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D&D Q&A: 10/04/2013
Rodney Thompson

Y ou've got questions—we've got answers! Here's how it works—each week, our Community Manager will scour all available sources to find whatever questions you're asking. We'll pick three of them for R&D to answer, whether about the about the making of the game or anything else you care to know about... with some caveats.

There are certain business and legal questions we can't answer (for business and legal reasons). And if you have a specific rules question, we'd rather point you to Customer Service, where representatives are ready and waiting to help guide you through the rules of the game. That said, our goal is provide you with as much information we can—in this and other venues.

1 It looks like class groups might help determine the hit points for a class, but how much will a group affect the other mechanics of a class?

The class groupings are going to have very little mechanical impact on the classes. Even the idea of hit points being affected is just a minor consideration—in all the examples from Mike’s Legends & Lore column, we were already thinking of making those hit point changes outside of class groups. In fact, at the moment, we don’t have any concrete plans for the class groups outside of acting as prerequisites for certain highly specialized game mechanics. These groups are just a tag or label that can be applied to the classes, grouping them by their common elements, so that in the rare case where we need to restrict another game object, we can do so. I would stress that we expect the use of these class groups in mechanics and prerequisites to be relatively uncommon, only applying when thematically appropriate. For example, we might say that only mages can use the staff of the magi, because it’s clearly intended for use by arcane magic users. Alternatively, we don’t always have to use class group as a restriction, and we could instead use it to indicate greater potency.

2 With these class groups, does the class and subclass structure still exist?

Yes. Again, the class group concept is just a label that helps when we need to refer to several classes that have similar characteristics. The choices you make inside your class are not going to change as a result of this concepts implementation.

3 Would characters that pick up a trickster background (something like a street rat background) qualify as a trickster for any game requirement that cares? What about the same thing for someone who picks up an arcane background?

We expect to apply the class group labels where we see fit, and we will break those groups when we need to. For example, the thief’s Use Magic Device feature can let the rogue ignore all class group restrictions, or we might say that characters of certain backgrounds, subclasses, and even races always count as members of a certain class group. The truth is that we’re still working out how frequently we want to use this tech, and right now we are aiming to be more conservative with how we use it than having it appear all over the place.

How can I submit a question to the D&D Next Q&A?

Instead of a single venue to submit questions, our Community Manager will be selecting questions from our message boards, Twitter feed, and Facebook account. You can also submit questions directly to So, if you'd like to have your question answered in the D&D Next Q&A, just continue to participate in our online community—and we may select yours!

Rodney Thompson
Rodney Thompson began freelancing in the RPG industry in 2001 before graduating from the University of Tennessee. In 2007 he joined the Wizards of the Coast staff as the lead designer and developer for the new Star Wars RPG product line. Rodney is the co-designer of Lords of Waterdeep and is currently a designer for Dungeons & Dragons.
Wow. Why does not liking a concept require being so rude? Poor guy should change his last name to Dangerfield.
Posted By: ReverendTed (10/8/2013 12:26:17 PM)


Simple feedback: Don't do it. It's a mistake.
Posted By: TrippyHippy (10/7/2013 3:58:49 AM)


Ok, all that feedback here. If you still stick to the class-group concept after this ****-storm, you are plainly disregarding your customers wants and needs. So simply get rid of this idea quick, please. My initial lenghty comment on mikes article didnt pass your sytems validation check, but everything I wrote has ben laid out by people here, so no need to repeat myself....just leave it be and forget that class-group concept. Now!
Posted By: Schmieth (10/6/2013 8:25:18 AM)


I'll stand by my original comments when Mike Mearls first announced the concept of class groups: To me, this seemed like a useless, arbitrary thing that will serve little purpose. This article confirms that for me. So much work has been put into DnD Next to make it more simple - so why add this extra level of unnecessary complication and confusion?

If this (in my eyes) useless concept is kept, I'm at least happy to hear that it will have minimal impact on the game (but why even have it, then?)

