I've heard complaints that the fighter in the playtest is currently too complex. I've also heard people say that it is just right. It seems like there is a mix of players that want complex characters and players that want simple characters. As such, I came up with a model for organizing classes that would allow any player to get just the character they want. Here is the chart I designed:
Martial In-between Spellcaster
Complex Fighter Monk Cleric
Medium Rogue, Warlord Ranger, Bladesinger Wizard, Warlock
Simple Barbarian Duskblade Sorceror
In this scenario, the Barbarian, Duskblade, and Sorceror would have simple, easy-to-memorize abilities and few class features. The barbarian would get MDD and Rage, the Duskblade would get some arcane abilities (I don't know much about the class), and the Sorceror would get a simple spell slot system and ritual casting for more complex spells. This layout means that a player who wants to be a "simple fighter" could play as a barbarian, a "simple wizard" would be the sorceror, and so on. Someone who wanted a few options, but not too many, could play as a Warlord, a Ranger, a Warlock, etc.
So, what do you think?
That's very opinion-based. I hardly see the fighter as a complex class. And the cleric certainly isn't any harder to play than the wizard.
I think the current fighter is simple to moderate. Not at all what i would call complex.
Also, you need to consider "complex to play" and "complex to build". Though the pre-packaged fighting styles work well for fixing the build issue.
The designers have implied in the past that they want to see character complexity as a dial within each class. In this way, you could start as a simple fighter (for example) and as you want more complexity, you could turn that dial up as you level. I do not know if this is still their strategy.
I think any given class should have a range of complexity, and I think that's the design they're aiming for.
I suspect we'll see an option that allows for a very simple fighter, probably by letting you swap out your maneuvers for a straight damage bonus.
My purpose in creating this chart is to suggest a possible way to make a class for every player. I know it would probably need some tweaking, but I think there is definitely room for a class that is simpler than the current fighter. There are enough complaints about having no way to play a "simple fighter", and many people have stated that the simpler game in the first playtest was their favorite version of the playtest. I think that if WotC added a simpler class or two, they could get many people who have given up on DNDN to reconsider abandoning the edition.
I really hope that they have enough modularity that each player can play a simple or complex fighter, wizard, cleric, and rogue.
If a ten year old wants to play a wizard, there should be a switch that can simplify the wizard to just the very basics.
More spells should scale with spell level. We don't need a different spell with similar themes for every level.
There could easily be just one healing spell that scales.
Taken even farther, there could be one area of effect damaging spell that could be memorized as either fire, poison, lightning, thunder, or cold. It could be memorized as a cone, line, or sphere.
There could be one illusion spell with greater effects at higher levels.
Right now the cantrips scale but many other spells don't. More should.
Let's simplify where possible.
This idea is very old skool D&D and I don't think that's a bad thing, in itself.
As others have pointed out, you're walking a fine line here as what class should be complex or simple is something of a battleground issue in the forum (I don't think it's as much of a problem for the whole community, but it certainly is here). I have no doubt in my mind that the designers have a similar chart somewhere in their office - probably more than one. If it's not a big one for all to see, it's a thumnail scratched out on a notepad somewhere. This stuff is really useful for writing a game, even if you don't end up being faithful to the chart in the end.
For me the major issue with all classes being simple or complex depending on what you want is it makes character creation and advancement really complicated. Since my recent (inadvertant) move back to 2e AD&D from 3e, I've noticed that the really simple character creation and advancement process in AD&D is helpful on many levels. For a start, it reduces the players' attachment to the mechanics of the game and focus more on things I like, such as personality, background and overall concepts. That, in turn, allows me to mess around with the mechanics more freely as a DM because they're not as bothered about it. It's a nice arrangement.
WOTC era D&D has layers of complexity beyond what TSR D&D has and that's fine too, but the more players are having to think about the nuts and bolts of the system, the harder it is for the DM to make changes on the fly because those changes can impact how the players plan their characters and, in many cases, cause a player to observe that they'd have not made the character at all had they known that whatever new element was coming.
For me, that's the crux of the matter when it comes to many of the issues that people get hot under the collar over here. DM/player entitlement, fiat, the notion that what's written in the core books is somehow sacred - the list goes on and on. The fact is all of these issues are part of the same bit of string we're unravelling every time they get brought up: the more players have to consider the game mechanics when making and levelling a character, the harder it is to change the system once the game begins because both the players and the DM become invested in how the numbers work.
For some people, the added layers of complexity is worth the trade of being less able to improvise, introduce, and rewrite mechanics in game. I need to stress that people who feel that way are totally entitled to their opinion and there is no right or wrong position to have.
But I digress. Back to the OP: this is a good idea and I'm sure it's being used in some form or another by the game designers, but as a method of delineating complexity in game it's probably not gonna fly. I personally think that we should use this strategy alongside the "internal dialing" method, so classes are written as simple or complex by default and then you're able to dial a simple class up or a complex class back during character creation and advancement. That way, they would provide a variety of strategies for players to find the class that's right for them.
I don't think that this will work. Names are important and classes like fighter and wizard are popular classes. It isn't going to go over well for someone who wants to be a fighter to have to settle for a barbarian because they also want simple. For many no matter how much sorcerer might fit perfectly to their playstyle, it isn't a wizard and there is no getting passed it.
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