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.

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