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

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I mean the PC could have been anything and killed said NPC father for zealous reasons and have the same effect. Would said NPC hate paladin's or hate anyone who calls himself a paladin and is a member of a certain sect.
so said Cleric introduces himself as a paladin the NPC would hate him the same unless the NPC has metaphysical awareness.
Sure. Perception matters. That said, we are going afield a bit. I'm talking about how class abilities affect roleplay, not whether or not you can make claims in the game world and how NPCs might react to such claims.

If you are playing a "paladin," you will have unique abilities that only the paladin class has. Those impact how you play your PC and how NPCs perceive you when you use those abilities.
 

Coroc

Adventurer
5e doesn't do that, though. Where more than one class has the same ability, it has the same name. Expertise is Expertise for both bards and rogues. Unarmored movement is the same for both barbarians and monks. Fast movement and unarmored movement, both movement increases, have different names due to having different mechanics.
Yep, you are analyzing this correctly. Still it does not hurt if you do it. It does not change the mechanic the number of dice to apply, the game balance, or anything else, just the name.

5e is a complete set of crunch, but not a complete set of fluff and you can always add or remove fluff and its associated crunch.

So if I do not want paladins in my game I remove them. If I do want some other class (fluff) e.g. Rose Knights in my setting I add them. So now I think that paladin mechanics (crunch) would be a nice fit so I attach them to the Rose Knight class.
So I decide they are all bastards not even "antipaladins" and their preferred method is not to smite but "slam", I attach that extra fluff and I am good.
Still no change in balance etc., and absolutely no connection to one of the Paladin orders of the PHB or how a player might portray them.
 

Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
In the game of D&D as written, they are something real within the fiction of the world. If they weren't, they would just be a collection of mechanics with nothing else attached. The rules might then give you ideas of different ways to play certain sets of mechanics.
I think the dispute in this thread is strong evidence that classes are "something real within the fiction of the world" only in some campaigns.

More broadly, I think the dispute in this thread is strong evidence that the answer to @Fauchard1520's original question in the OP is "yes". Some DMs and/or players feel that it is possible to "play your class wrong".
 
Yep, you are analyzing this correctly. Still it does not hurt if you do it. It does not change the mechanic the number of dice to apply, the game balance, or anything else, just the name.

5e is a complete set of crunch, but not a complete set of fluff and you can always add or remove fluff and its associated crunch.

So if I do not want paladins in my game I remove them. If I do want some other class (fluff) e.g. Rose Knights in my setting I add them. So now I think that paladin mechanics (crunch) would be a nice fit so I attach them to the Rose Knight class.
So I decide they are all bastards not even "antipaladins" and their preferred method is not to smite but "slam", I attach that extra fluff and I am good.
Still no change in balance etc., and absolutely no connection to one of the Paladin orders of the PHB or how a player might portray them.
Wouldn't it be easier to say you allow refluffing just with DM buy in depending on setting restrictions?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I think the dispute in this thread is strong evidence that classes are "something real within the fiction of the world" only in some campaigns.
Campaigns that deviate from how the rules present them, sure. There's nothing wrong with such deviations, though. Both home brew and house rules are perfectly fine and I encourage the use of both. Whatever makes the group happy.

More broadly, I think the dispute in this thread is strong evidence that the answer to @Fauchard1520's original question in the OP is "yes". Some DMs and/or players feel that it is possible to "play your class wrong".
I don't think the disagreement about fluff and crunch necessarily means that we feel that you are playing your class wrong if you home brew changes and/or have your PC call himself something else. It certainly doesn't have that meaning for me. I have skipped some posts, though, so someone might have taken that stance and I missed it.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
It also seems as though "play your class wrong" is going to mean different things at different tables, and have different repercussions.
In my experience "play your class wrong" only really matters at the table you are at. If the DM or player feels that you are playing your class wrong and says something or acts on it, it will have a negative effect on you and the game. That negative effect is greater coming from the DM who has correspondingly greater ability to act. People out here won't have the same or perhaps even any impact.
 
uh...

