D&D 5E D&D Next Q&A: Warlock Pacts, Patrons, and Iniate Feats

1of3

Explorer
I just don't understand what makes warrior-warlock and pet-warlock the same class.

You ask the wrong question. As we have seen time and again on this board there is no answer as to what should be a separate class. That is because there never was a criterion for classiness.
 

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I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
Can the rapier fighter disarm traps or backstab? Can the wizard heal? It's clear as day to me.

...with the right feats or character options? Sure! Why not?

But also, these things are not definitional. There's plenty of thieves who don't backstab or disarm traps. Lots of clerics who don't heal.

I think the cleric spell list has too many blaster options -- it always has. The divine spell list ought to focus on buffing (or debuffing, if you prefer a darker take). So no, I don't have a really strong argument on this particular point, because it's a deeply, deeply ingrained design flaw in D&D.

Think of why that "flaw" exists: there's a demand for clerics to be more that status removers/bestowers. The story of a cleric ("divinely powered warrior of the gods") doesn't equal buffs and debuffs. So the flaw is actually that tight association -- that narrow limiting of the cleric to This One Thing. That's the flaw that a flexible character class solves.

And the less a class-based system it will be.

Think of the reason classes are valuable at all: they help you link your story to a fictional archetype. Only, there's a lot of different mechanical archetypes under any given story. Just because you've sworn a pact to dark forces doesn't imply any specific mechanical representation. That story has had mechanics of faeries and devils, blades and blasts, familiars and elemental gen, gods and dragons....there's tremendous variety. There's no reason to tether these things so tightly. There's little real benefit from it.
 

DMZ2112

Chaotic Looseleaf
...with the right feats or character options? Sure! Why not?

See, I don't lump these things together. Yes, feats, magic items, backgrounds, skill choices -- these things can change a character's playstyle. Class options should not.

But also, these things are not definitional. There's plenty of thieves who don't backstab or disarm traps. Lots of clerics who don't heal.

Yes. And I think that is because D&D's class system has broken down. I'm painting in broad strokes, here; I have no explicit objection to a cleric that does not heal or a rogue that does not backstab -- my point is only that classes in a class-based system should have a high degree of specificity. Exactly what is specific about them is absolutely up for debate.

Think of the reason classes are valuable at all: they help you link your story to a fictional archetype.

!!

Man, it's really weird to hear you say that in opposition to my point, as that is the only reason I am pursuing this argument at all. It's probably time to agree to disagree.
 

DreamChaser

Explorer
DMZ2112 said:

Because IMO the other classes are designed to fill in the substantial "empty space" between the archetypes identified by the main 4. I'm not married to this reasoning, but it's my first instinct.

DMZ2112 said:
I just don't understand what makes warrior-warlock and pet-warlock the same class.

This presumes that the thematic function of these two subclasses will be different just because the tools are. To clarify, it is not warrior-warlock and pet-warlock. Those are your terms (and others here). It is blade warlock and chain warlock. Blade and binding may simply be the tools used to do what warlocks do, which in both past editions has been to deal damage and inflict de-buffs in a skulky/unsavory/mysterious way by making unlimited use of the limited range of magic.

I fail to see how it is "different classes" to use different means to the same end. If that were the case, then archer-fighter (which could also be called "stay out of melee" warrior) and sword and board fighter (also known as "stay near your allies in melee" warrior) could not be the same class, since--even though their doing damage--my descriptions have made it clear that their theme and purpose are different.

DC
 

DMZ2112

Chaotic Looseleaf
which in both past editions has been to deal damage and inflict de-buffs

Wizard.

in a skulky/unsavory/mysterious way

Fluff.

by making unlimited use of the limited range of magic.

And here's the warlock class distinction -- but I don't see how this reconciles with the blade or chain pact.

I fail to see how it is "different classes" to use different means to the same end. If that were the case, then archer-fighter (which could also be called "stay out of melee" warrior) and sword and board fighter (also known as "stay near your allies in melee" warrior) could not be the same class, since--even though their doing damage--my descriptions have made it clear that their theme and purpose are different.

Turning this on its head: if the archer fighter and sword-and-board fighter have different ends (or purposes), then in my estimation they are not the same class and that is a failing of the system. Their means are similar enough to be covered by subclasses -- they are both armed and armored combatants. Range is a game concept and a false duality. "Theme" is just fluff and has no place in class differentiation.

By this same token, if the chain warlock really does have the same purpose as the book and blade warlocks, /that's great/. I just can't see it from here.
 
