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From the original game
1st Through 3rd Edition Classes
- Neutral Good, Chaotic Good, True Neutral, Chaotic Neutral, Neutral Evil, Chaotic Evil: All alignments available to 1st through 3rd Edition barbarians.
- Game-Breaker: The exclusive spell Glibness a +30 to Bluff checks. Can turn the Bard into a Lethal Joke Character by making any outrageous lie believable."Acid is delicious and refreshing! Here, try some."
- Neutral Good, Chaotic Good, True Neutral, Chaotic Neutral, Neutral Evil, Chaotic Evil: All alignments available to 3rd Edition bards, on the theory that lawful people can't be creative enough.
- True Neutral: In 1st Edition, to become a bard, one needed to take levels in druid first. Since all druids had to be True Neutral, by extension, so too were all bards.
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".
- True Neutral: Prior to 3rd Edition, all druids had to be this alignment. Third edition required Druids to have at least one neutral aspect (Lawful Neutral, Neutral Good, Chaotic Neutral, or Neutral Evil.) Alignment as a class requirement was dropped from 4th edition onwards.
- 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.
- Flanderization: Paladins are often believed to strictly adhere to order and goodness so much that they're essentially naive, goodie-two-shoes killjoys akin to a modern day evangelical. The truth is that a paladin can be a stoic jerk to everyone around them or be the life of the party while still adhering to the tenants of order and good.
- Good Is Not Soft: Paladins fight to uphold the concepts of honor, order, loyalty, and kindness, but that doesn't mean they're naive pushovers, and anyone that crosses a paladin can quickly find out how intense their divine wrath can be.
- Lawful Good: Paladins serve the gods of good, and must maintain this alignment. Between Unearthed Arcana and Dragon Magazine however, variants do exist for alternate alignments.
- Lawful Stupid: Unfortunately, there are players who play this alignment when playing a paladin. And if they aren't, well, there's a chance a KillerDM or a Chaotic Stupid party member will make it their goal to force the paladin into a case of Stupidity Is the Only Option to get them to fall. Not helping was that, back in 1st and 2nd edition, it was actually possible for paladins to fall just by being in the same party as a Chaotic PC.
- Lawful Good, Neutral Good, or Chaotic Good: 1st and 2nd Edition rangers had to be of good alignment. 3rd Edition rangers could be any alignment.
- 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 class's 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.
- Tier-Induced Scrappy: A very poorly designed class, even from a flavor standpoint.
- 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.
- Chaotic Neutral: One of the four possible choices for an Incarnate character, and the weakest of the four (ranged-focus, but the developers kinda screwed up here).
- Lawful Neutral: One of the four possible choices for an Incarnate character, and the one closest to being a frontliner.
- Neutral Good: One of the four possible choices for an Incarnate character, can be played as a tank or as a pseudocaster via Use Magic Device. Has the best defenses this side of a Full Caster.
- Neutral Evil
- 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 less 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.
- Ensemble Dark Horse: Well-liked for being an effective magic-less support class, including unique mechanics for bolstering, rearranging, and supporting allies by giving them more options ("a Barbarian hits you with his axe, a Warlord hits you with his Barbarian"). Vanished in the transition from 4e to 5e, and one of the more common complaints of the new edition is that they miss it.
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 D Ms are willing to break the rules for the former, while others prefer the logic of the latter.
- Complacent Gaming Syndrome:
- 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.
- 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.
- Tier-Induced Scrappy: And, 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 or Mass Healing Word, 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 1 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.
- 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 its 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. Its a fun idea in concept, but if you want to play a stealthy magic character, its 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 someone with a Circle of the Moon Druid. While Land offers more versatility, Dreams improved healing, Shepherd incredibly useful buffs, and Spores a consistent means of causing constant damage, the Circle of the Moon is notorious as the 'Unkillable PC.' A lot of the base Druid's late-game abilities mesh far too well with the Moon Druid's last few abilities, including unlimited Wildshapes, the ability to cast while Wild Shaped, and, most crucially on the Moon Druid's side, the ability to Wildshape into any Beast of CR 6 or lower. This doesn't sound devastating until one remembers that any damage incurred while Wild Shaped does not persist to the humanoid the Druid normally is. Starting at 18th level, a Circle of the Moon Druid can transform into a Mammoth with 126 HP as a Bonus Action every round, meaning that enemies have to constantly rip into the Druid's Wildshape to hope they deal more than 126 damage in a single round of combat. If the enemies are smart and pace themselves with when they deal damage, they can set up a turn where they mostly damage the Druid after bringing down the Wildshape, but this is excessively Meta-gamey, and all the time trying to bring down the Druid gives the rest of the party an easier time raining blows down on the hapless foes.
- 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.
