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Old 05-23-2007, 09:58 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by (Malifax @ May 23 2007,12:49)
I guess it depends on how you define "class."
"Class" as in a classification of character which defines various capabilities.

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I just don't want it determining the skills I can and can't learn.
Sometimes those restrictions make sense, however. A werewolf shouldn't be able to learn how to shapechange into a bat, just because a vampire can.

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Give me a choice of races and a bunch of skills I can mix and match.
Unless the races are mostly cosmetic, the chances are the mud would still be class-based - it's just that the classes would also be races ;)
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Old 05-23-2007, 05:35 PM   #22
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I've led a very sheltered life when it comes to MUDs. "Class" to me means "profession"--mage, warrior, thief, etc. Those categories determine your skill sets. A "skill" is something you conciously train, like sword-swinging, spellcasting, lockpicking, and so on. I put racial abilities in a separate category. Shapechanging into a bat isn't a skill. It's an innate ability of vampires that they gain as they age and mature. A werewolf would have different innate racial abilities than a vampire, but they could both be of the same class and therefore have the same skills available to them. My preference is a system where you choose a race, each with different strengths, weaknesses, and unique talents, and can then learn whatever skills you want.  It's just the way I look at things. I guess "class" means a lot of different things in a lot of different games. Sometimes it means "profession." Sometimes it means "race." Sometimes it means something else all together.
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Old 05-23-2007, 06:18 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by (Malifax @ May 23 2007,10:35)
"Class" to me means "profession"--mage, warrior, thief, etc.
That's a common portrayal, but there are many exceptions - even in the original D&D, "elf" and "dwarf" were listed as classes.

Imagine you were to take a copy of Merc, which has the four standard Diku classes and no races, and then do some quick renaming - "warrior" becomes "dwarf", "mage" becomes "elf", "thief" becomes "halfling" and "cleric" becomes "human". While it's true that you'd no longer have professions, IMO it would be highly misleading to advertise such as mud as "classless".

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Those categories determine your skill sets. A "skill" is something you conciously train, like sword-swinging, spellcasting, lockpicking, and so on.
In some thematic settings, spellcasting is a natural ability, and not something that can be trained. In other cases, even the so-called "racial abilities" need to be consciously trained. Going back to the World of Darkness again, Vampires have to actively find a teacher in order to learn many of their supernatural disciplines.

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I put racial abilities in a separate category. Shapechanging into a bat isn't a skill. It's an innate ability of vampires that they gain as they age and mature. A werewolf would have different innate racial abilities than a vampire, but they could both be of the same class and therefore have the same skills available to them.
Well "vampire" and "werewolf" aren't really races, at least not in most thematic settings - in most cases they're supernatural afflictions. A halfling doesn't grow to twice his normal height if bitten by a vampire, nor does an orc's skin turn pink if infected by lyanthropy.

You can certainly give them both full access to same range of skills that a normal human could learn, but as long as they're able to learn abilities that the other can't, I would consider that to be a class-based system.

Once again, imagine you take a copy of Merc, and replace "warrior" with "werewolf", "mage" with "vampire", "cleric" with "angel", etc. Then go through the skills and spells and do the same - so the "polymorph" spell becomes "batform", "charm person" becomes "dominate", "enhanced damage" becomes "lupine might", and so on. No functional changes, only cosmetic ones. I'd still consider that to be a class-based mud.
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Old 05-23-2007, 08:21 PM   #24
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I would argue that "vampirism" is an affliction that turns you into a vampire, a member of a race of undead beings.

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Imagine you were to take a copy of Merc, which has the four standard Diku classes and no races, and then do some quick renaming - "warrior" becomes "dwarf", "mage" becomes "elf", "thief" becomes "halfling" and "cleric" becomes "human". While it's true that you'd no longer have professions, IMO it would be highly misleading to advertise such as mud as "classless".
I agree. I wouldn't call that "classless" either. You still have a name defining what skills you can and can't learn.

I don't think I'm being clear in my explanation. Yes, you can name a class "dwarf" and give it warrior skills. You can name a class "elf" and give it magical skills. I just like keeping race and skill separate in an environment where characters of various races have strengths and weaknesses, but they can learn any set of skills that they want.

Elves con see in the dark. Drakin develop natural armor. Pixies have wings and can fly. Dwarves are very hearty with natural resistence to poison and disease. Some races are naturally smarter than others, some stronger, some more empathic and some more agile, attributes that have some effect on skills. Each race hase natural abilities and traits, but they all get to choose what they want to learn, whether it's weapons, magic or a combination of both.

