D&D 5E Homebrew Super Simple Class: The Prodigy

Undrave

Hero
We had a brief talk over the "What is Balance?" thread about a replacement class for the Champion. A designated simple class for newbies and those who don't want to go too deep into the mechanics, but that wouldn't mean saddling the Fighter archetype with that role.

Here is my proposal, live from Homebrewery: the Prodigy!

The ethos is to make as many thing as possible a passive ability while still leaving just enough customization for a player to engage with the game. It has the same ASIs as the Fighter so you could even go and add feats if you felt daring. Most of the class feature are repeating ones (like Expertise for the Rogue or Extra Attack for the Fighter) so the class occupies a very small page count.

It's probably widely unbalanced as it is but this is really just a first try. What do you guys think of the concept? It does a lot but nothing particularly impressively. It's mostly big numbers.
 

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CreamCloud0

Explorer
Personally if i was making a hyper customisable simple class i think i would make instead of fighter, a bard-lite style class with warlock style (you know X number of spells, casting them Y level Z times a day) casting

The addition of a ‘talent of magic’ choice for those who want to be specialising in that, a known spells half caster+cantrips and a decent spread spell list from across all areas, healing buffing damage utility ect...

Heavy armour is probably fine but id rather only give them simple weapons and four martial weapon proficiencies to pick for themselves, I might drop the d12 hit die to a d10 but that’s me

I’d give them the bards(?) half proficiency on untrained skills, any handful of skills and three expertise trained skills

These additions have probably made it less simple and more of a jack of all trades for newbies to dip their toes into everything to see what they want to focus on
 
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Undrave

Hero
One thing to note is that the class is not intended to work with multi classing. I forgot to mention it in my OP.

Also, I worry Talent of Skill and Talent of Speed do not stack up to the other two. What does everybody think?

Personally if i was making a hyper customisable simple class i think i would make instead of fighter, a bard-lite style class with warlock style (you know X number of spells, casting them Y level Z times a day) casting

The addition of a ‘talent of magic’ choice for those who want to be specialising in that, a known spells half caster+cantrips and a decent spread spell list from across all areas, healing buffing damage utility ect...

Heavy armour is probably fine but id rather only give them simple weapons and four martial weapon proficiencies to pick for themselves, I might drop the d12 hit die to a d10 but that’s me

I’d give them the bards(?) half proficiency on untrained skills, any handful of skills and three expertise trained skills

These additions have probably made it less simple and more of a jack of all trades for newbies to dip their toes into everything to see what they want to focus on
I actually considered a Talent of Magic (and a Talent of Inspiration that would be Leader-like) but I felt it would have required too much text to properly set up and I already don’t like the way Magic become such a centralizing feature of the game. I also wanted to make so by the end of a 20-level path, your character ends up with all the talents and so I didn't want to add too many to not bog down the progression. Making the Talent of Magic scale properly would have added even more text AND probably introduce resource tracking if I didn't limit it to Cantrips.

I also wasn’t sure what casting stats to give them (I considered CON, btw)

I think I would rather try to create a separate simple magical class instead. Plus, it felt like adding magic would make it feel too much like a buff Bard or a discount Sorcerer. I didn't want to step on the toes of other classes too much, considering I'm already aping the Fighter's progression.
A class for newbie that would be appealing to experimented players, a hard challenge.
More than anything, I didn't want the class to seem like an insult to play it. It had to have its own feel and be seen as strong as other classes even if it didn't have all the bells and whistles, and just enough choices (i.e. skills, tools, ASI and then the order you get the talents) to make it feel like the character was yours. And if you play it long enough you might be enticed to try out a feat or two. Like if rice pudding was a class, ya know? Pleasantly plain, but you can add some maple syrup or honey for an extra kick.
I like it. I'd probably take Spell Sniper and pick up Fire Bolt, so I could be a firestarter, a twisted firestarter.
Thanks. A human prodigy could totally pick up a magic giving Feat or pick it up at level 4.
 
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A designated simple class for newbies and those who don't want to go too deep into the mechanics, but that wouldn't mean saddling the Fighter archetype with that role.
I mean, the key problem here is that newbies don't like classes for newbies.

This is true across literally all games - video, board, tabletop.

You tell new players X is the "newbie" class, I guarantee you 90% of new players will not willingly pick that class. It's not even perversity at this point - it's experience - stuff "for newbies" sucks like a nuclear vacuum-cleaner in 99% of games.

