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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Variant Classes

Hybrid classes are one of the three ways to modify the six base classes. The second way is through variants -- changing the base or scaled powers slightly. Variants should meet these criteria:

  • They must remain true to the nature of the base class: a Fighter variant must still solve problems physically, a Charmer variant must still solve problems socially. Use the attributes as guidelines.
  • The replacement power must be no more powerful than other class powers of the same type.
  • The variant class should not be designed as if it were a profession (use backgrounds for that.
Example: A Fighter variant might trade the scaled power "attack multiple 1 HD enemies simultaneously" for "deal powerful blows"; mechanically, the Fighter adds a bonus equal to HD to either damage or to Strength-based actions, like busting open a door. This is roughly equivalent to other class powers that add a bonus to specific kinds of actions (Trickster, Charmer, Cleric.)

Variant classes are named after the base class, with the variation in parentheses: thus, Fighter (mighty thews) might be a reasonable name for the above example.

The most obvious variants are the supernatural ones, as alluded to in the Gifted post: a new class can be based around a replacement spell list, like Magic-User (illusionist) or Cleric (druidic.) A player can work with a GM to make a custom spell list with modified rules for spell use. Instead of beefing up spells in return for potentially meaningless class limitations, attach limitations to the new type of magic itself; for example, if you don't want Magic-Users or others using the MU spell list to use armor, this should be a feature of MU spells (armor causes spell failure, or slows down casting, or some other limitation.) A Magic-User can wear armor and not use magic, while a custom Elven Magic spell list might allow wearing magic armor, but have reduce spell power and variety.

Variant classes are not otherwise limited, and use the experience and HD progression of the base class; hybrid variants, like Hybrid Fighter (mighty thews)/Cleric (druidic), use the appropriate hybrid experience/HD progression.

Modification Type Three is tomorrow.

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