Thoughts on multiclassing

Since I made a mistake there, my long “Let’s rock with roles”-post wasn’t placed at the date I wanted (yesterday), I kinda sorted it out, even though I’m impressed, how unexpected unflexible wordpress can be. I’m still at a 1 day a post-base! 😉

 

For now, let’s keep it simple, by just talking about— shoot, multiclassing. Somehow I get the feeling, that it’ll get complicated.

 

I start with my personal opinion of multiclassing: I like the general idea of being able to follow different paths and some of those combinations are flavorful and nice to see. I really like the wizard/ranger combination myself, but like every rule, it could be exploited. The system in 5e is similar to 3e, where multiclassing were… well, a picture says more than a thousand words.

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 You take two level monk to the rest of levels for druids. Why? Because you gain WIS (the primary ability) to your AC even in Wild Shape, evasion, flurry of blows and some strong saves. How does the monk fit into the druid class? Let’s ask a player of mine: ‘How my character got this? … Erm, well my character lived in a monastery, until… erm… you know and stuff’ I don’t dislike power-gamer generally, I just don’t like the pursuit of pure power while ignoring anything else. One of my favorite players is a power-gamer, but he get his character idea first and then build his power-game around the initial idea.

Let’s say that the restrictions in 3e weren’t restrictive enough and even though I thought that multiclassing in 4e was viable, it wouldn’t be for 5e. Now let’s see how 5e multiclassing is performing.

 

1.) Optional Rule: This is the first big plus: It’s optional and the DM can decide to allow it or restrict it to his means. Later I’ll throw some ideas into it.

2.) Ability requirements: A little plus, at least you can’t multiclass into something you were going to dump for whatever reasons.

3.) Character Level for Level up and Proficiency bonus: In pre3e you had split experience scores, so we should be thankful it didn’t come back. And one of the most important bonuses is based on your character level, which makes it neither better or worst between pure-classed and multiclassed.

4.) Only few Proficiencies: Instead of getting the whole set, your first class will decide which save-proficiency you get, only the bard, ranger and rogue brings skill proficiency and you won’t get access to heavy armor. Normally I’d count it as a plus, but since the only classes which don’t have any important proficiencies which could be nerfed when multiclassing are the wizard and sorcerer, the lowest hit points out there, and no ideal save proficiencies, it’s a minus, too. Nobody would start with one of those both classes, since you get more when choosing any other class. But since I see no way to make it really better, I just accept it. Maybe you could just give no proficiencies when taking another class.

5.) Channel Divinity: More options how to, no more uses per day. Since Channel Divinity is often awesomely strong in a way or other, it’s better that way.

6.) Extra Attack: You get only more than one Extra Attack if you’re reaching a class level which would at least grants you 2 Extra Attacks. And it isn’t compatible with the warlock’s Invocation Thirsting Blade. It’s more they filled a hole, which definitely would give you problems if they didn’t.

7.) Unarmored Defense: If you have this feature, you won’t get it again. Normally, you should ask yourself ‘why, if those are incompatible at the first place’, but it works that way, that you actually have to think before choosing your starting class: Do you really wants to go barbarian first for more hit points, even though you’d have higher AC if starting as a draconic sorcerer instead?

8.) Spellcasting: There is no spell-slinging for those class-combinations with 2 main-casters, since the spells per day are handled by a special value, determined by your spellcasting-classes. Your known spells are depending on your respective classes, a bard 3/cleric5 would have spell-slots like a 8 level bard, but can only know 2nd level bard spells and 3rd level cleric spells. But he could cast those spells with his 4th level slots. This is a buff for caster-combinations which weren’t much more than spell-slingers in 3e, as long you didn’t have a prestige class like arcane theurg.

9.) All other features remains: Since the most defining features and some of the most powerful ones are at the low-levels, you can take some of them quite easily, like the rouge’s cunning action at 2nd level. But thankfully some were moved to later levels compared to 3e, so Evasion is far off. This will lead to a minus.

10.) Ability Score Improvements: Since I don’t like the idea to take only a few levels to min-max a character, the fact that the Ability Score Improvements (or feats) are class features is a huge boon for me. You will definitely think about taking 2 rogue levels for Cunning Action, 3 monk levels for various reasons and afterwards 15 druid levels for everything else, if that means, that you’ll missing 2 chances for Ability Score Improvements. The real good thing about it: It won’t really bother the multiclassers, which will be more balanced about their classes, at least 12/8 provides directly no disadvantage, while 10/10 will leave you with one Improvement less, but gives often some nice other features.

