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McClintock
2008-05-22, 10:15 AM
So this is a bit of a rant and a bit of a question. I've seen some pretty powerful builds and I've seen some amazing optimizing on these forums, but I have not seen that many playable characters.

Sure, these builds will take on just about anything short of a terrasque, but are they role-playable?

For example, taken from: "He slices! He casts! He even makes julienne fries!"


Pal2/Sorc6/SpellSword1/Abjurant Champion5/Warmage5/???

How do you justify this in a group?

Seriously, if anyone can answer this I would be happy to hear it.

SamTheCleric
2008-05-22, 10:18 AM
The warmage part I don't get...

But say if I were a Paladin of Mystra... or Boccob... or We Jas... or any other of the Magic Gods.... I could definately see having spellcasting ability.

That covers Paladin and Sorcerer.

Spellsword and Abjurant Champion both enhance your ability to fuse magic and martial power.

McClintock
2008-05-22, 10:26 AM
So (if we are in character), would you as a leader of say, the Spellsword, stand for a person taking just one or two levels of you class?

Or more fanatristicly, would you allow someone to be a member in name only, just to get the benefits?

Aren't there some sort of responsibilities that PCs should be held to?

Chronos
2008-05-22, 10:28 AM
How do you justify this in a group?Any way you want to. In this case, the simple answer is "he's a guy who fights and casts spells". How is that any harder to justify than "he's a guy who learns a bunch of different fighting techniques" (pure fighter), or "he's a guy who studies dusty old tomes to learn magic" (pure wizard), or whatever?

SamTheCleric
2008-05-22, 10:28 AM
That all depends on if you treat prestige classes as organizations or as specialized learning.

I've always treated them as specific learning that the character applies... but I've also seen each PrC with its own organization with rules, leaders and tutors.

Tengu
2008-05-22, 10:28 AM
Only some prestige classes require you to join a certain organization, and Spellsword is not one of them.

kamikasei
2008-05-22, 10:36 AM
Classes are mechanics. Only some are even perceptible in-game (eg, wizard). Any mish-mash of classes and PrCs can be justified as "he's a guy who can do those things", with maybe a requirement to be a member of an organization for maybe one or two classes, if the DM chooses to use that fluff. And then, the organization doesn't know whether you have one level or ten...

McClintock
2008-05-22, 10:37 AM
Only some prestige classes require you to join a certain organization, and Spellsword is not one of them.

SO if you're the DM... you'd find it ok for a character to spontaneously be able to start casting through their sword? Or would you require them to seek out a trainer? If this is a common "DIP" for builds, maybe this trainer is done training new PCs, maybe he charges double.

Valairn
2008-05-22, 10:38 AM
I guess it depends on whether you view a class a list of mechanics or as a natural extension of your character. Honestly if you build the classes around your character concept, is just as justifiable as if you built your character concept around the flavor provided by the particular splat book. Its just a role-playing preference of some to look at things as mechanics and see if those mechanics fit with what they want to build.

Also justifying your taking of a prestige class has more to do with DM preferences than probably anything else. I know some DM's won't let you take a prestige class unless you role-play yourself into an organization that teaches those particular skill sets, and some DM's just let you do whatever cause they are focused on other parts of the story telling. Neither approach really lends itself better to role-playing it just creates a different focus to role-play around.

kamikasei
2008-05-22, 10:47 AM
SO if you're the DM... you'd find it ok for a character to spontaneously be able to start casting through their sword? Or would you require them to seek out a trainer? If this is a common "DIP" for builds, maybe this trainer is done training new PCs, maybe he charges double.

How does a character become able to use any class feature when he gains a level? Do you require rogues to seek out trainers in order to learn Skill Mastery? Druids to visit their mentor before they get their Wild Shape? That's a valid preference (might drive some people up the wall, but no doubt some would prefer it), but you're making an artificial separation between base and prestige classes that doesn't apply. In-game, there is no concept of levels or classes. Some people have weird abilities. Over time, they gain new ones. Whether these come from a single base class progression or from a dozen dips is irrelevant to the character, in character.

Ecalsneerg
2008-05-22, 10:54 AM
I can think of very few characters in fiction who can be represented by one class. Maybe the guy from the Earthsea trilogy, who was of course a Truenamer. Hell, Conan wasn't a single-class Barbarian.

Right, on to justifying this:

Pal2/Sorc6/SpellSword1/Abjurant Champion5/Warmage5/???

Well, evidentally he's a paladin. But, wait... while he follows the usual Paladin credo of wearing armour and fighting with a sword, he doesn't use divine magic. Perhaps he's a paladin of a god of Arcane magic, and thus has learned to fight in armour while casting the type of spells favoured by his deity.

I don't like the view of 'classes as occupations'. My Wizard/Psion/Cerebremancer isn't a wizard, not is he a psion. He views himself as someone who is self-taught in a variety of mystic arts, and has learned them from nobody except himself and a stack of tomes. He isn't a wizard who became a psion then became a cerebremancer. No quests have been done to pick up the psion or cerebremancer levels, it is simply an evolution of the concept.

