Too many options for classes?

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So a problem that myself and my players were having while reading over the D&D Next docs is that there seem to be too many options that take the classes from their archetype. For example:

Look at the Cleric. He is pretty much a Paladin in most of the pregens. Then they are talking about Sorcerers having a "Favored Soul" option to make them Divine casters... etc etc etc.

Basically my group prefers there to be more variation between the classes. We'd almost prefer a core four (Fighter (named Warrior), Rogue, Cleric, Mage) and then have them "Prestige" into others (such as Ranger, Paladin, Assassin, etc).

The reason my group has dwindled over the years and stopped playing is two fold: sourcebook bloat (seriously WotC, stop flooding the lines with book after book... when you have to consult 20 books to make a character it is frustrating) and class overlap.

We'd prefer to see the Cleric be a medium armor (scale?) wearing, mace and shield using, character that alternates heals and bolsters/buffs while attacking. They can't "tank" like a Warrior or Paladin, but they are competent. As it is there is little reason to be a Paladin (its just one example).

Anyone else have issues like this or do you prefer to have the class lines blurred? 
We'd prefer to see the Cleric be a medium armor (scale?) wearing, mace and shield using, character that alternates heals and bolsters/buffs while attacking. They can't "tank" like a Warrior or Paladin, but they are competent.

Ok, be a Cleric with the Sun domain.  Done.  They get medium armor, simple weapons, heals, and buffs, and can fight respectably both in melee and at range.

Although I'm a little confused why you picture the Cleric that way, as the original Cleric could, and often did, wear Plate.

As it is there is little reason to be a Paladin (its just one example).

How could you possibly know that?  They haven't released the Paladin yet.

Anyone else have issues like this or do you prefer to have the class lines blurred?

I like there to be as many classes as possible.  I want lots and lots of choice--choice overwhelming.

Maybe you find the War Cleric encapsulates the Paladin concept really well.  But what if the Paladin has a really cool Smite system?  They both feel like a Paladin in play, but maybe you like the mechanics of the Cleric class while I prefer the true Paladin mechanics.  Now, we can both play the same concept, while also playing with the mechanics we prefer.

How is having more choice bad? 
How is having more choice bad? 



There is such a thing as too many choices. 
However, that being said, give me some more options on how I can play/build/make my character.
I personally love the way they are headed with the Backgrounds, Specialties mixed with the Classes. I want to be a holy warrior of my church there are 2 real easy ways to explain that, Acolyte background with Fighter or War Cleric. Probably other ways but those are the first two ways that come to mind.
Options are good, but there are limits. Lets see what we can do to find the sweet spot for options with Next.

I find that the options are perfect. And I'm sure with more specialties, backgrounds, etc, every body will be able to build the character of their liking (within reason). If you want to have your leather wearing cleric, go for it. Nothings stopping you. But nothings stopping someone from getting their more heavy, combat esque cleric either. Every body wins.
I like having this many options (or the promise of how many options we will eventually have. It means that I can make my character exactly as I want it, but if someone wants to roll up super quick they can use the suggested options, and pretend there aren't a ton.
'That's just, like, your opinion, man.'
I really like where they are going, but I will say I would rather have a few quality options than a ton of useless ones. Quality of quantity. With all the feat bloat in 3e and 4e, eventually up to 70% of the feats were hardly taken :P the same 30%  saw use time and time again because their benefits outweighed the others. I am totally down for a bunch of options to make my character however I want it. But I would rather them spend their time perfecting a few options than giving a slew of hastily made ones.

As far as the OPs statement goes. A Fighter or War Cleric acting like a Paladin? This is EXACTLY what they want. Each class is going to have a unique mechanic for you to enjoy, and then you get to build your character how you want on top of that. So say when Ranger comes out that you really don't enjoy their mechanic. Instead you could play a rogue with a scout scheme and the Archer Specialty. 

People who want to play the class get to play the class, people who don't want to don't have to. Everybody wins. 
My two copper.
I really like the options presented for each class, and hope all the classes have several options so that my players can match whatever flavor and mechanics they want with their character concept. This is probably what I am most excited for with Next.

To OP: The beauty of the current class system is that you can take away whatever options you don't like for your campaign, and you don't have to worry about breaking the game. If you and your players think that all clerics should be scale wearing healers/buffers, then disallow the domain options that don't fit that theme. The current system allows you to play that way, and for my game to also have dwarven warpriests who are as much soldier as healer. Everyone wins!
Yo know I'd rather see a lot of options to diversify the core classes than to have 75 with different names but virtually nothig setting them apart. 