I agree that magic can be a natural or racial ability that doesn't need to be actively cultivated. Heck, magical or any other ability can be sold in different flavors of taffy or as something you inhale at different places in a gaming world. If you're building a game you can design ability acquisition any way you want. I'm just saying I don't want to choose a "class" that determines what abilities my character will have. I want to choose a race that gives my character certain traits , not a rigid set of abilities. I want the freedom for my dwarf to become a blademaster or a cleric or a mage or whatever. The difference is that thie skills I choose defines his "class" instead of the class I choose determining his skills.

A classless game with a wide variety of available skills allows for flexibility and precludes the cookie cutter syndrome that plagues so many games. The emergent nature of such a system allows players to mix and match different sets of skills for characters of different races, an aspect of games that lots of people really enjoy, including me.

Take a game with three types of weapon skill: one-handed (swords, axes and clubs), two-handed and ranged, a combat maneuvers skill that teaches a myriad of offensive and defensive moves, an ambush skill that gives a well-trained swordsman a devastating surprise attack, a two-weapon skill that teaches the wielding of a weapon in each hand, a shield-use skill, a dozen different magical schools that each include 30 spells of varying utility and power, a rune skill that teaches how to invoke spells from symbols embedded in pieces of paper and a skill that gives the learnee the knowledge required to coax balls of ice and fire from the tips of wands, rods and staves. You can't learn it all, but imagine the cool combinations.
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Old 05-23-2007, 09:03 PM   #25
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I would argue that "vampirism" is an affliction that turns you into a vampire, a member of a race of undead beings.
But does that mean a giant shrinks when he becomes a vampire, while a halfling grows, an orc loses its piglike snout and green skin, an elf's pointed ears become rounded, etc?

If you want the vampire to retain characteristics of their former life, you're really going to need to handle the undead state separately from the race.

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I don't think I'm being clear in my explanation. Yes, you can name a class "dwarf" and give it warrior skills. You can name a class "elf" and give it magical skills. I just like keeping race and skill separate in an environment where characters of various races have strengths and weaknesses, but they can learn any set of skills that they want.
Well to be fair, I've seen class-based systems which also allowed you to learn any skills you like (Rolemaster springs instantly to mind).

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Elves con see in the dark. Drakin develop natural armor. Pixies have wings and can fly. Dwarves are very hearty with natural resistence to poison and disease. Some races are naturally smarter than others, some stronger, some more empathic and some more agile, attributes that have some effect on skills. Each race hase natural abilities and traits, but they all get to choose what they want to learn, whether it's weapons, magic or a combination of both.
Right, but what if their natural abilities are also things they can learn and train? Perhaps the Drakin can develop its natural armour through specialised meditative techniques, while pixies can learn a wide range of airborn skills and flying combat techniques, etc.

Going back to the original question, I'm very much in favour of races which are thoroughly fleshed-out - I really don't like this sort of thing:

Pixie: +2 Dex, -2 Str, permanent fly affect
Elf: +2 Dex, -2 Con, permanent infravision affect
Dwarf: +2 Con, -2 Wis, +10 save vs poison

Instead, I'd much rather see a lot of detail for each race - not just a decent quantity and quality of background information, but also the technical side. Ideally I'd like to see a wide range of special abilities for each race, so that you can mix and match racial powers with the common skills available to everyone.

The other approach I'd like to see is something along the lines of the background system I described on MudLab last year, where your 'race' and 'class' are just some of the many optional things you can choose to add to your character.
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Old 05-24-2007, 12:09 AM   #26
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Look. Why not something flexible. You have races. Those races have "basic" characteristics that may tend to make them advance faster in certain skill sets. An elf, being attuned to the living world, might be *faster* at gaining ranger skills, or spell skills, where those spells are related to nature. They might be really bad at advancing in necromancy. Then you have the skill sets, as well as specific skills. You could become an expert lock picker, without being a thief, but its only one skill. To *be* a thief, you would need to practice a set number of skills in a *set* which are mainly dexterity based, but also could be cross attribute/set. The more in the set you practice, the less you must use them to maintain them. The cross sets may be things like alchemy, which would let a thief or a mage make posions, but you would need magic skill to make "potions". By the same token, your mage might poison himself trying to rig even a simple trap. Its not one of "his" set of skills. Learning it would be possible, with no bonuses, since its a cross class for thief and ranger (who hunt, so set some sorts of traps), but not normally for mages.

