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View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next Gestalting and variants on it (Help/ feedback wanted!)



Gnomes2169
2015-01-23, 05:07 AM
So then, here we go. Ever since 2e the idea of combining two classes and leveling up in them simultaneously has always been something players have wanted to do. Whether it's for high-powered gaming, options, shenanigans or just covering apparent weaknesses in two classes with the otherís strengths, "dual classing" as it was called in 2e has always been an attractive option. Of course such things have always changed the game a little bit because of how much more powerful characters become. In 2e this was handled by splitting your experience between classes and cutting your health per level in half for each class's hit dice (but getting both), which typically left you a level behind in both classes. In 3.5 you mixed and matched class features, took the better of your class's saving throws, hit dice size and skill points, and... I'm not sure how it functioned in 4e, or even if there were codified rules.

5th edition, being a new system with new class mechanics and rules, begs for a new gestalt system. In fact, there were even rumors that it might show up as an official variant in the DMG a year before the book's release! ... And then it didn't happen, which leads us to here. I'll be going through the steps of how to combine classes, how to adjust the challenge rating of monsters that the party faces (or determine the effective level of the party), and how to handle things such as starting proficiencies, spell slots and ability score increases. If anything is missing or a part of the rules seems to be a bit off, please inform me and tell me why or make your own rules suggestion! Now then, let's get this show on the road!


Proficiencies, hit points and class features

Now to start off we will be going through the more simple systems, the ones that are more concrete and easy to manage than, say, ability score increases and starting skill proficiencies.

Over all class level: What that means is that gestalt characters basically have two "sides" to them, both of which level up at the same rate and grant you features at the same time. However, these sides do not stack for determining your over-all class level. When determining your over all class level (for challenge rating, hit die and hit points), take the converted class level of one side or the other.

Hit points: You only get one hit point roll each time you level up, using whichever class has the higher die size.

Hit dice: You gain one hit die per level up, using whichever class has the higher hit die.

Saving throw proficiencies: Select any three saving throw proficiencies that your classes grant. If your classes both provide the same save proficiencies, then you only get those two proficiencies.

Weapon proficiencies: Use whichever class has more proficiencies.

Armor proficiencies: Use whichever class has more proficiencies.

Proficiency bonus: Your proficiency bonus is the same as a normal character of your class level.

Tool proficiencies: You gain all tool proficiencies provided by both starting classes.

Spell slots: You gain the spell slots of whichever class grants the faster progression. Pact magic slots stack with normal slots. Mystic Arcana, while it still grants knowledge of extra spells of levels 6+, does not grant additional castings of spells level 6 or higher if the other half of your gestalt is granting you slots of that level.
Mystic arcana. Mystic arcana in this gestalt system is a bit of a problem. While it grants spells known, it also grants the ability to cast these spells 1/long rest, basically giving an additional spell slot of levels 6+, and making a warlock gestalt too appealing. So, in the name of variety, caster gestalts such as Sorcerer//Warlock will treat the spells granted by Mystic Arcana as spells known and nothing more, while gestalt combinations like Paladin/Warlock will be able to cast Mystic Arcana spells 1/long rest, as normal.
Basically, treat Mystic arcana like it is full caster spell progression. The spell level 6+ casters do not get any benefit from it, beyond spells known/prepared, while everyone else gets to cast the selected spells 1/long rest each.
... Dear lord even simplified it's still a complicated mess.
God I hate this feature right now.

Spell slots in a high-magic setting: For spell casting classes, use the highest spell slot progression between both classes. If classes on both sides of the gestalt are able to cast spells of a given spell level, then they gain 1 additional spell slot at that shared spell level. For the purpose of this rule, Warlock spell slots do not count as normal spell slots, and Mystic arcanum spells do not count as a spell slot*.

*This is both because they do not count as spell slots in the base system, and to promote caster gestalts that do not include the warlock. As it stands, even with this rule in place Sorcerer/ Warlocks already have 3 level 5 slots/ long rest and 5 level 5 slots/ short rest by level 17, so that raw sustainability is what you take the gestalt for. They don't really need extra power on top of that.

Spells known: For classes such as sorcerers, bards and warlocks who do not use a spell book and must instead choose spells that they know, the character gains their normal spells known from their respective spell lists as shown by each class table.

Prepared spells: For classes that can change their spells after each long rest, such as the cleric, druid and wizard, they memorize spells for each class individually, using their class level + the casting stat of each class.

