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D&D 5E Starting to Hate Hexblades

ECMO3

Hero
I much prefer 1e/2e’s multi-classing to the 3e/5e multi class pick as you go rules but they both address different stories - the former involves someone who starts their career as two or more archetypes and the latter someone who finds a new calling as they go through their adventuring life. Both are legit but particularly the 3e+ version is a harder thing to balance, especially as more options become available.

I don’t think 5e hit quite hit the spot but I don’t blame them for it. But yeah, a lot of ‘sorcadins’ and ‘pal-locks’ with pretzel-envy storylines to make sense of it for my taste. I thought Ford’s take on it in critical role was a case where it actually made some kind of story sense. But at my table… not so much thought has gone into it… ‘Patron? Ohh uhhh… like you know…’
There are some high power metagame builds possible in 5E but they are the edge cases and simple interpretations which are not even against RAW will nerf some of them (no trading pact magic slots for sorcery points for example).

The multiclasses are more powerful no doubt, but they are not overly powerful IMO. They make the other characters less useful in combat, but not useless and some of the most powerful powergaming combinations are not even played often - The hexsinger and the Palatrickster for example can be pretty over the top powerful in combat but I have only seen one of them actually played.

Most of the powergame builds are kind of one-dimensional and not that good out of combat. The Charisma builds are a little of an exception, they may be good in social situations but they are usually outdone by a Rogue, a high level Bard or a Wizard using spells.
 

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Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
This is a huge problem I think. The rest is not that big a deal and usually easily explained, especially if level up happens on downtime.

The Warlock as a class is broken in my opinion because of the pact. It makes little sense and to be honest I don't find it very fun if the DM makes a story out of it either. It becomes a distraction from the campaign unless it is the campaign. And in the latter case that means you have one main PC and bunch of sidekicks.

I think they should have done the warlock mechanic different. Through study of dark arts and witchcraft you take the powers from a divine being (they are not given willlingly and there is no pact). You siphon off minute amounts of power from a demigod or other high level power to fuel your spells and abilities.

Some of the early D&D warlocks in novels subscribed to this philosophy and you could keep all the current powers and abilities, just get rid of the pact itself which is the most troubling part.
Character specific side narratives should always be a part of a campaign. It makes the player feel connected to the world, gives them grounding.

Granted you can't really have that written out for you in a pre-generated campaign, but that's just one aspect of DMing. You need to invent stuff to connect people to the world. For Divine characters and warlocks a big chunk of that work is already done for you.
 

ECMO3

Hero
Character specific side narratives should always be a part of a campaign. It makes the player feel connected to the world, gives them grounding.
I agree, there are two problems with the pact though.

First it is a class and not a character feature. Nothing from any other class requires a story tied into the class, only the Warlock does. You can use themes from classes - the cleric's deity, the bard's college, but you can just as easily generate something from the players shared experiences or the background/backstory. With the pact it is based on the class specifically. This can make the player less connected if the pact itself does not fit into the theme of the character.

Second it is extremely narrow. It is a pact with another being, which limits the breadth of the story that can be built around it.
 

Kurotowa

Legend
Sorry, I did not have time to read the entire thread. If it has been explained, apologies.

But, would you mind clarifying this statement?
Not to put words in Zard's mouth, but you at least hear stories about players trying to come to the table with what I mentally tag as "high concept" builds. You know, the ones where they want to be insanely specialized in a non-adventurer skill like beekeeping, or have a character concept that demands they be a Wizard with an 8 Intelligence, or think it would be hilarious to be a senile old knight who constantly loses his weapon and forgets to put on his armor. The sort of characters that might work in a fantasy novel, particularly a less serious one, but are so at odds with the mechanics and intent of a D&D campaign as to be a useless weight the rest of the party has to drag around.

