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From the original game
1st-3rd Edition Classes
Cleric / Priest
- Game-Breaker: So much so in 3.5 that CoDZilla (a portmanteau of "cleric or druid" and "Godzilla") used to be a subtrope page.
- Complacent Gaming Syndrome: If a Druid doesn't take Natural Spell at 6th level, it's probably been banned.
- Game-Breaker: Considered an even worse one that the cleric. Not only do they have access to similar spell progression, but they gain Wild Shape, which is more powerful than the entire Fighter class! In fact, in a setting where spellcasting was removed, Druids still remained mid to high tier due to this ability alone.
- As one forum poster summarized it: A brown bear in 3e deals on average about the same damage per round as an 8th-level Fighter. An 8th level Druid is at a minimum two brown bears (one from Wild Shape, one as a pet). Add in spells (which a Druid can cast while still being a bear, due to the aforementioned Natural Spell feat), and the bears can fly, have skin made of stone, throw lightning bolts, and summon even more bears. Thus "one guy gets a sword and armor, and [the other] is an aggressively hegemonizing ursine swarm".
- Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Various Alternate Class Features both improved the fighter's overall power and gave it actual, unique skills. The two most beloved are the Dungeoncrasher and the Zhentarim Soldier particularly since they can be used in tandem. Before those came along, a character with more than four levels in fighter was considered a Scrub; now, ninth-level fighters aren't uncommon.
- Tier-Induced Scrappy: In 3.5, primarily. The preponderance of Empty Levels, generic fluff, lack of real features, and general incapability outside of combat give the Fighter something of a poor reputation among casual players and optimizers alike. One fan called it "a class two levels long for thugs."
- Tier-Induced Scrappy: Monks need high scores in just about every ability to be effective. They need to stand still to use many of their class abilities with full effectiveness, but get lots of movement powers that emphasize mobility. And most of their powers are weaker than stuff that other people can easily pick up with cheap magic items or low-level spells anyway.
- Tier-Induced Scrappy: Back in its days of being called the Thief. The 1st and 2nd Edition Thief was one of the worst combat classes without having magic to back it up, meaning they were basically used for their (somewhat situational and unreliable) thieving skills and dead weight otherwise. Not to mention spells or items like Find Traps, Invisibility, or a Chime of Opening could do a Thief's job without needing a character who was dead weight in a fight. The Thief-Acrobat was even worse, as it sacrificed training those skills in favor of things like polevaulting or long-jumping. After being rebranded as the Rogue, they got some major buffs (more consistent damage, more reliable and versatile skill use, access to useful subclasses) that they've largely maintained,
Wizard / Magic-User / Mage
- Creator's Pet: While Wizards are a well-loved class straight from the very first iteration of D&D, they're turned into this whenever Monte Cook's around.
- Game-Breaker: At high-level power play, a straight wizard played by a sufficiently Crazy-Prepared player is considered to be the most powerful class in the game. While they're more fragile than clerics and druids and can't tank, the arcane-exclusive spells (like Teleport) make up for it.
Other 3rd Edition Classes
- Game-Breaker: Its spell mechanics are similar to a Wizard (a Game-Breaker in its own right), and it has access to every divine spell (Clerics and Druids manage to be incredibly powerful with more limited spell lists). And the class has some useful abilities on the side. Every bit as potent as its fellow full casters. Not to mention, you can take Mystic Theurge (advances casting in two spellcasting classes) with both classes' spellcasting tied to Intelligence, the most useful mental ability score.
- Ensemble Dark Horse: Because of how well-balanced and unique it was, the Ardent was one of the few fondly-remembered things about Complete Psionic.
- Ensemble Dark Horse: Fandom find the other 2 classes in ToM to be awful, if not impossible to use. The Binder however is considered to hit the "Powerful enough to be fun to play, but weak enough to not be a Game-Breaker", and easily one of the most supported non-core classes by homebrew (possibly the most outside of Tome of Battle).
- Base-Breaking Character: The Crusader is one of the three martial adepts, all of which have this going on. Fans love it for its combat effectiveness, its fun playstyle, its versatility, and being a melee class that can actually hold its own a little compared to casters. Detractors hate it for its Charles Atlas Superpower traits feeling "silly" or "anime", its effective obsoleting of prior classes (Paladin, in the Crusader's case), its adoption of a system reminiscent of casting, and its somewhat weak lore. It's undeniably better than its predecessor, but the division is whether that makes it a well-balanced class because the original was kind of garbage, or an overpowered class due to this being textbook Power Creep.
- Game-Breaker: It's one of the Big 6, and stands as one of two members of the Big 6 that can use both Arcane and Psionic abilities (the other being the Psionic-variant Artificer). The Erudite is nearly unmatched in flexibility, as you are able to spontaneously manifest any power you know (though there is a debate on how this is supposed to work due to poor wording).
- Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Giving them access to Sanctified Spells from the Book of Exalted Deeds gives them a fair amount of additional options in combat other than healing (which is perfectly legal by the rules of Sanctified Spells, as Healers are all good-aligned spellcasters who prepare their spells).
- Tier-Induced Scrappy: Due to its limited ability to do anything but heal, Healers tend to get a poor reputation.
- Tier-Induced Scrappy: While it is a Rogue with psychic powers, the Psychic Rogue is considered better due to not having their sneak attack rely on psionic focus. This class is still pretty good, but most people will point you towards the Psychic Rogue.
Psion / Psionicist
- Game-Breaker: Sits up very high, almost one of the Big 6, but not quite. On the other hand it wins the award for being the most accessible class for committing human rights violations.
- Tier-Induced Scrappy:
- The Samurai is like the Fighter, but with fewer options.
- The Lawful over Good trait was another ''popular'' class feature.
- A TWFing Ranger outclasses a Complete Warrior Samurai. At least the Oriental Adventures one was decent! When a class is designed around one of the weakest combat mechanics...
- Tier-Induced Scrappy: The early levels are murder on a Shadowcaster. They aren't too powerful late-game either, but they are still capable of contributing to the party.
- Tier-Induced Scrappy: It ends up being the worst of the three Meldshapers. It's even weaker than a Core Paladin!
- Tier-Induced Scrappy:
- Because you can't enchant a Mind Blade like you can a physical weapon, a Soulknife tends to do less damage than a fighter of equal level.
- Also, see Samurai, "less options". Having the Whirlwind Attack feat without the ridiculous prerequisites is neat, though.
- Base-Breaking Character: As a martial adept. It's also the most overtly pseudomagical of the three, so haters who know what they're talking about hate the Swordsage the most.
- Game-Breaker: This was the intention according to the Game-Breaker page definition and it can at level 20, but instead it breaks the game by being poorly designed. This would be considered a Tier-Induced Scrappy except it literally is the only class not to be rated on the tier system for 3.X due to the simple fact that its completely incompatible with the rest of D&D. For starters, as it gains levels, it becomes much harder to use its core mechanics. Only by min-maxing to the extreme can it be viable, and the turnaround point is level 20, at which point it can contribute to combat.
- Scrappy Mechanic: The Law of Resistance, which makes it harder to use the same utterance in a day, and the Law of Sequence, which makes it impossible to use an utterance again while an earlier casting of it is still active. If you've jacked up Truespeak enough to not worry about the inherent Game-Breaking Bug, one or both of these is going to be a serious problem in your near future.
- Base-Breaking Character: For the same reasons as the Crusader.
- Replacement Scrappy: The warblade does everything the core fighter does better, and plenty of other things besides. This led some to complain that there was no reason to play a fighter anymore, outside of niche builds.
- Author's Saving Throw: Some believe the Hellfire Warlock prestige class was one of these; nearly all warlocks can qualify by its level, and the hellfire bonus puts to bed the most common criticism of a warlock 9d6 damage at 20th level is piddley, but 15d6 in exchange for a tiny bit of Con damage can still pack a wallop.
4th Edition Classes
- Tier-Induced Scrappy: The way Blurred Step and Mind Spike originally worked didn't make the battlemind a very good defender. This has been mostly relieved with the July 2010 errata.
5th Edition Classes
- Broken Base: The Storm Herald is a perfectly fine Primal Path with spectacular, unique abilties that makes good use of the Barbarian's bonus action, which generally won't see much use after a Barbarian has started its rage. The main contention with Storm Herald is story consistency vs gameplay consistency. Unlike the Totem Warrior, which doesn't need to stick entirely to the Bear to be a game-breaker (It's allowed to take the Bear ability to resist all damage and then choose any other animal for future subclass specific features), the Storm Herald is married to the type of storm it chooses from the start, meaning that if it chose to start with the Sea Storm Aura, well, that's what it's sticking with for its Storm Soul and Raging Storm. It can change which Storm it's connected to every level, but it cannot mix-and-match like the Totem Warrior can. The contention here is if it should be allowed to mix-and-match for the sake of gameplay, or if it only makes sense that a Barbarian tied to a sandstorm would continue to gain powers linked to the sandstorm. Some DMs are willing to break the rules for the former, while others prefer the logic of the latter.
- Complacent Gaming Syndrome:
- Expect to hear "I would like to Rage" a lot if you're at a table with a barbarian in the party. Rage is pretty much the go-to move for barbarians, but they do it so well that there's really not much need to do anything else.
- The Totem Warrior, and specifically the Bear Totem, is unquestionably the most popular barbarian primal path, and for one reason: resistance versus all damage except psychic. In other words, if no enemy on the field possesses an attack with a fairly uncommon damage type, that Bear Totem barbarian enjoys effectively doubled HP when they Rage, rather than only versus weapon attacks. Also, as barbarians have advantage on Dexterity saving throws against nasty damage spells like the dreaded fireball, they can quite easily get a cumulative chance to halve received damage again. It's commonly thought that the mass infusions of spells and monsters that deal psychic damage in Xanathar's Guide to Everything and Mordekainen's Tome of Foes, respectively, are an attempt to "stealth nerf" it. Let's not forget that a ring of resistance can also fix that little psychic problem.
- If it's not a Totem Warrior, the Barbarian is probably a Zealot. The Zealot is widely considered to be the second-best class behind the Totem Warrior, and it does a few things better than the Totem Warrior. The Zealot barbarian can be brought back from the dead without material components for revival spells, reroll failed saving throws, inspire the party with advantage rolls, and deals extra radiant or necrotic damage with each attack. Plus, the "Rage Beyond Death" ability means that the barbarian outright won't die if they hit zero HP, even if they fail three death saves, as long as they're raging. They're effectively the idea of "Man Literally Too Angry to Die" given form. The Totem Warrior still gets more useful abilities for out-of-combat roleplaying and is a better defensive powerhouse, even if the Zealot can deal more damage and be brought back to life more easily.
