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Archetypes and kits: 2nd ed deja vu


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Does anyone else feel that we've somewhat returned to 2nd ed with the focus on single classing and archetypes? They remind me of kits from the "Complete X" books of 2nd ed.

I think the reaction against multiclassing and prestige classes may have gone a bit too far. There weren't any prestige classes at all in Ultimate Combat, which I found a little shocking, I must say. I don't think we need the glut we had in 3.0, but an archetype can only take you so far, and prestige classes, when well-written and interesting, can fill unique niches no archetype can. Archetypes are a great idea, and I'm happy to see more of them, but I hope the pendulum comes to rest in a happy medium.


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Prestige classes should be in the adventure paths, not the rule books.

They should be campaign specific.

They were originally designed to be a way for the GM to add a little extra color to the world by giving, for example, the elite guard of the king a specific set of abilities/powers, more powerful than feats. They need to return to those roots.

PrCs went off the rails when the later game designers started using them as a way to sell more books by offering munchkins pluggable power sets for optimization tricks.

Osirion

I think that is the first time lilithsthrall has said something I 100% agree with.


I'm in agreement with azazyll, but I don't think it's quite as bad as they said. Simply put, just about anything workable in 3.x can be made to work with PF, so we've got all the glut we had and more. That said, it would be nice to see a little more of those special niches filled in. I remember my favorite character ever happened to be a fighter/chameleon.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I do agree that most prestige classes should be campaign specific, but there are a few that could fit in most worlds. The ones in the PFCR are good examples. Dragon disciple is awesome, fits in most worlds, but is a bit too far afield to fit as an archetype.

Most importantly, I think prestige classes are really great for helping multiclassers, by bringing them more in line with their overall level in terms of power, but in an interesting way. The Raging Prophet is an excellent example of this; the Mystic Theurge much less so. Raging Prophet is one of the great and evocative Paizo prestige classes that left me wanting more. I'd love to see other class combos given the same treatment.

Cheliax

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Well since we are talking about older D@D, lets talk about the first "Prestige" class, The Bard. In Ad@d 1st ed the bard was a mix of fighter,thief, and druid and was very unique(and very hard to obtain). I think the Ninja would have worked better as a prestige class, and so would the Gunslinger.


Azazyll wrote:

I do agree that most prestige classes should be campaign specific, but there are a few that could fit in most worlds. The ones in the PFCR are good examples. Dragon disciple is awesome, fits in most worlds, but is a bit too far afield to fit as an archetype.

Most importantly, I think prestige classes are really great for helping multiclassers, by bringing them more in line with their overall level in terms of power, but in an interesting way. The Raging Prophet is an excellent example of this; the Mystic Theurge much less so. Raging Prophet is one of the great and evocative Paizo prestige classes that left me wanting more. I'd love to see other class combos given the same treatment.

I'll quote this for truth.

Though if I may add, I think there is atleast one more reason to create a prestige class. The Master Chymist introduces a strange/out of the box concept though simply wouldn't work in an archetype. Duellist similar to a lesser extend.

What I don't get though is why you refer to the dragon disciple as fulfilling a role similar to campaign specific prestige class without.
I think the assassin is a much better example.

btw, are there 3rd party publishers that are presenting prestige classes?

@ Nimon: I disagree. You can't turn the ninja and gunslinger in a prestige class. The concepts are quite different from the base concepts they would 'prestige' and I think both deserve a 20 levels of advancement.

However, this does not mean that you can't create prestige classes to make characters more ninja-like and gunslingery.
The Spellslinger forinstance would have worked better as a prestige class ihmo so that the sorcerer could gain the same utility.

Anyway, 1ste edition ad&d bard. Possibly the worst example of how an archetype should work. It's to complex to access, the requirements ihmo are not fitting and it railroads more than it expends the options of people.
If I remember correct, you needed to take the correct levels in certain classes at a specific point in advancement and find a bard that wants to teach you their craft at a specific point in the advancement.
If the prestige class requires that specific advancement path, just make it a base class with those levels as the first levels until you gain the bard class abilities.

