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D&D General Class or Subclass importance

Where do you prefer the majority of design space and focus go?

  • The Parent Class (Warrior, Mage, Priest, etc..)

    Votes: 8 15.1%
  • The Child Class (Fighter, Wizard, Cleric, etc)

    Votes: 11 20.8%
  • The Grandchild Subclass (Berserker, Illusionist, Life Priest)

    Votes: 8 15.1%
  • Split between Parent and Child Class

    Votes: 3 5.7%
  • Split between Child class and Grandchild Subclass

    Votes: 21 39.6%
  • Split between Parent Class and Grandchild Subclass (the Spoiled Pac)

    Votes: 4 7.5%
  • Split between All Three

    Votes: 6 11.3%

  • Total voters
    53

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
One common discussion of the D&D community is on the role of classes and subclasses. There is a lot of discussion around it.

Is X a subclass of Y or is X isn't own class with the subclass of Z?

However there is a part of the discuss very often skipped over.

Which one should get the defining features?

The Parent Class: Warrior.
The Child Class: Ranger
The Subclass: Beastmaster

The Parent Class: Priest
The Child Class: Cleric
The Subclass: War Cleric.

The Parent Class: Magic User
The Child Class: Sorcerer
The Subclass: Favored Soul.

"Well X should be a subclass of Y". Often fans don't discuss what that means.

For example. "Barbarian, Ranger, and Paladin are subclasses of Fighting Man". Well those three child classes have little in common. Martial weapons and extra attacks in most editions. There if you slide class features to the Fighting Man subclass, you greatly weaken the influence and power of features that make Barbarian feel barbaric or Paladin feel paladiny. And you mostly kill any chance of making the grandchild subclass even work or appear

Shifting the power to the parent child has similar effects. Look at 5e, the Warrior classes really have little in common. And Many subclasses give martial weapons, extra attacks, and bonus ho. So the classification is most useless. One the other hand, subclasses often lack the design space to truly display aspects of their story. This is how many of the more disappointing subclasses received their sad faces.

Then if you keep moving down the line, making space for the grand subclass really is making the previous 2 classifications meaningless. You really are starting to create new, fully disconnected "classes". Going hard on the Alchemy, Dragon Magic, Green Knight, Echo Swordsmanship, or Assassination can really make the final product look unrelated. If your Thief has Sneak attack, your Assassin has Death Attack, your Trickster has Trick Attack, your Scoundrel has Backstab, your Minstrel has Vicious Mockery and your Skald has War Song Strike, how can you say they are similar?

So what are your thoughts? What is your preference?
 

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AtomicPope

Adventurer
I want the opposite. I want the core classes we have now in the PHB, plus Artificer, and a list of subclasses (maybe advanced subclasses) that transcended a single class. The one that comes immediately to mind is a Beastmaster subclass that could be chosen by either Druid or Ranger. Opening up subclasses to multiple classes sets the skies as the limit for player choice. Multiclassing shouldn't be the answer to player choice. It should just be one of the options.
 


DEFCON 1

Legend
Parent classes are useless. Because they are nothing more than holdovers from the origins of the game, but don't actually do what it seems we want them to do.

What is the point of Parent classes? Apparently to tell us one thing that "separates" different classes from each other. But there is no rhyme nor reason on what people decide is the granularity of the separation. I mean Parent classes could look like this:

  • Adventurer (1 Parent class)
  • Magic-user and Non-magic-user (2 Parent Classes)
  • People focused on fighting, People focused on skill work, Magic-users (3 Parent classes)
  • People focused on fighting, People focused on skill work, Divine magic-users, Arcane magic-users (4 Parent classes)
  • People focused on fighting, People focused on skill work, Divine magic-users, Arcane magic-users, Primal Magic-users (5 Parent classes)
  • People focused on fighting, People focused on skill work, Divine magic-users, Arcane magic-users, Primal Magic-users, Psionic magic-users (6 Parent classes)
  • People focused on Combat Pillar, People focused on Exploration Pillar, People focused on Social Pillar, Divine magic-users, Arcane magic-users, Primal Magic-users, Psionic magic-users (7 Parent classes)

Where does it end? And what's the point of these divisions? Why do so many people insist on thinking the Divine / Arcane separation is an important one to keep, but don't think Primal or Psionic are necessary or should be baseline? Presumably because "old D&D" made that distinction and thus it's somehow baked into the game (when in point of fact it isn't anything of the sort-- magic is magic, spellcasting is spellcasting, and there's no intrinsic reason to separate spells from each other.)