- Race wise, if the player is only using the base races for playing a Barbarian, expect it to be a Half-Orc. Half-Orc's gain a +2 in Strength and +1 in Constitution, the ability to get back up if reduced to zero HP, and the ability to add an additional weapon roll if they crit with a melee weapon. These all combined make a Half-Orc Barbarian hard to kill while giving them a high damage output potential, as with their starting modifiers, they can reach high Strength and Con modifiers with ease. Mountain Dwarves are a close second because of their +2 to Constitution and Strength, however they lack the extra combat bonuses' the Half-Orc gets, as they instead get resistance to poison and a history of stone-like skill instead. Outside of those two, the most common pick for a Barbarian is Goliath due to the race being tailor-made to be one.
- Tier-Induced Scrappy:
- At the complete opposite end of the spectrum, no one plays the other primal path from the Player's Handbook, the Berserker. This is also because of a poorly-designed first power, namely, Frenzy, which offers an additional attack per round as a bonus action... at the cost of one level of Exhaustion once the Rage ends. And Exhaustion is hard and slow to remove, stacks rapidly to impose awful and overlapping penalties, and means that using the Path's power is almost never worth it. The rest of the Primal Path is much better, but such a bad starting power, combined with the lack of any others starting powers, has led many to complain it obviously pre-dates the existing Exhaustion rules and was never updated when they were changed.
- The battlerager from the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide is also fairly weak, but it at least offers an extra attack per round without any real cost, even if its damage dice are low. Unfortunately, it forces the player to wear a single type of armor for most of their class benefits, and not a terribly powerful kind at that.
- Complacent Gaming Syndrome:
- Most Bards end up going the route of College of Lore for the simple fact you can pick two spells from any class at level six, which allows Bards to use some of the best spells in the game such as Counterspell and not have to worry about it not synergizing with their stats since it counts as a Bard spell. You also gain three additional proficiencies choosing it, meaning you can have around eight skills to be good in before feats are thrown in. Cutting Words is also considered a decent use of your Bardic Inspirations since it can help reduce the chances of someone being hurt.
- If a group has a Bard, expect for that Bard to be a Half-Elf most of the time. This is because Half-Elves get a flat +2 to their Charisma modifiers and the ability to put a single point in any two stats, all while gaining two free skills, two starting languages, in addition to getting to pick a third, and advantage on being charmed, all of which doesn't even account for Backgrounds. This makes them the best race option since those extra two stat points can be put in the stat that they will need depending on their sub-class, which combined with the Bard's natural ability to help stop Charms and gain skills, allows them to practically be good at everything they need to be. To a lesser extent, Tiefling Bards are also common for also getting +2 to Charisma and a few free spells or a flying speed, but they are favored more if they are playing a solely magic-focused Bard.
- Minmaxer's Delight: Level 3 College of Valor Bards are considered good to dip into because it gives you access to medium armor, shields, martial weapons, and Combat Inspiration, which can turn classes like Sorcerers and Warlocks into a better Magic Knight, without losing your stats focus on Charisma.
- Complacent Gaming Syndrome: Life Cleric in general is one of the most popular Clerics, largely because of the stigma attached to Clerics via classic video games and even some earlier editions as the 'healbot.' It also tends to get the most shilling. It's a perfectly good class, too, one of the few where everyone will agree it can function well for mid-combat healing.
- Minmaxer's Delight: Life Cleric 1 is a popular dip for other healer classes. Proficiency with all armor and shields while keeping spell slot progression is already good enough, but the icing of the cake is the extra healing that is applied every time any spell of yours does any healing. Any spell, not just any cleric spell. Since a paladin's aura of vitality heals every turn for one minute, that translates to 50 extra HP of healing. Worse yet, it quadruples the healing power of goodberry, bringing a total of 40 HP of non-combat healing, which can be distributed among the party with surgical precision, for the cost of a 1st-level slot. Having a Druid X/Life Cleric 1 often means the party can enter every single fight fully healed.
- Tier-Induced Scrappy: Trickery Domain Clerics are generally seen as the worst option for the class. The main draw of the Trickery Domain is that you basically are more focused on trickery and pranking people, as well as making stealth more viable for yourself and/or your party through your blessing. However, while this does make it a good option for stealth-focused modules, it does little to provide outright power or utility because it's more focused on confusing the enemy, and while Invoke Duplicity is useful, it only creates an illusion of you and nothing else. The later abilities like Cloak of Shadows and the Trickery Divine Strike also aren't all that useful since one just makes you invisible at the cost of using your Channel Divinity, while the other lets you deal poison damage on your melee attack, something many foes are resistant to and thus can No-Sell. The spells you gain are solid such as Dispel Magic, but don't help your Cleric fight any better. It's a fun idea in concept, but if you want to play a stealthy magic character, it's better to just play something like a Bard or Arcane Trickster.
- Complacent Gaming Syndrome: If you have a high-level game (or a game that promises to end at high-levels) and a group of people who understand the ins and outs of 5e, expect at least one in five groups to have a Circle of the Moon Druid. While Circle of the Land offers more versatility, Circle of Dreams has better healing, Circle of the Shepherd has incredibly useful buffs, and Circle of Spores gives a consistent means of causing constant damage, the Circle of the Moon is notorious as being Nigh-Invulnerable. A lot of the base Druid's late-game abilities mesh far too well with the Moon Druid's last few abilities, including casting Wildshape at will, the ability to cast Druid spells while Wildshape is in effect, and the ability to Wildshape into any Beast of Challenge Rating 6 or lower. This doesn't sound devastating until one remembers that any damage incurred while Wildshaped doesn't carry over to the Druid's normal form. Starting at Circle of the Moon Druid Level 18, the Druid can transform into a Mammoth with 126 HP as a Bonus Action every round. This means that enemies have to constantly rip into the Mammoth Moon Druid and hope they deal more than 126 damage in a single round of combat. They might be able set up a turn where they damage the Druid after bringing down the Wildshape, but this is excessively meta-gamey. And even if they do, all of that effort that's focused on the Druid is effort that isn't focused on anyone else, leaving the rest of the Druid's party to rain death on the enemies.
- Complacent Gaming Syndrome:
- While the class as a whole is quite versatile, the Fighting Styles it offers are not. Expect most Fighters to use either Dueling, Defense, or Two-Weapon Fighting if they are a melee-focused Fighter due to the fact that the three provide simple bonuses that are very useful throughout the player's lifespan. Archery only works well if the player decides to focus on being a ranged-attack Fighter, though it is probably the most powerful fighting style in the game if one does, while Great Weapon Fighting and Protection are seen as very weak and gimmicky and overspecialized choices, respectively, which are not useful long term for most characters (there are some exceptions). Furthermore, simply because none of the other Fighting Styles really complement one another, everyone who gets a second Style almost invariably picks Defense if they didn't take it at already.
- According to various sites, Human Fighter is the most common combination in Fifth Edition. This is likely on account of the Boring, but Practical applications both have; humans gain +1 to all stats, and Fighters are a class that generally want to be good at most things without being the best in any of them. The additional features Fighters get early on helps create a strong character that can keep up with the party.
- One of the Fighter builds most recommended is a Variant Human that uses a reach weapon (such as a glaive) and takes the Sentinel, Polearm Master, and Great Weapon Master feats. Such a build can easily trap enemies where the enemy cannot attack them unless they also have a reach weapon, as Sentinel triggers an attack of opportunity when the enemy attempts to move closer that, if it hits, prevents any more movement. The Fighter can then pump out huge amounts of damage with the bonus from Great Weapon Master, the corresponding accuracy penalty being made up for by Polearm Master allowing them to make another attack as a bonus action. As a Variant Human can start at level 1 with a feat, this build can be completed as soon as level 8, with the most important parts (Polearm Master and Sentinel) obtained as quickly as level 4. What subclass to pick isn't considered a big deal, though the Cavalier subclass is often suggested because of the Hold the Line nature of its abilities making it well suited for the build.
- Scrappy Mechanic: The Indomitable power, the Fighter's only class power that doesn't recharge on a short rest, is often derided for being weak, as it's essentially a single saving throw re-roll. Worse, it tends to happen on levels where the fighter gets no other benefits. Often seen as a blatant attempt to skew things in the caster's favor in the caster-martial dynamic, it's popularly house-ruled to either recharge on a short rest or to work like the monster power of similar mechanics and let the fighter choose to succeed instead.
- Tier-Induced Scrappy:
- In general, the Player's Handbook archetypes are seen as undertuned compared to those released in later sourcebooks. None of them grant extra skills, and only the Battle Master grants a tool proficiency, whereas every single other archetype, even the Banneret / Purple Dragon Knight, offers a few, and their support for the non-combat pillars of the game is very limited compared to what other archetypes offer. Furthermore, their combat abilities, while still somewhat unique, are often seen as victims of Power Creep, whether it's the Champion's limited regeneration which several other classes have since gotten a strictly-better version of earlier in progression, the Battle Master's short-rest recharging maneuvers not being as powerful as advertised, or the Eldritch Knight's limited spell list, slow scaling, and lack of synergy between its spellcasting abilities and its fighter powers, even with the release of a few Eldritch Knight-friendly spells in the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide.
- Speaking of, the Banneret / Purple Dragon Knight is often seen as a bit of a dud in and of itself. The intent is a fighter who can share his class features with the rest of the party, the result is a lot of weak, finicky, slowly-recharging powers that generally fail to properly capture the "4e Warlord" flavor the subclass is reaching for and stand in the way of letting the fighter shine on his own by the absence of better ones.
- Complacent Gaming Syndrome: If the Monk is a Shadow Monk, expect that Shadow Monk to take two levels in Rogue (sometimes more, but two is the most common due to taking the least amount of time and investment) if they don't already start in Rogue and move into Monk around level two or so. There are two major reasons why a Shadow Monk would want this. First, without Expertise, a Shadow Monk is honestly just a lesser Rogue; a Rogue will easily do their job of sneaking better 100% of the time and out-damage them to boot. It's more than likely they'll have a better starting AC, since any Rogue worth their salt will do everything possible to start with a Dex mod of 3-4, whereas a Monk would need that and a good Wis mod to bump up AC. Getting Expertise in Stealth and Perception makes the Shadow Monk comparable, if not better in some cases, than a Rogue in sneaking, even once Reliable Talent comes online for Rogues. (Largely as a result of Pass Without Trace, nigh-free invisibility, and teleportation allowing them to make up for a lack of consistency in their rolls.) The other reason is access to a free bonus action version of their favorite actions in battle and on a mission - dash, disengage, and hide. If there aren't any shadows nearby to teleport in, a Shadow Monk greatly appreciates the ability to still hide somewhere.
