Dragon 374 - Hybrid Characters

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[b]Hybrid Characters
Player's Handbook 3 Playtest[/b]

IMAGE(http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/374_hybridcharacters.jpg)

Fresh from the development pit comes a new rules concept currently scheduled to appear next year in Player's Handbook 3. Hybrid characters take elements of two classes and blend them far more thoroughly than the multiclass system. Take the hybrid characters rules for a spin and send your comments to [email=dndinsider@wizards.com]dndinsider@wizards.com[/email], with "Playtest: PH3" in the subject line.

Like the multiclass feats introduced in the Player's Handbook, these rules let you reflect a more varied array of character abilities than traditional classes do. Whether you’re doing this to reflect your character's elaborate backstory, to combine different mechanical elements to create a potent new combination, or to fill out a party that needs just a little something extra, the end result is the same: Your hybrid character gives up depth of ability in exchange for greater flexibility.

Read the article here. (subscription required)
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Neat idea, but Hybrid Talent is so broken it makes me laugh.
Neat idea, but Hybrid Talent is so broken it makes me laugh.

Care to explain that?
There is a lot of this I like - the idea to tie class features (Sneak Attack, Hunter's Quarry, Warlock's Curse, Fighter Mark, etc) to only be applied with powers from that class, combined with the enforcing of splitting chosen powers between your two hybrid classes, is an inspired one, and seems a very good first step at ensuring you can't combine these things to be as good as two seperate classes at any one time. You can be a good fighter one round, and a good rogue the next, but not both at once.

Except for one thing - powers that aren't standard actions. Stack up on minor action and immediate action attacks, and suddenly you can use both Hunter's Quarry and Sneak Attack in the same round.

Eventually, you are looking at potentially four straight rounds of getting both each encounter, and more when dailies are used. Given that getting extra attacks is already pretty near the top of the list power-wise, you aren't loosing out on much as far as limiting your power selection.

So, the question is - what is, say, an archer giving up for this?

-Armor is limited to leather, but with a high-dex and an aversion to the front line, that's not too big a deal.
-The Ranger/Rogue is looking at 4 hp a level... though, again, as a ranged character, that is somewhat mitigated.
-From Ranger, you lose Archer Fighting Style (Defensive Mobility, which is nothing special - though this also costs you certain Paragon Paths), and Prime Shot (which is a shame, given the various feat chains that pump it up. On the other hand, not having to worry about staying near the front of the fight can be a good thing.)
-From Rogue, you lose Rogue Weapon Talent (not an issue if you're a Superior Crossbow wielder), First Strike (which is a shame, given the limited ways to get ranged Combat Advantage - those new feats like Distant Advantage severely mitigate that), and Rogue Tactics (so no Brutal Scoundrel for +Str to Sneak Attack.)

A number of things lost, but mostly minor things. And Hybrid Talent can snag one missing thing - I imagine either Archer Fighting Style (to grab Battlefield Archer), Prime Shot, or Rogue Tactics for Brutal Scoundrel.

In general, the core of what they are doing here seems really solid. The idea of letting a character being able to fill two roles, but neither at any one time - and trading a slight bit of power (minor class features) for the added versatility... that is really what multiclassing should be all about.

It is mainly the presence of non-standard action attacks that doesn't seem accounted for, and which would be the most ripe area for abuse. Whether it is more abuse than some of the already powerful current builds? I'm not sure - though the fact that the characters who are most likely to be able to take advantage of this are builds that would already be strong is not a great sign. So that does seem one area where these rules could be improved - though I'm honestly not sure what the best way to do that would be.
It seems fairly balanced to me... for some players, this will seem like the alternative to feat-based multiclassing they wanted from the beginning, though I imagine it will take some work to get this variant accepted by most DMs... if this is on the board for the PHB3, I have to wonder if this manual is intended to be an 'unearthed arcana' type book of optional rules, rather than a core publication like PHB2 and the various 'powers' manuals currently out and slated for release.

Ive tried thinking up a few hybrid characters so see what can be done with this system, and so it seems damn hard to produce anything more optimised than characters made from just the PHB... having so few of your classes' normal features makes it very hard to exploit, and I find that some of the restrictions on the given features makes them incompatible with even basic attacks, which seems particularly harsh for melee classes who normally get to apply these bonuses on OAs and charge attacks.

I wonder though, is the Hybrid Talent feat intended to be take-able more than once, for different features? I think its still balanced even if so, because its a very expensive proposition feat wise to try to buy-back most of the class features that have the most potential for dual-class synergy.

One class I wanted to try right off the bat was a CON-based warlock/fighter... I figure it has some good synergy for wading into combat, and particularly I like taking Hybrid Talent for the fighter's Battlerage Vigour class feature (thats a feature I can see every dual-class fighter wanting), though I must admit it hurts somewhat losing shadow walk, the eldritch pact, and prime shot from the warlock.
Neat idea, but Hybrid Talent is so broken it makes me laugh.

