D&D (2024) How to fix multiclassing?

If they are making the subclasses match then I think the obvious first multiclassing option would be that you keep your base class but each class offers a subclass for people multiclassing into it.
 

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payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
I think you're ignoring the biggest cost of MC in the rules: The fact that classes don't get going until level 3. If there were no multiclassing, then the game would just start at level 3. Level 1 and 2 wouldn't exist. Level 3 would be level 1. You'd maybe even start with 3 HD for survivability, and you'd go from there. That's why character level 1 takes exactly 1 adventuring day to complete, and character level 2 takes 2 adventuring days to complete. Both character levels 1 and 2 are meant to be over with immediately. Class levels 1 and 2 are designed to be a multiclassing tar pit. This is all so that the game can let you do a la carte multiclassing, and punish you by making it cost 2 null levels to do it. The problem with 5e is that some classes (Warlock, Paladin) are still too front-loaded. Warlock is even worse because the class feature table feels empty from level 4 to about level 11.

Personally, I think I would be happier with multiclassing if there were benefits to keeping the classes within 1 level of each other. I'd even be a fan of making all the classes 10-12 levels long and then requiring multiclassing to progress past level 10-12. Given that most features you gain at those levels seem to be either wildly useful or completely pointless or else totally broken (e.g., 7th-9th level spells). With each class capped, the optional multiclassing rule becomes whether you require players to complete the first class before beginning the second, or else if you allow players to start swapping back and forth immediately. Unfortunately, I don't think it would be accepted as D&D.
Nope, I just dont have an issue with any of that. I guess we will see if they have any changes in the playtest.
 

Lojaan

Hero
I don't think any rule in the PHB can be considered "optional". It just turns the DM into the bad guy if they don't allow it.

Optional rules belong in the DMG.

Personally I would prefer all MCing be handled by feats. Simple, straightforward, and difficult to abuse.
 
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I don't think any rule in the PHB can be considered "optional". It just turns the DM into the bad guy if they don't allow it.

Optional rules belong in the DMG.

Personally I would prefer all MCing be handled by feats. Simple, straightforward, and difficult to abuse.

I don't want to miss following:


Is that character overpowered? I don't think so. Is it thematic? Probably.
Fun to play? Surely.
 
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Pauln6

Hero
I don't think that logic follows. After all, what sees a lot of play is often what is overpowered, and few developers intentionally create things to be overpowered.

IMO, I think all that can be said is that, with enough system mastery, any designed-in drawbacks to the current multiclassing design can more than be compensated for.



No, I think that's wrong. The racial level limits were intended to make humans more appealing because Gygax wanted the game to be human-centric. The multiclassing rules give back to those races, allowing them to do something humans couldn't and allowing them to spend more XP than they would single-classed. Remember, the racial level limits apply to single class characters, too. This means that a single classed elven fighter can only take advantage of 70,000 XP (lvl 7), and an elven magic-user can use up to 375,000 XP, but an elven fighter/magic user can use up to 750,000 XP, even though 300,000 of it literally does nothing at all.

The real trouble with multiclassing in AD&D was because of the XP table. Through name level the amount of XP you need to get to level N usually equals twice the amount of XP you needed to get to level N-1. This meant that while it took 70,000 XP to be an 7th level elven fighter, a fighter/thief with 70,000 total earned XP would be a level 6 fighter. Being single class was just a terrible value proposition in AD&D if you had MC access. The tables weren't 100% lock-step like that, but they were close. The 375,000 XP vs 750,000 XP in the prior paragraph sounds absurdly different, but the 750,000 XP is what makes a fighter 7/magic-user 11 or... a single-classed magic-user 12 or single-classed fighter 11.




I think that could work, but it would require a vastly different design than the one in place. It would also only support dipping multiclass.



