Fantastic Comedy

Since today is still April 1st (in GMT+1) , and I really dislike April’s Fools, I decided to make a serious post about comedy at a D&D-gaming table. Why only D&D? Because there are systems which are meant to be played in a comedic style (like Toons) or those who are so unbelievable in terms of character feats, that you transcend the grasp of realism (like Scion).

A normal D&D-campaign balances around realism and fantasy, in most cases it does so well, even though (in the typical American Fantasy Style) it’s always turning into an epic story with powerful characters which defies the laws of realism in one time while being very vulnerable to realism otherwise. For this, I point to the Tyranny of Dragons Story, which is good imho, but bringing Tiamat t the Forgotten Realms and fighting foes which can shape the realms to their whims, while there are a ton of situations, where you can easily die? It’s very over the top, which is not something all people enjoy.
But like I said, normally D&D balances the realism and the fantastic moments pretty well. So we have a sense of seriousness, coming from the realism, and a sense of freedom, from fantasy, which can turn into humor. Is it bad? Of course not, since everyone having fun is one of the main-goals of playing after all. Can it disturb? Definitely.
Now I simply write about my personal experiences of having comedy in D&D (with some insight in other campaigns).

Comedy-based campaigns

Maybe some of you experienced a comedy-based campaign already and in most of the times: It won’t last long, since the DM will run out of ideas (s)he wants to master. The problem is to find a balance between serious story-telling to get the characters to where the fun belongs and the jokes which are cracked to be cracked. In movies it works well, since the characters aren’t sentient beings, in P&P it’s problematic, since the players often don’t recognize when to stop.
If you give the players the whatever-bag (in: take out whatever you want), you can be sure, that they pull out a grenade launcher to bomb the villain you’re just introducing. But if you don’t give the whatever-bag, of course in the end they end up in only having the resources they have, without much spark of creativity. It’s basically only what they do in normal campaigns, except they’re more brave, like trying to make a Looney Tunes routine (“Duck-Hunt.” “Rabbit-Hunt.” “Duck-Hunt.” “Rabbit-Hunt.” “Rabbit-Hunt.” “Duck-Hunt!”)
How do you work with that? There are several ways. One of the easiest: Only one side is comedic. If the players like to play the fools, let them form a party which doesn’t take anything serious (like the old TMNT) and match them up with serious plots. Since only goofing around won’t stop the plot, they will somehow or another pull themselves together when needed and make it right through!
Or maybe the heroes are serious, while the villains and plots are somehow strange. Like a wizard, who tries to reshape the weave, so every spell will create cookies. Or another is just a maniac, who wants to break out the 4th wall, trying to convince everyone, that they’re nothing more than notes on a paper.
If only one side goofs around, it’s much easier to control the plot itself and make something like a story. With a real story, a DM is much better able to keep the campaign going, since one scenario will flow into the next and in the end it’s simply a direction to follow. Those who play regularly needs something like that, since simple and connectionless-episodic is very tiring when done repeatedly.
Another got rule in the DMG (p. 269) are: Plot points. This optional rule allows the players to shape the story to their own ideas and of course limiting the access of unbelievableness is another great way to make a comedy without playing randomly.
null

Comedy as a supplement

Normally, I don’t play comedy-based campaigns, but I do add often some comedy as supplement. So when you (for example) play Tyranny of Dragons, you might think: Hey, this might work. Why don’t I add a bullywug, which is actually thinking, it’s a transformed princess. The bizarreness of the situation is something that might enhance the story in a funny way without breaking it. Just be sure, that the players can’t possibly think of it as a subquest or story-hook.
Funny things happens in real life and in Fantasy, you can make it more funny with just a bit of work. Like adding a fart-sound to the evil wizard’s Stinking Cloud or just a description, how a critical hit looks like on the enemy: “Your sword cuts deep into the body of your enemy and splashes hits the adjacent one, which complains: “Hey, look where you’re leaking!”

 null

In the end the most important thing is to determine how much comedy your gaming-group can process. If you’re joking as much out-of-game as playing serious, maybe you should consider to add some more comedy to the game itself as a DM or a player, to keep the rest more focused on the game. So maybe your character has the flaw, that he regularly messes up serious situations. Or maybe you add, as a DM, an additional condition to your lich, like that his phylactery can only be destroyed while he can see it, so you can deliver this line: “Erm, how do you… wait, I meant, what are you holding there? Seems like a very valuable treasure, so it might be better if you keep it somewhere safer than this battlefield. I know, I’m your enemy and trying to kill you, but I really had the urge to give you that piece of advice. Take it, seriously!”
And often the most memorable moments of a campaign are the most funniest. And that’s definitely better than the most annoying ones. -_-

Advertisements

Warlock – Overview

Sorry for the great delay, Christmas and other stuff kept going on and on and on and so I was pretty unmotivated to do the blog. Even though I played a lot of D&D in this time and in the end have a lot of experience to share. I won’t have much free time (at least without decreasing my time playing D&D), but at least I’ll try at least one per week.

This was definitely a really big piece of work, since I had no idea how I could make it even remotely viable. But now it’s done! Wohoo, only one more to go, even though it’ll be a lot of subclasses there… dammit. As always my personal opinion and somehow I think an overview isn’t too accurate here, since the warlock class is much harder to grasp than most other classes, since there are way more ways to customize it.

This is an overview, so I’ll just categorize each class in certain categories to see how it cuts and give a personal grading. The end-grading won’t count the multiclass-strength in (for obvious reasons) and is more like an overall impression than a mathematical derivation.