Tengu
2008-05-22, 11:09 AM
SO if you're the DM... you'd find it ok for a character to spontaneously be able to start casting through their sword? Or would you require them to seek out a trainer? If this is a common "DIP" for builds, maybe this trainer is done training new PCs, maybe he charges double.

Yup. Unless a class has the prerequesite "Special: Membership in organization X or Y.", you can start taking levels in it immediately after meeting all mechanical requirements.

Classes represent your character's abilities, and little more.

Duke of URL
2008-05-22, 11:17 AM
SO if you're the DM... you'd find it ok for a character to spontaneously be able to start casting through their sword? Or would you require them to seek out a trainer? If this is a common "DIP" for builds, maybe this trainer is done training new PCs, maybe he charges double.

Fluff and mechanics should always be kept separate. Period.

The mechanics for taking Class X or PrC Y are what they are, period. It is up to the DM to attach fluff conditions/requirements to any Class or PrC, as it pertains to his/her campaign/setting/whatever.

What makes more sense -- a Paladin of Mystra who is granted arcane powers, who then decides to learn how to fuse his martial and arcane talents, but rather than pursue that fully, instead opts to go down another path; or a Barbarian suddenly being able to cast arcane spells as a Wizard because it is assumed she's been observing the party Wizard and taking notes (and somehow gaining literacy in the process)?

The former seems more complicated but it is far more logically consistent than the latter, which is easily possible under the rules.

Telonius
2008-05-22, 11:28 AM
Generally, I would allow a character to take any multiclass option, within the same sort of class. If I have a Fighter that wants to take a level in Barbarian, or Ranger, or Monk, or even something like Scout or Knight, then that makes easy sense. Dude likes to hit stuff, and wants to hit stuff in a different way. Or if a Fighter wants to take a level in Wizard or Sorcerer, also good. They saw pointy hat fry them with a lightning bolt, or cast Grease, or whatever, and want to understand why and how that is, to use it against them. Perfectly fine.

Where it gets a little iffy is when you start multiclassing in the classes that require some sort of ethical component. Your Artificer isn't generally going to decide to be a Druid one day. Your Rogue probably won't "get religion" and multiclass into Paladin or Cleric (well, maybe Olidammara or Fhunspellable). When there's multiclassing into or out of an "ethical" class, I would require a good in-character justification when the character levels up. If the player can provide it, great! Maybe the Rogue actually did get religion, or the Artificer came to realize the environmental dangers of too much machinery.

Draz74
2008-05-22, 11:28 AM
SO if you're the DM... you'd find it ok for a character to spontaneously be able to start casting through their sword? Or would you require them to seek out a trainer?

In general, yes.

The DM is of course free to make exceptions. "In this particular campaign world, the Duelists are a specific group and their techniques are kept secret enough that you won't have an easy time picking up Duelist levels without getting specialized training and roleplaying being a part of their organization." But I, and most of the people on these Forums, feel like such things should be the exception rather than the rule (except when the PrC specifically says there's an organization it goes with, in the Prerequisites section).

Fluff and mechanics shouldn't always be kept separate ... just usually.

If I am the DM, however, I will require some forethought by the characters. A character who wants to dip a level of Spellsword better have mentioned earlier that he has started to study the art of casting a spell through his weapon and casting in armor. (Although if he has the Arcane Strike feat, that probably suffices.) Of course, this also goes for DukeOfURL's base-class example, too. That Barbarian isn't going to be multiclassing as a Wizard unless he's been showing interest in arcane magic for a while -- and preferably already been Literate for at least a level. But that's just my DM style; it's not in the rules.

Tsotha-lanti
2008-05-22, 02:37 PM
Hell, Conan wasn't a single-class Barbarian.

Barbarian/Rogue/Fighter/Dread Pirate/Legendary Leader?, or something like that... Marshal, maybe? Gotta have those social skills by the end.

Conan is pretty much the quintessential fantasy RPG hero, and he was all about learning many, many different things. He starts out as a barbarian warrior, becomes a master thief, learns the tactics and weapons of countless armies, becomes an actual master swordsman (taught by Murilo), becomes the most feared pirate ever, leads armies, and finally becomes king. (Then is dethroned, then becomes king again.)


It's bad enough D&D is a class-based game; there's no sense limiting the classes people pick, if they meet the mechanical prerequisites.

Reel On, Love
2008-05-22, 02:42 PM
So this is a bit of a rant and a bit of a question. I've seen some pretty powerful builds and I've seen some amazing optimizing on these forums, but I have not seen that many playable characters.

Sure, these builds will take on just about anything short of a terrasque, but are they role-playable?
Given that one of the all-around strongest builds possible is Druid 20...


For example, taken from: "He slices! He casts! He even makes julienne fries!"

How do you justify this in a group?

Seriously, if anyone can answer this I would be happy to hear it.

Okay, here's the explanation: you've got a really limited conception of how prestige classes work. As someone has already said, the druid up and learns to turn into an animal at level 5. Why doesn't he have to seek out a trainer? The whole POINT of sorcerers' flavor that they spontaneously develop arcane powers. Justifying taking sorcerer is as easy as "Paul the Paladin gets up in the morning, cooks his eggs with BURNING HANDS, then blinks and looks confused". It sure makes a lot more sense than Dan the Druid waking up and turning into a bear.

