Understanding WOTC's class design guidelines and subclass acquisition

One example of a subclass that breaks rule #2 "without gaining abilities that you stop using" is the Battlerager from SCAG. Interpreted RAW, if you wear the spiked armor required to use most of the subclass abilities you cannot use the core class ability "Unarmored Defence".

Now, I believe that most people allow the UAD armor class to be used if it is better than the armor class you would get from the armor you are wearing, but RAW wearing armor deactivates the power.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
Except the barbarian might have been wearing armour anyway. Using unarmoured defence or wearing armour is a choice you make, sometimes it's better to be wearing armour, a barbarian that only has a +2 con modifier benefits from wearing a chain shirt, for instance.
 
Except the barbarian might have been wearing armour anyway. Using unarmoured defence or wearing armour is a choice you make, sometimes it's better to be wearing armour, a barbarian that only has a +2 con modifier benefits from wearing a chain shirt, for instance.
True for vanilla barbarian, but for the Battlerager it is not a choice: if they don't wear a very specific type of armour their subclass abilities are deactivated.

In art, rules are made to be broken. You see it in all the great works. The key is to break them in intentional and calculated ways, rather than clumsy and ignorant ones. That difference is the difference between blazing a new trail and wandering off a cliff.
Indeed, and the Battlerager is an example of "clumsy and ignorant" - it's quite easy to fix, but it shouldn't be up to the DM to fix it, it should have been done before it was printed.

The Revived rogue is another example of "clumsy and ignorant", one that can't so easily be fixed.
 
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When coming up with his Vigilante (a.k.a Urban Ranger) subclass (Happy Hour 9/11/18), Mike ran into the problem that the Ranger class itself had no features or options supporting an urban environment. This meant that a player wanting the subclass would be stuck with wilderness abilities that did not fit the concept before finally acquiring the subclass. This meant that the player did not get to play the character concept from the beginning and would then be stuck with unwanted features. Therefore, it broke 1 and 2 in my accumulated list. It would would lead to an "awkward transformation". To rectify the issue, he created new options and a variant feature.
Good food for thoughts, but this last one is plain bogus... of course the Ranger has nothing to do with the urban environment! The Ranger is the character living on the range, at the end of civilized lands or more likely beyond. There might actually be some cities at the end of the world, but living in an urban or civlized environment is the opposite of being a Ranger. Might be there every now and then to report information, but not much else, as a Ranger is supposed to be self-sufficient in everything. The Ranger lacking urban-related features is not a problem, is it's identity.

Mike Mearls being surprised at this is like being surprised the Fighter doesn't have any magic-oriented features or the rogue doesn't have anything about religion... And a player feeling "stuck" with the Ranger being wilderness oriented is just as wrong as a player feeling "stuck" with a Fighter's weapon skills or a Wizard's spellcasting :/
 

Thurmas

Explorer
Good food for thoughts, but this last one is plain bogus... of course the Ranger has nothing to do with the urban environment! The Ranger is the character living on the range, at the end of civilized lands or more likely beyond. There might actually be some cities at the end of the world, but living in an urban or civlized environment is the opposite of being a Ranger. Might be there every now and then to report information, but not much else, as a Ranger is supposed to be self-sufficient in everything.
Urban doesn't have to be civilized. There are plenty of urban environments that require survival and ranger qualities. Post Apocalyptic Mad Max. The old city under the city in Futurama. The slums and abandoned parts of Baldur's Gate. None of these urban areas fall into the realm of any type of wilderness, yet could still easily support and require the skills of a ranger.
 

MechaTarrasque

Adventurer
I am pretty sure poachers have the same incentive as city criminals to develop a language to stay ahead of law enforcement, and "everyone has to poach a little off of the king's land" is pretty cliché in fantasy, so I find the complaints about scout rogues and thieves cant to be pretty weak.
 

MechaTarrasque

Adventurer
Urban doesn't have to be civilized. There are plenty of urban environments that require survival and ranger qualities. Post Apocalyptic Mad Max. The old city under the city in Futurama. The slums and abandoned parts of Baldur's Gate. None of these urban areas fall into the realm of any type of wilderness, yet could still easily support and require the skills of a ranger.
Maybe it should be the urban blight ranger instead of the urban ranger.
 

tetrasodium

Adventurer
Maybe it should be the urban blight ranger instead of the urban ranger.
Sharn, Thronehold, anywhere in Zilargo where The Trust maintains order, any of the SK rules or free cities in darksun, freaking sigil... Just because FR only has little nothing villages & lawless wilderness doesn't mean it's the same in every other setting. Urban adventures don't always mean "blight",plenty of shady & downright awful stuff happens in the light of day by respectable folks following the letter of the law in settings that differ from FR, The tenancy to impose that FR baseline in so much of 5e is a detriment to the system & it's ability to fit anywhere else
 

Greg K

Adventurer
I am pretty sure poachers have the same incentive as city criminals to develop a language to stay ahead of law enforcement, and "everyone has to poach a little off of the king's land" is pretty cliché in fantasy, so I find the complaints about scout rogues and thieves cant to be pretty weak.
You missed the point. It is not that the ability won't be useful for some rogues taking the archetype. The point is that the designers stated that the subclass covers the non-spellcasting/non-mystical wilderness expert warrior- thus, not every character taking the Scout archetype is a wilderness criminal for whom Thieves' Cant is appropriate and, yet, they provided no alternatives for such characters.
 
