153 – Character Classes

The Mythcreant Podcast

Classes have been in roleplaying games for as long as there have been roleplaying games. But why? What benefits do classes provide, and are they worth it? Ari returns for a third episode to discuss how classes work, what they bring to a game, which systems do them best, and pitfalls to avoid. Plus, discover the source of our highly controversial Cleric/Wizard multiclass.

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Opening and closing theme: The Princess Who Saved Herself by Jonathan Coulton. Used with permission.

Show Notes:

5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons

The Rebuttal Post


Legend of the Five Rings

Dungeon World

Mouse Guard


Iron Kingdom RPG

D20 Modern

Treat your friends to an evening of dark ritual murder. In a fictional game scenario, of course. Uncover your lost memories and save the day in our stand-alone game, The Voyage.

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  1. American Charioteer

    I’m beating an undead horse at this point, but this is what page 164 of the PHB says on multiclassing.

    “You determine what spells you know and can prepare for each class individually, as if you were a SINGLE-CLASSED MEMBER of that class.” [Emphasis mine.]

    So if you are a Cleric1/Wizard17, you determine what spells you know and can prepare as a cleric as if you were a SINGLE-CLASSED MEMBER of the cleric class. Thus, you only know and prepare Lv1 cleric spells. (However, there is nothing in the rules stopping you from casting a Lv1 spell like “cure wounds” with a 9th level spell slot.)

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      Yep, and your single class Cleric no longer has their cleric spell slots, they only have their new mutliclass spell slots. Otherwise they couldn’t use those higher slots at all. Those multiclass slots have to be there in order to, as you noted, use them for lower level spells like Cure Wounds.

      • El Suscriptor Justiciero

        But the point is that IF YOU WERE A SINGLE-CLASSED CLERIC you wouldn’t have ANY multiclass spell slots. You would have spell slots equal to what a single-classed cleric of your cleric level has. And therefore you can only prepare cleric spells that a single-classed cleric of your cleric level could prepare.


        I agree that they DON’T say it in a clear and obvious manner. That’s where the confusion comes from. But they do say it.

        The way they are written, read to the letter, the rules say that a Cleric 1/Wizard 19 can only prepare 1st-level cleric spells, because a Cleric 1 can only prepare 1st-level cleric spells.

        • Ari Ashkenazi

          The only reason a 1st level cleric can’t use a level 9 cleric spell is the lack of level 9 spell slots, so when your 19 wiz/1 cleric goes to select spells, that level 1 cleric looks at their spell list with a level 20 character’s arsenal of spell slots.

          • El Suscriptor Justiciero

            “You determine what spells you know and can prepare for each class individually, AS IF YOU WERE A SINGLE-CLASSED MEMBER of that class.”



            A 1st-level cleric doesn’t have spell slots above 1st level. A Cleric 1/Wizard 19 prepares cleric spells as if they were a 1st-level cleric WITHOUT ANY WIZARD LEVELS.


            That’s what the rules say.

          • Ari Ashkenazi

            Except you don’t have cleric and wizard spell slots, you have 1 set of multiclass spell slots, and the way clerics (and druids incidentally) cast spells allows for this to work.

          • Oren Ashkenazi

            Editor’s note: I’ve deleted a comment here for deliberately insulting another commenter. Arguing about D&D rules is fine, personal attacks are not.

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      The disconnect is that most classes have a limited number of spells known based on level, but the Cleric doesn’t. It effectively “knows” all its spells from Level 1.

      • American Charioteer

        I see what you are looking at. On page 58, in the section Preparing and Casting Spells: “The spells must be of a level for which you have spell slots.” You are correct that in the cleric section, the PHB fails to specify whether or not the spell slots have to be cleric spell slots.

        However, on page 7, the overview of the rules has a section explaining that “Specific Beats General.” And we know that the PHB implies that page 58 refers only to Cleric spell slots, because the multiclassing section on page 164 is extremely specific:

        “If you have more than one spellcasting class, this table might give you spell slots of a level that is higher than the spells you can know or prepare. You can use these slots, but ONLY TO CAST YOUR LOWER LEVEL SPELLS. If a lower-level spell that you cast, like burning hands, has an enhanced effect when cast using a higher-level slot, you can use the enhanced effect, even though YOU DON’T HAVE ANY SPELLS OF THE HIGHER LEVEL.” [Emphasis mine.]

        That paragraph would be meaningless with the interpretation you support. The following paragraph is even more explicit, giving a highly specific example to explain how the rules should be interpreted:

        “For example, if you are the aforementioned ranger 4/wizard 3, you count as a 5th-level character when determining your spell slots; you have four 1st level slots, three 2nd-level slots, and two 3rd-level slots. However YOU DON’T KNOW ANY 3RD LEVEL SPELLS, nor do you know ANY 2ND LEVEL RANGER SPELLS. You can use the spell slots of those levels to cast the spells you do know–and potentially enhance their effects.” [Emphasis mine.]

        As I am far from the first to point out, your interpretation ignores an entire section of the rules which was created specifically to prevent the interpretation where a Cleric1/Wizard16 casts ninth level cleric spells.

      • American Charioteer

        Your interpretation is akin to an Antebellum southerner reading the 10th Amendment to the US constitution (The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people) and saying “Well that means the United States doesn’t have the power to end the Atlantic slave trade or impose tariffs or interfere with anything else that the states do.”

        But the US did have the power to stop states from participating in the Atlantic slave trade, impose tariffs, or interfere in certain other “state’s rights issues” because Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 explicitly authorizes Congress to regulate international or interstate commerce. The specific statement of a rule (the commerce clause, or page 164 of the PHB) always supersedes a more general rule (the 10th amendment, or page 58 of the PHB).

  2. American Charioteer

    Overall, I enjoyed this podcast a lot, and I do agree that skill points in 3.5e were better than mulitclassing in 5e. Responding to the point your example of a fighter who wants to pick locks, skill points make this really easy. Any character in 3.5e can invest skill points into any skills you would like. The limitations are (1) classes like the jack-of-all-trades rogue and bard get more skill points than hyper-specialized wizards (2) it is twice as expensive for a character to invest in “cross-class” skills. This makes thematic sense: every wizard has “knowledge: arcana” as a class skill because every wizard studies arcana. It is more difficult for a wizard to learn “open-lock” because she would have to learn from someone beyond the academic setting where she learned her other skills.

    DND 5e replaced skill points with skills that are less specialized and linked to classes. Thus, in 5e a fighter who wants to pick locks would probably take a level of rogue. In 3.5e, the fighter would just invest the skill points, and if they wanted to get even better at picking locks later they could always invest more skill points. I completely agree with you that encouraging multiclassing can make characters feel clunky and intentional. I miss skill points, because they let any kind of character invest effort over time to learn specific skills, just like real people do.

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