D&D 5E Class vs. Subclass vs. Feat Track

DMZ2112

Chaotic Looseleaf
I'd rather see the prestige class/theme/kit approach.
The subclasses (for now) are just lame IMO.

What in your opinion makes subclasses different than themes or kits?

I will also miss prestige classes, but that will not be a new feeling, as Pathfinder seems to have largely abandoned them as well, at least in their major releases.
 

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Gadget

Adventurer
I think you are absolutely correct, so I'm hoping our disagreement is merely semantic. The archetype "cleric" is broadly defined, focusing only on the healing aspect, because it is the one thing that all of these other roles you have mentioned -- these subclasses -- have in common. It is the thing that makes them all clerics, no matter what else they may be. The inclusion of healing -- or, if you prefer more detail, the channeling of holy/unholy energy -- specifically makes them clerics and not a member of any other class.

But you see that is exactly what 4e 'roles' did (and I like 4e, mind you). They did not put it as baldly as 'healer', rather they called it 'leader' for a healing buffer role. Yet all leaders had a 'healing word' type variant that enabled them to fulfill their mechanical role. This is not what an archetype is in my book. It is too mechanically inclined, not that archetypes can't imply mechanics, but that is not their focus. Your second definition comes a bit nearer the mark in my mind.

I am absolutely not suggesting that any of these cleric concepts should be excluded from the game; merely that they should share a core mechanic that ties them to each other and to the backbone of the game. I think the class/subclass system provides this unity, and I am hoping the designers make good use of it. I would hope that the subclasses that represent these concepts are robust and diverse, and each worth playing in its own right, but I would also hope that players always feel that any of them are capable of fulfilling the role of the cleric in play, which is ultimately the most important thing (to the execution of the game itself).

Once you start taking about sharing a core mechanic, you have left the archetype behind.
 

DMZ2112

Chaotic Looseleaf
Once you start taking about sharing a core mechanic, you have left the archetype behind.

I'm afraid I don't agree. Archetypes can be as narrow and specific as you want; it's a broad scope that renders them irrelevant as archetypes. I think "casts divine spells" (to be specific about the mechanic in question) is very archetypical, speaking in D&D terms. By contrast, "casts spells" is not archetypical, because it incorporates multiple spell lists with very different purposes.
 

Madmage

First Post
I recently was discussing with some friends that haven't followed the progression of the 5e/DDN playtest and we came to a similar topic and similar conceptualization of classes. We narrowed it down to 6 "archetypes" but where we differed was along the lines of origin and play styles. The 6 categories and the "primary" class within each were:

1) Warriors - Fighter: The martial class or men at arms. They are the guards, knights, soldiers, gladiators, weapon masters, etc
2) Priests - Cleric: Devout followers of god(s) who draw power from divine beings that grant them powers based on their patron(s)'s ethos.
3) Scoundrels - Rogue: Characters who rely primarily on guile and cunning.
4) Mentalists (couldn't find a better name) - Psion: They draw power from within rather than from without to develop powers of the mind and/or over their bodies.
5) Primalists (see above) - Druid: By communing with the natural world and its living beings, they manipulate the material world.
6) Arcanists - Wizard: Spellcasters that study mystical hermetic formula and phenomena and manipulate arcane powers.


All other classes would be cross-archetypes or rather rolled into a "subclass". My gaming group weren't enthralled with 4e and so couldn't match those classes into the above categories. Here were some of the classes we came upon though:

Warrior/Priest: Templar (where Paladins, blackguards would be sub-classes of)
Warrior/Scoundrel: Swashbuckler
Warrior/Mentalist: Ninja (monk being used below)
Warrior/Primalist: Berzerker (we re-named Barbarian to berzerker since not all barbarians or "primitive" peoples are bloodthirsty maniacs and felt it was a misnomer).
Warrior/Arcanist: We had a hard time finding a good name for this class. While Swordmage might be à propos, the name shouldn't limit characters to swords. The best we could come up with was "War Wizard".

Priest/Scoundrel: We struggled to find a good fit here. We thought of something along the lines of a "cultist" but thought it might cause some confusion with the Occultist below. As all priests, the domain sub-classes can turn the cleric into itself a watered down version of a cross-archetype class too. A Forgotten Realms analog would be a Priest of Mask gaining some roguish abilities.
Priest/Arcanist: Occultist
Priest/Mentalist: Monk
Priest/Primalist: Warlock

Scoundrel/Mentalist: Bard (we saw the bard songs and bardic knowledge to perhaps fit better within mentalism than arcane or other magical powers)
Scoundrel/Primalist: Ranger (controversial in a sense since we're turning the ranger to be a more skill-based class than a purely combative one)
Scoundrel/Arcanist: Alchemist

Mentalist/Arcanist: Sorceror.
Mentalist/Primalist: Only one we were totally puzzled to figure out.

