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UA Unearthed Arcana: Spirits Bard and Undeath Warlock

We have a new UA release with two subclasses. The College of Spirits Bard is a fortune teller or spirit medium type character with a big random effect table. Meanwhile the Undeath Pact Warlock is a a do-over of the Undying Pact Warlock.

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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I'm skeptical.

Sure, there are combinations of abilities that require multiclassing. And I can easily imagine somebody complaining that "my concept can't be fulfilled without ability X."

But I'm skeptical that there are narrative concepts that can only be realized through multiclassing.

So how about some examples?
Why does it matter if it can literally only be realized through multiclassing?

Some concepts aren't going to be satisfying for the player without multiclassing. In an edition where MC builds absolutely will not break the game in any way, why do you care?
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I'm skeptical.

Sure, there are combinations of abilities that require multiclassing. And I can easily imagine somebody complaining that "my concept can't be fulfilled without ability X."

But I'm skeptical that there are narrative concepts that can only be realized through multiclassing.

So how about some examples?
Absolutely, I would be glad to. The classes really are limiting.

Let's take some well known literary characters, like Kvothe from Rothfuss' Kingkiller Chronicles. Or FitzChivalry from multiple trilogies from Robin Hobb.

If you're looking for more universal tropes instead of specific characters, about a year ago I have a thread looking for archetypes that could not be realized under 5e, but in addition to actual archetypes lots of people posted but ideas from earlier editions, many of which can be realized in 5e through multiclassing.


Best of all is if you can see for yourself. List your top ten favorite literary or movie characters. Put them in the most obvious D&D class. See if they have iconic abilities that aren't addressed. Many should, they aren't limited to the fetters of having to fit into a class.
 

Azzy

Newtype
Nothing to do with accessing, it's simply not up to you to explain racism ("academic" or not) and challenge moderation.
Since there is no immutable law against attempting to provide perspective to another poster's post when one believes that the poster was being misunderstood, it's not up to you to tell me what I can or cannot do. You are not a moderator.

Also, my post was also not meant as a challenge of moderation, but as an attempt to be informative. If you don't like that, that's entirely on you and not my problem. You obviously have some beef with me, but you're going to have to either let it go or stew on it because I'm not going to be beholden to your ire.
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester
Why does it matter if it can literally only be realized through multiclassing?

Some concepts aren't going to be satisfying for the player without multiclassing. In an edition where MC builds absolutely will not break the game in any way, why do you care?

The issue is that the MC system is not loved by many tables as it's complicated and feels like a trade off (not getting those 9th level spells or capstone features, etc). Same thing with feats - many tables prefer simpler.

So if there's ways to do MC without MC, they should be strived for. That means MC-lite feats (last month's UA) and MC-lite subclasses (Eldritch Knight Fighter, Arcane Trickster Rogue, Scout Rogue, Wild Soul Barbarian, Bladesinger Wizard, Divine Soul Sorcerer, Celestial Patron Warlock, etc).
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
The issue is that the MC system is not loved by many tables as it's complicated and feels like a trade off (not getting those 9th level spells or capstone features, etc). Same thing with feats - many tables prefer simpler.

So if there's ways to do MC without MC, they should be strived for. That means MC-lite feats (last month's UA) and MC-lite subclasses (Eldritch Knight Fighter, Arcane Trickster Rogue, Scout Rogue, Wild Soul Barbarian, Bladesinger Wizard, Divine Soul Sorcerer, Celestial Patron Warlock, etc).
Sure, but that feels like a separate conversation from what I replied to, which was a challenge of multiclass character concepts.

Enough people like MC characters that they have to take it into account when making new options. Alternatives are great, and I vote them up whenever the opportunity arises, but MC is also totally valid and a good part of the game.
 

So, a lot of people have mentioned multiclass characters with the Undead Warlock. Any ideas for the Spirit Bards? Maybe with the Stars Druids, as a character who speaks with the stars and spirits of the dead?
 


Sure, but that feels like a separate conversation from what I replied to, which was a challenge of multiclass character concepts.

Enough people like MC characters that they have to take it into account when making new options. Alternatives are great, and I vote them up whenever the opportunity arises, but MC is also totally valid and a good part of the game.
If they were taking it into account, I doubt we'd have this many multiclassing-related complaints. You can adjust threats to account for more or less powerful PCs. It's much harder to adjust other aspects of the game, particularly player-side options.
 

They said they were going to put it in the book. Putting a badly designed system into a book is better than to go back on your word.

