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View Full Version : Playing as a 'Non-Committal'



Menelaus
02-26-2007, 06:20 AM
Hi everyone, as this is my first post may i begin by offering greetings to you all.

I have recently begun playing with the 3.5 D&D rules and am loving it so far. But to come straight to the point, it occurs to me that there is seemingly nothing stopping a player becoming what i would call a 'Non-Commital': that is, a character who continually multi-classes every time he levels up, until he is level 1 in all classes, then continues until he is level 2 in all classes, etc. i.e. a character whose profession is to learn anything and everything available to him, without ever dedicating himself to any particular class. (Ofcourse, Paladin and Monk classes would be limited)

I wished to ask if this has been discussed elsewhere, if so please point me in the right direction.

Also, has anyone had experience of attempting to play as a 'Non-Committal'? How useful would he be? Is this just for players who want an insanely difficult challenge? What pre-requisites would apply? (A high INT comes to mind to balance skills)

Any thoughts on the matter welcome...

ronpyatt
02-26-2007, 09:45 AM
Assuming you are talking about core classes only, there are a few alignment restrictions on becoming a Paladin, Monk, and Barbarian. Once you leave the Monk class you cannot come back. Barbarians are never Lawful, and the Monk and Paladin classes require Lawful alignment. The Druid requires a Neutral alignment. You might be able to pass through each class once, but your selection will begin to diminish.

I would begin with Barbarian (Neutral), as I like the bigger hit starting hit points. Then Rogue, Sorcerer, Druid (Lawful Neutral), Monk, Ranger, Bard, Paladin (Lawful Good), Cleric, and Wizard.

If you decide to include all the WOTC books, then you'll have a fun time trying to figure out how to jump from one class to another without loosing too much and you may never get a 2nd level in any class.

I tend to think of Paladins, Monks, and Druids as committal class archetypes, as they dedicate themselves to their lofty ideals. However, I could see someone loosing interest in their goals.

A high INT is good. As a GM, I might want (or require) the PC to start off with all their stats at 18. Since the PC would never really leave 1st level, that character may be at a disadvantage that could benefit high ability scores. After Level 5, the player would begin to feel left behind.

Ron-2.0

Ed Zachary
02-26-2007, 09:49 AM
But to come straight to the point, it occurs to me that there is seemingly nothing stopping a player becoming what i would call a 'Non-Commital': that is, a character who continually multi-classes every time he levels up, until he is level 1 in all classes, then continues until he is level 2 in all classes, etc. i.e. a character whose profession is to learn anything and everything available to him, without ever dedicating himself to any particular class. (Ofcourse, Paladin and Monk classes would be limited)

First of all it should be the role of the DM to review the character concept with the player before the campaign starts. If that character makes no sense what so ever, then it should not be allowed in the game.

And that character would also be the weakling of the party. Any single class or double class character would be much more powerful.

As a DM, I would not allow any of the following to multi-class together:
- Bard, Sorcerer and Wizard
- Cleric, Druid, Paladin and Ranger
- Bard, Monk and Rogue
- Barbarian, Fighter, Paladin, Ranger and Monk

Ed Zachary
02-26-2007, 09:51 AM
I would begin with Barbarian (Neutral), as I like the bigger hit starting hit points.

I'd begin with Rogue... for the Skills.

gdmcbride
02-27-2007, 03:39 AM
The Non-Committal character
To make this character ‘fly’ you need twenty core classes. The alignment that allows access to all the core classes below is Chaotic Neutral, which somehow seems appropriate. Our classes are:

Artificer (Eberron Campaign Setting)
Barbarian (PHB)
Bard (PHB)
Cleric (PHB)
Druid (PHB)
Fighter (PHB)
Ninja (Complete Adventurer)
Psion (Expanded Psionic Handbook)
Psychic Warrior (Expanded Psionic Handbook)
Ranger (PHB)
Rogue (PHB)
Scout (Complete Adventurer)
Sorcerer (PHB)
Soul Knife (Expanded Psionic Handbook)
Spellthief (Complete Adventurer)
Warlock (Complete Arcane)
Warmage (Complete Arcane)
Wilder (Expanded Psionic Handbook)
Wizard (PHB)
Wujen (Complete Arcane)

More simply summarized as the:
Art/Barb/Bard/Cl/Dr/F/N/Ps/PW/Ra/Ro/Sc/So/SK/ST/Wa/Wm/Wi/W/Wu
Better summarized as the Artijen or perhaps the Omnimancer.