Spells known & prepared: If combining a class with spells known and with spells prepared, determine how many spells each knows/ prepares and choose them from their respective class lists separately. For classes that prepare spells that they "learn" in a spell book, such as the wizard, spells learned in this manner do not count against their spells known for other classes, and vice-versa.

Extra attack: If both sides of the Gestalt have at least one instance of this feature, the character may make 1 additional attack whenever they take the Attack action.

This only works if both sides of the Gestalt have Extra Attack. For example, if a character has Paladin 5/Fighter 5 as a multiclass on one side, and Rogue 10 on the other, they do not make 3 attacks as part of their attack action. However, a Fighter 11//Wizard (Bladesinger) 11 would have extra attack on both sides of the gestalt, and would thus make 4 attacks instead of 3 with the attack action.

Unarmored defense: Unarmored defense does not stack (as normal).

Subclasses (Variant rule): You may choose to either take a subclass for each class on both sides of the gestalt, or you may choose to forgo selecting subclasses on one side of the gestalt to select a second one for your other class. For example; Let's say that you are playing a Monk // Rogue. You may choose to forgo selecting a rogue subclass (and all subsequent subclass features) over the rogue's career to select a second subclass for the monk at level 3, gaining all subsequent subclass features from both monk subclasses at the appropriate levels.

Effective character level: For purposes of determining what level a character effectively is when designing encounters, it is important to remember that the scaling effect of a gestalt character will be even greater than normal. However, at low levels this is less pronounced as characters still only have just as many spell slots and hit points as they would normally. So as a general rule of thumb the extra scaling should go something around this:
-Level 1: No difference in effective level
-Levels 2-5: Treat character level as 1 higher
-Levels 6-10: Treat character level as 2 higher
-Level 11-15: Treat character level as 3 higher
-Level 16-20: Treat character level as 4 higher




Skill Proficiencies and Ability Score Increases

These two things are... well, they would be easy to handle normally, I will admit. However, instead of the bog-standard version (take the one that gives you the most skill proficiencies/ ability score increases and just run with it), I thought about it for a while and came up with a few different variants that could work for different tiers of play. Let's be honest after all... if you are using the gestalt system, you are already going for a more powerful build. You might as well go all the way and get some "tiers of silliness" that reach epic proportions.

So there are three tiers, standard, high-fantasy and mythic. Each will be explained below (along with their mechanical effects):


Standard tier
While still exceptional even among heroes, the party's training does not start out (nor reach such silly heights) as to be completely beyond or even equal to the capabilities of two other equally trained heroes. This works well in most worlds, and should be considered the "standard" for gestalt.

Skill proficiencies: You gain the higher number of proficiencies available between classes, chosen from either skill list.

Ability score increases: You gain one ability score increase at over all class levels 4, 8, 12, 16 and 19. You only gain extra ability score increases if a class gives them at a different level (like the fighter at 6 and 14, and the rogue at 10).

Effective character level: Same as typical gestalt.


High-fantasy tier
Truly remarkable people who go down in legend as being the best a mortal can hope to be, this is the creme of the crop. Often the equal of two lesser men in all but their durability and ability to be two places at once (and sometimes besting them at that), those who find themselves in the high fantasy tier are very much more than your average hero. More likely to be found in fantastical worlds where magic and villains ooze out of the woodwork, and a bit more powerful than even a normal gestalt character. This tier requires the feats variant to be used.

Skill proficiencies: You may select a number of skill proficiencies equal to the proficiencies provided by both of your classes. The maximum number of skills you can start with from your classes in this way is 5.

Ability score increases: You gain two ability score increases at over all class levels 4, 8, 12, 16 and 19. Each time you reach a listed level, one of these ability score increases must be spent on increasing your attributes, while the other one must be spent on a feat. Extra ability score increases granted by classes such as fighter and rogue still only grant a single ability score increase that may be spent on attributes or feats as normal.

Effective character level: When determining the challenge rating for an encounter, increase the effective character level of a high-fantasy gestalt character by an additional 1 at level 8. At level 12 increase the effective character level by an additional 1. Finally, at level 16 increase the effective character level of such a character by a final 1 (making it a +3 character level total on top of the standard gestalt bonus).


