D&D (2024) Subclasses should start at 1st level


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(He, Him)
In the Character Advancement table, the hit die at level 0 is d6, and this hit die generally represents Humanoid noncombatants.

At level 1, the Simple Combat level improves the hit die to d8. (Except for the Wizard class that swaps out the Simple Combat for magic features.) This d8 is typical for any Humanoids that player characters encounter in combat encounters.
Rather than saying - except for the wizard - it makes more sense to me to base it at 1d6 and count each step as a half-feat (half of Tough, effectively). So Wizard pays 0-feats, Cleric etc 1/2-feat, Fighter etc 1-feat, Barb 1+1/2-feats.

Also at level 1 are two "levels" to further detail the class features. Some classes, like Fighter, Paladin, and Ranger, will use part of one of these class features to improve the hit die from d8 to d10. The Barbarian class will actually use a full class feature to improve the hit die from d8 to d12.
Seeing as everyone has hit dice, it makes more sense to me to give it a separate row. FTM I think weapons, armor and skills should also have separate rows. Otherwise it is obfuscated what is counted into "class."

There doesnt need to be a column for the hit die because whatever the hit die is is established during level 1. From then on up, it is always that hit die for every level (unless multiclassing).
Yup, that also works.
 

Yaarel

He Mage
Here is a tweak of the earlier Character Advancement schedule. The main difference is, level 1 is a single level. So any "level 1" character is unambiguously there, and all the "level 0" levels before it are in the characters past. By extension, many of the features of the class itself are developing during the level-0 levels. Each level is a design space of a feat.

Level 0 comprises two tiers: the Background tier and the Class tier. The choice of a default Background comes with recommendations for the Skillset and the Feat that become available at different levels. The Background Feat is the cusp where Background tier ends and the Class tier begins. The second tier is the formative levels of the Class during level 0.

To help a newbie player learn how to play a roleplaying game, or D&D 5e specifically, it helps to go thru each level of the two tiers of level 0. The newbie can focus on each feature one while leveling. Each level is a mini-quest of about two encounters, that the DM customizes to highlight the newly acquired feature. By the end of level 0, the newbie is reasonably familiar with the mechanics and narratives of the D&D the game.



CHARACTER ADVANCEMENT SCHEDULE
Character Advancement Schedule (Yaarel 2022).png




BACKGROUND TIER


Before the Background tier is an Origin: a Race, a birth, a childhood, and early teens. The Race exhibits a Feat or its equivalent. For example the Human Race has Skilled as a default Feat. The DM helps the newbie player choose the Race of the player character, plus the cultural identity and place of birth. The native language is typically Common, but might be an other language. Describe the family, including parentage and siblings.

The Abilities level begins the Background tier. It describes a teenager around 16 years of age. (Still in high school.) The youth now exhibits the aptitudes for a certain class. The player now chooses what the class of the character will be, but only for the sake of deciding the ability scores and qualifying for certain features at higher levels. Regardless of the chosen class, the current Hit Die is a d6. For example, the Ranger will typically have Dexterity and Wisdom scores of at least 13.

The DM guides the newbie thru two noncombat encounters. The player gets a sense of how a roleplaying game works. The DM describes the scene, and the player roles Ability Checks to explore it and socialize.

The chosen class determines the Saves level. For example, Ranger grants Saving Throw Proficiencies for Dexterity and Wisdom. The DM can present a quest with nonlethal challenges to highlight the saves, such as a sudden gust of wind while on ice, or pixie Charm with harmless intentions such as to protect a young animal.

Then the character levels up to the Skillset level. This level represents a passage of time. The teen has acquired some skillfulness. At this level, the player chooses the Background itself of the Background tier. The DM helps the player pick one of the default Backgrounds. It sketches the experiences and interests of the character so far. For this level, the Background recommends a default Skillset: two skills, a tool set, and an additional language. If the native language isnt Common, the additional language should be. For a later level, it also recommends a specific feat.

Decide where and how the character gained this Skillset. Think about friends, school and work, mentors and influences. At this point, one or two sentences is enough to describe the character bio, along with a small list of persons and places. The player can add more details later when inspiration hits. Two encounters describe the Background environment vividly and encourage the player to apply the Skill Proficiency to the Ability checks, for various challenges.

