D&D 5E What if everyone in the setting had a [Class]?

Yaarel

He Mage
That was definitely the idea I was exploring in my opening post. What if everyone was granted some combat or magical ability by the Overgod/System?

My assumption is that being an adventurer is just as much a question of mindset as ability. Most people are going to take their minor magical powers, go be farmers or tradesmen or merchants, and slowly gain some new competence as they live their life. And since most classes don't get their subclass till level 2 or 3, a lot of non-adventurers would probably gain a subclass related to their chosen profession, like a Blacksmith Sorcerer or a Farmer Druid.

It's the reckless, ambitious people who go out and risk life and limb to level quickly and find powerful prestige classes and magical treasure.
A setting like this, where every adult (age 20 or higher) has levels in a class, doesnt require anything weird or supernatural.

It means the period of history happens to be unusually violent. Normal people are forced to adapt to survive.

Some people can become Rogues for the purpose of stealth or trickery to avoid combat, or Clerics, Druids, or Bards to serve as a "combat medic" literally or figuratively.
 

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FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I think there's two different approaches here.

In one approach, you envision your fairly standard fantasy world first. And then you take your system of choice which has classes (so probably D&D), and you layer those classes into the world. This can cause some narrative gaps, quite a few of which have been discussed in this thread.

In the other approach, you start with the premise that [Class] is a concept the world is built around, and you extrapolate the setting from that premise. That allows you to close a lot of the narrative gaps, but the resulting setting might be quite different, even radically different, from the Tolkien-esque fantasy milieu that's the baseline for D&D play.
The part I think most of us were confused by is that in the OP you seemed to be trying to understand other people’s playstyle of class as fictional construct, but then you went on to include a bunch of requirements not related to their position.
 

Yaarel

He Mage
a farmer NPC doesn't want or need the class of fighter or wizard though, so they can have the farmer background and the farmer class, to represent that they're far more skilled at and know how to do things about farming than that druid with the farmer background.
If the Fighter is under constant threat of being killed by criminal neighbors, family feuds, roaming bandits, wars with other towns or nations − whatever the source of violence − then the Farmer does need the class of Fighter, Wizard, etcetera for oneself and ones family to survive.
 

TwoSix

Dirty, realism-hating munchkin powergamer
a farmer NPC doesn't want or need the class of fighter or wizard though, so they can have the farmer background and the farmer class, to represent that they're far more skilled at and know how to do things about farming than that druid with the farmer background.
I think the bog-standard approach is that 90+% of the population, the farmers, merchants, etc, don't have a class. Class is only for adventurers.

Some games, especially in the 3.X lineage, might assign a NPC farmer a class, such as [Commoner]. But, this would almost always be at the metagame layer; no one in setting would recognize a farmer as a level 4 [Commoner]. In fiction, they're just an experienced farmer, who could probably fight off a goblin if one tried to steal their cow.

The question is, if we assume that [Class] is actually present and noticeable within the fiction, and most everyone acquires a class, what sort of classes would be appropriate for a farmer? Do we build a setting where class is always a combat functionality, as Yaarel suggests, and farmers simply use their gifted abilities to farm? (This is the path I was leaning towards in my OP.) Or do we make a setting where [Farmer] is something that can be chosen and progressed, just like a [Druid]?
 

TwoSix

Dirty, realism-hating munchkin powergamer
The part I think most of us were confused by is that in the OP you seemed to be trying to understand other people’s playstyle of class as fictional construct, but then you went on to include a bunch of requirements not related to their position.
It was a long post serving many masters. :)

I'm trying to understand both the tools people use to support the "class in fiction" concept, and the psychology that animates that preference. Additionally, I wanted to provide an example of how I would approach the concept with my own preferences to generate discussion.

As a general observation, giving people something specific to tear down will usually generate more discussion than open-ended hypotheticals.

Since we're over a hundred posts, mission accomplished. :)
 

Yaarel

He Mage
Or do we make a setting where [Farmer] is something that can be chosen and progressed, just like a [Druid]?
An noncombat class is useless and impracticable in a D&D game. It is useless because a class that no player selects is little more than a complex hassle for a DM to deal with when creating a nonplayer character. To simply write up a statblock is more accurate, more free, simpler, easier, and more effective. Whatever a DM needs at the moment, a statblock can be it, and the DM can jot it down on the fly. Determine its proficiency (bonus), and whatever appropriate skills and featlike features.


