Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
The question is, is it a guideline / suggestion, or roleplaying rule. (Edit: and to be clear, in this particular case I believe it is implicitly a suggestion, because for races it is explicitly a suggestion, and it's the same preliminary section as races have.)

Because roleplaying rules are actually restrictive in some way, albeit often very broadly. For example, Paladin Tenets and the Druid armor restriction, both of which have had their own 20 page threads recently, are roleplaying rules. The reason those threads went to 20 pages is that roleplaying rules don't sit well with the "everything is fluff or mechanical" crowd. They can't handle any restrictions on their roleplaying choices, and feel what a character believes is completely up to them. Unfortunately for them, this is demonstrably false via various baked in roleplaying rules in all RPG systems, but also specifically in every edition of D&D including 5e.
I feel things that come before the Class Features section are more toward the suggestion/brainstorming side of things, but even if someone does consider them more binding, "specific beats general" should apply either way. A city urchin barbarian is way more specific than a generic barbarian.

I didn't participate in the Paladin Oaths thread because I figured that depends on how both the player and DM incorporate them into the game, which isn't a very helpful opinion. I guess this is another instance of that.