D&D 5E Subclass System in 5e- Too Much, Too Little, or Just Right (GOLDILOCKS POLL!)

Hey, Goldilocks- is the Subclass System in 5e ....

  • A. Too Limiting

    Votes: 31 38.8%
  • B. Just Right

    Votes: 46 57.5%
  • C. Too Open

    Votes: 3 3.8%

  • Poll closed .

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
More subclasses doesn't give more options, it actually limits them by making each so specific that it pigeonholes the player. The original 4 classes are all you need. Want to be a ranger? Play a fighter and wear leather and carry a bow and take the Survival skill. Want to be a paladin? Play a fighter/cleric. Want to be a barbarian? Be a naked fighter and yell a lot.
I'd argue that any class distinction is inherently pigeonholing. Why not just roll stats and roleplay the character you want?
 

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Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
There's no both option.

For sme classes, sublclasses are rather limiting as they contain a lot of the classes' lore and/or power.
For some other classes it is the opposite and the subclasses are insignificant as the main comtrabutions come from the base class.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I see this suggestion a lot, but I never understood how it would improve the game to switch. To me, it looks like just adding a layer of taxonomy to the classes.
Essentially I would remove a lot of the classes in the game and condense the list. Why would I do such a thing? Because I would rather have fewer choices that feel significant, than more choices that don't feel significant. This is a personal hangup of mine, and I realize not everyone will feel this way, and I know a lot of people will suggest ways I should feel differently, but there it is. :cool:

Or, as @commandercrud says:
More subclasses doesn't give more options, it actually limits them by making each so specific that it pigeonholes the player. The original 4 classes are all you need. Want to be a ranger? Play a fighter and wear leather and carry a bow and take the Survival skill. Want to be a paladin? Play a fighter/cleric. Want to be a barbarian? Be a naked fighter and yell a lot.
Pretty much, yeah.

Anyways. In my mind, the best way to do it is to just be selective of which subclasses you want/need in the game, or maybe combine the best features of the subclasses into a single one, and use it. Take the Rogue for example: you would just pick the variety of "bard" that best fits the campaign and setting, and make it a subclass of the rogue.

Rogue
  • Arcane Trickster
  • Assassin
  • Your favorite kind of Bard, or a FrankenBard
  • Thief

Or maybe like this, if you prefer long lists, or if you want more than one flavor of bard in the game:

Rogue
  • Arcane Trickster
  • Assassin
  • Favorite kind of Bard
  • Second-favorite kind of Bard
  • Third-favorite kind of Bard
  • Another Bard
  • Yet another Bard
  • Bard II: Bard Harder
  • Bard III: Live Free or Die Bard
  • Thief

But it would not look like this, unless you are trying to make a mess:

Rogue
  • Arcane Trickster
  • Assassin
  • Bard
    • Bard
    • Bard
    • Bard
  • Thief
 
Last edited:

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
I LOVE the subclass system. It's one of my favorite things about 5E. I think it exactly hits the sweet spot between too many esoteric options and not enough variety.
 

Everything is fine as is right now. Save the feats. I would've like to see "Racial" and "Class" feats given in addition to normal feat. They could've been what we consider half a feat but would be given freely at every four levels.

For example: A dwarven fighter could chose between a racial feat or fighter feat. Let's say one of the racial feat could be dwarven magic resistance. A simple +1 to save vs spells. Or a fighter feat like prefered weapon where you could get +1 hit or damage with one weapon of your choice.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I see this suggestion a lot, but I never understood how it would improve the game to switch. To me, it looks like just adding a layer of taxonomy to the classes.

It also forces the game to create more options due to the deviations made since 1e within classes.

Say you make a Ranger a Fighter subclass, well nowyou have less design space for Hunters, Beastmasters, and Horizon Walkers.

More subclasses doesn't give more options, it actually limits them by making each so specific that it pigeonholes the player. The original 4 classes are all you need. Want to be a ranger? Play a fighter and wear leather and carry a bow and take the Survival skill. Want to be a paladin? Play a fighter/cleric. Want to be a barbarian? Be a naked fighter and yell a lot.

Actually going back to 4 classes limits the game more as you now have to cram the old subclasses into the new subclasses.

How do you make a Oathbreaker, Berserker, a Echo Knight, and a Beastmaster from the same class?
With a lot of acetaminophen and LOT of feat chains.
 




vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I say too limiting:

Shadow of the Demon Lord, a game that plays roughly like D&D with a 10 level cap, has ALL character gain 5 level from their main class, 3 from an expert class and 2 from a master class and 2 from race. Meaning that you always have 4 decisions points to build your pc (in the case of SotDL its even better because you can decide to start a fighter novice path, take an expert path of druid and end with master path of fire magic!).

In opposite, you have 5e's bard who, over 20 (!) levels, only gain 3 feature from their subclass and the character race only has a mechanical impact at first level, it never goes further.

I wished D&D would go with 1-2 racial feature levels, 8 ''main class level'', maybe 1-2 features of variant main class (ala warlock pact) and 5 subclass features. Even better would be to let ASI/Feat be outside of the class chassis (maybe 1 every 4 levels, like for now), to give more space to class/subclass features.

