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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

I Love Me Some Multi-classing

I love multi-classing.  Seriously, I adore it.  After all, Gandalf could swing a sword quite effectively, the Grey Mouser knew a fair bit of magic, and let’s not forget that Conan was a great thief as well as a mighty warrior.  The list goes on...Elric, Silk, Solomon Kane were all multi-classed characters in some way, shape, or form and there are too many more to count.  If you are at all like me, your introduction to these figures coincided with your early gaming experiences, and it seems only natural that you would want to emulate these folks in your game as a player or as a DM.

With skill and abilities, bonuses and attributes, there are many ways to skin this particular cat.  Many folks who played 1e, myself included, house ruled the hell out of multi-classing/dual-classing when we were running a game.  In most cases it had to be done in order to maintain some sense of order, balance, or logic with regard to the individual PC and the party. Rules surrounding multi-classing spark alot of discussion, and even more arguments.  I don’t think I’ve ever met two people who see it, understand it, or play it in the same exact way.

To be fair, it seems like an afterthought when you read the 1e PHB.  It’s not really our fault that much of it (like many things in those books) was left to our own invention and imagination.  This is fine.  With a game like D&D you cannot possibly conceive of every rule to cover every circumstance, but merely do your best to create a sturdy framework on which rules and in-game issues can be resolved by the DM as these things crop up.

Multi-classing gets alot of DM attention and customization.

One of my favorite (and I think the best) set of guidelines for multiclassing a PC comes from Castles & Crusades.  If you are an OSR enthusiast, then you’re likely no stranger to the game even if you haven’t played or run a session.  C&C was available as a ruleset on Fantasy Grounds many moons ago (2008 I believe) when I started using a VTT to play.  Due to the obvious licensing issues, early versions of D&D/AD&D weren’t really playable on that system, and C&C came closest to recreating 1e for the group I was running.  After a short time, I really learned to adopt the game as the rightful heir and successor to 1e.  One of the nice things was that I could reference old source materials like Keep on the Borderlands or Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth and run them pretty much as written as long as I flipped AC to ascending.

Yes, I know it had ascending AC.  It had some differences, many of which I thought were pretty darn positive and overall enhance/smoothed play as opposed to ruining it.  This isn’t a C&C review, but if you’re interested there is a really great in-depth review of the system over on RPGmusings which you should definitely check out.

What I REALLY liked about C&C as a player (and DM) was one of it’s multi-classing option, Class & a Half.  Rather than try and sum it up, I’m going to post it below so you can read it in it’s entirety.  A few things will become quickly apparent after reading.

  1. Your PC will not suffer the traditional level lag felt by 1e multi-classing.  Characters who M-C still require more XP to do so, but the cost is lower and so staying on-par with the rest of the party isn’t too difficult.  
  2. 1st level is still 1st level.  With level 0 in your second class, you are on the same playing field as the others in the group...precarious ground indeed!
  3. This method looks ALOT like the house-ruled multi-classing many of us pulled together after all the confusion and opaqueness provided in the 1e texts.

As a player I have two go-to multi-class characters.  I will often play a Cleric/Magic-user who worships a god/goddess of magic (obviously).  This is usually a popular character among the other players who don’t like playing spell-slingers for one reason or another.

My other go-to is the Thief/Magic-user, who allows me to fulfill my Grey Mouser-ness.  He may not fight on the front lines, but he is more often than not the reason that the party stays intact and alive, even if they don’t always know or acknowledge it.

What do you think of multi-classing?  How do you mod it?  More importantly, what are your favorite Multi-classes to run?


The Class and a Half system allows the player to choose one class for
his character, and supplement it with some of the abilities of another.
The player picks two classes; one will be designated the principal
class, and will essentially be the character’s “real” class. The other
will be designated the supporting class. For example, a character
combining fighter and wizard classes could choose to be either a
fighter who knows a few spells, or he could choose to be a wizard
with some training in armor and weapons. Character will advance
in the supporting class, and perform skill checks of that class, at half
the rate of the principal class. A first level character would have the
abilities of the supporting class at level zero.

