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

DRUIDS no longer automatically get wildshape. Instead, each subclass gets an equivalent that corresponds to their subclass and that isn’t necessarily transformation-based. Moon druids get wildshape, stars druids get starry form, etc. One subclass gets to summon creatures as its equivalent, and circle of the land gets to summon nature’s fury. Other summon spells are removed from the game.

SORCERER I don’t like the more recent approach to fix sorcerers by giving them more spells. I feel it turns them into watered-down wizards. Instead, when they cast spells, they can (but are not required to) spend sorcery points to increase the effect. The riders are tied to their bloodline. The increase of effect should be dramatic, the equivalent of casting a separate spell. For instance, a dragon sorcerer may be able to spend SP to increase their AC, fly, or terrify onlookers.
 

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Undrave

Hero
DRUIDS no longer automatically get wildshape. Instead, each subclass gets an equivalent that corresponds to their subclass and that isn’t necessarily transformation-based. Moon druids get wildshape, stars druids get starry form, etc. One subclass gets to summon creatures as its equivalent, and circle of the land gets to summon nature’s fury. Other summon spells are removed from the game.
That's a good one!
 






Undrave

Hero
that's dramatic.

I have seen summons spells used (abused?) once... yup shunt em.
You can do a LOT with 8 wolves, let me tell ya... it also REALLY slows down a game something fierce.

Personally I wouldn't remove summoning spells outright but I don't think I would place them in the first book in an edition. It's just a lot to manage and balance right out the gate.
 

BrokenTwin

Biological Disaster
Honestly, I had a big list of changes written up, then I actually went and looked at Level Up's class descriptions on the site, and... yeah. Not 100% what I'd do, but better than base 5E's in almost every way. I haven't bought a 5E book in years (and have gotten rid of the ones I did own), but I'm actually considering picking this up.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
No, not a joke, I completely agree. Now the official Sorcerer class as it exists, that's a joke!
Eh, I wouldn't go that far. I can see what they were trying to accomplish, and all of the parts are there to make it work...I would just have to work a little harder to get there than I did with the Warlock. Here's my recipe for a non-Warlock "Sorcerer."

CleverNickName's Sorcerer
Ingredients:
  • 1 pkg. Sorcerer class, as written in the Player's Handbook
  • 1 pkg. of optional rules for Spell Points, in the Dungeon Master's Guide
  • 1 Find Familiar spell, from the Wizard spell list
  • 3 Metamagic class features.
  • Tasha's Cauldron of Everything, for garnish
Instructions:
  1. Add the Sorcerer class to a medium Word document, and add the Spell Points rules. Stir well, then carefully strain out all of the chunks of Vancian spellcasting. Set aside.
  2. Combine the Find Familiar spell with the Sorcerer spell list, and add it to the Word document. Consider flavoring with other spells and cantrips from other class lists.
  3. Rearrange the Metamagic features, adding more as necessary, so that they are visible at 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th, and 18th levels.
  4. Season to taste with new spells, subclasses, and feats from Tasha's Cauldron of Everything. Press Ctrl+P to serve.
 
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But I thought people wanted natural language and DM empowerment to drive D&D?
Some people, sure. And yet 5e is just about as full of technical jargon as any other edition. Remember that a "melee weapon attack" and "an attack with a melee weapon" are almost completely distinct things. (The former is "an attack made in melee which happens to include a weapon or an object being treated as a weapon," while the latter is "an attack made specifically using a weapon that is intended/designed for melee combat." You can make a ranged attack with a melee weapon, usually by throwing it, and you can make a melee attack with a ranged weapon, e.g. poking someone with an arrow. This causes unarmed strikes to be Weird, as they almost always are, because they are classified as "melee weapon attacks" even though you have no weapon, but they are NOT classified as "attacks with a melee weapon," because you have no weapon.)

You might have meant this as a joke, but I whole-heartedly agree. The Warlock delivers everything I wanted from the Sorcerer.
[Sobs openly in Playtest Sorcerer.]
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Honestly, I had a big list of changes written up, then I actually went and looked at Level Up's class descriptions on the site, and... yeah. Not 100% what I'd do, but better than base 5E's in almost every way. I haven't bought a 5E book in years (and have gotten rid of the ones I did own), but I'm actually considering picking this up.
Struck me as a good starting point with plenty of subtle things that can do a lot of healthy impact things.
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
SORCERER I don’t like the more recent approach to fix sorcerers by giving them more spells. I feel it turns them into watered-down wizards. Instead, when they cast spells, they can (but are not required to) spend sorcery points to increase the effect. The riders are tied to their bloodline. The increase of effect should be dramatic, the equivalent of casting a separate spell. For instance, a dragon sorcerer may be able to spend SP to increase their AC, fly, or terrify onlookers.
The problem with this is that it boxes the sorcerer as a combat class and doesn't address the fact tha a sorcerer doesn't have enough spells known, and it means each subclass needs a lot of space to dedicate to each spell it modifies. It also reduces the already strained choice of spells. If you get a spell that your bloodline doesn't modify, you have lost the equivalent of a full spell known. Sorcerers need more room to choose spells, not less.
 

WayneLigon

Adventurer
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.

In theory I love this idea.

In practice I fear it would come down to the same thing that the early City of Heroes (if anyone remembers that) game faced in early development.

For those who do not know, COH was a superhero MMO that, in early Alpha, did much the same thing: you had a basic chassis, then could pick and choose from dozens of super powers. The problem they noted was that, even when offered dozens of choices, all the players chose ONE build: the flying tank-mage, which was the most optimal damage-dealing/damage-resisting thing you could create, and ignored everything else.

