Not Classic

What is a class?  I have variously heard classes described as archetypes, as like an occupation a character trains for, or as a methodology for solving problems.  All of these descriptions are useful, and I don’t think there has to be a precise definition.  But if D&D is to be an appealing class based role-playing system, I think the classes do have to be meaningful.  They must serve a natural function in categorizing characters: class features should arise naturally from the archetype/occupation/methodology and not as arbitrary rules.  Thus any character conceivable that fits the archetype should fit the class, not just certain personalities and backgrounds.  Actions chosen should be driven by the character being played, not the class.  So far, I do not expect strong disagreement – but on to the controversial parts of this post.


 


1.  “Rogue” is NOT a class; it is a personality.  Surely a character can be inclined toward discretion and subtle physical talents as a means of solving problems while still acting with honor and strict adherence to legal principles.  And one can act irresponsibly, on the fringes of legal and or accepted behavior, with crude manners or as a dishonest charlatan while solving conflicts through brute strength and mastery of weapons with the protection of heavy armor.


 


2.  “Barbarian” is NOT a class; it is a background.  Surely a character can come from a technologically backward society outside the mainstream cultural norms and still approach problems, say, with a strong faith in the divine and through pursuit of the transcendental.  On the other hand, even a highly refined paragon of social propriety can have a deep seated, thinly controlled rage when confronted with conflict.


 


3.  “Monk” does NOT imply lawful.  Surely one can exhibit high levels of personal discipline, self-denial, and rigorous training while still upholding the supremacy of the individual and opposing laws that suppress free personal expression – even to the point of opposing all laws in favor of personal responsibility (an anarchist view).


 


4.  “Ranger” is NOT a class; it is a type of fighter.  It is a person who has applied martial training and techniques is ways adapted to wilderness situations.


 


I recognize WOTC will probably be unwilling to address these complaints – there are some strong D&D traditions that are hard to change; eliminating rogue, barbarian, and ranger classes will turn off more customers than it pleases.  But I would argue that there are traditions (e.g. THAC0) that need to change for the game to improve.  If D&D next does not strive to improve upon –  rather than to just re-create the game to sell new materials, it is destined to fail.

a monk is someone who takes an oath and trains his mind and body with discpline that is a tennant of lawful chaos dosent care about oaths, meditation or following rules to learn skills.

to take the dnd system and to make it a point based classless system where you can have the class skills of any class and have a hybrid is already done its called gurps and it is done well so why make a poor copy of another game.

how can a rogue climb a wall in plate mail and a shield and sneak into a window to open a door from the other side for the party, or hide in shadows wearing 100 lbs of armor. they sacrafice it to keep agile and use cunning and skills they trained in to do what other classes cannot.

if you want a basic 4 class system with templets or backgrounds such as a ranger kit for fighters i can deal with that it has been done with the complete class books and would fit in with what dnd at its core should be.

but like a car if you remove the engine which has been part of the car since day 1 and you replace it with something not reliable and functional you will go out of business.
a monk is someone who takes an oath and trains his mind and body with discpline that is a tennant of lawful chaos dosent care about oaths, meditation or following rules to learn skills.



That is fluff, not rules.  It is not a requirement of the class.
its how real monks train and what they do to get there how is that fluff
its how real monks train and what they do to get there how is that fluff



Because class and concept are not the same thing.  One can be a member of the class 'Monk' without being a Monk in concept.
1. I diagree. "Rogue" is a better term than "thief" or "scoundrel" or "assassin," since each of those has negative connotations. Sure, roguish can mean "dishonest," but another definition is "playfully mischevious," which captures his core skills well. What is a better alternative?

2. I agree. I'm in the "Berserker" camp, since it lacks the "uncivilized" connotation. Still, it's probably such a classic term that it won't see a change, much like how we'll never see the term "Armor Class" changed, even though it's a bit quaint.

