D&D 5E Broad vs Narrow Classes

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
and many do not feel truly iconic just being slot-filling, which is not bad but could be better.
Being perfectly frank, I find the "slot-filling" complaint to be rather flawed. The only classes most folks can point to which even remotely meet that definition are, as far as I can tell:

Avenger
Invoker
Battlemind

And of those, only the Battlemind is even remotely lacking, because both Avenger and Invoker have some solid lore and clear mechanical niches.

I will, however, grant that Battlemind is a stupid name. But still, 1-2 rough fit classes out of 25 is not even slightly deserving of the hand-wringing and accusations 4e received on this front.

The problem with 4e wasn't that the classes weren't good. It's that they were all good for the same definition of good. If you liked one 4e class (especially pre-Essentials) you'd probably like almost all of them. And if you didn't you wouldn't. The advantage of having a class system is that if you have entirely different tastes you can still each have some classes.
Okay so...how would one fix that?

Because I am never going to accept a game design that leaves characters with nothing constructive to do. The game needs to provide a solid starting foundation, a core that consistently works. The 5e Fighter fails on the "works" part, while the Wizard fails on the "consistently" part (that is, as mentioned up thread, a poorly-built Wizard is actually kind of weak, while a well-built one is one of the most powerful characters you can play in 5e.)

So... where's the fix? What can we do that actually delivers consistently functional, effective characters while giving people this mysterious je ne said quoi that will appeal to more people?
 

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When thinking about 5E in general and what you prefer and/or would like to see, do you want classes that are broad or ones that are more narrowly defined.

For the purposes of this discussion, by "broad" I mean lots of options as you create and level a character so that a single class can cover a lot of different archetypes or party roles. Note that I mean this in an ongoing way. That is, you continue to make those choices throughout character advancement and development and can always switch gears.

Conversely, by narrow I guess what I mean is "focused": fewer choices (at least after the initial ones) but a high degree of fidelity toward one particular expression of that class. Assume effectiveness and solid balance here. Presume a well designed focused archetype.

So I guess the question comes down to how much control do you want over progression? How much freedom versus focus?

This is largely a player facing question but GMs should feel free to discuss how such a choice might affect a campaign they run.

For my part, when I am a player it kind of depends on the nature of the campaign. If we are playing a canned campaign, I definitely prefer a focused character advancement track. But if it's a more open, unpredictable campaign i want the freedom to switch gears if the game goes in an unexpected direction.

As a GM I actually prefer if both options are available to players who have different preferences, and hope I can manage to juggle both.
I think I would like to see a few broad classes with many focused subclasses. I think I would also like it if choosing a subclass were optional.
 


James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Being perfectly frank, I find the "slot-filling" complaint to be rather flawed. The only classes most folks can point to which even remotely meet that definition are, as far as I can tell:

Avenger
Invoker
Battlemind

And of those, only the Battlemind is even remotely lacking, because both Avenger and Invoker have some solid lore and clear mechanical niches.

I will, however, grant that Battlemind is a stupid name. But still, 1-2 rough fit classes out of 25 is not even slightly deserving of the hand-wringing and accusations 4e received on this front.


Okay so...how would one fix that?

Because I am never going to accept a game design that leaves characters with nothing constructive to do. The game needs to provide a solid starting foundation, a core that consistently works. The 5e Fighter fails on the "works" part, while the Wizard fails on the "consistently" part (that is, as mentioned up thread, a poorly-built Wizard is actually kind of weak, while a well-built one is one of the most powerful characters you can play in 5e.)

So... where's the fix? What can we do that actually delivers consistently functional, effective characters while giving people this mysterious je ne said quoi that will appeal to more people?
I'm just going to say that there were several classes I didn't like in 4e. I didn't like the Rogue, for example, as so much hinged on getting combat advantage, and sometimes you can't always count on flanking or a friendly daze. You needed to generate that yourself.

I didn't care for the Warlock, because it had a funky design, and didn't seem to understand what it was supposed to be doing as a class. Was it a controller? A striker? Some hybrid of both?

I didn't like the Paladin, initially, because their mark punishment lacked bite, and until Divine Sanction was added as a mechanic, couldn't multi-mark.

I found the Monk too fiddly, the Sorcerer underpowered, the Swordmage was a hot mess, the Battlemind didn't have a melee basic attack, the Ardent was trying to reinvent the wheel (badly, IMO), the Psion had a neat concept, but it didn't stand out enough from the Wizard, the Assassin was designed with back loaded damage, which felt just bizarre for it's role (the premier alpha striker). The Seeker needed more options, and too many people were building it to be a damage class, which struck me as rather bizarre.

Even though most of the classes had a similar framework for their powers (AEDU), the power level of those abilities was often inconsistent, PHB1 classes got more support, and some of the classes were designed strangely, as if someone said "hey, we need three new classes for this book, throw something together over the weekend, ok?".

I loved playing 4e, but not all of the options were created equally. Like, ok, I can forgive PHB1 missteps, like not well defining the controller role, but by the time we're seeing things like Martial Power 2, you think it would be understood that each role requires a specific kit to function.

Defenders need melee control effects, and ways to deter even tough foes from deciding to violate your mark. They need to be able to make opportunity attacks, and better withstand taking a beating from foes.

Leaders need "oh carp!" buttons, non-trivial buffs for allies, and the ability to set up favorable attacks and get allies out of danger.

