Pondering classes as an element of rpgs

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Re: Pondering classes as an element of rpgs

Postby clintmemo » Sun Sep 09, 2018 4:02 pm

Bai Shen wrote:
clintmemo wrote:I like both, but not for the same type of game.
In my experience, class systems work better in D&D and things that in that type of medieval fantasy setting.
Classless systems work better for everything else, at least every other type of setting I've ever played in.


What makes fantasy different that you prefer class systems? Is it just the inertia from D&D?

Partly, but the stock characters of a fantasy setting seem to be more easily broken out into classes - wizards, warriors...
Every other setting I've played has either modern roles or is a future setting which have modern roles projected forward in time. In those settings, classes don't make a lot of sense. There is not nearly as much exclusivity of abilities.
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Re: Pondering classes as an element of rpgs

Postby goatunit » Mon Sep 10, 2018 2:22 pm

Others have already put it in more precise terms, but I'll add my voice to the chorus: I generally prefer class systems. Not ideologically, but in practice I have had the most fun with them. I do think there's a place for going classless (such as a game about a squad of soldiers who all have clearly defined roles to play, but whose players are free to decide to what degree they want to excel in that role; or something like an "all wizard" game where it's up to players to distinguish their characters from one another), but by and large I prefer to limit the options on paper and thereby broaden the options in play. A skill list is a strait jacket. If you can't make a BECMI human fighter interesting, I'm skeptical you're going to manage to do much better with a dozen more check boxes filled in.

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Re: Pondering classes as an element of rpgs

Postby anthroslug » Mon Sep 10, 2018 3:28 pm

I REALLY like classes for games where you play fairly broad “big damn heroes” (D&D, super hero games, Star Wars), etc.

I like classless games when playing more low-power stuff - everyone is an FBI agent, or you’re a group of friends seeking adventure and nobody’s over-powered. In these games, having a character based on skills and stats rather than class seems to work well and create a diversity of more realistic skill sets where there is also necessarily overlap.
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Re: Pondering classes as an element of rpgs

Postby lightningcat » Mon Sep 17, 2018 10:41 pm

Now this is most likely the people I play with, but I see more generalist builds in class-based games, often going through lots of hoops to make it work then in classless games where it is easier. While in the classless games, people specialize a lot more often, and avoid interfering with someone else's area of expertise. Yes, the same people in both types of games. :facepalm:
Although how much of that is due to most of them not wanting to try new games, and instead pushing the boundries of D&D/Pathfinder and WoD, which are the default games they play.
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Re: Pondering classes as an element of rpgs

Postby [red] » Tue Sep 18, 2018 9:49 am

lightningcat wrote:Although how much of that is due to most of them not wanting to try new games, and instead pushing the boundries of D&D/Pathfinder and WoD, which are the default games they play.


A LOT of it is people unwilling to try new games. For me, its a budget issue - I have 3-4 people in games with me, but no one wants to buy a new rulebook for FFG Star Wars or whatever
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Re: Pondering classes as an element of rpgs

Postby Kleitengraas2018 » Thu Mar 28, 2019 5:01 pm

Lord Foul wrote:The thing I like most about classes is that they generally prevent you from being able to do everything.
...............
I find that classless games tend to lack that degree of distinctiveness between individual characters. You'll often have people trying to be at least adequate at everything, and thereby lose the sense of specialism that comes with classes.


I totally agree with this. When we were creating Eternity RPG, it went through several drafts and various game forms. Particularly involving classes. The game started with very distinct classes, then through feedback from playtesting, experimented with a type of classless system not unlike something you'd see in Skyrim. People loved the freedom of choice early on in the classless campaign, but over time, became five different versions of the same super-powered being.

No doubt, some games have created classless options far better than what we dabbled with. But in the end, people who have played our game at least, seem to favor having a class. The way that we've opened up more options to players at high levels, is multi-classes, and what we call "epic" abilities - empowering abilities they got from one or more of their basic classes, into something truly unique to them.

