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.

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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.

4e Deities and Domains

Even though the 4e did kinda scared me away at some point (mostly due the PG-mechanism and all releases bginning with Heroes of the Fallen Land), there are still a lot of things I liked. In this case, I like to talk about the Pantheon there.
Other than the Forgotten Realms Pantheon, you could actually oversee the numbers of these gods, other than a Greyhawk campaign, these gods seemed more natural and less special, which made it easier for players to understand. Other than the Eberron Gods, players actually cared about knowing most, because in Eberron they only remembers: ‘Sovereign Host had some gods, but the Host itself is more important. There are the Dark Six and I know the Traveler, because he’s funny. And there were these Light-thingies and I think the Elves did have religion and these evil guys, you know, emerald claw, erm…’ And I won’t start with racial gods.

The sad fact is, that gods are only as important as the players think they are. Most will only remember those who are either important to their characters or the campaign, but 4e was able to let my players remember multiples gods who were neither. I think it’s because of two reasons:

1.) The numbers: There were only few gods, you could rename them to different cultures while the deities remained the same. Even though you wouldn’t recreate any general racial god there, you could degrade those to exarchs, etc.
2.) The width: Moradin was the creator of dwarves, but foremost the god of creation and patron of artisans. Bahamuth was the god of justice, protection and nobility and not just some obscure dragon god. The deities covered a lot of the necessary domains, without even the need to get more specific to the actual worship in different cultures. These days paladins of Bahamuth were standard, while in the Realms these are more special. Can be interesting, too, but since fewer gods were assigned for a broader spectrum, they remained more rememberable.

OK, it helps definitely that most of these gods were recruited from another setting (like Kord, Pelor and Vecna from Greyhawk). 😉

So here my list of deities of the 4e pantheon, since the 5e didn’t include it up to now:

Name Alignment Domains
Asmodeus Lawful Evil Trickery
Avandra Chaotic Good Knowldge, Trickery
Bahamuth Lawful Good Life, War
Bane Lawful Evil War
Corellon Chaotic Neutral Light
Erathis Lawful Neutral Knowledge, Life
Gruumsh Chaotic Evil Tempest, War
Ioun Neutral Knowledge
Kord Neutral Tempest, War
Lolth Chaotic Evil Trickery
Melora Neutral Nature, Tempest
Moradin Lawful Good Knowledge
Pelor Neutral Good Life, Light
The Raven Queen Neutral Death
Sehanine Chaotic Neutral Trickery
Tharizdun Chaotic Evil None* or Trickery
Tiamat Chaotic Evil Trickery
Torog Neutral Evil Death, War
Vecna Neutral Evil Knowledge
Zehir Neutral Evil Nature, Trickery

*Since Tharizdun is chained, you might rule that he won’t give domains, and can only be taken as patron of the warlock pact ‘The Great Old One’.

A lot of Trickery and in other departments pretty sparse. Well, like every former pantheon, these weren’t made to be included in a 5e system. And I guess most deities will get much more domains after a while, because there is still much untapped potential there.

The standard party and how to balance around it

Since I’m tighter on time and the cleric has a lot of subclasses (and I even plan to count in the Dead Domain spoilers), today I’m pausing the class-overviews and take a less time-consuming topic: Party balancing.

There are a lot of ways to balance a party, so I just picked the classic way today: The classic 4 player party with a fighter, a cleric, a rogue(thief) and a wizard/Magic-User. Of course with the original rule-set as a basic (even though I won’t get too deep to it). OK, truly, the thief was a supplement class, since the first D&D edition only had Fighting Man, Cleric and Magic-User.

  • Fighter: A classic fighter gets a lot of attacks, heavy armor and more out of its STR, but outside battle and strength tasks he’s pretty useless.
  • Cleric: Another armored dude with less good weapons, but to be able to support the fighter at the front at least. Healing and support magic mostly, but only to 7th level.
  • Thief: Thieves weren’t combat characters at all, light armor, attack bonus like a wizard and the same hit points. But they had something, which made up the early skill systems (when D&D was much more dungeon focused), which allowed them to move silently, find traps, open locks and pick pockets.
  • Magic-User: Magic-User were bad in combat, but were able to use magic and even in 1e afterwards they were the only class, which could use up to 9th level. Can do almost everything with magic, only healing is missing.

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In this constellation, we have the following:

  • One character who does well in melee and one, who can support him there (50% can be at front)
  • Two characters which can cast spells (50%), even though one is a decent melee, while the other is a better caster
  • One character can heal
  • One character who can take care of traps, pick locks, etc.

Of course editions changed, even though the classic party remained. And is still the classic balance, now I’m using my own impressions of the balancing factors in this party and how you can ensure, that your party can stay in said balance.

  1. About 40% of the characters should be able to hold a front. To protect your squishy guys, you really need some meat at the front, who can stay there constantly. A monk or a bard may stay there one or two rounds, but should only to give a front-character a break for healing purposes.
  2. At least one real melee-character: Even though you can make up a front, at the melee must be pressure for your opponent, means above average survivability to tough it out, enough damage to keep being dangerous and simply a presence.
  3. There should be at least 2 spellcasters: Instead going with a percent value here, I think 2 spellcasters are plenty for a 3-5 headed party. Following spell-tasks should be present: Healing, supporting, AoE damage, controlling and some divination. Since only 3 classes don’t have automatically spellcasting abilities (even though 2 can get it and the other can use a pseudo spellcasting build), this shouldn’t be a problem.
  4. Someone who gets around a dungeon: Since dungeoneering will stay a vital part of D&D, someone should be able to pick locks and find and disable traps.
  5. A variety of skills: More like a new feature, but most skills should really be covered by the party. Not all are as essential, but most will come in handy at some point.

If you want to look for simple substitutes, you can use this:

  • Fighter: Barbarian and Paladin
  • Cleric: Valor Bard and Moon Circle Druid
  • Rogue: Lore Bard, Ranger, Warlock
  • Wizard: Land Circle Druid, Sorcerer, Tome Warlock

There are plenty of ways to actually hold up that balance in other ways, but here we’re just talking about the simple way. Maybe I might take that topic up again another time, to introduce other means of maintaining a party balance (like how a barbarian, rogue, bard and sorcerer party of mine in 3.5e had their own quirky balance).

And remember: Just because the iconic group makes often appearance in Starter Sets, etc. there are still plenty of functioning parties out there, which aren’t made by that formula. Some of them are even representing D&D.

IIIIEEEEEEEHHH!

OK, bad example…

Odd Ability Scores

Since 3e it didn’t really make a difference if you had an odd ability score, since the most important thing about an ability is its modifier. In some regards it was tried to make odd ability scores kinda useable by using odd number values as prerequisites for feats. But be honest: It wasn’t (and is) not hard to meet those numbers and if they were higher, you simply adapted your build to it. Two-Weapon Fighting needs up to Dex 19? OK, then I’ll go finesse!

 

But even today people mourn the times pre-3e, when odd numbers in ability scores had their value (at a certain point). And even I, someone who started with 3.0e can acknowledge the usefulness of having an easy and direct bonus to most stuffs, while thinking that the classiness of the 3d6/4d6k3 rolls might be not the best, considering how less the actual attribute says. So I thought: Let’s change it, maybe I might get a nice idea there.

