Legends & Lore - Multiclassing in Next

Legends & Lore 
Multiclassing in Next

By Mike Mearls

Over the course of the summer, the R&D team had the chance to meet a lot of people at conventions such as Origins, Gen Con, and PAX. The rules for multiclass characters came up a few times in panels or in random conversations, so I thought now would be a good time to give you an overview of our goals for those rules.

Talk about this column here.

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Ambitious, it'd be awesome if it works, I'm not convinced it'll turn out that way though.
I don't get it.  I mean, I get that it's 3e multiclassing, except (a) it's optional and (b) they're hoping to make "level-dipping" not overpowered and (c) they're hoping to make multiclassing into a spellcasting class not a waste of time.

But I don't get how they're currently dealing with (c).  "We can build the rules to give you a bit more power to keep that gap reasonable" doesn't sound right to me.

What I think (hope?) he's saying is that things like "multiclassing into a spellcaster class" can take into account your total character level - and give you access to spells of an appropriate level (just fewer of them).  That might actually be what he's saying, but I didn't get it from the article clearly.
Feedback Disclaimer
Yes, I am expressing my opinions (even complaints - le gasp!) about the current iteration of the play-test that we actually have in front of us. No, I'm not going to wait for you to tell me when it's okay to start expressing my concerns (unless you are WotC). (And no, my comments on this forum are not of the same tone or quality as my actual survey feedback.)
A Psion for Next (Playable Draft) A Barbarian for Next (Brainstorming Still)
That was my impression as well. Kinda sloppy but I'll let it slide because it's not in crunch.
It sounds like they're perfectly and precisely aware of exactly what the major issues with 3e multiclassing are (they list them explicitly) and are designing the multiclassing system to account for that. That's very encouraging, and about as much as anyone could hope for.
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
Mike Mearls: You can expect that the multiclass rules will break out abilities so that a player cannot take a single level in one or more classes in order to combine a number of signature abilities.


This is the important bit i look forward to with DDN multiclassing. 
No, i can hope for a heck of a lot more, as it is this is a lot better than i honestly expected though.
Mike Mearls: I’m sure that we’ll allow multiclassing as an option in our organized play campaigns—but the system will still serve as an option for DMs to use in their campaigns.


Also glad to hear about Organized Play even if as insignificant as it might be Wink 
I don't get it.  I mean, I get that it's 3e multiclassing, except (a) it's optional and (b) they're hoping to make "level-dipping" not overpowered and (c) they're hoping to make multiclassing into a spellcasting class not a waste of time.

But I don't get how they're currently dealing with (c).  "We can build the rules to give you a bit more power to keep that gap reasonable" doesn't sound right to me.

What I think (hope?) he's saying is that things like "multiclassing into a spellcaster class" can take into account your total character level - and give you access to spells of an appropriate level (just fewer of them).  That might actually be what he's saying, but I didn't get it from the article clearly.


I am also confused by this.

In general, I dislike the 3E multiclassing method anyhow; so, I'll be opting it out.

I hope that they will also include an AD&D style multiclassing option (multiclassing must be chosen at character creation and advancement is, mostly, concurrent).

What I mean by concurrent is that all typical experience points are divided equally among all of a character's classes; although, I tend to give additional experience out for use of class specific features (spellcasters' spell use, ranger's tracking, bard's musical features, etc.) which will allow non-concurrent advancement to a certain degree.
I read it as saying:  There is "Fighter" = the class.  Then there is "Multiclass Fighter" = the multiclass.


Fighter - the class - is front loaded and designed to feel like a fighter from level 1.  Fighter - the multiclass - is not front loaded and gives you your abilities at a more measured pace.  
When you start at level 1, you take your class of choice.  If you later multiclass - you don't take the new class as Fighter - the class; you take Fighter - the multiclass.  As a 5Rogue/1Fighter - you may not have all of the same fighter class abilities as a 1Fighter would have.  



