Your Thoughts on Advanced Character Specialization?

I didn't see a thread concerning this and I'm curious about your thoughts. So:

What path should 5e take to include advanced character specialization options akin to Prestige Classes and/or Paragon Paths?

Should it take the Prestige Class route?
    --- Cherry picking prestige classes; you aren't limited to just one
    --- Gives you a "new class" type of feel; you aren't a Rogue anymore, but rather an Assassin
    --- Determines your new mechanics for that level; deciding base attack bonus, saves, etc.

More of a Paragon Path route?
    --- Just one; you can't have multiple Paragon Paths
    --- Feels more like a specialization; you're still a rogue, it's just that now you're a Cat Burgular Rogue
    --- Doesn't directly affect your baseline, skeleton mechanics most of the time; for example, you're not going to have a PP thats says "do not gain a +1 to attack every other level like normal"

And what about advanced character specialization in general?
    --- Do you like the idea of advanced classes/paths? Or do you think characters should be defined by their base class, and their base class only?
    --- What are your thoughts on requirements? (What time frame should you be able to get into an advanced option, such as early career, mid career, etc.? What type of requirements should they have, such as skills, levels, attack bonus, etc.?)
    --- How signifigantly should they impact the game?

Thanks for your input.
Begin at the beginning and go on till you reach the end: then stop.
They mentioned something about this in the blog post Backgrounds & Themes: A Closer Look.  I've quoted the relevent part below.

The theme you gain at 1st level isn’t the only theme you get. We’re not mapping out all 20+ levels of character development with one decision point since we also realize that characters, even those played by folks who don’t want to make a lot of decision, change over time. The first theme you choose is broadly descriptive and flexible. Think Leader, Sharpshooter, or Skirmisher. When you adopt your second theme at 6th level, you might choose another basic theme or you might choose something that grounds you a bit more in the game by selecting an advanced theme. Currently, advanced themes, in concept, resemble the prestige classes from 3rd Edition. They focus your character a bit further, building on the foundation established by another theme, to reflect deep specialization or some character-defining quality. Here are a few ideas off the top of my head. A Sharpshooter becomes an Arcane Archer. A Tempest becomes an Eldritch Knight. A Lurker becomes a Shadowdancer. A Mystic becomes a Necromancer or Enchanter or Abjurer. A Slayer becomes an Axe Specialist. A Guardian becomes a Dwarven Defender. And so on.

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.


The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.


You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.


Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.


Save the breasts.

Not everyone likes advanced classes, so they shouldn't be forced.  However, they should be availible.

IMO, everyone starts out as a simple base class, which start with basic proficencies (fighters start with weapons and armor, rogues get stealth and sneak attack, wizards get implements and spells).  Advancing in these just improve on basic mechanics.

Once you learned how to swing a sword/cast a spell/precicely stab (level 3-5), you can start specilizing in more specific stuff.  So knight requires level 3 fighter, assassin requires level 3 rogue, and necromancer requires level 3 wizards.

The key thing here is getting each level of each class to give you (roughly) the same amount of power.

List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

When we first switched to 4e I was super sad about not having Prc Classes. Now though, the only thing I miss from them is having a way to make multiclass characters more unique. Like cleric + warlock = Eldritch Disciple, and monk + wizard = Enlightened Fist. That I would like back, but otherwise they can do whatever they want. Prc or Paragon, don't care, I can roll with both.

There are two things I would like to see no matter what they do though. Limit the # you can grab, such as with paragon + epic. And don't force players to take them on a specific level. Levels are an abstract concept, what is there to explain that the only time I could make that life changing choice was moving from levels 10 to 11? I could live without either of these, but would still prefer them.
The prestige classes of 3.5 feel very limiting. They never seem to cover what I want my character to be.

But the again, I never had a character that survved long enough to join a prestige class.
DISCLAIMER: I never played 4ed, so I may misunderstand some of the rules.
I prefer to discuss with my players exactly what they want. And then, given the constraints of balance in my game, I give them exactly what they want. Expecting a designer thousands of miles and years away to give them what they want, and have it be perfectly balanced for my game - is the height of naivete, in my opinion.
I prefer to discuss with my players exactly what they want. And then, given the constraints of balance in my game, I give them exactly what they want. Expecting a designer thousands of miles and years away to give them what they want, and have it be perfectly balanced for my game - is the height of naivete, in my opinion.

The perfect is the enemy of the good; adding simple, building-block themes sounds like a great way to go, and can be a good starting point for DM-player conversations.

When we first switched to 4e I was super sad about not having Prc Classes. Now though, the only thing I miss from them is having a way to make multiclass characters more unique. Like cleric + warlock = Eldritch Disciple, and monk + wizard = Enlightened Fist.

Not a fan of the hybrid rules?

Thinking about creating a race for 4e? Make things a lil' easier on yourself by reading my Race Mechanic Creation Guide first.

Not a fan of the hybrid rules?

Yea, I caught that too, "I like Prcs because they replaced the nasty 3.5 MC mess with a fun mess!" This thread + the multiclass one has got me on a pondering spree that's making me lean more towards a fixed up hybrid system. Because although I definitely didn't like how it played out in 4e, I think it could be done in a way that gives us the free 3.5 feel without books worth of rough patches to fix how bad 5 Clr / 5 Wiz is in comparison to 10 of either.

A clip from my post in the multiclass thread explaining why I don't like 4e hybrid.
4e's hybrids could work, if they didn't make it feel like you were gimped for wanting to be different. It feels like you're only getting %40 of each class. Wizard + Bard = no ritual casting, despite both being ritual casters. Also don't force half and half of each class, I would like to make a Swarm Druid + Vampire hybrid, focusing on druid since Cha/Str/Dex would be dump(ish) stats. But I'm forced to have circa half my powers be from the Vampire side. So there goes that idea.

Basically, I want more freedom than 50/50 and things to be cleaned up a bit so it doesn't feel like I'm getting the short end of both sticks. I think it can be done, I'm typing a random idea up and will probably plop it into the MC thread.

In defense of Prcs though, you usually got some neat abilities that really made it feel like the abilities of the two classes were getting mixed. Like an Eldritch Disciple using a turn undead attempt to turn her eldritch blast into a healing blast. Although, there's nothing stopping WotC from making some Swift Hunter style feats that help mix two classes.

I think, to ensure the "modular approach", would be to release advanced character specialization in a future product.

In addition, themes should work more like prestige classes than like paragon paths; but instead of making the requirements level based, make the requirements option based.  For instance, the dwarven defender might require the gaurdian theme, dwarf race or background, certain feats, skill levels, etc.; or maybe it will require a different theme, or maybe theme wouldn't be a requirement at all and instead focus on feat and skill choices (to make it available to more than one theme.)  Plus to avoid power surges, only allow one theme at a time; any time a new theme is chosen,  the new theme replaces the old theme to avoid ability stacking.