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5E Sometimes Less Is More...or am I the only one who thinks so?

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I recently noticed that I was spending a lot of time homebrewing new archetypes in a vacuum, trying to add to the already extensive list of archetypes given by WotC an ever increasing number of subclasses to fill any niche a player would like to play with an eventual/theoretical future character. I concluded that it would be easier for me to just remove all archetypes, wait for the ''archetype first level'' for each player and ask her/him to tell me how does she/he imagine her character moving forward, and homebrewing a specific archetype for her/him.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
So, I think there are a few too many sub-classes in what I think of the core D&D rules (which to me consist of the three core rulebooks plus the trilogy of Mordenkainen's, Volo's, and Xanathar's).
Well, that's your problem right there. There are several supplements in that list. If you are going to willfully expand the core, you can't really complain about how big the core list is, now can you?
 
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Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Or you could just abandon the concept of class entirely. The background is the class. you aren't a fighter who used to be a peasant, you are a peasant (or were until last week when your farm was burned down or somesuch). You're a rat catcher, a venturesome academic, etc.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
Less is more. Though I would go in the direction of eliminating multiclassing and adding in more classes/subclasses to fill those conceptual gaps.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
Or you could just abandon the concept of class entirely. The background is the class. you aren't a fighter who used to be a peasant, you are a peasant (or were until last week when your farm was burned down or somesuch). You're a rat catcher, a venturesome academic, etc.
This is also a nice idea. I like the idea of your character is built around your background, not your class, and you develop the character by using points or something to improve and purchased features, etc.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
Less is more. Though I would go in the direction of eliminating multiclassing and adding in more classes/subclasses to fill those conceptual gaps.
Or go the other route and allow multiclassing to fill the gaps for subclasses, etc. Want an Edlritch Knight? Play a Fighter/Wizard, etc.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
This is also a nice idea. I like the idea of your character is built around your background, not your class, and you develop the character by using points or something to improve and purchased features, etc.
both Warhammer and Troika! did this very well.

In both cases, you don't choose your career/background though. In warhammer (2e) you roll twice and pick one (or, under some variant, you pick a broad category (like say, "criminals") and roll once). In Troika you roll once. As a GM I would make reroll anyone who got the same background as someone else.

They are, in a way, point buy systems, but without letting the players buy the points. That way it cuts down on the power gaming and the "generic best built adventurer" sameness..
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
Or go the other route and allow multiclassing to fill the gaps for subclasses, etc. Want an Edlritch Knight? Play a Fighter/Wizard, etc.
You could. In other game systems that works very well. In 5e it doesn't because there's some pretty large breakpoints at level 5, 11 etc. IMO

It also leaves out abilities that let those multiclassed characters work well together out of the picture.
 

ParanoydStyle

Peace Among Worlds
I was just going to propose that but I guess I was scooped.
Oh you motherflumpher....oh no you DI'INT just go there. You DID NOT just make that pun. Gods damn you!

We got some pushback with A Touch of Class and A Touch More Class, but I'll stand by them. Sure, you can mimic anything with a subclass, but only lightly. A full class lets you access far more depth into that concept.
Yeah, some pushback along with SEVERAL THOUSAND DOLLARS (more accurately I think tens of thousands of dollars?). : P

The demand for "more is more" style design is quite clear and present.

That said, I do appreciate the number of people in this thread that said they're with me. I don't think that my approach is the right way or the one true way or anything like that, but it's nice to know that I'm not completely alone in my thinking, y'know?
 
Think of 5e as a salad bar.

Think less is more? Artfully arrange those three soy beans and that slice of pickled beet on your romaine lettuce leaf and Zen out.

Think more is more? Take a little of everything and top with bacon.


Either way, don't begrudge anyone else their selections.
 

ParanoydStyle

Peace Among Worlds
I'm not cool with not being the guy advocating for bacon in any given metaphor. Less but more can also be JUST BACON. Have you ever eaten JUST BACON? I have.

I apologize for nothing.

Anyway, yes, 5E does an excellent job of accommodating and supporting both playstyles. It is really really effing good that way.
 

ParanoydStyle

Peace Among Worlds
Well, that's your problem right there. There are several supplements in that list. If you are going to willfully expand the core, you can't really complain about how big the core list is, now can you?
Actually kinda gotta disagree with you there. I feel like with such an emanately reasonable amount of published supplements (compared with 3E or even 4E!) players would revolt if I were to ban any of it. I mean, I know as a player now that I've seen that books it contains some cool stuff I wouldn't want to be denied, specially just cause.
 

Ath-kethin

Explorer
I don't always agree with the "less is more" approach, but I can see an argument that 5e is "too much that's the same." I don't, for example, think that sorcerer and warlock overlap too much, but I do think the warlock is underdeveloped. And the sameyness of wizards absolutely chafes me.

I think the best class/subclass system I've seen is Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperboria. Characters from a different subclass of the same class bear only passing resemblance to each other. Your cryomancer has a completely different spell lists from your pyromancer or necromancer, with minimal overlap.