Because Fighter - the multiclass is being designed from stage one as a multiclass option, they can put abilities in there which make it more useful as a multiclass option.  For example - perhaps Wizard - the multiclass has an option to cast spells in light armor which Wizard - the class does not.  Or perhaps wizard - the multiclass has a spell progression table based on the total character levels rather than the class level; maybe as a 7Rogue/1Wizard (multiclass) you still get only three spells - but your three spells can be fourth level.

The point is - by designing the multiclass as a multiclass you can put things in that make it work better as a multiclass but that would be problematic or illogical as a base class.


But since we have no details, we will just have to wait for the actual implementation.

My biggest concern is that this may make a 7R/4W very different from a 4W/7R and if so I'm not sure how I feel about that.   


Carl


I hope that they will also include an AD&D style multiclassing option (multiclassing must be chosen at character creation and advancement is, mostly, concurrent).

What I mean by concurrent is that all typical experience points are divided equally among all of a character's classes; although, I tend to give additional experience out for use of class specific features (spellcasters' spell use, ranger's tracking, bard's musical features, etc.) which will allow non-concurrent advancement to a certain degree.




This - essentially - is the 4E hybid approach.  I too would like to see that.


Carl   
I can live with rog4/wiz7 being very different from wiz7/rog4. In fact the idea has a certain charm.

As for making specific varients of the classes for multi-classing, yeah that's about the only way I can see 3e style multi-classing working without incredibly strict class creation by level. 
They seem aware of the potential pitfalls but that's a far cry from implementing a decent fix in every combination.  I can see how they might allow multiclassing at level 1 by taking two levels of multiclass and averaging hit points but I don't see the point in allowing you gain XP in 2 classes at the same time, like 2e - all that does is give you a big gap between level bumps and then two in close proximity.

I suspect that spells casters will be able to cast spells based on maybe your level in your spell-casting class plus half your other levels combined or some such.  Lets not forget that casters will also have access to a few at will spells plus rituals, unlike 3e so you might end up with a couple of medium level spells plus some other options plus feat dipping.  It looks like there are a lot of potential combinations that would kep people happy.
I read it as saying:  There is "Fighter" = the class.  Then there is "Multiclass Fighter" = the multiclass.


Fighter - the class - is front loaded and designed to feel like a fighter from level 1.  Fighter - the multiclass - is not front loaded and gives you your abilities at a more measured pace.  
When you start at level 1, you take your class of choice.  If you later multiclass - you don't take the new class as Fighter - the class; you take Fighter - the multiclass.  As a 5Rogue/1Fighter - you may not have all of the same fighter class abilities as a 1Fighter would have.  



Because Fighter - the multiclass is being designed from stage one as a multiclass option, they can put abilities in there which make it more useful as a multiclass option.  For example - perhaps Wizard - the multiclass has an option to cast spells in light armor which Wizard - the class does not.  Or perhaps wizard - the multiclass has a spell progression table based on the total character levels rather than the class level; maybe as a 7Rogue/1Wizard (multiclass) you still get only three spells - but your three spells can be fourth level.

The point is - by designing the multiclass as a multiclass you can put things in that make it work better as a multiclass but that would be problematic or illogical as a base class.


That is what I would like to see as a decent attempt to strike a balance between the excessively cheap and overpowered 3E multiclassing and the excessively expensive and underpowered 4E multiclassing. (I predict they won't get it quite right, but I'm still hopeful than they will do significantly better than any prior edition.)

I hope they also put in at least some guidelines on how to do a hybrid of two classes - where instead of being purely one class and then adding part of another, you are a blend of two classes from day one. It wouldn't necessarily be difficult, because the hard part is likely to be breaking down the class into component features.

My biggest concern is that this may make a 7R/4W very different from a 4W/7R and if so I'm not sure how I feel about that.

I don't have a problem with that. Here's why.

What does one level in your FIRST class represent? It probably means that you showed a natural aptitude when you were about 10, and were engaged in at least mildly formalized training beginning when you were 12 to 15. In some fields it's longer and/or younger; I've heard from several sources that it takes 10 years of training (on top of talent) to make a professional-quality ballet dancer, and some of them become professionals before they are 18. 