- Tier-Induced Scrappy: Way of the Four Elements is generally seen as the worst subclass in all of Fifth Edition. The goal of the Four Elements is to give players abilities that allow them to adapt to any situation, even if they aren't quite as good as dedicated classes. The problem is just how harshly this cuts into the Monk's natural resource pool. Unlike the Sorcerer, who only uses its Sorcery Points on the abilities it gets in its base class, the Monk has useful features that make use of its Ki both in its base form and in the various subclasses it uses. This isn't normally a problem for most Monk subclasses, where they tend to only need to use a few of the Ki-sapping features a subclass offers within a given situation, and usually at a relatively cheap cost. The Four Elements abilities all use Ki, and most of the beneficial ones utterly price-gouge the Monk. While four Ki points have the potential to kill someone instantly or do incredible damage as an Open Hand Monk, a Four Elements Monk only gets one use of Fireball. The most tragic aspect of this, however, is Water Whip. When first introduced, Water Whip was a bonus action attack a Monk could use before their own natural two attacks, did decent damage, pulled an enemy closer, and potentially knocked them prone, allowing the Monk to make full use of their hit-and-run playstyle. When the errata came around changing Water Whip's cost to a full action, the subclass lost any remaining luster; making Water Whip an action defeats the entire purpose of using it, since the Monk can't capitalize on the effects of the Whip itself, and 3d10 + Wisdom Mod is simply not that great for the cost of a full action. All of this makes the Way of the Four Elements Monk into a class that can do anything but can't do any of it well, and is outdone in every area by another class or subclass.
- Complacent Gaming Syndrome: Oath of the Ancients Paladins are one of the more commonly picked subclasses for Paladins, in large part of their level 7 Aura of Warding, which gives any allies within 10 feet of the Paladin resistance to all magic damage. When you combine this with the already existing aura that gives nearby allies a bonus to saves equal to your charisma modifier, it can absolutely trivialize some fights. Your party gets hit by the Fireball spell? Well, even if they fail the save, they still take half damage. Pass the save? That halved damage gets reduced even more! The other abilities it gets are also pretty useful as well, making it potentially the strongest Paladin subclass in terms of how good it is.
- Tier-Induced Scrappy: Oath of Redemption Paladins don't see much use due to the very strict nature of their oaths; they're supposed to be all about Redemption Equals Life unless someone goes to the extreme and thus has to be killed. The idea behind them is that you try to redeem a person and prevent violence by convincing them to stand down and stop being violent. In practice, however, it's one of the most restrictive subclasses because it punishes you for fighting; if you chose to fight without trying to make your enemy suffer a Heel Realization, it's going to cost you your oath, and all your abilities are focused on preventing fights rather than assisting in them, which makes it useless when fighting many foes who are Always Chaotic Evil like Demons, Devils, and other monsters or evil-aligned beings. It also requires the rest of the party to let the Redemption Paladin do their redeeming thing without fighting, which then requires cooperation and goodwill from the actual players; this can get boring and frustrating for the players who want to fight without really caring about trying to prevent the fight. This means it's possible you may start to convince a foe to back down, only for your party to just kill them anyway. Even their level 20 ability is focused on making you get hit to be useful, and if you attack back, your ability ends instantly. It's essentially taking the idea of redeeming someone by being a Badass Pacifist, which isn't applicable in every situation, both story-wise and gameplay-wise. The roleplay potential of the class is arguably the only reason it's picked; in the hands of a skilled player, it can make for an interesting character and has some amount of Loophole Abuse, but gameplay-wise few people will want to use it.
- Author's Saving Throw:
- The ranger was generally seen as the weakest class in the game upon initial release, particularly its Beast Master sub-class. Two years later, the developers released a full rework of the class that was much better-received. While the developers did not outright replace it, and have said they do not intend to, making it an official option went a great way to fix the class. To coincide with this, later subclasses have been given better overall abilities and skills to help the base ranger class have more power to it, making it possible for a non-rework ranger to be strong in spite of the limits, and even better if it's a rework ranger.
- The alternative class features in Tasha's Cauldron replace a number of very situational or outright useless abilities of the ranger: rather than having chosen terrain types that the ranger can't get lost in and where they can forage more food in (Natural Explorer), they instead get Expertise in a skill, permanent increases in movement speed, and the ability to heal themselves of exhaustion over short rests instead of long rests (Deft Explorer). Instead of being able to expend a spell slot to know if any if a type of creature is within a mile of them but not the vital information of *where the creatures are* or how many of them there are (Primeval Awareness), they gain access to a number of thematic spells such as Beast Sense and Locate Creature and can cast them without spell slots once per long rest (Primal Awareness). Instead of being able to spend a minute making camouflage that helps hide them... as long as they don't, you know, **move** or do anything useful while hidden (Hide In Plain Sight), they can call upon the power of nature to outright make them invisible for short periods of time, and can do so during combat (Nature's Veil).
- The Beast Master subclass was given specific alternate features in Tasha's Cauldron that made it much stronger and less of a hassle to play. Rather than choosing a specific animal as a companion, (which players disliked due to how weak and fragile the available options were), a Beast Master can instead summon a primal beast in the form of an animal - either a Beast of the Earth (slightly tougher and can climb), a Beast of the Sky (slightly faster and can fly), or a Beast of the Sea (both tough and fast - but can only move around in water). A Primal Companion does what Beast Master players had wanted for years: scales and grows stronger as the Beast Master does. Additionally, it can be revived with a spell slot if it is killed: before, a Beast Master's pet could only be revived the same way a player character could, requiring expensive diamonds and a willing spellcaster who knows a spell to bring them back. Most parties weren't able or willing to shill out thousands of gold pieces worth of diamonds to bring back one player's pet.
- Broken Base: The 5e development team released a special Unearthed Arcana revolving entirely around five levels of a completely-rebuilt ranger class. Opinions are divided between those who like the change, those who dislike it, but feel it's a good sign that the developers are listening to their feedback, and those who feel it is firm evidence that the game designers are just clueless when it comes to the ranger, fixated on mending things that aren't broken while ignoring the class's core problems.
- Complacent Gaming Syndrome: The few times you meet a DM who will absolutely require a player to use the PHB Ranger, expect the player to use the Hunter. While the Hunter still isn't nearly as good as most Paladins, Fighters, or Monks, it does have a few unique features that puts it head and shoulders over the other options, most notably an easy increase to total damage per round, multiple methods of melee AOE effects (which is something only the Ranger can claim without spells), and an incredible defensive ability that punishes a DM's attempts to bully the Ranger with concentrated strikes from a single enemy. The Horizon Walker and Beastmaster just can't keep up.
- Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: As mentioned under Author's Saving Throw, Unearthed Arcana turned the Ranger into a Lightning Bruiser, as well as fixing the Beastmaster's animal companion. Many of these features were made offical class varients with the release of Tasha's Cauldron of Everything.
- Tier-Induced Scrappy: Generally seen as the weakest 5th edition class. There are very few things a ranger can do out of combat that other classes can't do, and probably do better. In combat, they rely heavily on a very limited selection of spells, and stack up unfavorably against both fighters and paladins. Out of combat, many of the class's core features are only useful against specific prey or on specific terrain. Beastmasters have it particularly bad, as the mechanics behind their animal companions suck.
- Complacent Gaming Syndrome: Halfling Rogues are by far the most common race option for Rogues. Partially because of the flat +2 to Dexterity they get, but also the Halfing's "Halfling Nimbleness" feature allowing them to move through spaces occupied by creatures larger then you, which makes Halfings very deadly when they want to use sneak attacks since they can outright use their party members as essentially cover. Kenku and Tabxai are similarly among the most common picks due to their racial features and bonuses, but in terms of base races, Halfings are the top of the game for Rogues.
- Author's Saving Throw:
- The Unearthed Arcana revisions released for the Sorcerer have been very well received due to giving the class some needed buffs. To clarify; the two largest changes they received were Spell Versatilitynote and three more ways to use their Sorcery Pointsnote . Both of those additions have made the class more viable since they now can swap out useless spells for better ones, as well as use their Sorcery Points for more useful situations then simply attacking. While the class is still regarded as deeply flawed, it's considered a step in the right direction. However, Sorcerers did not keep Spell Versatility once Tasha's Cauldron to Everything came out with alternative class features, something that some Sorcerer fans have chosen to ignore and include anyway because of how much it fixes some of the core issues they have.
- On the topic of Tasha's Cauldron to Everything, the Sorcerous Origins introduced in that expansion address one of the biggest complaints regarding the Sorcerer class: versatility. Both Clockwork Soul and Aberrant Mind come with ten spells (and, in Abberant Mind's case, a cantrip) that are added at the thresholds for each spell level up to 5th, like what Cleric Domains get. And, in a departure from any other features like this, the Sorcerer can retrain these spells, even outside the Sorcerer class! The only caveats are the schools of magic, the level of the spell, and what classes the spells can be drawn from, but that's still a lot of variety to work with. Now Sorcerers, beings almost literally made of magic, can have more known spells than Bards. The features for each subclass are also incredibly diverse and unique, such as eliminating a creature's advantage to saving throws (something most mages groan about, given how every Fiend has magic resistance), creative body modifications, and a way to immediately end spell effects.
- Complacent Gaming Syndrome:
- It is usually advised that anyone who plans to play a Sorcerer should multiclass to one of the other Charisma-focused classes in order to bump up their strength, as the Sorcerer's limited abilities need help in order to offset their flaws. In particular, Warlock is often the go-to class because of the power they get from the class's abilities, including the ability to get spells back on a short rest. When combined with the Sorcerer's ability to convert spells into Sorcery Points, this essentially allows them to convert Warlock spells into Sorcery Points, then convert those Sorcery Points into Sorcerer spells, aiding them in getting around the fact that Sorcerers need a long rest to regain both resources (outside of their capstone ability, but this method will help them out more in the long run).
- Due to the very awkward limitations many of the subclasses they get, it's very common for players to use one of the Unearthed Arcana classes (Phoenix, Favored Soul, Storm), and homebrew elements of it to make it more viable for players, such as buffing the Phoenix Origin's Mantle Of Flames to have more uses.
- In terms of Metamagic, expect to see Sorcerers take Empowered, Subtle, and Quickened Spell. Empowered allows Sorcerers to be proper nukers that make Evoker Wizards utterly obsolete while also being stacked with any other Metamagic option, Subtle is the one completely official way for a caster to use a spell without making visible use of their components (which ensures any fight between mages will end in the Sorcerer's favor, since they can Counterspell with impunity but their opponent can't since you need to see or hear a spell to counter it), and Quickened is often homebrewed to allow the Sorcerer to use two full spells. Even without homebrew, Quickened is amazing because it allows a Sorcerer to safely turtle-up with Dodge, cover more ground with Dash, cast a Cantrip, or all sorts of other useful options.
