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D&D 5E Multi-class support in 5E

Ahnehnois

First Post
Except I'm not talking about 4e, because it has its own set of problems. I'm strictly talking about 3e and its multiclassing problems here. I don't see the value of classes in a 3e-style approach to classes and mutliclassing. It would be far easier to just go generic with classes or abilities (e.g. True20, M&M) so you can just assemble your character concept - providing toolkit builds to show you how to construct certain archetypes - than having the 3e-style multiclassing monstrosity that was a mathematical, class-meaningless, and PrC-bloat nightmare.
PF does just fine with minimal prestige classes; that problem was more about the base classes having dead levels and not being viable until 20th.

In principle, I think more generic systems are fine, but D&D is built around classes. Given that trope, I think the 3e approach was by far the best take in the D&D world.

I disagree that classes were meaningless in D&D. Even a blatant dip can be entirely meaningful and relevant in the game world. Having a character who takes two levels of fighter for the feats just means he trained in combat but won't make a career out of it. I don't see this as being a problem.

That character's saving throws, on the other hand, are a problem.
 

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Aldarc

Legend
In principle, I think more generic systems are fine, but D&D is built around classes. Given that trope, I think the 3e approach was by far the best take in the D&D world.

I disagree that classes were meaningless in D&D. Even a blatant dip can be entirely meaningful and relevant in the game world. Having a character who takes two levels of fighter for the feats just means he trained in combat but won't make a career out of it. I don't see this as being a problem.

That character's saving throws, on the other hand, are a problem.
It can be meaningful, but it rarely, if ever, was. It almost always meant that the character dipped into fighter to get a handful of abilities that they could have picked-up through feats. It was a time saver, as dipping into that first level of fighter provided +1 BAB, +2 Fort, +d10 hp, martial weapons training, all armor training, and a fighter bonus feat, with dipping level 2 fighter providing them with another +1 BAB, +1 Fort, +d10 hp, and another fighter bonus feat. There was nothing about how it played out in practice that meant the character was a "fighter;" it was ability dipping. It was a time saver. So I respectfully disagree: classes were fairly meaningless in the 3e approach. If you want to show that you trained in combat, why not just dip into the generic "warrior" class (i.e., True20) or construct your next level with greater focus on combat (i.e., M&M)? What is the actual value of the class? Do you train as "barbarian" or are you just wanting to pick up the rage ability? If you just want the rage ability, why not just provide a feat or a talent instead of multiclassing for it?
 

Ahnehnois

First Post
It can be meaningful, but it rarely, if ever, was. It almost always meant that the character dipped into fighter to get a handful of abilities that they could have picked-up through feats. It was a time saver, as dipping into that first level of fighter provided +1 BAB, +2 Fort, +d10 hp, martial weapons training, all armor training, and a fighter bonus feat, with dipping level 2 fighter providing them with another +1 BAB, +1 Fort, +d10 hp, and another fighter bonus feat. There was nothing about how it played out in practice that meant the character was a "fighter;" it was ability dipping. It was a time saver. So I respectfully disagree: classes were fairly meaningless in the 3e approach. If you want to show that you trained in combat, why not just dip into the generic "warrior" class (i.e., True20) or construct your next level with greater focus on combat (i.e., M&M)? What is the actual value of the class? Do you train as "barbarian" or are you just wanting to pick up the rage ability? If you just want the rage ability, why not just provide a feat or a talent instead of multiclassing for it?
Would I like a system where you could simply build your character without the constraints of classes? Sure. Will that fly with the broader D&D audience? Probably not.

People want to be able to play fighters and clerics and bards and barbarians and warlocks, etc. The 3e multiclassing system was an attempt to maintain this part of the D&D legacy, but add new flexibility. I'd say anything that takes away that flexibility is a step backward (which we would seem to agree on) and any system that doesn't have a variety of classes has killed a sacred cow.

