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    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Favorite Classless TTRPGS?

    After playing 5e for several years now, I'm really enjoying the level of balance, the simplicity, and the tactical choices it provides for you. I'd like to experience some classless systems, but I find that they often miss the mark in those elements. Does anyone have any suggestions for classless systems that are balanced, tactical, and don't require you to track 5 different things while looking back through the book (looking at you, GURPS)?

    Or, even if you don't have a suggestion that fits every box, what classless system do you enjoy, and which of the boxes DOES it check?

    Spoiler: What I mean by "Balance, Simplicity, and Tactics"
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    Balance: One choice isn't inherently better than another choice. There will always be some exceptions, but I'd prefer if there wasn't a "right" way of playing the game that restricted it down to a select few playstyles. I'm looking for a classless system for versatility, not restrictions. If I wanted to choose between 3 valid playstyles, I'd just play a classful system.

    Simplicity: Without requiring constant lookup through the rules, and without having a ludicrous number of variables to track. Sure, I could play around having to roll 3 attack dice, 1 damage dice, and some die to represent exhaustion but....well, it's not fun. Maybe I'm spoiled off of 5e, but it's nice only having 1-2 variables and dice to track at a time. Less overhead means it's easier to get into the fun parts. Too much simplicity generally means that the Tactics portion takes a hit (for example, something like FATE is simple but lacks tactics in support for an open-ended narrative).

    Tactics: We've all been there with the Warrior saying "I attack", every turn. It gets old real quick. Maybe the Warrior attacking is the best option at that moment, but I'm looking for something that provides other valid options in some of the other moments. 5e is guilty of this with some builds at lower levels, but it's a drastic improvement over prior editions. It's not enough to come up with a complex combo that you use every combat; I'm hoping to find something that requires you to rethink your strategy and your actions every time they're relevant, even if that means "Hit them very hard with a stick" just happens to be the circumstantial solution to this problem. However, if a solution is the only real option 75% of the time, it's not "circumstantial".
    Last edited by Man_Over_Game; 2019-06-04 at 06:27 PM.
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    Default Re: Favorite Classless TTRPGS?

    Systems to at least look at.

    HERO 5th edition. Less complex than it's made out to be, and with a toolkit approach that can be customized to the way the group wants to play. Doesn't always handle low power levels well.

    WEG d6 (Star Wars). Very simple, few things to track, does have that "giant pool of dice" drawback.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2019-06-04 at 06:15 PM.
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    Default Re: Favorite Classless TTRPGS?

    One game I have that I like already on a conceptual level but that I haven't yet had the time to play is Triten. It's entirely PB, and pretty much everything is three stats from 1-10 (hence the name): your stat, your skill, and the d10. It does a few things I'd rather were modeled differently, but it's very easy to modify.

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    Default Re: Favorite Classless TTRPGS?

    My suggestion is Cyberpunk.
    Not too overwhelming, but decent crunch.

    Cybergeneration is loads of fun, but keep the two Combat Systems (CG is a little more simple) in mind.
    A little mixing, and this can be Fast and Furious!

    If you really want Cyber plus Magic, Shadowrun is next best. But, has lots of Dice Pools, and requires more rule tracking. You can ignore their Archetypes (these are great for Quick Start PCs), and build your own PC with some practice.

    Using the Matrix (and the Astral in SR) in either can be fun, but the GM kinda needs a way for the rest of the team to "be involved".

    WARNING
    Do not try World of Darkness!
    Especially if people want more than just one Monster Type in the Group.

    The abilities and powers of the different books (Vampires, Werewolves, Mummies, Mages, Wraiths, Changelings, etc) are in no way balanced with each other.

    That's about all I really have experience with classless systems.
    Last edited by Great Dragon; 2019-06-04 at 06:38 PM.

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    Default Re: Favorite Classless TTRPGS?

    Savage Worlds bills itself as fast, furious and fun.

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    Default Re: Favorite Classless TTRPGS?

    Amber diceless

    It's not even point buy char gen, more of a bidding auction with some points reserved for extra abilities. Very much a system = setting game though.
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    Default Re: Favorite Classless TTRPGS?

