e20 Core Classes

Discussion of e20 System classes: their roles, class features, and talent trees.

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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby GeneD5 » Wed Feb 17, 2010 4:51 pm

Going back to the Star Wars: Saga Edition classes, here's another suggestion, based on my own homebrew attempts to simplify D20:

-Explorer (Scout, Int): the scientist, the survival expert, the tactical improviser (runner/support)
-Diplomat (Noble, Cha): the social expert, the morale builder, the leader/strategist (leader)
-Mystic (Jedi, Wis): the party conscience, the scholar, the team bulwark (healer/controller)
-Trader (Scoundrel, Dex): the swashbuckling pirate, the canny merchant, the sneaky thief (striker)
-Warrior (Soldier, Str): the soldier of fortune, the front-line fighter, the strong man -- or woman (brick/tank)

I tried to balance combat and role-playing roles, and I left out Con, because presumably health/Hit Points are important to all characters, and they may be based on species/race, some of which are tougher than others.
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby fodigg » Wed Feb 17, 2010 5:12 pm

GeneD5 wrote:Going back to the Star Wars: Saga Edition classes, here's another suggestion, based on my own homebrew attempts to simplify D20:

-Explorer (Scout, Int): the scientist, the survival expert, the tactical improviser (runner/support)
-Diplomat (Noble, Cha): the social expert, the morale builder, the leader/strategist (leader)
-Mystic (Jedi, Wis): the party conscience, the scholar, the team bulwark (healer/controller)
-Trader (Scoundrel, Dex): the swashbuckling pirate, the canny merchant, the sneaky thief (striker)
-Warrior (Soldier, Str): the soldier of fortune, the front-line fighter, the strong man -- or woman (brick/tank)

I tried to balance combat and role-playing roles, and I left out Con, because presumably health/Hit Points are important to all characters, and they may be based on species/race, some of which are tougher than others.


No offense, but I'm not really fond of these. Generally, (with the exception of "mystic") they seem like activities adventurers of any archetype (class) might do over the course of a session. Exploration, social encounters, equipment swaping/trade, and combat.

Then Mystic is problematic because not all settings/modules will include "mystical arts". When I think what the INT class will look like in a Western setting, I'm thinking Doc Holiday, the fast-draw/horrible shot card-shark who carried a shotgun (rod of fireballs?) to make up for his lack of accuracy.
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby Stacie_GmrGrl » Wed Feb 17, 2010 6:07 pm

GeneD5 wrote:Going back to the Star Wars: Saga Edition classes, here's another suggestion, based on my own homebrew attempts to simplify D20:

-Explorer (Scout, Int): the scientist, the survival expert, the tactical improviser (runner/support)
-Diplomat (Noble, Cha): the social expert, the morale builder, the leader/strategist (leader)
-Mystic (Jedi, Wis): the party conscience, the scholar, the team bulwark (healer/controller)
-Trader (Scoundrel, Dex): the swashbuckling pirate, the canny merchant, the sneaky thief (striker)
-Warrior (Soldier, Str): the soldier of fortune, the front-line fighter, the strong man -- or woman (brick/tank)

I tried to balance combat and role-playing roles, and I left out Con, because presumably health/Hit Points are important to all characters, and they may be based on species/race, some of which are tougher than others.


And I like these... I even like Mystic for an all purpose name, but I don't think we won't be having a Mystic class in this game, I do like it.

They are generic enough to have a wide variety of Talent Trees without the genre hang ups that a lot of other names would have. :)
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby Superkid » Thu Feb 18, 2010 12:35 am

The Tough (Con) and Dedicated (Wis) basic classes never really did it for me in d20 Modern. I think that's because these ability scores are traditionally passive, being used for calculating resistance against physical and mental attacks. The other four ability scores are more "active." This seems to correspond with dropping the "Mystic" from the Star Wars-inspired to get four classes (based on either Str, Dex, Int, or Cha). Plus, it makes sense that physical characters will want a lot of resistance to physical attacks, and "mental" characters would certainly benefit from better resistance to mental attacks. Another possible scheme for classes could be Strong/Tough, Fast/Tough, Smart/Dedicated, and Charismatic/Dedicated.
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby Imagist » Thu Feb 18, 2010 5:50 pm

So I started going through all of the suggestions for names for the various classes trying to make a list... and I gave up because there are crazy loads of suggestions. However, I have come to this conclusion:

a) We are looking for a genera neutral naming convention for 5-6 core classes (each one revolving around one of the six ability scores with maybe the option of combining Strength with Constitution to create a hybrid melee role)

2) The d20 Modern names of Strong Hero, Fast Hero, Tough Hero, Smart Hero, Dedicated Hero, and Charismatic Hero, while logical and flexible enough to work, don't seem to "pop" for most of the people on the board

and finally) The names we have been getting for suggestions haven't been working mostly due to the fact they either imply a non-neutral component or specialization that undermines the genera neutral and unhindered broadness each class is supposed to represent

Yes, you could use Agent for each and every one of the classes because it is vague, but it wouldn't be a good idea because it implies a government or religious hierarchy and says absolutely nothing about what the class can do. Things like Champion, Guardian, Protector and the like imply too much of a positive connotation... sure you could have a Champion of evil or even a neutral Champion, but there is no guarantee that a Champion is going to champion anything in the course of their adventuring career. Large majorities of the other suggestion are simply the names of professions, advanced classes, or specializations that would not fit into the genera neutral vagueness we are attempting to find, but would more than certainly have a place elsewhere in the e20 system.

About the best suggestion I have seen thus far is "Savant" for the smart heroic class, although there are a few others I could go with.

The reason names like Soldier, Scout, Scoundrel, Noble, and Jedi worked for SWSE is because it wasn't a genera neutral campaign world, it was a system based on a universe where each role was defined and knew their place in the bigger picture.

Unfortunately, we do not have the luxury of getting to pick names for our classes just because they sound "cool" or "bad-ass." We have to pick names that represent the genera neutral e20 system we are trying to create, but don't let that dishearten you because you think you aren't going to have as much fun playing a Strong Hero than you are playing a Guardian. Your character is more than just the name of your class, and for the most part your character isn't going to know he is a Strong Hero... or a Guardian for that matter. He is only going to know his name is Zack and he has a heroic strength that he will use to protect the innocent.
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby ronin » Thu Feb 18, 2010 9:40 pm

Imagist wrote:So I started going through all of the suggestions for names for the various classes trying to make a list... and I gave up because there are crazy loads of suggestions. However, I have come to this conclusion:

a) We are looking for a genera neutral naming convention for 5-6 core classes (each one revolving around one of the six ability scores with maybe the option of combining Strength with Constitution to create a hybrid melee role)

2) The d20 Modern names of Strong Hero, Fast Hero, Tough Hero, Smart Hero, Dedicated Hero, and Charismatic Hero, while logical and flexible enough to work, don't seem to "pop" for most of the people on the board

and finally) The names we have been getting for suggestions haven't been working mostly due to the fact they either imply a non-neutral component or specialization that undermines the genera neutral and unhindered broadness each class is supposed to represent

Yes, you could use Agent for each and every one of the classes because it is vague, but it wouldn't be a good idea because it implies a government or religious hierarchy and says absolutely nothing about what the class can do. Things like Champion, Guardian, Protector and the like imply too much of a positive connotation... sure you could have a Champion of evil or even a neutral Champion, but there is no guarantee that a Champion is going to champion anything in the course of their adventuring career. Large majorities of the other suggestion are simply the names of professions, advanced classes, or specializations that would not fit into the genera neutral vagueness we are attempting to find, but would more than certainly have a place elsewhere in the e20 system.

About the best suggestion I have seen thus far is "Savant" for the smart heroic class, although there are a few others I could go with.

The reason names like Soldier, Scout, Scoundrel, Noble, and Jedi worked for SWSE is because it wasn't a genera neutral campaign world, it was a system based on a universe where each role was defined and knew their place in the bigger picture.

