5.5E What if you were in charge of reworking classes for 5.5?

Undrave

Hero
So, this is just a fun thought exercise, based on what we’ve all learned since the release of the game.

Let’s say you get to work on the 5.5 PHB and you’re allowed to completely change the way the various classes work. You can’t change any of the game’s core mechanics like the math of bounded accuracy, the conflict resolution, the XP charts, proficiency bonus, skills, weapons and armor classifications, etc. But you can change what kind of stuff each class gets, with no obligation to make it backward compatible with the previously published material, except adventures. Basically, the concept is that you get to remake the classes from scratch.

My question is thus, what guiding concept and fundamental changes would you want to put into places for each of the core classes? In broad strokes terms?

Barbarian: Only thing I would change in the PHB Barbarian is to remake the Berzerker so it’s no longer awful, while still being very simple. I’d also make the Ancestral Guardian Barbarian one of the PHB subclass.

Bard: I think what bards need are ‘song’ spells that are basically powerful buffs that need an action to maintain longer than a turn. Making these exclusives to the class would give it the ‘bardic song’ feel that some folks felt was missing. Would also make Toll the Dead a PHB spells for Bard and Cleric.

Cleric: I’d rework the Trickery Cleric so it has a clearer game plan and a stronger flavor in combat. The Cleric is just a very boring class to me, but I don’t know if there’s a big need to remake it.

Druid: Maybe buff the Circle of Land a little so it’s a better comparison to the Circle of the Moon. Maybe add a subclass that trades its Wild Shape for a companion for that Shaman flavor.

Fighter: I’d probably rebuild it from the ground up. I’ve been saying for a while that a Fighter should just be a Warlord dressed up as a Fighter. There’s a couple maneuvers from the Battlemaster that should just be things the Fighter can do (sans bonus damage) at will, such as the Goading Attack or Distracting Attack. I think these maneuvers could be the real ‘fighting styles’ and what we have right now be ‘gear specialization’ or something. The Champion would get more of those passive bonuses and be renamed ‘Weapon Master’, and the extended crit would just be one of the options any Fighter can pick (I would make it so it only works with one of the three types of weapon damage, your choice). Eldtrich Knight would be reworked so it’s not so focused on Evocation and more on Abjuration as that makes way more sense. Action Surge and Second Wind would probably be moved to the ‘Prof. per day’ model instead of short rest based. Also, some skill-based buff would be nice.

Monk: This class is another I would rebuild from the ground up. As it is, it feels like a pile of legacy feature with no coherent game plan. The whole ‘monks lockdown casters’ thing is more of an emergent gameplay element than a real design goal, IMO. I’d probably survey monk players before working on a new Monk.

Paladin: We discussed this in another thread, but instead of being a spellcaster that trades slots for Smites, the Smite would be the based feature and you could trade them for ‘Miracles’. The options available would improve in level and be expended by your Oath, giving them much stronger flavor in the process.

Ranger: I don’t have enough experience with that one to really speak up, but I would include the improvements from Tasha’s for sure. Also make it so they have 3 subclass in the book.

Rogue: One thing I would do, for sure, is codify ‘Expertise’ as a thing so I can hand it out to various characters without having to write the whole damn explanation every time. Would save on page count. I think what I would do is give an optional alternative to Thieves’ Cant and make the Swashbuckler a core subclass. Maybe cut the Arcane Trickster and Assassin and merge their feel into a shadow themed caster subclass? Just so there’s three subclasses.

Sorcerer: If it’s not possible to bring back the playtest sorcerer( who manifests their ancestry more the more they use up their points), I would, at the very least, rework the Wild Magic subclass. Instead of the dumb random system, it would be a push your luck type of mechanic where you can try to get strong effect at the cost of rolling on the wild magic surge table. And the more you do it, the more dice you roll (with only the highest result counting). That way the player can feel more involved and it’s more interesting than being basically dependent of the DM’s whims. I’d obviously add a third subclass, but I’m not sure who would be the best pick. Celestial? Probably the most basic.

