Wednesday, March 18, 2009

an alternative to race+class

In Labyrinth Lord elf, dwarf, and halfing are classes. This fact annoys the people who like to play a certain race but want some more class options. It also annoys people who feel versimilitude is underserved by having all members of a race use the exact same rules. That second group can be wished away by telling them "the rules only apply to adventurers, not typical members of the species". But I'd like to meet the first group at least halfway.

The problem is that I don't always dig the AD&D solution of picking a race from column A and then a class (or more than one class) from column B. More and more I envision the classes Fighter, Magic-User, Cleric, and Thief as specifically Human classes. Those four classes say something about human society in the gameworld and opening the classes up to non-human races muddles that message.

Instead, I think a better solution would be to add more demihuman classes. These would be unique classes that might overlap the Human Four in some ways but aren't the same. Here's my current list of ideas:

Dwarf Alchemist
Dwarf Engineer
Halfling Merchant
Halfling Spelltwerp
Halfling Jester
Elf Poet
Elf Toymaker
Elf Baker

Do you see how just looking at the classes available to each race tells you something about how they fit into the setting?

Each new class would have the same level limits, saving throws, and racial abilities of the normal racial class. Everything else would be up for grabs. Some of the basic work of building the classes could use the material from Paul Crabaugh's "Customized Classes" (Dragon #109). I've already got a rough draft of a Spelltwerp using Crabaugh's numbers. Other classes could benefit from the adaptation of existing classes. The Elf Baker produces cookies with potion-like effects, so one of the zillion existing alchemist variants could probably be made to work. The Dwarf Alchemist, on the other hand, actually makes all sorts of magic items, in the vein of the Rolemaster version of the Alchemist or the norse dwarves that can whip up things like Mjolnir.