I think you're ignoring the biggest cost of MC in the rules: The fact that classes don't get going until level 3. If there were no multiclassing, then the game would just start at level 3. Level 1 and 2 wouldn't exist. Level 3 would be level 1. You'd maybe even start with 3 HD for survivability, and you'd go from there. That's why character level 1 takes exactly 1 adventuring day to complete, and character level 2 takes 2 adventuring days to complete. Both character levels 1 and 2 are meant to be over with immediately. Class levels 1 and 2 are designed to be a multiclassing tar pit. This is all so that the game can let you do a la carte multiclassing, and punish you by making it cost 2 null levels to do it. The problem with 5e is that some classes (Warlock, Paladin) are still too front-loaded. Warlock is even worse because the class feature table feels empty from level 4 to about level 11.

Personally, I think I would be happier with multiclassing if there were benefits to keeping the classes within 1 level of each other. I'd even be a fan of making all the classes 10-12 levels long and then requiring multiclassing to progress past level 10-12. Given that most features you gain at those levels seem to be either wildly useful or completely pointless or else totally broken (e.g., 7th-9th level spells). With each class capped, the optional multiclassing rule becomes whether you require players to complete the first class before beginning the second, or else if you allow players to start swapping back and forth immediately. Unfortunately, I don't think it would be accepted as D&D.
It is true, it wasn't until Unearthed Arcana that single-classed character got a 2 level boost to their limit and high ability scores could give you a bit more of a bump to the cap. Female halfling fighters, also hemmed in by strength caps, topped out at level 7, I think. That said, at the time, with the exception of elven wizards, and half-orc and dwarf fighters, it largely made sense, being based broadly off what we saw in Tolkien but with de-powered elves. Demi-humans did get front loaded benefits to attack rolls or saves that gave them advantages plus single class weapon specialisation, helped balance things for fighters. The power curve was so much shallower for non-casters that demi-humans managed just fine and we saw maybe a 60/40 split in favour of multi-classing in our games, albeit many single classed builds were thieves or half-orc assassins who were not limited by caps. The power curve for casters was so much broader but in reality, almost no campaign even got to level 18 let alone 29. We never got beyond 12.

Obviously, the game is so much better balanced, and world logic, such as no 20 strength halflings, has given way to game mechanics to avoid limiting the fun of 'weird' people who think a halfling with strength 20 is 'cool' ;-p. So we now need to oscillate within that framework.

I feel strongly that multi-class characters SHOULD balance power for versatility and in that respect the system isn't bad and anyone who thinks multiclass characters should have cost-free access to everything a single cIassed character can have should and play in a corner with their own house rules where they are monarch of the universe. That said, I do think trade-offs should be available at a cost (such as feat buys).

I think it would be easier to fix overpowered synergies by adding specific caveats in the multiclassing rules, feats, or spell descriptions, and to fix underpowered combos via feats than to try and re-design the whole system. There are far fewer power combos that need to be tweaked than the other way round. The problem for spell conversion to smite damage is a problem with that class feature altogether rather than a multi-classing issue and even then, the issue is more about crit fishing, which can be resolved by adding a flat bonus to damage rather than extra dice.

For sneak attack cantrip stacking, could this be tackled by changing the spell description of Booming Blade to making it a melee spell attack with a weapon rather than a weapon attack [actually I think Tasha's already did this] and either adding caveats to the multi-classing rules for rogues that sneak attack damage to spell attacks with weapons is halved or possibly a feat? Similarly (although this maybe not be a problem if Eldritch Blast is now a class feature) cantrips obtained via a feat could have a slower damage progression for anyone who doesn't have levels in the class list from which that spell was taken?

For multi-class warlocks you could rule that paladin smite damage cannot be added to attacks with a weapon being used specifically as a pact blade (as opposed to a weapon that is also a pact blade being used as a weapon) which would lead to no multiple attacks unless you also have 5 levels of paladin and either charisma to attack with no smite damage vs strength to attack with smite damage?

I do think that there should be an alternate class feature to choose a skill and tool proficiency instead of multiple attacks at level 5 - not comparable but better than nothing.

