"Your Class is Not Your Character": Is this a real problem?

ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
I don't think we disagree as much as maybe you think we do. I'm pretty relaxed about multiclassing in my campaigns. My main reasons for wanting to look carefully at someone wanting to combine the two classes are A) They can heterodyne extraordinarily well and B) I want to make sure it fits (or can be made to fit) into the setting I'm running in. Coming to a mutual understanding with the player about the character is part of this, too.
I actually don't think that most people hear disagree in general. This thread is mostly about conflict resolution of preconceived and differing opinions. My reply is less a disagreement of your position and more a description of how to look at the same conflict. Instead of "I don't like paladin/warlock multi-classing" up front, I find it better to say "I would like to support on all multi-classing in context of setting and circumstance which will mean a mutual agreement of lore between the player and the GM, because the GM has to live with your character decisions in the world the GM is creating for you, despite those decisions being your decisions to make." While the first is easier to say, its like getting ready to fight while the second tends to more about working together to resolve it. The second prepares me and them (which ever side I am on) to start negotiations and suggestions. The first tends to make people shut down and get butt hurt.

So, we may not disagree at all but your going to trigger a lot of "uh uh" replies because of the direction of your mental approach to the same direction and possibly results. Sometimes it is less about what your saying and what your goal is than how you say it and the path you take to get there that causes everyone to lose there minds despite being able to find the same result and move on in actual practice at the table.
 
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ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
I think I said everything significant I have to say in earlier posts but I am long winded. So I am going to say it again as concise as I can.

1. "Your Class is Not Your Character" is not a rule in any book. its not wrong and its not right. Its just an opinion on style of play.

2. "Your Class is Your Character" is not a rule in any book. its not wrong and its not right. Its just an opinion on style of play.

- Wizards of the coast staff has come out at almost any chance they could get to say this is deliberate to allow as much freedom as possible.

Also most every player and GM holds "Your Class is Your Character" true on some classes (usually Paladin, Warlock, Cleric, and/or Druid specific to them) and "Your Class is Not Your Character" on all other class.

Their is only conflict when a player or GM invests into one of these opinions and the player or gm disagrees with that investment with investment into their opposing opinion. This boils down to opinion vs opinion conflict resolution that is just part of life not anything to do with the game. This escalates and results in them both digging in because people don't see any evidence saying they are wrong, correctly assume that their opinion is right (since it is not wrong) but all so, incorrectly assume all other opinions must there for be wrong (because they are right and directly opposite). The problem is that people have difficulty excepting opposites as not being mutually exclusive. I said above that the opinion are not right or wrong and in this paragraph they are correct in assuming they are right. That is not a contradiction. An opinion is not right or wrong. Your opinion is always right to you, because you have the right to make it so. That doesn't make it right to anyone else unless they choose it.

So you ether work out an understanding of your opinions you can both live with or you avoid the conflict by not involving the factors that bring it up. In this case, avoid specific classes and/or multi-class combinations. The thing is this a life skill more than D&D class topic because you will find this EVERYWHERE once your aware of it and know to look for it. Politics, Relgion, Morals, and the list goes on. It's the reason for the rule of not talking about religion and politics in public because often you can't resolve it so you just have to avoid the drama.

Not really shorter hu? Fail.
 
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Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
From my standpoint, when I sit down to play, the "game" I'm playing is the campaign, not the system. I see the system as a tool for running that campaign. Like any other tool, it has strengths and weaknesses, and what's a strength in the context of one campaign may be a weakness in another.

For the campaigns I run, strong class identities would be a weakness. I heavily emphasize verisimilitude, and for me that goal is best realized by characters whose depth and complexity reflect the diversity seen in the real world. A character whose identity can be defined by their class (or even by their race/background/class/subclass combination) would stick out in my campaigns like a caricature rather than a character.

At the same time, the class structure of D&D 5e is a strength in my campaigns. In comparison to a point-based system: character creation is simpler and faster, there is less tension between specialization and breadth (e.g. you can't trade in a fighter's skill proficiencies to get more points to spend on their sword skill), and character creation is less impacted by the point cost the developers chose to assign to each ability.

When class identity gets in the way in my campaigns, it's simple enough to ignore without losing any of the benefits of the class structure. So ultimately, I choose to use 5e for my campaigns because the strengths outweigh the weaknesses, not because I universally appreciate all the aspects of a class-based system.
 

MichaelSomething

Adventurer
If my character isn't my class, what's the point of playing a Bard if I can't sing a musical number during the game?

