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Just a though I have had: There are many classes in class-based fantasy RPGs (including both TRPGs like AD&D and CRPGs like Final Fantasy 1), and while some of them are generally similar between games (Fighters and Mages), there are some classes that are common, but are not always handled the same way.

Anyway, I want to know your perceptions of a few of the less consistent classes, what abilities they should have, what requirements (if any) the classes should have, and how you would differentiate them from similar classes.

Here is the list of some of these classes:

Goof-off (Just kidding with this one. Well actually, I *have* played a game where this was an available character class.)

Edit: Added Bard to the list
Post edited May 17, 2019 by dtgreene
Paladin: lawful good and violent about it. Tanks. They offer multiple support abilities while being able to heal minor wounds. Typical weapons are war-hammers, war maces or sword 'n board. In many games the shield also adds viable offensive ability. He stands for all that is seen as good and just in the world.

Ranger: lightly armored mountain dweller. She is the quintessential survivalist with animal husbandry, tracking and nature knowledge that is peerless. She doesn't interact well in society but is the queen of the forest. She cares nothing about laws, but rather wants to protect her domain.

Druid: a nature shaman, often interacting with the Ranger. He is more in tune with nature; where the Ranger works with nature and gets her needs from it, the Druid shapes its energies to his will, defending the forest and mountain from interlopers. He is a channeled of spiritual energies and the denizens of the natural world protect him at need. He is not concerned with good or evil, law or chaos. His goal is the balance.

Ninja is a master of deception. She is never noticed until her task is complete. She is not simply a rogue, but a master of all forms of obfuscation. She can hide in the shadows or plain sight. Her ideals are generally politically motivated, whether for good or evil.

Samurai is similar the Paladin. He stands for his people as a knight of the land. His discipline is focused on one aspect, be it martial, diplomatic or artistic. He is usually a warrior but is not restricted to this role. His moral compass is less inclined to law than it is to what benefits his people most.

Goof off is most of us here. :)
Vampire whenever available, especially if their powers and weaknesses are time-of-day-dependent. I like dynamics and variation and any opportunity of feral RPG bloodshed.
I... have no idea what StarChan answered to, but vampires done well in games are awesome to play... and extremely rare.

On to the OP's question:

Paladin - Seems quite clear to me, holy warrior, mix between fighter and cleric but while clerics can also be evil, or plain neutral, paladins are always good. Tanks, tough and strong, but speed is not their forte, heaviest armor and shields, good with weapons too but they excel more at defense, both their own and that of their companions. Magical abilities can follow the same pattern, protection and healing first, offensive abilities perhaps focused on their typical enemies, such as undead, demons and evil-aligned characters if alignment is used. In terms of social skills, can be wise to some extent but their rigidity and holier-than-thou attitude can bother many, but they can lead groups quite well.

Ranger - Nature fighter, with many skills related to living in the wild and dealing with animals, including having them as companions and training them. Agile, quite fast, moderately strong and tough. Stealthy, skilled with traps, though mainly an expert at these in the wild, may also have some other thieving skills to a moderate extent. Lightly armored, focused on offense, primarily archer but also skilled with some thrown and some one-handed, mainly bladed, melee weapons. Can use what nature provides to create what's needed to cure or boost abilities, maybe poison as well. In terms of magic, nature-based if it exists, but limited, and could accept non-magic rangers as long as they'd be able to gather natural ingredients easily and create mixtures, potions and so on from them. Not one for cities or human company in general for that matter, so social skills are lacking, but nevertheless can be good group leaders. In terms of alignment, can be anything really.

Druid - Nature's guardian, aided by natural magic. Approaching the ranger in wilderness- and animal-related skills, though they may be a mix of knowledge and magic, and likely more focused on survival and peace. Not much for physical combat and not ranking highly in the related attributes, but can be somewhat stealthy when needed, especially in wilderness areas. Limited, possibly very limited, weapon and armor skills. Magic and crafting skills strictly tied to nature, but can become truly powerful, for both offensive and defensive uses. Wise in their ways but also not one for cities or human company, social skills are lacking and don't tend to be suitable to lead groups. In terms of alignment, typically they say druids are neutral, but I'd also see them as potentially good. Can't see evil druids though.

