Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Character classes

I don't have literally everything published for 3.5 (especially in the third party publishing realm) but I've got quite a bit of it. One of the things that really always intrigued me about the game as it developed, was the expansion classes. The game started with 11 character classes, but I never liked several of them to begin with, and many of them felt too limited as tools to use in building the characters I wanted. Now, probably the best option would have been more open-ended classes, but barring that, the second option was more classes, with finer detail, or different focuses.

I've gone through the classes I have, and have identified 46 that I particularly want to mention, either as part of a group, or individually.

There are many more classes than that; even classes that I'm aware of and own copies of, but these are the ones that are specifically needing to be mentioned either because I want to encourage you to check them out, or discourage you from using them.

In theory, I'm a "just say yes" GM, so if you came to me with a class not on this list, I'd probably have a look at it and say, "sure, that'll work." But before you do that, have a look at this rather extensive list of classes that I've already picked.

Now, granted, looking at this list, there are more alt.rangers than any other single class type, probably. I'm not quite sure why that is, except that I believe that the woodsman/hunter archetype is an extremely popular one, and nobody seems to think that any particular iteration is quite right.

That said, and without further ado, here are the list of classes encouraged for the JOSHUAWorld game.


Original Classes:

  • Barbarian
  • Bard
  • Cleric
  • Druid
  • Fighter
  • Monk
  • Paladin
  • Ranger
  • Rogue
  • Sorcerer
  • Wizard

These are the basic ones, guys. I don't really have a problem per se with any of them. I really dislike the bard, cleric and the monk, but I won't tell you can't take them. The paladin is an archetype that really doesn't have any place in the kind of game I'd ever run. Picking that class means you're a glutton for punishment.

For the ranger, you might seriously want to consider using the spell-less variant from Complete Warrior, and maybe even the alternate weapon specialties from Wildscape. Just to give you more options.


Expanded Psionics Handbook classes:

  • Psion
  • Psychic Warrior
  • Soulknife
  • Wilder

I like psionics. Many people don't think it "fits" with classic fantasy, but since I consider my tastes to run more towards the classic "weird tale" rather than fantasy per se, I think they fit right in. I'm not saying that psionics will ever be a major element of the setting, but honestly; all psionics is is another flavor of magic. I'm perfectly fine with using psionics.


Player's Handbook 2 classes:

  • Beguiler
  • Dragon Shaman
  • Duskblade
  • Knight

Player's Handbook 2 is where I believe there was a watershed in 3.5 design. Starting here, class balance trended sharply upward, and the ideas behind them strayed into more and more esoteric concepts.

That said, I've been in some games with PHB2 classes before, and I think they're workable. I don't really consider any classes that postdate the PHB2 to be on the same baseline as the rest of the classes, though. I didn't list any of them as available.


Complete series classes:

  • Ardent
  • Divine Mind
  • Erudite
  • Favored Soul
  • Hexblade
  • Lurk
  • Ninja
  • Samurai
  • Scout
  • Shugenja
  • Spellthief
  • Spirit Shaman
  • Swashbuckler
  • Warlock
  • War Mage
  • Wu Jen

A number of books, mostly predating the PHB2, came out as "class splat books" and most of them included a number of new classes. Although I'm not necessarily thrilled with the concepts of all of these classes, I also can't think of a really good reason why I should ban any of them. Any Complete series class, including the psionic ones, are allowed.


Other classes from other sources:

  • Archivist (Heroes of Horror)
  • Assassin (d20 Freeport Companion)
  • Commander (Path of the Sword)
  • Corsair (d20 Freeport Companion)
  • Defender (Midnight Campaign Setting)
  • Hunter (Path of the Sword)
  • Monster Hunter (d20 Freeport Companion)
  • Noble (d20 Freeport Companion)
  • Outdoorsman (Path of the Sword)
  • Survivor (d20 Freeport Companion)
  • Wildlander (Midnight Campaign Setting)
  • Ninja (Rokugan Campaign Setting)
  • Courtier (Rokugan Campaign Setting)

A few notes: the archivist is a better choice (from a flavor perspective) than the cleric, and fills a similar role, although less combat focused, and more knowledge and slightly less tangible benefit focused. It is the only Wizards of the Coast authored class in this mixed bag of "others." Green Ronin's d20 Freeport Companion is still available, but it's only on pdf and its been renamed the 3rd Era Freeport Companion.

Many of the rest of these classes overlap in concept with other classes, to a considerable extent. There are no fewer than 4 alt.rangers on this list, 2 alt.monks, an alt.swashbuckler and an alt.rogue. The Green Ronin classes in particular also have the peculiarity that several of them feature alt.sneak attack damage rules. I think that there's no point in modifying the sneak attack damage rules to limit them even further, so for the assassin and corsair, you can assume that they just use the regular sneak attack damage rules after all.

Also, my copy of Midnight predates the 3e to 3.5 switch. While I know that the document was updated, I never got the update, and Path of the Sword doesn't have an update to get. You'll have to do some minor updating to the skill list to make it compliant with 3.5. That shouldn't be a challenge, since every single one of these classes will also need minor updates to the skill list to be compliant with the fact that I'm using the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game skill list anyway. Other than those minor conversion notes, all of these classes can be used as is.

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