Monday, March 16, 2009

Classes; or Where Have All the Clerics Gone?

First thinking about Classes has me thinking of the basic three: Fighter, Wizard, and Thief.

"Thief", you say! "Thief is a johnny-come-lately. The Cleric is the third class."

I've discussed my problems with the Cleric before and I intend to implement Keep the Thief, Kill the Cleric here. To summarize the argument: the Cleric fits neither the historical nor the literary sources of the game and is actually more self-justifying than the Thief. More specific to Hypernotus, there are no gods interested in having champions who can heal the weak and produce loaves and fishes. Gods will be alien creatures from beyond, sentient computers, and hyped-up superhumans. The Cleric is out.

So, there's my three. But I have this desire to change the names a bit. That's not merely cosmetic. The name of the Class evokes certain ideas. Think just a bit about the difference between the names Thief and Rogue. They could be mechanically identical, but they certainly give very different senses of the role.

My first thought here may be too gimmicky; I'm not sure. But here it is:
  • Slayer
  • Scavenger
  • Sorcerer
(Get it? They all start with "S". Clever, eh?)

The idea of Slayer is that these people aren't so much focused on fighting per se, and may very well not be warriors (which has a certain vocational sound to it). Instead, they kill things. However, if Slayer ends up sounding too Buffyesque, I might fall back on Killer.

Scavenger evokes a a certain do-anything-to-survive quality. It works fine to describe someone who would rather backstab than exchange blows, who skulks around ruins, and who figures out how to get usable stuff out of other stuff. I'm also playing with the name Survivor.

Sorcerer does not really need explanation. But for the record, I have this notion from Thundarr the Barbarian that Sorcerers are normal humans who can use magic, as distinguished from Wizards, who all have bizarre aberrations and may not be human in the first place.


  1. I really like the way how you handled the question of classes - if you stick to s&s as influence I agree that these three are the main archeotypes.

    I dropped the cleric too, and after realizing that two choice is not enough i had my fight with the thief. First, its seems to me that the mix of its two components (the stalking bad guy; the jack of all trades) is totally incidental. But I focus on dungeon play (everybody is a tomb raider) and Im against skills (everybody can hide, backstab) so I just totally do not need anything like a thief.

    Then, looking at the XP tables I realised that classes dont have to be equally strong, so
    1. I made the MU class stronger to be the top of not just the classes but the actual society of my setting (something like the indian cast-system in light).
    2. The FM is in the middle, it collects everybody who cannot make magic but not afraid to fight in some way. This is why fe. is find your term Slayer fascinating!
    3. The lowest rank in the society (and the easiest to advance) must lurk in the dark! It cannot use nor magic, nor weapons to defend itself so its life only depends on wisely minimalizing danger by hiding or avoiding (+ to saving throws). Of course this class is not really for PC-s (it sucks :) but perfects for common hirelings and NPCs like torch bearers, mulepackers and such.

    So this is my class hierarchy/pyramid! Now I have perfect names for them, too! Thank your for it and sorry for my English...

  2. So your hierarchy is actually pretty classical, right? You have brahmins on top, and then kshatriya, and then you have kind of skipped vaishyas, and make henchmen the shudras. That's clever, really.

    Did you mash together the Cleric and MU spell lists?

  3. Yep, its really classical. And the use of it with classes now looks so logical to me that when I realised it I was wondering why did I not heard about this somewhere else.

    I love the concept and fancy style of Vancian magic and memorization but I found the actual DnD spells somehow disappointing so I changed them a lot. I wanted a few but strong and versatile spells so I emerged not just the two list but actual spells too, fe. Illuminatio Vulgaris (light + dancing light) or Precisely Focused Offense (something like magic missle but you can use its power to open locked doors like a knock in a brutal way) and its pair the Statically Diffused Defense (magic shield or floating disc if you use it in a horizontal way).

    You have to know that I use Holmes with only 3 level in my campaign (see Geoffry`s posts about it on Dragonsfoot). Because of this I can also use
    - Only 3 spell level: lesser spells, greater spells (at the third level) and forgotten ancient spells which could only found in magical articats (like lighting bolt);
    - Weird side effects (for example if you memorized `Orbital Identification` which is actually identification in techno-vancian terms you can sense magic temporarly).

    Huh, maybe I wrote too much... :)

  4. This is an interesting way of looking at things and very descriptive.