Why is multiclassing so popular?

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I don't really get it. A big criticism of 4e was its lack of decent multiclassing (not disagreeing here), and people are generally pleased it's going to be done better in the next edition.

As a player I don't see the need to "mess around" with the classes as given. To me, it's like saying the class isn't good enough or interesting enough by itself.

Can anyone enlighten me on why picking bits and pieces from different classes is so appealing to many people? 
A variety of reasons, really.

Sometimes, a single class doesn't fit your concept well enough.
Sometimes, you don't like the features or powers your class is giving you.
Sometimes, you're optimizing.
Sometimes, you're hung up on the class names.
Sometimes, you just want to experiment with different abilities.
And, sometimes, the class isn't good enough or interesting enough by itself.
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I prefer 4E's multiclassing system where you are dipping into a second class.  Hybridding is decent too since it lets you do two classes at once without (usually) being broken or hugely better than one class.  Mcing is almost always worth it in 4E, but you aren't that hurt sticking with one class most of the time.

In previous editions mcing or dual classing was often much more effective than going one class.  With 3.5 you were often best off multiclassing into 2+ classes, though my DM houseruled that was not allowed so I never did that. 

IIRC in 2E some multiclass/dual class builds were much more powerful than single classes builds because of how they did XP.  So a level 10 Fighter/Cleric was almost as good as a regular level 11 fighter, but was almost as good as a level 11 cleric too.  I forget the exact details, but you progessed almost as fast in two classes as you would normally progess in 1.
A "built" character is a sampling of a character concept.  Multiclassing allows sampling at a higher resolution.
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Can anyone enlighten me on why picking bits and pieces from different classes is so appealing to many people? 



Different people have different motives, and others have touched on several. But for me it's because I generally want to play something that isn't preconcieved and packaged by someone else. I want to make something that is uniquely and distinctly mine. Ideally I want it to be about the same effectiveness but in very different ways, so if the MC system is overpowered or underpowered then that can be a turnoff for me. (or like 3.x, where it manages to do both.)

(BTW, I love 4e's multiclass system, including hybrid (pre-hybrid was I think too limiting), and only wish they'd built the essentials classes to work with it well. I don't know how they're going to get 5e's multiclassing to not fall into the same pitfalls that 3.x did, but I wish them success.)
I have a hybrid in my sig I call a Bloodwright exemplifies what I like about it ... she was mechanically built using 3 elements including a strongly used Theme from Darksun which is very close to a third class when heavily used.

When you start from a concept and are looking to match that concept flexible flavor and game mechanics unite to let you go beyond the boundaries you are the one who makes it sensible. 

I too love 4es multiclassing and yes hybriding and themes brought the final pieces in to play and no essentials didnt really play nice with either, but it isnt just the elments that are labelled multiclassing that are multiclassing. Ritual Caster is multiclassing, Backgrounds which give access to various skills or shift hit point basis are multiclassing.  Feats for gaining weapon proficiencies or enabling weapons to act as implements are multiclassing... feats for gaining extra hit points or healing surges are multiclassing.

Does reflavoring count as multiclassing? It might when I have a hold of it.

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I almost always multiclass in 4e to get class-specific feats that weren't intended for my class. A majority of my weapon-using builds end up multiclassing fighter at some point.
I almost always multiclass in 4e to get class-specific feats that weren't intended for my class. A majority of my weapon-using builds end up multiclassing fighter at some point.



And many of my NOVA builds go MC Rogue to get Sneak Attack and acces to Deft Blade. MC'ing and hybriding is the basis of all of my builds, love it!
In most cases Multiclass feats are superior to other feats in every way. Its superior fluff and crunch most the time. Since the PHB1 classes have a tremendous amount more feat support, other classes can feel like mc feats are required for both concept and crunch.

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Can anyone enlighten me on why picking bits and pieces from different classes is so appealing to many people? 

Two reasons:  build-to-concept and broken combos.

A build to concept is when you start out with an idea for a character that's not rooted in the system you end up playing.  If you don't start with a concept like 'dwarf battlerager,' but one like, 'dwarf who fights with a big hammer and is very good at dealing with mining and underground dangers like traps,' a simple class or pre-arranged build doesn't work.  You'll want to bring things together.  In 3.x, that dwarf was a  Rogue/Ranger with 2 levels of Fighter on the side, because that's how the system worked, and it let him be good at both the suite of skills it took to deal with traps, and dungeoneering & tracking, and make use of a big honking weapon.  In 4e, he's just a Rogue with Dwarven Weapon Training and some other feats and backgrounds, the MCing isn't even required because the skills are paired down and rogue has all of them. 

Broken combos, OTOH, are just a matter of bringing together things that the poor fellows designing them never compared notes on and making something broken out of it.  For examples, see CharOp.  Often that means putting together things from two or more different classes.  

 

 

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One type of question you see a lot in the CharOp forums is people wanting to play a combination of one class with a completely different archetype of character, a classic example is the more common fantasy Wizard who has healing ability, but also throws around fireballs, it's a fantasy concept that's nonexistant as a single class in D&D; in 3.x the Rogue was better at healing than the Wizard. There's a few ways to accomplish this, refluff a Bards image, refluff an Artificers powers, refluff a cleric or shaman as an Arcanist, Hybrid something, of just play a Wizard or Sorcerer who Multiclasses and thus picks up a small ammount of healing.

It really fills those small gaps in character concepts nicely.
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Broken combos, OTOH, are just a matter of bringing together things that the poor fellows designing them never compared notes on and making something broken out of it.  For examples, see CharOp.  Often that means putting together things from two or more different classes.  




This is the primary, but not the sole reason multi-classing is strictly forbidden in my games.    There are frequent complaints about how difficult it is to adequately challenge players in the mid to late levels, and I feel multi-classing is a major contributor to this.