D&D General Do We Really Need Multiclassing?

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
I think multi classing is a fine concept, but I don't think it's current incarnation is that great and I would rather have a different feeling one that doesn't mess with level scaling.



Oh yeah! I'm REALLY not a fan of the Eldritch Knight and it's 'Sword in one hand, cantrip in the other'. They should be doing both at the same time!

It doesn't help that a lot of Ranger 'spells' are basically just stuff like traps or 'shoot a lot' because making new spells is easy I guess.

I think Paladins should get 'Miracles' and can spend those 'Miracles' on stuff like smites or a series of utility spells. Basically reverse the current paradigm where you sacrifice spells for smites: you sacrifice smites for spells. It would feel more thematically appropriate and DIFFERENT from the Cleric.
Not to take over the thread with "How Ezekiel would do classes that don't currently exist," but my approaches would be:

Bard, Cleric, Druid, Sorcerer, Warlock, and Wizard are the classes defined by spells. Warlock has its special wrinkles, the others are about spells pretty centrally, with most other mechanics being fun addenda to the spellcasting. So...lean into that. Make the full casters distinctive via their spells.
Artificer I'm genuinely on the fence about. I think they work okay as spellcasters, but I long for something more built around abilities, yet I understand that such a rework could be dicey.
Paladin: Auras and Litanies. "Miracles" feel too priestly. But a litany--a rehearsed prayer/procession--feels right for a pious warrior who stands strong when the darkness rises, and who acts as a beacon and standard for the faithful to rally around. Auras give passive buffs, while Litanies would be active effects, possibly with call-and-response stuff for allies to take advantage of. I could see a "Knight Hospitaler" subclass getting a Litany for the Martyrs, which lets allies take a bonus action to heal themselves or the like.
Swordmage: Already discussed.
Ranger: I don't know the full details of Level Up's methods, but what I've heard sounds promising. Wilderness knacks and primal/sacred ritual. More or less, the way I see it, Druids bring primal power into themselves to the point that it changes their forms, Barbarians let primal power enhance their natural strength, Shamans invite the primal power to speak for and defend itself. Rangers, then, are where ordinary folk intersect with primal power. So stuff that captures the ways that regular old people would connect to and relate with the beautiful and terrible powers of the spirits-in-all-things would be ideal. Propitiation, reconciliation, exhortation, directed at the natural world and its bounties and violence.
Psion: Whole other topic, might touch on that some day but not today. Just...it shouldn't be spells. It may be like spells, but psionic powers should work differently.
Summoner: Spoilers redacted! I have a work-in-progress that I may someday present on here. We'll see. :p

Here is one way that Pathfinder 1st edition handled multiclassing: Character Advancement – d20PFSRD As you can see, it involves replacing feats at key levels with the class abilities of another class.
Yeah, I've heard of VMC. It's...I appreciate the idea, but it costs so much and gives relatively little. I would need to examine it further to really know if it's worthwhile.
 

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Pedantic

Legend
Not to take over the thread with "How Ezekiel would do classes that don't currently exist," but my approaches would be:

Bard, Cleric, Druid, Sorcerer, Warlock, and Wizard are the classes defined by spells. Warlock has its special wrinkles, the others are about spells pretty centrally, with most other mechanics being fun addenda to the spellcasting. So...lean into that. Make the full casters distinctive via their spells.
Artificer I'm genuinely on the fence about. I think they work okay as spellcasters, but I long for something more built around abilities, yet I understand that such a rework could be dicey.
I'm actually not sold on the Bard here, it's been through enough changes over the years that I think it could go a lot of ways. I know I very much miss having a musical/performance ability that isn't expressed just through spells in 5e, though I do think Bardic Inspiration is a fun and cool thing. Personally, I could happily slide them down to less spells, more native magic powers, like the Warlock or Artificer.
Paladin: Auras and Litanies. "Miracles" feel too priestly. But a litany--a rehearsed prayer/procession--feels right for a pious warrior who stands strong when the darkness rises, and who acts as a beacon and standard for the faithful to rally around. Auras give passive buffs, while Litanies would be active effects, possibly with call-and-response stuff for allies to take advantage of. I could see a "Knight Hospitaler" subclass getting a Litany for the Martyrs, which lets allies take a bonus action to heal themselves or the like.
Auras are a classic Paladin thing that's gone a bit by the wayside. I like the idea of them being a bit more flexible, as a manifestation of divine power/attention that's focused on the Paladin changing the world around them. You could make them something you could change with concerted effort, like an anointing ritual that takes time analogous to spell preparation, or even longer term like a between adventures pilgrimage or fast or something.
Swordmage: Already discussed.
Ranger: I don't know the full details of Level Up's methods, but what I've heard sounds promising. Wilderness knacks and primal/sacred ritual. More or less, the way I see it, Druids bring primal power into themselves to the point that it changes their forms, Barbarians let primal power enhance their natural strength, Shamans invite the primal power to speak for and defend itself. Rangers, then, are where ordinary folk intersect with primal power. So stuff that captures the ways that regular old people would connect to and relate with the beautiful and terrible powers of the spirits-in-all-things would be ideal. Propitiation, reconciliation, exhortation, directed at the natural world and its bounties and violence.
I'd kind of like to see the devoted shapeshifter sit in the Ranger chassis somehow, though maybe it's more of a Barbarian thing. You could definitely do a survivalist type without a supernatural edge at all.
Psion: Whole other topic, might touch on that some day but not today. Just...it shouldn't be spells. It may be like spells, but psionic powers should work differently.
Rachel Williamson's take in Paranormal Power is really quite good, and has a solid and interestingly unique mechanic. I can't recommend it enough as a way to do it in 5e.
 

