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[Weekend Design] New Classes?

Wulf Ratbane

Villager
I'm going to have some free time over the holiday to do some writing, and Glassjaw kicked me off on an interesting tangent.

Let me start with a table that shows some class relationships, with some obvious holes filled in:

Code:
[b]Arcane			Divine			Wild		Urban[/b]
Wizard/Sorcerer		Cleric/[I]Zealot		[/I]Druid		Bard
[I]Spellblade		[/I]Paladin			Ranger		[I]Trickster[/I]
Fighter			Fighter			Barbarian	Rogue
And now for explanations:

Arcane
  • The Wizard has bonus ready spells.
  • The Sorcerer has bonus spell slots.
  • The Spellblade is an arcane half-caster with access to the Wizard spell list, and additional class features (the arcane analogue to the paladin and ranger).
  • The Fighter is a melee baseline class.

Divine
  • The Cleric has bonus ready spells.
  • The Zealot has bonus spell slots.
  • The Paladin is a divine half-caster with access to the Cleric spell list, and additional class features.
  • The Fighter is a melee baseline class.

Wild
  • The Druid has no bonus ready spells or spell slots. She is a divine full caster with her own unique spell list. She has additional class features.
  • The Ranger is a wild/divine half-caster with access to the Druid spell list, and additional class features.
  • The Barbarian is the wild melee baseline class.

Urban
  • The Bard has no bonus ready spells or spell slots. He is an arcane full caster with his own unique spell list. He has additional class features.
  • The Trickster is an arcane half-caster with access to the Bard spell list, and additional class features.
  • The Rogue is the urban baseline class.

Your Feedback
Hopefully the short discussion above is enough for folks to understand what we're shooting for here, and you can give feedback. The items of feedback are as follows:

1) Spellblade: This fighter/wizard "gish" class needs a name. Suggestions?

2) Zealot: This is a "favored soul" type class that features the cleric spell list but with bonus spell slots like a sorcerer. It also needs a name and although I'm real partial to Zealot, I'm open to suggestions.

3) Ditto for the Trickster.

4) About that Bard: What do folks think about a Bard that moves up to full caster progression? Like the Druid, he'll have access to his own custom spell list, which we will expand all the way up to 9th level. (This change alone, to full caster, brings the bard up to the same power level as the druid! They have the same spine, full casting, and good class features...)

5) In general? What do folks think about expanding the core classes to cover all "roles" in this fashion? (By "roles" here we mean, looking at the building blocks of classes: spine, spell list, ready vs. slots vs. class features, full vs. half-caster.) Did we miss anything?
 

ValhallaGH

Villager
Excellent! I was just looking at the Eldrich Knight and 'armored wizard' prestige classes, lamenting TB's inability to match them (though TB comes close). And here you are working on something similar.

1) Spellblade, Arcane/Eldrich Champion, Fell Knife, Mace Mage, Bladelock (I realize this one is horrible but maybe it will inspire a good one).

2) Zealot, Dedicate, Disciple, Curate, Militant.

3) Diletante, Troubadour, Explorer, Venturer, Huckster.

4) Not quite the warrior/scholar I've always seen the bard as, but it definitely takes him from "Bards suck" to "Bards Rock!" The only real issue I have is that I'll actually have to do conversions for NPC bards if I want them to embrace the new paradigm

5) Besides ready / slots Wild / Urban, and class features Arcane / Divine? ;) I'm not seeing anything immediately. But where the Monk fits into that frame is a real question, one that probably showcases the blind spots.

6) When do I get my Trailblazer character sheet? ;)
 
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Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Hm, how about...

1) Arcane Warrior or Thaumaturgical Soldier.

2) Disciple, Apostle, Adherent.

3) Prestidigitator, Street Magician.

4) For me, the problem with the bard isn't one of spellcasting, per se. It's that his class abilities don't complement each other. A druid, for example, can wild shape into an animal, cast spells in that form (if he takes Natural Spell), use trackless step and be immune to poison, all at once. By contrast, a bard is either using bardic music, requiring a multiple-round commitment to get the most benefit from them, or is acting as a second-tier spellcaster.

Giving the bard a full spellcasting progression does help, but it doesn't seem like it'd solve the root problem - bardic music is an either/or thing with spellcasting, and the two don't work well together.

5) I like the idea of the roles that you've made, but the fighter seems like the odd man out. He's pulling double duty, and yet doesn't fit either of the themes he's plugged into. The monk seems like a better thematic choice for the divine column, especially in light of the Trailblazer fixes to the class, but I'm not sure what would be best for the bottom rung of the arcane column; but the fighter doesn't fit the theme.
 