I do think there should be feats to let (multiclass) casters (including warlocks - particularly pact of the tome warlocks - possibly even including mystic arcarnum) to learn/add a spell from their cast list of a level they can cast but no more than one per spell level.

I might even be down with feats that gives you access to specific class feature as if you were a higher level in one of your classes as long as your character level is high enough but I think that needs to apply to specific class features.
 
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ECMO3

Hero
I don't think that logic follows. After all, what sees a lot of play is often what is overpowered, and few developers intentionally create things to be overpowered.

This is not true IME. While powerful options see a lot of play, so do a lot of weak options and while some players like me multiclass often, the majority do not multiclass.

Right now I am playing a Shadow Sorcerer 1-Undying Warlock 3. She is ok but Undying is widely regarded as the weakest Warlock and Shadow Sorcerer is middle of the road. They do have some complimentary abilities and those are both thematic and boost the character from where either would be individually, but it is hardly OP. That is representative of most of the multiclass builds I see. She was also a level late getting Invocations and Pact and I think she was weaker at level 2 and 3 compared to a single class Warlock.

IMO, I think all that can be said is that, with enough system mastery, any designed-in drawbacks to the current multiclassing design can more than be compensated for.

Not at every level. For example if you multiclass a character with extra attack you will have to wait at least a level for extra attack then have to wait at least a level for more powerful abilities. The multiclass options do not account for that.

I mentioned my Dwarf 8 Order Cleric/4 Enchantment Wizard and I said she was the most powerful character I played at 12th level because of the interplay between abilities from Dwarf, Order Cleric and Hypnotic Gaze. Those three really do boost this character. But she also gets no good opportunity attack (Dex and Str are 8) and something like Warcaster is not a great option because she has two casting stats to boost. Also while she is very powerful at 12th level, she did not even have Embodiment of Law until 8th level. So from 1st-7th level I would argue she was weaker than a straight Dwarf Wizard in medium armor or Cleric would have been, she was stronger from 8th-12th, but going forward she is going to fall behind again because she only has 2nd level Wizard spells and that will never get higher. In cleric spells she is 2 spells levels behind. While something like Tasha's Mind Whip upcast at 9th level is ok it is not the equivalent of actual 9th level spells she will miss out on.

Another crazy powerful build is Fey Wanderer Ranger with a 1st level Undead Warlock dip. The Fey Wanderer interplay with Charisma skills along with the Ranger expertise make this the best social class in the game along with being good at exploration as a Ranger and crazy in combat with the Form of Dread-Beguiling Twist combo. But that is not all in util 8th level. There are a lot of different ways to work in the Warlock subclass - 1st level, 2nd level, at 4th level, 5th level, 6th level or at 8th level. All of these have compromises. To start with to get the bonus from form of dread you should be running at least a 14 charisma. This is a big tradeoff on a Ranger that wants max Wisdom, Dexterity and a decent Constitution. So your combat stats are behind a Ranger early on to make room for Warlock. This is countered by the fact you are frightening some enemies if you take Warlock early, so we will call your lower abilities awash with your temp hps and frightening ability. However if you take Warlock at 2nd level you are going to be behind a Ranger at level 2 (no fighting style), level 3 (no Ranger subclass), level 4 (no ASI/feat), level 5 (no extra attack) and level 7 (no beguiling Twist). So through level 8 a single class Ranger with stats optimized for a Ranger is better at every level except 6th Level and 8th Level. Going forward from Level 8 you have a really powerful combo, but you are a level late getting all your Ranger abilities. Overall you will be ahead most of the time after this but you will get Fey Reinforcements a level later and that ability works better with Beguling Twist than Form of Dread does and while things like Nature's Veil and Evasion are not as great as Form of Dread-Beguiling Twist combo, they are substantial and you are getting them a level later.
 
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Pauln6

Hero
This is not true IME. While powerful options see a lot of play, so do a lot of weak options and while some players like me multiclass often, the majority do not multiclass.

