Posted by : David Guyll November 18, 2013
4th Edition got rid of all of that. If you wanted to be good in melee, then you picked a class that was good at melee. While there were a variety of classes capable of swordplay, they each had their own perks and style
of play that made them feel different from each other. Even better was
that classes like the fighter finally got "nice things", making them not only
viable at higher level play, but capable of doing what their class advertised.
Given that I agree with this move, I find some comfort in that they at least claim that they are keeping the concept and capabilities of other classes in mind when determining what spells ought to do (despite taking a step back towards older-edition magic). So just because a wizard can cast invisibility or knock, it does not mean that she will be able to sneak and pick locks better than a rogue. Probably. They mention exceptions without any examples, but near the end state that when a spell threatened to overshadow a rogue or fighter, they improved the abilities to make them consistently better than what the spell provided.
Now some argue that spells should be better because they are limited to a certain number of times per day, but in editions where magic is almost always rationed by the day spellcasters tend to control the adventure's pace. They can also elect to pick other spells the next day, leave slots open to fill later, and even recover spent slots. So, no, one spell should not make you better at doing something what a class is designed to do. I would even be against stacking several at a time, because that is what lead to overshadowed fighters in past editions.
Another point of contention is whether a spell should even be more powerful than what a feat offers. Given that you cannot freely swap feats I am inclined to agree, but then I am not a fan of the Master feats which allow characters to zip from absolutely no capabilities with weapons and armor, to spontaneously gaining a suite of related benefits. They are not quite as jarring as 3rd Edition's multiclassing, where you could go from having no ability to cast spells at all, to having a spellbook and ability to cast a variety of 0- and 1st-level spells in the span of a few days, but it still plays havoc with the narrative.
If feats give out too little, then I am not sure how it would be possible to make them more useful than spells. Maybe dole them out more frequently? If you got more feats then it would not be such a big deal if spells outclassed them, plus you could offer more incremental bonuses.
Honestly though I think that feats should just get eaten by classes. Combine 3rd Edition's multiclassing with more flexible classes so that players can create organic characters. So instead of taking a feat to spontaneously gain loads of archery abilities you take a class grants access to archery features. In 3rd Edition I would have been against this because spellcasters could basically never afford to multiclass, but saving throws for spells are no longer based on the spell's level and the math is purportedly flatter so it is not like you have to keep racking up spellcaster levels just to remain viable.
The article ends with mention that the benefit of this method is a flexible system for customization. Again no examples, but it would certainly be something I and many others would be interested in seeing even a snapshot of. Ideally I want classes to have more customization, but it would also be cool if they took a page from 2nd Edition's Skills & Powers and broke up races into talents or features that you could pick from, so that you could pick the features that suit your concept, and even make really simple non-human races possible.