A Touch Of Class

When you’re creating a character for any RPG you tend to come into that process with a bit of a plan.

I think the majority of games tend to you lead you down the path of choosing a class, archetype, career or other type of character label.  For ease throughout this post I’m going to refer to this as “class”.

Why have a class based system?

Class based systems take some of the pain out of creating new characters and provide a toolkit to create that character.  Want to be a swordsman who likes to take risks and wears light armour?  Sure here’s the -insert appropriate class for X system-.  The weakness is that there is an element of shoe-horning the character concept into the class.  Now that’s not always to the detriment of the character but class based systems can be restrictive because of their toolkit approach.

Some systems enable you to blur the lines between classes or enable the character to belong to 2 different classes at the same time and helps to offset the shoe horning.

What about non-class based systems then?

The only system that really springs to mind is the Hero System which used in the Champions RPG.
This really gives you the blank sheet of paper and a vast array of options and says “Go, make anything you can possibly imagine!”  For a new player that can be daunting and indeed for some who have been playing class based games for most of the gaming lives (that’d be me) it does sound a little off putting.

The key thing you have to consider when choosing class v non-class based game is whether the player characters are going to fall into archetypes?  If not then before ruling out a class based game, question whether there’s a way to give the player what they want without breaking the game.  If ultimately the players want to play in a fresh sandbox with no limits then a non-class based game might be the answer.

Of course there’s always the 3rd route.  Play both!