Of course, if you believe that sacred cow is better off dead, I won't argue that.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Supporter
Personally, I found 3.5Ed's version of multiclassing to be the best incarnation of the overall mechanic in D&D. Still my fave.

I found 4Ed's Feat-based system quite the straightjacket as the sole form of multiclassing. As one option among others, though, I thought it was a good idea. Still, though, I see room for improvement. The overall form of the multiclassing feats should be standardized: gaining a skill and an AW power as an E power- both chosen by the player, rather than the designers- seems a pretty solid choice for a dabbler. In addition, because of my personal penchant for playing Jacks of all Trades ('cause I am one), I found the "single MC feat" restriction for all but the Bard to be overly restrictive as well. Let those who want to dabble do so freely- consider what they're giving up in the context of the game.

I found Hybrids to be decent, a close second ton3.5Ed's take. I didn't necessarily care for which particular class abilities they chose for the classes' Hybrid forms, though.
 
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Aldarc

Legend
Would I like a system where you could simply build your character without the constraints of classes? Sure. Will that fly with the broader D&D audience? Probably not.

People want to be able to play fighters and clerics and bards and barbarians and warlocks, etc. The 3e multiclassing system was an attempt to maintain this part of the D&D legacy, but add new flexibility. I'd say anything that takes away that flexibility is a step backward (which we would seem to agree on) and any system that doesn't have a variety of classes has killed a sacred cow.

Of course, if you believe that sacred cow is better off dead, I won't argue that.
What I want is for classes to actually be meaningful as classes, but I cannot see how they can be with 3e's blasé approach to multiclassing. 4e was too restrictive, but 3e was far too unrestrained. Yet conversely, the 3e system further generally coerces players into dipping far enough into a class - picking-up all the preceding abilities of the class - to pick up a particular ability for their character concept. No one who has advocated for 3e-style multiclassing on these forums has yet to successfully argue how "class" is actually meaningful in such a system.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Supporter
Yet conversely, the 3e system further generally coerces players into dipping far enough into a class - picking-up all the preceding abilities of the class - to pick up a particular ability for their character concept.

Coerced? Never really felt that way.

I mean, it's not as flexible as HERO, GURPS, or similar systems, but none of those über-flexible systems really have anything like classes, either, unless introduced as a campaign-specific addition (like the racial package deals you find in Fantasy HERO or Star HERO).
No one who has advocated for 3e-style multiclassing on these forums has yet to successfully argue how "class" is actually meaningful in such a system

A class is- mechanically speaking- a package deal of game mechanics that are (for the most part) irreduceably bundled. Warriors get weapon & armor proficiencies and the best odds of hitting what they're aming ATM; spellcasters cast spells; I'd say that's meaningful enough. What more do you want?
 

Aldarc

Legend
Coerced? Never really felt that way.
Last time I checked, you're neither me nor any of my players. ;)

A class is- mechanically speaking- a package deal of game mechanics that are (for the most part) irreduceably bundled. Warriors get weapon & armor proficiencies and the best odds of hitting what they're aming ATM; spellcasters cast spells; I'd say that's meaningful enough. What more do you want?
A class is also an archetype that should be a meaningful selection. The prevalence of ability-dipping in 3e was indicative that the "package deal of game mechanics" were not, in fact, "irreducibly bundled." Class selection is not meaningful if you are just dipping into two levels of fighter to pick up a bunch of bonus feats and combat proficiencies because that's easier than using your other feat selections. You want to show that you trained to fight? What stopped you from taking Heavy Armor or Martial Weapons Proficiency with the available feats you had? Why did you need to take the fighter class for that or to be a better fighter? Class selection is not meaningful if your first level is rogue because that provides you with 24 more skill points at first level than starting out as a fighter. This all brings me back to my earlier point you quoted:
No one who has advocated for 3e-style multiclassing on these forums has yet to successfully argue how "class" is actually meaningful in such a system.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Supporter
The prevalence of ability-dipping in 3e was indicative that the "package deal of game mechanics" were not, in fact, "irreducibly bundled."

