5E Using Subclasses at Level 1?

dnd4vr

Hero
I am just curious if anyone plays with choosing subclasses at level 1 instead of waiting until level 3 (in most cases)?

I was thinking about it for our next game and wanted feedback from people who have tired it.

EDIT: (just to address the questions so far)

No, I am not thinking of adding anything at level 3 to replace the subclass choice/features.
I am thinking I might delay level 1 and 2 features to level 2 and 3, respectively.

Ex. Fighter:
1 - subclass choice and features
2 - fighting style, second wind
3- action surge

I might or might not do this.

Thanks!
 
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Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
What do you mean by "choosing"?

Do you mean getting the subclass powers at level one, or do you mean "I want to play an Eldritch Knight, so my Fighter is going to have higher than average intelligence at level one to make that work better when I pick the class at level 3."
 

dnd4vr

Hero
What do you mean by "choosing"?

Do you mean getting the subclass powers at level one, or do you mean "I want to play an Eldritch Knight, so my Fighter is going to have higher than average intelligence at level one to make that work better when I pick the class at level 3."
Well, getting the powers and such.

Even if you plan to pick them at level 3, you sort of have to plan ahead normally anyway...
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Would you go with a new lvl 1 feature for the subclasses or just have them start and end sooner? What will you add to replace the the empty slot at higher level?

Maybe an extra feat?
 

dnd4vr

Hero
I was just thinking of granting the first subclass feature at level 1. Since three classes get them at level 1, and druids and wizards at level 2, I know other threads have talked about making the choice (and getting the subclass features) at level 1.

I really don't plan to give anything extra at level 3 to replace the subclass features. After all, then the other classes would have to get something as well... ;)
 
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LuisCarlos17f

Adventurer
I would like subclasses from level 1 to feel my PC is different, with his own mark of identity. I understand the subclasses from 3rd level is to avoid abuses by munchkins with multiplayer. I also like the concept of archetype of Pathfinder where some class features are replaced with others, like the gladiator from Dark Sun. This is more interesting than the prestige classes from 5th level, or advanced classes from 3rd in d20 Modern.

Sometimes I think about a idea for a "modular d20", a division among level of power (hit points, bonus to attack, unlocked power level) and level of knowledge. A PC with high power but low knowledge would be like a superhero in a high school who has to study to learn more, and a character with low power but high knowledge would be that old man who has studied a lot of things and can give good advices.
 

Rhianni32

Explorer
Mechanic wise. It wouldn't break anything I suppose.
Story wise, which ever table is different. As a GM I try to add in class progression in whichever rules we are using, into the story. Like they find a mentor or
It seems a little odd that the backstories are they are brand new lvl 1 beginning their adventuring careers... and already have access to advanced techniques and knowledge. Yeah its workable and things can be overlooked or spedup but less immersive.
 

dnd4vr

Hero
I would like subclasses from level 1 to feel my PC is different, with his own mark of identity. I understand the subclasses from 3rd level is to avoid abuses by munchkins with multiplayer. I also like the concept of archetype of Pathfinder where some class features are replaced with others, like the gladiator from Dark Sun. This is more interesting than the prestige classes from 5th level, or advanced classes from 3rd in d20 Modern.

Sometimes I think about a idea for a "modular d20", a division among level of power (hit points, bonus to attack, unlocked power level) and level of knowledge. A PC with high power but low knowledge would be like a superhero in a high school who has to study to learn more, and a character with low power but high knowledge would be that old man who has studied a lot of things and can give good advices.
I would agree about the 3rd level to avoid multiclassing abuse, but 5 of the 12 classes are at level 1 and 2 already. As far as the multiclassing abuse, I could always shift other things up a level. For example:

Fighter
1. Subclass
2. Second Wind, Fighting Style
3. Action Surge

I see more level dipping to pick up second wind, action surge, and a fighting style that a base subclass feature such as Improved Critical. Granted the BM maneuvers are good and having some spells at level 1 as a EK would be powerful, too. But compared to the Fighting Style and the front-loading Action Surge, I don't seem them as OP.

I've thought about a modular d20 design as well. The idea that you spend your XP to earn or improve features. One think in 5E I am not keen on is the proficiency bonus being standard for combat, saves, skills, etc. all rolled into one thing.

Mechanic wise. It wouldn't break anything I suppose.
Story wise, which ever table is different. As a GM I try to add in class progression in whichever rules we are using, into the story. Like they find a mentor or
It seems a little odd that the backstories are they are brand new lvl 1 beginning their adventuring careers... and already have access to advanced techniques and knowledge. Yeah its workable and things can be overlooked or spedup but less immersive.
In a similar light, with backgrounds like "Soldier" it implies you should already be good at fighting and such, so I always though granting some martial weapons, shields, and light armor would make sense for non-battler classes who take the background.

Many of the backgrounds to not reflect the "brand new adventuring careers" concept IMO.
 