Of course the idea wasn’t either nice nor creative, but simple the expression of common sense. If an odd ability score is halfway to a higher modifier, just increase the modifier-bonus for certain rolls and stats. But it was a bit difficult to settle on the finished rules, since not all traits are equally worth and it should be kept as simple as possible. Sadly, it’s still rather complicated, but since you can track all bonuses on the character sheet, it’s still passable, imo.

 

Here is the summary. If you have an odd ability score, you increase the following by +1:

  • Saving Throws
  • STR, DEX or substitute (like the druid’s Shillelagh spell): Weapon Damage
  • DEX: Initiative
  • CON: Bonus due Hit Die/Dice healing
  • INT, WIS, CHA: Spell Attack Modifier
  • When (for some reason) your ability score/modifier is halved, round up

If you think it’s not enough, you can even go further, like:

  • CON: +1 hit point/2 levels
  • +1 to proficiency skills (since you simply know about them more and can utilize the even tiniest improvement better)
  • no +1 to spell attacks if you cast a cantrip

 

And here the details behind the decisions: In the end, an even ability modifier should still be the more valuable option, especially since abilities caps at an even value. So I aimed for lesser bonuses, which would be appreciated, but not as hard valued. If you would grant ability checks (particularly skills) the antedated bonus would be the sorry target of abuse. Stats like AC were a no-go, I really considered the Spell DC, but then the 20 wouldn’t be as powerful as it should be.

The reason why the attack bonus for spells is raised, the bonus for weapons not is the frequency. Weapon-focused classes makes a lot of weapon attacks, since it’s their primary option. But only 23 spells (7 cantrips) are using spell attacks, so many more use a save system.

Saves on the other hands seems absolutely reasonable. Since they varies much more and can’t be abused without a DM, I guessed one of the three most important roles (ability checks, attack rolls, saving throws) could be represented in an odd system.

Initiative is just because. It seems so lonely sometimes…

 

Maybe some similar rule might appear at the DMG (not that I think it will), but for now, you can consider if some minor boons with odd ability scores is reasonable.

Why PG can be annoying and how to deal with it

Like I said already some times: I don’t particularly hate power-gamers or power-gaming (PG) in general. But sometimes they can be a very strenuous experience. Every time I read the forums, I see some hate/annoyance/arguing between ‘PGers’ and ‘PG-haters’, threads about how to optimize and posts about how power-gaming is fucking everything up.

I try to remain neutral, but honestly: If something makes me start hating PG it’d be that PG-hate. Because I actually understand both standpoints, since I’m pretty good at PGing, too, if I were to cut loose. So maybe I should just talk about it.

 

Why PG is so fun: PG is a special kind of amusement, which can’t be understood by everyone. It’s a time-consuming activity, which only kinda enhance a game, which you might play only 1-2 times a month. But PG can be pretty mood-dependent, even a down-to-earth person might just pick up a new rulebook, seeing those rules and ask herself/himself, how these rules would work together.

Here are some of the fun parts of PG:

  • Some people just enjoy to organize, strategize and see things through, those might become DMs (like me) or if the imagination is missing, becomes bookkeepers and PGers. If you don’t like those things, it’ll be hard to understand what kind of enjoyment it is, to see all the things working or to adapting them until they work
  • You feel like you’re smarter than the game-developers every time, you see a rule-hole or something like that. After trying to create a game-system by yourself, you’ll see how hard it is, to get the rule-holes down to it
  • You feel like you’re smarter than the DM, whose tendency of torturing your whole party is getting on your nerves at some point
  • You feel more prepared for said of torture
  • You either get the feeling of power compared to your party-members or are glad, that you’re more of a help for those. Or both, depending on personality
  • Since the DM will definitely challenge your build at some point, you might proof that your result is almost perfect

There are some more reasons, but these should cover the major ones. If you’re prone to the first one, it’s actually hard to really build a character without taking the ‘power’ into consideration, even I will never forfeit easily obtained power for any of my characters, as long I see it worth. Taking a feat, no prob. Multiclass… only if I really think, that it’s doable for my character concept.
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Why PG offsets the other players: In D&D you’re normally in a party with some other players. Some of them might be offset after realizing, that a PGer is in the party and even though some people may ask ‘Why?’, they’ve actually good reasons to be. Here are the main ones.

  • P&P is a hobby for most people. And when enjoying your hobby, you want to have your part of the cake, have the times to shine and get some screen-time. PGers are actually stealing a lot of spot-light, depending on the build, since the easiest and for most people most fun is a combat orientated PG, that player will definitely get his show stolen, especially if the PGer kinda compete with said character (like paladin and fighter as melee combatants) or even worse: If the PGer shouldn’t be able to compete (like a sorcerer, dishing out more melee damage than the fighter)
  • Most often combat-orientated PGers are pretty useless outside of combat. Especially if they don’t get spell-slots or only use them to enhance themselves or damaging enemies, which means that for all the planning and sometimes really annoying and slow stuff, more work falls to the non-PGers
  • Even non-combatant orientated PG will make a character falls behind in some serious basic issues and even though there are some things like ‘each character should be a specialist in what he do’, most challenges address more than one field of expertise and if a character is too focused or unwilling to carry on with its weaknesses, it’s another burden for the others
  • To be able to compete with PGers, some feel the need to PG themselves and not many like it, if they didn’t do so in the first place. And often aren’t that good at that

You should never think about these non-PG players less and especially less able to play P&P. Because a role-play isn’t about the system generally, the ability to abuse a system is no requirement or measure in how good you can role-play.
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Why PG annoys the DM: Argh, after thinking about some cases, I actually grumbled in bitter rage, grinding my teeth, while writing these points. PG is a curse for most DMs, because it makes simple issues much harder than needed and are always hot spots of conflicts.

  • Ever had a player with a perception score of +40 in the mid-levels? Even though it wasn’t 5e, those players deem to noticing every tiny detail, which would make an ambush obvious, a secret compartment detectable and those little things which should either surprise your players or should actually require a bit of care
  • Or a +40 Stealth character at the end-beginner levels? I think you can see that point, even if the character remains hidden
  • In combat department it can be even more annoying, like having a Rogue in 4e, who seems just unhittable with anything but Fort-attacks (using really any power, item and combination to reach that goal); when adding more accurate monsters, the other characters suffers, if using special means the player will get pissed. Or a build with a myriads of attacks, which can kill a supposedly powerful foe in one turn, before said foe could even blink. And many, many more.
  • PGer get pissed, when the DM is using the easy way out to decrease their power, while the other players aren’t thinking highly, that you use extra resources to downgrade that specific character
  • Often, PG characters are shallow and don’t provide anything useful when creating or adapting an adventure. If the PGer is lacking imagination, the character is just a bunch of stats
  • Some PG options are ridiculous if you’re looking at them from a more pedestrian point of view. It’s understandable, that someone wants to be the ultimate skill-monkey, but at the first glance, the combination of Rogue(start), Ranger, Cleric with Knowledge Domain and Bard seems to use some explanation. Or monk/druids. Or paladin/rogues. To just call a few. OK, paladin/rogues with the Oath of Vengeance would be the Avengers in 4e, I guess.
  • If the other players aren’t as satisfied as the PGer, it’ll definitely make your whole game days suffer