That was my first reaction, too, but after thinking about it for a while it's not too bad. Remember that you can only take it once, so for example a fighter/ranger hybrid can only get ONE of combat superiority, weapon talent, ranger fighting style etc. You shouldn't need to worry about combos getting out of hand.
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Very good article!

@MrMyth
got any example of reaction powers that can be used back to back? (I DM %100, so powers aren't in my memory :/ )

@CyberianHusky
Hybrid talent has no clause saying you can take it more than once, so you cannot.

ridiculous builds so far: ...
cha pally/warlock mark, curse, and eyebite... (become trained in stealth[mc ranger?] for bonus points)
str/int cleric/warlord Righteous brand and commander's strike
I was disappointed it won't be in the Class Builder or legal for LFR.

I understand the reasoning for both, but I'm still disappointed (as I'm unlikely to be a player in a home game anytime soon).
It seems surprisingly well-balanced in this article on a quick scan. Assuming that the lack of specific directions on the Hybrid Talent feat means that you can only take it once, it's definately very difficult to do any especially notable combinations. Seems like it's just going to be a good system when it comes.

I have to wonder though... if we get eight more classes in the Player's Handbook 3, will they spend 26 pages of the book on the multiclass stats for the classes we have from then and back? That's a lot of space. I could see them crunching it in half. 13 pages is more reasonable.
I don't use emoticons, and I'm also pretty pleasant. So if I say something that's rude or insulting, it's probably a joke.
My biggest question right now is about the hybrid talent feat. If I take, say the Fey pact talent from the Warlock class do I gain an at will? Or do I just get the teleportation?

I wonder if Hybrid talent can be abused by hybrid-ing into classes that have talents that force your hand with one of your at-wills.

That being said, neat-o!
@CyberianHusky
Hybrid talent has no clause saying you can take it more than once, so you cannot.

*shrug* well yeah, that's how you interpret a feat once its been published, but this is still at the playtest stage so Im not sure what the intent is, it could actually be an unintentional omission... I dont think it would be OP'd to be take-able more than once, but Im not fussed either way.
I was actually greatly impressed by this article. This had the potential to be completely broken or completely balanced, but instead, we have actually struck almost the perfect note.

There are of course some minor issues that need to be worked through, which is not surprising, seeing as these rules were not due to see print for many, many months, but I think that on the whole they hit the right note.

The Hybrid Talent feat can only be taken once, which is the great balance there, and though it goes against the legal text idea of 4E (If its not there, its not part of the rule) it might almost be worth printing just to dispell confusion.

I am curious about the class features that grant At-Wills as well (I think Shaman will eventually fall into this category in addition to the afore mentioned Warlock).
@MrMyth
got any example of reaction powers that can be used back to back? (I DM %100, so powers aren't in my memory :/ )

Sure - here are the earliest ones that a character could easily pick up:

Archer Ranger/Rogue: Disruptive Strike (Ranger 3, PHB), Snap Shot (Rogue 7, Martial Power), Shaft Splitter (Sylvan Archer 11, Martial Power Paragon Path) or Combined Fire (Battlefield Archer 11, PHB Paragon Path)

Melee Ranger/Rogue: Off-hand Strike (Ranger 1, Martial Power), Low Slash (Rogue 3, Martial Power), Two-fold Flinch (Ranger 7, Martial Power) or Disruptive Strike (Ranger 3, PHB), Critical Opportunity (Daggermaster 11, PHB Paragon Path) or Cross-body Parry (Blade Dancer 11, Martial Power Paragon Path)

Fighter/Ranger: Off-hand Strike (Ranger 1, Martial Power), Parry and Riposte (Fighter 3, Martial Power), Two-fold Flinch (Ranger 7, Martial Power) or Disruptive Strike (Ranger 3, PHB) or Not So Fast (Fighter 7, Martial Power), Cross-body Parry (Blade Dancer 11, Martial Power Paragon Path)

Fighter has a couple more conditional immediates that would rely on adjacent enemies attacking allies, and can also get a few other options by using a shield (which would likely require investing some feats in using a spiked shield so as to count as dual-wielding at the same time.) The shield powers also could be decent options for a Fighter/Rogue hybrid.

Martial Power is really where a lot of these powers showed up, and they are already pretty strong in their own right - in general, a 'free' attack (Minor or Immediate Encounter Power) plus a Standard Action At-Will usually comes out as better damage than just a Standard Action Encounter power, and it only gets better as you stack damage modifiers. (Which most optimized builds do.)

Warlock doesn't have as much in the way of minor action attacks (though who knows what Arcane Power will bring) - but it does often have daily powers which make new attacks when sustained as a minor action, which can produce the same effect for an Encounter. Examples: Crown of Stars (Warlock 1, Dragon 366), Hunger of Hadar (Warlock 5, PHB), Summons of Khirad (Warlock 9, PHB), Thief of Five Fates (Warlock 9, PHB), Visage of Vhudun (Warlock 15, Dragon 366), Tendrils of Thuban (Warlock 15, PHB), etc. Many of these are a bit volatile to keep going, as they either require continually hitting or keeping enemies in a zone, but the optential is still there.

