Classless 4th edition.

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Anyone try a classless 4th edition? As in, you take the structure of the classes and use them as a frame work, but otherwise build classes by pick and choosing powers from all over?

I've been kicking around the idea of it for a fewmonths now, and so far it seems like it should work fine. You choose single features from classes that you can have like divine challenge or fighters mark, and so on, and then build your powers around a concept and your stat build.

What do you think?
I'm just going to wait for 5th Edition and hope they do it then.
Unbalanced. You mix combat challenge with thunderwave every turn and the game is just over.

I mean, it's all fine as long as everybody takes advantage of the new setup to supercharge their characters, but some builds just wont be seen anymore.
Unbalanced. You mix combat challenge with thunderwave and the game is just over.

A Half-Elf Fighter could already do that.

Similarly, A Dragonborn Fighter can use it's breath weapon to attack multiple foes, and then mark them all.

Game seems to be doing just fine.
Any CharOp regular in your playgroup would break your game. ;)

OoE + Twin Strike/Dual Strike at level 1? Awesome! :P
A Half-Elf Fighter could already do that.

Similarly, A Dragonborn Fighter can use it's breath weapon to attack multiple foes, and then mark them all.

Game seems to be doing just fine.

I left out how I meant if it ever became an at-will, it would push it over the top. I know I was ambiguous, but how could you not see the problem with that? You get those admittedly awesome abilities from race. What if you had the crazy power of a dragon breath or thunderwave but could also get an extra human feat?

Seriously, it's broken.
A Half-Elf Fighter could already do that.

Similarly, A Dragonborn Fighter can use it's breath weapon to attack multiple foes, and then mark them all.

Game seems to be doing just fine.

Marking a 3x3 square once an encounter is very different from doing it every turn all fight long.
take the structure of the classes and use them as a frame work, but otherwise build classes by pick and choosing powers from all over?

...choose single features from classes that you can have like divine challenge or fighters mark, and so on, and then build your powers around a concept and your stat build.

One of my players wants to play a monk, so we're going to homebrew it until we can get a preview.

For this, the player chooses either the avenger or ranger (two weapon) class format/features.

Armor: Cloth
Weapon Prof: None (unarmed)
Def: +1 to all

1st level
HP: 13 + CON
HP/lvl: 5
Surges: 7 + CON mod

Then the player can choose powers from either class.

Instead of melee weapons this 'monk uses 1d6 unarmed attacks. One feat improves this to 1d8, with another feat for 1d10.

Missile attacks are restricted to basic missile attacks.

There are no avenger implements, the avenger's turn undead and the ranger's prime shot are removed.

And for ranger powers that are either melee or missile weapon, this build can use either STR or DEX mods for the unarmed attack.

If it turns out to be too powerful, I can always rein it in or squash it with nasty monsters.
I'm just going to wait for 5th Edition and hope they do it then.

Not gonna happen. At least, not for anything that ever goes by the name of Dungeons and Dragons. Classes are the very thing that makes D&D what it is, and the game works well for what it does. If you want a classless system, there are plenty of alternatives that'll work great for you. But for the cliched, heroic fantasy adventure that D&D tailors to, classes will always be an intrinsic part.

Not that I'm harping on classless systems, as I love them for any other sort of setting. Classes just don't fit in modern, future, horror, superhero, mystery, etc. I'm not even against an attempt at homebrewing a classless version of 4E, but classless will never be a core feature of D&D.
Anyone try a classless 4th edition? As in, you take the structure of the classes and use them as a frame work, but otherwise build classes by pick and choosing powers from all over?

I've been kicking around the idea of it for a fewmonths now, and so far it seems like it should work fine. You choose single features from classes that you can have like divine challenge or fighters mark, and so on, and then build your powers around a concept and your stat build.

What do you think?

I've thought about this as well, but I've come to the conclusion that the class structure is too important to the tactical nature of the game for a classless variant to work well.

I think that 3.5 lends itself to a classless system much easier...there are probably already D20 games of this nature released under the OGL. The core mechanics of 4th Edition (level progression, healing surges, attack vs. NAD, 1/2 level to skills, defenses, attacks, etc.) should translate nicely, but the class power structure not so.