*grumble, grinding, grumble*
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How to deal with PG as the PGer: On the other players side, there is not too much to say. The other players aren’t able to deal with a PGer other than by talking and trying to understand it. I believe there are some ways, to actually deal with some issues as the PGer himself/herself, here I’ll address the PGers directly:

  • Don’t leave out of combat capabilities unaddressed. In 5e it’s much easier to do so without losing power, since the Backgrounds in the PHB won’t actually enhance the combat prowess. So pick up some things outside your primary field
  • Choose a character-concept which fits your playstyle: If you’re trying to maximize your sword-skill, play a character who wants to be the best swordman and begin challenging other swordmen to duels. If there is some character-depth to your stats, it’s much easier to accept the PG in that
  • Don’t enter a player competition if not called. If you meet a fellow PGer, compete if you want, but if you don’t, take simply a part nobody else fulfill. Much easier that way, because it’ll become less offensive
  • Remember, that PG isn’t always about the highest stats possible. A fighter as a Defender/Tank with an AC too high and no ways to force the enemies to direct their intention to him/her, won’t fulfill the role, because even monsters get annoyed when trying to hit an unhittable target. If you can’t hold them on you, you’re simply not doing your job!
  • Be a team-player. If you’re actually helps other characters to shine or are able to not address everything in a way, that your build will come in handy, people actually will mind much less. If you want to shine every time yourself without rubbing your fellow players the wrong way, you can still play a Leader-role character, since they seem to PG as much as they want, since it’s a benefit for the party-members instead the character itself, they most likely even really notice all that PG. Or the other way around, make a character build which can only shine when being supported by others (even if PGers are avoiding those builds usually)
  • Talk to your DM beforehand. After playing a bit, your DM will definitely see your tendencies in that department. See a compromise, like deciding in which departments you can PG without calling up his wrath (like with undetectable, all-seeing builds) and if you come up with some strange combinations, have a good character-story at hand and tell it before talking about your build

The most important thing is, to redirect your desires in a way, that won’t offense the other players as much or even make them think, that it’s OK that way. Being a melee-PG-character is much more acceptable, if there are no other main-melees in your party, since there is less competition and if you’re the only one, you’d better be good.

And a important no-go: Don’t suggest or help other players to PG unasked. Some will simply hate that idea by itself, others will actually try it and might lose sight on the parts of P&P, which said player actually enjoyed. If a player asks by himself/herself, be sure to take it slowly, before overwhelming your padawan. 😉
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How to deal with PG as DM: It’s much harder to actually deal with PG as a DM, especially after getting duped multiple times. Remain calm, it’s not the end and you shouldn’t seek revenge, since it’s just a game and at least one player were happy that day. But there are some ways to deal with it.

  • House-rule rule holes. If you get the feeling, that a specific combination doesn’t seem to be intentional, talk to your players about it. Be honest, provide some suggestion how to deal with it, don’t just decide it by yourself, if possible. If you just close anything up (especially after being fooled) you’ll seem upset and petty.
  • If you know that a PGer is in your gaming group, be sure to explain the no-gos, like ‘no over-optimized perception and/or stealth’ or ‘no single levels when multiclassing’ beforehand
  • Remember the players, that most characters which are only build around being the best in a single thing which isn’t that useful in real-life are much less believable. A PG fighter might be a guard for a merchant, but without a moderate INT, WIS and CHA it’s most likely, that he’s buffooned at every opportunity without even realizing it
  • Don’t ignore the PGers forte, that will only invite problems. Address them regularly and sometimes for important stuff, if you’re ready to ‘lose’ some times, you’ll keep the player satisfied enough so he won’t complain as much. Just let be strengths be strengths sometimes. Makes it much funnier, when using a shenanigan to undermine it
  • Don’t take PG as a challenge, trust me: If you do, the PGer won’t suffer, the other players will instead
  • More variation: As long you don’t get a skill-monkey, just open up the game, make more variant adventures like beginning in Sharn (Eberron) with a murder case, which will require investigation, than coming up with a bit of combat, which will lead the party to a specific noble house, which will have a party in a few days, so the players have to prepare and get an invitation (planning and socializing) and being at the party themselves is yet another challenge, investigating further, opening some traps and summoned beasts, finally getting the boss, who will only… I guess you already got the gist
  • If you got a skill-monkey or skill-specialist, don’t roll for some scenes, just let play it by words. If the ability (skill) checks are too good to fail, be fair most of the time, not all the time
  • If nothing work, talk to the PGer after seeing how it worked out. Somehow there is always a compromise
  • If common sense is not heard by the PGer, be as strict as necessary. In the end the player most likely still wants to play with you, but is pretty disappointed, that his build is attacked/ignored/undermined by you. Try to be fair, but honest and if you can’t deal with it anymore, you don’t have to. If you’ve no fun being a DM, than your personal goal is not met and that would be pretty counter-productive

There are many more, but mainly these are standard forms of interacting with other people and less about being a DM than being a person who can confront conflicts cleverly.
null Now that I was able to talk about it, I’m kinda relieved. Personally I’m more of a story-made-by-players-driven DM, the reason why I want to have back-stories and characters which makes sense, instead of those, who only have their stats as personality. As long that holds, I can deal with PG myself most of the times, but I do have players which can’t do it as good. And there is a limit to everything and sometimes even I get pretty pissed off at specific players. Like getting collywobbles if the first thing I hear about something is ‘If I can combine it with this and that, then…’ or actually downgrading options, just because their lack of measurable ‘power.

Is the Sorcerer weak?!

Some players pointed out, that the Sorcerer seems kinda lacking, if you compare it with other arcane main-casters like the Wizard and the Bard, while even the Warlock seems kinda stronger in comparison, even though this is a totally different class right down to the base.
Especially the Sorcerer vs. Wizard aspect is argued and since even the dumbest person can write and talk about it, an idiot like me is as good as anyone else. And to do it, we need some basics for it.

 

Why are the Wizard and Sorcerer competing? This comes mostly because of the fact, that it didn’t make a real difference if you played Sorcerer or a Wizard until 4e: Same spell lists, a little difference in mechanics, different fluff-texts. Technically the Sorcerer did knew less spells, but could spam them more easily without preparing any of them, while the Wizard got a ton of spells before, but had less spells per day and had to be more careful, which spells he had to learn.
Since most builds survive on just a few spells and spells outside them were only prepared by carefully considering what would be probable useful that day, the Sorcerer win out most of the time. Better spell slinger, supporter with all the utility needed, even though sometimes you’d want a special spell that no Sorcerer would have as a known spell. Something like Animate Rope would be like wasted capacity for most players.
Sharing the same spell list, it was unavoidable for those two classes to compete. So now the 3e-players are just comparing the class outright, while in 4e those both classes had a very different take, where the Sorcerer as a Striker was more damage focused while the Wizard as a Controller had the better battlefield control.

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And how does the Bard fit in? Another 3e aspect was, that the bard became a so-called spontaneous caster like the Sorcerer, but wasn’t a main-caster yet (someone who get spells up to 9th level), even though he had a own spell-list, which was very similar to the 5e spell-list in variety, his capacity was lower and so the Sorcerer was simply the better caster. Now the Bard upgraded and made a MA of Magic and has the same spell-slots per day as a Sorcerer, but more known spells, which would make him theoretically (in a way) the better caster now.

