Is character class an in-world concept in your campaigns?

Giltonio_Santos

Adventurer
I'd also point out that just because that bard is being mistaken for a cleric doesn't actually mean that classes are not an in-world thing. After all, he's being mistaken for a CLERIC.
Only if we consider that all priests who wield magic power should be clerics. I prefer to think that not all clerics are on priestly duties (or even consider it!) and also that a magic-wielding priest could actually be a bard, or even a sorcerer. In a "gods are distant and silent" kind of setting that would be a possibility, one that blurs the line on class recognition, even for those who are not "common folk".
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Only if we consider that all priests who wield magic power should be clerics. I prefer to think that not all clerics are on priestly duties (or even consider it!) and also that a magic-wielding priest could actually be a bard, or even a sorcerer. In a "gods are distant and silent" kind of setting that would be a possibility, one that blurs the line on class recognition, even for those who are not "common folk".
Can a priest of Mystra be a bard and lead church gatherings, preaching the word? Sure. But he would be a bard that is doing so, not a cleric. The classes have meaning in the game world. A bard cannot use the abilities of a cleric just because he calls himself a priest and dresses up like a cleric.

I don't usually let people tell what class someone is just by a visual. Non-clerics/paladins do wear holy symbols and has been repeatedly pointed out, looks can be deceiving. However, that doesn't change the absolute fact that each class has distinct abilities and features, making class an in world thing. Use those features and someone with the knowledge will be able to tell that you are that class.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
As defined by the OP? No.

NPCs don't have classes, only PCs do. So we're not talking about enough characters to categorize.
This exactly.... There has been Guards and Berserks and others in monster manuals since yea old days they are not classed characters and forcing them to be only complicates the game... The hero might be THE FIGHTER.... an embodiment of combat ability able to use every weapon the world has to offer, in real life its impressive but has so little impact on story its hard to make impressive though LOL. Point being the PC mechanics are allowed to be distinct and have their own abilities others do not.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
The norse are one of those cultures that basically always seemed less advamced than they were when in fact they were typically more advamced than most. Its a thing.
That much has definite historic backing for one they were travellers who brought tech back from the middle east.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
This exactly.... There has been Guards and Berserks and others in monster manuals since yea old days they are not classed characters and forcing them to be only complicates the game... The hero might be THE FIGHTER.... an embodiment of combat ability able to use every weapon the world has to offer, in real life its impressive but has so little impact on story its hard to make impressive though LOL. Point being the PC mechanics are allowed to be distinct and have their own abilities others do not.
By 5e RAW there are NPCs with PC classes. As many as the DM wants.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Just rude. If you cannot treat folks with respect, you don't get to be part of the discussion.
By 5e RAW there are NPCs with PC classes.
Yeh min person... is this thread about 5e RAW is it about your personal game only ... .go away.

Trap like multi-classing and level dipping from 3e ftw was brought back along with that ... sorry no thanks.
 
Last edited:

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Yeh min person... is this thread about 5e RAW is it about your personal game only ... .go away.
Mod Note:
Folks,

On EN World, people don't own threads. You don't get to control when and where and what people post. If someone is breaking board rules, or otherwise being disruptive, you can ask for a moderator to look at a situation, and one of us may feel some adjustmetn is necessary.

It may be okay to ask, politely, for folks to keep to a particular topic, but you DO NOT get to tell people to "go away." Doing so is a quick ticket out of the thread for yourself.
 

Giltonio_Santos

Adventurer
(...) The classes have meaning in the game world. (...) However, that doesn't change the absolute fact that each class has distinct abilities and features, making class an in world thing.
Well, this is exactly what we've been discussing in this thread! The number of "hell, no" answers makes me believe this could hardly be considered an absolute fact about game settings. While this is not my own approach, I find it perfectly reasonable, for example, to consider each PC to be the sole representative of a given skill set described as a class in the Player's Handbook.
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
By 5e RAW there are NPCs with PC classes. As many as the DM wants.
Thank you for pointing this out. I think this may be the source of our disconnect. Or I may just be obstinate.

