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D&D General How would YOU do "classless D&D"?

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  • Break class abilities into feats.
  • Rejigger spells into rituals, cantrips and per encounter abilities and then make a spell known cost a feat and a small collection of rituals and cantrips cost a feat.
  • Per day abilities require a feat to increase uses.
  • Everyone gets all weapon proficiencies. Screw it.
  • Armor proficiency is a feat tree.
  • Higher hit dies is a feat
  • Everyone gets one good save. More good saves is a feat.
  • Everyone gets a big, heaping pile of feats at level 1.

Feats: They're what's for dinner.

Pretty much the best RPG innovation in my time as a player.


B/X Known World
How would you build a classless D&D?
When I see “classless” I think either skill based or player defined.

For skill based you’d double the skill list and make them more specific. Add in things like weapons and armor as skills. Lots of the features of classes could easily become skills.

For player defined you’d have players write up a description of the character and what they can do. That’s all you’d need. A bit of oversight for power levels and you’re good.
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Jack Daniel

My fundamental approach is (1) "everyone is a fighter"; so (2) you can let fighters do things they normally can't, like magic and thieving (and add magic items to the game to fill the gaps); and then, radically, (3) nix the ability scores because they're kind of pointless in a classless D&D.


For class design, I prioritize both customizability and balance. They are somewhat antithetical principles, but can be friendly to each other.

I am mostly happy with 5e class design. There is a wide viable range between lumping concepts into a single class and splitting concepts into separate classes. I feel 5e designs its classes in an appealing way somewhere between the two extremes.

My only "grievance" is, I need every class to decide its subclass archetype at level 1. Not level 3, nor 2. Even so, this can be minor nod, mechanically. For example, a magical Fighting Style for the level 1 Fighter can presage the decision to be an Eldritch Knight: perhaps a high elven Fighting style swapping heavy armor for Mage Armor, plus a Shillelagh-like cantrip that wields a longsword attack magically to substitute the casting ability instead of Strength. There can be more than one "eldritch" Fighting Style − maybe an other bypasses damage resistance.

I love feats and rely on them for character concept actualizing.

I am happy with the recent development of a "setting feat" at level 1. It allows the DM to incentivize the players investing in the themes of a particular setting. Compare Theros, Ravenloft, Strixhaven, etcetera.

I prefer every class to gain feats at the same levels: 4, 8, 12, 16, and I would have 20 (not 19), so that the PLAYER chooses which capstone they want for their character concept.

Ideally, I would like to separate out the combat-pillar feats, and silo them separately for these every fourth levels.

Then, have noncombat feats separate at different levels, to expand the concepts of the Background and the exploration and social pillars.

But the dual-use feats make such separation messy.

I prefer the tiers likewise increment by every fourth level, timing with the proficiency bonus improvement and capping with the feat choice:

Levels 1-4: Student Tier (Basic)
Levels 5-8: Professional Tier (Expert)
Levels 9-12: Founder Tier (Champion)
Levels 13-16: Master Tier (Master)
Levels 17-20: Legend Tier (Master wielding Wish spell etcetera)
Levels 21-24: Epic Tier (Lesser Immortal)
Levels 25-28: Cosmic Tier (Greater Immortal)

These tiers feel very different from each other, and inform the scope for designing an appropriate adventure.

Correlate "fame" with tier. So that the number of people who recognize (love or fear or both) is approximate: 10 ^ (level/2). Thus, levels 9 to 12 is a tier that has some influence over about 30,000 to 1,000,000 people. This is something like the population of a town or nation. At this tier, the character might "found" or reinvent a magic school, build a fortress, become a popular warrior hero like Beowulf, a prominent leader like a mayor, or so on, in similar scope.

At the Legend Tier, the challenges are planetary or planar in scope involve the populations of the entire planet recognizing the character.

The feat at level 20 (not 19) should be a highly desirable capstone. The player should think about its possibility even when building a level 1 character. As level 20 approaches, the player should drool in anticipation.

Different players want different things. So a capstone needs to be a choice among several excellent choices. In other words, the level-20 capstone needs to be a feat. Recently, the UA granted feats with level prerequisites. I find the level limits excellent, because the high level feats can be much more powerful than the lower level feats. The feats can organize by the every-fourth-level tiers, increasing power as appropriate to each tier. The level 20 feat is essentially the choice of an "epic boon", as found in the DMs Guide.

D&D 4e had the concept of the "Epic Destiny". There are many different ways to become immortal, and the player chooses how their character does it. Some achieve celestial apotheosis, some become a lich, etcetera. There are many interestingly diverse possibilities.

The level 20 feat for 50e should be a feat chosen from various feats, need a level 20 prereq, be equivalent to an epic boon in power − and also define how the character becomes an immortal.


There can be a "classless class". The classless class is purely determined by point-buy and player preference. Essentially, it can mix-and-match features from other classes. But, the classless class coexists alongside the traditional classes including Fighter, Wizard, etcetera.

Then the traditional classes are more like readymade pregenerated classes, for convenience. Meanwhile, a more experienced player can experiment with the classless class to mix things up.


A suffusion of yellow
A per feat system where you take you base character

HD 6
Background Skills
Archetype Fighter Styles, Magic School, Rogue Talents etc
9 Feats

Archetype: Defence Fighter (0)
HD 6 + 2 steps (2 feats)
3 xArmor, Shield (4feats)
Weapons: Simple weapons, martial weapons (2 Feats)
Tools: None
Saving Throws: choose 2 (0)
Feat: Second Wind (1 Feat)

Experience is exchanged for Feats which includes +d6 HD

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