Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Can't think of a snappy title for this one. Another thought about classes.

It should be clear that I like variant classes, subclasses, and things of that sort.  I'm not a "everybody is a fighter" sort of gamer.  I enjoyed 3e, and I like how Pathfinder has lots of class options.  (I don't play PF, but that's for different reasons).

I'm also aware of power creep, and so on and so forth.  On some levels, this isn't an issue for me - I like characters to develop new things, not just doing one thing with a +1 bonus every other level.  I also don't like screwy XP schemes - this should be pretty well documented by now.

AND I'm aware of the ruleset I'm working in, and the mindset it exists within.

What I'm having trouble with is reconciling my version of the fighter with my versions of the ranger and barbarian (in particular).  I'm not convinced the fighter is evenly matched, but I don't want to give the figher MOR STUF just to bulk him up.

I can also - and I know these aren't posted - see the same issues with the cleric, thief, and wizard.

So what I might try is switching from a one-tier system (all classes are equal) to a two-tier system (some classes are better).  This, if it works, could potentially interlock with prestige classes and multi-classing.  So the core classes would be Fighter, Magic-User, Thief, and Cleric.  Most other classes would build on top of this.

Honestly, I'm not sure if it will work.  Part of the balance between fighters & barbarians, for instance, is the restrictions that are built into each class.  Barbarians get a higher bonus, but it has a duration.  Fighters have a lower bonus that always applies.  I'd have to rejigger class features to build on, rather than replace, each other.

The other issue is balance.  There are two basic ways of doing this: carrot or stick.

XP is the stick.  You want a better class, you have to pay more.  This, for me, doesn't work because most of the time, the two classes will be the same level.  You might as well say the fighter gets a +1 bonus every fourth game session, for that session only.

A carrot would be something like "core classes get a feat at even levels".  That's using some 3e/non-OSR/S&W jargon, but you get the idea.  Instead of better classes getting a penalty, weaker classes get a small, continual, bonus.  +1 hit points per level.  Something like that.

So, I dunno.  I'm probably overthinking it.

Apropos nothing, I'm going to post about books soon.


  1. I always prefer having the four basics: Fighter, Thief, Wizard and Cleric.

    Some Specialty Classes and Prestige Classes leave something lacking. Sorcerers can't cast "Knock" soon enough, etc.

    When you "bulk up" with Specialty and Prestige Classes, something is always missing and the DM usually has to "cheat" in some way to make things work.

    Right now, in my RPoL game, the characters need a successful DC 15 Heal check to glean certain information.

    They are ALL failing the roll. So now I will need to "cheat" to give them at least some of the information. None of them are playing the "basic" Classes. So none of them have a "real": bonus to Heal.

    To me, a group without the four basic Classes is going to lose out. At least in the beginning of the game.

    1. There are a lot of issues jumbled in there. ;)

      I'm hoping that some of that will be covered by having an "add-to" system rather than an "instead-of" system. That said, the core four need a schtick that other classes don't have, so some things would just not be there.

      Whether or not sorcerers SHOULD cast knock is, to me, a reasonable question.

      Some of what you're talking about is DMing style, too. Some DMs make it the players' responsibility to have "all the bases covered". If they can't make the DC 15 Heal checks, tough toodles. Other DMs adjust the adventure to compensate. Maybe Herbalism checks, or Local Lore, or Arcana. An adventure that the PCs can't participate in isn't much of an adventure, and I think it's part of the DMs responsibility to help the players get to the adventure.