Unfortunately, we do not have the luxury of getting to pick names for our classes just because they sound "cool" or "bad-ass." We have to pick names that represent the genera neutral e20 system we are trying to create, but don't let that dishearten you because you think you aren't going to have as much fun playing a Strong Hero than you are playing a Guardian. Your character is more than just the name of your class, and for the most part your character isn't going to know he is a Strong Hero... or a Guardian for that matter. He is only going to know his name is Zack and he has a heroic strength that he will use to protect the innocent.


While I have always been in favor of keeping the original names you have presented the best reason for staying with them.

Well done!
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby Stacie_GmrGrl » Fri Feb 19, 2010 2:46 am

Ugh, if we go with d20M classes kill me now...worst names of all time. Just my opinion. Seriously, kill me now... well, don't kill me for reals, but you know what I mean... those names, so lame and so, so so so so so so boring.
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby Imagist » Fri Feb 19, 2010 5:19 pm

Stacie_GmrGrl wrote:Ugh, if we go with d20M classes kill me now...worst names of all time. Just my opinion. Seriously, kill me now... well, don't kill me for reals, but you know what I mean... those names, so lame and so, so so so so so so boring.


Well, my suggestion is this… if we don’t want to stick with the genera neutral vague unimpressive names for the six stat-based core classes, than we need to change the genera neutral vague unimpressive six stat-based core classes.

As stated a few times in this thread, the idea has been passed around about how we can help better define the role and focus of each of the six classes. Here is my suggestion on a possible path:

a) We combine Strength and Constitution into one class. This makes the most sense to create a dedicated melee combatant that would require physical strength and resiliency. While all classes need Constitution if they want to be survivable in combat, a Strength-based character needs it the most because the front lines is where it can do the most damage and make the best use of its Strength-based abilities and skill sets.

2) Emphasize the importance of having both physical and mental attributes that mesh well together. For physically based characters, a high Wisdom can help with perceiving enemies first. For mentally based characters, a high Dexterity can help ensure survivability in a fast-paced encounter as well as put you higher up on the initiative roll to make sure you can use your special abilities early.

Finally) Create a universally iconic genera neutral role for the core class. Easier said than done.

I will try to think some more on this one and get back to you guys.
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby Stacie_GmrGrl » Fri Feb 19, 2010 7:21 pm

I say just create completely and totally brand new classes that fit within certain themes/archetypes and just forget ever knowing about d20 Modern, D&D3.x, SWSE, and start from a fresh, clean slate and pretend that this game is brand new and go from there and forget what's come before... get our minds out of the previous 10 years and start fresh. Don't really think in terms of "party role," that's what 4e did. Let's think in broader terms, what is it we are trying to accomplish?

We need every class to have some functionality in combat, and the same for non-combat. But, there is one that will be THE Combatant class, another will be THE Talker class, another will be THE Sneak class, and another will be THE Solver class, and another will be THE Backer class. So, for those who want to keep Niche protection, which I say is a flaw in thinking, but that's me, then this is where we have to start.

Combatant - really good at fighting
Talker - really good at talking things through and social elements
Sneak - really good at sneaking around
Solver - really good at thinking and solving situations and information gathering
Backer - really good at improving the party's performance

All of these will have both combat and non-combat aspects to them, but each has a overall focus on what they do best.

So, why is there a pressing Need to keep to the 6 Stats and why is there a pressing need to conform to how things have been done in the past?

Go with Combatant, Backer, Sneak, Solver, and Talker, and go from there... Maybe the core classes can be a combination of 2 of these, like the following:

Backer/Combatant...
Backer/Sneak...
Backer/Solver...
Backer/Talker...
Combatant/Sneak...
Combatant/Talker...
Combatant/Solver...
Sneak/Solver...
Sneak/Talker...
Solver/Talker...

Now, name them. :) Get away from tying them directly to the 6 scores, they don't matter. What matters is coming up with a good group of classes that perform what they are designed to perform. Get away from how 4e did it with Roles, that was to limiting. For a genreless, Neutral game, we have to not think in terms of "Party Role" or how the classes were done in the past.

Now, the above list shows 10 possible combinations... if we want we can possibly comebine them further, depending on if we are hard pressed for having to have 6. How we combine some of them down to 6, I'll let others do that.
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby Imagist » Fri Feb 19, 2010 8:44 pm

Don't underestimate the role ability scores play in a class's development. Some players are comfortable playing characters that revolve around a certain class concept based on an ability score. If you try to remove a class from ability scores too much you may create a system where players are not sure what a class represents.

Strength/Constitution based classes are good for players that want a simple and straightforward approach to combat (i.e. kick down the door playing style). Such roles as the frontline fighter, the beefy tank, or the unstoppable force are enjoyable for such players because it gives them a sense of accomplishment in the game with little thinking and the memorization of few mechanics.

Dexterity based classes are good for players that want to move about or focus on ranged attack and superior physical defenses (i.e. gunslingers, archers, and unfettered combatants). Such roles are enjoyable to play for characters that want to be “untouchable” or simply outmaneuver enemies with pure speed and agility.

Intelligence based classes are good for planners or characters that wish to have a large base of skills to draw upon during a session. Some characters favor this approach as it gives them flexibility and the resources to plan ahead. If they can create a good strategy, they can give their party an edge. Intelligence is also the quintessential wizard or sage ability score.

Wisdom based classes are usually played by individuals who enjoy helping others, by empathizing with others and perceiving a situation and its dangers. Often the “healer” of the group, wisdom based characters often enjoy role-playing or being able to mechanically “tend to their allies.”

Charisma based classes are usually played by individuals who enjoy social interaction roles or who want a sense of “cool” in their characters. While most mechanics presented in the core systems rely on physical combat encounters, it is entirely possible to have a campaign focused completely on social interaction where initiative is hardly ever rolled.

Just a thought.
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby bone_naga » Fri Feb 19, 2010 10:19 pm

Also lets not forget that its ok to limit each class, because the very open-ended multiclass system Gary has proposed makes it very easy to expand the character beyond his class/role/key ability scores/whatever. Having a focus for each class makes it easier to design it and makes it easier on new players. Experienced players can simply multiclass as they please and end up with all sorts of crazy and unique characters.
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby Stacie_GmrGrl » Sat Feb 20, 2010 2:11 am

Imagist wrote:Don't underestimate the role ability scores play in a class's development. Some players are comfortable playing characters that revolve around a certain class concept based on an ability score. If you try to remove a class from ability scores too much you may create a system where players are not sure what a class represents.

Strength/Constitution based classes are good for players that want a simple and straightforward approach to combat (i.e. kick down the door playing style). Such roles as the frontline fighter, the beefy tank, or the unstoppable force are enjoyable for such players because it gives them a sense of accomplishment in the game with little thinking and the memorization of few mechanics.

Dexterity based classes are good for players that want to move about or focus on ranged attack and superior physical defenses (i.e. gunslingers, archers, and unfettered combatants). Such roles are enjoyable to play for characters that want to be “untouchable” or simply outmaneuver enemies with pure speed and agility.

Intelligence based classes are good for planners or characters that wish to have a large base of skills to draw upon during a session. Some characters favor this approach as it gives them flexibility and the resources to plan ahead. If they can create a good strategy, they can give their party an edge. Intelligence is also the quintessential wizard or sage ability score.

Wisdom based classes are usually played by individuals who enjoy helping others, by empathizing with others and perceiving a situation and its dangers. Often the “healer” of the group, wisdom based characters often enjoy role-playing or being able to mechanically “tend to their allies.”

Charisma based classes are usually played by individuals who enjoy social interaction roles or who want a sense of “cool” in their characters. While most mechanics presented in the core systems rely on physical combat encounters, it is entirely possible to have a campaign focused completely on social interaction where initiative is hardly ever rolled.

Just a thought.


I guess I've played too many point based games to where I can say that all this is irrelevant and no character should be dependant on a "Stat" to determine what archetype it should be, if archetypes have to be strictly followed at all. Stats are nothing more than the bare bones and raw potential of the character, that's it. To say any of the above is really limiting the true potential of what could become, and this also is making a huge amount of assumptions that, IMO, have no bearing whatsoever.

