[System Hacking] Reducing Class Creep


Validated User
It's interesting to see how much my thoughts on the subject parallel some of the suggestions others have made in this thread .

As the original poster suggests, on a system level the solution is to fix the mechanics which make multi-class archetypes so difficult. If you can do that, you won't need the Paladin, Ranger, or Bard, let alone the Hexblade, Duskblade, Eldritch Knight, Spellsword, or Arcane Archer.

To start with, look at how different abilities advance with level: When it comes to BAB, the Fighter gets +1 and the Wizard gets +1/2. When it comes to Caster Level, the Wizard gets +1 and the Fighter gets +0. Other factors aside, this means the Wizard gets half of what the Fighter gets but the Fighter gets none of what the Wizard gets. You've already brought up the Initiator classes in the Tome of Blades - you get +1 for each level in an Initiate class and +1/2 for all other levels. A Core-Only example of this same principle is the Monk's Stunning Fist - +1 per Monk Level and +1/4 per other levels. If Caster Level worked the same way, Multi-classing wouldn't be such a horrible thing.

Another good take on this is the various 'Stacking' feats in the Complete books. Take this one and your Rogue level stacks with Monk for Unarmed Combat. And so on. But I think that sort of stacking should just be a default part of the system.

I also like the suggestion of taking the various Hero Classes from D20 Modern. While I'm not that impressed by the implementation, I think the design philosophy is sound - the Base Classes are archetypes which you can mix and match in order to create a concept, not complete concepts in themselves. In D20 Modern the expectation that every character will Multiclass is taken to an extreme, and the base classes only have 10-level progressions. On the other hand, those classes and the abilities they get are extremely generic and bland, so I'd prefer to come to a happy medium - I don't want two-score hyper-specialized classes, but I don't want hyper-generic ones either.

I do more or less subscribe to the design philosophy of selecting a handful of classes based upon the needs of your campaign - if I want to use Psionics + Tome of Blade Classes, I can do that I can pick an assortment of 7 classes, or design my own in the tradition of Monte Cook and Mike Mearls. Having 'Magister' and 'Ritual Warrior' or 'Harrier' and 'Executioner' fits the game better.

In a sort of compromise, I think if I were to pick a class list I would go with Fighter, Brute, Swashbuckler, Tactician, Marksman, Artificer, Rogue, Bard, Scout, and a selection of Casters. That covers all of the obvious archetypes, and I'd customize from there.

Another idea mentioned in this thread I've been wanting to use myself is the idea of collapsing all kinds of different abilities into something like Talent Trees. Actually, I would have gone much farther than this and included Feats in the mix. You get a Minor Ability at Level 1 and every 3 levels, just like a Feat, and each class would grant Bonus Feats at regular intervals, taken from a Bonus Ability List like what fighters currently have.

I would, of course, like to see the different Abilities and Talents scale with level as discussed above. I wouldn't, for example, force the Rogue to get 'Sneak Attack' 10 separate times - I'd give them a single special ability that scaled with level. I'd also throw away the class restrictions, and let characters use their 'General Abilities' to get things from any class - a Fighter could get Sneak Attack, a Rogue could learn Spellcasting, and so on, using the halved progression.

It would work like so:

Weapon Focus [General. Fighter] (Minor Ability)
Prerequisites: Weapon Proficiency, BAB +1.
Benefit: You get +1 to Attack Rolls with your selected weapon. You also gain an additional +1 at Level 5 and every 4 additional levels, to a maximum of +5 at level 20.
Special: A 1st level Fighter may select this ability as a Bonus, even if he does not meet the prerequisites.

Weapon Specialization [General. Fighter] (Moderate Ability)
Prerequisites: Weapon Focus, BAB +4
Benefit: You get +1 on Damage Rolls for every 2 Fighter levels plus an additional +1 for 4 levels in a class other than Fighter.
Special: A 4th level Fighter may select this ability as a Bonus, even if he does not meet the prerequisites.

Combat Rage[General, Barbarian] (Major Ability)
Prerequisites: Constitution 11+, BAB +1
Benefit: The character may fly into a rage and gain +4 to Strength and Constitution, and +2 to Will Saves. This state lasts 11+[Con] rounds, after which the character is fatigued. This ability can be used once per day, plus one additional time for every 4 Barbarian levels or every 8 levels in other classes.

Damage Reduction [General, Barbarian] (Moderate Ability)
Prerequisites: Constitution 13+, Fortitude Save +5
Benefit: You gain Damage Reduction 1/-. Every 4 Barbarian levels or 8 levels in other classes increases this damage reduction by 1 point.
Special: A 7th level Barbarian may select this ability as a Bonus, even if he does not meet the prerequisites.

Sneak Attack[General, Rogue] (Major Ability)
Prerequisites: Dex 13+, BAB +2
Benefit: You gain Sneak Attack 1d6, with an additional +1d6 for every 2 Rogue Levels or every 4 levels in additional classes.
Special: A 1st level Rogue gains this ability as a bonus and does not need to meet the prerequisites.

Arcane Spellcasting[General, Wizard] (Major Ability)
Prerequisites: Intelligence or Charisma 13+
Benefit: You may cast 1st Level Arcane Spells at a Caster Level equal to your Arcane Spellcaster level plus 1/2 your levels in other classes.
Special: A 1st level Wizard or Sorcerer gains this ability as a bonus and does not need to meet the prerequisites.

Advanced Spellcasting[General, Wizard] (Major Ability)
Prerequisites: Arcane Spellcasting, Caster Level 3
Benefit: You may cast 2nd level spells at your normal caster level.
Special: You may take this ability multiple times, each time gaining access to the next of spells. Each additional time you take this feat after the first, increase the Caster Level requirement by +2
A Wizard gains this ability as a bonus at 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter.
A Sorcerer gains this ability as a bonus at 4rd level and every 2 levels thereafter.

Practiced Spellcaster[General, Wizard] (Moderate Ability)
Prerequisites: Arcane Spellcasting, Intelligence or Charisma 15+
Benefit: Your Non-Spellcasting classes no longer count as half when determining your Caster Level. This does not affect the level of spells you can cast.

Edit: So to clarify, what this would mean is that...
...a Wizard 10/Fighter 10 has BAB 15, Caster Level 15 with 7th level spells.
Compare that to a Fighter 4/Wizard 6/Eldritch Knight 10 with BAB 17, CL 15, and 7th level spells.
...a Rogue 10/Wizard 10 has BAB +13, Caster Level 15, 7th level spells, and +7d6 Sneak Attack.
Compare to a Rogue 5/Wizard 5/Arcane Trickster 10 CL 15, 7th level Spells, and +7d6 SA.
...a Fighter 20 could, if really dedicated, use general ability slots to gain Sneak Attack +5d6, 2nd-3rd Level Spells at CL 20, or Barbarian Rage 3 times a day. In addition, a single Bonus Feat (/Talent/Ability) could give +5 to Attacks and +10 to Damage at level 20.
Last edited:
Top Bottom