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

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).

Your forgot about learning additional alignment languages. Sigh. Oh, alignment languages. . .
 

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Voadam

Legend
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.
I did not remember it telling you to reroll so I looked it up. It does not tell you to reroll, it only tells you your character is likely to be doomed if he does not have good stats. :)

"Furthermore, it is usually essential to the character’s survival to be exceptional (with a rating of 15 or above) in no fewer than two ability characteristics." 1e PH page 9.
 

Stalker0

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

Small correction. The PF1 Paladin gets 2x level damage on 1 hit against super evil creatures (outsiders, dragons, undead). He gets level damage on all other hits on the creature, plus cha mod to AC and attacks. Playing one right now, it feels so mighty. So yeah in comparison 3.5 paladins are garbage:)
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
Small correction. The PF1 Paladin gets 2x level damage on 1 hit against super evil creatures (outsiders, dragons, undead). He gets level damage on all other hits on the creature, plus cha mod to AC and attacks. Playing one right now, it feels so mighty. So yeah in comparison 3.5 paladins are garbage:)

Yeah, it's a noticeable difference. I much prefer the PF1 version because it won't be wasted on a single bad die roll which was probably the most vexing and potentially anticlimactic aspect of the 3e paladin's smite ability (both 3.0 and 3.5). In PF1, it lasts until the smite target is dead or the paladin uses another smite evil instance on a different target.

The 5e smite ability is also much better than the 3e versions because it can be declared after the paladin player knows they've hit - so, again, no chance to waste the power with a poor roll.
 

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.

That's true, but the requirements for Paladin included Int 9, Wis 13, Cha 17, while the Ranger included Int 13 and Wis 14. Neither of these classes actually used these ability scores; you just had to have them as a gatekeeper. Since we actually wanted to play those classes, we just spotted the player the minimums and then had them roll the rest. They still got their two 15+ scores. on the remaining 4 stats. I don't think we spotted Int to Paladins, but I don't remember. It's not like 9 was really much of a limitation. I'm fairly certain that we did the same with the Druid, Monk, Illusionist, and Assassin.

Over the 10-15 years I played AD&D, I only saw one good Paladin rolled legitimately on all 6 stats and it was by me. If we had actually waited to play some of the higher requisite classes until we rolled them, the game wouldn't have been nearly as fun and we wouldn't have experienced remotely as much as we did.
 

Teemu

Adventurer
I heartily disagree with naming the 4e vampire and runeclass as some of the worst classes in D&D when there are actual failures like the 3.5 truenamer around, or the 3.5 soulknife, which is incredibly weak compared to other classes in the edition. Runepriest and vampire may not have long lists of feats and powers, but they can still do their job, even if you can’t minmax them out the wazoo like some other classes. Real failures like truenamer have fundamental issues.

I don’t know if the 3.0 ranger is bad, if not just boring. They do get spells, which is always a big benefit, and they can have animal followers.

3.5 has a samurai class that’s quite bad, but I don’t know if you can say it’s one of the worst due to truenamer existing.
 

This is making me want to publish a really shitty class.

Like, I dunno, Battle Felon. They're really good at carjacking, shooting guns, and sleeping with prostitutes. And bowling. The more damage they deal in combat, the higher their Wanted Level goes, and the higher the Wanted Level, the more enemies get summoned in by Heaven to arrest them. Since these are summoned monsters, defeating them doesn't provide XP.
 

This is making me want to publish a really shitty class.

Like, I dunno, Battle Felon. They're really good at carjacking, shooting guns, and sleeping with prostitutes. And bowling. The more damage they deal in combat, the higher their Wanted Level goes, and the higher the Wanted Level, the more enemies get summoned in by Heaven to arrest them. Since these are summoned monsters, defeating them doesn't provide XP.

I believe this what you're looking for: The 3.5 Gentleman class published by Old Spice.


 


Small correction. The PF1 Paladin gets 2x level damage on 1 hit against super evil creatures (outsiders, dragons, undead). He gets level damage on all other hits on the creature, plus cha mod to AC and attacks. Playing one right now, it feels so mighty. So yeah in comparison 3.5 paladins are garbage:)

But I'm pretty sure all classes are better in PF1. So not exactly a fair comparison. When the 3.5 paladin is compared to other 3.5 classes, its alright. Not top of the line, but certainly not the worst either.
 


Stalker0

Legend
I'll throw in my dark horse vote for the 3e Binder. hehe the reason being, its the only class I played where my group literally had an intervention with me. My character was considered so weak they wanted to do anything they can to help:) And my party are not normally super optimized.
 

Jadeite

Explorer
I'll throw in my dark horse vote for the 3e Binder. hehe the reason being, its the only class I played where my group literally had an intervention with me. My character was considered so weak they wanted to do anything they can to help:) And my party are not normally super optimized.
Binders are a pretty versatile class. I would not call them weak. Shadowcasters and Truenamers on the other hand ...
 

4e Vampire: First of all, vampire isn't something that should've been a class in the first place.

