Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Naturally, I'm not going to play that game. I'm going to question why we'd need more than four classes, and how I'd change it so that four classes would seem like enough.
You start with two classes: Fighter and Magic-User. These seem like two extremes: the mundane and the supernatural. However, I'd argue that "Fighter" is actually the middle path, the jack of all (mundane) trades who also has access to magic, but only through magic items. The Fighter has the fastest hit die progression; the Magic-User essentially halves the rate of gaining hit points in exchange for supernatural powers. Fighters can be recast as barbarians, gladiators, knights, and many other "classes", but it's really just a matter of changing the equipment and maybe adding some regional expertise or situational familiarity. Likewise, the Magic-User can be recast as a psychic, alchemist, druid, or many other "classes" just by changing the focus of the spell list and maybe the process of preparing and casting spells, without changing any of the class abilities.
The third class, the Thief, represents a shift in the opposite direction from the Magic-User. The Thief halves the rate of gaining hit points for excellence in a specific mundane area: thievery. There should, theoretically, be other mundane specialties, but these could all be expressed as Thieves with the thief skills re-purposed as other mundane skills -- technically the same class, even though they'd receive other names, like my Leech class, Miner class, Smith class, and Tinkerer class. This is why I rename the Thief as the Talent, to make it broader.
In theory, all you need is three classes, if they are arranged as two extremes and a middle path as described above. But the Cleric represents another option, mixing two of the other three classes, in this case Fighter and Magic-User. Again, there should be other hybrids possible -- three total, in fact, each of which can be tweaked to fit different concepts. I proposed actually changing the name of the class to "Hybrid" to help shake the oddly-specific nature of the class as presented.
For any given area, I'd limit the populace to exactly four classes, one variety of each of the Talent, the Fighter, the Magic-User, and the Hybrid. If "Thief" is the variety of Talent available in the area, that doesn't mean there aren't professional healers or tinkerers or smiths in the area, but it does mean that only Thieves are seen as a field where a person could become a legend. If a player wants to be a heroic Smith, it's possible, but that character will stand out as *the* heroic Smith; all others in that culture will be purely mundane professionals, or Fighters, Thieves, Magic-Users, or Hybrids with ordinary smith skills as an add-on. All henchmen hired will be from one of the four classes specified for that region.
However, the region next door will also have four classes, but the varieties may be different. In the deep woodland realm, there may be no scholarly Magic-Users, only Druids. I've talked about this before, but I wanted to address it again in a clearer manner: restricting a region to just one instance of each of the four classes keeps things simple and zeroes in on what distinguishes one culture from another.