I could see (perhaps for 5th edition, but who knows) a variant where the classes become more generic in nature, based on party role rather than archetype (IE Defender, Striker, Controller, Leader rather than Fighter, Rogue, Wizard and Cleric) with each class having a generic mechanic effect to promote it's role.

Couple this with a power source, which would give different mechanical effects to the role abilities, for instance the Shadow powersource would provide a different effect when applied to the striker's damage bonus, than the martial, etc. The powersource would also provide a pool of powers for the player to choose from throughout their characters career.

A system like this could work, but not with the current array of class powers I would imagine. Also, the game as it stands now is very easy for new players to learn, whereas this proposed structure would make D&D more obtuse and esoteric to potential enthusiasts.
You want a class-less game, go play World of Darkness.

D&D will never be class-less.
Not gonna happen. At least, not for anything that ever goes by the name of Dungeons and Dragons. Classes are the very thing that makes D&D what it is, and the game works well for what it does. If you want a classless system, there are plenty of alternatives that'll work great for you. But for the cliched, heroic fantasy adventure that D&D tailors to, classes will always be an intrinsic part.

Not that I'm harping on classless systems, as I love them for any other sort of setting. Classes just don't fit in modern, future, horror, superhero, mystery, etc. I'm not even against an attempt at homebrewing a classless version of 4E, but classless will never be a core feature of D&D.

There are alot of things that arguably could be called "what makes d&d what it is" that are no longer part of the game. I would not discount anything from happening just yet.
This should probably go in the homebrew section.

For classless 4e I would give people a set number of feats to start out with. Of course you would need to dump powers and class features because they are balanced by class. There would be four types of basic attacks: melee, ranged, blast and burst. Melee and ranged would remain the same and blast and burst would be int, wis, or cha based (based on implement) with the damage based on implement (meaning implements would have to have damage values).

I might develop this more for pick-up games.
Marking a 3x3 square once an encounter is very different from doing it every turn all fight long.

Yes...this would be an overpowered combination, I certainly don't doubt that.

However, as it stands now, a Paragon Multiclassed Fighter/Wizard could already do this, and add marked scourge on top of it. A Stormsoul Genasi with a sufficiently high WIS score would work nicely.

My point is that the capability to do this already exists within the game, it's just a bit more difficult to achieve.

The biggest problem I see with this is that ostensibly, this combination would make the character a better controller than even the controller classes.
Yes...this would be a powerful combination.

However, as it stands now, a Paragon Multiclassed Fighter/Wizard could already do this, and add marked scourge on top of it. A Stormsoul Genasi with a sufficiently high WIS score would work nicely.

My point is that the capability to do this already exists within the game, it's just a bit more difficult to achieve.

"A bit?"

In order to do it now you're spending 4 specific feats, balancing the gear requirements of two classes and missing out on Paragon Path abilities. You're also spread pretty thin in terms of attributes.

This change lets you do it at first level with a single high attribute and no feat expenditure.

That's not "a bit" less difficult, it's a completely different order of magnitude.
You want a class-less game, go play World of Darkness.

D&D will never be class-less.

The designers of 4e did say that while it was designed with classes in mind, it could easily be done as a classless system instead.

I've thought about it, but havent done it, even though I almost had a classless 3e system going. I've also thought about removing the restriction on only being able to take 1 multiclass, but that might require some nerfing of the multiclass feats, maybe remove the free skill training beyond the 1st or something.

It might allow some powerful combos, but if you trust your players not to abuse the system or at least to all abuse it equally, then go for it. If everyone has fun, then thats all that really matters. It will definitely give them a power boost but I dont think it will break the game.
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This should probably go in the homebrew section.

For classless 4e I would give people a set number of feats to start out with. Of course you would need to dump powers and class features because they are balanced by class. There would be four types of basic attacks: melee, ranged, blast and burst. Melee and ranged would remain the same and blast and burst would be int, wis, or cha based (based on implement) with the damage based on implement (meaning implements would have to have damage values).