Very happy to see that you are/might be making some more classes for trailblazer.

1)Personally, my suggestion is to just not mince words and call the class Warmage. I know there is already a class by that name, but I still think warmage is the simplest and most straightforward name for the "gish" class.

2) I honestly like zealot as the class name, so stick with it.

3) Same as number 2, I like trickster as the name for the wizard/rogue combo

4) Don't have much to say about the bard, never been interested in them much so I don't feel its my place to weigh in on this.

5) While I have to agree somewhat with what the designers of 4e said about no needless symmetry and not trying to fill in the grid, I still think there is a lot of design space to explore. Mind you, I am a little biased towards at least filling the fighter/wizard hybrid class since its my favorite archetype. I will say that I think it'd be kinda cool to look at a couple of the classes from 4e as well. My interests namely are the warden and the avenger. The warden because I think it'd be fun to have another 'wild' half-caster warrior that shared the shapeshifting aspect of the druid, but focused on the hybrid form. The avenger I think could fill the cleric/rogue archetype. Anyway, just my thoughts.
 

Wulf Ratbane

Villager
The only real issue I have is that I'll actually have to do conversions for NPC bards if I want them to embrace the new paradigm.
ACK! No! No, no, no...

PCs and NPCs don't have to use the same rules. Any NPC class that you don't feel like converting should go right on using the old rules so you can use the old statblock (if you have one).

Now, if you're building a key NPC and you want to build up his statblock yourself, that's another matter.

But where the Monk fits into that frame is a real question, one that probably showcases the blind spots.
I'm not sure I want to look to the monk as an indicator of the other classes at all. He's always been an odd duck.

When do I get my Trailblazer character sheet? ;)
Noted.

For me, the problem with the bard isn't one of spellcasting, per se. It's that his class abilities don't complement each other. A druid, for example, can wild shape into an animal, cast spells in that form (if he takes Natural Spell)
The hell he can; not at my table. Nothing good comes from Natural Spell. Terrible design choice.

Hybrid form is what the druid wants if he wants to be a savage killing machine that casts spells.

Giving the bard a full spellcasting progression does help, but it doesn't seem like it'd solve the root problem - bardic music is an either/or thing with spellcasting, and the two don't work well together.
I can't agree with that complaint. The most powerful bardic abilities are more powerful than comparable spells, and applicable only in certain situations. When you do use them, they're a trump.

His buffs-- Courage and Greatness-- are the most common uses and they last for 5 rounds.

I like the idea of the roles that you've made, but the fighter seems like the odd man out. He's pulling double duty, and yet doesn't fit either of the themes he's plugged into. The monk seems like a better thematic choice for the divine column, especially in light of the Trailblazer fixes to the class, but I'm not sure what would be best for the bottom rung of the arcane column; but the fighter doesn't fit the theme.
I noticed the same thing (double duty) but I don't have a problem with him thematically. The fighter is vanilla.

While I have to agree somewhat with what the designers of 4e said about no needless symmetry and not trying to fill in the grid, I still think there is a lot of design space to explore.
I haven't seen that comment. That might explain why 3e has a warmage and an eldritch knight and a duskblade and a spellblade and a...

Mind you, I am a little biased towards at least filling the fighter/wizard hybrid class since its my favorite archetype.
Tell me what you think is essential for the archetype. The ability to cast in armor and...?

I think it'd be fun to have another 'wild' half-caster warrior that shared the shapeshifting aspect of the druid, but focused on the hybrid form. The avenger I think could fill the cleric/rogue archetype. Anyway, just my thoughts.
Once the basic framework is in place, according to spine, spellcasting rate, and spell list access, then it becomes trivial to swap out class features to create custom classes. All class features are valued at the same rate so swapping one for another won't change the class value estimate.
 

ValhallaGH

Villager
ACK! No! No, no, no...

PCs and NPCs don't have to use the same rules.
I appreciate the concern, and am very favorably impressed that you have it and shared it, but I learned this lesson during my second year of gaming (2003). And then Iron Heroes came out and I haven't been wrong-headed about it since. That "if" in there isn't just for appearances. ;)

I'm not sure I want to look to the monk as an indicator of the other classes at all. He's always been an odd duck.
Fair enough. But the oddity has always made me wonder what he's supposed to connect into. And I am beginning to suspect that it might be psionics (which fits the whole Gith- monk / psions thing).