Any feature in italic is from a subclass and a abbreviation will say which one (in the warlock’s case AF for the Archfey, FI for the Fiend and GO for the Great Old One). And red features means there is a flaw or a minus in said category.

null

Multiclass-Strength:

  • Brings Pact Magic, which is pretty useful for high class warlocks with some levels in another spellcasting class
  • Invocations can bring some pretty nice basic effects, which will enhance the warlockish experience even with few levels up to the high tier
  • since the warlock’s features lacks in focused power and excels in power over time, you can easily balance the focused power out by taking another class
  • good combinations with every class
  • the capstone isn’t to sneer at, but you won’t find it too sad not to have it until you’re in a lengthy and really difficult dungeon crawl

Offensive:

  • Pact Magic: Some offensive potential here and depending on pact much more incoming. Especially the Eldritch Blast cantrip will be useful in that department.
  • Eldritch Invocations:
    • Agonizing Blast: Obviously more damage.
    • Devil’s Sight: Increases the chances to make damage, especially after making it harder for a lot of enemies.
    • Eldritch Spear: Increased range means more chances to make damage.
    • Lifedrinker: Obviously more damage.
    • Master of Myriad Forms: Well, sometimes you really want claws, I think.
    • Minions of Chaos: More guys to make your damage.
    • Sculptor of Flesh: Become something to increase your offense.
    • Thirsting Blade: More attacks means more damage.
    • Witch Sight: Counters these annoying illusion defensive spells, like invisibility in any form.
  • Pact Boon – Pact of the Chain: The more powerful familiars can be pretty nice, if you’re still on low-levels and cornering one guy and don’t want to waste more resources than needed. But in the end they’re still not combat material, but at least they share the functions of a normal familiar, too, like touching enemies for you.
  • Pact Boon – Pact of the Blade: Warlocks aren’t good melee characters, but this pact make them decent, like a bard. It’s less about making yourself a great combatant and more about making you more diverse. And as long as you don’t have a magical weapon as a pact weapon, you can choose the right weapon at the right time and use it, regardless of what it is.
  • Expanded Spell-list (FI): More offensive spells can make you a spell-slinger for a couple of turns. And if you know you have time for a short rest afterwards, you will make your wizard-buddy look at you with envy in terms of damage.
  • Hurl Through Hell (FI): It’s like another offensive Mystic Arcanum. Only needs to hit with an attack, so any spell with an attack roll is fair game, too.

Resource-Management:

  • Pact Magic: Spell slots which will be regained after every short rest! Cool!
  • Mystic Arcanum: These don’t use up your spell slots, even though they’re powerful. A nice exception of the rule.
  • Eldritch Master: Nice to have, since it shortens the time to regain spell slots once a day.
  • Pact Features (AF, FI, GO): Most of them are regained at a short rest or at-will, so you can use them without too much worry.
  • Pact Magic: Too less spell slots for situations, when you want to cast as much great spells as possible. And even with regaining those slots after a short rest, it’ll slow down the exploration phases, if you’re the only caster with utility spells, which consumes the resource ‘time’.
  • Mystic Arcanum: This red is only compared to other main-spellcasters, since you end up with less high-level spells and can’t use higher spell slots to empower them.

Support:

  • Pact Magic: Not the best spell list for this kind of work, even though the Archfey brings some neat spells and invocations can bring others.
  • Eldritch Invocations:
    • Bewitching Whispers: Less enemies to worry about and more allies for all kind of usage.
    • Chains of Carcer: Lessen the enemies (even though only special types) for a round or two.
    • Dreadful Word: Another one which will decrease your enemies.
    • Mire the Mind: A genuine debuff.
    • Otherwordly Leap: Increasing your jumping distance is a standard way in dungeons to get these hovering bastards, like Flameskulls.
    • Repelling Blast: Push those enemies to the tank, which will save your back line some trouble.
    • Sculptor of Flesh: Make one enemy into a beaver, so he won’t do much until the spell ends.
    • Sign of Ill Omen: Debuff are as good as buffs and with less enemies even better.
    • Thief of Five Fates: Another debuff.
    • Witch Sight: Even if your allies can’t use it, you can at least tell them.
  • Expanded Spell-list (AF): The Archfey makes it possible to learn some support and avoiding fights entirely with the Sleep spell at low levels.
  • Hurl Through Hell (FI): Sometimes an enemy brings a mean aura or another nasty effect. With this you can at least get one round of breather.

Survivability:

