Posted by : David Guyll April 29, 2013

The cleric deity and wizard tradition have about as much mechanical impact as, say, 3rd Edition's cleric domains or the bonus feats that monks and rangers got, so I guess I never really considered them to be representative of what I would call a "subclass threshold". No, these remind me more of picking an initial class feature in 4th Edition, like a fighter talent, a warlock's pact, or a wizard's implement.

To me a subclass was better distinguished when 4th Edition started releasing its Heroes line; for example the slayer--a subclass of the fighter--differed from her parent class in that you lost daily exploits, used stances instead of at-will exploits, and had plenty of hard-wired class
features and exploits.

Which, given that the article mentions not every subclass relying on the same mechanics, sounds closer to what it sounds like they are doing with the fighter and rogue, and something that I am mostly cool with. I like the idea of being able to determine the complexity of your class without sacrificing efficacy, something I would argue they did really well with the Essentials subclasses: you could go with the more straightforward slayer, or dial up the complexity by rolling a weaponmaster (the class formerly known as fighter).

One of the things I do not like about this approach are how some of them are geared around titles, like the knight and samurai. This is yet another area where I preferred 4th Edition, in this case themes. Sure, you could make logical combinations like the fighter and mercenary or the wizard and wizard's apprentice, but you could also tack alchemist on to a fighter, or samurai on to a cleric.

Another thing is whether or not you will be stuck with a subclass choice. Like, if I start out as a duelist, can I pick up a "warlord" type class feature down the road (though I think that the warlord is robust enough to be its own class)? I would prefer subclasses to be themed packages that you can stick with if you like the concept, but branch out later on if you feel like changing your focus. So, for example, you could start out as a gladiator, but then switch over to warlord powers after you break out of an arena and begin to rally a bunch of slaves to help you overthrow a sorcerer-king.

Again, I think this is what they should pretty much do with every class: give you lots of class features, themed or otherwise, and decision points so that you can better customize your character as you progress. I get that some decisions, namely gods and perhaps school specialization, should be locked in, but I think most "martial" stuff should allow for some deviation. At any rate I am still at the least interested to see what these changes entail (despite no one in my current campaign playing either a fighter or rogue), as well as how they will play with feats.

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