I don't ever make characters with the mindset that, "I'll focus on Charisma because I want to have a socially focused character." Never... that's a totally min/max approach to character creation that I absolutely do not go by at all... no, I go at a character thinking about all of what she is, her looks, demeanor, background and how it played a factor in her development, her reasons for why she is adventuring, personal goals.... AND THEN I pick the best class that fits, if its a class based game. But, that's just how I design characters, and I'm a minority when it comes to this approach. Most people focus on the numbers first, then the character background, if they think of background at all.

But, the above is a whole lot of assumptions about assuming what some people might choose to play on a whole lot of assumptions and should no way in any shape determine what classes are developed.

Personally, I think classes are a hindrance and archaic game design that should be abolished, they shoehorn people into specified roles that, conceptually, just don't make a whole lot of sense character wise, but that doesn't mean I don't have fun playing games with classes in them. :) And I think that, if we can take that step to branch out from the past d20 games and give it a real fresh facelift and improve upon d20, this game can be a whole lot of fun.

But thinking... Class A HAS to be the Strength class... that's just really limiting its true potential because its causing that class to be shoehorned into that stereotypical Stat theme... it's almost as bad, if not worse, than 4e's shoehorning of classees into the 4 roles they came up with.
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby Jimmy Plamondon » Sat Feb 20, 2010 10:13 am

Classless system = no naming issues.

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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby Imagist » Sat Feb 20, 2010 10:16 am

I wasn't trying to say a player should revolve their character around a certain stat, just that certain stats are often linked with a certain character concept/role/play style. I was just trying to make it easier for players, especially newer players, to find a character concept that was not only enjoyable to play, but also provided a useful role to the party. A point buy system that is ultimately customizable is a wonderful tool for an experienced gamer within an experienced group, but from personal experience trying to teach a new player how to play or even build a character when everything is free form is a nightmare (like pulling teeth but with no pillow money).

I felt that each stat represented a certain style of play, after all each stat represents a core aspect of your character and how their interact with the world. It just happens that having a high score in the stat you use the most in your playing style gives you a slight advantage. I would be really happy to see a system develop where a character could be inspiring without having to have a super high Charisma score, because sometimes it is the wall-flowers that bring people together and rally the troops. After all, you should get the most abilities from your class and how your character specializes rather than getting the most from your base stat. In d20 modern, a lot of the class talents were based on having a high ability score in whatever class you were taking levels in (i.e. Tough hero had an Energy Resistance Talent Tree where you could get energy resistance to a certain type of energy equal to your Constitution modifier, and Charismatic hero had the Inspiration Talent Tree where if you didn't have at least a 13 Charisma you would totally suck). I think a high ability score linked to your class's primary attributes should help you, but it shouldn't determine if you can use your class features or not.

When it comes to multiple classes, I intentionally pitched the idea of keeping the number of classes small because of the talent trees. Introducing the concept of talent trees we are either going to have to have talent trees that can be accessed by multiple classes, or each class having unique talent trees with redundant (or maybe even game breakingly stackable) talents. The reason you can have 20 odd core classes in D&D is because each class gets different or similiar abilities at a fixed level and progression. With talent trees each class becomes a framework through which the player selects the class features he/she wants for their character each and ever level they gain access to new ones. If we have six different classes with access to a "talker" talent tree, we have to come up with six differnt "talker talent trees" that may have various flavors and themes, but will ultimately reflect the same social interaction mechanics. This puts more work on our plates and undermines the player's attempt to be unique and have access to special abilities. When the "Animal Magnatude Talent Tree" and the "Forceful Personality Talent Tree" are fundimentally the same, a player is going to be conflicted as to which route to go with their character or feel their choice is ultimately unimportant.

Sometimes too many options limit a character more then too few.

Just a thought.
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby Stacie_GmrGrl » Sat Feb 20, 2010 12:26 pm

Do you really think that new players need that much help understanding a rpg? Here's my take on it... when a new player comes into a game, and this is fairly common among players that I have met, and of course I'm speaking in general here and not everybody falls into this trap, but for a lot of gamers their first game sets the tone for how they approach all games they eventually play. If their first game has a primary focus on "Role" and classes being shoehorned into
"Roles", then they get used to that oh so helpful guidance which is not a help at all, and then you take that person who is so used to that structured, class based focus, and give them Hero system, or Gurps, or Shadowrun, or even d6 System, where you have no classes and no predefined "Roles", more times than not they don't have a freaking clue how to develop a character because of how shoehorned they've been. Their minds are generally set in the class/role mentality, and they approach all games by that paradigm of thought, and its a really limiting thought.

My first game was Star Wars d6 and Marvel FASERIP, and they were fun. Neither class based, both point based. Then it was Shadowrun and Champions. Same, both point based. My first class based game was Heroes Unlimited, and that was a blast. The classes were just that, classes, archetypes that represented different things set in the game, but none of them were based on "roles" within the party. You just had different types of super characters you could be. Then Earthdawn after that, which has the coolest leveling up system ever designed in a rpg, also a game that focused more on story than roles, and 'role' within the party was never an issue. It was never, ever mentioned. And then I come to D&D in 1998. And it was a eye opening experience to say the least. For the first time ever I found a game that had some real potential in it, and yet it was so so so limiting. All that mattered was loot and experience and leveling. All that mattered was killing for the sake of killing, and real character development didn't matter at all. And it still doesn't. I found the fun in the game but it was limiting, the classes were so rigid, and they still are rigid. And today they focus on "roles" to the point of exclusion of anything else. It's all about that next power, that next level, that next magic item, its about getting that next stat boost so you don't fall behind the curve of averages, its all about falling within the limited paradigm of the game and if you don't have your highest score in the predefined stat your considered a bad player or that your character sucks.

"roles" take the life out of the character and stifle it from becoming a real person within the make believe world of whatever campaign setting is designed because the 'role' is so focused on that that's how most players are beginning to approach the game anymore.

Like I said, not every person who starts with a rigid, class structure falls into this trap, and some people are capable of seeing the broader picture, but I've met way more than just a few who started with D&D who stick with D&D and don't try other games because its hard for them to think outside the paradigm of the class/role rigidity that D&D has spawned, and in the last ten years, the majority of d20 games have done the same.

This game, by using the same system as before, is no different in this regard, only that we can hope that the few classes we have will be broad enough to help break the mold some of the previous decade. But as long as we focus on Roles and these classes Have to conform to the six base stats, this game will still perpetuate the limitation of the previous decade. I'ts a sacred cow of D&D/d20 game design that is more of a limitation than it is a benefit.

Ask any 4e player what his character is, and I bet the first words out of his mouth is, "I'm playing a Striker." or "I'm playing a Leader now because all I ever play is a Striker." They think in terms of role now, they don't even describe what their character can do, or what he looks like anymore. It's all about 'role' and its so limiting. That is what that game has become. It's sad.

And to assume that new players need this kind of help is an insult to the intelligence of new players. After reading the thread on rpg.net about the 9 year old girl who's first game is Vampire the Requiem and not D&D, and that she actually played her character, don't assume that new players need this kind of help. That's just insulting.
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby Imagist » Sat Feb 20, 2010 2:01 pm

Sorry... was in the middle of slicing meat while reading the threads... guess that makes me a bad manager. Eh, my employees will be fine for a few minutes while I nerd out.

Was not my intention to insult the intelligence of new players, it was simply my hope to provide mechanics that would be accessible to players of all different walks of life.

What I want to know is what part of a character's development (mechanically) a class is supposed to represent? Obviously hit die size and access to talent trees have been expressed, but what else? BAB is gone, replaced by skills. Skill lists are being talked about as if they are no longer in existence... replaced by the idea that a character can choose trained skills from ANY and all skills. Defense bonuses or saving throws are a possibility, as is a bonus feat list. If we make talent trees freeform as well, allowing anyone of any class to choose from any talent tree to begin play, we might as well call the classes d10 Hero, d8 Hero, and d6 Hero.

When we talked about "roles," there was the suggestion of Combatant, Sneak, Solver, Backer, and Talker, but I fail to see the difference between those suggestions and Strong/Tough hero, Fast hero, Smart hero, Dedicated hero, and Charismatic hero. While in that example the "roles" provided by the primary ability score are replaced by the concept of what the "role" does, each role is still fundimentally tied to an ability score. Even in the e20 system where we are trying to devorce skills from attributes, a talker is still going to get the most out of Charisma, Combatants are still going to get the most out of a high Str or Con, and Sneaks are still going to get the most out of a high Dexterity. There are always exceptions to those rules, but they are just that... exceptions.

