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


All classes get their subclass at level 1 or 3, and I don't really care which. Either level 1-2 are just apprentice levels experienced players ignore, of everyone's a hero at level 1. The current system drives me nuts.

Barbarian - largely keep it the same, although I'd like to rename it the berserker, axing the sub-class.

Bard - half caster with non-spell based buffs and debuffs

Cleric - mostly keep it the same, but make Light Armor the default, rather than Medium

Druid - since I conceptually hate the Moon Druid, my changes would be hugely unpopular, and so I'll ignore this.

Fighter - bringing back the martial dice from the playtest!

Monk - I'd simply axe the class. I've never been fond of it, and find that it doesn't work well in most non-asian settings.

Paladin - smite is all done by spells, not just used after hitting a creature.

Ranger - rework favored enemy to be useful in combat (proficiency modifier to damage most likely) and increase number of favored terrains until a 20th level ranger had all of them (as well as a lot of favored enemies). Beastmaster would need an overhaul to work similar to the new summon spells.

Rogue - not much really needed, but I'd make assassin better in combat and add a thug subclass that doesn't need finesse weapons.

Sorcerer - I'd probably axe this one too, unless I could find a way to make it significantly different from the Wizard. I'd review the playtest version for ideas

Warlock - Int based class. I'd rework the Sword Boon and Hexblade to basically be the same thing (serving an intelligent weapon is stupid IMO).

Wizard - get rid of school based sub-classes, focusing on archetypes (Beguiler, Battlemage, Summoner, etc).

If I could change the multiclass rules, I'd ditch them for multiclass based subclasses.

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Barbarian - Gets a new attack that forces the target and an adjacent enemy to make a save or take damage. Barbs are decent but something other than reckless or normal attack is needed.

Bard - More subclass levels. Every class should have 5 to 6 levels with subclass features and at least three of them should occur before level 10.

Cleric - Level ups defensive blessing is all I've ever wanted for the cleric so I'd just steal that.

Druid - Wildshape is removed and replaced with Connection to Nature. It's a resource that can be used to wildshape, gain a familiar, or cast a few nature spells. All of these things grow in power as the class progresses. That includes higher CR wildshapes, higher CR familiars, and stronger spells. The more powerful options would require more uses of Connection to Nature to activate. Replace archdruid feature with the ability to concentrate on one 3rd level or lower spell with a target of self without taking up your one concentration slot (effectively double concentration).

Fighter - Get two d6 maneuver dice. All fighters get maneuvers and they are powered by the dice. After using a die you reduce it by 1 size (d6 > d4 > 0). The size of the dice increase as you level and potentially get one or more additional dice over time.

Monk - Unarmored defense becomes a multiple choice feature so that not every monk needs Dex and Wis. Current capstone becomes a class feature around level 10 or 11.

Paladin - Get rid of the generic smite and add a class feature that let's smite spells be cast as part of the attack action.

Ranger - Get rid of the magic and the beast master (that becomes it's own tamer class). Hunters mark is a feature not a spell. Move the assassin to this class.

Rogue - More subclass levels. Otherwise it's actually a really well put together class.

Sorcerer - Whenever you get a spell you choose one metamagic feature for it to always have on and tweak the metamagics with that in mind. Can change metamagics on one spell after a long rest. Slim down the sorcerer spell list and give 2 themed spells between levels 1 and 5 like the clockwork and aberrant mind.

Warlock - Eldritch blast is a feature and not a spell, hexblade gets rolled into blade pact, invocations that grant spells are either at-will or get a free cast of the spell as well as adding to your spell list.

Wizard - PHB wizards treat all spells of their chosen school as memorized. Non-PHB wizards pick two schools that they can memorize up to class level number of spells from. All wizards can memorize an additional Int Mod number of spells from any school. Add a few more Divination spells so that subclass has at least 20. Each subclass gets a short rest feature because it's ridiculous how much of this class is long rest focused.


Steeliest of the dragons
Class GroupBase ClassPrime Ability/HDSpecialist ClassAbilitiesSpecialist
Archetype ClassMADSignature Feature
Warriors: Combat ExpertiseFighterStr/d12CavalierStr + ChaCode of HonorBarbarianStr + Con + ?Battle Rage, Clan Boons
SwashbucklerStr + DexSwash & PanacheMartial AdeptStr + Dex + WisManeuvers, Martial Way
Rogues: Skill ExpertiseThiefDex/ d10AcrobatDex + StrAcrobatic TricksRangerDex + Con + IntWilderknacks, Favored Foes
RakeDex + ChaInteraction
Shadow Adept (Ninja)Dex + Str + ChaInfiltration, Shadow Ways
Mystics: Support ExpertiseClericWis/d8TemplarWis + StrChannel SmitesDruidWis + Con + ? (Int?)Nature Magic, Channel Nature
InquisitorWis + DexChannel JudgementsBardWis + Cha + Dex Bardic Magic, Channel Inspiration
Wizards: Magic ExpertiseMageInt/d6IllusionistInt + DexIllusion Magic/ PowersPsychicInt + Con + ChaMind Talents, Discipline Powers
SwordmageInt + StrMartial Skill/ Occult PowersWitchInt + Wis + DexWitch's Crafts, Coven Powers

Yeah. That'll do.

