Always Multi-Class?

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Supplement Four
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Always Multi-Class?

Postby Supplement Four » Fri Aug 13, 2010 5:07 pm

If we are speaking strictly mechanically (throwing roleplaying out the window), is it always better to multiclass?

When I first read the Favored Class rule, in the Multiclassing section, it seemed to balance out the benefits one gets from multiclassing by giving the character that sticks to a single class some extra Feats.

But then, I flipped back to the Favored Class rule and saw that I was, indeed, wrong. A character recieves the bonus Feats from the Favored Class rule regardless of whether the character is single or multiclassed. Multiclassing just makes it longer to obtain those bonus feats because it takes longer for the character to achieve the required levels in the favored class.

So, that bring me back to the beginning. Is it always better, in a purely game mechanics way, to multiclass your character rather than keep him in a single class?

It is, right? More options are before you.

Remaining single classed means you also remain more limited in your choices than you need be.

Right?
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Postby Kev » Fri Aug 13, 2010 8:01 pm

Well, one of the downsides to multiclassing is that a character that does so will miss out on the higher level class abilities that a single-class character has access to.

Maybe not too much of a loss in the eyes of some but still....

I guess it all depends on how you wanna build your character, which class abilites you see as important and which not so much.
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Postby Clovenhoof » Sat Aug 14, 2010 8:49 am

I say it depends on what class you start with. You have to be aware that classes in Conan aren't all balanced or equal.

- The Barbarian is clearly more powerful than any other class. So if you want to play a Barb, it's best to stick with it and not dilute it with anything else.

- The Soldier on the other hand is a class that's not worthwhile to single-class. Around level 10 you will simply run out of sensible feat choices because you already have so many. But it's a great way to spice up some other class with more combat feats.

- Thief also benefits from multiclassing; for instance with Barbarian to improve attack, gain some proficiencies (in particular, TWF and Shield), Uncanny Dodge and Mobility. Most of this can also be gained from Pirate, anyway.

- Some classes benefit from synergies between them. That's basic D20-style optimizing.
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Postby rabindranath72 » Sun Aug 15, 2010 1:53 pm

In theory all the classes are "balanced," (or they should be so, being that only one XP table is present) so in theory you should not get "better" overall by taking another class: you are sacrificing advancement in a class with flexibility.
But as others have pointed out, the balance is somewhat off, either by design or by error.
Now, having those extra feats is indeed good, and if your game caps at some level (let's say the maximum), then multiclassing might deprive you of this advantage.
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Postby strategos14 » Tue Aug 17, 2010 4:47 pm

there is another negative to multi-classing. your defense. every class receives no bonus for either parry or dodge at first level. each time you take a new class, your defense will not go up that level. also, barbarian and thief are powerful on their own but more so at lower levels i think. they need a few feats to be insane killers and once the soldier gets there (which will be soon with all the bonus feats he has) he becomes truly formidable. of course, at higher levels the soldier know how to do nothing BUT fight because his skill progression sucks so bad.
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Postby Clovenhoof » Tue Aug 17, 2010 6:00 pm

every class receives no bonus for either parry or dodge at first level. each time you take a new class, your defense will not go up that level.
That can be easily planished. No class has a better DV progression than 3/4, so you just need to take your levels in increments of 4 if you want to optimize for Defense.

Ah, the old Barbarian vs. Soldier theme. That depends a lot on the circumstances. And also I'd high levels I'd put my money on the Barbarian any day. Let's look at level 20.
The Soldier has an advantage _only_ if he is not surprised, can act normally when contact is made, and is equipped with the gear he's specialized in.
Pre-Fight: depending on circumstances, Barb can sneak up on Soldier, but Soldier can't sneak up on Barb.
Barb has much higher Initiative than the Soldier so will most likely act first.
If the Barb get's the drop on the Soldier: WHAM, two-handed Power Attack -15/+30 vs. DV 10. Battle is likely to be over there and then.
And even if not: high-level Barb can move in, do Full Attack, move out again without drawing AoOs; if Soldier moves after him he can only make Standard Attack.
But a lot of it depends on the first round. If the Soldier survives that and has good equipment (lots of DR), he may manage to wear the Barb down in a war of attrition.

A Barb's weak point is his Defense, since he probably has great Strength but average Dex, while having good Dodge but crappy Parry progression. So a Barb can only expect a Defense score up to 30, give or take. Can be improved by 5 with Combat Expertise.

A Soldier on the other hand has Str as prime stat _and_ very good Parry progression, and with Shield and Expertise, he can get up high to about DV 44.

