What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:

What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:
Castles & Crusades Players Handbook - 7th Print Edition

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Few Words New Character Classes

I follow a handful of blogs and one of the ones I happen to follow is Save vs Poison.  Just the other day, I read a few comments on Dragon issue 109 (HERE) and I had completely forgotten about one of the feature articles on the magazine dealing with customizing/creating new character classes.  I find this particularly interesting since I just received TLG's Dwellers in the Darkness. an accessory that expands upon the Haunted Highlands by Casey Christofferson.  Now I am a great fan of Casey's work -- both with TLG as well as the work he did with Necromancer Games.  The material he has been doing for the Haunted Highlands series is fantastic with little rules options scattered here and there amongst the scenarios and setting information he writes.  This particular module is the sixth in the series and a third of the material is an assortment of new monsters, items, spells, a racial variant, and a new class.

The new class if the Conjurer and I think it is an interesting concept.  In some ways, it will remind you of the Sorcerer class from D&D 3.x since it has a form of spontaneous casting.  You still have to prepare a selection of spells but of those prepared, you can cast any number of them repeatedly up to the number of allotted spells the character has per day.  In exchange for this increased versatility, the character has a lower spell progression than a regular illusionist and uses the same experience point progression.  Seems reasonable doesn't it?

Unfortunately, the class gets a WHOLE LOT more.

Hitdice is a d6 instead of a d4... BtH is that of a cleric and the spell list used sources both from that of the wizard AND cleric.  The character can wear some armor and has a better weapon selection compared to a regular arcane spellcaster.

As I said, it is an interesting concept -- the reason why the class has access to clerical spells is because of the conjuration magic and the entities (demonic or angelic) they work with.  It looks like a fun and more importantly, a versatile class to play.  However, the reason why the EPP between the classes are varied is a recognition that all classes are not created equal so why try?  A rogue has a quick advancement rate compared to other classes for a reason.  A rogue's survivability in the front line is questionable and unlike the wizard won't have their power increase exponentially as they advance in levels.

A well played thief is fun and a welcome addition to the party but a badly played one will end up being very dead very quickly.  ;)

Now, while it is true that a game's balance lies largely within the hands of the gamemaster, someone just eyeballing the classes may realize that this new one doesn't sit right.  When compared to a to the wizard or illusionist, this one should probably advance a bit more slowly.  Fortunately, something like this isn't hard to fix.  Bumping the numbers a bit would be a solution or placing greater restrictions on the class would be another.  Restrictions can be easy to do if you decide to restrict access to the clerical spells which could a result of the limited powers of the entities the character deals with.  Exacting certain things such as special favors before granting certain spells could be another easy way to do it and I would recommend a CK think about this before allowing players to use the class.

Of course, I won't fault the writer and he is certainly not the worst offender when it comes to official C&C material.  In my view, that distinction goes to the Portal Keeper in the Tainted Lands.  I don't think that any of these new classes would really cause many problems in C&C much like the multitude of classes that became available for AD&D over the years weren't an issue either.

What is unfortunate is that, while there are (or were) guidelines that were maintained with the creation of the existing classes in the Player's Handbook for C&C, no thought seems to be given to this when putting out new material to support the game.  Some authors probably just take the EPP from the closest existing class.  Guidelines for this was supposed to be published but a product that deals with this sort of thing is yet to materialize.  In the meantime, it looks like we are left to our own devices.  At least we have some multiclassing guidelines presented in the latest printing of the PHB.

What is truly a shame was that there did exist a system that was created by deconstructing the various existing classes and their features.  It is no longer available.  The author of that document removed it due to concerns involving a NDA he signed during the development of Castles & Crusades.  I was fortunate to have looked through this system and, while it wasn't perfect, it is one of the best systems I have seen to create classes for C&C from scratch.  There are parts of the article from Dragon issue 109 that remind me of it too.