Multi classing Objections: Rules vs. Fluff?

ad_hoc

Adventurer
I think the whole LG drow paladin of the sun is a great story. Imagine living in darkness your whole life and then, after a harrowing journey upwards, you stand in a cave mouth and see the sun in all its glory, feeling its warmth wash over you, tears flowing because the sight is so beautiful to you and your eyes are super sensitive to sunlight. That's a great story and I'd be perfectly fine with a LG Drow paladin devoting himself to worship of the sun/sun god.
The sun is a very threat to your existence. It wouldn't feel good.

But that is beside the point, why a Drow? Why not any of a myriad of other races?

1. To be the centre of attention.
2. To tell a story to a captive audience rather than to create a story with friends.

It's just disrespectful. At our table we don't allow any of that sort of thing. You're here to contribute to the group or you should go write a novel on your own.
 

Unwise

Adventurer
[MENTION=6788732]cbwjm[/MENTION] The reason I came up with that example is that I actually played a Dwarf from a clan that prided itself on never having been in sunlight. They felt that sunlight would weaken both them and their culture, like it must have done to humans. He of course saw the sun for the first time and fell in love with it and the outside world. I chose deep-dwarf over Drow because it would not have the issues I mentioned above. To me that is the trick, something can be a great story yet shift the view of the world. In my Warhammer campaign example, my players all had great back stories (which they never do normally) but the end result was that it was a group that did not fit in the world at all.
[MENTION=6748898]ad_hoc[/MENTION] I can see where you are coming and agree, but don't have that experience myself. Frankly if they engage in RP or backstory at all I am thrilled, we don't have people competing for the spotlight.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
The sun is a very threat to your existence. It wouldn't feel good.

But that is beside the point, why a Drow? Why not any of a myriad of other races?

1. To be the centre of attention.
2. To tell a story to a captive audience rather than to create a story with friends.

It's just disrespectful. At our table we don't allow any of that sort of thing. You're here to contribute to the group or you should go write a novel on your own.
That's where we'd have to agree to disagree. The sun isn't a threat to their existence, that's just rubbish and saying it's disrespectful is going too far in my opinion.
 

Shiroiken

Adventurer
1. It is clunky. The game is designed so that at level 1 the class has chassis abilities. Things like armour, weapons, skills, HP, etc. Multiclassing combines 2 chassis together and it is clunky.
I always felt this was a missed opportunity. During the playtest, I had concerns that 5E was going to be unplayable for me and my group (thankfully, I worried needlessly). However, I did spend time using the various playtest material we had to mash together my own version of 5E... just in case.

When they mentioned that levels 1-2 were going to be "apprentice tier," that got me thinking. What if the game default started at level 3. You could play levels 1-2, but that would be similar to playing 0 level characters from earlier editions. With this in mind, you could easily set up a workable multi-class system using the 3E model 5E eventually used. Instead of a level 1 fighter getting proficiency in all weapons and armor, they only get some (more than non-warrior type classes, for sure). Clerics worship a concept or pantheon before settling in to a single deity (i.e. domain). You get the idea, but it would allow characters to dip for some benefit, but not the massive benefit most commonly seen today. Single class characters, however, would start off pretty much as you expect them to now. Oh well.
 

Keravath

Explorer
In my opinion, multiclassing can be just as much a mechanism for character development as any other. It is up to the DM as to whether they allow multiclassing in general but disallowing it for certain classes based on some pre-conceived idea of how a particular class should be played seems arbitrary.

There are lots of class combinations that would appear to be DESIGNED to go together.
- hexblade warlock and shadow sorceror - both draw power from ties to the plane of shadow - very easy to picture a character with both a shadow patron and the ability to harness shadow power to cast spells as well
- oath of ancients paladin and a fey warlock
- fallen paladin and a fiend warlock
- oath of devotion paladin and either a celestial warlock or divine soul sorcerer
- divine soul sorcerer and celestial warlock
- trickery cleric and rogue (arcane trickster?)
- ranger and druid
- nature cleric and druid
- war cleric and fighter

All of these multiclass combinations have significant synergies in terms of backgrounds/goals/fluff. Combining them creates characters that become more effective at some things and less at others. A Fighter/war cleric will have less spells but may be a better fighter than a pure war cleric. The character could also be fully devoted to their god while just learning to fight better, that could be a large part of the motivation for such a character.