If we go with a multiple class system based on the combination of Combatant, Sneak, Solver, Backer, and Talker I do not see the mechanical difference between that and multiclassing (which presumably would be free) in a Str/Con, Dex, Int, Wis, and Cha based system. Characters are still limited by the same resources regardless of level (number of talents and number of feats), so a character is going to have more freedom choosing between one of five classes to level in instead of choosing between one of ten, especially if most of those classes share identical traits.

From a designer viewpoint, if each class has three talent trees (just a number used as an example), than going from a 10 class system to a 5 class system cuts our workload in half, and reduces the redundency of mechanics by at least as much (im no mathologist so please... could someone check my figures?).

I think if each class had three talent (one combative, one social, and one general to the concept of the class) it would allow for a freedom of character development that most people could enjoy.

For example, the Str/Con class would be a frontline soldier type class (guardian, hunter, soldier... whatever) and it would have a combative talent tree (an offensive talent tree designed to deal lots of melee damage), a social talent tree (a street-smarts and physical intimidation based talent tree), and a general talent tree (one geared towards making the most of athletic Str and Con based skills the character has). Taking a level in this class would represent physical training and conditioning in Strength and Constitution as well as a reliance on streetsmarts for social encounters.

The Dex class would be an unfettered explorer type class (nomad, scout... what have you) and it would have a combative talent tree (a defensie talent tree designed to prevent damage), a social talent tree (an intuitive and spacial based talent tree maybe revolving around blending in or avoiding social hostilities by being verbally evasive), and a general talent tree (one geared towards acrobatics and general feats of dexterity). Taking a level in this class would represent physical training and condition in agility and dexterity as well as possessing a quick wit.

The Int class would be a genius or knowledgeable type class (exemplar, expert, savant... take your pick) and it would have a combative talent tree (a versitile talent tree designed to outsmart an opponent using brain over brawn), a social talent tree (a logic driven talent tree revolving around rational thought), and a general talent tree (one which would help the character make the most of knowledges as well as other skills where a sharp mind and keen intellect would prevale). Taking a level in this class would represent mental training and conditioning in logic, reasoning, and mental agility.

The Wis class would be an empathetic or spiritual type class (shepherd, novitiate, guide... really not sure) and it would have a combative talent tree (a special perception based talent tree designed to fight more by intuition than with sheer force or speed), a social talent tree (a empathy based talent tree revolving around relating to others and bringing others together in a common bond), anda general talent tree (one which would help the character make the most of Wisdom based skills, intuition, as well as enhancing their abilities based on their faith in themselves and others). Taking a level in this class would represent mental training and conditioning in intuition, faith, and mental resolve.

The Cha class would be a charming or captivating type class (imagist, personality... you think of something) and it would have a combative talent tree (a buff/debuff based talent tree with distractions and taunts to help gain an edge in combat while inspiring allies), a social talent tree (a charm and fast-talking talent tree where the class would shine), and a general talent tree (one which would help the character make the most of their Cha or social interaction skills as tools for aiding others, getting detailed information, or simply ensuring they are the more likeable person in the room). Taking a level in this class would represent mental training and conditional in charm, reading body languag, and force of personality.

If you have a character concept that is more complex than these five basic classes, than I'm sorry but your character mechanics will also have to be a bit more complex... i.e. you have to multiclass. Nothing wrong with multiclassing (especially when it is free) to bring out your character concept.

Just a thought.

Also, we just got a rush of inshop... maybe today's lunch isn't going to be so slow afterall. ^_^
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby steelmax73 » Sat Feb 20, 2010 2:18 pm

people are pretty smart and don't like books that talk down to them. I figured out how to run d&d without hand holding i think the majority of people can also. besides the games not being designed as a starter game its not going to be sold in a box with battle maps dice and booklets.
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby Imagist » Sat Feb 20, 2010 2:26 pm

steelmax73 wrote:people are pretty smart and don't like books that talk down to them. I figured out how to run d&d without hand holding i think the majority of people can also. besides the games not being designed as a starter game its not going to be sold in a box with battle maps dice and booklets.


Ugh... starter... box... must... stop... at all... costs...
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby bone_naga » Sun Feb 21, 2010 1:05 am

Stacie_GmrGrl wrote:Ask any 4e player what his character is, and I bet the first words out of his mouth is, "I'm playing a Striker." or "I'm playing a Leader now because all I ever play is a Striker." They think in terms of role now, they don't even describe what their character can do, or what he looks like anymore. It's all about 'role' and its so limiting. That is what that game has become. It's sad.

Biased much? I've never heard a 4e player say that. My players don't even mention roles. They use them as intended, to give a quick overview of what to generally expect from the class at single glance. If anyone's game is all about roles, then it's because they made it that way, just like some people run all hack n slash and others have complex plotlines with lots of in depth RP and character development.

And I say again, 4e did not invent roles. Roles have been in every edition (except possible where spellcasters were just allowed to do everything and cover every role at high levels, but they were still present in less broken d20 games like d20M). Now you don't want roles, and you don't want classes focused around ability scores. So if we were to go with those suggestions, why would we even have classes? What would be the point of taking a particular class? Talents? How would the talents be organized? Without a focus for the classes, they would just be assigned at random or at our whims with no real purpose behind it.

Note, I'm not trying to launch an attack on you, just pointing out that you have to have a focus for each class in a class-based game. This might seem to limit them, but thats the trick of class development, to make them seem open-ended while still having their own niches, and with free multiclassing available, they really won't be nearly as limited as might first appear anyway. Even just using the d20M classes as a starting point, if we decide Class X will be the Fast Hero and get all the mobility-based talents, Class Y will be our Strong Hero and get talents to make him a frontline fighter, and so on and so forth, you have already started assigning roles. Roles don't have to be bad or limiting, nor do they have to be the same as the 4e roles. But without any kind of focus we're just saying "well we'll toss this talent to Class X, and this one to Class Y, we haven't given much to Class Z so the next two go there..."
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby JaredGaume » Sun Feb 21, 2010 2:01 am

Well, this is a ROLE playing game we're talking about here. Class is one way to organize roles, it is a convention being retained for e20. I say run with it.
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby jazzencat » Mon Feb 22, 2010 2:49 pm

If you have feat and talent trees & feats, why bother with the additional class distinctions? Why not just have the character select a talent tree at creation (or trees if starting at higher levels). You are pretty much selecting the class when you pick a talent tree to start in. Without the talent tree/feat system classes make sense for niche protection (as in the older, pre-d20 incarnations of D&D or early games in the Final Fantasy franchise. In X and X-2 they didn't have a specific class that you started out with. Just the characters starting at different locations on the sphere grid (kind of what I'm imagining the talent trees to be like) and as you progressed you could select new abilities, enhancements and skills from the grid and eventually you could get into other parts of the grid as well (multi-classing). I understand the idea behind the roles. They are useful in party-based games and even in MMO. If I have a Mesmer/Monk Anti-caster build I don't select other anti-casters for party members, I want a tank to absorb damage and so on. Class just ends up being a convention of calling your character depending on what they do. Going back to FF X there really are only 2 classes: Summoner (Yuna) and Guardians (the rest of the party). Another possibility is to have characters roll for a unique ability that they have (Yuna can summon, Rikku can steal etc.) FF X also has each character wielding only one kind of weapon, but the weapon can be modified for different enhancements. Within the Guardian class you have quite a few variants: Arcane (Lulu), Rogue/Thief (Rikku, also serves as alchemist with her Mix overdrive), Rogue/Corsair (Tidus, light swords, high agility, speed/attack buffs), Tank (Auron, heavy hits and starts with protection capabilities), Striker (Kimahri, also can absorb abilities from enemies), Ranged Striker (Wakka).