And to go further... for all the people who want more "Non-magical" classes... what kind of Parent/Child separation would be there? Right now the way we determine Parent classes for non-magical people is to only ever say "Combat-focused" and "Non-combat-focused". So it's no wonder we never see other Parent classes (or even Child classes for that matter) because our method for categorizing them is stupidly small. You either fight really well, or you fight less well but can have more skills. That's it. That's all we've come up with for the divisions between non-magical classes in all these years. So if that's all we have... what other Parent or Child classes do we need? Move the game into so-called Parent classes for Combat, Exploration, and Social, and maybe we could then get a third non-magical division? Warriors, Scouts, and Communicators I guess.

******

Once again... I'm going to turn back and blow the horn that I say all the time... which is that the way we come up with our Classes is entirely based on STORY. Not mechanical divisions. The reason why we have Barbarians is because we give that class a story of what they are and why/how they do what they do. The more distinct the story is... the more its importance as its own class becomes. Then once the story is decided... if you want to get more granular in particular aspects of its story and create subclasses for it, fine. But those are really just more descriptive variants, rather than important divisions. Which means they really don't need more defining features. Because if they were really that different in definition... they'd be their own classes and not just a variant of another one. Which is exactly why the Ranger and the Paladin ARE NOT merely subclasses of the Fighter... because each of them have seen their story and their definition grow beyond the mere Fighter. So trying to make the Fighter a Parent class again is useless, especially considering all Parent classes are useless as I mentioned above.
 

I think the parent class is a thing of the past. Bard and thief used to be siblings.

Although the children inherit a few things from their parents, like extra attack or spellcasting or good use of skills, they interpret it differently.

So I think about 1/10 design space should be from parent.
1/2 should go to the child
2/5 should go to the grand child
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Parent classes are useless. Because they are nothing more than holdovers from the origins of the game, but don't actually do what it seems we want them to do.

What is the point of Parent classes? Apparently to tell us one thing that "separates" different classes from each other. But there is no rhyme nor reason on what people decide is the granularity of the separation. I mean Parent classes could look like this:

  • Adventurer (1 Parent class)
  • Magic-user and Non-magic-user (2 Parent Classes)
  • People focused on fighting, People focused on skill work, Magic-users (3 Parent classes)
  • People focused on fighting, People focused on skill work, Divine magic-users, Arcane magic-users (4 Parent classes)
  • People focused on fighting, People focused on skill work, Divine magic-users, Arcane magic-users, Primal Magic-users (5 Parent classes)
  • People focused on fighting, People focused on skill work, Divine magic-users, Arcane magic-users, Primal Magic-users, Psionic magic-users (6 Parent classes)
  • People focused on Combat Pillar, People focused on Exploration Pillar, People focused on Social Pillar, Divine magic-users, Arcane magic-users, Primal Magic-users, Psionic magic-users (7 Parent classes)

Where does it end? And what's the point of these divisions? Why do so many people insist on thinking the Divine / Arcane separation is an important one to keep, but don't think Primal or Psionic are necessary or should be baseline? Presumably because "old D&D" made that distinction and thus it's somehow baked into the game (when in point of fact it isn't anything of the sort-- magic is magic, spellcasting is spellcasting, and there's no intrinsic reason to separate spells from each other.)

And to go further... for all the people who want more "Non-magical" classes... what kind of Parent/Child separation would be there? Right now the way we determine Parent classes for non-magical people is to only ever say "Combat-focused" and "Non-combat-focused". So it's no wonder we never see other Parent classes (or even Child classes for that matter) because our method for categorizing them is stupidly small. You either fight really well, or you fight less well but can have more skills. That's it. That's all we've come up with for the divisions between non-magical classes in all these years. So if that's all we have... what other Parent or Child classes do we need? Move the game into so-called Parent classes for Combat, Exploration, and Social, and maybe we could then get a third non-magical division? Warriors, Scouts, and Communicators I guess.