- Tier-Induced Scrappy: The Wild Magic sub-class falls into Awesome, but Impractical. Whenever you cast a non-cantrip spell, you have to roll a d20. If you get a 1 on this d20 roll, you then have to roll a d100 for a Wild Magic Surge, which makes something happens at random. Some of the Wild Magic Surge effects are useful: recovering HP, regaining spell slots, casting buff spells like Mirror Image for free, or your next spell needing a Bonus Action instead of an Action. But you can also end up casting Fireball or Confusion centered on yourself, make yourself Frightened of the nearest enemy, or cause necrotic damage to everything around you (including your allies). While fun in theory, the amount of potential negative effects from a Wild Magic Surge makes the sub-class not worth using, as some of the Surges can easily lead to a Total Party Kill in the wrong spot. Making this worse is that your most interesting ability — being able to give yourself advantage — makes you take a Wild Magic Surge roll as soon as you do it. So your one outright useful ability is probably going to be a detriment in the end. And all of this is in exchange for only slightly increasing your chances to cast spells and your damage; it's not enough to make the sub-class viable, considering all of the massive drawbacks.
- Author's Saving Throw: Tasha's Cauldron of Everything introduced a new Eldritch Invocation, Investment of the Chain Master, that addressed many of the complaints with Pact of the Chain. The Warlock's familiar only takes a bonus action to command to attack rather the Warlock's entire action, the damage it deals is considered magical (bypassing the resistance to non-magic piercing/bludgeoning/slashing damage that most enemies past early game have), any save that it forces an opponent to make — such as a pseudodragon's poisoned stinger tail or quasit's scare ability — use the Warlock's own spell save DC rather than the (low) DC that the familiar has by default, and the Warlock can use their reaction to grant their familiar resistance to damage when it's injured to help compensate for how fragile the familiar is.
- Complacent Gaming Syndrome:
- Before the release of the Hexblade, the Pact of the Tome was far-and-away the best pact option in the game. The Pact of the Blade was seen as gimmicky and limited in usefulness, requiring the use of many Invocations just to bring it up to par with the class's signature eldritch blast cantrip, while the Pact of the Chain quickly fell off in usefulness as the player progressed in level, since its unique familiar never improves or gains hitpoints as monsters grow more powerful, and the Magic Resistance most of the choices for it grant requires it to be in the area of effect for spells that will kill it through raw damage even if it makes its saving throws. Conversely, the Pact of the Tome offers enormous upgrades to the class's versatility, via not only several free cantrips, but has an invocation that lets a warlock learn every ritual spell they can find, hugely expanding the class's out-of-combat utility.
- The class is extremely customizable thanks to having two effective subclasses and the versatile and useful abilities offered by Invocations, but every warlock grabs the class's signature eldritch blast cantrip and the Agonizing Blast invocation that upgrades it to add the character's Charisma modifier to damage rolls. Indeed, the class is arguably designed around the assumption that most players will select both, and within their first few levels.
- Minmaxer's Delight: As a front-loaded class, warlocks have access to many of these.
- Hexblades are an extremely powerful one-or-two-level dip due to their 1st level ability of substituting Charisma for Strength or Dexterity for the attack of any one weapon.
- The class's signature eldritch blast cantrip is a popular poach for other classes, since, unlike other cantrips, it offers additional attacks instead of additional damage dice, and the warlock has a number of potent and useful Invocations to upgrade it further.
- Paladins and sorcerers often dip a level or two into warlock to gain access to the class's regenerating "pact spell slots," since having a supply of spells that regenerates on a short rest fixes many of their design issues.
- Tier-Induced Scrappy:
- The Hexblade Patron is basically the way to play a Bladelock, and trying with any other patron will see you outclassed in basically every way. They get medium armor, a single-target hex buff, and Charisma to attacks and damage - fixing their issue of being a MAD class. And since they get this at first level, it also makes them a popular 1 level dip for other Charisma gishes like the Bard or Paladin. Many would have preferred their abilities to be merged with the preexisting Pact of the Blade instead, and that's those who don't think they're just flat out overpowered.
- While Pact of the Blade is no longer here (because of said arguably-overpowered Hexblade), the Pact of the Chain's benefit, as explained above, is very weak and fragile, never improves or scales up, and making use of their best ability means making sure it's right inside the range of any Area of Effect spells an enemy wants to throw. Without the buffs it got from Tasha's Cauldron of Everything, it's the weakest Pact option.
- On the opposite side, the Undying Warlock from the SCAG. All you get out of it is resistance to disease, an ability that makes it slightly harder for undead to attack you as long as you don't attack them first, a small collection of weak self-healing abilities and a greatly enhanced lifespan. Undeniably a cool pact from a thematic point of view, but mechanically it' just really mediocre. August 2020 saw a new Unearthed Arcana Patron called the Undead Patron, which has similar ideas and mechanics, but has better abilities and is considerably more powerful, making the Undying even less appealing, especially once said Patron became official in Van Richten's Guide To Ravenloft.
- Author's Saving Throw: The spell Danse Macabre basically saved the Necromancer. Before Danse Macabre was released, the Necromancer had a huge issue with being useless starting around the mid-game; Grim Harvest is strictly inferior to every other ability that restored HP upon killing an enemy (and there are many, including strictly better variants thereof, such as the Way of Long Death Monk's Touch of Death and the Grave Domain Cleric's Keeper of Souls), resistance to Necrotic damage and immunity to HP reduction just wasn't worth ten levels in a class (especially considering an Aasimar is already resistant to Necrotic damage from the start), and the majority of Undead a party fights by the time they reach 14th level have high charisma saves, high intelligence, or both. Danse Macabre, however, took the core feature of the subclass and made it potent; before, Undead Thralls was practically worthless by mid-game, where a Zombie or Skeleton's +2 to hit is abysmal, but with Danse Macabre, a Necromancer suddenly had a team of powerful HP bags that could actually deal consistent and passable damage. Danse Macabre and Animate Dead even had interesting means of varying the Undead you got, so that you could use Animate Dead if you just wanted walking shields, and you could use Danse Macabre if you wanted to actually harm enemies.
- Creator's Pet: One accusation the class gets is that it's favored heavily by the developers to the point of absurdity compared to the other magic-focused classes. In almost every major update or playtest material, the wizard gets either a bunch of new spells, or gets a new subclass, despite already having a pretty good starting set of subclasses. To put into perspective how many subclasses they have, most classes have between seven or nine official subclasses as of 2021. The wizard has thirteen, the second highest number of officially published subclasses after the Cleric, and unlike the Cleric which has domain's that offer unique gameplay advantages and play styles, the Wizard's all make minor adjustments with only one or two unique abilities. This seems to be because unlike the sorcerer, druid, and warlock, wizards are easy to make new abilities for since they are so basic in playstyle, but fans of the other classes are often vocal about their dislike of the favoritism. Part of the hate is also that said subclasses are often comically overpowered, janky or poorly designed, or both, and sorcerer fans in particular are extremely resentful of many poorly-received attempts to create a "metamagic wizard" in an edition where the sorcerer class is already seen as flawed and troubled and metamagic is one of their very small number of unique tricks. At the very least, when it's the only class in the game with multiple subclass options that can turn all damage they deal into nigh-irresistible force damage, there's something there.
- Tier-Induced Scrappy:
- The Evoker, full stop. On paper, the School is a perfectly reasonable option for Wizards that allows them to deal a decent chunk of damage safely. So what's the problem? Everything it does, the Sorcerer does better. While the Sorcerer itself suffers from some degree of scrappy status, no one doubts the sheer power it can manifest with its Metamagic. Sculpt Spells is one feature the Evoker has over Sorcerers, but Careful Spell almost closes the gap, and any issues with aiming can usually be solved with ease, especially if the spell is a debuff, not straight damage, in which case Careful Spell is indistinguishable from Sculpt Spells. Potent Cantrip and Empowered Evocation both fall flat next to Draconic and Stone Sorcerers, not to mention other Origin options that give Sorcerers a flat Charisma modifier buff to damage, (additionally, by the time a Wizard gets Potent Cantrip, most mages won't need to use damage-dealing Cantrips if they ration their spells carefully) and even then, limiting the extra damage to Evocation spells is often more limiting than it sounds the higher up you get in level, where you get disgustingly powerful AOE spells like Incendiary Cloud...which aren't Evocation. The kicker is the capstone, though; Overchannel. Once again, on paper, this looks better than the Sorcerer's Empowered Spell. Two problems; one, Overchannel is obtained at level 14, 11 levels after a Sorcerer could have taken Empowered Spell. Two, Empowered Spell is an easily spammable Metamagic option with a disgustingly low resource cost that can apply to any Sorcerer spell, including Meteor Swarm, Sunburst, Disintegrate, and Finger of Death. At best, an Evoker Wizard can deal one instance of 69 cold damage before suffering any penalties. 69 damage is nothing to sneeze at against a group of enemies, but it's tied to a spell (Cone of Cold) with a save most monsters have an abundance of at 14th level and a somewhat resisted damage type. Any casting after the first comes with crippling penalties that typically give you only one more shot with a high-level spell before it becomes unfeasible to cast again. All this together makes the Evoker Wizard the worst School in the game, its only potential competition being the Transmuter.
- Speaking of the Transmuter, it is a perfectly decent subclass held back entirely by the fact that the majority of its abilities are simply underwhelming or easily replicated by other classes, spells, and even subclasses, especially Conjuration. Minor Alchemy as a whole falls flat next to Minor Conjuration, and any halfway decent Bard or Rogue can set up a scam without the need for transmutation magic. The Transmuter's stone is useful to give its user Constitution proficiency without the need of a feat, and that's nothing to turn one's nose up at, except Conjurerers can just not make concentration saves at 10th level when using Conjuration spells, which on a whole are more reliable and more useful than Transmutation spells. Polymorphing for free sounds like a good deal, until you realize the Druid can do it too, could do it 8 levels ago, and can do it twice. The greatest thing that can be said about Transmuter is that it is not totally outdone by another class like Evoker is; Master Transmuter and the ability to swap energy resistances by using Transmutation spells are genuinely good abilities, but Master Transmuter is depressingly limited in what it can do versus what normal spells can already do. Generally, the consensus is that Transmuter needs some serious buffs, otherwise the only major reason to take it is to maintain one's youth...if you can get to 14th level.
- The Necromancer. On paper, the subclass seems fine; you get health back when you kill enemies, and get even more back if you used a Necromancer spell to do it. You also have an overall easier time summoning Undead thanks to reduced costs, and can buff the Undead that you summon. The issue is the limited nature of the Animate Dead spell; not only do you keep rolling dice to maintain control, but you have to cast the spell at higher levels to have it make more than one Undead at a time, and the only buff the Undead get is a basic buff you get from the class. Also, Animate Dead is a Level 3 spell, meaning it's gained a bit into the Wizard's lifespan, when enemies will most likely be able to kill those Undead pretty quickly. All the Wizard abilities the class gives offer no buffs to the Undead you summon, and the Wizard gets only two buff abilities at all. This doesn't even include the roleplay side of things, where a Necromancer Wizard is highly likely to be treated as suspect by other players, even if the character in question isn't Evil-aligned. While later spells help the class out, the core abilities of the Necromancer are simply too weak and don't scale with level. A Circle of the Shepherd Druid could do everything that a Necromancer Wizard could do but better, all without getting as many dirty looks and providing better buffs to summoned creatures and their allies. All of this makes the Necromancer one of the least useful options for a Wizard.