  • Pact Magic: Some defensive buffs and temporary hit points here, plus some debuffs. Nothing too directly and some of the greatest defenive buffs are missing in this spell list.
  • Eldritch Invocations:
    • Armor of Shadows: Mage armor without spell slots on yourself? Be prepared 24/7!
    • Ascendant Step: Good for melee only opponents which can’t reach that high.
    • Bewitching Whispers: Make one enemy into a friend.
    • Chains of Carceri: Hold that one fiend, fey or celestial which want to slam you.
    • Eldritch Spear: Keep your distance to the danger as long as possible.
    • Fiendish Vigor: Gives you practically additional hp.
    • Mask of Many Faces: Sometimes your best bet is to take the form of an enemy, like a city guard, to survive.
    • Master of Myriad Forms: Aquatic adaptation safes lifes. And of course the ‘look like an enemy’ thing.
    • Minions of Chaos: Have something between you and your doom.
    • Mire the Mind: The slower the opponent, the faster you get away.
    • One with Shadows: Vanish if you’re not needed and there are shadows nearby, which is pretty often the case.
    • Otherwordly Leap: If you can jump over something the enemy can’t, you win. And of course you can position yourself in the first place somewhere much harder to attack.
    • Repelling Blast: Especially useful with multiple Eldritch Blasts: Push them back and move back afterwards for maximum use.
    • Sculptor of Flesh: Be either a spider, rat or bird to run away or beef up as a T-Rex!
    • Sign or Ill Omen: Disadvantage with attack rolls against you? Bought!
    • Thief of Five Fates: At least some protection… even though it’s minor.
    • Witch Sight: Those invisible ambushers will have a harder time to ambush. Invisible.
  • Fey Presence (AF): Even though charm and frightened aren’t the best debuffs, you can count on it to keep you safe versus a lot of trouble. Except undead and dragons.
  • Misty Escape (AF): Get damage once, be sure to survive afterwards. Teleport and invisible at the same time are two great ways to mitigate further damage.
  • Beguiling Defenses (AF): While you love to charm, you hate being charmed. And not only being immune to it but to redirect it back to the sender is a very nice thing to do.
  • Dark Delirium (AF): Only one opponent and again it becomes charmed/frightened, but in this version, the enemy is practically out of combat until it breaks.
  • Dark One’s Blessing (FI): Killing stuff and getting temporary hit points. Since temporary hit points are as good as normal hit points when taking damage, you’ll like them.
  • Dark One’s Own Luck (FI): Since it only applies to ability checks and saving throws, you will most likely use it in life-threatening situations.
  • Fiendish Resilience (FI): Since you can choose the type, you can practically prepare after every short rest for the next fights. Oh, there is a green dragon out there? I should better take a poison resistance. And even for bludgeoning, piercing or slashing damage it’s great, since silver or magic weapons aren’t too common.
  • Hurl Through Hell (FI): Use it to single out the most annoying enemy and send it away for a round.
  • Entropic Ward (GO): Even though it gives you advantage on one attack roll if it succeeds, the warlock doesn’t have a real damaging spell, which relies on an attack roll. So just use it for the disadvantage for one enemy attack.
  • Thought Shield (GO): If you ever find yourself in the Underdark, you will love this ability. Resistance to psychic damage and to share the rest is a great way to combat aberrations on an even ground and of course illusions will hurt less.
  • Armor Proficiency: Only light armor, which is better than no armor, but since Dexterity isn’t a main ability, you’ll feel the difference in AC.

Utility:

  • Pact Magic: A decent amount of utility spells in this list and the pacts adds some more. It misses the sheer amount of the wizard, but brings some overall useful stuff. And misses long range teleportation spells entirely.
  • Eldritch Invocations:
    • Ascendant Step: Levitate to places you won’t reach otherwise.
    • Beast Speech: Talk to pets and other animals to gather information.
    • Beguiling Influence: More Skill Proficiencies!
    • Bewitching Whispers: Compulsion can do that much.
    • Book of Ancient Secrets: Make your average warlock to a above average dungeon crawler by adding rituals to the mix. From any list.
    • Devil’s Sight: The better darkvision will make you a great scout… at least that’s what your party will think.
    • Eldritch Sight: At will Detect Magic without using 10 minutes for a ritual cast. You will love it.
    • Eyes of the Rune Keeper: Your DM will hate you for this, since ancient writings aren’t supposed to be read. But at least you can read any message your enemy left behind. At least unless the bloody mess made it unreadable.
    • Gaze of Two Minds: Scout ahead with two people… kinda. And of course to make an ambush and time it just right, while hiding somewhere your enemy will never see you.
    • Mask of Many Faces: Look like any humanoid you want. Like the townmaster!
    • Master of Myriad Forms: Be any humanoid you want. Like the king, after kidnapping him.
    • Misty Visions: Minor illusion for maximum usage outside of combat.
    • One with Shadows: Infiltration succeeds.
    • Otherwordly Leap: Jump to places you won’t reach without using resources.
    • Repelling Blast: You can push objects around and that makes it useful.
    • Sculptor of Flesh: Polymorph Shenanigans makes great exploration experience.
    • Visions of the Distant Realms: Like Eldritch Sight, only better. And the need for a higher warlock level.
    • Voice of the Chain Master: If you want to talk with someone without being there.
    • Whisper of the Grave: Dead people can tell you a lot. Especially concerning their deads.
    • Witch Sight: This is not the king, but a shapeshifter!
  • Pact Boon – Pact of the Chain: With a familiar with several special abilities, dungeoneering and some urban strategies becomes much easier. Having an imp go invisible to follow a goon back to headquarters to get the whole band? Easy!
  • Pact Boon – Pact of the Tome: Of course it depends partly on the cantrips, but since most cantrips are meant to be useful, I didn’t saw the need to put it in other categories. But the real power of this feature is due the Book of Ancient Secrets Invocation, which enhances your utility tenfold.
  • Fey Presence (AF): You know, you can choose the effect to make a conversation go more smoothly?
  • Dark Delirium (AF): If you want to let a guard being less on guard, don’t use drugs but dreams!
  • Dark One’s Own Luck (FI): If you have that one ability check which would fail otherwise, you can use this feature after seeing the result to correct it. If you’re lucky enough.
  • Expanded Spell-list (GO): Even though the new spell selection is very versatile, the most interesting options are in the utility-department, like detect thoughts.
  • Awakened Mind (GO): Telepathy at-will, even if you don’t share a language. Great ability, which have a lot of possibilities, the best part is the fact, that you can organize the party in a silent manner. Or use it to deceive someone or at least get the attention.
  • Create Thrall (GO): Only for humanoid targets, but if you ever need a spy, you can simply make you one. But only charmed, so it’s still less than a total control.

Grading:

Multiclass: Fantastic
Offense: Good to Great (FI)
Resource Management: Great
Support: Bad
Survivability: Decent to Good (AF, FI)
Utility: Good to Great (GO)

Overall: Good

Multiclass warlocks are pretty common in the forums, mostly because you can grasp some really nice features with only a few warlock levels when focusing on another class or instead take a few level in another class, to enhance your warlock build. This is possible, since the warlock class is much more customizable than your average class, so the customize option ‘multiclass’ just add to that strength.

