OneDnD Subclasses should start at 1st level

Vaalingrade

Legend
As previously posted, I am a teacher, and I run the D&D Club at my school, as well as D&D camp in the summer. I've run D&D pro-D sessions for other teachers who wanted to know what the game is all about.
Good for you even if it's in no way relevant?
You don't know what you are talking about, and your argument is almost entirely a straw man.
Not a philosophy teacher though, trying to appeal to a fallacy right after an ad hominem (on top of earlier little jabs I ignored)
Nobody has claimed that D&D requires exceptional intellect. No one has claimed that new players can't grasp the rage mechanic.
Not on this thread, but I wouldn't say it if I hadn't heard it.
So calling ideas "toxic" that literally no one has put forward in this discussion is just a means of substituting ad hominem attack for actual argument.
"You don't know what you're talking about" ~ the pot calling the copper kettle black a couple of sentences ago.
D&D is an extremely complicated game. You may have noted, for example, that there are many rulebooks together totalling hundreds, nay thousands of pages of text. But to a truly new player, even concepts that seem obvious to us veterans are not. None of them individually are particularly hard. But in aggregate, they are a lot. When I want to teach the basic concept of an RPG to a large group, I don't use D&D at all. I use Dread, because everyone already understands Jenga.
Chess is an extremely complicated game. An yet we manage not to gate knights behind an experience wall.

And if you don't even use D&D to teach RPGs, why put roadblocks in the game to make it 'easier' to teach?

There are a great many new players who are interested in D&D, try it, and decide it's not for them. For some, it's just the entire nature of the game. Maybe roleplaying makes them uncomfortable. But there are some who have point blank told me that the amount of rules and new concepts just seemed overwhelming.
1) I'm sure plenty of people say the same for chess. Just because something isn't for everyone doesn't mean you make it not for other people to accommodate.

2) Do you think the very simple addition of a subclass ability is the issue and not the subsystems/subconcepts we drop into for skills and species and magic. You can get spells straight up at 1st level; each one a little packet of all new rules, but no one's trying to screw people out of that at level 1.

People learn at different paces and in different styles. But any experienced teacher will tell you that it is good teaching to scaffold learning so that students can develop incremental mastery by building on what they learn in logical steps.
But just on this one part of the whole because (wait for it)
My actual arguments against doing sub-classes at level 1 are straightforward:
1. It adds further complication to an already complicated task - not only does a new player have to understand the basic concepts of D&D (weird dice! hit points! saving throws! armour class! etc.), PLUS the basic differences between 12 different classes, they then have to further understand those classes enough to make an informed choice between many different sub-classes for each, all before even playing the game.
But magic is okay, fighting styles are okay, bardic inspiration is okay, the ranger's woefully ineffectual front-loading is okay, expertise and sneak attack are okay.

No, it's just this one grain of sand that breaks the whole thing.

Except...
2. Many veteran players, such as me, don't want to be forced into a sub-class right away. We see character creation as an ongoing process rather than something that is complete before the first game, and enjoy seeing how the journey unfolds. Learning what choice feels best for a new character is a fun part of early levelling.
Boom.

Told you to wait for it and here it is.

It's about enforcing a playstyle. It's about starting at level zero with as few powers as possible and making sure that's the default. Making people 'earn' their character like in the good old days.

It's nothing that would be effectively changed by them actually printing level 0 rules that would actually fulfil those asperations in a way that would actually satisfy that desire... except then it wouldn't be the default; people starting with their character concept in full wouldn't be made the outliers who are going outside the rules and the norms.

Newbie friendliness to me is just a stalking horse.
 
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Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
Chess is an extremely complicated game. An yet we manage not to gate knights behind an experience wall.

Actually.... (because it has to start that way)

1. The rules of chess are almost trivial compared to D&D. Sure, those simple rules lead to incredible complex behavior, but the rules are simple.

2. And even so, in all the introductory chess books I've seen, first all the moves of a single piece are taught, with some problems to solve with just that piece and a couple other pieces on the board. Then another piece is introduced, with some problems to solve using just the first two pieces and a small handful of other pieces, etc. Eventually the knight is learned; basically gating it behind an experience wall. Probably a bigger wall (in terms of hours invested) than it typically takes to reach 3rd level in D&D.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
Except...

Boom.

Told you to wait for it and here it is.

It's about enforcing a playstyle. It's about starting at level zero with as few powers as possible and making sure that's the default. Making people 'earn' their character like in the good old days.

No, that's a false characterization.

First, that's his 2nd point. By ignoring their first point, and saying it's really all about his second point, the implication...voiced or not...is that they are lying.

Second, you are distorting what they wrote. They are expressing their own desire for how they like to play, and yet you add it "enforcing a play style" and "making sure that's the default" and this garbage about "making people earn their character like in the good old days."

While none of those accusations are incompatible with the poster's argument, neither are they necessary. It's possible to have a preferred playstyle without trying to enforce it on others. It's possible to want your playstyle to be accommodated without "insisting" on anything. It's possible to...no, that last bit, about "earning" something, you just totally made that up. There's nothing in their post to give any hint of "earning" anything.