The next level up is the Combat level. It is part of the Background during level 0. For example, the feat at the next level might require a weapon proficiency, such as spear qualifying for the Fighting Style Great Weapon Fighting feat. Background Combat can supply this weapon proficiency.

I suggest two approaches to the Background Combat: Warrior Combat and Mage Combat. A nonmage character defaults to the Warrior Combat.

Warrior: d8 Hit Dice, All Simple Weapons, Light Armor
Mage: Cantrip, 1st Slot, Prep Spell x Spellcasting Ability

(Note, each Background Combat approach is worth about a feat, a player can take the other one as the choice for the level 4 feat later on.)

The Warrior Combat is self-evident. The Warrior becomes effective with weapons and defending against weapons. The Mage Combat merits explanation.

Mage Combat grants a cantrip, a 1st-Slot spell slot, and the capacity to prepare a number of spells equal to the Spellcasting Ability of the chosen class (at least one spell). The spells must be on the spell list of the chosen class and belong to the same school (unless there are not enough spells of a school on the list at that slot level). These personal spells are thematic and last a lifetime, but the player can change them while leveling. The spells are in addition to any spells gained later from other features. Likewise, the Slot is in addition, so a level 1 Wizard will have three spell slots total. The personal Slot can be used normally for other Prepped Spells gained elsewhere.

Whether by hunting, fightsports, magesports, accompanying adults to train in a community defense, or so on, the teen is starting to demonstrate combat prowess.

The adolescent mage discovers how to cast spells. Often there were earlier instances of magic, but this time it is on purpose. It is a life altering moment. The personal insight demonstrates a talent for magic, and mages and mage schools are often on the lookout for such individuals to take them on as apprentices.

The DM helps the newbie decide the circumstances when this combat competence became evident. Was the character training? Did the prowess show up instinctively during a dangerous situation? Then the DM guides the newbie player gently thru an adventure comprising two combat encounters, to flex this aggressivity.

The next level is the Feat level. The chosen Background recommends the default Feat. It is a "level 0" Feat that the character takes before gaining level 1 in the class. Two encounters highlight the use of this Feat.

These encounters should also decide on the a way to formally train in the class, such as a choosing a military academy or a wizard to apprentice under. This is a lifelong decision that factors into the identity of the character, and both the player and the DM need to agree on it.

The Feat is the cusp that marks the ends the Background tier and the beginning of the Class tier.



CLASS TIER

Typically, a student enters the Class during level 0, while about 18 years old. (Akin to a college freshman or sophmore.)

The Entry level describes a formal entry into a town defense, a military academy, a mage school, an apprenticeship of various kinds, or some other community tradition. It is possible to be self-taught, but it is unusual.

Each Class grants its own level 0features. Consult the chosen Class for more information.

For the sake of example, here is a Ranger.



RANGER

BACKGROUND
Typically 16 Years Old
Abilities: At least Dexterity Score 13 and Wisdom Score 13
Saves: Dexterity and Strength
Skillset: Any Background
Combat (Warrior): d8 Hit Die, Simple Weapons, Light Armor

CLASS
Typically 18 Years Old
Feat: Qualifies for Warrior Feat
Entry: Skill x3, Cantrip x2
Subclass (Hunter): Slotless Spell x2
Combat: d10 Hit Die, Martial Weapons, Medium Armor

ROOKIE
Typically 20 Years Old
Group (Expert): Expertise x2
Level 1: 1st Slot x2, Prep Spells x2, Favored Enemy
Level 2 Subclass (Hunter): Hunters Prey
Level 3: 1st Slot, Fighting Style



(Note. The UA Ranger frontloads awkwardly. A class has a design space of three features − not including the Saves, Background Combat, Subclass, and Group feature. Despite seeming alot, the 1DD Ranger features for level 1 and earlier exceed it. Meanwhile the 1DD Bard has difficulty filling out this design space, and the 2014 Wizard is painfully less. Even then, it is necessary to budget the Ranger class. The shield training relocates to the design space one of the Fighting Styles at later level, since high-Dexterity two-weapon fighting or high-Dexterity longbow fighting probably wont need a shield as a salient characteristic. If a player wishes, it is acceptable to swap one cantrip for the shield training.)

