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General The Hall of Suck: Worst Classes in D&D History (Spoiler Alert: Nothing from 5e)

Gladius Legis

Adventurer
With all the talk about how such and such class sucks in 5e, here is a list of the worst classes in the history of Dungeons & Dragons, considering all editions of the game.

You will notice that no classes from 5e are on this list. No matter how much you may dislike a class from 5e, you have to admit that compared to some real stinkers from past editions, even the worst of 5e's classes at least exhibit a base level of competence.

Without further ado, The Hall of Suck:

3.0 Ranger:
As much hate as the 5e version of the Ranger has gotten for six years (and yes, I've contributed to some of it), it is a dadgum titan compared to its 3.0 rendition. This class was good for one thing and one thing only: A 1-level dip for a Rogue to get free Two-Weapon Fighting and Ambidexterity in light armor. That's literally it. The 3.0 Ranger's rap sheet of deficiencies stretched for miles. Favored Enemy scaling was, to put it mildly, backwards. If you wanted your highest damage bonus against something big and bad like dragons or demons, you had to pick them at 1st level, when you likely hadn't even seen one of those in your life. Otherwise your latest Favored Enemies were always your weakest ones. Ranger spells were garbage in 3.0, on top of the spellcasting system of 3e that screwed over half-casters. And for a "skilled" warrior class, the Ranger didn't have enough skill points to do much of anything. They didn't get enough feats to do much of anything, either, basically making them an NPC Warrior with a d10 hit die. The 3.5 revision, fortunately, lifted the Ranger to semi-comptence (at least as competent as a non-full spellcaster could expect to be in that edition).

3.0/3.5 Paladin: Half-Fighter, Half-Cleric, All Gimp. Make no mistake, in 3e, the other prominent half-caster class was no better off than the Ranger was. The 3e Paladin was easily the weakest version of the class ever and certifiably one of the weakest classes in the history of D&D. Like the Ranger, the Paladin was little more than an NPC Warrior with a d10 hit die, as it didn't get enough feats to do much of anything. Paladin spells sucked, and the Paladin sucked at casting them (again, 3e system screwed your spellcasting over if you weren't a full caster). The only thing the 3.0 Paladin got to look forward to as it leveled was more uses of Cure Disease per day. How exciting. The Smite was also the weakest it ever was, far and away, as all it did was give weaksauce bonuses to hit and damage on a single hit, and only if the target was evil. Adding insult to injury, the 3.0 Paladin could only ever Smite once per day. The 3.5 Paladin's only upgrade over its 3.0 counterpart was that it could use that dogpoo Smite ability a few more times per day at higher levels. So unlike the Ranger, the Paladin stayed inept in 3.5, making 3e in its entirety just a sad time to be a Paladin.

4e Vampire: First of all, vampire isn't something that should've been a class in the first place. Second of all, supposedly this class was supposed to fill the Striker role, which means dealing high levels of damage. And this class ... didn't. At all. It was outdamaged by every other existing Striker and even a number of non-Striker classes. And it had hardly any healing surges, and its way of keeping healed up to compensate for that fact, well, pardon the pun, but it really sucked. None of its powers were conducive to the Striker role, and on top of that, its powers were split between weapon and implement, making it even more difficult to build one to a satisfactory level of performance.

1e Monk: Complain about the 5e Monk all you want, it's at least competent. This version of the Monk wasn't. Somehow, this thing is supposed to fight in melee despite having the same hit dice as a Magic-User. Which back then was a d4. Barf. And it got even worse from there. It leveled up slower than any other class, even Magic-Users and Paladins, and it never received bonus experience. And it used the Thief attack table, which meant it just didn't hit much. The "best" features it got were stun and kill attacks that were practically mathematical impossibilities. Just a bad class, and easily the weakest in 1e.
 
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Alzrius

The EN World kitten
2e Templar: Found only in the original Dark Sun campaign setting, this class was left out of the revised boxed set put out later, and it's not hard to see why. While the mechanics of the templar class aren't terrible, the design is practically tailor-made to cause conflict within the party. When's the last time you saw a PC class that couldn't be good-aligned? Or had a list of political powers that not only didn't work outside of their home city-state, but encouraged them to act like a petty thug within it (e.g. earning the right to have freemen, and later nobles, thrown in jail on the templar's say-so; as I recall, this could include other PCs)? And the list of class-based experience awards gave the biggest bonuses for advancing the agenda of their sorcerer-king, the local despot whom the templar worshiped for power. Unless you were running an all-templar party, or an evil-themed campaign, this class was just asking for trouble.
 


aco175

Hero
2e bard, maybe it was 1e but you needed 5 levels in like 4 other class before you could become a bard that no player I know of ever became one.
 


vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
My vote would go to 4e Runepriest: the forgotten class.
  • No feat support, yet a strange feat chain that only them could take that added mostly nothing.
  • A leader role, yet the powers did not really support the role and offer measly boni quickly overshadowed by any other leaders.
  • A weird mechanic where you could switch the riders from your powers by being in a ''rune stance'', which makes little sense
  • All in all, it looked like an homebrewe class added to the 3rd book (which was about psionics) to keep company to the equally bad Seeker.
 