Primalist/Arcanist: Wild mage but with a heavy preserver/defiler bent from Dark Sun.
 

The difference between innate powers and spells is mechanical, I think. As far as archetype is concerned the paladin and the cleric look the same to me (heavy armour, good weapon choice, healing and protective magic).

Cleric has traditionally been a priest and a full spellcaster, while paladin has been a holy warrior with minor spellcasting. I see a significant difference to these concepts.
 

pemerton

Legend
Cleric has traditionally been a priest and a full spellcaster, while paladin has been a holy warrior with minor spellcasting. I see a significant difference to these concepts.
Both wear heavy armour. Both are resilient (high saves, good hp) and effective in melee at low through mid levels (at high levels the cleric tapers off). Both heal. Both turn undead. Both protect their allies with divine blessings.

As presented by Gygax, clerics are modelled on an idealised notion of the crusading orders - ie a Christian chivalric ideal. Paladins obviosly express the same ideal.

The differences that you point to are purely mechanical. They don't have much thematic or "story" heft.
 

Both wear heavy armour. Both are resilient (high saves, good hp) and effective in melee at low through mid levels (at high levels the cleric tapers off). Both heal. Both turn undead. Both protect their allies with divine blessings.

As presented by Gygax, clerics are modelled on an idealised notion of the crusading orders - ie a Christian chivalric ideal. Paladins obviosly express the same ideal.

The differences that you point to are purely mechanical. They don't have much thematic or "story" heft.

I don't see it that way. Sure, in the original incarnation of the cleric was supposed to have a bit of a crusading knight concept, but the whole inability to wield edged weapons prevented them from ever truly being the knight in shining armor. Paladin was created to directly be that knight in shining armor. It is at least as much thematic as it is mechanical.
 

pemerton

Legend
the whole inability to wield edged weapons prevented them from ever truly being the knight in shining armor.
I personally don't see a huge difference between sword, plate and shield and mace, plate and shield. In 1st ed AD&D, maces and flails are pretty good weapons, especially againt metal-armoured opponents.

I get the sense that 2nd ed AD&D did different things with the cleric/priest, but it's not an edition I'm as familiar with.
 

DMZ2112

Chaotic Looseleaf
I recently was discussing with some friends that haven't followed the progression of the 5e/DDN playtest and we came to a similar topic and similar conceptualization of classes. We narrowed it down to 6 "archetypes" but where we differed was along the lines of origin and play styles. The 6 categories and the "primary" class within each were:

1) Warriors - Fighter: The martial class or men at arms. They are the guards, knights, soldiers, gladiators, weapon masters, etc
2) Priests - Cleric: Devout followers of god(s) who draw power from divine beings that grant them powers based on their patron(s)'s ethos.
3) Scoundrels - Rogue: Characters who rely primarily on guile and cunning.
4) Mentalists (couldn't find a better name) - Psion: They draw power from within rather than from without to develop powers of the mind and/or over their bodies.
5) Primalists (see above) - Druid: By communing with the natural world and its living beings, they manipulate the material world.
6) Arcanists - Wizard: Spellcasters that study mystical hermetic formula and phenomena and manipulate arcane powers.

Hey, that list looks a lot like mine! How do these categories affect play, though? I mean, between mentalists, primalists, and arcanists, there's a lot of "manipulation" going on. What makes each type worth playing over the other two? Or are you relying completely on flavor to influence player preference?

Cleric has traditionally been a priest and a full spellcaster, while paladin has been a holy warrior with minor spellcasting. I see a significant difference to these concepts.

The differences that you point to are purely mechanical. They don't have much thematic or "story" heft.

That's interesting; I consider the differences between the cleric and the paladin to be almost entirely thematic, with little mechanical difference, which is why I don't think we need two sets of mechanics to represent the same theme. My position is that if you're going to have a system with both warrior-priests and holy knights, you need to set them apart more clearly than D&D ever has. Paladins ought to rely more heavily on innate holy combat abilities, and clerics ought to rely more heavily on their spell list.

This goes back to [MENTION=6693380]Madmage[/MENTION] 's list, above, too -- a mentalist/primalist, primalist/arcanist, and arcanist/mentalist are all going to be very similar in theme. That doesn't mean they shouldn't all exist, necessarily, but I personally feel they need some kind of mechanical difference that sets them apart and gives players a reason to play one over the other two besides flavor preference. Otherwise you're just talking about reskins.

Which is why my archetype list is so focused on core mechanics (whether those mechanics are numerical or game concepts like a spell list).
 

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