    Pretty much every system I like is classless if you set it next to D&D. Is Chronicles of Darkness classless for the purposes of this thread? What about Exalted or Dark Heresy?
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    Default Re: Favorite Classless TTRPGS?

    Splittermond is atm my favorite classless system and also matches all three requirements with maybe Simplicity being arguable.

    Unfortunately it is not available in English.

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    Default Re: Favorite Classless TTRPGS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    Pretty much every system I like is classless if you set it next to D&D. Is Chronicles of Darkness classless for the purposes of this thread? What about Exalted or Dark Heresy?
    Agreed - very few system use classes as much as D&D.

    My favourites are probably RuneQuest and Call of Cthulhu (which are both versions of Chaosium's BasicRolePlaying system).

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    Default Re: Favorite Classless TTRPGS?

    Mutants and Masterminds is an absolutely gorgeous classless system-- capable of modeling just about any kind of magic or superpower you can imagine, using only a couple dozen base effects and modifiers. Character creation can be a bit rough if you're not used to it (though certainly not as bad as, say, HERO), but once you get to the game it's dead smooth, and it rewards using your powers in creative ways to solve problems like no other system I've seen.

    Fate (and associated games) are simple, balanced, and fun, but I dunno if it's tactical enough for you--it's got a fairly broad and powerful way to influence an encounter beyond attacking (Create an Aspect), but because it's linked to the narrativist aspect of the system your mileage may vary.

    STaRS (my baby) is in a similar "YMMV" boat. It's got the tools to encourage a broad range of actions, and a GM certainly can set up situations and enemies that demand different approaches, but it's a light enough system that tactics are more a matter of imagination than mechanics.

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    Default Re: Favorite Classless TTRPGS?

    What counts as a class, anyway? Blades in the Dark doesn't have anything called classes, but it does have "playbooks," which come awfully close. It's also "Game Design Best Practices the RPG."
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    Default Re: Favorite Classless TTRPGS?

    I'll second that Mutants & Masterminds has balance, simplicity, and tactics. And I'll second that World of Darkness lacks balance.

    That said, I've never really played WoD with a "balance to the table" mindset (as the table has never had a balance range beyond "yes"). But, with that mindset, even 3e D&D can qualify for balance, simplicity, and tactics, if you explicitly aim for that.

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    Default Re: Favorite Classless TTRPGS?

    Awhile back, I had a friend that had a way to (mostly) balance WoD. He never explained his methods to me, though.
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    Default Re: Favorite Classless TTRPGS?

    Quote Originally Posted by gkathellar View Post
    What counts as a class, anyway? Blades in the Dark doesn't have anything called classes, but it does have "playbooks," which come awfully close. It's also "Game Design Best Practices the RPG."
    I guess, I mean "lacking versatile character building".

    If you're a Shadow character, and all you can pick from are Shadow-allowed abilities, I'd probably say that's a classful system. The difference is, a classful system has a long list of abilities with many restrictions on who can get them, and a classless system has a long list of abilities with few restrictions on who can get them.

    Or, put in another way, a classful system would say a Shadow Character can pick anything that are Shadow abilities, but a classless system would say a Shadow Character can pick anything that's not Light abilities.
    Last edited by Man_Over_Game; 2019-06-05 at 02:23 PM.
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    5th Edition Homebrewery

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    Adrenaline Surge, fitting Short Rests into combat to fix bosses/Short Rest Classes.
    Pain, using Exhaustion to make tactical martial combatants.
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    Default Re: Favorite Classless TTRPGS?

    There's so many options for this - but looking at your particular set of criteria I suspect Savage Worlds would be your jam. I tend not to really focus on the tactical side (and actually dislike Savage Worlds a bit partly because of how much it does), but if you do it's rock solid.

    Then there's the various generics I really like. Fudge is my favorite for sheer versatility, Cortex Prime is growing on me and definitely has some tactical depth to it, and I can definitely appreciate Open d6.

    For more specific games where settings matter a bit more (though I tend not to actually use them directly) I'm fond of Hollow Earth Expedition, Warbirds, Pendragon, Reign, and others. Given your criteria I'd suggest looking into HEX and Reign in particular.