After that, Paul the Paladin is both fighting and spellcasting all the time. And you think it's surprising that he's going to get better at both fighting and spellcasting, and maybe even develop a few techniques that blend them together?


Prestige Classing, multiclassing, etc, do NOT have to involve seeking out a "trainer" who turns into a bear and teaches you to do the same. Constantly requiring this is awfully limiting, doesn't really make sense, and generally doesn't do anything positive for the game.

More relevant than what your character's classes are named and how many of them you have is what your character can do, because this actually determines how he interacts with the world.



Edit: Conan is obviously a Thief/Reaver/Slayer 2e-style multiclass. :P

Eldariel
2008-05-22, 02:57 PM
Edit: Conan is obviously a Thief/Reaver/Slayer 2e-style multiclass. :P

3e term would probably be Triple Gestalt :P

Illiterate Scribe
2008-05-22, 03:12 PM
"Paul the Paladin gets up in the morning, cooks his eggs with BURNING HANDS, then blinks and looks confused".

I lol'd.

Also, I get the sense that someone here's looking down their nose at those filthy munchkining powergamers.


Aren't there some sort of responsibilities that PCs should be held to?

GMing basically any adventure will give you the answer.

Devils_Advocate
2008-05-22, 05:53 PM
SO if you're the DM... you'd find it ok for a character to spontaneously be able to start casting through their sword? Or would you require them to seek out a trainer? If this is a common "DIP" for builds, maybe this trainer is done training new PCs, maybe he charges double.
As others have already said, leveling up doesn't become any more ridiculous just because you drag multiclassing into the equation. That said, let me see if I understand where you're coming from.

A stealthy archer and wilderness explorer suddenly gains an animal companion and the ability to cast divine spells. If it's a Ranger reaching 4th level, that's fine, because that's how the Ranger class is supposed to work. But if it's a Scout multiclassing to Druid, and the player and DM agreed/decided to throw out the part about Druids belonging to a special religious tradition with its own secret language and having alignment restrictions and all, then that's bad, because THEY'RE NO LONGER USING THE CLASS AS IT WAS INTENDED TO BE USED OHNOES.

In short: Are you essentially saying "Players should have to use character concepts that have been pre-approved by WotC"? If not, just what are you saying? Do you have any justification for your position beyond personal preference? If so, what is it?

MeklorIlavator
2008-05-22, 06:02 PM
Also, about the trainer idea: IT works fine in theory, until you run an adventure that requires the party to keep moving. Then, they go up a level, but because they don't have time to train, they miss all of their abilities. Interestingly enough, all of the wizards of the coast premade adventures have fallen into this category.

Sholos
2008-05-22, 06:02 PM
I'd explain the druid one by the fact that druids are well-known to be able to turn into animals. So a beginning druid is going to want to be able to do that. So he's going to work towards that. Maybe he tries and tries, and fails and fails. Until one day when he manages to do it successfully (the day he attains 5th level, of course). That explanation is easy.

Waspinator
2008-05-22, 06:18 PM
Wally Warblade often fantasized about his boss dying and wished he could kill him with his thoughts. The day it worked was the day he realized he had just become a level 1 Psion.

Gorbash
2008-05-22, 06:20 PM
Or you could attach it to some emotional experience. For example, Dan the Druid is running around in a wood with a pack of wolves, enjoying the breeze in his hair, moonlight on his face, and all of a sudden all of the wolves stop and begin howling. Entranced by the unity of the pack, Dan tries to howl himself, and is magically transformed into a wolf.

Talya
2008-05-22, 09:42 PM
Sure, these builds will take on just about anything short of a terrasque, but are they role-playable?

How do you justify this in a group?

Seriously, if anyone can answer this I would be happy to hear it.


Some people don't think the fluff of a class matters, and is completely mutable in all situations.

I prefer to optimize builds that are thematically coherent, so they all fit together well, fluffwize.

Jayabalard
2008-05-22, 09:57 PM
Hell, Conan wasn't a single-class Barbarian.
Yup, he was a fighter/thief

ShneekeyTheLost
2008-05-22, 10:03 PM
The OP's quote contained a typo, it should have been War Weaver, not Warmage. And fluff for this character is as follows:

Paladin of Mystra finds himself blessed by an innate magical ability. He now faces a difficult choice: Persue this innate gift from his diety, or continue in his path as a Paladin and defender of the innocent against the those who abuse Mystra's Gift and the Weave. He decides he is better able to combat those abusing magic by developing those magical gifts bestowed upon him, either through unknown heretage, immersion in a high-magical place constantly, or through a direct blessing of his diety (he's really not sure, and doesn't consider it a ponderable point).

After developing his innate abilities, he finds his more martial abilities are not being developed as well as he would prefer, so he trains and learn how to combine his martial prowess with his arcane development. Since he sees himself as a shield for the innocent against those who abuse the Weave, and a rod to smite the abusers with, the path of Abjurant Champion is a natural one for him.

Finally, as he grows in power which is already becomming legendary, he finds himself being in leadership positions in combat, learning combat tactics and strategy, and wishes to find a way to protect more of his troops. The path of War Weaver is a natural direction for him to go, allowing him to spread his magical protection over many individuals while freeing him up to smite down those who abuse the Weave.