Basically, from my perspective, there are very good reasons from both a mechanical and a role play sense for quite a few multiclass combinations.

On the other hand, there are some multiclass combinations that would need a really good back story and a lot of role playing effort. For example an oath of devotion paladin/fiend warlock would be a character that would be very divided internally and would have a lot of difficulty reconciling the two parts of the character. Divine soul sorcerer and hexblade warlock might be another character that might find the two classes in opposition to each other. In a homebrew game, a DM might ask for some really good back story and role playing ... on the other hand, in AL, any combination is acceptable.

Finally, in general, multiclassing delays the acquisition of higher level abilities and as a result can be quite well balanced. A caster with a two level dip in another class will always be a level of spells behind equivalent single classed characters. Even if they have the spell slots, they won't have the spells. A figher with a 2 level multiclass will have to wait until 13th level to get their 3rd attack. A 5th level wizard with a 2 level dip will have to wait until 7th level to get their 3rd level spells.

Basically, if you are going to multiclass, it is either for role playing reasons to create a character with an interesting back story that you want to play or if the abilities offered by the multiclass compensate for the delayed progression. For example, I have a 7th level character that is a 5th level lore bard/2nd level hexblade warlock (his mother was part shadow elf and father a human paladin). The two levels of hexblade have added general utility and the ability to do some at will damage but at level 5 and 6 the character did not have some of the better CC and AoE spells from 3rd level. He is also still missing out on the magical secrets spells which he won't obtain until level 8 .. but which a straight bard would have had last level. As a result, mechanically it is pretty balanced and from a role playing perspective the combination fits the characters back story.
 

Hawk Diesel

Explorer
So I am very much one that separates mechanics and fluff. When I look at the pure numbers and abilities of the different classes, I don't see anything that would inherently make one a Fighter versus Monk versus Sorcerer versus Wizard. Yes, some of the abilities we have come to understand represent things like Sneak Attack, but that is still more of a colloquialism or short-hand, and doesn't mean that the way it's represented couldn't change.

For example, I can play a barbarian that is not a savage or tribal. I can play them as a mad scientist. Rage does not mean he gets really angry, but could be the result of an injection or potion. Or it could be a form of lycanthropy. Mechanically it works the same, but with that slight reskin I have changed the class completely. It works the same, sure, but the way I play it will be quite different.

A paladin does not have to be a Holy Warrior. It could just as easily be a sorcerer. They are descended from some powerful entity, and at their whim they can burn their foes with their strikes and have regenerative abilities to mend their wounds and even those of others. Suddenly a Paladin is no longer about their code, and is transformed into someone born with their powers like a Sorcerer.

Same thing with a Fighter. I look at those mechanics, and I can easily reflavor it into a Monk or a Ninja. Sure, fighters use weapons, but a warhammer can be reflavored into brass knuckles and it works the same. And you change it to versatile by the classic move where you bring your interlocked fists down upon an opponent's head.

So yea, a multiclass Sorcerer/Paladin may not make sense if you only subscribe to the lore that we associate with those mechanics. But the Paladin levels could easily be explained as an extension of the sorcerer's bloodline based power. Or the Paladin may describe their sorcerery powers as an extension of their will to remain faithful to their oath. Or, it could be a really wiry inventor that wears a power armor suit and uses their gadgets to replicate all the powers of the sorcerer and paladin (especially if it's a gnome, eh [MENTION=6799753]lowkey13[/MENTION]?).
 

Keravath

Explorer
I agree.

I think a lot of people are also selfish in character creation. They want their character to be the protagonist rather than part of an ensemble.

Not only is that character representing Drow, but the character is also going to be hogging screen time.

Backstories only exist if they influence the story. Background traits through Inspiration allow for the backstory to shine through. But that's it, 4 things that sum up the character. Everything else about that character is created during play.

A player could write an entire novel's worth of backstory for their character and it still wouldn't exist. To all of the viewers (other players) they are just a LG Drow who wants to hog the game by telling everyone about it.

...Instead...make a character who will bolster the story and the other characters. Or in other words, it isn't 1 player's story.

Umm ... In my opinion and experience, the only way that one character dominates and gets more "screen time" is if the DM allows it and caters to the player. A good DM can make almost any party composition work.