I don't know how common that sort of thing actually is. The worst I've encountered personally was the player who was really dead set on trying to make a Baby Groot expy character, but at least they asked for help making them a functioning character too. Still, the stories are common enough it's got to be a recurring failure state of character creation.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Sorry, I did not have time to read the entire thread. If it has been explained, apologies.

But, would you mind clarifying this statement?

A few years ago I had some players that were either really clueless or really bad.

Basically they got themselves killed and often others eg putting a 12 in a prime and things like that.

When 3/6 are doing it and getting others killed.

The latest incident potential new player. He wanted 4 classes with really weird splits. I explained the problems and his response was "yeah but by level 20".

Inexperienced player didn't seem to know about how MCing excessively screws you out of extra attacks or ASIs.

They wanted to used hex blade to key everything off charisma but didn't like it when they found out we were using the default array and point buy.

Wasn't interested in working with my suggestions or with what the rest of the group was about.

Had the usual edgelord background for Tiefling as well.

I'm not here to enable your stupidity I'm here to run the game and keep it from blowing up.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
I agree, there are two problems with the pact though.

First it is a class and not a character feature. Nothing from any other class requires a story tied into the class, only the Warlock does. You can use themes from classes - the cleric's deity, the bard's college, but you can just as easily generate something from the players shared experiences or the background/backstory. With the pact it is based on the class specifically. This can make the player less connected if the pact itself does not fit into the theme of the character.

Second it is extremely narrow. It is a pact with another being, which limits the breadth of the story that can be built around it.
I offer a titanic "MEH" to this logic for the following reasons.

1) Everyone has a Family. Not every family is a good basis for carrying their story forward. This is similar to situations where a Warlock's Pact is not useful to carrying the story forward. In which case the pact, like the family, should be largely ignored... That still doesn't validate splashing Warlock for powergaming.

2) The Cleric's Church, the Paladin's Order, the Thieves Guild, The Fighter's Company. Yadda yadda yadda. Whether it's a pact with an otherworldly being or a bond to a mortal organization a connection is a connection. A character's class is a part of their character, not somehow divorced from it.

3) Shared Experiences or Backstory is great... but that's -incredibly- limiting for both the DM and the players. And without external experiences to share and use as tools to bond you wind up creating an insular feeling and miss out on great moments like this:

 

Not to put words in Zard's mouth, but you at least hear stories about players trying to come to the table with what I mentally tag as "high concept" builds. You know, the ones where they want to be insanely specialized in a non-adventurer skill like beekeeping, or have a character concept that demands they be a Wizard with an 8 Intelligence, or think it would be hilarious to be a senile old knight who constantly loses his weapon and forgets to put on his armor. The sort of characters that might work in a fantasy novel, particularly a less serious one, but are so at odds with the mechanics and intent of a D&D campaign as to be a useless weight the rest of the party has to drag around.

I don't know how common that sort of thing actually is. The worst I've encountered personally was the player who was really dead set on trying to make a Baby Groot expy character, but at least they asked for help making them a functioning character too. Still, the stories are common enough it's got to be a recurring failure state of character creation.
ah, the thing I could not explain in the caster, non-caster balance thread, everyone in the party needs to be effective, but beyond your basic abilities you tend to get locked out of stuff.
 

swordmage is just two words merged together and it sounds like a description of a thing, not a name of a concept
Most names are descriptions of things, we've just used the name so long it no longer sounds like a description. Plenty of real words and names for things are "just two words merged together." For goodness' sake, we are literally using a technology (= tekhne + logia, "art, skill, craft" + "a speaking, discourse, treatise, doctrine, theory, science"), the Internet (inter+network), to discuss a role-playing game. There are five nouns in that sentence, counting "we," and three of them are literally words glued together at some point in the past.