Experience points needed for level advancement are determined by
adding the XP of the principal class to one half the XP of the supporting
class. Hit die is determined by averaging the dice of the two classes,
rounding in the direction of the principal class, or see the table below.

The concept of the Class and a Half is that the character is
considered a single, enhanced class. Traditional multi-class systems
(usually the only way to gain the abilities of two classes) generally
advance the character equally (and irrevocably) in the two classes,
at a heavy cost of XP and a thinning of the hit points. In many cases,
the character cannot combine the abilities of the two classes. All in
all, very discouraging. Who wants to play a fighter-wizard who has to
take his armor off every time he casts a spell?
This system allows a more lenient manner of combining these abilities,
in the spirit of creating new class concepts that, hopefully, are appealing
without being too powerful.

QuiCk rules:
1. Rule One: The Castle Keeper is the ultimate arbiter of which
classes can be combined and how they are combined. The Castle
Keeper can (and should) amend the rules to fit their needs and their
restrictions trump any rules presented here.
2. Primary Attribute: The character only needs the prime attribute of
his principal class.
3. BtH: The character uses the best to hit bonus, and best weapon
proficiency list.
4. Armor: There are some armor restrictions. They are as follows:
The character may only use a shield if allowed by the principal class.
Wizard or illusionist supported by an armor proficient class may cast
spells while armored, however, any spells which allow a save are granted a
bonus to the save equal to the base AC bonus of the spell-caster’s armor.
This principle also applies to druids who wear metal armor.
Wizard or illusionist supporting an armor proficient class cannot cast
spells which directly cause damage, or allow a save, while wearing armor.
This principal applies to druids wearing metal armor.
Monk aligned with an armor proficient class may use his unarmed attack
ability, iron fists and stunning attack while armored, but not unarmored
defense, and he receives a penalty to his attack equal to one half the base
AC bonus of the armor. Monk supported by an armor proficient class
may also use iron body, feign death and iron mind. All other abilities are
prohibited while armored. (Use this scratch test: if the monk can do it
while tied up, he can do it armored).
Rogue or assassin plus a class proficient in heavier armor may wear armor
with up to a base +3 to AC without penalty to class abilities affected by
armor. Penalties are determined by value over +3.
Barbarians may not use primeval instincts while wearing armor usually
prohibited by the class.
Rangers may not use scale or move silently while wearing armor usually
prohibited by the class.
5. Class Abilities: The class and a half’s supporting class abilities are
gained, or not gained, as follows:
Rogue, assassin, cleric, wizard, and illusionist gain all abilities.
Fighter supporting gains weapon specialization, but he must specialize
in a weapon allowed by the principal class. He does not gain combat
dominance or extra attack.
Ranger supporting gains all abilities except combat marauder and favored enemy.
Barbarian supporting gains combat sense, deer-stalker, and primeval
instincts, but no other abilities.
Monk supporting gains hand-to-hand combat (including secondary
attacks at high level), stunning attack, and iron fists, but no other abilities.
Druid supporting gains all abilities except totem shape (unless a ranger or
barbarian), nor does he know the secret druidic language.
Knight supporting only gains horsemanship abilities, but is not bound by
any Virtues or Codes.
Paladin may only be taken as a principal class.
Bard supporting does not gain fascinate or exhort greatness.
6. Class Combinations must follow the following restrictions:
Fighter, ranger, cleric, bard, and monk may align with any other class.
Rogue and assassin may not support knight or paladin.
Barbarian may not support knight, or align with wizard or illusionist.
Wizard, illusionist, or druid can only support knight or paladin if the
character is an elf or half-elf of elven lineage.
Other class combinations may require some justification, and some are
less than practical. For example, using a fighter to support knight or
paladin. The gain is not worth the cost in experience.

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