I'd also add, that in most of the world, the LG Drow Paladin of the sun is far more likely to see LESS "screen time" than the other characters since the reaction of NPCs in towns is likely to be extremely negative. LG Drow are an extreme rarity unless the DM rebuilds the world to accomodate the character (which shouldn't usually happen unless it just happens to be a world where the drow lore is completely different). However, assuming the standard world, drow are hated and feared. They are quite likely to be lynched. Other adventurers in the town will have likely only encountered the evil versions and are probably not above taking revenge on a random drow.

So ... a lot of the time that LG Drow Paladin of the sun is going to be hiding in their room trying not to be found. The rest of the party will get the screen time with social interactions and if the Drow shows their face they could end up jailed, dead or worse. Never mind the fact that they attack with disadvantage when in the sun.

Mechanically, a stronger race is likely the Yuan-ti pureblood. Unlike Drow, they can usually pass for human. However, they still won't be the center of attention unless the DM lets it happen.
 

ad_hoc

Adventurer
I always felt this was a missed opportunity. During the playtest, I had concerns that 5E was going to be unplayable for me and my group (thankfully, I worried needlessly). However, I did spend time using the various playtest material we had to mash together my own version of 5E... just in case.

When they mentioned that levels 1-2 were going to be "apprentice tier," that got me thinking. What if the game default started at level 3. You could play levels 1-2, but that would be similar to playing 0 level characters from earlier editions. With this in mind, you could easily set up a workable multi-class system using the 3E model 5E eventually used. Instead of a level 1 fighter getting proficiency in all weapons and armor, they only get some (more than non-warrior type classes, for sure). Clerics worship a concept or pantheon before settling in to a single deity (i.e. domain). You get the idea, but it would allow characters to dip for some benefit, but not the massive benefit most commonly seen today. Single class characters, however, would start off pretty much as you expect them to now. Oh well.
That would be a good way to do it.

Personally I like how subclasses fill the role of multiclassing and prefer it to your way, but I could live with yours.

I think for the popularity of the game it was better that they made multiclassing an optional module rather than something they designed around. Works well for me too as I just don't use it.
 
I am wondering why the lore of spellcasters is so sacred to some?

...

So this leads me to ask: of all the things we home brew and change, why are these seemingly sacred cows so sacred to some? Do we think the RP aspect is a balancing factor in some way?

I observe that many who dislike multiclassing seem to dislike deviation from very traditional fluff elements in classes.
Though I actually used it in the past for a couple of characters, I dislike multiclassing in all combinations. Each class is both a strong archetype and a flexible canvas for good players.

I generally find that roleplay reasons for multiclassing are weak. IMXP the real reasons for most players are most commonly (1) believing they can get an advantage from combining the abilities of different classes, and (2) wanting to play two characters at the same time. Now, whether the player is aware that these are his true reasons, or he genuinely believes he's doing it for the "character concept" is another matter.

I think that the idea of trying to figure out a synergy between the mechanics of two classes is a more valid reason, but I still don't like using multiclassing to achieve that, because it's still too big a tool for the job. I prefer using feats that grant a class' signature ability to other characters, because they get to the point without baggage.
 
I think this is a symptom of some classes being mechanical-only but other classes being mechanics and story.

The idea of a fighter doesn't rely on any fluff. You know how to fight. There's no reliance in anything in the game world. A warlock or cleric, however, is bound up with something in the game - a patron or deity. D&D 5E has tried to remove the link between clerics and paladins and in-game deities, but most of us players ignore that.
It is a failure of description, both designers' fault and players' fault. If you start seeing the Fighter more like a budoka or dedicated student of the martial arts as a way of life (whatever style, nothing to do with the oriental), it can be on par with all other classes. Instead people insists on thinking of the Fighter as a mere collector of useful techniques, and then blame it because is doesn't have a purpose. You have to try and think that the martial arts are the purpose for the Fighter, and no one else.

I loved 4th Edition most because it explicitly stated that fluff is malleable: let the players' and dungeon masters' imagination soar: create your own worlds, characters and backstories.

As a dungeon master in 5th Edition, I allow my players the same leeway. They are limited to the mechanics of the rules; but they can change the appearance, background, names, etc to fit their own concepts.
Some people see this as the reason why multiclassing is good. I see this as the reason why multiclassing is unnecessary.
 