What does one level in a multiclass represent? Vastly less. In fact, four levels probably represents vastly less. 

If we extend the level system to negative levels, it's entirely plausible that a kid beginning formal training toward what will be his first class level is actually about level -5. So adding 5 to the primary-class levels to account for this before-level-1 training and experience, you're comparing a 12R/4W to a 9W/7R. Yes, they should feel different. 
"The world does not work the way you have been taught it does. We are not real as such; we exist within The Story. Unfortunately for you, you have inherited a condition from your mother known as Primary Protagonist Syndrome, which means The Story is interested in you. It will find you, and if you are not ready for the narrative strands it will throw at you..." - from Footloose
This looks very promising! Exactly what I was hoping for.

It sounds a lot like a more open version of hybrid classes.
I'm not thrilled.

I feel like the door is open for class bloat via prestige classes. Im also apprehensive about story requirements for access to prestige classes. I don't like that level of fluff/crunch integration.

Leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
So...

No Orisons until Multiclass Cleric level 2?
No Knack until Mutliclass Rogue level 3?

Or

Maybe a Rogue 8/"Multiclass Wizard"2 casts like a 6th level "Multiclass Wizard" (MCWizard levels + 1/2 all other class levels) and has the Sneak Attack of a 9th level Rogue (Rogue level + 1/2 other levels)

Perhaps the is no Wizard to multiclass with. There is only a Mage class with is a slower progressing Wizard class.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

I must say I would like to see multiclassing in Next trend towards the 3E/4E hybrid model others have mentioned as well.

As for prestige classes, I imagine prestige classes would be one of those optional modules. I like the idea of creating a game world with prestige classes taliored to the world and the characters. Gives players goals to strive for and drives for story elements within the campaign.

Just seems cool for example you are a fighter, knight background. Then wish to join some elite knighthood of the Order of the Vailent Heart or what have you. The prestige class could have suggested prerequiste quest to full fill, or other optional criteria that the DM and the player could bring into the game. That way when the character levels into a prestige class it has real story world meaning making it feel a bit more satifying than just opting into a multiclass.

The story elements should be broad enough to work into varied character concepts. For specific world settings books they could be more specific. I could see perhaps where multiclassing would hold a chapter in the Player's Handbook, prestige classes could reside in a chapter in the DM's Guide with some generic options and tips on how to flavor them to your world. World Setting books could then add in specific prestige classes tied to that world (FR's Harpers, for example).

I must say this new dialog on Next's multiclassing has gotten me a bit excited for MC in the new edition. Can not wait to see it when they eventually roll it out in a future playtest packet.
This looks very promising! Exactly what I was hoping for.

It sounds a lot like a more open version of hybrid classes.

Likewise!

It sounds like they're trying the sort of approach I was hoping for. The devil is always in the details of course, but I'm encouraged by what I'm hearing now. 

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/12.jpg)

It COULD be horribly broken and useless, but I must say im excited to try it out for myself

Never let speculation of nay sayers get you down until you have tasted bitter fail yourself. I'm optimistic that this will be less broken and a lot more fun.
It COULD be horribly broken and useless, but I must say im excited to try it out for myself

Never let speculation of nay sayers get you down until you have tasted bitter fail yourself. I'm optimistic that this will be less broken and a lot more fun.



And if its not - that's what the playtest is for. 


Carl
I'm fine (if a little apprehensive about) the multiclassing stuff.

What gets my goat is the "story" requirments for prestige classes.

UUUUUUGGGGGGGHHHHH....

I'll say it again, please don't let your fluff impact my mechanics. I am not interested in your coolio crime organization and don't want my players to be tied to whatever weird requirements you set up. Give mechanical requirements and general prestige classes, let me decide story stuff for my players. I am not interested in seeing a ton of Purple Dragon Knights and Red Wizards and such like prestige classes bloating up my sourcebooks.
I'm fine (if a little apprehensive about) the multiclassing stuff.