I might develop this more for pick-up games.

I've considered giving implements set damage values as well...if you decide to give this a shot I'd like to read about how it works in play.
I've considered giving implements set damage values as well...if you decide to give this a shot I'd like to read about how it works in play.

I will not be playing until school lets out so I can't really test anything until then. The main problem with converting implements to set damage would be balancing all of the powers, which is more tedious than difficult. I think a proficiency bonus would be appropriate as well (lower than weapons).

I would go:
wand +2 1d4, high crit, off hand
staff +1 1d8
orb +2 1d6, off hand

Or something along that line.
There are alot of things that arguably could be called "what makes d&d what it is" that are no longer part of the game. I would not discount anything from happening just yet.

Those various things that you refer to are generally specific mechanical aspects, such as vancian casting. However, to a non-player, D&D is "that game where you play a wizard, or a fighter, or a thief, and you go kill monsters and take their stuff". The classes really are the thing that make D&D what it is.

At the moment, there are people claiming that 4E might as well not be D&D, many of which backing this up by saying that all the classes are the same (not true, but still). Imagine the uproar if there were no classes at all. No, the classes are the iconic feature of D&D, and would always have to remain in some form.
I will not be playing until school lets out so I can't really test anything until then. The main problem with converting implements to set damage would be balancing all of the powers, which is more tedious than difficult. I think a proficiency bonus would be appropriate as well (lower than weapons).

I would go:
wand +2 1d4, high crit, off hand
staff +1 1d8
orb +2 1d6, off hand

Or something along that line.

Proficiency bonus wouldn't work for this because implement powers target nonarmor defenses, which tend to be lower than AC.

Giving implements inherent to-hit bonuses would make them overpowered.

Also, implements already have per encounter abilities associated with them, do they really need weapon properties as well?
"A bit?"

In order to do it now you're spending 4 specific feats, balancing the gear requirements of two classes and missing out on Paragon Path abilities. You're also spread pretty thin in terms of attributes.

This change lets you do it at first level with a single high attribute and no feat expenditure.

That's not "a bit" less difficult, it's a completely different order of magnitude.

Apologies...I have a talent for understatement.
Proficiency bonus wouldn't work for this because implement powers target nonarmor defenses, which tend to be lower than AC.

Giving implements inherent to-hit bonuses would make them overpowered.

Also, implements already have per encounter abilities associated with them, do they really need weapon properties as well?

Your right I forgot.
The designers of 4e did say that while it was designed with classes in mind, it could easily be done as a classless system instead. [...]

Now that's the kind of stuff that would fit well for a 4E "Unearthed Arcana", wouldn't it? ;)
Now that's the kind of stuff that would fit well for a 4E "Unearthed Arcana", wouldn't it? ;)

This is what I am waiting for. :D

This all started from a discussion I was having with a fellow nerd, and the other DM for our group( I am the other), about using a classless system of 4th edition for a scifi game. So far he has done up some great rules for fire arms that we will be using, and I was going to look at a classless system.

I think everyone seems to be of the mind that the class features, along with powers from other classes would imbalance things.....Maybe I'll have to make my own stat based base classes to use like they have in d20 modern....I think that could work pretty good.

Or just have no class features, everyone get's the same number of powers but throw a few extra feats in to the mix at the beginning to help flesh out the character and the role they intend to fit....
On further reflection i now agree it will never be classless, as it would impact the splat business model just a little too hard. :D
I always liked the generic classes from the 3.x Unearthed Arcana. I had to flesh them out more because of all the splatbooks...but they worked really well, and people didn't feel shoehorned into role or anything like that.

I tend to prefer classes for the same reason I don't think everyone should be allowed to vote. Some people just can't be trusted with freedom...well, almost everyone can't, actually. But anyway...classless can be alright, but usually it just leads to needless trouble when you take a classed system and render it classless. More trouble than it's worth, anyway.

Now that I've mentioned Generic Classes, I think I'll go try that out.
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The designers of 4e did say that while it was designed with classes in mind, it could easily be done as a classless system instead.

