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

rczarnec

Explorer
Right, I forgot about that little discrepancy between PHB and DMG. Not that it helps the Monk a whole lot; the Cleric matrix is typically only 1 or 2 points better than the Thief matrix at the same levels.


I was looking at the higher levels, where Monks take 500K XP past level 12 to gain new levels, while the Paladin only takes 350K to do the same at that level.

Also, Paladins can qualify for the 10% XP boost with high enough stats. Monks never get that.
Lets also not forget that the Monk requires more XP because past 7th level they don't get to just level when they get the requisite XP, they have to defeat the current Monk of that level hand to hand with no weapons or magic items. Losing doesn't just drop the Monk back to the previous level, all XP above the minimum for that level are lost. So losing what should basically be a 50-50 fight costs a level worth of XP.

1st ed Monks from the PHB were terrible. There was a Dragon article which broke down how that version failed and presented anew version that was at least playable.
 

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So I'm assuming this is ignoring the idiotic classes from The Dragon? Hell, they had one class called the Martyr that only had 1 level... because you couldn't survive to level 2! Oh, and in 1E the Barbarian needed the most XP per level... starting at 6,000 for level 2 (for comparison, the fighter was 1,500 IIRC) and raising at the same exponential rate as every other class.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Monks in 1e were actually pretty powerful. Their natural AC was bonkers, they could zip all over the battlefield, attack more than anyone else, and their unarmed damage was one of the best at higher levels, better than most weapon attacks. Add that to their special abilities they also got (like falling, thief skills, etc), and they were only weak at low levels. Anyone going against Brother Milerjoi found out that monks weren't weak or sucky.

The thing about 1e illusionists people forget is their spell selection. Phantasmal killer at 7th level? Permanent illusions? yeah, on the surface they seem super weak compared to magic users, but when you look at some of the spells, it makes up for it.

Re: assassins, I think folks are forgetting that the assassin flat out had a % of immediately killing anyone they surprised in one hit.

And while paladins in 1e were mechanically really powerful, they had that strict role-play requirement going. Not just lawful good and needed a 17 CHA, but you had to act in strict adherence of your code or you became a fighter.

Kinda how like people forget that clerics had to focus on roleplaying their diety's desires or they lost spell casting abilities.


I think the useless classes in 1e were the ones in the dragon magazine: pacifist, jester, sage, etc.
 

The OD&D thief wasn't great, but it was much better than the BXCMI thief.

At 15th level, they still had only a 75% chance to pick locks and a pitiful 58% chance to hide in shadows. At the same time, magic-users are creating death rays, charming giants, and summoning walls of iron.
 

Azuresun

Explorer
I'm going to go with what might be a controversial pick (though I don't think so), the 3e rogue:

1. Sneak attack has way too many exclusions because the target had to be living and with discernable anatomy. Most notably undead; I feel very sorry for anyone who got stuck with a rogue in Age of Worms for example;

And it had a range limit, and it didn't work on targets with concealment.

The inability to hit undead in a vital spot makes sense, though--it's not as though vampires or zombies are particularly known in pop culture for having weak points, right?

2. The rogue's shtick was, for the most part, way too easy to duplicate with low level spells (which tended to do the job as well or better). Knock, for example, automatic success at opening doors for a 2nd level spell. Sure it's a limited resource but with 3e ready access to crafting magic items, that's not a problem - a wand of knock wasn't exactly a high ticket item. The reverse btw, was even worse! A wizard could Wizard Lock a door and a rogue could not pick it - until you got to the epic level handbook, the modifier was something like +25 or +50 to pick the lock (that's on a d20). A poster on this board mentioned, just to mess with him, the party wizard created a staff that could do just about everything he could - then named it after the character.

Oh, he was being merciful. Anyone remember the Kelvezu, a demon introduced in the MM2 or MM3 that had Evasion, Uncanny Dodge and +8d6 or so Sneak Attack? Now combine that with Shapechange, and you are now a level 18 Rogue.
 

Mort

Legend
And it had a range limit, and it didn't work on targets with concealment.

The inability to hit undead in a vital spot makes sense, though--it's not as though vampires or zombies are particularly known in pop culture for having weak points, right?

Sure, but only because that's the narrative the edition chose to go with.

They could just as easily have gone with a different flavor - in a world where undead and aberrations exist their weak points are studied and known - rogues know how to capitalize on them. Or heck, just keep it as a "sucker punch" mechanic, the rogue does more damage because he can maximize distraction, no further thought needed (works for 5e).
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
The OD&D thief wasn't great, but it was much better than the BXCMI thief.

