D&D (2024) Are You Happy with the Selection of Subclasses?

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Not gonna relitigate this debate. Not least because it would detail the thread. We already know we disagree on the value of spell point conversion as a model for class specific point pools.
I mean, it's the basis for all the balance in the game: I don't think that WptC is overvalued metamagix one bit here, I think you are vastly underestimating it.
 

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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I mean, it's the basis for all the balance in the game: I don't think that WptC is overvalued metamagix one bit here, I think you are vastly underestimating it.
I was clear. Please stop replying to me on this topic. I’m not rehashing an argument we have had at least a dozen times.
 


I see that, I acknowledge how the subclass is still terrible, but... advantage to initiative is just so tempting!
Yeah but what are you even going to do with it? Make a small-ish number of attacks with Advantage? They don't even auto-crit anymore, just one single one of those attacks does +Rogue level damage. Ooooooh look for those scary 1-20 points of extra damage once per fight lol.

You need to be able to capitalize on the Advantage or it's just a Big Number that doesn't do anything for you.
 

  1. barbarian--4 subclasses so far​
    1. path of the berserker (playtest 5 & 7)​
    2. path of the wild heart (i.e. totem warrior, playtest 7)​
    3. path of the world tree (playtest 7)​
    4. path of the zealot (playtest 7)​
That's simple, flexible, defensive, survivable. Thematic and play style difference. Great.
  • bard--4 subclasses so far​
    1. college of dance (playtest 6)​
    2. college of glamour (playtest 6)​
    3. college of lore (playtest 2 & 6)​
    4. college of valor (playtest 6)​
Four very different playstyles. Dance I love conceptually but am slightly dubious about the balancing off. But that's polish.
  • cleric--4 subclasses so far​
    1. life domain (playtest 3 & 6)​
    2. light domain (playtest 6)​
    3. trickery domain (playtest 6)​
    4. war domain (playtest 6)​
Healer, blaster, trickster, warrior. Great. Distinctive thematically. Trickester gods are awesome, but that domain needs fixing.
  • druid--3 subclasses so far​
    1. circle of the land (playtest 6)​
    2. circle of the moon (playtest 4 & 6)​
    3. circle of the sea (playtest 6)​
    4. circle of stars (playtest 6)​
Thematic symmetry, mechanical variation. Great - although I don't trust how Moon looked after the last playtest.
  • fighter--4 subclasses so far​
    1. battlemaster (playtest 7)​
    2. brawler (playtest 7)​
    3. champion (playtest 5 & 7)​
    4. eldritch knight (playtest 7)​
Brawler needs to go back to the drawing board. I dislike the Eldritch Knight - but know I'm outvoted.
  • monk--3 subclasses so far​
    1. warrior of shadow (playtest 6)​
    2. warrior of the elements (playtest 6)​
    3. warrior of the hand (playtest 6)​
    4. warrior of mercy (playtest 6)​
Shadow's great. Elements is fixed. Hand is the vanilla choice. Mercy ...?
  • paladin--4 subclasses so far​
    1. oath of devotion (playtest 4 and 6)​
    2. oath of glory (playtest 6)​
    3. oath of the ancients (playtst 6)​
    4. oath of vengeance (playtest 6)​
Two variants on the classic Paladin, one with a nature spin, one self interested, and one dark. I'd rather Oath of the Crown in place of Ancients as it's a different shade of grey to Glory (Glory is the self interested one who put up a LG front, crown is the one who's intensely moral sworn to someone who ... isn't). Redemption feels wanted as well.
  • ranger--3 subclasses so far​
    1. beast master (playtest 6)​
    2. fey wanderer (playtest 6)​
    3. gloom stalker (playtest 6)​
    4. hunter (playtest 2 and 6)​
Beast Master and Hunter are the vanilla, Gloom Stalker is Batman. And a weird one. I'll take it.
  • rogue--4 subclasses so far​
    1. arcane trickster (playtest 6)​
    2. assassin (playtest 6)​
    3. swashbuckler (playtest 6)​
    4. thief (playtest 2 and 6)​
Pretty obvious. Assassin still needs another pass I think but much improved. Not sure swashbuckler should be there - unless they are planning that as the vanilla choice.
  • sorecerer--2 subclasses so far​
    1. aberrant sorcery (playtest 7)​
    2. clockwork sorcery (playtest 7)​
    3. draconic sorcery (playtest 5 and 7)​
    4. wild magic sorcery (playtest 7)​
The sorcerer is good and the psion/aberrant mind is awesome. But. Draconic is our bland of choice (one is fine), and I want more melee in the build. I despise wild magic, and Clockwork Soul is meh. I'd far rather polished versions of storm, shadow, or divine (with expanded spell lists) replace both wild and clockwork, in part to make 100% clear that only the draconic sorcerer uses just the common core sorcerer spell list.
  • warlock--4 subclasses so far​
    1. archfey patron (playtest 7)​
    2. celestial patron (playtest 7)​
    3. fiend patron (playtest 5 & 7)​
    4. great old one patron (playtest 7)​
Yes, yes, yes, and yes.
  • wizard--4 subclasses so far​
    1. abjurer (playtest 7)​
    2. diviner (playtest 7)​
    3. evoker (playtest 5 & 7)​
    4. illusionist (playtest 7)​
Meh. Evoker's the vanilla blast mage of choice. Illusionist has something and a different approach. But Abjurer and Diviner are both "generic wizard with a stunt".
 

