D&D 5E What if everyone in the setting had a [Class]?

Yaarel

He Mage
okay, but you understand that there are other characters in the setting beyond just the PCs, right? that merchant doesn't need to be a 4th level rogue or artificer, the farmer doesn't need to be a 2nd level druid.
In a setting where not everyone needs to have a class, that is true. A "farmer" doesnt need to be a level 2 Druid. Just create a statblock.

However, in a setting where everyone needs to have a class, the "farmer" needs to be something, such as a level 2 Druid, or level 18 Fighter, or level 8 Wizard, or whatever makes sense for this individual character whose background is a Farmer.
 

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Chaosmancer

Legend
Some thoughts on core 5e classes.

1) [Wizard], [Druid], [Paladin], [Monk], [Artificer] are the strongest fictional identity among the core classes. No notes. They have an obvious identity and are easily recognizable as a class within pretty much all baseline D&D settings.

I mostly agree here. Wizard gets a bit odd though. The idea of studying magic is very thematic, but it isn't as strong I think as you may think it is. Case in point, many of the most famous Wizards could be argued to not be wizards (Gandalf is a Celestial, Merlin speaks to spirits and is half-demon, Dumbledore was born with magic powers like a sorcerer) This isn't a huge point, just that I would argue Wizard is as generic as you can get for a spellcaster.

2) [Warlock] has a strong core identity, although its story is weakened somewhat since the patron can just as easily be an involuntary boon (or curse) as opposed to a proactive choice to seek power (the "normal" warlock story). When we're talking class as diegetic element, having multiple backstories lead to the same power progression isn't a virtue.

Maybe. Each warlock can be built very differently, and it could be simply a generic grouping. Kind of like how the One DnD team initially attempted to make warriors, mages, ect, the "Warlock" can be a class group, which acts as a catch-all for "patron granted magic"

3) [Sorcerer] has a strong concept, but its story is all over the place; it also doesn't have a real narrative place in core D&D settings (other than "outsider not-a-wizard"). It mostly exists as a contrast to [Wizard].

See, to me, they have just as much of a story as the wizard. And this is kind of the issue with the arcane classes. As story tropes, the three are practically interchangeable. Mechanically we can see a difference, but the stories almost feel incomplete without each other.

I think, from what you have proposed, sub-classes and class groups are the best way to resolve this. But there is always going to be overlap. A tiefling warlock who patron is their fiendish parent is going to blur that sorcerer and warlock line and may, in universe, be best expressed as unique classes.

4) [Bard] has a strong conceptual image, it also has a strong mechanical structure (in 5e), but the two don't actually mesh very well. The fact that different conceptions of [Bard]s can go from no-magic all the way to competitive with [Wizard]s makes inserting the [Bard] as a coherent diegetic element difficult.

One DnD would have fixed this. And I am still mad they removed it. I like the idea of Bard being the FIRST magic users, and that their magic, which can be found through study of the world and music and story, is the baseline all other magic riffed off of.

But, also, I think this is also fine. The bard is a flexible class, and sub-classes are where that is defined.

5) [Cleric]s are one of my major pain points for diegetic classes. Why do people who follow gods who are completely in opposition still gain 80% of the same power set? [Cleric]s work with a setting with a strong medieval church analogue, but are really problematic to explain with a pantheon like FRs.

This can be rough. Especially when you also need to ask about nature clerics vs druids.

I solved this by saying that there were no gods of nature, no gods of magic, and that the role of "evil god" was handled by the other classes of Powers. The moment it is the Gods vs the Archdevils and Archdemons and Archfey and Elder Evils then the role of the cleric becomes much more coherent.

Another thing you could do is that the System doesn't care about the gods. You worship a god? These are the powers the system gives you. After all, you don't get different sets of abilities from serving two Kings that fight, so why would you for two gods?

6) [Fighter]s and [Rogue]s are the worst. How do they stand out from the masses of "people who are kinda around", other than being, ya know, not dying quite as easily? I would take them out, or barring that, move their subclass to level 1 and attach strong narrative elements to the subclass.

The subclass is where the narrative is, but I think you are being too harsh here. A Fighter, even at level 1, is as good as any grunt in the army. They are actually very good at what they do, compared to the common baker or merchant who pretends to fight. And the Rogue is much the same way. Sure, expertise in a skill is something that can be generic, but the sneak attack and the coded language does create a narrative that the only classes don't really have. They are a bit generically "the expert" type of archetype, but by the time you hit level 2 it is solidly locked in what these people are like.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
In a setting where not everyone needs to have a class, that is true. A "farmer" doesnt need to be a level 2 Druid. Just create a statblock.

You are correct. Looks at the Title of the Thread "But what if...EVERYONE had a class

However, in a setting where everyone needs to have a class, the "farmer" needs to be something, such as a level 2 Druid, or level 18 Fighter, or level 8 Wizard, or whatever makes sense for this individual character whose background is a Farmer.