One possible solution would be to only have these abilities (Sneak, Quarry, Curse, Mark) only work for attacks that are Standard Action. It would certainly directly weaken those classes - though the limitation on only using those class features on class powers is already a somewhat arbitrary direct limitation for the purposes of balance. (And, again, we'd only really be weakening powers that are among the strongest choices anyway.)

Another option would be to tag all these features under some sort of overall category, and put a limitation that you can only use one feature from that category each round. But that could get rather cumbersome (especially as they have to assign more abilities into this area from new classes, especially ones that use mechanics that aren't quite as similar. How would you balance Barbarian against these, for example? Etc.) This would also potentially limit the effectiveness of Action Points for these characters.
One thing that should be updated for the article, is how some questionable Class Features would work with Hybrid Talent.

The biggest one is for the Warlock's Class Features Eldritch Blast and Eldritch Pact. Many are taking it that this will add an extra At-Will for a Hybrid Warlock, when it seems to be that the Warlock At-Will choice will be forced to either Eldritch Blast for the Eldritch Blast Class Feature or the Pact At-Will for Eldritch Pact, rather then a choice of any Warlock At-Will Attack power or getting that At-Will in addition to the two stated. Stating this in the Hybrid Warlock page as a Sidebar would help clear that confusion.

The reason why I am running with this thought of how those Class Features will run for Hybrid characters, is due to that is how they work for normal Warlock characters by the current ruling. Yes, this does make taking the Eldritch Blast Class Feature pointless for Hybrid Warlocks.

Possible alternative is to force Eldritch Blast for the Hybrid Warlock At-Will, unless the Hybrid Warlock takes the Eldritch Pact Class Feature which would allow the players choice of either Eldritch Blast or the Pact At-Will.
I was disappointed it won't be in the Class Builder or legal for LFR.

I understand the reasoning for both, but I'm still disappointed (as I'm unlikely to be a player in a home game anytime soon).

I couldn't care less about LFR, but it not being in the Character Builder means me and my group won't touch it.

What can I say? The CB has spoiled us.
Pros:
- Choose best powers from two different classes
- Versitility (eg. rogue/ranger good at ranged and melee, wizard and swordmage area effect and melee)
- Access to more feats, potential for better combos.

Cons:
- Loss of class features.

So classes with poor class features would be best as hybrids. I think the wizard is a good example. I find the class features of the wizard to be on the weak side, but the wizard powers more class defining (at-will ranged burst and powerful dailies)

I think taking controller will definately be worth it.
This is quite the bombshell. Now, 4th Edition resembles 2nd Edition more than ever (not saying that's a bad thing).

I really like this. It looks like a lot of fun, and seems to be constructed pretty well. I'm sure there will some sort of way to abuse this popping up now and then (Bard/Rogue+all classes or some such). But, this is far from being done, and it already seems pretty solid.

It seems like the philosophy of 4th Edition is evolving. I shall have to tread lightly.
I was disappointed it won't be in the Class Builder or legal for LFR.

I understand the reasoning for both, but I'm still disappointed (as I'm unlikely to be a player in a home game anytime soon).

I must wonder what is up with this new policy of not compiling the playtest articles. I don't play LFR, but it seems to me WotC is eliminating the most controlled playtest environment by not making these new options RPGA legal.

Did the barbarian and artificer playtests generate significant complaints or some such?
I think this system is VERY experimental right now. I bet we'll have RPGA legel stuff before hb 3 though.

And I can totally understand why it's not in the CB yet. The ddi team must be crapping themselves everytime R&D throws around a new system idea.

R&D: "Why don't we cut every class in half and allow players to glue classes together with limited class features. Also allow characters to restore features with a feat. Also still can MC. Also warforged components"

WoTC_DM: FFFFFFFFFFFF!
That was my first reaction, too, but after thinking about it for a while it's not too bad. Remember that you can only take it once, so for example a fighter/ranger hybrid can only get ONE of combat superiority, weapon talent, ranger fighting style etc. You shouldn't need to worry about combos getting out of hand.

Mmm, that's true: it cannot be taken multiple times. It's still powerful, but at least it's workable.
Oh joy

Just what the game did not need.
I couldn't care less about LFR, but it not being in the Character Builder means me and my group won't touch it.

What can I say? The CB has spoiled us.

I agree 100%. I know my group won't touch it if they don't have easy access to it. The CB may have bugs from time to time but with so many options for characters it's hard to keep track of everything with just pen and paper.

I'm sure come late fall they'll have an updated version that will make its way into the CB. Otherwise I can't imagine them getting a proper playtest out of it.

