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D&D 3E
Favored Class question 
8th-Jan-2007 08:31 am
According to the SRD:

Favored Class

A character’s favored class doesn’t count against him or her when determining experience point penalties for multiclassing.

In your opinion, is Favored Class intended to:

(a) Reward characters who focus on a racially-specific class?

(b) Punish characters who take more than a couple levels of one non-racially-specific class, and a level of another non-racially-specific class?

(c) Drive characters into Prestige Classes as soon as possible so that the question becomes moot?

If your answer is (a), in what way is a Dwarf 10th-level fighter better off than a 10th level cleric, a 5/5 Fighter/Cleric, or a 5/5 Wizard/Cleric, aside from purely "levels of fighter, duh"? If there is no difference, what rewards would you suggest?

If your answer is (b), why did they build the game system that way? What does it prevent, really? Is this whole game mechanic really there just to keep everybody from taking two levels of Rogue so they can get Evasion? Have you seen many players saying, "Well, to make this dwarven rogue really sing, I need a level of Scount so I can get extra movement and a Skirmish bonus, then three levels of Cleric so I can get 2nd level spells, but then I'd have an EP penalty, so to heck with that?" If you removed the existing mechanic, do you think would you see your players being 10/5/2 in various mixed core classes, and would that be a bad thing? If so, why?
8th-Jan-2007 02:43 pm (UTC)
I think Favored Class is an attempt to keep the flavor of earlier editions' racial maxima on classes. (Dwarves were good at fighting, so they could progress far as a fighter; less so as clerics; and not-at-all as mages.)

Nowadays, any dwarf, even one who has been spending a lot of time as a cleric, can take a quick side-jaunt of experience and get a level of fighter. Halflings can't do that without a penalty.
8th-Jan-2007 02:48 pm (UTC)
I think it was intended to award characters who dip into racially-specific class. You can be whatever primary class you want, but as a dwarf you have no problems dipping into Fighter.

I think in part the whole idea is a left-over from older editions, where certain races could only be certain classes. I can see it disappearing in the future (indeed, I'm sure a good number of DMs house rule it away).

A lot of the newer classes that are coming out discourage dipping (and PrCs) by making the class appealing through all 20 levels. Sure you could do 10/5/2, but if you do one class to 17 then you get all kinds of fun abilities. I see this as the trend--make classes with retention on their own merits, rather than have retention be encouraged by race.
8th-Jan-2007 02:55 pm (UTC)
I think the favored class is there to represent how certain professions come so naturally to some races that training in them does not distract from the pursuit of another profession. The way favored class is handled for humans and half-elves is (IMO) a bit wonky, and should be thrown out altogether.

I honestly don't know why the developers decided to make multiclassing work this way, except maybe as some holdover from previous editions. Do they worry that no one will ever take more than a couple levels of barbarian or rogue if they can just cherry-pick and get the abilities they want? Then maybe there's something wrong with the class, if it's not interesting enough to stick around for.

Or maybe there's some weird unspoken fear of D&D becoming a skill-based game instead of a class-based game. Personally I see nothing wrong with this. Those who need a single class to define their characters have it; those who would rather cherry-pick from a bunch of different classes to build a unique character can have that option as well--if you ditch multiclassing XP penalties.
10th-Jan-2007 02:07 pm (UTC)
I think the favored class is there to represent how certain professions come so naturally to some races that training in them does not distract from the pursuit of another profession.

I've seen one or two campaign settings that change favoured class by culture. They were primarily single-species cultures, but it seems more realistic to me that an elf from militant nation X would have an easier time picking up a level of fighter than an elf that was born and raised in mageocracy Y. (It also moves farther from the species stereotypes, which I can't help but approve of.)
8th-Jan-2007 03:51 pm (UTC)
I think the main reason it's in 3.5 is that in 3 it was well worth taking a level here, a level there of various things(mostly to avoid stat requirements for feats and to get them potentially earlier), the penalty just evened things out a bit; 3.5 evened out the classes a lot and so it's a bit pointless now. I have seen people manage some seriously sick multi-class powergaming in a 3rd ed game though.

Conan has an interesting way of doing it, which is much nicer. If you're in your favoured class you get extra feats(I think it's 1 every 5 levels); so it's pure bonus for specialising.

8th-Jan-2007 03:54 pm (UTC)
That's what I'm thinking of using--a bonus racial feat every 5 levels, and +2 skill points per level.

Thanks for the answers, all. This is good stuff.
8th-Jan-2007 05:36 pm (UTC)
I think the racial substition levels are a nice way of having races specialize in classes. So your dwarven fighter is different (and mayhaps more powerful) than a human fighter. It's a nice mechanic, and sometimes the changed levels are well flavored.
8th-Jan-2007 07:53 pm (UTC)
Class substitution levels are one of my favorite things to happen since sliced bread (and I'm a huge fan of sliced bread).

I think this is especially reflected with the Eberron campaign setting, with Changeling Rogues, who are far and away superior to any other rogue walking the planet (IMO).
9th-Jan-2007 12:56 am (UTC)
+2 skill points per level make it pretty cool to be a human...and racial feats on top of that are just icing.
9th-Jan-2007 02:00 pm (UTC)
For humans and half-elves, I'd have to say the feat bonus only applies for every five levels in a specific core class...
9th-Jan-2007 12:17 am (UTC)
I like the bonus rather than punishment idea. Hmmm.
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