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

Horwath

Hero
well, you can play your concept from level 1 mostly, but I would expect that you should need 5 or 6 levels to "fully" have most of your ideas mechanically backed. 8th level and above is IMHO too much waiting.

I.E. if you want to be bestest archer ever, that would use longbow and not some handcrossbow builds, you would probably go for elven samurai with elven accuracy and sharpshooter. So, that gives you 6 levels minimum. Ofc, more levels will make you even better, but that is kind of a core of that build.

I wanted to play a psionic, so my choice was narrowed down to aberrant mind sorcerer, you start with telepathic speech, you can have your theme from level 1, but you'll need 3rd level for subtle spells and 6th to increase frequency of using spells without components. So, again it's 6th level.
 

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Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Sometimes, a weird mechanical concept just intrigues me, and then I have to both figure out how to make a playable character around it

Other times, the narrative concept comes first. Other times, I find a cool piece of art and turn that into a dnd character. No one process works better than the others.
Yes to all of these.

Sometimes my concepts are as simple as a “dude who uses X unusual weapon”, a maxed-Dex martial combatant, or playing against racial type. Often, those are playable from Level 1.

OTOH, some concepts won’t fully manifest until many levels have been achieved. In all probability, the longer I play a given RPG system, the more I gravitate to characters like this. It takes a bit of system familiarity and mastery to model some concepts. Sometimes, it takes time (IOW, expansions) for a system to include an element that makes a certain concept possible/playable.* And it usually takes a while playing a particular game before I become a little bored with the more mainstream and obvious options.







* This element also becomes more important to me as a game accretes new versions. After a decade+ playing D&D, reverting to playing only basic D&D archetypes when a new edition gets released wears thin quickly (for me). That said, new game editions that include NEW archetypes or variants on the original can escape the ennui trap, too.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I strongly encourage my players to create a character they're happy to play from day 1 (which almost always means 1st level). The problem with deferring gratification is that there's a real good chance we won't get to the payoff for months, or even never.

There are, of course, some concepts that can't be played right away (the aforementioned Eldritch Knight, for instance). I'm hoping 5.5e might patch some of those holes, but the truth is that there will always be some holes - there just isn't a perfect answer to that one.
Level one bonus feats help a bit.

I had to figure out how to make my arcane trickster who is a port over of a duelist Jedi with a background in racing and smuggling, at level 1, remotely feel like she could at level 1 in Saga, and the Fey Touched feat is probably the closest I’m gonna get. I’ll look at magic initiate, but I just…basically if I had mage hand and catapult I’d be pretty good, but right now she’s got Misty Step and Bless, which I’m flavoring as basically battle meditation.

In a world with fairly common short distance teleportation magic, Jedi would def teleport, so I don’t mind that being a new element. I just have no way at level 1, to be a duelist scoundrel with a broad but low powered set of magical abilities.
 

How long are you willing to wait for a build to "turn on?"

My original answer was: 1-2 sessions (i.e. not at all). But now I read the thread and this must be rephrased into: "I don't do builds".

I typically wait for a campaign, and I check in with the fellow players what they have in mind. Bit of brainstorming what would be a good match, and then choose a race/class/background. Any multiclass will come from roleplay and may be sub-optimal.

Don't get me wrong, I usually look forward to reaching level 5 where a lot of things "turn on". But I don't remember ever multiclassing before level 5. And waiting for a magic item seems really crazy, unless you play a specific heist where you know up front what the loot will be, or this weapon is promised by the DM.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
well, you can play your concept from level 1 mostly, but I would expect that you should need 5 or 6 levels to "fully" have most of your ideas mechanically backed. 8th level and above is IMHO too much waiting.

I.E. if you want to be bestest archer ever, that would use longbow and not some handcrossbow builds, you would probably go for elven samurai with elven accuracy and sharpshooter. So, that gives you 6 levels minimum. Ofc, more levels will make you even better, but that is kind of a core of that build.

I wanted to play a psionic, so my choice was narrowed down to aberrant mind sorcerer, you start with telepathic speech, you can have your theme from level 1, but you'll need 3rd level for subtle spells and 6th to increase frequency of using spells without components. So, again it's 6th level.

Paladins not to bad if you're MCing from level 6.

You could go to level 6 or 8 and MC into Warlock or Sorcerer. You effectively switch on straight away or in two levels.

And Paladin 6/Warlock one doesn't hurt much even if you switch on level 8 (6/2).

Similar idea 8/1 or 8/2 build.

You might not be complete to later but you won't suck as you're still a Paladin.

Rogue 8 Ii to Fighter or Ranger also works. I don't mind those types of build.
 

I guess. I don't start with a concept, though. I roll my stats in order and then see what looks cool from there. I don't worry much about what the character's future holds except in the vaguest way ("ooh, this guy might splash a little wizard in there sometime").
Okay.

Most people start with a concept and hope to see it go somewhere. As is pretty well demonstrated by all the various posts on Reddit, forums, YouTube, and elsewhere.

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.
Frankly I find that still pretty flawed. Very few people never ever develop expectations or hopes for where a character will end up.

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."
Characterizing positions you disagree with by the most extreme possible version thereof tends to annoy people who like less extreme versions. This really shouldn't be a revelation.