I think, as far as races, they'll just say:

Optional Rule: Alternatives to Racial Ability Modifiers
Some races are famous for certain abilities, but not every member of each race has the same attributes. PCs are intended to represent exceptional characters in D&D. You may decide that your characters need not follow such limiting constraints or you may decide that fixed racial modifiers present negative stereotypes that should be avoided wherever possible. Instead of using the ability modifiers from a given race and subrace, you may eliminate racial ability modifiers entirely. In exchange, during character generation each player chooses one of the following options:
  • Choose two attributes and increases each attribute by +2.
  • Increase all six attributes by +1 each.


And while I don't think that's a complete fix for the problem and doesn't address all the balance issues, I think it's like a 85% fix for the issue. It's a good enough fix to publish, especially as an optional rule. You might need to phrase it differently; I'm not a sensitivity expert. But it's pretty trivial to just remove racial modifiers entirely and add in generic modifiers whole hog. It's not as elegant as other theoretical designs, but it's fast, easy, and close enough. I don't think any of the races are remotely finely balanced enough that it's an issue. I'm fairly certain that Mearls or Crawford said that Darkvision carries no weight in terms of balance in 5e race design and is entirely a flavor choice, for example, and I think most players would strongly disagree with that position in terms of balance. However, if that's true then the race designs are more than fuzzy enough in terms of mechanical balance to not have to care about it. I don't believe there are any races whose primary draw is the large number of bonuses they get. Half-Elf maybe, but that's because Charisma is kind of a stupid good ability and the ability to choose two abilities to increase is pretty good.

The only thing that's missing is a fix to make Humans remain interesting and Variant Humans remain balanced, and I'm not convinced that it's really that important. Maybe they could present a third option for Human for games that don't use feats, but I don't know how necessary that really is.
 

Parmandur

Legend
I think, as far as races, they'll just say:

Optional Rule: Alternatives to Racial Ability Modifiers
Some races are famous for certain abilities, but not every member of each race has the same attributes. PCs are intended to represent exceptional characters in D&D. You may decide that your characters need not follow such limiting constraints or you may decide that fixed racial modifiers present negative stereotypes that should be avoided wherever possible. Instead of using the ability modifiers from a given race and subrace, you may eliminate racial ability modifiers entirely. In exchange, during character generation each player chooses one of the following options:
  • Choose two attributes and increases each attribute by +2.
  • Increase all six attributes by +1 each.


And while I don't think that's a complete fix for the problem and doesn't address all the balance issues, I think it's like a 85% fix for the issue. It's a good enough fix to publish, especially as an optional rule. You might need to phrase it differently; I'm not a sensitivity expert. But it's pretty trivial to just remove racial modifiers entirely and add in generic modifiers whole hog. It's not as elegant as other theoretical designs, but it's fast, easy, and close enough. I don't think any of the races are remotely finely balanced enough that it's an issue. I'm fairly certain that Mearls or Crawford said that Darkvision carries no weight in terms of balance in 5e race design and is entirely a flavor choice, for example, and I think most players would strongly disagree with that position in terms of balance. However, if that's true then the race designs are more than fuzzy enough in terms of mechanical balance to not have to care about it. I don't believe there are any races whose primary draw is the large number of bonuses they get. Half-Elf maybe, but that's because Charisma is kind of a stupid good ability and the ability to choose two abilities to increase is pretty good.

The only thing that's missing is a fix to make Humans remain interesting and Variant Humans remain balanced, and I'm not convinced that it's really that important. Maybe they could present a third option for Human for games that don't use feats, but I don't know how necessary that really is.

That's pretty weak sauce, hope they have something more hearty than that in mind.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
The issue is that the MC system is not loved by many tables as it's complicated and feels like a trade off (not getting those 9th level spells or capstone features, etc). Same thing with feats - many tables prefer simpler.

It IS a trade off, so it's good and honest that it feels like one. Something very literally "I'm giving up this to get that" can't be downchecked because it accurately feels like a tradeoff.

And it's really straightforward. Get the HP and features on the chart of this class instead of that class. Spellcasting with multiple spellcasting classes is slightly more complicated, but spellcasting single classed characters is also more complicated than the average.

So if there's ways to do MC without MC, they should be strived for.

Depends how you mean it. If you mean it as "let's add in MC-lite options in addition to MC", then I am for it. If that will make some tables happy and not take away from other tables, I'm all for it even if I don't use it.

If you mean it as "let's add in MC-lite options and take away MC", that translates to "let's put in options that may be of use to the MC-less tables, at the cost of hurting every table that uses MC". That's going to be net harm to the game.

With MC as a variant, it's existence doesn't hurt any table that doesn't want it. But taking it away does. So as you as you want to add so everyone can play the want I'm for it. It's only if you say "badwrongfun" to a multitude of tables and want to take away MC do we have any disagreement.
 

