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How to introduce Multiclassing?


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion


I have a group of young players who've been playing for about a year. I started with really light rules, and slowly added things like criticals and attack of opportunity.

They're pretty good with the basic rules, can choose their own spells, feats, and skills, so now I want to introduce the concept of multi-classing. This, however seems like a big can of worms to me. I know from personal experience the sub-optimal and completely nonsensical characters that can result from unchecked multiclassing.

How do I bring the concept of multiclassing to the players as an OPTION, and yet help ensure they make good choices for character growth?


Maybe present some trainers and if you feel like it would be a terrible choice, you could always RP that the trainer doesn't think the player has the makings of that class.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

rando1000 wrote:

I have a group of young players who've been playing for about a year. I started with really light rules, and slowly added things like criticals and attack of opportunity.

They're pretty good with the basic rules, can choose their own spells, feats, and skills, so now I want to introduce the concept of multi-classing. This, however seems like a big can of worms to me. I know from personal experience the sub-optimal and completely nonsensical characters that can result from unchecked multiclassing.

How do I bring the concept of multiclassing to the players as an OPTION, and yet help ensure they make good choices for character growth?

I would introduce it in the context of what's going on in the campaign. For example, if their campaign has recently met a wizard or witch, and one of the characters seems interested in what that NPC was able to accomplish during battle, you might suggest to the player that they could take a few days to study under that NPC to start them on their way to becoming one. Or if they've been fighting in the woods a lot recently, you might suggest to the fighter that favored terrain might be a useful ability to have, and he could explore the Ranger class.

Mechanically, multiclassing in Pathfinder is much simpler than it was in 3.5, thanks to the way skill ranks were redesigned. When you're discussing multiclassing with the players, just make sure to mention that the best way to multiclass is to synergize ability scores (so Rogue/Magus is a good idea because they both use intelligence, but Cleric/Wizard is not going to be as good because you need Wisdom, Int, and Charisma.)

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Maybe introduce character concepts: you want a wizard that can get up close and fight? Fighter/Wizard. You want a sneky Cleric? Cleric/Rogue. Let them know that if they have a particular character concept in mind, multi classing is a way to cover some gaps in that concept that a single class character might not cover.

On the other hand, it is important to emphasize that while they might be able to do more things, they will never be as good as a single class character in that class. A Fighter/Wizard won't fight as good as a fighter or cast as well as a wizard, but at least they can cast where the fighter can't, nd they'll fight better than the wizard. It's all about compromise. Give up a little A to gain a little B.

Then throw in a warning about bad multi classing: they could be a 10th level character, but if they take a new class each level, they're no better than a bunch of 1st level characters!

Also, remind them of the favored class bonus.

Hope that helps!

Osirion

There is no reason the choice to multiclass can't be nonsense. As long as the character is fun, who care about being optimal.

That being said, trainers offering to teach specific characters new ways of doing things would be the best approach. For example, a ranger offering to teach the fighter how to better function in the wild or a rogue offering to teach the barbarian how it's done in the city.


I'd begin showing examples of actual fantasy characters that could only be translated to PF as multiclassing characters. For ex. Elric, Conan, Gilthanas... If they haven't read about them, pick some from the materials they read or watch on tv (animation series, films, ...)

I would also limit them to those options that you think are fine; for ex. giving each of them two options to choose from.

Maybe you could tweak some rules here. Let's say the fighter is very interested in being a wizard, but he's got just 12 in INT. You could say him that as he train as a wizard (level 1 and 2) he'll be less strong (drop his STR) and more intelligent (rise INT).


Several good ideas here, thanks.

Artanthos wrote:

There is no reason the choice to multiclass can't be nonsense. As long as the character is fun, who care about being optimal.

I guess my concern isn't that they're completely OPTIMIZED (they're far from it, and I'm not even the best teacher of that anyway), but that they a) don't make completely sub-optimal choices (I once had a D20 Modern character with a BAB of +1 at 5th level), and b) they make choices that make sense for their character. They're just now starting to "get" role playing and I want their characters to continue to make sense as a whole.

I guess if they make a really weird choice, I can always use that as an RP opportunity in itself.


I would suggest listening to your players describe what they want to do with their characters and making appropriate suggestions. As long as they are describing things that could be selected from leveling up in their original class, there is no reason to bring up multi-classing.

On the other hand, if you have a fighter who wants to learn how to cast spells, you may want to check first to see whether that character qualifies for a feat that grants a spell-like ability (such as Arcane Talent). If they do not qualify for any such feat or they clearly want something more than a cantrip that they can cast 3x/day, then introduce the idea of multiclassing, but mention all of the trade-offs. For example, bard might be a better idea than sorcerer or wizard if they want to continue wearing armor. You should also introduce the idea of scaling power -- it is unlikely that a character who knows both melee combat and spellcasting will ultimately be very good at both, so at some point he will want to commit himself to one or the other.

On the whole, non-spellcasters can better afford to multiclass than spellcasters can. In the fighter/bard example that I gave above, multiclassing into bard costs the fighter one point of BAB -- and he does not lose another one until he takes a 5th level as a bard. On the other hand, most spellcasters can ill afford to lose even one level of casting ability, so they should be very cautious about multiclassing.