- Adaptation Displacement: Compare how many series' portray Bahamut and Tiamat as dragons. Now look up their origins.
- Broken Base:
- Ability Penalties for races in 5e is considered majorly controversial. It only applies to two races that were released in a later sourcebook (strength penalty for kobolds and intelligence penalty for orcs), so many considered it completely out of place in this version of the game. Others complained that playing as an orcish Wizard or Artificer or any kobold melee class (except for monk) was completely unviable. Later reprints of the Orc in Eberron and Wildermount have removed their int penalty. Wizards of the Coast has apparently caught onto the criticisms, since they've removed ability score penalties altogether in the newer reprints of Volo's Guide to Monsters where they originally appeared.
- As far as playable races go, Kenku are one of the more polarizing ones released in a official work. This is because of their inability to speak normally, instead they mimic sounds in order to communicate. This has divided the community because of how one would play a Kenku, and the issues that can potentially arise with one in a party. Some feel that the Kenku are a fun and unique race due to this, citing that a good roleplay can find fun and unique ways to communicate with their party by associating phrases/sounds they hear to what they want to say or mean. Furthermore, the Kenku as a race are fairly strong, making them powerful in the right setup, especially as Rangers or Rogues. On the other hand, some feel they are too gimmicky and difficult to work with since having to basically find ways of communicating can make playing one just not enjoyable. There also is issues with Kenku being prime targets for a Griefer to play because of their copy sounds mean they can harass or be annoying to players with random words or noises, or taking things out of context just to annoy people. Due to this, Kenku are very difficult to discuss, and tend to be polarizing among the community.
- Dragonborn get this as a playable race. Many people love dragonborn because they're a Proud Warrior Race with a distinctly different theme to them than the dwarf, they're a great choice for a "bruiser" class like a fighter or a barbarian thanks to getting bonuses to Strength and Charisma, or because the player finds the idea of a playable dragon to be just inherently awesome. Also, dragonborn in the Forgotten Realms tend to be either Lawful Good warriors of Bahamut the Platinum Dragon or Chaotic Evil children of Tiamat, giving them some decent roleplay potential. Just as many people dislike dragonborn for being a race that doesn't fit a niche, since dwarves and half-orcs are better bruisers, the natural damage resistance that a dragonborn gets can also be done by tieflings, and their breath weapon isn't as good as a caster's spells. Also, while dragonborn breath weapons are good for crowd control and hitting groups of enemies, and a walking dragon is an intimidating sight in any realm, it's counterbalanced by the dragonborn not getting darkvision (one of the few humanoid races that doesn't), and they tend to not show up very often; lizardfolk or half-dragons show up more than dragonborn do. While dragonborn have gotten more popular as time has gone on, there's still the odd argument that pops up around whether they're a viable class (either for roleplay or combat), or if they should be "tweaked" in some way.
- Creator's Pet: Kender are depicted as not just a good race, but the good race. They are presented as curious, playful children with all the associated moral compunctions to those who harm them. It's said that only the Always Chaotic Evil races hate the kender while the "wisest" say that "the world would lose something precious if the kender were ever to leave it". This is the given description for a race that casually rifles through other people's stuff (often sabotaging their own allies by "borrowing" equipment), gets offended when people accuse them of being thieves, and has a strange talent for lying. Yet the books say this behavior is supposed to be endearing. One problem with them is that novelists like kender because they add comic relief and the ability to instigate plot by doing something reckless. The other characters love or at least tolerate the kender because the writers say they do. Conversely, in a tabletop game, having a player who recklessly starts conflicts and/or steals from other players just creates friction, along with causing certain world-building issues — how did this race survive more than one generation, given how much trouble they cause? The Creator's Pet issue is just the cherry on top, essentially telling players that if they object to these annoyances, they are bad people, therefore creating a shield for toxic players to misbehave while insisting they are only playing their characters "as intended".
- Designated Hero: Depending on the edition and perspective, the Gnomish pantheon can easily come across at this. Gnomes enjoy stories about how their gods got out of sticky situation using their wit and cleverness. From an outside perspective, these stories often seem like the gnomish gods are acting impulsive and careless, and their trickery often leads to more suffering down the line, just not for them. In particular, the story of Kurtulumak and Garl Glittergold, gods of kobolds and gnomes respectively. The story varies between Kobolds and Gnomes, but it always involves Garl trapping Kurtulumak in one of his own traps. Kobolds say this was a malicious act, while the gnomes say Garl just wanted to see if it would work. Either way, Kurtulumak comes across as the wronged party, while Garl gets away scot free There is also Callarduran Smoothhands, who is credited with turning the great elemental Ogrémoch evil by stealing its heart, causing untold suffering from its rampages. Despite all of this, Gnomes are treated as one of the "good" races (in that they are a starting race) while Kobolds are treated as common enemies and playing one often gives more negatives than boons.
- Ensemble Dark Horse:
- Meepo the Kobold in 3rd Edition. This little lizard-dude, originally just a kill-it-for-stuff encounter in the adventure The Sunless Citadel, was so popular that he made an appearance as an NPC in at least one other adventure, featured in a web-exclusive article in which he became a half-dragon were-velociraptor, and got whisked away to another dimension in which he obtained a magical pump-action shotgun. Truly, Meepo is the pinnacle of koboldian awesomesauce. He even makes a cameo in d20 modern.
- As far as races go, the Warforged from Eberron were very well received. The Shifters were also well-liked, but not as much as the Warforged.
These two races (and Changelings) were put in as monsters in the first 4E Monster Manual, and Shifters were introduced as a playable race in the second 4e Player's Handbook. Warforged were made playable in any setting thanks to a free(!) Dragon article on Wizards' official site.
- The Flumphs. Originally unpopular, being seen as flatulent jellyfish that aren't powerful enough to make a good fight, or evil for the characters to want to fight, they've since become a popular representative for some of 1st edition's more whimsical and charming elements. Many gamers were happy when they brought them back in 5th edition, and given a write-up to make them fun adventuring props.
- Fridge Horror: The reproduction problems of faced by Lamias, Sphinxes, certain Templates, and quite a few other Half-Human Hybrid Mix-and-Match Critters. Averted in the case of Driders who are created sterile.
- Hilarious in Hindsight: The complaints about 4th Edition playing like a video game certainly won't get any better when the corebooks have a playable race called the Dragonborn.
- Memetic Badass: The Tarrasque, which has become a byword for a nigh-unstoppable monster.
- The Scrappy: No race in the entire Dungeons & Dragons franchise has inspired such sheer loathing among the playerbase as kender from the Dragonlance setting. Their negative reputation comes from their intrinsic attraction to griefers. In theory, the kender are supposed to be childlike and innocent — their racial hat, being impulsive thieves, is supposed to be the result of a lack of understanding of boundaries and limitless curiosity rather than greed or malice. In practice, kender attract the sorts of people who love stealing party members' stuff for the explicit purpose of disrupting the game and screwing with other players by badgering them with annoying questions while hiding behind "roleplaying" as an excuse, all with the material's implicit sanction. And while the kender are childlike and innocent, their players know exactly what they're doing. Many DMs take a dim view of anyone wanting to play a kender, and many players wish that the race as a whole would just go away. It's widely thought that the reason the kender have never been released in playable form for fifth edition(despite allegedly being in playtesting at one time) is because the designers are wise enough to know it would be extremely negatively received.
- Unfortunate Implications: James Mendez Hodes points out that the longstanding practice of calling a lich's Soul Jar a "phylactery" implicitly connects liches to the "evil Jew" stereotype as, while theoretically "phylactery" would simply refer to an amulet used to guard something, it's historically been used specifically to refer to tefillin, boxes containing verses of the Torah that are worn by certain Jewish groups during prayer.
- Unintentionally Sympathetic: Kobolds tend to get this, since the lore tends to emphasize their absolute submission to any orders given by a dragon, or in some cases even a dragonborn, raising some questions as to just how responsible for their own actions kobolds really are. While other mook races, such as goblins, do exist, they tend to be perfectly capable of plotting evil on their own in the absence of a more powerful being giving them orders. Rarely, if ever, will kobolds do anything worse than place booby-traps at the entrance to their homes without direct order to do so.
- Unpopular Popular Character:
- In-Universe, kender are despised as a race of annoying little pests (except, supposedly, by "the wisest" of course), as you'd kind of expect people to react to a Motor Mouthed tall-tale-telling race of kleptomaniacs. In Real Life, the novelists and game-writers adore them, and readily use them as fits to fill the Plucky Comic Relief and The Heart roles.
- Likewise, in the D&D/Dragonlance gaming community, kender have a small niche of fans who utterly adore them, and a larger group who absolutely hate them; as irritating as kender characters may or may not be in the novels, at the gaming table, a kender in the hands of an immature player is a recipe for disaster. They're tailor-made to appeal to The Loonie, and The Roleplayer can be just as bad because the race's fluff actually encourages Chaotic Stupid behavior.
- Values Dissonance: The whole notion of Always Chaotic Evil has fallen out of favor in the decades since the game was started. For that reason, newer settings like Iron Kingdoms and Eberron are more likely to make the differences between races more cultural than biological, while older settings maintain more of the original flavor. The presence of Drizzt has retroactively shifted Forgotten Realms in the cultural direction.
- Numerous in all editions, although 3rd edition is particularly famous for this, due to the sheer volume of various mechanical goodies, provided by its supplements, as well as the generally high power level of the characters. Notable in 4th edition for having at least two discovered before the game was released. Errata has fixed most of 4e's breaking stuff, but not all. Some examples:
- Clerics, Druids, and prestige classes related to either had the best of being both linear warriors AND quadratic wizards
and aside from a decidedly lower-tier class selection, they were the only healers you could pick. If the Druid or Cleric stuck to healing, it didn't affect party balance. It was when the power gamer got his or her hands on them that it became a problem
- If they stick to healing, it breaks the game in the opposite direction. Attack and Damage scale up far faster the Armor Class and Hit Points in D&D. Playing a Cleric that is The Load isn't much better than playing one that that is the Game-Breaker.
- Certain builds were able to incur trillions of damage in one attack, at range. One low-level spell with a specific combination of metamagic feats would raze anything and everything in a 10-mile radius to the ground. And then there's Pun-Pun, a level one kobold with inifinite stats who can reach infinitely far, including across the planes, and can cast any and every spell an infinite number of times per day. This kobold is more of a god (infinite divine ranks) than the actual gods.