If my character isn't my class, can I be a multi class Bard/Fighter and call myself a Warlord?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Your paladin and my paladin might look completely different, depending on our different sub-classes. Telling me you are playing a paladin, in 5e, doesn't really tell me anything about your character anymore. The days when class=character are long gone. Niche protection has eroded to the point where there are multiple paths towards representing the same archetype.
Strange. It tells me that the person is playing a holy warrior that is most likely dedicated to a god and has tenets that are strictly followed.

Is that Raven Queen Battle Nun a paladin, a cleric, a monk, a warlock? Who knows. All four classes could easily represent that concept even before we get into reflavoring anything. My last priest of Kord was a rogue who believed (after eating a stew of mushrooms of rather questionable provenance) that he had dined with Kord and had thus been chosen by Kord to be his representative on the world and was thus tasked with building a tabernacle to Him. His holy symbol was the very spoon that touched Kord's lips.
Reflavoring is home brew and confuses things. And even if that priest of Kord was a rogue, he wasn't a cleric of Kord. Clerics of Kord have clerical spells.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
You do realize that areas like race or background might end up with a character who's a different reflection of the class than some people might expect, right? Especially if one brings Traits, Bonds, et al., into the picture.
I think the point is that no matter what race, trait, bond, etc. the PC cleric has, he's still going to have clerical spell casting, a holy symbol, channel divinity, etc., which will all play into how the cleric is played. Those will be a part of the PC regardless of whether he calls himself a cleric, holy servant or Batbane.
 

Seramus

Adventurer
I play clerics and call myself a paladin. I'm even thinking of playing an artificer and calling it a paladin!
 

Saelorn

Hero
By definition, re-fluffing is covered by the rules. The crunch is staying the same. Its the fluff that is changing.
The rules are specifically concerned with how the fluff and crunch relate to each other. The rules say that a given bit of fluff is represented by its respective bit of crunch.

If you change either the fluff or the crunch, then you've changed the rule which connects them.
 

Saelorn

Hero
So your answer is to homebrew up an entirely new class?

What if I homebrewed it up by taking an existing class and simply changing all the names of the features without changing how those features actually worked?
Then your representation would be disingenuous, because the mechanics would only reflect the fluff of the existing class, rather than actually reflecting the fluff of the new class.
 

Panda-s1

Scruffy and Determined
If my character isn't my class, what's the point of playing a Bard if I can't sing a musical number during the game?

If my character isn't my class, can I be a multi class Bard/Fighter and call myself a Warlord?
who said you had to sing to be a bard? you can play an instrument, and unless I'm mistaken I'm sure other performative arts are used by bards.

also not sure how an artsy warrior wouldn't be allowed to lead a small army that terrorizes the countryside. ransacking a town is one big musical number for them!
 

Hussar

Legend
Um...

Clad in plate armor that gleams in the sunlight despite the dust and grime of long travel, a human lays down her sword and shield and places her hands on a mortally wounded man. Divine radiance shines from her hands, the man’s wounds knit closed, and his eyes open wide with amazement.

A dwarf crouches behind an outcrop, his black cloak making him nearly invisible in the night, and watches an orc war band celebrating its recent victory. Silently, he stalks into their midst and whispers an oath, and two orcs are dead before they even realize he is there.

Silver hair shining in a shaft of light that seems to illuminate only him, an elf laughs with exultation. His spear flashes like his eyes as he jabs again and again at a twisted giant, until at last his light overcomes its hideous darkness.

Whatever their origin and their mission, paladins are united by their oaths to stand against the forces of evil. Whether sworn before a god’s altar and the witness of a priest, in a sacred glade before nature spirits and fey beings, or in a moment of desperation and grief with the dead as the only witness, a paladin’s oath is a powerful bond. It is a source of power that turns a devout warrior into a blessed champion.

The Cause of Righteousness
A paladin swears to uphold justice and righteousness, to stand with the good things of the world against the encroaching darkness, and to hunt the forces of evil wherever they lurk. Different paladins focus on various aspects of the cause of righteousness, but all are bound by the oaths that grant them power to do their sacred work. Although many paladins are devoted to gods of good, a paladin’s power comes as much from a commitment to justice itself as it does from a god.

Paladins train for years to learn the skills of combat, mastering a variety of weapons and armor. Even so, their martial skills are secondary to the magical power they wield: power to heal the sick and injured, to smite the wicked and the undead, and to protect the innocent and those who join them in the fight for justice.