Tell me what you think is essential for the archetype. The ability to cast in armor and...?
Channeled spells are freaking cool. Being able to fireball a vampire by stabbing him with your sword is just fun, and only allowing the guy that was stabbed to feel the spell has been relatively balanced in my experience.

Once the basic framework is in place, according to spine, spellcasting rate, and spell list access, then it becomes trivial to swap out class features to create custom classes. All class features are valued at the same rate so swapping one for another won't change the class value estimate.
I hadn't noticed that part yet. Very interesting.


Thank you for the replies, the hard work, and the forthcoming character sheet. I'm very excited.
 

Wulf Ratbane

Villager
Fair enough. But the oddity has always made me wonder what he's supposed to connect into. And I am beginning to suspect that it might be psionics (which fits the whole Gith- monk / psions thing).
Sounds about right. Meditation, centered ki, inner focus, etc.

Channeled spells are freaking cool. Being able to fireball a vampire by stabbing him with your sword is just fun, and only allowing the guy that was stabbed to feel the spell has been relatively balanced in my experience.
Hmm...

Swift spells, channeled spells, and the ability to cast in armor, along a very regular progression of class features. You could multiclass with wizard if you wanted to increase your BMB and cast higher level spells, but you wouldn't be able to do your neat eldritch tricks with those spells; or you could multiclass with fighter if you wanted more feats and melee potence-- again, at the expense of your spell/sword crossover tricks.

EDIT:

Ok, this is admittedly extremely pedestrian, but something along these lines:

Code:
Level	BMB	Top	Class Feature
1	0	0	Armored Caster (0 level)
2	1	1	Armored Caster (1st level)
3	1	1	Channel Spell (1st level)
4	2	1	Swift Spell (1st level)
5	2	1	Bonus Feat
6	3	2	Armored Caster (2nd level)
7	3	2	Channel Spell (2nd level)
8	4	2	Swift Spell (2nd level)
9	4	2	Bonus Feat
10	5	3	Armored Caster (3rd level)
11	5	3	Channel Spell (3rd level)
12	6	3	Swift Spell (3rd level)
13	6	3	Bonus Feat
14	7	4	Armored Caster (4th level)
15	7	4	Channel Spell (4th level)
16	8	4	Swift Spell (4th level)
17	8	4	Bonus Feat
18	9	5	Armored Caster (5th level)
19	9	5	Channel Spell (5th level)
20	10	5	Swift Spell (5th level)
Armored Caster, Channel Spell, and Swift Spell are tied to the top spell level (Top).
 
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I would say that covers the basics pretty well for me. To to me there are a few different types of warrior mages, with two common ones being the person who fights with a weapon in one hand and magic in the other and the warrior who uses magic to enhance their fighting prowess. Personally I prefer the latter, and I would say an arcane full BAB half BMB falls into that same category.

So yeah, I agree that the very basics of such a class would be the ability to channel spells through their weapon, the ability to put up self buffs as a swift action and the ability to wear armor (any kind) while casting spells. I like the idea of tying what level of spells can be used with the abilities to the classes level.

The only other ability at the moment that I feel is somewhat essential is the ability to temporarily enchant a weapon. It could work similar to the paladin's ability where it grants an increasing enhancement bonus based on level, and then an expanding list of weapon abilities as they go up in level.

One last thing I had an idea about, and it applies in general to the full bab, half bmb classes. The idea is expanding the combat reaction options the class has. For example, I have tried my hand at making a warmage class following the TB guidelines and one the abilities I gave them is called Arcane Aegis. What this does is let them use a combat reaction to add half their BAB to a saving throw (this might be a bit too powerful though). I just think that since you added the awesome combat reactions to the game, giving classes expanded options for them is one area to explore.
 

Wulf Ratbane

Villager
Generally speaking, folks are ok with the "half class" having abilities that are wholly unique to that class (as opposed to merely a blend)?
 

ValhallaGH

Villager
Generally speaking, folks are ok with the "half class" having abilities that are wholly unique to that class (as opposed to merely a blend)?
I demand it of new classes. If a class is simply a blend of other classes, I could do that with multi-classing; what does the 'half class' add to the game?
Unique abilities, on the other hand, can actually build a real class, one that inpsires, intrigues, and entertains. One that is fun, interesting, and worth playing or including in a campaign setting.

Bonus, unique abilities allow designers to innovate. To show off their creativity and do something that may have never been done before (or atleast hasn't been done right before).
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
I also think that a class should have at least some - if not mostly - new abilities, rather than only having abilities from other classes mixed together.
 