Now we know what kind of background these discussions have, but are those prejudices derived from earlier editions right in the first place? First of all, we need to remember, what are the basic differences between a Sorcerer and a Wizard.

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Wizard: A Wizard is a man who got 30 years old while still being a virgin… wait, false one. The Wizard who can actually cast spells is someone, who studied years of hard mental and sometimes physical labor to be able to tap into the power of the universe, controlling the elements by using graphs, signs, words and discipline. Somehow like a mathematician.
So a wizard should be able to be a great caster, who is able to cast most spells (depending on his studies, the spell-list could vary) and from all the classes would be the one, who has the most flexibility and skill in using arcane magic.

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Sorcerer: A Sorcerers are people who already have magic in their blood, who never needed much studying and learned most of their skills in practice. They don’t know, what they’re actually doing, they just can and as long it’s effective, it’s not that important. So logically their spell-list should have some more primal form of magic, the simple but powerful spells which pretty much acts more on thought instead per planning. But since they’ve that special connection to magic, that Wizards will never know, they should be able to cast spells more powerfully than those.

Pathfinder

OK, so far so good. Now we take a look at the Sorcerer and how this class fulfilled my expectations, while comparing his abilities with the wizard’s.

Spellcasting: At start the Sorcerer have 2 known spells, 4 cantrips, he have always as much spell-slots as a wizard of the same level. The Wizard has 6 spells in his spellbook, 1+INT he prepares and 3 cantrips. Over the course to level 20 the Sorcerer have always one more cantrip, while he stops at 15 known spells (the bard will have 22), while the Wizard have at least 44 in his spellbook and most likely (depending on INT) 25 spells prepared.
Even though the Sorcerer have a single more cantrip, the Wizards wins out due availableness of spells. And since the Sorcerer lacks Ritual Casting while the Wizard have a superior version of it, the Wizard is the better Wizard… kinda obvious.

Spell-list: Sorcerer’s spell-list isn’t as flexible as the Wizard’s, like already guessed. The Sorcerer is firstly lacking every spell, which have the name of a Wizard in it (like Mordenkainen, Melf, etc.). And most spells are more simply natured, less finesse, more like the raw power of the schools. And the only spells the Wizard don’t get are druidic, I’m a little disappointed to not see some Sorcerer-only spells, like Dragon Breath or Chaos Sphere, but maybe Origin-Only spells might appear in the future.

Font of Magic: This trait gives the Sorcerer the use Sorcery Points (SP) and one of their main uses is the option to regain spell-slots as a Bonus Action or to use spell-slots to regain SP. It reminds of Arcane Recovery of the Wizard and after having a delayed start and strength, it grows much better in terms of time (Bonus Action vs. Short Rest) but the number of spell-slots is lower at some point and of course it means, that you’ll have no SPs for other traits. But again it’s a plus, that you can translate spells into SP, if you don’t need spell-slots (especially the high ones) you can just make them into SP and afterwards use these SPs to create more lower level spell-slots. I do think, that’s much more flexible than the Wizard, especially since even short rests aren’t as short anymore. And as a bonus: You could actually create more spell-slots than you could can hold using this feature, even though I don’t see how a bonus action could be so valuable to do it before your spells runs low. Since you use SP for other features, too, I’d hold on them.

Metamagic: Here lies the true strength of the Sorcerer and the reason, why the Wizard compares so hard. Metamagic let you enhance a spell you’re casting in specific ways. Normally, you’d get 4 of them, but I won’t be surprised, if there is a new feat incoming, which would grants you the ability to pick a Metamagic and use it once per day or something like that (and of course more Metamagic to choose from in general). And Metamagic works with multiclassing, so you can metamagic Cure Wounds or other spells that way. But now to the specifics.

  • Careful Spell: Let people up to the CHA-mod automatically success a save in spell area. Evoker’s Sculpt Spells do almost the same, but even let your allies take no damage at all, but works only on evocations. For most iconic spells it won’t matter, since a lot of area effects are evocations, but there are a lot, which aren’t too, like Circle of Death. But I guess your allies will still hate the half damage. So stick to control-spells, like Fear.
  • Distant Spell: Doubles the Range of every spell. Spells which already have a range, have that ranged doubled, touch spells gains 30 feet range. Stacking with Spell Sniper, so you can bring a lot of mayhem out of save distance. The Wizard can’t copy it at this point. Enhanced range may make spells more useful, like Witch Bolt, which effect text only states ‘target stays within range’, so more range = less chance to escape your spell.
  • Empowered Spell: An easy way to bring up your damage, only 1 SP, if you get a really bad damage roll and re-roll as many dice as CHA-mod. Evoker’s Empowered Evocation and Overchannel are enhancing your damage, too, while both Origins brings one option as well, the Draconic early, the Wild late.
  • Extended Spell: This bit of Metamagic is a spell-saver, if you expect some combats with almost to time in-between (like dungeoneering a fortress), doubles simply the time of duration. But most likely it comes most handy during exploration, since spells like Enhance Ability are more meant for them. And of course the clerics and druids will getting all giddy, since they got some spells worth getting extended. No Wizard gimmick here.
  • Heightened Spell: Disadvantage to a high-level spell, which shouldn’t be saved? Sold! And no Wizard here either.
  • Quickened Spell: Cast a 1 action spell as a bonus action spell? Great for spell-slinging and again the Wizard lacks the possibility to copy it. One of my favorites is here Sunbeam, since you can cast it as a bonus action and use the action to throw a second beam (which is not spellcasting and therefore won’t be affacted by the ‘bonus action spell’-rule).
  • Subtle Spell: Seems at the least powerful at first glance, but might be the most powerful. As long there are only verbal and somatic components, you can actually stealth a spell, makes it more easy to stay hidden and have some out-of-combat use. Like charming the person you’re talking to without its companions even noticing it (and it makes it hard to Counterspell it, since the spell happens without anyone noticing it). Wizards could need it, but won’t get it.
  • Twinned Spell: Even though an enchanter have access to targeting two creatures with 1st level and above with a normally single-target enchantment, the Sorcerer makes it much better: Any single-target spell can be twinned by spending level as SPs (1 for cantrips). Haste, Disintegrate, Finger of Death, so many spells to choose from…

Since every Sorcerer have access to those, it makes a Sorcerer more versatile with the few spells he knows. Using right, it can compete with a Wizard in regards of Spell-Slinging and damage easily. But the evoker is still easier to pull off imo.

Sorcerous Restoration: Regain 4 SPs each short rest at 20th level. Actually a neat feature, but less powerful than other 20th level features. In the end it makes short rests actually making sense outside regaining hit points and might come in handy, but won’t really outweight the Wizard’s signature Spell Mastery or Signature Spell, which allows him to simply cast more worth of SPs in spells.

Sorcerous Origins: There are only 2 subclasses for now, so it lacks simply the variety of the Wizard (Three, since the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide came out).

Draconic Bloodline: More elemental damage, survivability and two nice features (wings and fear aura), which will make your Sorcerer better at standing in the front. As long the DEX is right, he’s as tough as most clerics. A good standard choice, shaping the Sorcerer in a more combat oriented class.