Why these twenty? Because those five D&D supplements are ones that I own and happen to be at hand. It is rather spellcaster and rogue heavy since I lack the Complete Warrior and Complete Divine books.

But how does our Omnimancer stack up?

Base Attack Bonus: +3
Fort Save: +12
Ref Save: +12
Will Save: +26(!)
Skill Points: 90
Average Hit Points: 83.5 hp

Let’s compare that with standard 20th level characters
Fighter
BAB: +20/+15/+10/+5
Fort Save: +12
Ref Save: +6
Will Save: +6
Skill Points: 44
Average Hit Points: 114.5 hp

Rogue
BAB: +15/+10/+5
Fort Save: +6
Ref Save: +12
Will Save: +6
Skill Points: 184
Average Hit Points: 72.5 hp

Wizard
BAB: +10/+5
Fort Save: +6
Ref Save: +6
Will Save: +12
Skill Points: 44
Average Hit Points: 51.5 hp

The problem is Base Attack Bonus. Virtually none of the non-traditional core classes give a +1 BAB at 1st level. Even if you replaced three classes with the three classes from Complete Warrior (the Hexblade, the Samurai and the Swashbuckler) and all three give +1 BAB at 1st level that is still only a +6/+1 total, which is pathetic.

On the good side -- the Omnimancer has amazing savings. In fact classes with a +2 will save at 1st level are not that rare. I bet with a more complete collection of D&D 3.5 core books, you could find twenty (after all you already 13/20ths of the way there with my paltry collection!). That would mean you could create a character with a base will save of +40! Take that evil mind controlling demons o' darkness!

So, to summarize. This character can't hit the broad-side of a barn. It has worse hit points than a fighter, worse skill points than a thief, and has access to no spells over 1st level. And it seems likely that your guardian spirit, intelligent psi-crystal and familiar will hate each other. In short, except for saves, it is a complete basket case of a character concept, mechanically speaking.

Gary

Ed Zachary
02-27-2007, 10:32 AM
So, to summarize. This character can't hit the broad-side of a barn, and has access to no spells over 1st level.

As I said... "And that character would also be the weakling of the party. Any single class or double class character would be much more powerful." Basically, it would be an aimlessly wandering punching bag.

ronpyatt
02-27-2007, 11:26 AM
More simply summarized as the:
Art/Barb/Bard/Cl/Dr/F/N/Ps/PW/Ra/Ro/Sc/So/SK/ST/Wa/Wm/Wi/W/Wu
Better summarized as the Artijen or perhaps the Omnimancer.

Base Attack Bonus: +3
Fort Save: +12
Ref Save: +12
Will Save: +26(!)
Skill Points: 90
Average Hit Points: 83.5 hp

Now, lets look on the brighter side. This character might make for an excellent Solo adventurer (being both the weakest and strongest character in the party).

Now, it would work if every character in the party had a max of 1 level per class.
It would be interesting to see just such a party stacks up against the usual CR20 encounter with everyone at 20 first levels. Can it be done?

Diversity would be determined by the number of core classes you could find to fit your taste. How many core classes are there in D&D?

gdmcbride
02-27-2007, 03:23 PM
Diversity would be determined by the number of core classes you could find to fit your taste. How many core classes are there in D&D?

According to Wikipedia as of February 2007, WOTC has published 43 core classes outside of the big 11 in the PHB. I'm sure more are on the way.

Gary

Menelaus
02-28-2007, 08:17 AM
Being that there are 54 core classes then, perhaps a group of 3 Non-Commitals could be slightly more balanced? Could style them as Gary suggested, with differing emphasis, i.e. 'omimancer', 'polytheist', 'warrior'. perhaps all could share some of the rogue classes and skills.

I agree with Ron that 'Non-Commitals' require extraordinarily high abilities across the board, (reflecting the reason that extremely few would be capable of this)

Still would seem to be an uphill struggle to play, but then who wants RPing to be easy?

ronpyatt
02-28-2007, 09:44 AM
I often hear that you can do anything with D20, because it's so flexible. This 20-Class-Character thing kind of highlights an extreme example of its lack of flexibility, but it has merit. Creating complex characters can be fun. Too many choices often leads to player frustration. Many players want a clear path they can follow.
The D20 class system does pigeonhole archetypes, or at the very least punishes diversity. As game balance pushes players to create characters suited to the environment. You can't expect to have a pushover taking on a bunch of rabid orcs, and a mage that can only ever cast magic missile, because they'll will be a drag on the party or be dead by level 3. Other players are most likely not going to want your character playing in any reindeer games.
Now, to defend the system, I'd say that in an effort to show diversity or appeal to the multi-classer in all of us, they've come out with more and more core classes that appear to reflect paths that in the past would have been achieved only by multiclassed characters.

fmitchell
02-28-2007, 11:17 AM
Now, to defend the system, I'd say that in an effort to show diversity or appeal to the multi-classer in all of us, they've come out with more and more core classes that appear to reflect paths that in the past would have been achieved only by multiclassed characters.

