Saturday, July 31, 2010

Why Race=Class Kicks Ass

I've stayed away from's forums section for the most part, since there is rarely anything on Classic D&D.  Lot's of 3e and 4e, but that doesn't help me much.  I do check in once in a while though, and stumble on some fairly interesting threads, including one this I found this evening where folks are discussing the merits of Race=Class.  You know: Humans get to be Clerics, Fighters, Magic-Users and Thieves, but Dwarves are Dwarves, Elves are Elves and Halflings are Halflings.  That's it.  No Dwarven Clerics. No Elven Thieves.

Philotomy Jurament, of the fantastic Philotomy's OD&D Musings had this to say:
I think the Class concept is useful for modeling typical PCs. I don't think it's useful for modeling the way the fantasy world operates. Thus, the archetypical Elf adventurer is a F/MU, but that doesn't mean that all elves in the world are defined in terms of the Elf class. Similarly, the (Human) Cleric class is an archetypical adventuring holy-man/crusader: the kind of warrior-priest that is likely to adventure. That doesn't mean that all holy men or priests are defined in terms of the Cleric class, and it certainly doesn't mean that non-humans don't have holy men or priests of their own (it's just that they're not Clerics).
 And further along, I found this from Yakk:
Give me a game with Dwarven Battleragers, Dwarven Runepriests and Dwarven Stonemages as the three Dwarven classes. Human Wizards, Human Fighters, Human Clerics and Human Thieves. Elven Spellblades, Elven Bards and Elven Archers. Halfling Scouts and Halfling Blades. Gnomish Tinkerers, Gnomish Illusionists, Gnomish Stouthearts.
 That pretty much sums up the whole thing for me.  Your typical demi-human racial adventurer fits that races particular view of what a hero should embody.  Each class is an archetype. Just like the 4 human classes are archetypes of what we humans see as heroes. If one wants to make additional class options for the demi-human races found in their campaign, by all means do so.  But take the time to make their choices unique to that race. After all, don't they deserve it?

I've already got my notes on Dwarven Runepriests (Runecasters, actually), but I need to work on some of those others. Anyone got some ideas of the others to share?

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