******

Once again... I'm going to turn back and blow the horn that I say all the time... which is that the way we come up with our Classes is entirely based on STORY. Not mechanical divisions. The reason why we have Barbarians is because we give that class a story of what they are and why/how they do what they do. The more distinct the story is... the more its importance as its own class becomes. Then once the story is decided... if you want to get more granular in particular aspects of its story and create subclasses for it, fine. But those are really just more descriptive variants, rather than important divisions. Which means they really don't need more defining features. Because if they were really that different in definition... they'd be their own classes and not just a variant of another one. Which is exactly why the Ranger and the Paladin ARE NOT merely subclasses of the Fighter... because each of them have seen their story and their definition grow beyond the mere Fighter. So trying to make the Fighter a Parent class again is useless, especially considering all Parent classes are useless as I mentioned above.
I think the parent class is a thing of the past. Bard and thief used to be siblings.

Although the children inherit a few things from their parents, like extra attack or spellcasting or good use of skills, they interpret it differently.

So I think about 1/10 design space should be from parent.
1/2 should go to the child
2/5 should go to the grand child
Well parent class are not the worst.

IMHO, the best way to do a Beastmaster class as a parent class.

The issue is that you'd have to create new parent classes.

The real issue is that some are reluctant to make new classes. But a Tamer parent class would be ideal.


Tamer
Beastmaster Summoner
Houndmaster, Beartamer, Falconer, Impkeeper, Hellchainer,
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
My homebrew system basically spreads things out across all three -as you term them here- Parent/Child/Grandchild. For my system that would be be [Class] Category/Class[Archetype]/[Subclass]Specialist.

Each level has their own features which they grant to the character, at various levels of broadness or specificity. They "layer" through the character concept to end up with a finished "class" that, hopefully, is differentiated from others of its type/category in flavor and crunch.

To use an example from my organization to illustrate (since I do not have Sorcerers and Rangers are not Warriors for my system/setting)

Parent: Warrior - to be a class (or subclass) that falls into the Warrior Category, first and foremost, you must be a character who predominantly meets the challenges of adventure through combat. Fighting is what you are good at, the primary role you serve in a party, and where a majority of your features are going to pertain. For my system, the following presumptions are also true:
  1. By default, you are assumed to not use/have magic!
  2. By default, you are assumed to have access/proficiency to using all armor and weapons (though a different layer of the class structure may curtail or provide preferences/differences to this at some stage of development).
  3. Strength is your primary ability.
  4. By default, you have a d12 HD.
The "chassis," if you will.

Child: Fighter - the default class of the Warrior category. To be a Fighter, you have a suite of basic features that any/all specialist/specific kinds ("subclasses") of Fighters will have. This suite is (obviously) subject to some debate. Game system/edition all define it a bit differently, but there is an overall accepted baseline of what features "make" the Class[Child]. For a Fighter, in my system, this suite includes -all by to 5th level!- things such as:
  • a base Attack & Damage roll bonuses: You are btter in combat than other class categories. "Proficiency Bonus, BAB," et al.
  • "Battle Stamina": You can stay standing longer than your companions. "Second Wind," bonus to physical saves/abilities/skills, et al.
  • "Specialization": You are better at using your equipment (and, again, at Fighting!) than some farm boy (or thief or mage) picking up a sword. "Fighting Styles," "Martial Maneuvers," et al., whatever they're called.
  • Extra Attacks: self explanatory
I have a few others, but you get the idea. The "engine" has been added to chassis of our "Class machine."

Now, in my own system, it should be noted, it is entirely possible for you to simply BE a Fighter...no subclass/specialist necessary. Define, equip, and flavor them how you like and play the guy/gal you want to play. The reason for choosing/adding a "subclass" to your character should be based on the character concept you want/will be the most fun for you. Not, necessarily, to get "more stuff" [powergamey features, what have you]. But to further "fluff" your character in ways that are meaningful, mechanically as well as with narrative.