Now, some method might be useful for something that mixes a lot of mismatched skills, like formation of a guild or such, which would *create* a class. Such a person would have to make the effort of raise a set number of mixed skills to above 50%, or something, and keep them there before forming their training school. Once the school exists, then that could become a legitimate "set", but one that strictly demands that like 9 out of 10 skills practiced by its followers "must" come from that new set to gain the "class" bonus that lets them train them at the same rate as a pure thief, mage, etc., who also need to have 9 out of 10 of their own skills be from the same "set" to gain the same bonus.

But heh, just throwing out an idea. Its not like I have a bloody clue how to make it work. lol Though, I think I might use something similar, if I can work it out, in a normal "class" for an H&S. Specifically a monk, which would have five "attribute" sets, with some cross mixing, and bonuses for "following" a specific path all the way.
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Old 05-24-2007, 01:06 AM   #27
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1. Permadeath
2. Enforced roleplaying, and this is sort of a broad category, I don't like various chat channels.
3. Useful help system, I mean, if I am always in character there's gotta be something to at least give me the basic commands, etc.
4. Low-fantasy, I really don't like more than one or two races or a whole lot of magic.


That's about it, I don't need a lot, but those four things are rarely combined so I numbered them based on priority.

Since we're sort of on the subject of races, I'll go ahead and say why I don't like a lot of races.  Sometimes I feel like an overabundance of races tends to make worlds less realistic.  

Don't get me wrong, I like to fight things of other races, I just don't like having more than one or two playable races.  The differences become like KaVir said: purely cosmetic.  I also feel like when text games try to populate the world with a lot of races you always get the same things: animal people, dwarves, hobbits, various types of humans (sometimes organized into seperate races by their region or skin color, which I hardly see as distinct groups), and of course elves.  Most races I've seen that don't fit into those categories are also common archetypes from stories or popular culture.
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Old 05-24-2007, 05:01 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by (shadowfyr @ May 24 2007,05:09)
Look. Why not something flexible. You have races. Those races have "basic" characteristics that may tend to make them advance faster in certain skill sets. An elf, being attuned to the living world, might be *faster* at gaining ranger skills, or spell skills, where those spells are related to nature. They might be really bad at advancing in necromancy.
That reminds me of another pet peeve of mine - muds that pair up races with classes so that elves are the best mages, dwarves are the best warriors, halflings are the best thieves, etc. This reduces your character choices, because in order to play a specific class effectively you have to pick the matching race. Worse still (particularly for a roleplaying mud), this actually ends up rewarding min-maxers.

I like the idea of giving each class its own pros and cons, but IMO they should all be equally viable for each class. Maybe a dwarf warrior is stronger, but an elven warrior might be more accurate and a halfling warrior more skilled at dodging, so that overall each race is just as effective for each class.

In a classless system you could achieve the same results by giving each race modifiers for certain skills, while being careful to balance these skills against each other so that they are all equally important. A dwarf might get a bonus to the power-attack skillset, an elf might get a bonus to the focused-attack skillset and a halfling might get a bonus to the evasion skillset - but all three skillsets would be equally good for a warrior-type character, and he'd want to max out more than one skillset.
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Old 05-24-2007, 10:13 AM   #29
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But does that mean a giant shrinks when he becomes a vampire, while a halfling grows, an orc loses its piglike snout and green skin, an elf's pointed ears become rounded, etc?.
No. A vampire's physical size and most of his physical appearance doesn't change from the size and appearance of his former race. Vampires don't even age. Look at Claudia from Interview With The Vampire. She was a 200 year-old vampire but she looked like an eight-year old girl. A giant or an elf would be no different.

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Well to be fair, I've seen class-based systems which also allowed you to learn any skills you like (Rolemaster springs instantly to mind).
Oh, without a doubt. The RM system is absolutely my favorite tabletop combat mechanics. It's what made Gemstone III. RM classes still limit the skills you can choose, though, both through cost-setting and outright preclusion. It's cost prohibitive for a "ranger" to learn to use a two-handed sword and his magic choices are limited to the "ranger" list and open channeling.  As I say, I love the RM system. I played GS III for many years. I'd just rather see skills limited by my choice of activities than by the artificial barriers presented by classes.

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Right, but what if their natural abilities are also things they can learn and train?  Perhaps the Drakin can develop its natural armour through specialised meditative techniques, while pixies can learn a wide range of airborn skills and flying combat techniques, etc.
What if they are? To me they're still racial abilities and I want them separated from "regular" skills like spellcraft, one-handed weapons and lockpicking. As long as all races have attractive innate abilities that balance out, it's all good.