Beyond the Mundane Life
Almost by definition, the life of a paladin is an adventuring life. Unless a lasting injury has taken him or her away from adventuring for a time, every paladin lives on the front lines of the cosmic struggle against evil. Fighters are rare enough among the ranks of the militias and armies of the world, but even fewer people can claim the true calling of a paladin. When they do receive the call, these warriors turn from their former occupations and take up arms to fight evil. Sometimes their oaths lead them into the service of the crown as leaders of elite groups of knights, but even then their loyalty is first to the cause of righteousness, not to crown and country.

Adventuring paladins take their work seriously. A delve into an ancient ruin or dusty crypt can be a quest driven by a higher purpose than the acquisition of treasure. Evil lurks in dungeons and primeval forests, and even the smallest victory against it can tilt the cosmic balance away from oblivion.
But, even that doesn't really apply. A Vengeance or a Conquest Paladin certainly don't give a rat's petoot about standing with good things. Yes, what they list is A paladin, but, hardly ALL paladins, even the ones that are actually in the PHB.

Strange. It tells me that the person is playing a holy warrior that is most likely dedicated to a god and has tenets that are strictly followed.
What are those tenets? How am I different from a cleric? Never minding that paladins in no way need to be connected to any deity whatsoever, and in fact, two out of the three core paladins have no connections to a deity. Oath of Ancients paladins are specifically tied to fey and Oath of Vengeance paladins barely even mention deities and only as a single example of many.

So, no. You are outright wrong.


Reflavoring is home brew and confuses things. And even if that priest of Kord was a rogue, he wasn't a cleric of Kord. Clerics of Kord have clerical spells.
Reflavoring only confuses you. Everyone else has no problems.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
I think the point is that no matter what race, trait, bond, etc. the PC cleric has, he's still going to have clerical spell casting, a holy symbol, channel divinity, etc., which will all play into how the cleric is played. Those will be a part of the PC regardless of whether he calls himself a cleric, holy servant or Batbane.
Oh, sure. I think the problem is when there is a disconnect about the extent to which class features must correlate to personality. I think it's possible for different clerics--even of the same deity/domain--to have different personalities, to use your example above. Yes, it's plausible that some classes would tend to draw some personalities, but the correlation likely isn't 100%, and if a player has an idea that's not (stereo)typical my own inclination would be to let the player run the character that way, provided there's not a violation of, e.g., a paladin's oath happening.

I also think it's a reasonable position that a character with a nonstandard approach to a given class might not describe themselves as a member of that class. The player, however, should be clear what class the character is, and what the mechanics are representing; so should the GM.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
The rules are specifically concerned with how the fluff and crunch relate to each other. The rules say that a given bit of fluff is represented by its respective bit of crunch.

If you change either the fluff or the crunch, then you've changed the rule which connects them.
So fluff is the same as rules? Even if nothing changes about how something plays, mechanically? That sounds as though you believe I'm radically altering, e.g., the Order domain by calling it the Command domain instead, because I think that's a better reflection of what it does. If that's your position, it seems awfully extreme from here.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Strange. It tells me that the person is playing a holy warrior that is most likely dedicated to a god and has tenets that are strictly followed.
In 5E, the only one of those things that's specifically mandated is the tenets (Oath). You could easily have an Oath of Vengeance paladin who didn't care for the gods (and might in fact have sworn vengeance against one or more of them), or an Oath of Ancients paladin who worshiped with druids (who themselves might not serve gods, depending on the setting).

Reflavoring is home brew and confuses things. And even if that priest of Kord was a rogue, he wasn't a cleric of Kord. Clerics of Kord have clerical spells.
I think there is dispute over whether changing a description without changing the rules is really homebrew, and I think that dispute is causing lots of confusion. Yes, it's possible that priest of Kord is a thief (in the sense that he steals, not in a class sense); it's possible he's multiclass with rogue (in which case he's both a rogue and a cleric); it's possible he's a homebrew rogue subclass roughly equivalent to a clerical Arcane Trickster (I've seen such a thing, and while it's not in the subclasses I specifically allow in my campagns I'm not deeply opposed to it, either). One of those is homebrew, and another is using technically optional rules, but the first one seems strictly RAW (which, I don't care much for appeals to authority, but here we are).
 