Right now I am playing a Shadow Sorcerer 1-Undying Warlock 3. She is ok but Undying is widely regarded as the weakest Warlock and Shadow Sorcerer is middle of the road. They do have some complimentary abilities and those are both thematic and boost the character from where either would be individually, but it is hardly OP. That is representative of most of the multiclass builds I see. She was also a level late getting Invocations and Pact and I think she was weaker at level 2 and 3 compared to a single class Warlock.



Not at every level. For example if you multiclass a character with extra attack you will have to wait at least a level for extra attack then have to wait at least a level for more powerful abilities. The multiclass options do not account for that.

I mentioned my Dwarf 8 Order Cleric/4 Enchantment Wizard and I said she was the most powerful character I played at 12th level because of the interplay between abilities from Dwarf, Order Cleric and Hypnotic Gaze. Those three really do boost this character. But she also gets no good opportunity attack (Dex and Str are 8) and something like Warcaster is not a great option because she has two casting stats to boost. Also while she is very powerful at 12th level, she did not even have Embodiment of Law until 8th level. So from 1st-7th level I would argue she was weaker than a straight Dwarf Wizard in medium armor or Cleric would have been, she was stronger from 8th-12th, but going forward she is going to fall behind again because she only has 2nd level Wizard spells and that will never get higher. In cleric spells she is 2 spells levels behind. While something like Tasha's Mind Whip upcast at 9th level is ok it is not the equivalent of actual 9th level spells she will miss out on.

Another crazy powerful build is Fey Wanderer Ranger with a 1st level Undead Warlock dip. The Fey Wanderer interplay with Charisma skills along with the Ranger expertise make this the best social class in the game along with being good at exploration as a Ranger and crazy in combat with the Form of Dread-Beguiling Twist combo. But that is not all in util 8th level. There are a lot of different ways to work in the Warlock subclass - 1st level, 2nd level, at 4th level, 5th level, 6th level or at 8th level. All of these have compromises. To start with to get the bonus from form of dread you should be running at least a 14 charisma. This is a big tradeoff on a Ranger that wants max Wisdom, Dexterity and a decent Constitution. So your combat stats are behind a Ranger early on to make room for Warlock. This is countered by the fact you are frightening some enemies if you take Warlock early, so we will call your lower abilities awash with your temp hps and frightening ability. However if you take Warlock at 2nd level you are going to be behind a Ranger at level 2 (no fighting style), level 3 (no Ranger subclass, level 4 (no ASI/feat), level 5 (no extra attack) and level 7 (no beguiling Twist). So through level 8 a single class Ranger with stats optimized for a Ranger is better at every level except 6th Level and 8th Level. Going forward from Level 8 you have a really powerful combo, but you are a level late getting all your Ranger abilities. Overall you will be ahead most of the time after this but you will get Fey Reinforcements a level later and that ability works better with Beguling Twist than Form of Dread does and while things like Nature's Veil and evasion are not as great as Form of Dread-Beguiling Twist combo, they are substantial and you are getting them a level later.
Yes I think it is easier to build an 'overpowered' combination on paper at a particular level. In play it's more of a rollercoaster ride.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
The true fix for 'hybrid' multiclassing is creating new classes what capture the hybrid capabilities you desire and then balancing those abilities within that class structure. So to me the best product they could produce would be a guided walkthrough of creating classes, with examples, tips, etc.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
This is not true IME. While powerful options see a lot of play, so do a lot of weak options and while some players like me multiclass often, the majority do not multiclass.

Right now I am playing a Shadow Sorcerer 1-Undying Warlock 3. She is ok but Undying is widely regarded as the weakest Warlock and Shadow Sorcerer is middle of the road. They do have some complimentary abilities and those are both thematic and boost the character from where either would be individually, but it is hardly OP. That is representative of most of the multiclass builds I see. She was also a level late getting Invocations and Pact and I think she was weaker at level 2 and 3 compared to a single class Warlock.



Not at every level. For example if you multiclass a character with extra attack you will have to wait at least a level for extra attack then have to wait at least a level for more powerful abilities. The multiclass options do not account for that.