And, as I recall, the exact same thing happened with 'kits'. (Complete Book of Elves, I'm looking at you, sir, specifically)
 


Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I'd redo the spell slot list to have a lot less total slots Tier 2 and upwards. Start dropping low level slots as we're picking up higher ones. Use that as a big part of the recalibration towards less combat encounters per day. Other parts include continuing the replacement of short-rest powers with [PROF] times per day.

Can I add a pet class? With a thematic choice at level 1 (necro, woodland, fey, etc) that starts with a "faithful companion", and at 3rd you get to pick summons vs. permanent - summon-able scouts/meatshields or your permanent companion turning more serious. The companion one would have levels with various transformative options like growing large enough to use as your mount, etc. All of them would be from templates with changes from the level 1 theme choice.

I'd also make sure to move back some too powerful level 1 & 2 powers that get multiclass dipped for often, with hexblade being the worst offender but basic cleric and fighter are also on the list. The idea that you don't get your subclass defining powers until later is pure genius from a preventing-dips perspective.
 

Ayeffkay

Villager
Artificer - delete it. Save it for the "Over-the-hill-wizard's Bucket of Ideas That Weren't Good Enough for the First Book" supplement.

Barbarian - delete it and make it a subclass of fighter

Bard - make it more like warlock than just "wizard that sings". I like the idea from OP of songs that you refresh from round to round, but I don't know if that's fun to play (waiting for your turn and then "i keep singing"). remove auto rapier proficiency, if you want the one perfect weapon for your not-really-martial character, you have to spend something to get it or live with simple weapons

Cleric - make being support fun instead of making cleric just another dps. if healing or damage prevention had some tactical space that would help, but the thing clerics are the best at (healing) is only a good strategy if your friend is dead.

Druid (and some others, like Find Familiar or Conjure Elemental) - remove all reliance on Challenge Rating. It's a bad system, and worse if it's player facing. Tasha's did this right for beastmaster ranger, and druid should get the same treatment. Also, delete druid and make it a subclass of cleric

Fighter - anyone can do what 5e Battlemasters can do, Battlemasters are just better at it. Tripping and Feinting aren't the sole property of the Battlemaster.

Monk - delete it and make it a subclass of fighter. Or just delete it. The class design is absolute crap, the subclasses hardly add anything to the base class, indicating that there's not enough interesting design space here to make it a full class with a variety of subclasses.

Paladin - tune down divine smite, or tune down divine smite crits. Make the smite spells useful.

Ranger - Spell-less by default. Some spell-like abilities, and a subclass that leans into spellcasting.

Rogue - Have a system for stealth/vision that isn't an adjudication headache. remove auto rapier proficiency, if you want the one perfect weapon for your not-really-martial character, you have to spend something to get it or live with simple weapons. Make sneak attack feel less generic. Put in more ways to earn sneak attack through smart play, and remove the absolutely mindless "my friend is nearby" trigger we have now.

Sorcerer - delete it and make it a subclass of wizard, or actually make them distinct. Wizard and Warlock are distinct, sorcerer is like a naughty word version of wizard with a little warlock flavor.

Warlock - kill eldritch blast, make all available shooty shoot cantrips work as split rays based on warlock level (not character level). Be int-based. Do something else with their spell slots, but 2 per short rest feels bad. Lower the level 1-3 power and raise the 6-20 power so they're not just a dip.

Wizard - you've got 8 nearly identical subclasses in the PHB. It doesn't really matter what kind of wizard you are, at the end of your day your fireballs still do 8d6 damage. That's a waste of pages. Make that specialty choice matter. Boost spells of your school and nerf spells of the other schools, maybe something like "spells of your specialty school are upcast one level for free; spells not of your specialty school do not benefit from upcasting".

Help DMs actually make player decisions have ramifications rather than handwaving everything and letting the game design burden fall on DMs. Looking at you, warlock-paladins, but every class should actually pay a price for multiclassing. Giving up worthless capstones is not a price.

Half-casters have to go. Nth level pal/rgr spells are designed with the knowledge that you get them when wizards are getting 2Nth level spells, so sometimes they are stronger than other Nth level spells. Then, some intern 6 years later thinks "here's a healing spell clerics don't have? well, let's make that available to clerics" without thinking about the reason it's exclusive to pal/rgr and somehow it gets published!

Make all classes MAD. Martials in 5e at least have to decide between Stat1 that increases their melee damage and Stat2 that increases their melee damage and ranged damage and AC and initiative and several useful skills. Full casters each have one stat that matters, then CON and DEX as desired, dump the rest. Make each mental stat have a value for martials, and they choose which one of those 3 they can afford to focus on. Make CON not universally the second best stat. Nerf DEX.
 


Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
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.
How do we make this so that the player feels they are participating? In other words, every 10 minutes when it comes back to your action in combat "I maintain my song and move. Next." is a non-starter. How do you envision these so that they are interesting to the player?

We already have Concentration spells which are powerful and ongoing, but allow full use of action. Much more powerful than them, to be equal to a Concentration spell plus a full action, might be balanced, but would probably still be boring. How do you envision these to be both balanced and fun to play?
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
How do we make this so that the player feels they are participating? In other words, every 10 minutes when it comes back to your action in combat "I maintain my song and move. Next." is a non-starter. How do you envision these so that they are interesting to the player?

We already have Concentration spells which are powerful and ongoing, but allow full use of action. Much more powerful than them, to be equal to a Concentration spell plus a full action, might be balanced, but would probably still be boring. How do you envision these to be both balanced and fun to play?
Maybe something more involved. Like you need to increase or decrease the intensity by using accords (mini cantrips) you keep a bigger picture benefit going and these effects increase or release the intensity. Some might need a certain intensity to be used. If you release too much intensity, the song ends? You could use a die to keep track.
 

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