At 15th level, they still had only a 75% chance to pick locks and a pitiful 58% chance to hide in shadows. At the same time, magic-users are creating death rays, charming giants, and summoning walls of iron.
I think the bad experiences with the thief was because DMs weren't playing correctly. Remember, Gygax D&D was anyone can try anything. Fighters and magic users could also hide. But ONLY when those situations were so difficult that it would be impossible to hide, that's when the thief roll came into play. That is, the thief table was for when they could succeed against impossible odds. However, DMs saw the table and thought that roll needed to be done every attempt. Which of course hurt the thief class a lot
 

I think the bad experiences with the thief was because DMs weren't playing correctly. Remember, Gygax D&D was anyone can try anything. Fighters and magic users could also hide. But ONLY when those situations were so difficult that it would be impossible to hide, that's when the thief roll came into play. That is, the thief table was for when they could succeed against impossible odds. However, DMs saw the table and thought that roll needed to be done every attempt. Which of course hurt the thief class a lot

Yes. That's part of it. But also with BXCMI, the editor tried to stretch the thief percentile progression over 30 levels, as opposed to 14, like the original. The result is a sadistic form of suckage.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Yes. That's part of it. But also with BXCMI, the editor tried to stretch the thief percentile progression over 30 levels, as opposed to 14, like the original. The result is a sadistic form of suckage.

It's one of the reasons why when I say 1e is my favorite edition, I always add "with some 2e elements". One of those being, how 2e did thief skill progression, where you could choose which skills to front load and have a good chance of success. The others being the bard class and schools of magic.
 

the Jester

Legend
Re: assassins, I think folks are forgetting that the assassin flat out had a % of immediately killing anyone they surprised in one hit.

Also, in 1e, at the start of an encounter, each side rolled 1d6 and was surprised on a 1-2, so that was a third of the time. There were exceptions, but that was, as I recall anyway, the default.
 

One house rule we used was if you want to play a specific class/race you can get minimums to qualify for them, so someone who was excited to play an illusionist or paladin could scrape by and do so.

We did the same. You got 1 or 2 free stats that were the minimum, and then rolled the other 4 or 5 normally. Ability prerequisites that high were really silly. The alternative was that when you finally got stats high enough to be something cool, you were super paranoid about dying and losing your character. It just wasn't enjoyable. We bought the books to play the game, not pine after things we didn't roll high enough to do!
 

rczarnec

Explorer
Monks in 1e were actually pretty powerful. Their natural AC was bonkers, they could zip all over the battlefield, attack more than anyone else, and their unarmed damage was one of the best at higher levels, better than most weapon attacks. Add that to their special abilities they also got (like falling, thief skills, etc), and they were only weak at low levels. Anyone going against Brother Milerjoi found out that monks weren't weak or sucky.
Yeah, that 6 AC at level 6 was just bonkers.
 

GreyLord

Hero
We did the same. You got 1 or 2 free stats that were the minimum, and then rolled the other 4 or 5 normally. Ability prerequisites that high were really silly. The alternative was that when you finally got stats high enough to be something cool, you were super paranoid about dying and losing your character. It just wasn't enjoyable. We bought the books to play the game, not pine after things we didn't roll high enough to do!

Well, in 1e it was defined that you needed to have at least two 15's for your ability scores or you rerolled. It flat out stated that PC's needed at least 2 scores of 15 to be viable.
 

Ashrym

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.

The only part that really sucked was the thief levels because of dual class rules. Fighter delaying bard levels was annoying but being a fighter wasn't bad.

1e and 2e bards both had strong advantages.

3.0 Bard - While the songs per day were tied to the class level, their effect depended on ranks in performance.

That just meant they were down a skill point per level. They could still Jedi mind trick spam and got full caster level.

3.5 was better.
 

Bards in 3.5 were pretty good. I'm a little surprised that 3.5 Paladins are on the bad-list as well. Sure, the 3.0 paladin was bare bones, but in 3.5? Any time I've played a paladin in 3.5, it was an absolute beast; tanky, self sufficients, lots of damage, and so many immunities at higher levels. The spells a paladin got were never intended to be its strength, and its kind of weird to criticize the class for one of its minor abilities (spellcasting) not being one of its major abilities. They are just tools to further boost its damage or AC. The 3.5 Paladin's real strength was staying power due to its Lay on Hands (basically a full heal), and its Smite Ability, which dealt some serious damage. I didn't crunch any numbers on this, but in my personal experience the Paladin in 3.5 was always a bit mid-tier. Not top damage dealer, but certainly not bottom of the barrel either. And if you factor in the additional content from Complete Divine, the Paladin becomes an absolute killing machine (allowing you to swap out those turn undeads for destroy undeads).