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Re: Pondering classes as an element of rpgs

Postby AnZsDad » Mon Jan 13, 2020 3:19 pm

Personally, I look back fondly to my days dabbling in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying. I played First Edition (back in the Bygone Days), but if I understand correctly they still use a similar "career" system. A character started with one of several careers that suggested his/her background (baker or rat-catcher, for example) each with prescribed stats and skills (possibly with a few points you could assign to make it more unique, but I might be wrong about that). When it came time to "level up" you could choose to improve in your current profession, advance to a related profession, or switch to an entirely different career track. There were (obviously, I suppose) benefits and costs to each of those choices - improving your current profession would give more choices for advanced careers later, whereas advancing early would mean accessing the skills for the new profession sooner, and switching to a new path meant opening even more skills but having to start as a menial labourer in that field (imagine going from being a ships captain to a lowly acolyte).

I always thought that this made characters feel more like real people, and that even if you were playing "murder hobos" the characters at least felt like they had a place in the world. It also made the setting itself feel more real, in a way. At the very least, the professions available made it seem more "gritty" and less cartoon-y.

(BTW, sorry for necro-posting, but this is an interesting thread even a year later.)
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Re: Pondering classes as an element of rpgs

Postby Leoff » Mon Jan 13, 2020 4:31 pm

(Think of it as a new take. I'm happy revisiting the topic.)

There are several games that write backstory skills in. I like that, rather that having a big I-can-do-everything megaclass or "you can't do that because your class doesn't".
Isn't there one where your character's mentor (which might not be your class) or parents lets you have some skills?

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Re: Pondering classes as an element of rpgs

Postby John » Tue Jan 14, 2020 3:04 pm

I like the your-life-up-to-this-point method, which 5E incorporated a little bit with backgrounds. But WFRPG made it pretty much the whole thing.

Classes are weird. D&D is Superfriends but with characters from popular fantasy as it was in the 1970s (and more traditional fantasy/legend/folklore that remained well-known). At least until 2E the PHB straight up said "play a fighter if you want to be Sir Lancelot, play a wizard if you want to be Merlin, play a thief if you want to be Robin Hood" or whatever, in so many words.

And Superfriends is strange. The heroes are all over the place in terms of power level. D&D has experimented with a lot of different approaches over the years to account for this. Originally, some classes were just better than others but they started out weak and/or required a lot more XP to level up than most others. Then in 3E everyone leveled up at the same speed but casters were still better so you just got an edition of "play a wizard or a cleric or willingly roleplay a weaker hero". Then in 4E everyone was basically treated like a wizard. Now in 5E we're basically back to the 3E attitude but we've made the beefy non-spellcasting classes a bit beefier and the save-or-suck supremacy of the casters much weaker (mind you, casters are still supreme, but not like it was).

There's definitely a virtue to going with a system where there is no "fighter" or "wizard" you're born as, you're born as a blank slate and you get better as a fighter by doing squats and taking fencing lessons and you get better as a wizard by reading spellbooks and getting lectured at for years by more experienced wizards.

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Re: Pondering classes as an element of rpgs

Postby tombombodil » Tue Jan 14, 2020 3:48 pm

anthroslug wrote:I REALLY like classes for games where you play fairly broad “big damn heroes” (D&D, super hero games, Star Wars), etc.

I like classless games when playing more low-power stuff - everyone is an FBI agent, or you’re a group of friends seeking adventure and nobody’s over-powered. In these games, having a character based on skills and stats rather than class seems to work well and create a diversity of more realistic skill sets where there is also necessarily overlap.


This is why I love Trail of Cthulhu and Call of Cthulhu which are largely free-form skill-based, where your starting skills are more based on background and professions and things like that, and only gently guide your progression; you can put your skill points into whatever you want; although I usually require in-game justification if it doesn't closely fit with the character you've written.
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