Another vote for the "new" versus simply "blended" abilities. Although I'll note: In some cases, it's nice to grab something from one class or another, but because it relies on levels in that particular class, it's not really of much/any use to the blended. Being able to "substitute" one of the new funky abilities for an "old" ability with the ranks of the new class counting would be nice.

If that makes sense.

Basically, if you're going with a "new" class which is a blend/extension of 2 other classes, the new class should have its own abilities. That makes it unique as opposed to simply "multiclassing made easy". On the other hand, being able to substitute an "old" ability from one of the previous classes might be a nice option to includes as well.

Something along the lines of the Alternative Class Features that the PHB2 had. Like Barbarians replaced Rage with Berserk Strength. The Ranger got rid of the animal companion and picked up Distracting Shot.

The Alternative Class features allow a player to play to a different strength of the character and give up something that's not useful for them otherwise. Being able to do something similar with a new blended class might be nice too. Instead of multiclassing through several different classes to get the character type that's envisioned, they can grab a hybrid class and then substitute this or that to tweak it further.

Sorry, it's kinda vague... I'm tired and just finished taking the wife out for her birthday. I'll look this over tomorrow and see if I can make myself clearer.
 

Wulf Ratbane

Villager
sounds like you're getting more of my money!!!
Not for more classes, I won't. I'll post them for free somewhere.

Hey, when/where can we order a print copy of Trailblazer?
There's another thread on that topic in this forum (but you won't find a solid answer there either). :p

We'll get there when we get there! Now you kids keep quiet or I will turn this car around.
 

mach1.9pants

Adventurer
Not for more classes, I won't. I'll post them for free somewhere.
Well it is still more for our $0.00c!
I also vote for new abilities; I can ply my abilities on making a mix and match class pretty well. What I find hard, and like clever clogs like you to do, is design new features (that I can mix and match as well if I want0 :)
 

Kid Charlemagne

I am the Very Model of a Modern Moderator
4) Not quite the warrior/scholar I've always seen the bard as, but it definitely takes him from "Bards suck" to "Bards Rock!"
It would be an interesting change - I think the Bard in 3E lacks the ability to pull off the warrior part of the warrior/scholar role, so I think I'd like to see a full-progression bard.

Or, you could make the bard your default warrior/arcane half class, which would allow him to fit in the arcane and urban areas you note.

For the urban classes, you could also add in some form of the Urban Ranger, which I quite liked, although I thought he needed to be just a little bit better focused as a class (I ran one for 12 levels, emulating a Sherlock Holmes character in an alternate Victorian England game).
 

Wulf Ratbane

Villager
Regarding the "psionic" variant of the monk and his affiliated brethren, is it:

PSION
PSYCHIC WARRIOR
MONK

or

PSION
MONK
???

etc.

Whatcha reckon?

And yes, for the record, this could force me to do some development work with psionics...
 

ValhallaGH

Villager
It would be an interesting change - I think the Bard in 3E lacks the ability to pull off the warrior part of the warrior/scholar role, so I think I'd like to see a full-progression bard.
Eh. The bard had the same BAB as the Rogue (and CoDzilla), and everyone told me that they were a fight-y class. Ergo, the bard must have also been.
At least Trailbalzer (I really do like that spelling) acknowledges that a class that fights needs a full-BAB (or equivalent) to actually wreck face.

In line with my own views, and that sweet spine analysis Wulf provided, I'm considering upping bards to full-BAB, to get the warrior skill, with scholar knowledge, and semi-warrior squishyness. I think it would have the right effect but I'm not sure if the class actually needs the boost, so for now I'm running bards as written.

Wulf Ratbane said:
Whatcha reckon?

And yes, for the record, this could force me to do some development work with psionics...
I favor the former, though the monk's BMB implies the latter.
One solution may be to rejig the monk down to the 1/3 BMB; though I do like the flavor of that 1/2 BMB, and the pre-chosen abilities keep the Monk very focused and limited.

Also, I'd enjoy seeing what you come up with for psionics. I've always liked the idea of willpower overcoming reality, but I've never been really happy with the implementation (though 3.5 did better than most, to my eye).
 

Wulf Ratbane

Villager
A little more brainstorming this weekend, and here's the state of things (see attached jpg).

Self-explanatory?

Quick note about the Barbarian/Scout, Swashbuckler/Rogue columns-- the Arcane/Divine split has no relevance to a non-caster; rather, the split at this level is melee-based or skill-based.

Comments?
 

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