D&D 5E Dual-classing house rules?

Quickleaf

Legend
I found one hole (well at least one) in my 5e house rules, and that is I'd like to offer dual-classing as an option in some way.

Brief context: Dual-classing comes from AD&D iirc, in which you would be able to switch back and forth between two classes as you leveled, with some limitations on what you could do. The modern multi-classing system actually more closely resembles what was called "dual-classing" back then. Whereas back in AD&D, "multi-classing" was more like knitting together two classes into one.

Anyhow, what I want to do is a little of column A and a little of column B in order to give players more freedom to knit together two classes. I'm curious how (whether) you've incorporated this in your games?

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Here's the rough draft I'm considering adapting dual-classing as a feat...

Dual-Classed (feat)
Prerequisite:
Must be taken at 1st level, and must meet the multi-classing prerequisites for both classes

Choose two classes. Dual-classing allows you to knit these classes together in unique ways. At 1st level and each level thereafter, choose whether to take the class features (and Hit Dice) from class A or class B.

The exception are chart progression features (spells, Sneak Attack), which progress sequentially using that class’ chart. In the case of two spellcasting classes, use the multiclassing rules (i.e. universal spell slots).

For example, say you want to play a Rogue/Wizard dual-class character, and you're at 8th character level. You must have Dex 13+ and Int 13+. You might select Rogue for levels 1, 3, and 5 (3d8 hit points, Dex/Int saves, Rogue proficiencies, Expertise, Sneak Attack 2d6 as a 3rd level rogue, Thieves’ Cant, Roguish Archetype, Uncanny Dodge), while you select Wizard for levels 2, 4, 6, 7, and 8 (5d6 hit points, Spellcasting as a 5th level wizard, Arcane Tradition, 6th level Arcane Tradition feature, and two Ability Score Improvements).

If you are dual-classed, you can no longer multiclass.
 

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ezo

Hero
Dual-classing in AD&D was you start in one class, then become another--returning to level 1 in all but hit points). You can never progress further in your original class.
Once your new class's level exceeds your first, you NOW gain additional HD and hp according to the new class.
Furthermore, until your new class level exceeds the prior class's level, you cannot use your prior class's features without being penalized in your experience gained.

There was a bit more to it, but those were the highlights.

Example:
You play a fighter, reaching 5th level (extra attack, baby!!). You then dual-class to Rogue, becoming a 1st-level rogue in all respects, however you keep your 5d10 HD and your hit points.

Now, until you reach 6th-level rogue (exceeding 5th level in fighter), you do NOT gain additional HD or hit points from your rogue levels. But you gain everything else the rogue class offers.

If during an adventure, you resort to a fighter-granted feature, such as action surge, you gain NO experience for that encounter, and only half for the adventure (or session, which was more commonly enforced).

When you reach 6th level rogue, you gain the d8 HD and roll for additional hit points. You can now freely mix fighter and rogue features without penalty.

However, you can never advance your fighter class. You are forever a 5th level fighter.

What you have is a variation on multiclassing from 5E, really. FWIW, when I first started 5E our DM did a "dual-class" variant like yours, but it was really just multiclassing.

I'm curious how (whether) you've incorporated this in your games?

What we did was this:

You have your Character Level, determined by your XP. Your character level determines your proficiency bonus and you gain ASIs at 4th, 8th, 12th, etc. levels.

You choose two classes: for example fighter/rogue. You divide your experience evenly between BOTH classes, And gain features for both classes at their divided xp level. Spell slots, spells known, etc. track for each class separately.

Choose which proficiencies you gain, for each category individually.
Your HD equals the lower of the two, if they differ, but you gain a +1 bonus to the roll when determining hp.

You want to play a Fighter/Rogue:
You choose Armor and Weapons from Fighter, but Tools, Saving Throws, and Skills from Rogue.
Your HD are d8, but when you roll you get to roll d8+1 for each level. When you rest, you roll just the d8 to recover hp.

Let's say you are 8th Character Level (with 34,000 xp). Divided in half, you have 17,000 xp for each class, making you 6th-level in each. You gain all class features for both classes up to 6th level except ASIs (which are determined by character level). The "bonus" ASI's fighters and rogues get are gained by the class, however.
Your hit points would be determined by rolling 6d8+6, plus any Con bonus.

Now, all this creates very powerful PCs, simply due to the synergy between classes that can exist. It might seem a bit confusing, but it really wasn't hard to track.

Another Option:

We've explored is taking a second class as your subclass. Instead of choosing your subclass at the appropriate level, you gain the features of a level in a different class.

For example:

A Cleric takes Fighter as their subclass. At 1st-level, the PC gains a fighting style and second wind due to choosing Fighter as the subclass. This means the PC doesn't have a "domain spell list" or additional features for channel divinity.

When the Cleric reaches 6th (their tier 2 feature), the gain the features for Fighter 2nd-level, which is action surge.

And so on...
 

TwoSix

Dirty, realism-hating munchkin powergamer
Here's the rough draft I'm considering adapting dual-classing as a feat...

Dual-Classed (feat)
Prerequisite:
Must be taken at 1st level, and must meet the multi-classing prerequisites for both classes

Choose two classes. Dual-classing allows you to knit these classes together in unique ways. At 1st level and each level thereafter, choose whether to take the class features (and Hit Dice) from class A or class B.