To whit, for the player who wants to be a Knight "in shining armor/defender of the innocent" kinda gal. They can do that with a Fighter. Buy some decent armor, sword and shield. Grab your lance or spear and get on that horse! Roleplay a person with honor and integrity, engage in all of the knightly acts and activity you perceive to be that sort of character, leap to your fellows defense, etc...

OR, you can choose to layer your character further with the...
Grandchild: Cavalier - a specialist "subclass" of the Fighter. You have all of the base body of the Warrior category. You have the bulk of the baseline "engine" of the Fighter class. THEN, we add some fuel and detailing to polish up our final "machine." This is the detail work. These features are directly tied to the flavor and narrative of being a Cavalier/Knight kind of Fighter/Warrior.
For my version, this centers around two things:
  1. Being a Specialist subclass, by default, means you must have a secondary ability score that matters and on which at least some of your core features will be fueled. For a Knight/Cavalier kinda character, to me, that ability is Charisma.
  2. Being a Specialist subclass, by default, means you have a central singular feature on which several of your defining features are based or fueled by. For the Cavalier subclass, that feaure is the "Code of Honor:" the Cavalier's bread and butter, unique feature. It lends flavor to the character behavior and narrative actions. What do you get for that "narrowing" of your character concept from "Fighter"? Boons to situational attacks, boons to AC, bonuses to saves against various attacks, inspirational boons for your fellows, a "Knight's Challenge" to target foes, etc... All fueled by the Code of Honor and many "uses per day" keyed off of your Charisma score/bonus.
  3. Then fill in with other bells and ribbons that are thematic to the subclass: a Horsemanship proficiency that makes you better than the average Fighter or other Warrior types; a "Courtly Courtesy" feature to allow some situational interactive bonuses/narrative help; the aforementioned Mounted Attack "bonus fighting style"/boon; add followers (squires) at later levels; and so forth.
Do you have Attack & Damage bonuses, like a Fighter? Yes. But you have more specialized training with your weapons, so you are better at "hitting" not necessarily damaging. Your added "damage output" (for those that care about such things) is in line with a Fighter because you, more often, are going to HIT with your strikes, and can do things, situationally, a base Fighter can not do (or necessarily would get to do at levels as early as yours): bonuses for mounted attacks, bonus attacks while defending others, and such like.

Do you have Battle Stamina? Yes. And then some. The flavor of the Cavalier's preference for heavier armors means they are likely, on average, to have a higher AC, and receive some AC and save bonuses from their unique mechanic. So they are almost certainly going to stand as long, if not longer, than the Fighter in most situations.

Do you get Extra Attacks? Yes. Maybe not as soon or as many as a "pure/true" Fighter. But yes. In certain situations, defending a designated "charge," for example, you may be get more than Fighters could get.

So, for me and my two coppers, it's not a matter of "Parent/Child, Child/Grandchild, Parent/Grandchild."

You need all three. Each layer/level of Class structure has its own set of -to my view- appropriate and specific dictating and defining features.
  • You can not be considered a Warrior is you aren't eschewing magic for armor and weapons and relying on Strength.
  • You can not be considered a Fighter without being the best at combat.
  • You can't be Cavalier without a Code of Honor and effective Strength and Charisma.
The more narrow/specific you get with your character concept, the more features you may accrue, but those features will become more and more narrow to match the flavor/layer of the class structure.

All three.
 

Stalker0

Legend
Its weird to me that you have a poll that is multichoice....but then give options for all the combinations. That is the point of a multichoice poll!

I think class + subclass is a pretty good distinction, and I don't mind that 5e has ported more "juice" into the subclass area. As long as the containers are reasonable.

Aka what do all fighters have in common? If that is reasonable than I don't mind that a lot of defining elements are in subclasses.
 

Frozen_Heart

Adventurer
One of my biggest issues with 5e is how most of the design is in the class, and less in the subclass. Especially when combined with the 'few classes' approach that this edition has taken.