Oh wait! That's my game.


Although I've said it before, especially after reading through various PF2e archetypes, I'd want to rejog each class so that they gain subclasses at 1st level and at the same rate as each other which would allow for implementation of cross-class subclasses. I'd have at least 5 levels of subclass features as well so that it better flavours the base class.

People want a warlord, I still wouldn't include it as a base class, but I would include it as one of the base archetypes which could be picked up by any class (this is how it sits in PF2e, as the marshal archetype).

I'd get rid of the 1/3rd-caster progression and instead boost them all up to half-caster, I'd probably also just give them a spellbook.

I'd change warlocks so that eldritch blast is similar to a force fire bolt, no multiattack. Then I'd change all of their invocations that affect eldritch blast and have them affect all of their cantrips.

Even though I think a few classes could be merged with archetypes for specific flavour, I'd probably keep all of the current dnd classes. I feel like they've become firmly entrenched and don't really feel the need to reduce them down to fewer classes.


My two main tweaks would be to first make Combat Maneuvers the main system of all weapon-based classes (just like Spells are the main system of all magic-using classes.) So Barbarians, Fighters, Paladins, Rangers, Monks, and Rogues would all have Superiority dice and there would be many more Maneuvers available to select from. Especially ones that add the die to certain skill checks, as that would give all these classes more viability in the exploration and social pillars (so for instance, Barbarians might receive a free Maneuver that allows them to roll and add a Superiority die to an Intimidation check they make.)

My second tweak would be to not specify one single primary ability score for each spellcasting class, but rather the choice of INT, WIS, or CHA would be based upon the subclass you chose. So for instance for Wizards they wouldn't all use INT... but rather an Enchanter would use CHA, a Necromancer would use WIS, a Diviner would use INT etc. For Clerics the Trickery domain would use CHA, Knowledge domain would use INT, Life domain WIS etc. And the same types of distribution would be for Sorcerers, Warlocks, Bards and so on.

If it were up to me and I had a clean slate to work on I'd make some pretty major changes (subclasses at level 1 and a complete Bard teardown/rebuild, in particular), but I'm fairly sure that 5.5 is intended to be back-compatible with things like the subclasses in Xanathar's and Tasha's, so people hankering after a major rewrite of the entire class and progression system are very likely to be disappointed.

So with the back-compatibility restriction in mind, some relatively parsimonious change suggestions:
  • more customisability after level 3. Take the alternate class features from Tasha's and invent some new ones, when PCs advance and get a class feature from their base class they should have a selection of features to choose from more often than not. Clerics that can swap armour/shield proficiency for Wis-based unarmoured defence and an extra proficiency. Paladins who choose early in their career whether their smites (and spells) are going to do radiant or necrotic (or even psychic) damage, stuff like that. The warlock's pact boon and the fighting style that various martial characters get already does this - it should be expanded heavily and keep going later into the level progression.
  • more flexibility on the weapons that rogues and barbarians can use for sneak attack and rage respectively, to open up more viable concepts.
  • more choice in casting stats. Warlocks can choose between Cha and Int, sorcerers between Cha and Wis, and maybe even clerics and paladins between Wis and Cha too. The current restrictions lock out too many character concepts. Why CAN'T I play a surly unpleasant sorcerer with poor personal hygiene right now and not have him be lousy at sorcerering? Or a good-hearted and kind, but weak-willed and easily-tempted, cleric?
  • fix the berserker, give them a save to avoid post-frenzy exhaustion or something. It's the absolutely iconic barbarian subclass, it should work. Oh and throw the damn four elements monk a bone for Pete's sake.
  • sorcerer subclasses get bonus thematic spells known like the aberrant and lunar sorcerers do (i reckon you can almost take this one to the bank). Similarly, open up the Warlock spell list a bit. The 'all things dark and edgy and kinda evil-sounding' list worked ok with the three warlock patrons in the PHB, but they make a lot less thematic sense now that the Genie and Celestial patrons etc have showed up.
  • loosen the integration between warlock core features and Eldritch Blast. At the very least, make the various Eldritch Blast invocations applicable to any combat cantrip rather than just Eldritch Blast. My undead pact warlock should be able to throw Chill Touch around and do necrotic damage by default. Similarly, it just makes sense that a efreet pact genie would use fire bolt as a primary attack. It shouldn't be so mechanically suboptimal to be thematic.
  • monks get d10 hit dice. At least. I mean, they're a primary melee class, they should get more hit points than frigging warlocks...


1. I would spread out all of the core/useful abilities of each class over a greater number of levels instead of front-loading them at the lower levels.
2. I would really try to come up with meaningful 20th level abilities, as many are currently underwhelming as a pinnacle power.

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