31 July, 2011
Last week we set goals. This week we will take the first steps toward creating our classless system.
Given that I’m getting ready to head to Gen Con this week, this post will be a bit more brief than usual. Hooray, less bloviating!
I’ve created Google spreadsheet to work with. This might not be the most elegant tool, but it’s good enough for this job. I’m no Google docs master, so pardon me if I don’t use things to their full extent; tips always welcomed. It’s easy enough to share via Google Docs, though.
I have restricted the editing rights to just myself. Feel free to make a copy if you want and work on your own version. I’ll try to create new pages in the document to “show my work” for future changes. For this week, the page entitled “Class Abilities” is our focus.
Having a breakdown
What I did was go through the d20 SRD and take each individual ability from the class descriptions and put them into the spreadsheet. They’re currently sorted by class and indicated by level. Obviously, since we want to go classless, this organization won’t stand for long.
I also divided up powers as I felt was appropriate. For example, is the Bardic Music better thought of as a collection of different skills, or would it be more like a progression where you need to buy one ability before buying the next? Same with Barbarian Rage and Druid Wild Form. Rogue’s Special Ability is also interesting, in that it’s like bonus feats but without the feats being generally available. I currently have them separated out, with notes indicating that they are related in most cases.
Fighters also have one pretty limited ability, but that one really puts a snag in our classless system: the fact that some feats require Fighter levels. These are only the Weapon Focus and Specialization feats, but it’s still something to keep in mind.
So, let’s see where we can find patterns. For example, the spell progression of the “Lesser Divine Spells” casters (Rangers and Paladins), are the same even if the spells are different. There are also a few abilities heavily tied to a class; a Rogue’s Trapfinding ability is a good example, intended to make it so that a Rogue is needed for really difficult traps, not just someone investing a lot of points into Disable Device.
A few classes are really sparse in special abilities. Fighters are almost entirely defined by their bonus feats, which come from a limit pool (that others can still get). Alternatively, Sorcerers are almost entirely defined by their spellcasting abilities. Contrast this with the Monk, where the class has a wide variety of different abilities; they certainly fit a theme of mastery over one’s body, though.
I’m going to hesitate saying “next week” here, since I’ll be busy at Gen Con. I might sneak in another post on this design example, but I won’t promise anything.
So, what’s next? We’ll need to make a big decision about how to have players pick their abilities as they level; I’m leaning toward the “everything is a feat” angle for simplicity’s sake, but I have some time to consider alternatives. We’ll then sort out the abilities and figure how out to present them.
So, what do you think? Anything seem wrong? Any patterns missed in this dissection?