Obligatory heckling: Now, if they'd make abilities modular, and call them, say, "skills", they wouldn't need to make so many classes. Now where have I heard that before? *cough*RuneQuest*cough*GURPS*cough*Fudge*cough* ... sorry, let me get some Robitussin.

Actually, I've seen third-party attempts to bring that sort of modularity to D&D ... for example, "Buy the Numbers" (http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?products_id=2909&) or OGL Universal Fighter/Monk/Ranger/Rogue (http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?products_id=20153&). I also like True20's reduction of classes to three "Roles" -- Adept, Expert, Warrior -- and allow free multiclassing to get magic, skills, or combat feats for a particular character. Alas, I haven't actually tried any of them.

gdmcbride
02-28-2007, 05:45 PM
I often hear that you can do anything with D20, because it's so flexible. This 20-Class-Character thing kind of highlights an extreme example of its lack of flexibility, but it has merit. Creating complex characters can be fun. Too many choices often leads to player frustration. Many players want a clear path they can follow.


D20 does have its limitations. There are things you simply cannot do with the core rules as written.

As a simple example, I want to play a well-travelled monk who has seen so much that he has memorized the landscape (represented by a class skill in knowledge (geography) with max ranks). The monk cannot take knowledge (geography) as a class skill. There is, I believe, a feat somewhere in a supplement that gives you bonus knowledge skills as class skills, but I seem to recall it has a name like 'university education', which violates the concept I am shooting for.

You could, of course, create a new core-class (or simply modify the existing one) or create a new feat.

Also, if you do create a feat (or find one that does the trick) you are substantively punishing this monk concept for what most would admit is really just background color -- knowledge (geography) is normally not that useful of a skill. A human monk gets eleven feats in her entire 20-level career. By forcing them to spend one on getting this bit of color, you are making them less powerful than monks that color within the lines.

This mentality is repeated through out the d20 system. Sure, you can play that innovative character concept -- you just suck when dice are rolled compared to people who play well-tuned niche-focused characters.

This isn't necessarily bad, but does encourage a certain style of roleplaying.

Gary

gurusloth
03-02-2007, 01:45 AM
D20 does have its limitations. There are things you simply cannot do with the core rules as written.

As a simple example, I want to play a well-travelled monk who has seen so much that he has memorized the landscape (represented by a class skill in knowledge (geography) with max ranks). The monk cannot take knowledge (geography) as a class skill. There is, I believe, a feat somewhere in a supplement that gives you bonus knowledge skills as class skills, but I seem to recall it has a name like 'university education', which violates the concept I am shooting for.

You could, of course, create a new core-class (or simply modify the existing one) or create a new feat.

Also, if you do create a feat (or find one that does the trick) you are substantively punishing this monk concept for what most would admit is really just background color -- knowledge (geography) is normally not that useful of a skill. A human monk gets eleven feats in her entire 20-level career. By forcing them to spend one on getting this bit of color, you are making them less powerful than monks that color within the lines.

This mentality is repeated through out the d20 system. Sure, you can play that innovative character concept -- you just suck when dice are rolled compared to people who play well-tuned niche-focused characters.

This isn't necessarily bad, but does encourage a certain style of roleplaying.

Gary
Or you could just take your ranks of Knowledge(Geography) as cross-class, and just bite the bullet on the extra skill points and having a lower maximum rank. Chances are, he'll still have more ranks than anyone else in the party.

gdmcbride
03-02-2007, 02:03 AM
Or you could just take your ranks of Knowledge(Geography) as cross-class, and just bite the bullet on the extra skill points and having a lower maximum rank. Chances are, he'll still have more ranks than anyone else in the party.

That's changing the concept to fit the rules, and your right ... that is what the system wants you to do. That was sort of my point. Conform to system expectations or prepare to suffer in terms of relative effectiveness.