Wild Magic: I love this feature, but it’s too dependent on DM and uses to actually measure its power. But it brings ways to increase your odds, much later your damage and when rolling on the Wild Magic table (which depends on your DM), anything can happen. You might regain all SPs or end up as a potted plant until the start of your next turn. But hey, it’s not ‘tamed magic’, after all.

Conclusion: Of course the Wizard could do solme of the stuff the Sorcerer can, since there are 7 Arcane Traditions, which are mastery of a limited area of magic, while only 2 Sorcerous Origins are out. More options means more overlapping in most cases and that the Wizard with all Arcane Traditions seems to be stronger is just natural.
And Wizard’s Class featured are more about the tradition than anything else, while the Sorcerer works well on his own, while the Origin adds up to that basic. While an evoker could be a better spell-slinger, his special features only works for that.

In the end you have to say goodbye to the idea, that a Sorcerer and Wizard are still practically the same class. As long the Sorcerer remains that restrictive in the spell-list, he’ll definitely won’t replace a Wizard, but might be more fun, since there seems to be more room to adapt to the situation.
And like always: It’s more of the fun factor. If you want to be a strong, destructive spellcaster, choose the Sorcerer or the evoker, both are pretty stable choices. If you prefer to use magic for more, take the Wizard. If you want to use the features the Wizard won’t get and get more fun of the spells you know: Take the Sorcerer.

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But I can say the following: The Sorcerer is not weaker than the Wizard! Only if you use only theorymachine without using real situations (in a fictional game-world).

Feats of Strength or more like Strength of Feats

First, I got this warlock-guide posted by Mephl1234 in the WotC-Forum. It’s interesting, even though I might disagree with some points, but I won’t pondering about that… for now. And since I got my time stolen, sadly no pictures… for now.

 

After the multiclassing section I thought: Let’s get over the second optional rule in the PHB: Feats.

 

Feats were a very strong aspect in 3e and 4e, getting feats several times at certain points of character advancement additionally to your class features and bonus feats due different sources. What changed?

  • You can choose a feat as a class feature, called Ability Score Improvement (if feats are allowed in the campaign), your character level don’t matter; but there are less feats overall
  • Instead of a single effect, most feats gives out several effects or more powerful ones, making them much stronger in general than 3e/4e-feats
  • feats might increase one ability score
  • less hard-stat bonuses

It’s pretty amazing to see how players are reacting to them. Some are glad (like me), some are enraged, a lot are whining around. They see: Ability improvements and feats now cancel each other out and some are sure, that it’s important to get your primary ability at 20 as fast as possible, so there will be even less feats left.

 

But I don’t think that way. A 20 is good, but if you talk about feats, it becomes a very deep and insightful topic, so let’s just stop complaining and see what feats we got here, I divided them up in several categories.

 

1.) The combat-helpers: Those feats are designed for getting your hard-stats and combat prowess as high as possible. These feats are the main-interest for many power-focused players, since no power is easier to oversee than the one you can calculate!

  • Alert: A +5 for initiative is a great boon for defenders and controllers, those who actually wants to decide where to put up a front or hitting the enemy with an area effect before they could scatter. No surprise, not granting Advantage to hidden attackers… a great feat for especially sorcerer and wizards, to help with their puniness and area control.
  • Charger: Dash and get an attack/shove as a bonus action with more power. In most cases it’ll be ignored, since the enemies aren’t usually that mobile and/or far away to get benefits out of it, even though classes with single strong attacks (like the Rogue or Paladin) its an actual cool thing, since you won’t lose less than the others
  • Crossbow Expert: This feat makes crossbows better than longbows with one exception: The longbow still got the longer range. Good for a range focused character, since you don’t need to switch weapons anymore, but actually the effects aren’t that great.
  • Defensive Duelist: A live-safer for everyone, who don’t get Uncanny Dodge. You need to be proficient with a finesse weapon to wield, but an elven wizard might get astounding results when seeing a single attacker incoming. Generally a solid choice for any finesse wielding melee build, which don’t need attack of opportunity as often, since it needs your reaction.
  • Dual Wielder: Nice one, not as powerful in general, but it’ll make Two-Weapon Fighting a bit more worth.
  • Elemental Adept: Most casters wants it, because it means you have at least one strong element, where Resistance won’t matter (Immunity do). A good choice would be fire, since there are so many fire spells, but sadly there are some more monsters with Fire Immunity than Acid Immunity (like all kind of devils).
  • Great Weapon Master: This feat makes up most reasons to not wield a shield, but a heavy weapon: The option to make more damage against easy to hit foes and to get another attack after a Critical as a bonus action. A great feat for those, who wants to maximize their damage and a barbarian with Reckless Attack can deliver it much more reliable even at harder to hit opponents.
  • Heavily Armored: +1 Strength and heavy armor, good for clerics without DEX and a domain which would grant heavy armor anyway, good for mountain dwarf wizards and STR-based rangers, which won’t care about DEX in particular.
  • Heavy Armor Master: Another +1 and some bookkeeping! Reduce each damage of non-magical weapons by 3!
  • Lightly Armored: I get the feeling the feat got only added to make the set full. Or because there might be a great light armor for casters which won’t have the power of granting proficiency with that armor (unlike the Elven Chainshirt), since even the masterwork items (like mithril chainshirt) weren’t better than Mage Armor.
  • Mage Slayer: Since spellcasters are more frequent, especially in the mid-levels, being able to deny some spellcasting is valuable. Generally a good feat for those, who tends to get the back-row more easily, like a monk and of course everyone who actually wants to play a Mage Slayer.
  • Martial Adept: This grants some combat maneuvers and can be a great addition, if you want to act more tactically, but will be only a second-rate feat in terms of pure power.
  • Medium Armor Master: For some this feat is great, something like a +1 to AC and STR/DEX, while getting rid of Stealth Disadvantage. But for that you’d need a DEX 16.
  • Mobile: A great combination with Charger, but still a good choice for everyone, who wants to engage in melee, but not staying there. More speed, no difficult terrain penalty in Dash Action, if you attack someone (it or miss), you can get away without provoking an opportunity attack.
  • Moderately Armored: +1 STR/DEX, medium armor proficiency. Some classes might get some benefit, but multiclass is still a more than viable alternative, if you really want it.
  • Mounted Combatant: If you want to kill the cavalry, kill its horses. Now it becomes much harder, granting the mount pseudo-evasion, the rider becomes can forced to be targeted instead of his/her mount and an all-inclusive Advantage to attack rolls against any non-mounted target smaller than your mount. If mounts weren’t that impracticable inside dungeons, it’d be a great choice just for the latter effect.
  • Polearm Master: Another attack as bonus action, but since it’s not Two-Weapon Fighting, you get your ability-mod to this attack and an opportunity attack, when someone is coming into reach. This is a great feat for everyone, who don’t need the bonus action as often and wants to have more attacks.
  • Resilient: +1 one ability, proficiency with its save. Most likely it will be either DEX, CON or WIS, since these are the most used saving throws.
  • Savage Attacker: A little damage boost, good for single attacks (like paladin and rouge, which can dish out massive damage if needed), less for those who uses a lot of attacks to make their damage.
  • Sentinel: This is like the combat challenge combined with combat superiority of the fighter in 4e, just less restrictive and often. Take that feat and you’ll be a great defender, so any melee can potentially go into the defender role. But if all of them should…
  • Sharpshooter: More accuracy in terms of cover and long range, less accuracy for more damage, means that the ranged weapon enhance everything they want to in one feat. As a ranged focused character: Take it early, abuse it!
  • Shield Master: This feat will make good use for shield wielders, especially after taking Resilient to get proficiency with DEX-saves, makes it more unlikely for you to get damage for a lot of effects outside AC. Either a bonus for targeted effects with DEX-saves or a reaction for no damage for a DEX-save, which would let you take half damage when succeeding. Helps survivability a great deal.
  • Spell Sniper: No cover penalty for ranged spells with attack roll, double range for them and an additional cantrip with attack roll from any list. If you wouldn’t use that class’ ability score, you could combine them quite interesting, but at least the druid and cleric as well as the bard, warlock and sorcerer can look at each others spell-list without worrying. The cantrip alone is a good choice, the rest makes it insanely good, you can stand farther away and have less problems hitting targets!
  • Tavern Brawler: An unique choice, but since you won’t have or want to use weapons at every opportunity, this feat is interesting, getting proficiency with unarmed attack and improvised weapons and more importantly: A bonus action grapple attempt after hitting with any of those. And nobody would dislike +1 STR/CON additionally. But for me more like a choice made for fluff.
  • Tough: +2 hit points per level, for hit points alone its like +4 CON and especially those d8 hit die classes which wants to go into melee might want to get some additional insurance. Hit points are more important at 5e than in 3e or 4e, but somehow I’ll already see it untaken.
  • War Caster: The strength of this feat is depending on how restrictive your DM sees somatic components. If the DM is strict, this feat is a must for any caster who’s not wielding only a one-handed weapon without shield.
  • Weapon Master: A +1 for STR/DEX and four weapon proficiencies… Not really good, since most classes gets all the proficiencies they want and some features grants additional, making this feat kinda useless until exotic weapons or something like that comes out.