And it would be terrible. The only way I could think to possibly make it work would be to chain the entire system to a set of prereqs and power trees that would make Exalted look simple. Also you'd have to redo the skill system from the ground up to help give more limiters and prereqs. I'm going to file that under "things the designers were very wrong about." Good classless systems all have their own control mechanisms to prevent abuse. D&D doesn't have that structure.

It could be done, but it would a massive undertaking to do it right.

I've thought about it, but havent done it, even though I almost had a classless 3e system going. I've also thought about removing the restriction on only being able to take 1 multiclass, but that might require some nerfing of the multiclass feats, maybe remove the free skill training beyond the 1st or something.

3rd ED was classless really. It was a point buy system where you used your "levels" to buy "skill packages." The only reason classes existed at all in a game was due to the massive power loss from multiclassing due to spell level loss. Basically it's own imbalance kept it's class structure.

It might allow some powerful combos, but if you trust your players not to abuse the system or at least to all abuse it equally, then go for it. If everyone has fun, then thats all that really matters. It will definitely give them a power boost but I dont think it will break the game.

It won't break the game if you try not to break the game AND are good enough optimizers (or bad enough I suppose). But I think a party of 5 average players would have someone hit on some insane combat by accident and blow right past the current charop leader boards.
Well... At least we got custom avatars....
No. The game falls apart if you do classless. It's a class based game.
I believe the reason why D&D isn't classless and generally won't work as classless is because it's designed to include cooperative teamwork. I don't think it's a stretch to say that a significant majority of D&D games involve multiple players, generally in the 4-6 range (plus the DM). Classes are useful in elaborating a game based on teamwork because they help focus the strengths of each character, and thus contribute to a more cohesive whole.

Going classless essentially means that everyone is out for himself or herself, and any attempts at cooperative teamwork when it comes to character creation will inevitably wind up resembling what is essentially a class-based game.

In any case, I think the biggest issue with a classless system is the possibility to aim for the best of all words. The aforementioned example of having the fighter's ability to mark, combined with at-will spells like thunderwave, illustrates how this can crumble pretty quickly.

If you really want to go classless, you might want to add requirements to certain, stronger powers. For example, in order to opt to select a particularly strong, wizard control power, you might require to already have one or two other control powers at your disposition. In this way, retraining still allows players to gradually switch the focus of their characters completely while at the same time ensuring that you don't have characters repeatedly opting for the best powers of every role.
The idea would be to build the characters with the players and help them craft a group that can still function and not be full of loners. It almost certainly would still have a heavy(heavier) hitter, a sneaky guy( or two) a spell slinger( or more) and a healer( of sorts) through no effort on my part. The group is full of old gamers that know how to make a group that functions.


As to requirements for progression, totally. It would be a themed progression if I could manage it, and by that I mean that i would have them build characters with a them in mind. So that one guy could be the fire guy, one guy the ice guy and so on, plus they could have all their bases cover through powers and a group effort.

And, if it turned into a total over powered, slugger fest, I can roll with that bad boy too. Nothing wrong with a campaign, short lived though it may be, consisting of over the top fight scenes feature a group of super sluggers vs the unbalanced hordes of doom. :D

But it looks like I would need to watch the character creation and level up process very carefully incase someone figures out the loop hole of loop holes.
I think that 3.5 lends itself to a classless system much easier...there are probably already D20 games of this nature released under the OGL.

Yep. For example Complete Control issued by Dreamscarred Press. Very interesting book, though I haven't been able to try it out yet.
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I didn't think 4.0 had any class to begin with.






Sorry.
...I'll go back to the OTT now.
I didn't think 4.0 had any class to begin with.






Sorry.
...I'll go back to the OTT now.

Your joke was bad and you should feel bad.
On further reflection i now agree it will never be classless, as it would impact the splat business model just a little too hard. :D

You kidding, AC? They would just come out with "Complete Fire-Based Defender Powers VII". :D
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Although I'm not a big fan of the rules in general, I think that Shadowrun was great for classless characters. You knew that there were certain roles in the game, both IC and OOC, but it was up to you to figure out how to fulfill those roles, or if you wanted to try to invent a new role or a new way of doing things.