I mentioned my Dwarf 8 Order Cleric/4 Enchantment Wizard and I said she was the most powerful character I played at 12th level because of the interplay between abilities from Dwarf, Order Cleric and Hypnotic Gaze. Those three really do boost this character. But she also gets no good opportunity attack (Dex and Str are 8) and something like Warcaster is not a great option because she has two casting stats to boost. Also while she is very powerful at 12th level, she did not even have Embodiment of Law until 8th level. So from 1st-7th level I would argue she was weaker than a straight Dwarf Wizard in medium armor or Cleric would have been, she was stronger from 8th-12th, but going forward she is going to fall behind again because she only has 2nd level Wizard spells and that will never get higher. In cleric spells she is 2 spells levels behind. While something like Tasha's Mind Whip upcast at 9th level is ok it is not the equivalent of actual 9th level spells she will miss out on.

Another crazy powerful build is Fey Wanderer Ranger with a 1st level Undead Warlock dip. The Fey Wanderer interplay with Charisma skills along with the Ranger expertise make this the best social class in the game along with being good at exploration as a Ranger and crazy in combat with the Form of Dread-Beguiling Twist combo. But that is not all in util 8th level. There are a lot of different ways to work in the Warlock subclass - 1st level, 2nd level, at 4th level, 5th level, 6th level or at 8th level. All of these have compromises. To start with to get the bonus from form of dread you should be running at least a 14 charisma. This is a big tradeoff on a Ranger that wants max Wisdom, Dexterity and a decent Constitution. So your combat stats are behind a Ranger early on to make room for Warlock. This is countered by the fact you are frightening some enemies if you take Warlock early, so we will call your lower abilities awash with your temp hps and frightening ability. However if you take Warlock at 2nd level you are going to be behind a Ranger at level 2 (no fighting style), level 3 (no Ranger subclass, level 4 (no ASI/feat), level 5 (no extra attack) and level 7 (no beguiling Twist). So through level 8 a single class Ranger with stats optimized for a Ranger is better at every level except 6th Level and 8th Level. Going forward from Level 8 you have a really powerful combo, but you are a level late getting all your Ranger abilities. Overall you will be ahead most of the time after this but you will get Fey Reinforcements a level later and that ability works better with Beguling Twist than Form of Dread does and while things like Nature's Veil and evasion are not as great as Form of Dread-Beguiling Twist combo, they are substantial and you are getting them a level later.
5e rejected the slower power for greater eventual power elements once present in d&d. Using it to justify unrestricted no cost multiclass rules calls into question the wisdom of both choices. Even beyond that though the GM at the table needs to handle a problem wotc deliberately created when faced with a table where Alice just got or lost the one big distinction setting her single class apart from bob's MC dip on top of her same class with the game expected to continue. I've seen this regularly where Alice has a sorcerer & bob has a sorcerer with 2 levels of warlock...
  • an at will 120ft (1d10+5)*3
  • Hex to often make that (1d10+5+1d6)*3 whenever the damage is important enough to matter.
  • either each of those 3 blasts include a 5 foot no save knockback rider or bob is probably sporting devils sight. Given 5e's efforts to obliviate the impact of darkness it's probably going to be the knockback from repelling unless as a GM I've done things to somehow make the darkness bob now obliviates have an even greater impact for Alice to feel
  • 3 warlock spells
  • two 2nd level pact slots
  • A warlock patron boon like an at will invisible imp or the ability to cast ritual spells from a book.
  • Two sorcerer spells known (one less than the 3 warlock ones Bob got)
  • A single metamagic choice (till Bob has one more level
  • Two sorcerer spells known (1 less than bob got from his warlock dip)
  • A single level 6 spell slot
  • Two sorcery points/long rest (this is four less than the six bob can pull from those pact slots each long or short rest)
As levels continue Alice will continue seeing very little gain over Bob's loss & certainly nothing that makes up for the massive gains Bob already collected
 


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