Other than that:
Pro - Woo 4e is a lot more like 2e. For those of us that never played 3.X it's a welcome sight.

Con - As others have mentioned there needs to be some clarity with some classes (Warlock at-wills) and how many feats you can take to gain class features.

Over all I don't find it game breaking. Just more rules for those of us who DM will have to learn.
I imagine it will mostly be gish combos. As well as fighter/"Striker flavor of the month" that people will gravitate towards.
I suspect with some finagling you could "house-rule" the crap out of the Character-Builder and make this work.

The biggest problem would be computing base HP - but if you just choose a class that gets the HP of your hybrid class it should work itself out.

Of course that begs the question - is that any easier than just doing it by hand, and if not, are you *really* using the CB? ^_^
WolfStar76 Community Advocate (SVCL) for D&D Organized Play, Avalon Hill, and the DCI/WPN LFR Community Manager DDi Guide

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I would be really disappointed if Hybrid Talent is only able to be taken once. I Don't think you could really get any crazy synergy out of two class features. If you take Swordbond and Eldritch Pact for Swordmage/Warlock, what's really going to be broken there?

Or maybe, Fighter Weapon Talent and Ranger Two-Weapon Fighting Style? You could do more by just taking Weapon Expertise and Ranger Fighting Style. Or, if you wanted to maximize accuracy over damage, take Fighter Weapon Talent and Weapon Expertise, and just use weapons with the off-hand property.

What if you aimed for synergy though? If you took Channel Divinity from Paladin and Cleric? Well they're still all channel divinity powers, so you'd still get only one use from all your Channel Divinity powers.

I think maybe the "hybrid talent more than once is broken!" reaction is fairly kneejerk.

"Cantrips and Lay on Hands?! Gasp!"
Planes Wanderer
I must wonder what is up with this new policy of not compiling the playtest articles. I don't play LFR, but it seems to me WotC is eliminating the most controlled playtest environment by not making these new options RPGA legal.

Did the barbarian and artificer playtests generate significant complaints or some such?

Well, those were both pretty straightforward playtests. Given how ambitious and experimental these rules are, I suspect they feel the benefits of the extensive playtesting isn't worth the perils of letting unbalanced material into the shared campaign on such a scale.
I would be really disappointed if Hybrid Talent is only able to be taken once. I Don't think you could really get any crazy synergy out of two class features. If you take Swordbond and Eldritch Pact for Swordmage/Warlock, what's really going to be broken there?

Many combinations won't be broken, but it would mean that you could essentially cherry-pick the most powerful options from each class. A Fighter/Rogue with Tempest Technique plus Rogue Weapon Talent plus Brutal Scoundrel is picking up a lot of choice abilities. It has a decent feat tax on it, but those feats are giving potentially a lot more than one feat can usually give.

In the long run, it might also lead to combinations like getting Swordmage Warding and an Avenger's Armor of Faith. When classes get similar abilities to fill the same roles, the ability to stack them together could lead to very unfortunate results.

I think keeping Hybrid Talent at only getting one option might make some builds miss out - but then, they are gaining a lot, so that is to be expected. It should keep things more balanced, and should also result in a greater variety of characters, as every chooses a different set of options to define their build.
I think this system is VERY experimental right now. I bet we'll have RPGA legel stuff before hb 3 though.

And I can totally understand why it's not in the CB yet. The ddi team must be crapping themselves everytime R&D throws around a new system idea.

R&D: "Why don't we cut every class in half and allow players to glue classes together with limited class features. Also allow characters to restore features with a feat. Also still can MC. Also warforged components"

WoTC_DM: FFFFFFFFFFFF!

I can't use CB because I have a Mac (and if on more person tells me to use parallels, I swear I will stab you in the eye with an alchemist's fire), but does the system allow you to enter "homebrew classes"? If so, then you could just write up a "new" homebrew class for whatever hybrid you are playing...
My idea for Hybrid Warlocks is that you normally can NOT take Eldritch Blast as your initial At-Will attack power, and that you MUST take an At-Will Attack power related to a type of pact. You lose the Pact Boon part, but your warlock should be clearly aligned to one type of pact.

Naturally, Humans could pick up Eldritch Blast as their bonus at-will attack power.
I've been taking input on this thread and others and organizing it here:
http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?p=18264238#post18264238

Please come on over and give me any other points you think should go back to WotC!

