5.5E Elf as a class

Remathilis

Legend
The rule implies a specific type of setting. The truth is in very traditional and feudal setting, the training required to be a "D&D style adventurer of a PC class" would only come from specific backgrounds. And in classic settings, only certain types of those people would leave "normal" society and become adventurers.

I always found a certain charm in Basics heavy emphasis on archetypes. It was a game where you WERE an elf, a wizard, a ranger, a thief, etc. It's not the one where you refluff your thief as an honest merchant, you are a sneak thief. It works because the archetypes are strong but have some flexibility. But you gotta be into that strong archetyping and that can get limiting or lead to "a new class for every idea"
 

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TwoSix

Unserious gamer
I always found a certain charm in Basics heavy emphasis on archetypes. It was a game where you WERE an elf, a wizard, a ranger, a thief, etc. It's not the one where you refluff your thief as an honest merchant, you are a sneak thief. It works because the archetypes are strong but have some flexibility. But you gotta be into that strong archetyping and that can get limiting or lead to "a new class for every idea"
To be fair, that's something to be said for a game with lots of classes with strong archetypes but limited flexibility. It gives the prospective players a lot more options, but doesn't force them make go through a menu of modular choices after an option is selected.

I've noticed in general that newer players tend to respond better to options with strong typing and imagery (like initial race and class picks), and tend to get bogged down when presented with too many options that aren't particularly vivid. For example, like when picking a subclass when the options are in multiple books, or when trying to decide between an ASI and a feat at 4th level.

I keep imagining a book like OSE Advanced Fantasy, where each class/race is a 2-3 page spread with a cool picture, but with modern color art instead of B&W illustrations.
 

One of the advantages of race as class is it gives you the opportunity to show how different races realize similar concepts. To that end, you could have multiple dwarf/elf/whatever classes each showing different professions valued by their cultures. Adventurer Conqueror King has been doing this for years to good effect IMO.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
One of the advantages of race as class is it gives you the opportunity to show how different races realize similar concepts. To that end, you could have multiple dwarf/elf/whatever classes each showing different professions valued by their cultures. Adventurer Conqueror King has been doing this for years to good effect IMO.
Yea, that's how my ideal OSR type game would do it. The more common races would have 5-6 class options each, and the less common, more esoteric races might only have 1 or 2. How ACKS does it is pretty close to my personal ideal.
 

An issue is most DMs suck at making said settings work
Or most DMs think that such settings suck.
or highlighting them so that people by into it.
Or most players think such settings suck or are too limited to keep playing the same thing for years on end.
Very often PCs are setting agnostic and lack setting specific hooks before submission to the DM.
Absolutely true.

In short, their is no one true way. And saying people suck because they don't agree with your one-true way is... sad.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
It occurs to me that if you say an elf is a class you could equally say a fighter is a race--in the sense that by doing so you have a new type of game content which can be filled by a race or a class. So really its neither; it needs a new name. 'Role', perhaps. Elf is a role, fighter is a role, dwarf is a role, wizard is a role.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Fighters with extra traits, which were "paid for" by different XP tables and with "level caps" (that were done away with practically speaking by the Companion set rules). The Dwarf had to pay a premium to get their extra resistance to spells better saving throws overall and their sloping corridor detection. The Halfling IIRC didn't pay anything for their extra boosts - I guess the thought was that their extra abilities (better AC against man-sized or larger creatures and a bonus to attacks with missile weapons and better saving throws overall) didn't warrant an XP increase? Or were traded off against their small size which penalized them when they used weapons that were too large? Or maybe originally the level 8 level cap was seen as enough of a penalty and by the time they removed level caps they didn't really care anymore about that kind of "balance"? Could go any way...

ETA: Just looked it up - Dwarves and halflings both got a better saving throw table than the regular Fighter did. Still not sure why Halflings didn't have to pay any kind of premium for it beyond rolling well on stats though.
The stat requirements may have been seen as enough of a cost. If OSE is accurate to B/X (which I’ve been lead to believe it is), halflings need 9 Dex and 9 Con, whereas dwarves only need 9 Con and Fighters don’t have any stat requirements. Halflings also have split prime requisites (Str and Dex), so that may have been seen as a functional XP penalty.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
This isn't something I've needed in my games, but I can see it.

I think it would be a little easier to convert the 3.5E "paragon" elf to 5th Edition, than it would be to convert the Basic D&D elf.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
To be fair, that's something to be said for a game with lots of classes with strong archetypes but limited flexibility. It gives the prospective players a lot more options, but doesn't force them make go through a menu of modular choices after an option is selected.

I've noticed in general that newer players tend to respond better to options with strong typing and imagery (like initial race and class picks), and tend to get bogged down when presented with too many options that aren't particularly vivid. For example, like when picking a subclass when the options are in multiple books, or when trying to decide between an ASI and a feat at 4th level.

