D&D General What Should Today's Archetypes Be

It seems to me that that is essentially equivalent to saying, "What archetypes would you personally fill D&D with, if you had free rein?" It is, as you say, more interesting when there is some room for speculation--but when there is too much room for it, every flight of fancy is equally fitting, no matter how outlandish.

Anything could result from it, because we're talking about changing at least the last 25 years of fiction in subtle to profound ways. Hell, for all we know, without D&D, the LotR films never even get made!
As @Ruin Explorer pointed out, there is a lot of fantasy inspiration outside of D&D. That is what she controlled speculation based on.
 

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I think it's also pretty unlikely that this alternate-universe first TTRPG would attempt to be generic fantasy. Like AD&D, it would have an implied setting based on what tropes the authors wanted to simulate.

For example, we could have a more productive debate around the question "What if the first TTRPG ever published were trying to simulate a medieval fantasy setting inspired by Robin Hobb, GRR Martin, and Arthurian legends?"
Indeed, I think it's quite likely it would have more than implied setting. D&D not having a setting was really weird. The odds are pretty good it would have a setting.

The question is what that would be though.
The 5e monk class is reasonably close to the latter.
With respect, no, it absolutely is not. It's focused entirely, and quite tightly on the characteristics of a mythological Shaolin monk. The entire chassis is based on Shaolin myth specifically.

If we look at the Monk, we can see the follow doesn't fit martial artists in general:

1) It's exclusively DEX and WIS based. Absolutely inappropriate for a lot of martial artists.

2) Step of the Wind is a very specific thing to a certain kind of Kung Fu Shaolin type.

3) Unarmoured movement likewise - especially the 9th-level upgrade. There's a small minority of martial arts types this does fit (including Ninjas, ironically enough), but not the majority.

4) Slow fall - common enough it should optional, but nowhere near enough to be a mandatory feature.

5) Stunning Strike - Explained as a weird monk thing and whilst you can "re-fluff" it, it's a weird monk thing. It's also terrible because the entire class balances on it.

6) Stillness of Mind - Again perhaps optional, definitely not mandatory.

7) Purity of Body - Pure Shaolin.

8) Tongue of the Sun and Moon - Extreme Shaolin, like wildly wacky.

9) Diamond Soul - Deeply Shaolin though so powerful I think few would object lol.

10) Timeless Body - Shaolin.

11) Empty Body - Shaolin.

The majority of the subclasses, are either Shaolin-aligned or very "monastic martial artist" aligned, with only a couple really reflecting broader martial arts themes. Plus there's more minutiae on the abilities which makes them very deeply "monastic martial artist".

What's sad is, as A5E and other show, if you stripped about 60% of the abilities and refactored it to not be DEX/WIS based but also potentially STR and INT, CON or CHA based, and gave people a bunch of choices of ability, you could redesign it pretty easily as a generic martial artist. WotC I don't think can even process that idea, though, despite the fact that few people play Monks, and I can't even think of a single popular podcast character who is a Monk (correct me if I'm missing someone).
 


payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
I feel like the martial artist would be a thing, but not the martial artist paired with spiritualism and 'everything is ultra discipline' and not other martial artists really exist was not inevitable.
I liked in Samurai Champloo how they had the lawful samurai ronin type contrasted with the nomad chaotic monk type. I know you hate alignment but I used it just to illustrate that there is room for more than one type of martial artist.
 

CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
i think most of the current monk stuff would/should go into a ninja type class, running up walls, some elemental abilities, evasion and mobility based defences, disabling strikes, an emphasis on skill over raw power, but i think you could get some good mileage out of merging some monk concepts with the barbarian, some kinda fist fighting boxer, unarmed and unarmoured, take out the evasion aspect of the monk and make them tanky and enduring.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Re: Diablo-style Necromancers though absolutely. Early D&D never worked out a good way to deal with Necromancers, and neither has later D&D. That said, has any TT RPG really handled it well? I'm not sure it's really possible to do a mass-minion class of that kind in a tabletop RPG, not and get the same experience.
Off the top of my head, I think that Worlds Without Number does it fairly well.