"Builds" aren't much in 5e compared to 3e and 4e but my big gripe with class design is that most games don't go past level 10 and yet you have to wait until 3rd level to start getting a trickle of unique stuff. 3rd level feels late for the Eldritch Knight to start getting a drip of magic, and so on. I hope 5.5e makes a course correction and lets everyone start playing their assassin or rune knight or berserker or whatever, right at level 1.
Extremely unlikely, but we can dream.

Doesn’t it make more sense to happen upon a prestige class rather than actively seek it out?
Certainly not. Most PrCs (in 3e, anyway) had extensive and complex prerequisites, which made it difficult or even nigh-impossible to qualify unless you actively prepared, e.g. taking specific narrow skills like Profession (Calligraphy), having a certain number of spells from a certain school, or having a sequence of feats.

If you don’t have a prestige class or archetype, then it probably wasn’t that important to the children to begin with.
I fear I don't understand what you're saying here.

I feel this was something of a missed opportunity for 5E. IMO they should have set the default starting level to 3, with the first two levels as apprentice tier for those who want to run full "zero to hero" campaigns. Then starting characters would be fully "online" out the gate, except for multi-class characters, and by spreading out starting abilities over three levels, it would make the 1 level dip much less exciting.
I tried to get people to see this. Multiple times, both during and after the playtest. Extremely few took me seriously. And yet here we are.
 


ad_hoc

(he/they)
"Builds" aren't much in 5e compared to 3e and 4e but my big gripe with class design is that most games don't go past level 10 and yet you have to wait until 3rd level to start getting a trickle of unique stuff. 3rd level feels late for the Eldritch Knight to start getting a drip of magic, and so on. I hope 5.5e makes a course correction and lets everyone start playing their assassin or rune knight or berserker or whatever, right at level 1.

Many people start at 3rd level.
Looking at the experience charts levels 1 and 2 are designed to go by very quickly.

1/2 a day for level 1 and 1 day for level 2.

Just long enough to know what it was like to be starting out but not long enough to linger.
 

Many people start at 3rd level.
Looking at the experience charts levels 1 and 2 are designed to go by very quickly.

1/2 a day for level 1 and 1 day for level 2.

Just long enough to know what it was like to be starting out but not long enough to linger.
I realize that but imagine a game where 1 and 2 were "real" levels that you got to fully enjoy as part of the average 1-10 game instead of being skipped over?
 

bloodtide

Adventurer
Well, I'm not a "build" person, but I say: right away at 1st level.

I really don't like the odd idea in more core D&D that you have to play a normal bland character for 5, 7, or 10 levels before it becomes the character you want.

Sure abilities should scale with levels, but they should be more spread out.
 

"Builds" aren't much in 5e compared to 3e and 4e but my big gripe with class design is that most games don't go past level 10 and yet you have to wait until 3rd level to start getting a trickle of unique stuff. 3rd level feels late for the Eldritch Knight to start getting a drip of magic, and so on. I hope 5.5e makes a course correction and lets everyone start playing their assassin or rune knight or berserker or whatever, right at level 1.
I really disagree with this. I've started my last three campaigns at level zero with PCs developing their class near the end of each session partly due to the presence of new players, and the classes feel very different from each other. I understand the case for the subclasses coming in consistently at level 2 - but developing your subclass at level 3 for more differentiation earned in play and as a response to how you play rather than the character you had in your head before you started playing feels good to me.

And from a class design perspective my big gripe is how bland the levels after 11 are.
 

d24454_modern

Explorer
Certainly not. Most PrCs (in 3e, anyway) had extensive and complex prerequisites, which made it difficult or even nigh-impossible to qualify unless you actively prepared, e.g. taking specific narrow skills like Profession (Calligraphy), having a certain number of spells from a certain school, or having a sequence of feats.


I fear I don't understand what you're saying here.
It’s natural that more complicated backstories and classes would have more prerequisites.

I remember that someone pointed out that Amiri, Pathfinder’s iconic Barbarian, should’ve been Level 6+ based on her backstory of killing a Frost Giant.

I think my main issue is that people want these classes and archetypes at as low a level as possible even when it doesn’t really make sense to.

A level 1 character is weak and not very savvy about anything. Why would they ten pages of abilities and stories about how awesome they are?
 

Well, I'm not a "build" person, but I say: right away at 1st level.

I really don't like the odd idea in more core D&D that you have to play a normal bland character for 5, 7, or 10 levels before it becomes the character you want.

Sure abilities should scale with levels, but they should be more spread out.
Meanwhile I think that builds were significantly over-emphasised in 3.X and in 4e - but I'll take the scylla of builds over the charybdis of setting almost your entire character's mechanical development at level 1 when you choose a class (and possibly a subclass) and as they set out at level 1 so shall they be for ever more, with numbers and abilities ticking up but only in ways that could have been predicted half a lifetime ago.

If I had my choice I think I'd hand out a new subclass half way through every tier (so at levels 3, 8, 13, and 17 or so). A big meaningful choice you can make that fundamentally affects who you are and how you approach the world from then on.
 


I realize that but imagine a game where 1 and 2 were "real" levels that you got to fully enjoy as part of the average 1-10 game instead of being skipped over?
Then you'd have people arguing for level zero or even negative level games to get that zero-to-hero feel that a significant minority do, if fact, want.
 


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