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Generally I’d say: Multiclassing is somewhat good in 5e, even though it’s an optional system and in that regard not necessary balanced, if you want to nerf it as a DM, here are some house rules, you could use:

1.) Favored class: You could simply say, that each (sub)race can only multiclass as long one of those classes is their favored class, saying that some races are too predestined to follow a certain path and can only break out if following that path truthfully. If we take the 3e favored class as a basic, it’d be:

Race Favored Class 3.5e My suggestion
Dragonborn Sorcerer Paladin
Dwarf, Hill Fighter Cleric
Dwarf, Mountain Fighter Fighter
Elf, Dark female Cleric, male Wizard Sorcerer*
Elf, High Wizard Wizard
Elf, Wood Ranger Ranger
Gnome, Forest Bard Wizard
Gnome, Rock Bard Bard
Half-Elf Any Starting class
Half-Orc Barbarian Barbarian
Halfling, Lightfoot Rogue Rogue
Halfling, Stout Rogue Ranger
Human Any Starting class
Tiefling Rogue Warlock

*In a Forgotten Realms Setting (which I’ll play for some time now) I’d go with the same as 3,5e

2.) Even class-levels: A player can only have his class levels at a one level difference, so it won’t be possible to get only some levels in a class for features. If you choose this house-rule, you should grant your player an another Ability Score Improvement on level 10/10 or 7/7/6. Just to be sure, that there is not too much punishment.

3.) No further class-levels after taking another class: The character actually stops learning his old class and only can advance on his new class. Would be somewhat restrictive and makes a bit sense, but might not be restrictive enough, depending on your liking.

4.) Multiclass as Downtime Activity: Only between adventures a character can have the focus to actually attain a new class. He needs a teacher (or enough means to learn by himself) and time to get his studies done. I’d go with 1 gp per day and this table:

Class Time Special Requirements Example
Barbarian 150 days All days spent in the wilderness while battling at least four times a week or seeking spiritual contact under the guidance of a mentor
Bard 250 days Getting trained by an experienced bard
Cleric 500 days Learning in a temple, cloister, etc. of your god
Druid 500 days Become a disciple of a great druid
Fighter 250 days Being administered and studying in the military, a fighting school or under a private mentor
Monk 500 days Getting trained by an experienced monk
Paladin 500 days Purifying mind and body each day from all evil thoughts, seeking enlightment by the power of good
Ranger 250 days All days spent in the wilds while studying under a mentor
Rogue 250 days Getting training by a experienced rogue
Sorcerer 150 days Being infused with one source of power fitting the origin (bathing in dragonblood, being in the Elemental Chaos without any protection, etc.)
Warlock 150 days Met Otherwordly Patron already at the campaign one way or another
Wizard 500 days A master to learn from and access to a magical laboratory

You can forfeit any proficiency you’d normally get by multi-classing to reduce the time by 50 days per not taken proficiency. So if you have already some proficiency (especially armor and weapon) you can shorten the time without any penalty. You can learn not taken proficiencies at another downtime, 50 days and gp per proficiency to put the finishing touches to your training.

If you already have the spellcasting feature, you subtract 100 days of time, since you already now the basics.

You need a minimum of 50 days at least.

 

 

The best way is to actually talk to your player beforehand. Sometimes you might be too strict and maybe there might be a good idea behind it. This and of course the power of imagination brings us to the following!

 

Variant: Starting as a 0,5/0,5 Character

For those players who already want to start as mixed characters (to explain how they got to that point), I present a house rule here: Just start as half levels! Here comes how it works, we just take two classes and make those steps:

1.) You get only the Proficiencies of your Background and those in the Multiclasses Proficiency table (p.164)

2.) If you’re a spellcaster at 1st level, you only get half of known/prepared spells, spell slots and cantrips (rounded down)

3.) You get only those features in the following table

Class Feature
Barbarian Rage
Bard Spellcasting (half)
Cleric Spellcasting (half), Divine Domain (without benefits)
Druid Spellcasting (half), Druidic
Fighter Fighting Style
Monk Martial Arts
Paladin Divine Sense
Ranger Natural Explorer or Favored Enemy
Rogue Sneak Attack, Thieve’s Cant
Sorcerer Spellcasting (half), Sorcerous Origin (without any benefits)
Warlock Otherwordly Patron
Wizard Spellcasting (half)

4.) Your starting hit points are the mid point of your both classes starting hit points (so a barbarian/fighter would have [12+10]/2 + CON-mod hit points)

5.) After getting level 2, you’re automatically upgraded to 1/1 and choose one of your classes, and get all the left over proficiencies (saves, weapons and armors, etc.) and adjust your hit points as if you started with your chosen class and then took the second level at the other.

Alternatively you could talk to your DM and get a mix of proficiencies from both classes at the start, but since this opens up some PG-options, I didn’t took them in this section. Better let the DM decide of some of them depending on circumstances, so we don’t get a character with the best save proficiencies possible with those 2 classes, while shaving off some less prominent saves.

 

I added a House Rules section at the upper bar, so you have fast access to possible house rules.

 

To conclude my post: Multiclassing isn’t anything to be afraid of. It can be a really cool thing, but as always: Be afraid of those, who see nothing else as a power station to it. Be prepared to just say no, if you, as a DM, don’t like a specific combination. Druid/monks are still able to use the Unarmored Defense!

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