    Quote Originally Posted by gkathellar View Post
    What counts as a class, anyway? Blades in the Dark doesn't have anything called classes, but it does have "playbooks," which come awfully close. It's also "Game Design Best Practices the RPG."
    I'd definitely count playbooks as classes. I'd also count anything with archetype picking, which is the only reason Save the Universe didn't make the list. There's also a couple of nominally classless systems that tend to effectively have classes in play, with particular roles to fill. Shadowrun is probably the best example of this, but it's not the only one.
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    Default Re: Favorite Classless TTRPGS?

    I'm gonna echo both Mutants & Masterminds and Star Wars D6.
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    Default Re: Favorite Classless TTRPGS?

    Quote Originally Posted by gkathellar View Post
    What counts as a class, anyway? Blades in the Dark doesn't have anything called classes, but it does have "playbooks," which come awfully close. It's also "Game Design Best Practices the RPG."
    Playbooks (assuming they're similar to PbtA playbooks) are definitely class-equivalent.

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    Default Re: Favorite Classless TTRPGS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Man_Over_Game View Post
    After playing 5e for several years now, I'm really enjoying the level of balance, the simplicity, and the tactical choices it provides for you. I'd like to experience some classless systems, but I find that they often miss the mark in those elements. Does anyone have any suggestions for classless systems that are balanced, tactical, and don't require you to track 5 different things while looking back through the book (looking at you, GURPS)?

    Or, even if you don't have a suggestion that fits every box, what classless system do you enjoy, and which of the boxes DOES it check?

    Spoiler: What I mean by "Balance, Simplicity, and Tactics"
    Show

    Balance: One choice isn't inherently better than another choice. There will always be some exceptions, but I'd prefer if there wasn't a "right" way of playing the game that restricted it down to a select few playstyles. I'm looking for a classless system for versatility, not restrictions. If I wanted to choose between 3 valid playstyles, I'd just play a classful system.

    Simplicity: Without requiring constant lookup through the rules, and without having a ludicrous number of variables to track. Sure, I could play around having to roll 3 attack dice, 1 damage dice, and some die to represent exhaustion but....well, it's not fun. Maybe I'm spoiled off of 5e, but it's nice only having 1-2 variables and dice to track at a time. Less overhead means it's easier to get into the fun parts. Too much simplicity generally means that the Tactics portion takes a hit (for example, something like FATE is simple but lacks tactics in support for an open-ended narrative).

    Tactics: We've all been there with the Warrior saying "I attack", every turn. It gets old real quick. Maybe the Warrior attacking is the best option at that moment, but I'm looking for something that provides other valid options in some of the other moments. 5e is guilty of this with some builds at lower levels, but it's a drastic improvement over prior editions. It's not enough to come up with a complex combo that you use every combat; I'm hoping to find something that requires you to rethink your strategy and your actions every time they're relevant, even if that means "Hit them very hard with a stick" just happens to be the circumstantial solution to this problem. However, if a solution is the only real option 75% of the time, it's not "circumstantial".

    The Design Mechanism's MYTHRAS the RPG or it's simpler cousin Mongoose Publishing's LEGEND are both excellent. Both are loosely based on Chaosium's BRP, but they are simpler in format while still using a percentile die, skill-based system. MYTHRAS is much more "polished" than LEGEND, but LEGEND is very cheap... cheap as in $1 PDFs on sale. The CLASSIC FANTASY game is a blend of D&D and BRP but I don't know much more about it.

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    Default Re: Favorite Classless TTRPGS?

    Barbarians of Lemuria ticks off so many of my boxes it's uncanny.
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    Default Re: Favorite Classless TTRPGS?

    If DnD 5e meets your requirements other than being a classless system, I suggest “the Adventurer” https://www.gmbinder.com/share/-L7MxaZV26WwHwzaP-eD. It’s a single class that allows you to pick and choose features from all over, building a character that way. It still has levels though, and is homebrew and therefore not perfect.
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    Default Re: Favorite Classless TTRPGS?

    Traveller. I’m old school.

    I never really played any classless fantasy systems.
    Of course, in the end, I’m not sure that classless really makes that big of a difference. Consider Real Life (TM):
    I’m a writer and a librarian. My professional skills thus revolve around the written word, literature, and research. I do have other, layman skills in my areas of interest, hobbies, etc., but let’s be honest— where I shine and where I am expected to shine are within my profession, into which I have poured the bulk of my effort, training, and experience. And the same thing goes for any other profession. I wouldn’t expect an attorney to know anything about farming, and even if he did, he’d likely be nowhere near as good at it as a woman who had spent her whole life farming. So, in a sense, reality does indeed wind up with people defined by their professional “classes” (in the D&D sense).