- Essentials. Not in-and-of themselves, mind you, and not so much if you're in an all-Essentials group, but consider the following. Prior to the release of Essentials, basic attacks were just that, basic. They were usually the weakest hitting things for damage dealers, and didn't have all the cool effects other powers did. Thus, classes such as Bards, Warlords and the like which gave out basic attacks like candy would only marginally influence the tide of battle. Now enter the Essentials, which are based around improving or replacing basic attacks: Slayers that wield 2-handed weapons that deal as much as 4 weapon damage on a single basic attack; Scouts that get granted one melee attack and are suddenly making 3 or more of them; latter additions give us Vampires that effectively become unkillable as long as they keep hitting, and the Bladesinger that adds a burst of various magical damage each time he hits. Yikes.
- Erudites with the "Convert Spell to Power" alternate class feature. Regular Erudites can learn every psionic power there is and use them spontaneously for as long as their Mana Meters hold out. Spell-to-Power Erudites can do that, too
plus they can also learn every arcane spell in the game and convert them to psionic powers, which means they can "cast" them using the same mana meter system and ignore both arcane spell failure and expensive material components. A Spell-to-Power Erudite who can learn 9th Level spells is basically a demigod.
- The Illithid Savant prestige class (although, honestly, if your DM lets you play as a mind flayer and also lets you take a prestige class clearly designed for NPC use, he deserves what he gets). Basically, the Illithid Savant is like Sylar, gaining the powers, special abilities, and even spellcasting of those whose brains he eats. (For extra cheese, eat the brain of a Sorcerer or Wizard who can cast Gate. Now if you want a particular ability, just summon up the creature who has it virtually at will.)
- Verging on a Boring, but Practical version of Game-Breaker and dependant on what kind of DM is running the game, diplomacy skills and tactics, while not flashy, are some of the easiest ways to deal with many problems involving NPCs and hostile characters. There are many, many stories on the net of players managing to successfully derail entire campaigns simply by having their characters talk the Big Bad out of going through with their Evil Plan.
- Certain multiclass combos can be very cheesy due to synergistic mechanics. In 5th Edition, we have so-called "Coffeelocks". Sorcerer/Warlocks can use the Pact Magic feature to convert their spell slots into Sorcerer metamagic points, and then convert those points into Sorcerer spell slots. The trick here is that Warlock spell slots recharge after a short rest but created spell slots last until the next long rest. Ergo, you simply do not need to take a long rest. Ever. Taken further, if you're a Divine Soul Sorcerer you can take healing spells as well, effectively rendering Hit Dice to recover health obsolete.
- The Beholder Mage and Illithid Savant Prestige Classes in 3.5 are intended to be used only by the DM to make monsters able to stand a chance against 4 PCs with their 4 times as many actions. Naturally, Munchkins figured out ways to get into them without taking the large amount of racial hit dice that Beholders and Mind Flayers have.
- in 4th edition clerics got a level 1 daily power called "Moment Of Glory", which gave the entire group resist 5 to all damage until the end of the fight, which was pretty much an automatic "we win" at low levels (as most creatures at level 1 could barely do enough damage to actually hurt anyone.) It got less ridiculous at high levels, (where most enemies did enough damage per hit to still pose a threat), but by then the cleric probably got new daily powers anyway.
- Hilarious in Hindsight: The complaints about 4e ripping off World of Warcraft got at least a bit funnier when another Blizzard game was released that featured character roles that lined up pretty well with 4e's (Offense, Defense, Tank, and Support versus Striker, Controller, Defender, and Leader).
- Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Bards in 3e were designed to be the Jack-of-All-Trades, but ended up being an infamous case of Master of None. 3.5 pulled them out of this, building them into Difficult, but Awesome support casters and silver-tongued charmers. They took another level in badass when 5e came out, where they enjoy an unparalleled versatility and are widely considered one of the best classes in the game.
- Monks also got this treatment. In 3.5, they were the weakest of the melee classes. Later editions turned them into deadly FragileSpeedsters that could do as much damage unarmed as most other melee classes could with weapons.
- Scrappy Mechanic: Factions in 5th edition, a system where players could be members of one of five Forgotten Realms-based international organizations. This was rarely used outside of the official Adventurer's League games, since not all character concepts fit neatly into them and the Renown mechanic that influenced a player's standing in the faction was poorly designed and explained. Despite this, early adventure books expected players to have membership, providing plothooks for each of them. While this was fine in stories like Tyranny of Dragons, where it made sense for the factions to be involved in events that shook their entire world, it was pretty ridiculous in Curse of Strahd, which mostly takes place in an entirely separate world from the Forgotten Realms, where the factions couldn't be expected to have any sort of influence. Since then, the adventures have toned this mechanic down heavily, and it now features only in adventures where the factions would be expected to appear anyway, such as Waterdeep: Dragon Heist.
- Tier-Induced Scrappy:
- 3.5 Monks are noted for getting many abilities that are either done better with spells or gotten much quicker by other classes (over 20 levels they get the ability to reduce fall damage; that's a first level spell for a caster or 2000 gold for everyone else) and they don't synergize at all (Monks have one ability that makes them move fast, and another that requires them to stand still). It gets to the point that when asked to optimize a Monk, most suggestions are to play another class. Truenamers also get a lot of flack for getting weaker as they level up as they need to meet an already hard check with a requirement that goes up by 2 each level, but you only get + 1 to make the check a level (Soulknife and CW Samurai also fall into this for similar reasons, but Monk gets the worst because it is "core" and part of the base game and truenamer is just that
- Complete Warrior Samurai deserves special mention in that is the absolute lowest Tier. In the original outline of the various Tiers, CW Samurai is so low that it is actually ranked lower than Expert, an NPC-only class with versatile skill selection and no class features. There is literally nothing that a Samurai can do that a Fighter (already considered one of the lowest tiered classes) cannot do better while simultaneously doing many other things better than the Samurai. Its primary abilities are receiving the Improved and Greater Two-weapon fighting feats for free five levels after someone building their character around such a style could, being M.A.D. and having a weak crowd control ability via Area of Effect Intimidate skill check. The best suggestion for playing a CW Samurai given by many is to get enough levels so that you can trade 10 levels in and become an Ex-Samurai 1/Ronin 10. Or better yet, don't play a Samurai at all.
- Most of the Far-East themed classes from the Complete series were this way. Shugenja had incredibly limited spell selection to the point that the player chose very little of his character's core abilities. The fact that they were Divine casters (and thus able to cast in armor) was negated by their lack of armor proficiency and by having the worst Base Attack Bonus in the game (for comparison, most Divine casters get the medium Base Attack and medium or heavy armor proficiency). Wu Jen had weaker casting than wizards, and their "Spell Secret" class feature left them Blessed with Suck as it gave them free metamagic feats at the cost of crippling RP restrictions (each one came with a "taboo" that shut off the character's spell casting for the day if violated. And the metamagic feats weren't even the good ones!), meaning it holds the dubious honor of being the only class where Prestiging out is the only way to avoid crippling drawbacks.
- To further explain how these classes ended up so sub-par (beyond Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards for the Samurai anyways): Early in 3.0's life time, the 3.0 version of Oriental Adventures was published, which was basically a combination of information for a standard Asian-themed campaign setting, as well as some stuff from the Legend of the Five Rings/Rokugan setting. As such, due to societal standards in said lands, some classes would either not exist or be banned outright from the setting, while others (such as fighters, barbarians, wizards, and sorcerers) often face various social stigmas for not being of the Noble caste classes (i.e. the Samurai or Shugenja class). This means that a class like Shugenja is meant to fill in for the role of both the Cleric and Wizard classes in such settings, while a Samurai is able to deal with other nobles more easily than a fighter. Unfortunately, when the Complete series came along, it just directly ported most of the OA magic user classes to a standard medieval Europe setting without any of the roleplay protections afforded to them, meaning the only reason to play them in such settings is either a self-imposed challenge or to roleplay as a "visitor from Far-Eastern lands". The spell casting classes pretty much received no changes to their design. In the Samurai's case, the Complete Warrior version took away most of the things that made the OA Samurai a decent or good choice with benefits such as better skill selection, higher social standing, and replacing Iaijutsu Focus skill with a combination of Quick Draw and Improved Initiative that only works with certain weapons, or even the thematic roleplay of empowering their ancestral starting masterwork weapons (which could be done by reducing the gold cost for enchanting in exchange for time cost via meditation and prayers), or even the theme of different fighting schools based upon the various kingdoms. However, the class got the aforementioned issues instead.
- Author's Saving Throw: Tools were generally regarded as useless aside from flavor (with the exception of Thieves Tools, which were used for lockpicking). With the release of Xanthar's Guide to Everything, what comes in a tool kit are elaborated upon for creative players, and some examples of their use are given (like Cobblers being able to fit compartments into their teammates' shoes, or gaming sets can be used to determine the other character's personality).
- Good Bad Bugs: Most rules exploits have been hilariously exploited with purpose built characters. These range from the "unintended but not game altering" to the countless much worse ones. Some examples:
- Because alcohol is a poison in the game's terms, an ability with the effect of "save against poison for bonuses" gets activated by booze.
- Until 3rd Edition, the description for the Cube of Frost Resistance said that inside the 10-foot cube it creates, "The temperature is always 65 degrees Fahrenheit," and that the cube only degrades if exposed to damaging cold. So, you could use it to walk through an unlimited amount of molten lava unharmed.
- Adaptation Displacement: In Japan, if you mention D&D, most people will probably sooner think of the Capcom Beat Em Ups mentioned below than the original tabletop game or Record of Lodoss War.
- Broken Base: Just watch any discussion between fans of Xth edition and fans of X+1th edition (or, sometimes, Xth and X.5th).
- Monte Cook, one of the designers for 3E and 5E. While he helped save D&D from death with 3E, there are some who loathe him for refusing to admit he ever made mistakes, and even more hated him after his signature Creator's Pet, Wizards, were overpowered once more in the 5e playtest.
- After WOTC released a new set of core books called "Essentials", there is a heavy flame war between people who like "pre-E" D&D and those who like "post-E". The former group tends to call this new set "4.5", the latter gets positively enraged at seeing this number.
- With a new edition announced, you can bet your sweet bippy the edition wars would begin anew..Fans of 3E rejoiced over 5E, while fans of 4E cried "Ruined!" at the return of Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards. Interestingly, fans of 2E and before often seem to be supportive of 5E, praising its simplified mechanics and focus on rulings over rules.
- The 3rd vs. 4th split also goes along with the rise of Pathfinder, which is a further refinement of the 3.5 ruleset and outsold the Dungeons and Dragons brand until 5E was released.
- There's a substantial and long-running fan divide between rolling dice for stats on character creation note or using the point buy system (every stat at 8, players get 27 points to freely distribute). Advocates of point buy argue their method offers players with a preset character concept in mind a chance to play what they want without forcing them into a mould decided by luck, and is also more balanced as players won't get exceptional rolls and dominate the party and players won't get bad rolls and fall by the wayside. Fans of rolling cite the "ritual" aspect of making a character, that point buy lends itself to a degree of Munchkinism and players creating "builds" rather than fleshed-out characters, and that rolling offers an element of improv to creating a character concept.
