log in or register to remove this ad

 

"Your Class is Not Your Character": Is this a real problem?

jmartkdr2

Explorer
I strongly disagree. If PCs don't reflect the setting at large, then you aren't really playing in that setting.

If I tell you that I'm playing a Paladin, and that doesn't tell you anything about who my character is or how they act, then you've just squandered the rich history of fantasy tropes. We might as well be playing a sci fi game, at that point.
If I tell you I'm playing a Warrior-nun of the Raven Queen, why does it matter which set of mechanics I use to support that? You have what you need to know, lore-wise.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Phazonfish

B-Rank Agent
I strongly disagree. If PCs don't reflect the setting at large, then you aren't really playing in that setting.

If I tell you that I'm playing a Paladin, and that doesn't tell you anything about who my character is or how they act, then you've just squandered the rich history of fantasy tropes. We might as well be playing a sci fi game, at that point.
If you tell me that you're playing a Paladin then I would expect you to play them like a Paladin because you just told me that you are a Paladin like it is central to the character's identity. That's perfectly fine, but I don't think this needs to be the case for all characters. You can even still play into fantasy tropes without necessarily playing into the tropes associated with your class.
 


Saelorn

Hero
If I tell you I'm playing a Warrior-nun of the Raven Queen, why does it matter which set of mechanics I use to support that? You have what you need to know, lore-wise.
Because the mechanics of the game reflect the reality of the game world. That's why we're using one set of mechanics, instead of some other set of mechanics.

If it was possible for a Warrior-nun of the Raven Queen to be accurately represented with multiple different classes, then that indicates a severe mis-match between the reality and its reflection. We shouldn't be using these classes to represent a reality where they don't hold. The consistent approach would be to define Warrior-nun of the Raven Queen as its own class.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
I hadn't seen this be a problem for years, then my wife and I joined a 5E campaign at one of our local game stores, and the DM has persisted in behaving as though my wife is playing her character wrong. It seems he only has one motivation in his head for wizards, and my wife's character isn't motivated by that. It's an ongoing source of irritation (we continue in the campaign primarily because we like the other players)
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
If it was possible for a Warrior-nun of the Raven Queen to be accurately represented with multiple different classes, then that indicates a severe mis-match between the reality and its reflection. We shouldn't be using these classes to represent a reality where they don't hold. The consistent approach would be to define Warrior-nun of the Raven Queen as its own class.
Maybe we don't want fourteen million classes, though, and maybe there are several kinds of Warrior-nuns of the Raven Queen. So long as the player and the GM are on the same page, it's almost certainly fine (though I have to admit I'd look very carefully at a character whose player wanted to bring lore into my setting that allowed him to multiclass paladin and warlock).
 

Saelorn

Hero
uh, considering your avatar I find that just a little ironic for you to say.

I agree that class does inform abilities and possibly behavior of your character, but I don't see how that means you need to pigeonhole yourself either. especially in this day and age where class based rpg's are no longer the norm, and mutliclassing and archetypes are part of 5e. and really if paladins always acted in line we wouldn't have blackguards.
Given that class-based RPGs are less common, the choice to use a class-based system says something. In particular, one of the things it says is that codified classes make sense in this world. After all, if you didn't want your class to really mean something, then you could have played one of those other games.

On a very serious note, one of the problems with sci-fi RPGs is that they don't have a universal set of tropes to help get everyone on the same page with how the world works. The closest we have is Star Trek, and that doesn't work for a lot of campaign types. It's a big problem, which limits their popularity. Hence why space fantasy is much more common.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Given that class-based RPGs are less common, the choice to use a class-based system says something. In particular, one of the things it says is that codified classes make sense in this world. After all, if you didn't want your class to really mean something, then you could have played one of those other games.
Or, you might be playing a class-based game because it's what your friends are playing. I think that's a determining factor more than a lot of people waht to admit.

On a very serious note, one of the problems with sci-fi RPGs is that they don't have a universal set of tropes to help get everyone on the same page with how the world works. The closest we have is Star Trek, and that doesn't work for a lot of campaign types. It's a big problem, which limits their popularity. Hence why space fantasy is much more common.
I'd have to say that Star Wars is at least as much a source of SF archetypes as Star Trek. If nothing else, I can think of more, and more successful TRPGs set in that universe, and the Campbell influence seems more ripe for the taking.
 

Phazonfish

B-Rank Agent
Because the mechanics of the game reflect the reality of the game world. That's why we're using one set of mechanics, instead of some other set of mechanics.

