|I've got two levels of swashbuckler. Fight me!|
This isn't making your game better. It's just enforcing class stereotypes, and restricting players' freedoms.
Work With Them To Craft A Solution
I talked about this forever ago in What's In A Name? How Character Class is Limiting Your Creativity, but I feel it should be repeated. Your class is, more often than not, just a name for a particular set of mechanical tools and abilities your character uses. A monk doesn't have to come from a monastery, a paladin isn't necessarily a knight in shining armor, and a cleric doesn't have to be a priest. These are just traditions and stereotypes we've attached to these classes, and our brains sometimes throw fits when we try to step outside the boxes we've put these classes in.
As long as a player's character follows the actual rules of the game (they maintain the required alignment, follow any attribute, skill, or spell requirements to take levels of the class, etc.) they aren't breaking the rules. And, as their DM, your goal should be to help your player realize their character, rather than throwing road blocks in their way.
|Sure, you can take a level of wizard. After you give me a 5-page essay, and spend six in-game months with a teacher.|
You see this most often in classes where spellcasting is concerned. After all, how would Hardwick have learned any spells, much less put together his own spellbook, in the middle of the jungle on a dungeon crawl? Especially if he's just a fighter?
Well, since you ask, there are a dozen different ways that occur to me. I'll give you a few.
- Hardwick became a mercenary because he didn't want to be a wizard. He still underwent several years of tutelage in his youth, though, and has the spellbook from when he was a novice.
- Hardwick is a smart guy, and he has seen his share of magic both from allies and enemies. Mimicking the gestures he's seen, and reading through arcane texts he's found crawling through dungeons, he's managed to figure out the core concepts of basic spells.
- Hardwick has had friends, family, and maybe even lovers who knew something about the mystic arts. As such, they've all tried to answer his questions, and show him an apprentice trick or two. All of that knowledge has finally culminated in his ability to cast starting spells.
These are just a handful of potential solutions, but you notice what isn't listed here? Something that makes a player spend their hard-earned resources in-game, or which acts as a time sink making them waste time looking for a teacher and attending lessons, taking time away from being an adventurer and following the plot they're actually a part of.
If They Qualify, Let Them Have Their Toys
Now, it should be noted that some games have restrictions on who is allowed into certain classes. Multiclassing in 5th edition requires you to have certain attributes at certain levels, for example. Certain prestige classes in Pathfinder require you to have a particular spellcasting level, a certain skill rank, or special requirements (killing someone to become an assassin, vanquishing a demon to become a hellknight, etc., etc.). If a players has already met those requirements, there's no reason for you to make it harder on them.
Or, worse, to just say no for no particular reason.
|20 years of pitiless combat... but taking a few rogue levels is too much?|
Now, it is your game, and as the DM you have the authority to say no if you feel that a player's build or actions are going to be a problem. However, if you know up-front that you're not allowing certain things (evil alignments, summoners, non-core races, etc.) then you should make that clear up-front when you talk to your players and set the ground rules. And if you're putting additional steps into the multiclassing process, make it clear that is how your game works before Eliza decides that her thuggish barbarian should really have more skills and some sneak attack.
But before you do that, ask yourself why? Why are you putting arbitrary restrictions on the building blocks your players are using, and when they're allowed to use them? And what, if anything, is this action meant to accomplish?
More often than not, you find the answers to those questions tend to suck a lot of enjoyment out of a game.
That's all for this week's installment of Moon Pope Monday. Hopefully it helps folks who are trying to have a constructive discussion regarding character building and career path. For more of my work, check out my Vocal archive, or just go to my Gamers page to see only the tabletop stuff. Or, if you want a little drama with your advice, check out the YouTube channel Dungeon Keeper Radio where I help bring the world of Evora to life! To keep up on my latest releases, follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. And if you want to help me keep creating content just like this, then tip me by Buying Me A Ko-Fi, or becoming a patron over on The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page! Either way, there's a lot of free stuff in it for you along with my thanks.