OneDnD Subclasses should start at 1st level

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Just limit what you get from the subclass at 1st level.
You're just repeating what I already replied to? If you do that, then the subclass often no longer functions if you take more levels of it because you will be lacking a core element which increases in power at a later level.
Example: Earliest subclass ability grants +1d6 damage once per proficiency bonus a day. Middle subclass ability changes die to d8. Later subclass ability changes to recharge on short rest. If you limited what you could get at earliest point, none of the rest of the subclass functions. And if you have to tinker with how it functions to make this work, then you have to do that for every subclass in the game and now you have a chapters worth on multiclassing. This is not a workable core system element.
 

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Yaarel

Mind Mage
A way to think about the subclass is, the character actually choose it at "level 0", because of a knack or talent for something specific. The base class then rounds out this personal affinity.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Not everyone starts their campaigns at 1st level though nor is it required to start a campaign at 1st level so it begs the question of whether it really matters if subclasses are started sooner or later; personally, I think it should really depend on the class on a case-by-case basis if the mechanics of classes are not going to be as homogenous as in 4e.
I am a veteran D&D player.

I have never played a character except starting at level 1.

For me it is an important concept to start my character at the beginning.

This especially makes choosing the subclass character concept at level 1 vital.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
For the Fighter class, a subclass at level 1 can be as simple as an appropriate Fighting Style. An Eldritch Knight needs a Fighting Style at level 1 that includes magical combat, such as Mage Armor and cantrip.
 



I think it should actually be level 2 and have it established that you start the game at level 2.

Then it would be subclass abilities at:

2,6,10,14.

I'd even add 18, but it seems that this will be class capstone ability.

Then feats are 4, 8, 12, 16 (and 19)

Prof bonus goes up at 5,9,13,17.

Now we just need something at 3, 7, 11, 15. Probably class abilities (including spell levels).


Edit: I think, mages and priests should get something extra at level 1 akin to fighting style that immediately makes sure where the get their spells from.
Subclass should be dissociated from that choice.
So a warloch choses fey. Gets their enhanced spell list. But the big thing should be their implement.

So blade eats the hexblade. Tome eats the great old one. Chain eats the fiend. And talisman eats the fey.
 
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DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
For my money, everyone could always just consider things like this-- a PC can choose and has a subclass at Level 1 even if they do not get a game mechanic for it to use until Level 3. You can just roleplay it.

You can be a Drunken Master even if the Monk abilities you are using at levels 1 and 2 are not specific to the Drunken Master and are just part of the standard Monk. It's absolutely fine. Especially when you consider the fact that the game mechanics you do get at Level 3 only look like Drunken Master abilities because of the fluff that those abilities are written down to have and surrounded by.

What are the game mechanics you get at Level 3?
  • Proficiency in Performance
  • Proficiency in Brewer's Tools
  • Use Disengage as a bonus action
  • Gain 10 feet in walking speed for a round

If anyone was to look at these abilities in and of themselves and were asked "What class would these subclass abilities apply to, and what do you think the fluff of that subclass would be?" I think few people would have any real idea. They'd certainly try and guess something... but no one would actually be able to ping it first try. Because these game mechanics are all pretty generic all things considered. And as a result, there's no reason why anyone should think "Oh, I HAVE to be able to do these four things at Level 1 in order for my Drunken Master Monk to FEEL like a Drunken Master Monk." Especially considering the fact that a Rogue character with the right Background can pretty much have or duplicate all four of these features at character creation. Are they thus Drunken Masters by default? Of course not! Because the mechanics do not denote what the subclass is... it's how you characterize your PC and roleplay it that gets its subclass across.

Here are another set of Level 3 subclass game mechanics:
  • 10' aura that causes 2 fire damage to all enemies within aura
  • 10' aura that causes one enemy to take 1d6 lightning on failed saving throw
  • 10' aura that gives all allies 2 Temp Hit Points

Do any of these abilities scream out "Oh, these have to be for X class obviously!" I would say no. None of these three features tell us what class they should be, they are again three relatively generic game mechanics that do not in any way give any indication what class they should be for, or the fluff or narrative of the potential subclass concept for that class. Which means it isn't important that these be given out at 1st level because they do not do anything to denote your subclass.