Personally, I don't see what your problem is. Both Abjurant Champion and War Weaver are 5 level PrC's, so he takes them BOTH to the end. The only 'dip' is Spellsword, which is perfectly reasonable for a person who wants to do both magic and combat but doesn't quite have the prerequsites for what he really wants to do, as a step to his ultimate goal of bringing together magic and martial prowess for the glory of the Lady of Magic.

Aquillion
2008-05-22, 10:58 PM
Pal2/Sorc6/SpellSword1/Abjurant Champion5/Warmage5/??? How do you justify this in a group?

Seriously, if anyone can answer this I would be happy to hear it.
She views her magical skill as a gift from her deity, and considers it to be her divine calling. Using it, she becomes an 'arcane paladin', learning skills that other divine warriors may not in order to better serve her temple and deity. She places a special focus on nullifying the corrupt magics of other casters (hence, Abjurant Champion) and on battle-magics to bring victory for her deity; and she keeps her martial skills up, as well, knowing that both her mind and her body must be devoted to her deity.

An alternate flavor: Paladin becomes disillusioned as their innate sorcerer abilities blossom; turning their back on the call, they devote themselves to studying the many facets of magic. Although they no longer call themselves a Paladin, some lingering respect for their old ways makes them stick to the Code (or maybe it's simply that their lifetime of following it / upbringing in its ways is too hard for them to shake off -- it's the only way they know how to live.) Similarly, they continue their studies with the blade, throwing themselves into it with a fierce fervor as if to make themselves forget their troubled past and the call they rejected by perfecting their grace with a sword in hand.

Question for you: Why wouldn't a Paladin be allowed to learn magic? It seems to me that, far from it being hard to justify multi-classing, it is hard to justify single-classing. Why wouldn't a fighter learn to backstab people now and then? Why wouldn't anyone in a world with such powerful magic want to learn at least a few tricks with it? If a druid offered to teach you how to turn into a bear, would you really turn them down because "Naah, I'm a fighter, thanks?"

Multiclassing makes perfect sense. It's single-classing that is generally nonsensical.

Tsotha-lanti
2008-05-23, 05:17 AM
Arcane paladins are a WotC-approved concept, anyway. There's one or two sets of arcane paladin substitution levels in Champions of Valor, and an arcane paladin PrC - the Knight of the Weave.

All you need is a deity of magic that can have Lawful Good worshipers.

Avilan the Grey
2008-05-23, 05:32 AM
So this is a bit of a rant and a bit of a question. I've seen some pretty powerful builds and I've seen some amazing optimizing on these forums, but I have not seen that many playable characters.

The Fighter 4 / Bard 6 / Red Dragon Disciple (or anyother color, I guess) is an extreme fighting machine with very good social skills and more. My DM didn't have a problem with it since I did actually use the bard levels, instead of the classic min-maxed CRPG build of Fighter 9 / Bard 1 / RDD 10.
(This is also much more fun to play in CRPGs too, since you can hopefully talk your way through things if you want to, and win battles if you want to).

Reel On, Love
2008-05-23, 05:42 AM
The Fighter 4 / Bard 6 / Red Dragon Disciple (or anyother color, I guess) is an extreme fighting machine with very good social skills and more. My DM didn't have a problem with it since I did actually use the bard levels, instead of the classic min-maxed CRPG build of Fighter 9 / Bard 1 / RDD 10.
(This is also much more fun to play in CRPGs too, since you can hopefully talk your way through things if you want to, and win battles if you want to).

The Fighter/Bard/RDD isn't actaully very good.

Duke of URL
2008-05-23, 05:53 AM
The Fighter 4 / Bard 6 / Red Dragon Disciple (or anyother color, I guess) is an extreme fighting machine with very good social skills and more. My DM didn't have a problem with it since I did actually use the bard levels, instead of the classic min-maxed CRPG build of Fighter 9 / Bard 1 / RDD 10.
(This is also much more fun to play in CRPGs too, since you can hopefully talk your way through things if you want to, and win battles if you want to).

How, in any way possible, can a build that contains the phrase "Fighter 9" be considered "min-maxed"?

Ecalsneerg
2008-05-23, 07:54 AM
How, in any way possible, can a build that contains the phrase "Fighter 9" be considered "min-maxed"?

Or Dragon Disciple. Fiend-blooded (Heroes of Horror) is what dragon disciple should have been.

McClintock
2008-05-23, 08:39 AM
I have played straight classed characters, and I have played min/maxed characters. I like them both. As a matter of fact, my favorite I have played recently was a F6/Battle Sorc1/OotBI2/Arcane Arch10. She was pencil whipped to fit me into a running campaign at level 12 and I ran her through to the end.

I was able to do amazing damage from range, and even fire in melee(thanks to OotBI2), but I never really had a background for her. She was just a an awesome archer that came out of nowhere.

I see that in some of the builds I read about where people take 1 level each of the full AB classes, a few of levels of a caster then 3 or more prestige classes. In my group, and this is just our collective opinion, this would seem haphazard and frivolous. We would need one hell of a back ground write up to justify all that skipping around, and even then it would be under great scrutiny.