squibbles

Adventurer
Barbarian Zealot - It's never been a subclass that made much sense, and it feels very contrived. The changes in 2024 improve it slightly but make it feel even more contrived and at odds with the general themes of Berserkers.
Rage as religious ecstasy makes sense conceptually, and it's pretty on brand with the (dubious) historical accounts of berserker rage. I'm not saying the subcass does the archetype well, but it's not a ridiculous idea. And barbarian archetypes are generally pretty thin; battlerager, storm herald, wild magic, and world tree are all pretty weird and niche. The only subclass that has much thematic resonance is beast, in that it's basically lycanthropy (terianthropy actually).

Monk - I mean, this class needs to go, but if it's not going, these four do represent a decent spread of themes.
Why does the monk class need to go? It has bad mechanics, sure, but there's lots of fiction and character ideas that a monk class makes possible. The Four Elements monk is awful, sure, but it's not bad to have Avatar style bending represented in the game.

Paladin - Glory is a total waste of a spot. Not only is it objectively inferior, mechanically, to all three other options, but it's an incredibly boring theme, not one people associate with Paladins, and not one that adds anything. It's just like a narcissistic/smug version of Devotion. Any other Paladin subclass would beat it - I'd suggest a darker one, even Oathbreaker (perhaps renamed).
I like the theme that oath of glory serves, but you're right that it fits pretty loosely with the paladin class. It makes a lot of sense in Theros, but not so much otherwise. A lot of these features--like a feature called "living legend"--would make so much more sense on the fighter's champion subclass (instead of its weak, boring, crit-fishing feature).

Ranger - Hunter should go, frankly. There's no need for a "vanilla" Ranger that is absolutely packed to the gills with magic and relies on magic to even make their special attacks. If you're not going to have a non-magic Ranger, lean into the special-ness of the Ranger, and cut Hunter's intentional boring-ness (but tons of mechanical complexity) and replace it with something Actually Cool. Horizon Walker or Swamkeeper.
Getting rid of the vanilla ranger would be an interesting direction, which hadn't occurred to me. If they did do that though, I'd want them to replace it with a revised monster hunter subclass, since that's a more universal theme, and since there's a big contemporary fantasy series--the witcher series--which makes that theme more relevant.