What gets my goat is the "story" requirments for prestige classes.

UUUUUUGGGGGGGHHHHH....

I'll say it again, please don't let your fluff impact my mechanics. I am not interested in your coolio crime organization and don't want my players to be tied to whatever weird requirements you set up. Give mechanical requirements and general prestige classes, let me decide story stuff for my players. I am not interested in seeing a ton of Purple Dragon Knights and Red Wizards and such like prestige classes bloating up my sourcebooks.



And this is what ruined PrCs in 3.x in my opinion.  Not the fluff.  The people who wanted fluff-free PrCs without any intractive requirements.  



If PrCs exist just as ways to powerup the character - I don't wanna see them.

I only want PrCs if they actually represent genuine prestige accomplishments.  If they represent organizations that give the PC access to special training or resources.

If other words - the direct opposite of what you want.

And in 3.0, this was how they were originally supposed to work (or so I understood it) - with a 'few generic exceptions'.  But in practice, it seemes as if fewer and fewer were associated with organizations and the 'gain new powers' PrCs came to dominate.

The irony is:  I am unlikely to use any of the official settings and thus any organizations they come up with probably won't fit precisely into my world.

But I'd rather have a fluffy PrC I can shave down and refluff to fit my world than a fulff-free PrC that only serves to make my power gamers happy. 

I want it clear - from the start - that they require the players to earn them through interaction with the game world and that being a member of the PrC says something -not only about their powers - but about their place in the world. 

If I need to change that place in the world, so be it.

But I still want that to be the core concept behind them.

Carl
I'm not saying there shouldn't be story requirements to gain prestige classes, just that it should be the DM who decides what they are not WotC.
I found the organisation-based prestige classes to be amongst the worst material ever produced for D&D. For some reason the standard of mechanics and writing for these things was awful - overly restrictive descriptive text, weak abilties, badly written mechanics, sloppy writing. They encourage page after page of padding to bulk out a book, classes that mostly weren't worth using and just took up space.


And the people who suffered from these bad rules were the players who believed the descriptive text of the prestige class as being good or worthwhile, while not realising the mechanics were terrible and taking the class made the PC weaker.  

Generic prestige paths were always more successful and flexible over organisation-based ones. 


I hope enough people provide clear feedback on this issue to make them more aware of the dangers of this path.  
I'm not saying there shouldn't be story requirements to gain prestige classes, just that it should be the DM who decides what they are not WotC.


I think that's reasonable. Maybe a Prestige Class (as an example, I'll use a fictional one of my own, Guildmaster) requires you to take over an actual guild. This could be by killing the old guildmaster after attaining 2nd command. You may also attain this Prestige Class by starting your own guild. If the DM wants, he (or she) can use a guild from FR, or use NPCs from FR stories. (Pasha Pook from Legend of Drizzt springs to mind.) OR he/she can make up his/her own NPCs, guilds, and guild members.
IMO, this all sounds awesome. I think the Prestige Class sounds like an excellent way to make the characters a part of the story. Multiclassing 3e-style sounds cool too. I'm optimistic that this can be done well. And if it isn't, then I can just ignore it, since it's going to be completely optional.
What gets my goat is the "story" requirments for prestige classes.



I doubt they will be stupid enough to include the "story" requirement as a direct balancing factor so you will probably be able to ignore that.

I hope you won't mind if the option is at least mentioned in the PHB so that the DMs that want to use it can show their players that they aren't using a house rule (options are easy to enforce, house rules, not so much).


I'll say it again, please don't let your fluff impact my mechanics. I am not interested in your coolio crime organization and don't want my players to be tied to whatever weird requirements you set up. Give mechanical requirements and general prestige classes, let me decide story stuff for my players. I am not interested in seeing a ton of Purple Dragon Knights and Red Wizards and such like prestige classes bloating up my sourcebooks.