I did not mean to sound down on the multi-classing, I think it serves it purpose to help customize the game. I guess I should have been more clear what I was looking for... do you as DMs or players of DMs ask for reasoning behind character builds, or do you just accept them? Some builds can be game breaking, even without being broken themselves, how do you deal with that?

If a player was building a dragon slaying character, simply because he knew that you were using a BBEG that either was or used lots of dragons, woould used adjust the game to compensate for that?

I guess what I am saying is, I look back to 2E and see the kits, and how they applied more to character concept than to optimization. It is my opinion that one should be able to use any classes they want, it just needs to fit a design based on a characters personality, not based on ability.

Ecalsneerg
2008-05-23, 09:01 AM
I did not mean to sound down on the multi-classing, I think it serves it purpose to help customize the game. I guess I should have been more clear what I was looking for... do you as DMs or players of DMs ask for reasoning behind character builds, or do you just accept them? Some builds can be game breaking, even without being broken themselves, how do you deal with that?
I like thematic consistency. If you've taken Spellsword, Abjurant champion and Eldritch Knight, for example, all of these are 'gish' classes so i'm not going to say 'explain these three PrCs'. But two or more PrCs which are'nt thematically similar, I will start asking questions.


If a player was building a dragon slaying character, simply because he knew that you were using a BBEG that either was or used lots of dragons, woould used adjust the game to compensate for that?
Not really. It makes perfect sense, in-game and out for a character to try to beat his foe the best way possible. A fighter may take dragon slayer levels, a wizard may try to seek out anti-dragon magic. If you have to adapt a campaign if your PCs try to find the best way to beat your BBEG, I don't think you'd designed him properly.

Tsotha-lanti
2008-05-23, 10:39 AM
I have played straight classed characters, and I have played min/maxed characters.

Those are not mutually exclusive or opposite terms, and you appear to be - for some bizarre reason - conflating multiclassing with min-maxing.

Single-class druid, wizard, or cleric ftw, anyway.

kentma57
2008-05-23, 11:31 AM
Assassin(Base Class) 4, Monk 2, Swashbuckler 3, Blade Dancer 1, Iaijutsu Master 1, Ninja Spy 2, Weapon Master 1, Shiba Protector 1

What a mouthful. But wow it's a powerful build. I might drop "Weaon Master" but I would have to review it's abilities first.

Temp.
2008-05-23, 11:41 AM
I guess what I am saying is, I look back to 2E and see the kits, and how they applied more to character concept than to optimization. It is my opinion that one should be able to use any classes they want, it just needs to fit a design based on a characters personality, not based on ability. I know it's been repeated a million times, but the two are not mutually exclusive.

And your Fighter6/Battle Sorc1/OotBI2/Arcane Archer10? That's an archer with limited spellcasting abilities. It's as easily explained IC as a Hexblade, Duskblade, Ranger, Paladin, Spellthief or Eldritch Knight. Because Sorcerers get their powers "just 'cause," it's probably even more easily explained.

As a side note, I'm not sure how that's "min-maxed." You spend 11 levels for +5 Arrows? Just buy a 3rd level Pearl of Power for the Cleric and do the same thing with Greater Magic Weapon. You spend 2 levels to shoot your bow in melee? You shouldn't be in melee anyway.

Aquillion
2008-05-23, 12:19 PM
I have played straight classed characters, and I have played min/maxed characters. I like them both.Why are you talking about "straight class" vs. "min-maxxed" characters? Those two things don't have to be related.

The build you mentioned at the start of the thread isn't really that strong. Sure, it's better than a fighter, but so are half the base classes in the SRD. It's overwhelmingly weaker than a simple straight Druid 20, Wiz 20, Sorc 20, or Cleric 20 -- and chances are you're going to have at least one of those (or an improvement) in any game.

It's a flavorful build that lets someone play an arcane paladin with the abilities they want. If you look at them as a spellcaster, they're giving up a huge amount of power just to get mediocre fighting abilities... but it's what they want, so why on earth are you so down on them?

Going Druid 20 is powergaming. Making a gish class isn't. There is no reasonable way (absent totally absurd early-entrance cheese) to make a gish class that is particularly powerful when compared to a full caster. You might make one that works better than, say, a straightforward out-of-the-box Eldritch Knight build using the obvious entrance strategy; but that's because Eldritch Knight just isn't that good like that.


I did not mean to sound down on the multi-classing, I think it serves it purpose to help customize the game. I guess I should have been more clear what I was looking for... do you as DMs or players of DMs ask for reasoning behind character builds, or do you just accept them? Some builds can be game breaking, even without being broken themselves, how do you deal with that?There is no need for reasoning behind character builds. Never, period. If you're asking for it then you're doing it wrong. Character builds are just mechanics -- putting two levels of rogue in my fighter build doesn't mean he was ever a thief.

Instead, look at the overall abilities the character has. My Fighter / Rogue uses a dirty style of fighting and knows some underhanded tricks. There, that's the background. You don't need to explain why you enter each and every class, because classes do not exist in the D&D world. They are not concepts with any meaning from a story perspective; they're just mechanical tools that you use to represent the abilities you think your character should have. And having a character be a dilettante who studies all sorts of different techniques or schools if a perfectly valid concept (although, again, such a build is actually not usually very strong.)

