D&D 5E Broad vs Narrow Classes

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Having both types within the game is what causes all the hullabaloo, because two of the three Broad classes are the two purely MARTIAL classes in the game. Which means it gives the impression that the game is focused on magic because there's all these other spellcasting Classes in the game and only "two" Martial classes. But that's not really "true" per se... because all of what WOULD be the heaping amount of Martial classes are actually presented as subclasses under two Martial umbrellas. The Samurai, Thief, Scout, Assassin, Swashbuckler, Cavalier, Gunslinger, Banneret, Champion, Mastermind et. al... could ALL have been their own Classes in the game sitting right alongside the Cleric, Wizard, Warlock, Druid et. al. And if WotC had done that, there wouldn't be any of this caterwauling about not having enough Martial Classes.

I think this is also where some of the wackiness and imbalance of subclasses comes from.

The Broad classes like Fighter have a ton in their umbrella so TSR and WOTC had a ton of directions to go with kits and subclasses at the expense of doing them all poorly.

The Semi-narrow classes were planned with only so many subclass ideas and once they go passed that number, the designers struggled for ideas and this is where you got broken and boring stuff like Twilight/Peace clerics and CODzilla.

And the focused narrow classes had planned splits so they had well made flavorful and balanced subclasses as long as you don't force an idea into the class without the design space (Beastmaster/Way of the 4E).

Narrow just seems objectively the best option but (current) WOTC and many fans just hate the idea of new classes.
 

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TwoSix

Dirty, realism-hating munchkin powergamer
Kill the sacred cow. Remove classes completely.

Offer pre-determined archetypes (like Tasha's did with Battle Masters) for new players or players who have a concept.

Otherwise, select what your PC does at each level, allowing your PC to grow organically.

If I have to choose, closest would be "broad" I guess.
This.

If you have to have classes, I'd prefer narrow, specific classes of limited power; most of the character's growth should still come diegetically rather than through mechanical structure.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
Broad with more options than a try hard pizzeria.

I feel that a class should be a toolbox or ability set for an archetype, not a Thing What Is Literally Your Fantasy World Job.

So the rogue contains all skill monkies, the wizard warlock is all magicky folks including clerics, the fighter is all the fighty types, and the bard allows the three nations to live in harmony as the blend class.

And then, feats. Thousands of them, letting you build out your paladin from a fighter or god-lock or even bard (for that shining hero who is good for goodness sake), your wilderrogue ranger, your mystic or martial arts mage monk, etc.
 

Aldarc

Legend
If you are going to use a Class-based system... then each class should have their own flavor and thematic intention story-wise.

In 5E in my opinion there are 3 Broad classes and 10 Narrow ones. Fighter, Rogue, and Sorcerer are the three Broad classes, in that their flavor and theming come out of their subclasses and not the base class. The words "Fighter", "Rogue", and "Sorcerer" are more catch-all terms used as a title heading to encompass all the different "real" thematic classes within them.

Whereas the Artificer, Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Warlock, and Wizard all have their flavor and thematic intent baked into their base class, and the subclasses are merely different ways or paths to present it or to focus on a specific thing within the base class.

Having both types within the game is what causes all the hullabaloo, because two of the three Broad classes are the two purely MARTIAL classes in the game. Which means it gives the impression that the game is focused on magic because there's all these other spellcasting Classes in the game and only "two" Martial classes. But that's not really "true" per se... because all of what WOULD be the heaping amount of Martial classes are actually presented as subclasses under two Martial umbrellas. The Samurai, Thief, Scout, Assassin, Swashbuckler, Cavalier, Gunslinger, Banneret, Champion, Mastermind et. al... could ALL have been their own Classes in the game sitting right alongside the Cleric, Wizard, Warlock, Druid et. al. And if WotC had done that, there wouldn't be any of this caterwauling about not having enough Martial Classes.

Which is why I most certainly understand many people's desires for the condensing of Classes down to "Fighters, Rogues, Priests and Mages" or even "Fighters, Rogues, and Spellcasters" to make ALL the "Classes" be Broad. And then every "Subclass" or whatever designation you use becomes Narrow. It makes sense from a categorization perspective to do it that way. Make it so that none of the umbrella Classes have much flavor in and of themselves, where instead all of their unique story perspective and flavor comes from the subclass.