Tallifer

Adventurer
Some people see this as the reason why multiclassing is good. I see this as the reason why multiclassing is unnecessary.
Multiclassing is good for recreating classes which do not exist in any form, such as the Dark Age of Camelot Friar: cloth armour, staff-based acrobatic fighting style; plus minor blessings and healings. (Not the best example perhaps, as any attempt I have made to create such a D&D character has been a multi-ability-score-dependent weakling.)
 
Multiclassing is good for recreating classes which do not exist in any form, such as the Dark Age of Camelot Friar: cloth armour, staff-based acrobatic fighting style; plus minor blessings and healings. (Not the best example perhaps, as any attempt I have made to create such a D&D character has been a multi-ability-score-dependent weakling.)
Monk with Magic Initiate, high-Dex Cleric in light armor, Divine Soul Sorcerer with good physical stats also work.
 

Warpiglet

Explorer
I am seeing an argument that multiclassing in not necessary.

But my question would so are many choices in he game.

You can have a successful game without it but is the objection one of fluff or mechanics. If fluff, why is it such a sacred cow?

When 5e first came out, I thought no optional rules was the way to recreate an old school feel. Pretty quickly my focus changed...but why are others holding back? No judgment, just curiosity...
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
That would be a good way to do it.

Personally I like how subclasses fill the role of multiclassing and prefer it to your way, but I could live with yours.

I think for the popularity of the game it was better that they made multiclassing an optional module rather than something they designed around. Works well for me too as I just don't use it.
It is optional!
 

Warpiglet

Explorer
The answer is in past editions alignment and sticking to an oath/code of honor/path/ideal for the special classes (ranger/paladin/druid/etc) was indeed part of the "balance" in exchange for all the cool stuff you got. So that's sort of become imprinted in the genetics of the overarching metagame.

Personally I'm fine with sacrificing the sacred cow - if you can come up with a neat idea to do so. Personally I can see a lot of possible ideas for the warlock/paladin. A paladin devoted to a holy cause but also under the sway of some kind of demonic shadow weapon is like 70s/80s fantasy 101.

On the other hand, besides feats multiclass /is/ the main way min/maxing gets silly in 5e. But it's not as silly as it was in 3.5, so I kind of remain ambivalent to it. Until players ask about polearm mastery/sentinel with a quarterstaff and shield, or dual wielding lances. Then my ambivalent genial DM facade melts away to reveal the demonic grognard within.

Edit: I have more to say and didn't want to doublepost:

One reason you see reaction especially to Warlock multiclassing is because of the way Warlock spell slots work. That affects class features from other classes in a profound way, which is why you see Warlock pop up so much in optimization discussions. Being able to use spell slots and get them back with a short rest, and those spell slots all being the highest level that your spell slots can be, really super charge certain class mechanics. The reaction comes from the folks who don't like bottom-up character development; i/e conceptualizing the possible interplay of mechanics before the story and flavor of the person.

In my personal opinion, bottom up or top down is fine as long as at the end you have a character that can add to the story at the table. If you're a walking frankenstein creation with no veneer of background flavor or anything to add to the narrative, that's when I get.... ​hasty.
Yes, my own tolerance for creativity meets its limit when someone does something for an in game advantage that does not make any sense given some assumptions about the world and medieval combat. No, dual wielding lances is not OK and polearm master while using a shield? Nope. RAW may say otherwise but I cannot stomach that among a few other things. Some people don't care and I trust they are having as much fun doing it as I have avoiding it.

Yes the old days had some fluff elements to balance the game...however, if you read the description of multiclassing for demihumans, you will note nothing about RP and everything about playstyle and strengths and weaknesses!

I suspect the whole "multiclassing doesn't make sense" gained traction in an era when there was more mechanical synergy vs. merely expanding options...which might be ironic.

I will tip my hand a bit...I like multiclassing and changing fluff to fit either the class combo or story or both but reviled prestige classes being combined in ways that made no in game sense. I think I am sort of in the middle of the positions about multiclassing.

However, I am not against reflavoring warlock abilities as only partially related to patron for example or perhaps in suggesting the pact is not all that important or life long...unless the DM story says it is or it adds something. I don't think a warlock who is instructed like a wizard is any game harming thing as an example.

