narrative power a lot in the new martial classes we introduced in Spheres of Might, alongside expanding skill and general out of combat utility with the spheres. Blacksmiths get 4 + Int skills, "versatile performance" for craft skills, buffing, and crafting. Commanders are party leaders with 6 + Int skills and are stuffed with out of combat options like the mountaineering advanced tactic, the battlefield specialist ability which typically grants a combination of in and out of combat benefits based on the terrain(s) you choose, and the logistic specialties class feature which is essentially a huge narrative-focused tool inspired by older versions of D&D when fighters got keeps and rogues got guilds; you get contacts throughout the game world that facilitate things like obtaining mounts, getting scouting reports on enemy bases and strongholds, etc.


Tarik Blackhands wrote:
Chess Pwn wrote:
Gray Warden wrote:

- Fighter's Blessing: as a free action, the fighter can bless his party by giving +2 to attack rolls to himself and an ally when attacking the same target from opposite sides (this bonus does not stack with flanking bonus).

- Fighter's Curse: as a free action, the fighter can curse an enemy by giving him -2 to AC against attacks made by himself and an ally attacking him from opposite sides. If the Fighter and the ally flank the target, the penalty to AC is reduced by 2.
I'm confused here, how is your fighter's blessing ever used? It seems you're saying, "when flanking you get a +2 that doesn't stack with flanking" same with fighter's curse, "when flanking reduce AC by 2 unless flanking." and the cures and the blessing have the exact same effect, so there's really no point in having 2 versions of the exact same effect.
I feel like that's the joke, much like conjuring a waterskin's worth of water with a filled waterskin as a material component.

Yeah, looking a little closer, they're all useless jokes, except possibly the Open/Close, which does appear to allow breaking locked doors without a roll.


There's an easy answer to balancing martials and casters. Play 4e. It's much better balanced than pathfinder. There's still some variation, but it's relatively small compared to the scale of the game.


Kageshira wrote:

Too much sarcasm in here.

Couple of things, and this is my opinion:

1. I don't enjoy being useless and meaningless, just being the comical relief doesn't do it for me either. When you reach the level in where weapon damage is the least effective way to end encounters is when martials stop being useful and just become furniture

2. There's this thing called levels, which measure the power of a character, characters of the same level should have similar power. I don't get why people think casters SHOULD be more powerful than martials at the same level. If it takes the same exp to reach X level as a martial and as a caster, why caster SHOULD get way more benefits?

I know true balance is hard to achieve, but the disparity between some classes is absurd and pretty obvious. Luckily I found a nice and experienced group (after some bad) so the disparity problems are reduced quite a lot

1. According to you, which is that level where damage is not effective in combat? I have played several campaigns and this never happened to me. Sometimes while playing a caster I even desisted to try to overcome certain SR and started buffing the martial mates. So did the others when I played the martial.

2. I have only read 1 person in this thread giving this opinion. It is clearly not the majority of the opinions.


Win the fight first. Then kill the enemy.

Yes, the enemy is going to die to the damage. Yes, killing an opponent with that damage is generally considered a glory moment, regardless of what remaining threat the enemy poses.

However, control is what removes an opponent's ability to function as a legitimate threat, rendering the rest of the encounter simple cleanup.


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I mean, the whole problem with Fighters can be summed up with Spoons.

Spoons:

It’s like… to someone who only knows how to dig with a spoon, the notion of digging something as large as a trench will terrify them. All they know are spoons, so as far as they’re concerned, digging is simply difficult. The only way they can imagine it getting any easier is if they change – digging with a spoon until they get stronger, faster, and tougher. And the dangerous people, they’ll actually try this.

Everyone who will ever oppose you in life is a crazy, burly dude with a spoon, and you will never be able to outspoon them. Even the powerful people, they’re just spooning harder and more vigorously than everyone else, like hungry orphan children eating soup. Except the soup is power. I’ll level with you here: I have completely lost track of this analogy.

What I’m saying... they attain a narrow grasp of reality and live their life as though there is nothing else. But you, me, creatures with imagination – we aren’t constrained by our experiences. We’re inspired by them. If we have trouble digging with a spoon, we build a shovel. If we’re stopped by a wall, we make a door. And if we can’t make a door, we ask ourselves whether we really need an opening to pass through something solid in the first place.

(Source)

Is there a solution? In a way, I don't think there needs to be one. Fighters are such a nonspecific lego-set of feats and raw number boosts that any specific character can also be made with a more functional class. Devout fightmans can be Paladins. Close quarters fightmans can be Brawlers. Rangers not only cater to multiple fighting styles, but their class features and skill set are far better for the fantasy of an elite soldier. Swash...swashbu... you can dip Swashbuckler on another martial!

Don't nerf Wizards. Work with the party, convince the casters to help the fightmans. Buff their stats. Dimension Door them over terrain when they would otherwise look like an upsidedown turtle. Haste is your best friend.

The game is imbalanced. Embrace the nonsense and have a good time.


Rosc wrote:

I mean, the whole problem with Fighters can be summed up with Spoons.

** spoiler omitted **

Is there a solution? In a way, I don't think there needs to be one. Fighters are such a nonspecific lego-set of feats and raw number boosts that any specific character can also be made with a more functional class. Devout fightmans can be Paladins. Close quarters fightmans can be Brawlers. Rangers not only cater to multiple fighting styles, but their class features and skill set are far better for the fantasy of an elite soldier. Swash...swashbu... you can dip Swashbuckler on another martial!

Don't nerf Wizards. Work with the party, convince the casters to help the fightmans. Buff their stats. Dimension Door them over terrain...

I wish there was a like system on this forum just for this quote.

Carry on you glorious spooner :-)


AlastarOG wrote:
Rosc wrote:

I mean, the whole problem with Fighters can be summed up with Spoons.

** spoiler omitted **

Is there a solution? In a way, I don't think there needs to be one. Fighters are such a nonspecific lego-set of feats and raw number boosts that any specific character can also be made with a more functional class. Devout fightmans can be Paladins. Close quarters fightmans can be Brawlers. Rangers not only cater to multiple fighting styles, but their class features and skill set are far better for the fantasy of an elite soldier. Swash...swashbu... you can dip Swashbuckler on another martial!

Don't nerf Wizards. Work with the party, convince the casters to help the fightmans. Buff their stats. Dimension Door them over terrain...

I wish there was a like system on this forum just for this quote.

Carry on you glorious spooner :-)

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