Cheliax

I think Paizo's approach is if the class idea/variant can be handled with an archetype, then they are not going to waste the time to make a full prestige class when they can just move a few abilities around here and there


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
arioreo wrote:
The Spellslinger forinstance would have worked better as a prestige class ihmo so that the sorcerer could gain the same utility.

Another excellent example - prestige classes with ideas that could fit multiple classes. I too would have liked to have seen the gunmage work for sorcerers, and indeed witches as well.


Instead of prestige classes and more base classes, I would love to see the developers work on bringing in more archetypes and mabey some archtypes that have to be taken at higher levels. (archtype only availible once reach level x) But is not a prestige class, I think if done right archtypes are better than making prestige classes.


One of the goals of Pathfinder was to kill multi-classing, so you're not likely to see much support for it.

Or, at least, it sure seems that way most of the time. 90% of the time, multi-classing is a trap in the Pathfinder rules system. You simply lose too much.

Ironically, Clerics and to a lesser extent Wizards lose almost nothing by multiclassing, so they're more likely than the rest to do so -- exactly like in 3.5. This is ironic because that situation was one of the reasons Paizo is so set against prestige classes.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

if you consider loosing a level of spell advancement nothing


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Sadly, we skipped right from 2E to Pathfinder, so I never had the bad experiences that others have with PrCs...

Honestly, I LOVE the Archtypes, and I LOVED kits, but I really wish there WERE a few good PrCs out there, most of the ones we HAVE kind of suck. I see the mechanic and see lots of hope for it... but just haven't seen any examples i like yet...


Please keep in mind people, that Pathfinder is backwards compatible with 3.5, so there is nothing stopping you from using the vast amount of 3.5 prestige classes in your home games.

I don't think that players are railroaded into single class characters like some people are suggesting, any more than the developers of 3.5 railroaded people into playing prestige classes due to the fact that there were seldom any benefit for going the full 20 levels in a single class.

Granted there is a greater emphasis on single class play, and rewards for focussing on a single field of study, but is that not the risk of it all: be better in a single field or slightly less good in several.

The choices remain yours.


j b 200 wrote:
if you consider loosing a level of spell advancement nothing

You don't usually lose spell advancement when taking prestige classes designed for casters.

Mirrel the Marvelous wrote:
Granted there is a greater emphasis on single class play, and rewards for focussing on a single field of study, but is that not the risk of it all: be better in a single field or slightly less good in several.

If it was really "be slightly less good in several", that'd be fine. Instead, your choice is generally "be good in a single field or be mediocre at best in several".


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Mirrel the Marvelous wrote:

Please keep in mind people, that Pathfinder is backwards compatible with 3.5, so there is nothing stopping you from using the vast amount of 3.5 prestige classes in your home games.

I don't think that players are railroaded into single class characters like some people are suggesting, any more than the developers of 3.5 railroaded people into playing prestige classes due to the fact that there were seldom any benefit for going the full 20 levels in a single class.

Granted there is a greater emphasis on single class play, and rewards for focussing on a single field of study, but is that not the risk of it all: be better in a single field or slightly less good in several.

The choices remain yours.

True it's backwards compatible, but I've liked a good number of the Paizo-created prestige classes, and I'd like to see more. There is a reason prestige classes were popular, glut non withstanding.

Plus, with the new balance of power shifted to the base classes, many old 3.x prestige classes don't measure up anymore.


I wouldn't mind seeing more Prestige Classes than we have, though to be honest, I'm glad to not see the kinds of "I'm level 14, but I have 12 different classes" characters we used to see in 3.X anymore.

In a sense it's a chicken and the egg problem; the mass production of PClasses and their popularity in 3.X was in no small part due to the bad front-loading design of most of the classes (base and prestige alike) making taking any more than a level or two sub-optimal. Now that that isn't the case anymore, I think there's less demand for the most part.


Paizo seems to follow the rule of prestige classes being part of the campaign rather than a patch to make characters different. The Inner Sea Guide has several prestige classes in it, and I am willing to bet the next world guide will have several more.


Dire Mongoose wrote:

I wouldn't mind seeing more Prestige Classes than we have, though to be honest, I'm glad to not see the kinds of "I'm level 14, but I have 12 different classes" characters we used to see in 3.X anymore.