One of the strengths of the warlock are the Invocations, which enhances any category you feel is lacking, but at the same time every warlock have one problem: The power of the moment. Without short rests a warlock lacks a lot of power, since he have less resources but it’s easier to regain those. So for short and hard encounters the warlock loses out against every other class, while on a long adventuring day with the common 3 short rests, he will be at least reliable and at the end have more spells left than the other arcane casters.

But first you need to get to this point, since other classes lacks the means to regain resources early in the game and you don’t want to go on an adventure, while your companions hit rock bottom of their power.  So at the start you will be underwhelming, then you become reliable and in the end it all comes down how well you build up your warlock.

I suggest the warlock class for everyone who likes having options and not too specialized. For those who wants options and be specialized, I suggest a warlock-multiclassing, which are very common these days as ideas on the forums. You can combine the warlock with any other class to make it work better in one department.

 

The wizard’s overview will have to wait, since I never got the chance to speak about the other books and want to finish the game reports of the Tyranny of Dragons campaign I’m mastering. Even though we didn’t get that far there, sadly.

What makes the warlock different?

I already said, that the warlock is an entirely different class than any other. That mean, while you can somehow categorize the other classes into some generic groups (like fighter, paladin, barbarian as the front-liners, ranger and rogue as the skirmishers/artillery, bard, cleric and druid as the support/healer and sorcerer and wizard as the arcane support/blasting), the warlock might be everything and none to it.

The basic of this view follows the fact, that the warlock uses a lot of unique mechanism, while other classes has some very basic commonalities, like Extra Attack for the weapon based, spellcasting trait, etc. So this means, that despite all differences, you can get a bit of insight what these class are supposed to do.

The warlock is supposed to be a main-caster in a way, but lacks spellcasting. He uses Pact Magic, which is quite different. He isn’t as squishy as a standard wizard/sorcerer, but have the basic defense capabilities of a rogue. And with the Invocation mechanism, he can be pretty well customized on a basic level (means there will never be need for a new kind of subclasses, which would replace standard features like Pathfinder archetypes do), be it in focusing on damage, utility, spellpower or other departments.

And of course he has practically 2 subclasses, one pact which would be the real subclass and the pact boon, which doesn’t have anything to do with the pact in the first place, but will affect many builds as much if not more than the choice of fey, fiend or great old.

This makes the options of customization fourfold: Known spells, Invocations, subclass, Pact Boon. A fey warlock with the pact blade will feel much different than one with the pact tome, since the focused went from enhanced weapon damage (and the utility to use the weapon you want unless you got another item bounded) to utility-magic focused type, even though both excels in mind-affecting and tricky spells. And if you would change to the pact of the fiend instead, you got your weapon plus a bunch of offensive potential.

 

So even when writing my overview I just get the feeling, I can’t really pin down this class as good as others. Even though the cleric is problematic, since his domain will give him a huge jump and change the class focus for a great mileage, the warlock is just more complicated. And if you get into feats and other non-class dependent customization, you can do about anything with this class, even though it might not excel in it. But if a warlock would be a better fighter than the fighter, I would definitely complain about it.

But for most people who are looking forward or have already fun playing a warlock, this variety might be exactly the reason why to. Personally, I’d like to play a fey pact blade warlock, combining a charming personality, swashbuckling and a bit of useful spells, even consider to not take Eldritch Blast as a cantrip or even if I do, to ignore the Agonizing Blast Invocation, since there are so many other nice ones there.

Bound to level

Since time issues and the fact, that the warlock is unlike any other class, I’ll postpone the overview for now, I try to make it happen any day, but make it so, that I first write a less time.consuming post and afterwards put some time into drafting the overview piece a piece.

For today like to talk about levels and level-bound traits. These came up when playing and after seeing some postings about it, I thought that it might still be confusing. And sometimes not even that clear.

First, I want to explain, that I will not talk about the traits, which are entirely bound to classes, where the improvements are part of the class table (like Wild Shape, Aura Improvement, Extra Attacks, etc.), but where the character level seems to be the deciding factor or at least could be.

Second, I will take on the ability score improvement trait, which is now bounded to class, instead of character level, simply because I think this is somehow viable to talk about in this post.

Third, every DM is free to make changes to it, so if you don’t feel like this is a good or logical choice, you’re free to disagree. But you should expect that others don’t agree to your disagreement and stay cool about it.

Cantrips: Taken from this site here:

With cantrips, does a MC caster use their character or class level for determining damage? A multiclass character uses character level to determine the damage of a cantrip. -J

Cantrips comes from multiple choices, starting with spellcasting classes, races (like the high elf) or feats (Magic Initiate). Since the offensive cantrips are meant to rival multiple attacks at some point, they become stronger with rising level, but why should it be character level be the basic?

OK, there are multiple ways to get them and even if a high elf isn’t needlessly a wizard, it doesn’t mean that he won’t put some work into it. Same for a ranger/wizard or other combination of caster/non/less-caster class. Even though you might suspect, that it would be illogical if the fighter picks up the wizard class after having a lot of fighter levels and have as lethal cantrips as an non-evocation wizard of the same level.

Multiclassing shouldn’t punish or reward players ideally and dishing out damage per round is somewhat crucial for staying competitive through the levels. Extra attacks are the way for melees and these don’t stack, so why would cantrips do it in any way? Counter-question: How much does it hurt? Since cantrips are still often inferior to weapon choices of weapon-focused class (at the at-will department), you often needs some basic traits of these classes to make them stronger, limiting either your options (like warlock Invocations) or the need to take some levels (like Arcane Tradition of Evocation).

I don’t really see any damage here, especially since most cantrips aren’t that reliable in comparisons to other at-will features.