Sure - here are the earliest ones that a character could easily pick up:

Archer Ranger/Rogue: Disruptive Strike (Ranger 3, PHB), Snap Shot (Rogue 7, Martial Power), Shaft Splitter (Sylvan Archer 11, Martial Power Paragon Path) or Combined Fire (Battlefield Archer 11, PHB Paragon Path)

Melee Ranger/Rogue: Off-hand Strike (Ranger 1, Martial Power), Low Slash (Rogue 3, Martial Power), Two-fold Flinch (Ranger 7, Martial Power) or Disruptive Strike (Ranger 3, PHB), Critical Opportunity (Daggermaster 11, PHB Paragon Path) or Cross-body Parry (Blade Dancer 11, Martial Power Paragon Path)

Fighter/Ranger: Off-hand Strike (Ranger 1, Martial Power), Parry and Riposte (Fighter 3, Martial Power), Two-fold Flinch (Ranger 7, Martial Power) or Disruptive Strike (Ranger 3, PHB) or Not So Fast (Fighter 7, Martial Power), Cross-body Parry (Blade Dancer 11, Martial Power Paragon Path)

Fighter has a couple more conditional immediates that would rely on adjacent enemies attacking allies, and can also get a few other options by using a shield (which would likely require investing some feats in using a spiked shield so as to count as dual-wielding at the same time.) The shield powers also could be decent options for a Fighter/Rogue hybrid.

Martial Power is really where a lot of these powers showed up, and they are already pretty strong in their own right - in general, a 'free' attack (Minor or Immediate Encounter Power) plus a Standard Action At-Will usually comes out as better damage than just a Standard Action Encounter power, and it only gets better as you stack damage modifiers. (Which most optimized builds do.)

Warlock doesn't have as much in the way of minor action attacks (though who knows what Arcane Power will bring) - but it does often have daily powers which make new attacks when sustained as a minor action, which can produce the same effect for an Encounter. Examples: Crown of Stars (Warlock 1, Dragon 366), Hunger of Hadar (Warlock 5, PHB), Summons of Khirad (Warlock 9, PHB), Thief of Five Fates (Warlock 9, PHB), Visage of Vhudun (Warlock 15, Dragon 366), Tendrils of Thuban (Warlock 15, PHB), etc. Many of these are a bit volatile to keep going, as they either require continually hitting or keeping enemies in a zone, but the optential is still there.

One possible solution would be to only have these abilities (Sneak, Quarry, Curse, Mark) only work for attacks that are Standard Action. It would certainly directly weaken those classes - though the limitation on only using those class features on class powers is already a somewhat arbitrary direct limitation for the purposes of balance. (And, again, we'd only really be weakening powers that are among the strongest choices anyway.)

Another option would be to tag all these features under some sort of overall category, and put a limitation that you can only use one feature from that category each round. But that could get rather cumbersome (especially as they have to assign more abilities into this area from new classes, especially ones that use mechanics that aren't quite as similar. How would you balance Barbarian against these, for example? Etc.) This would also potentially limit the effectiveness of Action Points for these characters.

I must wonder what is up with this new policy of not compiling the playtest articles. I don't play LFR, but it seems to me WotC is eliminating the most controlled playtest environment by not making these new options RPGA legal.

Did the barbarian and artificer playtests generate significant complaints or some such?

It has nothing to do with whether or not it will be compiled in the final compilation of the Dragon or not. The article states specifically that it is not legal for RPGA use and will not be in the character builder either, until its final release in PHB3
At least initially I'm dissatisfied at the handling of strikers and fighter - basic attacks not marking is a real pain for the fighter... and I'd rather that striker damage was heavily reduced rather than only limited to certain powers. Effectively this way you encourage a striker to hybrid with something that gives them very solid features and utility effects, but allows them to take all striker attack powers. So striker plus fighter = bad, plus cleric = good, etc.
Keith Richmond Living Forgotten Realms Epic Writing Director
Many combinations won't be broken, but it would mean that you could essentially cherry-pick the most powerful options from each class. A Fighter/Rogue with Tempest Technique plus Rogue Weapon Talent plus Brutal Scoundrel is picking up a lot of choice abilities. It has a decent feat tax on it, but those feats are giving potentially a lot more than one feat can usually give.

In the long run, it might also lead to combinations like getting Swordmage Warding and an Avenger's Armor of Faith. When classes get similar abilities to fill the same roles, the ability to stack them together could lead to very unfortunate results.

I think keeping Hybrid Talent at only getting one option might make some builds miss out - but then, they are gaining a lot, so that is to be expected. It should keep things more balanced, and should also result in a greater variety of characters, as every chooses a different set of options to define their build.

Swordmage Warding and Armor of Faith are indeed a good combo. However, that requires two feats, which can just be spent on Armor Proficiency feats, upping your AC anyway with the added benefit of giving you more options when choosing magic armors.

Also, since you're a Hybrid Avenger, you wouldn't have any armor proficiency other than Cloth. We don't have Hybrid PHB2 classes yet, but I don't see why Hybrid Avengers would get armor proficiencies full avengers don't have. And since Hybrid characters only have the armor proficiencies that BOTH hybrid classes share, they'd only have cloth. So if you're Hybridizing Swordmage and Avenger, you'd be one AC down from a full Swordmage to begin with.
By the time you factor in spending two feats for AC bumps, a Swordmage in hide (assuming an 18 in Int) has +10 AC (3 from hide, +4 from Int, 3 from warding) and an extra feat, and an Avenger in hide (assuming a 14 in Int or Dex) has +8 AC (3 from hide, 2 from Int or Dex, and 3 from Armor of Faith).
A Hybrid Swordmage/Avenger would have +8 AC (3 from warding, 3 from Armor of Faith, and 2 from Int or Dex).