One more thing if class groups are to be kept, though: I'll add my voice to those who beg WotC to find another name than 'Trickster' - the word makes me think of a juggler in a circus, not a DnD hero...
Posted By: FelisLynx (10/6/2013 3:44:59 AM)


Martial, Technique (Finesse), Arcane and Divine... PLEASE *begs*
Posted By: Killwalla (10/6/2013 2:45:41 AM)


Hey guys lets add the d30 to the game. It will never do anything but we think it's so cute...
Posted By: J.Trudel (10/5/2013 9:34:35 PM)


Does WOTC think we are stupid or something? Why do we need to be told that fighters and barbarians are warrior types and clerics and wizards are magic types? Hello! We can kind of figure that out! And, why not just say in the description of staff of the magi something like, only arcane casters can use it? I don't understand why we need this metagroupings. And if I have to write "trickster" at the top of my character sheet for my assassin I'm going to need a hefty supply of barf bags for every time I look at it. Thtat is just horrible name, title, whatever. I could handle trickster being some kind of subclass to rogue, (because then I could ignore this putrid adjective more readily) but to shove all rogues, thieves, assassins, bards, possibly monks, as "tricksters"? that's a big WTF right there.

And the whole having to "break" these groupings when they don't work tells you right there that they are largely pointless, if not wholly pointless. Mayb... (see all)
Posted By: moes1980 (10/5/2013 12:43:43 PM)


Sorry mr. Thompson, but...
"The class groupings are going to have very little mechanical impact on the classes."
"we don’t have any concrete plans for the class groups outside of acting as prerequisites for certain highly specialized game mechanics."
Isn't a contraddiction?

For final...
"we will break those groups when we need to."
So, who cares about class groups?
Seems yours not have a clear vision of want to offer to us.

Please, use class groups only for quick reference for player's/DM creation, and leave prerequisites only for game mechanics, and not for metagame visions.
If requisites are needed for magic item like the Staff of the Magi, simply yours need to made a in-game hint like "Only high cunning in the magic doned by dragons can permit to use his great powers" - Mechanics: Arcane spellcasting with Intelligence 20 or higher. Which fit perfectly for wizards, and not so ... (see all)
Posted By: Eilistraecomeback (10/5/2013 8:34:58 AM)


Like it. Not as controversial as putting all the emphasis on subclasses and rolling all the "mages" into one class (though I personally didn't mind that so much).

Careful with how backgrounds measure up to full-on class levels. Not sure what's best. Should a fighter with an arcane student background (e.g., knows two cantrips and one 1st-level spell) count as a mage?? His background should count for something, but I don't know what. Just sayin'.
Posted By: marius4 (10/5/2013 1:32:11 AM)


Please just use 4e style power sources. That made sense. Martial, Arcane, Divine, Psionic, and Primal. (Shadow was a, IMO, dumb/weird thing to add to 4e right before you guys dumped it.)

Only a few classes mess with this model. Like the monk. But, making him psionic was a good idea. The bard, too, works well as 'arcane'. Not perfect, but better than nothing.

I know you won't use 4e style 'roles' unless they are renamed Warrior, Mage, Rogue, and Cleric. (or something to tat effect.)
Posted By: seti (10/4/2013 10:12:31 PM)


I don't Don't care what 'hit die' varous classes get; ie: d4 for wizard, d6 for rogue, d8 for cleric, d10 for fighter, d12 for barbarian, etc.

But I do mind if classes at level one start with that amount. No one should have to go through level one with 4 HP, IMO. Let all 1st level PCs start with like, 8-12 HP + CON mod.
Posted By: seti (10/4/2013 10:16:01 PM)


I think power grouping really is a separate issue, and not really what the Class grouping is attempting to do.

For the record, I'm not really a fan of the 4e power types anyway - again you are left with too many classes that have their individual ambiguities taken away from them when you over define and categorise types. I don't think, for example, that Bards are tapping an 'arcane' source when they create an inspirational song. Nor do I think Monks are psychic. I don't really see martial training as a 'power' either.
Posted By: TrippyHippy (10/5/2013 8:23:49 AM)


I think you might be misunderstanding the use the word "power" in this context, if martial capability doesn't seem to fit.
Posted By: Matt_Sheridan (10/7/2013 10:55:20 AM)


Yeah, at this point, it really does look like using 4e-style power sources would make sense, since that system of terminology seems to much more directly reference the ideas that this class group system wants to interact with. If the point of this system is to let other mechanics key off of, for example, characters who wield divine powers, then it definitely makes more sense to actually use the term "Divine" than "Priest", since it's not any kind of priestly role or identity that the mechanic actually cares about.