- Controversy arose with the leak, and latter confirmation, of Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica as the first official non-Forgotten Realms setting source-book for Fifth Edition. Some dislike the fact that Wizards chose to go with a setting from Magic: The Gathering rather than one of the classic settings such as Planescape, Dark Sun or Spelljammer, or even created a brand new one. To further complicate matters the book was revealed alongside a smaller 20$ PDF-only book focused on Eberron, which was released with the admission that the material contained within was unable to be used in Adventure League and that it was still being developed. Combining that with reused art assets from previous editions caused many to feel like Wizards didn't respect their old settings and were forcing the players to pay for playtesting. Other players were happy to see a new setting, believing Ravnica would make for an interesting and unique experience, and that receiving a small Eberron source-book, especially with the promise that the full version would finally contain the finished Artificer, was a good deal. Notably, despite the broken base from the Dungeons & Dragons community, the reaction from the Magic: The Gathering community was far less contentious, with many happy to see the fan-favorite setting getting a dedicated RPG book.
- Counterspell became one of the most divisive spells in the history of D&D. It does Exactly What It Says on the Tin: if Counterspell is cast when another spellcaster casts a spell, the enemy spellcaster's spell fizzles out and doesn't work. On one hand, some find Counterspell to be a valuable tool that allows players and DMs to have some level of control over the battlefield, creating dramatic moments where someone may be about to use a game-changing spell only for it be stopped. On the other hand, some find Counterspell ruins any caster's plans if they don't have the ability to get around it, and it tends to cause encounters between classes that have the spell to turn into a back-and-forth counterfest. The divide is made bigger by the difference in views for DMs and players. For a Dungeon Master, Counterspell can cheapen a suspenseful moment if used incorrectly, or it can create a challenge that the DM has to plan around to keep encounters fun. For players, Counterspell either creates great moments where a player saves their party from death with a clutch Counterspell, or it turns the user into a dedicated Counterspell-bot even if they don't want to be. It's so divisive that many YouTube personalities that do D&D content probably have at least one video where they argue in favor or against Counterspell.
- Cheese Strategy: 3rd edition had "CoDzilla" (Cleric or Druid + Godzilla), in reference to the fact that those two classes had extremely powerful physical and magical abilities that allowed them to dominate the game.
- Complete Monster: See here.
- Everyone Is Satan in Hell: Hit hard by this during the Satanic scare in the 80s. Accusations that it promoted satanism, occultism and even suicide became commonplace, especially after the tragic suicide of James Dallas Egbert III, whose mother blamed D&D for her son's death. Many of the decisions made to present the game as less satanic (such as renaming devils and demons to Baatezu and Tanar'ri) were made in this period. It's calmed down since the end of the craze, and devils and demons are again names common in D&D sourcebooks.
- Fandom Rivalry:
- Some fans of weapon-using classes (I.E. Fighter, Ranger, Rogue, Barbarian, Paladin and Monk) don't get along with some fans of magic-using classes (I.E. Wizard, Sorcerer, Cleric, Bard, Druid and Warlock). Mike Mearls and Monte Cook encourage this, with Mearls taking the side of the Martial classes and Cook taking the side of the Caster classes. Unfortunately, since Cook had a bit of an Auteur License compared to Mearls, this usually leads to Cook making any and all casters into Game Breaking Creator's Pets. Fortunately for Martial fans (and fans of balance in general), Cook left the 5E design team, but not before they could fully remove his trademark of overpowered Wizards, which is still carried into the Unearthed Arcanas granting them even more broken subclass options.
- Among Caster classes, there is a slight rivalry between which is the best: Sorcerer, Warlock, or Wizard. Those who enjoy the sorcerer like the idea of the power from within as well as the ability to mold spells and special abilities on the fly, but this group is minimal among 5th Edition players due to how much of a Tier-Induced Scrappy the Sorcerers became. Warlock fans stand by the concept that no one can accomplish grand things alone as well as the simplicity of the magic system compared to other classes. They're also not terrible at picking up a sword and fighting. Wizard fans enjoy the classic flavor and the concept of gaining power through hard work. Also, the fact that they can be seen as a Game-Breaker in some circles certainly helps their reputation. That said, most non-Wizard players agree that the Wizard tends to be focused on more than others, and often times request updates/changes to the other classes first.
- Fanon Discontinuity: Every edition has inspired Fanon Discontinuity. There is still a very vocal 2nd Edition fanbase that despises the changes wrought in the transition to 3rd, and not a few 1st Edition holdouts who consider 2nd to be a bastardization, and a handful of hardcore grognards who think 1st Edition should never have supplanted "classic" D&D (called it 0E [Zero-E]). The 4th edition gets it the most, and most fans couldn't stand the new alignment system. Players naturally gravitate towards the things that make them more comfortable. Of course, it's not like the books stop working when a new edition comes out, and any really cemented group is going to have lots of house rules anyway, so it's natural that players will remain players, even when they stop buying the new material.
- Informed Wrongness: The creation of undead is regularly noted as evil, but it never really detailed what is wrong with creating a non-sentient being through the direction of energy it just states that anything using negative energy is automatically evil. While some of this can be chalked up to In-Universe reasons, like the idea of violating a person's remains, the undead being brought back as evil, or that there are so many evil users of Undead that it colors the settings perception of them, there isn't a concrete gameplay reason why it is considered evil, but because of the stigma around them (both in and out of universe), Necromancers and other undead-focused classes are treated as wrong. It gets even worse when golems (which require the enslaving of a sapient being) never have their creation demonized.
- It's the Same, So It Sucks: A complaint leveled at 5th edition, even by some fans who disliked 4th edition. After the backlash of 4e, 5e writers seem determined to go out of their way to return everything to the status quo, retconing even positively received changes in 4e in order to maintain a more commonly viewed status-quo.
- LGBT Fanbase: 5th edition saw a surge in popularity for the entire game, which included a disproportionately large amount of LGBT fans. A possible reason is that the surge in popularity was caused by podcasts like Critical Role and The Adventure Zone, both of which are very LGBT friendly. Tieflings in particular are popular among gay and Transgender fans.
- Magnificent Bastard:
- The Demon Lord Graz'zt is theorized to be an archdevil who carved out his own territory in the abyss and decided to reside there, and it is easy to see why. Graz'zt is stunningly intelligent for a demon, plotting and scheming against his fellow demon lords while seeking to take the title of Prince from Demogorgon, and is known for making deals with mortals, as well as being disturbingly charismatic to those he encounters. In one instance, Graz'zt even captured the goddess Waukeen and held her hostage in his nation of Zelatar, even using this to pervert part of her clergy to his own worship later. When he was summoned and imprisoned by the witch Iggwilv, Graz'zt seduced her, with the two having an intense love-hate relationship ever since.
- The Witch Queen Iggwilv once manipulated a group of adventurers, seducing her magical master with them, to bind a demon, steal all its forbidden knowledge and then abscond with magical items. Becoming a powerful witch and authority on demons, Iggwilv enslaved a powerful sorcerer to enhance her strength and even bound the aforementioned Graz'zt to her, resulting in a stormy love-hate relationship between the two. Even after being defeated, Iggwilv comes to prominence in Savage Tide when she helps the heroes defeat the Savage Tide and even the monstrous Prince of Demons Demogorgon, only to steal Demogorgon's own essence and use it to revive a kingdom for herself, becoming a new power to be reckoned with.
- Paranoia Fuel: So wait, most (if not all) of the stars are Eldritch Abominations that want to eat us? And some of them can create avatars of their powers called Star Spawn?
- Popularity Polynomial: Initially only popular among the small wargaming-enthusiast community, D&D quickly became a popular fad among young people of the late 1970s-early 1980s, owing partially to the general increase in popularity of High Fantasy around that time, before becoming mired in highly confused religious controversies that sullied its reputation. Even after the moral panic died down and came to be understood as wrongheaded & silly, the game then developed a reputation as being something which only the very dorkiest of dorks would ever play, what with its complex rules, overly intricate worlds and characters, and association with antisocial shut-ins. D&D scooted along well enough for several decades despite that reputation, but things finally turned around in the 2010s, after the heavily-marketed, well-received release of 5th Edition, the debut of several popular podcasts devoted to playing the game, and a high-profile appearance in the megahit Netflix series Stranger Things, all of which introduced a new generation to the game, and allowed it to finally shed its reputation as a hobby for weird shut-ins in favor of being seen as an exciting and funny social activity.
- Spiritual Licensee: Krull was allegedly going to be an official D&D movie, but lost the license partway through development. Gary Gygax denied this, however.
- They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: It has happened for every edition change. Some might argue that 4E most of all, but veteran D&D players would point out that it only seems that way due to the much wider availability of the Internet. Interesting to note is that this is now happening WITHIN 4th Edition itself. Wizards has started to release errata/updates every few months, usually to stop overpowered exploits (although sometimes for other purposes too). Naturally, people have either declared it to be the best thing since sliced bread, or threatened to stop playing D&D. And with a new edition in the works, expect to see this yet again!
- What Measure Is a Non-Badass?: 4th edition is very much geared towards heroic fantasy with the default assumption that the character is a badass, to the extent that it is mechanically difficult to create a character who is actually bad in an ability (as against 'average'). Likewise you can't really model an entirely green character who has picked up a sword for the first time as even a level 1 character can call upon fairly formidable powers — at least, not without reading the "Unearthed Arcanas" that provide optional rules for "level 0 characters" and grittier play styles in Dragon.
From the Animated Series
- Animation Age Ghetto: The writers were obviously pushing the envelope as far as they could, but Executive Meddling still shows.
- Base-Breaking Character: Uni: either you like her because she's cute or hate her due to her annoying voice.
- Epileptic Trees: So many theories behind the reason why the series was canceled
possibly because the actual reason (ratings were dropping and the show was quite expensive) is disappointingly ordinary.
- Fan-Preferred Couple:
- A surprising number of fans have a rather drastic view of Kosar for standing between Diana and her "true love," Eric. That almost no evidence exists to support this ship does not deter them. And it's also noteworthy that even when Kosar and Diana liked each other
they didn't stay together.
- Many fans feel that Hank and Sheila should be together. The series offers a few moments where they appear close, in addition to Sheila's extreme reaction to Hank's apparent betrayal in ''The Traitor" (hers is easily the strongest reaction in the group, though that's likely because she also fears for her brother's safety), and her reaction to his disappearence and return in "The Winds of Darkness." Mark Evanier's series bible says that Sheila "admires Hank a lot" and that the two might one day be "an item" if circumstances were to allow it. The series bible also says Presto has a crush on Sheila, mostly because she's consistently nice to him, but there's no actual evidence for this in the show.
- Germans Love David Hasselhoff: This series is obscenely popular in Brazil. TV Globo aired reruns on their Monday-to-Friday morning block even 25 to 30 years after its debut.