Agreed. At the same time, in my "Player's Guide to XXX", I really would love to see 2-3 sample organizations that grant access to the prestige class. I'm a sucker for all these little details in a Campaign Setting. It's really what makes the world unique and colorful (and not a map with names on it and a 2-paragraph description of each country).
As a 3.x fan, I wish it was more like 1e than 3e. 
I'm not saying there shouldn't be story requirements to gain prestige classes, just that it should be the DM who decides what they are not WotC.



The Prestige classes they will present will be either examples for the DM to change easily to suit his campaign (fluff-wise), or campaign specific.

Agreed. At the same time, in my "Player's Guide to XXX", I really would love to see 2-3 sample organizations that grant access to the prestige class. I'm a sucker for all these little details in a Campaign Setting. It's really what makes the world unique and colorful (and not a map with names on it and a 2-paragraph description of each country).



I would rather they describe the organizations themselves in-depth and then provide a list of typical prestige classes found within them. This would allow more characters the option of joining a certain organization without having to jump through hoops to qualify. In addition, this would make prestige classes more modular thoughtout a range of settings. So instead of designing a Purple Dragon Knight, a Knight of Bahamut, and a Beryl Dragoon, you could design a generic Knight Prestige Class and allow the setting specific organizations to flavor them.

Edit: You could even allow the setting specific organizations to alter some of the features gained from the generic prestige classes.
Not knowing exactly what it looks like, I wonder if it could be possible to level 2 multiclass classes at once ala 1st and 2nd.

So you could take Fighter, then Multiclass wizard at level 2, or take multiclass fighter and multiclass wizard at level 1, and they both go up at level 2, possibly splitting the xp the whole way, maybe not.

It would be interesting to try out.
So...

No Orisons until Multiclass Cleric level 2?
No Knack until Mutliclass Rogue level 3?

Or

Maybe a Rogue 8/"Multiclass Wizard"2 casts like a 6th level "Multiclass Wizard" (MCWizard levels + 1/2 all other class levels) and has the Sneak Attack of a 9th level Rogue (Rogue level + 1/2 other levels)

Perhaps the is no Wizard to multiclass with. There is only a Mage class with is a slower progressing Wizard class.



I dig this idea, though we'll see how well it balances.

Also, the McWizard is my new favorite class sandwich. 
'That's just, like, your opinion, man.'
Don't make Prestiges Classes come with powers. Abilities should always entirely be a Base Class thing (or Multiclass thing for the matter).

I like the idea of having the "Prestige Class" become some sort of recent "Background" option, like if now you could say about your character "Hello, when I was young I was a swordsmith but after I stride the world for adventure for a while I became a Knight of the King Prunel II". Then, like with the "Background" option, the "Prestige Class" option would offer a "Trait" and maybe one or two extra skills.

On Multiclassing, I think it is a good idea for Mike Mearls to announce now what are theire plans about it.

To think about a multiclass with a different progression than the base one is a neat idea. I would love if it would work out that one could take, at creation, multiclass X + multiclass Y and make his own new hybrid class.

But, I also must say that it is important to look at the feats' problems, because this is a great caveheat with multiclassing. I love the way 4e balanced things by making multiclassing a feat choice. With some of the "Expertise" options being somewhat multiclassish, like Magic-User, why not go further and make some sort of full multiclass options via "Expertise"?
If WotC truly wants to be flexible with options, they should write rules for 1st/2nd Ed multiclassing, 3e multiclassing, and 4e multiclassing/hybrids. Then each DM/group can choose the method of multiclassing that fits the group or the individual character. Some of our PCs use 1st/2nd (like one of mine, Ftr/Wiz) and others use the 3e method, just because the character story really needed different ways of describing PC advancement.

An elf in training for Bladesinger should be able to take both Ftr and mage at 1st level (1st-Ed multiclassing), because a Bladesinger seamlessly combines magic and fighting right from the start. A Ftr who has a religious experience should be able to add a Cleric level after those levels of Ftr (3e multiclassing).

In memory of wrecan and his Unearthed Wrecana.