    So when you begin talking about adventuring characters in a fantasy world, it’s not that unusual to expect that these would indeed divide into professional categories, with these categories demonstrating superior experience and expertise in the skills which that profession requires. The “class” is just a shorthand way to define what primary abilities an individual pursuing that profession will have.

    But if you want a character to possess the abilities of other classes, there have long been routes in D&D to do that, whether dual-classing, multi-classing, or even by simply picking up additional skills (5e does this by creating general categories of skills; other versions such as BECMI actually offered very specific skills). Another way is by establishing a character background which carries with it an expectation of knowledge and skill (such as an Artisan who is a jeweler.) But the rules rightly set it up that doing so produces a slower progression in improvement in the skills being used— just as you would not expect an engineer who has also picked up a law degree to be nearly as competent an attorney as his college dorm-mate who has risen to the judiciary. And, of course, having once apprenticed as a jewelry-maker in your youth, before casting it aside to pursue life as a bard, doesn’t mean you are going to have anywhere near the skill of a full artisan in the Jeweler’s Guild. You can set a stone, judge quality, etc., but make the new coronation crown for the Emperor? No, you’ll never be up to that.

    The advantage of a classless system really comes down to character building— you can, essentially, craft the skill choice you imagine your character achieving, and leap into the game fully formed, as it were. (Which is essentially what Traveller does, ignoring that it’s a random generation system. Once you’re done with that element, you have the character you will have, with very little change to her abilities and stats, ever, unless they come directly due to events during play.) There’s no point where you have to switch from one class to another to gain new skills, so that aspect is potentially quicker in play.

    I note all of the above not because I dislike or have any objection to classless systems— it’s just an interesting bit of comparison to toss in the discussion.
    Last edited by The Library DM; 2019-06-06 at 06:18 PM.
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    Always been a fan of Riddle of Steel. Mind you it's view of tactics are possibly different than what you want. The game has two levels of tactics, those on the individual fighting level and those on the entire encounter level. Which is true for every RPG, I suppose, but RoS definitely focuses more on the encounter tactics than the individual.

    Now there are individual tactics, certainly, most of the time you'll be attacking. But there is no simple "I attack" you have to choose what to aim for, how many dice to use in the attack and how many to hold back for your defense. It's very fun.

    But encounters are truly won or lost on the encounter level tactic level. If you enter a fight without a plan one or all of your players will probably die. Actually death is so frequent in this game that it has different rules on how to create every subsequent character in a campaign based on the deeds your previous character performed. In any case, entire encounters can be basically won or lost before a single dice has been thrown depending on if the players were clever enough to set an ambush, or if they missed all the GMs hints and stumbled into a combat they were not prepared for.

    While I love it, I'm certain others will find that too trying.

    There is also the problem with magic. If you want a high fantasy fireball hurling game, this probably isn't the one for you. The creator of the game admitted to not playing with the magic system he created. Which should tell you something.

    I've been told subsequent games trying to be the spiritual successor have fixed this problem. But I do not have experience with them so I cannot verify.

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    Default Re: Favorite Classless TTRPGS?

    Quote Originally Posted by gkathellar View Post
    What counts as a class, anyway? Blades in the Dark doesn't have anything called classes, but it does have "playbooks," which come awfully close. It's also "Game Design Best Practices the RPG."
    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Playbooks (assuming they're similar to PbtA playbooks) are definitely class-equivalent.
    PbtA playbooks are indeed a pretty good way to handle classes, but of course those games are pretty narrowly specialized.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dienekes View Post
    There is also the problem with magic. If you want a high fantasy fireball hurling game, this probably isn't the one for you. The creator of the game admitted to not playing with the magic system he created. Which should tell you something.
    He also expressed active offence over the idea of magic being on the same level as non-magic, complete with allcaps and exclamation marks.
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    Default Re: Favorite Classless TTRPGS?