- Hilarious in Hindsight:
- The impressions some fundamentalist Christians tend to have of D&D and what Hank's voice actor went on to do a few years down the road.
- Also the fact that Sheila's voice actress had had a role on Adventures in Odyssey, which in one episode actually said it was OK to steal and destroy someone else's D&D gear since D&D was immoral.
- The evil mastermind that is behind everything is a god known as The Nameless One.
- "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: During its original run, the show was considered the most violent children's cartoon on television. Nowadays, even preschool-level shows tend to have more action than this show ever had.
- Strawman Has a Point: Eric is pretty much always portrayed as the stupid character, and he tends to have mishaps that serve as comic relief. As a result, it seems the audience isn't meant to take his comments seriously. Yet he usually has a good point, e.g. when he's complaining about how it makes no sense for the Dungeon Master to be speaking in useless riddles like that.
- Mark Evanier, writer of the series bible, famously disliked Eric's character, and hated the circumstances —pressure to create a contrarian who was always proven wrong, in an attempt to promote "getting along"—that required his inclusion. As such, while Eric's complaints over whether and how the gang approached danger were ignored by the group—the group has to engage in Dungeon Master's missions if they're to have any chance of getting home, after all—and might generally be dismissed as the results of Eric's fractious nature, the show's writers were careful to to give him a point every now and then, usually in regards to interpreting the Dungeon Master's pronouncements.
- Woolseyism: When Bobby questions the Know Tree, the Brazilian dub replaces a reference to an American sporting event with a reference to a comparable Brazilian event. (In both cases it goes on to say the correct answer, preceded by "However, if you mean <competition name> in your world...")
Know Tree: Simple, the Grey Wood Elves.
Know Tree: Easy, the Grey Forest Elves.
From the Film
- Adorkable: Marina: most of her humorous moments involve her trying to keep up her posh aristocratic personality and it falling flat in the world of the commoners, leaving her awkwardly bumbling around trying to keep up.
- Alas, Poor Scrappy: Snails may have been annoying, but his death was just brutal, and it sends the formerly-unshakable Ridley into a Heroic BSoD just shy of the Despair Event Horizon.
- Anticlimax Boss: Profion is devoured by a dragon while gloating.
- Author's Saving Throw: Tried with the film's Novelization, which changed several aspects for the better. Snails becomes here the Only Sane Man (the polar opposite of his role in the movie), the Dwarf's name is actually used, and the film's good deleted scenes are reinserted.
- Award Snub: As highlighted by Cinematic Excrement, the Golden Raspberry Award didn't nominate the movie for anything, even with some egregiously questionable acting between Thora Birch's Dull Surprise and everyone else's Ham and Cheese. (the Stinkers Bad Movie Awards, on the other hand, nominated it a lot, though stiff competition led to no awards)
- Awesome Music: The Main Suite, which provides both the opening AND the closing of the film, and a portion of the action music during Ridley's soirée through the "maze" in the Thieves' Guild. It is, sadly, the only really good music to come from the film.
- Complete Monster: The wicked Damodar is first the right-hand-man of Profion, seeking to dominate all Izmir. Damodar kills those in his path to recover a map that leads to the staff of dragons, torturing the heroine Marina for its location as well. Seemingly slain, Damodar returns a century hence while killing more people to obtain the Dragon Orb to awaken the evil Faluzure, the Dragon God of Decay and Undeath. Killing and torturing even more people, Damodar requests the dragon burn all Izmir to massacre the people, all for petty revenge on their ancestors for his first and well-deserved end.
- Ensemble Dark Horse: Xilus, leader of the Thieves' Guild, is fondly remembered despite appearing in only scene. This is most likely because Richard O'Brien makes him just so entertaining to watch.
- Ethnic Scrappy: Snails' Uncle Tomfoolery endeared him to few.
- Evil Is Cool: The villains are way more entertaining than the heroes, and nothing speaks this trope more than having The Dragon kill The Scrappy. The Distressed Watcher compared that scene to as if Darth Maul had killed Jar Jar Binks in The Phantom Menace.
- Fashion-Victim Villain: Damodar's blue lipstick, although it may have been due to a drug problem (the in-setting drug Sannish think morphine if it came from dogs instead of poppies dyes the users lips blue). Either way, you see it and think,"Ichiban Lipstick for Men!"
- Sannish was first mentioned in the 3rd edition Book of Vile Darkness— which came out 2 years after the movie, suggesting that the book may have been trying to justify Damodar's look.
- Fridge Logic: The Empress attacks with a flock of Golden Dragons, AKA Fire monsters. The Mages counterattack with
fireballs and Red Dragons!? So, you're attacking a creature immune to fire with fire!? WTF!?
- Ham and Cheese: Jeremy Irons revels in Chewing the Scenery here. As such, some people who have seen the film consider him the only good part of it.
- This film also contains Richard O'Brien. This is notable for one very significant reason: he might be the most understated actor in the whole film. Think about that for a minute.
- Hilarious in Hindsight: Tom Baker's One-Scene Wonder moment of the film features him as Halvarth using magic to heal Ridley; said magic appears in the form of a golden glow near-identical to that of regeneration energy from the Revival Series of Doctor Who, which wouldn't start until five years after this movie's release. Considering that Baker is best known for playing the fourth incarnation of the Doctor in the Classic Series of Doctor Who (which had already been cancelled for 11 years by the time this movie came out), this makes the similarity all the more hilarious.
- Love to Hate: Okay Profion's not really a good villain, but Jeremy Irons' beautifully over the top performance makes him the most entertaining part of the film.
- Narm: Ridley's Big "NO!" when Damodar kills Snails, complete with dropping to his knees and a Skyward Scream. The triumphant-sounding music playing during that scene doesn't make it any better, almost as if the movie was celebrating the death of Snails.
- Every word out of Damodar's mouth.
- Again, the bright blue lipstick. Combine that with Damodar's bald head, heavily shadowed eyebrows, and his actor's preeningly gloating facial expressions, and he comes across less like a brutish evil warrior and more like a drag queen who can't find his wig.
- That noise that the dwarf makes after his helmet is shot off. It's a high-pitched "Nyur! Nyur!" sort of sound. Some think it was a mating call.
- Similarily, Marina screaming "I'M NOT!" Sounds like a goose honking.
- Damodar mind-raping Marina with the mind worm... thing, coming out of his ears.
- As The Nostalgia Critic puts it, "Profion" sounds like a name for a heartburn medication.
- In a movie filled with much scenery chewing, Thora Birch stands out as the worst performance by putting in as little effort as humanly possible.
- Of particular note is the scene where Empress Savina verbally spares with Profion. Jeremy Irons hamming it up like there's no tomorrow contrasting with Birch showing not an ounce of emotion is a sight to behold.
- Nightmare Fuel: Profion is normally such an over-the-top ham that it's pretty much impossible to take him seriously, but when Damodar reports back to him after losing the scroll to Marina, he lapses into icy, soft-spoken, affable, terrifying anger. He curses Damodar with a parasite that will slowly kill him from the inside-out, watches impassively as Damodar writhes in agony, and warns him that he will not tolerate another failure.
Damodar: It was...a mistake. It will not happen again.
Profion: Now there you are right. And here's why...
- One-Scene Wonder: Tom Baker and Richard O'Brien both steal the film in what little screentime they have.
- Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: After spending his screen-time being goofy, annoying and cowardly, Snails shows his true colors when he's cornered by Damodar. Despite looking like he's about to piss himself the whole time, he slowly turns to face the evil Mage, steps forward to meet him, pulls a knife out of his boot and takes a fighting stance. Even when Damodar beats him to a pulp and demands the Dragon's Eye, Snails tells him where to stick it and charges him again. Then, when Ridley is about to hand over the Dragon's Eye in hopes of saving him, Snails pulls the map out, grins, and tosses it to Ridley, sealing his fate so that his friend can continue his quest. Whether this absolved him entirely is a matter of debate, but Snails undeniably went out with honor, proving himself a brave hero deep down.
- So Bad, It's Good: Much of the movie is hilarious in its cheesiness, hamminess and dated effects (and genuinely hilarious on rare occasions), unless you're a serious D&D fan, in which case it's like being eaten feet first by rats.
- The Scrappy: Snails is quite hated. It's rather telling that everyone else in the film gets more laughs than the intended comic relief, even if those laughs are unintentional. His stereotypical and obnoxious nature feels horribly out of place and even more annoying, with Marlon Wayans' performance doing little to alleviate this. While some people felt his final scene redeems him a bit, or at least makes him pitiable, others celebrated him exiting the film.
- So Bad, It Was Better: The film was an absolute train wreck, but it also had a lot of heart. It was the pet project and a true labor of love for Courtney Solomon and it shows with some truly impactful moments and endearingly bad performances. If anything, the film's problems mostly come down to Solomon trying way too hard to make the best movie possible when it was clearly beyond his means. Comparatively, the sequel Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God was infinitely more competent but often considered So Okay, It's Average. The word there is "often" of course - there are some fans who prefer the sequel and would rather this movie didn't even exist.
- Take That, Scrappy!: Snails getting brutally beaten to death by Damodar scored the latter points by those who hated Snails. However, note Alas, Poor Scrappy. Snails's agonized screams as Damodar practically tortures him to an inch of his life are way too real...
- Tear Jerker: Whatever your opinion on Snails was, Ridley's anguished Big "NO!" at his death and subsequent Heroic BSoD at the Elf village was still sobering, especially when he reveals he blames himself for getting them involved, and when Marina tries to console him and ends up making him feel even worse.
Marina: I'm sorry about Snails.
Ridley: I'm sure you are.
Marina: He died for a good cause.
Ridley: A good cause?
What cause is that? The Empress against Profion? Politics.
I'm through with all that. I'm not going to die over some power struggle...between a couple of greedy Mages.
Marina: No, you're wrong-
- Again at the end, when Ridley is giving last rites to his friend. He tries to brag about how he finally got the recognition he wanted...and nearly breaks down in tears.
Well, I'd...I'd better get going. Don't want to be late for my own knighting ceremony. 'Ridley the Savior
', heheh...heh...heh...I'm gonna miss you, pal.
- Took the Bad Film Seriously:
- WTH, Costuming Department?: The costume design is cheap and shoddy all around, but bonus points go to Damodar's entire look. Bright blue lipstick in a fantasy setting would be tacky even on a female character, putting it on the villain's burly main henchman is a whole separate level of laughable.
- Vindicated by History: Well...kind of. A growing trend among watchers is to take the movie as the visualization of a session of the tabletop game, the argument being that 'your standard D&D game contains tons of plot holes, cheesy acting and a tenuously-coherent story'. Once you imagine the movie taking place in the heads of a bunch of schoolkids playing D&D, the DM playing Profion and hamming it up and everyone just goofing around and having fun, it becomes easier to swallow.