Legends & Lore: Class Design Concepts

Legends & Lore 
Class Design Concepts

By Mike Mearls

You’ve seen the monk now, hopefully, and you’ve played a bit with expertise dice. But how do weapons, spells, and abilities intersect in a class such as the paladin? Mike explores whacking things, blowing things up with magic, and getting things done in this week’s column.

Talk about this column here.

This Week in D&D

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

Inb4 ranting.
My two copper.
How many times do we have to tell you that a not-insignificant portion of the D&D population does not want alignment mechanics in any form?

You cannot make this mandatory, not if you believe the in the fundamental principles of inclusiveness that is the true core to Next.

No, just telling us to not play a Paladin isn't sufficient.  We liked the 4e paladin, and its focus on serving the deity, not serving the alignment.  You weren't a champion of Lawful Good, you were a champion of Bahamut.  There's a difference.  That difference should be allowed to exist.

Even some of us who like alignment and believe it can serve an important role in a campaign do not believe that any class should have ingrained, irreversible reliance on alignment mechanics. 

Do.  Not.  Want.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
I'm with Mand here. I don't see any good reason to separate Paladin into "Lawful Good Paladin", "Chaotic Good Paladin", "Lawful Evil Paladin", "Chaotic Evil Paladin", and so on rather than into "Paladin of Honor [further text recommends Lawful Good]", "Paladin of Freedom [further text recommends Chaotic Good]", "Paladin of Tyranny [further text recommends Lawful Evil]", "Paladin of Slaughter [further text recommends Chaotic Evil]", and so on.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
How many times do we have to tell you that a not-insignificant portion of the D&D population does not want alignment mechanics in any form?

You cannot make this mandatory, not if you believe the in the fundamental principles of inclusiveness that is the true core to Next.

No, just telling us to not play a Paladin isn't sufficient.  We liked the 4e paladin, and its focus on serving the deity, not serving the alignment.  You weren't a champion of Lawful Good, you were a champion of Bahamut.  There's a difference.  That difference should be allowed to exist.

Even some of us who like alignment and believe it can serve an important role in a campaign do not believe that any class should have ingrained, irreversible reliance on alignment mechanics. 

Do.  Not.  Want.

I agree, but at the same time simply acknowledging that there are Paladins other than Lawful Stupid aligned ones is a huge start.  I see glimmers of hope in this L&L.

Pretty much nailed the paladin as I see it.

Danny

lol, I sort of wonder if they even bother glancing at their forums at all? Or at their previous editions in which alignment-based mechanics were a really bad design concept (both as a mitigation of power and their functionality over the course of an entire adventure). What a shame. Looks like I'll be going back to making Fighter/Clerics who just call themselves Paladins again. heh, that turned out fun....
lol, I sort of wonder if they even bother glancing at their forums at all? Or at their previous editions in which alignment-based mechanics were a really bad design concept (both as a mitigation of power and their functionality over the course of an entire adventure). What a shame. Looks like I'll be going back to making Fighter/Clerics who just call themselves Paladins again. heh, that turned out fun....



Why bother with the Fighter multiclass. Clerics with heavy armor and martial weapons have always been able to pull off the Paladin role better than the Paladin. I see nothing to indicate this won't still be the case, given the developers think a 2e/3e hybrid is what all of the players want.
lol, I sort of wonder if they even bother glancing at their forums at all? Or at their previous editions in which alignment-based mechanics were a really bad design concept (both as a mitigation of power and their functionality over the course of an entire adventure). What a shame. Looks like I'll be going back to making Fighter/Clerics who just call themselves Paladins again. heh, that turned out fun....



Why bother with the Fighter multiclass. Clerics with heavy armor and martial weapons have always been able to pull off the Paladin role better than the Paladin. I see nothing to indicate this won't still be the case, given the developers think a 2e/3e hybrid is what all of the players want.



I'd multiclass Fighter for the better weapon proficiencies and some Expertise Die for starters. The extra HP isn't bad either. But it will clearly depend on how they handle Multiclassing. It's either that or I just tell the DM this is how I'm going to do it, and be done with it.
I think if you want feedback on alignment the Paladin class should be the one you use not the monk. What I see happening is all the folks who dont want alignment are going to speal up. Then later when they make the paladin available all the people that want alignment will speak up. I think it is fair to say about 50% want alignment based Paladins and 50% dont. The question is how do you make two mutually exclusive groups happy.

If the paladin isnt a lawful good diety I think the way Meals proposed the class is a decent middle ground
It's either that or I just tell the DM this is how I'm going to do it, and be done with it.

DDN is shaping up to be an edition that fully supports such decision making.

Danny

Then later when they make the paladin available all the people that want alignment will speak up.

Really? Because when 4E did it, nobody cared. There was hardly a peep.