Warlock: Not much to say… maybe buff the Pact of the Blade so Hexblade isn’t needed?

Wizard: The current subclasses are terrible and boring. Giving them 8 subclasses was just ridiculous. I think the base class shouldn’t get as many free spells known as it currently does and with less variety in the spell list, with the Subclass making up the difference with more thematic free spells. For subclasses I’d have the Academic, who picks a school specialty, gets the cheaper copying ability, and gets a bunch of free spells known from their specialty then I’d keep a version of the Diviner as a more support subclass that studies to tap into the power of the Astral Plane (I love the Diviner’s ‘roll in advance’ ability) and gets some Clerical spells thrown into their spell list, and finally the Lorehunter (or Archeologist) as a sort of rogue-ish subclass with abilities and spell well suited for dungeon exploration and a little more toughness and endurance than a normal Wizard (the 'I get dirty to find old spell books' Wizard).


Yeah I let my imagination run wild a little… your turn folks!
 

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Fighter: I’d probably rebuild it from the ground up. I’ve been saying for a while that a Fighter should just be a Warlord dressed up as a Fighter. There’s a couple maneuvers from the Battlemaster that should just be things the Fighter can do (sans bonus damage) at will, such as the Goading Attack or Distracting Attack. I think these maneuvers could be the real ‘fighting styles’ and what we have right now be ‘gear specialization’ or something. The Champion would get more of those passive bonuses and be renamed ‘Weapon Master’, and the extended crit would just be one of the options any Fighter can pick (I would make it so it only works with one of the three types of weapon damage, your choice). Eldtrich Knight would be reworked so it’s not so focused on Evocation and more on Abjuration as that makes way more sense. Action Surge and Second Wind would probably be moved to the ‘Prof. per day’ model instead of short rest based. Also, some skill-based buff would be nice.

Monk: This class is another I would rebuild from the ground up. As it is, it feels like a pile of legacy feature with no coherent game plan. The whole ‘monks lockdown casters’ thing is more of an emergent gameplay element than a real design goal, IMO. I’d probably survey monk players before working on a new Monk.
both of these need rewrite, and I like where you went...

if it was me I would take warlock and artificer and rebuild all the other classes on those chasies...

2 subclass choices, 1 at 1st 1 at 3rd completely interchangeable mini feats that give new abilities or enhance abilities (mix of invocations and infusions).
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I'd rework them thusly:

1. I'd have only four "core" classes. These would be the foundation that the rest of the character would be built on, and would set things like Saving Throws, proficiencies, and spell slots. (These names are place-holders, I'm sure they will come up with more iconic/traditional ones.)
  • Warrior (martial-focused)
  • Sneak (skill-focused)
  • Mage (full caster)
  • Priest (half caster)
2. Then I'd have dozens of interchangeable subclasses. You would pick your subclass at 1st level, and apply it to the framework of your choice. This would set class-specific things like sneak attack, spell lists, turning undead, etc. A Warrior with the Barbarian subclass would play much like a Berserker, while a Priest with the Barbarian subclass would play a lot like a Wild Magic barbarian, for example.

It's a bit of a call-back to the "kits" of old.
 
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Undrave

Hero
I'd rework them thusly:

1. I'd have only four "core" classes. These would be the foundation that the rest of the character would be built on, and would set things like Saving Throws, proficiencies, and spell slots. (These names are place-holders, I'm sure they will come up with more iconic/traditional ones.)
  • Warrior (martial-focused)
  • Sneak (skill-focused)
  • Mage (full caster)
  • Priest (half caster)
2. Then I'd have dozens of interchangeable subclasses. You would pick your subclass at 1st level, and apply it to the framework of your choice. A Warrior with the Barbarian subclass would play much like a Berserker, while a Priest with the Barbarian subclass would play a lot like a Wild Magic barbarian, for example.

