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Pathfinder 1E Problems With Gestalt-Based Multiclassing


Druid of the Invisible Hand
So... I've always hated the way multiclassing works in D&D 3.X and Pathfinder. I've been trying to fix it, nearly consistently, for the past fifteen years and I've gotten into a lot of stupid and pointless arguments with people who don't think it needs to be fixed.

Luckily, I am now in possession of Tipsy Tabby Publishing's Overhauling Multiclassing rules, which use a much more elegant implementation of fixed-progression Gestalt than my own-- you may select one secondary class, you take multiclass feats (with ability prerequisites a la 5e) to upgrade your chassis, and when you're at least 5th level with at least 2 multiclassing feats, you can take the Cross-Training feat that gives you all of the class features of your secondary class at your character level -4.

This is leagues better than the original system, and likewise leagues better than anything I ever came up with.

But there are still four major problems that I think can be improved, and that I'd like to address.

  1. Cost versus Benefit: Three feats for all of the class features of a secondary class just feels too good. Compare five feats for all of the "benefits" of Variant Multiclassing. Being multiclassed needs to detract something from the primary class, as well. (But my previous attempt to use Level Adjustment were awful.)
  2. Low Level Characters: You don't get any of the class features of your secondary class until 5th level. Many games don't even last that long.
  3. Triple-Class Characters: Not supported. This probably isn't much of a problem, because you can approximate most classic AD&D triples with the right Archetypes and Hybrids.
  4. Prestige Classes: Not supported, and this is the reason I'm starting this thread.
Cost Versus Benefit

I think I've got this one licked, as long as I don't try to implement Triple-Class characters. Also, for the record, I am an idiot sandwich. Pathfinder already has a mechanism for encouraging characters to stay single-class: Favored Class Bonuses. Single-class characters get Favored Class Bonuses; the level they take a multiclass feat, they stop.

Low-Level Characters

Just add a multiclass feat that grants the 1st-level features of the chosen class. This is your entry-level multiclass feat, overwritten by Cross-Training later.

Triple-Class Characters

I've got nothing, and I'm honestly half-convinced that I shouldn't even attempt this. On the other hand, I really want to.

Prestige Classes

This is a real sticking point because a lot of cool concepts in 3.X and PF are gated behind the Prestige Class system. Also, a lot of the later "multige" classes did unique things beyond just +1 spellcaster level/+1 spellcaster level that... should be available to multiclass characters in some capacity, but probably aren't worth a whole class with fixed progression.

And there's the rub: most Prestige Classes are obviously designed to replace the class features of the base class, not co-exist with them. +1 spellcaster level is only the most obvious example... but in a fixed progression game, it's meaningless. Easy enough to ignore, but suddenly a 5/10 casting PrC is the exact same as a 10/10 casting PrC.

I'm generally thinking that your first (and only) Prestige Class should just be "free": meet the prerequisites, choose it, and advance. Prestige Classes would not count against being single-classed for the purposes of FCBs. There's a part of me that wants to support having more than one Prestige Class, but I'm pretty sure that would lead to nothing but shenanigans and ruination.

So that's where I'm at. Any ideas?

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I guess I'm willing to go further back to bare-metal. I see multi-classing as an attempt to avoid making a whole bunch of classes. If you can better approximate your character conception by taking a couple of abilities, then multi-class. Or, if you envision your character as a hybrid, then multi-class. Yet, no multi-class system has managed to support all character conceptions.

My thinking has been that the trouble is the class system. Whoever designs the class, designs most of the character concept. Let's flip that. Let the player with the character concept design the class. Define a framework for them to use to fill in class details. Then you don't need multi-classing. It wouldn't quite be a classless system, but certainly a step in that direction.


I DMd and played in games where gestalt was an option in return for lower point buy as a balance mechanic. In a Reign of Winter Campaign I ran I allowed gestalting with an NPC class for 5 point buy and full class gestalting for 10. In a Wrath of the Righteous Mythic campaign I played in it was 5 point buy for gestalting and allowed as many as you were willing to pay for. My character concept was a viking wizard who punched demons in the face so I went fighter/wizard/monk triple gestalt and had a lot of fun. About half the party gestalted and half single classed for higher stats.

So another option.


You should try taking a look at the Pathfinder 2E multiclass system. Or Archetypes as they've named them. You don't get all of the abilities of your secondary class, and it takes a class feat from your primary class class to each time you want to take an ability or feat from your secondary class. It can be a bit rough on your primary class's progression. But the Gamemastery guide offered up a few optional variants that seem valid.

One is to give characters a free archetype feat selection at every level that they can take a class feat. I've implemented this with a slight modification of allowing the feat to also be used for racial feats as well. That way players don't feel that they have to multiclass.


PF2 has a gestalt (dual-class characters) system. That is not the primary system but is included as an alternate in the Gamemastery Guide.

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