Classes into tiers

Remathilis

Legend
Bare in mind I am mainly playing devil's advocate here, although this is a view I have seen expressed.

The problem with being the skill in a game with no skills... is that its not very good. All those skills can be replicated in the core by a Fighter (or any other class) with decent Ability Scores. Which led to non-weapon proficiencies, which led to skill points, which led to the dark side.

If you go back to Ability Score primacy for 'Skill' resolution, the only thing you really *need* to make a Fighter into a Rogue is a Backstab feat.

Now bear in mind I am not saying removing the Rogue is a good idea, I am just saying I don't see that the Rogue is unique enough in an essentially Skill Free system to be at the very top table.

This is actually my biggest "fear" of removing (or ad-hocing) skills in Next; there are some classes (primarily rogues, but also bards, assassins, monks, and rangers) who were defined by access their to skills, either automatically or via large pools of skill points/proficiency. So far, the idea of giving the traditionally "skilly" characters some bonus (either something like skill mastery, or advantage when in forests, etc) and to buff out their non-skill areas (combat or spell use, primarily). I hope they do this well though; the archetype of a guy who is not necessarily a combat machine or caster but gets by on skill, luck and finesse is a perfectly good one and should be kept in sharp focus.
 

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The whole notion of 'Tiers' is rife with issues, and it will be devisive if followed through.

I just can't see any real advantage in organizing the Classes in this way. DMs creating their own worlds wouldn't like being shackled into defining society this way. Gamist players might seek to argue about them. Moreover, if you were going to scale how common Classes are, relative to each other, then surely Fighters and Rogues would be off the scale and Wizards right down in Tier 3?

I'm not sure why classes need to be classified more than they are, but if you were going to organize them how about using the C&C or D20 Modern method of associating them with Prime Characteristics?

For me, the core Classes:

Fighters (Strength)
Rogues (Dexterity)
Rangers (Constitution)
Wizards (Intelligence)
Clerics (Wisdom)
Paladins (Charisma)

You could then build them up from there:

Barbarians (Strength)
Assassins (Dexterity)
Monks (Constitution)
Warlocks, or whatever (Intelligence)
Druids (Wisdom)
Bards (Charisma)

Some calls made in that selection, but it would make more sense than trying to pigeon-hole them into Tiers of commonality.


The more specific Backgrounds and Themes could account for things like Wizard speciality (Elementalist, Illusionist, Diviner, etc), specific styles of play (tactical Warlords or spontaneous casting Sorcerers) or cultural aspects (Samurai and Ninja, or what-have-you). Along with Multiclassing, I would personally suggest that 12 is enough Core Classes.

Some decisions would have to be made about why 'themed' Classes (Bard, Druid, Barbarian, Monk, even Paladin rather than Knight or Samurai) are included as core Classes - but I would argue that they are mechanically different (and Traditional).
 
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MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
The whole notion of 'Tiers' is rife with issues, and it will be devisive if followed through.

I just can't see any real advantage in organizing the Classes in this way. DMs creating their own worlds wouldn't like being shackled into defining society this way. Gamist players might seek to argue about them. Moreover, if you were going to scale how common Classes are, relative to each other, then surely Fighters and Rogues would be off the scale and Wizards right down in Tier 3?

I'm not sure why classes need to be classified more than they are, but if you were going to organize them how about using the C&C or D20 Modern method of associating them with Prime Characteristics?

For me, the core Classes:

Fighters (Strength)
Rogues (Dexterity)
Rangers (Constitution)
Wizards (Intelligence)
Clerics (Wisdom)
Paladins (Charisma)

You could then build them up from there:

Barbarians (Strength)
Assassins (Dexterity)
Monks (Constitution)
Warlocks, or whatever (Intelligence)
Druids (Wisdom)
Bards (Charisma)

Some calls made in that selection, but it would make more sense than trying to pigeon-hole them into Tiers of commonality.


The more specific Backgrounds and Themes could account for things like Wizard speciality (Elementalist, Illusionist, Diviner, etc), specific styles of play (tactical Warlords or spontaneous casting Sorcerers) or cultural aspects (Samurai and Ninja, or what-have-you). Along with Multiclassing, I would personally suggest that 12 is enough Core Classes.