For me as the DM this number would be 0. Any number of NPC magical priests might have some cleric spells baked into their spell block, but they still would be completely unrecognizable as Clerics with the class.

For me deities grant power in whatever fashion they want to whom they want. So It might (and most likely would be) be a spell here or there completely divorced from the package of features that it the Cleric class. Those who get that Clerc class are heroes (run by players at the table) with special relationships and callings from their deities. So other members of the faith would absolutely recognize the Cleric as having divine power, but they wouldn't recognize the class "stamp" on those powers.

All that being said I do recognize that I run the game a very specific way. A way that doesn't give a flying flip about consistency between PCs and NPCs and that's probably blasphemy to a lot of other DMs.
 
Last edited:
In a "gods are distant and silent" kind of setting that would be a possibility, one that blurs the line on class recognition, even for those who are not "common folk".
Or even a setting in which the gods are vocal and active, but divine investiture is separate from ecclesiastic authority. Think of 4e or 5e, where there aren't really rules for a god withdrawing their investiture and the former explicitly stating that what's done is done-- a heretic might still wield their god's power while acting in defiance of their god's authority.
 

Celebrim

Legend
All that being said I do recognize that I run the game a very specific way. A way that doesn't give a flying flip about consistency between PCs and NPCs and that's probably blasphemy to a lot of other DMs.
My issue with a lack of constancy between PCs and NPCs goes back to my experiences as a player in 1e AD&D when only NPCs were allowed to get the good stuff, and PCs could never - no matter how much they aspired or strived - be as cool or powerful as NPCs. In 1e AD&D this was done in part to ensure NPCs could be useful foes for PCs, and in part to keep players focused on treasure acquisition by pillaging dungeons, but I think that this idea that the PC's were always inferior to the NPC's was a big part of what I felt were some of the worst excesses of 2e.

In particular, I soured on NPCs and PCs built to different standards when Forgotten Realms became the flagship setting, and it seemed in modules and in setting to be less a showcase for the PC's than a stage upon which grand NPCs with phenomenal power were supposed to be doing the important things while the PCs provided an audience to witness their glory. Thus we got source books like 'Seven Sisters' and perhaps the worst character in the history of D&D fiction - Elminster.

By comparison, the super-powered better than any mortal statblock of Ariakas we got for 1e Dragonlance was a small and understandable crime. Likewise, I'm not that offended by attempts in 3e and later to simplify statblocks for NPCs, provided those simplified stat blocks don't leave the players wishing that they could be as cool as an NPC.
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
In particular, I soured on NPCs and PCs built to different standards when Forgotten Realms became the flagship setting, and it seemed in modules and in setting to be less a showcase for the PC's than a stage upon which grand NPCs with phenomenal power were supposed to be doing the important things while the PCs provided an audience to witness their glory. Thus we got source books like 'Seven Sisters' and perhaps the worst character in the history of D&D fiction - Elminster.
I can't imagine ever putting old Elminster in my FR games. But if I did he'd have an archmage statblock. Is there anything there that's not achievable by a PC Wizard?

Oh I'm sure Archmage doesn't reflect all the nuance and power of Elminster, but I don't care. Elminster is not being run by a Player at the table so he can stuff it.

Likewise if a certain scimitar wielding drow pops up he'd get a modified Drow Shadowblade statblock.

I guess I could make overpowered NPCs that make the Players jealous if I wanted, but I see no benefit in that.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
For me... well, I don't run all campaigns the same way, so there's no hard and fast rule. I'll go with what I have used typically:

No. Most of what we consider a "class" is not in-world information - spell levels, hit dice, skill choices, feats - none of that are considered in-game units that anyone would discuss.

That said, the notion of a "cleric" - a person who we largely believe gets spells from devotion to a deity, and who generally acts in ways to support what we'd all expect to be the deity's interests or goals - is an in-game thing. There are people in the world with the role of "cleric". If a PC has that world-role, they very likely have the class.

But, if a player wanted to play a character of the bard class, take appropriate spells and skills, and say they want to fill the same role as a cleric of an appropriate god... sure. Why not?