Both are going to have an Attack bonus of about +26; but Soldier gets +2 for Greater Weapon Focus. So if the Soldier uses Expertise, he can still hardly miss, while the Barb will hit only with luck, and Barb's triple threat range is worthless as well.

All in all - I just ran the numbers in a simulator, accounting for Greater Mobility, DR and all - a pretty even match, provided the Soldier isn't caught flat-footed. But if the Barb has Fighting-Madness, that ultimately shifts the odds in his favour, and will have the Soldier down in the third round.

So much for the theory. Been fun playing with the numbers. =)
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Postby strategos14 » Wed Aug 18, 2010 12:51 am

Lol I've never GMed or played a character anywhere near level 20 so I can't even imagine a fight like that. I DMed a 12th level sorcerer in 3.5 D&D once but that was the closest. And he was a God amongst men. All he did was fly around throwing lightning at people like some Superman/Thor bastard. Hard to DM a character like that really.
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Postby Clovenhoof » Wed Aug 18, 2010 8:37 am

Yeah, D&D becomes a real bitch at high levels because of crap like that. Conan is considerably more manageable due to the lack of magic. However, I have to say I also never played on level 20 either. Just took that example because you said you felt the Barbarian was only strong at low levels.
Barbs become _really_ formidable at level 15+.
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Postby Hervé » Wed Aug 18, 2010 8:38 am

The game becomes pretty useless to my eyes after lvl 10-12, so we generally stop the campaign when the characters reach thet level. On the contrary of S4, I tend to think that single class characters are stronger than multiclassed ones, especially in terms of fighting ability. A single class character can be turned in a killing machine around level 5-6. It would take longer for a multiclassed one. I also think that Barbarian, Soldier (as we don't use the higher levels) and Thief stand above the other classes of the game.
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Postby treeplanter » Wed Aug 18, 2010 3:46 pm

I would say Barbarian, Pirate, Noble and Scholar might work play without multiclassing for a long time. Maybe Nomad and Borderer too, but it's arguable. Soldier and thief just get repeat of ability, so unless you want to have multiple chain feat.

And keep something in mind. Even if you play until level 20, how many time are you really gonna use your 20th level power?? Think about it. The soldier 1st level weapon focus is gonna give you much more damage output during a campaing than Barbarian triple threat range. Anyway, Let look at high level power for fun.


Barbarian: Greater mobility, high natrual DR, unconquerable, wheel of death, triple threat range.

Greater mobility: One of the greatest power in my opinion, and not accessible trough feats, but accessible trough multiclassing if you stay with Pirate and Nomad.
High natural DR: Great, but feat like hard and Hard as rock also give DR.
unconquerable: A better diehard, nothing too exciting.
wheel of death: Extra attack are great I guess.
Triple threat range: Good, but level 20...

Pirate: Greater mobility (see above), Ferocious attack (stun, fear).

Ferocious attack (stun, fear): it's probably the most game breaking power, especially combined with greater mobility. a single high level Pirate can whipe a bunch of i level heroes (I know cause i experienced it).

Noble: Rally, absolute power.

Rally: A bit high level, but it's a great ability.
Absolute power: well, the name say it.

Also, high level noble will benefit from a nice Leadership bonus wich is really good when you play high level campain.

Scholar:
You want the highest MAB and the most powerful spell, so multiclassing would just dilute your power as a sorcerer.

Nomad: Greater mobility, hide in plain sight in his favoured terrain.

Borderer: Hide in plain sight in his first favoured terrain, heroic sacrifice
I think borderer is great single class from 1st to 11-12 level. Combat style mastery can give you great feat like Reflexive parry or even Greater mobility if you use Hyboria's fierciest.

Heroic sacrifice: dying is not very good...

Soldier: Greater weapon specialization (level 12)

Soldier is pure damage output, but i don't see many argument to go level 20 unless you want insane defense.

@Clovenhoof: I'll bet on soldier anytime. a highlevel soldier would have Reflexive parry as it's a staple, so acting first would change nothing, and greater mobility would be pointless with his high defense.. He would beat barbarian on the number (higher defense, +2 to hit, higher damage). Also you seem to forget fithing madness is NOT a barbarian ability it's a racial one.
Of course there is the unponderable (sunder, disarm, grapple, mounted combat ect.), but those are not Class dependable.
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Postby Clovenhoof » Thu Aug 19, 2010 9:55 am