Some decisions would have to be made about why 'themed' Classes (Bard, Druid, Barbarian, Monk, even Paladin rather than Knight or Samurai) are included as core Classes - but I would argue that they are mechanically different (and Traditional).
I beg to differ on the sorcerer being easily handled by a theme. Sorcerers only partially resemble wizards on the surface and a theme meant to turn a wizard into a sorcerer would have to be awfully powerfull to be satisfactory, and even then it wouldn't be satisfactory enough.

What wizards and sorcerers have in common:
-Hit dice / hit points
-Both cast arcane spells
-They don't mesh well with armor

What are the differences beween them:
-Weapon proficiencies. The sorcerer is more likely to do something interesting on melee and to invest into STR and CON as a result.
-Spell progression. Wizards get a quicker access to more powerful spells
-Spellcasting ability. It may be very easily overlooked, but the primary spellcasting ability really marks the way a character plays, double since ability scores are going to be the main way of interction with the world. A good wizard is a bookworm, a good sorcerer the soul of the party.
-Spellbook vs Spontaneous. A sorcerer is a fine specialized tool, he can't afford to have a diferent array of spells everyday, but he can use the few spells he knows to the fullest and in a more reliable way than a wizard.
-A wizard is strategic, a sorcerer is tactical.
-A sorcerer is simpler to play.

A sorcerer theme would have to do the following to a wizard on the very first level:

- Change the spellcasting ability from INT TO CHA.
- Increase Weapon Proficiencies
- get rid of the spellbook in exchange for spontaneous casting
- change spellcasting progression

And even then it wouldn't be a satisfactory sorcerer, because all of them would be the same except for background. There wouldn't be any room to specialize on magic, on melee or anyhting else if desired.
 
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Li Shenron

Legend
I am totally confused by this thread... :erm:

First of all a question here:

Where should the classes end and the themes begin?

I think you mostly mean themes as "kits" here, because 5e themes so far are merely collections of feats, while you are trying to see if a class can be turned into a theme, am I right?

If you are instead really considering to use 5e themes to represent some of the classes, then the big deal is which class-defining features can you turn into feats? Nothing with a level-based progression can easily be turned into feats, which by their nature aren't scalable (or are only minimally scalable). Thus, you cannot turn a Sorcerer into a theme unless you change its mechanics a lot and just try to represent the concept with feats.

And here comes my main question. Are you trying to "tier-ize" mechanics or character concepts?

If you're trying to tier-ize mechanics, this might make sense for the designers, it might simplify their work, but doesn't have to have any consequence for the players. There is no need why a mechanically derived class must imply that it is also more rare in the world.

If you're trying to tier-ize character concepts, I am in general against it. Which concepts are more common or not is way too much dependent on the setting and the DM's preferences, to standardize such thing brings no benefit to the game at all, and only brings unnecessarily assumptions from some players, while forcing the DM to make it explicit if she's not following the standard.

Also keep in mind that something like this would significantly affect the amount of material published for different classes, because a "common" class will get more supplementary stuff than a "rare" class.

In general, I see no reason why since "Fighter" is a more general concept than "Barbarian", you have to assume that there are more fighters than barbarians in the world, just like there aren't necessarily more BSc than MSc (which might be true in the US, but is absolutely not the case in several EU countries).

Especially with spellcaster classes, this kind of assumptions are more grounded in D&D legacy rather than on the consideration of the character concept in an average setting. Everyone assumes "Wizard" should be the most common class, but that's mostly because we have seen a lot of wizards in our games and much fewer sorcerers or warlocks for example, since "Sorcerer" and "Warlock" weren't even a class before 3ed. OTOH if you think about the concept, then being a wizard could be a tremendously more difficult job than being e.g. a witch. Note that despite the main concept behind 3ed sorcerers is "natural born spellcaster", the practical use of it in some settings has been more similar to witchcraft (that's IIRC more like the meaning of "sorcery").

There's quite a lot of room there for rarity of character concepts, that I would like the DM to be totally free of choosing, without being told what should be the standard. Some might want a high-magic world full of academies of wizards where a sorcerer is a rare individual born with magic, some other wants a low-magic world where commoners learning some magic rituals are sorcerers and being a wizard is rare because it requires superhuman intellect.
 

I beg to differ on the sorcerer being easily handled by a theme. Sorcerers only partially resemble wizards on the surface and a theme meant to turn a wizard into a sorcerer would have to be awfully powerfull to be satisfactory, and even then it wouldn't be satisfactory enough.

