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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Sub class features at the same level in 5.5e or 6e?

    So the strixhaven UA got me thinking. In the next edition of dnd would you like it if all classes got their subclass features at the same level? (level 1 maybe?)

    This would allow for things like champion and rune knight being a subclass for fighters, barbarians and monks. Or a swashbuckler that is a subclass of both fighters and rogues. Or warlocks and sorcerers both having the same celestial subclass (but fluffed differently). This would also mean a book with a few subclasses open up a lot of new character options (since a separate celestial warlock and a celestial sorcerer do not have to be introduced).

    Of course there could still be subclasses unique to classes in addition to these, especially for subclasses that interact with the main class's features.

    Or would such a system limit how interesting those multi-class subclasses could be since they have to be designed with multiple classes in mind?

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    Default Re: Sub class features at the same level in 5.5e or 6e?

    I said this in the UA thread, but right now I'm not fond of crossing over subclasses. And if you take a look at the way they currently work, it wouldn't even make sense in many cases. Literally nothing barbarians get would work for other classes because it relies so much on the rage feature. So does rage become a generic ability you can pick up and we drop the barbarian? Do we maintain some class exclusive subclasses and if so, what happens to the barbarian that takes a non rage-improving subclass or the monk that doesn't get new uses for Ki? We could make subclasses completely generic so they don't effect too many existing class features, but that seems dull and could produce cases of "X class is better for Y subclass" anyway.

    It seems to me that subclasses as conceived in 5e serve to differentiate between members of the same class and I think keeping it that way is for the best. The Strixhaven experiment will, hopefully, stick to MTG settings.
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    Default Re: Sub class features at the same level in 5.5e or 6e?

    Quote Originally Posted by Luccan View Post
    or the monk that doesn't get new uses for Ki?
    They get to burn it all on stunning strike! Just like they were doing before :D

    I think having some crossover subclasses works. I've given druids access to the beastmaster subclass for instance, because they had an animal companion option in 3.5 and in BM's case it's a fairly effortless port. I do think that crossovers should be a minority though, since usually subclasses that interact with mechanics of the main class are more interesting to me than ones that don't.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Sub class features at the same level in 5.5e or 6e?

    Quote Originally Posted by Diovid View Post
    (level 1 maybe?)
    Mechanically, I think level 1 is a pretty bad choice.

    One good thing about 5e is that the first few levels are simple, meaning that you get "tutorial levels" for new players, with some important choices being delayed to (roughly) level 3, making level 3 a reasonable starting level for experienced players.

    Following that idea, I'm quite fine with all subclasses starting at level 3.

    [Additionally, level 1 subclasses usually means that classes are very front-loaded, which tend to skew multiclassing.]

    However, thematically, subclasses at level 3 can lead to some issues.
    + If warlock's subclass is their Patron, how come they decide only at level 3 from who they get their power? That means Warlock has to be rebuild so that their subclass is their pact (blade/tome/...), while their Patron is a regular level 1 class feature.
    + Same for cleric, their subclass cannot be too strongly linked to the god they worship. [Well, technically, WotC could go with "before level 3, you worship a pantheon, and you select a god at level 3", but I find this kind of weird]
    => In general, it would force the designers to put more though on what are the subclasses, so that they still make narrative sense without requiring too much retconning.

    Quote Originally Posted by Diovid View Post
    In the next edition of dnd would you like it if all classes got their subclass features at the same level?
    I think this is uniformity for the sake of uniformity. I don't see how the game would significantly benefits from it (it's not like it's simpler for players). And I can see how it can make class design more difficult, forcing the designers to sometimes sacrifice gameplay in favour of respecting this rule.

    There is one situation where I'd agree this might be a reasonable idea, it is if they get rid of multiclassing, and instead fully replace it by subclasses. [The wizard class come with a "half-wizard" subclass, that anybody else can take to simulate a wizard-multiclassing, etc]
    In which case having homogeneous subclasses across all classes can really help balancing. But I'm still not convince that would be better for the game.
    Last edited by MoiMagnus; 2021-06-09 at 11:12 AM.

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    Default Re: Sub class features at the same level in 5.5e or 6e?

    Quote Originally Posted by Diovid View Post
    So the strixhaven UA got me thinking. In the next edition of dnd would you like it if all classes got their subclass features at the same level? (level 1 maybe?)

    This would allow for things like champion and rune knight being a subclass for fighters, barbarians and monks. Or a swashbuckler that is a subclass of both fighters and rogues. Or warlocks and sorcerers both having the same celestial subclass (but fluffed differently). This would also mean a book with a few subclasses open up a lot of new character options (since a separate celestial warlock and a celestial sorcerer do not have to be introduced).

    Of course there could still be subclasses unique to classes in addition to these, especially for subclasses that interact with the main class's features.

    Or would such a system limit how interesting those multi-class subclasses could be since they have to be designed with multiple classes in mind?
    Personally, I've always liked the idea of "buying" your abilities with levels you've earned, with some abilities requiring levels from different core classes.

    For instance, the Paladin powers require some Fighter and some Divine Magic.

    And then you get passive abilities that you just earn by having those levels in the first place (like level 1 Divine Magic spells for just investing into Divine Magic).

    Probably wouldn't feel like DnD, though, even if you could make all the same classes with it.