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Going back to the original question, I'm very much in favour of races which are thoroughly fleshed-out - I really don't like this sort of thing:

Pixie: +2 Dex, -2 Str, permanent fly affect
Elf: +2 Dex, -2 Con, permanent infravision affect
Dwarf: +2 Con, -2 Wis, +10 save vs poison
I agree, to a point. But I think there's definitely a place for stats and other racial attributes that differentiate character abilities with different skills. I like it to differ character to character  too, as well as race to race. I'm right with you on race to skill optimization. I absolutely HATE that. The way I deal with that is, in the case of weapos, for example, each weapon uses a different combination of stats. A mace requires brute strength, a longsword needs the guidance of an agile hand and a battleaxe needs a little of both. Or whatever.

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Instead, I'd much rather see a lot of detail for each race - not just a decent quantity and quality of background information, but also the technical side.  Ideally I'd like to see a wide range of special abilities for each race, so that you can mix and match racial powers with the common skills available to everyone.
Yep. But I'd rather abilities and skills be emergent than just allocated according to race. Like, you can learn the "power attack" if you are strong enough and have the correct body density to make it happen. Instead of saying, "Ok, dwarves get this ability," say, "Characters with these attributes get this ability and dwarves have these attributes."

Shadow: You and I are on exactly the same page when it comes to skills and flexibility. The design I'm drawing up is all about aptitude and choice. You can learn anything you want to by practicing it. How fast you learn and how good at it you can become depends on your innate aptitude.
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Old 05-24-2007, 11:12 AM   #30
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A vampire's physical size and most of his physical appearance doesn't change from the size and appearance of his former race.
In that case "vampire" can't be a race, because the character still needs to retain aspects of its former race (unless you say that only humans can become vampires, or create a separate vampire version of each existing race, or add some sort of dynamic on-the-fly race generation system).

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The RM system is absolutely my favorite tabletop combat mechanics. It's what made Gemstone III. RM classes still limit the skills you can choose, though, both through cost-setting and outright preclusion. It's cost prohibitive for a "ranger" to learn to use a two-handed sword and his magic choices are limited to the "ranger" list and open channeling.
I'm fairly sure that rangers can choose their best weapon category (six categories, you can specify which is your best, second best, third best, etc), and I recall reading various optional rules in the RM companion books for learning magic outside of your normal lists.

Rolemaster also has a generic class which could be used to represent a classless system.

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As I say, I love the RM system. I played GS III for many years. I'd just rather see skills limited by my choice of activities than by the artificial barriers presented by classes.
Assuming that those barriers are artificial, of course, which isn't always the case - it depends what the classes represent.

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Right, but what if their natural abilities are also things they can learn and train?  Perhaps the Drakin can develop its natural armour through specialised meditative techniques, while pixies can learn a wide range of airborn skills and flying combat techniques, etc.

What if they are? To me they're still racial abilities and I want them separated from "regular" skills like spellcraft, one-handed weapons and lockpicking.
They are only "regular" skills if you're a human (assuming humans are capable of learning spellcraft).  For a race of sentient wolves, one-handed weapons and lockpicking would certainly not be "regular" skills - but for a pixie, flying would be.
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Old 05-24-2007, 02:06 PM   #31
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In that case "vampire" can't be a race, because the character still needs to retain aspects of its former race (unless you say that only humans can become vampires, or create a separate vampire version of each existing race, or add some sort of dynamic on-the-fly race generation system).
Why not make a separate vampire parent for each race or build dynamic race generation? It's just lines of code and wouldn't cost much at all in terms of resources.

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They are only "regular" skills if you're a human (assuming humans are capable of learning spellcraft).  For a race of sentient wolves, one-handed weapons and lockpicking would certainly not be "regular" skills - but for a pixie, flying would be.
They're still "regular" skills in terms of the game's design. The wolves just have a very low aptitude for learning them. If something's physically impossible for a member of a certain race, that's different, but those kinds of barriers are logical, in-character and simple to implement. If sentient wolves couldn't learn "regular" skills, I'd give them more natural abilities to balance it out. But that would be the exception to the rule.

To me, the ability to fly is an ability pixies are born with. The inherent ability to swing a sword isn't limited to any race. Some races have different traits which make them better at using certain weapons and attacks, but they aren't limited to those. It's no different than real life. People are born with natural aptitudes for doing some things better than others. Some of that comes from heritage, some of it's the luck of the draw. But just because I'm born a clutz doesn't mean I can't play basketball. It just means I can practice a lot and never be very good.