That's within the ballpark, yes.

Perhaps, to help the explanation, it would be good to note that I would prefer that Paladins, Rangers, Psions (or whatever we call them), and (possibly) Shaman not cast spells. That doesn't mean they shouldn't have supernatural abilities, mind. Just that their supernatural power should not be the narrow, highly specific thematic-mechanical structure that is "spellcasting."
One of my favourite things about 5e paladins is how few spells they in practice cast. I'd probably rather it was even fewer, but draining their magical energy into Smites does a lot of this.

But I'm curious how you'd handle Psions given that D&D psionics has always either been ridiculous (the rock paper scissors psionic attacks/defences of 1e) or spells with the serial numbers filed off. One of the reasons the Aberrant Mind is far my favourite iteration of the psion is because it's no more a spellcaster than any of the others - but it doesn't have dozens of pages of complexity (custom psionic spells) and pretense at simplicity that's now basically core (spell points) to bring the character concept into play. 5e "Vancian" casting as used by wizards is more like 3.5 Psionics than classic Gygaxo-Vancian.

That said I'd far rather a GURPS psionic character who gets to Just Do Stuff - TK has set limits and so does Telepathy but there's no slot or serious fatigue system.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
"Need" is a strong word. I'm content to keep multiclassing as an optional rule, and let the DM to decide if it's appropriate for their unique blend of campaign, playstyle, and players.

If/when the DM does decide to use it, I would like it to be done quite differently. Instead of "dip a level of this and a level of that," I'd really like to have a rules framework that lets us combine two different classes into a single, 20-level class.
 
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My thoughts on multiclassing are complicated.

On the one hand, I don't really care for 3e style multiclassing (and by extension, 5e style multiclassing). 3e multiclassing is usually a way to mechanically optimize for power builds, and I don't care to play that way most of the time. I discourage multiclassing, but I'm not sure I've ever forbidden it. In my current campaign our rogue eventually took a single level of sorcerer, though I think she might be considering re-training it away.

On the other hand, I really love the concept of 1e/2e multiclassing. For those not familiar with it, you pick 2 or 3 classes and you advance in each simultaneously. Which classes were available were restricted by race (humans couldn't even do this--they had a different option), and combinations were restricted such that you couldn't have more than one from each group (warrior/rogue/priest/wizard). You split your XP between the classes, added together your class features, and took the best attack rolls and saving throws for each class. You got half (or a third with three classes) hit points from each class.

The way the advancement tables worked, splitting your XP in half generally put you 1 or 2 levels behind a single class character. So (as a made up example), a single class fighter might be level 8, while a multi-class character could be a fighter 7/magic-user 6. The levels would often be different because each class had it's own XP table. But, due to being a lower level, you'd always be behind single class characters (of the same classes) in total hit points. Their were limits to the maximum levels you could obtain, but those inherent to your race, not to the multiclassing system. 2e has optional rules for increasing those limits, and apparently it was a pretty common house rule to just ditch that annoying rule and give humans +10% XP to compensate, since non-humans started the game with advantages that the max level limits were intended to balance.

Now, I really, really do not like the way they balanced classes (including multiclassing) by having them advance at different rates. But I loved the concept of AD&D multi-classing, and what you could do with it. The idea was that you were following two paths at once. There really wasn't a lot you could to blend them together and synergize, other than having a warrior cast some buffs on themselves, but you could do multiple things--and do them at a high level of proficiency. For instance, you could cast high level wizard spells and high level cleric spells--something that just isn't possible with the 3e/5e style multiclassing.

