In my current Ravenloft 5E campaign I've got party consisting of a Barbarian, a Fighter, a Cleric and a Sorcerer. During the course of the adventure I handed out magic weapons to the Fighter and the Barbarian. The items were:

  • a khopesh of the flame blade type doing 1d6 base and 2d6 fire damage
  • a +2 battle axe dealing out 2d8+2 one-handed and 2d10+2 two handed (versatile).

The Sorcerer stated that he feels his Fire Sorcerer is underpowered because the Firebolt cantrip is dealing lower damage on average than the melee characters do with their weapons. A specific complaint of his is that the magic weapons I handed out do 2d instead of 1d. (If they were 1d damage weapons it would even the DPR comparison more in his favor).

I looked at the DM Guide and found many weapons doing 2d, though not all magic weapons having a + damage added. Also, even though Firebolt scales up with level, he says the Fighter and the Barbarian have 2 attacks.

*It is his view that magic should always be stronger than mundane things even if the level of magic is as low as a cantrip*. I believe this is the root of the problem: he thinks magic should always be strongest and is dissatisfied.

I stated all the houserules before the campaign and even gave reasons. (e.g. hiding / invisibility being highly useless vs the undead in my campaign, and for particular reasons I deny "Utility spells" like fly in Ravenloft, because Werewolves which are toasted from above with no means to retaliate are hardly a danger.)

He was well aware of these restrictions and is not a new player. I think he loved the 3rd Edition power builds, while I am coming more from an old school perspective AD&D 2nd edition: balance is no concern for me as long as everyone has fun, and 5th Edition does help with this due to bounded accuracy.

I first thought houseruling to give him more cantrip damage but then I reconsidered. I suggested he should convert all his spell slots into spell points which are 54 at his 7th level (I gave him an item which upped this pool of spell Points (sp) by ×2 to add 16sp to his converted slots (38sp) instead of 8sp).

With this I told him he could e.g. cast fireball 10 times between long rests. I should add that in this game I use mainly long rests which totally heals up characters and returns slots.

My question is: how do I convince the player that his character is IMHO totally balanced?

He is not in melee normally, and can out-DPR every other member of the group easily by simply using his higher level spells instead of casting cantrips.

To me it seems as if he fears running out of spells if he does not use cantrips preferably whenever possible, but he should know my style in this campaign already.

The balance issue:

I respect and try to fulfill players' desires for balance, although personally I don't mind if things are not 100% balanced, and my DM style is adjusted for that, e.g. It might happen that the squishy rear rank comes under attack but generally the meat shield is the preferred target of the mobs.

To further clarify my question:

How do I convince this Player that he use his spells right away and not to be that concerned about resources, instead of fizzling around with cantrips, even wasting sp to twin firebolts only putting the big stuff to the table when nothing else helps and afterwards complaining that the melees shine in one-on-one compared to him because they got some decent Equipment. The items I gave to the Sorcerer in the course of the campaign:

  • an Ioun Stone which ups his proficiency bonus by one (so that he hits with spell attacks more often)
  • a ring doubling his Bonus spell Points from Level
  • a dagger which is a 1d4+1 and 2d4+1 vs humanoids.

It isn't like I gave him nothing. He got more health than the cleric and if he uses shield as a reaction he has got the highest armor class in the group. Being draconic bloodline helps on these things.

I want to make clear all these facts in a diplomatic way. Even without accurate DPR calculations, an experienced DM or Player can see that his char is far from underpowered as compared to the other Party members. I don't want to rub his nose with all of those facts.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm voting to close this as unclear for the time being, as you're playing with house rules that deny certain spell usages without giving us any detail on this in your question. We need to understand those to get real insight into what's going on. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 20 '15 at 14:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've edited this so that it includes your houserules and everything, but I still find it unclear. You 1) ask how to convince the player that his PC is balanced, and 2) say you don't care about balancing your campaign. Those are pretty contradictory, and so I'm left unclear what you actually want. Are you asking us how to convince a player that his character is balanced, when it isn't? Are you asking how to get the player to stop caring about balance? Are you asking something completely different not mentioned in the question? I don't know, so I'm leaving this held as “unclear” for now. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 20 '15 at 19:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ The bolded part of your question says that you're trying to convince him that you have an opinion. This is usually a pretty trivial thing to do, so I suspect you're actually trying to convince him of something else. This might seem like a minor nitpick, but clarifying what it actually is you're trying to convince him of, and why you think that your opinion on the matter is more correct than his, would really help us formulate good answers. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Sep 21 '15 at 1:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is the party of 4 working as a team, or as four individuals/prima donnas? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 21 '15 at 17:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ They team quite well, and IRL are Close friends from their youth on. I play with and dm for them since about one year. Thing is the other three Players rather have my opinion and also express it to him very clearly. But i think this guy is more introverted and i do not know how well he handles criticism. \$\endgroup\$
    – mato
    Sep 21 '15 at 17:56

