View Full Version : what is a class?

2013-08-26, 03:48 PM
...but a miserable pile of stats, skills and feats

no, but really,first of all, hello everyone, first post, I just now registered byt I have been a follower of the comic for years and I have checked the forums both as a player and as a DM and I have to say it has been a golden experience! I hope to contribute a lot!

well, back at the subject at hand, I am curently designing a custom game, the 'core' has bits and pieces of the D20 open licence and it's meant to be easily played by anyone familiar to 3.5 and yet friendly for newcomers

the game itself is about 65% social interaction and 35% combat, and this presents me with the subject of creating the classes

even in D&D 3.5 for me a Class is beyond just a set of features, it also gives the character a background, and in some cases, a 'code' of conduct, a way of living and so, for you, what -is- a class?

in the process of laying out this tribal-esque game, I decided to have eight classes, now what criteria should I consider for creating each class?

my initial tought is that a class should be composed of:

A) Social aspect
-what does every commoner thinks of them? how are they seen or treated by others or even among themselves

B) Metagame aspect
-what role does the class has? are they meelee based or ranged? mystic abilities? controllers? simply put, how does this class affects combat

C) Statistic aspect
-tied with the above, what are the strenghts and weaknesses of this class? are they robust or weaklings? strong or clever?

D) Moral aspect
-do they have any code of conduct, how does this affects their relationship with others or their standing with other classes?

E) Economy
-how does such a character earns their living? what benefit or issues do they bring to society with their activities?

am I missing any point or overthinking other? feedback is appreciated, and this isn't just for my custom system, it could be useful for DM's of preety much every system to enrich their game~

2013-08-26, 04:17 PM
Good list - all worth thinking about when considering classes.

Couple of ideas:
A & E in your list should have some flexibility to them, I think.

For example, Caine from the old TV show Kung Fu (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kung_Fu_(TV_series)) provokes very different social reactions to Li Mu Bai from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crouching_Tiger,_Hidden_Dragon) - but both are probably some variant of the Monk class (in D&D terms). In those two cases, the differing social standing is due to one character being displaced from his own culture, to a place where he is ridiculed - whereas the other is in his element.
Remember, lots of people want to play characters who are far from home.

2013-08-26, 05:24 PM
so far, at least for this system, the players are in a tribal setting with no means of leaving the island (but then, they ARE players and they will find a way to derail the DM haha) no but seriously, for elaborating the classes on this particular game/system I can eliminate the variable of out-of-region

2013-08-26, 05:24 PM
As a take-it-or-leave-it counterpoint:

Classes are a metagame construct. Picture 5 adventurers meeting in a tavern. They chat for about an hour boasting about their recent conquests, then go out into a nearby training yard for a few minutes of friendly drunken sparring. One of them looks around afterwards and thinks,

Jamini did so well against me because he's a drunken master. bekeleven is clearly a ranger by the way he wielded his bow and had to tell off his wolf groupie. It was obvious from the way he stood that Altair was a warblade. And Jaron is a fighter like me, but two levels higher.

Obviously, people in-universe are rarely this prescient of the metagame. We might see something like that in an OoTS as a one-off gag, but if you RP characters like this, well, then I haven't seen your ilk in games I've run.

My point is that classes are a metagame construct. As an example, you've probably noticed that the only way to build a melee bruiser in D&D 3.5 is to dip 40 different classes (in 20 levels, it's actually kind of impressive). People don't feel bad about doing that the same way that paladins, fighters, and crusaders (and others) often refer to themselves as "knights" despite lacking levels in the knight class: The words on the paper don't reflect who you are.

If you do make an RPG in which classes have fluff that ties them inexorably to things in-game, I would do the following: Either

Make them so distinct that, although in-game names might not be the same, it's incredibly obvious who/what each person is when you see them demonstrate their abilities, or
tie each one to an in-game organization of some sort. Depending on how multiclassing works in your system this will be easier or harder, but at least you can say "A knight is someone ordained by a priest of X."

As I said, take it or leave it.

2013-08-26, 11:52 PM
oh, in good 'ol 3.5 I don't like to rub the 'name' of my class on everyone's faces, my characters define themselves for their actions, not their class, likewise I encourage my players not to fixate on tags or labels

however, in this particular evil experiment of mine, regarding the cases you present, it's the second

being a tribal-esque setting, the 'classes' are more of... uh, sorry, english is not my native language so some terms elude me... eh, 'jobs?'

shamans, who hold the wisdom and pass down the traditions
hunters, who provide food and skins for the others
gatherers, experienced in identifying the many kind of plants and herbs and such

so, the concept of 'class' is more closely tied to the place's culture, in this particular case

2013-08-27, 07:54 AM
Is this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caste) the word you're looking for? I think it could work, actually, given the 'tribal' setting.

Practically speaking, when it comes to class design for this experiment of yours, I think you should consider keeping the number of classes pretty low. If you do this, then you can really make them maximally different from one another. This, I believe, will in turn help to enhance the feeling that the class really encapsulates most of those five aspects you want to be incorporated into the class itself.

2013-08-29, 08:39 PM
well, here's a first draft, I think? @.@ took a while to format and all


2013-08-29, 09:54 PM
When I think about a character class in a RPG system, two ideas immediately come to mind.