What actually gives a player the indication of what the subclass would be is the fluff that surrounds those game mechanics. It is the fluff that we read that tells us that these three abilities are all for the Storm Herald Barbarian. But the thing is... we can just apply that fluff to our characters at 1st level by how we roleplay them. We can roleplay our barbarian as being a herald to oncoming storms, even if we won't receive an individual game mechanic for it until Level 3. And that's perfectly fine, especially considering that the game mechanic we get gives no real indication of what it's meant to symbolize anyway.

If you are a fey-themed Glamour Bard... you can be a fey-themed glamour bard even if you don't get your first unique game mechanic until level 3. You can be a paladin who has taken an oath of conquest at 1st level even though you won't get a mechanic for it until 3rd. If you feel like an assassin then you can play as an assassin right from the start. It's all about how you see your character and play your character, and not what goofy-ass mechanics you have written down on your character sheet.

Of course, that's just my opinion... I could be wrong. :)
 
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BlackSeed_Vash

Explorer
While I would prefer to have the subclasses available sooner than later, what I really want is the level you acquire a subclass and it features to be the same across all the classes (or at least within the class group).

I really wanna see a subclass be tied to a class group instead of an individual class.
 

aco175

Legend
I think it should actually be level 2 and have it established that you start the game at level 2.

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So, wouldn't 2nd level just be called 1st level?
 


squibbles

Adventurer
I love that they seem to be standardizing subclass progression, but why start them at 3rd level instead of 1st? Even for the 2014 classes that get their subclasses after 1st level I have never actually seen a player wait until then to choose their subclass anyway. They always pick at character creation. Plus, having all subclasses start at 1st level would allow subclass to transform the base class more. Sorcerers could get access to different spell lists depending on subclass. Bards could get different options for their set of always-prepared spells depending on subclass. Rangers could have some subclasses that cast spells and some that don’t. Waiting until 3rd level makes it so that if your subclass is a significant part of the character concept, you have to spend two levels not playing that concept, at least not to its fullest extent.
I'm a big fan of the standardization too (though as @TwoSix mentions, it might not be consistent across class groups or the classes we haven't seen yet). I also like the idea of starting all subclasses at 1st and allowing them to make large changes to class features. I'm generally in the camp that adventurers should be competent and able to do their job from the start of play.

I can think of a couple minor issues in addition to the larger ones others have mentioned about multiclassing and frontloading character creation decisions:

Too much complexity at 1st level--in a lot of cases, you can't give a PC its subclass features without giving it its class features first, i.e. totem barbarians need to be able to rage before they can get their totem spirit feature. This will naturally make 1st level PCs stronger, but also more complex at 1st level, especially for subclasses that a lot of features to start with. Not a huge deal, and maybe avoidable, but worth considering.

Cludgy information design--the current class descriptions, which shunt all subclass descriptions to the end of a class's section, would be quite awkward if subclasses started at 1st and changed large parts of the core class, such as ranger spellcasting. I can't off the cuff think of a way it could be organized which wouldn't--on first reading--force you to comb through a boatload of rules before deciding what to play. Again, not a huge issue, but it'd need to be addressed somehow.

Because of multiclassing cherry picking subclass abilities.
In principle, this is an issue with the multiclassing rules and not the subclass rules. Considering that they just moved the multiclassing rules directly into the class descriptions of the expert classes packet, this is something the designers could address directly. I'm not sure that any solution to the issue is a home run, but there are lots of ways it could be worked around.

I like not having every decision about my character be set in stone at level 1. And I love new players not having to make one more major and consequential decision about their character at level 1.
If subclasses were picked at 1st level, it would probably be a good idea to have an option to change subclasses at some point, like the Tasha's options for changing fighting styles and pact boons at ASI levels--maybe just an option to change subclass at level 3 if you have buyers remorse.

I don't even think clerics should get their subclass at lvl 1. Make them prove themselves to their deity a bit first.
Well that comes with some fun metaphysical implications, eh.

