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


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le Redoutable

Ich bin El Glouglou :)
well, Fighter Levels could look like :
0 Clumsy
1 Rogueish
2 Black Belt
3 Military Training
4 Champion
5 Big Boss
6 Sorceror ( collecting Arcanas of Fighting )
7 Discoverer of a new Style
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Much of what you are saying here doesnt make sense.

Right. Everything below this further cements that you are not grasping the premise in the literary sense, you are only looking at the premise in the mechanical sense. I assume by this that you also are unfamiliar with the concept of LitRPG stories. So, the closest analogy I can think of would start with The Matrix, because I can be fairly certain that you are at least passingly familiar with the movie property.

So. The Matrix, everyone is trapped in a virtual reality that appears like the real world. Some stories took this a step further and presented a story where the people are trapped inside a video game, with the video game stats. The first story I encountered that did this was .Hack\\

However, in recent years, many stories and artists have gone another step further. Instead of "you are trapped inside a video game" they have taken the literary stance of "this is just how the world works". You can look at your own status sheet, you can see that you have a +2% damage bonus while in darkness, you can physically see recorded on your character sheet which gods approve of your actions and which do not, you can see numerical pools of health/stamina/mana/ect.

You can get a [Class]. A real thing that has real tangible benefits, in the fiction of the game world. Not a mechanical consideration for a game.

Saying that, in a LitRPG context, classes must be balanced for combat is like saying that in our real world all food must be the same price. It is an absurd statement, because even a fictional world is not going to have a perfect balance. In fact, it MUST have disparity in skill, because if everyone on the entire planet must be capable of fighting at the same effectiveness, that says incredibly bizarre things about the world.

This is why I said you are not understanding the premise. You are approaching this as a GAME concern, something that needs to be mechanically balanced out of consideration for IRL people. It isn't. This is a WORLD-BUILDING decision.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
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]?

The problem I have with the first approach is that it flattens everything. If everyone can only have one of 13 sets of abilities, then I would think the narratives get much narrower of what you can do. At that point, you really have to ask what you are accomplishing. I know this may sound silly considering the context of a omniscient system, but it feels far more artificial to have such a low-limit to the possibilities.

And if you make a world where farmer is a class that can be progressed like druid, while you will end up with a world that does not resemble tolkien fantasy... I think you end up with a very very interesting world. People start being able to have strange abilities, geo-politics may be influenced by the King being good friends with a high level [Sailor] who has abilities that allow them to guarantee trade, or make them able to control storms, but only when they are on a ship. And it may lead to trying to design a flying ship and seeing if that works with how their abilities work. I find there is a lot of possibility in the concept.
 

TwoSix

Dirty, realism-hating munchkin powergamer
The problem I have with the first approach is that it flattens everything. If everyone can only have one of 13 sets of abilities, then I would think the narratives get much narrower of what you can do. At that point, you really have to ask what you are accomplishing. I know this may sound silly considering the context of a omniscient system, but it feels far more artificial to have such a low-limit to the possibilities.

And if you make a world where farmer is a class that can be progressed like druid, while you will end up with a world that does not resemble tolkien fantasy... I think you end up with a very very interesting world. People start being able to have strange abilities, geo-politics may be influenced by the King being good friends with a high level [Sailor] who has abilities that allow them to guarantee trade, or make them able to control storms, but only when they are on a ship. And it may lead to trying to design a flying ship and seeing if that works with how their abilities work. I find there is a lot of possibility in the concept.
Well, I would probably have way, way more than 13 classes in such a scenario. I'd love to implement something like Wandering Inn with its class consolidation and unique classes for high-leveled characters.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Well, I would probably have way, way more than 13 classes in such a scenario. I'd love to implement something like Wandering Inn with its class consolidation and unique classes for high-leveled characters.

Then go ahead and implement it? If you want to go really deep, and apply it to the players, it might take a little work. But applying it to the world is far simpler.
 

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.

In our games, the most notable moments aren't in combat. We have entire sessions without attack rolls. (And then we attack a series of fortifications that takes 7 sessions of combat so in all things there is balance.)