The strongest min-max builds are completely easy to explain thematically -- min-maxing, by definition, means you're focusing on one thing, so all your classes are likely to work around a single straightforward theme. My wizard goes into Incantrix and Archmage. Gee, I wonder why? I sure am going to have trouble explaining why my wizard wants to study more magic!

The type of builds you're complaining about, meanwhile -- the ones who take a few levels in lots of different PRCs -- are usually just melee builds trying to deal with the fact that it's almost impossible to put to gether a melee build that isn't totally overshadowed by full casters.

And challenging someone just because they're not using 'out of the box' single-class builds is a horrible thing to do. Look at some of the abilities other classes get -- do you challenge your druid on why they have shapeshifting abilities? It doesn't really make any sense, but they do. I would argue that the class outline above makes much more sense than a straight druid.

kamikasei
2008-05-23, 12:23 PM
Before delving into specific points, I'll make a general response.

A character is a character. Within the game he has no levels or classes, just skills and abilities. If I have a character concept which I can't represent easily with a single base class, I'll use multiclassing and PrCs to achieve the desired effect. If I could make a magical warrior using a Fighter/Wizard, Fighter/Wizard/Eldritch Knight, or Paladin/Sorcerer/Spellsword/Abjurant Champion/War Weaver, chances are I'll go with the last because it's the same basic concept but more effective. This is the same reason I would prefer to play a Warblade than a Fighter, or a Swordsage than a Monk, or a Dread Necromancer than a Wizard/Cleric/True Necromancer. A class progression is a way to represent a character within the mechanics of the game. It's only natural and sensible to construct a progression that makes the mechanics reinforce the character concept rather than work against it.

Nor is it necessarily the death of roleplaying if a player comes up with his class choices first. An interesting mechanical concept can inspire a worthwhile character personality and background just as much as vice versa. For example, a while back I decided to try making an Eldritch Disciple for a PbP game. That was a purely mechanical starting point: I wanted to try out the class, so I had to come up with a Warlock/Cleric and have it make sense. Though I ended up not playing the character, in the process of building him I came up with a young fey-blooded human child in a xenophobic town who had a taboo fascination with elves and their religion. It was a pretty nice concept and it started out as simply a requirement to take certain classes in order to qualify for a certain PrC.


I have played straight classed characters, and I have played min/maxed characters.

As mentioned by others, you are using orthogonal terms as if they were opposites.


As a matter of fact, my favorite I have played recently was a F6/Battle Sorc1/OotBI2/Arcane Arch10. She was pencil whipped to fit me into a running campaign at level 12 and I ran her through to the end.

I was able to do amazing damage from range, and even fire in melee(thanks to OotBI2), but I never really had a background for her. She was just a an awesome archer that came out of nowhere.

You can't make a general argument from a single example. In this one case where you have played a mechanically complex build, you weren't very invested in the character? Okay. That says nothing about a cause-and-effect relationship in either direction: that complex builds are less relatable, or that good character concepts tend to be single- or few-classed.


I see that in some of the builds I read about where people take 1 level each of the full AB classes, a few of levels of a caster then 3 or more prestige classes. In my group, and this is just our collective opinion, this would seem haphazard and frivolous. We would need one hell of a back ground write up to justify all that skipping around, and even then it would be under great scrutiny.

In character, none of the characters have a notion of their levels or what classes they've been spent in. How/why a character has certain abilities can be justified or explained in their background. The classes used to represent those abilities mechanically should never enter into background, because they're not in-game concepts.


If a player was building a dragon slaying character, simply because he knew that you were using a BBEG that either was or used lots of dragons, woould used adjust the game to compensate for that?

This is a completely different issue to multiclassing. If someone's metagaming, and the only reason he's a dragonslayer is because the player has sneaked a look at your notes, that's bad. If they're building characters that suit the campaign, where for example a kingdom puts out a call for heroes to combat the dragon menace, that's great. In neither case does it matter whether he has one class or eight.

Admiral Squish
2008-05-23, 12:47 PM
The trick: Ignore the fluff.

I play a halfling ranger 6/Cragtop Archer 4/ Beastmaster 1/ Wild Plains Outrider 1/ Animal Lord 8 in a PbP game. But he's not a goliath hunter who is more beast than man, who hunts from horseback on the plains, while feeling more at home among animals and simultaneously revering nature and being a master of the forest.

Instead, he's an Adlerjager, an archer who fights from the back of his advanced eagle animal companion. He comes from an island off the shore of the mainland, where his people revere a roc that has nested in the volcanic crater of their mountain. The Adlerjagers are the warriors of the tribe, the valiant protectors of this island nation. My character, specifically, was set out as a bodyguard for a diplomat, but got caught up in a battle against a powerful psion who was wreaking havoc on the city he was in.

See how this works? The fluff recommended is ridiculous. You could never mix and match it all. What you do is ignore it, and make up your own.

Reel On, Love
2008-05-23, 12:53 PM
I have played straight classed characters, and I have played min/maxed characters. I like them both. As a matter of fact, my favorite I have played recently was a F6/Battle Sorc1/OotBI2/Arcane Arch10. She was pencil whipped to fit me into a running campaign at level 12 and I ran her through to the end.