I am starting to realize that I am close to 50/50 in terms of character development. Half the time I want a certain playstyle (gish) and the other half of the time I think of an interesting character. In either case, sometimes the story in my head supersedes fluff.

Part of my willingness to go in different directions is the open ended way some of the classes are written about! While talking about sorcerers for example, one source of spark could be the touch of an outsider! What does that have to do with dragons? I hope not much since I am not particularly into dragons...
 
I suspect the whole "multiclassing doesn't make sense" gained traction in an era when there was more mechanical synergy vs. merely expanding options...which might be ironic.
An uncomfortable truth about multiclassing rules is that they are a sort of tacit admission that class-based systems are innately inadequate to model a reasonable range of character concepts.
 

Irennan

Explorer
I allow multiclassing if it makes sense lore-wise and world-wise. For example, a Cleric/Warlock is fine, as long as the warlock patron is a servant or an ally of you deity, and if you can come up with a story to justify it. There could also be the whole "an evil entity is trying to claim the character's soul, but the character is trying to escape the consequences of their pact/the entity's infuence by latching themselves onto a good deity" thingy. However, barring extremely pragmatic gods, that stroy would beg the question of why the character is even continuing to channel the evil entity's power.

Same thing for a paladin/warlock--your patron and your beliefs have to align at very least. A Bard/Cleric would be awesome for priest(esse)s of deities of arts, beauty, music, etc... Combining classes like Fighter, Rogue, and Monk could even simply represent the character experimenting with different combat tactics in their career.

Of course, picking a class mid-game would require a proper story/introduction to justify that. No gaining powers out of the blue, it's just jarring.

The sun is a very threat to your existence. It wouldn't feel good.

But that is beside the point, why a Drow? Why not any of a myriad of other races?

1. To be the centre of attention.
2. To tell a story to a captive audience rather than to create a story with friends.

It's just disrespectful. At our table we don't allow any of that sort of thing. You're here to contribute to the group or you should go write a novel on your own.
Some worlds do have drow presence on the surface--the Realms included, with 2 whole drow deities and their faiths dedicated to that, so it could very well make total sense, lore-wise (I mean, the possibility exists that they were born on the surface, and that has been true for millennia, in-universe). Some of those drow have managed to gain some presence in other races' settlements, like Waterdeep. On a side note, in FR at least, the drow only take as little as 10 years to adapt to sunlight. They're no vampires.

That said, the reason for picking a drow could simply be that the person likes the concept, which can be spun in many ways. The very part of conquering a new beginning (if the player is even going for a drow that came from a Lolthite background) can be played in many different ways, without begging for attention or anything like that--just like a character of any other race could have a story about rising from a shady past.

If their very presence is going to be problematic, disguises and magic initiate with disguise self (or picking that spell if you're a caster with it in your list) can go a long way. I mean, why assume that someone is going to be a drama queen when they could just be invested into the character?
 
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TheCosmicKid

Adventurer
An uncomfortable truth about multiclassing rules is that they are a sort of tacit admission that class-based systems are innately inadequate to model a reasonable range of character concepts.
I don't think that creating a tool to expand the flexibility of a system demonstrates that the system is "innately inadequate". On the contrary, if the tool works and the system becomes more flexible, obviously it's not innately inadequate. You wouldn't say that gearshifts are a sort of tacit admission that bicycles are innately inadequate for travel at a reasonable range of speeds.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
An uncomfortable truth about multiclassing rules is that they are a sort of tacit admission that class-based systems are innately inadequate to model a reasonable range of character concepts.
That depends on two things

Is multiclassing assumed as a part of the system or somehow relegated as an outside element. Maybe early classed systems treated it as an outside element but it seems most modern classed sysyems are built and tested with multi-classing as an expectation. Its not a tacit admission of a lack at all.

Second, it depends on what you define as "reasonable" as far as number of concepts. For a tight approach to a setting, a dozen classes may well serve the setting just great even as single classes - very reasonable. But when your defined goal is a whole lot of coverage for a wide variety of settings, single class multi-classing would seem to require a lot of single classes.

I dont find it harder to reach a reasonable range of character concepts with good class based systems myself, compared with the problems of non-classed system which imo often produce a lot more problems with just the cosmetic coversge of many concepts.

But there is not an absolute here, just preferences and expectations.
 

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