 

2.) The next feats are the Explorer Feats, those feats which will be a great help by exploring dungeons and similar stuff:

  • Athlete: Better climbing, better jumps, standing up for 5 feet, a lot of these bonuses get handy in combat, too, but won’t necessarily. In exploration it will things only easier and faster, not really better.
  • Dungeon Delver: The typical rouge thing, you might think. Actually, give it the armor guy, since traps are kinda problematic for them. Or better: Your Trapper and Spotter, it lessens the time needed to get a dungeon done, since you see all kind of things faster, since you detect secret doors more easily and walks at normal pace instead slow.
  • Keen Mind: INT-bonus, perfect timing, an inner compass and a perfect memory for the last month aren’t so bad, but won’t really matter for every player who doesn’t want to play a detective. But nice try.
  • Linguist: Even though it helps with social interactions as well, the cipher part helps you in exploration in a social environment (like a city campaign) and the fact that unknown languages are a common way to learn more about a particularly dungeon is and what might await you. With the +1 INT it’s not a bad choice, especially for those who wants to know more languages. But it’s not great, either.
  • Observant: Here the bonus to passive perception is the greatest boon, but lip reading is very handy in an urban area, full of intrigues. And a INT/WIS bonus, not too bad here!
  • Ritual Caster: A way to kinda get the Caster role, just take the wizard and you’re pretty good in the exploration department, having access to a lot of spells needed to be as thoroughly as wished. If you don’t have already a ritual caster, consider this feat hard!
  • Skulker: A feat between exploration and combat, but since it helps you to actually avoid combat, I put it here. Making a sneaky character more sneaky sounds worse than it is: It actually doesn’t just add a bonus, but gives you a very light version of darkvision, reduced the amount of obscuration needed for hiding and lets you stay hidden, if you missed with an attack out of hiding. Great choice for stealthy rogues, especially lightfoot halflings.

 

3.) Now we get the Resource Management, feats which makes your characters more effective in organizing their resources and this way pacing up the adventures, because less time is wasted at long rests. If all three are present at your party, you could technically get around a healer quite well, if the tactic is right. But probably it won’t.

  • Durable: +1 CON and when rolling hit dice for short rest, you always get at least twice your CON-mod back. Means more effective use of hit dice and therefore more chances for short rests, since you can use the healing more often. At least if you have at least CON 14 for some kind of decent effect.
  • Healer: Instant wake up call for the dying and a small healing as an action without wasting much money (5sp per healing). Reusable after a short rest, reducing the amount of needed spell-slots, potions and other resources bit by bit. It’s much more useful than a first reading suggests.
  • Inspiring Leader: For 10 minutes time level + CHA-mod temporary hit points, and re-usable after a short rest. This doesn’t seem too great, but if you’re using between 2-3 short rests each day adventuring, it will amass and every hit soften by temporary hit points is like healing beforehand. Great combination with healer.

 

4.) And finally the rest, those who are special or standing alone in their particularly fields.

  • Actor: This feat is right between exploration and social interaction, but which more focus on social interactions, since the doubled proficiency bonus only apply when tricking others with your stolen identity. The voice trick is nice, a good pick for those, who wants to enhance their repertoire in a social environment or just wants to use an imitated voice.
  • Lucky: 3 re-rolls per day for you, that’s sweet and you can take a chance to have an enemy hits you, you always choose the result you want. Great feat, especially if you’re in either a tight spot and have to save or need to hit/succeed in a specific round of combat.
  • Magic Initiate: Two cantrips, a 1st level spell per day, depending on your choice, it might be a great addition or a huge waste of a feat.
  • Skilled: I think you can be anything you want, as long you’re smart enough to work it out with class and background. But there are some players, which wants to be skill-monkeys and wants as much skills as possible and three new skill proficiencies are pretty sweet toward that goal. But not especially needed for a more mundane character.

 

As you can see, the feats are still more about combat than anything else, but I was already expecting it. It’s much easier to make combat rules than anything else.

 

With that many interesting feats, I suggest you should look if you find anything remotely interesting, before deciding that a higher ability score is needed. To be somehow effective, a +2 mod in your primary ability is enough, even though I would stick with +3 at 4th level.

There may be a lot of reasons why to say, that you need absolutely a +2 in your primary, but let me say this: More battles were won by having a controller be first in combat, using spells like web or entangle, but by having a +1 on the spell DC, making Alert more valuable at that thought.

 

My advise would be: Take a feat early, maybe a second and afterwards care about ability scores. Feats are more fun to me and even in power-terms more valuable imo. And feats which enriches the fluff (like Dungeon Delver) are always a great addition to the game.

Just think about what is defining about the character and worth to be expressed by a feat, like Great Weapon Master for your great sword fighter or Keen Mind for a ingenious wizard.

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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I won’t play a cleric!

Many DMs heard that line and it will never stop. The fact, that it’s often very hard to get a cleric in your party. If you have someone who plays a cleric with pleasure, be sure to keep that player, because otherwise it’ll be hard to convince someone. But why is the cleric so important and why is there so much resistance of the players side to take a cleric-character? We’ll see…

Cleric’s Importance

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In 3e and before, clerics had the only spell-list, which contented not only the best healing of hit points for the respective levels, but the spells to cure conditions, revive the dead, most spells which are able to undo stuff, which better never happened. Even though the druid got healing, he was way outclassed by a cleric, so parties felt much better having an actual cleric in the party (even though the Favored Soul had the same spell-list and was a favored choice, too).

