Monday, May 26, 2008

Multiclassing and prestige classes

I know it's a month late -- my defense is that they're overwhelming me with all of these Excerpts. But after reading the entries on Multiclassing and Paragon Paths, I'm more than a little disappointed.

I know that one of the tenets of 4e D&D was to make things simpler, and classes were certainly something that could overwhelm the newcomer. With the near-dozen classes in the 3.5 Player's Handbook and fifteen prestige classes in the 3.5 Dungeon Master's Guide, players already had quite a few choices with single-classing or multiclassing.

Then add in all of the accessory books, which, whether a book on magic, evil or monsters, seemed to provide at least one more class or prestige class to the list. With so many (too many?) choices available, it became daunting to try and decide what the next hero of the world would look like.

Of course, there's nothing saying that you had to look through them all, that you had to stray from the starter classes, or even consider multiclassing (or prestige classes). In fact, I'd say that the idea of customizing your character to that extent (whether for power-gaming purposes or that perfect character theme) was the purview of advanced players who could handle an overwhelming amount of choice, and who relished piecing together that obscure combination that exemplified their character vision.

I think 4e has gone too far with simplifying these choices. The multiclassing article basically reduces the idea down to a few feats that give you another class's abilities. And instead of prestige classes, which had a minimum level at which you could start down that path (unlike a true multiclass), we now have the paragon path, which always starts at 11th level.

So, instead of being able to customize your character's training and destiny level-to-level, you're restricted to being different from the fighter down the block only once you've survived a third of your adventuring career. Yes, sure, your feats still allow you to be unique, so now you're the fighter who uses a longsword instead of that guy beside you with the axe. Fighter, meet fighter.

"This approach lacks the intuitive elegance of the 3E system," the Multiclassing post says. I'll say. So much for my human monk/fighter/sword of righteousness/forsaker/initiate of Pistis Sophia gestalt NPC that I never got to use. It will be interesting to see what future class-related releases are produced, either by Wizards or the fanbase, because I don't think the long-time players will stand to be throttled in this way.


Griff said...

This was the post I'd been trying to make for weeks but hadn't quite gotten around to.

Must say that you hit every one of my thoughts spot on.

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention that most of the prestige classes were on books made for the dungeon master; so it really wasnt a player´s decision. Now the part of giving opportunities to players to got a prestige class has disapear(Ovbiously. I was just tryning to say prestige classes arent really something the player tries to become but becomes without really knowing as the story developes. I hate DM´s who let the players see their books).

Anonymous said...

"So much for my human monk/fighter/sword of righteousness/forsaker/initiate of Pistis Sophia gestalt NPC that I never got to use. "

And in one line you made the best case for why they had to change things from 3.5.

Crwth said...


Player: "I'm going to create a gestalt human monk/fighter/sword of righteousness/forsaker/initiate of Pistis Sophia."

DM: "Oh god. I can't say I've ever seen one of those before... uhm... okay, uhh... what's the SR? DR? Geez... how about I just tell you what I roll, and you tell me if I hit or not?"


Player: "I'm going to create a human cleric!"

DM: "Another one? *yawn* Okay... which at-will power did you choose NOT to take?"

I think I'd still prefer the 3.5 response to the 4e one.

Anonymous said...

A little aside the multiclassing topic, i find is they sort of forgot the outside of battle side. i mean, no more or at least very few useful spells outside of battle. What about a nice meld stone into clay or shape wood to build a nice little blokade or something. Nope only spells you can use in combat....