Friday, September 26, 2014

Multiclassing

We've been a bit quiet for the last little while. As summer winds down, we're hoping to get more regular gaming in, as families start to hibernate. And both of us chain-read the six Sundering novels that lead up to the world that is 5th Edition D&D, me at the expense of even finishing the Player's Handbook -- I wanted to get a better feel for the world that our adventures now exist in before we advanced further through the modules.

Having finished the novels, though, I'm back to reading the Player's Handbook straight through. My plan was to post about what I thought of each of the classes, but instead, I think I'll talk about them all at once, in the form of Multiclassing.


Even though I'm generally the DM in our group, I've always had strong opinions of multiclassing support for players. I'm a big proponent of the player being able to make whatever character they can imagine, using the game rules and materials. 3.5e was very good at this, with so many Prestige Classes that some found it overwhelming and confusing, and I can sympathize with that.

4e had a way you could "multiclass lite", taking in some aspects of a second class; and they also provided all the different Powers to try/allow variation and customization, but it just didn't feel like you could customize how you wanted: you only got some parts of another class, or one of a few choices in Powers.

So how does 5e fare?


In my opinion, very well. The only restrictions on multiclassing involve the prerequisites on ability scores, which I think is quite reasonable. Even 3.5 had restrictions on certain classes being able to multiclass, and classes which had alignment restrictions, whereas 5e doesn't have any alignment restrictions on any classes, which means that the barbarian/monk/paladin is now a go!

All the other rules on combining classes seem quite fair: hit dice are combined, only some skill and weapon proficiencies come across, and some shared class features (Channel Divinity, Extra Attack) have been addressed in a reasonable way. The Proficiency Bonus works out as you'd expect -- you add up all your levels, and then look that up on any of the class tables. That part bugs me a bit: that every class has the same progression, yet they felt it was a column that every one of them needed. When we had a Base Attack Bonus that varied by class, it naturally made sense that their progressions were listed, and that you'd sum them all up, but here it's just repetitive noise.

Another thing that seemed like repetitive noise was the Ability Score Improvement, which for every class listed is the same: 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th and 19th levels. However! It appears that this is in fact needed, since this Improvement is not summed up in the case of multiclassing (or if it is, I missed it), which means that your Clr3/Rog3/Ftr3 has not yet had an opportunity to gain any ability points or feats. In fact, I expect that character builds that people post around the net will be comprised of classes that have levels that reach these milestones, that you'll see a Clr4/Rog4/Fig1 first, to allow for that class benefit. Perhaps I'm putting too much stock in the value of the Ability Scores and/or Feats? That's for another post.


My favorite part of the multiclassing rules, however, is the way that spellcasting was handled. Instead of the quagmire of "cleric levels" and "wizard levels" , we have a shared pool of slots that can be used by any of your prepared or memorized or known spells. You get the flexibility of being a magic-user of whatever make you like, at the cost of losing access to the higher-level spells. This has always been the drawback to multiclassing -- losing out on the high-level abilities, whether they were spell access or class abilities. But with the current spell system, many of your low-level spells can still take advantage of those higher-level slots you gain, since they do gain in power when cast from higher slots. Granted, a 1st-level spell cast in a 5th-level slot isn't going to compare to a "native" 5th-level spell, but it's certainly not as wimpy as Jack O' Alltrades was stuck with in 3.5e.


Overall, I'm excited about the multiclassing rules, and look forward to trying out some synergistic pairings that I noticed when reading through all of the class description.

3 comments:

Born with a Tusk said...

I agree the rules on multiclass look very inviting. I'm thinking about moving my cleric into a multiclass assassin at some point.

ABK108 said...

Not all classes have the same Ability icrease /feat progression.
Rogue has 6, fighter has 7.

Daniel Chapman said...

One thing I've also noticed is that the level progression from levels 1-3 is much faster than higher levels. Almost as if the first three levels are secretly a multiclass penalty.

They also spread what would be "basic class features" out across those first few levels. So, a new player would have time to get introduced to them, but they'd quickly get all of them when playing normally... But when you multiclass, you're paying a full level's worth of experience to get it, and it's a little more delayed.

I've got to get down to figure out a good formula to express this progression, but it almost seems to me that this formula is weighted for this express purpose.