But it could function with alternatives, like a druid who know how to keep some spells for healing, a smart party, which avoids hits before and during combat by strategizing smartly or magic items, I had a bard who could fulfill the healer and tank part by knowing how to use his resources well. But if someone dies, this means that the revive had to wait until they’re in town or to cast it per scroll, but that was a limited option without resupplying.

Why players don’t like to play clerics

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These are just a few reasons, why players might think that being a cleric sucks. It’d be impossible to list them all, but I guess I got the main-reasons:

  1. As a cleric, I’ve to play religiously: Religion is a vital part of life, even if you don’t believe in (a) god, you still have to deal with religion. Even made-up gods from a game might get under someones nerves, either because he doesn’t want to betray his ‘real’ religion or doesn’t believe in religion anyway and don’t want to participate in any fake one.
  2. I can only heal and buff: If you compare the cleric with other classes, you’ll feel subpar in most aspects of combat: You don’t hit as hard as a fighter, your combat spells feel weaker than the wizard’s and his spell-list is more flexible in most cases, while you can’t really seem to shine outside combat like the rogue. Your only way to be a vital part is being able to heal and buff your buddies… and some players are more thinking about their own characters, sadly.
  3. Too much responsibility: Being a healer means, that your party is depending on you with their life. If a character got killed, it seems to mean that you failed and will be blamed for it. It seems to be much less responsible to play a fighter (which results that the enemies get through and kill the casters) or a rogue (which get mobbed by monsters, being a burden for the rest of the party, because he thought an initial strike would be the best choice).
  4. Almost no sexiness: Some class seems to be sexier than others, especially those who are more lightly armored and can dish out a lot of damage, while having a lot of skills. Archetypical being a cleric means heavy armor, mace and a dislike for undead, while chanting religious curses. It seems like less room to customize, less options to individualize and of course less aloofness. Especially, because you might think, that your party wants to play you the healing expert (because the healing part is the reason, why they forced you to play a cleric)

Why should you play a healer

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Some players might not realized, that being a healer could be their real calling. They struggle with all kind of combinations but never got a real good character out of it, something was either missing or it was just bland without any individuality. If any of those players see these reasons, maybe they’ll consider playing a healer class.

    • In 5e it doesn’t have to be a cleric: In 4e every leader could somehow substitute a cleric (even though some were more challenging than others, like the artificer at low levels) and in 5e we have 3 classes, which got the right spell-list, to do the job: bard, cleric and druid. Everyone have enough healing, condition curing and reviving spells to get a party through the dangerous life of adventuring. As long you keep in mind to keep some spell-slots for emergencies.
    • No rolling d20 for your main-feature: Some players just sucks at throwing a d20. Really, really hard. Most of them still wants to play a d20-rolling class, thinking that it have to get better, some others get to damage casts, choosing those who don’t need a attack roll. For healing and buffing, you don’t need the d20 either and even though you can use spells like Guiding Bolt to, if you’re really keen about it…
    • Play simple: For those who simply can’t get a feeling for the battle map, the right spell to the right situation and lacks the overview of the combat situation, they can play a simple healer which does only needs to look out, how much damage each character have taken and heals them back, while supporting anywhere needed if no healing is required. As long you do your vital role well, the other players should praise you.
    • Be in charge: This is interesting for those, who don’t want to play simple: Some players don’t even realize, how much influence a healer and buffer has in combat, if he invest into it. Who to heal, which buff to use, it does make a great difference how you tribute all your spells, since characters who get buffed will take a more vital role in the battle strategy. And since you’re the lifeline, nobody should complain! Those who wants to optimize tactics and resources are far better of as supporting combat characters.
    • Backgrounds can make you otherwise useful: Since most out-of-combat parts or the game can be covered by somewhat smart ability arrangement and backgrounds, you can be a healer in combat and a… maybe trap-finder and -disarmer in dungeons. It’s possible!
    • Multiclassing: In 5e you get more and higher spell-slots even with multiclassing as long your secondary (or tertiary, etc.) class got the spell-casting feature, too. The only downside is, you can’t cast higher level spells, just use the lower spells with a higher spell-slot. Especially multiclassing into sorcerer might come handy, since this means that means full advancement in spell-slots and access to metamagic with healer spells. Or warlock, no further spell-slots, but pact magic usable with your other class’ spells, which means that you’re able to use them more often over the time. Since the most vital spells are at the lower spell levels, you can consider this option, if healing hit points and lesser conditions is your only concern.

Why should you play a cleric

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Now let’s take a look at the cleric, since I mentioned some points earlier, that might be defused.

  • Easy plot-hooks: As long you’re not playing a cleric of a almost non-existent deity, there are always a lot of ways, how the church or the god can give you epic quests, which will decide the future from a hamlet to the whole existence itself, while the DM have much less trouble to come up with viable background and twists for the story by just reading a bit of the deities which would be involved.
  • Good role-play options: Like I said, religion is a vital part of everyone’s life. It won’t hurt anyone, if you role-play a religion made-up for a game, because it’s just for fun, having put your belief in the center of your character’s life, it becomes very interesting, especially if your background is somewhat strange comparing your actual deity. A criminal cleric of Tyr? How could that happen? And even if you’re not a great role-player, the cleric can give you enough material to actually survive all levels by using 2-3 signature quotes, like: “UNDEAD!!!” or “You foul, little…” … OK, last one isn’t that clericish, more like: “By Moradin’s iron underpants!”
  • Domains: Domains are great in 5e, since they’re a great way to customize your character. Do you want to kick asses with a sword? War! Do you want to heal with the least effort, so you have more resources to attack? Life! You want to be a better caster? Light! You want to be more roguish or druidish? Trickery or Nature! You want to mix some aspects altogether? Take another! Variety is given, just choose from 7 domains, another one in the DMG (Death) and much more in further rulebooks, I bet.
  • Prayer of Healing: Just this spell.

Playing a cleric? Might be worth it!

The three parts of D&D

This topic came up while writing about the shifted balance in 5e.

The three parts of D&D were always exploration, social interaction and combat. Depending on the rule-set, some parts are more underlined than others, like 4e got so much into combat, that exploration got kinda short, something which was tried to fix later and social interactions was worse. The reasons were obvious: The fact that you had limited powers and that you run out of powers fast in the early game, which warped the perception of the player, that he should better not get any powers, which were useless in combat. In 3e on the other hands you got so many spell resources, that actual exploration became kinda boring at some point, because you could fly over most stuff (who needs to storm the gates of a fortress, if you can fly above the walls), Passwalls to avoid dangerous rooms, whatsoever (some would call it clever, I call it too cheap). But even in this edition, a lot of players used a lot of resources (like feats, skill points, etc) to actually make their characters better in combat.

Why is that so? There are some reasons, why combat seems more vital at the first glance.

  1. Combat is the time every player has her/his turn, at the other times there are always players which aren’t either interested, or thinking to be in the way, or decided not to participate
  2. In combat most players get the feeling, that a single mistake will end their characters life
  3. A bunch of dice rolling for different things and using a lot more of stats makes players believe, that a system is more about combat than anything else
  4. In every rulebook in most systems you’ll find a whole combat chapter
  5. Combats are the things, the DM is most likely best prepared for
  6. The fact, that even small encounters will use up a decent amount of time

In contrast, exploration is more like incrementalism, making one careful decision after another to finally get into combat and social interaction is pretty often about how to go to the dungeon and from there to the combat or happens inside a dungeon by a foe you’re about to kill.