As almost the entire power budget is taken up by the main class, the result is subclasses which were once full classes having to lose everything which defined it. Which then ruins it for people who once enjoyed it. For me this issue really shows itself with eldritch knight and bladesinger subclasses replacing the swordmage full class. Every single thing I actually like about the swordmage/duskblade is now gone.

Imo this edition should have either focused on few classes, many subclasses. But have had most of the design space in the subclass. Or more classes, less subclasses, and put the design focus on the class itself.

The current method is the worst of both worlds. And as a result we're seeing content bloat just like prior editions with over 100 subclasses. But no actual meaningful new content at the same time.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Where does it end? And what's the point of these divisions? Why do so many people insist on thinking the Divine / Arcane separation is an important one to keep, but don't think Primal or Psionic are necessary or should be baseline?
I think that the issue (or one of the issues) with Arcane/Divine with Primal/Psionic off to the side or ignored is overlap. For instance, for Primal I'm assuming you view that as elemental/nature/spirit stuff, yes? Those things are also covered in divine, if only because there are always gods of nature and the elements, and gods of death and undead. And most of the stuff that counts as Psionics are very similar to the things wizards do. The list of psionics in 3e had a bunch of powers that were called "psionic [wizard spell]". (There's also the issue that many psionic powers are very anachronistic seeming, but I admit that's more a matter of taste.)

So if arcane, divine, primal, and psionic abilities all appear in the same product, then there needs to be more of an effort to make their abilities differentiated. Whether that's by having each list of spells/powers be mostly unique with little overlap, or by having different methods of casting, or very different effects depending on power source, or something else, I dunno.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
And to go further... for all the people who want more "Non-magical" classes... what kind of Parent/Child separation would be there? Right now the way we determine Parent classes for non-magical people is to only ever say "Combat-focused" and "Non-combat-focused". So it's no wonder we never see other Parent classes (or even Child classes for that matter) because our method for categorizing them is stupidly small. You either fight really well, or you fight less well but can have more skills. That's it. That's all we've come up with for the divisions between non-magical classes in all these years. So if that's all we have... what other Parent or Child classes do we need? Move the game into so-called Parent classes for Combat, Exploration, and Social, and maybe we could then get a third non-magical division? Warriors, Scouts, and Communicators I guess.

Well they are classes. The parent classes would be based on the parent class' class features.

I've long been a proponent for the skill/talent/borrow divide for warriors. The Warrior of Skill vs the Warrior of might. Then you have the tamer I mentioned before for Beastmasters. Then if the Rogue of the Underworld is tradition, there could be a parent class for the Sage of the Overworld. Instead of Magic as Science, Science as Science

  • Brute
    • Avenger
      • Fanatic
      • Flagellent
      • Zealot
    • Barbarian
      • Berserker
      • Stormborn
      • Totem Warrior
    • Brawler
      • Pugilist
      • Scrapper
      • Thug
  • Robber
    • Rogue
      • Assassin
      • Thief
      • Trickster
    • Swashbuckler
      • Duelist
      • Mastermind
  • Sage
    • Scholar
      • Gadgeteer
      • Gunsmith
      • Tinker
    • Warlord
      • Captain
      • Gangboss
      • Marshal
  • Tamer
    • Beastmaster
      • Houndmaster
      • Lion Tamer
      • Swarmkeeper
    • Summoner
      • Celsetials
      • Fey
      • Fiends
  • Warrior
    • Fighter
      • Champion
      • Battlemaster
      • Rune Knight
    • Paladin
      • Ancients
      • Devotion
      • Vengence
    • Ranger
      • Gloom Stalker
      • Horizon Walker
      • Hunter
It could be done. The choice is where the design space and power goes.
 
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I'm more in favor of strong, well-defined classes at one level of taxonomy, and then enough of those to cover all concepts. Subclasses should be narrow refinements. Overclasses (warrior, etc) are pointless additional taxonomy. Paladin is a good example of what I mean: all paladins work mostly the same, with some variation based on Oath and Fighting Style and other choices.

This would mean about 20 base classes to cover all the major tropes, but I'm okay with this and prefer it to a pyramid taxonomy that obscures concepts behind class-feature trees.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Well they are classes. The parent classes would be based on the parent class' class features.