0 Race feature/Background feature
1 class feature, subclass feature11 class feature
2 class feature12 Racial feature
3 class specialty (fighting style/pact boon etc)13 subclass feature
4 Race feature14 class feature
5 class feature15 class feature
6 subclass feature16 class feature
7 class feature17 subclass feature
8 class feature18 class feature
9 background feature19 Class captstone
10 subclass feature20 Subclass capstone
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
I voted too many at first, but that was under the impression that the question was "are there too many subclasses in general". Which I kinda think there are, but not so simple. I think there are too many subclasses in that some really overstep over other classes/subclasses, while there are also archetypes not really represented.

But I changed it to just right when I got to the bottom of the wall of text and read the actual question ;)
 

I maintain that the subclass system should be condensed and reorganized to make a little more sense (to me). I think that:
Barbarian, Monk, and Ranger should all be subclasses of Fighter.​
Bard should be a subclass of Rogue​
Druid and Paladin should both be subclasses of Cleric.​
Artificer, Sorcerer, and Warlock should all be subclasses of Wizard.​
I don't understand this really tbh.

If you just make Barbarian a subclass of Fighter, then it's just gonna be "Rage" with nothing interesting added onto it. You aren't gonna rage and get a damage aura like you would for Storm Herald, you're just gonna get a basic Rage when there is so much you can add onto the rage. Same with Monk, there is so much stuff you can add on to using fisticuffs. You can add so much more to the "Druid" idea than just "turning into animals", so much more you can add to Artificer than just "I make magic items good", so much more to add to Warlock than just "I made a pact to get my magic", and so on and so forth.

I do agree that we should pare down classes as much as possible, but if you get a feature that can define a class (Rage, Martial Arts, Wild Shape, Smite, Eldritch Invocations, Metamagic, Bardic Inspiration, etc.) you make a class with that feature. You don't just pare it off into other classes.
 

Essentially I would remove a lot of the classes in the game and condense the list. Why would I do such a thing? Because I would rather have fewer choices that feel significant, than more choices that don't feel significant. This is a personal hangup of mine, and I realize not everyone will feel this way, and I know a lot of people will suggest ways I should feel differently, but there it is. :cool:

Or, as @commandercrud says:
Pretty much, yeah.

Anyways. In my mind, the best way to do it is to just be selective of which subclasses you want/need in the game, or maybe combine the best features of the subclasses into a single one, and use it. Take the Rogue for example: you would just pick the variety of "bard" that best fits the campaign and setting, and make it a subclass of the rogue.

Rogue
  • Arcane Trickster
  • Assassin
  • Your favorite kind of Bard, or a FrankenBard
  • Thief

Or maybe like this, if you prefer long lists, or if you want more than one flavor of bard in the game:

Rogue
  • Arcane Trickster
  • Assassin
  • Favorite kind of Bard
  • Second-favorite kind of Bard
  • Third-favorite kind of Bard
  • Another Bard
  • Yet another Bard
  • Bard II: Bard Harder
  • Bard III: Live Free or Die Bard
  • Thief

But it would not look like this, unless you are trying to make a mess:

Rogue
  • Arcane Trickster
  • Assassin
  • Bard
    • Bard
    • Bard
    • Bard
  • Thief
Okay, the third is what I'm usually thinking of, because that's the only way to do it that doesn't involve either a) reducing choices or b) adding complexity.

For example, if all bard concepts need to fit into a single subclass of rogue, we need either a huge list of bardic inspiration options for the bard to choose from (at least a dozen), which is going to make playing a bard even harder. As well as making it harder to balance, since now we need to worry about every possible combination of bard features, not just the subclasses overall. There are already classless games and they don't play the same as DnD. And you'd still either get sneak attack as a bard or not get sneak attack as a rogue, and if you don't get sneak attack why call all the ideas rogues? What do they all share beyond the skill system that every class uses?

If you need a dozen or more subclasses for four classes to not lose variety (without adding a huge amount of complexity), then you're just moving the decision point form 12 classes x 5 subclasses to 4 classes x 15 subclasses, which is at best a wash in terms of overall gameplay.

And no, 'just refluff the same mechanic over and over' isn't an answer. If I wanted a dramatically less mechanically deep game, I would play another game. There are a lot of options for such a thing. Making DnD yet another rules-lite game isn't going to work for me. If it did, I would be playing Fate already.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Why not just roll stats and roleplay the character you want?

Because that would be a disaster of Biblical proportions. Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies!
Rivers and seas boiling!
Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes... The dead rising from the grave!
Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!

Is that what you want? The unbridled anarchy of a shiver class-less fantasy RPG?

At long last, have you no class? HAVE. YOU. NO. CLASS, SIR?
 




CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Because that would be a disaster of Biblical proportions. Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies!
Rivers and seas boiling!
Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes... The dead rising from the grave!
Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!

Is that what you want? The unbridled anarchy of a shiver class-less fantasy RPG?
But I rather enjoyed Skyrim. It seems like a lot of other people did, too.
 


CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
If you need a dozen or more subclasses for four classes to not lose variety (without adding a huge amount of complexity), then you're just moving the decision point form 12 classes x 5 subclasses to 4 classes x 15 subclasses, which is at best a wash in terms of overall gameplay.
And that's why I wouldn't go with the second option...it's too muddled.

Personally, I'd go with the first option. I'd make the "bard" into a subclass of Rogue, and make all of the different bardic abilities of all of the different colleges into a single list of "talents" (or whatever we decide to call them). If the player chooses the Bard subclass, they can choose their bardic talents from a list, in the same way that the Battle Master does with its "maneuvers." Want some College of Whispers mixed into your College of Swords? Sure thing, just pick whatever talents you like.

My two cents, anyway.
 

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