    --------------------------------------------------

    A more realistic solution would probably be to have subclasses be less "weird", and instead have bonuses to multiclass combinations that grant you features based on the lowest level class within that multiclass.

    For instance, being a Fighter 4/Rogue 2 would consider you a Swashbuckler 2, and passively grant the features that'd come with that. Tack on 1 level of Barbarian, and now you're also a level 1 Champion (Fighter/Barbarian) and a level 1 Thug (Barbarian/Rogue).

    The trick, I think, is to make the more interesting powers come from multiclassing, and the more generic power growths come from maxing out the classes you have. That way, the game gets more interesting for those who want complexity, and the game gets easier for those who don't.

    It separates creativity from power, so you don't end up with a plethora of Paladin/Sorcerer hybrids that are built solely for the mechanical benefit with virtually zero, or the same, backstories. Or, similarly, folks picking something like the current Champion, thinking that it's statistically better because of its simplicity and ending up wrong.

    It has a unique benefit of controlling how multiclassing power curves work together, since you can make the classes not interact inherently without those multiclassing bonuses. So a Rogue can't get a Sneak Attack with a Barbarian's Mighty Blow...unless the Thug features state otherwise. THeir current solution was to ignore multiclassing and cross their fingers (which is why it feels very clunky when you're not multiclassing martials together most of the time).

    Lastly, it allows people to develop depth as they are comfortable with it. As-is, the Fighter plays the same from levels 1-20, which seems really stupid when you consider how much time that takes, and multiclassing a couple levels at the endgame isn't going to give you any notable kind of update to your Fighter gameplay in case your subclass isn't giving you anything extra. For instance, a player who chooses the Champion because they're afraid of being overwhelmed, and ends up getting the hang of the game by level 5, is now entirely bored for the latter 15 levels of their experience unless they work with their DM to change their character. Instead of relying on DM fiat for the player to have fun in the way they want, just...give the player the opportunity to do it themselves.

    ------------------------------

    I'm not entirely sure if they'll even have subclasses in a future edition. It's a fairly new mechanic, and they've had a habit of completely changing editions and only keeping the sacred cows for each one and picking off individual stuff they liked about previous editions. Subclasses are cool and all, but it's always seemed odd that you can't be two different "Types" of Fighter, yet you can multiclass into both Ranger and Barbarian as a Fighter without issue.

    My guess is, they'll scrap the rigidity of the subclass mechanics and replace it with something more fluid that has the same end results.
    Last edited by Man_Over_Game; 2021-06-09 at 12:26 PM.
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  6. - Top - End - #6
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Sub class features at the same level in 5.5e or 6e?

    I think it's a good idea to have some crossover capability. Like being able to use Champion on a Barbarian, or Gloomstalker on a Rogue, type of crossover. But not every subclass would be suitable for a crossover.

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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Sub class features at the same level in 5.5e or 6e?

    I wanted every class to have the same amount of subclass features coming online at the same levels since the playtest. I think it allows for better game design.

    For example i want to play a vampire....great! Heres the vampire subclass. You get these abilities at x level. A wizard vampire will feel different than a fighhter vampire so on and so forth

    Quote Originally Posted by Biffoniacus_Furiou View Post
    I think it's a good idea to have some crossover capability. Like being able to use Champion on a Barbarian, or Gloomstalker on a Rogue, type of crossover. But not every subclass would be suitable for a crossover.
    I agree with this. Some subclasses should be tages with "universal" or something and then you can still have class specific subclasses.



    Of course i don't think wotc can or should do this in 5e. It's too late for that.

    If the core classes are designed from the ground up with this subclass system in mind then i think it'd work beautifully. As for which level these should come online at I'd say level 1, 2, or 3. 2 probably fits the best IMO.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Sub class features at the same level in 5.5e or 6e?

    Quote Originally Posted by MoiMagnus View Post
    However, thematically, subclasses at level 3 can lead to some issues.
    + If warlock's subclass is their Patron, how come they decide only at level 3 from who they get their power? That means Warlock has to be rebuild so that their subclass is their pact (blade/tome/...), while their Patron is a regular level 1 class feature.
    + Same for cleric, their subclass cannot be too strongly linked to the god they worship. [Well, technically, WotC could go with "before level 3, you worship a pantheon, and you select a god at level 3", but I find this kind of weird]
    => In general, it would force the designers to put more though on what are the subclasses, so that they still make narrative sense without requiring too much retconning.
    Paladins already have this issue, and the way I've run it (when we aren't just starting at lvl 3, which we usually do, or when someone multiclasses as paladin) is that you swear your oath at level 1, but for level 1 & 2, the mechanical benefits of all paladin oaths are the same. So one character is a lvl 1 devotion paladin, sworn to honesty, courage, compassion, honor and duty; the other is a lvl 1 crown paladin who's sworn to uphold the principles of law, loyalty, courage and responsibility. Just because they have the same abilities doesn't mean they have the same oath, and if they uphold that oath long enough, they'll continue gaining power, eventually taking the two down different paths. I would expect the PC to choose their oath at lvl 1, and only allow retconning or changing subclass under the same circumstances I would for a PC whose subclass is making a mechanical difference already.

    I tend to be a permissive DM with retcons, but if it totally changes the character or their place in the world, I'll probably encourage them to switch characters or at least insist on strong story support for the change. For example, a paladin whose actions have focused mostly on courageously upholding a duty to a lord who expects them to show compassion to the people would probably be allowed to retcon whether they're devotion or crown, because that's not a huge change to their character. But if they're switching between vengeance and redemption, that'll need story backing.