3. I disagree. "Discipline, self-denial, and rigorous training" are the hallmarks of a lawful personality. A politician who upholds individual liberty can still have a lawful alignment so long as he follows his own personal code. Now, if he starts encouraging people to plant IEDs and rise up against the government, taking matters into one's own hands, then that's a bit more chaotic.

A lawful person follows an exterior code of conduct, while a chaotic person eschews codes and ethics in favor of a situation-by-situation analysis. A lawful evil person makes sure to follow a code that benefits him and him alone, while a chaotic good person regards his own personal choices as working toward the greater benefit of everyone.

Can a monk become chaotic? Sure, but then he's not much of a monk anymore (much like a fallen paladin could be a blackguard). If he lacks the discipline to rigidly train and perfect himself, then maybe he's getting his powers from some other source--psionics, magic, evil demons, whatever.

Of course, if the monk doesn't belong to an organization and just got his powers from being a magic fisty-punchy man, then an alignment restriction doesn't make much sense. I think 95% of monks might be lawful, but the others have some 'splainin to do.

4. Agree and disagree. In D&D, rangers have a supernatural empathy with animals. They also may be good at fighting, but that skill comes from environmental mastery (favored enemies and favored terrain). They typically have high mobility and wear lighter armor, which benefits two-weapon fighting and ranged attacks. These all make the ranger distinct from a typical fighter.
1.  “Rogue” is NOT a class; it is a personality.  Surely a character can be inclined toward discretion and subtle physical talents as a means of solving problems while still acting with honor and strict adherence to legal principles. 



There, you just described what D&D means by the class Rogue.


And one can act irresponsibly, on the fringes of legal and or accepted behavior, with crude manners or as a dishonest charlatan while solving conflicts through brute strength and mastery of weapons with the protection of heavy armor.



To D&D that's more of an outlaw fighter.
Yes, you could call that person a Rogue but then we'd be merely arguing about the usage of words.
At some point we just have to choose a word to indicate something, and D&D chose that first description you gave to be the class Rogue.



4.  “Ranger” is NOT a class; it is a type of fighter.  It is a person who has applied martial training and techniques is ways adapted to wilderness situations.



I find the two to be different enough in concept to deserve two distinct classes.
The fighter is any type of warrior whose life is wholly dedicated to mastering combat (whether he succeeds in that or not) and who is expected to fight when the time is come: a medieval knight or man-at-arms, a thug who provides security for a gangster, a crossbowman who mans the walls of a city, a modern soldier, even the president's Secret Service.

A ranger knows how to fight because fighting is embeded in his business, but his main purpose is to be the scout, the patroller of woods or roads or countryside... he's the man on the watch in the less civilized or less populated parts of the realms, and his job is not necessarily to fight, though fight he must sometimes.
If you've read or watched George RR Martin's Game of Thrones, the Night's Watch are a very good example of rangers.



However, I confess I don't get this fixation D&D has with rangers wielding bows and/or two weapons.
I wonder where they got this idea from, that rangers should be specialized in those two forms of fighting? 

It sounds like complaints 1 and 2 are complaints about semantics, not about actual class structure.

(Complaint 3, by the way, isn't actually an issue; the Classes document says that most monks are lawful, not that you have to be lawful if you play a monk) 
1 - could be Scout, less negative connatations but skill gives an idea to the skillset. Also Troubleshooter or Agent.

2 - I agree on barbarian, it's a background and way of life. Also known as nomad or simply wanderer.

3 - Agree with Veggie-sama.

You could allow Neutral (non Chaotic Monks) so the lawful side is their focus on martial arts, but they have a carefee side for family and friends etc.

4 - I hope the new edition differentiates between Ranger and Barbarian more, both wilderness warriors in light armour. Living in the wilderness has nothing to do with focusing anger or using two weapons at the same time. These both need to be redone. I think make them options under the same class.

Key things for D&D - Where is the character from and why do they do what they do? / Recurring NPCs - allies and enemies / Plot, World and Personal Events.

Rogues win with skills
Barbarians win with raw talent and emotion
Monks win with just body and soul
Rangers win with adaption and perception
....

