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Author Topic: Character classes II  (Read 16240 times)
Evan Waters
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« on: May 28, 2002, 07:01:08 AM »

Quote
I pronounce this thread closed.


Seriously? Cause I was gonna say somethin' and all...

Here goes anyway.

Classes, to my mind, work in settings/games where different characters will have significantly differentiated roles and where those roles can be easily classified. To go back to ol' D&D, a Wizard and a Fighter are pretty easily differentiated- their abilities are significantly different, they fulfill different functions in the group, etc. By contrast, in something like, say, CALL OF CTHULHU the characters may have professions, but there's a huge amount of overlap in their skills and abilities and so classes aren't as useful. In a game I'm working on, the iconic characters are more differentiated by personality and style than actual ability, so I'm eschewing any sort of class structure.

The advantage, as someone pointed out, is that in a class system it's easy to choose something and customise it, instead of building from the ground up. The advantage of a non-class system is that you can build from the ground up.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2002, 07:52:13 AM »

Hi Evan,

Yes, seriously. When I say the thread is closed, it's closed.

However, that's not to say that the topic is off-limits or anything like that. You raise some points and they deserve attention. Therefore I've split your post into a thread of its own.

For those who want the background, the thread Evan posted to is here.

Best,
Ron
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Valamir
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« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2002, 07:54:46 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Hi Evan,

Yes, seriously. When I say the thread is closed, it's closed.

Ron


Might that not be a good time to use the lock feature?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2002, 08:04:52 AM »

Hi Ralph,

No. If I did that, then every friggin' thread on the Forge would have to be locked at, say, two-three months expiration (ie no new posts). Although I confess that I find that appealing, the fact is that most people perceive locked threads in a negative way - as if it were a failed or punished thread of some kind.

So everyone simply has to be nice and help new posters see that (a) old threads should be let lie, (b) when I say it's closed that it is, and (c) their comments are not being marginalized just because my/our standards for old/new threads are a little strange here.

In the spirit of (c), could someone please address Evan's point in this thread?

Best,
Ron
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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2002, 08:34:58 AM »

Quote from: Evan Waters
Quote
The advantage, as someone pointed out, is that in a class system it's easy to choose something and customise it, instead of building from the ground up. The advantage of a non-class system is that you can build from the ground up.



Why not take the concept of an "iconic" character to the extreme and make a set of pre-generated characters that ARE the characters to be used in every game of "New Game X"? Forget character creation. Just say, okay...choose one: A, B, C, D or E.

In some ways, "god RPG's" are like this. You choose a God as your character (and this is either slightly-defined in the pre-game stage like the God of Death or strictly defined like Thor, the Norse God of Thunder).

- J
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2002, 08:38:41 AM »

I find it's harder to write a reply when I wholeheartedly agree - I don't have a lot to say besides, "Right on."

Evan's correct: in a game where the characters all fill very different societal roles, classes often make sense, especially when the game explores the difference between those roles. In addition, classes make it much easier to create a character, have a good understanding of that character, and start a game quickly. I have found class or template-based games to be much more accessible to the casual gamer, and usually try to start a beginning gamer with one.

Ron's mentioned before that all games have a degree of class-base in them, even games like GURPS, which I find to be true. I'm not sure if this is because classes are an intrinsic concept to humans or if the idea of classes has just been ingrained in games, but I think you can easily chart the "rigidity" of classes and the amount of customization possible with all games.
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Clinton R. Nixon
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rafael
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« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2002, 08:57:51 AM »

I was recently GMing a game in which players can choose any background they desire (so long as they're living in America in the present day).  Three of the players were complete novices (they had absolutely no concept of what role-playing games are like until we sat down to create characters).

The other two had some experience, and sat down to create characters.  The three novices were stunned.  Now, I'd created a series of archetypes, templates that the novices could use as a guide.  I needn't have bothered.  They asked several pointed questions, then got to work.  Frankly, I was a little surprised.  One, a woman I've known for some years (and a fairly gentle person, at that), created a sadistic ex-con with a fondness for piano wire.  Not what I would have expected at all.  The other two presented me with equally disparate (and surprising) characters.


Since then, I've wondered if classes, or templates, would have inhibited the character generation process.  They've discussed the possibility of trying other games, and I've explained some core concepts with them, such as character class.  They seem to find the idea confusing.

But Willow can fight and use spells, they say.  If she were in this game, she'd have to choose one or the other?

I must say, I was taken aback.  I'd have thought that the prospect of limitless possibility might be a bit daunting, but they've taken to it very naturally.  It's the idea of class, or archetype, that frustrates them.