I've long been a proponent for the skill/talent/borrow divide for warriors. The Warrior of Skill vs the Warrior of might. Then you have the tamer I mentioned before for Beastmasters. Then if the Rogue of the Underworld is tradition, there could be a parent class for the Sage of the Overworld. Instead of Magic as Science, Science as Science

  • Brute
    • Avenger
      • Fanatic
      • Flagellent
      • Zealot
    • Barbarian
      • Berserker
      • Stormborn
      • Totem Warrior
    • Brawler
      • Pugilist
      • Scrapper
      • Thug
  • Robber
    • Rogue
      • Assassin
      • Thief
      • Trickster
    • Swashbuckler
      • Duelist
      • Mastermind
  • Sage
    • Scholar
      • Gadgeteer
      • Gunsmith
      • Tinker
    • Warlord
      • Captain
      • Gangboss
      • Marshal
  • Tamer
    • Beastmaster
      • Houndmaster
      • Lion Tamer
      • Swarmkeeper
    • Summoner
      • Celsetials
      • Fey
      • Fiends
  • Warrior
    • Fighter
      • Champion
      • Battlemaster
      • Rune Knight
    • Paladin
      • Ancients
      • Devotion
      • Vengence
    • Ranger
      • Gloom Stalker
      • Horizon Walker
      • Hunter
It could be done. The choice is where the design space and power goes.
* Shrug * Yeah, I guess it could be done... but I really don't see any reason for those Parent groupings you came up with to be a thing. I don't see the point of them. What is gained by putting Scholars and Warlords together under one heading of Sages? I mean I suppose you could do so, but if someone said "What do you think Sages do?"... the stuff the Warlord does in no way would ever come to my mind. And I see little connection between religious Avengers, wilderness Barbarians, and hand-to-hand Brawlers that they all need to be placed under one category.

So at least in these cases... I would be very curious as to what you thought the mechanics would be for every single Parent grouping to give to the Child classes beneath them? Do all the Brutes use the Rage mechanic, all the Robbers have Sneak Attack, all the Sages give Sage-ic Inspiration, all the Tamers give extra creatures, and all the Warriors give Combat Maneuvers? Because I imagine that these Parent groupings have to give something to the classes underneath them to warrant binding them together in the first place.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
The parent class is the only one that matters. The rest are just details. You could have three classes in D&D, fighter, caster, thief, and most people wouldn't notice a change. Instead of designing an infinite number of child or grandchild classes, they should build three solid parent classes and leave the rest up to the table. Child and grandchild classes could easily be covered in a similar light-weight and modular fashion as backgrounds or lineages/races are as of Tasha's.
 
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aco175

Legend
I would be ok with a number of base classes and then have several subclasses for each. The base class gives you context, but the subclass is flavor. The subclass could almost be more of a multiclass as well. If you wanted a fighter/wizard concept then you could take the fighter-bladesinger, or you may want more of a wizard and go wizard-bladesinger.

I would be ok with around 10 classes and each having subclasses that go with the other classes, but there can be some that have the same subclass. I would also like to see a base/simple class you can just grow in, like fighter-champion.

Or, fix the multiclass rules.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
* Shrug * Yeah, I guess it could be done... but I really don't see any reason for those Parent groupings you came up with to be a thing. I don't see the point of them. What is gained by putting Scholars and Warlords together under one heading of Sages? I mean I suppose you could do so, but if someone said "What do you think Sages do?"... the stuff the Warlord does in no way would ever come to my mind.
I would say All Sages have "Mind Points" or "Lores" which would fuel Warlord Tactical exploits and Scholar's item exploits. I see the Sage like the "Smart Hero" who uses tactics, gadgets, leadership, and cutting edge technology.

And I see little connection between religious Avengers, wilderness Barbarians, and hand-to-hand Brawlers that they all need to be placed under one category.

Athelicism over Martial skill. To me, In a Parent focus design all 3 would have Reckless Attack, Unarmored Defense, Increased Speed as well as a Focus mode. The Barbarian would upgrade it into Rage, the Brawler into Brawler Stance, and the Avenger into Censure.