    I actually do like the idea of a cleric initially focusing on a pantheon and then narrowing down to a god, though. That seems like a really fun way to play it, to the point where now I want to set that up as a thing. Even with lvl 1 cleric subclass choice, you could maybe be a generic worshipper of nature who narrows down into a worshipper of this particular nature god over time. And my homebrew world already has loose groupings of gods according to domains...

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    Default Re: Sub class features at the same level in 5.5e or 6e?

    Quote Originally Posted by Intregus182 View Post
    I wanted every class to have the same amount of subclass features coming online at the same levels since the playtest. I think it allows for better game design.
    I agree. This is one of those things intended, I think, to make the game 'easier for beginners' but structurally I don't care for it.

    Clerics and Sorcerers sub class comes line at level 1
    Druids, Wizards sub class comes line at level 2
    Monks, Fighters, Barbarians, Paladins, Rangers, Rogues, Bards, Warlocks sub class comes on line at level 3

    I get how narratively the cleric needs to be on line at 1 (but then, why not the druid also?) and I guess also for sorcerous origin.

    But it's clunky as hell.

    Bring everyone on line at level 2 or 3 with the sub class feature.
    (@MoiMagus: yeah, 3's a fine level for that).
    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2021-06-09 at 12:57 PM.
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    Default Re: Sub class features at the same level in 5.5e or 6e?

    Quote Originally Posted by Diovid View Post
    So the strixhaven UA got me thinking. In the next edition of dnd would you like it if all classes got their subclass features at the same level?
    I don't care about which levels the features come at per se, but I definitely don't think subclasses should be cross-class. A good subclass should interact with what makes each class distinct, which is why most barbarian subclasses improve Rage, most rogue subclasses alter Sneak Attack and/or Cunning Action, etc. If anything, in a new edition I hope they'd lean hard into making the base classes more mechanically distinct so that it would make even less sense to do this.

    I know that the lore justifications for the subclasses are mostly ignored, but I like the idea that each paladin swears a specific Oath with its own code of conduct, and that every monk trains in a particular Order. Mechanics should encourage players to embrace and play with archetypes, not just mix and match.

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    Default Re: Sub class features at the same level in 5.5e or 6e?

    subclasses should get the same number of features at the same levels.
    i don't care if they do cross-class subclasses. i like the idea of it, but i'm not sure i'd bother playing one.
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    Default Re: Sub class features at the same level in 5.5e or 6e?

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    I agree. This is one of those things intended, I think, to make the game 'easier for beginners' but structurally I don't care for it.

    Clerics and Sorcerers sub class comes line at level 1
    Druids, Wizards sub class comes line at level 2
    Monks, Fighters, Barbarians, Paladins, Rangers, Rogues, Bards, Warlocks sub class comes on line at level 3

    I get how narratively the cleric needs to be on line at 1 (but then, why not the druid also?) and I guess also for sorcerous origin.

    But it's clunky as hell.

    Bring everyone on line at level 2 or 3 with the sub class feature.
    (@MoiMagus: yeah, 3's a fine level for that).
    I've been having an ongoing discussion with one of my IRL gaming friends about when subclasses should come online. We're both in agreement that it would be better if all classes get their subclass at the same time, but we disagree as to when.

    I'm of the camp that first level should the the explicit tutorial level and be as simple as possible and experienced groups should probably start at a higher level. I don't mind the character building mini-game, but would rather not have to spend too long sifting through alternatives when I don't necessarily know what I want and/or what works, so I like a somewhat simplified character building with complexity coming later.

    My friend is of the opinion that a player should be able to play the basics of the desired character from first level and how a character functions/plays within its base class should not radically change when subclass comes online. As such, he wants subclasses to be chosen at first level as they include many defining class features, saying that it isn't fun to have to work through some period of time when your character doesn't do its basic functionality. Monk and Ki are frequently mentioned examples.

    Since neither of us can really convince the other, nor come up with new points in the argument, I'm wondering what other posters think, especially since KorvinStarmast and MoiMagus both think that level three is a good time for subclasses.

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    Default Re: Sub class features at the same level in 5.5e or 6e?

    Personally, IMO the subclass across all classes should come online at 1st level. For paladins, the swearing of the sacred oath seems thematically the point where they become paladins - IMO, at any rate. Beastmaster rangers seem more sensible when their beloved animal companions are available right off the bat.

    If you want to have "tutorial" levels, there are subclasses like the champion. For most spellcasters, the subclass doesn't add as much complexity as spellcasting does.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Sub class features at the same level in 5.5e or 6e?

    Full agree that subclass features should all be at level 1. Delay the other features if you have to, but subclasses are too character-defining to neglect. They change the class's flavour and even the playstyle, to the extent that people say certain subclass concepts are unviable (e.g. 'you couldn't do an unarmed barbarian sub because he has to fight with weapons for two levels").

    As for synchronising the progression across classes, I don't see why not. It certainly presents better, and as you say enables subclasses shared by multiple classes. These won't always be appropriate - as aforementioned, a lot of subs key into the main class's features. But not all do, and not all would have to. A mix of locked-class and multiple-class subclasses sounds like a lot of fun to me.