Portmanteaus and conjoined words are a perfectly natural and frequently-used tool for generating new words and names. (Consider the "Atlas of True Names," which translates names as if they were words...and almost all of them are REALLY BORING descriptions like "Green Mountain" or "The Place By The River," and some are currently that, like Bakersfield or Long Beach!) English lacks a neat, singular word for "a person who employs both skill with a sharp, bladed object, and skill with esoteric supernatural energies." Such a concept doesn't really have any precise mythic parallels, which is where most of the so-called "natural-sounding" names for things come from. That's mostly because using a sword was a Knightly thing around the time that the roots of D&D-fantasy magic started cropping up, and Knights couldn't consort with such devilish practices.

Yes 4E was balanced all right. Everything in the game classes, monsters, races, rules ...... it all sucked equally.

:p
I know it might seem like we've gotten far enough along that you can make a joke like this, but...we really haven't. That sort of stuff still hurts. Mostly because other people keep saying it seriously. I'm genuinely not mad at you. I just would rather not deal with that sort of comment.
 

Not to put words in Zard's mouth, but you at least hear stories about players trying to come to the table with what I mentally tag as "high concept" builds. You know, the ones where they want to be insanely specialized in a non-adventurer skill like beekeeping, or have a character concept that demands they be a Wizard with an 8 Intelligence, or think it would be hilarious to be a senile old knight who constantly loses his weapon and forgets to put on his armor. The sort of characters that might work in a fantasy novel, particularly a less serious one, but are so at odds with the mechanics and intent of a D&D campaign as to be a useless weight the rest of the party has to drag around.

I don't know how common that sort of thing actually is. The worst I've encountered personally was the player who was really dead set on trying to make a Baby Groot expy character, but at least they asked for help making them a functioning character too. Still, the stories are common enough it's got to be a recurring failure state of character creation.
I think it helps to say to the player "say, on the off chance this campaign really takes off, everyone really gels and it just goes on and on and becomes a campaign that everyone just wants to come back to...

...How do you think you will feel about still playing Baby Groot in five years?
 

Most names are descriptions of things, we've just used the name so long it no longer sounds like a description. Plenty of real words and names for things are "just two words merged together." For goodness' sake, we are literally using a technology (= tekhne + logia, "art, skill, craft" + "a speaking, discourse, treatise, doctrine, theory, science"), the Internet (inter+network), to discuss a role-playing game. There are five nouns in that sentence, counting "we," and three of them are literally words glued together at some point in the past.

Portmanteaus and conjoined words are a perfectly natural and frequently-used tool for generating new words and names. (Consider the "Atlas of True Names," which translates names as if they were words...and almost all of them are REALLY BORING descriptions like "Green Mountain" or "The Place By The River," and some are currently that, like Bakersfield or Long Beach!) English lacks a neat, singular word for "a person who employs both skill with a sharp, bladed object, and skill with esoteric supernatural energies." Such a concept doesn't really have any precise mythic parallels, which is where most of the so-called "natural-sounding" names for things come from. That's mostly because using a sword was a Knightly thing around the time that the roots of D&D-fantasy magic started cropping up, and Knights couldn't consort with such devilish practices.


I know it might seem like we've gotten far enough along that you can make a joke like this, but...we really haven't. That sort of stuff still hurts. Mostly because other people keep saying it seriously. I'm genuinely not mad at you. I just would rather not deal with that sort of comment.
you have a point but it sounds too on the nose and is very specific in what they fight with which is difficult if you fight with say an axe.
 


Not to put words in Zard's mouth, but you at least hear stories about players trying to come to the table with what I mentally tag as "high concept" builds. You know, the ones where they want to be insanely specialized in a non-adventurer skill like beekeeping, or have a character concept that demands they be a Wizard with an 8 Intelligence, or think it would be hilarious to be a senile old knight who constantly loses his weapon and forgets to put on his armor. The sort of characters that might work in a fantasy novel, particularly a less serious one, but are so at odds with the mechanics and intent of a D&D campaign as to be a useless weight the rest of the party has to drag around.