In a sense it's a chicken and the egg problem; the mass production of PClasses and their popularity in 3.X was in no small part due to the bad front-loading design of most of the classes (base and prestige alike) making taking any more than a level or two sub-optimal. Now that that isn't the case anymore, I think there's less demand for the most part.

I don't see why it matters if he is lv 14 with 12 classes. Why does it hurt your enjoyment that he enjoys more than one class?


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

Right ... James Jacobs, in particular, has said that they have no intention of completely avoiding prestige classes, just that he views them as tools for adding specific flavor.

I'm with him on that; some of the most egregious min/maxing I've seen is with dips into prestige classes for no other reason than to get the level one or level two power (warshaper I'm looking at you). And that's not the point.

On the other hand, I do think that we've got plenty of archetypes; I'd be perfectly happy to not see another archetype for a long, long time.


gbonehead wrote:
On the other hand, I do think that we've got plenty of archetypes; I'd be perfectly happy to not see another archetype for a long, long time.

They could off course always create archetypes for the prestige classes ;-).

A gun based duellist seems interesting.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
arioreo wrote:
gbonehead wrote:
On the other hand, I do think that we've got plenty of archetypes; I'd be perfectly happy to not see another archetype for a long, long time.

They could off course always create archetypes for the prestige classes ;-).

A gun based duellist seems interesting.

That's not the first time that's come up, and it's an interesting idea, but one which would probably see very, very limited use. But consider what archetypes, say, a Red Mantis Assassin might have. Interesting concept.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Mostly, I just get annoyed when I see an archetype that could better be designed as a prestige class available to multiple classes.


Starbuck_II wrote:


I don't see why it matters if he is lv 14 with 12 classes. Why does it hurt your enjoyment that he enjoys more than one class?

That's not the point.

The point is that hardly anyone really wanted that many classes on the same character, but it was optimal. Being able to do it was a bastardized patch to fix bad game design.

It doesn't hurt my enjoyment of the game if someone can play a 12 class mutt. It does hurt my enjoyment of the game if that character is ten times as strong as a single class character. Which, in 3.X, it was. Single class characters were a trap option that "good" players were supposed to know better than to pick.


gbonehead wrote:

Right ... James Jacobs, in particular, has said that they have no intention of completely avoiding prestige classes, just that he views them as tools for adding specific flavor.

I'm with him on that; some of the most egregious min/maxing I've seen is with dips into prestige classes for no other reason than to get the level one or level two power (warshaper I'm looking at you). And that's not the point.

That is usually the Prc fault.

Why give useless/crappy features and a few good ones. Same deal as Pally: no Pally ever takes it 20th level, because who wants their Smite evil to be 1/rd unlike their 1st level smite evil.

But wait, Warshaper? But they were actually good all the way through.
Are you sure you meant Warshaper?

1st lv: immunities/weapon
2nd lv: body: +4 untyped Str/Con
3rd: +5 reach
4th: Fast heal 2 + as a full rd action heal self 10 damage (at will ability)
5th: Okay, only useful if a Druid. Otherwise not so good.


arioreo wrote:
Azazyll wrote:
@ Nimon: I disagree. You can't turn the ninja and gunslinger in a prestige class. The concepts are quite different from the base concepts they would 'prestige' and I think both deserve a 20 levels of advancement.
I'd have rather seen the Ninja return to its 1E root in the original Oriental Adventures Handbook
Quote:
...Ninja is not an independent character class. After all ninja do not really exist: at least that is what a ninja will have one believe...can only be taken a special split class...

Or as an archetype.

As to the OP, I don't think there has been an over reaction. PRs should have always been left as Campaign specific adds. I personally like the 'updating' to the 2E kits. It provides choices for players who don't want to mutli-class - me for one.


Dire Mongoose wrote:
It doesn't hurt my enjoyment of the game if someone can play a 12 class mutt. It does hurt my enjoyment of the game if that character is ten times as strong as a single class character. Which, in 3.X, it was. Single class characters were a trap option that "good" players were supposed to know better than to pick.