If you want to make a class appeal to newbies, just give it things newbies like. Specifically if you give it:

1) An animal companion or familiar from level 1.

2) Magic and fighting. Doesn't have to be actual D&D spell-spells, but like some cantrips and stuff? Especially combat ones.

3) Style/a cool name.

4) Not heavy armour, because trust me, no-one but experienced players thinks heavy armour is cool, or rather if they did, they wouldn't be playing "newbie class", they'd be all over Fighter/Paladin.

Then it'll basically cause newbies to flock to it.

Your class whilst decently well-designed, is like, the polar opposite of what "newbies" are likely to want to play. So even if you break out the old reverse-psychology and try to trick newbies into playing by saying it's "powerful" and stuff, they're going to go "nah" to this one.
 

Undrave

Hero
I mean, the key problem here is that newbies don't like classes for newbies.

This is true across literally all games - video, board, tabletop.

You tell new players X is the "newbie" class, I guarantee you 90% of new players will not willingly pick that class. It's not even perversity at this point - it's experience - stuff "for newbies" sucks like a nuclear vacuum-cleaner in 99% of games.

If you want to make a class appeal to newbies, just give it things newbies like. Specifically if you give it:

1) An animal companion or familiar from level 1.

2) Magic and fighting. Doesn't have to be actual D&D spell-spells, but like some cantrips and stuff? Especially combat ones.

3) Style/a cool name.

4) Not heavy armour, because trust me, no-one but experienced players thinks heavy armour is cool, or rather if they did, they wouldn't be playing "newbie class", they'd be all over Fighter/Paladin.

Then it'll basically cause newbies to flock to it.

Your class whilst decently well-designed, is like, the polar opposite of what "newbies" are likely to want to play. So even if you break out the old reverse-psychology and try to trick newbies into playing by saying it's "powerful" and stuff, they're going to go "nah" to this one.
Thank you for the perspective!

If newbies don't like heavy armor and like magical stuff, why is the Champion the designated newbie class and apparently popular?

As a general rule I REALLY don't like animal companions though :p they kinda tend to break the game in one way or another and they are complicated.

I'll consider a Talent of Magic that hands out cantrips then.
 

If newbies don't like heavy armor and like magical stuff, why is the Champion the designated newbie class and apparently popular?
It's not popular with newbies though!

It's popular with ancient D&D-playing dudes in their 30s and 40s who just have a beer and chill whilst they play.

This is was discussed at some length in another thread. Personally I've introduced a number of new people to D&D in 5E, and none of them have expressed the slightest interest in Champion. It's got zero distinctiveness, it doesn't have any pop-culture equivalent, and if you tell people it's simple, and for newbies, they don't want that (also, frankly, it's not meaningfully easier to play than say, a Warlock). Even the boringest most man's man vanilla "straight white guy" man I ever played with, who likes soccer, cars, holidays in Spain, the suburbs and so on, and had never played an RPG before didn't pick a Fighter, he went straight for Spellblade or whatever it was called in 4E. And in my experience most new players circle around Ranger (so many Rangers), Druid, Warlock, Bard, and a few others. Wizard if they really like Harry Potter.

Going back to 2/3/4E I likewise saw (and the thread agreed on this) pretty much zero new players wanting to be "Basic Fighters" or the like.
As a general rule I REALLY don't like animal companions though :p they kinda tend to break the game in one way or another and they are complicated.
Sure, and that's a valid concern but newbies love them. If there is a class with "pet animal" as a feature, newbies from around the world will flock to that class. It's not even a Pokemon thing, it like waaaaay predates that.

Personally I'd say just give them a familiar that does basically nothing mechanically and most of them will be happy. Just don't make it easy to kill.

Re: Talent of magic, if they don't get 'em level one, they ain't going to pick that class, because other classes do get them level 1. Just telling ya.
 
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Undrave

Hero
It's not popular with newbies though!

It's popular with ancient D&D-playing dudes in their 30s and 40s who just have a beer and chill whilst they play.