Gary Gygax and a number of earlier D&D people disagreed. It was a class before Cleric was. It's unclear why it didn't make it to print. Plus it's a perfectly good idea, there's no reason it shouldn't be a class given how profoundly it changes you in D&D and you can multiclass anyway. If anything this sort of approach should be used more often - bring back race-as-class for powerful races!

But yeah it was drastically underpowered as a Striker.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Gary Gygax and a number of earlier D&D people disagreed. It was a class before Cleric was.

It's iffy to call it a "class," per se. Sir Fang, the famous vampire character who was reputedly the inspiration for Mike Carr to create the first cleric character ("Bishop Carr," I believe), was originally David Fant's character, Baron Fant of Blackmoor, in Dave Arneson's Blackmoor game. To quote his interview from the Hidden in Shadow blog:

Question: How did your character become sir Fang?

When I graduated from high school and started working full time for KSTP I couldn’t play as often, and so instead of killing off the Baron, had him “attacked” by a vampire and turned into one. The character became Sir Fang, but I never played Blackmore as Sir Fang. I know the person who took over that role, but can’t for the life of me remember his name.

Now, this and other anecdotes suggest that Sir Fang was run as an evil PC after Fant ceased playing the character, but for exactly how long and what particular mechanics were used is uncertain (for context: elsewhere in the interview, Fant recalls that he played in the Blackmoor campaign from 1967 through 1970, predating even the publication of Chainmail - which itself had no advancement mechanics - in 1971).
 
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Now, this and other anecdotes suggest that Sir Fang was run as an evil PC after Fant ceased playing the character, but for exactly how long and what particular mechanics were used is uncertain (for context: elsewhere in the interview, Fant recalls that he played in the Blackmoor campaign from 1967 through 1970, predating even the publication of Chainmail - which itself had no advancement mechanics - in 1971).

Sure, but my point is that the Cleric class was developed solely to deal with Sir Fang, and was also initially unique (if I understand correctly), and not developed with a broad intention of creating a class any more/less than Sir Fang, hence it's somewhat eccentric initial vibe (i.e. heavy on the Bishop Odo and so on), rather than the more trad-Sword-and-Sorcery vibe of Fighters, Thieves, etc. Certainly the idea of having a playable PC Vampire who wasn't "actually a different class" was around for a very long time.
 

But I'm pretty sure all classes are better in PF1. So not exactly a fair comparison. When the 3.5 paladin is compared to other 3.5 classes, its alright. Not top of the line, but certainly not the worst either.
OK, let's compare the 3.5 Paladin to, in the same edition's PHB:
  • Full caster classes: Ha. Ha. Ha ha ha. Next.
  • Barbarian: Barbarian deals more damage with Rage, has full-time damage resistance, better mobility, better hit die. Paladin loses.
  • Bard: Even though Bard only goes up to 6th-level spells, their caster level is still equal to full class level. Hence their spells last longer and don't get dispelled automatically. Paladin loses.
  • Fighter: Fighters get bonus feats, which are much more valuable than anything the Paladin gets. Paladin loses.
  • Monk: Probably the only other class who is anywhere near the bottom with the Paladin. Still, Monks had some neat trip builds and constrict builds that were quasi-competent in early levels of play. That's two better than Paladins could claim. Paladin loses.
  • Ranger: 3.5 Ranger was actually OK for a non full-spellcaster. Had a good amount of skill points, its light armor-only bonus feats actually didn't suck this time, Favored Enemy scaled a lot better than 3.0, had some neat stealth-related features, got some better spells than it had in 3.0. Paladin loses.
  • Rogue: Sneak Attack that outdamaged Smite Evil by a mile. And even if the Rogue ran into Sneak-immune enemies, it still had much more skills and more feats that made them better from a utility standpoint. Paladin loses.
So, yeah, there isn't a single PHB class the Paladin could claim to be better than in 3.5. They were ranked Tier 5 for a reason.
 

For the worst class in all of D&D, I have to go with a class from the 1e AD&D original Unearthed Arcana.

Some of you might think I mean the Barbarian, which includes this gem of toxic gameplay:

[Barbarians] will, at low levels of experience, refuse to employ any sort of magic item if they recognize it as such. They will often seek to destroy magic items, and if successful they receive an experience-point award as if they possessed the destroyed items.


(The class also has a 25% + 5% chance of successfully detecting magic at will, by the way.)

And that includes this helpful table:

LevelActions and Abilities
2May associate freely with clerics
3May use magic potions
4May use magic weapons
May strike creatures hit only by + 1 weapons
Gains + 1 on saving throws versus spell
5May use magic armor
6May associate with magic-users - if necessary!
May strike creatures hit only by + 2 weapons
7May use weapon-like miscellaneous magic items
8May associate with magic-users - occasionally
May strike creatures hit only by + 3 weapons
Gains + 2 on saving throws versus spell
May summon a Barbarian Horde (see below)
9May use protection scrolls
10May use most magic items available to fighters
May strike creatures hit only by + 4 weapons
12Gains + 3 on saving throws versus spell
May strike creatures hit only by + 5 weapons

Which just seems like a great idea for a class that you're told likes to break magic items and is suspicious of [arcane] magic and magic-users.

