HD&D: Thoughts on Multiclassing

As I continue to consolidate the HD&D rules for this Autumn’s playtest, I have been giving some thought to the existing rules for multiclassing. ‘Fixing’ the third edition multiclassing rules was one of my major goals when I embarked on HD&D, but I’m coming to the conclusion that using fourth edition mechanics may not be the best way to go.

How it works now

At present, HD&D mulitclassing is reminiscent of 4e. In order to mulitclass you have to take a multiclass feat. The feat comes with an Ability Score prerequisite (usually 13 or more in the class’s prime requisite ability). Taking the feat gives you training in one of the new class’s skills, and ‘unlocks’ all feats and talents related to that new class.

One of the problems of this mechanic, is that the multiclass feats completely duplicate the Skill Training feat. As long as you have high enough ability scores there is never a circumstance when you would choose Skill Training over a multiclass feat. This problem is tempered in 4e by characters only being limited to a maximum of one multiclass feat. HD&D has no such limitation, and therefore these rules don’t sound like good practice.

Potential Changes

I would argue that the best way forward is to get rid of multiclass feats completely. Instead, we should introduce prerequisites for all classes (not just prestige classes). That way if you want to multiclass, and select a feat or a talent from another class, you have to make the prerequisites of the class as well as the feat and talent. Here are how these prerequisites could pan out for the eleven third edition classes:

Str 13; Trained in Survival

Cha 13; Trained in Bluff

Wis 13; Trained in Knowledge (Religion)

Wis 13; Trained in Knowledge (Nature)

Str 13; Trained in three Weapon Groups

Dex 13, Wis 13; Trained in Unarmed Strike

Str 13, Cha 13; Trained in Diplomacy

Str 13, Con 13; Trained in Track

Dex 13; Trained in Stealth

Cha 13; Trained in bloodline specific Knowledge skill

Int 13; Trained in Knowledge (Arcana)

Each class therefore has an Ability Score prerequisite, and a skill prerequisite. Therefore, to a very real extent, multiclassing in this system is pretty much the same as if we had kept multiclass feats; only this time the Skill Training feat is used instead. It’s also easier to multiclass into a class that is similar to your own. Druids would find it easier to multiclass into rangers than bards – and that’s probably how it should be.

Marc should be pleased to know that this system is also slightly kinder on characters who want to multiclass into many different classes. However, there are a few provisos to this system that I want to raise:

Firstly, these prerequisites only apply if you want to multiclass into these classes. If you only have one class, then you don’t have to meet these prerequisites at all. So it’s still possible to start the game as an excessively puny fighter, or brain-dead wizard.

Secondly, I must impress that multiclassing in HD&D is a privelege, not a right.  In addition to the mechanical prerequisites, multiclassing also has a roleplaying or story-driven prerequisite. The change in your character’s emphasis and study needs to be covered in-game. If your 10th level fighter wants to start casting spells, he needs a jolly good reason for it – as well as the opportunity.

Wanting to multiclass just because you want the shiny talent of class x, is not a good enough reason in and of itself. We have to justify that decision, that change, in the context of the campaign and the story of your character. It’s the GM’s job to work with the player, and make these changes happen in as organic and believable way as possible. That’s always been how I’ve tried to handle multiclassing, sometimes with more success than other times.

In Conclusion

Multiclassing in HD&D is relatively easy and free from consequence. A wizard picking up a few fighter talents to shore up his deficiencies happens all the time. It’s the GM’s job to keep the system from unravelling, and the player’s job to create a character background that makes all these multiclassing choices make sense. These are rules that might not survive in a mass-market roleplaying game, but for the purposes of HD&D I think they will do fine.


HD&D: Fighter Preview

In the next couple of days you’ll see posts on Armour and then on Weapons, and then…. THEN… we’ll finally have the HD&D Fighter up on the blog. As the rules for the fighter are already done, I thought a little preview might be in order.

The fighter is an extremely versatile class. Your choice of talents and feats allow you to specialise with certain weapons and (importantly) into certain fighting styles. Whether you want to be an archer, fight with two weapons or just hit your foes over the head with a gigantic maul – the rules should support it.

As there are so many different types of fighter, here are five different ‘builds’. One is a two-handed weapon specialist, one a two-weapon fighter, one a swashbuckler, one an archer and one a traditional weapon and shield fighter. I’m sure you can work out which is which.