Coroc

Hero
....
Re-fluffing died with 4E. The expectation of 5E is that, if you have some new thing which isn't already covered by the rules, you should use the content creation guidelines in the DMG to make those things. But in every case, the only reason to use any given set of mechanics is because it's an accurate reflection of the thing you're trying to represent.
I disagree. Refluffing works well in 5e, so well that you got a believable FS concept (divine caster) using a sorc (arcane caster). Perfect refluff, in as good as you can do this by refluffing. As far as I can tell you could do similar stunts with 4e.

But:
You can refluff an elven eldritch knight and simply call it the Elf class of ODD. And although I do not know much about 4e I bet you cannot do this with 4e. Not at all.

I even dare to say that 5e with its backgrounds and feats for emulating multiclass without multiclass took refluff to the next level, a mechanical option you never had in any of the prior editions.

You could recreate Elf class of ODD with 3.x e, but it would be hard. You could use a fighter/mage for 1e or 2e but it is not the same thing. But with 5e it perfectly works. And since mechanically it is 100% an Elven Eldritch Knight you just gave it a different name and made a class out of a class / subclass this is the perfect example for a refluff.
 

Coroc

Hero
So fluff is the same as rules? Even if nothing changes about how something plays, mechanically? That sounds as though you believe I'm radically altering, e.g., the Order domain by calling it the Command domain instead, because I think that's a better reflection of what it does. If that's your position, it seems awfully extreme from here.
Fluff is not rules. Fluff is classes races items spells deities religions, but not mechanics. Rules is game mechanics.

You can create a Flumpf Berserker by re "fluffing" a human barbarian. Fluff is names. Prosa.

Rules is mathematics.

In so far @Saelorn I 100% agree with @prabe ´s opinion here.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
In 5E, the only one of those things that's specifically mandated is the tenets (Oath). You could easily have an Oath of Vengeance paladin who didn't care for the gods (and might in fact have sworn vengeance against one or more of them), or an Oath of Ancients paladin who worshiped with druids (who themselves might not serve gods, depending on the setting).
And you'd know he had divine smite, paladin spellcasting, etc., which affect how he is roleplayed.

I think there is dispute over whether changing a description without changing the rules is really homebrew, and I think that dispute is causing lots of confusion. Yes, it's possible that priest of Kord is a thief (in the sense that he steals, not in a class sense); it's possible he's multiclass with rogue (in which case he's both a rogue and a cleric); it's possible he's a homebrew rogue subclass roughly equivalent to a clerical Arcane Trickster (I've seen such a thing, and while it's not in the subclasses I specifically allow in my campagns I'm not deeply opposed to it, either). One of those is homebrew, and another is using technically optional rules, but the first one seems strictly RAW (which, I don't care much for appeals to authority, but here we are).
Rules are not an Appeal to Authority. It isn't a claim that it's right because it was said by an authority without further evidence. The rules themselves are evidence that things are done that way. Now, if I had said that clerics are played a certain way, because Gary Gygax said so, that would be an Appeal to Authority.
 
Your conclusion doesn't follow from your premise. Backgrounds, subclasses, and races exist as a way to reflect slightly different realities; but the rules still definitely reflect those specific realities.

Re-fluffing died with 4E. The expectation of 5E is that, if you have some new thing which isn't already covered by the rules, you should use the content creation guidelines in the DMG to make those things. But in every case, the only reason to use any given set of mechanics is because it's an accurate reflection of the thing you're trying to represent.
Not only is refluffing legit in 5e it's RAW. even in the most extreme modes of play like AL there are written rules that allow players to change races and such to better fulfill their personal goals as long as they follow the mechanical rules. In the DMG it talks about Reskining options before making new ones so you don't have to worry about balance. And that apply to races weapons spells classes subclasses NPC stat blocks and just about every other aspect of the game
In reality we don't have to look past the PHB. Every class has a built-in vagueness that is covered in the individual class sections that requires the players to create the class and how it interacts with each individual setting/campaign.
not to mention you can't have default classes because the default setting for fifth edition is the multiverse or in simple terms it's setting neutral.

Even the paladin's oath is open. Even taking the text for what it is so vague an open-ended they practically don't exist other to help define the individual player/dm interpretation of them.

The real challenge in this edition is to set a default option. ask a hundred people what a default Barbarian is and you'll get a hundred different answers.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I play clerics and call myself a paladin. I'm even thinking of playing an artificer and calling it a paladin!
Sure. You can also call yourself Kool Aid, but it won't make it true. Your artificer and cleric call themselves paladins, but they are not paladins.

Only paladins are paladins, unless you home brew otherwise. If you home brew that classes aren't really classes, but rather just unattached sets of mechanics, then you can apply any name to anything
 

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