Now the Fun Begins – Character Classes

Just a quick Project Shibboleth update. I’m pretty much done outlining the three core books (still a little more work to do on the Game Master Guide, but I’m well enough along to get to writing), and have done the first draft of the character abilities and races section of the Players Guide. Now comes the fun part– character classes!

Aside from the classes we know and love, several new sub-classes are going to be introduced. Here’s the full list I’m working with:

  • Bard
  • Jester
  • Cavalier
  • Paladin
  • Cleric
  • Druid
  • Mystic
  • Fighter
  • Barbarian
  • Monk (maybe)
  • Ranger
  • Magic-User
  • Illusionist
  • Savant
  • Thief
  • Mountebank
  • Thief-Acrobat

Now, this is fun in a bunch of different ways. First, I get to design several whole new classes (the Mountebank, Savant, Mystic, and Bard; the Jester I’ve already done) and new spells for each of those. The bard is getting a complete redo as a more normal character class; you start off as a bard just as you’d start off any other class (except Acrobat). They’ll also have songs for spells (yay!).

There’s information relevant to all of the other classes spread out among the old PH, DMG, DD, and UA books. That will all get consolidated in one place (finally!).

In addition, some of the existing classes are getting substantive changes. Specifically the magic-user; there will be rules of some sort– I’ve got some ideas but nothing definite yet– regarding specialization. Cavaliers and Barbarians might get some tweaking. Clerics will get orisons; their equivalent of cantrips.

Hey! What’s up with the monk and assassin? The assassin is getting moved out to an appendix, but it will definitely be included. As far as the monk goes, I’m of the opinion that it more properly belongs in an oriental-based game, and so out it goes. It may or may not be replaced by a more European-flavored “warrior-spy” sort of character class; I’ve got some ideas but I’m not sure they’ll gel into something viable. We shall see. I know that’ll not sit well with some folks; sorry about that. I know that the OA rules, as published, weren’t of the highest caliber, and frankly I don’t know enough about pre-modern Asian history and culture to do the thing justice.

If anyone can get hold of Francois Froideval, however, I would love to publish his take on the OA material as a supplement to this project…

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Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.

7 thoughts on “Now the Fun Begins – Character Classes

  1. If you are using a skill system, you can probably do away with the Thief-Acrobat.

    If you really want the Thief-Acrobat, I'd suggest making it a class that a player can begin their career as, and not a prestige class of sorts.

  2. I'm noticing that a lot of the 1e retro clones avoid the whole notion of sub-classes; is this a conscious decision based on some philosophical development or is it something written into the OGL?

    Just curious.

    And, along with what Chris said, I like the idea of the assassin being a prestige class rather than one that starts at first level. I always thought it was odd that 1e assassins had to start out with none of the skills they would need to perform their job. Seems like it would be the other way around; you'd have to prove your willingness/ability to get your hands dirty before anyone would pay you to do it.

  3. An interesting start, Joe!

    What are your thoughts on Cavaliers and Paladins? I've always preferred them both as independent sub-classes of fighters vs. making the cavalier a "core" class, and moving the paladin under it.

    From your outline, it appears that you're at least thinking along the latter lines??


  4. That's the idea for now, Allan. Re-examining the Cavalier class, there are enough differences between them and ordinary fighters to justify it, I think.

    Acrobats will continue to be a split class, I'm afraid. In fact, I've been toying with the idea of using it as a model for the magic-users' specializations, as I mentioned before. But nothing is cast in stone on that score.

    There will indeed be a skill system, but its nature won't be such that it would do away with the acrobat. At least, I don't think so… a few more tests…

    That's an interesting question about sub-classes, Timrod. Certainly nothing in the OGL *forbids* them. I think it's more a side-effect of the fact that most of the retro-clones to date have focused on basic D&D rather than AD&D. I'll be interested to see how the forthcoming LL supplement handles the issue.

  5. Thanks for sharing your thinking, Joe: I'm looking forward to your treatment of the classes (and the rest, too, of course!).


  6. I find it interesting so few people think of mining the Dangerous Journeys/Mythus Magick game, as for me it so clearly represents a lot of the trend or direction EGG was going towards. Yes, it's a fairly over-complex, not directly translatable to AD&D game, but there's a lot of usable things, including the fact that spells are categorized into 9 levels of power (10 in the case of Spellsongs), with some really nifty spell lists, and that the templates for professions, when cross indexed with some of the skills are an excellent place to start thinking of new classes. Also, if we look at the appendix where EGG lists all the possible names of classes and titles in the game milieu, we immediately get ideas for new classes avd for how they would progress (or even for titles and name levels avd so on).

    For instance, the Mountebank and Jester would be almost entirely defined just from the DJ rules. Their skills are listed, the Jester skill is one of the MOST extensive ones in the descriptions, with a lot of special powers, the Mountebank has a couple of great spell lists and a series of well described skills, etc…. It wouldn't be difficult to create the classes from this material.

    I think Dangerous Journeys is as close as EGG could come to AD&D 2nd Ed. without actually having classes and levels, and reverting to d20 for attacks and saves.

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