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    Default Re: Sub class features at the same level in 5.5e or 6e?

    Quote Originally Posted by Diovid View Post
    So the strixhaven UA got me thinking. In the next edition of dnd would you like it if all classes got their subclass features at the same level? (level 1 maybe?)

    Of course there could still be subclasses unique to classes in addition to these, especially for subclasses that interact with the main class's features.

    Or would such a system limit how interesting those multi-class subclasses could be since they have to be designed with multiple classes in mind?
    I'd appreciate the standardization if it was. I feel like levels 1, 6, 10, 14 and 18 are a good spread.

    Yes a mixture of class-specific and class-agnostic subclasses would be best I think.

    MCs could be interesting, if you set them up to always be at a regular interval like 3, 6, 9, 12 and 15 then if you MC between two classes sharing the subclass you can progress at the same rate as far as the subclass is concerned.
    If you don't set them up at regular intervals you probably wouldn't be able to do that but you could still pick a different subclass (even another generic one) when MCing, or perhaps build in a use for your ASI/Feats that allows you to progress a subclass you're already in (and have the collective levels for).

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    Default Re: Sub class features at the same level in 5.5e or 6e?

    Subclasses should absolutely come online at level 1.

    If my character concept is an assassin, I want to feel like an assassin from the beginning, not wait until level 3. I also agree with Composer99, Paladin oath is definitely a great example. It feels really weird to know exactly what oath my character will be taking and why that makes sense for them, but they go off adventuring for a while before they actually take the oath. Taking the oath also feels like something that should have some pomp and circumstance in a lot of settings. It's fine if that happens as backstory, but it's weird to forgo it and just take your oath in the middle of nowhere because that's where you happened to be when you hit level 3.

    Just starting at level 3 so everyone has their subclasses works, but has always felt unsatisfying to me. Why do we have to skip so much of Tier 1 play just to have our basic character concepts at the start of the campaign? 5e is way better than 3.5/PF, where concepts often don't come online until level 7 or higher, but it could still better.

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    Default Re: Sub class features at the same level in 5.5e or 6e?

    Quote Originally Posted by OACSNY97 View Post
    Monk and Ki are frequently mentioned examples.

    Since neither of us can really convince the other, nor come up with new points in the argument, I'm wondering what other posters think, especially since KorvinStarmast and MoiMagus both think that level three is a good time for subclasses.
    I would suggest starting the game at level three with experienced players. The first two levels are, by the way this game is structured, almost tutorial in nature.

    Once the players have gone up in level a bit they really don't need the tutorial phase.

    Start at level 3. (My nephew did this, thank goodness, and I really enjoyed having my Archfey Chainlock's features already on line as we opened the game by landing on a distant shore ...)
    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2021-06-10 at 08:30 AM.
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    Default Re: Sub class features at the same level in 5.5e or 6e?

    Admittedly, I would also be fine with adding "level -1" and "level 0" for tutorial purposes, and having all the subclasses starting at level 1 (which would be the default starting points for experienced players), but I've heard that peoples tend to dislike negative numbers.

    Quote Originally Posted by ZZTRaider View Post
    Why do we have to skip so much of Tier 1 play just to have our basic character concepts at the start of the campaign?
    I do concede that if "experienced players start at level 3" was to be taken as an official stance, Tier 1 would have to be extended (and the spike of power of level 5 delayed), as a lot of experienced players want to have a significant Tier 1.

    My position is indeed influenced by the fact that my table tend to consider Tier 1 (and low level struggles) as a whole as only relevant for tutorial purposes.

    Quote Originally Posted by OACSNY97 View Post
    and how a character functions/plays within its base class should not radically change when subclass comes online.
    My "extreme" position is that characters should also get an additional "parangonic subclass when reaching the higher Tiers, significantly changing how the character functions/plays when unlocking them. So I'm also all for a significant gameplay change when the first subclass is unlocked.

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    Default Re: Sub class features at the same level in 5.5e or 6e?

    Quote Originally Posted by ZZTRaider View Post
    Subclasses should absolutely come online at level 1.

    If my character concept is an assassin, I want to feel like an assassin from the beginning, not wait until level 3. I also agree with Composer99, Paladin oath is definitely a great example. It feels really weird to know exactly what oath my character will be taking and why that makes sense for them, but they go off adventuring for a while before they actually take the oath. Taking the oath also feels like something that should have some pomp and circumstance in a lot of settings. It's fine if that happens as backstory, but it's weird to forgo it and just take your oath in the middle of nowhere because that's where you happened to be when you hit level 3.

    Just starting at level 3 so everyone has their subclasses works, but has always felt unsatisfying to me. Why do we have to skip so much of Tier 1 play just to have our basic character concepts at the start of the campaign? 5e is way better than 3.5/PF, where concepts often don't come online until level 7 or higher, but it could still better.
    I know you mean this in earnest but your examples seem like arguments the other way to me.

    "I want to be an assassin at level 1" - man, assassin used to be a prestige class! Which leads to one of the benefits of starting subclasses past level 1: they're something your character develops towards and doesn't get until he's somewhat powerful.

    "Taking a paladin oath should be a big important character moment, so the best thing to do is push it back into the character backstory so the DM/circumstances don't mess it up" - sounds like throwing the baby out with the bathwater! Don't you WANT your character to grow and change and make choices as they level up?