If it was possible for a Warrior-nun of the Raven Queen to be accurately represented with multiple different classes, then that indicates a severe mis-match between the reality and its reflection. We shouldn't be using these classes to represent a reality where they don't hold. The consistent approach would be to define Warrior-nun of the Raven Queen as its own class.
You bring up an excellent point here, which is why I would like to clarify my position. I only support refluffing where the crunch and fluff make sense together. If you have been a Wizard for most of the campaign, but want to take a 1 level dip in Sorcerer, and want to write your new spells off as more scholarly magic instead of explaining your sorcerous origin, I see no reason why not. If your character has the ability to cast Plane Shift and you try and write this off as a non-magical skill of your warrior who has never learned or otherwise obtained a speck of magic and don't have some kind of interesting justification for me, I would have a problem with this as a GM. I agree wholeheartedly with you when you say that the mechanics need to reflect the reality of the game world.
 

Saelorn

Hero
I'd have to say that Star Wars is at least as much a source of SF archetypes as Star Trek. If nothing else, I can think of more, and more successful TRPGs set in that universe, and the Campbell influence seems more ripe for the taking.
Star Wars isn't sci-fi, though. It's Space Fantasy.

Star Trek is sci-fi, albeit pretty far to the soft end of that spectrum.
 


PsyzhranV2

Adventurer
Given that class-based RPGs are less common, the choice to use a class-based system says something. In particular, one of the things it says is that codified classes make sense in this world.
Or maybe it just says that WotC is putting on stage productions of Fiddler on the Roof every night.

Sure, there are other games out there that have a wider range of possibilities built into the system. But most of everybody is playing D&D. Some people, you won't believe it, like D&D even after playing FATE or World of Darkness or Savage Worlds, they just want a bit more latitude of fluff beyond the strictest confines of the class system.
 

Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
I think it's important to separate the class mechanics from the class fluff. The best reskinning you can do is by totally erasing the existing fluff and then building your own back in to make the powers and abilities match the concept.

When creating a character for ToA I wanted to be a nonmagical jungle native warrior. This would naturally swing the way of being a fighter, but there are a lot of heavy armor assumptions to make a fighter work correctly.

After looking over the barbarian, rogue, and monk as substitute's it made the most sense to go with the monk rules to portray the character in my head. But, I'm not a monk. I don't have a monastery. I don't karate kick and Kung Fu people. It was trivial to rewrite each and every ability as representing different aspects of the jungle beasts that my character used in their adventuring.

I did not refer to my character as a monk, but instead as a fighter.
 

Panda-s1

Scruffy and Determined
I think the problem I have stems from knowing how many different iconic characters went into making each class, and in some cases that class might not even represent every character that went into it well. I also find it silly when people use the names of classes in-game as if people in that setting codify adventurers that way (okay some settings do do this, but those settings are usually trying to ape rpg mechanics for comedic effect).

Given that class-based RPGs are less common, the choice to use a class-based system says something. In particular, one of the things it says is that codified classes make sense in this world. After all, if you didn't want your class to really mean something, then you could have played one of those other games.
I mean like prabe said sometimes I don't have a choice in what game I'm going to play. sometimes I have to compromise and choose a class even though the character I have in mind is a bit more nebulous than what the game will let me do. I do like thinking of what class I'm gonna play when I don't have a character in mind, or even coming up with characters with a class in mind, but I especially like thinking outside the bounds of what's usually expected of the class. like not every cleric is going to be the healbot with a mace. sometimes I'm a cleric of a war god and your average person might not think me a holy man but just some random mercenary. or maybe I'm a cleric of a god of magic. people might see me and think of me as some sort of wizard instead. be a fighter who only uses slings, or a ranger who's only ever explored the sewers beneath the city, idk man classes are dumb when they're rigidly defined imo.

On a very serious note, one of the problems with sci-fi RPGs is that they don't have a universal set of tropes to help get everyone on the same page with how the world works. The closest we have is Star Trek, and that doesn't work for a lot of campaign types. It's a big problem, which limits their popularity. Hence why space fantasy is much more common.
I feel like fantasy doesn't have as many universal tropes as people would like to think. and if it does it's probably because it's tapping on the long history of human mythology. science fiction has only really coalesced in it's current form like maybe 200 years ago? the other problem is science fiction by its nature is a lot more open ended. Star Trek has planets and spaceships and it's ostensibly sci fi (though I find this claim tenuous imo). but Fallout only has planet and no spaceships (none that anyone flies at least) and I'll be damned if that's not also sci fi.
 

ad_hoc

Hero
I would totally allow my players to refluff races/classes as each other if it helps them make the character concept they want to make. You tout the strengths of a class based game, but don't list any; I wish you would have, as none are apparent to me.


I disagree. The lore tells us what Paladins are usually like, we don't need the PC's as an example to know how the world works.
Why are you playing D&D?

I don't feel like writing out a treatise on the strengths of D&D right now.

It's all been said before.

What is perplexing me here is why you are playing a game where you can't see the strengths of it.
 

Because the mechanics of the game reflect the reality of the game world. That's why we're using one set of mechanics, instead of some other set of mechanics.