Mythic tier
Heroes so great that from their very birth they were destined for something... fantastic. Able to attain the feats of the most accomplished individuals from the beginning of their adventuring careers, heroes of the mythic tier are a good deal beyond the achievements of lesser mortals. Characters within this tier are more at home in crazy campaigns where the world is filled with darklords and cosmic horrors. You know, a world where even the most ludicrously optimized of heroes can be challenged. This tier requires the epic boons variant to be used.

Skill proficiencies: You may select as many skill proficiencies as both of your classes provide. At the moment the maximum starting proficiencies at level 1 is 7, but honestly... it's not too unlikely that another 4 skill class will come out one of these days, and there is no hard limit on how many skills you may gain from your classes at level 1.

Ability score increases: You gain one ability score increase that must be spent on stats, one feat and one epic ability score increase at over all class levels 4, 8, 12, 16 and 19. Your epic ability score increase may be spent on increasing any score, even one that is already at 20 or higher, or (with DM permission) on an epic boon listed in the DMG, or on any epic boons your DM may design. Extra ability score increases from classes such as the fighter and the rogue grant two ability score increases, one that must be spent on increasing your ability scores, and one that must be spent on a feat.

Effective character level: When determining the challenge rating for an encounter a character of the mythic tier increases their effective character level by an additional 1 at levels 4, 8, 12, 16 and 19 (to a total of an additional +5 at level 19 over the normal gestalt rules.)




Multiclassing

General rules: You may only multiclass on one side of the gestalt. The sum of your multiclass levels cannot be greater than the over all class level on the other side of your gestalt.

Subclasses (Variant rule): If you decide to sacrifice subclasses on one side of your gestalt, you may only multiclass on the side that is not eligible to receive subclasses.

The sublass variant has some problems if you use multiclassing. If you allow the side with access to double subclasses, you can potentially get a lot of subclasses very quickly, while if you grant multiclassing on the other side without specifying that all classes on that side lose subclasses, then a player might think they can just dip one or two levels of a class on that side (for say, action surge from a fighter...) and then multiclass out to a different class without any penalty for a net gain of 18-19 extra levels of a "free" subclass. Hence the specification.



So, comments? Questions? One of the 50,000 things I probably missed?

daze413
2015-10-04, 01:27 AM
So there are three tiers, standard, high-fantasy and mythic. Each will be explained below (along with their mechanical effects):


Standard tier
While still exceptional even among heroes, the party's training does not start out (nor reach such silly heights) as to be completely beyond or even equal to the capabilities of two other equally trained heroes. This works well in most worlds, and should be considered the "standard" for gestalt.

Skill proficiencies: You gain the higher number of proficiencies available between classes, chosen from either skill list.

Ability score increases: You gain one ability score increase at class levels 4, 8, 12, 16 and 19. You only gain extra ability score increases if a class gives them at a different level (like the fighter at 6 and 10, and the rogue at 10).

Effective character level: Same as typical gestalt.

The skill proficiencies are a good point, this also affirms the need for more players with varied skills. It's not very fun if anyone in the group can tackle obstacles the same as everyone else.

For effective character level, do you mean for calculating encounter difficulties? How did you determine the increase of effective character level?

Gnomes2169
2015-10-04, 07:59 AM
The skill proficiencies are a good point, this also affirms the need for more players with varied skills. It's not very fun if anyone in the group can tackle obstacles the same as everyone else.

For effective character level, do you mean for calculating encounter difficulties? How did you determine the increase of effective character level?

I did mean for encounter difficulties... and really I've just got that eyeballed for now. The system is entirely too untested to say that it is absolutely, 100% certain on the money, but I'd be willing to bet that it's at least close to accurate, given just how many resources each class will have available to them.

Nifft
2015-10-04, 01:38 PM
I don't understand your Mystic Arcanum rule.

Can a Wizard // Warlock use Mystic Arcanum to cast a 6th level spell without using his level 6 spell slot?

Can a Ranger // Warlock use Mystic Arcanum to cast a 6th level spell at all?

Gnomes2169
2015-10-04, 03:36 PM
I don't understand your Mystic Arcanum rule.

Can a Wizard // Warlock use Mystic Arcanum to cast a 6th level spell without using his level 6 spell slot?

Can a Ranger // Warlock use Mystic Arcanum to cast a 6th level spell at all?


mystic arcanum does not grant any additional spell slots of level 6 or higher.