Or they could be a level 5 [Farmer]. I am literally reading a story, on webtoon, where the main character has the Farmer class. The Top Dungeon Farmer

They don't use levels in this story, but the main character starts with a series of abilities. They can't get sick. They become "friends with nature". They get XP from harvesting crops. They get an ability to increase the quality of their crops, and one that increases the chance of seeds they plant to sprout.

Now, you may say, this is terrible! None of their abilities can help them fight! And you would be 100% correct! They can't fight. Because they are a farmer, not a warrior or a mage. Their abilities make them a better farmer. And you may say, "but this is terrible, what player would ever want to play this class" and I'd say... What are you talking about? The point of this class isn't to have a player to play it. It isn't to have a statblock for the DM to make. It is literally there to tell the story of a person who has the class [Farmer]. Why is this setting suddenly hostile to DnD just because it includes things players wouldn't want to do? The setting works perfectly fine, you just say it doesn't work as a game... but it isn't a game. It is a setting. A world. The thing the game takes place inside.
 

Yaarel

He Mage
Or they could be a level 5 [Farmer]. I am literally reading a story, on webtoon, where the main character has the Farmer class. The Top Dungeon Farmer

They don't use levels in this story, but the main character starts with a series of abilities. They can't get sick. They become "friends with nature". They get XP from harvesting crops. They get an ability to increase the quality of their crops, and one that increases the chance of seeds they plant to sprout.

Now, you may say, this is terrible! None of their abilities can help them fight! And you would be 100% correct! They can't fight. Because they are a farmer, not a warrior or a mage. Their abilities make them a better farmer. And you may say, "but this is terrible, what player would ever want to play this class" and I'd say... What are you talking about? The point of this class isn't to have a player to play it. It isn't to have a statblock for the DM to make. It is literally there to tell the story of a person who has the class [Farmer]. Why is this setting suddenly hostile to DnD just because it includes things players wouldn't want to do? The setting works perfectly fine, you just say it doesn't work as a game... but it isn't a game. It is a setting. A world. The thing the game takes place inside.
My main point here is, if one wants to quantify and level up a Farmer, it doesnt need to use the "class" design space to do this.

A Farmer is entirely skills, toolsets, plus feats. The aspect of leveling up is its proficiency bonus. In other words, all of this is the "background" design space.


An other point is. If neither the player nor the DM will ever use a Farmer "class", it is literally useless to design one.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
My main point here is, if one wants to quantify and level up a Farmer, it doesnt need to use the "class" design space to do this.
It doesnt need to avoid it either.
A Farmer is entirely skills, toolsets, plus feats. The aspect of leveling up is its proficiency bonus. In other words, all of this is the "background" design space.
Not necessarily true of fictional farmers in our fictional setting.
An other point is. If neither the player nor the DM will ever use a Farmer "class", it is literally useless to design one.
As long as some player or some dm does then it’s not useless to have designed one.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
My main point here is, if one wants to quantify and level up a Farmer, it doesnt need to use the "class" design space to do this.

A Farmer is entirely skills, toolsets, plus feats. The aspect of leveling up is its proficiency bonus. In other words, all of this is the "background" design space.


An other point is. If neither the player nor the DM will ever use a Farmer "class", it is literally useless to design one.


Are you just trolling me at this point? You keep saying you understand the concept, then you say nonsensical things like this that make me think you truly don't get it.

What design space? What design space are you even possibly talking about? The same design space that says the Church of the Silver Flame worships the Silver Flame? That the City of Waterdeep is ruled by masked lords and a single open lord? Is that the design space? Because it is the only design space that matters when you are building a fictional conceit of a setting and world.

You want me give examples?

Junge is a level 5 [Fruit Farmer] from this he has high endurance and his crops do not naturally wither. He also got the ability to hybridize his fruits, leading to unique foods for his village.

Sam is a level 2 [Smith] and he knows his specialization comes next level. He's been working hard making armor and weapons, hoping to become either a [Weapon Smith] or an [Armor smith] but he's also heard that if you can figure out this thing called "clockwork" like the gnomes do, you can have even rarer smith specialties.

Tusk Azureblood is a level 13 [Skydancer of Orm] and can summon storms with her dances, or turn into an ethereal wind spirit. Tales say that at her last performance she lifted the entire audience to dance in the sky with her.

Fitz is a level 4 [Thief Rogue], he's good in a scrape and has run from a lot of the more dangerous elements of the city. He's slippery and seemed to pick up the ability to vanish into shadows. But he's come to the party worried, because a part of his gang is gone missing, and there are disturbing rumors in the lower city.



