Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Some Notes on Character Classes

[Just a quick diversion from the magnus opus on the Aristocratic Caste to say something about the classes in my house rules. And yes, I've always liked lots of different classes in my game.]

The Character Classes

The Primary Classes

There are six primary character classes - one for each attribute.

The Knight (STR)

The Knight is a melee specialist trained to fight on the battlefield in heavy armour (mounted or unmounted). Cultural variations include Samurai, Weaponthanes, and even Gladiators (all of which are considered cultural variants of the same class). They are the elite soldiery within a society and skilled in the arts of war, not to be confused with the common soldiery. The typical Knight is not trained to the use of missile weapons, but is highly trained in the art of cavalry and the hunt (more likely to end in spears than arrows). Weaponthanes replace expertise in horsemanship with thrown weapons and moving through the wilderness. Samurai are trained in both missile and melee weapons, but at a significant cost in horsemanship.

The Ranger (CON)

The ranger is the missile and wilderness specialist. Unlike the Other Game™ they are not a sub-class of fighter and nor do the spend their time guarding the ruins of ancient kingdoms in the north. There are the elite hunters, scouts, poachers, and foresters, not the common archers and slingers found in the armies of the world. Precision is their watchword. Rangers are trained to fight in melee, but not in formation and not in heavy armour, because the wilderness is a dangerous place. Most rangers also have some sort of stealth ability in order to sneak up on the animals (or bandits) they are hunting.

The Specialist [Tomb Robber] (DEX)

The specialist has mastered some sort of non-combat proficiency that may be of benefit to the adventurer. The default Specialist is the Tomb Robber, who is an expert at enetring dark holes in the ground and recovering the treasure therein. The archetypal adventurer, the Tomb Robber has mastered neither magic nor weapons, but is not adverse to using the limited amounts of either available to them. Although they generally prefer to avoid direct conflict. [For players of the Other Game (TM), they are the Thief equivalent, except they tend to replace the pickpocket proficiency with something similar to bardic knowledge. They may be connected to the criminal underworld (via fences), but are generally not considered part of it. The Thief is a separate Specialist class with less of a focus on insanity adventuring and much more of a criminal orientation. As with Knights and soldiery, the members of the Thief class are the elite of the criminal underworld, not your common mugger, pickpocket, or burglar.]

The Mage [Battlemage] (INT)

The mage classes uses sorcery (the manipulation of external symbols and objects) to evoke a resonance with the astral energies and manifest them in the real world. Most sorcery concerns itself primarily with the acts summoning and creation. There are many different classes of mage (differentiated primarily by spell lists), but the default one for adbventurers is the military mage, otherwise known as the warmage or battlemage. These mages specialising in handling the destructive magics typically of use on the battlefield, and thus have problems with the more subtle sorceries, such as those dealing with illusion and healing. How you access the astral energies has a profound effect on the spells that you can cast. No battlemage has ever managed to learn a healing spell. On the other hand a Healer Mage cannot throw a fireball, so fair is fair.

The Witch (WPR)

The Witch does not use externalities such as sorcery to create the necessary resonance with the astral, but instead uses internal meditations to invoke a change in the world. This limits the amount of astral energies that the witch can actually physically channel, so their magic tends to be on a much smaller scale than that of the mage. On the other hand a witch is capable of performing true healing using their magic. This may take longer than the "healing" provided by Demon Hunters, but it doesn't have the disadvantage that it can be dispelled.

The Priest [Demon Hunter] (CHA)

The magic of the Demon Hunter relies on the fact that the supernatural is unnatural and does not actually belong in the world. Their magic is antipathic, dealing with the unbinding and banishment of magic, as opposed to the mage, whose magic is sympathetic and concerns summoning and creation. Whilst they are quite capable of breaking the supernatural with a brute force attempt, they may also learn to focus their energies through powerful sutras that magnify their power immensely. Those with the natural ability to become Demon Hunters are as rare as any other spellcaster, and those that show promise are often sought out, trained, equipped, and supported by religious institutions. Others make their own way,banishing the supernatural for monetary reward. Because many supernatural entities also have a physical manifestation, most Demon Hunters are also trained to fight these monsters.

[In my D&D games the gods have always been distant (or alternatively, not gods at all). And I've always found it somewhat impious for the gods to change how the universe operates at the demand of one of their worshippers. This means that the source of divine power has always been the cleric itself, whether from belief/faith or something else. Not every priest has miraculous powers; in fact the ones with magical powers have always been as rare as any other spellcasters. And they have always been heavily modelled on the classical Demon Hunter from Chinese wuxia. Which makes this the replacement for the Other Game™ Cleric, although spells are often expressed in reverse, so instead of cure light wounds the Demon Hunter uses banish light wounds. ]

The Secondary Classes

Secondary classes are classes associated with two or more characteristics, and tend to embody aspects of the associated primary classes. They are usually considered a subclass of fighter or mage (depending whether their primary focus is physical or magical).