This is was discussed at some length in another thread. Personally I've introduced a number of new people to D&D in 5E, and none of them have expressed the slightest interest in Champion. It's got zero distinctiveness, it doesn't have any pop-culture equivalent, and if you tell people it's simple, and for newbies, they don't want that (also, frankly, it's not meaningfully easier to play than say, a Warlock). Even the boringest most man's man vanilla "straight white guy" man I ever played with, who likes soccer, cars, holidays in Spain, the suburbs and so on, and had never played an RPG before didn't pick a Fighter, he went straight for Spellblade or whatever it was called in 4E. And in my experience most new players circle around Ranger (so many Rangers), Druid, Warlock, Bard, and a few others. Wizard if they really like Harry Potter.

Going back to 2/3/4E I likewise saw (and the thread agreed on this) pretty much zero new players wanting to be "Basic Fighters" or the like.

Sure, and that's a valid concern but newbies love them. If there is a class with "pet animal" as a feature, newbies from around the world will flock to that class. It's not even a Pokemon thing, it like waaaaay predates that.

Personally I'd say just give them a familiar that does basically nothing mechanically and most of them will be happy. Just don't make it easy to kill.

Re: Talent of magic, if they don't get 'em level one, they ain't going to pick that class, because other classes do get them level 1. Just telling ya.

Well I created the Prodigy to fulfill the niche of the Champion without weighting down the Fighter (do you think it fulfills that?)

But you make some good points in regard to the Newbie and I think I'll see about mixing your perspective with my simple magical class concept!

Do you think the animal companion needs to be at level 1 or would level 2 work? Thinking it could be a refluffed Mage Hand that can give you help on a specific skill.
 

Well I created the Prodigy to fulfill the niche of the Champion without weighting down the Fighter (do you think it fulfills that?)

But you make some good points in regard to the Newbie and I think I'll see about mixing your perspective with my simple magical class concept!

Do you think the animal companion needs to be at level 1 or would level 2 work? Thinking it could be a refluffed Mage Hand that can give you help on a specific skill.
Yeah that's a good question re: level, I think part of it is that people love thinking about it, so if there's a way to make it level 1, then make it level 1, because so many heroes in books etc. have or acquire an animal companion very early on, but 5E is reluctant to frontload (which I think also influences which classes newbies pick, because some newbies will assess the entire class and act like they're going to get to 20, and others will see the L1 stuff as all they're ever getting, I think that's psychology and I see no easy fix for it). In terms of mechanics that doesn't sound bad.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
Are we absolutely certain new players will be able to add 1 to their AC or damage rolls?

Also, Prodigious Talent has four options. Four! We might melt their tiny little brains. We all know people who have yet to play D&D can't handle making character choices.

That aside, it's a pretty decent class chassis and could be very versatile with subclasses.
 

Undrave

Hero
Are we absolutely certain new players will be able to add 1 to their AC or damage rolls?

Also, Prodigious Talent has four options. Four! We might melt their tiny little brains. We all know people who have yet to play D&D can't handle making character choices.

That aside, it's a pretty decent class chassis and could be very versatile with subclasses.
Four is less than the number of fighting styles you can pick for the Champion :p

I didn't build it for subclasses though.
 

Quartz

Hero
Here is my proposal, live from Homebrewery: the Prodigy!

Interesting. My initial thought is that either you mandate no feats or that the capstone becomes all stats are treated as 20 for saves and defensive skill rolls. As is, imagine the difference in power between two level 20 PCs of this class (perhaps generated for a L20 one-off) one having taken all feats and the other having taken all ASIs.

And you need something at level 1.

If newbies don't like heavy armor and like magical stuff, why is the Champion the designated newbie class and apparently popular?

It's a great class for your second PC when you're playing more than one PC.
 

I'm going to second @Ruin Explorer explorer and say a pet class will actually attract newbies better than a "simple" class. Pets can be complicated, (two whole stat blocks) but they also eat up all of your power budget and design space so there's no need to add much else. You get a cool pet and either weapon proficiency or magical zap. You need to make two attacks per turn, but each half of the character has only one main option so that's not too hard - just pick your target.

Note that if you don't use monster stat blocks, pets aren't hard to manage. Look at how 13th Age or PF2 handles them.

I would say a feature for getting clever with your attacks would be good, because I see a lot of new players who don't want to do basic attacks but also don't want to parse a list of pre-defined special attacks. They want to do something creative in the moment. A feature that says "if you use the environment, you get bonus damage dice" would probably help.

As for the actual prodigy class - because of all that, I'm not really sure who it's for. It's balanced enough that if a player wanted to use it I'd certainly let them. I would also want to see a magical zap -based option.
 