- 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: Unless it's an Open Hand, Drunken Master, or Sun Soul Monk (and even then, some Sun Souls will want it anyway), expect every Monk to immediately invest in the Mobile feat at 4th level (or immediately as a Variant Human.) The way Monk wants to be played is as a hit-and-run class; their AC is lackluster early on and merely passable late-game, their health pool is average, and they gain massive bonuses to their movement speed as the class progresses. Because of this, it is highly encouraged for the Monk to keep on the move and out of range of monsters. The problem is that opportunity attacks massively ruin the Monk's day, and chip away at the Monk over time. Mobile completely elimates this problem and grants even more speed to the class.
- Tier-Induced Scrappy: If the Ranger is the worst Class in 5e, then the Way of the Four Elements is the worst subclass. The goal of the Four Elements is to give players a lot of fun abilities that allows them to adapt to any situation, like a Cleric or a Wizard. The problem with this is just how harshly this cuts into the Monk's natural resource pool. Unlike the Sorcerer, who only uses its Sorcery 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 (Such as the Open Hand actually comboing with Flurry of Blows to give Flurry of Blows neat extra features, or asking for four Ki points to get a chance to kill someone instantly, or the Shadow Monk spending 2 Ki points to cast Pass Without Trace, something they won't have to do all the time if they just make use of their Ki-free features and their naturally high stealth) within a given situation, and usually at a relatively cheap resource cost. The Four Elements abilities, however, all use Ki, and most of the beneficial ones utterly price-gouge the Monk. For example, those 4 Ki points that have the potential to kill someone instantly or do incredible damage as an Open Hand Monk is apparently equal to a single use of Fireball for the Elemental Monk, and it's actually more expensive to cast Fire Wall. The most tragic aspect of this, however, is Water Whip. When first introduced, the Way of the Four Elements was considered sub-par at best, though Water Whip was considered one shining reason to use it- a bonus action attack a Monk could use before their own natural two attacks that 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 to bully a prone target. It only cost 2 Ki points, which still meant the Monk guzzled Ki points if used on a round-by-round basis, but this was considered an acceptable cost. When the errata came around declaring that Water Whip was an action, the subclass lost any remaining luster; making it 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.
- 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 mage. 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 Paladin's don't see much use due to the very strict nature of their oaths; their 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 or to turn a new life. In practice however, its 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, its going to cost you your oath, and your abilities all are more focused on preventing fights rather then assisting 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 has little synergy with most parties because of a normal parties tendency to fight without really caring about trying to prevent it, meaning its 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. Its essentially taking the idea of redeeming someone by being a Badass Pacifist to the point of Lawful Stupid, and its gameplay is negatively impacted by this choice. The roleplay potential of it is arguably the only reason its picked; in the hands of a skilled player, it can make for a 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 inspite of the limits, and even better if its a rework ranger.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 largest changes they received were Spell Versatility (during a long rest they can change a spell to a different one of the same level), and received three more ways to use their Sorcery Points (give themselves advantage on a check, make a weapon Magical, and give themselves temporary hit-points based on amount spent). The two additions have made the class more useful since they now can swap out useless spells for better ones, and can 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.
- Complacent Gaming Syndrome:
- Its usually advised that anyone who plans to play a Sorcerer multi-class 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, which combined with the Sorcerers ability to convert spells into Sorcery Points, allows them to convert Warlock spells into Sorcerer Points, then convert those Sorcery Points into Sorcerer spells, which helps get around the fact Sorcerers need a long rest to regain both resources.
- 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, or all sorts of other useful options.
- Tier-Induced Scrappy: Wild Magic Sorcerers fall into the issue of being Awesome, but Impractical. The idea behind them is that your Unskilled, but Strong; whenever you cast a non-Cantrip spell, you have to roll a d20 to see what effects occur if you roll a 1, alongside mostly just increasing your chances to attack or react, and slightly buffing your damage. However, not only does the sun-class do little to give you tools to use, it also has a negative effect on one if they roll a 1, since it subjects them to Wild Magic Surge, meaning you are the mercy of the dice for what happens to your character. Some can range from simple things like gaining temporary HP or your next spell being a Bonus Action instead of an Action, to casting Fireball on yourself, to being sent to the Astral Plane for a round. While fun in theory, the amount of negative effects make it risky and not worth using, as things like casting Fireball or Confusion on your spot is effectively going to lead to a near party wipe if things are tough. Making this worse is that your more interesting abilities, such as being able to give yourself advantage on an attack, saving throw, or ability check, you automatically have to make a Wild Magic Surge roll, meaning your one outright useful spell is a detriment to yourself at times. Its other uses are to give yourself better dice rolls, but those are so weak of a use that its not enough to make it viable.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 abyssmal, 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 its 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, the other primarily magic focused classes like sorcerer and warlock have around ten subclasses. The wizard has fifteen, making it on par with the fighter and cleric for the most amount of subclasses total, and unlike those two classes which have subclasses that fundamentally offer different playstyles, the wizard subclasses all just give smaller abilities to the class rather than drastically change the game. 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 favortism. 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-recieved 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 neigh-irresistable 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.
