D&D 5E Should 5e classes be Complicated or Simple?


First Post
So I've been drawn back to the Forums because of my hopes for 5e. Montes return along with the last statement by WOTC have given me hope for it. And I'm looking for a bit of change from my last Pathfinder campaign.

I wonder what peoples thoughts are on the quest for easy to learn and balanced game systems.

If you look at 4e, it is simple and easy to learn. All the classes follow the same template and they are much more balanced to eachother then previous editions. I personally thing there is a cost to this however.

One of my favorite game systems is Arcana Unearthed (or Arcana Evolved) by Monte. Its 3.5 based but largely expanded. Races have their own levels. Spells can be "heightened" or "diminished". Each class works quite differently, and classes have a lot of choice so that an Ice witch is considerably different then a Wind Witch. I could see the negatives here, its much harder to learn for newbies, its harder to make it balanced.

I guess one of the things 4e made me miss the most was that point when your friend does something in game and you say "You can do that?!", and you read his char sheet or talk about how he made that character because you didn't even know that thing was possible. Don't get me wrong there is something similar to that in 4e, but it really involves me asking "is that a daily or encounter power?" Theres less mystery about the power how it works, how you got it, because they all work in a similar way.

What do you think, do you miss classes that are completely different from eachother?
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I think there should definitely be a baseline class that's relatively simple in most cases for new players. But there clearly should be the options to make all classes more complex, as complexity and customizing classes to suit my options is something I prefer.

I think they're certainly going with classes that feel different from each other, though with the module option to pick and choose abilities some may overlap.


Simple in the core, but with limited customisation built in. Then, much greater customisation once the supplements are brought in - for those who want it.


Mod Squad
Staff member
Think chess.

The basics of any piece are, honestly, dirt simple. But, there's a lot of sophistication in actual play.

I also think there's a difference between being customizable and being mechanically complex. The most obvious example fits for any character - alignment. You can get four completely different play experiences with the exact same mechanical build, as you go from lawful good to lawful evil to chaotic evil to chaotic good.


I can easily foresee simple base classes, with more complex additions to the base classes or more complex versions of these classes in optional modules.

The big question is how to handle balancing everything, because ideally the simple classes shouldn't be massively underpowered compared to the complicated classes. I know some people think more complexity should give more power, and I strongly oppose this point of view as that leads right back to linear fighters vs quadratic wizards.



Both, as mentioned above.

Simple foundation (Essentials philosophy) with the ability to swap out none/some/all of those simple elements for more complicated versions/options if the player wishes.

It shouldn't be that difficult, just requires work.


I don't think simple / complex is the right axis here. Chess was a good example - it has only very few, easy to learn rules, but it is increadibly complex if you want to beat a pro. It's both simple and complex at the same time.

A good RPG should be similar. It should have a few transparent basic principles, that open a broad range of options in play. Both 3rd and 4th edition were steps in the right direction, because they created a streamlined structure out of a big mess. In AD&D times, classes didn't even gain levels at the same XP total.

Still, there are some mistakes that 5th edition can learn from. A big one in 4th edition design was making powers (and to some degree, feats) too class specific. This created a lot of duplication between classes like Fighter and Rogue, Cleric and Invoker, Warden and Barbarian, or Wizard and Sorcerer.


I'll echo "Both" as well.

Using 4e as an example, the Slayer and the Weaponmaster are both 'fighters', but one is simple and the other complex. Both can play in the same party with similar ability to contribute and have fun.


First Post
If you only want the same older generation to play the game, then keep the rules as complex as you can. Go Paladium if you have to.

HOwever, if your job is to create a new dnd era, simple is better. It should take more time to make a character in fallout 3 than it is does in 5e, at any level.

Simple foundation with the ability to be as complex as a player decides. If you want to take special abilities from several subclasses, knock it out, they've been balanced against one another. If you want to go classic wizard, it's right there too and there's a template for you to get you started.


First Post
It really has to be both, to unify D&D players, doesn't it?

Simple, like old Basic D&D; roll your stats, pick your race/class, dive on in!

Complex, like 2E Skills and Powers or 3E; roll/pick your stats/substats, pick your race/subrace and class/kit, decide on advantages/disadvantages, choose skills and weapon proficiencies, pick a few tricks or feats, dive on in!

Both are appealing; some individuals don't like one or the other, some like both. A game that can do both, especially simultaneously, would have a lot going for it.

I'm loving the idea that 5E could be like this, but I don't think we'll see the Complex side initially.


What do you think, do you miss classes that are completely different from eachother?

Very much so. I DMed 4e up until about 12th level, and i got absolutely sick of the powers progression. Players would just huddle over their cards, roll some dice, and tell me the damage and condition it inflicted. It got old.

That said, i think 4e has the right idea with some kind of "pool" of class powers, but they need to be different from each other and not so vanilla. If you have every single friggin class dealing damage + daze effect, hell, you don't know what power that is or who did it.

And don't call them powers in 5e. Please.


First Post
I like the idea of having choices. I think that in the older editions, the simple class was always the fighter, but this wasn't a solution because what if I want to play a simple mage?

I would be happy with, a simple version and a complicated version of each class in the INITIAL book (I dont think you should have to ask your DM to play a traditional wizard)

This could be classes like

Simple Warrior - Warrior from 4e
Simple Mage - Wizard from 4e

Complex warrior - a class something like from Iron heroes
Complex Mage - vancian mage, something like from 3e.

Make a couple more classes, make em multiclassable, give em names and ill buy the book :p

Edit - it almost seems like the simple warrior was the one from 3e, thats MUCH simpler then the 4e one. I had players who have always played fighters in my campaign that were annoyed at all the fighter powers in 4e so even that wasnt really simple enough.


First Post
I would say "simple". I'd rather see complications emerge in systems available to every character equally, or every character of a certain type (such as Arcane Spellcasters as a whole).

That said, I'd argue against the idea that 4E classes are simple, or simple to learn. They're not, at all, and that is one of my big problems with the game. Rather then be summed up by an easily-read core set of abilities, getting an idea for what a 4E class can do involves carefully reading through very long lists of powers and trying to figure out how they work together. It is a time-consuming process.


First Post
I will go simple as well for the core but the easier add on would be to put out "Paths" like the Midnight setting did or use "Themes" like 4e.

You can have a Fighter core class that gives you your starting class abilites and then just tack on a Path. A couple of Paths (I guess Essentials is a good way to look at it) could be given in the core book (Knight or Slayer) and then they could come out with more in additional books. Weaponmaster, Marshal, Gladiator would all be additional Paths that the Fighter class can take. Rather than swapping out core class abilities like they did with Martial Power you instead differentiate Fighters with the Paths.

This allows for a variety of Fighters without making the leveling choices overly complex. If they do decide to go with Feats, hopefully there are only a few generic feats that cut across classes or Paths.


First Post
Simple. Death to ability scores. Let the characters grow in complexity organically (i.e. by the choice you make as you level) don't front load complexity so you have to plan out your character for 20 levels to make sure you get the starting ability scores just right.


Simple. All the complicated info should come from the aspects of the character outside of class.

The class section should be as long as the race section. With the same level of complexity.

All we need is Info on HP, Weapon and Armor Profiencies, Save progression or bonus, attack progression or bonus, Spell/Prayer/Stance/Maneuver list, and 2 or 3 unique class features.

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