ver the past few months, we've worked with the concept of merging the various arcane caster classes into a single class: the mage. Within the mage, you could then choose whether to play a wizard, a warlock, or a sorcerer
There are a few benefits to this approach.
- It gives a framework in which we can add new casting styles and approaches to magic that are specific to settings.
- It makes expanding the game easier, since we can create one list of spells for those classes.
- It simplifies magic items, since something like a staff of power can refer to the mage. We know that any future classes included under the mage can still use that item.
Having worked through the classes and looked at feedback, we're now adopting a different approach. In working on the sorcerer and warlock, it's unlikely that we want to give those classes blanket access to all mage spells.
In addition, feedback was fairly lukewarm or negative over the approach. It caused more confusion than clarity.
Grouping classes provides a useful tool for us. We saw that 2nd Edition AD&D used it. If applied correctly, grouped classes can make handling things such as magic items, feats, and other options much easier as the game expands.
We've decided on four basic categories of classes. They are tentatively called warriors, mages, priests, and tricksters.
Warriors are masters of arms. They are tougher than other characters.
Tricksters are experts in a variety of fields. A trickster might be a master infiltrator, scout, or negotiator. They excel at ability checks and are the most flexible characters.
Mages specialize in arcane magic. They rely on spells to overcome obstacles. They are the least durable characters, but, if protected by the rest of the party, they are quite potent.
Priests specialize in divine magic. Their magic can heal or protect their allies. They're more durable than mages, and they're equal to tricksters.
None of these definitions should be all that surprising. In some ways, these are similar to roles in 4th Edition but crafted with a much lighter touch. They are much less prescriptive in nature, describing classes in generalities rather than dictating what exactly a class is supposed to do.
To give you a sense of the changes this direction might cause in the design, here's our list.
- We'll probably look at the monk's AC and boost its Hit Die to d10 if we categorize it as a warrior, or give it Expertise in a few skills if it's a trickster. The general feeling is the monk is more of a warrior, since unarmed fighting is its defining ability. This was a decision we were going to make anyway (is a monk more like a rogue or a fighter?), and it helped spur this topic.
- The nonmage classes using a d6 Hit Die will bump up to d8, but that's a change we were going to make anyway with the mage's elevation to a d4.
Our goal with class groups is to provide an easy framework that magic items and other abilities can use to refer to classes, to give people a set of terms they can use to compare and contrast classes in broad strokes, and to make it easy for players to understand how the classes beyond the core four (cleric, fighter, rogue, wizard) relate to that basic group.
So, please tell us what you think about all this! We're interested in hearing from you.
Mike Mearls is the senior manager for the D&D research and design team. He led the design for 5th Edition D&D. His other credits include the Castle Ravenloft board game, Monster Manual 3 for 4th Edition, and Player’s Handbook 2 for 3rd Edition.