- 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.
- Creator's Pet: Kender are depicted in the sourcebook 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 or wrong them. It's said that only the Always Chaotic Evil races hate the Kender while the wisest among the good races see them as the pinnacle of the world's innocence, and that "the world would lose something precious if the kender were ever to leave it". This is the given description for a race of people who casually rifle through other people's pockets, bags and homes out of boredom (often sabotaging their own allies by "borrowing" equipment they need to operate effectively) and then getting offended and upset when people accuse them of being thieves. Kender are also known for their Consummate Liar tendencies. Yet the books are adamant that this behavior is supposed to be endearing.
- One problem with them, as implied down below under Unpopular Popular Character, is that the novelists like them because they add comic relief and the ability to instigate plot by suddenly doing something reckless to get things moving. They can also provide the Conflict Ball, where conflict is the heart of the story. Finally, the other characters love or at least tolerate the Kender because the writers say they do. Conversely, in a Table-top game, having a player who just recklessly starts conflicts, badgers others with questions, and/or steals from the other players just creates friction at the table (with no author requiring the other characters to tolerate the Kender), along with causing certain world-building issues (how did this race survive more than one generation, and how do any settlements not have Kill or Imprison on sight orders?). The Creator's Pet issue is just the cherry on top, essentially telling players that if they actively object to these annoyances, they are bad people, and 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: Kender. No race in the entire Dungeons and Dragons franchise has inspired such sheer loathing among the playerbase as these stand-ins for halflings from the Dragonlance setting, which is quite impressive for a race intended for use as PCs. Their negative reputation comes from their long association with and intrinsic attraction to griefers. In theory, the kender are supposed to be childlike and innocent, and 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, and counterbalanced by their generosity. In practice, they 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 with the books' implicit sanction, and who tend to conveniently ignore the part where they freely and generously share the things their sticky fingers pick up with friends. And while the kender are childlike and innocent, their players know exactly what they are doing. Many DMs take a dim view of anyone wanting to play a kender, and many players wish that they would just go away. It's widely thought that the reason they have never been officially released in playable form for any version of 5e, despite being at one point allegedly in playtesting, is simply because the designers are wise enough to know it would be extremely negatively recieved.
- 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
- 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 exists 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.
- 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's 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 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, is 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 a 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 explanation a bit 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 Legend of the Five Rings/Rokugan setting. As such, due to societal standards in such lands, some classes would not exist/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 both the cleric, and Wizard class 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 in 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 the design. In the Samurai's case, the Complete Warrior version took away most of the things that made OA Samurai a decent or good choice, such as better skill selection, higher social standing, and replacing Iaijutsu Focus skill instead as a combination Quick Draw and Improved Initiative ability that only works with certain weapons, or even the thematic roleplay of empowering their ancestral starting masterwork weapons (which could be done so 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. Instead, getting the above listed issue.
- 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.
- The edition war between 3rd and 4th editions. Such as whether Eberron's dungeon punk setting is bad or not.
- 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.
- The 2020 announcement of a Theros sourcebook was a bit more contentious, as many felt that Wizards of the Coast were focusing on Magic sourcebooks rather than actual D&D sourcebooks. People also complained that the addition of a greek mythology setting was unnecesarry, as just the basic monster manual is already full of greek monsters, and there is always a (third party) greek setting.
- 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.
- 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. It gets even worse when golems (which require the enslaving of a sapient being) never have their creation demonized.
- 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?
- Screwed by the Network: Hoo boy. Between 2e AD&D and 4e, there are too many incidents of the game being screwed over by Lorraine Williams and its other publishers to fit here. A somewhat-comprehensive list appears on the trope page.
- 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
- Angst? What Angst?: Averted in most of the Michael Reaves-written episodes, most notably "The Dragon's Graveyard".
- 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.
- 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.
- It's so popular that the car company Renault created a live-action commercial using the animated series characters, and gave it the full cinematic treatment. Fans cheered it as an incredibly faithful rendition and especially loved the fact that the commercial ended with the kids (and Uni) making it home.
- 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.
- "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.
- 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...")
From the Film
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The "Do not let them escape" scene is a good example. It looks like he's about to laugh and it's not helped by the fact that he's really slowly telling them to hurry.
- Not to mention his utterly ridiculous facial expressions when Profion puts that worm thing in his brain.
- "Just like you thieves. Always taking things that don't belong to you."
- 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.
- Damodar mind-raping Marina with the mind worm... thing, coming out of his ears.
- As The Nostalgia Critic puts it, "Profion" sounds like a a name for a heartburn medication.
- Every word out of Damodar's mouth.
- 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 like a boss, 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.
- 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-Ridley: No, you're wrong! Mage! You never had to live on the other side. You know what? Snails was right. There is nothing we can do to change it...and if I had listened to him,he would still be alive.
Ridley: 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.
- 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.
- 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.