    The way subclasses are set up now honestly pushes some important character development distinctions. A sorcerer (character, not player) doesn't GET to choose his bloodline - that's locked in from the first level. Same with a cleric or warlock - the source of their power is a specific entity, and without that they can't even get to square one. But all wizards start out as guys who read spell books, and only a bit later on do they begin to specialize their studies. A level 1 wizard isn't an "illusionist" any more than a first-term college freshman is a "biologist" - they have to declare a major and do a lot of studying first. A rogue is a dexterous, clever guy, but once he's established himself a little he can hatch a "scheme" to gain real power - by training as an assassin, becoming a master thief, taking to the seas as a swashbuckler, etc. And paladin is actually the most interesting to me: he's a holy warrior, but the mechanics (CHA caster, gets subclass after spells) indicate that it's actually his zeal that powers him rather than a specific deity. His oath is how he locks himself to a path, and potentially to a deity or order. That has potentially huge RP implications!

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    Default Re: Sub class features at the same level in 5.5e or 6e?

    Quote Originally Posted by ZRN View Post
    I know you mean this in earnest but your examples seem like arguments the other way to me.

    "I want to be an assassin at level 1" - man, assassin used to be a prestige class! Which leads to one of the benefits of starting subclasses past level 1: they're something your character develops towards and doesn't get until he's somewhat powerful.

    "Taking a paladin oath should be a big important character moment, so the best thing to do is push it back into the character backstory so the DM/circumstances don't mess it up" - sounds like throwing the baby out with the bathwater! Don't you WANT your character to grow and change and make choices as they level up?

    The way subclasses are set up now honestly pushes some important character development distinctions. A sorcerer (character, not player) doesn't GET to choose his bloodline - that's locked in from the first level. Same with a cleric or warlock - the source of their power is a specific entity, and without that they can't even get to square one. But all wizards start out as guys who read spell books, and only a bit later on do they begin to specialize their studies. A level 1 wizard isn't an "illusionist" any more than a first-term college freshman is a "biologist" - they have to declare a major and do a lot of studying first. A rogue is a dexterous, clever guy, but once he's established himself a little he can hatch a "scheme" to gain real power - by training as an assassin, becoming a master thief, taking to the seas as a swashbuckler, etc. And paladin is actually the most interesting to me: he's a holy warrior, but the mechanics (CHA caster, gets subclass after spells) indicate that it's actually his zeal that powers him rather than a specific deity. His oath is how he locks himself to a path, and potentially to a deity or order. That has potentially huge RP implications!
    In practice, I don't think I've ever seen anyone start their character without knowing what subclass they wanted to go into. Hell, most games I've played in outside of AL start at level 3 exactly because people want to get into their chosen subclass right out of the gate.

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    Default Re: Sub class features at the same level in 5.5e or 6e?

    Quote Originally Posted by ZZTRaider View Post
    Subclasses should absolutely come online at level 1.

    If my character concept is an assassin, I want to feel like an assassin from the beginning, not wait until level 3. I also agree with Composer99, Paladin oath is definitely a great example. It feels really weird to know exactly what oath my character will be taking and why that makes sense for them, but they go off adventuring for a while before they actually take the oath. Taking the oath also feels like something that should have some pomp and circumstance in a lot of settings. It's fine if that happens as backstory, but it's weird to forgo it and just take your oath in the middle of nowhere because that's where you happened to be when you hit level 3.

    Just starting at level 3 so everyone has their subclasses works, but has always felt unsatisfying to me. Why do we have to skip so much of Tier 1 play just to have our basic character concepts at the start of the campaign? 5e is way better than 3.5/PF, where concepts often don't come online until level 7 or higher, but it could still better.
    These are the kinds of arguments in favor of subclasses at first level that my IRL friend puts forward. I struggle to refute them because yes the Paladin should know who or what s/he is dedicated to and, as someone else mentioned, the unarmed Barbarian should work from first level if it's going to be an possible character option.

    And while acknowledging that these are good points, I am vaguely dissatisfied with just having subclasses start at first level. I think part of my dissatisfaction is based on the desire to make it easy to start with new players, but another part is that I suffer from choice paralysis when presented with too many big choices at once. At no other time in the game does a player have to make as many important choices for their character than when building for first level.

    Since this thread is discussing a 5.5 or 6e, what would you delay to get subclass to fit in at first level without adding even more choices to bog down character creation?

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    Default Re: Sub class features at the same level in 5.5e or 6e?

    Quote Originally Posted by OACSNY97 View Post
    These are the kinds of arguments in favor of subclasses at first level that my IRL friend puts forward. I struggle to refute them because yes the Paladin should know who or what s/he is dedicated to and, as someone else mentioned, the unarmed Barbarian should work from first level if it's going to be an possible character option.

    And while acknowledging that these are good points, I am vaguely dissatisfied with just having subclasses start at first level. I think part of my dissatisfaction is based on the desire to make it easy to start with new players, but another part is that I suffer from choice paralysis when presented with too many big choices at once. At no other time in the game does a player have to make as many important choices for their character than when building for first level.

    Since this thread is discussing a 5.5 or 6e, what would you delay to get subclass to fit in at first level without adding even more choices to bog down character creation?
    Id say nothing since level 1 is already the level with the most choices that need to be made whats one more. Along with that in general id say the choice of subclass is usually chosen at level 1 anyway so i dont think it's too much.