They can even split off Rogues into some new, non-martial power source, if they really want. It seems like kind of a reach, but I can see how they'd want some mechanics to apply to fighty dudes and others to apply to sneaky dudes. Also, it seems necessary to take a cue from late-era 4e and allow characters with multiple power sources. A Paladin is very clearly both Martial and Divine, I think.
Posted By: Matt_Sheridan (10/7/2013 11:04:22 AM)


I've no issue with slight adjustments being made to Classes - d8 HD for Rogues, etc, or with game designers using their own internal groupings for Classes to aid with magic items and so on. However, just a cursary examination of the debates regarding class groupings suggest to me that it will be difficult to implement.

Is a Monk a warrior, a trickster or a priest? There's a case for all three because, in actuality it's a mix of all three. Should we group Wizards, Sorcerers and Warlocks together as Mages? Apparently it's not a well recieved idea - so why do it for all Classes?

You've probably heard these criticisms a lot already, but they are pretty valid.

Posted By: Trippy1 (10/4/2013 7:34:05 PM)


"The class groupings are going to have very little mechanical impact on the classes."


"we don’t have any concrete plans for the class groups outside of acting as prerequisites for certain highly specialized game mechanics"

If the game mechanics that need them are intensely esoteric, why wouldn't they just say the names of the classes they apply to? Wouldn't that be preferable to slapping the "WARRIOR" label on the Ranger or the "TRICKSTER" label on anything at all?

"TRICKSTER" is a terrible name for a group of classes, as is "PRIEST" (considering that it applies to Paladins not at all). If people are telling you that lumping all Arcane classes under Mage was a terrible idea, I don't know why you are expanding the things we don't like into cancerous tumors on the core product, rather than just fixing them.
Posted By: wetsail (10/4/2013 6:51:05 PM)


This sounds so much like a muddled cross between Source and Role. Make Class Groups act about like one or the other - preferably Source, IMHO - and the whole thing will become much clearer and more useful.

Also, there is no conceptual difference between Warrior and Trickster except Pillar. Warriors are non-caster restricted to the Combat Pillar while Tricksters are non-casters restricted to the Interaction and Exploration pillars. Why do non-casters need to be split up like that? Priests and Mages get to be effective in all three pillars.
Posted By: Tony_Vargas (10/4/2013 4:21:18 PM)


I am going to blunt; between the LnL, Mikes tweets and this Ro3, the class groups idea is a mess.

I understand that they did no get good feedback on the mage super-class idea and were looking for other ways to organize things. However, this seems very poorly thought out.

The fact that both the Ro3 and the LnL are poorly written on top of this makes it a bad week for the Design team. I really have no idea what they want out of class groups.

Are they design guidelines? Are they in-game designations? Are they roles, power sources, or an organizational tool for sorting items and feats?

Most charitably, we may be seeing their internal thought process. A kind of in-between stage as they move from the all-encompasing mage class to something better. But we have clearly not seen "the better" yet.
Posted By: GilbertMDH (10/4/2013 2:11:03 PM)


From the article: "We expect to apply the class group labels where we see fit, and we will break those groups when we need to."

How will that benefit the players, both conceptually and in play? And if you're going to be disregarding the system you've created, why create it in the first place? - John
Posted By: Seanchai (10/4/2013 11:32:28 AM)


So I guess class groups really are just power sources, then? I am fine with that.
Posted By: Matt_Sheridan (10/4/2013 10:17:59 AM)


I don't like the Trickster power source. I'm ok with Rogue-Likes to have many skills. I'm not ok for their class to be better at those skills than other classes are better at their own.
Posted By: ZaranBlack (10/4/2013 1:00:51 PM)


The Trickster does seem redundant. Warriors are highly skilled, non-magic-using Adventurers. Tricksters are highly-skilled, non-magic-using Adventurers. The difference is attitude - and which 'Pillars' they get to participate in. Unless Illusionists and Clerics of Olidimara or Erevan Ilesere are in the 'Trickster' group, that is.
Posted By: Tony_Vargas (10/4/2013 4:29:02 PM)


If bards and rangers are included in tricksters they are definitely skills and magic using. Meanwhile, so are paladins in the warrior grouping. Monks and Barbarians both acquire supernatural/magical abilities. The only classes that really don't use magic are fighters and rogues, and rogues have UMD. The only class the currently is unlike to ever always use magic is the wizard. Every other class is somewhere on a magic versus weapon combat scale. It goes something like this: fighter, rogue, barbarian, monk, ranger, paladin, bard, cleric, druid, mage in order from least to most magic and the bard is arguably just a magical as clerics and druids because performance is magical and unlimited number of uses.
Posted By: Ashrym (10/4/2013 9:01:11 PM)


I don't like the idea of any magic item referencing a class, let alone a class group. If they require arcane spellcasting for some reason, use that as the requirement, and don't worry about where it comes from.

