Content of the article: "What changes to Class Identity from Edition to Edition do you like/dislike?"
I have been thinking about this for a while due, in particular, to the Sorcerer and, to an extent, the Monk (I do know that the Bard is also radically different, but only insofar as it was trash before and now it's awesome). I'd like this tread to be about what differences people with more experience with other editions have noticed and how they feel about it, but here's the main things that bothered me.
In 3.5, the Sorcerer was a spontaneous caster and a font of magic, this was their class identity (N.B. there's an idiot's guide to Vancian magic at the bottom if anyone needs details, but I am an idiot so it might be flawed).
This basically meant that Sorcerers, despite their smaller list of known spells, always had access to their entire repertoire and could leverage it with far greater finesse than an other caster. On top of this versatility, the Sorcerer also had about 1.5x as many spell slots as the Wizard, the most of any class.
This versatility is more or less compressed into sorcery points and metamagic in this edition (interestingly, due to getting way more feats than other classes, metamagic was more of a wizard thing in 3.5). The now get the same number of spell slots as ever other full caster and not only have fewer spells known, their spells know are also fewer than the number of spells prepared casters (including half-caster, Paladin) can prepare on any single day.
This is just a shift in class identity I thought I'd point out, one caused by spontaneous casting now being ubiquitous, rather than a powerful ability that a class can be built around. This loss of a core identity is in part why I think that Sorcerer is such a divisive class.
In 3.5, the Monk had many of the same 'core' ideas to it: unarmed, unarmoured specialist; super swift; good saves; protections from poisons, diseases and enchantments, in fact most of the 5E monk abilities are almost direct ports from 3.5.
The major differences are: Ki as a resource; delayed abilities; Deflect Missiles; Stunning Strike.
In 5E, the Monk's most powerful abilities are restricted by a limited resource. Flurry of Blows was just a basic feature in 3.5, and one of the Monk's core features was that they could make more attacks in a turn than anyone else, every turn (so long as they didn't move – Full Round Actions are a thing I am happy is gone). This role has moved to the Fighter, with their access to Action Surge and multiple Extra Attacks.
When I mention delayed abilities, this is mostly about Monks being good at saving throws. In 3.5, from 1st level all of the Monk's saving throws were strong (the 3.5 equivalent of being 'proficient' in a saving throw). In 5E this powerful trait hides away in late Tier 3, beyond the end of a lot of campaigns.
Finally, there are the two major added abilities. Deflect Missiles is, I feel, a cool and thematic addition to the idea of Monks. Stunning Strike on the other hand… It's too good. At early levels it is far more powerful than any other use of ki (this arguably tails off due to the massively high Con saves of most Legendary creatures), essentially turning the Monk into a Stun turret.
Mostly, I just miss the Monk being the class that makes the most attacks, since it's so thematic with unarmed combatants.
I'm super glad that Barbarians aren't as pigeon-holed into being morons in 5E. Having illiteracy being a class feature was, well, not the best idea.
For those who are newer or have blocked out past editions, in D&D 3.5, Spellcasting worked using a system called Vancian Magic. This means that ever morning, a spellcaster would assign a particular spell to each of their spellslots and that slot could only be used to cast that spell.
For example, a second level Wizard had 2 1st level slots and 1 2nd level slot, so in the morning they would decide that they wanted to have one Shield and one Mage Armour at 1st level and 1 Burning Hands upcast to 2nd level, and they could only use those slots to cast those spells. If no reason to cast Shield presents itself, sorry, that 1st level slot's not getting used today.
While there were certain minor exceptions (e.g. Clerics could replace an prepared spell with a domain spell), there was only one complete class that ignored this: the Sorcerer.
- How I think sorcerer should have been handled.
- Short Rest Spell Points instead of Long rest spell slots
- A rework to Dispel Magic and Counterspell to make them feel more satisfying. Spell
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