Just imagine... undifferentiated wielders of divine power getting to pick which god's VIP club to join after they've killed and taken the stuff of enough goblins (at least that's what the mechanics would say, prove-yourself lore notwithstanding).
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
In principle, this is an issue with the multiclassing rules and not the subclass rules. Considering that they just moved the multiclassing rules directly into the class descriptions of the expert classes packet, this is something the designers could address directly. I'm not sure that any solution to the issue is a home run, but there are lots of ways it could be worked around.
The only thing I can think of is something like, "If this is not your first class, your first subclass ability from this class will instead be available to you at third level rather than first level." That would do it, but I suspect mutliclassers wouldn't be happy with it.
 


Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
I am a veteran D&D player.

I have never played a character except starting at level 1.

For me it is an important concept to start my character at the beginning.

This especially makes choosing the subclass character concept at level 1 vital.
This bit is pretty much what I came here to say, and it's put better than I could have.

Sure, you can just start at 3rd level (or whatever), but that approach seems to only confirm the idea that you should get the subclass you want from the start. So why not have it at 1st?

Folks bring up multiclassing as a reason, but others have pointed out how that's a non-reason at best. The multiclassing trait table already limits the abilities you get when multiclassing; there's absolutely no reason the benefits of multiclassing can't be limited to the very basic features of the class.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Sure, you can just start at 3rd level (or whatever), but that approach seems to only confirm the idea that you should get the subclass you want from the start. So why not have it at 1st?
Well said!

To even want to start at level 3 to get the subclass, means, the subclass should happen at level 1 at character creation.

Folks bring up multiclassing as a reason, but others have pointed out how that's a non-reason at best. The multiclassing trait table already limits the abilities you get when multiclassing; there's absolutely no reason the benefits of multiclassing can't be limited to the very basic features of the class.
Good point. Multiclassing has its own rules.

The subclass should start at level 1.
 

I love that they seem to be standardizing subclass progression, but why start them at 3rd level instead of 1st? Even for the 2014 classes that get their subclasses after 1st level I have never actually seen a player wait until then to choose their subclass anyway. They always pick at character creation. Plus, having all subclasses start at 1st level would allow subclass to transform the base class more. Sorcerers could get access to different spell lists depending on subclass. Bards could get different options for their set of always-prepared spells depending on subclass. Rangers could have some subclasses that cast spells and some that don’t. Waiting until 3rd level makes it so that if your subclass is a significant part of the character concept, you have to spend two levels not playing that concept, at least not to its fullest extent.
Funny thing is WotC agree, they even said so in I believe the previous playtest video.

The idea that people need to "learn their class" is obviously laughable. Most classes don't even get some of their core abilities until L3 anyway, and a lot of classes play virtually identically at L1.

As @Parmandur said, this seems to be a backwards-compatibility thing. If they did move it to L1, which I believe they agree makes sense, they'd invalidate all existing subclasses, which, honestly they're going to do anyway, eventually, but doing it instantly might cause er... some uproar?

As for multiclassing, pfft, who cares? If that really matters either:

A) Disallow or limit multiclassing (i.e. maybe you don't let people pick another class until they've done three levels in this one, for example).

or

B) Make it so that you only get the "subclass" for one class (I've seen games do things like this).

To be honest disallowing multiclassing in 5E/1D&D does basically no damage to the game. There are very few genuine RP concepts which benefit from multiclassing, and 95% of multiclassing is either:

A) System experts exploiting synergies to attempt to make an OP character.

or

B) System noobs/ninnies picking "kewl" classes because they're allowed to and usually creating barely-playable junk characters full of anti-synergy.

Neither of those is a good things and that's the overwhelming majority of 5E multiclassing.
 

The subclass should start at level 1.
Sure.

But the fact that:

A) WotC said they wanted to do that, and then didn't do it.

And

B) The fact that this would obviously invalidate ALL existing subclasses (um I guess except Clerics?)

Mean that WotC are not going to do it so it's about as productive in a 1D&D discussion as suggesting WotC move to having four classes or some other old-favourite axe grind.
 


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