Monday, March 19, 2012

AD&D's Dual Classing doesn't suck (much)


Recently in an AD&D campaign a player lost his character and the DM decided to allow him to make a new character with the same amount of XP. After looking at the PHB he decides to go for Bard (which involves Dual Classing). We were 7th level characters when this happened.

To our surprise he was able to make a 3rd level Bard dual classed as a 5th level Fighter and a 5th Level Thief.

What happened is that the rough doubling of required XP to advance really worked in his favor. It required only a modest amount of XP to advance to 5th level in both Fighter and Thief and then to 3rd level to Bard.

The implication of this is that in AD&D 1st; Dual Classing isn't as onerous as it first appears. Because when you do it, it is likely that you will continue adventuring with the rest of the party. The XP award will not be what you getting when you were at low levels but whatever the party has been tackling i.e. deeper dungeon levels.  Advancement through the lower levels will be a lot more rapid than what occurred for the original levels.

When it all said and done it is likely the dual classed character will only be a level or two behind the rest of the party. By that point it is likely he would have exceeded his former levels and regained his old abilities. So as crazy as the old Bard looked it doesn't look as bad as it did before.

10 comments:

Joseph Bloch said...

Plus, when he switches to his new class he gets to keep all of the hit points from the previous class. So even though he's a 1st level whatever adventuring with a bunch of 6th level friends, he's still got the same amount of hit points as if he was 5th level himself.

Robert Fisher said...

There is that rule that you can only earn enough XP from one adventure to advance one level. That can slow you down a bit. My impression, however, is that was only intended to be enforced if the group felt someone was abusing the rules.

Speaking of abusing the rules, in a 3 player campaign one time, a friend and I decided to start our PCs as fighters, then immediately dual-class into magic-user (for me) & cleric (for him). The thief had to waste some time while we were off training for our intended careers. It ended up kind of like having a couple of 1st level fighter henchmen built into a 3 PC party.

My biggest problem with the dual-class rules are the ability score requirements. I’d prefer to make it rare by the effort and expense of getting the training rather than just making it rare based on luck.

Thiles Targon said...

Yeah pretty much all Humans should dual class, as a fighter for at least a level if nothing else. Due to the geometric progression of XP reqd, it does not have any real effect on the other class. Having access to all weapons armor and a few more hit points plus perhaps % strength is huge for thieves and clerics.

Gavin Norman said...

Good point. I'd never though of that!

Joseph Bloch said...

As a DM, when my players tumbled to that (starting as a fighter to get all the armor and weapons bennies, then switching to being a magic user or thief), I started enforcing the idea that they needed to actually learn the new class. Which would take at least a year in-game.

It's one of those things that wouldn't get mentioned, let alone enforced, unless the players were trying to min-max to get some benefit, rather than doing something as a natural outcome of the role-playing experience.

Ironbeaver said...

Dual Classing was actually something I learned from the SSI Gold Box Games. "How come Gandalf can use Glamdring and I can't use a sword?" Because Gandalf did the Dual Class switcharoo.

faoladh said...

Joseph Bloch: There was an article by Len Lakofka called "Working Your Way Up to First Level" (Dragon 51). While not his intention, I do think that the ideas could be used to curb abuse of dual-classing. The idea is that you start by going through necessary training (a fighter learns, in order, single weapon, armor and shield, single weapon, and fired weapon, taking 4-9 wks, 4-9 wks, 6-17 wks, 6-17 months, respectively), then goes into "pre-first level" for 500xp (in two stages), at which time another weapon is learned taking 5-10 more weeks. Other classes follow similar patterns (some with two stages of initial training), with "pre-first level" taking anywhere from 400xp (druid) to 800xp (illusionist, assassin).

It was a neat idea, and perhaps useful for games that want to simulate the "apprenticeship" type of story, as well as games where dual-classing has gotten out of hand.

Altruistic Alchemist said...

While not truly dual classing a 1st edition AD&D bard can be a seriously overpowered character. Depending on whether he goes the fast (5th Ftr; 6th Thief) route or the slow route (7th Ftr; 8th Thief) really doesn't matter too much. It was Dragon #69 that had Moore's article on "Charting the Classes" where it's really laid out quite clearly. The gist of the article states that with basically the same amount of experience (10,000,000 XP) nets the fighter 11th level and an average of 73.5 Hp (16 Con.) While the same amount of XP nets a "Fast" bard- 15 lvl. 102 HP (16 Con.) or a "Slow" bard -14 lvl. 116 HP (16 Con.). These are all average HPs of course, and other considerations do apply also, like how hard it is to qualify for this class to begin with.
Personally I have played a 1st edition bard and they really don't lag all that much behind the rest of the party. Note, that in order to qualify there was some serious leeway given in rolling up the character.

Depending on the length of the campaign being played in dual classing can be a considerable asset to any character. As long as you can qualify for it there really is no good reason not to do it from a mechanical standpoint. From a role-playing viewpoint there would have to be some very compelling arguments to allow the switch over, in my opinion.

1d30 said...

On the 1E Bard class: It's not actually overpowered if you keep in mind how dual-classing is supposed to work. If you're a Bard who went with 6 levels of Fighter and 8 levels of Thief, you should have 6d10 + 2d6 HP. That is, you don't earn new HP in your new class until is exceeds the level of your old class. A commonsense continuation of the rule would mean you don't gain any new HP from Bard levels until they exceeded the higher of your Fighter or Thief levels. Meaning a Bard is actually going to have fewer HP than a Fighter even though he may have more combined class levels. In this way, a Bard gains versatility in exchange for lower ability in those classes compared to a single-classed individual.

Although a much better way to do it would be to just use the Bard chart from level 1, d6 HD, give him Thief saves and THAC0 advancement, and let him use Thief skills as if he were two levels lower (similar to Assassin thief skills and Paladin turning). Although combined with his Bard abilities and generous spells this may be too powerful, and he might need to be switched to a 2500 XP for 2nd level advancement rate.

1d30 said...

As for dual-classing offering great benefits, remember the stat requirements. Although I'd lower the requirement to a straight 15 in all mentioned attributes (meaning a Paladin or Ranger with many attribute minimums will require many 15s to dual-class into or out of). For example, dual-classing from Fighter to Druid would require 15+ in STR (for Fighter), WIS, (for Druid) and CHA (Druid again).

I look at dual-classing as one of the few things Humans actually have going for them in 1E. If you're fine with allowing any Elf to go F/M/T why not allow any Human to go F-C or something? The ability score minimums restrict the choices any one Human can make.

Paired with this outlook, I'd like to throw in a stat rearrangement mechanic within the advancement system. Say, every level a Human can swap one point from one stat to another - except no stat can be lowered below 9 and no stat can be raised above 15. This allows a Human to slowly respect himself toward being able to dual-class, without giving the minmaxers another system to abuse. The middling range of the altered scores also means no character changes enormously.

You could give the same benefit to demihumans (although they can't dual-class), for example allowing someone who rolled low on INT as an M-U to slowly work toward being able to cast decent spells. Perhaps allow only a point shift every level divisible by 3 for demihumans.

Over time I think you'd see Fighters all having 15 STR/DEX/CON and completely average INT/WIS/CHA. That assumes they rolled well in chargen; 3d6 per stat is a harsh mistress. 4d6 drop lowest may result in a surplus of INT for example which he may harvest over time to feed his physical stats. Maybe you care about oddball characters like a Thief with incredible Wisdom, or maybe you want people to be stuck with that high CHA even though the player isn't creative enough, or is unwilling to, exploit it. In that case, any shifting of stats is undesirable.