What e20 seems to be doing is assigning a "starting" point in the Trees to each class, but after that they can branch out into other areas. Since we are making a class/level based universal RPG here I think the more broad, inclusive (some call them bland) class names the better. I think the d20M names were better suited to the universal idea. The others sound really cool, but they, for me, carry more restrictive definitions. I would rather see the ability to have a Strong class and be able to build as much variation into that Strong class as Guardian "class" has in Final Fantasy X.

We have a Str and Con based class distinction between Vanguard and Guardian/Warden. The problem is that by wearing heavy armour and a tower shield and a spear/pillum the Vanguard Class can now act as a Guardian class (defensive, high-damage tank which lets archers and casters stand behind them and fire away.) The Guardian could select Con as primary and put the +2 bonus there (18 Con, 16 Str) and eschew the shield and go for a two-handed weapon and deal out high-damage hits on the front lines (now he's become a heavy striker) and overlaps the Vanguard class. In modern military settings the "meat shield" as a character becomes irrelevant because of high-damage weaponry and far superior combat vehicles. The Con class is irrelevant when you can have a battle-ship or a Sherman Tank for a Guardian.... You could argue that only Con-primaries can drive the armours, but that's an artificial restriction. I guess what I'm getting at is that between feats, talents, enhancements and skills the whole "select a class" is a bit redundant. It's fine if the system had clear niche-protection as part of it AD&D 1e, 2e where the class ended up defining what weapons and armour you could use, which in turn influenced which NWP (if used) were selected. It made little sense to give an Int 9 fighter the spellcraft nwp when you had an Int 17 Wizard or Cleric, similarly it made more sense to have the Str 18 fighter take blacksmithing or Swimming instead. In d20 D&D the selected feats became your class (You were a Warrior-type class by virtue of selecting Heavy Armour Proficiency and Weapon + Shield fighting style with Power Attack, for example). So the whole "select your class" isn't really necessary. You select your starting point in the talent tree instead and name your character "class" whatever the heck you want for flavour, that's how they end up defining themselves on what they do and how they do it.
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby Imagist » Tue Feb 23, 2010 3:56 am

A few things I was thinking about when it comes to classes being defined but adaptable:

a) In SWSE each class' flavor (better term than role?) was reinforced a bit with starting feats. We could do the same for the core classes. Give Str/Con bonus armor proficiencies, give Int a Linguist feat to improve number of languages, give Dex a mobility based feat; these are just nonspecific ideas I am throwing out there. If we reinforce the flavor of the class off the bat (also given the limited number of feats available to characters in the first place) we help the player have the resources to define their characters better. As multiclassing comes into play, a character might be able to select one of the bonus starting feats from that class when they select it (maybe we should have each class have a stackable feat at 1st level) for the first time. That would help emphasize they are getting more than just a talent/level in some other class, they are getting an investment in multiclassing.

2) Maybe your level in a certain class should affect the Core talents? You will get more out of a Dex Core Talent if your Dex level is higher. I know that was basically the idea behind getting access to more talents in a certain talent tree by having a higher level in the class, but maybe it should be a little more than character level + talent = results. After all, a Int character who has 10 levels in Int hero and can use a Plan talent should do it better than a Str/Int multiclass character who has the same Plan talent, even if they are the same character level.

finally) ... I just thought it would sound better if I had three points instead of two...
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby Stacie_GmrGrl » Tue Feb 23, 2010 5:25 am

I honestly think that keeping Classes is a bad idea...go with just Talent trees and let people create whatever it is they want to play from the get go... Maybe have broad archetypes if you want, but Classes in a universal, genre-less game really just don't make sense. And if the main setting is a Modern setting, then we are giving this game a predefined Genre, and it really isn't "GENRE-LESS" than, is it???

You want to make this universal, there can be no predefined setting at all...NONE. That is what Universal means, and to keep classes puts in assumptions that there are certain assumptions about the game and whatever genre it is.

Universal games are point based for a reason...it gives the players the most versatility to make characters based in whatever genre the gamemaster chooses to run in, and they give the gamemaster the tools to create their worlds in whatever genre they want to focus it on. Classes, by their very definition, put a limit on characters to a certain degree. Sure, they offer a more specific niche protection, and that alone limits possibilities, and is also very Sacred Cow thinking...

Plus, playing a little devil's advocate thinking here, we are keeping Feats (which I think they should all be tossed), we have Talents, and we are going to have Enhancements, which are supposed to simulate those "other" bonuses that we get from adventures or whatever... so now we will have Feats, Talents, and Enhancements to try and balance with each other, and trying to create six core classes, each focused on a single ability score (which is a very limited way of designing a class because its more focused, and I don't think ability scores should be the single reason for a classes existence) and each trying to have a balance of Talents, bonus feats, and possible enhancements... not to mention whatever universal power system we will come up with, but some people want to have different power systems for different forms of powers, which is just stupid in a Universal, Genreless game because your then putting in predefined assumptions into the game system by having different types of power structures follow its own rules.

So, what are Feats, if not an Enhancement to your character in some small way that allow you to do something a little extra? What are Talents, but also an Enhancement to your character that allow you to use Skills in different ways, or gain a unique Trick or something? Why have three seperate subsystems to try and balance out? And why keep Classes?

So far, in these entire forums, the ONLY thing that I have seen that is true advancement of d20 game design is Tossing out Base Attack Bonus and using Combat Skills for combat. That's it. Everything else is just the same. So far.

The majority of people here want to keep classes, that's fine, but for a Universal game they have to be very very Broad... Combatant, Diplomat, Savant, Sneak... those are very, very broad terms that could cover lots of possiblities, and even I think having these are to limiting for a Universal, Genreless game. To be UNIVERSAL means to have ultimate versatility within the game system, and when people tell me that I have to Multiclass to eventually create the character I envision at first level, that is not Universal. That is an automatic limitation within the game system because I have to take multiple levels of different classes to achieve what the character should already be. That is not Universal, to me. And he's advertising this as a Universal game.

And, like I said in this rantish like post... By Putting in an Assumed Modern day setting, you are giving this game a PREDEFINED GENRE to work out of, and that, by default, means this game will NOT be Genreless. It doesn't matter how many Modules you create, you are establishing that this is a Modern game and that it can be changed and altered, but it won't be Genreless. And a Genreless/neutral game is what Gary is advertising as what he is intending to make.
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby fodigg » Tue Feb 23, 2010 10:40 am

I think classes are useful for grouping talent trees. Free multiclassing will be useful in order to encourage certain archetypes without requiring them. And the lack of class skills already removes one of the primary class restrictions.
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby bone_naga » Tue Feb 23, 2010 7:38 pm

May I also point out that if your character concept requires multiclassing, then even in a classless system your vision probably wouldn't be fully realized at 1st-level. Also, given the way the system is described, you could even include a short sidebar to describe making the system classless (because from what I gather it really wouldn't take much). You can have the best of both worlds, classed and classless within the same system.
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby Stacie_GmrGrl » Wed Feb 24, 2010 1:47 am

bone_naga wrote:May I also point out that if your character concept requires multiclassing, then even in a classless system your vision probably wouldn't be fully realized at 1st-level. Also, given the way the system is described, you could even include a short sidebar to describe making the system classless (because from what I gather it really wouldn't take much). You can have the best of both worlds, classed and classless within the same system.


Sounds awesome to me :)
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby fodigg » Wed Feb 24, 2010 9:59 am

bone_naga wrote:May I also point out that if your character concept requires multiclassing, then even in a classless system your vision probably wouldn't be fully realized at 1st-level. Also, given the way the system is described, you could even include a short sidebar to describe making the system classless (because from what I gather it really wouldn't take much). You can have the best of both worlds, classed and classless within the same system.


Wouldn't this sidebar simply consist of "Choose whatever class properties you want to start with (choose a class, essentially) and treat all talent trees as if they were class talents for that class."
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby Elsidar » Wed Feb 24, 2010 4:07 pm

Well, when you put it that way, it seems silly.

But yeah, that'd be all that's necessary.
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby fodigg » Wed Feb 24, 2010 6:12 pm

I do like how the nature of this design makes that very easy, but I would be concerned about balance issues if, for example, one class trades lots of class bonuses/components for more potent talents, or if class features make you extremely effective in close combat, only to allow you to grab a bunch of artillery powers at no cost, making you a powerhouse at any range.