Depends how you mean it. If you mean it as "let's add in MC-lite options in addition to MC", then I am for it. If that will make some tables happy and not take away from other tables, I'm all for it even if I don't use it.

If you mean it as "let's add in MC-lite options and take away MC", that translates to "let's put in options that may be of use to the MC-less tables, at the cost of hurting every table that uses MC". That's going to be net harm to the game.

With MC as a variant, it's existence doesn't hurt any table that doesn't want it. But taking it away does. So as you as you want to add so everyone can play the want I'm for it. It's only if you say "badwrongfun" to a multitude of tables and want to take away MC do we have any disagreement.
Well, getting rid of MC-ing for all tables also gets rid of the pressure of "I need to MC in order to keep up with the rest of the group."
 

That's pretty weak sauce, hope they have something more hearty than that in mind.

I disagree. I think it's profoundly liberating. As liberating as eliminating AD&D race-class restrictions and eliminating AD&D human dual classing vs demihuman multiclassing. I think it's more liberating that eliminating pre-5e class alignment restrictions, more liberating that eliminating AD&D racial level maximums, and more liberating than eliminating 1e AD&D gender strength limitations.

I agree that some of what each race or subrace gets doesn't really reinforce what the game says each subrace's culture values. The game has historically used racial ability modifiers as a crutch for accomplishing that, and it really shows if you eliminate how they pigeonhole (i.e., stereotype) each race. However, that doesn't mean racial ability modifiers are actually a good design, just that that design has an impact on play. I agree that, for example, mountain Dwarves seem to benefit non-martial classes much more, but I'm not convinced that it really matters that Dwarven Wizards prefer to wear breastplate or half plate.
 

It IS a trade off, so it's good and honest that it feels like one. Something very literally "I'm giving up this to get that" can't be downchecked because it accurately feels like a tradeoff.

And it's really straightforward. Get the HP and features on the chart of this class instead of that class. Spellcasting with multiple spellcasting classes is slightly more complicated, but spellcasting single classed characters is also more complicated than the average.



Depends how you mean it. If you mean it as "let's add in MC-lite options in addition to MC", then I am for it. If that will make some tables happy and not take away from other tables, I'm all for it even if I don't use it.

If you mean it as "let's add in MC-lite options and take away MC", that translates to "let's put in options that may be of use to the MC-less tables, at the cost of hurting every table that uses MC". That's going to be net harm to the game.

With MC as a variant, it's existence doesn't hurt any table that doesn't want it. But taking it away does. So as you as you want to add so everyone can play the want I'm for it. It's only if you say "badwrongfun" to a multitude of tables and want to take away MC do we have any disagreement.
If people are going to use multiclassing as an excuse to critique new content, such that that it doesn't move forward, then it is hurting potentially everyone's table.
 

Tallifer

Hero
Multi-classing is an easy way to build a character that mechanically matches the player's fluffy idea more closely. Sub-classes lock you into a series of features, but multi-classing allows more choice each level. Sub-classes can reflect many different roleplaying possibilities, but players' imaginations (and the sources of inspiration in movies and literature and video games) would demand zillions of sub-classes.

Not sure why some people are afraid of the side-effect of min-maxing: optimizers are going to find a way to be better no matter what (and at the same time are going to suck in the thing they minimized, which they will be sure to complain about when it arises).
 

Multi-classing is an easy way to build a character that mechanically matches the player's fluffy idea more closely. Sub-classes lock you into a series of features, but multi-classing allows more choice each level. Sub-classes can reflect many different roleplaying possibilities, but players' imaginations (and the sources of inspiration in movies and literature and video games) would demand zillions of sub-classes.

Not sure why some people are afraid of the side-effect of min-maxing: optimizers are going to find a way to be better no matter what (and at the same time are going to suck in the thing they minimized, which they will be sure to complain about when it arises).
To be fair, if the thing they maximized was combat effectiveness, they're going to be pretty successful at most tables.
 

Tallifer

Hero
To be fair, if the thing they maximized was combat effectiveness, they're going to be pretty successful at most tables.
Are most tables that tilted towards combat? In my experience, at least half to two thirds of a session are spent exploring and scouting, negotiating and investigating, dithering and puzzling.
 

Are most tables that tilted towards combat? In my experience, at least half to two thirds of a session are spent exploring and scouting, negotiating and investigating, dithering and puzzling.
I think combat is an important enough pillar that most tables feature it significantly, which makes a PC that's good at it pretty effective in a lot of games. If you downplay combat too much, you're ignoring so much of the rules I start to wonder why you chose D&D for your gaming needs.
 

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