If Child Class focused design, Rage, Censure, and Brawler Stance would be more tilted to match the fantasy and separate from each other more.
 

Raith5

Adventurer
I dont see much value in the Parent Class category but I also think the subclass contains a lot of weight in 5e. At times I think it may be too much. But I do like to see more trans-class customisation options in the form of (more) feats, prestige classes, paragon paths etc
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
The parent class is the only one that matters. The rest are just details. You could have three classes in D&D, fighter, caster, thief, and most people wouldn't notice a change. Instead of designing an infinite number of child or grandchild classes, they should build three solid parent classes and leave the rest up to the table. Child and grandchild classes could easily be covered in a similar light-weight and modular fashion as backgrounds or lineages/races are as of Tasha's.

I don't think parent classes are bad. However I don't think all the common expanded archetype in Modern D&D can fit into 3 or 4 parent classes without glut and bloat.

Monks, alchemists, tinkers, beastmasters, tacticians, scholars, jaguars, and artificers don't fit the fighter/caster/thief nor fighter/priest/mage/thief without extremely tilting the parent class and forming child and grandchild subclasses.

The "Everyone fits into these 3/4 archetypes" only works if you limit the typesof characters to very old school settings.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Once again... I'm going to turn back and blow the horn that I say all the time... which is that the way we come up with our Classes is entirely based on STORY. Not mechanical divisions. The reason why we have Barbarians is because we give that class a story of what they are and why/how they do what they do. The more distinct the story is... the more its importance as its own class becomes. Then once the story is decided... if you want to get more granular in particular aspects of its story and create subclasses for it, fine. But those are really just more descriptive variants, rather than important divisions. Which means they really don't need more defining features. Because if they were really that different in definition... they'd be their own classes and not just a variant of another one. Which is exactly why the Ranger and the Paladin ARE NOT merely subclasses of the Fighter... because each of them have seen their story and their definition grow beyond the mere Fighter. So trying to make the Fighter a Parent class again is useless, especially considering all Parent classes are useless as I mentioned above.
Once again... I don't entirely agree with you about this. I don't think it's simply a matter of STORY ONLY rather than mechanical divisions. The 3e Sorcerer was not designed around its story, but, rather, its mechanical division with the prepared-casting of the Wizard. It was mechanics first design rather than story first design. A story was created for the mechanical design of the class created. In truth, there wasn't much story on the Sorcerer at first. Its story was gradually refined and built on top of the class in 3e, 4e, and Pathfinder before its present fluff in 5e.

Moreover, 4e demonstrated to me was that additional stories for classes were able to open up precisely because of the mechanical divisions that they made. The Warlord is the obvious case here. For me, it was a real "where have you been all my life?" moment when I read through it in 4e. The story and concept for the Warlord was able to exist because of the mechanical-conceptual space for it: i.e., Martial Leader. Likewise, that's how I felt about a few other new classes whose stories got to emerge precisely because of the mechanical divisions: e.g., Avenger (Divine Striker), Shaman (Primal Leader), Warden (Primal Defender), etc. Moreover, 4e was really the first edition, IMHO, that really drove home the difference between being a Nature Cleric vs. being a Druid. There was both a mechanical and conceptual space created by establishing the Divine vs. Primal divide.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
It feels like you can entertained STORY and MECHANICS.

I think the biggest display of story, mechanics and focus is the Cleric and Druid. Because Wildshape. Wildshape is such a huge class features when it shows up that it really alters a Priest based on where it appears.

  1. Parent Class Focus: Life Cleric (Standard Priest)
  2. Child Class Focus: Land Druid (Standard Druid)
  3. Grandchild Subclass Focus: Shepard Druid (Standard Shaman)
  4. Parent and Child Split: War Cleric (Typical but Specialist Cleric)
  5. Child and Grand Split: Moon Druid (Typical but Specialist Druid)
  6. Parent and Grand Split: Twilight Cleric (Atypical Specialist Cleric)
  7. All Three: Celestial Tome Warlock (Atypical Specialist Warlock that mimics a Priest)
 

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