Those concerns are, obviously, general and can be designed around. But that is why I shy away from simply going all "classless" by default.
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby Darthmoe » Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:51 pm

Several D20 games have already gone classless or basically classless. Look at Call of Cthulhu for example you have an offensive option and a defensive option. One has better saving throws the other has better attacks, the two classes are equal in every thing else including hit points, skill points, and everything else you can imagine.

Also going classless eliminates any possibility of unbalance everyone gets the access to the same stuff, so you don't have to worry about the fighter guy being to weak or too powerful compared to the rogue guy.

Another thing to consider is that in a game where attacks are tied into skill points, the character classes with the most skill points already have the built in potential of surpassing the combat abilities of the warrior types as it is already. The way around that is to do something similar to 2nd Edition AD&D and separate combat skill from non-combat skill. They were called proficiencies in 2nd Edition AD&D, but it's the same basic concept. However, as I recall that system was kind of cumbersome and that's why it was done away with in 3.0.

From a purely practical perspective not having to devote those pages to character classes also gives us more room to sneak in other material.

Anyway I'm just saying maybe a completely open or build your own class system is too radical of a change. I have often preached conservatism when it comes to radical game changes.

Stacie_GmrGrl wrote:I honestly think that keeping Classes is a bad idea...go with just Talent trees and let people create whatever it is they want to play from the get go... Maybe have broad archetypes if you want, but Classes in a universal, genre-less game really just don't make sense. And if the main setting is a Modern setting, then we are giving this game a predefined Genre, and it really isn't "GENRE-LESS" than, is it???

You want to make this universal, there can be no predefined setting at all...NONE. That is what Universal means, and to keep classes puts in assumptions that there are certain assumptions about the game and whatever genre it is.

Universal games are point based for a reason...it gives the players the most versatility to make characters based in whatever genre the gamemaster chooses to run in, and they give the gamemaster the tools to create their worlds in whatever genre they want to focus it on. Classes, by their very definition, put a limit on characters to a certain degree. Sure, they offer a more specific niche protection, and that alone limits possibilities, and is also very Sacred Cow thinking...

Plus, playing a little devil's advocate thinking here, we are keeping Feats (which I think they should all be tossed), we have Talents, and we are going to have Enhancements, which are supposed to simulate those "other" bonuses that we get from adventures or whatever... so now we will have Feats, Talents, and Enhancements to try and balance with each other, and trying to create six core classes, each focused on a single ability score (which is a very limited way of designing a class because its more focused, and I don't think ability scores should be the single reason for a classes existence) and each trying to have a balance of Talents, bonus feats, and possible enhancements... not to mention whatever universal power system we will come up with, but some people want to have different power systems for different forms of powers, which is just stupid in a Universal, Genreless game because your then putting in predefined assumptions into the game system by having different types of power structures follow its own rules.

So, what are Feats, if not an Enhancement to your character in some small way that allow you to do something a little extra? What are Talents, but also an Enhancement to your character that allow you to use Skills in different ways, or gain a unique Trick or something? Why have three seperate subsystems to try and balance out? And why keep Classes?

So far, in these entire forums, the ONLY thing that I have seen that is true advancement of d20 game design is Tossing out Base Attack Bonus and using Combat Skills for combat. That's it. Everything else is just the same. So far.

The majority of people here want to keep classes, that's fine, but for a Universal game they have to be very very Broad... Combatant, Diplomat, Savant, Sneak... those are very, very broad terms that could cover lots of possiblities, and even I think having these are to limiting for a Universal, Genreless game. To be UNIVERSAL means to have ultimate versatility within the game system, and when people tell me that I have to Multiclass to eventually create the character I envision at first level, that is not Universal. That is an automatic limitation within the game system because I have to take multiple levels of different classes to achieve what the character should already be. That is not Universal, to me. And he's advertising this as a Universal game.

And, like I said in this rantish like post... By Putting in an Assumed Modern day setting, you are giving this game a PREDEFINED GENRE to work out of, and that, by default, means this game will NOT be Genreless. It doesn't matter how many Modules you create, you are establishing that this is a Modern game and that it can be changed and altered, but it won't be Genreless. And a Genreless/neutral game is what Gary is advertising as what he is intending to make.
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby JaredGaume » Thu Feb 25, 2010 7:10 am

Now you guys just lack class ;)
(just kidding, don't kill me)


I happen to like class based RPGs, it gives me something to grab onto, something classless systems don't do for me.

I do think that a class needs sufficient depth such that it is a valid choice to play strait.

Gary indicated that he wanted to follow the SWSE route in class design, you get selectable class elements. As opposed to static elements that you gain in a pre-programmed way. Even just having a class design where you get at least a couple of choices for each feature would be nice.

I do think that class talent trees have the potential of getting out of hand. D&D 4e did this with powers, the class section takes up like 1/3 of the PHB. I was initially stoked, until many of the powers just started to look redundant, just with different flavor text and key ability.

Class talent trees would probably do well to keep it simple, unique, and flexible/powerful rather than splatting out 6 different ways to say "[ability] vs. [defense], deal 2[W] damage".
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby Imagist » Fri Feb 26, 2010 1:08 am

On the topic of adding a classless sidebar if we go with six character classes, I like the idea of an adaptable middle-ground class structure. Average hit die, maybe one or two defense options and just have access to all the talent trees. It wouldn't necessarily have the power of a Str or Con based class, but it wouldn't be as frail as a Int or Cha based character either. It would be a meeting ground of averages that could be mechanically balanced to play with a full group of Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wis, and Cha based characters (sort of a Jack of All Trades class).

I just turned the classless system into a 7th class... didn't I? ... I suck at this...

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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby JaredGaume » Fri Feb 26, 2010 1:14 am

Power classes = STR & CON
middle-ground = DEX & WIS
"leader" classes = INT & CHA
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby Imagist » Fri Feb 26, 2010 1:19 am

I see Str and Con classes as being built around a melee approach to combat and an upfront approach to social interaction. Dex and Wisdom would be more adaptable, flexable enough to serve well in upfront confrontation or social encounters, but not meant to excell at either roll. Int and Cha based classes would be more of the behind the scenes guys in combat and would be most at home in social encounters. At least that is how I have always viewed them.
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby Jimmy Plamondon » Sat Mar 06, 2010 5:20 pm

***Sneaks behind the class system and stabs. 30d6 damage. Oh well, its dead***

Long live the classless system!
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby Imagist » Sun Mar 07, 2010 12:00 am

Jimmy Plamondon wrote:***Sneaks behind the class system and stabs. 30d6 damage. Oh well, its dead***

Long live the classless system!


Stupid 60th level rogues and their sneak attack...
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby JaredGaume » Sun Mar 07, 2010 2:58 am

Imagist wrote:
Jimmy Plamondon wrote:***Sneaks behind the class system and stabs. 30d6 damage. Oh well, its dead***

Long live the classless system!


Stupid 60th level rogues and their sneak attack...

Don't worry the class system has 1,000 HP, is immune to critical hits, and spontaneously returns to full HP 1 round after being destroyed. I think it may be undead or something. ;)
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby Stacie_GmrGrl » Sun Mar 07, 2010 4:19 am

JaredGaume wrote:
Imagist wrote:
Jimmy Plamondon wrote:***Sneaks behind the class system and stabs. 30d6 damage. Oh well, its dead***

Long live the classless system!


Stupid 60th level rogues and their sneak attack...

Don't worry the class system has 1,000 HP, is immune to critical hits, and spontaneously returns to full HP 1 round after being destroyed. I think it may be undead or something. ;)


Yea, but the classless system comes from an alternate dimension from where they have a "vorpal disintegrate class systems" power that can be used with any attack, but only works on class systems. ;)
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby Imagist » Sun Mar 07, 2010 9:14 am

Stacie_GmrGrl wrote:
JaredGaume wrote:
Imagist wrote:
Jimmy Plamondon wrote:***Sneaks behind the class system and stabs. 30d6 damage. Oh well, its dead***

Long live the classless system!


