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

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
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.
This is pretty much exactly what Shadow of the Demon Lord does. If this is what you want, I would suggest you take a look!

Four classes, as you describe, with abilities that kick in at levels 1, 2, 5, and 8.
Race/ancestry, with abilities that kick in at level 1 and 4.
"Expert paths", with abilities at 3, 6, 9 (assassin, paladin, druid, ranger, warlock, etc.)
"Master paths" with abilities at levels 7 and 10. This can be a second Expert path, or any of a wide range of niches (blade, chronomancer, diplomat, enchanter, necromancer, zealot, etc.)

It's a great system for mix-and-matching kits to create unique characters, no dead levels (as you see) and every character develops along the same progression (which some won't like, of course).
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Front Range Warlock
I have a rather easy approach to this: I'd keep Fighters, Clerics, Rogues, and Wizards as-is. Everything else gets shuffled off to a single "class splat" book.

Fighter: add a bunch of unlimited use maneuvers (like Shove and Grapple), some of which key off of Int or Cha. Actually, any class could use them, but I'd probably make the Fighter base class able to trade single attacks instead of their whole action.

Monk: subclass abilities that formerly cost Ki now get one free use before costing Ki. Also increase Ki slightly. Add a Strength-based subclass.

Ranger: rewrite as spell-less, and make a caster subclass.

Rogue: add a Strength-based subclass, and (somehow) harder to shoot into a melee and get Sneak Attack

Sorcerer: sub-class abilities that formerly cost sorcery points now get one free use before costing points. Also, every subclass gets additional spells that don't count against spells known. Maybe a few more sorcery points.

- abilities are PB times per rest, instead of primary attribute modifier times per rest.
- fewer spells are concentration
- ranged attacks provoke opportunity attacks
- get rid of ASIs, feats only. Add more feats (and re-balance existing ones), some of which have a half-ASI.


Arcadian Knight
How about making it a choice between that and something else?
yes that was the thought though @MoonSong if we are making it start earlier as I suggested the choice of something else might need to start earlier too. Split it up into actual ASI's? and just have more of those comes to mind too
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Arcadian Knight
Fighter: add a bunch of unlimited use maneuvers (like Shove and Grapple), some of which key off of Int or Cha. Actually, any class could use them, but I'd probably make the Fighter base class able to trade single attacks instead of their whole action.
I was considering letting the fighter trade an attack to scan for openings which would allow him to have an extra expertise die
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It's fixed the Berserker to make it not so punishing. I'd add a Thane/Chief (Cha) or Fury (Dex) barbarian

Actual music spells

Make whether you are a Lazer, Healer, or Basher a choice seperate from domain.


Give it one extra fighting style. Choice of Second Wind or Heroic Parry. Add fighting styles that allow use of Con, Int, Wis, and Cha in combat.

Have an option of being Dex,Str, or Wis based. More ki.

3rd subclass. Add animal, plant/elemental/rock spells to base class. Add spells to hunter and beastmaster

3rd subclass. More sorcery points as an option. More exclusive spells.

Fix Pact of the Blade


I hear if you stand in a dark room with a mirror and say "bard" three times, Snarf appears to lecture you about soulless, dead-eyed elves.

I would almost certainly make something that a chunk of the fans would howl about, but that's neither here nor there (since, frankly, literally anything they do, including not changing anything at all, would cause a chunk of the fans to howl.)

As a general thing: rework spells. Lots and lots of spells. And build a ton more non-combat capacity into every class that minimally uses spells or doesn't use them at all.

Going in alphabetical order...

Barbarian: Either cast yeetus deletus on the Berserker and fold it into the other subclasses, or completely rewrite it so it's actually good. Generally increase the non-combat utility by playing up the intuition and endurance aspects of the class.
Bard: Not very much, honestly. It's quite good the way it is. I'd put it down as one of the most balanced full casters. It would be nice if its capstone didn't suck so much that it begs for some MC stuff, but frankly that's so low on the priority list I might not bother.
Cleric: Fix up some of the subclasses (particularly Nature, Trickery, and Twilight). Otherwise, it's not too bad. Maybe consider bumping Domain up to 2nd level? Most of the issues lie in spells.
Druid: Rework Moon Druid to try to mitigate some of its spike-plateau-spike-plateau problems. Otherwise, much like Cleric.
Fighter: This is probably where I'd catch flak. Like Barbarian, cast yeetus deletus on the Champion, or completely rewrite it so it's actually good and not AWFUL. Likely, slightly weaken the "core" of the Fighter so its subclasses can be stronger and thus carry more weight. Massively increase its non-combat features (aka GIVE IT SOME).
Monk: Completely rewrite some subclasses (like the Four Elements), and make every subclass have cool non-combat benefits akin to Shadow but (likely) stronger. (Buffing Shadow too, just to be clear.)
Paladin: Reject spellcasting, embrace monke class features. Spellcasting Paladins are bad and should never have been made a thing. Make Oaths much more relevant to gameplay. Spellcasting can still be a subclass option though. (You could even make arcane paladins! Bring back my Mystic Fire Knight, WotC!)
Ranger: Essentially exactly the same as Paladin, except give it lots of love (e.g. repurpose Drakewarden for Beast Master). Spellcasting can be one subclass of Ranger, not a core focus where things which are BLATANTLY CLASS FEATURES are instead presented as though they were opt-in spell choices.
Rogue: Honestly, not the biggest set of changes, but still, some tune-ups to improve non-combat stuff and further narrow the gap between haves and have-nots AHEM casters and non-casters.
Sorcerer: The only full caster on this list getting major improvements rather than relatively minor tweaks or outright nerfs. Sorcerers are much weaker than they should be.
Warlock: More or less unchanged, though tweaking Hexblade and Pact of the Blade a bit, and addressing the short-rest-based issues. I think Warlock is one of the most well-balanced classes in the game so long as you actually get the short rests you need.
Wizard: The rework of spells, especially higher-level ones, will result in this class being nerfed indirectly. As minor compensation, I would like to add actual class features that specifically support the Wizard identity in a way 5e has thoroughly failed to do: actual research benefits.