If WotC truly wants to be flexible with options, they should write rules for 1st/2nd Ed multiclassing, 3e multiclassing, and 4e multiclassing/hybrids. Then each DM/group can choose the method of multiclassing that fits the group or the individual character. Some of our PCs use 1st/2nd (like one of mine, Ftr/Wiz) and others use the 3e method, just because the character story really needed different ways of describing PC advancement.

An elf in training for Bladesinger should be able to take both Ftr and mage at 1st level (1st-Ed multiclassing), because a Bladesinger seamlessly combines magic and fighting right from the start. A Ftr who has a religious experience should be able to add a Cleric level after those levels of Ftr (3e multiclassing).



That would be great though it would be a long time coming as the work required to deconstruct them and balance them all for the purpose of the game would be hell. 

That may be an ideal world wish. 
If you don't ask, they can't say "Yes."

In memory of wrecan and his Unearthed Wrecana.

If WotC truly wants to be flexible with options, they should write rules for 1st/2nd Ed multiclassing, 3e multiclassing, and 4e multiclassing/hybrids. Then each DM/group can choose the method of multiclassing that fits the group or the individual character. Some of our PCs use 1st/2nd (like one of mine, Ftr/Wiz) and others use the 3e method, just because the character story really needed different ways of describing PC advancement.

An elf in training for Bladesinger should be able to take both Ftr and mage at 1st level (1st-Ed multiclassing), because a Bladesinger seamlessly combines magic and fighting right from the start. A Ftr who has a religious experience should be able to add a Cleric level after those levels of Ftr (3e multiclassing).



That would be great though it would be a long time coming as the work required to deconstruct them and balance them all for the purpose of the game would be hell. 

That may be an ideal world wish. 



Good thing they still have a year and a half in the playtest schedule then, eh?
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Good thing they still have a year and a half in the playtest schedule then, eh?

Or however long. Frankly, if the "based on 3e" works, that's cool, and if it doesn't do what we need it to, we will a) houserule something that does, and b) suggest to WotC that they come out with other options that will. I don't insist on all of this right up front (but if they do, I certainly won't complain!), but I would like to see it eventually. Future modules that bring these will will satisfy my request.

In memory of wrecan and his Unearthed Wrecana.

(provided that you meet any requirements the class might have)

Uh oh.  This better not be a harbringer of rewarding outliers with qualitative awesome on top of quantitative awesome.
Fighter - the class - is front loaded and designed to feel like a fighter from level 1.  Fighter - the multiclass - is not front loaded and gives you your abilities at a more measured pace. 

There's a good chance multiclassing a class with itself may end up doing silly things.  Even if it's obvious no sane DM would ever allow a Ranger/Ranger/Ranger, someone is going to Pun-Pun up a build just to illustrate the absurdity.

There's also a very real chance multiclassing into some-class is going to be obviously better than starting that class from level 1.  An obvious hypothectical example would be MC'd Wizard allowing armor, making Fighter 1/Wizard n way better than Wizard n+1 could ever be.

There is still time to make a hybrid system and a multi class system.

Personally I only see that working if they make a set of "light" classes. Then you could dualclass/gesault the light classes OR multiclass the real class with the "light" class at a higher level.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

In response to the repeated attempts for an old school multi-class with the old split exp rules,

What exactly do you think 4e hybrids represent? They're an updated form of that.

You're not gonna get the exact same system back for the same reason we're never gonna see pure 3e multi-classing again outside reprints, or the same MC feats as in 4e. The new system is unlikely to support it, not that it was a great idea when it was introduced, but it was workable under the assumptions of the game.

The split EXP thing doesn't work in a game where the players are expected to be roughly the same level, or in a game where the EXP charts for each class are the same, both is just not gonna happen. What you can do is create a hybrid class and level that up, but that's about as close as you're gonna get. Full oldschool multi-classing is too powerful if the level doesn't climb slower, and once the level climb slows down too much the character becomes useless at challenges appropriate to the rest of the party.


Edit: Yes the multi-classes will have to be careful to not do anything the class itself can't do, so as long as Wizards are draggin around that moronic ASF mechanic the multi-class wizards have to as well. 
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