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5E Optional Rule: Subclass Gestalt


I ran into this idea on the internet and I was wondering what folks thought of it?

Basically when a character gets a subclass instead of picking just one, they pick two subclasses getting the features of both.

So a Sorcerer might pick both Divine Soul and Shadow Magic, a Bard might pick both College of Lore and the College of Whispers, a Ranger might pick both Beastmaster and Gloomstalker, a Druid might pick Circle of the Shepherd and Circle of the Stars, a Fighter might pick both Battlemaster and Eldritch Knight for examples.

What are your thought?

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Small God of the Dozens
It's a cool idea if you want to play high-powered characters for sure. I wouldn't worry about the CR either, that's always manageable. Have you thought about what this looks like for MC characters?


The potential balance issue I see is that some classes get a lot from their subclasses, and some don't get much at all. An abjurer/evoker is still pretty much just a wizard, but a battlemaster/ eldritch knight is a lot more than just a fighter.

But if you're okay with high-powered play and think the players would be willing to accept adjustments to help balance as needed, it could be fun.


Small God of the Dozens
I was just wondering if a MC character ended up with four subclasses. It sounds crazy, but I don't think it would be OP, at least in context anyway. BattleMaster/Eldritch Knight/Assassin/Arcane Trickster sounds like a fun build.


The hero you deserve
Yea, I know it's been discussed around here before, I think it's a pretty good idea, personally.

The big sticking point is that some classes have much better subclasses then others and they synergize better. But I don't think the difference is so large that you couldn't manage it for your own game with a little bit of targeted magic item assistance to the less strong player.

Fun combinations off the top of my head:

Lore/Valor bard (Armor and Weapon options, Extra Attack plus extra spells to make you a better gish).

Arcana/Nature cleric (Heavy armor, start with the Shillelagh/Booming Blade combo right off the bat, get Divine Strike and Potent Cantrip at 8).

Battlemaster/Eldritch Knight Fighter. A fighter with potent short rest and long rest options. This would be pretty compelling.

Gloomstalker/Beast Master Ranger (assuming class variant UA fixes for the Beast Master).

Moon/pretty much anything else Druid. Better wild shape + better spellcasting.


An easy way to accomplish this is to give the PCs magic items that allow it, but require attunement. That forces them to give up a bit of power in exchange for the added benefits of a second subclass. As the powers expand as they rise in power, and as you can supplement some of the weaker choices to maintain balance across the party, it does a lot to counterbalance the challenges of doing so.


I wouldn't just outright give them the abilities of two subclasses but I'm all for opening up choice in 5E. I've been working on a system that puts all subclass abilities into a "pool" and allow a character to build the subclass they want (with some restrictions).

For example, if a Lore bard wants to trade Cutting Words for Combat Inspiration, I'd allow that.

However, to do it right, the path system needs more granularity. More path features need to be granted, some path features would need to be broken up into smaller chunks, and new abilities added to balance things out.


I think for the sake of balance, it should only be two classes. Three or more sound like alot of upkeep and remembering things.


Small God of the Dozens
If you wanted to open it right up, most of the sub class stuff either appears as single abilities or as short 2-3 ability trees. Shouldn't be too complicated. Spellcasting is a little bit stickier for the 1/3 casters, something would have to be done to split casting levels up, perhaps decoupling caster level from character level maybe, IDK.


I find it unnecessary personally.

If you want "interesting roleplay" you do not need any subclasses to do it. You just decide what is important to your character or what has influenced your character's life and you play it that way. If your character was to be a devout and religious person of a dark god you wouldn't need to take Sorcerer, Divine Soul, and Shadow to do it... you just play a religious character that believes in that. You could be the standard Life Cleric and be a devout and religious person of a dark god based upon how you behave in character.

Or if you want just more game mechanics to use when you play the combat mini-game, I suppose you could tie it to the subclass system, but you could just as easily give out more feats, give out more magic items, allow whatever multiclassing you want, or any other junk that gives more game mechanics for the player to sort through.

Although personally... I find there to already be more than enough game mechanics players can use when doing the combat mini-game that I don't find adding more to the classes to be a feature. In fact... the more mechanics you give to players through classes makes the mechanics they get through magic items have much less import and thus an important "reward system" of the game is made less important. So I'd actually say giving more mechanics to the players via classes and subclasses to actually be a bug.


Aberrant Druid
I don't have a firm grasp of class balance in 5e because it's not my cup of tea... but I see some non-mechanical problems.

Some classes (Fighter, Rogue, Bard) have subclasses that are generally very much thematically compatible with eachother. Some classes (Sorcerer, Warlock, Paladin) have subclasses that are generally very much not. Others have mentioned that classes vary considerably in how much they get from the base class and how much they get from the subclass-- and this isn't merely a balance problem, it's a thematic problem as well.

It would require considerable reworking of classes and subclasses, but I'd like to see how it turns out-- I'd also like to see this system implemented (without multiclassing) where characters could take one class with two subclasses, or two classes with no subclass or the bare minimum subclass(es) for their classes.

To do something interesting and different and new way to personalize your character and/or make them a little bit more versitile, fun RP.
To point out the obvious, RP doesn't require mechanics.

I get the allure, because the idea presses an emotional button for me, too. But it's the "MORE POWAH!" button, which I don't think is a good one to feed.

the Jester

What's the goal here? Is there a problem you're trying to fix? A playstyle you're trying to achieve? Or is this change for the sake of change?


Tactical Studies Rules - The Original Game Wizards
I think a better idea my be to allow subclasses to choose features from other subclasses in the same class when they reach the next award.

For example, a Fighter might begin with BM at level 3, but decide Know Your Enemy doesn't fit the concept as well as Remarkable Athlete would, so they take Remarkable Athlete at level 7 instead.

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