Should Assassin be theme or class?

Texicles

First Post
4 classes with 30 themes is 120 possible combinations.

14 classes with 20 themes is 280 possible combinations. I want lots of combinations.

This got me thinking. Deep down, if I were building D&D for me only, I'd have a list of classes that included Paladin and Ranger, excluded Assassin, and I'd have a PHB that was satisfactory to me... but I might not have anyone else to play with, and that makes for a pretty sad game IMO.

I realized that, whether I do or don't like a particular class, or a combination of customizations that make X class look suspiciously like Y class, doesn't matter. If someone wants to play a Cleric that looks, to my eye, like a Paladin, or a Rogue that seems Assassiny, meh.

The more permutations, the more people will get to play what they want. If there's something that the DM/group thinks is a little ridiculous, it can easily be excluded from that game, without exclusion from the game.


My only reservation here is how themes are handled with regard to classes. Maybe I'm just too narrow in my thinking, but I think the core feel of the Fighter runs counter to the Magic-user theme, and that there should be some limits, but maybe that's just the realm of houserules.
 

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Remathilis

Legend

I'm not Erleni, but I'll give it my whirl...

Unlike a classes system, class defines what you bring to the party. Its what you do. Fighters fight. Clerics heal. Rogues sneak. It also defines who you are, to an extent. Paladins fight for a higher purpose. Rangers are guardians of the woods. Druids serve nature. There is a lot more said in the phrase "I'm a ranger" than "I'm a warrior who has naturalist background skills and archery feats". Like alignment, its a shorthand way of saying what to expect; both mechanically and to a less extent, vocationally.

For me, I want as many different vocations as possible. I want stealthy assassins and heroic paladins (though perhaps not on the same team...) I like that druid isn't just some cleric with the nature domain, he's a unique creature with new spells and strange powers who isn't always welcomed by clerical faiths. I want bards with awesome bardsongs and monks who have strange ki-infused powers. I want to say "My guy is a barbarian" and have people know he's got anger issues and tends to prefer heavy weapons and light clothing.

In short, I like lots of classes because I like the idea of summarizing my character thusly: Human Ranger, Chaotic Good. In four words, I've said more about my character than any casual perusal of a character sheet can.
 

Abstruse

Legend
In short, I like lots of classes because I like the idea of summarizing my character thusly: Human Ranger, Chaotic Good. In four words, I've said more about my character than any casual perusal of a character sheet can.
So what do you say about Human Rogue, Chaotic Neutral? You can't make too many assumptions off that small phrase - cutpurse, burglar, thug, treasure hunter, smuggler, pirate, assassin...all of those can be covered under that description and all of those are very different.

Or the fighter. "Human Fighter, Neutral Good" doesn't exactly say much since that can cover a sword-and-shield heavy armor warrior, a swashbuckling dex-based fighter, a greataxe wielding , an archer, a bare-knuckle boxer.

In fact, with the introduction of themes into the game, my argument is that the more flexible a class, the better it is. The more themes you can put on a class and the more different characters you get, the better. If every theme I stick on a ranger ends up with me in a green cloak hanging out in the woods tracking stuff, hating goblins/orcs/giants/whatever, and having a very loyal pet that can maul someone's face off...why does it need to be a class? If you take every theme possible and stick them on a ranger and come out with something that looks, plays, and feels exactly the same with one one or two differences (my woodland fighter uses a bow, while his woodland fighter uses two swords), then why is it a class when the other classes have so many variations?
 

IanB

First Post
The more themes you can put on a class and the more different characters you get, the better.

You get more combinations with more classes.

Let me expand on this: you seem to think that a ranger with say, a bandit theme and a ranger with the slayer theme will be less different from each other than two fighters with those two themes. I see no reason to make this assumption.

Scenario 1: rogue ranger assassin and fighter are clases, bandit, slayer and guardian are themes. 12 combinations.
Scenario 2: rogue and fighter are classes, assasin, ranger, bandit, slayer and guardian are themes. 10 combinations.

Scenario 1 gives you more choice in your character building. And that's before we get into multiclassing...
 