If you get level 6+ spells from another class, the warlock will not provide any additional slots for you to use. If you don't get any level 6 spells or slots from your other class, then it will. This is because Mystic Arcanum slots are basically level 6+ spell slots, and I'm trying to keep all full casters from going pure Caster X//Warlock to get an extra level 8 and 9 spell slot.

daze413
2015-10-04, 05:35 PM
The Mystic Arcanum could only be used for Mystic Arcanum spells, they function like regular spell slots in the sense that they cooldown after a long rest but are more restrictive on what kind of spell it can be used on. The incentive for getting a Warlock half is having the amazing Pact Magic feature, 5th level spell slots that cooldown after a short rest? Yes, please.

Gnomes2169
2015-10-04, 10:55 PM
The Mystic Arcanum could only be used for Mystic Arcanum spells, they function like regular spell slots in the sense that they cooldown after a long rest but are more restrictive on what kind of spell it can be used on. The incentive for getting a Warlock half is having the amazing Pact Magic feature, 5th level spell slots that cooldown after a short rest? Yes, please.

The pact magic slots being so good is why Mystic Arcanum is being treated al level 6+ slots. Getting 4 5th level slots a short rest, 2 true polymorphs a long rest, an extra maze as well, and an extra 6th and 7th level spell, on top of the delicious goodness of warlock invocations and pact advantages... Well, it gets a bit ridiculous at higher levels, even considering this is gestalt.

When using the system I want there to be a full caster combo that isn't just Warlock// X, after all.

daze413
2015-10-06, 08:25 AM
The pact magic slots being so good is why Mystic Arcanum is being treated al level 6+ slots. Getting 4 5th level slots a short rest, 2 true polymorphs a long rest, an extra maze as well, and an extra 6th and 7th level spell, on top of the delicious goodness of warlock invocations and pact advantages... Well, it gets a bit ridiculous at higher levels, even considering this is gestalt.

When using the system I want there to be a full caster combo that isn't just Warlock// X, after all.

I think there's some confusion here, Mystic Arcanum never granted spell slots of 6th level or higher. It's a feature that allows you to cast a 6th to 9th level spell once a long rest, each. By the spell slots portion of your homebrew, did you mean to omit Mystic Arcanum entirely?

weaseldust
2015-10-06, 11:05 AM
I think there's some confusion here, Mystic Arcanum never granted spell slots of 6th level or higher. It's a feature that allows you to cast a 6th to 9th level spell once a long rest, each. By the spell slots portion of your homebrew, did you mean to omit Mystic Arcanum entirely?

I think the idea is that a Wizard-Sorcerer gestalt gets as many 6+-level slots as a Wizard or Sorcerer, whereas if Mystic Arcana are treated by the gestalt as by the Warlock class itself, i.e. as something other than spell slots, a Wizard-Warlock gestalt would get all the Wizard's slots plus all the Mystic Arcana. Which is too much. But if the gestalt rules treat Mystic Arcana as if they were spell slots, then a Wizard-Warlock only gets as many 6+-level slots as a Wizard-Sorcerer.

Nifft
2015-10-06, 01:04 PM
Yeah I think the language for Mystic Arcanum needs a fix, something like... "Your Mystic Arcanum spells count as spells known, and you can cast them with spell slots or with the Mystic Arcanum casting feature, but you can never cast more than one spell of each level from 6 or higher, whether from spell slots or any other feature or ability, until you've completed a long rest."

That still allows stuff like using a Paladin's Divine Smite with a level 6 slot after using Mystic Arcanum to cast a level 6 spell, but to get there you'd need both gestalt and multi-classing, and you'd delay access to those high-level slots, so yeah. Not high on my list of things to prevent.

Gnomes2169
2015-10-06, 03:44 PM
I think the idea is that a Wizard-Sorcerer gestalt gets as many 6+-level slots as a Wizard or Sorcerer, whereas if Mystic Arcana are treated by the gestalt as by the Warlock class itself, i.e. as something other than spell slots, a Wizard-Warlock gestalt would get all the Wizard's slots plus all the Mystic Arcana. Which is too much. But if the gestalt rules treat Mystic Arcana as if they were spell slots, then a Wizard-Warlock only gets as many 6+-level slots as a Wizard-Sorcerer.

This. While Mystic Arcana does not give actual slots, and I most definitely do understand this, it gives the equivalent of an extra level 6+ spell, meaning that the level 20 Wizard//Warlock is basically getting double the level 8/9 spells of a Wizard//sorcerer, and 50% more level 6/7 spells.