Stupid 60th level rogues and their sneak attack...

Don't worry the class system has 1,000 HP, is immune to critical hits, and spontaneously returns to full HP 1 round after being destroyed. I think it may be undead or something. ;)


Yea, but the classless system comes from an alternate dimension from where they have a "vorpal disintegrate class systems" power that can be used with any attack, but only works on class systems. ;)


Oh yeah? Well... the class system has the talent chain that gives it Most Improved Uncanniest Dodge, which means right before it gets attacked (even if it is unaware of the attack) it automatically teleports behind the attacker and gets an attack of opportunity. So there. :P
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby GMSarli » Mon Mar 08, 2010 1:19 am

"I attack the darkness!"

"I've got a dagger that's +9 against ogres!"
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby Imagist » Mon Mar 08, 2010 1:35 am

GMSarli wrote:"I attack the darkness!"

"I've got a dagger that's +9 against ogres!"


"Can I have a Mountain Dew?"
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby j0lt » Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:14 am

Imagist wrote:
GMSarli wrote:"I attack the darkness!"

"I've got a dagger that's +9 against ogres!"


"Can I have a Mountain Dew?"


"I'm getting drunk, are there any girls there?"
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby Stacie_GmrGrl » Mon Mar 08, 2010 3:09 am

j0lt wrote:
Imagist wrote:
GMSarli wrote:"I attack the darkness!"

"I've got a dagger that's +9 against ogres!"


"Can I have a Mountain Dew?"


"I'm getting drunk, are there any girls there?"


/waves :D
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby Imagist » Mon Mar 08, 2010 1:18 pm

With the way the talents are currently worked, each core class (in order for a player to take 20 levels in it without using modules that add other talent trees) will require 6 talent trees (to gain access to 6 core talents) and each talent tree will require 1 major talent and 1-2 minor talents (since you gain 6 major talents and 7 minor talents over your 20 level progression).

I argue since core, major, and minor talents are supposed to be balanced with one another (being usable every round, 1/encounter, or 1/day depending on power level) we should simplify talents as just being talents (removing the core, major, minor descriptor... which would be another thing to track on the character sheet and cumulative text in the final book) and maybe... just maybe... begin play with 4 talents and gain a talent every level (which I know would throw off the +1 per level thingy I still don't fully understand). That way, we go from 6 core, 6 major, and 7 minor talents for each class to minimum 23 talents for each class. The last part is mostly just an add-on. Thoughts?
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby Darl_Loh » Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:06 pm

Definition of terms:
Skirmish Combat (SC) – those combat encounters involving a group of PCs facing a group of opponents in reasonably close proximity to each other (i.e. a typical combat encounter).

Non Skirmish Combat (NSC)– those encounters that don’t fit this description (i.e. non combat encounters or atypical combat encounters such as demolitions, sniping, stealth killing, mass combat, etc.)

The argument continues about whether or not we like classes and how we should implement, etc. However, we have not established a clearly defined purpose for even having classes (they make me feel warm and fuzzy because I have used them before doesn’t count). Clearly classes are not necessary in order to make a fun, balanced and successful RPG; been done plenty of times without them. So what is the purpose of them then? My recommendation: to balance combat. That’s it.

We don’t need them to define or focus a character. That is either the purview of the player/group/campaign or the genre depending on whether or not the presence of specific archetypes is important for the genre to feel like the genre: Heroic fantasy set in the Wheel of Time (very specific), Star Wars (moderately specific), d20 Modern (unspecific).

We don’t need classes to balance non combat roles. Level balances total power level of any capability. There is simply no need to internally balance NSC capabilities in the group. Is the character with all NSC resources invested in diplomacy unbalanced against the character with some diplomacy, some mechanics and some medical. Of course not, they just have different focus areas. Also, who says the melee combat type has to be good at athletics and intimidating people. Why not diplomacy and dancing? Also, it is useful for the group to all be able to get a basic capability in tasks common to the campaign. Maybe the group does a lot of wilderness trekking so everyone gets some Endurance stuff. Maybe it is a space campaign so everyone gets some piloting. Why should characters need to multiclass for that? What are we accomplishing that improves the fun and playability of the game? Nothing; we are simply attempting to reinforce some preconceived character archetype (in a supposedly genre neutral rules system no less).

So what makes combat special? Well…

1) generally, when it happens, characters don’t have the option to sit it out. Don’t know how to slice a computer or pick a lock. Cool. Make snide comments in the back and pull security. Don’t know how to fight. Well you better do something ‘cause bullets don’t know that.

2) Although combats can take the least amount of in-game/character time they take significant amounts of actual real play time to resolve. The only thing that might take longer is an encounter involving a lot of discussion and planning. In which case, a player’s ability to participate is less likely to hinge upon anything on the character sheet and more on the player’s personality/intelligence.

3) Combat is the most detailed subsystem, hands down. The computer expert/mechanic might get 5-10 rolls total to accomplish some hugely important tasks that make story advancement possible. In even the simplest combat that has almost no story impact the combat focused characters probably gets 2-3 times that many rolls (between attack, damage and skill rolls). For example, 4e core book. The entire skills chapter is 14 pages; generally less than 1 page per skill. The combat chapter is 31 pages. That doesn’t include the close to 100 pages for the class chapter, the vast majority of which lists Powers for use in combat.

4) Success or failure often determines the difference between life or death. Combat is usually associated with Power. Character’s that can dominate in combat are considered powerful. Those that become too dominant, overpowered. That is not a perception that is liable to change. Especially in a game geared for action adventure.

So here is my recommendation:
For the character’s class, it chooses one of the four roles (Guardian, Striker, Leader, Controller) and also chooses a secondary role which must be tied to a particular power source. The character gains most class features, HPs, healing surges/reserves etc. from the primary role and gains 1 class feature from the secondary role. Just for clarification, when I say the character gains a feature from the secondary role, that doesn't mean they steal a feature from another class. So the P: Striker/S: Controller would get a different feature for the S: Controller than a P: Leader/S: Controller would get. Another idea…maybe the character gets to choose a freebie class feature from a list of freebies, just to give the character a little unique flair.

In different genres, you could simply replace the secondary role with unique Power Source(s). For example, In a Super Hero game, instead of a character getting a secondary Role it picks a class of super powers (or maybe more than one depending on the power level). So a character might pick “improved physique.” The character then picks an appropriate Role which defines the Talent Trees available under the Power Source: Defender- healing, enhanced reflexes/senses; Striker- increased strength, natural weaponry; Controller- tentacles, webbing; Leader- pheromones, super intelligence. To go even further, each Power Source-Role combo could have a few templates to choose from.

Each class (Role) will have a base number of talent trees. All talent trees would be first divided between capabilities in SC and NSC. The base number of talent trees should be a multiple of 4 (not applicable to specific genre talent trees) as each talent tree will be tied to power source (assuming 4 base power sources) and then be subdivided thematically. Anytime a character gains a SC talent it can choose one from any of the talent trees associated with the primary role or any of the talent trees associated with the appropriate combination of secondary role and chosen power source (or genre specific Power Source). For characters that choose a secondary role that is the same as their primary (P: guardian/S: guardian), there will be a unique Talent Tree they can choose from. Although this gives them less total talents than other builds they get the unique talent tree.

The NSC combat talent trees would be less role defined. The vast majority of the NSC talent trees would be unspecific. This means, whenever any character gains a NSC talent, it can choose from any of these generic talent trees. However, each role would have a few NSC talent trees specific to it. So a character could also choose from any of these talent trees associated with its primary role and any of the talent trees associated with its secondary role + power source combination.

Instead of regular multiclass there would be a multiclass feat that allows characters to swap for a Talent from a third role or from the same secondary role and a new power source (potentially add a genre specific Power Source). This feat would also probably give the character limited use of one of another classes’ features.

As for ability scores, I prefer my different ability scores (see last post viewtopic.php?f=5&t=2&start=150), but I won’t beat a dead horse on that. If we go with the regular six the solution is simple. The character chooses a primary and secondary physical (Str, Dex of Con) and primary and secondary mental (Int, Wis, Cha). When talents are described instead of being modified by a specific ability score the talent will either list physical/mental primary/secondary. Then character applies bonus from appropriate ability score.

