Quick question for the debaters: Where do multiclassing exp penalties appear in this discourse? Are they generally houseruled away, or do dippers suffer for their single cleric level?
I ask because, as far as I can tell, dips mechanically take care of themselves in that the player levels more slowly, reflecting their methodical education.
An example: Fistbeard spent some time looking for the ancient treant monks, while Thag the barbarian spent that time killing orcs with his axe, ergo Fistbeard has a more complicated build, and Thag is a higher level character. Everyone wins?
It's been a looooong time since I've played in a game where the DM enforced multiclassing penalties.
The general consensus is that they're superfluous and drag the game down. They also unbalance the group dynamics by having different players at different levels, forcing the DM to use an additional metric of utility to measure his balance of encounters.
If we are going to judge a power gamer, we need to judge them based what we all agree is a tier one class. If the tier one is blowing everything up and runing other folks fun, then that needs to be addressed through two methods...
the others start power gaming to increase their hero quota, or the wizard gets knocked down a level SOME how, usually through monster immunities and other clever things like anti-magic fields.
Level Two : If everyone is level 3 and you have someone trying to be level one through muchkiness
This is solved through roleplay, and forcing them to make the effort while playing, if a PRC requires an experiment to train then, to not let that expert ever show up in rp, force them through another path.
Level three: Everyone is one through three, and you end up with someone being tier 5.....being it they made a bad character or they are a bad player.
Retraining feats did wonders as a tool for a DM
Level 4: This level is where i think this argument lays in .... can everyone that is tier three, survive if someone becomes high tier 3 instead of staying as a low tier 3.
Yes, if someone is multi-classing, and prestiging everywhere, they are still level 3 mostly , I don't know many melee PRC's or combos, that are not blatant pun-pun, factoutnum ijustusu abuses, that unbalance the game.
Roleplay can be the best storytelling possible, but I will keep coming up with this.... D&D IS A CRUNCH GAME, we roleplay to give those dice meaning. Otherwise let us be honest with each other, we are roleplaying accountants that have fooled ourselves that moving a number from one point to another, is fun because we say we are saving the princess.
Since barbarians are merely those people from a different culture than one's own, cannot anyone be a barbarian?
Sidenote: Barbarians can't speak Greek, if we're using the original definition.
Anyway, I'd just like to add to the conversation: I think part of the reason that people dislike dipping stems from an idea that someone who has taken 8 levels in fighter should be stronger than someone who has taken 7 levels in fighter and 1 in barbarian for Pounce. Neither build is a real powerhouse, but because of the way the game works, and the job that a fighter does, the Fighter 7/Barbarian 1 is, considering equal optimization outside of class choice, probably a stronger build. And there are huge amounts of RP that can be done with this: a tribal hunter who was captured by your local city and then enlisted into the militia? Could easily be Barbarian 1/Fighter 7.
It would be awesome to see 20 level base classes that were like the Druid or Warblade, and worth taking all the way to 20th, but that just doesn't happen very often. It can be purely mechanical, ala the Beguiler, who gains a huge advantage by taking a dipped level so that Advanced Learning grants new spells of the spell level you just learned, as opposed to getting a level 2 spell right before you would be getting level 3 spells.
In some cases, I would even encourage dipping. The best example of this is Monk. If I want to be a badass who punches people so hard their skulls are severed from their spines, should I be a Monk 20? Definitely not. Builds that actually punch people's heads off will have 2 or maybe 6 levels in Monk, then move into classes with a better chassis and useful things to do in combat other than run around and provoke attacks of opportunity. In this case, my idea won't be impossible with a straight Monk build, but it probably won't be performing like I want it to, even in a 'normal' game where your Wizard is known to throw a few fireballs and your cleric actually prepares healing spells. (As opposed to your Wizard being a hyperoptimized paranoid semi-diety who spends half his spell slots every week figuring out what to prepare using Contact Other Plane, and your Cleric buffing himself and then being more effective than you as a secondary melee, which is what people think of when they hear the word optimized.)
I'm just gonna leave this here, as a last point. It's an important thing to remember in discussions like this. This was originally posted on the WotC boards (6?) years ago, and it's an excellent point.
tl;dr? Basically, anyone who argues that weaker characters make for stronger roleplaying has a flawed assumption somewhere. Optimization and Roleplay aren't mutually exclusive, and shouldn't be treated as such.