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One issue I have with D&D 5e is that I feel there's really a lack of options when the character progresses. Don't get me wrong, I like the concept of Bounded Accuracy as it makes room for epic situations where I can increase numbers as a challenge, instead of increasing levels, but I get the impression that once the player chooses a race + class + background, pretty much every level increase boils down to more hit points, better characteristics and an ability that is predefined for the class. Even with the inclusion of feats, I feel that the characters are pretty much on a straight line with little room for the players to customise their character in non-interpretative ways.

For example, if I'm interpreting the rules correctly, let's say I create a pretty standard Dwarf Fighter. When I create the class, at Level 1, I get proficiency with all armours and all weapons and I get to choose two skills and a combat style.

Then, at level 2, 5 and 9 I get a predefined new ability, there's no choosing, I just get that one. At level 3 I get to choose a path, but still, once chosen it will follow from there with predefined advantages when I reach certain levels. My feeling is that every Warrior will be similar to each other; if two players choose to play a Fighter (even if they choose different races) they'll end up with very similar characters from the capabilities point of view. Yes, they can personalise in background and history, but essentially I'll have two players that can do more or less the same coming from different backgrounds.

The same logic applies to replayability. I have the feeling that running to adventures with two different warriors will feel exactly as if you were playing them with the same character all over again.

I have no experience actually playing the system so, is this just my misinterpretation of the rules or is it that lack of customisation real? If I'm misinterpreting the rules (I've reread over and over to try to find more flexible interpretations), are there any advice that you can give to make characters more flexible? Maybe an example of how two warriors starting at level 1 can be leveled up to look significantly different to each other.

To clarify, the main intent of the question is to verify if I'm misinterpreting or perceiving the rules wrongly and, in case I am, how to make character evolution appealing to players, as right now I can't since it doesn't look appealing to myself.

Example of answer would be: "Yes, that is a limitation of the system that streamlines character creation and ease of play" or "Not at all, you have the options to choose this and that and that will make your character significantly different at level 6 than if you had chosen this other advancement path".

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closed as primarily opinion-based by linksassin, V2Blast, Purple Monkey, NathanS, PixelMaster Apr 8 at 8:24

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. You may wish to use the term Fighter, if you are referring to the specific class, otherwise you need to define what you mean by "Warrior". Good Luck and Happy Gaming! \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Apr 8 at 7:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @linksassin I'm not looking for comparison against other systems. It's more I'm worried it will feel flat to the players if it behaves as I've described in the post, if it does then I may consider switching to another system. But then again it may be that I'm misinterpreting the rules and that character evolution is a lot richer that I'm perceiving and people with more experience can point out how it is richer. \$\endgroup\$ – Jorge Córdoba Apr 8 at 7:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ By "flat" do you mean "don't gain a lot due to bounded accuracy" or "don't have a lot of options for customization?" because you seems to be asking both. Your discussion at the start about D&D in general then narrowing down to 5e makes it seem as though you do want an edition comparison. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Apr 8 at 7:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ "misinterpreting or perceiving the rules wrongly and, in case I am, how to make character evolution appealing to players" which rules are you talking about? We can't discuss the entire character progression of 5e in a single question from a rules standpoint that's far too broad. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Apr 8 at 7:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ The latest edit is a significant improvement. "flat" is generally used to mean a lack of improvement or similar. I.e. numbers going up slowly rather than a lack of options. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Apr 8 at 7:46
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You're probably over-worried

The majority of features a D&D character obtains are combat-related, however there is a lot more to D&D than the fighting (See Three Pillars of the Game) which is where your character concept really comes to shine, regardless of what or how it obtains its features.

Subclass

The specific subclass chosen (for Fighters their Martial Archetype) does a lot, or can be played to do a lot, to distinguish them from each-other. Additionally some classes choose between other features, such as Fighting Styles or Eldritch Invocations (Warlock), which can help differentiate different characters. A Fighter Champion archer will in combat play quite differently to a Two-weapon Fighting Eldritch Knight.