Do those sessions count for nothing in your games? How does the Peace paladin advance? The Face character? The ghostly scout that is never seen but sees all? The cat burglar whose thefts aren't discovered until days later?

Those same events would cause Non PCs to level up. The merchant who gets better at haggling in their 40s than they were at 20. The elf that after five centuries of resolving disputes can almost smell a lie.

It's not like it's more work than bespoke npcs. I find classes easier. I've been using PCGen or it's successors for like 20 years. I want the guild master of a big city to be five levels higher than the lowest guild member. Click the stat roller until I get a set that doesn't suck, set the level, assign stats.

If an npc gets pulled into shenanigans and I level them up. The app prompts what to assign.

Bespoke is either a slapdash result made unpredictable based on how little effort I put in it or more work than it's worth, IMO.

I keep a small set of "stock" classed npc so if something unexpected happens midgame, I use those to adjudicate and, if it looks like a persistent character, I make a more detailed version. If not I note the name & demographics and which stock npc block I used (noble 5, expert 1, etc).
 

Well, I would probably have way, way more than 13 classes in such a scenario. I'd love to implement something like Wandering Inn with its class consolidation and unique classes for high-leveled characters.

I think a question is a class exclusive? I.e. a Fighter is not the only ones who fights.
Barbarians, Paladins and Rangers all fight, so how specific do the classes need to be?

Is a Farmer the only one who farms? Should it be? How tight is Class to role?

E.g. in 3e terms, the Commoner, Expert and Aristocrat could all farm. The best farmers are clearly Expert Farmers, who even at low levels have the depth of skills to create synergy bonuses. It's a bit of a toss up but I think the Noble Farmer would be next, with enough skill points to overcome cross class Profession/Craft and the Knowledge skills to create synergies. That leaves the Common Farmer to trail,the pack, with either a very limited zone of focus and too few skill points to generate synergy.

To me the Common(er) class is the bottom 50% of the population bell curve, which still covers a wide span from "utter incompetence" to "meets expectations" hence some leveling. But it shows a distinct lack of exception. Even when they gain multiple levels, they have either a lack of diversity or a lack of capability. These are the people who do their job passably well, eat dinner, maybe work on a jigsaw puzzle, sleep, and repeat for decades until they die. "Workman-like" is the highest compliment they receive.

An Expert can be an artist, a professional, even a genius. An Aristocrat can dabble at a competitive level (and have the influence to create a competition that they can win), turning a grueling job into a hobby by dint of status and resources.

It's an interesting level of gradation.
 

So I am definitely "class is real in the fiction" camp, but in kinda blurry and broad strokes way. But unlike in the OP, I don't assume everyone has a class. Commoners definitely exist, and set the baseline for normal humanoid capability. What is suggested in OP could certainly work, but that definitely is not how most "class is real" people would do it. I think most notable result of "everyone has class" is that it bumps the baseline power significantly. Even first level classed characters are actually quite a bit more powerful than commoners.

How I see it is that classes are the paths you must take to become "a hero" (in the Greek sense.) They are the way in which you get more powerful. Powerful people have classes, but there are no level 11 farmers etc. That's just not a thing.

What it does is lend structure, predictability and limits to the world. The classes are not just arbitrary power packages, they actually tell us something about the world. And this I feel is the big disconnect. Some people feel that one of the purposes of the rules is to tell us something about how the fictional world works, whilst others do not care about that.

Like if the mechnics of all classes say that one needs to first master lesser magic to be able to cast more powerful magic, then I want that actually be how the metaphysics of the world works. If I don't want such metaphysics, then I would rather use a system where such limit doesn't exist for the characters either.
 
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le Redoutable

Ich bin El Glouglou :)
the Hero System ( well, as for Champions 4th ed ) speaks of Package Deals, which provide sets of Power/Skills etc with a bargain ( in lieu of purchasing them all independently )
so, could you buy a Package Deal multiple times so as to enhance your abilities, and abilities could also get gotten from multiple different Package Deals ...
 

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