5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons or D&D Next or whatever you call it has been good to me and for my site. I have had the opportunity to go to Wizards of the Coast headquarters in Renton, WA and play the earliest editions of the game as well as break the news of the next edition. I have had the opportunity to give feedback about the playtest material I have seen and meet some great people. The idea of the open playtest seems daunting to me but I think the designers have handled it well.
This edition of the game is about what the players want and I have taken to running polls to collect information for myself and the enjoyment of the readers, but also in the hopes that those designers at Wizards of the Coast might possibly read some of it. I have had some feedback so I know that at least a handful of them do. My latest poll was about what class do the players want to see next in the open playtest and after a lot of feedback I want to share the results with you.
Ranger had the largest percentage of the vote with 35%, which doesn't surprise me at all. Ranger has meant many different things to players during the history of D&D. Some of us view it as a protector of nature and a guardian of the woodlands. That was how it was presented in the earlier editions because the ranger had to be good aligned. 4th edition presented it several ways, as a skilled two weapon wielding warrior or a peerless archer, a running and throwing savage, or a beastmaster. I like the beastmaster take but think the all the other options could easily be handled by options for the fighter. Powers like favored enemy, spells, and animal companions allow the ranger separation from the fighter and allow it to be a class that can stand on its own.
Paladin, a favorite of many gamers came in tied for second with 23% of the vote. The holiest of warriors smiting enemies and pushing back hordes that seek to harm the peasants of the countryside is a noble and virtuous character. Paladin is a class that I don’t feel can be handled by a variation of fighter or cleric because some of the powers associated with the class are iconic to the paladin. Laying on hands is one that quickly springs to mind along with detecting evil at will. Sure they can wear heavy armor, use a shield, and use all the standard weapons, but there is enough there to make them stand on their own. The cavalier style character is a variant of fighter in my opinion and not the paladin; I just thought I would say my peace on that.
Bard was the other class tied for second with 23% of the vote. I have always liked the bard in theory, but as a character but most of the representations over the course of the various editions have felt a bit forced, underpowered, or very difficult for a player to bring to life. If you think of the bard as a musical instrument playing minstrel rather than a jack of all trades, there is a background for that. The tricky part about the bard is having it feel a like a class that can stand on its own instead of a poor fighter, rogue, and wizard rolled into one character with inferior hit points but lots of charm that can be used outside of combat. This is one class that I think will challenge the designers to satisfy all that is expected from the bard class.
Coming in fourth place with 8% of the vote was the assassin, a class that has always seemed to have appeal to gamers. Anybody who kills for gain is an assassin, whether you are a rogue, wizard, fighter, or some other class. I would have the assassin covered by a specialty for that reason. It also tends to bleed over into a lot of the same areas that the rogue has covered. In a hit point system it is also really difficult to highlight the quick kill ability that is the specialty of many assassins. Presenting the assassin as a specialty would allow for any character to have access to the abilities that one might gain from being a trained killer. Poison use and death strikes don’t seem to be too difficult to design mechanically and alignment would keep the class from being combined with paladins, assuming some classes will have an alignment restriction which has not been revealed.
One option that I was hoping to see be a bit more popular but came in fifth place with 4% of the vote was the priest. I am a fan of religion playing a role in fantasy games and think that sometimes the cleric and paladin fall short when it comes to covering some pious concepts. The flip side of that argument is that if you want to play a priestly character just play a cleric and don’t wear the heavier armors, use shields, or use the more martial weapons that are available. This doesn’t work for me because those proficiencies are factored into the power balance of the class and if you don’t use them you are severely limiting the effectiveness of your character. I see the priest as having access to some spells and rituals that not all divine characters have access to, the coveted secrets shared with only a few members of the clergy. The voting shows that the priest class is in the minority of what most gamers want to see but I see it as a necessity to fully round out the divine options available for players to choose from (this got my vote in case you were interested).
The Slayer, Avenger, and Barbarian, all received a handful of votes rounding out the final few percentage points which surprised me because I thought the barbarian would have had more fans. I really don’t think the slayer or avenger need a class at all and they were ill conceived and unnecessary in 4E. The barbarian could be handled as a background but I am sure it will receive a class of its own at some point because of the many examples in fantasy literature and movies. Conan was a fighter/rogue by the way; at least he was before there was a barbarian class available. Thanks for voting and if you didn't or want to comment on what I have said or what you think, the comment section is a bag of holding for your thoughts. Until next time, Roll Hard!
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