The words sorcerer and warlock exist in the world. By most of the populace, they are used inconsistently to refer to people with powers whose origin they don't really understand.
 

Arnwolf666

Adventurer
Given the way Elminster and company been statted in previous editions, this makes me wonder why you're playing Forgotten Realms in the first place. ;)
He’s a background character. I like overpowered monsters like elminster. Monsters that can’t be beat by brute force are my favorite for bbeg. Note I said “like elminster”
 

Arnwolf666

Adventurer
For me... well, I don't run all campaigns the same way, so there's no hard and fast rule. I'll go with what I have used typically:

No. Most of what we consider a "class" is not in-world information - spell levels, hit dice, skill choices, feats - none of that are considered in-game units that anyone would discuss.

That said, the notion of a "cleric" - a person who we largely believe gets spells from devotion to a deity, and who generally acts in ways to support what we'd all expect to be the deity's interests or goals - is an in-game thing. There are people in the world with the role of "cleric". If a PC has that world-role, they very likely have the class.

But, if a player wanted to play a character of the bard class, take appropriate spells and skills, and say they want to fill the same role as a cleric of an appropriate god... sure. Why not?

The words sorcerer and warlock exist in the world. By most of the populace, they are used inconsistently to refer to people with powers whose origin they don't really understand.
I agree with you. Spell levels exist in my campaigns. It’s just a known hierarchy of spell difficulty. So that surprised me. But I like how you do things differently from one campaign to another. Gotta mix things up a bit and keep players on their toes.
 

Krachek

Explorer
In the monster manual as well as Volo’s guide there is no mention to class in different npc.
The evoker and the archmage are spellcasters with prepared wizards spell.
In Dm guide they write down to use npc stat block or build npc as pc.
So I can do what I want!
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Spell levels exist in my campaigns. It’s just a known hierarchy of spell difficulty.
I mean, sure. In most of my games, while it is known that Meteor Swarm is a more difficult and powerful spell than Magic Missile... there's no agreed upon ranking. This goes especially when you include Sorcerers and Warlocks, for whom the idea of "difficulty" of a magical working is... not necessarily a thing.

But I like how you do things differently from one campaign to another. Gotta mix things up a bit and keep players on their toes.
For me, it has nothing to do with "keeping players on their toes". It is just a worldbuilding thing - are people of type X, whose powers all work the same way, so prevalent or prominent in the world such that they'd be generally recognized? Are almost all people who have this class part of one organization, or something? If yes, then the class may be an in-world thing. If a common person might mistake a wizard for a sorcerer, and either of those for a warlock, then the class isn't an in-world concept.
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
Given the way Elminster and company been statted in previous editions, this makes me wonder why you're playing Forgotten Realms in the first place. ;)
Because I am a lazy DM. Oh I'm so lazy.

I buy book, I run adventure from book. In the middle I try to adjudicate as fair as possible and make sure every player is getting equal spotlight, and that everyone is having fun.

He’s a background character. I like overpowered monsters like elminster. Monsters that can’t be beat by brute force are my favorite for bbeg. Note I said “like elminster”
Oh powerful adversaries that's fun.

But no one likes it when the DMPC Deva with the magic sword and staff and secret magic ring solos the Balor between sessions and comes back with fancy new white robes a new mount that's better than anything your player can get.
 

Istbor

Explorer
I would have to say no. Typically, they are not represented in the game world.
There are things as others have described that bump up against the classes.
Clerics
Sorcerors
Wizards
Warlocks
Bards

Whether or not these in-game jobs or titles are the same as the class PCs can pick from are another matter.

In my current campaign, most Druids serve as Clerics or priests of the Goddess of Nature and Life.
Wizards or sorcerers are either names the lay people give to those with magic. While some of these number are also priests of the Goddess of Magic

Warlocks are a thing for certain. Those who know their history, or have listed to bedtime stories know that Warlocks were evil sorcerers who traded their souls for black powers and magics. They were scoured from the planet when the deities had their civil war. Now they are mere myth and legend... or are they?
 

Advertisement

Top