It's a bit of a call-back to the "kits" of old.
Ah so a mix-and-match system them? Pretty interesting idea!

I'd love a Sorcerer that (a) is easier for newer players to run their "mage" fantasy than other spellcasting classes, (b) breaks from Vancian spellcasting, and (c) actually feels like it embodies the wonderful flavor text of the sorcerer.
Not a bad plan either. Also, I didn't mention it, but I think I'd make the Sorcerers into CON casters. It would make them the easiest class to MC with so you can show how much your character invest into their bloodline magic, or how little. You can have a character really invest in learning about the Magic left by their draconic ancestor, or a guy who thinks swords are way cooler and only knows a few tricks.
 

Horwath

Hero
3 classes.

warrior:
d12 HD,
light, medium armor+shield, option for heavy
lots of extra attacks over levels
lots of martial archetypes

expert:
d10 HD, s
light armor, option for medium+shields
ingle extra attack at 5th
lots of skills/expertise, cunning actions
lots of archetypes,

mage:
d8 HD
no armor, option for light
no extra attacks, maybe option for extra 1 somewhere
all spells available, limited spells known(sorcerer amount)
subclass/theme gives 2 extra fixed cantrips and 2 fixed spells known from every level 1-5

most of current class features turned into feats/half-feats

all gain LU5E martial maneuvers and exertion pool, with different rate of learning and some get bonus exertion depending on class/subclass
lets say that mage learns one school and gains new levels every 8 levels, expert learns 2 schools and gain new levels every 6 levels and warrior learns 3 schools and gain new levels every 4 levels.
 

Undrave

Hero
both of these need rewrite, and I like where you went...
Monk's biggest problem, to me, is that it doesn't feel like a class built to do anything, but is just a pile of features that sound 'cool' and were used in previous versions of the game. I'd ask the Monk player what the fantasy they want to realize is and then build the Monk to do THAT and see if I can fit the legacy stuff into that goal. Nobody plays a marital artist class to 'lockdown the casters'.

3 classes.

warrior:
d12 HD,
light, medium armor+shield, option for heavy
lots of extra attacks over levels
lots of martial archetypes

expert:
d10 HD, s
light armor, option for medium+shields
ingle extra attack at 5th
lots of skills/expertise, cunning actions
lots of archetypes,

mage:
d8 HD
no armor, option for light
no extra attacks, maybe option for extra 1 somewhere
all spells available, limited spells known(sorcerer amount)
subclass/theme gives 2 extra fixed cantrips and 2 fixed spells known from every level 1-5

most of current class features turned into feats/half-feats

all gain LU5E martial maneuvers and exertion pool, with different rate of learning and some get bonus exertion depending on class/subclass
lets say that mage learns one school and gains new levels every 8 levels, expert learns 2 schools and gain new levels every 6 levels and warrior learns 3 schools and gain new levels every 4 levels.
So just one step removed from class-less then? :p I guess I should have said "the editor told you to keep the same classes or the fans revolt" :p
 

Horwath

Hero
I would also change weapons.

No martial/simple category.
all are proficient with all weapons.
Investment into fighting styles, extra attack(s), investing in str or dex, picking feats, or simply by having larger HD is enough to separate martial from non martial characters.

Same option can be used for armor, just have every armor have min str score, from 8(padded) to 18(full plate), with appropriate max dex and other penalties.

Weapons:

base damage: 1d10
1d10, 1Handed, Versatile(d12)
1d8, 1Handed, finesse
1d8, 1Handed, light
1d8, 1Handed, thrown(40/120)
1d6, 1Handed, Reach 10ft, Versatile(1d8)
1d6, 1Handed, finesse, light
1d6, 1Handed, finesse, throw(40/120)
1d6, 1Handed, light, thrown(40/120)
1d4, 1Handed, finesse, light, thrown(40/120)
1d4, 1Handed, finesse, reach 10ft

2d6, 2Handed
2d8, 2Handed, Heavy
2d6, 2Handed, Heavy, Reach 10ft
1d12, 2Handed, finesse
1d12, 2Handed, reach
1d10, 2Handed, reach, finesse

shortbow;
1d6, 2Handed, ranged 100/400

longbow:
1d8, 2Handed, heavy, ranged 150/600


crossbows:
find whatever damage fits with hand, light or heavy crossbow with less range than bows and Action reload time...