    At later levels i think itd be nice if you had multiple choices of features to take per your class or subclass. So if 3 people are playing an elsrotch knight instead of everyone getting the same feature at lets just say level 4 from their sub class maybe theres a couple different options.

    That way there's still good choices to make goimg forward.

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    Default Re: Sub class features at the same level in 5.5e or 6e?

    If every class got their sub-class benefits at the same time, it would (for the most part, in an edition designed around it) be relatively trivial both ways -- a little easier for newbies to conceptualize/get down the basics, with a little bit of design constraint (if you are making a base class that you think really really needs to have such and such a powerful ability right at Level 1, then having subclass abilities come online at 1 can hamper your design process, or something like that). The cross-compatibility issue is more of interest to me:

    Quote Originally Posted by Diovid View Post
    This would also mean a book with a few subclasses open up a lot of new character options (since a separate celestial warlock and a celestial sorcerer do not have to be introduced).
    Of course there could still be subclasses unique to classes in addition to these, especially for subclasses that interact with the main class's features.
    Or would such a system limit how interesting those multi-class subclasses could be since they have to be designed with multiple classes in mind?
    This part of the OP highlights both the benefit and problems of such sharing. And it is not unlike the spell sharing that goes on in this edition (be that something like a Bard's Magical Secrets or Magic Initiate-like feats, or just something like Eldritch Knights getting wizard spells. It does allow for increased options for multiple classes just by adding one spell/archetype, but on the other hand it means multiple classes (or builds, since multiclassing seems to be very commonly allowed) will be affected by changes/additions in spells/archetypes. Think about the pitfalls the sharing system has had with spells: Eldritch Knights getting evocation spells entirely too late for them to be routinely impressive, bards getting flying mount summons before the paladins they copied the spell from, pseudo-class feature spells like SCAGtrips and Find Familiar being so readily grabbable with a feat, etc. Now, imagine those kind of subtle interaction issues multiplied across any number of classes (because such and such a widget that interacts favorably with such and such thingamajig can be combined with it in multiple different ways). I'm not saying that it can't be done, nor even that it couldn't be done well and relatively balanced, I'm just saying that I think it would increase the complexity of the challenge of keeping things relatively even. It would run the risk of creating a 3e-like level of clear and obvious winners and losers, something 5.0 is having trouble and growing pains not running into.

    Regardless, for an actual 5.5 or 6e, I don't have a strong opinion on what to do, only that the risks of such an approach should be well understood, and that that version of the game should be designed from the ground up with whatever strategy they choose in mind.

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    Default Re: Sub class features at the same level in 5.5e or 6e?

    Quote Originally Posted by mythmonster2 View Post
    In practice, I don't think I've ever seen anyone start their character without knowing what subclass they wanted to go into.
    I've seen it a lot, particularly with people new to this edition and new to the game. Guess it depends on who you play with. heck, as long as I've been around, I had a hard time making up my mind between Lore Bard, Glamour Bard, and Creation Bard recently ... at level 3 ... I finally went with Lore. Paralysis by Analysis is a thing.
    Quote Originally Posted by Intregus182 View Post
    At later levels i think itd be nice if you had multiple choices of features to take per your class or subclass.
    Ranger (Hunter) does this.
    Hunters Prey (pick one of three) Defensive Tactics, (pick one of three) Multiattack (volley or horde breaker) Superior Hunter's Defense (pick one of three).
    Quote Originally Posted by Willie the Duck View Post
    Regardless, for an actual 5.5 or 6e, I don't have a strong opinion on what to do, only that the risks of such an approach should be well understood, and that that version of the game should be designed from the ground up with whatever strategy they choose in mind.
    Yeah, from the ground up.
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    Default Re: Sub class features at the same level in 5.5e or 6e?

    This would be much easier if they did have subclass features come in at the same time. That being said, I can see why, say, sorcerer gets theirs at first level, though also that could be presented in a way that you only find out more about your bloodline at 2nd or 3rd level.

    And I don't necessarily mind having a generic or shared subclass, it's an interesting idea, but it's hampered by the design choices made for publication, like so much else.

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    Default Re: Sub class features at the same level in 5.5e or 6e?

    I'd like for character builds/concepts to come online by level 1, and linearly improve from there. So yeah, subclass should be a Level 1 thing, and so should some key abilities like a Warlock's Invocations. Also, I'm a firm believer in "Cantrips should be treated the same way as weapons, since both are a basic attack". So, spellcasting ability should go to damage by default, and instead of adding damage dice, add more attacks, the same way Eldritch Blast is Handled.

    There's a lot of tweeks that could improve the overall 5e experiance. I don't know if what we need is a 5.5, I figure PF2e covers that role. I just think a Character Concept and Basic Build should be online by level 1. Finally, I'd like more Racial Feats, maybe just like PF2e handles them, as a ceparate feat tree, in order to customise your character more.

    Finally, I think subclasses would be more interesting if they were not Class Bound, but rather a free choice to customise your character (Instead of Multiclass rules, you could for example have a Fighter who's a Transmutation Adept, a Barbarian with a Dragonic Bloodline or a Sorcerer who's gained his power via a Pact with an otherwordly Eldritch Horror).
    Last edited by Asmotherion; 2021-06-10 at 02:33 PM.