Fighters win with weapons and armor

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

You're too hung up on the names of the classes.  The name of the class is meaningless; a class is a collection of mechanical abilities, nothing more.  The flavor and fluff around it is entirely up to the player.

Your 'Barbarian' (class) doesn't have to be a barbarian (concept).  He could have been born in a city and spent his entire life there.  By the same token, any class can be a 'barbarian' (concept).  Same with Ranger, Monk, and every other class.   Class is not concept, concept is not class.

Don't feel shackled by the default fluff.  You can change it to whatever you want it to be.
You're too hung up on the names of the classes.  The name of the class is meaningless; a class is a collection of mechanical abilities, nothing more.  The flavor and fluff around it is entirely up to the player.

Your 'Barbarian' (class) doesn't have to be a barbarian (concept).  He could have been born in a city and spent his entire life there.  By the same token, any class can be a 'barbarian' (concept).  Same with Ranger, Monk, and every other class.   Class is not concept, concept is not class.

Don't feel shackled by the default fluff.  You can change it to whatever you want it to be.

This.

You are confusing the existence of backgrounds with classes.  It is possible (even desirable!) to have overlap.  For example, any character could have a background as part of the clergy without being a cleric, or have a background as a soldier without being a fighter.
1.  “Rogue” is NOT a class; it is a personality.  Surely a character can be inclined toward discretion and subtle physical talents as a means of solving problems while still acting with honor and strict adherence to legal principles.  And one can act irresponsibly, on the fringes of legal and or accepted behavior, with crude manners or as a dishonest charlatan while solving conflicts through brute strength and mastery of weapons with the protection of heavy armor.

This is a perfect example of what I'm talking about.  Any character can take a background that involves "rogue-ishness", but this doesn't make you a rogue.  Nor does it negate the purpose of the rogue class, which is more than just 4 skills and a background trait.

2.  “Barbarian” is NOT a class; it is a background.  Surely a character can come from a technologically backward society outside the mainstream cultural norms and still approach problems, say, with a strong faith in the divine and through pursuit of the transcendental.  On the other hand, even a highly refined paragon of social propriety can have a deep seated, thinly controlled rage when confronted with conflict.

Exactly!  And that is why "barbarian" would make a good background as well as a class.  And that is also why the Barbarian class doesn't require you to "come from a technologically backward society outside the mainstream cultural norms".  Nothing prevents you from making "a highly refined paragon of social propriety" with "a deep seated, thinly controlled rage when confronted with conflict."

3.  “Monk” does NOT imply lawful.  Surely one can exhibit high levels of personal discipline, self-denial, and rigorous training while still upholding the supremacy of the individual and opposing laws that suppress free personal expression – even to the point of opposing all laws in favor of personal responsibility (an anarchist view).

You are a bit late on this one: the monk in the latest playtest packet no longer has to be lawful.

4.  “Ranger” is NOT a class; it is a type of fighter.  It is a person who has applied martial training and techniques is ways adapted to wilderness situations.

Again, while there are certainly backgrounds to represent a wilderness scout type, this does not encompass everything the Ranger class can do. 

Classes are one of the strongest D&D traditions, right up there behind the ability scores and using a d20.  They are certainly more important than a mechanic like ThacO, which is simply a way to resolve attack rolls. 


Could the system be simplified?  Sure.  Every so often you see suggestions to meld classes, merge classes, eliminate classes altogether, etc.  But as you say, D&D is a class based game.  That is something that isn't likely to change.  So before a class is eliminated or merged into another class, the designers need to really think about whether this is a good idea.  Is the concept deserving of the richness of mechanics and options that come with a full class?  Or could it survive as part of an existing class, or even as a background?


Now, we aren't all going to agree on these questions.  I'm guessing you would say things like Barbarian, Rogue, and Ranger don't deserve to be classes.  I disagree.  I think they are rich enough archetypes with a strong tradition that warrants the treatment of a full class.  And I also think that having backgrounds that overlap with classes is a strength.  It allows for an extra level of customization for character creation.

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