Not sure what you mean re: Elric. Elric is just a Fighter/Mage with a serious health problem and a very powerful magic sword. If he's milquetoast in D&D, it's because you didn't give him a good enough Stormbringer.
I don't see any reason at all why you couldn't have a WoW-style Warlock with D&D's Warlock. They're fundamentally very similar. Just go Pact of the Chain, and the only differences would be because the underlying mechanics of D&D and WoW are different - it'd be same complaint that a WoW Warrior is cooler than a D&D Fighter. Sure, but like, not for thematic reasons, just because they're literally more powerful.
I haven't seen the same with Warlock, because they're an incredibly effective class (Fiend, especially).
Talking about all these together as they deal with some related items regarding the disappointment I have seen with the Warlock class fantasy in D&D over the years. The disappointment has more to do with how creating the pact with your primary patron happens off-screen, and there's not really a whole lot of summoning otherworldly beings and making Faustian pacts with them in return for favors. You could remove the flavor text of the warlock and I don't think that there really isn't too much about the warlock that really delivers on the fantasy IMHO though YMMV. The warlock in D&D basically started as a way for the mage to go "pew pew" with a magical attack every round more than anything else, and that has been a consistent part of its design since.

I personally wasn't really able to play what I felt was the core flavor text of the "warlock" until I played the Goetic in Monte Cook's Invisible Sun. As part of actually playing your character, you summon angels, demons, devils, spirits, and such through rituals; you negotiate with them for favors through your sweet-talking, trickery, bribes, or even forcing them; and there can repercussions as a result of those negotiations. It's all part of playing the class. 🤷‍♂️
 

We have the Monk in D&D because Brian Blume wanted to play Remo Williams. Every single ability the monk has comes from the novel The Destroyer.

If you want to know what would replace it in a modernistic D&D, just think of the most over the top shonen manga/anime that all the weeaboos are gushing over, and make a class that is entirely to close to the main character.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
I can imagine that in a game where everybody plays martial artists the mystical/shaolin side isn't needed. But when Billy on right your right has plate armor and a magic sword, and Carol on your left is throwing fireballs, does it really make sense that you are just really good with your fists?

It makes me think of Into the Badlands, the dystopian TV show. Everybody strangely agrees to the mutual ban on firearms, not for a sensible narrative reason but because otherwise all the cool martial arts would be irrelevant.
 

Off the top of my head, I think that Worlds Without Number does it fairly well.
WWN makes it possible to be a necromancer, I don't think it makes it practical, let alone balanced (WWN isn't super-interested in balance).
I can imagine that in a game where everybody plays martial artists the mystical/shaolin side isn't needed. But when Billy on right your right has plate armor and a magic sword, and Carol on your left is throwing fireballs, does it really make sense that you are just really good with your fists?
Don't conflate mystical and Shaolin, please.

They're completely different things. Nobody is saying martial artists shouldn't have supernatural powers. On the contrary, they're saying they should have a much wider array of supernatural powers than D&D's Shaolin-specific (or perhaps we have learned, Remo Williams-specific!) Monk can do.

Street Fighter characters, for example, could fit pretty well into D&D, but none of them are Shaolin Monks (unless I'm forgetting someone reasonably obscure). They throw fireballs, leap high into the air, throw ki-infused punches and kicks, can beat up a car with their bare fists, and so on. That's what I mean - a variety of supernatural martial artists, not just this very specific 1970s one.
If you want to know what would replace it in a modernistic D&D, just think of the most over the top shonen manga/anime that all the weeaboos are gushing over, and make a class that is entirely to close to the main character.
I think Chainsaw Man might be going a little too far, which is what would match the description right now (the main character turns his body parts into mystical chainsaws because a chainsaw demon is possessing him, basically).

Maybe Jujutsu Kaisen instead? A lot of the characters in that are basically physical adepts from Shadowrun. The rest are sorcerers with some level of physical adept stuff on the side (sometimes a lot, sometimes not much).
 


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