EDIT: after first posting this, I discovered a mistake in my analysis. The post has been edited accordingly.
@Clovenhoof: I'll bet on soldier anytime. a highlevel soldier would have Reflexive parry as it's a staple, so acting first would change nothing, and greater mobility would be pointless with his high defense.. He would beat barbarian on the number (higher defense, +2 to hit, higher damage). Also you seem to forget fithing madness is NOT a barbarian ability it's a racial one.
IIRC there was some problem with Reflexive Parry that makes it much worse than Uncanny Dodge... but anyway, let's say that the attack vs. DV10 is out.
Greater Mobility is far from pointless. Even if your main attack only hits on a 18+ and your iterative attacks hit only on a 20, with 4 attacks per round that comes down to 27% hit chance. The Soldier however can only strike once every time, so his hit chance per round is defined by his AB vs Dodge.
My calculation also assumes both sides have about DR10: the Barb from light armour and class DR, the Soldier from Heavy Armour; both sides will pierce their opponent's armour.
By the way, that also opens other opportunities: if neither side is Fleet-footed, the Barbarian can always choose not to allow the Soldier into Melee range at all until he has sundered the soldier's shield with throwing axes.
For my calculations I gave the Barb a 2d8 TH weapon and the Soldier a 1d10+shield. Soldier with Expertise, Barb with Rage and Greater Mobility.

Now here I had at first forgotten to take Weapon Specialization and its Greater brother into account. This is in fact the two feats that turn everything around and turn the balance in the soldier's favour. So if the soldier is able to use his favoured weapon, he will pretty much stomp the Barbarian.

Another idea: if the Soldier's parry is so high the Barb can only hit on a 20 anyway, he may just as well go for full-blown two-handed Power Attack and hope for the best. All he needs is a single natural 20 and the Soldier can roll a Massive Damage Save vs DC 50.

For the record, Fighting-Madness is a racial ability in Howard's stories, that's true, but in the game it's a selectable feat for all Barbarian races. From a numbercrunching standpoint, it is stupid for a Barbarian not to take this feat. (I guess I am stupid because my Barb doesn't have it.)

Of course, such a fight might come out entirely differently depending on tactics, maneuvers and suchlike. As I said, as a Barb I'd first try to sunder the Soldier's shield(*), because that will increase my effective damage output more than the soldier's when he wields his Broadsword two-handed - the Soldier will fall within 6 rounds, before the Rage runs out. Breaking the Shield in close combat will be dead easy, as the TH weapon gets +4, and another +4 if Barb has Improved Sunder, while the Soldier actually suffers from using Expertise as it's an opposed attack roll; and finally the Barb will deal 2d8+12 damage so he can surely smash that Hardness 6, 10HP Shield in one blow.

*) edit: Actually, considering the dominance of Greater Weapon Spec, the smartest thing for the Barb to try may be to shatter the soldier's weapon. If the soldier is forced to pick up a different weapon, his chances to win the fight plunge to the bottom of the pit.

The Soldier of course may try to counter Greater Mobility by holding his action, attempting to trip the Barb (good luck with that), or do whatever else.
Also, the fight may go completely different if one of the combatants is skilled for Grapple and can use the Fling Aside maneuver (my War-Sword wielding Barb's favourite) or even Crushing Grip. Or is Fleet-footed and fights with ranged weapons. There are endless possibilities.
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Postby treeplanter » Thu Aug 19, 2010 3:44 pm

you said yourself. Endless possibility to take into account. That why i don't include sunder, grapple and other in my analyze.

but number wise, soldier get a +2 to hit and +4 damage that is exclusive to him. Barbarian get Greater mobility. That would indeed limit Soldier to 1 attack per round if Barbarian have the room to manoeuver. Soldier is likely to get a second attack thank to Riposte wich he should have if he use combat expertise and shield. So i think it's probably a good strategy for Barb to go for all-out power attack and try to get a 20 before he die. Problem is that Soldier could also force him a MD. Since Soldier get few attack, but hit easy, his high threat range would be much more a factor.

Another point i wanna point, is that we talk about top level character. Before level 12, if you play with RAW (read: stupid power attack and stupid MD), barbarian would likely win first round of combat cause soldier still don't have Reflexive parry. So he would act first, go all-out power attack, hit on a 4 or higher for like 40 damages (30 with heavy armor), so a DC25/30 fortitude save. The soldier would die around 50% to 72% before he draw his sword (I assume no fate point on reroll). Between level 12 and 14 however, soldier would not get much of challenge, as barbarian still not have Greater mobility, and still don't have the extra threat util level 14, and soldier get greater weapon spec. After 15 barbarian upgrade with greater mob, soldier upgrade with greater crit at 16, so barbarian upgrade his chance i bit a would guess, but not much.