Warlock Invocations prerequisite: This is a thing, which is asked quite often. Do you need the specific character or warlock level to choose those high-level invocations? RAW it doesn’t become clear, but if you look at those features, it seems kinda unfair to other classes to make this 2 level dip into warlock something which gives you some features you wouldn’t be able to get when multiclassing into another class. Jeremy Crawford answered in his twitter (source):

The intent is that a level prerequisite in a warlock invocation refers to warlock level.

Intend doesn’t needlessly means that it’s meant to be a rule. I would decide on a case to case basic here, a valor bard/blade warlock who seeks to increase the damage a bit with the Lifedrinker-Invocation might get another treatment as a paladin who seeks to do the same. It’s about how much the party might need it (if you run official modules with 3 characters, you might consider that this is within reason or if the player of the tank is leaving the party due personal circumstances and no one could otherwise be that melee-prescience).

But for the most part, I agree.

Ability Score Improvements (or feats): In 3e and 4e these were bounded to character level, now they’re not, which is bad for multiclass characters. At the beginning, a great “Why?!”-wave came around and after all that time, some don’t even tried to understand. There were a lot of change-requests, house rules and the like flowing around (like feats at 1st level, bounding the ASI at character level and such).

Before house-ruling something, I suggest trying it out first. It’s really not that bad. And there are some reasons not to be so fast to expand it:

  • The team are unlikely to be composed of idiots, since they got the job in one of the greatest companies in the gaming business
    • classes aren’t design to have the ASI at character levels, which would lead to dead levels (means no benefit), if the normal ones are taken away
  • Multiclassing brings other features, seems even logical that characters wouldn’t have the resources to improve abilities or learn a new feat in the meanwhile
  • Most feats are terrifying strong and define characters quite strongly. In most cases, you will feel the benefits of a feat much more than the benefit of a ASI, at least that’s what I experienced so far. They can easily match up to class features in terms of benefits and are often even more overwhelming than those at the mid-levels
    • I do think, the human variant is the more D&D-like human (at least 3e upwards) and the standard is the one you only tend to use when feats are not allowed. Since feats are so strong, a lot of (PC-)Adventurers are actually human.

So why should you even expand to those without thinking things through and not even trying to use the actual rules at this point? Of course there might be good reasons, like having less PCs than normal, but I run a campaign with 3 PCs and advanced standard rules (means multiclassing allowed [nobody wants to], variant human [one] and feats [at least 2 will take a feat at 4th level instead of ASI]) and even if the start was hard, they managed.

So, that’s it. If I missed something, please feel free to comment and I’ll add it.

Sorcerer – Overview

Been a while, but now it’s time for another overview and now’s the sorcerer’s turn. I already made some posts about this class, since it fascinates me in this edition for the first time. So let’s get to it.

This is an overview, so I’ll just categorize each class in certain categories to see how it cuts and give a personal grading. The end-grading won’t count the multiclass-strength in (for obvious reasons) and is more like an overall impression than a mathematical derivation.

Any feature in italic is from a subclass and a abbreviation will say which one (in the sorcerer’s case DB for Draconic Bloodline and WM for Wild Magic). And red features means there is a flaw or a minus in said category.

null

Multiclass-Strength:

  • Full level for casters
  • a lot of cantrips, especially at lower levels
  • even few levels can bring some serious spellcasting action, since it brings you Metamagic and Sorcery Points (SP), which functions even with non-sorcerer spells. Twinned Cure Wounds? Splendid! Even though you need some levels to attain enough SP to wield this power without drying out too fast
  • Even though the other features are nice, you might consider to not dabbed too much into or outo the sorcerer class, since you want either enough SP to spend or on the other side the better overall spell potencial of another spellcasting class
  • outside a rogue, a non-spellcasting/-subclass class doesn’t really make the cut here (rogues can use the DB quite efficiently and some metamagics are pretty useful for a rogue (especially the Arcane Trickster) who wants to dabble into magic (more).
  • the capstone is ignorable

Offensive:

  • Spellcasting: The offensive potential of the sorcerer’s spellist is horrendous and he get some really juicy spells, even though no sorcerer-only ones.
  • Metamagic (Distant Spell): More range means an earlier attack.
  • Metamagic (Empowered Spell): Great for re-rolling those 1s and 2s!
  • Metamagic (Heightened Spell): Save for half/no damage? Disadvantage on save!
  • Metamagic (Quickened Spell): Spell-sling a cantrip after a now bonus action spell. Or use Witch Bolt/Sun Beam and use an action to fire another one at the same turn.
  • Metamagic (Subtle Spell): Hard to deny, that your enemies won’t be surprised, if you pull that off while hiding.
  • Metamagic (Twinned Spell): Strike more targets!
  • Elemental Affinity (DB): Get some bonus damage to your dragon element.
  • Dragon Wings (DB): If the front is too loaded, target those spell-casters from above!
  • Wild Magic Surge (WM): A lot of options allows you to either increase your damage that round.
  • Tides of Chaos (WM): Useful when casting attack spells.
  • Bend Luck (WM): Saved by the point? Minus 1d4!
  • Spell Bombardment (WM): More damage, as long your dice rolls don’t suck too hard.
  • Weapon Proficiency: Like a wizard this edition and the wizard’s choice is pretty bad. Good that you’ll never use weapons at a certain point (most likely 5th level with cantrip damage increase), but until then, DEX-bonus to damage can be more viable to kill kobolds than a 1-X damage value.