The exception are chart progression features (spells, Sneak Attack), which progress sequentially using that class’ chart. In the case of two spellcasting classes, use the multiclassing rules (i.e. universal spell slots).

For example, say you want to play a Rogue/Wizard dual-class character, and you're at 8th character level. You must have Dex 13+ and Int 13+. You might select Rogue for levels 1, 3, and 5 (3d8 hit points, Dex/Int saves, Rogue proficiencies, Expertise, Sneak Attack 2d6 as a 3rd level rogue, Thieves’ Cant, Roguish Archetype, Uncanny Dodge), while you select Wizard for levels 2, 4, 6, 7, and 8 (5d6 hit points, Spellcasting as a 5th level wizard, Arcane Tradition, 6th level Arcane Tradition feature, and two Ability Score Improvements).

If you are dual-classed, you can no longer multiclass.
I have to admit, I'm a little unclear from the example. What differs between the above example character and a standard 5e rogue 3/wizard 5?
 

Irlo

Hero
I have to admit, I'm a little unclear from the example. What differs between the above example character and a standard 5e rogue 3/wizard 5?
In the dual-classed example, the character does not gain the rogue's 2nd level Cunning Action (because the character's 2nd level was taken as a wizard), but it does gain the wizard's 6th level Arcane Tradition feature (because the characters 6th level was taken as a wizard).
 


This would be oddly unbalanced based on when you got subclass features...

A fighter/artificer could get al the subclass features from both classes, but a fighter/paladin would have to choose each time. Given that some classes put more weight on subclasses than others, there's a lot of, shall we say swing in how powerful some combos will be, quite possibly without anyone's intention.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
@ezo Thanks for your examples. How did your group like those two approaches in comparison? Were players who wanted to dual-class (or whatever you called it) happier with the "new class as subclass" version?

@TwoSix Perhaps borrowing the dual-class terminology is confusing as really it's what ezo said – it's a very unique form of multiclassing specific to two classes where you cherry pick what you get at each level. Using my rough idea, here's the difference between a Rogue/Wizard dual-class PC (taking Rogue @ levels 1,3,5 & Wizard @ 2,4,6,7,8) and a Rogue 3/Wizard 5 PC using standard multiclass rules:

Character LevelDual-classMulticlass
1
ROGUE Expertise, Sneak Attack 1d6, Thieves Cant, Spellcasting (1st level spells)
Rogue 1 (Expertise, Sneak Attack 1d6, Thieves Cant)
2WIZARD Arcane Tradition, still 1st level spells (i.e. spellcasting as 2nd level wizard)Rogue 2 (Cunning Action)
3ROGUE Roguish ArchetypeWizard 1 (Arcane Recovery, Spellcasting 1st level spells)
4WIZARD Ability Score Improvement, 2nd level spells (i.e. spellcasting as 3rd level wizard)Wizard 2 (Arcane Tradition)
5ROGUE Uncanny Dodge, Sneak Attack 2d6Wizard 3 (2nd level spells)
6WIZARD Arcane Tradition feature, still 2nd level spells (i.e. spellcasting as 4th level wizard)Rogue 3 (Sneak Attack 2d6, Roguish Archetype)
7WIZARD 3rd level spells (i.e. spellcasting as 5th level wizard)Wizard 4 (Ability Score Improvement)
8WIZARD
Ability Score Improvement, still 3rd level spells (i.e. spellcasting as 6th level wizard)
Wizard 5 (3rd level spells)

EDIT: I was corrected here that I wasn't playing by my own rules including Spellcasting at 1st level - so treat this bit as an err or a prototype, not the "Way it Must Be."
So there's a lot of overlap, but the key differences – at least with this example – are that the dual-class PC gets Spellcasting right at 1st level, which is a definite power-up and helps feel like their character concept right out the gate. CONTEXT: This would be for a higher level game, so the imbalance at 1st level wouldn't be felt. But for more widespread application, that would be a balance concern.

However, the dual class PC misses out on both Cunning Action and Arcane Recovery.

OTOH, they pick up Uncanny Dodge and the 6th level Arcane Tradition feature, which this multiclass PC does not.
 
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TwoSix

Dirty, realism-hating munchkin powergamer
In the dual-classed example, the character does not gain the rogue's 2nd level Cunning Action (because the character's 2nd level was taken as a wizard), but it does gain the wizard's 6th level Arcane Tradition feature (because the characters 6th level was taken as a wizard).
Oh! OK, that's actually pretty interesting.

I mean, I can definitely see how it could be abused; a lot of classes have their big features at different level progressions. Some combinations could probably get their entire subclass progression for both classes, some others might have them completely overlap.
 


Clint_L

Hero
In the dual-classed example, the character does not gain the rogue's 2nd level Cunning Action (because the character's 2nd level was taken as a wizard), but it does gain the wizard's 6th level Arcane Tradition feature (because the characters 6th level was taken as a wizard).
Seems like just about everyone would want to just take fighter 2 and 5 for action surge and extra attack, then.

I dunno - this just seems like a way to make multi-class even more abusable.

Edit: or imagine a blade singer who could take 17 levels in wizard, plus fighter 5, 11, and 20 to get four attacks per action, along with their full slate of wizard spells. Unless I'm missing something.
 

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