I keep imagining a book like OSE Advanced Fantasy, where each class/race is a 2-3 page spread with a cool picture, but with modern color art instead of B&W illustrations.
It certainly makes Fighter make a lot more sense as a class, when it’s the archetype of “person who fights,” as opposed to just being the least distinctive martial class among many.
 

Remathilis

Legend
To be fair, that's something to be said for a game with lots of classes with strong archetypes but limited flexibility. It gives the prospective players a lot more options, but doesn't force them make go through a menu of modular choices after an option is selected.

I gotta agree. I used to hate the idea of builds in 3e because it took archetypes like barbarian and wizard and broke them down into features like fast movement or find familiar. I actually liked the class bloat of 3e and 4e, though 4e's method made the differences within a role hard to discern without scrutiny.

One of my favorite clones was Basic Fantasy, which combined the strong archetypes of Basic with a simple race choice system to allow variety. Additionally, it was flexible enough to allow many AD&D classes and races to be built for it, which gave me plenty of options while not being as overwhelming as AD&D.
 


Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
It occurs to me that if you say an elf is a class you could equally say a fighter is a race--in the sense that by doing so you have a new type of game content which can be filled by a race or a class. So really its neither; it needs a new name. 'Role', perhaps. Elf is a role, fighter is a role, dwarf is a role, wizard is a role.
There was a time back in the 3E days where I imagined each class and race as their own role. So there was no Dwarf Fighter. There was only the Fighter as a human only concept. A Dwarf would have to be a Guard or Highborn to have some of the fightery stuff but with its own pros/cons. Much how a Arcane Archer was elf only back then.

It would be an interesting look to see how someone would categorize each of the 5e "subclasses as race" into their own "roles" and see how one would divide them up.
 

It occurs to me that if you say an elf is a class you could equally say a fighter is a race--in the sense that by doing so you have a new type of game content which can be filled by a race or a class. So really its neither; it needs a new name. 'Role', perhaps. Elf is a role, fighter is a role, dwarf is a role, wizard is a role.

Pathfinder 2e was right. Everything is a feat.

No Dungeon World was right. Everything is a move.

No Savage Worlds was right. Everything is a trait or an edge.

Wait, maybe GURPS was right, and everything needs a point level that people will powergame to high heaven until the GM bans it.
 




Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
I would put the elves traits (super accuracy, great sight, master archer, long life etc) as part of the main class and let the archetypes carry the burden of deciding if the elves is a gish or a ranger or whatever. Use the race traits and special feats from XGtE to create the features of the main class.

Class: Elven Hero
HD: 1d8
Prof: Light armor, Simple weapons + Bows and Longsword.
Skills: Perception + 2 others
etc

Archetypes:
Bladesinger (insert Bladesinger + fullcaster into the Elf class)
Green Seer (Mix of druid and bard)
Master Archer
Tomb Warden (Fighter + turn undead)
etc
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Speaking with experience and the benefit of hindsight - race as class worked back in the day because character customization was essentially moot. Being able to play an Elf was basically a reward in the character creation minigame of stat rolling - were you lucky enough to be able to play the character who could use a sword and cast spells? Congratulations! You rolled really well and won't be stuck playing the cleric this time. As the character creation minigame fell out of favor and character modeling became the approach the majority wanted, the race-as-class choice became less interesting. Even by the end of BECMI there was a Dwarf Cleric class and an Elf Warrior class (among others) that had worked their way into the game via Gazetteers and the Hollow World boxed set to acknowledge that the race-as-class design of BECMI was just lacking something. (Separating Races and Classes in BECMI was always one of the big house rules I'd see people make back in the day too).

I think for 5e race-as-class foils one of 5e's core design elements, which is that players should be making a small number of big choices at character creation. Race, Class, Background - rolling Race and Class into one thing removes a big choice with no return.

Having said that - I think having a class that Elves can take that represents that traditional Elven Fighter/Wizard is an interesting idea. And I do agree that the Eldritch Knight isn't quite it, so I'm interested to see where you go with this.
I think this ship has sailed, a lot of people were unhappy that Bladesingers were presented as Elf-only when the SCAG came out. I don't expect to see a ton of race-specific options in the future.
 


One option, and a way to make piles cash is too make race/class combos ( needs a cool name). Career, Paths, et al.

So in PHB one for 5.5 ( 6th ed) are 30-60 of these things. So:
Human warlord.
Halfling cutpurse.
Orc warmaster.
Elf swordmage.
Elf Herald.
Dwarf stonepriest.
Dwarf Tinkerer.
Etc etc.
They have near set stat array, and are absolutely ready to play out the box.

Then in PHB Two you have 30 more.

Ad infinitum
 

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