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December 17, 2011 / Wythe

A conversation about classes in Pathfinder

P.D. said:

Re: classes I was just looking at that now. really, the class system is the CORE of the unity between SETTING and FRAMEWORK. Like whether you use STR or PHYS or whatever makes no difference on whether or not your planet(oid) has 1 sun or nine, just as the history of the Sanguinarch’s rise to power over the race of the un-human’s has no bearing on how you calculate AC.


when you start talking about classes. That’s where the rubber (framework of rules) hits the road (setting of ideas). Which you can also think of in a half pedagogical half phenomenological light –> meaning, you can write however many paragraphs of prose about your world and setting and what not as you want, but new (or even old) players are likely to gloss over after the first few no matter how riveting. However, the new player’s first experience (I imagine) with an RPG is always devouring every word of the class system… imagining powers… planning the shape of the character to come…and so those aspects of the WORLD that are communicated in the structure of the CLASSES are the ones that will live most vividly in the mind of the player.


as far as what I was saying about needin’ to hell of fix the path finder classes. Let’s consider the MONK.

at Level 1 I start with:

  • Flurry of Blows (awesome)
  • Unarmed Strike (awesome)
  • Stunning Fist (awesome)
  • and a Bonus Monk Combat Feat

at Level 2 I get:

  • “If a monk makes a successful Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save, he instead takes no damage.”

Uh…. okay… so maybe I only get awesome stuff every other level??? then….

at Level 3 I get:


All I’m saying is LAME. YANK THAT SHIT OUT.

I said:

Right, the monk example is burningly obvious:  The writers there strayed away from what makes the monk cool (simple mechanic of fast unarmed attacks vs. most char’s mega-damage kill-you attacks), into the rules-weeds.

But your bigger point is well received, and that’s all I care about, honestly:  That first moment of “ooh, a guy who shoots blood out of his nostrils, yeah! I’m in!”  I want classes to be more like that.  Technology as magic (if sufficiently yaddah yaddah) = the basis of any hard sci-fi setting, anyway, so it’s not too much of a stretch to replace ecclesiastical and mystical roles with techno-mystic ones (reverberator, tasseomancer, blooder).

Anyway, yeah, I think different rules (truly new) for each class would be totally sweet.  I also think I’m more interested (perhaps selfishly) in my own made-up nonsense.  Paizo’s is a better version of the same old made-up nonsense.  A good starting place, but not where I want to land, ultimately.  (WTF, for example, is REALLY the diff between a wizard, warlock, and sorcerer?  Really?  To anyone outside WotC?)

So, yeah, I think, in all things, Deleuze!  Make it more abstract, not less!  In all things, Zak from DnDWithPornstars!  See what a child remembers after you explain it!  Keep that…

I also love the note about converting history into Class (and other?) mechanics.  Again, I think I’ve done that pretty well w Species.  But can do much better with Class.

Zak proposes a “choose Y powers from X list or lists” per level way of doing each class, which is great though perhaps gets into the weeds a bit, too?

I dunno, it’s funny: I never really dwell on class; that’s much more a PC-focus than a GM one.  For me, it’s sufficient to know attack/AC/hell science, and for y’all to have fun w class powers.



Leave a Comment
  1. Wythe / Dec 21 2011 7:31 pm

    This post captures the nervous/excited sentiment of tinkering with rules that seem both okay/usable but also not-totally-there-yet:

    I love that we are not the only ones thinking about these things… Not by far. Seems like all the 4E people have similar discussions (as do, of course, the Old School folks).


  1. Classes in the far future « 100 Million Years

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