If it was possible for a Warrior-nun of the Raven Queen to be accurately represented with multiple different classes, then that indicates a severe mis-match between the reality and its reflection. We shouldn't be using these classes to represent a reality where they don't hold. The consistent approach would be to define Warrior-nun of the Raven Queen as its own class.
With the fact that between backgrounds, classes/Subclasses, and race alone there are about 1,000 ways to portray any giving thematic 'class' as a base option is pretty apparent that that was the design goal of 5e.
They didn't want to go the way of 3.X with a million classes, subclasses, and prestige classes. They presented a few general classes that can be molded to fit multiple concepts.
Refluffing is the standard in 5e.
 

Panda-s1

Scruffy and Determined
Why are you playing D&D?

I don't feel like writing out a treatise on the strengths of D&D right now.

It's all been said before.

What is perplexing me here is why you are playing a game where you can't see the strengths of it.
man how many times do people have to say it? not everyone has a choice. I mean I could decide not to play with my friends, I could also make a vain attempt to get people to play a different game with no classes, but sometimes you gotta compromise, especially when the most popular rpg in the world uses classes.
 

ad_hoc

Hero
man how many times do people have to say it? not everyone has a choice. I mean I could decide not to play with my friends, I could also make a vain attempt to get people to play a different game with no classes, but sometimes you gotta compromise, especially when the most popular rpg in the world uses classes.
No gaming is better than bad gaming.

If I'm going to play a game then I'm going to play that game and not try to warp it into something else because I don't like it but feel forced to play it.

If I don't like a game that my friends are playing I will find something else to do with them at some other time. I won't join the game I don't like and then dump that baggage on them while they're trying to enjoy something.
 

ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
You guys have heard the phrase "your class is not your character," right? the idea is that you don’t have to be an baby-eating psychopath just because your sorcerer has the Abyssal bloodline. You don’t have to be a purehearted hero just because you know your way around a smite evil.

I'm curious if this is a real problem that people have encountered, or if it's just a good soundbite. Have you ever encountered a GM or another player who told you that you were "playing your class wrong?" I may just be lucky in my groups, but I haven't ever encountered that mess out in the wild.

Comic for illustrative purposes.
I find this is a problem when ether the GM or the player feels that way but the other does not. So for example, some GMs hate players who play more neutral paladins because they define them by their class while some players will play "Lawful Stupid" paladins because they don't think they can "within character" do anything else. Which results in general avoidance of Paladins, Warlocks, druids, and Clerics as well as hate for multi-classing them like Paladin/Warlock builds for example. While the game does not restrict these a GM who thinks "your character IS your class" will not allow the idea that a Paladin of Oath of the Ancients aka fey knights might make a deal with an allied Patron to their cause becoming an Archfey Patron Warlock multi-class despite their being not rules or even fluff that prevents a Nature Domain Deity from having Archfey subordinates who grant additional power from the same faction, to fight for the same cause, against the same enemy, in reverence and support of the same original Deity. Its simply not allowed because "you are your class".

This is made more complicated because often the same GMs and players only hold the "you are your class" beliefs to specific classes. In the same group you might have a GM that feels that way about warlocks and clerics while one player feels that way about druids and another player that way about paladins.

In the end, these are opinions with no actual basis in the rules. So none of them are "wrong" and none of them are "right". No argument will ever over rule someone's opinion. The best you can do is work around the conflicts by being aware of them and picking different options that avoid problems at your table. Generally speaking it comes to a head when the table runs into these unaware that these "restrictions" were there before they got invested into a campaign. I have had "Lawful Stupid" Paladins end up changing characters mid campaign because they could not let themselves play that character with out trying to PVP their own party and Players changing from warlock (forced-evil), cleric (forced pushy religious), or druid (Lawful Tree hugger) because the GM felt players should be tied to acting in a specific manor due to their class that was not how the player intended or wanted to play.
 
Last edited:

Saelorn

Hero
With the fact that between backgrounds, classes/Subclasses, and race alone there are about 1,000 ways to portray any giving thematic 'class' as a base option is pretty apparent that that was the design goal of 5e.
They didn't want to go the way of 3.X with a million classes, subclasses, and prestige classes. They presented a few general classes that can be molded to fit multiple concepts.
Refluffing is the standard in 5e.
Your conclusion doesn't follow from your premise. Backgrounds, subclasses, and races exist as a way to reflect slightly different realities; but the rules still definitely reflect those specific realities.

Re-fluffing died with 4E. The expectation of 5E is that, if you have some new thing which isn't already covered by the rules, you should use the content creation guidelines in the DMG to make those things. But in every case, the only reason to use any given set of mechanics is because it's an accurate reflection of the thing you're trying to represent.
 

Most Liked Threads

Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top