The only first level benefit that no other class gets is an extra saving throw. That doesn't fit the rule set, nor any fiction I've encountered.
 

Undrave

Hero
Interesting. My initial thought is that either you mandate no feats or that the capstone becomes all stats are treated as 20 for saves and defensive skill rolls. As is, imagine the difference in power between two level 20 PCs of this class (perhaps generated for a L20 one-off) one having taken all feats and the other having taken all ASIs.
Well I didn't design it to be playable with optional rules, so I'd say no multiclassing and no feats as a default.
And you need something at level 1.
the class gets d12 HP, every armor, every weapons, free choices on skill and proficiencies AND they get 3 saving throws instead of just two. That felt like plenty of stuff to get at level 1 and plenty of things to choose from
The only first level benefit that no other class gets is an extra saving throw. That doesn't fit the rule set, nor any fiction I've encountered.
I mean, saving throws are hardly mentionned in fiction. What's wrong with a new class getting a new benefit?

As for the actual prodigy class - because of all that, I'm not really sure who it's for. It's balanced enough that if a player wanted to use it I'd certainly let them. I would also want to see a magical zap -based option.
I guess it's for anybody who would want to play the Champion? As for a Magical option... hmm...

Talent of Magic: You learn the Light cantrip, if you don't already know it, and one Cantrip of your choice between Acid Spray, Fire Bolt, Ray of Frost, or Shocking Grasp. Constitution is your spellcasting ablity. You can select this talent multiple times, chosing a different cantrip each time.

How's that? A little magical flavor in basic elemental types.

I'm going to second @Ruin Explorer explorer and say a pet class will actually attract newbies better than a "simple" class. Pets can be complicated, (two whole stat blocks) but they also eat up all of your power budget and design space so there's no need to add much else. You get a cool pet and either weapon proficiency or magical zap. You need to make two attacks per turn, but each half of the character has only one main option so that's not too hard - just pick your target.

Pet classes are maybe out of my range of competence :p

I would say a feature for getting clever with your attacks would be good, because I see a lot of new players who don't want to do basic attacks but also don't want to parse a list of pre-defined special attacks. They want to do something creative in the moment. A feature that says "if you use the environment, you get bonus damage dice" would probably help.
Hmm... what would that even look like though? I'm not a big fan of 'just figure it out yourself' rules, so I'd like have some base ideas. Maybe bonuses like 'if you attack from higher ground you inflict 1d6 extra damage, 'if you attack while your have cover you inflict 1d4 extra damage', and 'you have a +2 bonus to shove attempts and grapple checks' that sort of things?
 

I mean, saving throws are hardly mentionned in fiction. What's wrong with a new class getting a new benefit?
I don't mind the additional saving throw. It's just not something I connect to a Prodigy.

It's also weak. The rest of the base class is a Barbarian without Rage or Unarmored Defense
 

Undrave

Hero
Are we absolutely certain new players will be able to add 1 to their AC or damage rolls?

Also, Prodigious Talent has four options. Four! We might melt their tiny little brains. We all know people who have yet to play D&D can't handle making character choices.
I've made it even more complicated now: SIX choices! Also changed the progression a little. I'm trying to come up with something for level 2.
Interesting. My initial thought is that either you mandate no feats or that the capstone becomes all stats are treated as 20 for saves and defensive skill rolls. As is, imagine the difference in power between two level 20 PCs of this class (perhaps generated for a L20 one-off) one having taken all feats and the other having taken all ASIs.

And you need something at level 1.
I've reworked the capstone to be a blanket +2 instead of a buff directly to 20, leaving you room to play with feats. I've also moved the talent pick to level 1 and I'm trying to figure out something for level 2. I'm hesitating between the 'bonus to improvised action' suggestion or a ribbon that gives you extra languages (took those out of Talent of Skills).
As for the actual prodigy class - because of all that, I'm not really sure who it's for. It's balanced enough that if a player wanted to use it I'd certainly let them. I would also want to see a magical zap -based option.
I've added the Magical Option, it gives out Light, Mage Hand and an attack cantrip... I decided not to include Acid Splash as an option but maybe I should? Or Poison Spray? Now I need something for level 2.
The only first level benefit that no other class gets is an extra saving throw. That doesn't fit the rule set, nor any fiction I've encountered.
I moved the talents pick to level 1. Might cut the extra saving throw?
 

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