I could design a game based on classes, but I really don't want to. I'd rather base stuff on racial traits than the races themselves and go with an open skill system. Doesn't mean I hate classed systems. I don't. I've played a lot of games with classes and had a ball. I just want something different and a little more flexible.    

I haven't bought a RM book since the late 80's. Maybe I need to.
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Old 05-24-2007, 07:03 PM   #32
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Why not make a separate vampire parent for each race or build dynamic race generation?
You could, but in most cases it's much easier to handle supernatural afflictions such as vampirism separately from the race itself.

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They are only "regular" skills if you're a human (assuming humans are capable of learning spellcraft).  For a race of sentient wolves, one-handed weapons and lockpicking would certainly not be "regular" skills - but for a pixie, flying would be.

They're still "regular" skills in terms of the game's design.
Well we're talking about the design here - they're only "regular" skills if you choose to make them such within the scope of your design.  And my argument is that the design should take your race into consideration when determining what "regular" skills are available.

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The wolves just have a very low aptitude for learning them.
Sorry, but no - a wolf simply cannot learn to use one-handed weapons, any more than a human can learn how to fly, or how to use four-handed weapons.  As I said before, you're basing your assumptions on a human perspective.

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To me, the ability to fly is an ability pixies are born with. The inherent ability to swing a sword isn't limited to any race.
A creature with (flight-capable) wings can fly, just as a creature with legs can walk, and a creature with hands can hold weapons.  These are natural abilities, but they can also be trained.

From a human perspective it's easy to think of running and wielding weapons as being "regular" skills that anyone can learn - but if you were a lindworm with wings but no arms or legs, you wouldn't be able to do either.  However you'd probably consider it fairly normal to learn skills related to flying, tail-usage, etc.  Equally, if you were a Thri-kreen you would probably consider four-weapon fighting styles to be pretty standard, but it doesn't make sense for a human to be able to learn such a skill (unless they are somehow able to grow an extra pair of arms).

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I could design a game based on classes, but I really don't want to. I'd rather base stuff on racial traits than the races themselves and go with an open skill system.
The point I'm trying to make is that by designing your races flexibly enough to support their natural abilities (such as running skills, flying skills, tail skills, breath skills, 1-4 (or more) handed weapon skills, innate magical skills, etc) you're effectively turning your races into classes, at least from a game-design perspective.
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Old 05-24-2007, 11:47 PM   #33
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The point I'm trying to make is that by designing your races flexibly enough to support their natural abilities (such as running skills, flying skills, tail skills, breath skills, 1-4 (or more) handed weapon skills, innate magical skills, etc) you're effectively turning your races into classes, at least from a game-design perspective.
Then we can call them classes. That's just not how I generally look at it. To me, "classless" means choice of skills determine "profession" instead of choice of "class" determining skills. I think we're arguing semantics.
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Old 05-25-2007, 08:07 AM   #34
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I don't mind classes so much, as long as they include enough diversity that the player isn't stuck "being" that "profession."

For example...

A necromancer who can make jewelry on the side, could be secretly practicing magic spells, and passing herself off as a jeweler. Being hired as a "professional" jeweler, even though it isn't her primary "thing." Maybe even becoming known throughout the world as a highly skilled talented jeweler. And in the meantime she's secretly plotting the demise of Lord Captain So And So who picked on her when they were kids.

Or another example:

A ranger, who gets himself hired as a Temple Priest's personal aide, and uses his stealth skills from the ranger skillset to eavesdrop on conversations with the Temple's opposing factor, and visit enemy territory to bring back news of their dastardly plots against his employer. No "hunting" involved in that, no mob-killing - no "rangering" as far as the primary ranger skillsets go - no need to ever own a bow, let alone use one. And - no need to "advance" or "level up" or script-hunt for hours and hours on end. He could even have a hobby of whittling arrows, if fletchery is part of the ranger skillset (makes sense that it would be), and providing them to the Temple's archers.

Those are the kinds of classes I like to see. Classes in which it isn't necessary to feel "stuck" in a hard-coded role, just because you happened to pick a certain skillset. Where the classes support the roleplay, rather than the roleplay happening in spite of the class.
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Old 05-25-2007, 09:03 AM   #35
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I don't mind classes at all if they don't restrict my skill set. The old GS III setup was pretty good. As KaVir has pointed out, races can be classes if you give them enough features.
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