Also, there are several prestige classes that are designed around multiclassing. If your players have ideas that seem to mesh well with such prestige classes, you could work with them to help them qualify for those classes, multiclassing as needed to qualify. These prestige classes generally offer a better deal than simply taking levels in two or more core classes.


David knott 242 wrote:

I would suggest listening to your players describe what they want to do with their characters and making appropriate suggestions. As long as they are describing things that could be selected from leveling up in their original class, there is no reason to bring up multi-classing.

On the other hand, if you have a fighter who wants to learn how to cast spells

But as far as they're concerned, this 2nd part isn't even possible, so they wouldn't ask for it. None of them own the rules, so they only get to see the book really to level up and choose spells. As such, because I haven't specifically pointed multiclassing out (I wanted them to get used to playing before trying to tackle stuff like multi-classing), they have no idea it exists. You're either a Ranger, or a Druid, or a Rogue, or whatever. I don't mind keeping it that way (I kind of prefer it), but I feel I'm cheating the players in a couple ways.

First, if they ever play Pathfinder with another DM(and hopefully they will), they'll look kind of silly never having heard of multiclassing. Second, there are some core rule options I'm still denying them. As more experienced players, I think they should have the full breadth of the rules available, unless I've made houserules saying otherwise. As I have nothing against them multiclassing, I'd like them to be able to consider it, intelligently.


Probably what I'll do is go ahead and explain the concept, as well as why I kept it from them to this point. Then, I'll explain some possible uses based on the suggestions in this thread. Finally, I'll give a warning that bad choices in multiclassing can cause the character to be less effective overall.

That should be sufficient to get them going with my help. Thanks all.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The other thing to keep in mind is that while a fighter cares a great deal about BAB not every character needs to "hit" to be an effect contributor to the party. And yes, spellcasters like their high level spells but frequently other abilities more than compensate for a few more spells. I think the key is to let your players start to explore character concepts and see what they want to do.

Re the rules - unless your players are really young why not tell them about fantastic online resources like the PRD and D20pfsrd where they can study the nearly complete rules (minus some Golarion lore specific things) for free online. Add in the Golarion Wiki and they have a ton of things they can read and study when/if they want.


rando1000 wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:

I would suggest listening to your players describe what they want to do with their characters and making appropriate suggestions. As long as they are describing things that could be selected from leveling up in their original class, there is no reason to bring up multi-classing.

On the other hand, if you have a fighter who wants to learn how to cast spells

But as far as they're concerned, this 2nd part isn't even possible, so they wouldn't ask for it. None of them own the rules, so they only get to see the book really to level up and choose spells.

I meant for this part to be open ended, with you checking the rules to find out if what they want is possible -- and some things may not be possible. But if something is possible, you can tell them about the mechanic (for example, multiclassing) that would make it possible. They won't necessarily know everything that they could ask about -- but they could well be inspired by things that they see their humanoid allies and enemies do.

So, for example, if a fighter is impressed by the extra damage that the party rogue does with a sneak attack, he might ask "Can you teach me how to do that?" That would give him all the rationale needed to multiclass as a rogue -- and you could then explain the details to him.


Why? PF has archetypes and PrC’s. Multiclassing is often either a sub-optimal or munchkin choice.

Silver Crusade

DrDeth wrote:
Why? PF has archetypes and PrC’s. Multiclassing is often either a sub-optimal or munchkin choice.

Firstly, I agree in most cases with you. Some people aren't interested in the most optimal though and if they want to handicap their character, more power to them I guess. To me, PF just makes multi-classing too sub-optimal...

With that said though, I still find some PrCs useless (ie Mystic Theurge)... To take those classes in Wizard and Cleric at lower levels just puts me a whole spell level or two behind the rest of the party. A Wiz3/Clr3/MT1 is much less effective to me than a Wiz7 or Clr7.

As a DM, I have been known to multi-class a villain or NPC at times for a particular flavor. Most of the time though, the primary villain or antagonist is a single class...


Right. Multiclassing is just something that was heavily done during 3rd ed. Very little during earlier and little need or use to do it now in PF or 4th ed.

Cheliax

I still have 0 single classed PFS characters above level 2, and with the wealth of viable options multiclassing gives I dont think ill ever run out of good characters with multiple base classes (and usually a single prestige class to top it off).

However like people have said before multiclassing isnt required in pathfinder to be effective, and infact unless you know why your multiclassing in the first place its frequently less effective than a single class. So in your case I would keep them on single classes, let them prestige class out at higher levels and if they really want to branch out into multiclassing they will need an idea of where they want to go from level 1 and build from there.


I do agree that Pathfinder single-class characters are much more attractive than 3.5; however, I've had fun with my gunslinger rogue and my ninja-fighter(unarmed). Suboptimal though they may be, they're both been viable characters who contribute to the party.

I'm leaning toward just introducing a multiclass NPC and seeing what their reaction is. I can explain the benefits/drawbacks at that point if anyone is interested, and if they're not interested, that's fine too.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

Multiclassing is easy to do wrong and PF has gone out of its way to make it a suboptimal choice.

I can see providing a NPC who demonstrates the concept. Maybe a cleric who tends to a number of small villages and has ranger levels to safely travel between them.

The drawback is once you make it available, what are you going to do if someone wants to take a level of a different class? If you have established class trainers, then they can provide advice, but it could still lead to conflict.

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