First, it provides a simple way to group and gain important skills. A player doesn't need to wade through a large list of skills and pick out what are thematically important, what are necessary, and what are appropriate for the campaign. They just choose one of the classes that fit the campaign. Necessities like weapon proficiencies are spot skills are included in the package (although some personization is sometimes nice).

Second, it gives players a sense of what fits in the campaign and what doesn't. A game with classes of Diplomat, Spy, and Diviner gives a very different feel than a game with classes of Thief, Wizard, and Fighter.

2013-08-30, 07:02 AM

I think this is really coming along quite well. I have a few questions and comments about the classes though.

The first is about the difference between Kariudo and Nouka. Am I correct in saying that these are different clans? Does that mean that they have different villages and live apart from (or at odds with) each other? Can they cooperate?

If they don't live amongst each other in relative peace, why is it that the Nouka don't have any combat oriented classes? How have they been able to protect themselves? And what was your general reasoning behind dividing the classes between the clans?

I don't understand the significance of everything under the stats section. Is this based on D&D or something else?

I have another comment/suggestion for you, but I want to see if it is still relevant once I get a better understanding of your project. Either way, though, it's quite cool.

2013-08-30, 10:24 AM
they are diferent clans, the culture is based around the duality of sun/moon, the first represents the sun, the active principle, the day, death and nomadic lifestyle(for most part), the second represents the moon, the passive, the night, life and have a settled lifestyle (for most part)

though when the division was first created there was a bit of conflict, now they know that cooperation is the best way to thrive, beyond that, families wich have mixed clans among them tend to be more successful, and this is primarly for productive reasons (I hunt, you clean, cook and sell, I gather herbs, you protect me)

I don't know if I mentioned it before, but one of the BIG influences for this project was the movie 'Rapa-Nui' wich speaks of the easter island in a fairly good detail, highly recommended, really, a lot of the human nature is sumarized there, but anyways, the reason of the split between each clan is primarly for convenience, a bit of the belief that specialization ensures a better survival rate and I do admit I felt it would give the players a bit of a more 'familiar' experience, while enforcing the notion that it is a completely diferent setting and so forth

yes, uh, the system itself is meant to be compatible with a certain franchise of videogames I mean, has their stats named diferently for creativity reasons, yeah <.< ahem. but in general, the concept comes from my experience with D&D 3.5, though, the formula for calculating the modifiers for each stat is quite diferent, rather than the usual D&D (score/2 -5) this takes in account several other factors, like the species of the character imposing a score of it's own and is more of a (score/3-7) (just as a sample, not actual one) so the 'big' numbers shown there don't have much relevance on the final modifier as they would on D&D

the key is

Cha- as-is

2013-08-30, 04:38 PM
This is a good discussion. I ran into this problem in one campaign in which a friend and I played our characters as identical twins, both rogues, but with the intent that we would function as tactical strikers, setting up flanks for each other and dual-wielding for maximum damage. Our metagaming party members saw we were rogues and assumed we'd do the rogue stuff. Neither of us had ranks in move silently, open lock, disable device, or hide. We had swim, climb, balance, jump, tumble, spot, search, listen, and some knowledge skills. We opened doors with crowbars and battering rams. The point is, our characters' roles were not what at all what our class would normally indicate. On the other hand, a paladin is almost always going to be a mounted melee combatant; it's hard to build anything else out of a paladin chassis. So the real question is: how much does the population of your world understand the game rules? Do they know wizards, clerics, and sorcerers on sight or do they just know that some spellcasters wear armor and some don't?

I think you need to nail down the social parts (which it looks like you are doing) so that people have a little bit of an idea of who and what a person is on sight, but in the sense of that person's position in society, not the exact nature of their class features. For instance, a rogue or fighter could both work as archers; maybe all archers are called 'rangers' as a catch-all term in your campaign. Maybe 'warrior' refers to fighters, barbarians, and dual-wielding rangers. That's how I would run a campaign anyway. But, I might also occasionally have it turn out that the guy in robes using wands is actually a rogue, too, just to keep people on their toes.

2013-08-30, 05:00 PM
right now, in a 3.5 game I'm running, I have a player, she -refuses- entirely to write down her class levels, she had a talk with me before we began the game and she SMS's me with relevant information to keep her class away from the players, right now, she's a lv2wizard/lv2rogue, but she relies primarly on Charisma checks (diplomacy, intimidate, perform, etc) she is a clever negotiatior and managed to earn a large sum of gold and she bought a bunch of lv0 and lv1 scrolls and a lot of blank papers, so whenever she casts, she opens up a dummy blank scroll and uses her spells per day and rolls a spellcraft check (but I am informed, of course), whenever she connects a sneak attack, I roll the additional damage behind my screen (I never anounce the exact numeric damage nor remaining HP, so that's not a problem) on top of it, she has two false names in-game, bottom line is, I -LOVE- her character, quirky, gives me lot of fodder for building story and keeps an extra edge on stuff

the problem? the players hate her, they keep crying for her to tell them what 'class' she is, they start to pin her as having a useless character (when in reality, she has saved them all many times) and at this point they gather to speculate (most agree that she's an useless nonsinging bard and last time they called her out in-game ordering her to sing)

I think that's the biggest issue, to get people thinking out of the box a bit, but oh when they do, it's quite more fun!