Compare that to a HERO system (for a rules-heavy example) or a FATE (for a rules-light), both of which have basically no system expectations. In Hero you can make an intelligent trash bag from the planet Xeno with the singular mutant power to turn tooth paste into radioactive salami uncontrollably but only on Tuesdays. Or you could make a Monk who is a master of geography.

It's not good. It's not bad. It is just the reality of the rules.

Gary

gdmcbride
03-02-2007, 02:12 AM
Now, it would work if every character in the party had a max of 1 level per class.
It would be interesting to see just such a party stacks up against the usual CR20 encounter with everyone at 20 first levels. Can it be done?


The character would never survive a standard CR20 creature. It can't hit it and it has no spells that would hurt it.

A pit fiend would laugh at your pathetic attempts to hit it (you would have to roll a 20) and would be completely immune to your first level spells. All the while, you would be meat for its massive array of melee attacks.

If all the characters in the party were only first level, then that would mean you best healing spell would be cure light wounds. Yay. You are pit fiend food.

Gary

Menelaus
03-02-2007, 04:05 AM
The character would never survive a standard CR20 creature. It can't hit it and it has no spells that would hurt it.

A pit fiend would laugh at your pathetic attempts to hit it (you would have to roll a 20) and would be completely immune to your first level spells. All the while, you would be meat for its massive array of melee attacks.

If all the characters in the party were only first level, then that would mean you best healing spell would be cure light wounds. Yay. You are pit fiend food.

Gary

Couldn't ability-enhancing equipment, wands and weapons help to bolster this type of character sufficiently?

After all, even though they have never progressed past first level in any class, they would presumably have still travelled around enough to have potentially gathered a plenthora of magical items.

Ed Zachary
03-02-2007, 02:25 PM
Couldn't ability-enhancing equipment, wands and weapons help to bolster this type of character sufficiently?

No.

It would be dead meat because of poor attacks spell lists available.


After all, even though they have never progressed past first level in any class, they would presumably have still traveled around enough to have potentially gathered a plenthora of magical items.

The question needs to be asked... why would anyone want to create such a character (other than boredom), and what DM in their right mind allow such a concept (other than because of boredom)?

Farcaster
03-02-2007, 02:52 PM
why would anyone want to create such a character (other than boredom)

I think it's pretty much an esoteric excercise. It certainly doesn't make sense from a roleplaying perspective. Although if someone wants to challenge that and give me backstory to such a characters progression through their levels, I'd love to hear it. Neither would it make sense from a strategic character generation point of view. Some folks revel in playing with the numbers and off the wall concepts, and more power to them even if "that's not my bag, baby."

ronpyatt
03-02-2007, 06:17 PM
This 1/20th character concept is the closest thing I could see for someone trying to mimic a pacifist in D&D. So, yes, I could see a couple of back story models that fit this mold. I had a witch character (Dragon Mag) that started that way and wanted to do something similar, but it was a max 2nd level. Couldn't go through with it.

I know a couple D&D players that like variety, a challenge, and to play something they've never played before. They'll take penalties to their character if they can go with a concept that looks like it has roleplay potential.


Billier, an elf, spent his entire life not fitting in. Every time he got close to someone they died, and as a result people tended to shun him. After each death, it became harder and harder for him to find friends. He took up a career as a Monk, but his friend died. This made him change career paths, because obviously he couldn't use those skills to protect his friends. Being a Druid for a while didn't really amount to anything more than getting his new friend killed by wild dogs. He was actually a very good Monk/Druid, but he wasn't good enough. He quickly realized he didn't like killing, so he never got good enough in any career to ever have to raise a hand against anyone.

D&D is not really geared toward those types of characters, but because we are dealing with a fantasy system where many players play D&D exclusively. This tends to leave players that are interested in non-standard characters out of luck.

Even though it works in a story, it may not translate over to the system. There are a few character concepts that are just not playable using D20. I think this 1/20th is one of those concepts.

Perhaps someone wants to have a BAB 0 (pacifist) character. (No scoffing!) Some people don't like psionics, some do. Some like fighters, others hate them. So, boredom, although a good enough reason for some, is not the only reason to play such a character.

A slight alteration in the rules might facilitate a 1/20th type of character. Using half BABs & third BABs for the lesser combatant classes. This way a sorcerer/wizard/psion would have a BAB +1 at 3rd level. Let arcane spellcasting levels stack as half levels in regards to each other. Same thing with divine casting. Still might be a pretty weak character, but an improvement.No?