Oath of Ancients Paladin + Archfey warlock you have a cooperate boss and a branch manager
Oath Breaker Paladin + any warlock - your just changing directions.
Oath of Conquest Paladin + any warlock patron who supports your conquest
Oath of Devotion Paladin + Hexblade or Undying Warlock - serving the Raven Queen
Any Warlock + Oath of Redemption - you made a bad choice and your trying to fix it.
Any Warlcok + Oath of Vengeance - your patron turned on you so your turning the tables, or someone betrayed your patron and you want to get them back.
Any Warlock + Oath of the Crown - you just changed jobs under the same management become and inforcer of their rules.

This took longer to type than to think up. Really, it doesn't take much thought for Paladin/Warlock to work... it does however require SOME thought. Instead of halving a default "No x/x multi-class" I find it generally better so say, "Before you multi-class let me know so we can iron out the lore and reasoning before you bring it to the table and you have to role-play out what we agree on." meaning with any multi-class (even fighter / ranger etc) you take the mechanical you take an agreed lore BUT we build the lore on a mutual understanding. This is not the GM dictating to the player how they will play a class or multi-class or a player just abandoning all lore and thought magically picking up mulit-classes that don't make since and have 0 context. "Your ranger picked up fighter while alone in the woods? Who taught him? You never mentioned any attempt to learn or train those skills before showing up with this multi-class."
Right but the general reaction to ban Paladin Warlock is a reaction to perceived munchkinism. No amount of ironing out the lore and reasoning for such a combination is going to make it more acceptable to DM's that ban it for that reason. That is, they believe the Paladin Warlock multiclass is too powerful and so they justify the limitation of it by appealing to fluff.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
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.
Well, it seems you know what those paladins are too. That speaks to there being very little ambiguity as to what they are.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker
Right but the general reaction to ban Paladin Warlock is a reaction to perceived munchkinism. No amount of ironing out the lore and reasoning for such a combination is going to make it more acceptable to DM's that ban it for that reason. That is, they believe the Paladin Warlock multiclass is too powerful and so they justify the limitation of it by appealing to fluff.
I don't disagree, and part of my reason for giving a player bringing a concept dependent on this multiclass combination, and ideas for lore to back it up, the sideeye is exactly what you call "perceived munchkinism." I've been pretty fortunate in not having huge powergamers in the two campaigns I'm running, and I'd prefer to continue not having to deal with the phenomenon.
 

Coroc

Adventurer
I don't disagree, and part of my reason for giving a player bringing a concept dependent on this multiclass combination, and ideas for lore to back it up, the sideeye is exactly what you call "perceived munchkinism." I've been pretty fortunate in not having huge powergamers in the two campaigns I'm running, and I'd prefer to continue not having to deal with the phenomenon.
Well powergaming if all agree on it is also cool for a change, but not by using system loopholes. I cannot verify if a paladin / lock multiclass would be overpowered somehow, for me that MC in 5e is considered the way to power does not seem so, since all threads about it forget the costs of MAD, levels were you not shine so much, and so on and some really only watch the end result and not the way there.
Personally I shun most MC, more often than not I did not want it at my table and I think it is subpar to optimized single classes, if you got a balanced group.
 

Cap'n Kobold

Adventurer
I already agreed that you can call yourself whatever you like. As for who is going to tell them that they aren't. Perhaps an NPC who knows the difference between a cleric and paladin and observes the cleric using an ability that paladins don't have, but clerics do.
It would take a particularly retentive NPC to go up to this example holy warrior, who is referring to themselves as a paladin, perhaps even proudly wearing the heraldry of their paladinic order, and tell them that they are not a paladin.

I think a more realistic scenario would be that the NPC would decide that they simply have not seen a paladin do that before, whatever it was that they did that didn't fit with the NPCs preconceptions of what a paladin could do.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
It would take a particularly retentive NPC to go up to this example holy warrior, who is referring to themselves as a paladin, perhaps even proudly wearing the heraldry of their paladinic order, and tell them that they are not a paladin.

I think a more realistic scenario would be that the NPC would decide that they simply have not seen a paladin do that before, whatever it was that they did that didn't fit with the NPCs preconceptions of what a paladin could do.
Given the length of time that game worlds tend to be around, which is typically many thousands of years. And the correspondingly long period of time that paladins are also around, that scenario is unlikely. Paladins abilities would be very well known. Unless of course your home brew them to be rare or the paladin class is new to the world or some such.
 