Resource-Management:

  • Spellcasting: Mostly a heolp to manage your hit points and such better, not that strong in the ranger’s case.
  • Font of Magic: You get a way to create spell-slots on the fly and get SP back, if needed. So if you ever get the feeling, that you rather need more SP than spells (like in the obvious boss fight, were you won’t be able to burn all those and rather wants to kick some asses with your last spells), you can decide to transform then. Right now, without much delay!
  • Metamagic (Empowered Spell): Use SP efficiently and make your spells more worth! If your damage sucked on a spell, spend a SP afterwards to re-roll only the bad dice (up to your CHA-mod).
  • Metamagic (Extended Spell): Useful if you’re either going into a long encounter (like boss fights), where your 1 minute buffs will wear of during the fight or if you can see reinforcements or a whole second encounter shortly behind coming. Or for exploration stuff.
  • Metamagic (Heightened Spell): Do you need the remorse you feel, when wasting a high level spell, because a save? Make it more unlikely!
  • Metamagic (Quickened Spell): If you need your action otherwise (like for running away, while wanting to obstruct your foes), this will make some nice action management.
  • Metamagic (Twinned Spell): One action for targeting two people with the same spell and using less SP than creating spell slots with Font of Magic (and even higher than 5th level).
  • Sorcerous Restoration: Some SP-regaining after a short rest, useful (since you should consider 2 short rests per day, so 8 SP), but lacking compared to other capstones.
  • Draconic Resilience (DB): Who needs Mage Armor?!
  • Tides of Chaos (WM): Important attack spell you need delivered and don’t have inspiration? Here is your insurance!
  • Wild Magic Surge (WM): Ways to recover resources! If you only could control it…
  • Bend Luck (WM): Use it after the roll to decide how useful it’ll be. And it will save all kind of resources in any situation where it can actually change the outcome.
  • Controlled Chaos (WM): Choose the better result and save or regain resources on the way.
  • Font of Magic: Just a minor one, bonus action for this can be sometimes tricky, especially if you want to quicken it or have other stuff to do with your only once per turn bonus action.

Support:

  • Spellcasting: A nice combinations of debuffs, buffs and other stuff helps much here.
  • Metamagic (Careful Spell): Works on every spell which won’t discriminate between allies and foes. Like Circle of Death (for half damage at least) or some of the cool controlling spells, like Fear.
  • Metamagic (Heightened Spell): Deliver your debuffs more reliable, spells like Slow will be terrifying this way.
  • Metamagic (Twinned Spell): You realize, that you can haste now two allies at the same time? Concentration spells will work so much better!
  • Draconic Presence (DB): Debuff your enemies in decent range.
  • Bend Luck (WM): Buff or debuff. That is the question!

Survivability:

  • Spellcasting: Some protection potential here and even spells which allows you to be a very annoying target, like Mirror Images.
  • Metamagic (Distant Spell): Staying some feet away can really, really help and even those touch spells can be delivered at 30ft now!
  • Metamagic (Subtle Spell): If the enemy doesn’t see you casting, there is less reason to think, that you’re a sorcerer.
  • Draconic Resilience (DB): Hit Point increase is almost as good as getting a higher hit die and higher AC will always be useful.
  • Elemental Affinity (DB): Get some resistance vs. your dragon element!
  • Dragon Wings (DB): Flying over your opponents makes you a hard target vs. melees and an easy one for ranges and spell-slinger. But since you can decide to fly and position yourself much better this way, this will definitely come in handy.
  • Draconic Presence (DB): Those who failed the save won’t attack you anymore when charmed and will have a lot of problems if frightened.
  • Tides of Chaos (WM): You want advantage if your life is on the line and often saves and ability checks might be that roll to decide that.
  • Bend Luck (WM): Better to lower that attack roll, which would most likely obliterate you.
  • Hit points: With the lowest Hit Die (d6), the sorcerer is pretty squishy, which will show over the course of levels.
  • Armor Proficiency: None.
  • Wild Magic Surge (WM): Tiny chance to fireball your 1st level party to death.

Utility:

  • Spellcasting: At least the basic utility you need is covered, even though not as convenient as others. At least if you remember to take some of your limited known spells for this. And a good amount of cantrips.
  • Metamagic (Subtle Spell): Charm a person without any forewarning. Ghost Sound while being talked to, to get a distraction. As long as you only need V and S components, you can spell people without them noticing!
  • Dragon Ancestor (DB): Double proficiency bonus (if you are trained in this skill/tool) to CHA-checks to talk with dragons and draconic as language? Since dragons tends to be a bit powerful, ways to talk you out are pretty sweet.
  • Dragon Wings (DB): If you can move on the z-axis, you can explore and do much more.
  • Draconic Presence (DB): Charmed people are a lot easier to talk to and won’t attack you.
  • Controlled Chaos (WM): Even though Wild Surge doesn’t increase your utility per se, this one makes it more useful at least.
  • Spellcasting: Too less known spells for being too useful in this department.
  • Dragon Ancestor (DB): Since fire is the best choice in synergy with the traits of this subclass and poison and acid are simply bad choices, you will wait until some new spells come out to make these doable choices.
  • Wild Magic Surge (WM): Unpredictable, so you can’t count on it, even though there are many good effects there.

Grading:

Multiclass: Great
Offense: Great
Resource Management: Great
Support: Good
Survivability: Bad (WM) to Decent (DB)
Utility: Decent

Overall: Good

As multiclass option for casters, sorcerer is most likely the best choice, bringing the cool metamagics into your other class.

But the sorcerer as a pure class is one, which relies on a good offense potential (even though not necessarily a lot of offense spells) and much more important: To make every action and spell more worth due the use of metamagics over the course and using unused spell-slots to get more SP again. As long as you can manage your resources, the sorcerer will be an overwhelming battery of arcane power, which can adapt the spell potential and prowess to the given situation.

I guess the survivability might be a bit higher, but it really depends which spells are selected and used and which metamagics you have. With Quickened Spells you can buff yourself while firing cantrips to avoid combats, where your buffs takes too much time to make yourself useful, but of you select only one buff as insurance, bad/decent is pretty true. Other classes do just better in this.