As for prestige classes I think they need exorcism, crucifiction and excommunication, not to mention burning at the stake.

I'm also an advocate of multiclassing at first level only, but too many people would have apoplectic fits if they had to actually make a choice and stick to it.
How is having more choice bad? 

This is strictly my personal opinion about the subject, but isn't that why we're all here?  To discuss opinions?

I think that more choices are bad.  If a paladin can be equally represented with an actual paladin class, or a cleric with the war domain, or a fighter with the acolyte specialty, then which one is right?  (In my view, the game world is treated as a real place, with the rules of the game reflecting that reality rather than the other way around.) 

I mean, in terms of the narrative, I can easily presume a temple where paladins gather to learn and train, so why would divine magic represent itself differently for each?  Is Pelor micro-managing his gifts to tailor them to the strengths of the recipient?  It just raises a lot more questions than it answers.  Magic A should always be Magic A, so when you have Magic B and Magic C that are trying to pass themselves off as the same narrative as Magic A, then it feels weird.  Introducing more than one way to do the same thing only hurts the narrative.

(I get that this might not be the case in every setting, but it seems like most people are happy enough to just ignore the issue entirely.  The mere existence of the codified races, monsters, and spells is a strong case for assumed flavor throughout varied settings, so it doesn't bother me nearly as much as it seems to bother some other people.)

The other issue, which I mentioned in another thread, is that multiple ways of building the same character causes a shift in focus (of the product and the players) away from presenting opportunities to play a character and toward exploring different mechanical options for representing that character.  I'd much rather there be no question of which one single way to represent your paladin, and then we can move on with the game and see what your paladin actually does when the various situations present themselves.  The choice of mechanics to represent the character is not an interesting aspect of that character.  (IMHO)
The metagame is not the game.
How is having more choice bad? 

This is strictly my personal opinion about the subject, but isn't that why we're all here?  To discuss opinions?

I think that more choices are bad.  If a paladin can be equally represented with an actual paladin class, or a cleric with the war domain, or a fighter with the acolyte specialty, then which one is right?  (In my view, the game world is treated as a real place, with the rules of the game reflecting that reality rather than the other way around.) 

I mean, in terms of the narrative, I can easily presume a temple where paladins gather to learn and train, so why would divine magic represent itself differently for each?  Is Pelor micro-managing his gifts to tailor them to the strengths of the recipient?  It just raises a lot more questions than it answers.  Magic A should always be Magic A, so when you have Magic B and Magic C that are trying to pass themselves off as the same narrative as Magic A, then it feels weird.  Introducing more than one way to do the same thing only hurts the narrative.

(I get that this might not be the case in every setting, but it seems like most people are happy enough to just ignore the issue entirely.  The mere existence of the codified races, monsters, and spells is a strong case for assumed flavor throughout varied settings, so it doesn't bother me nearly as much as it seems to bother some other people.)

The other issue, which I mentioned in another thread, is that multiple ways of building the same character causes a shift in focus (of the product and the players) away from presenting opportunities to play a character and toward exploring different mechanical options for representing that character.  I'd much rather there be no question of which one single way to represent your paladin, and then we can move on with the game and see what your paladin actually does when the various situations present themselves.  The choice of mechanics to represent the character is not an interesting aspect of that character.  (IMHO)

Saelorn, I completely disagree with you on this, hehe. 

I feel that having only one way to represent a paladin in game mechanics pigeonholes players into playing a specific character. 

In 4e, for example, I had a player who wanted to play a Paladin, but was very unhappy with the mechanics that were dictated to him as what a "Paladin" was. It was this kid's first D&D experience, and he was coming from WoW, and he wanted to play a Paladin who focused on smiting evil, wielding a big weapon and dishing out tons of hurt on his enemies. Of course in 4e, paladins are supposed to fill the defender role, and so his damage was never on par with the strikers of the party. We tried to simply build him how he wanted to play his character, focusing on damage dealing and smitery, but then his party became upset because the "tank" wasn't doing his job.