Here is a selection of fighter secondary classes (there are many more).

The Bravo (STR & DEX)

The Bravo is a fighting man trained to fight without the aid of heavy weapons or armour. Thus their style of combat is not as suited for use on the battlefield as the Knight, but may in fact be technically more proficient. This is achieved by increasing access to Martial Arts. The Duellist (who has a better access to Martial Arts) and the Assassin (who specialises in the stealthy kill) are known variants of this class.

The Paladin (STR & CHA)

The Paladin channels the abilities of the Demon Hunter unto the fighting ability of the Knight. Their primary role is to defeat the supernatural directly through force of arms, and thus they are much better than your standard Demon Hunter at fighting those supernatural threats that have a physical presence. They are however often at a loss at dealing with the more spiritual supernatural threats.

The Barbarian (STR & CON)

The Barbarian combines the melee capabilities of the Knight with the wilderness abilities of the Ranger. That is, they are effectively Rangers that specialise in melee combat.

The Marksman (CON & DEX)

Combining the abilities of the Ranger and the Craftsman, the Marksman is a specialist at presenting the continuing dielectic between the bourgeois and proletarians and encouraging the inevitable uprising of the proletariate... [Oh hang, on, that's the Marxman. Sorry. The Marksman attempts to perfect the art of using a bow (or other missile weapon), trading in their ability in the wilderness for improved access to Martial Arts dealing with the use of the bow.]

And here is a selection of some mage secondary classes (there are many more):

The Shaman (WPR & CHA)

The Shaman is a Witch with a much more animstic approach to magic. Although whether the spirits that they summon or simply manifestations of the astral forces they summon is hidden by the Perception Paradox of magic. For all intents and purposes the shaman summons astral entities to create the magical effects they desire. The Other Game™ Druids are a variant of Shaman.

The Necromancer (INT & CHA)

The Necromancer is what a Demon Hunter becomes when they realise that a door is an entry as well as an exit and gives into that desire to see what lies beyond. They use the externalised sorcery of the mage to create truly antipathetic magic and open the way from the Beyond. Instead of just using astral energies to animate the dead, they may summon actual entities to actually inhabit the dead, creating true undead. Or even becoming one. The gods generally despise necromancers because they disrupt the nature order (things are supposed to stay dead), but there are actually good necromancers as well as evil necromancers, although you are more likely to find evil necromancers who use their abilities for self aggrandisement.

The Healer Mage (INT & DEX)

The Healer Mage is a specialist in healing magics. It is one of the most common forms of secondary mages, although one that is not really suitable for adventuring. Actually most secondary mages are not particularly suitable for adventuring and most are considered to have an INT & DEX prerequisite.

The Illusionist (INT & WPR)

The first thing you have to remember is that all magic is illusion. That is, it is not a part of the world and may be dispelled or undone, but it still has a real presence in the world. For example, if you are polymorphed into a goat, you are a polymorphed goat and not a real goat. The magic can be dispelled and you will return to being a human being. On the other hand if you had kids while a goat, the kids would be real goats. Similarly if a mage summons a demon to do their bidding, that demon may be entirely illusionary, but the Perception Paradox means that it must be treated as a real thing. It can't simply be disbelieved. The Illusionist generally deals with two distinct types of magic - the creation of images (which are manifestations in the world), and phantasms (which are manipulations of the perceptions/mind). It is a very rare form of secondary magery because most experts eventually end up convincing themselves that nothing is actually real and then convincing themselves that they aren't real either and magically erasing themselves from existence. This should hopefully be a sufficient warning of the dangers of this type of magic.

The Tertiary Classes

Tertiary classes have three or more prime requisites. Here are some (there are many more):

The Martial Artist (STR & CON & DEX)

The martial artist generally forgoes all weapons and armour in pursuit of the perfection of their art. That does not means that they aren't masters of their use, just that they are generally irrelevant when the martial artist fights. The true Martial Artist, like all tertiary classes, is exceedingly rare and generally the protege of a monk on a remote mountaintop or a wandering fighter trying to perfect their art.

The Talent Mage [The Bard] (INT & WPR & CHA)

Talent Mages are rare because they perform their sorcery naturally, but to do so they must use some other talent to focus their sorcery. The most commonly known Talent Mage is the Bard, who focuses their magic through music. It normally takes a Talent Mage a lot longer to cast their spells than other mages, but they have the advantage that they don't need to know the actual spell that they are casting. On the other hand, the selection of magics they can actually use is generally limited by their focus.

The Ninja (STR & DEX & WPR)

Why will no one ever believe me that ninja do not exist. It's obvious. Nobody has ever seen one, therefore they don't exist and there is no Ninja class. Not at all. I haven't even considered what attributes would be appropriate for them. There are no ninja. [Those are just people in black silk pajamas (pay no attention).]