Rogue - I see they "improved" Assassin, but it's still basically a trap subclass, in that it's written in such a way that people will think it's really good at assassinating people - it isn't, you can't be good at that in 5E's rules (not with martial abilities anyway), it's just not possible currently - but basically it's actually worse at killing people than the Swashbuckler, arguably even than the Thief. It's particularly funny that Surprising Strikes is now a misnomer - you will only ever get the (relatively small) benefit on a single strike, rather getting to crit on every attack. Shouldn't be pluralized mate! If WotC can't see their way clear to making it good at it's "one job", then replace it with something cool and weird like Soulknife or Phantom. Fantasy fiction is full of "assassins" (many teenage or young 20s girls) right now and has been for a while - but the majority have far more in common with either Thief or Swashbuckler, or with the Phantom/Soulknife/AT (or even with Shadow Monks) than D&D's uninspired and ineffective vision of an Assassin. Don't lean into things your system is inherently opposed to - and D&D 5E is inherently opposed to letting characters - including non-trash monsters/NPCs - get one-shot.
Good observations. Maybe assassin doesn't work in 5e. But it'd be a hell of an archetype to leave out.

Could another class do it? Like, rename the gloom stalker to assassin, and lean in to its poweful first strike, disguise self, and invisibility to darkvision.

Wizard - At least have one non-school! Abjurer is the most boring and least-picked, I suspect, so replace that with probably Bladesinging.
Yeah, I agree with that. If you're not gonna do 8+ wizard subclasses, and represent all the schools, then have one non-school wizard, and pick the most interesting and resonant schools for the remaining three. I'd go with bladesinger, evoker, illusionist, necromancer, with evoker being the generic wizard option (since it's not that interesting mechanically or thematically, really).

----

Thanks for the detailed reply @Ruin Explorer !
 

Rage as religious ecstasy makes sense conceptually, and it's pretty on brand with the (dubious) historical accounts of berserker rage. I'm not saying the subcass does the archetype well, but it's not a ridiculous idea. And barbarian archetypes are generally pretty thin; battlerager, storm herald, wild magic, and world tree are all pretty weird and niche. The only subclass that has much thematic resonance is beast, in that it's basically lycanthropy (terianthropy actually).
Religious ecstasy does work conceptually. Indeed the best-done Paladins I've ever seen in a novel were religious berserkers and absolutely incredibly written. However, they weren't "Barbarians", they were Paladins (literally so).

And it is a ridiculous idea to have them as Barbarians - which D&D describes thusly:

People of towns and cities take pride in their settled ways, as if denying one’s connection to nature were a mark of superiority. To a barbarian, though, a settled life is no virtue, but a sign of weakness. The strong embrace nature—valuing keen instincts, primal physicality, and ferocious rage. Barbarians are uncomfortable when hedged in by walls and crowds. They thrive in the wilds of their homelands: the tundra, jungle, or grasslands where their tribes live and hunt.

To have a Paladin subclass which was Berserker-like? That'd be cool and with bolder designers, might even be a thing 5E might see. Further, as you point out, the abilities of the Zealot are just bizarre and don't align particularly well with the concept. They almost feel like someone came up with the mechanics and then tried to justify them with some dubious lore.

As for "niche", well, Battlerager is, but only because WotC chose a lunatic course of trying to make it some kind of weird underpowered Dwarf-specific thing. Battleragers already existed in D&D and were way cool in 4E (actually a Fighter subclass IIRC, but that's fine), but that's just another example of bad design terrified of revealing 4E roots. Storm Herald and World Tree thematically work a lot better than Zealot and mechanically make more sense, albeit World Tree has a couple of bad design choices - at least they're significantly nature/primal connected. Being niche isn't really the problem - making no sense is as a Barbarian subclass is - and that's the problem for Zealot. Wild Magic Barb I have a pretty low opinion of. I have no idea who came up with that, but's illustrative of how WotC has struggled with Barb subclass, because Barb, by their own design, is perhaps narrower than a full-on class should be.