You misunderstand me- "irreducibly bundled" would refer to a class' initial entry point...for many classes, a gateway for abilities that are not available any othe way.

Class selection is not meaningful if you are just dipping into two levels of fighter to pick up a bunch of bonus feats and combat proficiencies because that's easier than using your other feat selections.

I can't say I agree with that as a bald assertion. I see that PC as having taken some time to actively train, or having been forced to learn how to fight due to the circumstances of his life...but it wasn't his calling.

You want to show that you trained to fight? What stopped you from taking Heavy Armor or Martial Weapons Proficiency with the available feats you had? Why did you need to take the fighter class for that or to be a better fighter?

That is an extremely inefficient and slow way to do it, and it wont do jack for your actual basic fighting ability (your BAB, which is not improbable via Feats), but if you wanted to do so, there is absolutely nothing that prevents you from doing so.

As a whole, a PC without a warrior's BAB & fighting related feats picked up every 4 levels, would show that whatever martial training he got was sporadic and/or poorly learned.

(And he'd probably look pretty odd from the standpoint of his other class as well.)

Class selection is not meaningful if your first level is rogue because that provides you with 24 more skill points at first level than starting out as a fighter.

I'd say that if that is your ONLY reason for starting as a Rogue, then you're right. Class- and multiclassing- should be based on and driven by a core concept.
 
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Aldarc

Legend
You misunderstand me- "irreducibly bundled" would refer to a class' initial entry point.
But it's not "irreducibly bundled." True20 has greater irreducibly bundled initial entry points for classes, so we can't say that the D&D classes are "irreducibly bundled."

I can't say I agree with that as a bald assertion. I see that PC as having taken some time to actively train, or having been forced to learn how to fight due to the circumstances of his life...but it wasn't his calling.
I see it as dipping for abilities that are more efficient to gain through multi-classing than through other character customization options. The class itself is fairly meaningless to those ends, except being

That is an extremely inefficient and slow way to do it, and it wont do jack for your actual basic fighting ability (your BAB, which is not improbable via Feats), but if you wanted to do so, there is absolutely nothing that prevents you from doing so.
So what? Why is that a bad thing?

As a whole, a PC without a warrior's BAB & fighting related feats picked up every 4 levels, would show that whatever martial training he got was sporadic and/or poorly learned.
And one level of fighter basically means that he got it practically all at once. Still don't see the problem yet?

Class- and multiclassing- should be based on and driven by a core concept.
Please get back to me once you tell me how that is actually achieved in the 3e system that's not better achieved by a more reducible complexity model, such as True20's class system.
 

Viktyr Gehrig

First Post
The overall form of the multiclassing feats should be standardized: gaining a skill and an AW power as an E power- both chosen by the player, rather than the designers- seems a pretty solid choice for a dabbler.

For me, that was the final insult-- you get one, single, 1st level ability from the chosen class... and you don't even get to use it at will. Combine that with the fact that you have to pay more feats to swap your limited number of class powers, and if I'd actually bought a copy of the 4e PHB it would have been in the used books bin the same day. Took more than a little self-control not to fling my friend's book at the nearest wall.

In addition, because of my personal penchant for playing Jacks of all Trades ('cause I am one), I found the "single MC feat" restriction for all but the Bard to be overly restrictive as well. Let those who want to dabble do so freely- consider what they're giving up in the context of the game.

I didn't even know about that rule until I found out Bards didn't have to follow it, because I wasn't willing to even play 4e until after the PHB 3 came out.

I found Hybrids to be decent, a close second ton3.5Ed's take. I didn't necessarily care for which particular class abilities they chose for the classes' Hybrid forms, though.

Hybrid multiclassing was almost okay. At least the Hybrid Talent feats actually gave you back some of the abilities you lost.
 

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