Subclasses should start at 1st level

payn

Legend
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.
BA makes these trivial.
 

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Bounded accuracy.
Oh I somewhat disagree then.

A better-designed version of 5E could have that be fully true.

But unfortunately 5E and 1D&D aren't designed that way, and you have a lot of abilities based on specific class levels (like getting multiple attacks, and how spell progression works), such that if you MC a lot, you can easily end up drastically less powerful than other PCs, and if you multiclass extremely carefully and only with specific, compatible classes, you can be somewhat more powerful than other PCs. The former is a bigger mechanical issue than the latter, for sure.

Either way, there's virtually nothing genuine to be gained from MC'ing in 5E/1D&D, imho, for the game/group holistically, anyway.
 

payn

Legend
Oh I somewhat disagree then.

A better-designed version of 5E could have that be fully true.

But unfortunately 5E and 1D&D aren't designed that way, and you have a lot of abilities based on specific class levels (like getting multiple attacks, and how spell progression works), such that if you MC a lot, you can easily end up drastically less powerful than other PCs, and if you multiclass extremely carefully and only with specific, compatible classes, you can be somewhat more powerful than other PCs. The former is a bigger mechanical issue than the latter, for sure.

Either way, there's virtually nothing genuine to be gained from MC'ing in 5E/1D&D, imho, for the game/group holistically, anyway.
Then, make it optional? The gulf is much smaller than editions past and I'm willing to live with it if I can have a non-silo'd hybrid MC approach of games like 4E and PF2.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
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.
WotC should do it because it should be done.

The subclass is an essential component of any character concept.

The subclass needs to find a meaningful mechanical expression at level 1.
 

Yaarel

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

2024 will be rewriting new versions of every subclass anyway. So it doesnt matter if one cant use old 2014 subclasses for the new 2024 classes.

Players who want old subclasses can use the old classes for them, as they are accustomed to do.



The new classes can feature subclass choice at level 1. No problem.
 

cbwjm

Legend
With the newly aligned subclass structure, subclasses from previous 5e books will be incompatible with oneDnD classes anyway, might as well re-design them so that level one can have a subclass, you wouldn't even need them to have much mechanical weight so that people that multiclass aren't getting loaded up with abilities. As is though, the more I think about it, the more I think that the background skills and feat are going to be your level 1 "subclass" features.

Side note, I hope that the new subclass structure exists across all classes and isn't just the Expert subclass structure, I want my mates, priests, and warriors to have the same structure. That means the if they don't receive level 1 subclasses then the sorcerer, warlock, and cleric shouldn't either because they are so close to making subclasses being able to be used across multiple classes, I'd want to grab the strixhaven UA and rebuild them so that they actually work, which will only really happen if every class has the same structure.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
If the subclass starts at level 1, what would that look like?

The current UA Bard class design space is as follows.

BARD

Level 1
• Spellcasting (cantrip and slot 1)
• Inspiration

Level 2
• Skill Expertise (two)
• Restoration (extra spell known)

Level 3
• Spellcasting (slot 2)
• [Bard Subclass: Lore]

LORE

Level 3
• Cutting Words (extra Inspiration known)
• Extra Skill Proficiencies



At a glance. Level 1 is a bit frontloaded as one would expect.

Level 2 focuses on skills, which is ok. Restoration uses up spell slots, so there is a boost in versatility but not really a boost in power.

Level 3 is ok. A next-higher spell slot is nice. And the subclass adds to it.

But the subclass features themselves are surprisingly weak. Cutting Words uses up an Inspiration slot, so there is a boost in versatility, but not really a boost in power.



LORE SUBCLASS AT LEVEL 1

A simple way to do the Bard subclass at level 1, is to swap the Inspiration. Have the Test Boost for every Bard, plus one more Inspiration that relates to the subclass.

In this case the Lore Bard at level 1 has, both Test Boost and Cutting Words for the Inspirations.