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erleni

First Post
The main reason is that I loved the 4e assassin and that one will not simply work as a modified rogue. As Remathilis said a shadow assassin is not simply a shadowy rogue. By the way the D&DN rogue is more a skill-monkey than anything else as far as we can see.
Assassin and Swordsage are really two classes I'd like to see in D&DN.
 

Abstruse

Legend
You get more combinations with more classes.
Not if they all end up the same. If I have 4 classes (F/W/R/C) and 12 themes (10 random ones plus ranger and paladin) and each one comes up with something different, that's 48 base character builds. If I've got 6 classes (F/W/R/C with ranger and paladin) and 10 themes (same as before but without ranger and paladin), but every paladin comes out looking like a holy knight in shining armor with a magic horsie and every paladin comes out a woodland fighter with a vicious-but-loyal pet who uses either a bow or two weapons, that's only 43 base character builds. So you end up with spending more time and page count on creating them as classes as well as increased complexity and more choices at character generation and you end up with fewer options overall.

Same if the assassin is functionally the same as the rogue with just a few numbers flipped around (bigger HD but less sneak attack but better armor but can't hide quite as well). You have 4 classes and 11 themes (including assassin), you get 44 variations. You have 5 classes (including assassin) and 10 themes, you have 40 variations because applying a theme on the rogue or a theme on the assassin ends up with a build that looks, plays, and feels the same.

Throw all of them together and the 4 classes with 13 themes get you 52 variations. Put them as 7 classes and 10 themes, and you only get 43 variations. And for every class you add that doesn't have enough variety to support different themes producing different build types, you have more waste and the gap becomes larger.
 

IanB

First Post
Here's where my disconnect with you is: why do you think a sword and shield fighter and a greataxe fighter are more different from each other than a ranger who uses a bow and a ranger who fights with two weapons? I mean literally your examples of all those 'different' fighters are just weapon choice, which is exactly what you use to indicate that rangers aren't different enough from each other!

Further why do you assume that a rogue/slayer and an assassin/slayer would necessarily play identically? We have the 4e assassin (multiple styles even) as something to point at that is emphatically not the same as a rogue.
 

Abstruse

Legend
Here's where my disconnect with you is: why do you think a sword and shield fighter and a greataxe fighter are more different from each other than a ranger who uses a bow and a ranger who fights with two weapons? I mean literally your examples of all those 'different' fighters are just weapon choice, which is exactly what you use to indicate that rangers aren't different enough from each other!
Because a sword and shield fighter is the guy who may not dish out the most damage but can take a hit and keep going, staying on his feet and protecting his allies. The greataxe fighter is the guy who steps up and beats the crap out of everything without regard for himself. The duelist fighter is pretty much a completely martially-focused rogue, dancing around the fight to find the enemies weaknesses and stepping in to exploit them. Each one plays differently. Also I listed something like five or six different variations of fighter.

Ranger has "guy in the woods who tracks stuff, hates goblins, and has a pet." The only difference is if he's the guy standing in the back playing Legolas or if he's the human ginsu up front with two blades.

The fighter class at its core is "I take this sharp object and use it to poke holes in bad guys." The variations in the class come from exactly how the fighter does that. It's more than just roleplay choice or picking a weapon, it's a fighting style. A samurai, a Spartan soldier, a English archer on the fields of the Battle of Hastings, a Renaissance duelist...these are all fighters. They all have different ways of approaching combat and completely different styles, but they all use martial abilities to stab/slice/bludgeon opponents. Same class, different themes.

What I want to know from the people who are supporting the ranger as a class is how that class can have its definition stretched enough to support that many archetypes - that many character builds - without losing at its core what it is to be a ranger. If being a ranger is only what I said above, you can't stretch that definition except to include two archetypes - archer ranger and two-weapon ranger.

If you think there's more to being a ranger than just that, show me. Show me different variations on the ranger that feel thematically different from one another, but at the same time are still rangers. Tell me exactly what it is to be a ranger in the most basic, simple terms. That's what I want to know, and that's what we should be talking about.
 

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