Sure, I could have done this instead:

Junge: Farmer
+2 Con +1 Wis, +3 Prof
Nature, Animal Handling
Land Vehicles
Magic Initiate: Druid

Sam: Smith
+2 con, +1 Str, +2 prof
Investigation, History
Smith's Tools
Crafter

Tusk Aureblood: Skydancer
+2 Cha, +1 Dex, +4 prof
Performance, Nature
Disguise Kit
Inspiring Leader, Actor, Magic Initiate: Cleric

Fitz: Thieves
+2 Dex, +1 Wis, +2 prof
Stealth, Sleight of Hand
Thieve's Tools
Skulker

But these things? These things are not story elements. None of this tells a story in the same way as what I wrote above did. And guess what else? I don't need to design mechanical classes with levels and distinct abilities. No one wants to play a Skydancer of Orm? Great! Because they can't anyways, to gain access to the class you need to outdance the wind during a thunderstorm on top of a mountain and gain the blessings of Orm. It has no combat abilities that make people want it? Why would it? It is a class designed for sacred dances and performances, It doesn't need to be able to fight dragons, that isn't the point of it. And if a player really wants to do this? If they see this and they want it? Then I can work on some abilities then, but I can tailor what they get and if it doesn't give them combat power? Well... they likely didn't want to be a sacred dancer to a storm god because it made them better at fighting dragons.

Stop.
Approaching.
This.
Mechanically.

This isn't a question of mechanics. It isn't a question of class design. This isn't a question of what players want or what is a waste of the DMs energy. If they want to have Tusk [Skydancer of Orm] get involved in a fight? Then sure, make a statblock for the fight then. But in-universe, in the story, in the reality of the fictional world? She has a class, a class with levels and abilities and skills and feats. Because in this world, EVERYONE has a class.
 

Yaarel

He Mage
Are you just trolling me at this point? You keep saying you understand the concept, then you say nonsensical things like this that make me think you truly don't get it.
Offensive.

You want me give examples? ...

Sure, I could have done this instead:

Junge: Farmer
+2 Con +1 Wis, +3 Prof
Nature, Animal Handling
Land Vehicles
Magic Initiate: Druid

Sam: Smith
+2 con, +1 Str, +2 prof
Investigation, History
Smith's Tools
Crafter

Tusk Aureblood: Skydancer
+2 Cha, +1 Dex, +4 prof
Performance, Nature
Disguise Kit
Inspiring Leader, Actor, Magic Initiate: Cleric

Fitz: Thieves
+2 Dex, +1 Wis, +2 prof
Stealth, Sleight of Hand
Thieve's Tools
Skulker
Correct. The background is what the D&D 5e game looks like.

You are inventing your own game.

But these things? These things are not story elements. None of this tells a story in the same way as what I wrote above did.
You can add story elements to a background. A background can be highly specific, like a specific manner of criminal unique to a specific town. Whatever narrative you want. It is part of the background description. Some official backgrounds have about a paragraph describing them.

Officially, a player can create their own background with its own unique narrative.

Stop.
Approaching.
This.
Mechanically.
Yet you keep on making this about mechanics, by turning everything into a "class", even when it is inappropriate or useless.


This isn't a question of mechanics.
So stop turning everything into class mechanics.

It is an unhelpful use of the D&D 5e design space.
 


FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
You are inventing your own game.
You are too. 5e doesn't have every NPC in the game have a PC class.

The whole point of the question is to go beyond the confines of the game as we know it and imagine something different.
Yet you keep on making this about mechanics, by turning everything into a "class", even when it is inappropriate or useless.
The thread premise is to give everything a class. One way to do that is to turn everything into a class. I'm not sure why that imagining is anymore inappropriate or useless than giving farmers a level of Paladin.
 

CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
I mostly agree here. Wizard gets a bit odd though. The idea of studying magic is very thematic, but it isn't as strong I think as you may think it is. Case in point, many of the most famous Wizards could be argued to not be wizards (Gandalf is a Celestial, Merlin speaks to spirits and is half-demon, Dumbledore was born with magic powers like a sorcerer) This isn't a huge point, just that I would argue Wizard is as generic as you can get for a spellcaster.
agreed, the wizard is a strong concept as 'the learned researcher' as opposed to the 'natural talent' or 'bought power' of sorcerer and warlock, like you said the three contrast well with each other, but the wizard's actual mechanics really lack at selling that concept beyond has alot of spells, the baseclass doesn't even get arcana expertise or advantage on INT checks or anything, and a good portion of the spells they do have don't exactly even support that idea of them being educated and skilled: like fireball, perhaps their most iconic spell, feels to me like one of the most unga-bunga brained 'hit the problem with as big a stick as you have' spells around, asking a wizard to focus on damage ought to feel like asking a mitchellin-star chef to flip burgers and your local McD's, sure they can but it's a massive waste of their skills,
 

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