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mortwatcher

Explorer
What would be the alternative "award" for level 3? The few classes that get their subclass earlier are casters, who get new spell level, what would you give to martials? Or would that be a HP only level?
 

dnd4vr

Hero
What would be the alternative "award" for level 3? The few classes that get their subclass earlier are casters, who get new spell level, what would you give to martials? Or would that be a HP only level?
I guess I need to add something to the OP since I already answered this once.

No, I would not grant anything different. I was thinking instead of maybe a shift for the first few levels, so level 3 subclass would be level 1, level 1 features at level 2, and level 2 features at level 3.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Personally, I think there are two easier ways to get a PC to have their representative "subclass" identity in place from the beginning of their adventuring career than trying to figure out how to balance and replace features to move the first subclass feature to level 1.

1) Start the game at Level 3. That way everybody has their subclass. Seeing as how levels 1 and 2 are meant to be like a single session each anyway... just skip them at start at 3.

2) Do not go to the Player's Handbook for all your leveling information. Instead, retype the specific class info plus subclass info into a Word doc, and replace sections that say things like "Martial Archetype" with the actual name of the subclass features. And when you type the feature listings, do not keep the subclasses features in a separate section at the end of the list, but insert them directly into listings themselves. Finally, make the heading of the entire document the name of the subclass as though that was the name of the class itself.

If you do that... completely remove the idea that the subclass itself exists and instead your class is 'Samurai' or 'Assassin' or 'Paladin of the Ancients' etc... the features you get at levels 1 and 2 become part of what being a samurai, assassin or paladin of the ancients are. Yes, they are the same features as what a Champion, Swashbuckler, or Paladin of Vengeance have... but that was going to happen anyway.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
I guess I need to add something to the OP since I already answered this once.

No, I would not grant anything different. I was thinking instead of maybe a shift for the first few levels, so level 3 subclass would be level 1, level 1 features at level 2, and level 2 features at level 3.
Except that some subclass features key off of the ability you get at level 1-- like Frenzy keys off of Rage, and Cutting Words keys off of Bardic Inspiration. If you just move the 1st level abilities to level 2, then these subclass features become worthless at 1st level.
 

dnd4vr

Hero
Why not just start at level 3?
And @DEFCON 1

Because not all groups follow the level rate suggested by WotC that the first couple levels should only take a session or two. Also, I don't want players beginning with over twice the hp they would otherwise have.

I would be more inclined to simple roll up levels 1-3 (sans HP) into a "level 1" I suppose, but then that would make multiclassing (which I am not going to "just don't use it") an issue.
 

dnd4vr

Hero
Except that some subclass features key off of the ability you get at level 1-- like Frenzy keys off of Rage, and Cutting Words keys off of Bardic Inspiration. If you just move the 1st level abilities to level 2, then these subclass features become worthless at 1st level.
LOL well I woulnd't have to delay ALL of them and could tweak how others are done.

And Bards shouldn't be in the game anyway. :p
 

Ruin Explorer

Adventurer
I think it's clear that the vast majority of "delayed" subclass features are delayed to prevent easy multiclass dips.

As such, if you're not allowing multiclassing, or simply only give features at L1 for the first class someone takes, I don't think this is going to be an actual problem. It might make a couple of subclasses more powerful for levels 1 and 2 but um, that's not exactly a big problem, especially when power levels vary widely at those levels anyway due to a variety of factors.

Listen to DEFCON1's warning re: features though. You can't just casually rearrange them that way. You'll have to actually look at each subclass.

I mean the main point is, if you just move the L3 abilities to L1 and do nothing else, that'll be basically fine (it'll make L3 a bit of a dead level, but who cares?). And yes, you're right that most players have already made the decision at L1 particularly because in many cases you need to know for the race/stats etc. that you pick.
 
It's not uncommon for players to decide on a subclass at character creation, but I see no particular reason to change the levels of class features to reflect that.
 

MonkeezOnFire

Explorer
I think rearranging the progression of class features to ensure subclass choice at level 1 should be fine. You do just have to be careful to resolve dependencies as DEFCON1 has said, which means carefully rearranging on a case by case basis per class.

But there are some dependencies that you may not even really care about preserving. For example the paladin as a part of their subclass gets bonus spells, but they also get channel divinity. I don't think anyone would really mind if you kept getting spellcasting at level 2 for paladins since channel divinity is the real meat and potatoes of the subclass.
 

akr71

Explorer
And @DEFCON 1

Because not all groups follow the level rate suggested by WotC that the first couple levels should only take a session or two. Also, I don't want players beginning with over twice the hp they would otherwise have.

I would be more inclined to simple roll up levels 1-3 (sans HP) into a "level 1" I suppose, but then that would make multiclassing (which I am not going to "just don't use it") an issue.
Ok, but Lvl 3 HP means you can throw tougher monsters at them. :ROFLMAO:
However, if we are talking about new players, or new to 5e, then sure, I agree - level 1 start point makes sense.

You could make level 3 characters with level 1 hp and give them more hd at an appropriate spot.

LOL well I woulnd't have to delay ALL of them and could tweak how others are done.

And Bards shouldn't be in the game anyway. :p
Well, that I certainly agree with!
 

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