Of course, for this wow kid, mechanics played a huge part for him, but to be honest, I thought he made some good efforts at actually roleplaying and developing his character as well. When it came down to it though, the rules were dictating to him a completely different style of play than what he was looking for, and telling him his character did different things than what he wanted to be doing and that really hurt his ability to get involved in the story aspects of his character.

From what I've seen of Next it looks like the options available will give me better tools as a DM to help my players play the characters they want to. I think that having mechanics that match the player's expectations of their class is important in having a player get involved in the story, especially for a new player or someone with a heavy MMO background. For my player, I could have allowed him to play a slayer fighter with the acolyte background, given him a background that made him part of an order of paladins, called him a paladin, and not had to think about it again.

I don't feel like having multiple rules interpretations of one class hurts the narrative at all, and if my players are more invested in their characters because they can do exactly what they want, then the narrative will probably be better for it.

I'm certainly not advocating this as the only way. The way I see it, in it's current form, I can play Next how I want to, and Saelorn should be able to play the way he wants to with some simple class/spec restrictions. Next is an attempt to accomodate a majority of players and playstyles through moduality, and I think the current class system nails that goal.
The reason my group has dwindled over the years and stopped playing is two fold: sourcebook bloat (seriously WotC, stop flooding the lines with book after book... when you have to consult 20 books to make a character it is frustrating) and class overlap. 

I agree WotC needs to stop bloating the class pool with trivial classes and releasing so many confusing products. I'd much prefer that they spend the effort making adventures, especially epic campaign adventures that span from 1st to 20th level. 

Basically my group prefers there to be more variation between the classes. We'd almost prefer a core four (Fighter (named Warrior), Rogue, Cleric, Mage) and then have them "Prestige" into others (such as Ranger, Paladin, Assassin, etc).

I'm a big advocate of keeping only the core four classes (at least in the core rules, anyway). I see pretty much all of the other classes as offshoots of these classes that can easily be handled with themes, schemes, backgrounds, and feats/skills.

However, I don't see that there are too many options in Next. Keep in mind, Specialties and Backgrounds are optional...hence the reason they placed those sections in separate files (I'm assuming).
D&D Next - Basic and Expert Editions

I firmly believe that there should be two editions of the game; the core rules released as a "Basic" set and a more complicated expanded rules edition released as an "Expert" set. These two editions would provide separate entry points to the game; one for new players or players that want a more classic D&D game and another entry point for experienced gamers that want more options and all the other things they have come to expect from previous editions.

Also, they must release several rules modules covering the main elements of the game (i.e., classes, races, combat, magic, monsters, etc.) upon launch to further expand the game for those that still need more complexity in a particular element of the game.


Here's a mockup of the Basic Set I created.



(CLICK HERE TO VIEW LARGER IMAGE)
  

Basic Set

This boxed set contains a simple, "bare bones" edition of the game; the core rules. It's for those that want a rules-light edition of the game that is extremely modifiable or for new players that get intimidated easily by too many rules and/or options. The Basic Set contains everything needed to play with all the "classic" D&D races (i.e., Human, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling) and classes (i.e., Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard) all the way up to maximum level (i.e., 20th Level).

The Basic boxed set contains:

Quick Start Rules
A "choose your own way" adventure intended as an intro to RPGs and basic D&D terms.

Player's Handbook
(Softcover, 125 pages)
Features rules for playing the classic D&D races and classes all the way up to 20th level.

Dungeon Master's Guide

(Softcover, 125 pages)
Includes the basic rules for dungeon masters.

Monster Manual
(Softcover, 100 pages)
Includes all the classic iconic monsters from D&D. 

Introductory Adventure
(Keep on the Borderlands)
An introductory adventure for beginning players and DMs.

Also includes: 

Character Sheets
Reference Sheets
Set of Dice


Expert Set

A set of hardbound rules that contains the core rules plus expanded races and classes, more spells and a large selection of optional rules modules — that is, pretty much everything that experienced players have come to expect. Each expert edition manual may be purchased separately, or in a boxed set. The Expert set includes:

Expert PHB (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus 10 playable races, 10 character classes, expanded selection of spells and rules modules for players.)
Expert DMG (Hardcover, 250 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus expanded rules modules for DMs.)
Expert MM (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes an expanded list of monsters and creatures to challenge characters)


Expansions

These expansion rules modules can be used with both the Basic and Expert sets. Each expansion covers one specific aspect of the game, such as character creation, combat, spells, monsters, etc.) 