I was able to do amazing damage from range, and even fire in melee(thanks to OotBI2), but I never really had a background for her. She was just a an awesome archer that came out of nowhere.
1) That's actually a bad build. Arcane Archer is awful. A more powerful archer build would be, for example, Cleric 20.
(Notice something there? It's single-classed.)

2) You could have easily written an awesome background for her. If not, blame yourself, not anyone else.

3) One of the strongest builds in the game, very close to being the strongest, is Druid 20. Single classed. Same for Wizard 5/Wizard PrC 10/Archmage 5, in which the character finishes all his prestige classes and they both make perfect sense for him.

Multiclassing does not equal power.


I see that in some of the builds I read about where people take 1 level each of the full AB classes, a few of levels of a caster then 3 or more prestige classes. In my group, and this is just our collective opinion, this would seem haphazard and frivolous. We would need one hell of a back ground write up to justify all that skipping around, and even then it would be under great scrutiny.
Is "class" an IC concept for you somehow? Why are you looking at how many classes someone has written on their sheet? If the Ranger 3 levels up to 4, he gets an animal companion. If the Ranger 3 takes Druid 1, he also gets an animal companion. What's the difference? It's the abilities that matter. In the long run, the Ranger/Druid (who is no different flavor-wise than a pure druid) will be a powerful spellcaster where the pure ranger isn't... but that's because that's what his abilities are, not because he has two classes.


I did not mean to sound down on the multi-classing, I think it serves it purpose to help customize the game. I guess I should have been more clear what I was looking for... do you as DMs or players of DMs ask for reasoning behind character builds, or do you just accept them? Some builds can be game breaking, even without being broken themselves, how do you deal with that?
I allow whatever multiclassing people like. It's what abilities the character has that matter. The Beguiler picking up Telepathy 100' from Mindbender 1 doesn't make any more or less sense because he took one level of Mindbender.

Whether or not builds are game-breaking has nothing to do with how many classes they have. There are plenty of Class 20 or Class 10/PrC 10 or Class 10/Class PrC 10/Class PrC 5 builds that are much stronger than almost any multiclassed build out there. Like Druid 20.
I deal with broken characters the same way whether they have 10 classes, 3, or 1, because that's not what matters.


I guess what I am saying is, I look back to 2E and see the kits, and how they applied more to character concept than to optimization.
Bladesinger.


It is my opinion that one should be able to use any classes they want, it just needs to fit a design based on a characters personality, not based on ability.
Your character doesn't know what his classes are. It's the abilities that should fit--and making them fit is generally easy.

What's more, developing the abilities of another class usually makes exactly as much sense as developing the abilities of an existing class. Your archer up there woke up one day and sneezed a burning hands (or whatever) all over his campsite. Sorcery develops spontaneously like that. Wanting to get it under control, but not wanting to give up his normal life, he learned how to blend his minor sorcery with his archery. Where's the problem here?

Chronos
2008-05-23, 01:30 PM
Going Druid 20 is powergaming.Not precisely how I would have put it. Powergaming implies an element of intent, and it's quite possible for someone to play a straight druid without the knowledge that the class is completely overpowered, and end up overshadowing everyone else purely by accident. That's not powergaming. By contrast, someone who plays a fighter 9/bard 1/dragon disciple 10 because they think that it's high-powered is powergaming, even though the result isn't actually all that powerful. It's not very successful powergaming, maybe, but it is powergaming.

On the question of dipping many classes: Suppose you have someone with, say, a ranger 2/fighter 2/barbarian 2. You can look at that as dipping three different classes. But what if I came up with a new class (let's call it the Rafiba) that gets Favored Enemy and Track at first level, Rapid Shot as a bonus feat at second level, bonus feats of the player's choice at third and fourth level, rage and fast movement at fifth level, and Uncanny Dodge at sixth level? Is the Rafiba an overpowered class? Of course not, unless you think that fighter, ranger, or barbarian is overpowered. Is there any reason to disallow the Rafiba? Not that I can see. So I could just say that that character is a sixth-level Rafiba, and now, suddenly, he doesn't have any class dips at all, he's just a straight single-classed character.

Mark Hall
2008-05-23, 01:52 PM
I guess what I am saying is, I look back to 2E and see the kits, and how they applied more to character concept than to optimization.

Bladesinger.

I disagree with you, here. Yes, the 2e Bladesinger was powerful, and some people chose it because of that. However, the point of being a bladesinger in 2e is to be a bladesinger. Playing a bladesinger was your character concept, because your "build" at 1st level for any character is more or less how you'd be for the life of the character (exception: human dual-classers). Because it was a fixed set of abilities, there was a limit to the optimization you could do... good selections in Weapon of Choice and NWPs would help, but they rarely made a character of one kit much more powerful than another of the same kit.

In 2e, you might play with assumptions (your thief insisting on being a bounty hunter or locksmith, instead of a sneak thief; your bard being a nobleman with a wide education), but once you had a class and concept, you stuck with that, as a nature of the system... there were only specific btb circumstances where you could become something else. Your character might develop, changing in outlook, personality, and resources, but he seldom added radically new abilities before 9th or 10th level.