What wizards and sorcerers have in common:
-Hit dice / hit points
-Both cast arcane spells
-They don't mesh well with armor

What are the differences beween them:
-Weapon proficiencies. The sorcerer is more likely to do something interesting on melee and to invest into STR and CON as a result.
-Spell progression. Wizards get a quicker access to more powerful spells
-Spellcasting ability. It may be very easily overlooked, but the primary spellcasting ability really marks the way a character plays, double since ability scores are going to be the main way of interction with the world. A good wizard is a bookworm, a good sorcerer the soul of the party.
-Spellbook vs Spontaneous. A sorcerer is a fine specialized tool, he can't afford to have a diferent array of spells everyday, but he can use the few spells he knows to the fullest and in a more reliable way than a wizard.
-A wizard is strategic, a sorcerer is tactical.
-A sorcerer is simpler to play.

A sorcerer theme would have to do the following to a wizard on the very first level:

- Change the spellcasting ability from INT TO CHA.
- Increase Weapon Proficiencies
- get rid of the spellbook in exchange for spontaneous casting
- change spellcasting progression

And even then it wouldn't be a satisfactory sorcerer, because all of them would be the same except for background. There wouldn't be any room to specialize on magic, on melee or anyhting else if desired.

This issue possibly deserves it's own thread, which I may well put up if I have time later.

I don't really agree with the argument here, because I don't really see the Sorcerer in this sense being archetypally different to the Wizard. The mechanical differences could be handled with mechanics, and I don't necessarily accept that they all have to be given at 1st level either.

I could see, for example, a 'Spontaneous casting' feat given out for individual spells, where a Wizard sacrifices a spell slot to allow another spell to be chosen spontaneously, and/or get rid of the spell book entirely. I could see an "Exotic Weapon' feat allowing a Wizard to use a more lethal weapon in combat. I could see a ''Charm-based Magic' feat to allow for the caster to be based off Charisma, in a similar way I could see a 'Life-based Magic' Feat allowing bonuses to be based off Constitution. On a similar basis, I would argue that a Wizard should be allowed to be 'Dragon-Blooded' as a Theme, along with anything else.

A Wizard can be a diverse archetype (see Ars Magica for example), but all these differences are ones that are stylstic rather than archetypal. Style, for me, equates to a Theme not a Class.
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
First of all, Archetype means "a very speciffic yet meaningfull and remarkable example from were many derivatives are taken", and archetype cannot be diverse by definition. If there is deviation then it isn't an archetype. Second, a Wizard in an overarching general context doesn't mean the same as a Wizard on a D&D context. The former is very broad and easiliy includes the sorcerer, I acept it, but the later has a very speciffic meaning to which the equally speciffic meaning of sorcerer in the D&D context is a very different thing.

Number three, as far as I know themes are meant to add complexity not to take it away (which is self defeating), and between the wizard and the sorcerer the sorcerer is the simplest (and it could be argued the sorcerer is the simplest caster class on the game second only to the warlock who can or not be considered a true caster depending on the edition), if the only way to play the simplest caster is by adding a complicated series of feats to a complex class such as a wizard and endure 6 or more levels of playing a complicated caster just to get a bland run of the mill sorcerer, then there will be lots of unhappy players that simply will remain with PF/3.5/4e. (double so because you would have to have the ability scores to play a wizard rather than a sorcerer in order to survive long enough, and it goes against flavor, since sorcerers are supossed to start their careers way younger than wizards since they didn't have to waste years studying tomes in order to learn a simple cantrip)
 

First of all, Archetype means "a very speciffic yet meaningfull and remarkable example from were many derivatives are taken", and archetype cannot be diverse by definition. If there is deviation then it isn't an archetype. Second, a Wizard in an overarching general context doesn't mean the same as a Wizard on a D&D context. The former is very broad and easiliy includes the sorcerer, I acept it, but the later has a very speciffic meaning to which the equally speciffic meaning of sorcerer in the D&D context is a very different thing.
Archetypes can be diverse, if they incorporate derivatives. The most famous Jungian Archetype (who came up with the term) was 'The Mother'. Not sure how much more diverse you can get!? Moreover, I would like D&D to steer away from 'D&Disms' if we can help it, and actually establish some meaningful archetypes in the game rather than ones contrived by mechanics. 'Simplicity' in and of itself doesn't constitute the need for a separate Class. Just allow for Wizards that can function on a simple level, with Spontaneous casting or whathaveyou.
 

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