Not what I'd have expected at all.  But my old-school gamers feel the exact opposite.

So, Evan, I agree with you, but I'm also wondering if it might not be ideal to start novices out with a classless game system?  In this instance, it worked well, but it's also the first time I've GMed novices in about a decade.

Anyone else?

-- Rafael
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Rafael Chandler, Neoplastic Press
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Valamir
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« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2002, 08:59:39 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Hi Ralph,

No. If I did that, then every friggin' thread on the Forge would have to be locked at, say, two-three months expiration (ie no new posts). Although I confess that I find that appealing, the fact is that most people perceive locked threads in a negative way - as if it were a failed or punished thread of some kind.

So everyone simply has to be nice and help new posters see that (a) old threads should be let lie, (b) when I say it's closed that it is, and (c) their comments are not being marginalized just because my/our standards for old/new threads are a little strange here.

In the spirit of (c), could someone please address Evan's point in this thread?

Best,
Ron


2 seperate issues as I see it.  This was not a case of resurrecting an old thread that should have just been left alone.  This was a case of a topic being discussed to the point of impasse and (in the midst of otherwise active posting) you as list moderator declaring the the thread closed.

I don't question you doing so, it seemed like a good place to call it quits anyway, and that responsibility/authority of course is yours to wield.  But if you are going to verbally call a thread over and done, than it makes little sense (to me) to not take the extra measure and lock the thread.  By declaring it done and expecting people to honor that you are essentially locking the thread anyway.

I wouldn't expect that to apply to all threads that get stale...merely seems like a good policy for threads that you feel the need to make such announcements on.
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2002, 09:22:10 AM »

Quote
...I'm also wondering if it might not be ideal to start novices out with a classless game system? In this instance, it worked well, but it's also the first time I've GMed novices in about a decade.


I have to agree with this altogether. Yes, I think classes have a roll, but how much "class" is suitable for what you're doing. I find D&D Classes to be very restrictive (as in the Willow example, above), and so I don't play D&D any more (well, actually there's a ton of reasons), despite the fact that I had many good and joyous years playing it. IMO it comes down to (1) what your players want to do with their characters and (2) what they are and aren't willing to "believe."

TROS doesn't have classes per se (I mildly disagree with Ron's statement of "socerers and everyone else" as classes in TROS), but each character is required to invent their own "concept" at the beginning of play, which is really just a self-defined class. That allows even new players to have the freedom of expression that was addressed with classless systems and new players above, but also the structure that comes with a defined role.

I think that some major pros of classes are: easy to use and define, easy to get started, easy to stereotype, etc.
Major cons: they don't often (or usually, for that matter) fit the "concept" that a player has in mind, unless they've been conditioned to the "basic 4" or whatever during years of previous play. They're restrictive. They usually (but not always) are attached to level-based systems (which drive me nuts, mostly on grounds of hit points and other mechanics, but that's really more a personal issue...oh, and I hate hearing, ""My 47th level guy did so-and-so"...ugh...)

I really think that RPGs exist to help us realize fantasies, daydreams, stories, or whatever, and I find that Classes (especially strongly pre-defined classes as in--but not only--D&D) hamper creativity and story-creating capability.

Just my 2c.

Jake
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Evan Waters
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« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2002, 09:23:43 AM »

Quote
Why not take the concept of an "iconic" character to the extreme and make a set of pre-generated characters that ARE the characters to be used in every game of "New Game X"? Forget character creation. Just say, okay...choose one: A, B, C, D or E.


Hmm. I'd imagine that for long-term play players would be more likely to want to create their own PCs, but I can imagine this working in some games just as a change of pace. The two caveats would be this: you'd have to create enough pregens to accomadate any reasonable group size, and you'd have to make any possible combination of them plausible. For "God games", like you mentioned (but I snipped), that'd be somewhat easy, just build a large pantheon, and whatever gods the players choose might have any reason for working together. On the other hand it didn't work for TSR's INDIANA JONES game because everyone wanted to play Indy (though Marian would be acceptable, I'd imagine- that girl can handle herself) and not many people would be keen on playing Willie or Short Round instead.
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contracycle
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« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2002, 09:52:45 AM »

Quote from: Jared A. Sorensen

Why not take the concept of an "iconic" character to the extreme and make a set of pre-generated characters that ARE the characters to be used in every game of "New Game X"? Forget character creation. Just say, okay...choose one: A, B, C, D or E.


The Sims RPG.  Actually, I really like this idea - this would be true Exploration of Character, as the explorer is still alienated from the Character and thus has an externality to Explore.
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contracycle
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« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2002, 09:55:15 AM »

Quote from: deadguy

So, Evan, I agree with you, but I'm also wondering if it might not be ideal to start novices out with a classless game system?  In this instance, it worked well, but it's also the first time I've GMed novices in about a decade.