I attempted to come up with rules to enable the same sort of conceptual multiclassing using mechanics I liked better multiple times in the early 5e days. I wasn't satisfied with the results of any of my attempts.

What I eventually realized, is that the vast majority of classic multiclassing combinations don't need rules to accomplish in 5e. To be a fighter/cleric, you just play a War domain cleric. To be an anything/rogue, you just take thieves' tools, the right skills from your background choices, and maybe grab a feat to give yourself Expertise with something. To be a cleric/wizard, take Arcana domain, pick up Magic Initiate: Wizard, Ritual Caster: Wizard, and call it good enough.

The main one you really couldn't do that I wanted to do was fighter/mage. There is nothing that fully satisfied that itch for me. Eldritch Knight has very limited spellcasting. If I can't reach at least 7th level spells, I'm not feeling it. Bladesinger is a better attempt, but their weapons and armor are way too limited, and they start off as nothing more than a regular wizard at 1st level.

How I eventually handled it, once I realized that fighter/mage is the only one that really needed help, was to make my own class. I ended up using Valor Bard and Bladesinger as the points of balance (there were spreadsheets involved), and it ended up as a full caster (meaning it got the wizard spellcasting advancement) with d8 hit points, all martial weapons, medium armor, and a few special abilities that were weaker versions of what fighters and wizards got.

So basically, I do think multiclassing in concept is needed to represent classic D&D tropes that I want in my game, but I don't particularly like the 3e/5e style multiclassing, I think there are enough options in 5e to enable most classic tropes without multiclassing, and I made a class to represent the one I couldn't.
 

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
I personally hate the 3E style multi-classing. It encourages 1-2 level dips, rather than true multiple classes. I'd much rather see the multiclass archetypes be done via subclasses.

Girl Why Dont We Have Both GIF
 

Raiztt

Adventurer
We go to three classes: Warrior, Mage, and Adept and then have enough options/mechanics that people can construct whatever they want. Would not be popular because this is the exact opposite of the 5e design ethos.
 

Horwath

Legend
multiclassing is nice but it has problems.

1. It works best with 1-2 level dips, that I hate.
2. It should be an even split of levels between 2 classes, that in 99% of cases sucks completely. 6+6 fighter wizard is terrible comparing it to 12th level wizard or 12th level fighter.

so what can be done about it?

My solution is a version of dualclassing that gives more total class levels than character levels(proficiency, number of HDs and HPs still stay at character level).
You just gain extra "class feature" level at levels 5,8,11,14,17 and 20:

Dual classing 5E.jpg


With one exception, no dual classing of two full casters.
 

iclassing is nice but it has problems.

1. It works best with 1-2 level dips, that I hate.
2. It should be an even split of levels between 2 classes, that in 99% of cases sucks completely. 6+6 fighter wizard is terrible comparing it to 12th level wizard or 12th level fighter.

so what can be done about it?

My solution is a version of dualclassing that gives more total class levels than character levels(proficiency, number of HDs and HPs still stay at character level).
You just gain extra "class feature" level at levels 5,8,11,14,17 and 20:

View attachment 287602

With one exception, no dual classing of two full casters.

multiclassing is nice but it has problems.

1. It works best with 1-2 level dips, that I hate.
2. It should be an even split of levels between 2 classes, that in 99% of cases sucks completely. 6+6 fighter wizard is terrible comparing it to 12th level wizard or 12th level fighter.

so what can be done about it?

My solution is a version of dualclassing that gives more total class levels than character levels(proficiency, number of HDs and HPs still stay at character level).
You just gain extra "class feature" level at levels 5,8,11,14,17 and 20:

View attachment 287602

With one exception, no dual classing of two full casters.
That's similar to one category of my many attempts. I think the balance is fairly good, but after I came up with it I realized what I didn't like about it was it still left characters further behind in their class features for most of their career than was satisfying to me (based on my AD&D multiclassing preferences). Being able to cast 7th level spells at 20th level was alright, but not being able to cast 3rd level spells until 8th level wasn't very satisfying to me.
 

multiclassing is nice but it has problems.

1. It works best with 1-2 level dips, that I hate.
2. It should be an even split of levels between 2 classes, that in 99% of cases sucks completely. 6+6 fighter wizard is terrible comparing it to 12th level wizard or 12th level fighter.

so what can be done about it?

My solution is a version of dualclassing that gives more total class levels than character levels(proficiency, number of HDs and HPs still stay at character level).
You just gain extra "class feature" level at levels 5,8,11,14,17 and 20:

View attachment 287602

With one exception, no dual classing of two full casters.
Both versions have their place.

Your version is also close to my own Idea. Split your xp by 2 and just progress as both classes. Simultaneously. Not as smoothly as yours but also workable.
 

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