YMMV, ofc.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
So, I think there are a few too many sub-classes in what I think of the core D&D rules (which to me consist of the three core rulebooks plus the trilogy of Mordenkainen's, Volo's, and Xanathar's). Namely, I think that there are few places where subclasses feel very redundant in the face of existing classes and class combinations. Colloquially, there have been a lot of conceptual fixes to stuff that simply wasn't broke in the first place.
IMO. In a game which ties certain mechanics to certain character flavors then having redundancy is good. The zealot barbarian is a good example. Perhaps I really like the rage mechanic and the holy warrior concept. Why should I be forced to avoid a mechanic I like to play a class concept I like or vice versa.

Path of The Zealot Barbarians is another character option that I don't think really needs to exist. I think that players wanting to go with this kind of character should just be Paladins, or if they really want rage, Paladins with a dip into Barbarian.
I actually think multiclassing makes for a much less unified character concept, (*Unless you are specifically wanting to play the fighter that turns into the sorcerer or something like that). Multiclassing in 5e causes both mechanical and conceptual issues IMO.

For example in the case of a Paladin dipping into barbarian, your holy warrior just took on a lot of additional uncivilized/nature/animalistic baggage that probably doesn't actually go along with your character concept. There's the flavor issue. You essentially are stopping your Holy Warrior style to progress in uncivilized/natural/animalistic style. That doesn't really jive very well conceptually. That's the conceptual issue. Then there's the mechanical issue where you delay all of your paladin class abilities just to be able to try to claim your a zlot barbarian. Delaying features to shoehorn some specific mechanic or concept into a class that doesn't innately support that concept just doesn't feel good.

Other things are not restricted but come with a fair warning about how they're likely to be received by other characters, namely Tieflings and Drow who will very understandably be killed on sight in many places. What I do do instead of restricting or forbidding (even more) character concepts is that I try to give some minor incentive players to players playing the "classic" races and classes, letting them start with inspiration or giving them slightly better gear. (FWIW I also standardized some things that are normally in nonplayable "ask the DM" territory, namely orcs and goblins which I've felt for some time should be core races. Although like Tieflings and Drow they will frequently have to deal with prejudice.)
It's worse to allow players to play races that will be killed on sight than it is to just outright ban them. You are setting players up for a terrible experience and giving them just enough rope to hang themselves so to speak.

So what do you guys think, both about my examples and about the general question of whether limiting player options somewhat is okay at least sometimes? Is it sometimes even a good thing?
Limiting player options for setting is great. It's probably best to do that with an established playerbase though. Maybe start something more generic till you get to that point.

* Bonus question. Thoughts on new classes w/o subclasses? I'm not talking about taking away existing subclasses from existing classes, I'm just asking how mandatory it is that every class I homebrew for D&D contain 2-3 subclasses, or can some of them just be "one track" so to speak?
I'd make the class with a single subclass as opposed to no subclass. There may be 1 day a player likes the class but wants a slightly different flavor. The subclass change can fill that void.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I'm glad this thread is coming up again, because re-reading I'm not 100% sure I made my point. So at the risk of repeating myself:

First I really like 5e. It's an excellent edition of D&D, probably the best ever made, with the caveat that some people have different tastes, they might like something simpler (B/X then) or crunchier (Pathfinder it is!). And that's fine, different people with different tastes etc.

That being said, it is folly to think that 5e (or D&D in general) can do everything. Something D&D in general does poorly is the "everyman". Sure sure you could take a commoner, but that would SUUUCK. But in some systems (warhammer, troika) you can have a party with a rat catcher and a soldier, or a gremlin catcher and a champion of chaos, and it works.

Note here, I don't mean a fighter and a rogue who has the "rat catcher" background. I mean a rat catcher, period. So your party might have a thief and a mercenary (rogue, fighter), but also a servant, a monkey monger, a charcoal burner, a mathemologist, a peasant, a scribe... So this is what D&D doesn't do well, a party of mixed "adventurer" classes and people who just happen to be adventurers but without any special training.

If you want to do a game like that, then you have to use other systems. And you really should. I think playing other systems have increased my appreciation of D&D, along with me realizing its limits.
 

Arilyn

Explorer
I think the ratcatchers, carriage drivers, etc exist is Warhammer purely as flavour and because in Warhammer you switch careers easily. This doesn't mean that you couldn't flavour D&D this way too, not necessarily with ratcatchers, but no reason to stick to what has been traditionally considered standard classes.

EN world has just published their masterclass codex adding 16 new classes. This now really opens up possibilities. As a player, my creative juices have more fun stuff to play around with, as a GM, I have material for new worlds.

And yes, if someone can swing it, maybe ratcatchers too.
 

Greg K

Adventurer
I actually think multiclassing makes for a much less unified character concept, (*Unless you are specifically wanting to play the fighter that turns into the sorcerer or something like that). Multiclassing in 5e causes both mechanical and conceptual issues IMO.
I feel the same way on the issue.
 

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