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    Default Re: Sub class features at the same level in 5.5e or 6e?

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    I would suggest starting the game at level three with experienced players. The first two levels are, by the way this game is structured, almost tutorial in nature.

    Once the players have gone up in level a bit they really don't need the tutorial phase.

    Start at level 3. (My nephew did this, thank goodness, and I really enjoyed having my Archfey Chainlock's features already on line as we opened the game by landing on a distant shore ...)
    I think you're saying that your preference for starting at a higher level with experienced players is directly tied to the existing format of 5e. Would this change in an addition where subclass came on line at first level? Does subclass at first level "muddy" the tutorial phase or could the tutorial phase be skipped? If the latter, how to avoid choice paralysis in new players who don't know enough about the game to understand the choices they're making?


    Quote Originally Posted by MoiMagnus View Post
    Admittedly, I would also be fine with adding "level -1" and "level 0" for tutorial purposes, and having all the subclasses starting at level 1 (which would be the default starting points for experienced players), but I've heard that peoples tend to dislike negative numbers.

    I do concede that if "experienced players start at level 3" was to be taken as an official stance, Tier 1 would have to be extended (and the spike of power of level 5 delayed), as a lot of experienced players want to have a significant Tier 1.

    My position is indeed influenced by the fact that my table tend to consider Tier 1 (and low level struggles) as a whole as only relevant for tutorial purposes.

    My "extreme" position is that characters should also get an additional "parangonic subclass when reaching the higher Tiers, significantly changing how the character functions/plays when unlocking them. So I'm also all for a significant gameplay change when the first subclass is unlocked.
    I'm ok with level 0 play as the tutorial level, but again when discussing this with people in my gaming group, there seems to be a preference that no matter when you start, you should always have your core class features as soon as you start playing- if you're going to be a weapon class you need that type of weapon right away; if you're going to be a summoner, you need the summons right away; if you're a Monk, you need Ki right away, because otherwise you're not playing your class.

    Since this is a what if thread for 5.5 or 6e, what sorts of things do you envision when you see new game play options opening up with subclass or "paragon class"?

    I think I'm more fond of the idea that the "paragonic subclass" should be a refinement and emphasis increase rather than a major shift in how you play. On the other hand, I can definitely see the appeal of having situational and thematic options like "dragon slayer" allowing a shift in play as desired an appropriate for the game.

    Quote Originally Posted by ZRN View Post
    I know you mean this in earnest but your examples seem like arguments the other way to me.

    "I want to be an assassin at level 1" - man, assassin used to be a prestige class! Which leads to one of the benefits of starting subclasses past level 1: they're something your character develops towards and doesn't get until he's somewhat powerful.

    "Taking a paladin oath should be a big important character moment, so the best thing to do is push it back into the character backstory so the DM/circumstances don't mess it up" - sounds like throwing the baby out with the bathwater! Don't you WANT your character to grow and change and make choices as they level up?

    The way subclasses are set up now honestly pushes some important character development distinctions. A sorcerer (character, not player) doesn't GET to choose his bloodline - that's locked in from the first level. Same with a cleric or warlock - the source of their power is a specific entity, and without that they can't even get to square one. But all wizards start out as guys who read spell books, and only a bit later on do they begin to specialize their studies. A level 1 wizard isn't an "illusionist" any more than a first-term college freshman is a "biologist" - they have to declare a major and do a lot of studying first. A rogue is a dexterous, clever guy, but once he's established himself a little he can hatch a "scheme" to gain real power - by training as an assassin, becoming a master thief, taking to the seas as a swashbuckler, etc. And paladin is actually the most interesting to me: he's a holy warrior, but the mechanics (CHA caster, gets subclass after spells) indicate that it's actually his zeal that powers him rather than a specific deity. His oath is how he locks himself to a path, and potentially to a deity or order. That has potentially huge RP implications!
    Good point about wanting major character defining events to be moved front and center of the game play rather than regulated to back story.

    Overall, I think this might factor into an even more underlying discussion of what does level mean and how competent should early game characters be? At first level, should they be basically competent "adults" who have all of the foundational skills for their chosen class, or should they grow into their class through the early game? Should a Fighter have to wait until 3rd level to get spells if the player wanted to a magic knight concept?

    Your example of the level 1 wizard who's still the equivalent to a college undergrad who hasn't fully grown into or even chosen a specialty is what I like about delayed subclass access since it allows more time to let the character grow "organically." However, it is also pretty annoying if you want to play something that should be an early game option, I believe I saw mention of the unarmed Barbarian as an example, but you can't do it until later mechanically.


    To the thread in general:
    I'm asking all of these questions because this is something that I've spent a lot of time thinking about and discussing with my DnD group, but still can't come to a good conclusion or compromise. I came to DnD through 4e and still somewhat calibrated to the idea that rather than having subclasses, the designers simply peel them off into separate classes. This does allow for easier early access to all class features at first level, but at the cost of a lot of duplicated effort or classes that are released later having fewer options and less support.

    I think the underlying question is how competent and specialized should first level character be? Should you start out an apprentice in your chosen class with only some of the basic skills or should you start the game closer to a journeyman with all of the basics and are now being sent out into the world to refine what you know?

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    Default Re: Sub class features at the same level in 5.5e or 6e?