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cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
The scout is a weird one. I feel it needs to be an archetype from level 1 that allows the replacement of thieves cant with another language and thieves tools with another tool. I think if someone came and said they wanted to play one when hitting level 3, I'd make that offer to them.
 
Eldritch Knight?
Urban doesn't have to be civilized. There are plenty of urban environments that require survival and ranger qualities. Post Apocalyptic Mad Max. The old city under the city in Futurama. The slums and abandoned parts of Baldur's Gate. None of these urban areas fall into the realm of any type of wilderness, yet could still easily support and require the skills of a ranger.
Yet the "problem" according to Mearls is in the Ranger base class, which does NOT need to support anything urban, just like the Fighter base class doesn't need to include spells.

You want to do a urban ranger or eldritch knight, make a subclass. My criticism is to Mearls apparent complaint that the base class itself doesn't already include features for what is only a stretch concept or actually almost a multiclass concept (ranger/rogue).
 

Greg K

Adventurer
You want to do a urban ranger or eldritch knight, make a subclass. My criticism is to Mearls apparent complaint that the base class itself doesn't already include features for what is only a stretch concept or actually almost a multiclass concept (ranger/rogue).
It is not a stretch of a concept. You may not like it, but the urban rangers have been a thing since at least 3e (The first time that I have seen the concept addressed officially). Furthermore, he did make a Ranger subclass and there were no urban environment abilities to support the concept which results in ranger class breaking several of the design guidelines when switching to the subclass that he designed. Hence, why he came up with some new optional and variant abilities for the ranger base class.

That the ranger has no urban class abilities and sticks the player with unwanted ranger abilities, it is also why a ranger/rogue multi-class a terrible fit. In addition, multi-classing is an optional rule not used by all groups (which people whom keep advocating multi-classing seem to ignore). Therefore, it makes sense that they would provide a subclass as an option- and, thankfully so. As a DM, I do not like making players jump through such a basic concept if it fits in with a campaign (which is why I liked UA style class variants in 3e and wish that WOTC had supported it more in the class splatbooks for 3.0).
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I agree, those are good fighter and ranger archtypes if you get rid of the thieves tools and cant. Did they address this at all in the recent UA on variant features? That would be a method to solve this issue.
Yeah rogues in my games can choose a secret or impenetrable shorthand language related to their profession, background, or relevant to the lore of their subclass. My rogue/wizard is only proficient in thieves tools narratively because he is a tinker with a past as a smuggler and a bit of a scoundrel. His Cant is the language of port towns and river sailors.
 

MechaTarrasque

Adventurer
You missed the point. It is not that the ability won't be useful for some rogues taking the archetype. The point is that the designers stated that the subclass covers the non-spellcasting/non-mystical wilderness expert warrior- thus, not every character taking the Scout archetype is a wilderness criminal for whom Thieves' Cant is appropriate and, yet, they provided no alternatives for such characters.
It is a ribbon. Why should they bother to provide an alternative? More than that, it is a ribbon that only comes up if you chose to use it.

You could at least give us a "my sister's boyfriend's favorite pizza delivery guy's third cousin twice removed once got kicked out of a D&D game when he refused to have his scout rogue decode thieves cant" story, because it is a ribbon and there are no real stakes, but if you can't make a good argument, you can always make an entertaining one.

Now I feel bad they didn't keep the scout fighter, because "second wind totally invalidates the wilderness guy" at least feels like it is important enough to say (even if it is wrong).
 
They added a Fighting style that gives two cantrips though...
And that's a good thing because it's an option, not something baked into the base class for every fighter.

It's also an option that came out 5.5 years after the edition started, and still unofficial, and that says something about how it is in fact not that fundamental.

It is not a stretch of a concept. You may not like it, but the urban rangers have been a thing since at least 3e (The first time that I have seen the concept addressed officially).

...

In addition, multi-classing is an optional rule not used by all groups (which people whom keep advocating multi-classing seem to ignore).
I may be wrong but the first urban ranger I remember is from the Unearthed Arcana book in 3.5, which is a book of variants, some no-brainers and some wacky. And it came out after a revision which shifted the concept of a ranger more towards the triviality of "best archer or two-weapon expert", a terrible idea that weakened the identity of the class.

And half of the reason why multiclassing is optional is to safeguard campaigns where class identity is important (the other half is putting a limit to a certain type of player to focusing on the character building minigame at the expense of the rest), so if you ban multiclassing but allow bastardized class concepts you only achieve half of the purpose.
 

Greg K

Adventurer
I may be wrong but the first urban ranger I remember is from the Unearthed Arcana book in 3.5, which is a book of variants, some no-brainers and some wacky. And it came out after a revision which shifted the concept of a ranger more towards the triviality of "best archer or two-weapon expert", a terrible idea that weakened the identity of the class.
I am pretty sure it was the 3.0 supplement Masters of the Wild (and a quick google search states it was in Chapter 1). It was also, apparently, in Dragon 310 on page 59. So, that would be twice before Unearthed Arcana.
 

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