What hurts the sorcerer is the fact, that he has the least utility out of all full casters spell-wise (and even the ranger is more broad imo), even though he can learn the most basics arcane utility spells (like teleport, fly, etc.), his selection of spells are limited, not only in known spells, but in learnable spells, too.

If you’re smart, the sorcerer can be a great character, like using Twinned Spells to buff your allies, which might be more useful than just fingering two people to death, erm, meant use Finger of Death on two targets. And even though Wild Magic brings a bit of unpredictability into the game, the Surge table brings some of the best effects you can get, while only few of them are outright horrible (and most will lose some effectiveness, if you can either metamagic them [Careful Spell!!!] or have some hit points to endure them at least).

Not too sure, if I can get around another overview (or any post) tomorrow, but we’ll see.

Overview Ranger

Finally, we get to ther ranger’s overview. I already made some posts about that class, so I cut it short in the introduction. I just want to mention, that the one who made the text-routines for Internet Explorer has to be an idiot, because I had to switch to IE temporary and while I wrote all this, the browser did its best to tell me to be replaced as fast as possible.

This is an overview, so I’ll just categorize each class in certain categories to see how it cuts and give a personal grading. The end-grading won’t count the multiclass-strength in (for obvious reasons) and is more like an overall impression than a mathematical derivation.

Any feature in italic is from a subclass and a abbreviation will say which one (in the ranger’s case HU for Hunter and BM for Beast Master). And red features means there is a flaw or a minus in said category.

null

Multiclass-Strength:

  • If you’re a caster, a ranger will provide half its level to your spell-slots per day
  • The first levels doesn’t provide you that straight benefits, second level brings you a fighting style and already some of the best ranger spells, you can go for archetype (here the HU is the better choice) and a strong offense trait in 3rd level and 4th will bring you an ability score improvement
  • 5th level excels with Extra Attack in case your other class won’t provide it, afterwards ranger will stoß being that useful for multiclassing into, except you want another strong HU defense feature at 7th and the ability improvement a level after
  • If you want ranger as a main-class, you can aim for level 16th or 17th without much trouble, but you can also leave it at 12th to grab another Hunter feature and ability score improvement and leave it at that
  • the capstone is ignorable

Offensive:

  • Weapon Proficiency: Always have the better tools due martial weapons.
  • Fighting Style (Archery, Dueling, Two-Weapon Fighting): More damage is more damage after all.
  • Spellcasting: Most of your damage comes from these spells, which buffs yourself quite good. Hunter’s Quarry is pretty insane for 1st level.
  • Extra Attack: More attacks means more damage.
  • Feral Senses: If you can detect the enemy, you can kill it.
  • Foe Slayer: Not too great of a capstone, but increase accuracy and or damage.
  • Hunter’s Prey (HU): Increase the amount of attacks or damage.
  • Multiattack (HU): In certain circumstances this dishes out more damage than your regular attacks (depending on the number of enemies). Sadly, it’s unfocused, but it can provide the slaying of pre-damaged goons.
  • Superior Hunter’s Defense [Stand against the Tide] (HU): If you’re mobbed and someone misses you, you can redirect the attack with new attack roll to another target. Less defensive than the name would suggest.
  • Ranger’s Companion (BM): The more obvious companions do more damage than you.
  • Bestial Fury(BM): More attacks overall.
  • Foe Slayer: Sadly only for Favored Enemies and since you get your last one(s) at 14th level, you might not get a use of it, when the campaign takes a much different turn at the end.

Resource-Management:

  • Spellcasting: Mostly a heolp to manage your hit points and such better, not that strong in the ranger’s case.
  • Vanish: Hide as a Bonus Action is pretty much the reason why you want to multiclass into rogue for 2 levels. Sadly it comes a bit late at 14th level, but for any Archer and Hit-and-Run style ranger it’s still an effective way to manage their actions better.
  • Foe Slayer: Since you can decide to use it after the role, you can make missed attacks into hits, after having an idea of the AC of the opponent.
  • Exceptional Training (BM): Somehow mitigate the downs of the companion management a bit.
  • Bestial Fury(BM): Transfer one attack of yours into two attacks of the companion.
  • Share Spells (BM): Use one spell and target you and your companion, less actions for more effect.
  • Spellcasting: The most powerful spells are concentration, so rangers might want to stay back, since they lack proficiency in con-saves normally.
  • Primeval Awareness: Uses spell slots.
  • Ranger’s Companion (BM): Uses up your own actions.

Support:

  • Spellcasting: You at least you have some minor support here and much more in the control department, so debuffs are your main-support, since enemies who have to deal with them are much less dangerous.
  • Exceptional Training (BM): Help Action for your Bonus Action and the companions actual action.
  • Share Spells (BM): Helps your companion and it’ll need all help it can get.

Survivability:

  • Hit points: A d10 is above the average d8.
  • Armor Proficiency: Only the shields are to mention here.
  • Natural Explorer: Not much, but when running away in your specialized environment is much more likely. Normal pace and stealth, so if you fight in the long run, you can be pretty annoying.
  • Fighting Style (Defense): One of the few valuable ways to enhance your AC most of the time. Especially since the ranger lacks much protection in general.
  • Spellcasting: You can heal yourself and has some lesser protection spells.
  • Land’s Stride: Natural hazards and terrain are your friends now and you get even advantage to saves when those are magically influenced.
  • Hide in Plain Sight: While having your camouflage you can hide about anywhere with this. So if things goes south, go to the wall and be never seen again…
  • Vanish: Did you really need even more ways to make it hard to track you? – Yes, indeed!
  • Feral Senses: It works as an ambush-detector, so you won’t be less often surprised by those who are confident in their stealthiness.
  • Defensive Tactics (HU): Makes it harder to hit you when provoking opportunity attacks, subsequent attacks of the same enemy or at least gives you advantage to saves of one of the m0st common conditions you’ll run into.
  • Superior Hunter’s Defense [Evasion, Uncanny Dodge] (HU): Gain either half damage for a single weapon attack per round or half to none damage to every saved dexterity saving throw. Pretty useful.
  • Ranger’s Companion (BM): Since you get another when making a short rest, you can sacrifice it when necessarily.

