Choices Within Classes

I like the concept of each class having variations built right into the class itself.

Take a look at the The Akashic class from Monte Cook's Arcana Evolved.

When we played this, we really loved the fact that you could pick your own abilities (lesser, minor, greater) allowing one Akashic to be different from another. It was almost like class and level specific feats, but built into the class itself.

I believe SAGA had something cool like that too. If memory serves, they were called Talent Trees.

If these lists were extensive enough, people could really craft what they want all within the core class.

Then you would no longer need feats specific to classes. Feats would become truly "general" things available to any class (toughness, dodge, etc).
I'm all for taking base classes and allowing many variations within classes. One could be a rogue but by choosing by picking rogue abilites what kind.Be an assasin-type (combat-stealth), thug (combat thievery), burglar (acrobatics/thievery), trickster (bluff/minor illusion magic), acrobat (acrobatics/atletics), trapper (nature/stealth), face (bluff/thievery)

You could even have 2 types of paladin for instance, clerics that specialize incombat or fighters that dabble in the divine.

I would take this even further. I think almost all of the 4E classes could have been boiled into classic classes from 3E.

Ardent is just a leader psion
artificer is just a leader wizard
assassin is just a rogue or maybe a rogue/wizard or rogue/cleric
avenger is just a striker paladin
battlemind is just a fighter/psion
invoker is just a controller (or striker) cleric
runepriest is dumb (I mean is a cleric)
seeker is just a ranger
shaman is a druid
sorcerer is a wizard
swordmage is a fighter/wizard
warden is a druid/fighter or druid/barbarian
warlock is a wizard
warlord is just a leader fighter

Essentials started decoupling role from class. We got a striker fighter, a striker paladin, and a controller ranger. Why can't we have a leader fighter (warlord), a leader paladin (armored cleric), or all sorts of other combinations.

Multiclassing would need to be different, but I hope to see it better this time around. 
Poe's Law is alive and well. Emerikol is right*
I would take this even further. I think almost all of the 4E classes could have been boiled into classic classes from 3E.

Ardent is just a leader psion
artificer is just a leader wizard
assassin is just a rogue or maybe a rogue/wizard or rogue/cleric
avenger is just a striker paladin
battlemind is just a fighter/psion
invoker is just a controller (or striker) cleric
runepriest is dumb (I mean is a cleric)
seeker is just a ranger
shaman is a druid
sorcerer is a wizard
swordmage is a fighter/wizard
warden is a druid/fighter or druid/barbarian
warlock is a wizard
warlord is just a leader fighter

Essentials started decoupling role from class. We got a striker fighter, a striker paladin, and a controller ranger. Why can't we have a leader fighter (warlord), a leader paladin (armored cleric), or all sorts of other combinations. 



I totally agree, or they could go one further to a Core 2nd Ed style grouping deal (Priest, Rogue, Warrior, Wizard).

I think the Basic game will have 4 classes. 
I like the concept of each class having variations built right into the class itself.



I am so with you on this. As a 3.x-er, one of the things that annoys me about my favorite edition is all the extra base classes. Sure there are some that I feel should stay (psions, for example), but there are some that should have been folded into the base classes of PHB. Knights, swashbucklers, samurai, etc. should have been feat choices and/or alternate class features for fighters. The same with scouts, ninja, etc. for rogues, and wu jen, warmages, warlocks, etc. for wizards, and so on. Hexblades, duskblades, etc. shouldn't need to exist because multiclassing should have worked better for modeling "gish" characters.

I can see keeping certain classes even if they could be represented as options for other classes (like druids or even sorcerers) or could be represented through multiclassing (paladins and rangers) for tradition's sake (heck, keeping the traditions of D&D is important for many of us that have been playing for decades). But beyond such traditional classes, let's keep base classes at a minimum and just give them greater ability to model different archetypes.
I'd take the decoupling in a slightly different direction actually -- ever since essentials we've seen classes which are like the ranger, with martial at-wills and primal dailies.

I'd love to see the Ardent qualify as a warlord with some psionic talents.  I wouldn't make the sorcerer "just a wizard" because the power source is fundamentally different.  On the other hand, the Avenger and the Paladin fit together really well.