This exemplary ranger character joins a guard at the age of 18. The guard patrols the wilderness around a remote town. The family has been involved in the guard for generations.

During the Entry level, the ranger has been observing comrades to learn new skills and slowly acclimates to the great outdoors. The Entry grants Ranger Class skills: Survival to navigate wilderness and subsist within it, Athletics to move quickly thru it as well as for unarmed combat to keep combat ready, and Stealth to hunt as well as to ambush incoming threats.

The guard emphasizes to the fledgling the need to attune the forces of nature, adapting to its ways of magic. As part of the magical defenses of the guard, the ranger masters a regimen of two cantrips: Guidance and Thornwhip.

The novice faces real threats, even occasional combat, but the other rangers keep close supervision and keep the novice out of harms way as much as possible.

At the Subclass level, the Ranger Class lists the default Hunter Subclass. The ranger ventures out to hunt for meals for the team at the camp. Instinctively the magic of nature facilitates the hunt. The ranger gains two Slotless spells: Entangling Strike and Faerie Fire (or any two Ranger spells that the player and the DM agree are useful while hunting). The predatory nature demonstrates affinity for the archetype of the Hunter.

(Note. A "Slotless" spell is a specific spell that the character can cast once per Long Rest without a spell slot. Compare Drow Darkness. The spell can also be Prepared to cast with a slot if any. The Hunter feature Hunters Prey at a later level is extrapowerful − roughly equivalent to Sneak Attack and worth over a feat and a half, thus requires extra design space. Therefore, the Subclass feature at the Class tier level is missing some design space. Two Slotless spells are modest but useful and thematic. The reverse can be true for the Beast Master archetype. Here the initial Subclass feature is likely to be extrapowerful in order for the animal companion to be effective in combat. So the later Subclass level is likely to be missing some design space. A Subclass is a separate design space from the class.)

Next up, the Combat level of the Class advances the skill at arms. The ranger has been practicing with swords and other weapons all along, but now wields them reliably and effectively. Class Combat grants: d10 Hit Die (improving the earlier d8 to d10), and training in All Martial Weapons, while wearing Medium Armor such as a chain shirt. The ranger contributes more to the fights that the patrol encounters.

Then comes the Group level. The Group Feat isnt a Feat exactly, but a feature from beyond the Class itself. The Group grants the same feature to several related Classes. Here, the Expert Group grants Expertise for two proficient skills. When choosing two useful skills, this level is an impressive upgrade to the repertoire of the character. The ranger now excels at the wilderness skills of the guard: Survival and Stealth.

The Group Feat is the cusp between the Class tier and the Rookie tier.



ROOKIE TIER


Finally, the character is Level 1! This Rookie is an adult, about 20 years old. (Akin to a college junior or senior, to an acquirer of an Associates degree, and to a rookie in a police department.) The character is an accomplished student, still learning the vocation, but competent to do well if venturing out on ones own. The character usually remains in the community of learning to advance the studies, so keeps contact with mentors and comrades even when away on missions and adventures abroad.

For this particular ranger, there is a rite of passage. The guard has an initiation ceremony. The ranger has proved the ability to attune the forces of nature and to wield its spellcraft of the wilderness. The Level 1 Class grants: two 1st-Slot spell slots, and the capability to Prepare two different spells, Cure Wounds and Entangle.

The character will remain a Rookie until the level 4 Feat. At that cusp, the Professional tier begins. Then the ranger will be leading the patrols. Or the town might entrust the ranger and a team of comrades on a dangerous mission that the survival of the town depends on.

The adventure begins.
 

Yaarel

He Mage
When teaching a newbie to D&D, or any roleplaying game, it helps to unpack the Background into separate levels. This brief walkthru happens to present the fundamental mechanics of D&D, one level at a time. Abilities, to saves, to skills, to simple combat, to a feat.

The rest of the entirety of D&D is a recombinant of these five building blocks.
 