I think it is fair to say about 50% want alignment based Paladins and 50% dont. The question is how do you make two mutually exclusive groups happy.

Even if those proportions were true, the answer is to simply make it optional. The people that want to use it will, and the people who don't want to use it won't. Problem solved.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
I'm against alignment restrictions like the monks or those in many 3.5 classes. But the paladin described here sounds good to me, especially if you can pull bits and peices from different paladin alignment builds to make something that meets my paladin's individual ethos, regardless of deity or lack there-of.
"Martial Damage Bonus"

I wonder what the MDB for a cleric or warlock will be.  I hope it's about 75% of what the fighter gets.

Does anyone think they'll let you add MDB to your cantrips, to keep them worth using?  Or will we need to invent a Spell Damage Bonus for that?
The metagame is not the game.
I wonder what the MDB for a cleric or warlock will be.

Hopefully zero, same as the Fighter's spell progression.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
It's either that or I just tell the DM this is how I'm going to do it, and be done with it.

DDN is shaping up to be an edition that fully supports such decision making.




I'd rather not have to brow-beat the decision (or make one in the first place) for my concept to be easily realised within the scope of the game's mechanics. It shouldn't be that hard.
As others have suggested, I think the alignment restriction fix for paladins is simple: "If you use alignment in your campaign, the paladin of tyranny is typically lawful evil." Done. Otherwise, I like what I read about the paladin. There continues to be a lot of overlap with the traditional mace wielding cleric, but I've always felt the solution is to roll that up under the paladin and make the cleric more of a pure spellcaster with extra features, proficiencies, and skills granted by domains. I like the idea of the paladin having some pretty potent, but limited, magical abilities.
In general, I like what Mearls said, although some of it went over my head. Key takeaway is that the RnD team continues to listen to our feedback and make adjustments.
I wonder what the MDB for a cleric or warlock will be.

Hopefully zero, same as the Fighter's spell progression.

That's fine, as long as the (daily) spell damage is increased suitably to compensate for the trivial 1d8 at-will damage from expected weapon attacks.  Last I checked, they'd need daily spells to deal roughly double fighter damage in order to give similar output over the course of the encounter.

I'm sure the 5MWD crowd are looking forward to that.
The metagame is not the game.
How many times do we have to tell you that a not-insignificant portion of the D&D population does not want alignment mechanics in any form?

You cannot make this mandatory, not if you believe the in the fundamental principles of inclusiveness that is the true core to Next.



Since alignment is optional, there are no alignment mechanics that you have to use........ever.   

No, just telling us to not play a Paladin isn't sufficient.



I didn't see where he said that.  It does appear like alignment mechanics are heavily tied to the paladin, but from what I read it doesn't say that you cannot remove them and play a paladin without alignment mechanics.


How many times do we have to tell you that a not-insignificant portion of the D&D population does not want alignment mechanics in any form?

You cannot make this mandatory, not if you believe the in the fundamental principles of inclusiveness that is the true core to Next.



Since alignment is optional, there are no alignment mechanics that you have to use........ever.   

No, just telling us to not play a Paladin isn't sufficient.



I didn't see where he said that.  It does appear like alignment mechanics are heavily tied to the paladin, but from what I read it doesn't say that you cannot remove them and play a paladin without alignment mechanics.




Hard to see how alignment is optional with a class when it's abilities focus around it. HOWEVER! I also see where there is room for this to not be alignment "restriction". What if they have different abilities for each alignment? Some for good? some for Neutral? etc, and you gain certain abilities depending on the combination you choose. Nothing they said "states" restriction
My two copper.
+ 1
How many times do we have to tell you that a not-insignificant portion of the D&D population does not want alignment mechanics in any form?

You cannot make this mandatory, not if you believe the in the fundamental principles of inclusiveness that is the true core to Next.

No, just telling us to not play a Paladin isn't sufficient.  We liked the 4e paladin, and its focus on serving the deity, not serving the alignment.  You weren't a champion of Lawful Good, you were a champion of Bahamut.  There's a difference.  That difference should be allowed to exist.

Even some of us who like alignment and believe it can serve an important role in a campaign do not believe that any class should have ingrained, irreversible reliance on alignment mechanics. 

Do.  Not.  Want.



I don't think, at least from what I read, that the paladin requires an alignment; it's powers are just organized by the alignment system.  My understanding gave me the impression that a player could take a LG power, some NG powers and a few CE powers to create their own paladin.  That doesn't seem that "offensive" to me.
I don't think, at least from what I read, that the paladin requires an alignment; it's powers are just organized by the alignment system.  My understanding gave me the impression that a player could take a LG power, some NG powers and a few CE powers to create their own paladin.

