Thursday, June 9, 2011

Class ism: Why don't we have more classes

Everyone knows the basic fantasy role playing party. A fighter, a wizard, a rogue and a cleric make up the classic party around which much of the genre is based. NERO accommodates this concept and even lets you have a few options within the basic framework. The Templar class, the only hybrid class in the NERO system, allows players to play as a fighter/mage. Multiclassing to round out the edges of a party has been a mainstay of fantasy role playing since D&D advanced and I think that it allows for extra flexibility in character creation which can only be a good thing when players are trying to espouse a specific character concept. In my opinion more options should be added to the class system, new content will invigorate the game. There are several options for increasing class dynamics, I will take a look at them and then hopefully spark some discussion.

The simplest option for more classes is to add the other hybrid classes into the game. Those classes being fighter/rogue and rogue/scholar. This is basic multi classing. Accomplishing it would be as simple as emulating the templar build costs. No new skills should be added, no new math would be necessary. These two additional classes would change the class dynamics significantly. The vanilla rogue could now have a backup celestial or earth tree, the fighter can now be an evasion fighter focusing on dodges at the cost of extra damage. These concepts could allow for better character concept fits for players and would not increase scaling difficulty, I see no reason not to implement these classes immediately.

The next most complicated class concepts are classes that purchase already existing skills at a cheaper cost than the base classes for the cost of other skills. Their are two good examples of this but the one that I will focus on is the ranger. The ranger can purchase archery and two weapon fighting related skills at a discounted rate but has slightly higher than templar body and a prohibitive cost for crafting skills, standard weapon profs and the rogue cost for magic. What would this character look like in practice, perhaps they could purchase archery damage increases at a cheaper cost than any other class, so a ranger might first focus on firing a bow for 10s. Then he can choose to either build a small spell tree or focus on two weapon fighting, perhaps rangers can share their weapon damage between hands but purchase profs at a rate between templar and scholar. This idea is simple because no new skills are introduced to the game, it follows a similar model to the already existing templar class, you pay for decreased costs with increased costs. Focusing the class on another fantasy archetype is key, as is the fact that having a class like this would promote underused weapon styles. The complicated thing would be getting the math right between classes. All games that add content go through an adjustment period where classes are changes and NERO would be no different, a playtest would need to be run and changes made quickly to the class. This playtest would run over the course of one season or a series of events and end in a class that the rules committee felt was balanced, this feeling would be augmented by gameplay experience. Of course there are a number of other options that exist for classes like the ranger, virtually any subset of skills can be discounted and offset by other skills.

The final class increase concept and the one that I think is the most tricky is the class that adds skills to the game. The classic example of this is 3rd edition dungeons and dragons prestige classes. Prestige classes did not just increase iterative damage or allow a character to take another schools skills, they added new skills and changed the entire dynamic of the game. The complexity of adding new skills is much higher than revaluing existing skills, new skills need to be vetted not only for balance against other skills but also for ease of comprehension of the player base. Take for example the Nature Magic playtest that WAR runs, mostly the effects in the package are either repackaging of an already understood effect( Tyrran damage is really just damage), or an effect thats name explains its function(Petrify). Some new effects are added but I think that the designers tried to limit that as much as possible for ease of integration. To take that concept and apply it to a new class with new skills and different costs for old skills would be very complicated. There is a strong chance that a single season of playtesting may not be sufficient. I do not think that this type of addition should be taken lightly, if it is attempted at all.

So there you go, you have a couple of ideas, now run with it, lets talk!


  1. I can't see going beyond the first step in the NERO system. The game is designed to be simplistic (even if it isn't at times), and one of the staples of that is that anyone can buy any skill, and the skill always functions the same way. To change that with the ranger concept, or to add new skills for particular classes would just make the game too complex.

    I would like to see scholar classes with focuses on a particular tree at the cost of the other trees, or at the cost of even higher weapon/prof costs.

  2. Mark Henry ~MariusJune 9, 2011 at 10:18 AM

    A good enough paladin or ranger could be made as a templar imo. It would be cool if they had specialties like you mentioned rangers and reduced bow prof costs, but they would probably need a minus somewhere else. A paladin perhaps could only take earth and could not take binding/charm spells, only protectives, heals, and remove effects.

    Another classic char concept is the bard (harmonics/rogue). I wish the harmonics package was more battle oriented. (Does harmonics even exist in 9th locally?).

    Something introduced in 4th edition DnD was specialties at lvl 11 and 21. i.e Level 1 - Fighter, Level 11 - Dwarven Defender, Level 21 - idk Moradin's Champion?

    INSTEAD OF transforms, i think it would be cool to choose a handful of abilities at say level 10, 20, and 30.

    Take the paladin concept:
    at lvl 10 - you got a prufiy blood 1xday and a cure serious 1xday
    and lvl 20 - maybe its 2x day purify blood 1 cure critical
    and at 30 - purify blood 4xday, life 1xday, cure mortal 4xday

    These seem far less powerful overall even though they could be used anytime. Transforms are up a lot anyways and like i said it should be a 1 or the other situation not both.