    Quote Originally Posted by OACSNY97 View Post
    I think you're saying that your preference for starting at a higher level with experienced players is directly tied to the existing format of 5e. Would this change in an addition where subclass came on line at first level? Does subclass at first level "muddy" the tutorial phase or could the tutorial phase be skipped? If the latter, how to avoid choice paralysis in new players who don't know enough about the game to understand the choices they're making?




    I'm ok with level 0 play as the tutorial level, but again when discussing this with people in my gaming group, there seems to be a preference that no matter when you start, you should always have your core class features as soon as you start playing- if you're going to be a weapon class you need that type of weapon right away; if you're going to be a summoner, you need the summons right away; if you're a Monk, you need Ki right away, because otherwise you're not playing your class.

    Since this is a what if thread for 5.5 or 6e, what sorts of things do you envision when you see new game play options opening up with subclass or "paragon class"?

    I think I'm more fond of the idea that the "paragonic subclass" should be a refinement and emphasis increase rather than a major shift in how you play. On the other hand, I can definitely see the appeal of having situational and thematic options like "dragon slayer" allowing a shift in play as desired an appropriate for the game.



    Good point about wanting major character defining events to be moved front and center of the game play rather than regulated to back story.

    Overall, I think this might factor into an even more underlying discussion of what does level mean and how competent should early game characters be? At first level, should they be basically competent "adults" who have all of the foundational skills for their chosen class, or should they grow into their class through the early game? Should a Fighter have to wait until 3rd level to get spells if the player wanted to a magic knight concept?

    Your example of the level 1 wizard who's still the equivalent to a college undergrad who hasn't fully grown into or even chosen a specialty is what I like about delayed subclass access since it allows more time to let the character grow "organically." However, it is also pretty annoying if you want to play something that should be an early game option, I believe I saw mention of the unarmed Barbarian as an example, but you can't do it until later mechanically.


    To the thread in general:
    I'm asking all of these questions because this is something that I've spent a lot of time thinking about and discussing with my DnD group, but still can't come to a good conclusion or compromise. I came to DnD through 4e and still somewhat calibrated to the idea that rather than having subclasses, the designers simply peel them off into separate classes. This does allow for easier early access to all class features at first level, but at the cost of a lot of duplicated effort or classes that are released later having fewer options and less support.

    I think the underlying question is how competent and specialized should first level character be? Should you start out an apprentice in your chosen class with only some of the basic skills or should you start the game closer to a journeyman with all of the basics and are now being sent out into the world to refine what you know?
    Not just this but what is a class even? Just because my character is a level 1 druid doesn't mean i can't roleplay it as a shaman or a wizard.

    Why must a level 1 fighter be an apprentice in their fighter class vs a veteran soldier ( which is a background)

    The way i see it classes arent in game lore and shouldn't be. They should be meta knowledge for us the playets to make decisions.

    Dnd is all over the place in that regaurd. Some classee are lore driven like the sorcerer and others arent like the fighter rogie or ranger.

    But i think you're right they need to degine what a level actually is and what a class actually represents.

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    Default Re: Sub class features at the same level in 5.5e or 6e?

    I think D&D has always tried to hold to the zero-to-hero sort of progression, but over time has gradually shifted to competent-to-demigod. From what I can tell, the stage when someone was first exposed to the genre greatly influences which side they prefer.

    Personally I can see it either way, but to accommodate both you would need to implement something to exist before level 1 or push back the level at which the character is considered 'whole' (which is what 5e does to some extent).

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    Default Re: Sub class features at the same level in 5.5e or 6e?

    Quote Originally Posted by Intregus182 View Post
    Not just this but what is a class even? Just because my character is a level 1 druid doesn't mean i can't roleplay it as a shaman or a wizard.

    Why must a level 1 fighter be an apprentice in their fighter class vs a veteran soldier ( which is a background)

    The way i see it classes arent in game lore and shouldn't be. They should be meta knowledge for us the playets to make decisions.

    Dnd is all over the place in that regaurd. Some classee are lore driven like the sorcerer and others arent like the fighter rogie or ranger.

    But i think you're right they need to degine what a level actually is and what a class actually represents.
    Level 1 fighter with veteran soldier background is one of the things that annoys me the most about the disconnect between the mechanics and the fluff. Do you get to say veteran soldier with one season's series of maneuvers and battles (campaign in the non-DnD sense) under your belt or is it supposed to mean "lifer"? Pick one! Personally, I'd rather calibrate first level PCs to senior apprentices and, while using the NPC rules, experienced guards and soldiers are _not_ first level.

    I follow the argument, and it's fair point, that first level should really be the easiest level in the game to ease new players in the rules and structure and that the viable challenge options should be more meaningful than cleaning rats out of a basement. However, this leads to world building inconsistencies that I just can't get work around no matter how logical the mechanics counterpoint. Why _aren't_ the very long lived races/species inherently higher level? Any middle-aged elf has had a lot longer to learn and either perfect what s/he does or try lots of different things. Why isn't the "lifer" soldier who has been following the army around the countryside for the last 20 odd years not at least the equivalent to a level 2 or 3 fighter?

    Yes, the designers need to agree that either classes are just vague packages of mechanics (fighter) OR meaningful to the lore and world building like cleric. If there are ANY classes that inform how the world _has_ to work in order to exist, they all should. So which concept needs to go- fighter or cleric?
    Last edited by OACSNY97; 2021-06-10 at 06:44 PM.

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