Coreolis Moondancer: Elven Fighter
Level One

Str 14, Dex 18, Con 12, Int 12, Wis 14, Cha 10

Hit Points: 28

Defences: Reflex 18, Fortitude 13, Will 15
Saving Throws: Reflex +8, Fortitude +3, Will +5

Racial Traits: Elvish Eyes, Wild Step
Talents: Elven Accuracy, Point Blank Shot, Rapid Shot
Feats: Attack on the Run


Speak: Hadradan, Larethian
Read/Write: Hadradan, Larethian


General: Acrobatics +7, Athletics +5, Perception (cc) +7, Stealth (cc) +7, Survival (cc) +4
Weapon: Daggers +7, Light Blades +7, Heavy Blades +5, Bow +9, Crossbow +7, Light Thrown +7
Knowledge: Nature (cc) +4


Brigandine Armour (AC 4)
Longbow (Str 14): 1d10+2 (P); Rng 100
Longsword: 1d8+2 (P/S)
Dagger: 1d4+2 (P/S); Off-Hand; Rng 10 

Sartorius Swiftblade: Human Fighter
Level One

Str 14, Dex 18, Con 10, Int 13, Wis 6, Cha 16

Hit Points: 26

Defences: Reflex 19, Fortitude 12, Will 10
Saving Throws: Reflex +9, Fortitude +2, Will +0

Racial Traits: Human Endeavour, Human Perspicacity
Talents: Acrobatic Élan, Combat Superiority, Parry
Feats: Combat Reflexes, Improved Feint


Speak: Kerikite, Norandon, Salmayan
Read/Write: Hadradan


General: Acrobatics +7, Athletics +5, Bluff +8, Climb +5, Intimidate +6, Ride +7
Weapon: Daggers +7, Light Blades +9, Heavy Blades +5, Crossbows +7, Light Thrown +7, Unarmed Strike +7
Knowledge: Nobility +4


Leather Armour (AC 2)
Rapier: 1d6+2 (P); One-Hand
Crossbow (Str 16); 1d8+3 (P); Rng 80
Dagger: 1d4+2 (P/S); Off-Hand; Rng 10

Cpr. Dendrik Muldoon: Dwarf Fighter
Level One

Str 18, Dex 11, Con 16, Int 13, Wis 12, Cha 10

Hit Points: 32

Defences: Reflex 16 (18), Fortitude 16 (21), Will 12
Saving Throws: Reflex +6 (+8), Fortitude +6 (+11), Will +2

Racial Traits: Cast-Iron Stomach, Stone-Footed Stability
Talents: Armour Proficiency (Medium), Armour Proficiency (Heavy), Shield Proficiency
Feat: Lightning Reflexes


Speak: Klardish, Norandon
Read/Write: Hadradan, Thorass


General: Athletics +7, Climb +7, Craft (Weaponsmith) +9, Intimidate +3
Weapons: Axes +7, Heavy Blades +7, Crossbows +3, Daggers +7, Hammers +9, Maces +7, Shields +7, Heavy Thrown +7
Knowledge: None


Plate Mail (AC 7)
Large Steel Shield (+2 Ref)
Craghammer: 1d10+3 (B); Versatile
Heavy Crossbow (Str 18): 1d10+4 (P); Rng 80
Dagger: 1d4+3 (P/S); Off-Hand; Rng 10
Warhammer: 1d8+3 (B); One-Hand; Rng 10
Dwarven Waraxe: 1d10+3 (S); One-Hand

Groot: Half-Orc Fighter
Level One

Str 18, Dex 13, Con 17, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 13

Hit Points: 33

Defences: Reflex 15, Fortitude 18, Will 10
Saving Throws: Reflex +5, Fortitude +8, Will +0

Racial Traits: Swift Charge, Menacing Demeanour
Talents: Overwhelming Assault, Power Attack, Second Wind
Feat: Die Hard


Speak: Gorebash, Klardish, Norandon
Read/Write: Hadradan


General: Athletics +9, Climb +7, Intimidate +8, Perception (cc) +3, Swim +7
Weapon: Axes +7, Heavy Blades +7, Maces +6, Spears +5, Heavy Thrown +7, Unarmed Strike +7
Knowledge: None


Brigandine Armour (AC 4)
Greataxe: 2d12+6 (S); Two-Hand
Dagger: 1d4+4 (P/S); Off-Hand; Rng 10
Glaive: 2d10+6 (P/S); Reach, Two-Hand

Welbin “The Ripper” Dibley: Human Fighter
Level One

Str 18, Dex 18, Con 13, Int 12, Wis 8, Cha 6

Hit Points: 29

Defences: Reflex 19, Fortitude 12, Will 12
Saving Throws: Reflex +9, Fortitude +2, Will +2

Racial Traits: Human Endeavour, Human Perspicacity
Talents: Desperate Attack, Two-Weapon Defence, Two-Weapon Fighting
Feats: Improved Initiative, Skill Focus (Light Blades)


Speak: Gobbley, Gorebash, Norandon, Yeenoghish
Read/Write: None


General: Athletics +7, Climb +7, Intimidate +1, Perception (cc) +4, Stealth (cc) +7, Streetwise (cc) +1, Swim +7
Weapon: Daggers +7, Light Blades +8, Heavy Blades +9, Unarmed Strike +7
Knowledge: None


Spiked Leather Armour (AC 3)
Longsword 1d8+4 (S); One-Hand
Shortsword 1d6+4 (P); Off-Hand [1d6+2 damage when Two-Weapon Fighting]
Dagger: 1d4+4 (P/S); Off-Hand; Rng 10