how do I convince the player that his character is imho totally balanced

Is it? You clearly favored the melee characters, by both giving them goodies that play into their strengths and restricting certain spells for him.

I will not go into the whole tier and power level discussion, because that is highly dependent on the campaign you run and Ravenloft is known for being non-standard in that regards.

Regardless of starting power level, you gave an advantage to the others. Given that they all were okay with the balance that existed before you gave them goodies (at character creation), I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that the player that did not receive anything is somewhat frustrated.

He built a character based on what he knew. And he probably thought he'd be the one dealing massive damage. As it turns out, his assumptions were wrong, because you gave out magic items that reversed his role.

If you gave everyone a magic item increasing damage, you may consider giving him one as well.

Maybe, giving him any kind of goodie will work. Maybe he thinks it's cool to have a magic ring where he can have demons coming out his ears when laughing. But if you give him nothing, it's rather normal that he feels it's unbalanced.

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    \$\begingroup\$ One thing to consider, it is not just raw damage. Since apparently all utility spells are banned, he is basically just a direct damage dealer, but unlike the fighter he is very weak and vulnerable. So to be balanced he needs to do WAY more damage to make up for this weakness, that is only exasperated by his lack of utility/invisibility spells. This is actually a rather common type of magic user in PC games, the way they offset the weakness is not more direct damage so much as more AOE and other strategic style effects. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jonathon
    Sep 21 '15 at 17:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ I gave him a dagger 1d4+1 2d4+1 vs. humanoids, a ioun Stone +1 to proficiency mainly to improve his to hit with spell attacks and a ring doubling his Bonus spellpoints from Level. He has got more hp than the cleric and with shield spell the best ac of the Group. So it is not as i gave him nothing. But he prefers fizzling around with firebolts even waisting spellpoints to twin them instead of fireballing right away. It is like he and i got a different understanding of the sorcerer class. \$\endgroup\$
    – mato
    Sep 21 '15 at 17:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nvoigt You may wish to revise your answer now that mato has explained what magical items were awarded to the Sorcerer in the question statement. As I read through the question (during editing for clarity and readability) the only clearly bit that came out was that a magic user believed that the quadratic mage/liner fighter crossover point was supposed to kick in before level 7. Granted, we only have the DM's PoV on that. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 21 '15 at 21:38

Sorcerers and Wizards are the most overpowered classes in pretty much any edition of D&D, and they can solve problems with single spells that melee only characters would not be able to, end encounters with single spells (Grease was a good example of this in 3.5E) or otherwise render themselves invulnerable to enemy damage types via spells like Fly.

He needs to stop relying on cantrips and actually start thinking about how to use his other spells productively. If he keeps using nothing but cantrips he's going to severely stunt the power level of your group as most Challenge ratings in D&D normally take into account that there is some kind of arcane spell-caster in a group that is able to use spells to turn the tide.

Without the wizard, creatures that have access to invisibility would wipe your melees out of the fight, creatures with access to flying would just pelt them with spells and arrows from a distance, and creatures with access to spells will throw hot fire onto all of your group members until they're all piles of ash.

At most the Melees are going to get two, maybe three attacks before an encounter ends. Calculate the damage dice the melees would do if their attacks all hit, then show him the damage calculation for him landing fireball spells all three rounds. That should give him an idea of how much better spellcasters are than mundanes.

  • \$\begingroup\$ "..or otherwise render themselves invulnerable to enemy damage types via spells like Fly..." Or the VERY lovely 'Blink' spell that our sorcerer is totally loving, which allows him to blink in and out of existence in between his turns. (When it works) \$\endgroup\$
    – Airatome
    Sep 19 '15 at 16:47

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