Isn't this a case of the pendulum swinging too far in the opposite direction?

If the point was to make being a single classed character on par with multi-classed characters then that is a different goal. One I would say they are missing the mark on.

Instead we are seeing a removal (or not adding in) the options other than single classing being an equally valid option, so the fact that staying in a single class is a good choice isn't true... if it is the only choice, it isn't a choice.

Regardless, I don't think that multiclassing is dead. there are still a lot of good reasons and times to dip into other classes to make the character you want to play.

Archetypes actually make this easier/better in some cases... even archetypes that are not that great can sometimes be the optimal choice for a dip.

Anyway... I have a ton to say on this... if you are interested check out our podcast on the topic:

The Gamers' Guide to Dipping

Sean Mahoney


Azazyll wrote:
Mostly, I just get annoyed when I see an archetype that could better be designed as a prestige class available to multiple classes.

This a thousand times. Every time a mechanic is presented in an archetype, that means that mechanic can never be made available to other classes by any means. The design space is used and locked down forever.

Mistakes like that can't be reversed once they're published.


It should be noted that there ARE archetypes available to multiple classes out there. The Pathfinder Society Field Guide has two (one that Clerics and Wizards can take, and one that Sorcerers and Oracles can take).


most of the wizard archtypes I've seen are like the wizard prcs I've seen.

they all suck imo.
the lore,master is decent, but it gets boring after the third lvl....

we should have a few more prcs that are generic, let the golarion specific ones be in the books anda few more archtypes too.


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I would like to see more support for achetypes aimed either at multiclass characters so they can be equivalent to their single class counterparts, or so that some concepts such as Spellslinger can work for muliple core/base classes.

I feel the in Pathfinder most PrC's are undeveloped or not addressed. Sure some are fine but some, such as Arcane Trickster need improvement. For the record I hate munchkinism, but I also hate feeling like I am shooting myself in the foot for making choices based on character concept for roleplay.

I would really like to see more racial prestige classes or archetyes. At the moment a race is just a series of stats and whatever roleplay a player puts into them. While races are better than they used to be they feel bland without more in game support. Atm they are important at creation only and for 1 or 2 feats. I am hoping the next book fixes this.

For future editions I would like if races got more abilities at higher levels. The fabled grace/balance/magic of elves or the Luck of Halflings, or toughness and stubborness of dwarves etc. Sure there are some feat support for these things but I would rather it was built into the race.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Lokius wrote:

I would like to see more support for achetypes aimed either at multiclass characters so they can be equivalent to their single class counterparts, or so that some concepts such as Spellslinger can work for muliple core/base classes.

I feel the in Pathfinder most PrC's are undeveloped or not addressed. Sure some are fine but some, such as Arcane Trickster need improvement. For the record I hate munchkinism, but I also hate feeling like I am shooting myself in the foot for making choices based on character concept for roleplay.

I would really like to see more racial prestige classes or archetyes. At the moment a race is just a series of stats and whatever roleplay a player puts into them. While races are better than they used to be they feel bland without more in game support. Atm they are important at creation only and for 1 or 2 feats. I am hoping the next book fixes this.

For future editions I would like if races got more abilities at higher levels. The fabled grace/balance/magic of elves or the Luck of Halflings, or toughness and stubborness of dwarves etc. Sure there are some feat support for these things but I would rather it was built into the race.

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! Hopefully the race thing will be addressed in Ultimate Races.

Also, I realize some people have a problem with it, but neither I nor the people I play with are munchkins - we play for fun. I dislike the feeling that designers always choose to go underpowered in the constant fear of minmaxers. I wish there was some way we could know how many players are "It must be mine!" versus "let's all just have some fun."

But back on track - archetypes designed to work with multiclassing would be a good use of published space.


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LilithsThrall wrote:

Prestige classes should be in the adventure paths, not the rule books.

They should be campaign specific.

They were originally designed to be a way for the GM to add a little extra color to the world by giving, for example, the elite guard of the king a specific set of abilities/powers, more powerful than feats. They need to return to those roots.

PrCs went off the rails when the later game designers started using them as a way to sell more books by offering munchkins pluggable power sets for optimization tricks.