Hall of Heroes (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes a vast selection of playable character races and classes, new and old all in one book)
Combat and Tactics (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes dozens of new and old optional rules for combat all in one book)
Creature Compendium (Hardcover, 350 pages.$35 Includes hundreds of monsters, new and old all in one book)
The Grimoire (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes hundreds of new and old spells all in one book)





A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage

A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage and Hit Points

In my personal campaigns, I use the following system for damage and dying. It's a slight modification of the long-standing principles etsablished by the D&D game, only with a new definition of what 0 or less hit points means. I've been using it for years because it works really well. However, I've made some adjustments to take advantage of the D&D Next rules. I've decided to present the first part in a Q&A format for better clarity. So let's begin...

What are hit points?
The premise is very simple, but often misunderstood; hit points are an abstraction that represent the character's ability to avoid serious damage, not necessarily their ability to take serious damage. This is a very important distinction. They represent a combination of skillful maneuvering, toughness, stamina and luck. Some targets have more hit points because they are physically tougher and are harder to injure...others have more because they are experienced combatants and have learned how to turn near fatal blows into mere scratches by skillful maneuvering...and then others are just plain lucky. Once a character runs out of hit points they become vulnerable to serious life-threatening injuries.

So what exactly does it mean to "hit" with a successful attack roll, then?
It means that through your own skill and ability you may have wounded your target if the target lacks the hit points to avoid the full brunt of the attack. That's an important thing to keep in mind; a successful "hit" does not necessarily mean you physically damaged your target. It just means that your attack was well placed and forced the target to exert themselves in such a way as to leave them vulnerable to further attacks. For example, instead of severing the target's arm, the attack merely grazes them leaving a minor cut.

But the attack did 25 points of damage! Why did it only "graze" the target?
Because the target has more than 25 hit points. Your attack forced them to exert a lot of energy to avoid the attack, but because of their combat skill, toughness, stamina and luck, they managed to avoid being seriously injured. However, because of this attack, they may not have the reserves to avoid your next attack. Perhaps you knocked them off balance or the attack left them so fatigued they lack the stamina to evade another attack. It's the DM's call on how they want to narrate the exact reason the blow didn't kill or wound the target.

Yeah, but what about "touch" attacks that rely on physical contact?
Making physical contact with a target is a lot different than striking them, so these types of attacks are the exception. If a touch attack succeeds, the attacker manages to make contact with their target.

If hit points and weapon damage don't always represent actual damage to the target, then what does it represent?
Think of the damage from an attack as more like a "threat level" rather than actual physical damage that transfers directly to the target's body. That is, the more damage an attack does, the harder it is to avoid serious injury. For example, an attack that causes 14 points of damage is more likely to wound the target than 3 points of damage (depending on how many hit points the target has left). The higher the damage, the greater the chance is that the target will become seriously injured. So, an attack that does 34 points of damage could be thought of as a "threat level of 34." If the target doesn't have the hit points to negate that threat, they become seriously injured.

Ok, but shouldn't armor reduce the amount of damage delivered from an attack?
It does reduce damage; by making it harder for an attack to cause serious injury. A successful hit against an armored target suggests that the attack may have circumvented the target's armor by striking in a vulnerable area.

What about poison and other types of non-combat damage?
Hit point loss from non-physical forms of damage represents the character spitting the poison out just in time before it takes full strength or perhaps the poison just wasn't strong enough to affect them drastically, but still weakens them. Again, it's the DMs call on how to narrate the reasons why the character avoids serious harm from the damage.

If hit points don't don't represent actual damage then how does that make sense with spells like Cure Serious Wounds and other forms of healing like healer kits with bandages?
Hit points do represent some physical damage, just not serious physical damage. Healing magic and other forms of healing still affect these minor wounds just as well as more serious wounds. For example, bandaging up minor cuts and abrasions helps the character rejuvenate and relieve the pain and/or fatigue of hit point loss. The key thing to remember is that it's an abstraction that allows the DM freedom to interpret and narrate it as they see fit.

What if my attack reduces the target to 0 or less hit points?
If a player is reduced to 0 or less hit points they are wounded. If a monster or NPC is reduce to 0 or less hit points they are killed.

Why are monsters killed immediately and not players?
Because unless the monsters are crucial to the story, it makes combat resolution much faster. It is assumed that players immediately execute a coup de grace on wounded monsters as a finishing move.