In 3.x, this is substantially different. Your 1st level build is commonly regarded as the abilities you want to start out with, and your 6th level build is the aggregate of those classes and feats you've taken; the abilities between the two are frequently different, not only in magnitude (i.e. how many plusses), but in nature. While WotC products provide guidelines on how to play various classes (base and prestige), the general assumption is that the "fluff" is less important than the "crunch"... how many people strictly follow things like the organization of Chameleons who teach the class, or make a person seek out an Initiate of the Seven Veils for training?

In 3.x, there's a lot of optimization that can be done... not only by selecting specific feats and skills, but by selecting which classes, and in what order. If you know you're going to need a little sneak attack or trapfinding, many people will choose Rogue first. Why? Because that gives them 32 skill points, plus modifiers for race and intelligence. Even if you plan on going with another class for most of your career, and your primary concept revolves around that other class, the benefits of a 1st level in Rogue are hard to overlook... especially if you're starting post-1st level. If I'm playing a 2nd level Fighter/Rogue, there are fewer advantages to starting as a fighter (namely, that certain feats are only available when you have a +1 or better BAB, and a few more HP) than to starting as a Rogue (fewer HP and some feats are unavailable at 1st level, but I have the same number of feats and 4 times as many base skill points).

Short version: Just because a kit was powerful, doesn't mean that it wasn't a character concept. At their core, kits WERE prepackaged character concepts. 3.x character concepts are generally regarded as being separate from classes selected, with the classes being chosen to reinforce your character concept.

Tsotha-lanti
2008-05-23, 01:54 PM
Bladesinger.

Or the dwarven Giant Slayer. I regretted letting that into my campaign real soon.

In fact, any kit outside of Skills & Powers, especially the Forgotten Realms kits.

Reel On, Love
2008-05-23, 02:10 PM
I disagree with you, here. Yes, the 2e Bladesinger was powerful, and some people chose it because of that. However, the point of being a bladesinger in 2e is to be a bladesinger. Playing a bladesinger was your character concept, because your "build" at 1st level for any character is more or less how you'd be for the life of the character (exception: human dual-classers). Because it was a fixed set of abilities, there was a limit to the optimization you could do... good selections in Weapon of Choice and NWPs would help, but they rarely made a character of one kit much more powerful than another of the same kit.
Oh, c'mon. The bladesinger's fluff isn't the whole of its point any more than the druid's is. You could play an Elven Fighter/Mage with the Bladesinger's fluff, which basically consists of be really elf-y, advance the elven cause, and help elves in need. The fluff is the same. The effectiveness differs because you take Bladesinger. The point of taking bladesinger, from that approach, is to make your character more effective.

If you're telling me that lots of people played Bladesingers because hey, that's my character concept, who cares about power!, I'm going to be really skeptical.


Short version: Just because a kit was powerful, doesn't mean that it wasn't a character concept. At their core, kits WERE prepackaged character concepts. 3.x character concepts are generally regarded as being separate from classes selected, with the classes being chosen to reinforce your character concept.
That doesn't mean they applied more to character concept than to optimization. Especially with the Skills and Powers customization, there were often multiple ways to represent many character concepts (I could call a cleric of a nature god a "druid").

Mark Hall
2008-05-23, 03:16 PM
If you're telling me that lots of people played Bladesingers because hey, that's my character concept, who cares about power!, I'm going to be really skeptical.

Actually, yes. A lot of the games I was in didn't allow kits or Skills and Powers. Some people played the concept of Bladesinger, because that was their concept. What a kit did was specialize you towards it, but if you didn't want to play a Bladesinger (the character), you didn't take Bladesinger (the kit).


That doesn't mean they applied more to character concept than to optimization. Especially with the Skills and Powers customization, there were often multiple ways to represent many character concepts (I could call a cleric of a nature god a "druid").

And he wouldn't be a druid, because druid was a specific class, any more than he'd be a Dweomerkeeper. IME, people played a class, not an ability set; that was across a couple different states, with many different groups. There was a lot of flexibility of concept within classes, but you were still a member of X class.

Ned the undead
2008-05-24, 01:13 AM
SO if you're the DM... you'd find it ok for a character to spontaneously be able to start casting through their sword? Or would you require them to seek out a trainer? If this is a common "DIP" for builds, maybe this trainer is done training new PCs, maybe he charges double.

Or the character being a martial spellcaster could think "HEY! I could cast spells through my sword! Let me research and experiment to see if it works!".
It isn't that much of a stretch now is it?

Pinnacle
2008-05-24, 10:37 AM
At least one person in the game world had to figure out how to use these abilities without any kind of prior training--the first person to do it. It is perfectly possible that other people could figure out how to do basically the same thing without any help from that first person, especially since PrC abilities tend to follow naturally from, y'know, their requirements.

Why can't the hero be one of the people who did this?


Besides, requiring training means that there's always someone more amazing then you out there; who needs PCs if there are that many people out there who are so much more powerful than you anyway? And where did they learn their abilities? From even-more-amazing super-people?
If you need to train to learn everything, then what's XP (experience, afterall) for? An arbitrary learning system? "You must slay 15 medusas before you can learn this spell" strikes me as far more ridiculous then figuring it out because you're practicing your abilities by fighting all those monsters?