    Savage Worlds is as crunchy as 5e. One of my favorite systems and it's crazy well supported and only seems to be growing in support. The current edition is still backwards compatible with 1st edition content.

    Overall just a really great system.

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    Default Re: Favorite Classless TTRPGS?

    In Nomine is probably my favorite system by far, at least at the moment.

    You do select a "race" (Choir of angel or Band of demon) and a Superior (what Archangel or Demon Prince you serve), and those shape some things of your character (give you a power or two, limit some powers you can buy, dictate your behavior somewhat), but any character can buy most any spell, skill, role in society, or magic item. So I think it would count as classless.

    Balance: an odd thing in the game. A combat-focused character can kill a non-combat-focused one in one round of combat, given decent rolls. A mind-mojo specialist has a good shot at one-shotting some foes.
    Characters are not balanced in that a starting PC, or PC of X experience, is on par with all others in most things, but it is balanced in that you can start average at everything (and still be playable) or be focused crazy-good in something (and still be playable, even if you have some weak points).

    Balance probably works best if the players and DM discuss character ideas together and make sure it works as a team. Doesn't work well to have a Seraph of Flowers who negates everyone's ability to fight next to a Seraph of War whose speciality is his punches striking true; or to have a melee-focus next to a social-focus, since what challenges one in combat would auto-kill the other.

    Simplicity: The system has some crunch to it, but once you get past char-gen it's pretty straightforward. All rolls use a 3d6 mechanic with an easily known target.

    Tactics: Depends on how you play. It can be "I attack" on repeat, especially if you're a melee monster, but it can also be a lot of style and flair with putting in songs and special moves.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    I'll second that Mutants & Masterminds has balance, simplicity, and tactics. And I'll second that World of Darkness lacks balance.
    In what world does mutants and masterminds have balance? Granted, there's no RIGHT way to break the game, and you can do so with any number of powers, but... well, GM veto is a core requirement of character building.
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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: Favorite Classless TTRPGS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scots Dragon View Post
    I'm gonna echo both Mutants & Masterminds and Star Wars D6.
    I'll echo Star Wars D6...there are "classes", but honestly they're just different starting templates/equipping.

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    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Favorite Classless TTRPGS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fable Wright View Post
    In what world does mutants and masterminds have balance? Granted, there's no RIGHT way to break the game, and you can do so with any number of powers, but... well, GM veto is a core requirement of character building.
    I mean, the supposed "martial / caster divide" is described by some as "the caster breaks the game, the Fighter does nothing". So, even if you were right, and every M&M character "broke the game", that would, by the C/M logic, represent balance.

    OTOH, I find that the *lack* of "GM veto" culture (especially compared to its contemporaries), where the rules don't warn you every 5 sentences that the rules might break your rails, or that letting the players name their own PCs might give them the dangerous impression that they can make meaningful choices in the game, really says good things about it, and its balance.

    Point is, by default, most any character you make won't be "useless". You have to try really hard to make a useless character in M&M.

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    Default Re: Favorite Classless TTRPGS?

    I like Savage Worlds for this; everyone builds their character, there can be a lot of variety, and choices matter, but you can also pretty easily run it seat of your pants. I'd say it covers all your bases. In a lot of ways, I think it has things in common with Star Wars d6... both have very similar design styles, but with Savage worlds being a 1 or 2 die resolution, and d6 tending towards a multiple-d6 dice pool.

    Speaking of Star Wars, if you've got the Saga edition, you might also go with my Classless version. Built out of feats and talents, it lets you make the character you want, without the careful juggling of levels to get access to talent trees.
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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Favorite Classless TTRPGS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    He also expressed active offence over the idea of magic being on the same level as non-magic, complete with allcaps and exclamation marks.
    Yeah he definitely designed his game along the Lord of the Rings and Conan style of magic where having magic just means you’re better. And if the heroes face off against something suitably magical their main options are figure out a way to avoid it, outsmart it, or swarm it. But going head on is likely suicide. Where magic users are usually relegated to antagonists or some powerful NPCs and that’s it. If a player wants to use magic they probably shouldn’t be allowed more than a small handful of tricks.

    And in fairness it does that well. But I don’t think that’s a setting many players want to play in. I do. I love it. But it’s not for people who want to play Merlin.

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