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.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Classes to Date

For convenience, here are links to the classes I've done so far, plus a few related posts.

On Classes: Creating Concepts (what makes a good class?)
On Classes: Martial Classes (thinking about fighters and that sort)
On Classes: Magic-User Classes (thinking about arcane classes)
On Classes: Magic-User Classes Again (revisting arcane classes after the Illusionist)

Leshii (Player Race)
Leshii (Race-as-Class)

Fighter Class
Barbarian Class (including the Steppe Nomad and Zealot)
Knight Class (including the Cavalier, Chevalier, and Faris)
Ranger Class
Paladin Class (including the Anti-Paladin)

Illusionist Class (first class I did.  Link to The Basic Illusionist document is in the sidebar.

Cultist Class
Cultist Class II
Cultist Class Addendum

Summer, for me, is about being outside.  Part of growing up in a rural area without a tv or computer.  So productivity is way, way, down.  Make hay while the sun shines, my lads and lasses. Also, treehouses.
That said....

  • Working on The Complete Illusionist.  Lots more spells to go through.
  • Writing another spin on the illusionist for Knockspell, so Matt whatshisname has something to put in the Ultra-Special -S&W-Appreciation-Day-Issue. Eventually.  Honestly, I'm not feeling the pressure on this.  ;)
  • Tweaking the cultist, and working out the variants (shi'ar, apostate, etc)
  • Springboarding off the cultist to the other occult classes.
  • Divine classes.  Establishing differences between occult, divine, and arcane systems of magic.
  • Expert/Rogue classes.  Honestly, not overly excited about these, except sometimes I am.  Particularly the outlaw.
  • More setting stuff.
  • I'd like to do more races.
  • I have a f*cking AWESOME idea for new classes that I love, but need to bolt my ass to the chair and work out.
  • Digging into more of the stuff that's out there.  If you want to fuel my pdf shopping, donate some money for tax purposes, or simply make me feel good, clicky-click on the Donate button over yonder.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

On Classes: Magic-User Classes Again

Sorting through spells for the Complete Illusionist makes one think about the different magic-user subclasses, and the real differences between them.  Is Divination really a school on par with Evocation?  Can enchanters teleport?  Should they?  Why do necromancers have fear spells? Does it make more sense for classes and spell schools to be cause- or effect-driven?

This matters, and it matters in OSR games, because once one moves beyond the core four (or three, or possibly two) classes, one starts looking at archetypes.  3e and Pathfinder both have the mechanical depth and complexity to create classes and concepts around pretty esoteric and narrow ideas, like the fighter that knocks things down, or the fighter that uses a two-handed sword instead of a long sword.  OSR games don't have that luxury.  Subclasses in the OSR realm embody broad archetypes and concepts; characters that many people on the street would recognize, and anyone with a smattering of fantasy reading or video-game consumption.

Illusionists manipulate minds and energies to deceive people.  It's an effect-driven class.  Luminous spells shade into serious energy manipulation, while shadow magic gets extra-planar and interdimensional, phantasms merge into charms, and glamers into enchantments. That's just how it is.

Enchanters change the properties of a person or object.  In many ways, enchantments are illusions made real.  On the mental side, charms change a person's mental state, compulsions enforce a course of action, and morale/emotion spells change an emotional state.  On the physical side, enchantments can cause transformations to a physical object's properties and manipulations move the object. (Enchanters largely subsume the Alteration/Transformation school).

Necromancers are a subset of enchanters.  They use fear spells, animate dead bodies, and so forth.

Elementalists make the ka-boom.  Earth, Fire, Water, Air; earthquakes, fireballs,  lower water (wait, what?), lightning bolt....

Summoners...summon things.  In many ways this is potentially the narrowest of the subsets, and I'm tempted to leave it out altogether.  Illusionists summon shadow creatures, necromancers summon undead, elementalists summon elemental creatures...if it's that easy to give away the summoner's stuff, then that's probably the thing to do.

Wizards get what's left over, which isn't insignificant.  A wizard controls magic: Dispel Magic is probably the iconic wizard spell.  And Magic Missile, since they get the esoteric energies.  A lot of abjuration/protection spells would fall to the wizard. And, since wizards know many strange things, they get a goodly host of divinations to top things off.

The Magic-User, then, is the ur-class, the generalist, the iconic icon.