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DreamChaser

Explorer
Skulky is not fluff. Warlocks in the past have had ways of remaining hidden and using that state to gain advantage. Unsavory in my description was intended to describe the in-game mechanics of poison, degradation, damage to the caster, and other objective negatives or subjective evils.

Also, wizards are not debuff specialists. They have debuffs but they don't inherently focus on this. Clerics also have debuffs. Dealing damage and buffing/debuffing is inherent to spellcasting.

From the limited information we have, I guess I just don't see enough to get worried. Also, I am seeing that we define class differently. I define it by theme while you state you define it by purpose. Do you then feel that barbarian and fighter should not be separate classes? Or does the lighter armor restriction of the barbarian make their purpose different enough for your definitions? (This is an honest question, not a sarcastic one...hard to tell here sometimes, I know.)
 

DMZ2112

Chaotic Looseleaf
Skulky is not fluff. Warlocks in the past have had ways of remaining hidden and using that state to gain advantage. Unsavory in my description was intended to describe the in-game mechanics of poison, degradation, damage to the caster, and other objective negatives or subjective evils.

I'm not saying there is no mechanical impact to a palette swap -- only that the mechanical impact results in little to no play difference.

Do you then feel that barbarian and fighter should not be separate classes? Or does the lighter armor restriction of the barbarian make their purpose different enough for your definitions? (This is an honest question, not a sarcastic one...hard to tell here sometimes, I know.)

If it were up to me, the barbarian would be a fighter subclass, sacrificing a default quantity of damage negation and fighting-style benefits for power-based improved damage resistance and a power-based increased capacity to inflict damage.

What a character does should be defined by his class. How he does it should be defined by his subclass. I guess what it boils down to is whether you consider the end result of a warlock's turn sufficiently different than the end result of a wizard's turn:

The warlock uses a power to stay hidden in proximity to his foes and hits them with diabolical poison, doing some immediate damage and some damage over time, possibly increased by sacrificing his own hit points.

The wizard stays out of range of his foes and hits them with magic acid, doing some immediate damage and some damage over time, possibly increased by sacrificing higher level spell slots.

The X [avoids taking direct damage] and [casts spells], doing some immediate damage and some damage over time, possibly increased by [sacrificing additional resources].


If it looks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, why not call it a duck? Class theme is just window dressing. Use theme as your method of differentiating classes and you'll end up with thousands of options that play identically to each other within minutes. The apparent customizability is very high, but players will see through the illusion quickly and become jaded. Maximum effort, minimum payoff.

IMNSHO, of course.
 

DreamChaser

Explorer
But what about mechanics? How does one create a consistent, readily comprehensible class when within a single class you can have:

* choose your spells ever day, cast by slots, boost the damage using higher level slots

or

* know a few spells, cast them as much as you want


We also are missing the vast majority of the warlock class. presumably, spells are only one part of what the warlock does, just as mage's schools of wizardly add additional features that enable them to do their spell thing more aligned with their concept. I would expect light armor, additional weapon options, curse/hex abilities, etc. Things that make them more distinct than just spell casting and things that thematically link the different "tools" of the class beyond a class name.
 

DMZ2112

Chaotic Looseleaf
But what about mechanics? How does one create a consistent, readily comprehensible class when within a single class you can have:

* choose your spells ever day, cast by slots, boost the damage using higher level slots

or

* know a few spells, cast them as much as you want

Well, getting back to the crux of the thread, how does one create a consistent, readily comprehensible class when within a single class you can have

* substantial melee combat powers, or

* a comprehensive spell list, or

* pet summoning?

A less flippant answer: maybe we don't have these things anymore. Do they provide meaningful difference? From my perspective, the operative word in both of the descriptions you provide is "cast." It is casting that is the definitive trait -- what you are casting, provided that it is as effective as any alternative, is irrelevant.

We also are missing the vast majority of the warlock class. presumably, spells are only one part of what the warlock does, just as mage's schools of wizardly add additional features that enable them to do their spell thing more aligned with their concept. I would expect light armor, additional weapon options, curse/hex abilities, etc. Things that make them more distinct than just spell casting and things that thematically link the different "tools" of the class beyond a class name.

Agreed. But I don't see the difference between no armor and light armor as being game-changing. Likewise the addition of more simple weapons to the wizard's loadout. In order to really affect play, these two things require a focus on Dexterity and Strength, neither of which are valuable ability scores to a caster. As a result I see these variations as largely cosmetic, easily rolled into a subclass.

Curses and hexes, as near as I can tell, are just arcane spells that have for some reason been divorced from the arcane spell list. Can you shed any light on why they should be counted separately?
 

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