If a Farmer is something that "needs" to advance in proficiency, a more helpful way to do it is, for the Background design space to gain additional features at higher levels, such as starting some form of business or comparable income during the "Professional Tier" (levels 5-8), some kind of institution at the "Master Tier" (levels 9-12) like a prominent corporation, farm estate, wizardry school, military fort, etcetera. Meanwhile, the Background can add background feats or other features at higher levels. This background advancement benefits player characters, thus becomes useful for the game to bother with. It can also serve as a metric for thinking about nonplayer characters.
 

Voadam

Legend
I think there's two different approaches here.

In one approach, you envision your fairly standard fantasy world first. And then you take your system of choice which has classes (so probably D&D), and you layer those classes into the world. This can cause some narrative gaps, quite a few of which have been discussed in this thread.

In the other approach, you start with the premise that [Class] is a concept the world is built around, and you extrapolate the setting from that premise. That allows you to close a lot of the narrative gaps, but the resulting setting might be quite different, even radically different, from the Tolkien-esque fantasy milieu that's the baseline for D&D play.
I don't think starting with the concept of D&D classes in the world will make it different from baseline D&D play.

I think Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, Eberron, Dark Sun, etc. were all constructed expecting D&D classes to be things in the setting at base and built around that. I don't see the D&D Lankhmar setting as significantly different from Greyhawk besides specifics like racial palette and such despite one existing as a fantasy world first and one being constructed for D&D with classes and world NPCs being designed with classes in mind.
 

TwoSix

Dirty, realism-hating munchkin powergamer
I think Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, Eberron, Dark Sun, etc. were all constructed expecting D&D classes to be things in the setting at base and built around that. I don't see the D&D Lankhmar setting as significantly different from Greyhawk besides specifics like racial palette and such despite one existing as a fantasy world first and one being constructed for D&D with classes and world NPCs being designed with classes in mind.
Oh, I don't agree with that. I think the concept was developed first, and then they developed niches for characters with classes to occupy, but the world was definitely not built around the "Everyone has a class" premise. I think the general assumption for every D&D setting is that 90+% of the population is not classed.
 

Yaarel

He Mage
I am watching the anime, Solo Leveling. Fun.

The premise of the setting is, most people in the world are nonplayers. Most nonplayers are level 0 and can never level up.

The setting is modern Japan, but portals from an other plane have been ripping thru sporadically, apparently randomly. This plane is imbuing the area with magic.

This magic alters a small percentage of the population, who exhibit magical qualities, such as the martial power source (superhuman jumps, speed, etcetera), arcane power source, etcetera.

Because they are nonplayer characters, their level in the class is permanent and it is impossible for them level up beyond their current level.

The levels group into tiers: S, A, B, C, D, and E. Here, E is approximates levels 1 thru 4, while S is epic. But this level for a nonplayer can never change.

The hero of the story is uniquely a "player". He alone ("solo") is capable of "leveling". He expressed magical capacity, but started at level 0, worse than E. But during each episode he is steadily advancing in levels. So far, all of his advancements have been in martial features. It is unclear if he can choose to advance in arcane features instead.
 

Voadam

Legend
Oh, I don't agree with that. I think the concept was developed first, and then they developed niches for characters with classes to occupy, but the world was definitely not built around the "Everyone has a class" premise. I think the general assumption for every D&D setting is that 90+% of the population is not classed.
I think AD&D settings are built around most people being 0-level fighters. It just does not matter that much though. A 0-level fighter is just an normal person who does not fight as well as a 1st level fighter. The difference in AD&D was that 0 level fighters have less hp and are one step behind on the THAC0 chart compared to a level 1 fighter. There is not a lot specifically on zero level characters beyond them being included on the fighter THACO and save charts.

The 1e DMG page 74 notes "Dwarves, elves and gnomes are never lower than 1st level (unlike halflings and humans, which may be of 0 level)."

The majority of inhabitants in the town of Hommlet in the Temple of Elemental Evil are statted out, most are 0-level fighters, including the stableboy, while a number are levelled and have a variety of classes.

3.5 Eberron was definitely designed with everybody having classes, a lot being the 3.5 NPC classes (particularly commoner, expert, noble, and warrior) and including the creation of the NPC magewright class to do low powered noncombat magic and magical crafting.

You can also validly say though that in 1e if you go with the 1e Monster Manual under the men entry then that while there are classed and levelled individuals with groups of men, normal men are just monsters with a d6 HD and base specific types of men (bandits, nomads, merchants, pilgrims, etc.) are similarly not called out as classed but as monsters with specified HD for mechanics.

B/X Basic had normal humans as a monster entry with a d4 HD and no concept in the game of a 0 level character. Normal humans had worse attacks than classed characters and their own specific save chart entry as if they were a different class.

I don't think it makes a big difference.
 
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