So basically you completely twisted their argument into something...something unpleasant and distasteful...that it wasn't.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
If we're looking to specifically cater to a zero-to-hero gameplay preference, I think it would be better to ... use the aforementioned introductory classes with an eventual conversion to a 1st-level character in a core class.
Yeah, the levels of "level 0", and the "introductory" "onramp", are the same thing.

While the level-0 levels are useful for teaching D&D mechanics step-by-step to beginners, they are also useful to experienced players as specific decision points to flesh out the background biography and help immerse in the campaign setting. Plus they allow for a sense of "zero to hero".
 

Yeah, the levels of "level 0", and the "introductory" "onramp", are the same thing.

While the level-0 levels are useful for teaching D&D mechanics step-by-step to beginners, they are also useful to experienced players as specific decision points to flesh out the background biography and help immerse in the campaign setting. Plus they allow for a sense of "zero to hero".
So, my thinking is that "zero-to-hero" progression is fulfilling a particular gameplay preference, which could be a preference held by new or experienced players alike.

To my mind, that's not similar enough to the idea of progressively teachings someone how to play the game to merit bundling the two together. Certainly I wouldn't want to make an experienced player who wants to play "zero-to-hero" have to play an advancement track meant to facilitate learning how to play the game.

Making "introductory classes" that can work both as a teaching tool and a facilitator of a gameplay preference seems more possible, but it may be difficult enough to not be worth it? I don't have as firm a view with respect to this notion.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
So, my thinking is that "zero-to-hero" progression is fulfilling a particular gameplay preference, which could be a preference held by new or experienced players alike.

To my mind, that's not similar enough to the idea of progressively teachings someone how to play the game to merit bundling the two together. Certainly I wouldn't want to make an experienced player who wants to play "zero-to-hero" have to play an advancement track meant to facilitate learning how to play the game.

Making "introductory classes" that can work both as a teaching tool and a facilitator of a gameplay preference seems more possible, but it may be difficult enough to not be worth it? I don't have as firm a view with respect to this notion.
I view the Background itself (including Abilities, Saves, Skillset, Simple Combat, and finally Feat) as the "introductory class".

An introductory onramp would be a separate text that refers to the Background levels while explaining what a roleplaying game is.

But experienced players would zoom thru the Background levels as memorable decision points in the biography of the character. When did the character notice being unusually strong? Who are the family members? What events lead to the Background training? Who are the main influencences for gaining these skills? Who does the character keep in contact with now? And so on.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
Here's what I don't get. If we have two "warm up" levels, what does it matter what they are called?

Background/Group/1,2,3,4...
-1, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5....
0.25, 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5....
1, 2, 3, 4, 5....

Assuming that in each of those sequences, the third "level" is the one where you have both class and subclass, and everybody clamoring for "subclass at 1st level" is going to pick that starting point, why is it so important that 3rd level is called "1st level" and 1st and 2nd level be called something else?
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Here's what I don't get. If we have two "warm up" levels, what does it matter what they are called?

Background/Group/1,2,3,4...
-1, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5....
0.25, 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5....
1, 2, 3, 4, 5....

Assuming that in each of those sequences, the third "level" is the one where you have both class and subclass, and everybody clamoring for "subclass at 1st level" is going to pick that starting point, why is it so important that 3rd level is called "1st level" and 1st and 2nd level be called something else?
It is more like tiers, each with four levels:

• Background
• Formative Character Concept
• Complete Character Concept

Level 1 refers to a complete character concept, especially the subclass concept, which is often radically different from other subclass concepts.

For example, the Divine Sorcerer uses the Cleric spell list. The subclass is the essence of the character concept, not a later development during the career of the Sorcerer.

The subclass is a level 1 decision point − even a level 0 decision point.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
It is more like tiers, each with four levels:

• Background
• Formative Character Concept
• Complete Character Concept

Level 1 refers to a complete character concept, especially the subclass concept, which is often radically different from other subclass concepts.

For example, the Divine Sorcerer uses the Cleric spell list. The subclass is the essence of the character concept, not a later development during the career of the Sorcerer.

The subclass is a level 1 decision point − even a level 0 decision point.

You are stating something as fact..."The subclass is a level 1 decision point"...which is clearly not a fact, since for most classes it doesn't happen at level 1.

Are you trying to say something else? Such as, "I think it should be a level 1 decision point." Or even, "It's a decision that takes place at a point in a character arc that I think should carry the label 'level 1'."

But, even then...why? If there are multiple stages in character development, and we give those stages names and numbers, why is it important for that particular stage...the one where subclass is chosen...be called "Level 1".

Furthermore, since it's not even the first stage in defining a character...even you acknowledge that...isn't it a little bit weird to give it the number 1?

I totally get that you are super keen on equating "Subclass" with "Level 1". But I honestly don't understand why.
 

Einlanzer0

Explorer
I don't really have strong feelings about this one way or another, but one thing I do think is important is that subclasses should all use the "archetype" convention. I do not like the way that some classes use thematically broad subclasses while others are needlessly narrow.

Why, for example, are all sorcerers tied specifically to some kind of bloodline, instead of broadening their theme by allowing other concepts like supernatural powers born from initiation rites? Likewise, why is the entire bard class hogtied to the concept of a formally educated urban performer? Where is my nordic skald who functions more like a war-shaman than like a stereotypical lute-playing bard? This diversity of concepts is present for some of the base classes while being curiously missing for others.
 
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