Let's assume for a moment that you're right. Why, then, should organizing these powers in such a confusing manner be preferable to organizing them some other less confusing way? Again, like Honor, Freedom, Tyranny, Slaughter, Valor, Justice, and so on.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
I don't think, at least from what I read, that the paladin requires an alignment; it's powers are just organized by the alignment system.  My understanding gave me the impression that a player could take a LG power, some NG powers and a few CE powers to create their own paladin.

Let's assume for a moment that you're right. Why, then, should organizing these powers in such a confusing manner be preferable to organizing them some other less confusing way? Again, like Honor, Freedom, Tyranny, Slaughter, Valor, Justice, and so on.



Maybe they are using both (LG - Valor, LE - Tyranny, etc...), but want to keep an alignment reference for fans of the older editions.  It's not the end of the world. 
I am not fond of seeing Maneuvers available throught feats, especially if Spellcasting isn't.

Martial Dice sounds weird to me. 

Depending how this alignment-focused Paladin thing is handled (optional or not) this may or may not be the solution that will work for everyone. There's some people that want alignment restrictions and some people that don't and both should see their prefereances included as an option.

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

I just want to say that i feel sorry for the Fighter. He once had a cool unique ability. Then  it got scooped by all other Martial Classes Mike said. Now everyone will be able to buy it out Mike is saying. Fighter, poor fellas    

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

I am not fond of seeing Maneuvers available throught feats, especially if Spellcasting isn't.

Martial Dice sounds weird to me. 

Depending how this alignment-focused Paladin thing is handled (optional or not) this may or may not be the solution that will work for everyone. There's some people that want alignment restrictions and some people that don't and both should see their prefereances included as an option.


But spellcasting is avaiable through feats, albeit to a limited degree :P But we might see this widen in the future.
My two copper.
I just want to say that i feel sorry for the Fighter. He once had a cool unique ability. Then  it got scouped by all other Martial Classes. Now everyone will be able to buy it out. Poor fellas 

Expertise is too good an idea, too flexible and versatile with so much potential, to restrict to one class. It would be a complete waste not to use it to its fullest. It's okay, we can give the Fighter something else to make it unique.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
We don't know if it will be as limited as Arcane Initiate or Initiate of the Faith.

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

I just want to say that i feel sorry for the Fighter. He once had a cool unique ability. Then  it got scooped by all other Martial Classes Mike said. Now everyone will be able to buy it out Mike is saying. Fighter, poor fellas    



You're also assuming that the fighter won't get anything else unique.  WotC seems to have dropped hints that the goal is to give the fighter some unique features. 
Also glad to hear that  rogue's sneak attack is likely transforming into a class feature that gives extra damage in certain situations rather than a maneuver, once again.

You're also assuming that the fighter won't get anything else unique.  WotC seems to have dropped hints that the goal is to give the fighter some unique features. 

I didn't assumed that anywhere. I just stated the Fighter lost that unique ability.

EDIT Its safe to assume it will. Mike Twitted  that ''Also, fighters will have a fighter-only list of maneuvers (same for monks, ki-based maneuvers) and a few unique mechanics.'' in Lest's Thread.

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

Also glad to hear that  rogue's sneak attack is likely transforming into a class feature that gives extra damage in certain situations rather than a maneuver, once again.

You're also assuming that the fighter won't get anything else unique.  WotC seems to have dropped hints that the goal is to give the fighter some unique features. 

I didn't assumed that anywhere. I just stated the Fighter lost that unique ability.



Well, maybe I'm just getting tired of everyone complaining about without acknowledging the rest.  For some people, the loss of ED as a unique fighter feature seems to be the end of the world...  I'm really want to know what WotC is going to do with the fighter though...   
I feel good about what Mike said. I had been feeling less than optimistic about the progress.
Look like it abanathie. I wasn't complaining, but making a joke out of it. May be you missed the smile its cool 

I am also glad to hear that we'll hit a tipping point where new classes and races come out at a fairly steady pace probably in the next month. 

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

Look like it abanathie. I wasn't complaining, but making a joke out of it. May be you missed the smile its cool

I am also glad to hear that we'll hit a tipping point where new classes and races come out at a fairly steady pace probably in the next month. 



What's a smile?  I don't think I ever done that... 
Hehe the smile. You can get away with a lot with a smile. Ask lokaire 

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

Hehe the smile. You can get away with a lot with a smile. As lokaire 



If you say so...  I got no comment on that individual.
(Me too. Its just a gag he thrown a few weeks ago)

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

"Looking at the monk, that class gains access to unique maneuvers that have overtly magical effects, such as walking across water, running up walls, and plucking arrows out of the air."

Since we're going "overtly magical," how about optional maneuvers/ki powers giving teleportation and one-round wire-fu flight for the monk?
A vocal minority is not significant.

Necessarily? No. In this specific case? Yes, it is.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!