TwoSix

The hero you deserve
Supporter
I'd nominate 2 classes.

1) Divine Mind, 3.5, Complete Psionic. Remember how the OP pointed out how bad the 3.5 Paladin sucked? This is the Psionic version of the 3.5 paladin, except with even worse casting, the weird "mantle" system from Complete Psionic as its main class feature, and almost incoherent fluff.

2) Truenamer, 3.5, Tome of Magic. Well, it has better flavor, at least. But how about a class that uses skill checks to cast spells (ahem, utterances), except those spells just don't function very often? And if you do actually succeed in casting a spell utterance, your reward is that all your utterances for the rest of the day are even harder to cast? Just for fun, since the class uses the 3.5 skill system, which isn't really balanced around controlling skill progression, you can eventually load up on magic items to be so good at skill checks that you can gate in solars many, many times a day?
 

Esbee

Villager
I have to vehemently disagree with your assessment of the 1e Monk. You have a few details wrong, but there's more to it.

First - they use the Cleric matrix not the Thief's, which is 2nd only to the Fighter's. They use the Thief SAVING THROW table, though.

Also the Paladin has the largest xp requirement of core 1e, at 2750xp for level 2, where the monk is on par with the Ranger at 2250. (So yes, it still speaks to your point that monks have a high XP requirement, but they are certainly not the worst. Wizards and Paladins have a slower time advancing.)

The stun feature is very effective and certainly not a mathematical improbability, you merely need to score a hit by a margin of five over your minimum target #, which happens fairly often - and the stun lasts d6 rounds with no save. A monk attacking an unarmoured enemy (hello enemy wizards!) is +4 to attack (if you're using weapon-type-vs-AC, which you should be) meaning a first level monk need only score an 11 or higher on a d20 (50%). Yes that number is reduced with better armoured enemies, but the average AC in 1st Ed hovers in the 5 range. So even a 1st level monk will usually score that stun on a 19 or 20 more often than not.

The instant kill effect is also effective, as it's automatic, and is a percentage equal to the AC of the target. Yes, THAT one is a lot less frequent, but for an automatic, non depleting chance of an instant kill (with no save), having an average 5% chance is reasonable. Depending on how your DM interprets the rules, you could get this ability at 1st level with bonuses to the % coming in after 7th.

Open hand damage starts at 1d3... but you can't forget that this is 1st Edition, where demographically adventuring class characters appear once for every 100 people, so if you're playing it right the average person will have d4 (or d6 at most for soldiers and labourers) hp... but unlike in 5e where it caps at 1d10, Monk open hand damage gets as high as 8d4. Even by level 3 you're at d6 and climbing fast. Monks also get a flat +1 to damage for each even level with any weapon they use. That adds up quite nicely. Even at 4th level, a +2 damage stacked with a magic weapon brings on the hurt.

Monk Movement is completely insane, and their other powers are immensely useful. The d4+ modifier healing doesn't seem like much to people used to the excessive hit point escalation of later editions, and COUGH*totalhealingonovernightrest*COUGH, but in a system where natural healing is 1 per 24 hours, adding a d4+ level modifier to your daily recovery is huge.

As for monks HP, d4 seems like a low amount, but remember they start with 2d4 not 1, giving an average of 5 to an average 4 for the starting thief. Thieves pull ahead on the HP front due to their rapid advancement, but monks catch up quickly. Add in a CON bonus and that game changes. A monk with 16 con starts with 6-12 HP. More than enough to stay alive in a fight. (Well, as much as the rest of the team will have at any rate)

This is just combat. They have handy non-combat skills too...

Further, the monk at 1st level has the 5e equivalent of evasion, and unlimited missile deflection.

At third level they can speak with animals at will. That one ability has saved the lives of many parties in my games. You see, Speak with animals in 1st ed is not the lame, watered down piece of trash it was nerfed into starting with 2nd ed... 1st Ed Speak With Animals affects ALL of the specified animal type in the area and immediately makes them non-hostile for the duration.