Otherwise it all feels very unnatural.
Posted By: Trillinon (10/4/2013 10:05:35 AM)


I think class groups should include more mechanical elements, not just hit dice but at least some of the starting proficiencies. Class groups could be a useful tool to prevent the abuse of multi-classing--you only get your class group proficiencies at 1st level (your class can grant further proficiencies as well).
This could even be a way to handle the tricky exceptions to multi-classing like spells per day and extra attacks.
Posted By: Osgood (10/4/2013 8:05:16 AM)


I'm not even seeing the point in limiting multiclassing in some of those cases so don't expect it to really happen. There doesn't seem to be any point in not allowing a fighter, monk, and paladin to multiclass, or a cleric and druid, or a wizard and whatever based on the latest packet MC rules implentation. (Side Topic: not a fan of that either). Meanwhile, abusive multiclassing doesn't look necessarily different.
Posted By: Ashrym (10/4/2013 4:10:07 PM)


Y'all certainly seem to want to talk about Class Groups a lot for a mechanic that's going to have so little impact on the game.
Posted By: Bly2729 (10/4/2013 7:01:04 AM)


I hope that the use of class groupings is in the interest of decreasing complexity, of making things more elegant. "This requires a roll unless you are a Mage" or something.

I like it because it makes backwards compatibility an option-- always a problem, since the nature of a publishing schedule means you are always going to be creating post-hoc stuff, and the nature of a player-and-DM driven hobby means they'll be creating ad-hoc stuff.

What I REALLY like is tying races into it...or even better, tying subraces into it. Saying "high elves count as mages, wood elves count as rogues, regardless of what class they actually are" or whatever is a good method of reflecting a CULTURE.

A huge, huge pet peeve of mine about 4e was that so many of the feats were hyper specialized-- you have to be an elf! An elf fighter! An elf fighter with a dex of 15! An elf fighter with a dex of 15 who uses a spear! An elf 15 with a dex of 15 who uses a... (see all)
Posted By: mordicai (10/4/2013 5:55:41 AM)


Rodney, I have to repeat myself. I really do not like any association with personality traits in the category names. Personality traits should come from player choices instead of game mechanics. Classes based on skill mechanics are not necessarily tricksy, devious, or anything of the sort. They are simply trained as experts in specialized skills. My concept of a bard is not some wandering singing trickster and do not like that association as being applied. My idea of a bard is the historian, magician, healer, teacher, advisor, and sagely concept and that can still be covered as a skilled expert without being some kind of traveling musician that a person shouldn't trust outside of eyesight and earshot. I think adding personality traits like that removes choices instead of creating them.

Bards cast spells, support the group, heal, and do some melee. They play like clerics in that respect and in 3E that's how I played them, and in 4E that's how I played them in the lead... (see all)
Posted By: Ashrym (10/4/2013 1:31:13 AM)


Also, restricting Item use by an artificial 'Class Group', or even by Class in general, removes story hooks concerning a non-Mage (for example) character getting his hands on such an Item and wielding its power, consequences bedamned.
Posted By: LupusRegalis (10/4/2013 1:21:40 AM)


True, but I imagine if this makes it into the final product, DMs can disregard it at will as well. - John
Posted By: Seanchai (10/4/2013 11:34:12 AM)


So, psionic Psion and divine Invoker can use the Staff of the Magi as well.
Posted By: Haldrik (10/4/2013 1:10:32 AM)


Sounds like it's better off as an Idea, and not an actual part of the system. And it's not that great an idea.

The problem is it is a very Meta-game system, that has effects on the entire game and the way it is played. A Trickster-lord should never say in game "Only Tricksters may enter the hall", because it references a Game Mechanic instead of an in-game character trait.

Even if used as a guiding statement for the DM in an Adventure module, it has problems. It colors the view of the DM, separating the Class from the Character as a more important focus. RPG's and gaming in general have progressed past that kind of assumption. More important is the character himself and how he is played, than what kind of class he might be.

As far as 'Relics' or other items, it's again very silly to say 'Only Mages can use the Staff of Magi'. Instead, require that any wielder must meet certain in-game requirements, such as access arcane magic, to a c... (see all)
Posted By: LupusRegalis (10/4/2013 12:43:52 AM)