Monday, April 6, 2009


Today's Dragon articles included a Playtest article on Hybrid Characters. In a nutshell, this is multiclassing for 4e.

But wait, doesn't 4e have the multiclass feat? Sure, but did anyone really think of that as multiclassing? Not around here, surely. It let you dabble in a second class, getting a little taste of it, just enough to wish for the old days.

Hybrids, though, let you do more than that. As you advance, you advance in your two chosen classes equally; in fact, you get the hit points for both, the bonuses for both, the weapon proficiencies, the surges... sounds too powerful, right?

Well not quite. There are "hybrid" versions of the classes, which lessen the impact of these combining rules: clerics get 7 surges a day, hybrid clerics get 3 (plus their other hybrid class's); clerics get healing word, hybrid clerics get a hybrid version that's once-per-encounter.

The powers are as usual, though, which means that you have the same number of powers at each level, but can now choose from both of your hybrid classes. There's a small restriction - that if you have more than one type of power (daily, encounter, etc.) you must have at least one from each of the classes, much the same as the druid class requires you to take at least one beast-form and one non-beast-form power.

The article starts off pointing out that if you choose two classes that fill different roles, then your character is not going to adequately fill either. This means that if you're in a larger party, you might want someone else to also be a leader, or controller, along side you; but is also means that in a smaller party, you can help fill in roles that might have gone absent.

An interesting side note also mentions that "[t]he system of classes and roles in D&D is designed to ensure that every character has a clear purpose at the table and that no character can easily become marginalized by poor choices made in character creation," and goes on to warn that "[t]he hybrid character system discards many of the safeguards built into the normal class system."

Unfortunately, until this playtest turns into official rules (having ironed out what we Insiders might send them in commentary), we won't have access to the hybrids in the Compendium or the Character Builder. Being my preferred method for trying out 4e builds, I don't know that I'll be trying out this hybrid very soon, even though I could just do it by hand. I think that hybrids between similar roles will turn out to be better characters in general, because they're not splitting their attention, so much as their methods. A ranger/rogue is still a striker through-and-through, even if only half of the abilities are rangery and half roguey.

However, having read Griff's opinion on the wizard, and how you just end up using the same at-will power over and over, perhaps having a second, completely-different type of at-will at your disposal might be the key to livening up a character. In fact, Griff's wizard fancies the bastard sword, so having a controller attack of a wizard as well as a defender/striker attack when up-close might be the key to turning Griff to the dark side of 4e. Perhaps he'll let us know.

One last thing I should point out is that you can still take the multiclass feat when a hybrid, letting you dabble in a third class. I think that this, if balanced properly, might just allow those of us addicted to countless classes and prestige classes from 3.5 to get closer to the customization we miss.


Reparte said...

As somebody who was a big fan of multi-classing in 3.5, i couldn't help but feel that the previous delves in 4th editions excuse for multi-classing just came up short. I cannot wait to create my Bard/Shaman hybrid/multi-class sorcerer super buffer healing dps class though...

Griff said...

Was that sarcasm?

Seriously. I'm not sure.

Regardless, I can't see any amount of hybridization or feat selection making any kind of "super" anything. If there's one thing 4E won't allow it's one character being "better" than any other.

Griff said...

And while I'm thinking about the subject...

For those fans who are dying to know... I am going to hybrid up my current character.

I'm still unsure of which class I'll hybrid with Wizard, but I'm leaning towards Swordmage. Fighter is in the running though.

I'll look through each class this weekend and see which one has more interesting powers.

Reparte said...

No sarcasm here. Although being "better" than other character is going to be difficult, i believe that you can effectively make a class that your party will feel the loss of without. As I have always felt, the bard is the most versatile class in D&D, and being able to take one and mix it with another class from the get go is going to be interesting at the very least. But with some classes and the bards multiclass versatility, you will be able to encompass all 4 character jobs (striker, leader, defender, controller) easily into one character. While the focus now is on having each class excel at one job and be alright at another, you can make a true jack of all trade. And thats all i ever strive for.

Griff said...

Thanks for clearing up the sarcasm/non-sarcasm issue.

I know that in 3.5 it was very easy for a character that wanted to be a "jack of all trades" to wind up being a "master of nothing".

I'm guessing that 4E with its anti-nerfing and idiot proof ruleset your goal might just be possible.

Griff said...


Please don't take my "idiot proof" comment as a slam against you or your character concept.

I only meant it towards the overall ruleset in that it is designed to stop idiots like me from making unplayable characters.

Reparte said...

I understand exactly what you meant, its okay. I have made more then my fair share of wastes of character space (who thought that a bardbarian could ever go wrong). I think people will be more willing to brach out and try new play styles with this though, it will let them try something new and fun while still having a very familiar feel to it.

Anonymous said...

Just to clarify, now that the 2nd version of the hybrid playtest is out, hybrid bards can't get Multiclass Versatility. However, youi can still make a hybrid (bard/ sorcerer for instance), make it a half elf (dilettante power from, say, paladin or warlord) and then multiclass (into, oh, i dunno, warlock), giving you powers from 4 different classes (all CHA based in this example).

Munciun Caractar said...

Won't this lead to serious MAD? (multi-ability dependence)