Monks get thieving skills as well, making them a viable alternative to the thief, with better combat prowess. A lawful good monk serves the role that a thief would and you can trust them a lot more. ;) Handy if you want a thief AND a paladin in the same party.

As for your other classes, I can't really say I disagree. The 1st Ed Ranger remains a beast, and from 2nd Ed onward they were on a downward spiral. Paladins in 3rd are a pointless venture, though I don't mind what they've done with them in 5th ed too much... Can't speak to anything 4e as I never played that edition.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
Can I nominate a subclass? Or is that technically not allowed?

Anyway: The Purple Dragon Knight. It might have been inspired by the warlord, but it falls very short of the mark.
 

Eltab

Hero
Dark Sun Trader. A class that wants to Persuade people ("buy my product") is attached as a Rogue "prestige class". Got any high-CHR rogues?
And the class powers have nothing to do with combat, even though DS is the world where everybody and everything sees caravans as "free food". The one thing you do get makes un-armored you into a neon-lit target so your friends can get in a sneaky shot at the enemies. Better hope the monsters rolled bad Initiative.
 

Kobold Avenger

Adventurer
2) Truenamer, 3.5, Tome of Magic. Well, it has better flavor, at least. But how about a class that uses skill checks to cast spells (ahem, utterances), except those spells just don't function very often? And if you do actually succeed in casting a spell utterance, your reward is that all your utterances for the rest of the day are even harder to cast? Just for fun, since the class uses the 3.5 skill system, which isn't really balanced around controlling skill progression, you can eventually load up on magic items to be so good at skill checks that you can gate in solars many, many times a day?
I've always brought up the Truenamer as an example on why Skill Checks should never be used for the magic powers of any class out there.
 

Mecheon

Adventurer
I see the Truenamer get mentioned, but I'd like to offer up the 3.5E Ultimate Warrior Samurai as another one as I feel, even though the Truenamer barely functions, the UW Samurai is weaker.

The OA samurai was fine, the UW one. Hooly dooly. It was early 3.5E and the understanding wasn't quite there of the power gap we all know between martials and casters. So, minimal points per level, only one good save, weak powers the whole way through, AND its got the paladin problem of a 'abide by this code of conduct or lose everything' going on. It doesn't get any good stuff that other classes can't get better versions of with feats. You could literately just play a fighter and, with the right feats, outdo everything this class does.

Its worse than the Truenamer, which at least can do some things once you master the mess of its system and has the payoff of "Struggle through 20 broken levels, become Angel Summoner at the end and exploit a rules loophole". UW Samurai never accomplishes anything that other classes can't pull off simpler.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
2e Templar: Found only in the original Dark Sun campaign setting, this class was left out of the revised boxed set put out later, and it's not hard to see why. While the mechanics of the templar class aren't terrible, the design is practically tailor-made to cause conflict within the party. When's the last time you saw a PC class that couldn't be good-aligned? Or had a list of political powers that not only didn't work outside of their home city-state, but encouraged them to act like a petty thug within it (e.g. earning the right to have freemen, and later nobles, thrown in jail on the templar's say-so; as I recall, this could include other PCs)? And the list of class-based experience awards gave the biggest bonuses for advancing the agenda of their sorcerer-king, the local despot whom the templar worshiped for power. Unless you were running an all-templar party, or an evil-themed campaign, this class was just asking for trouble.
Erm Templar was strong as. Could cast any spell, lots of money in its state and just had to be non good.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
vampire isn't something that should've been a class in the first place.
Vampire as a class is still one of the best ideas that dnd has had in like 30 years.

It's perfect.

The only way it could have been better would be if it was explicitly a Hybrid class, so that you have to mix it with another class. But only the execution of the class actually being any good was wrong with the class. The concept was spot on.
 




Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Erm Templar was strong as. Could cast any spell, lots of money in its state and just had to be non good.
It went beyond "just having to be non-good." As I said, it wasn't an issue of mechanics, it was an issue of the templar lending itself much too easily to intra-party strife. Why do you think the class was dropped when the revised boxed set came out?
 
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Alzrius

The EN World kitten
BECMI halfling. Just a short fighter that caps at level 8. All the penalties of the halfling and few of the benefits of the fighter
I seem to recall that the Master Set (and, later, Rules Cyclopedia) established that demihumans still gain some benefits for accruing experience points after they hit their level cap. I think it was better to-hit chances and the ability to advance in weapon mastery?
 


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