It's basically powerful enough that the only gestalt combinations for casters would be Warlock//Whatever. Even as rigid as those mystic arcana slots may be.

daze413
2015-10-06, 07:36 PM
This. While Mystic Arcana does not give actual slots, and I most definitely do understand this, it gives the equivalent of an extra level 6+ spell, meaning that the level 20 Wizard//Warlock is basically getting double the level 8/9 spells of a Wizard//sorcerer, and 50% more level 6/7 spells.

It's basically powerful enough that the only gestalt combinations for casters would be Warlock//Whatever. Even as rigid as those mystic arcana slots may be.

So if you don't plan on giving non-warlock-caster//caster gestalt the same extra spell slots, then perhaps your entry on Mystic Arcanum should read something like:

"Mystic Arcanum only grants additional spells-known at the levels indicated in the feature. You cannot cast them with this feature, and must cast them with a regular spellslot."

Gnomes2169
2015-10-07, 12:41 AM
So if you don't plan on giving non-warlock-caster//caster gestalt the same extra spell slots, then perhaps your entry on Mystic Arcanum should read something like:

"Mystic Arcanum only grants additional spells-known at the levels indicated in the feature. You cannot cast them with this feature, and must cast them with a regular spellslot."

I'm... not sure why that needs to be expanded upon in the spell slots section? Those are more along the lines of spells known, which are already stated to stack.

daze413
2015-10-07, 02:24 AM
Maybe I'm nitpicking here, but as pointed out earlier, Mystic Arcanum never did grant spell slots of 6th-level or higher. It's a feature that allows you to cast a specific, unchangeable 6th+-level spell once per day. So the wording on the spell slot portion:


...but mystic arcanum does not grant any additional spell slots of level 6 or higher.

is already true. This might lead to some confusion as to the application.

You want Caster//Warlocks to have the Pact Magic feature and the extra spells known equivalent to Mystic Arcanum (+1 6th-9th level spell), but don't want an extra casting of the 6th-9th level spell as normally a gestalt Caster//Warlock would have with Mystic Arcanum, correct?

Gnomes2169
2015-10-07, 08:49 PM
Alright... Since what I was going for wasn't actually wasn't clear enough before (sorry about that guys), I've gone through and changed things in the slots section to hopefully make things a bit more clear.

I probably failed.

May god have mercy on my soul.

Gnomes2169
2017-01-15, 06:03 AM
Well, things have been edited once again in the spell slots section! Because of talks with friends, a variant to the base spell slot progression for "High Magic+" campaigns was added. Effectively, full caster/ full caster or half caster (other than warlocks) now get an extra spell slot at every shared spell level.

Warlocks, for balance reasons, are the red-headed step children of this change. They do not gain extra spell slots at each level, though Mystic Arcana spells can be cast 1/ long rest now. No extra level 1-5 spells will be given from them, and no extra 6+ slots, because they get extra spell slots that recharge on a short rest, and that has to be balanced out somehow.

quietkal
2017-01-16, 11:58 AM
It...seems like there's not really a downside to running a Gestalt character. Tougher encounters, sure, but that seems like more of a problem for anyone in your group that opted not to run a Gestalt character.
Are Gestalt characters supposed to level slower than non-Gestalt characters? Like, higher xp caps, per these rules having Gestalts will level the group faster in general because of the higher xp per encounter.

Gnomes2169
2017-01-17, 09:09 AM
It...seems like there's not really a downside to running a Gestalt character. Tougher encounters, sure, but that seems like more of a problem for anyone in your group that opted not to run a Gestalt character.
Are Gestalt characters supposed to level slower than non-Gestalt characters? Like, higher xp caps, per these rules having Gestalts will level the group faster in general because of the higher xp per encounter.

No, Gestalt is meant for a different kind of campaign, where the player characters are more powerful, but the encounters they face are much, much more difficult. Basically, gestalt is for when you want to run higher-power campaigns without giving everyone super powerful items or homebrew feats from the get-go, and yes, it can get as silly as that sounds.

To make sure it's clear, Gestalt is not a class a single player takes, but rather, a campaign style. Every player character is gestalt, not just 1 or 2.

quietkal
2017-01-17, 12:41 PM
Ohhhhh, okay. That makes sense then; thanks for the clarification!