I'd make the swordmage a fighter FIRST and an arcane character second.  Sure, it's an INT based arcane class, but it feels more like "rawr I am tough and trained" and less like "oh, let me study this book."  That said, you can probably make the argument either way, and if it was done well, I'd be cool with it.

Martial classes in particular lend themselves well to +power source additions.  Take a rogue, add some shadow, and you get an assassin.  Take a fighter, add some divine, and you get a paladin.  Take a ranger, add some primal... ok some more primal... and you get a seeker.

Rather than going Role + Source => Class, a class should be defined by a single unifying theme.  Do you like to wander the woods, fight in light armor, and use a bow?  Then you're a ranger.  Are you a ranger of pure martial talent or a ranger   with some magic?  Done.

But these are implementation details.  The core of the idea -- that variant classes are better than new core classes -- is a sound one.  Lets see more of that.
The general idea should be to make the individual classes broader, so you don't get very specific classes like the Runepriest which receive very little support. One thing that could help in this regard is to attach powers to power source instead of class. So you'd get martial combat styles, divine domains, arcane schools, and so on. Each class would have access to certain power pools, and could pick up additional pools by multiclassing (granting access to class-specific and default power pools within that class) or taking feats (which would grant access to all "common" power pools within a source).

Each class would also be able to focus on different combat roles; so you could build your Fighter as a Defender or Striker, or your Wizard as a Controller or Striker.

If you want a Fighter/Wizard, you can multiclass and get your pick out of the power pools available to both classes. There might also be "hybrid" classes, such as the Paladin, who can select both Martial and Divine powers, and get their own unique tricks as well.

Of course, with the addition of "common" and "class-specific" power pools, a Paladin and a Fighter/Cleric could play very differently, since the Paladin wouldn't be able to get certain Fighter or Cleric abilities without multiclassing.

It's interesting, but this would make the player minis a little bit more cohesive as well. 


As for the main topic, I completely agree - four classes with variants inside each class.  It could be skill trees, feats, whatever.  But this would make for a game that is easier for beginners to understand, and one that experienced players could have fun learning how to make a specific "style" of character they're looking for. 

I think Pathfinder's Oracle class is a better example of what your talking about then the,Akansha class.

Depending on the Mystery, Curse, Archetype and of coarse spell, you can build an incredibly different types of characters out of the class.

What a fire blaster, choose fire and the right feats and you can make the best fire blasting class, but your not going to be as good a healer as an Oracle of life. Add the possessed archetype and the haunted curse and you have an awesome representation of a demon possessed person who is tormented, has get power in exchange. Want a incredible healer take the life mystery. Check out the Oracle on the pathfinder srd.

In fact I'd model the new cleric class on a mix of the Oracle and the old cleric, using Oracle as the base model, mix the domain and mystery ideas, add turn undead, and change the curse for a diety specific divine blessing that fucntioned simularly.

+1 to this request. 4e power choices, SWSE talent trees, and the like make classes far more interesting. I want the ability to build vastly different types of characters. Having a choice at each level, the way one does in SWSE, is great. And, before someone jumps on the 4e power choices bit, I am not saying that the choices have to resemble 4e powers. In fact, I think I preferred SWSE talents. I am just saying, those two ideas, which grew from the same seed, were good ideas; or, at least, the seed idea was a good idea. 


 
Many options within a class reduces the "need" for more classes. Customizable classes make it more likely that players can create a build closely matching their character concept. What I'd most like to see is building a PC by choosing character features from a menu, but this could be a decent compromise.
I'm amazed on the quantity of people that are agreeing with each other here. We need a smaller number of classes, each with a lot of customizable options. This deserves a petition of some kind.

More thoughts on this?
You know the more I read the transcript from the live chat on Class Design, the more I feel that we're going to get just what the topic calls for.

It's pretty much the route Pathfinder is taking.  They only create a new Class when it is something with a clearly different mechanic from anything that already exists.  In other cases they have created Archetypes for the existing classes, pretty much just swaping certain abilities out for new ones to focus a character in a specific direction. 

The Swashbuckler is a Rogue archetype, the Tactician(Warlord) is a Fighter Archetype, there is a shapeshifter archetype for the Ranger, Heretic for the Cleric, and so on.