Utility:

  • Skills Proficiency: You get 3, which is more than most classes.
  • Favorite Enemy: Know thy enemies. And their language. And then track them!
  • Natural Explorer: Makes it so much easier to move in nature for you and your party.
  • Spellcasting: A lot of cool and trendy outdoor spells here, hard to choose from this list.
  • Primeval Awareness: Up to you how useful it is. At least you can identify if the threat might be immediate when signs show up (like burning houses, which might suggest the presence of a dragon, fiend or elemental nearby).
  • Land’s Stride: Makes it a bit easier on the scout duty.
  • Hide in Plain Sight: Scouting in the enemy’s camp? Sure, just use a minute, have a decent Dexterity (Stealth) score and you can pretty much move freely.
  • Vanish: All things included, you can scout about anything without leaving reasons to track you. Great for information gathering.
  • Ranger’s Companion (BM): The utility of having a beast companions is great if you bring a bit of imagination into it. Especially since it brings your scouting skills too the max or can even help by standing night watch, while being inactive during the day (like an owl).
  • Favorite Enemy: Since you only have limited number of choices here and no way to change them, you’d better know what the campaign will bring you.
  • Natural Explorer: Pretty much the same, only in this term with terrain-types.

Grading:

Multiclass: Decent
Offense: Good (BM) to Great (HU)
Resource Management: Decent
Support: Bad
Survivability: Good
Utility: Fantastic

Overall: Good

OK, this class is complicated. Especially the Beast Master brings some easy mechanism into play, which are pretty complicated if you want to use them at best. But the ranger beats the monk and the fighter class in being good at fighting (even not as great as them) and being uber-useful out of combat, especially in a natural environment. The spells brings some diversity and can bring stable and dangerous boosts to the combat if needed while having access to some neat controlling mechanism, which provides some special tools if you need them. But sadly not enough and too single enemy focused to make a good support.

Worrisome are the resource management and the fact, that this class get problems when built up melee focused, since it seems to lack some answers a melee would normally need, especially in terms of survivability, so I’d rather compare the meleeness of the class more to a rogue, while the ranged abilities does rival a ranged focused fighter pretty well. Well, it’s a ranger.

I do think, that some level rangers for multiclassing purposes are good, but the class peaks at staying single-classed.

Overall the ranger is a class which does what it does pretty well, but seems to cover more fields of expertise adequate than it really does. The danger lies here to think, that you can do too much too well. Stay in safety when possible, use your features to get as much advantage beforehand as possible and do it sneaky and fast, whenever the situation arises. If you do so, you shouldn’t run into more problems than any other class and possibly even a lot less.

My nemesis is my species enemy and became my favored enemy, do you understand?

The internet is a trap! After regaining connection for one day, I already wasted my whole evening and did nothing for the blog… Since I’m going to a Pathfinder session soon, I have too less time to make my overview, but I just took a topic which I wanted to talk about: The ranger’s favored enemy and how it changed in the editions.

null

1st Edition: The ranger didn’t have the choice of an enemy, but gained a flat +1/level damage to giants and certain humanoids like orcs. Flat but useful like most choices of the 1e.

2nd Edition: Here we got the species enemy feature, where a player chose a specific type of creatures which had to be accepted by the DM and should be tied to the ranger’s back-story. And got rewarded with a +4 to hit, while having a penalty of -4 to reaction. But in the end, those +4 were really useful and even if the choices were more open, it’d kicked asses.

3rd edition: The species enemy got renamed to favorite enemy and it’s the first time, the feature get a bonus outside combat (even though these were often disregarded). The +hit and +damage of the feature made it especially sexy to choose a favored enemy which will be either confronted often over several tiers of play or are tough to crack, like humanoids (human), undead, aberrations or constructs. And a big difference: You can select multiple favored enemies over the course. But since the 3e mechanic wouldn’t make the most iconic enemies like orcs a thread at high levels anymore, many possible choices weren’t that good.

4th edition: No favored or species enemy here, the ranger got additional damage to a target he declared (and is nearest to him at that time) and gets extra damage once a round.

5th edition: This is my favorite. The reason is simple, unless you hit 20th level, you get no benefits for combat purposes. This means that you choose your favored enemy more for the out of combat purposes, like advantage to recall lore and tracking and the possible additional language. So now having orcs as favored enemy will have much more of an impact than before, while constructs, undeads, fiends, etc. won’t suffer much that way. And since you get multiple favored enemies and when choosing humanoids you get two instead one subtypes, you can actually get a decent amount of knowledge about your foes without breaking out the bounded accuracy due to too many bonuses. And in this edition, even a 20th level ranger will be careful when facing a hundred orcs alone.

 

Why do I think, that the combat bonuses aren’t that important? Because I think this distracts you from the core of being a ranger. In my opinion a ranger fights enemies well is because he knows and understands them much better than a non-ranger could do, the advantage mechanism is a pretty neat way to ensure reliability with a certain error margin. And since the ranger’s spells are a huge benefit for his damage output and attack rolls have this sweet bounded accuracy, I don’t think the ranger especially need it.

Even though the 20th level Foe Slayer does grant combat bonuses, they’re ignorable. I think it comes a bit too late, too or shouldn’t be restricted to favored enemies. Or at least another effect.