In the end, I think it's fair. Barbarian are versatile, good against monster and rogue and do well in the wilderness. But he likely loose the fight against a well equiped soldier.

Figthing madness:

"For the record, Fighting-Madness is a racial ability in Howard's stories, that's true, but in the game it's a selectable feat for all Barbarian races.
From a numbercrunching standpoint, it is stupid for a Barbarian not to take this feat."

Totally agreed about the power of Figthing-madness. But the rest of your statement is not totally true. Hyborian barbarian don't have acess to Figthing madness. Second, your Cimmerian soldier could have figthing-madness as well as your Cimmerian barb.
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Postby Clovenhoof » Thu Aug 19, 2010 10:16 pm

That's some interesting observations there, treeplanter, especially about the "gap" at levels 12-14.
As for FM, by "Barbarian races" I meant races with Barb as Favoured Class.
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Postby Supplement Four » Sat Aug 21, 2010 4:52 am

OK, so when you multi-class for the first time, how many skill points do you get?

I'm thinking that you probably don't get the massive amounts you do at first level.

For example, a 5th level Barbarian multiclasses into a Soldier.

So, on that level, does the Barbarian 5/Soldier 1 character get (2 + INT mod) x 4 skill points, or does he get 2 + INT Mod for that level?

I'm thinking the latter.
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Postby Spectator » Sat Aug 21, 2010 5:42 am

YEah the 1st time quadrupling of skill points should never happen on a Multiclass second career
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Postby rabindranath72 » Sat Aug 21, 2010 12:29 pm

Supplement Four wrote:OK, so when you multi-class for the first time, how many skill points do you get?

I'm thinking that you probably don't get the massive amounts you do at first level.

For example, a 5th level Barbarian multiclasses into a Soldier.

So, on that level, does the Barbarian 5/Soldier 1 character get (2 + INT mod) x 4 skill points, or does he get 2 + INT Mod for that level?

I'm thinking the latter.
The latter. It should be specified in the book, but I see at least in the AE it's not written anywhere.
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Postby Ichabod » Tue Aug 24, 2010 4:54 am

If you want a higher level point of view ... again, stuff varies by campaign ... I find that little to no multiclassing means severe saves issues. In general, multiclassing improves saves, though the break points can be very different than usual.

For Will saves, Code of Honor cheese exists to help a ton. Take a pure scholar, though. You really want maximum MAB and whatnot, but your physical saves are crap. I'm sure we make much more use of Reflex saves than typical, but Fortitude saves also tend to be of the "save or die" type.

I'm a huge fan of thieves, but actually, a pure thief would not be a good choice for our party anymore. Too many save or die rolls that aren't Reflex.

Offense isn't much of a concern, so losing some BAB at our levels isn't the end of the world. DV doesn't matter a whole lot when you typically fight things with attack bonuses over 20 (or 30 or ...). It's repeated DC 25, 30, or higher saves that are incredibly crippling these days.
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Postby treeplanter » Tue Aug 24, 2010 5:39 pm

Good point.

In fact the thing is that the "free" +2 save you receive at first level is a bit too good (that why in our last campain I arged you should only receive it one per save but my fellow did not agree)
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Postby kintire » Tue Aug 24, 2010 7:12 pm

Clovenhoof:

I am very suspicious of basing class comparisons on one on one duels. This is a cooperative game: the question is not "would the barbarian or soldier win" its "can they both contribute to a party or would we be better off with 2 barbarians (or 2 soldiers)?".

My experience, which does not go up to level 20 as I'm with herve on limiting my campaigns to 12 tops, suggests that if you have a single formidable enemy that needs to go down quickly, barbarian is your choice, but if you have a number of quite formidable foes you want a soldier. Barbarians waste a lot of damage against groups of foes, and the lower DV really hurts.
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Postby rabindranath72 » Wed Aug 25, 2010 9:23 am

kintire wrote:Clovenhoof:

I am very suspicious of basing class comparisons on one on one duels. This is a cooperative game: the question is not "would the barbarian or soldier win" its "can they both contribute to a party or would we be better off with 2 barbarians (or 2 soldiers)?".

My experience, which does not go up to level 20 as I'm with herve on limiting my campaigns to 12 tops, suggests that if you have a single formidable enemy that needs to go down quickly, barbarian is your choice, but if you have a number of quite formidable foes you want a soldier. Barbarians waste a lot of damage against groups of foes, and the lower DV really hurts.
+1. Furthermore the game is not only about combat. The barbarian would be better than the soldier at surviving, for example.
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