Armchair Designer Spotted!

So I frequently browse D&D forums and something that often comes up is a query for special house rules people are willing to share. SOP for when I or one of my team spots a post of this sort is to toss in a link for my one-page what you need to know document I introduced at the beginning of my current campaign.

It contains a brief lore blurb as well as a few mechanical changes.

Most people react pretty positively to my change to concentration, calling it neat, innovative, and unique. But recently a fairly negative reaction was brought to my attention!

"What level are your players"

"Started at two and three, currently at level 6."

"So you haven't play tested your concentration at higher levels then?"

"I have, both with higher level creatures and in my previous campaign. 

"Since you're dancing around the question you want to ask, no, it doesn't make them op, and no, the strategy for dealing with spellcasters as a DM remains largely unchanged."

I had discussions like this in the past, and I can spot someone who takes the original design of the game as gospel fairly quickly. So I knew what was coming!


"Theres no possible way the answer to "is it op for spell casters to hold 3 concentration spells at once" no. You can be fine with them being op, or balance around it. But unless your players are absolutely terrible, thats incredibly powerful."

"I've already playtested it, it's already balanced against the dev's initial misgivings on having too many active effects, and these are all people very, very experienced with 5e's design (both as players and dms). Wait, one exception. My friend Kevin, playing a fighter."

By the time he finished the accusation, I'd already typed out a good half of my response. This person could not assimilate the idea that I'd found a way around the confusion and hesitation towards editing for physicians black sheep. I've gone into a video on this before so I won't rehash it here, but to sum up my position, I have two issues with concentration and that the addition. First, just about any element of fifth edition characters have a clear and precise means by which you can improve or harm them without breaking the game. Ability scores increase, your pool of hit points expands, etc. But if someone felt as if concentration was too limiting when it came to the number of active effects on the field or served as a disincentive for certain play styles, there's no easy way to change it (until I did).

 Second, concentration is a Band-Aid on active spell effects that cut them down so far that a control wizard is little different from a blast wizard. The control wizard casts haste, then fireball. The blast wizard casts fireball twice. Thanks Crawford, I really feel like Quick Ben. Fifth edition magic feels like sky room, not Dragon's dogma. That's fine though, I've come to save you all.

So, back to our friend, who seems rather determined to inform me that my game is in fact, wrong.

"Did you triple the number of attacks the fighter gets? Lol"

I think this displays most of the core issue. This guy glanced at concentration changes, and assume that all players would simply add all times regardless of damage taken, situation, number of rounds the battle is likely to last, viability of casting non-concentration spells, whether they even could cast additional concentration spells according to my rules, that spell caster is in my game were inherently three times more powerful than martial characters. Pretty embarrassing, really. I told him as much!

"All I said was you tripled something and it does make it stronger which you continue to deny. I didnt say anything about it not working for you or your players. Just the obvious fact you insist tripling something doesnt increase its power.

But hey, Im the armchair designer here, not you, who is actually doing the redesigning insisting triple power isnt an increase, so what do I know."

The response to this encapsulates just about every rebuttal necessary:

I didn't say anything about not making it stronger, the fucking point is making them stronger. 

It doesn't make them OP, and the strategy for dealing with them is largely identical (which is pretty much the definition of making them stronger). 

And "Tripling" what exactly? You can only cast 1 of these spells in a round. Sure, a spellcaster could blow through 3 of those slots, but in a 3-4 round combat that's mostly a waste. 

You could go nova in a big boss fight, in which case I'm going to use things like counterspell and force you to make con saves. 

It's not "tripling" power. Action economy, taking damage inducing concentration checks, inability to cast more than one spell in a round, various anti-magic spells and abilities creatures possess, etc are all in play. 

You haven't tested this, you haven't looked at the math behind the scenes, and you're reacting to something you found out about 30 minutes ago as if you know more about how it functions than me.

Please stop annoying me.

And, to his credit, he did!