The only core class that was truly garbage in 3.0 was the Ranger, due to the fact that the designers put NO effort into its level progression. Every other core class was fine. And I'm sure there are plenty of prestige classes that are bad too. To visualize this for our none-3E players, here is a handy visual aid:

1596442422147.png

Above is the level progression for the the ranger in 3.0. Pay attention to the block labeled "Special". These are the abilities the ranger gains per level in 3.0. For comparison, below is the monk in 3.0. I think the difference is obvious:

1596442517732.png
 
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Jadeite

Explorer
That just meant they were down a skill point per level. They could still Jedi mind trick spam and got full caster level.

3.5 was better.

It also meant that you could easily leave the class after a few levels while still advancing in its main class feature.

The 3.5 bard was one of the best designed classes of that edition (even though people tended to underestimate them).
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
And if you factor in the additional content from Complete Divine, the Paladin becomes an absolute killing machine (allowing you to swap out those turn undeads for destroy undeads).

Plus the Battle Blessing feat from Complete Champion. While as a feat it was completely optional, it was basically a rules patch in all but name, making a paladin's spellcasting a little more worthwhile (paladin spells that had a standard action casting time could now be cast as a swift action, and spells with a full-round action casting time could be cast as a standard action, all with no level adjustment or other cost besides simply having the feat).
 

I'm a little surprised that 3.5 Paladins are on the bad-list as well. Sure, the 3.0 paladin was bare bones, but in 3.5? Any time I've played a paladin in 3.5, it was an absolute beast; tanky, self sufficients, lots of damage, and so many immunities at higher levels.
There was nothing the 3.5 Paladin could do that a Cleric (especially) or even a Fighter (!) couldn't do infinitely better.

The spells a paladin got were never intended to be its strength, and its kind of weird to criticize the class for one of its minor abilities (spellcasting) not being one of its major abilities.
Spellcasting is the only significant thing the 3.x Paladin got that scaled with level. And even then, it scaled poorly, thanks to the Paladin's spellcasting level being only half its class level. (Again, half-casters got screwed in 3.5, and that is a big reason why.)

Spells were therefore pitched to the Paladin as the equivalent of the Fighter's bonus feats. And those spells just didn't measure up.

The 3.5 Paladin's real strength was staying power due to its Lay on Hands (basically a full heal),
Level x CHA mod never worked out as anything close to a full heal.

and its Smite Ability, which dealt some serious damage.
You sure you're not confusing 3.5 with Pathfinder 1? The 3.5 Paladin Smite damage was seriously bad. 1x Paladin level damage on only a single hit was absolutely pitiful.

By comparison, the PF1 Paladin is 2x Paladin level damage on all hits until the enemy is dead.

And if you factor in the additional content from Complete Divine, the Paladin becomes an absolute killing machine (allowing you to swap out those turn undeads for destroy undeads).
So, a "killing machine" against only one enemy type. Something the Cleric could handle just as easily and be a million times better at so many other things.

Yeah, you're not changing my mind on the 3.5 Paladin any time soon.
 

There was nothing the 3.5 Paladin could do that a Cleric (especially) or even a Fighter (!) couldn't do infinitely better.

Yes, but that doesn't make it bottom of the barrel. It could do a little bit of both quite well, making it an average class. But surely not the worst.

Spellcasting is the only significant thing the 3.x Paladin got that scaled with level. And even then, it scaled poorly, thanks to the Paladin's spellcasting level being only half its class level. (Again, half-casters got screwed in 3.5, and that is a big reason why.)

It remains a weird complaint. Spellcasting is not what the class is about.

Level x CHA mod never worked out as anything close to a full heal.

It's pretty close. Its a huge heal that you can pop in an instant. Very useful when tanking a tough opponent or supporting your allies.

You sure you're not confusing 3.5 with Pathfinder 1? The 3.5 Paladin Smite damage was seriously bad. 1x Paladin level damage on only a single hit was absolutely pitiful.

But the Paladin got multiple smites per day in 3.5. It was intended in my view for tough enemies, not all enemies. The Paladin is basically the one who deals with the boss, and saves all their smites for him.

So, a "killing machine" against only one enemy type. Something the Cleric could handle just as easily and be a million times better at so many other things.

Against any enemy that is evil (most of them are), and at higher levels specifically good at dealing with undead and demons (enemies that are abundant at high levels).
 

see

Adventurer
But the Assassin and the Illusionist, while they were cool in many ways, were underpowered compared to their base classes of Thief and Magic User,
The assassin just could use any weapon (while the thief was limited to the club, dagger, dart, sling, short sword, broad sword, or long sword), and could use shields, and had a death attack, and could use poison, and had a disguise ability, and kept getting actual hit dice for 15 levels instead of capping out at 10, and still had full backstab, all while still being able to do literally anything else a thief could (if, granted, at roughly -10 percentage points on skill).
 

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