In terms of total number of each type of talent gained, I say we have four different play styles: Normal (50-50 SC-NSC), Combat Hvy (75-25 SC-NSC), Combat Light (25-75 SC-NSC) or freestyle. Characters choose their play style at creation or the group decides on a play style that all PCs adhere to. The latter has the benefit of equalizing all characters ability to contribute in SC. Keep in mind this doesn’t mean all characters are equally as tough since Strikers and Defenders will fit the bill as the stereotypical “combat focused” character. However, the generally “weaker,” Leaders and Controllers will still contribute to the party’s success in combat just as much. Additionally, NSC contains many capabilities normally considered under the umbrella of “combat.” However, they aren’t considered as SC since they are generally only useable it specialized situations. This means that player’s can still create the “combat focused” vs “skill focused” character, it just looks a little different than we are used to.
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby Imagist » Mon Mar 08, 2010 4:12 pm

At this point, at least as far as a classless system is concerned, we would probably be better off going with the 4e powers instead of talents and talent trees. Since each talent is supposed to be balanced against one another, we have a power that may require activation using a certain skill (combat skills for attacks, focus for more heroic or "special attacks," and other skills depending on the powers function). Give a character a stead progression of at-will, encounter, daily, and utility powers until they hit their cap (since this will more than likely similate core, major, and minor talents) and let them retrain at level up or after a month of downtime or something so they can keep their character concept fresh.

Talents effectly become Powers accessible to characters using DCs within the power to set the minimum activation and maximum effect using their skill (much like SWSE Force powers) and it becomes a fun plug and play system balanced by available actions and uses per day. Plus, I think the 4e power layout (just the layout mind you) would look nicer then the normal talent tree layout, especially if we have to deal with power sources, variable effects based on skill checks, and the fact all talents are going to be activated abilities (no passives).
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby JaredGaume » Mon Mar 08, 2010 4:29 pm

Actually I don't like how 4e implemented powers. I like the idea, but in practice how many times do you need, for example: [2 + Strength vs. Fortitude, deal 1[W] + Strength damage, hit or miss stun target for 1 round]? The rundandacy is palpable and wastes a lot of space.

I liked the idea of power sources. I liked the bullet point power arrangement (source, target, weapon, etc...). I liked the logical progression flow.

I do wish most of the powers were broken out as power branches, and class powers were kept trim, thematic, and neat. You would then reach out and grab the power branch you needed.

For example you might have the Martial power branch. As a Fighter, Rogue, or Warlord you may freely enter this branch. As a given class you have certain unique class powers as well. But by and large you reduce the overhead and redundancy by half to three-quarters.
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby Imagist » Mon Mar 08, 2010 6:02 pm

JaredGaume wrote:Actually I don't like how 4e implemented powers. I like the idea, but in practice how many times do you need, for example: [2 + Strength vs. Fortitude, deal 1[W] + Strength damage, hit or miss stun target for 1 round]? The rundandacy is palpable and wastes a lot of space.

I liked the idea of power sources. I liked the bullet point power arrangement (source, target, weapon, etc...). I liked the logical progression flow.

I do wish most of the powers were broken out as power branches, and class powers were kept trim, thematic, and neat. You would then reach out and grab the power branch you needed.

For example you might have the Martial power branch. As a Fighter, Rogue, or Warlord you may freely enter this branch. As a given class you have certain unique class powers as well. But by and large you reduce the overhead and redundancy by half to three-quarters.


One reason for the redundant powers was simply a lack of mechanical varience, not a fault of the writers or designers but of the system itself. We don't need fifty different powers for each of 9 different classes spaning four roles. We need a power that covers each mechanic that is plausable (heroic level powers) and outside the ordinary (FX tied to super heroics, magic, and psionics). For instance, double tap is something from d20 modern that was a feat but would be better used mechanically as a talent or power (effectively a -2 Att to deal an extra die of damage with a semi-automatic/automatic firearm with at least 2 bullets in it). Argueably anyone should be able to learn Double Tap if they meet the prerequisites (Dex 13, Point Blank Shot), but does that mean it is a feat that gives you a talent/power or is it a talent/power that is open to any class?
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby JaredGaume » Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:39 pm

For sake of argument let's say that a Modern genre game has a general "Firearms" talent tree. Anyone trained in the Firearms skill qualifies to take talents from this tree regardless of class. Say you take the Double Tap talent.

Double Tap
You fire two shots in rapid succession against a single target.
<Insert specific talent stats, you are probably more likely to hit your mark>

Each class has a class specific feat that you may apply to your attacks, for sake of argument (not deffinative):

Vanguard
"Destructive" feat - add +1[W] damage to your talent attacks.
With double tap, you are dishing out a lot more damage.

Guardian
"Suppression" feat - Targets you attack with a talent are suppressed until the end of their next turn, a suppressed target may only take move actions.
With double tap, even if you aren't hitting your marks, you stop them from fighting for a moment.

Corsair
"Mobility" feat - Either before or after you make a talent attack you may move a number of spaces (5-foot increments) equal to your Dexterity bonus.
With double tap you are attacking on the move.

Savant
"Reposition" feat - When you make an attack you may shift either an ally or a target a number of spaces (5-foot increments) equal to your Intelligence bonus.
With double tap you are less interested in hitting your mark as you are to set them up to take a fall.

Sentinel
"Zen Attack" feat - When you attack a target you may use your Wisdom bonus instead of the usual ability bonus associated with that attack.
With double tap you are using your perception and "read" on the situation to bring your shots home.

Envoy
"With Authority" feat - When you attack a target with a talent you stun that target on a hit, you may sustain this stun effect as a swift action, stun ends either when target saves (will) or you do not sustain the effect.
With double tap you not only hit your target, but you can tell him to stay down and he will.
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Re: e20 Core Classes

Postby Stacie_GmrGrl » Tue Mar 09, 2010 3:31 am

I really hope we do not focus on Roles like 4e does... Thats the very reason why I am quitting 4e completely and totally and kicking it to the curb as any sort of game that I would ever run in the future. 4e killed D&D for me.

All the more reason to go classless but keep levels... instead of trying to come up with Talent Trees pertaining to six separete Classes, we just come up with Talent Trees, and then let people pick and choose from them as they wish without trying to hash in "Role" and whatever. This would also solve the problem of trying to balance six classes with their own Talent Trees...

Just use a lot of Talent Trees, let the players pick their own focus. If one wants to be a more Dextrous character, he can pick the Talents from the Trees that would work better with Dexterity, and he wouldn't have to worry about being shoehorned into a 'Class' with a prebuilt focus. Let the player choose himself what his own 'Role' is, not us.

But keep levels as the balancing factor. We don't need Classes, but we do need Levels. Now, we can give example builds of progressions using the various Talent Trees and Feats and show the player what is potentially possible, but we do not need Classes.

I think d20 gaming has advanced to the stage to where Classes are no longer needed and they are becoming a Sacred Cow and the only reason why that I've seen for us to keep using them is "Because just about every other d20 game uses them" and the stupid notion of "niche protection." Okay, if you want that, go play Pathfinder. Niche protection is not a good enough or solid reason why to keep using Classes. Let the players define their own niche with a wide choice of Talents from a wide selection of Talent Trees and go from there.

This would also solve the whole multi-classing issue. No Classes, no messy multi-class rules, and so far no single d20 game that uses classes has had really good multiclassing rules. In fact, every point people have made on these boards to keep classes and how to work in multiclassing has proven why keeping Classes is such a bad idea.

I say shake things up a bit. :) Use Talent Trees and just Talent Trees. Use Feats for Feats. Use Enhancements for what they will become. But we do not need Classes. If we don't have classes, but we do have levels... we can broaden our possiblities.

Plus, going without Classes will also be another helpful step for this game's ultimate goal to be a Universal, Genreless d20 game. Classes, by their very nature, imply a predefined setting of some sort. Go through every game with a Class, and tell me that even the most generic sounding ones don't imply some kind of setting. (I think True20 is the only one that succeeds in providing "Classes" and having them be totally generic).
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