I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man's. I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.

- William Blake

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Multiclass-ception: MCing into your own class (D&D 5e)

I hear people ask this on the internet, but never in my group. It sounds like an interesting thought exercise: could your D&D character "multiclass" into a subclass inside of your own class?

For example, could a champion fighter "multi-class" into a battle master fighter? Or, more interestingly, could a thief get one or two levels of assassin or arcane trickster?

Here is why - and how - I'd allow it.

First, it seems like a fair idea in terms of fluff - maybe you want your thief to gain a few arcane trickster features, like Gray Mouser, without multi-classing into wizard, or you like the four elements monk to have some aspects of the kensai.

Also, if my 2nd level fighter can become a battle master... why wouldn't my 12th level champion be able to do the same?

In terms of balance... I cannot see any problems at a first glance, although I'm sure we can find something. I'd rather forbid one or two problematic cases than ban the concept altogether, although I suspect that these rules will seldom be more powerful than simply multiclassing.

Anyway, my first instinct is to treat this as "school credits" or something similar - you do not have to take the "credits" you already have. Or like "prestige classes" that require a few levels in other classes to get to.

This is how you multiclassing work by 5e rules (emphasis mine):

Multiclassing allows you to gain levels in multiple classes. Doing so lets you mix the abilities of those classes to realize a character concept that might not be reflected in one of the standard class options
With this rule, you have the option of gaining a level in a new class whenever you advance in level, instead of gaining a level in your current class. Your levels in all your classes are added together to determine your character level. For example, if you have three levels in wizard and two in fighter, you're a 5th-level character. 
As you advance in levels, you might primarily remain a member of your original class with just a few levels in another class, or you might change course entirely, never looking back at the class you left behind. You might even start progressing in a third or fourth class. Compared to a single-class character of the same level, you'll sacrifice some focus in exchange for versatility.

One random example:

Character Level
1 Fighter 1
2 Fighter 2
3 Fighter 3
4 Fighter 3 Rogue 1
5 Fighter 3 Rogue 2
6 Fighter 4 Rogue 2
7 Fighter 5 Rogue 2
8 Fighter 6 Rogue 2
9 Fighter 7 Rogue 2
10 Fighter 8 Rogue 2
11 Fighter 9 Rogue 2
12 Fighter 10 Rogue 2
13 Fighter 11 Rogue 2
14 Fighter 12 Rogue 2
15 Fighter 13 Rogue 2
16 Fighter 14 Rogue 2
17 Fighter 15 Rogue 2
18 Fighter 15 Rogue 3
19 Fighter 15 Rogue 3 Warlock 1
20 Fighter 15 Rogue 3 Warlock 2

It is obvious that you cannot multiclass from pure fighter to rogue 2 without going through rogue 1; you haven't complete your "credits" in rogue school until you do!

If you are a you're a "pure" fighter, you have three paths to choose from: champion, battle master or eldritch knight.

Character Level
1 Fighter 1
2 Fighter 2
3 Champion 3 BM 3 EK 3
4 Fighter 4 Fighter 4 Fighter 4
5 Fighter 5 Fighter 5 Fighter 5
6 Fighter 6 Fighter 6 Fighter 6
7 Champion 7 BM 7 EK 7
8 Fighter 8 Fighter 8 Fighter 8
9 Fighter 9 Fighter 9 Fighter 9
10 Champion 10 BM 10 EK 10
11 Fighter 11 Fighter 11 Fighter 11
12 Fighter 12 Fighter 12 Fighter 12
13 Fighter 13 Fighter 13 Fighter 13
14 Fighter 14 Fighter 14 Fighter 14
15 Champion 15 BM 15 EK 15
16 Fighter 16 Fighter 16 Fighter 16
17 Fighter 17 Fighter 17 Fighter 17
18 Champion 18 BM 18 EK 18
19 Fighter 19 Fighter 19 Fighter 19
20 Fighter 20 Fighter 20 Fighter 20

To get the 10th-level battle master features, it is not enough that you're a 9th-level fighter gaining a level - you need to have walked the whole path, and that includes having the features of a 3rd and 7th level battle master.

But - here is the house rule - once you've been through the path, you can take a step in any direction you like, including your own sub-classes. You can even change your course if you want to!

Let us some examples.

Say you're a 10th level champion.

Can you multi-class into monk or rogue? YES, if you meet the prerequisites. You start at level 1 in any of those classes.

Can you get a level three monk feature? NO, because to get that feature you need to have walked the whole path through Monk 1 and Monk 2.

Can you multi-class into battle master 3? YES - you meet all the requirements, since you'e already been through Fighter 1 and Fighter 2.

Can you multi-class into battle master 10? NO, because, even though you have all the fighter levels that are required, you do not have levels 3 and 7. On the other hand, you CAN reach you goal in the next three levels. You can even switch your path to Battle Master once you get a few more levels:

Character Level
1 Fighter 1
2 Fighter 2
3 Champion 3
4 Fighter 4
5 Fighter 5
6 Fighter 6
7 Champion 7
8 Fighter 8
9 Fighter 9
10 Champion 10
11 Champion 10 BM 3
12 Champion 10 BM 8
13 Champion 10 BM 10
14 Fighter 11 Fighter 11
15 Fighter 12 Fighter 12
16 Fighter 13 Fighter 13
17 Fighter 14 Fighter 14
BM 15

Notation would be something like Fighter 10 (Champion)/Fighter 1 (Battle master 3) at level 11, and  Fighter 15 (Battle master)/Fighter 3 (Champion 10) at level 18. A bit confusing, I admit, but should work well enough.

But... feats!

Yes, feats are a fair solution too. In this case, the Martial Adept feat. If we used this house rules, would the martial adept feat become obsolete? Not quite. Battle master 3 STILL requires fighter 1 and 2, so the feat would still be useful for other classes, while the champion and eldritch knight would gain a significant boost when taking maneuvers. Sounds good to me!

Would that work?

I have never tested it, but what do you think? Any pitfalls I might be missing?

All images copyright of Wizards of the coast.


  1. I know this is an older post, but it also fits ideas I have had for PC subclasses with diciplines within the class (totem barb, 4e monk, etc.) have the option to pick up the other class features.

    1. By this, I mean that the Totem and Storm Herald Barbarians can go on quests with the rewards being another totem/element. They still can only have the 3 aspects involved (Totem aspects for example), but they have more options.

    2. I like the idea - the only caveat is that you'd be giving them features for free, so there might be balance issues... but nothing too extreme, I think.

  2. The way I see it, it becomes the equivilent of spells/day. The player gets to adjust the characters within the constraints of the subclass. I would probably make it a side quest where every party member gets some form of Boon as a reward. All non CHA casters can eventually gain access to their full class spell list, so I see no problem with allowing for the martial subclasses with diciplines within them also expanding their power.

    While I like your internal multi classing, for Fighters, I like the idea of giving all Fighters the full Maneuvers list and a pool of Superiority Dice. The Standard Fighter caps at 4 SD (d6) at lvl 20, with the BM at 8 SD (d12) at 20. In my head, the advantage of Fighters is that they are Generalist combatants. This does potentially go too far in the opposite direction though.

  3. There's one obvious gap; spells-per-day for ⅓rd caster dips.

    1. I'll admit I don't often use MCing, so I might be wrong here, but this seems easy to solve. Let us say you want to have 5 levels of fighters: 4 EK levels and 1 Champion level (champion 3), which makes you BOTH an level 4 EK and a level 4 Champ, but NOT a level 5 EK.

      However, giving class features as feats - provided you meet the prerequisites - would probably be easier.