Yes yes yes yes. IMO the looser the system for novices, the happier everyone is.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2002, 10:08:32 AM »

Quote from: Evan Waters
Hmm. I'd imagine that for long-term play players would be more likely to want to create their own PCs, but I can imagine this working in some games just as a change of pace. The two caveats would be this: you'd have to create enough pregens to accomadate any reasonable group size, and you'd have to make any possible combination of them plausible.


Hmm...

A while back I proposed a theoretical "Scooby-Doo" RPG (didn't you write something like that up, Jared?). My proposal (in no way meant to infringe upon the license of the suddenly more valuable Scooby-Doo franchise) was that in that game, you could only play with five players, and the characters were Fred, Daphne, Thelma, Shaggy, and Scoob. No chargen, just the same characters every game. I also proposed that it be highly structured, with "clues" laid out at regular intervals, a plan to catch the villan at the end, and every session ending up with the captured villain saying, "And I'd have gotten away with it if it weren't for those meddling kids!"

Sure, why not? I think that's one of those assumptions that should have gone on that list, that players get to make up their characters at the beginning of every RPG. I also think that, like many boardgames, limiing the number of players that can play to an exact figure is fine, too.

Mike
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damion
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« Reply #13 on: June 02, 2002, 01:02:09 PM »

various thoughs and replies:
1)Hi everyone from the new guy.

2)For the record I'd define class as something like this.

A choice made by the PLAYER at charachter creation time that restricts the directions the charachter can go in the future.  This choice is usually based on some sort of conservation mechanic. In some cases the thing being conserved is 'balance'.  Basicly, all characthers are considered to have roughly the same amount of the thing being conserved, thus, you can't do everything.
To take the the previously mentioned
example of Occupation: The thing being conserved is time, so everyone is...say 25. Now unless I'm some sort of supergenius(we'll just say that's impossible, we're starting people here). I can't both have a Ph.D in Computer Science and be a MD.(I wouldn't have time to do both degree's).
Therefor classes could be defined by what choices the charachter has made over their life and what they could not do because of limitations.

Multiclassing simply extends this by saying that some choices are compatable. To continue of occupation example: I could start off as a Surgeon, and later become Writer with very little effort.(Really, all I have to do to do this is write alot. We'll ignore the quality of what is written and weather or not I can actually make money doing it).
This also generally means that to much multiclassing makes a charachter who is no good at anything. Or more generally,
the rewards for unlimited specialization outway the rewards for unlimited diversification.
I could make a fighter/mage/theif/cleric/psionicist, but the rest of the group would be around 5th level, so I'd have few hp/s and die. Another wayt to think of it is a gurps charachter with lots and lots of skills at 8 or less. I'm no good at everything.  :)

 
I think people start to have a problem when there is no apparent thing being conserved(My Inner Simulationist rebels).
Eg. Ok, so a mage only had time to learn how to use a dagger...this implies one of two things.
1)Why couldn't the one weapon the mage had time to learn be something else? Say a mace or broadsword?
2)Or, say you have to learn dagger befor you learn bigger weapons, why arn't all fighters at least somewhat proficient in dagger?

Disclaimer:I looked at the previous thread and some other ones, so this while this isn't really new, hopefully it is usefull to the current thread.
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James
Eric J.
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« Reply #14 on: June 02, 2002, 09:40:53 PM »

Uh... I kinda closed discussion on the first thread because I was a newb when I started it and the thread didn't really have a premise.  I don't see how this one is different...  Anyway: Classes don't work for a simulationist game in virtually any function, for the simple reason that they don't make sense, despite every effort made by game designer.  For function, they can allow for easy GMing, as the players have fewer choices, and they allow for protaganism.  But are thoes two things good? Look at LOTR, because it's the basis for the original classed system. Do ANY of the characters from the Hobbit fit into classes? Mabee Gandalf, but he does have a sword.  Bilbo, a thief?  In a classed system, to preserve the protagonism, he'd get the same abilities as every one else.  You could not therefore have the LOTR journeys.  

To start a premise for this thread: If classes have actual gameplay enhancement properties, what should they determine? Money, weapon proficiancy, skills?

And Ron, why bother moving everything from the first tread to a new one, if you can simply lock it.  If you feel that locking gives a controllish and restrictive attude, then you should already know that the forge is like that already and that not one cares.  This attitude makes Spammers leave quickly and people like me, adapt my attitude quickly.  It's O.K.
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