A recent forum discussion on class changes got me thinking about condensing some of the rules around changing classes vs. multiclass characters. As you all know, the Greyhawk supplement introduced the rules for multiclass nonhuman characters which survived in AD&D 1st and 2nd edition and in the various lines of “Basic” D&D (B/X, BECM.) Any nonhuman (except possibly halflings) can progress as two or three classes simultaneously, splitting their experience between all their classes.
This is in contrast to the rules for changing classes, which seem to be limited to human beings in Men & Magic:
While changing class (for other than elves) is not recommended, the following rule should be applied: In order for men to change class they must have a score of 16 or better in the prime requisite (see below) of the class they wish to change to, and this score must be unmodified. A Cleric with a “strength” of 15, for example, could not become a Fighting-Man. In any event Magic-Users cannot become Clerics and vice-versa.
— M&M, p. 10
However, at the time that was written, neither dwarves nor halflings could be any class other than Fighter, and elves were limited to Fighter and Magic-User, with special rules for progression that have been a matter for violent debate for years. Many people wind up using the Greyhawk multiclass rules instead, even when not using anything else from Greyhawk, simply because it seems to be better explained, even thought it leaves open a couple questions: Can a single class elf add a second class later, or is the character locked into just the class(es) they start with? How do you handle hit dice? Do multiclass characters split XP between all their classes even after they can no longer advance in a class? (Greyhawk says “yes”, but do all editions? It seems to be a common question…)
In contrast, the rules for changing a class are pretty simple, and could be even simpler. So why even have separate rules for nonhumans? What does it add to the game?
I propose these rules for training in more than one class:
Characters start with one class, but may add a second
or third class at any time if they have high enough
prime ability scores.
- Starting Level: Last level earned
- Current Class: Last class added
- Hit Dice: Best of previous hit dice or current hit dice
- Hit Points: Roll for increase when hit dice increase, otherwise keep previous hit points
- Current XP: One total value, no splitting across classes
- XP Needed for Next Level: Total XP needed for next level in each class
- Attacks and Saves: Best for each class
Default prime ability score needed to add a class is 16+,
but may be lowered to 13+ at the GM’s option.
Nonhuman races have two designated classes that do not
require minimum scores, and so may be added at any time
(For example, elves may add Fighter or Magic-User ability
even if Strength or Intelligence are 12 or below.) However,
they may have a cap on combat ability, saves, or max spell
You will notice that under these rules, players don’t track separate levels or XP for each class. A Fighter/Magic-User who wants to advance to 2nd level needs 4,500 xp (2,000 xp for 2nd level Fighter + 2,500 xp for 2nd level Magic-User.) This is easier to handle than writing “Level 1/1 Fighter/Magic-User” or keeping track of XP for each class. The benefit is that abilities in all classes continue to advance with each level, but it takes longer to reach the next level. The downside is that characters only earn hit dice from one class, not all classes.
If a 4th Level Fighter decides to become a Magic-User, here’s what happens:
- Starting Level = 4
- Hit Dice is 4, and won’t increase until 8th level
- Current XP is 8,000+
- Character reaches 5th level at 36,000, instead of 16,000 (Fighter) or 20,000 (Magic-User)
Other penalties could be added, but these rules seem pretty severe on their own, without having the fiddly-ness of existing rules.
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