I don't know how common that sort of thing actually is. The worst I've encountered personally was the player who was really dead set on trying to make a Baby Groot expy character, but at least they asked for help making them a functioning character too. Still, the stories are common enough it's got to be a recurring failure state of character creation.
Thanks. And yes, that makes sense. I had to ask, because I once had a warlock that never took a damage spell. But, in fairness, he was able to be a great target for the enemy without ever getting hurt. And spells like polymorph did well in specific situations.
Thanks for the explanation. The senile night I have heard of, and it makes sense.
 

I think it helps to say to the player "say, on the off chance this campaign really takes off, everyone really gels and it just goes on and on and becomes a campaign that everyone just wants to come back to...

...How do you think you will feel about still playing Baby Groot in five years?
This leads me to ask:
Does anyone in here just say no to multiclassing?
 


Kurotowa

Legend
Thanks. And yes, that makes sense. I had to ask, because I once had a warlock that never took a damage spell. But, in fairness, he was able to be a great target for the enemy without ever getting hurt. And spells like polymorph did well in specific situations.
Thanks for the explanation. The senile night I have heard of, and it makes sense.
Well, don't overlook Zard's own reply. I was focused on intentionally weak characters, but he was more concerned with unintentional ones. Which by his standard can be a new player who only puts a 14 in their main stat, but also people trying to bust out an extreme multiclass build they got off the internet that doesn't come together until 18th level in a campaign that isn't expected to get past 11th.

The unintentional ones didn't occur to me because it's been a long time since I wasn't playing with one group of friends or another, where it's fairly easy to point out to someone that they're doing character creation wrong. Heck, my current group is fairly liberal about letting players make outright character reedits within the first three sessions of a new campaign. Sometimes you find out a class doesn't play quite like you expected, or once their personality gels from actual playtime that not all their skills make sense, and it's good to be able to just tweak a few minor details. It's the people who get their heart set on one of those high concept ideas that are harder to talk out of it, like our player with a fixation on a Baby Groot Druid.
 

you have a point but it sounds too on the nose and is very specific in what they fight with which is difficult if you fight with say an axe.
Well, as said, in the 4e version you didn't use axes (unless they also counted as sword-like, e.g. the khopesh), because you actually had features that were specific to swords (heavy blades and light blades). More importantly, though, even names that are pretty darn specific drift over time. "Bard" originally meant the semi-priestly oral historians and court orators of Ireland, then it came to be high praise for poets in general (e.g. Shakespeare is still "The Bard," as a proper noun), then it became a term for wandering minstrel types, and now we use it for the "magical generalist" class. Or how "Paladin" meant "soldier of the Palatine Guard," and then came to mean Charlemagne's closest knights, and then got blended up with the main char of Three Hearts and Three Lions, and now refers to a holy knight dedicated to deities or oaths. The terms have evolved a LOT, but properly speaking they retain the exact same form they had long ago when they didn't mean anything like what they mean today.

You could even have a sidebar addressing this, if it's that much of a concern, e.g....

SWORDMAGES AND OTHER WEAPONS
For some, it may sound strange to hear about a combatant called
a "swordmage" who neither uses nor carries any type of sword. In
truth, the name is a historical relic; the first people who mastered
these arts, the elves, almost exclusively favored duelling swords,
rapiers, or occasionally daggers. As a result, those who practiced
this style of combat came to be called "swordmages." The magic
itself, however, is more than versatile enough to be used with
nearly any one-handed weapon. Some cultures that have built
their own traditions of weapon-bound arcana, such as the dwarf
kingdoms or the orcish tribes, use names in their native tongues
that translate closer to "weaponmage," but for better or worse,
the Common term comes from the elven swordmages of old.