No prestige classes were made in order to give variety to the game and have fun. Of course they are pushing out extra content they're a company. Have you recently looked at the archtypes? Most of them aren't really benifical and some actually make you worse than the vanilla class.


Sean Mahoney wrote:


Isn't this a case of the pendulum swinging too far in the opposite direction?

It may be a little too far, but I don't think it's a lot too far. It's better for the future of the game for single-classing to be a good and often optimal choice, because it's much more new/casual player friendly.

Wide power disparity between characters of a level (even getting beyond old saws like the 3.5-era version of the casters vs. melee debate) was one of the most legitimate criticisms of 3.X as a game. It made the game harder than it needed to be to write/balance adventures for, professionally or otherwise. I can remember sitting down to Living Greyhawk tables in the 3.X era wherein my character has +20 to their bad save and another same-level character at the table has +8 to his good save because I've done some very effective multiclass mutting and he hasn't. How do you even balance content for that?


Black_Lantern wrote:
LilithsThrall wrote:

Prestige classes should be in the adventure paths, not the rule books.

They should be campaign specific.

They were originally designed to be a way for the GM to add a little extra color to the world by giving, for example, the elite guard of the king a specific set of abilities/powers, more powerful than feats. They need to return to those roots.

PrCs went off the rails when the later game designers started using them as a way to sell more books by offering munchkins pluggable power sets for optimization tricks.

No prestige classes were made in order to give variety to the game and have fun. Of course they are pushing out extra content they're a company. Have you recently looked at the archtypes? Most of them aren't really benifical and some actually make you worse than the vanilla class.

Archetypes extend the range of character concepts supported. That makes them useful. In what other way do you feel, Black Lantern, that they need to be useful?


LilithsThrall wrote:
Archetypes extend the range of character concepts supported. That makes them useful. In what other way do you feel, Black Lantern, that they need to be useful?

Archetypes both extend and limit the range of character concepts supported.

For example, if you want to be a trick shot archer, you must take the fighter archer archetype. You can't do it as a ranger, bard, rogue or anything else that might like the idea of performing combat maneuvers and clever tricks with a bow. Fighters only. Thus, the concept is severely limited.

Also, things like the Dragon Shaman archetype. It's hideous and awful in every way. It only relates to lizards, not dragons. It has no mention of dragons anywhere but the name. What's worse is that there's already a saurian shaman that deals with lizards better. This means Paizo will not publish another dragon shaman that addresses the issue. It's already on paper and can't be changed unless they change their policy massively to allow the total replacement of a class option and the obsolescence of the old one (although many already consider ninja > rogue as precisely this).


Why do you have to use the fighter archer archetype in order to play a trick shot expert?


LilithsThrall wrote:
Why do you have to use the fighter archer archetype in order to play a trick shot expert?

Because there are no other options to make combat maneuvers with a bow. There won't be until Paizo decides to break up the archetype into feats or something.


I like archetypes, but I am starting to feel overwhelmed by the number of them that now exist. Mind, I get overwhelmed by this kind of thing easily, but I find that they're getting very hard to keep track of.

Also (much like PrCs in 3.5), the quality of archetypes vary widely. There's your Mobile Fighters and Zen Archers, and then there's your Cloistered Clerics and your Geishas. This inconsistency contributes to a sense of "bloat."

Umbral Reaver also has an excellent point--archetypes by their nature are class restricted and put you on a very, very specific path.

Some (though not all) prestige classes on the other hand, allow you to build a pretty specific concept, but the way you approach it can be more varied. A great duelist could start from a fighter or a rogue--and technically any class could qualify (although it's obviously a better idea for some classes than others)--but it still has that specific fencer feel. I like that flexibility that well-written prestige classes allow--it reinforces that you are building a concept, not a class build. Of course, not all PrCs do this--to be a Rage Prophet, you must specifically have Oracle and Barbarian levels, for example--but I also hate the Rage Prophet and PrCs like it for exactly that reason. They feel more like multiclass archetypes than Prestige Classes. I don't mind concepts that combine some general class features, but as long as they allow for some flexibility---Arcane Trickster you don't have a whole lot of choice, but you can still be ANY arcane caster at least (and using archetypes, I think the Sandman works as an entry point?). There are some Prestige classes I'd still like to see--a good warpriest type (I don't like the flavor of the one in the APG) and a good thief-priest type.