Feats

Feats are a great opportunity for a character to obtain additional power, options etc. and can in particular be used to sharply redefine a character concept: The dwarf fighters with the Sentinel, Great Weapon Master, or Inspiring Leader are likely to be very different characters despite having the same "base".

Spells

Spellcasters do a lot more choosing later than Fighters and so provide (slightly) more flexibility onwards.

Multiclassing

The rules for multiclassing (PHB p.163-) provide a lot of flexibility to include other features in your character. It does notably happen at some cost (missed ability score improvement/feat, high level spells etc.), but are fully optional.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast they were already mention as an option in the Q, and they are only chosen on character creation which is part of the Q. I could still add it I guess.. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Apr 8 at 13:36
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Yep, two of the same class will be mechanically identical (Or at least extremely similar.)

The beauty of 5e, and most RPGs for that matter, is that they're a vehicle for role-play. Two fighters may be identical mechanically, but their personalities, backgrounds, motivations and desires are what make their characters different and interesting. Part of what makes 5e so appealing is its simplicity. Simple systems with simple decisions can get the rules out of the way and get players right to the action.

For a lot of people, its the moments between the rolls that make any RPG worth playing. Two dwarf fighters will deal the same damage pound for pound, but when one is a no non-nonsense, grudge-keeping hard-ass, while the other is always sneaking booze and telling his allies how much he loves them, those will be the differences that matter, and make the game worth playing.

That being said, if you want an RPG experience with meaningful choices while leveling up, you'll need to look elsewhere from 5e. As i mentioned, 5e was built to be a simpler system than 3.5e, and a lot of work went into making it balanced. The attempt to balance is what made most of your choices meaningless, because most of the choices can only decrease your mechanical combat power. Multiclassing gives a slight increase of utility, but you would generally gain more mechanical advantages if you kept leveling the same class. Most Feats come at the cost of an Ability Modifier, and its rare for a feat to be worth a +1 bonus to damage, attack, spell modifiers, or health. So when the choice is: be Strong or Weak, from a mechanical perspective I wouldn't call it a choice. A real choice would should drastically change how the character is played. Some of the sub-classes do this, but not all, and most sub-classes are just one choice at level 3.

For example, at level 5 most of the melee classes get the Extra Attack ability. The rules specifically state that this doesn't stack, which means that when you multiclass up to level 5 in, say, a Barbarian and Fighter, its a net negative. The same happens when you multiclass magic-users, as you will gain more cantrips, and more lower level spells, but will now miss out on higher level spells. A 5 Wizard/5 Druid Multiclass at level 10 would have four 3rd level spells, but a level 10 wizard would have 2 level 5 spells. Thats the difference between being able to Cure Wounds and Reincarnate. (One heals, the other brings back the dead) Combining Magic-Users and Melee-Classes will leave you with less health, since magic-users have smaller hit dice. This means that you will not be able to last on the front lines as long, reducing your melee-class effectiveness. Being partly a melee class, you will not have the same kind of firepower that the other magic-users have, so you will not be optimal in support of your allies from the back.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Apr 8 at 8:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi John. Please see our promotion guidelines, aptly titled How to not be a spammer. You are required to disclose your affiliation with the product which you're advertising here. In this case it seems as though you are the author of that game, so it is especially important your affiliation is disclosed. Not doing this may result in this post being considered spam and removed which would also result in some account penalties. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 8 at 17:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you support thoughts with table play experience? I've found my experience to be quite the opposite of what you're saying, so I'd like to hear when and how you came to these conclusions. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Apr 8 at 19:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JohnOutWest Thank you for the updates. Note that you're welcome to promote your game in your profile (which you can edit here) including linking to your site. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 9 at 8:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch - I think pretty much everyone who played D&D prior to 3e (or maybe late 2e, if you count weapon specialization and non-weapon proficiencies as mechanical customization) has play experience supporting this answer, given that classes didn't have customization options in that era of D&D, but we still had a great time with it. Characters were differentiated only in personality, (randomly-rolled) stats, and equipment choices, not Feats, Ability Modifiers, customized multiclassing paths, etc. \$\endgroup\$ – Dave Sherohman Apr 9 at 11:37

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