But, no, the worst class in all of D&D is the Cavalier from AD&D's Unearthed Arcana.

You know how some people would play a Paladin and be a huge wangrod about it? Well, Cavalier basically codifies that you must play a wangrod. A huge, obnoxious, often without player agency wangrod. First, take the Paladin code and turn it up to 11. Then keep going. Oh, and the class description specifically says that the DM can freely reduce or eliminate earned experience if you violate the spirit or letter of the code of conduct. The Cavalier:
  1. You get a bunch of random bonuses. Mostly arbitrary to-hit bonuses with a few weapons (lance, longsword, mace/flail), and you get the increased attack rate from free specialization in one weapon. You also get a bunch of mounted combat bonuses, for all the good they'll ever do you. Oh, and immunity to fear and 90% resistance to "magical or magic-like phenomena which affect the mind", including charm, hold, domination, sleep, mind blast, etc., but "not the effects of high comeliness" (yes, this was the book that introduced that awkward 7th stat). There are other bonuses, but they're largely a mess of horsemanship stuff and alignment or behavior restrictions.
  2. If your character doesn't begin play as a noble -- and why would your DM let you do that when Cavalier is the only class that lets you improve your attributes as you level up and get a bunch of weapon bonuses -- you start at negative XP as a level 0 horsemen. After earning 1,000 XP, you become a level 0 Lancer. After earning a further 500 XP, you finally reach level 1. That's right. You effectively start the game at level -1.
  3. You must have the best available weapons and armor. The character refuses to wear armor other than plate, banded, splint, chain, scale or ring in that order even if you have better magical armor. If you have chain mail +2 (AC 3) and nonmagical banded mail (AC 4), you must wear the banded mail. Further, you must have the best quality weapons and armor, meaning you must seek to engrave and decorate your armor. This does nothing. You just have to.
  4. Must select from specific weapon proficiencies before you can pick any others. The list contains 11(!) weapons. All of them are melee-only weapons, except for javelin and dagger (if you're an elf Cavalier, you're allowed a composite short bow). Cavaliers start with 3 weapons, and earn an additional one every other level. This means that, yes, non-elven Cavaliers must wait until level 20 to become proficient in a bow. The description even explicitly says this:
    Weapons that deal out damage at a distance (including pole arms, missile weapons, and the two-handed sword) call into question the cavalier’s personal bravery, and as such are avoided by all except the most powerful of cavaliers. The cavalier may use these questionable weapons at normal non-proficiency penalties, but their use may violate the character’s chivalric code.
My favorite part is the code:

The code for a feudal campaign may be summed up as follows. The DM may adjust this code to fit his or her own campaign.
  • Noble service cheerfully rendered
  • Defense of any charge unto death
  • Courage and enterprise in obediences to rule
  • Respect for all peers and equals
  • Honor to all above your station
  • Obedience and respect from all beneath your station Scorn for those who are lowly and ignoble (this includes knightly limitations on weapons and armor)
  • Military prowess exercised in service to your lord
  • Courtesy to all ladies (if the cavalier is male)
  • War is the flowering of chivalry
  • Battle is the test of manhood
  • Combat is glory
  • Personal glory above all in battle
  • Death to all who oppose the cause
  • Death before dishonor

If you're a DM, you rather quickly notice how easy it will be to manipulate this player. But it gets even better. The class also has a rather obnoxious limit on combat encounters:

As a result of the code and desire for battle, cavaliers cannot be controlled in battle situations. They will charge any enemy in sight, with the following order of preference:
  1. Powerful monsters (dragons, demons, giants, etc.) serving enemy leaders, then the leaders themselves.
  2. Opponent cavaliers of great renown, enemy flags and standards.
  3. Opponent cavalry of noble or elite status
  4. Other opponent cavalry
  5. Opponent elite footmen
  6. Opponent camp and headquarters
  7. Opponent melee troops
  8. Levies or peasants
The cavalier’s charge will be made at full speed, regardless of army cohesion, intervening friendly troops, or other such considerations.


I seriously have no idea how they expected this to actually turn out in a real game. I know of no group that allowed this class more than one campaign (and often not more than one session).

Oh, and the book moves Paladin to be a Cavalier sub-class instead of a Fighter sub-class. So Paladin is suddenly all of the above and has to deal with the Paladin code at the same time.
 

OK, let's compare the 3.5 Paladin to, in the same edition's PHB:
isn't a single PHB class the Paladin could claim to be better than in 3.5. They were ranked Tier 5 for a reason.

But does that make them bottom of the barrel? They are a pretty good tank, pretty good damage dealer, and have pretty solid spike damage against a single foe with their smite, and staying power.

Remember, this thread is about classes that are the absolute worst at everything. The paladin may be terrible as a spellcasting, but is pretty average at everything else. It is a mid tier class.
 

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