If you suppose everyone spends an extra feat on AC in heroic, then the full Swordmage would still be +10, but with two extra feats, the full Avenger would be +9 with Improved Armor of Faith, and the Hybrid Swordmage/Avenger would be at +9 with Improved Armor of Faith.

So you're double-upped AC buffing Hybrid Talent class features is still even, or a little behind, a non-hybrid version of either of your classes. Not broken at all.
Planes Wanderer
I think this is very interesting and well thought out if not still obviously rough. I was disappointed that they did not put the PH2 classes in it but classes like the druid and sorcerer would be hard to make hybrid versions of. That being said I expect to see someone post their hybrid versions of the PH2 classes before the end of the day in at least one thread. I honestly think looking at this that it appears quite underpowered actually particularly for the defender classes, the strikers aren't that great either but I know why they did what they did there, the wizard (only controller here) lost all but cantrips which takes a lot from them as a class but I suppose a modified implement mastery would have been a bit much, The leaders are doing a bit better as they get 2 features where everyone else gets one but the limited use on healing hurts them some. Short of having ph2 classes the swordmage/wizard combo with implement mastery and WotST so I can use the swordmage implements with implement mastery is the only combination I see myself trying.
First of all, I am glad that there will be additional character building options that will allow players to build a character more suited to their character concept. One of the players in my group is disappointed that in 4E he was unable to build something that he played in 3E due to limitations of 4E multiclassing. With the hybrid character rules, he can build something much closer to his 3E character.

With hybrid characters, you can build a character that is a combo of 2 classes at level 1. You do not have to wait multiple levels and take multiple feats to be your mix. Not only that, you can gain additional any single additional class feature (not included in the hybrid) from one of your classes by taking the Hybrid Talent feat. This feat is really important to certain classes when choosing paragon paths. Warlock PP's have abilities that rely on pact boons, and ranger PP's need a combat style. This feat allows players to take PP's that would be useless or inaccessible otherwise. With only one feat associated with Hybrid characters (so far), it would seem that it is much less feat intensive than multiclassing.

On top of everything, you can still multiclass. Hybrid characters are still able to take multiclass feats and paragon multiclassing. That cleric/fighter/wizard that you played in 1E is now more feasible than ever in 4E. Just hybrid the cleric and fighter and multiclass to wizard.

Does the hybrid character rules make multiclassing obsolete?

I don't think so. There are certain builds where multiclassing is the preferred option. Those builds are ones that splash a second class instead of a near 50/50 split. There are also some combinations where the armour proficiency restrictions really reduce the effectiveness of the hybrid character. An example is the fighter/wizard combo. A hybrid fighter/wizard would have fewer hit points, surges and no armour proficiencies. Such a character would not be able to function well as a defender compared to a fighter/wizard multiclass. The fighter/wizard MC would have better AC, hp and surges. Also, the MC would be able to mark with wizard powers and is particularly useful with the wizard area effect powers. The fighter/wizard HC would be a much better controller, but would likely be a controller and not want to do much defending at all. If you want to try to bring the fighter/wizard HC to a level where it can defend better, it would take some investment in armour and shield proficiency feats negating the feat advantage of HC.

Does the HC rules make paragon multiclassing obsolete?
With the current PMC rules, the main benefit is the at-will swap. PMC give you that and the ability to gain 3 more powers from the class you MC into. With the HC rules, you automatically get all of those benefits at level 1 without having to spend all of those feats. On top of that, you can choose a paragon path which in addition to powers has 3 other benefits. The basic tradeoff of PMC vs. PP is the at-will swap vs 3 PP abilities. Except for some specific combinations, particularly those where you lose a lot of armour proficiencies, there are now even fewer reasons to choose PMC over HC.

Would you?

For those players who have character concepts that bleed into more than one class, how would you build your character? There existed MC and PMC rules. Now there is the HC rules. The choice of how to build the character depends greatly on the character concept. I will present a few characters and show how I would build them.

Fighter/Wizard
The traditional (or perhaps not so traditional) gish from 1E is one that I personally like. In 4E, I would build it starting as a fighter and then MC and PMC into a wizard. I would play it primarily as a defender and some wizard abilities and powers do actually help defend. Area effect powers work well with combat challenge to mark multiple enemies. Some wizard utility powers also help by boosting defences. By starting as a fighter, I will have full armour proficiencies as well as high hit points and surges.