I didn't like 3.5 Prestige Class bloat either, and I think Prestige Classes do need to be rare (but well written, which some existing PrCs don't qualify for by my personal standards). But I don't think replacing it with Archetype bloat is the way to go--and while there is room for more archetypes than PrCs, I'd also obviously prefer a few awesome archetypes to many cruddy or mediocre ones.


DeathQuaker wrote:
(and using archetypes, I think the Sandman works as an entry point?)

A rogue 1/sandman 5 qualifies for arcane trickster, as does a sandman 10 (but that might be considered a bit late).


I think what I'm seeing is that archetypes are good for multiclassing and for basing classes on alternative attributes (fighter could have any of the six attributes as it's prime).
Beyond that, archetypes start to run into trouble.

PrCs should be GM tools to add depth to the campain, not Lego modules for optimization.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I don't see alternative/archetype classes as anything kits. The closest I see to kits would traits. Most 2E kits were about the same a trait depending on your class. Fighter go good stuff, thieves were just re-arranged bonues and negative. Wizards go a non weapon proficiecy bonus as did clerics. It was till the sub class kits and multi-class kits came out that things started to get silly.


seekerofshadowlight wrote:
I think that is the first time lilithsthrall has said something I 100% agree with.

Worse, I find myself in agreement with Lilith AND Seeker...


voska66 wrote:
I don't see alternative/archetype classes as anything kits. The closest I see to kits would traits. Most 2E kits were about the same a trait depending on your class. Fighter go good stuff, thieves were just re-arranged bonues and negative. Wizards go a non weapon proficiecy bonus as did clerics. It was till the sub class kits and multi-class kits came out that things started to get silly.

That is the kits that most people refer to I believe.

Like the Swashbuckler Thief kit in 2E.


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LilithsThrall wrote:
PrCs should be GM tools to add depth to the campain, not Lego modules for optimization.

I guess I am having a hard time understanding why it is ok for people to have archetypes that let them make the character they wanted to play mechanicall as well as RP wise, but if they did the same thing with a Prestige Class why that is bad.

If you don't like optimizing than you aren't going to like archetypes either (or feats)... anything that gives more choices gives the chance for optimization to occur. The thing is that more choices also means that people can make the character they want to play if it isn't exactly modeled by the core classes.

I just don't get why people like some choice and not others as being available to others.

Sean Mahoney


Azazyll wrote:
I wish there was some way we could know how many players are "It must be mine!" versus "let's all just have some fun."

I think I can speak for all players of the game (I know, a broad statement), when I say that we all play to have some fun.

The thing is that different people find different aspects of the game fun... and those aspects are not mutually exclusive.

Sean Mahoney


My only gripe with prestige classes is that they do not get the favored class bonus.


Charender wrote:
seekerofshadowlight wrote:
I think that is the first time lilithsthrall has said something I 100% agree with.
Worse, I find myself in agreement with Lilith AND Seeker...

It was just a matter of time til you got here. Improving the quality of your opinions is a side effect of learning :)


Sean Mahoney wrote:
Azazyll wrote:
I wish there was some way we could know how many players are "It must be mine!" versus "let's all just have some fun."

I think I can speak for all players of the game (I know, a broad statement), when I say that we all play to have some fun.

The thing is that different people find different aspects of the game fun... and those aspects are not mutually exclusive.

Sean Mahoney

I agree. The difference is between people who make everyone else's fun as important as their own and those who don't.


I agree. The difference is between people who make everyone else's fun as important as their own and those who don't.

But this to me is part of the function of DMing. Limiting power choices or making players present RP reasons as to how or why they got access to certain training, organisational goals etc would be a good start. If you really want to house rule it, say that Prestige classes are 1 per character, meaning you can multiclass core and base classes but can only ever have 1 prestige class. It kind of makes sense because to me prestige classes represent more focused training or somekind of exclusive membership.

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