Multiclassing gone wrong.
You have met Felix the Fighter, Paul the Paladin and Barry the Barbarian. You have even fought side by side with Sicero the Sorcerer, battled countless monsters with Cory the Cleric. Perhaps you have all done this together. The team, consisting of several characters played by their respective players trudge along in their quest for greatness and recognition as heroes or maybe notoriety as villains. Who knows, the campaign can go either way.
Now, somewhere along the line Felix is tired of swapping out his shield and fixing up his full plate. Maybe Barry is not feeling all the rage, Sicero wants to hurl more things than just spells and Cory is just plain old tired of casting healing spells around. What do they do then?
Felix wants to pick up some fireballs and throw at that poor unsuspecting goblin and his entire crew. He saw his friend do this, so why could he not do this as well? Barry could want to practice some discipline and become a more focused fighter. Paul found a new calling that didn’t quite pander to his goodness but more to his newfound love of nature. Sicero found out that he had quite the lovely voice and started to earn some coin at the local watering hole and Cory….well, Cory just went on to smash things with his hammer. He was an angry dwarf after all.
We have all been there. Started out with a character, had some intentions with her and then after a couple of sessions decided we wanted to do something entirely different or something that was a bit close. Now depending on the system it could be pretty easy or very hard. Back in the day of AD&D it was no joke to switch classes since you either had to start out as multi-class or be human for the dual class option.
With later editions swapping mid-campaign was easier. No longer were the players restricted with having to start out as humans, or picking out multi-class right off the bat. With the introduction of the 3.0 system for d&d any race could be any class and no level limits. Now this is old news to most of us but this is brought up again because…. who would abuse this right?
Now to clarify in this article we are using the 3.0 edition for reference.
It isn’t a problem if Felix learned some traits and picked up the faith. Started paying more attention to his god and that of his fellow members of the faith. He could very well begin another path as a warrior cleric of his new found belief. Barry decided to focus his anger and fighting powers and picked up some good hard training in the ways of the warrior. Combined with his rage that was quite something. Sicero has after extensive training as a bard made quite a name for himself as the minstrel for the King and has his ear when it comes to giving him coin. He is a little shit like that. Cory went on to find his fellow dwarven brethren in arms and trained with them in combat.
Now these are all good examples of players multiclassing to make a more defined character. For whatever reason they did their character now is not only a fighter, barbarian, sorcerer or a cleric but something else.
This is all fine and good and many campaigns not only go along with it but rely on multiclass characters to keep things going. Perhaps there is a shortage of players so fewer players must fill more roles or some players just want to do more than one role. Whatever the case, multiclassing is an option that some players want to explore and the dungeon master is willing to let them. Now depending on the material at hand the player has various options. We are not here to discuss the resources, but the degree.
Does Felix the fighter stay content with turning only from being Felix the fighter to Felix the fighter/cleric or will he go on?
Will Barry think he can not only hit stuff with his axe and sword but perhaps he can sing now? Does he think he has it in him to cast some nasty fireballs? Maybe Sicero thinks he can suddenly go around and pickpocket people as well as sing and cast spells. Now Cory thinks that not only he has the power to bring people back to life, hit them with his hammer, sing them some nice tunes, burn them with fire, send them to other planes, find some tracks, get this pets to track his enemies down, turn into an elemental to fight his enemies, smite them with his goodness and raise his enemies from the ground as his undying army of hell.
When has multiclassing gone straight to hell ?
At what point is it too much? Is it when the player has no actual use in combat? Could it be when the character is getting so convoluted that the player really has no damn idea what his original character was really all about and is now just a big fat stat stick and of no real use for anyone and especially to the player in question?
It is somewhat up to the dungeon master to stay on top of the players excitement to try everything out and make sure that one player does not lose perspective and it is up to the player to not lose grip of the reality that is his character and not throw that character into the meat grinder and say “I am a cleric/paladin/ranger/fighter/wizard/sorcerer/insert random prestige class here”
This is funny and all but in theory how many times has a group faced these players? Someone that either goes for full on min-max everything to be the power player from Avernus or thinks that all these classes and templates and this and that will make the perfect character and end up being nothing. Just a little bit of everything and in turn being absolutely nothing instead. In groups that are more hack-and-slash he or she ends up dragging behind and in solid roleplaying the same character is not a dabbler in many things, master of none, but instead a useless nonsense because the identity has been lost in the faces of the multi-class.
Be on the lookout, both as a player and the dungeon master, to not let the character roll into some amalgamation that is trying to be everything but instead is not doing anything at all. Focus on trying to get the player to be something special. Does not matter if it is intended for power playing sessions or solid roleplaying ones. Keep the integrity intact. At least try.