Cleric/Wizard
The ultimate spell caster. (OK, cleric powers are no longer called spells, but they feel like spells to me.) This build would be good as a hybrid character. Build it as a laser cleric and the lack of armour and hit points is not quite as big a drawback. All of your powers would be ranged, so stay behind the lines. You can heal and buff your allies and blast your foes.

Cleric/Fighter
This may go either way. If you go fighter/cleric MC, you get better armour and can be better at the front lines. The fighter/cleric HC would make it more difficult to defend well, but you get better healing and buffing. Also, the HC would get better weapons than the cleric/fighter MC.

Rogue/Wizard
I like the HC version of this combo a lot. One of my players wanted cantrips for a rogue/archer type, but only wanted to splash wizard abilities. No can do with MC rules. You can now with the HC rules. Sneak attack doesn't work with wizard spells anyway, so not being able to sneak attack with a wizard power is no great loss.

Cleric/Fighter/Wizard
I had to put a triple class in here. Just HC your Fighter/Cleric and then MC to Wizard. Choose Str attacks for your cleric powers to limit the strain on attack stats. Play a half-elf and you can get your third at-will without going PMC.
<\ \>tuntman
I would be really disappointed if Hybrid Talent is only able to be taken once. I Don't think you could really get any crazy synergy out of two class features. If you take Swordbond and Eldritch Pact for Swordmage/Warlock, what's really going to be broken there?

I actually like the fact that Hybrid Talent can only be taken once. It means that when you take the feat, you have to make a meaningful choice. You only get one more class feature, so choosing one class feature means you will not get another.

One loophole I can see with the way this feat is worded is that if you multiclass to a third class, you can choose a class feature from that third class. I can see a ranger/wizard hybrid multiclass to a warlock, take the Hybrid Talent feat and choose the Warlock Curse class feature. Now, you can curse and choose your quarry to be the same target, attack with Twin Strike and if you hit, deal an extra d6 damage from HQ and another d6 damage from WC.
<\ \>tuntman
I just don't see why they'd go to so much trouble making you an even split of two classes, and then give you a way to delve into only one of them.
Planes Wanderer
Hybrid Talent, from a optimization stand point, is nice but not overpowered. Without out it, hybrid characters actually look weaker. 90% of the class features left out of Hybrid characters are fine and really only add some small but useful bonuses. The problem with Hybrid Talent is quiet a simple one:

Deva Hybrid Wizard/Cleric with Sacred Flame, Thunder Wave, Orb Mastery, and Divine Oracle. It essentially becomes a near fully functional healer with AOEs that buff and ignore allies, Wizard Auto-Damage Zones, Double Rolls on vs. Will attacks (Which, trust me, there will be a lot of), and a Thunderwave which will send the enemies flying for miles. It will also have enough feats and spare points to have Hide by Paragon without breaking a sweat. All of this is completely do-able of course under the current multi-classing system, but now the little bugger gets a but-load of free feats.

Or, for more fun, a Ranger with rouge multi-attacks and dagger master. Or a Brutal Scoudrel with Stormwarder. Or, for laughs, a Tempest Fighter with Stormwarden.

Once Barbarian comes out, we'll see the delightful fun of Thaneborn Barbarian/Battle Ragers. Not cool. A THP monkey with Greatweapon Multi-attacks.

Really, the only problem with Hybrid Talent is it just makes some of the more broken builds all that easier to make. With more feats.
I am a: Lawful Good Dragonborn Paladin
By the time you factor in spending two feats for AC bumps, a Swordmage in hide (assuming an 18 in Int) has +10 AC (3 from hide, +4 from Int, 3 from warding) and an extra feat, and an Avenger in hide (assuming a 14 in Int or Dex) has +8 AC (3 from hide, 2 from Int or Dex, and 3 from Armor of Faith).

A Hybrid Swordmage/Avenger would have +8 AC (3 from warding, 3 from Armor of Faith, and 2 from Int or Dex).

If you suppose everyone spends an extra feat on AC in heroic, then the full Swordmage would still be +10, but with two extra feats, the full Avenger would be +9 with Improved Armor of Faith, and the Hybrid Swordmage/Avenger would be at +9 with Improved Armor of Faith.

I think assuming a hybrid Swordmage/Avenger would only have Int 14 is a little unlikely. 16 at the least, 18 if simply generically optimized, and 20 if specifically designing for maxing AC. Deva makes a good choice for an Int 20/Wis 16 start, and the lower wisdom for Avenger powers will (likely) be compensated by some form of the Oath of Emnity feature.

The real issue is more that is raises the upper limit on what their AC via feats can reach - and provides a very large number feats that give a sizable return on AC. At Epic levels, they get 2 from Leather Armor Proficiciency, 3 from Hybrid Talent (Armor of Faith), 3 from Hybrid Talent (Swordmage Warding), 3 from Improved Armor of Faith. At level 21, they are looking at a possible AC of 46, with just 4 feats. Pretty much every level 21 foe will be needing a natural 20 to hit them - and that is without even trying to spread out their stats to get Hide Proficiency/Specialization, or snagging an AC boost from a Paragon Path.