Strikers need to be able to burst down regular enemies quickly in a pinch, and have powers to get them into (and out of) striking range.

Controllers need to be able to lock down foes for multiple turns, or affect large groups of enemies in the short term.

Too often, I'd look at a new class and wonder if the designer forgot what role they were trying to fill.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
Isn't that what we already have?
I think I would like to see a few broad classes with many focused subclasses. I think I would also like it if choosing a subclass were optional.
I think the bolded part is the issue. I know there are "default" subclasses for some (maybe all?), but that isn't the same as them being optional.

The classes are balanced with each other (in theory) when subclasses are included. Paladins, Monks, and Rogue are feature heavy classes, so subclasses are not as big a part of their power structure IMO. Meanwhile, classes like Fighters are not feature rich in the base class, so the subclasses are supposed to pick up that slack.
 

Okay so...how would one fix that?

Because I am never going to accept a game design that leaves characters with nothing constructive to do. The game needs to provide a solid starting foundation, a core that consistently works. The 5e Fighter fails on the "works" part, while the Wizard fails on the "consistently" part (that is, as mentioned up thread, a poorly-built Wizard is actually kind of weak, while a well-built one is one of the most powerful characters you can play in 5e.)

So... where's the fix? What can we do that actually delivers consistently functional, effective characters while giving people this mysterious je ne said quoi that will appeal to more people?

I'm just going to say that there were several classes I didn't like in 4e. I didn't like the Rogue, for example, as so much hinged on getting combat advantage, and sometimes you can't always count on flanking or a friendly daze. You needed to generate that yourself.
And to me that was a big part of what made the early 4e rogue so fun. Part of the fantasy of being a rogue, at least for me, is being outmatched and having to work for your advantages. Then doing well when you do - but with e.g. a 5e rogue it's just too easy and I feel like I'm choosing how to succeed rather than working to succeed.

However the 4e Thief did things slightly differently. If you wanted easy Combat Advantage you took Tactical Trick; the couple of times I played a rogue I didn't take one on principle and had a more fun experience because of it. But I know not everyone would agree.

Which is why you need options.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
And to me that was a big part of what made the early 4e rogue so fun. Part of the fantasy of being a rogue, at least for me, is being outmatched and having to work for your advantages. Then doing well when you do - but with e.g. a 5e rogue it's just too easy and I feel like I'm choosing how to succeed rather than working to succeed.

However the 4e Thief did things slightly differently. If you wanted easy Combat Advantage you took Tactical Trick; the couple of times I played a rogue I didn't take one on principle and had a more fun experience because of it. But I know not everyone would agree.

Which is why you need options.
I mean, if you liked that kind of challenge, by all means. But what bothered me was that other Striker classes, like the Ranger, didn't need to jump through those kinds of hoops to deal their damage. The Rogue either relied on allies to get their damage through, or had to take utility powers that gave them combat advantage when needed (when I'd vastly prefer to take their mobility options).

Having endured playing Rogues in 3e, where needing allies' assistance to use sneak attack in combat was sometimes necessary, I rather liked the freedom some of the other striker classes had in this regard.

But maybe this is just a me thing. I don't mind playing less than optimal characters, but I do feel a sense of apprehension if I'm not pulling my weight relative to the other party members. The sensation that I'm struggling to keep up, or that my choices have caused me to become the weak link in my team often drives me to optimize more than I would if left to my own devices.

The downside to options is when some are just better than others. You join a game with a wacky fun build, and everyone else is playing something more optimal, that bothers me on both sides of the DM screen, because I hate watching others struggle just as much as struggling myself.

When I played 3.5 and Pathfinder, this was especially problematic. I hated having to pull a player aside and explain to them that their class is just not as good as someone else's class. That the thing they thought would be fun to play just wasn't working as advertised.

Like anytime a player said "oh boy, I'll play a Monk!", I sighed, knowing nothing I would say would deter them. They were going to have to find out the hard way, more's the pity.
 

I often see people "Broad and Reduce the Classes" but that always seemed like a pipe dream to me.
Broad, but I don’t think you need to reduce classes, just broaden what they are good at.

Druids get wildshape. I have several concepts for druids that are ill-served by turning into animals . Funnily, so does D&D, but instead of replacing Wildshape, it just bolts something on.

Star Druids that replace Wildshape with their Constellation-shape. Muck Druids that replace their Wildshape with their Aura of Detritus.

The narrower a class is, the more likely my concept won’t fit in it.
 

IMHO, this is what the Traditions perform. The Wizard was the ONLY class in the PHB with eight subclasses, which includes entire archetypes that could be stand-alone classes like Enchanters, Illusionists, Necromancers, Conjurers, Diviners, etc.
IMHO, this was a mistake. Wizards whole thing is their versatility, and all the subclasses could cast all the arcane spells.

Meanwhile, the much more tightly constrained Sorcerer had to make do with 2 subclasses.
 

Being perfectly frank, I find the "slot-filling" complaint to be rather flawed. The only classes most folks can point to which even remotely meet that definition are, as far as I can tell:

Avenger
Invoker
Battlemind

And of those, only the Battlemind is even remotely lacking, because both Avenger and Invoker have some solid lore and clear mechanical niches.
Just wanted to second that the Avenger and the Invoker were awesome.
 

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