What if a character is wounded by poison or other types of non-physical damage?
If a character becomes wounded from non-combat damage they still receive the effects of being wounded, regardless if they show any physical signs of injury (i.e., internal injuries are still considered injuries).

Ok. I get it...but what happens once a character is wounded?
See below.
 

Damage and Dying

Once a character is reduced to 0 or less hit points, they start taking real damage. In other words, their reserves have run out and they can no longer avoid taking serious damage.

  1. Characters are fully operational as long as they have 1 hit point or more. They may have minor cuts, bruises, and superficial wounds, but they are are not impaired significantly. 
  2. Once they reach 0 or less hit points, they become Wounded (see below).That is, they have sustained a wound that impairs their ability to perform actions.
  3. If they reach a negative amount of hit points equal or greater than their Constitution score, they are Incapacitated. This means they are in critical condition and could possibly die.
  4. Characters will die if their hit points reach a negative amount greater than their Constitution score, plus their current level.

Unharmed: 1 hp or more
Wounded: 0 hp or less
Incapacitated: -(Constitution) to -(Constitution+Level)
Dead: Less than -(Constitution +Level)

Wounded
When the character reaches 0 or less hit points they become wounded. Wounded characters receive disadvantage on all attacks and saving throws until they heal back up to 1 hit point or more. This allows for a transitory stage between healthy and dying, without having to mess around with impairment rules while the character still has hit points left.

Incapacitated
Characters begin dying when they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution score. At which point, they must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw on each of their following turns (the disadvantage from being wounded does not apply for these saving throws).

If successful, the character remains dying, but their condition does not worsen.

If the saving throw fails, another DC 10 Constitution saving throw must be made. If that one fails, the character succumbs to their wounds and dies. If successful, the character stabilizes and is no longer dying.

Finally, if a dying character receives first aid or healing at any point, they immediately stabilize.

Dead
Characters will die if they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution, plus their current level. Thus, if an 8th level character with a Constitution score of 12 is down to 4 hit points then takes 24 points of damage (reducing their hit points to -20) the attack kills them outright.

In 4e, for example, I had a player who wanted to play a Paladin, but was very unhappy with the mechanics that were dictated to him as what a "Paladin" was. It was this kid's first D&D experience, and he was coming from WoW, and he wanted to play a Paladin who focused on smiting evil, wielding a big weapon and dishing out tons of hurt on his enemies.

I'm curious how this player would have felt if he'd only played vanilla WoW.  Back in those days, the idea of a Paladin dishing out tons of hurt was kind of ridiculous, and your role was pretty much set in stone by your class.  (I think they were forced into being healers, past a certain point; it's been a while.)

I understand the dilemma, but I really blame 4E and its rigid class-role structure for the problem.  I think their way of "solving" the problem was just to put out more classes (Avenger?), which was really only a solution for people who bought into the system in the first place. 

There's no reason DDN has to follow that example.  If they just build a solid foundation for all of the classes to use, then we won't end up in a situation where each class has its own gimmick and you have to somehow fit the character you want to play into the gimmick you want to govern it, eventually leading to unsustainable class bloat.  Unfortunately, that method does have the "benefit" of requiring people to buy more books in order to find that elusive specially-designed perfect-fit class, and even if you grant the benefit of the doubt that they only want to help us have fun (rather than being primarily concerned with profit) then they still need to sell books in order to make money to employ those people to design the books in the first place.

The metagame is not the game.
I'm curious how this player would have felt if he'd only played vanilla WoW.  Back in those days, the idea of a Paladin dishing out tons of hurt was kind of ridiculous, and your role was pretty much set in stone by your class.  (I think they were forced into being healers, past a certain point; it's been a while.)

I understand the dilemma, but I really blame 4E and its rigid class-role structure for the problem.  I think their way of "solving" the problem was just to put out more classes (Avenger?), which was really only a solution for people who bought into the system in the first place. 



Heh, yeah, I remember for berating many a paladin when I played vanilla wow to spec holy and heal or gtfo.

I agree though, it's definitely a 4e problem that was a result of their (mmo inspired) role system. Like I said, I think DDN holds a lot of promise to not have such issues. I'm hoping for a system with a managable number of well-defined classes (10-12), that can be combined with backgrounds or specializations to handle the large number of specialized classes and subclasses that have become a part of the game over the years.