That's the thing that bugs me about classes, really, and why I sympathize with the folks that want to figure out classless systems. Classes do too much of the work for me -- and some of it is work I enjoy doing.
I would have thought that vancian spellcasting was something that would always be in D&D. Things change, classes seem almost superfluous in 4e now.

I think you could easily go classless, as long as you arent playing with a bunch of morons who want to find the way to break the system, and you are willing to houserule a few things.. I don't know if Id want to read all those powers though people could be tempted to just filter for the highest damage in excel or something (powers are to similar to select on "coolness" now).

I think whenever you post a houserule idea people on forums are going to say "broken!" but this is not a representation of a True D&D demographic. You probably get more people here who want to break classes and have the most powerful character then in your campaign (which probably has the accountant that always plays a dwarf, and the teacher who always plays the gnome illusionist.. e.g. people who do this 1-2 times a months and don't think up clever ways to break the system).

I say go with it if you think itll be fun, but my take is that it might not be THAT fun having to read 10x more powers everytime you level.
I found 4E almost feels like it should have been classless. Almost like the classes were added after they designed the system. Like they had a bunch of suggested builds and just decided to make them the classes.
I found 4E almost feels like it should have been classless. Almost like the classes were added after they designed the system. Like they had a bunch of suggested builds and just decided to make them the classes.

I bet it was designed without a class at first. Sort of a base class so you can decide how much damage it should do at every level. How many choices, skills, ac ect it should have at every level.

Then they would just modify the base class, the controller hits more targets so lower its damage, the striker should do a bit more, ect, ect. But there is always the "average" class to compare to.
I've been thinking of altering the way 4e works too. I would make it so you choose your party role , race ,and power source then those would give the basic building blocks of what powers you can create. I'd go through all the powers listed and make a list of each individual part of a power.

Power parts would be , melee weapon , [W] , marked, knock prone , ongoing damage ... that sort of thing.

Then you'd build up your own unique powers from the parts available sort of the way you created new spells in Oblivion and Morrowind. Each part has a cost and each level of power has a total available .

Powers would be lmited based on the levels you get them. A level one daily power might be limited to maximum of 3 of the same type of any one part.
Ex; Level 1 Daily power has max 3[W]

........ I'll think more on it. I'm sure it can be done and to the point that it would be balanced still and hard to under power a character. But it could end up having lots more versatile characters . I just hate having books with powers in them that might never ever get used. Its like a waste of space.
But a cjharacter with a role to fill and the basic building blocks that the role ,race and power source or sources provide could be very fun .
I'm really liking the idea of using 4 bonus feats at level 1 serve as the parameters of the class and gain powers as you gain powers normally, but you can choose from whatever powers fit your build.....

though the number may change. Maybe 3 maybe 5, I'll have to play around with it and see how things look.

Oh, and this would be for one campaigns worth at best, and realistically it would be for a few adventures.
Proficiency bonus wouldn't work for this because implement powers target nonarmor defenses, which tend to be lower than AC.

Giving implements inherent to-hit bonuses would make them overpowered.

Also, implements already have per encounter abilities associated with them, do they really need weapon properties as well?

Actually Wizards have encounter powers associated with Implements.

For a classless system using the 4e framework the bigger issue becomes handling class features rather than powers. Sure, the interaction of some powers becomes a problem in certain cases, but that's nothing that isn't already possible to manufacture through multi-classing and power swap feats.

Best way would be to have the base classes or roles work like a kit, but have powers wide open, i.e. you take a defender kit that lets you pick some features and from the defender pool, so the character would still have a 'class' that determines HP and Features, but powers are wide open. This keeps at least some of the party inter-dependancy in tact.

This of course acknowledges that any radical departure from the published system effectively negates the main value of pre-published monsters, adventures, and so forth. That sounds brutal, but it's nothing you don't run into in any of the other classless systems.

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