Given the length of time that game worlds tend to be around, which is typically many thousands of years. And the correspondingly long period of time that paladins are also around, that scenario is unlikely. Paladins abilities would be very well known. Unless of course your home brew them to be rare or the paladin class is new to the world or some such.
assuming that PC adventuring classes aren’t extremely rare...

there also may well be non-PC classes that are a lot more common in your world with any combination of abilities.
 
Given the length of time that game worlds tend to be around, which is typically many thousands of years. And the correspondingly long period of time that paladins are also around, that scenario is unlikely. Paladins abilities would be very well known. Unless of course your home brew them to be rare or the paladin class is new to the world or some such.
There isn't any rule/text/suggestions on the commonality of each 'class' or even race. The player could be one of 1000s or the only 1.
 
I think this is something of a false dichotomy (how often do you see the word "dichotomy" without the word "false" in front of it? it's like finding an escutcheon without a blotch). Class is mechanical, in that it has mechanical effects within the game, but it also reflects roles in a party and probably roles in a broader culture/society.
Well, no, because your "class" may be personal to you. There may be no-one else in that world who shares that particular set of abilities. The name of your class is never mentioned by in-world characters.

Or it might be that there are many people who share those abilities, and your class is actually a caste. NPCs in the game world frequently refer to people with those abilities by the name of your class.

There may be some grey areas in between, of course, and some groups haven't even considered the issue.

Neither interpretation is right or wrong, although there are plenty of people here who will never accept that.

As an example consider the samurai subclass. Is the samurai a dwarf from Mirabar known for his lethal axe flurries and neat handwriting, or the honourable warrior from Kara-Tur?

[The answer is the dwarf, the person from Kara-Tur is a paladin]
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker
As an example consider the samurai subclass. Is the samurai a dwarf from Mirabar known for his lethal axe flurries and neat handwriting, or the honourable warrior from Kara-Tur?

[The answer is the dwarf, the person from Kara-Tur is a paladin]
My answer would have been "What do the players think?" I concur with your implied point, I believe.
 

Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
Campaigns that deviate from how the rules present them, sure. There's nothing wrong with such deviations, though. Both home brew and house rules are perfectly fine and I encourage the use of both. Whatever makes the group happy.
I disagree that the rules say that classes exist as "something real within the fiction of the world". But I also don't see any utility in precisely identifying what qualifies as a "deviation" from the rules. We agree that campaigns exist where classes are an IC concept and that campaigns exist where classes are not an IC concept. We agree that both approaches are perfectly fine. Those seem to be the important points. Why is it relevant which approach (if either) qualifies as a "deviation"?

I don't think the disagreement about fluff and crunch necessarily means that we feel that you are playing your class wrong if you home brew changes and/or have your PC call himself something else. It certainly doesn't have that meaning for me. I have skipped some posts, though, so someone might have taken that stance and I missed it.
Your insistence that fluff changes be classified as homebrew comes across to me as an assertion that changing fluff is impermissible within the rules. In other words, it sounds to me like your position is that, unless the DM permits homebrew, it would indeed be wrong to play a character against type. Am I misunderstanding?
 

Aldarc

Hero
In the game of D&D as written, they are something real within the fiction of the world. If they weren't, they would just be a collection of mechanics with nothing else attached. The rules might then give you ideas of different ways to play certain sets of mechanics.
In "the game of D&D as written," "rulings not rules" serves as its guiding principle, so it seems antithetical to "the game of D&D as written" suggest that fluff guidelines for a "collection of mechanics with nothing else attached" should somehow be understood in themselves as rules or having some sort of necessary ontological existence in the fiction of the game world.
 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
Why is that nearly every class discussion of this nature breaks down into arguing about paladins?

Look, I like the class. Especially the 5E version where it is very clear the oaths and suggested tenets don't have to align with D&D good. They do have to align generally with not being D&D evil and working with a group, but beyond that there isn't much the class says about how the paladin plays out as a character past very broad strokes. I'd assume a player wanting to play some variety of paladin wants to at least follow the oaths in principle.

I don't really see the different between that and a Rogue (Thief) having to be a kleptomaniac. I will admint there are players that pick that class as an excuse to be a dingus, but that's a player issue, rather than a general perception that the character is "wrong" if they aren't stealing everything that isn't nailed down and using a pry bar on the stuff that is.
 

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