D&D General How would YOU do "classless D&D"?

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Probably with a "build your own class" system where you choose features from lists. Like TSR provided in the 2E DMG, or like Paul Crabaugh's customized classes article for BECM from Dragon issue 109.
 

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I would use Mutants and Masterminds as a base and try to build special abilities from the classes and see if I can make them have sets of powers.

I would then decide on a set of HD that everyone would start with and set a 'cost' for 1 or 2 extra HD later with pts.

Once I have all (or most) of the level 1-6 class features made useing those powers I would most likely want to make new abilities too
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
(Disclaimer: I think classes are part of what makes D&D, D&D. So classless would be better in a different RPG. That said, this sounds like a fun thought experiment so let's move forward.)

Okay, the chief word (well, words) here are D&D. So the goals must include to make a game that still feels like D&D. So we need to understand what classes have been used for in D&D are replicate that feel.
  1. Over several editions classes have been used for niche protection to stricter or looser degrees. A corrolary of this is that classes are a bit of a shorthand to communicate to other players, though this is not hard and fast.
  2. Classes gatekeep certain powerful abilities that most everyone would take if they had access to them. This includes not just powerful features but also things like d12 HD, or CON saves on a pure caster.
  3. Classes to a degree help provide variation - a sorcerer and a warlock play different. We don't want to end up like weapon wielders where some weapons are used frequently depending on style and others like the trident would barely change the game if it didn't exist.
  4. Classes prioritize different ability scores to create additional variation in characters.
I know there has been talk about feats, but I don't think they would be a good solo vehicle. To meet these goals there would either need to be long feat chains, which would be like classes under the hood, or other requisites to taking them that could bring us back to a 3.x situation where working out a build on how you will level ahead of time to make sure you can pick up what you want is more effective than just picking, and we don't want to force a specific type of gameplay on the players. (All of this is about using just feats - using feats in addition to other aspects I think is a quite good idea.)

So how to do this? Everything below this part is separate thoughts then the goals - based off them but there are many ways to satisfy the goals. (And maybe the goals are incomplete.)

I'm thinking something like a priority grid like (early?) Shadowrun. Where you can pick what is most important, next more important, and so on by putting them in priority box A, B, C or D. (Or however many make sense.) I'd have more boxes than by default we would fill, with the assumption that some of the options will unlock some new categories - for example picking casting can unlock nature of spell lists.

That's good place to start - casting (full, 3/4, 1/2, 1/3, who knows) would definitely be a category. Full casting plus full martial would be, well, something everyone would go for, so we need to separate them. It would default to a small selection of very limited spell lists, with options put access to better spell lists in one or more categories. As a point of interest I would rate the spell list categories based on how far below the Casting priority they are, not based on absolute priority picked. So for a 1/2 caster it takes a lesser priority box to open up a spell list.

Basics like basic resilience and access to martial proficiencies is also something that can be put into a priority box.

Now the question is do we want to group things like paladin auras or ranger nature abilities as something we need to put into a priority box or have access via feats. I think we need to go back to the goals and determine if they are things we want niche protection on. My gut feel is that leaving those as feats is probably best, but some playing around to see if they become feat tax that everyone wants will help define it. Basically, if specific feats show up multiple times in most parties, they should be priorities instead. But let's tend towards more flexibility and reign it in as needed to meet goals - classless does imply more freedom in creating your character.

The priority boxes will preclude 5e or 3.x style "multiclassing", closer to AD&D/2nd multiclassing where you pick at character creation. But I'd add some of that back in with feats. But not all - if you want more then minimal casting, you need to put it in a priority. And while there may be a feat to increase your HD/HPs or to have more access to armor, the big selection for that is in priority.
 

Buzzqw

Explorer
while the feat buy is the key to classess system, any new "DnD" that want to be classless must be done with a new array of feats, different from actual feats

(anyone that can read italian can look here TUS/OBSS at master · buzzqw/TUS , il mio sistema senza classi basato su 5e/pf2/osr)

BHH
 

Reynard

Legend
I'm thinking something like a priority grid like (early?) Shadowrun. Where you can pick what is most important, next more important, and so on by putting them in priority box A, B, C or D. (Or however many make sense.) I'd have more boxes than by default we would fill, with the assumption that some of the options will unlock some new categories - for example picking casting can unlock nature of spell lists.
I had not considered that. That's a really good idea.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
Play a different system. Easy.

Yeah. If asked to run "D&D without classes" I admit my first thought would be to use Savage Worlds for the task. Barring that, I'd build a little bit of structure around magic for Fate. Either of these would be less work than breaking down the traditional D&Disms into small bits to be picked up piecemeal.

Mind you, I'm thinking of this as how to get people playing a game at my table, not how I put together a published product.
 

In the near future, I expect Artificial Intelligence to comb thru all of the possible features in D&D to assign a comprehensive value to each feature. It will even anticipate unexpectedly powerful combos, and assign a penalty cost for certain combos.

I assume we still need humans to massage the AI results. But such a systematic scrutiny will be enormously useful for the gaming industry.
the best use of AI i have heard since forever...
 

Yeah. If asked to run "D&D without classes" I admit my first thought would be to use Savage Worlds for the task. Barring that, I'd build a little bit of structure around magic for Fate. Either of these would be less work than breaking down the traditional D&Disms into small bits to be picked up piecemeal.

Mind you, I'm thinking of this as how to get people playing a game at my table, not how I put together a published product.
I mean if we are building a mix mash system from others that is great... but maybe something that is a bit beyond some random peeps on a board.

then again something being beyond me and impossible for me to do right has never stopped me before.

I made a 4e retro clone (half made) that took some elements from 2e and 5e and it was a chore but I made Combat feats and Non Combat talents that were skills/4e and Bo9s maneuvers/spells/feats and loaded them as general/power source/class... then I gave each class X number at first level and get more at Y levels... and races gave there own feat or talents... it was weird and didn't quite work the way I wanted and I abandoned it about a year ago.

One of the things I did though was there was a Noncombat talent and a combat feat in general for each class... and they gave a slight boost AND access to that classes feat/talent trees. as a way to multi class. I imagine that you could do something like this... but I kept level for prof and HD and when you get those feat/talents... maybe I will head back to it someday. I still trouble shoot ideas in my head for it sometimes.
 

Feats seem to be a good way to go, although the Shadowrun ranking is an excellent idea as well.

I have to say, though, that I think I would go with two classes rather than none / one. One is martial the other magicial, with feats to allow for a "minor" in magic or arms depending on a player's preference.
 

CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
Feats seem to be a good way to go, although the Shadowrun ranking is an excellent idea as well.

I have to say, though, that I think I would go with two classes rather than none / one. One is martial the other magicial, with feats to allow for a "minor" in magic or arms depending on a player's preference.
I think having a martial/magic split would be ridiculously unbalanced, it already exists to a degree but lumping all the magic capabilities together would be exponentially more broken than lumping all the martial capabilities
 

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