If a DM has problems with an axe-wielding swordmage or the
like, there are at least two ways to address the problem. One is
to simply have the class's name adapt to whatever weapon the
character happens to use; a swordmage who picks up an axe is
an "axemage", and "swordmage" is just more commonly-used
as swords are more popular overall. The other is to say that this
class's name comes from some language other than Common,
but it is difficult to translate. "Swordmage" is thus the closest
Common calque, with the original word being more generic.
You could also simply say that swordmages always use swords,
so their abilities don't work with axes, but this may be seen as
punitive by players who simply wanted a different aesthetic.

Obviously, I padded this out a bit to include more lore and worldbuilding stuff. You could easily condense this down to a three-sentence paragraph. "Some may see a contradiction in a 'swordmage' class that can use axes. If so, you could change the name with context (wielding an axe means "axemage"), give a narrative explanation (e.g. the elf word for "swordmage" actually means "weapon mage," but was translated wrong long ago), or require that all swordmages use only swords. Try not to be punitive, because the name we gave a class shouldn't get in the way of players having fun."
 

ECMO3

Hero
I offer a titanic "MEH" to this logic for the following reasons.

1) Everyone has a Family. Not every family is a good basis for carrying their story forward. This is similar to situations where a Warlock's Pact is not useful to carrying the story forward. In which case the pact, like the family, should be largely ignored... That still doesn't validate splashing Warlock for powergaming.

2) The Cleric's Church, the Paladin's Order, the Thieves Guild, The Fighter's Company. Yadda yadda yadda. Whether it's a pact with an otherworldly being or a bond to a mortal organization a connection is a connection. A character's class is a part of their character, not somehow divorced from it.

3) Shared Experiences or Backstory is great... but that's -incredibly- limiting for both the DM and the players. And without external experiences to share and use as tools to bond you wind up creating an insular feeling and miss out on great moments like this:

1. I did not say we should splash the warlock, only splash the pact and offer another explanation of how they get their powers. I don't think you can ignore the patron unless you get rid of it. This is especially true with multiclassing. RAW the character has to make a pact, so the 5th level paladin that wants to multiclass has to find a being capabable of offering one and draw up a pact with it. You can hand wave it, but then it becomes messy ..... "Bob where did you get those new spells" .... "Last night while we rested I made a bloodpact with a demigod from the third level of hell" ... "Oh cool, now where is that smuggler hideout located again"

2. These are entirely separate from the class. I have never played a Rogue who had a theives guild, but I absolutely have played one who was part of the order of the guantlet (i.e. a Paladin's order). Many Cleric's do not have a church, and the Paladin only belongs to an order if they started out as a faction agent, joined an order during the course of the game or otherwise put it into their backstory. This really gets to my point, the Warlock can do any and all of these things - be part of a church, theives guild or order of knights, but whichever of these he does, or anything else for that matter, he has to drag around the baggage of his pact with him.

3. Shared backstory at the start of a campaign is limiting, shared backstory at a later point in a campaign is automatic. Players from all walks of life join together to beat the cult. At level 1 they all have a different backstory. At level 10 they a significant story (which is now backstory) from level 1-9. That is not to say they didn't come and go and do their own thing from time to time, but they are bonded with a shared experience in the game they played.
 

cbwjm

Hero
The more I think about Hex Blade, the more I think it should have been a fighter subclass. There's probably a few subclasses that when I stop and look at them, I'd think they'd be better off as a subclass for another class, but hex blade stands out the most to me.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
The more I think about Hex Blade, the more I think it should have been a fighter subclass. There's probably a few subclasses that when I stop and look at them, I'd think they'd be better off as a subclass for another class, but hex blade stands out the most to me.

Yup at best a half caster.

Building a crap character I regard them as griefing the rest of the party.

Not sure how high this games going probably level 12 max.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
The more I think about Hex Blade, the more I think it should have been a fighter subclass. There's probably a few subclasses that when I stop and look at them, I'd think they'd be better off as a subclass for another class, but hex blade stands out the most to me.
A hexblade dip works really well for a fighter incidentally, especially if you take spells that aren't tied to charisma (ie you can do a strength or dex build).
 

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