Even at Heroic, you could have a level 4 Avenger/Swordmage with Int 20, Leather Armor Proficiency, Hybrid Talent (Armor of Faith), and Hybrid Talent (Swordmage Warding). With +1 leather, that is AC 26.

A regular swordmage in Hide clocks in 2 points of AC lower than that, but with two feats to spare. An avenger in Hide with Improved Armor of Faith clocks in 1 point lower... assuming a 20 Int/dex, which is unlikely. And as the hybrid gets more feats to spend, the difference will continue to increase.

There are certainly a variety of ways to crank out high-defense characters, of course. But it is mainly that I think Hybrid Talent, if choosable multiple times, becomes too good. Class features are often more powerful than regular feats - having a feat that lets you pick them up wholesale will thus tend to be more powerful than taking other feats. If you can only take it once, it at least is somewhat mitigated in power - it will still be good enough that every hybrid character is almost guaranteed to take it, and early.
My "bad feeling about this" sense is tingling ....

I think it is neat, really, but I worry when there are choices that are inherantly better than others. As a DM, 4E has made me feel really good about letting new players go make their own characters for exactly the reason that they can build their characters however they like and have a balanced character (as long as they follow the basic guidelines).

That's the only thing that makes me cringe a bit at this "hybrid class" idea. I think the well-built characters will function just fine, but those who are built poorly will pay the price, as they did in 3E. I must say, though, that this is something that I haven't missed in 4E at all.

Anyways, unless they can guarentee that there will be no builds that are poor, I will actually have to ban them in my games. The headache just isn't worth it. DMs have enough things to worry about without worrying about sub-standard characters.

I'm sure they will work hard on getting it right, but it definately isn't there yet. I look forward to seeing how they make all choices viable. (Perhaps by choosing a single "main" stat instead of spreading them out. Just an idea.)

Yours,
Lord Dreadman
At least initially I'm dissatisfied at the handling of strikers and fighter - basic attacks not marking is a real pain for the fighter... and I'd rather that striker damage was heavily reduced rather than only limited to certain powers. Effectively this way you encourage a striker to hybrid with something that gives them very solid features and utility effects, but allows them to take all striker attack powers. So striker plus fighter = bad, plus cleric = good, etc.

Glad I'm not the only one who noticed this. Combat Challenge, Quarry, and Sneak Attack need the words "basic attack" included in their wording. And honestly, while we're worried about marking hordes of creatures at range with fire blast, or Quarry and Sneak Attack stacking with each other, there are more elegant approaches to the problem then what this play test is doing.

Combat Challenge: limit it to basic attacks and powers with the weapon key word and things should be fine. When compared to the current multiclassing rules we're mostly concerned with the At Will powers being used for consistent mass marking, so at worst Twin Strike might be an issue.

Curse, Quarry, Sneak Attack: it might be said that this is an even less elegant suggestion... but just write in that you can only take advantage of one of these features once per round. If you must, invent a new key word to attach to all future similar class features so you don't need to continuous amend the rules.

With that said... different people want different things from their hybrid classes; Rogue/Warlock with Rogue Weapon Talent and Curse, or Fighter/Paladin with Fighter Weapon Talent and Divine Challenge. For a playtest, this is a very good ground work, but I'm hoping the final product is more... flexible.
I was disappointed that they did not put the PH2 classes in it but classes like the druid and sorcerer would be hard to make hybrid versions of. That being said I expect to see someone post their hybrid versions of the PH2 classes before the end of the day in at least one thread.

Here's a snippet of what I was posting over on the other thread:
( http://forums.gleemax.com/newreply.php?do=newreply&p=18264466 )
For example here are the missing controllers, as I think we'll be seeing them:

Hybrid Controllers:

Druid:
Role: Controller
Power Source: Primal
Key Ability: Wisdom
Secondary Abilities: Dexterity, Constitution
Armor Proficiencies: Cloth, leather, hide
Weapon Proficiencies: Simple melee, simple ranged
Implements: Staffs, totems
Bonus to Defense: +1 Reflex or Will
Hit Points at 1st Level: 5
Hit Points per Level Gained: 2
Healing Surges per Day: 3
Class Skills: Arcana (Int), Athletics (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Endurance (Con), Heal (Wis), History (Int), Insight (Wis), Nature (Wis), Perception (Wis)
Class Features: Balance of Nature (Hybrid), Wild Shape

Wild Shape
This class feature functions exactly as the druid class feature (Player's Handbook 2, page 83).

Balance of Nature (Hybrid)
You gain the druid feature Balance of Nature (Player's Handbook 2, page 83). The feature functions as normal, except that the following text replaces the feature's second paragraph:

"You begin with three at-will attack powers. Throughout your career, one must be from your other hybrid class, two must be from the druid class, and one (and no more than one) must have the beast form keyword."
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