Tasha’s introduces some new rules for changing your subclass. I’m a big fan of this sort of stuff, because I’d like players to play something they like, and I don’t want them to reroll. Nothing kills a stories momentum more than a key character deciding to quit, and the next morning someone new with similar, but different skills show up. Its immersive breaking, annoying, and breaks the rhythm. These new rules let you change your subclass whenever you would gain a new subclass feature, usually level 3, 6, 10, and 14, but it varies per class. It then goes on to talk about how your DM might decide it takes downtime, or some gold to do. Which, fine whatever I guess. I’d prefer not to, but I’ll get over it. This section of the book got me thinking though. A big complaint I have with 5e is the lack of utility in most characters. What if we use these rules, expand on them a little, and change some things up.
Introducing Class Kits
All subclassess are now renamed kits. We are going to talk about them a lot, and saying sub-clas-ses is a lot. Plus we want to distinguish from the existing rules. Kits is an old 2e term, so it fits with D&D, and we are going to steal inspiration from JRPG kits.
When you reach a level where you would be asked to choose a subclass, don’t. Instead, you gain access to all kits available to you. Pick one to become your active kit. You gain the powers and abilities associated with it.
At every major interval, you can change your kit. I’m leaning towards adventure, but could be persuaded to make the interval session, long rest, milestone, arc, or month, depending on what you were going for.
In practice, this means that your rogue has 11 kits at time of printing (including UA content), and your monk only has 10, but just add some more homebrew to up everyone to 15 if you’re really concerned. It also means that your rogue will generally pick a primary it, like say a swashbuckler. They adventure as a swashbuckler and buckle swashes. At some point though, the plot will need an assassination mission. Normally, your rogue is moderately OK at that, by virtue of being a rogue, but now, your rogue puts on all black, breaks out some poison, and takes out their assassin kit in place of the swashbucklers feathered hat. You can go do your assassination mission, and then the next mission requires infiltration of Hogwarts and posing as a student. Well that’s alright, you put on your robe and wizard hat, and grab some basic spells, and switch to your Arcane Trickster kit.
In theory, it should allow for players to customize the same character a bunch of different ways, letting them participate in a lot more adventures, when they would normally be sidelined. It also normalizes the retraining a bit, and lets people play a bunch of different ideas, within the same character. Preventing them from wandering off, only for a similar person to show up the next day.
Some classes are obvious fits, like a rogue. Others need some fluff tweaks to make it happen.
- Artificer: An artificer picks a specialty. This is a straight forward adjustment, and you simply have your artificer pick what gear they pack, or how they configure their tools, or which things to charge up when they pick their kit.
- Barbarian: A barbarian picks a primal path which shapes the nature of their rages. This is again an easy one. Now they pick the sort of rage they are planning to get into. Maybe this adventure they are going to tap into the rage of their totem animals, ancestors, the beasts, or zealotry.
- Bard: Bards pick a college, and it turns out bard school is a liberal arts college, and you take a lot of courses. Instead of the school of glamour, or the school or lore, you are trained in them all. Pick which lessons will help you in the upcoming adventure.
- Cleric: 5e actually made this really easy for clerics. Cleric’s aren’t devoted to a specific deity anymore, or at least mechanically they aren’t. Your priest of Kord will invoke the Ambition of Kord, tap into the strength of Kord’s Life, or use his strength for War. Essentially, you will find a way to tie your domain into an aspect of whatever your worship for the adventure.
- Druid: Druids join circles. Well, fun fact about circles. You can draw a whole bunch of them. You choose a new aspect of nature to worship and draw strength from for the adventure.
- Fighter: Fighters have an archetype. This is really just a fighting style, and its fairly easy to imagine switching fighting styles based on the need at hand.
- Monk: Monks, like fighters just have a fighting style. They call theirs a monastic tradition, but most monks in D&D games don’t stay in the monastery. You’ve picked up a couple of schools, and are now a true mixed martial artist.
- Paladin: Paladins swear oaths. This is pretty easy. When you go on an adventure, you swear an oath. Depending on the adventure, you might have a different oath. I would strongly encourage you to ignore the alignment and code of conduct restrictions on paladins, but if not, at least let them shift based on the kit. Maybe a paladin’s defining trait is fulfilling their oath, and they act in a given manner until they have done so.
- Ranger: Rangers literally pick fighting styles. So you can pick the one that makes sense.
- Rogue: Rogues pick an archetype, and just like fighters, can pick the right tools for the job.
- Sorcerer: Sorcerers are a funny one. They get their powers because a parent (or ancestor) slept with something magic (maybe a robot somehow?). That’s weird to begin with, and we’ve got to actually adjust it for this to work. Now, you have an arcane heritage. Yer a wizard Harry. Or a sorcerer I guess. You can tap into the essence of various types arcane beings, and draw power from them to fuel your magic.
- Warlock: Warlocks have patrons who grant them powerful magic. The lore has it that patronage is for a long time, but it doesn’t actually have to be. I’d refluff this to be more in line with the 3e binder class. You get patronage by some powerful entity, but its not forever, just until you finish this quest. A week or two at most, you sarcastically promise. Then, if needed, you can draw different runes, do a different ritual, and get patronage from someone else.
- Wizard: Wizards are once again easy. In fact, we just go back to how other editions did it. All wizards know all schools. You focus your magic more for one school than another based on the adventure at hand, but you can tap into any of them.
I know its a little much to take in, but its actually not a lot of rules changes mechanically. A couple light fluff changes for some classes, and a ton of possibilities open up for characters in games. I plan to try it out in the next 5e game I run, and I’ll update if I get feedback.