Even if any rule is felt as too powerful it’s more likely to be about combat but anything else (like having +40 for Bluff while the standard DC is 22 couldn’t possibly a problem).

 

So the question stays, how can you, as a DM, makes the other parts more interesting, so players won’t be too focused on combat and might come with strange ideas like creating a real character background & personality, using words instead of swords for conflicts or just staying awake during the game outside combat.

Here are some hints, that might come in handy:

 

Combat:

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  • Use more simple combat encounters more often. If they want to sneak around the forest to kill the bandits, let them find the guard post instead the whole camp. If combat only needs 2-3 rounds to be solved, it will be less impressive and serves for more focus on other parts.
  • Let Exploration and Social Interaction change the final combat situation. I know, if you are a DM, you don’t want to give your players surprise rounds, when they’re storming an important place. But if they did only minor mistakes in exploration, then let the party be on the surprising side. Don’t use small mistakes to let the enemy muster full strength, if the PCs succeed there, they’ll see that the hard work paid off and the exploration got a tad more important. Or in Social Interaction, if the PCs got new enemies, they might consider an alliance with the PCs other enemies or just hire someone to make their life miserable. If you enter a dungeon and after some exploration sees that the entrance caved in intentionally, you might consider if some outsider might pull a trick.
  • Reward avoiding combat: Give the players full XP reward, if they actually avoided the combat in a way that makes sense. Items and other treasures are much harder to dismiss for most player’s, so you could give them a special item, which wouldn’t be findable, when slaying those people. Like because they now a rumor (information) or because they’re thankful enough to pay them back later.

 

Exploration:

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  • Don’t be a dick and put a death trap in every room. This will only create paranoia in the long run and most player’s want to solve puzzles every room. Every second room has to be sufficient.
  • Tell a story! Most dungeons have a theme, but not a story. How comes that they’re abandoned, who lived there, who are the undead which are going to eat the PCs’ brains? If you shouldn’t use too many puzzles in death traps, you could use them more often in your dungeons. Let the players find piece a piece and let it be a useful information, opening new possibilities (like talking to the Wraith when called by his name as a person, which would change the combat encounter to a social one) or helping to find clues for weaknesses or treasures. Diaries, ‘crime scenes’, gibberish words of monsters, all of that can make an exploration experience more intense. This works outside of dungeons, too, but needs more care, depending on the environment.
  • Take some time to narrate the place. In most commercial adventure’s and campaigns, there is a small description to every room. Those are the conclusion of some decades of gaming, that players wants to hear some information, but not too much. Copy it and let vital information flow, while only list some minor details.
  • Be creative or at least know sources of creativity. Unusual rooms are more interesting than a lot of well-known clichés. You don’t need to be creative on your own, just read or watch stuff your player’s don’t and adapt it to your means. ‘Why is there a room with crystal pillars which are only about one meter tall?’ Oh, the crystals are for bending the light for a laser-themed death trap… It’s the second room, guys!
  • Give players some minor achievements during the exploration outside loot. Seeing a mid-boss character of a previous encounter being caught in a situation and needing help from the PCs or getting a magic item which they may see, but not reach without solving a puzzle are minor to medium achievements, which doesn’t hurt the storyline. If the players feel some refreshing triumph after all the painstaking and grinding exploration, they’re more willing to endure some more.

 

Social Interaction:

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  • Use less ability checks, unless your PC(s) are especially socially awkward. Some PCs aren’t just able to make a proper ingame conversation, but don’t let those who are get away by a bonus on a skill. If someone says: “I’ll tell him, that he should go to the south gate, to see if someone opened it.” you should answer: “Then say it.” It’s most likely even shorter, like “Check the south gate! Maybe it’s open.”
  • If a roll is really needed, grant Advantage for good ingame role-play. Try to avoid Disadvantage if a weaker role-player tried to talk ingame but did some major blunders. Only if said player did something which is so dumb, that normally no roll could save it, use Disadvantage. Don’t discourage your players if they want to talk ingame, this improves the confidence and fun of Social Interaction.
  • Don’t use Social Interactions only as exposition devices. Like a famous admiral said: It’s a trap!!! If you look back into Social Interaction, how much was about explaining what’s going on, why are the PCs here, how they get to the next plot-point, etc. It’s kinda natural to use Social Interaction for this, but don’t forget that there’s more to RPG than quests, plots and evil wizards which are conquering the world. Let some normal or even known people come by, throwing useless side quests around (‘If you go to the city, I’m looking for a imp’s tooth, they shall ward evil and I could pay you some gold for it’), player’s tends to actually care more about the side quest, instead the main one. Use a tavern as a chance to let some rumors reach the PCs ears, to prepare them a bit beforehand or tell them information, they could never get another way, like the name of the bandit’s leader and how he was as a kid, while telling them how to flirt with the other or even the same gender. Unlike ‘The Last Airbender’, ‘The Dark Knight Saga’ or ‘Man of Steel’ tried to teach us, friends and strangers don’t only tell important stuff.
  • Let your villains have a threatening advantage. If people do bad stuff, PCs will crush their heads with their weapons and spells. If said evil (or their middlemen) people comes into town, having enough back-up to kill the adventurers if needed or targeting something the PCs are actually caring about (normally I’d say the citizens, but somehow only the magic stuff shop comes into mind) than it’s time to talk. Even villains often don’t want useless bloodshed, let the lawful evil ones first try to talk it out, while having all power in hand. The chaotic evil might want to humiliate them first and afterwards break his promise and kill the people/burn down the magic shop anyway. If your PCs can kill the villain too swiftly, let a middleman do the talking, because they’ll try to persuade you, that the henchmen won’t do any bad stuff without the boss.
  • Let Social Interaction be corner-points. No part but Social Interaction can be more defining, how a adventure can unfold. Combats are more like yes/no-options and exploration is too random to actually tie the plot with a clear conscience to it. Social Interactions on the other way are not random and handles the biggest conflicts possible with about unlimited solutions: Dealing with people. If your goal is to let the PCs arrive at DungeonX, they’ll first start the preparation to get there and might come to the idea, that they could take a caravan for part of the way, while getting some money at the same time. If they handle the conversation poorly, don’t just dismiss the attempt: Make it, that the caravan leader gets interest what the adventurers are really after and how it benefits the merchants, it may end in a horde of mercenaries waiting in ambush for the tired party, which just finished and left DungeonX. Or if the prince of a kingdom is needed to fulfill a prophecy, maybe the way they treated the prince may be the key if he’ll really fulfills this prophecy (be it good or bad). Players love the feeling that their decisions makes a difference and if you tie it to Social Interaction, they’ll begin to care more about it.

 

There are way more ways, but this might actually help you for the time being. The most important thing is: Let have Exploration and Social Interactions don’t just be necessaries, but important aspects which defines either combat or the whole campaign. Even though plot twists may arrive, when the party do combat, like creating their own archenemy by killing his family (be it human or goblin… or pet), seeking more and more power driven by revenge, which is normally a heroes origin story.

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