Also, the Artificer frankly needs a lot of love. Despite being a half-caster it's not very good. But it's also not PHB, so it gets a footnote rather than a list entry!

Edit: And of course I would add an actual Warlord class. I had figured that went without saying, but perhaps not.
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Rotten DM
If I was in charge of 5.5E hmm, I would be taking bribes for including certain classes. How much to you really want the warlord classes. But go to# of time per your proficiency and ablitity modifier things they been doing.


Honestly, about the only change I'd make is to work out some system where each class could be decent at talking to people as far as skills went.


Make whether you are a Lazer, Healer, or Basher a choice seperate from domain.
Oooh that's a good one! Yeah I support that idea. Make it mix-and-match like a Warlock!
Ranger: Essentially exactly the same as Paladin, except give it lots of love (e.g. repurpose Drakewarden for Beast Master). Spellcasting can be one subclass of Ranger, not a core focus where things which are BLATANTLY CLASS FEATURES are instead presented as though they were opt-in spell choices.
There's plenty of fun Ranger spell, like Zephyr Strike, but you NEED Hunter's Mark so you can't use the fun spells... And don't forget how they essentially made 'make a trap' into spells (Cordon of Arrows or somethin' like that?).
But it worked for Gary Gygax!
Except for the 'learn' part.

But it worked for Gary Gygax!
I mean, it really didn't, in the sense that the classes actually were designed to have a fair amount of parity between them (I don't believe Gygax actually succeeded in this aim, but he was clearly aiming for it). That's why they had different XP tables and different saving throw progressions, and why the random treasure tables massively favored Fighter weapons. Early D&D absolutely IS a mess in terms of design, but that's only because it was very, very new; TTRPGs in general were an emerging technology and nobody had learned the tricks of the trade yet. There are several very clever bits of game design too, like how heavy armor is an XP penalty you can wear to increase survival (because it is literally HEAVY, so it eats into the GP you can bring out of the murder hole...and GP is XP.)

The game has never been designed to look good on paper and be utterly awful to actually use. Ever. It's just gone from wild and wooly with few past experiences to draw upon, to storied and experienced.

I guarantee that your intent to make a game that reads well but plays poorly without constant DM intervention would not succeed overall. First, because people are better at reading mechanics than you think they are, and second, because even if you succeeded, you would just convince most people to quit rather than to struggle on...and DMs in particular would become even more scarce than they are today.

I would like to see martials have some kind of abilities (maybe stances) that require concentration. I would like the monk to spend ki points activating magical stances instead of one-shot abilities. You can take as many stances per long rest as your proficiency bonus (one at a time because of concentration). The idea is that fighters and monks and whatnot can pull off all kinds of crazy moves until they get hit (and since most martials have good con, it will need to be a big hit).

For warlocks, I would like to double down on laziness. You become a warlock because you don't want to spend years studying magic, praying to gods, or getting beat up (I mean trained) by some sadistic weapons master or blind monk who calls you grasshopper. Otherworldly form becomes the main feature. For example, fiend form lets you use your charisma modifier for your strength modifier (who's the strongest now, steroid freak warrior dude?), and you can use invocations to be more like your favorite demon or devil. Fey form lets you replace your dex modifier with your charisma one (warlock archer for the win), undead form replaces your con modifier with your cha modifier (and throws in a bunch of temp hit points) and you can go all vampire or wrath with invocations, aberrant form does the same for your int modifier (and gives telepathy; whose smart now, Mr. "I studied magic for 100 years" wizard?). If 5.5 has primal spirits, that would be best for the wisdom replacement, but otherwise, I am sure we could make celestial work. I imagine subtle form will be an invocation in case you don't want to look like a spike-covered, red-skinned, goat-eyed monster in fiend form, instead looking like your own self.

I will give more thought to the rest of the classes, but just top of my head, I think I would like barbarians to get an AC bonus instead of a strength bonus and make it so that every time they crit, they not only do extra damage, but all enemies watching need to make a save or be intimidated (you can decide if that is magical or not), I would like sorcerers to have a casting system where they don't have X number of first level spell slots, etc., but every time a sorcerer casts spells whose levels add up to twice the sorcerer's level, they get a level of exhaustion (and cantrips are level 0), and the wizard's spell list would be really cut down, but they would get magical secrets from bards, with the limitation that wizards less than level 11 can only magical secret spells from their school.

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