Then at level 3, every Bard gets the Heal Inspiration.



There are also other ways to move features around. The point is, it is easy to choose a subclass at level 1.
 

If the subclass starts at level 1, what would that look like?

The current UA Bard class design space is as follows.

BARD

Level 1
• Spellcasting (cantrip and slot 1)
• Inspiration

Level 2
• Skill Expertise (two)
• Restoration (extra spell known)

Level 3
• Spellcasting (slot 2)
• [Bard Subclass: Lore]

LORE

Level 3
• Cutting Words (extra Inspiration known)
• Extra Skill Proficiencies



At a glance. Level 1 is a bit frontloaded as one would expect.

Level 2 focuses on skills, which is ok. Restoration uses up spell slots, so there is a boost in versatility but not really a boost in power.

Level 3 is ok. A next-higher spell slot is nice. And the subclass adds to it.

But the subclass features themselves are surprisingly weak. Cutting Words uses up an Inspiration slot, so there is a boost in versatility, but not really a boost in power.



LORE SUBCLASS AT LEVEL 1

A simple way to do the Bard subclass at level 1, is to swap the Inspiration. Have the Test Boost for every Bard, plus one more Inspiration that relates to the subclass.

In this case the Lore Bard at level 1 has, both Test Boost and Cutting Words for the Inspirations.

Then at level 3, every Bard gets the Heal Inspiration.



There are also other ways to move features around. The point is, it is easy to choose a subclass at level 1.

I already miss the extra magical secret at leve 6. Was exactly the right feature at the right time.

That said, I still think level 2 should be subclass. When making characters with new players, learning how the class works is enough.
A cool Idea could be that in the first 3 levels you can chose when to take the subclass feature, pushing your other features one level back.

If you multiclass, the order is fixed. You may not multiclass if you took subclass until level 3.

A bit more complicated, but it would be having your cake and eat it.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I already miss the extra magical secret at leve 6. Was exactly the right feature at the right time.

That said, I still think level 2 should be subclass. When making characters with new players, learning how the class works is enough.
A cool Idea could be that in the first 3 levels you can chose when to take the subclass feature, pushing your other features one level back.

If you multiclass, the order is fixed. You may not multiclass if you took subclass until level 3.

A bit more complicated, but it would be having your cake and eat it.
I understand what you are saying.

But for me, there must be a subclass choice at level 1.

A classic example, is a High Elf who is an Eldritch Knight.

It seems unlikely that this Elf culture would institute a Fighter tradition that was UNABLE to use magic until level 3.

It doesnt need to be much at level 1. But it has to be something.

The Bard at level 1 can pick an Inspiration that is appropriate to the subclass.

The Fighter at level 1 can pick a Fighting Style that is appropriate to the subclass.

Something.
 

I understand what you are saying.

But for me, there must be a subclass choice at level 1.

A classic example, is a High Elf who is an Eldritch Knight.

It seems unlikely that this Elf culture would institute a Fighter tradition that was UNABLE to use magic until level 3.

It doesnt need to be much at level 1. But it has to be something.

The Bard at level 1 can pick an Inspiration that is appropriate to the subclass.

The Fighter at level 1 can pick a Fighting Style that is appropriate to the subclass.

Something.

So, my idea would be that the elf just picks eldritch knight at level 1.

This pushes fighting style, second wind and action surge one level up.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
So, my idea would be that the elf just picks eldritch knight at level 1.

This pushes fighting style, second wind and action surge one level up.
For the UA Bard, that would be a problem. The Lore subclass assumes the Bard already knows the Inspiration feature. So it couldnt precede it.

Level 1 itself needs a way to pick a subclass.
 

For the UA Bard, that would be a problem. The Lore subclass assumes the Bard already knows the Inspiration feature. So it couldnt precede it.

Level 1 itself needs a way to pick a subclass.

I am really torn. One one hand, I would like subclass at level 1.
But besides new player concerns, my 100% ritual caster arcane trickster, should 100% a become a lore bard, and ended up college of swords, because of how the adventure went so far...