I would go with:
hand crossbow
1d10, 1Handed, range 40/120, loading Action

light crossbow;
2d6, 2Handed, range 60/240, loading Action

heavy crossbow;
2d8, 2Handed, range 80/320, loading Action
 

Horwath

Hero
Monk's biggest problem, to me, is that it doesn't feel like a class built to do anything, but is just a pile of features that sound 'cool' and were used in previous versions of the game. I'd ask the Monk player what the fantasy they want to realize is and then build the Monk to do THAT and see if I can fit the legacy stuff into that goal. Nobody plays a marital artist class to 'lockdown the casters'.


So just one step removed from class-less then? :p I guess I should have said "the editor told you to keep the same classes or the fans revolt" :p
shhhh! :p

class-less is for 6E in 2034

patience young padawan ;)
 

payn

Legend
Bard would be the only class. Every other archetype would be a sub-class of Bard.

Ukulele Bard GIF by zoefannet
 

Stormonu

Legend
This is pretty much my take for a 5.5 under construction:


Things of note:

  • Give the Barbarian a fighting style, with Reckless Attack being one of the styles
  • Cut out Eldritch Knight and make a distinct fighter/magic-user class
  • An option for the fighter to trade out armor proficiencies for Unarmored Defense
  • Add more Fighter Battlemaster maneuvers and make some maneuvers available to anyone
  • Improve on the Fighter Champion, making it more resilient
  • Allow rogues to trade in sneak attack dice to add conditions to opponents
  • Rework monk to lean into the martial arts and more choices during advancement
  • Add a psion class that is a mix of 2E/3E abilities and 5E sensibilities
  • Split out Origin and Subclass for the Sorcerer (along the lines of Warlock's Patron and subclass) and make a host of both
  • Incorporate Eldritch Blast as a core Warlock feature to free up some Invocations
  • Plenty of subclasses all around
  • Several new conditions that I felt were missing such as Diseased, Burning, Frozen and Sleeping.
 




Oofta

Legend
Huh. I wouldn't change much of anything. I'd tweak some rules, give strength based PCs more options (especially for ranged attacks). But beyond that, they work well enough.
 

Horwath

Hero
Huh. I wouldn't change much of anything. I'd tweak some rules, give strength based PCs more options (especially for ranged attacks). But beyond that, they work well enough.
I would just have more powerful bows, depending on STR rating, I would still keep precision(bonus to attack and damage) tied to dex.
For pure STR ranged option, we should get little buff to thrown weapons(more damage, little more range)

For bows, we could have:
str n/a: 1d4, range 60/240
str 8: 1d6, range 110/440
str 10: 1d8, range 150/600
str 14: 1d10, range 190/760
str 18: 1d12, range 230/920
str 20: 2d6, range 250/1000
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
High level:

- Artificer is now a Core Class. Mostly keep it the same.

- Barbarian is now called the "Beserker," and any wilderness versus civilization elements are moved firmly to Background.

- Monk is now called the "Mystic," and all fluff tied to Monasticism is firmly moved to Bqckground, along with all Orientalist themes being removed. "Ki Points" are now just Spell Slots, and the Mystic is essentially a half-caster equivalent to the Warlock.

- Ranger now takes their Subclass at Level 1, and the organizing principle is making "Favored Terrain" the Subclass: Subclasses like Forester, Highlander, etc.

- On that note, all Classes take their Subclass at Level 1, allowing Subclass to alter base flavor more.
 

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