D&D 5E How long are you willing to wait for a build to "turn on?"

Not in 5E...not yet, anyway. It hasn't happened since they got rid of stat prerequisites for classes (in BECM) and for certain prestige classes (in 3E).
that would do it.

Yeah I have not rolled since the end of 3.5, but back in 2e I had a string of "I want to play X, but rolled Y" and even in 3e when things were more relaxed I had some issues...

my go to example is both funny and NOT what you would expect though. I had an idea to play a nerdy little weak wizard/cleric (homebrew god mix of mystra and vecna) that was going for mystic theurge... all I wanted was 1 stat above 14 and not too many below 10 and I could do it... we rolled 4d6 drop lowest 6 times place where you want... I rolled 2 18's 3 16s and a 15... I still played a wiz/cle but boy was I buff and healthy and likeable now instead of pale sickly and weak like I imagined...
 

log in or register to remove this ad

I don't mean to sound snarky, but I make characters, not builds. A build comes only as the character evolves and gains experience, and I rarely have even a subclass in mind when I start play (except when that comes at first level, of course).
Come on man. We both know that a character and a build do not have to be mutually exclusive. I play "characters" too before I come up with concepts, and then I look at how to mechanically make those characters interesting. I don't settle on an exact build, but I also don't pretend like there aren't features or spells that I want to paly with that I think will be fun and effective.

Like, its 2022. Still taking the high horse you did is just tacky at this point.
 

Amrûnril

Adventurer
It's worth noting that this question can apply to single class characters as well. Plenty of iconic abilities that a player may regard as character defining don't show up until after a significant fraction of the game. Consider:

A Lore Bard can't choose their first magical secrets until level 6.
A Rogue gets Uncanny Dodge at level 5 and evasion at level 7.
A Paladin's aura of protection first appears at level 6.
A Druid can't change into a bird until level 8.

The key question, I'd argue isn't whether you have to wait for abilities- this is pretty much inevitable in a level-based game, even if you can quibble about some of the details. Instead, the question is whether the abilities you're working with in the mean time are engaging and effective. Multiclass builds require more effort to avoid falling short in this regard than single class builds, but they certainly can work well in these intermediate levels if you choose your distribution/order of levels with these stages of the game in mind.
 

beancounter

(I/Me/Mine)
When you create a build, wouldn't you be fully aware of when it should turn on? "This ability starts at 3rd level, and that ability stars at 5th level, at which time I'll be able to activate an incredible combo" etc.

I personally don't multiclass, as it feels like cheating and cheesy. It is essentially a way to gumball abilities that may have no relation to each other
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
Come on man. We both know that a character and a build do not have to be mutually exclusive. I play "characters" too before I come up with concepts, and then I look at how to mechanically make those characters interesting. I don't settle on an exact build, but I also don't pretend like there aren't features or spells that I want to paly with that I think will be fun and effective.

Like, its 2022. Still taking the high horse you did is just tacky at this point.
I don't think it's tacky at all. There's a difference at work here between making a character and making a build, particularly with how you look at them and the perspective you deploy. You can certainly do both and that works fine, but the idea that the Jester is getting at is that he's making a character that might happen to have a build when viewed through that perspective - but since it's a character first and foremost, because that's the perspective he's using, he's not going to be disappointed waiting for an anticipated build to come into full force.
 

the Jester

Legend
While i understand what you mean, making-a-character-not-built is a false dichotomy. One can make and play a character with an objective in mind or let it advance "organically" or, in most cases, somewhere in between. One character is not less valid than another.
Oh, I'm not passing judgment about the validity of planning your build all the way to level 20 before you start making your character. It's just not my style.

And obviously build vs. character is not a dichotomy. But you can absolutely have a character without a build, but except in terms of theorycrafting, not a build without a character.
 

the Jester

Legend
Same here. By the time I start rolling stats, my character is more or less "built" already. I've got the backstory written, the background, race, and class already selected, and I've probably already started working on the character sketch and mini over at HeroForge. I know their personality, my DM and I have already talked about where they came from, where they live, and whether or not they have any NPC friends/enemies/family in the world. Filling out the character sheet is my last step.
That's very different from how I do it. I roll stats in order, see what looks interesting, and add character traits, alignment, and the like as I go along with filling in the character sheet, depending on when inspiration strikes me. My newest pc, for instance, didn't get his ideal, bond, and flaw until after I chose his deity near the very end of the process.
 

I don't think it's tacky at all. There's a difference at work here between making a character and making a build, particularly with how you look at them and the perspective you deploy. You can certainly do both and that works fine, but the idea that the Jester is getting at is that he's making a character that might happen to have a build when viewed through that perspective - but since it's a character first and foremost, because that's the perspective he's using, he's not going to be disappointed waiting for an anticipated build to come into full force.
if I sit down wanting to play a wise old monk and find out monk is a prestige class you need to be 5th level to play, it doesn't matter what came first mechanic or story/character... if I have to fight as a fighter with a sword for 4 levels then at level 5 I get to attack unarmed... that is waiting 5 levels.

more realistic is someone wanting to play what I call a Gish (bladsinger, eldritch knight, swordmage and magus are all other names) if you have to play out being a fighter for 2 levels then take eldritch knight, or play a wizard that has no weapon prof then at level 2 can pick up the shortsword... those are still waiting.

now 3.5 had it the worst, but there always are and always will be ideas you have to jump through hoops to make
 


jgsugden

Legend
I'm in the camp that does not wait. If your build doesn't make sense throughout the entire life of the character, it shouldn't be played. We're not building abilities, we're building characters.