I think, If you are set on a character concept, you can now pick an appropriate feat (I took ritual caster as my v-human feat back then) and already play the character you wanted.

The eldritch knight can just start woth magic initiate now.
The valour bard can start with medium armor by taking the lightly armored feat...

Actually, probably if a subclass gives you medium armor, it should tell you to take the lightly armored feat, or any other first level feat, if you already have it.
 

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.
You might not have - but I have. I've also seen subclasses change as a consequence of play and the player pick a different subclass at level 3 than they'd intended at level 1.

I'm going to say straight out that the subclass should not start at level 1 unless it is essential for the character concept that it does. You should instead have breathing room to develop your character, and specialisation is something that should develop rather than be locked in. To use some examples:
  • The Warlock needs to start at level 1. You made a pact and what that pact is with is vastly influential
  • There is absolutely no need to start the fighter or rogue at level 1. A level 1 champion, battlemaster, and rune knight are going to look basically the same anyway
Setting your subclass in stone at level 1 is the same mindset that required setting your feats in stone at level 1 in 3.X. Play to see what happens.

Of course I start at level 0 - but the characters should be level 3 by the end of session 4 if not 3.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
  • There is absolutely no need to start the fighter or rogue at level 1. A level 1 champion, battlemaster, and rune knight are going to look basically the same anyway
The Eldritch Knight Fighter needs to start at level 1, participating in magical culture.

The Psi Warrior Fighter needs to start at level 1, developing innate talent.

The Trickster Rogue often needs to start at level 1, either innate talent or magical culture.

Soulknife Rogue needs to start at level 1, developing innate talent.

Phantom Rogue needs to start at level 1, exhibiting affinity with the dead.

Paladin needs to start at level 1, typically a member of a specific order and sometimes a champion of a personal cause. The class is the result of a personal oath or commitment.

Cleric needs to start at level 1, typically a member of a specific spiritual community or personal calling.

Warlock needs to start at level 1, gaining magic as the result of a pact.

Bard often needs to start at level 1, developing magic as part of a college or family of Bards.

Druid needs to start at level 1, being an elementalist/weatherwitch or an animal/plant shapeshifter is quite different in concept.

Monk needs to start at level 1, typically a member of a monastic spiritual community, where the way of elements, or open hand, or shadow, are quite different traditions.

Sorcerer needs to start at level 1, developing a specific innate talent.

Wizards were everything magic in the earliest editions, but the Wizard today needs much more focus alongside other full caster classes. Focus requites level 1 character concept.

Most (all?) classes include concepts that require starting at level 1.



Ultimately, it is the players who have a specific character concept that they want to play, who decide it has to be level 1.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
simple solution.

You cannot multiclass before level 5. When you take a level in new class, you need to take 4 levels of that class before you can gain levels in another class.

My preferred version of this is that if you have multiple classes and they are not equal, you must level the lowest one.
 

Here's another possibility:

Make subclasses at higher than 1 BUT make them all have requirements that one could take at level 1.

As many subclass possibilities may overlap in their initial features, this opens up a bit of breathing room, lets people embark on a subclass "path" at level 1, and maintains the image of level 1 being the basics of a class before specialization is fully applied.
 

The Eldritch Knight Fighter needs to start at level 1, participating in magical culture.
No they don't. You can "participate in magical culture" with a first level magical adept feat. Or the Eldritch Knight can learn as a result of defeat.
The Psi Warrior Fighter needs to start at level 1, developing innate talent.
Which is why telepathy and telekinesis should be first level feats.
The Trickster Rogue often needs to start at level 1, either innate talent or magical culture.