Why does the monk class need to go? It has bad mechanics, sure, but there's lots of fiction and character ideas that a monk class makes possible. The Four Elements monk is awful, sure, but it's not bad to have Avatar style bending represented in the game.
Because it's a specific, singularly 1970s archetype, basically just all the legends of the Shaolin monks crammed together (apparently possibly by way of Remo Williams?), and it's thus terrible at its job of being the "martial artist" class. I mean, we've got three different classes to represent what are broadly "wizards" (Wizard, Sorcerer and Warlock), but instead of even one broad magical martial artist class (an incredibly common archetype in fantasy), we have an ultra-narrow and specific Monk class, just because it's an intentional throw-back for the sake of an apology edition.

You say there's lots of fiction and character ideas it makes possible - I disagree - there's a ton of fiction and character ideas it completely blocks by existing and being so hyper-specific and weird. Countless players want to play magical martial artists, but are completely put off by the Monk's name and vibe and general approach - and D&D 5E offers zero other support for them because Crawford has consistent treated the ability to make unarmed attacks that do more than 1 damage as dangerously powerful for the whole of 5E.
I like the theme that oath of glory serves, but you're right that it fits pretty loosely with the paladin class. It makes a lot of sense in Theros, but not so much otherwise. A lot of these features--like a feature called "living legend"--would make so much more sense on the fighter's champion subclass (instead of its weak, boring, crit-fishing feature).
Exactly - I get why they did it for Theros, but it absolutely should not be a PHB subclass ahead of any other Paladin subclass.
Getting rid of the vanilla ranger would be an interesting direction, which hadn't occurred to me. If they did do that though, I'd want them to replace it with a revised monster hunter subclass, since that's a more universal theme, and since there's a big contemporary fantasy series--the witcher series--which makes that theme more relevant.
Absolutely - that's a fine idea. A Witcher-esque Ranger subclass, given they seem to want to go hard on the magical ranger would make huge sense and probably work decently mechanically.
Maybe assassin doesn't work in 5e. But it'd be a hell of an archetype to leave out.

Could another class do it? Like, rename the gloom stalker to assassin, and lean in to its poweful first strike, disguise self, and invisibility to darkvision.
Certainly the Gloom Stalker Ranger is a much better "assassin" than the Assassin Rogue. But WotC leaves out tons of archetypes, or supports them poorly, so I'd suggest just leaving it out of the PHB entirely given 5E makes assassinations that aren't DM fiat or of such low-HP NPCs that anyone could do it (and any Full Caster or a Warlock could likely do it much, much, much, much better than an Assassin Rogue) just flatly not possible.
 

TwoSix

Uncomfortably diegetic
Because it's a specific, singularly 1970s archetype, basically just all the legends of the Shaolin monks crammed together (apparently possibly by way of Remo Williams?), and it's thus terrible at its job of being the "martial artist" class. I mean, we've got three different classes to represent what are broadly "wizards" (Wizard, Sorcerer and Warlock), but instead of even one broad magical martial artist class (an incredibly common archetype in fantasy), we have an ultra-narrow and specific Monk class, just because it's an intentional throw-back for the sake of an apology edition.

You say there's lots of fiction and character ideas it makes possible - I disagree - there's a ton of fiction and character ideas it completely blocks by existing and being so hyper-specific and weird. Countless players want to play magical martial artists, but are completely put off by the Monk's name and vibe and general approach - and D&D 5E offers zero other support for them because Crawford has consistent treated the ability to make unarmed attacks that do more than 1 damage as dangerously powerful for the whole of 5E.
If there's any class that's begging for a rework using the Warlock chassis, it's Monk. Scale unarmed attacks/Flurry of Blows to match the scaling of EB+AB. Move all of their "flavor abilities" into a menu of invocation-like options, and add a bunch more so you can make a Monk more like Goku or Aang or Ryu.

Most people probably wouldn't want monks "casting spells", so repurpose pact magic into offensive or defensive "ki abilities" that can be used 2-3 times per SR.
 

Remathilis

Legend
Getting rid of the vanilla ranger would be an interesting direction, which hadn't occurred to me.

It would be an interesting thought experiment to see what the game would look like with all the nonmagical subs (champion, battlemaster, hunter, thief) replaced with overt magical ones (rune knight, phantom, swarm keeper). It would be a radical tone change for sure.
 

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