But I think the reasons WotC don't do that is because of tradition AND the fact that most of the Classes in the game have unique game mechanics to themselves. And as a lot of people want (ne DEMAND!) unique game mechanics for Classes (see the multitude of Psionics debates)... condensing Classes down into three or four Broad classes condenses the types of unique game mechanics you have for each of them (unless you start adding all kind of mechanics back in via Feats or somesuch.. but that'll piss off a bunch of people that way too.) So I suspect any sort of condensed mechanics or 'pick 'n choose' mechanics via Feats would be an anathema to a vast majority of the D&D populace.

At the end of the day, I personally would prefer Narrow classes, if for no other reason that it would force WotC to turn all the Fighter and Rogue subclasses into their own specific classes (like Pathfinder does for the most part)... thereby giving us a huge influx of Martial classes to add to the Caster ones... and thus finally ending the endless wall of complaints that WotC cares more about spellcasters than they do martial warriors.
My quibble here is that I see the Wizard as being broader than the Sorcerer. The Wizard basically amounts to a mage with a book who can cast all arcane magic.

This.

If you have to have classes, I'd prefer narrow, specific classes of limited power; most of the character's growth should still come diegetically rather than through mechanical structure.
Feats could even cover some of the broader thematic aspects of multiclassing. Need martial armors and armor? Take the feat for that. Need more skills? Take the feat for that.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I often see people "Broad and Reduce the Classes" but that always seemed like a pipe dream to me.

I've never seen it work outside of OSR. And OSR tends to remove the crunch of most of the subclasses. And I believe there is a good reason for that.

It's easy to say "Choose Warrior and then choose Barbarian, Fighter, Paladin, Ranger"
It's hard to make Rage, Weapon Specialty, Smite, and Favored Enemy equal in power and lore.

The only way to do it is link everything together and you end up creating the same narrow classes all over again.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
I often see people "Broad and Reduce the Classes" but that always seemed like a pipe dream to me.

I've never seen it work outside of OSR. And OSR tends to remove the crunch of most of the subclasses. And I believe there is a good reason for that.

It's easy to say "Choose Warrior and then choose Barbarian, Fighter, Paladin, Ranger"
It's hard to make Rage, Weapon Specialty, Smite, and Favored Enemy equal in power and lore.

The only way to do it is link everything together and you end up creating the same narrow classes all over again.
I mean, I did it. Except Favored Enemy, which I think is pretty crumby.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
My quibble here is that I see the Wizard as being broader than the Sorcerer. The Wizard basically amounts to a mage with a book who can cast all arcane magic.
Which one of Warlock, Sorcerer, and Wizard is more broad is dependent on the lore you give them.

D&D tends to link
  • Warlocks to Highest Nondeirty Arch-Beings (Archfiends, Archfey, Gentie Sultans, Greatest Undead, GOOs, Dead Gods)
  • Sorcerer to Strong Nondeity Magical Monsters and Effects (Dragons, Mindflayers, Every Plane, Wild Magic, Storms Phenomenon, Cosmic Phenomenom)
  • Wizards to Spell School (8 official ~5 unofficial)
Sorcerer has most to go with as there are monsters and planes than schools of magic.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I mean, I did it. Except Favored Enemy, which I think is pretty crumby.
Is it balanced though?

I'd seen it done often but it is often obviously visibly unbalanced or just recreations of the class and making the "broad base class" meaningless or OSR where classes don't have many mechanics.


That's why I call it a pipe dream.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Which one of Warlock, Sorcerer, and Wizard is more broad is dependent on the lore you give them.

D&D tends to link
  • Warlocks to Highest Nondeirty Arch-Beings (Archfiends, Archfey, Gentie Sultans, Greatest Undead, GOOs, Dead Gods)
  • Sorcerer to Strong Nondeity Magical Monsters and Effects (Dragons, Mindflayers, Every Plane, Wild Magic, Storms Phenomenon, Cosmic Phenomenom)
  • Wizards to Spell School (8 official ~5 unofficial)
Sorcerer has most to go with as there are monsters and planes than schools of magic.
Broad in the sense of less thematically focused. The schools of magic are pretty darn broad as well. The Wizard is the direct descendant and heir apparent of the Magic-User. Its purpose is to be blank slate mage in the same way that the fighter is the blank slate warrior or the rogue is the blank slate expert.
 

This is one place where I think 5e gets it right; broad classes that contains multiple much more narrow subclasses (with some subclasses being narrower than others).

And one of the huge advantages of a class system is that different classes can and should be built different ways; it isn't a one size fits all thing.
 

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