Soulknife Rogue needs to start at level 1, developing innate talent.
See the Eldritch Knight and Psi Warrior respectively.
Phantom Rogue needs to start at level 1, exhibiting affinity with the dead.
No it doesn't. The Phantom only needs to start exhibiting affinity with the dead after they start killing them. It's not why they became a rogue.
Paladin needs to start at level 1, typically a member of a specific order and sometimes a champion of a personal cause.
Paladin does start at level 1. It's their subclass that doesn't as they learn what sort of paladin they are.
Cleric needs to start at level 1, typically a member of a specific spiritual community or personal calling.
Absolutely. And they then find which aspect of their faith they reflect as they spend time as a cleric.
Warlock needs to start at level 1, gaining magic as the result of a pact.
Yes. Warlock is a specific one where your pact needs to happen as part of your class. You got one. Congratulations. Never mind that I explicitly mentioned the Warlock as one that needs a level 1 subclass
Bard often needs to start at level 1, developing magic as part of a college or family of Bards.
That's called "Being a bard"
Druid needs to start at level 1, being an elementalist/weatherwitch or an animal/plant shapeshifter is quite different in concept.
This is a problem with the Druid class. The Shapeshifter IMO should be its own subclass - or several subclasses (I wouldn't say no to a wildshaping Ranger)
Monk needs to start at level 1, typically a member of a monastic spiritual community, where the way of elements, or open hand, or shadow, are quite different traditions.
That's called Being A Monk. Or, more accurately Monks learn techniques through study. But they also learn through the school of hard knocks.
Sorcerer needs to start at level 1, developing a specific innate talent.
Here's a second. Congratulations.
Wizards were everything magic in the earliest editions, but the Wizard today needs much more focus alongside other full caster classes. Focus requites level 1 character concept.
And they specialise as they study. The wizard still can focus at level 1 - it's called "spell selection". Level 3 on the other hand is when you start to benefit from focus in a way no one else can.
Most (all?) classes include concepts that require starting at level 1.
Indeed. All classes start at level 1. I'm not suggesting bringing back Prestige Classes. Subclasses on the other hand other than in rare cases don't have to start at level 1.
Ultimately, it is the players who have a specific character concept that they want to play, who decide it has to be level 1.
And if you want to do that you can go point buy. Meanwhile classes are broader than subclasses.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I am really torn. One one hand, I would like subclass at level 1.
But besides new player concerns, my 100% ritual caster arcane trickster, should 100% a become a lore bard, and ended up college of swords, because of how the adventure went so far...

I think, If you are set on a character concept, you can now pick an appropriate feat (I took ritual caster as my v-human feat back then) and already play the character you wanted.

The eldritch knight can just start woth magic initiate now.
The valour bard can start with medium armor by taking the lightly armored feat...

Actually, probably if a subclass gives you medium armor, it should tell you to take the lightly armored feat, or any other first level feat, if you already have it.

I like how the UA consistently goes with a "do this thing or choose an other thing" approach.

Perhaps it is easy for every base class to have its main feature be "take this thing, or choose something relating to your subclass".

For the Bard, the main feature (besides spellcasting) is Inspiration. It is easy for Bardic Inspiration to say, you gain Boost Test. You also gain Heal or else an other Inspiration of your choice relating to your subclass.

For the Fighter, a main feature is Fighting Style. It is easy for the Style to say, you gain the sword-and-shield Fighting Style, or else choose an other Style relating to your Fighter subclass.



In this case, the player who is playing a Lore Bard, will get the Boost Test, but also still has a choice whether to take the Heal Inspiration or else the Cutting Words Dis-Inspiration at level 1.

Likewise, the Eldritch Knight player, still has a choice about whether to take a magical Fighting Style, or else one of the other Fighting Styles at level 1.



For the Fighter, it might also be possible to choose between Heavy Armor, or else some other feature, depending on the character concept. The Dex Fighter wont need the Heavy Armor and might need something else. The Eldritch Fighter might want the Heavy Armor or else gain the Mage Armor spell instead.



The point is. Level 1 can make sure a main feature is optional to allow for significant subclass concepts to find expression.
 

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