Horwath

Legend
When teaching a newbie to D&D, or any roleplaying game, it helps to unpack the Background into separate levels. This brief walkthru happens to present the fundamental mechanics of D&D, one level at a time. Abilities, to saves, to skills, to simple combat, to a feat.

The rest of the entirety of D&D is a recombinant of these five building blocks.
a friend just played his first session of DnD.
He didn't play any roleplaying game of this kind.

we are level 7 with house ruled bonus feat(any feat) at 1st level.

He started at level 7 and he is doing fine.


In campaign before that we started at 3rd level with bonus feat again and we had 4 out of 6 players that were complete n00bs.

There is no need for level 0, there never was.

Only if you want to have that journey for your characters.

everyone can grab mechanics of 3rd level characters.
 

Yaarel

He Mage
a friend just played his first session of DnD.
He didn't play any roleplaying game of this kind.

we are level 7 with house ruled bonus feat(any feat) at 1st level.

He started at level 7 and he is doing fine.


In campaign before that we started at 3rd level with bonus feat again and we had 4 out of 6 players that were complete n00bs.

There is no need for level 0, there never was.

Only if you want to have that journey for your characters.
It depends on the player. Some newbs can just jump in and figure it out the rules mechanics as they go along. Other newbs prefer to understand each step, similar to learning math.

It is a kind of playstyle preference.

everyone can grab mechanics of 3rd level characters.
If every one is supposed to start at level 3, why not rename this level "level 1"?
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
There is no need for level 0, there never was.
For newbie care, yes. D&D players are kind of like Rick and Morty fans in thinking that their hobby requires way more intellect than they actually do. The idea that newbies are too dumb to operate Rage and thus can't possibly be able to grock a subclass is a toxic and false idea that's already proven false by the fact that you typically get to level 3 in two sessions.

HOWEVER

Level 0 idoes have a purpose as an option for those who want the zero-to-hero concept where you start as a weak sadboy who will probably die in order to 'earn' being an actual character because tradition. Unless you're a wizard... the class that traditionally started as a sadboy who will probably die in order to 'earn' being an actual wizard.
 

Yaarel

He Mage
The cool thing about the subclass as a separate design space, all kinds of character options become possible.

There can be subclasses that any class can take − a 5e version of a prestige class. The UA for Strixhaven tried to do this, but the conflictive subclass space and schedule ultimately made it unworkable.

A standard subclass space for the Monk class, will like expand it, making different kinds of Monk concepts more doable.

Because each level is about a feat, it is even possible for one class to take an other class as its subclass, by parceling out its level 1 across at least two subclass levels. So a Fighter-Wizard or a Wizard-Fighter becomes practicable, even at level 1.

Consider the Rogue class with Sneak Attack. Sneak Attack by itself is a massive feature, worth more than a feat and a half. It doesnt fit in a single level. But by having a modest level towards a half feat, the subclass level afterward can use the extra space left over to have the full-on Sneak Attack feature, while retaining balance.

Meanwhile, it is possible to switch back and forth between two different subclasses, like both Swashbuckler and Thief.

The player can reuse the subclass design space for something else entirely, such as a class that further develops race features, for particularly powerful race concepts like Dragon or Vampire.

Meanwhile, each class defaults its own subclass, like Evoker Wizard, so newbies and casual players dont need to deal with the many options.
 

Yaarel

He Mage
For newbie care, yes. D&D players are kind of like Rick and Morty fans in thinking that their hobby requires way more intellect than they actually do. The idea that newbies are too dumb to operate Rage and thus can't possibly be able to grock a subclass is a toxic and false idea that's already proven false by the fact that you typically get to level 3 in two sessions.
It depends on the player. Some newbs appreciate the step-by-step. Most of the time for other players, the DM is doing all of the work to do whichever mechanic applies, while the newbie is focusing on the narrative. In this situation too, it can help when the player is learning the mechanics step by step.

HOWEVER

Level 0 idoes have a purpose as an option for those who want the zero-to-hero concept where you start as a weak sadboy who will probably die in order to 'earn' being an actual character because tradition. Unless you're a wizard... the class that traditionally started as a sadboy who will probably die in order to 'earn' being an actual wizard.
Yeah. Zero to hero is important.

Yay, via the level zeroes, everyone can be like the Wizard!
 

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