D&D 5E Fluff & Rule, Lore & Crunch. The Interplay of Class, System, and Color in D&D

Classes, what do you think?

  • 1. Classes are designed to reflect both a certain set of rules as well as lore.

    Votes: 63 63.6%
  • 2. Classes are designed to reflect a certain set of rules, but all lore is optional.

    Votes: 26 26.3%
  • 3. I have some opinion not adequately portrayed in the two options and I will put in the comments.

    Votes: 7 7.1%
  • 4. I have no idea what this poll is about, even after reading the initial post.

    Votes: 3 3.0%


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I once had an arguement with my wife because I wanted to make a barroom brawler character using the monk rules (there was no better official option for the concept at the time). Her stance was that if you chose a class, you had to take the lore pre-conceptions that came along with it, and to do otherwise was disingenuous. I didn't and don't agree, but I can see her point, and there's nothing wrong with playing the game as intended. In fact, it's that tension to follow the book that has led to a proliferation of subclasses, so that different character concepts are supported by both lore and crunch.
 

Scribe

Hero
For me that reason is because the 5e SRD is so limited in material and options. I played out of the SRD through all of 3.0., 3.5, and Pathfinder 1e. The 4e "SRD" was even worse.
Interesting, to me I just enjoy that shared world experience. I enjoy that there is a framework, a cosmology, a world, that others also experience.

Breaking it down to just the nuts and bolts is too dry for me.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I once had an arguement with my wife because I wanted to make a barroom brawler character using the monk rules (there was no better official option for the concept at the time). Her stance was that if you chose a class, you had to take the lore pre-conceptions that came along with it, and to do otherwise was disingenuous. I didn't and don't agree, but I can see her point, and there's nothing wrong with playing the game as intended. In fact, it's that tension to follow the book that has led to a proliferation of subclasses, so that different character concepts are supported by both lore and crunch.

....and I lost. Most stories that start like that can be condensed. :)
 


TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Since then, you have the same issue. You have to include the lore-light core classes (such as Fighter, Wizard) and if you want some continuity, you also have to make a place for the other classes that mostly exist because of some tie-in to traditional lore.
Oh, I agree that evolutionary history is the reason for the classes as they are, that just doesn't make me like it any more. :)

It's like how I'm sure there's a good evolutionary reason for a platypus to be an egg-laying, duck-billed mammal; that doesn't change that it's a stupid, stupid animal.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Very heavily lore dependent.

Why do burglars have the ability to use spell scrolls? It might have to do with the Gray Mouser doing so in one of his stories.

While Gygax loved the Lieber stories, I think that it was largely based on the Switzer design, with some Vance (Cugel) and Zelazny (Jack of Shadows) mixed in.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Oh, I agree that evolutionary history is the reason for the classes as they are, that just doesn't make me like it any more. :)

It's like how I'm sure there's a good evolutionary reason for a platypus to be an egg-laying, duck-billed mammal; that doesn't change that it's a stupid, stupid animal.

Hence the well-earned nickname for the Platypus, "The Bard of the Animal Kingdom."
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
That is very funny (and completely true), but I still think the tension between those ideas is worth exploring.
I concur. I think those of us who run homebrew settings--even if they're intentionally kitchen-sinky--perhaps play with that tension, as we twist the lore to fit our visions. I'm not so strict as your wife is on insisting that a player fit their character to fit the lore of the class that's a mechanical best fit, but I do (at least mostly) expect, e.g., monks to have learned how to do what they do, somehow, and paladins to have an oath that defines the shape of their priorities.
 

Voadam

Legend
Interesting, to me I just enjoy that shared world experience. I enjoy that there is a framework, a cosmology, a world, that others also experience.

Breaking it down to just the nuts and bolts is too dry for me.
Going by the books that is still going to be campaign specific.

Forgotten Realms has different gods, cosmology, and world than Eberron.

It has been varied campaign to campaign since the beginning.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Oh, I agree that evolutionary history is the reason for the classes as they are, that just doesn't make me like it any more. :)

It's like how I'm sure there's a good evolutionary reason for a platypus to be an egg-laying, duck-billed mammal; that doesn't change that it's a stupid, stupid animal.
I would probably describe the platypus more as "nonsensical" or maybe "surreal" than "stupid," but that doesn't exactly negate your point (and it's not intended to).
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Going by the books that is still going to be campaign specific.

Forgotten Realms has different gods, cosmology, and world than Eberron.

It has been varied campaign to campaign since the beginning.
Well, that sort of depends on how far out you scale the meta-cosmology. Remember how, in 3E, the Forgotten Realms was given its own cosmology, removing it from the Great Wheel it had been a part of prior to that? Then the Player's Guide to Faerun (affiliate link) comes along and very quietly mentions that you can get to the Great Wheel cosmology via the Shadow Plane.

Nothing was ever done like that for Eberron that I'm aware of, but it's not hard to imagine something similar.
 


prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Full disclosure: very few of my posts are serious. :). Unless I make a brilliant point, then I totally meant it.
No worries. I appreciate the weirdness of the platypus (and the underrated weirdness of the echidna, for that matter) but I was mostly nitpicking word choice, because it's what I do. 😉

FWIW, I don't disagree that the classes are kinda a mess, and that trying to accommodate legacy (both in terms of having strong lore, and in terms of not) is probably at the heart of why. I'm not motivated to do much about it in my games, but I see it.
 


Voadam

Legend
Well, that sort of depends on how far out you scale the meta-cosmology. Remember how, in 3E, the Forgotten Realms was given its own cosmology, removing it from the Great Wheel it had been a part of prior to that? Then the Player's Guide to Faerun (affiliate link) comes along and very quietly mentions that you can get to the Great Wheel cosmology via the Shadow Plane.

Nothing was ever done like that for Eberron that I'm aware of, but it's not hard to imagine something similar.
I have not read the Player's Guide stuff but these setting and cosmology connections have changed throughout D&D's history whether different worlds are on the same plane, alternate prime material planes, linked up by the Great Wheel, on the same material plane and linked by Spelljammer, alternate cosmology entirely, alternate cosmology but linked up to the normal one, alternate cosmology but not really known so they might be different ways of seeing the same thing.

Sounds like campaign specific choices that will vary. :)

Generally if you say you want to play a cleric of X god in D&D, X god's availability as an option will vary from campaign to campaign.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen
Very heavily lore dependent.

Why do burglars have the ability to use spell scrolls? It might have to do with the Gray Mouser doing so in one of his stories.
The Grey Mouser, and the fact that Thieves can screw up those spells the Grey Mouser and Cugel the Clever.


 

Scribe

Hero
Going by the books that is still going to be campaign specific.

Forgotten Realms has different gods, cosmology, and world than Eberron.

It has been varied campaign to campaign since the beginning.
Oh for sure, but those settings still are global, it's still something shared.
 


For what it's worth, not all "rangers" (the profession) are Rangers (the class) nor are all Rangers "rangers", but MOST Rangers ARE "rangers" and vice versa.
Honestly, this encapsulates my feeling on the matter. Classes must have mechanics, and should have lore*, but for a specific character concept the lore may be changed (or pasted onto a different class).

* a class can offload its lore to its subclass, the way fighters usually do. But one or the other should carry that load, or you can wind up with characters with no lore behind them, who therefore don't fit into the world. This is also a risk of multiclassing: you can make a build so divorced from the world that the resulting character isn't really a character so much as a meeple. That is less fun.
 

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