However, there are few builds that don't make sense throughout. You just need to make sure the PC's story aligns to the features.

I play something that looks like a monstrosity of multiclassing:

Glasya Tiefling Courtier Gloom Stalker 5, Cleric of Order 1, Divine Soul 5, Assassin 3, Battlemaster 3, Divine Soul 3 more.

She began as a bodyguard to a Tiefling negotiator that was tasked with dealing with the Underdark neighbors. That diplomat was slain, and she was expelled, forcing her to become a hunter / adventurer. She bought the company line that Asmodeus was the savior of all - as it is his leadership that prevents Demons from winning the Blood War - and Asmodeus does whatever is allowed, without ever breaking his word, to fight that war. As she progressed in power she embrces her dedication deeper - becoming a divine warrior of Asmodeus (Cleric of Order and Divine Soul). As she hit mid-levels she progressed further from her diplomatic side and more into her hunter side, so she enhanced her hunting/archery skills and focused on meting out the 'Justice' of Asmodeus. So, all of it is in service of the character concept: A (Un)Holy Hunter for Asmodeus. The evolution made sense for the story being told.
 

Level 3, because that's the latest you get your subclass. I might have an idea that requires a feat, but very few feats are actually necessary. If I want to do one that requires a feat, I'll do it out of variant human. Of course, most of my characters have very simple "builds," just a concept that I want to enjoy. What they do and how they act is more important to me than the mechanics on the sheet.
 

Stormonu

Legend
I'm not much for builds ("no plan survives intact with contact with the enemy" and all that), I moreso do character concepts and then make selections as close as I can to create it outright (latest was a Goliath Hexblade Noble who was a sort of mystic bounty hunter - started at level 3 to get Hexblade's pact boon). I generally don't forward-look to getting spells, abilities, items or class levels.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
If I can't at least simulate my concept at at the jump, there is a problem.

As for builds, I'm too lazy and not mechanically adept enough to build for combos and things, so it really is just concept. This n 5e means, I have to start at level 3 minimum, of course to clear the thinly disguised 0 levels.
 


That's just an example that is the farthest from my own style that I can think of. I'm just trying to say, "You go ahead and do your thing, even if it's not my thing."
in my experience (and every table is at least a little different) even most 'planers' don't plan to 20. I also have never met anyone who saw there plan 100% to the end. In 3e I had a player who used to plan his first 10 levels (feats, skill pts, ASI, spell choices) when making level 1 characters and would keep a spread sheet of it on his laptop. then every level he would go back and if he needed to change something would create a new tab, but also expand it to another level up... I asked him once what the least number of tabs (so variation from play) he ever had and he said in a game I wasn't in he made it to level 17 with only 3 tabs... in the game I was running at the time he was on tab 4 at 6th level.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Me personally, I'm also in the camp that comes up with my character completely separate from any mechanical expression. I usually do not care what the mechanics end up being and could take any number of different classes to express who the character is. And after selecting a class, how the character advances mechanically ends up just following how the character advances in the story. I never really go into any game thinking purely mechanical-- "I really want to make a heavy-weapon using character that can stop monsters from getting around me so that I can protect the squishies behind me". Instead, it's more something like "The DM has set up this protective organization in the starting town, so I'd like to be a young farmhand from outside the village who shows up on their doorstep to train because his parents have had issues with neighboring creatures coming in and stealing their animals". And none of that background specifically denotes any necessary class or any "moves" the farmhand can do... so I can pick and choose how it gets "built" later on. Usually after other players have chosen what they want to play and I can fill in a class for what we might want/need.

And thus there's no real time where the build "turns on"-- the character is the character from the get-go. And any mechanical bits that show up later are cool and all, but none of them are required or a part of the design.
 


payn

Legend
I saw a lot more of that in the 3e days, when everything had ten prerequisites. (Slight exaggeration included.)
Just slight! I do think the idea of build in 5E is nowhere near those levels. Though, PF1 is still my fave so cant say I dont miss it.
 

I want it all and I want it now...

I think the eldritch knight should get a fighting style that allows a little magic at level 1, like the ranger or paladin fighting style that grants 2 cantrips. Maybe only a single one but maybe a little extra feature on top.

Right now I fix it with varian human and some cantrip giving feat or a race that gives a cantrip by default.

I hope that the background feat catches on, so there will be a apprentice background that gives some spells. Or a soldier feat that maybe gives some weapon and some armor proficiency (which can also be retrained to a proper feat, once it gets redundand by multiclassing or so).

Until then, I think level 3 is the time where a "build" should come together eventually.
 

I saw a lot more of that in the 3e days, when everything had ten prerequisites. (Slight exaggeration included.)

Sadly it is no exeggaration... prestige classes werw such a neat concept, but because of the prerequisites (outside class levels) basically did not allow the DM (as intended in 3.0) to give them out as an award, but had to be planned for carefully. In 3.5 they reflavoured the concept to patch holes in the multiclass rules...
 

Dungeon Delver's Guide

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top