Ninja - Master assassin. Extremely fast and agile, pretty strong, moderately tough. Masterful with thrown weapons and exotic, mainly light, melee weapons, also skilled with crossbows. Highly focused on offense, usually at most lightly armored, relying on not getting hit in the first place. Masters of stealth and all thieving skills, like traps, poisons or locks. Also masters of dirty fighting, knowing all sorts of tricks to quickly eliminate or incapacitate a target. Can use any magical items they can get their hands on, but don't usually have magic abilities of their own. Tend to work alone or, if groups are needed, not care to have anything else to do with their companions once the job's done. In terms of alignment, have some difficulty in seeing good ninjas, but that may only apply to a paladin's sense of good, so can have rather... Machiavellian good ninjas.

I'll leave the samurai for later, not a class I recall ever dealing with really, and less clear on how I'd see it properly implemented. Roughly, fighter-ninja in a way, but with high social skills too, but that may not explain it too well.
Post edited May 17, 2019 by Cavalary
Ok, back to add one for samurai too, with the same caveat that I don't really have a clear mental image of such a character class.

Samurai - Fighter-lord. Pretty strong, fast and agile, reasonably tough. Wearing medium armor but still leaning more towards offense. Highly skilled with swords, including, or perhaps especially, some exotic ones, possibly reasonably skilled with some thrown weapons and crossbows, maybe to some extent bows as well, much less with other weapons. No magic and non-combat skills are almost exclusively social ones, but those are particularly well developed, at levels not usually seen in classes not clearly focused on them at the expense of any decent combat abilities. Great group leaders, work well with others, possibly inspiring, improving morale, making allies fight better, maybe offering specific tactical options, but also generally intelligent and highly skilled when the battle is of words, be it negotiation, intimidation, bluffs, figuring out the true intent of others and other related abilities. Can't really see alignment constraints.
Assassin is a must and Hitman.
I just added Bard to the list, as that's one other common class that isn't always implemented the same way. (For example, the Bards in AD&D 2e (and CRPGs based on the rule set) are very different from the ones in most other RPGs.)
Paladin: Heavy warriors who take up a cause they believe in. Unlike the stereotypical "lawful good only" perception, my interpretation of the class allows a paladin to take up any cause - for better or for worse. Most paladins are religious (they can serve a good or evil power), although more uncommonly they will devote themselves to a creed and manifest their power through force of will. Paladins generally take up a good or evil cause - neutral paladins are near nonexistent because remaining neutral doesn't leave you with much to fight for. As the old saying goes: "there's never been an atheist in a foxhole."

Core features:
* The ability to heal, half as competently as a proper healer such as a druid or cleric.
* Able to wield almost any melee weapon and wear any armor that fits.
* Empowered by acts of justice - doing things consistent with the cause they fight for.
* Heavy armor and generous amounts of health at the cost of low mobility.

Paladin subspecializations:

Templar: The defender brand of paladin. Prefers to fight with a one-handed weapon and shield, often doing low damage. Templars often draw enemy attacks ("tank") and are extremely difficult to kill due to a mix of heavy armor, massive health pool, regenerative abilities, and damage mitigation. Those who fight for a good cause tend to have abilities that nullify damage, redirect damage from allies, and regenerate health. Those who fight for an evil cause may have health-leeching and retribution auras that suck the life out of those who attack them.

Justiciar: Knight-errants who typically work alone or in small groups, wandering the land in exact justice for their causes. They prefer to move quickly, gaining bonuses when wearing light or medium armor and wielding a single one-handed weapon. Some justiciars are known to dual-wield, allowing them to do punishing amounts of single-target damage at the cost of defense. The vast majority (90%) serve a good cause, rooting out evil and eliminating high-value evildoers (such as robber-barons or corrupt kleptocrat) in the hopes that their minions will turn away from evil or become disorganized. The remaining 10% become "dark justiciars" who seek out and destroy those who would bring justice - the mere rumor of one is enough to keep a village's justice apparatus up at night.

Crusader: Those who fight for the cause and aren't shy about it. Crusaders wear the same heavy armor as templars, although they typically wield massive two-handed weapons. Most of them use melee weapons, although some use heavy ranged weapons such as crossbows or high-caliber muskets. Crusaders ditch the focus on healing and mitigation skills, instead stacking their skill bars with large-area nuking abilities that come from the power they serve, or their force of will. They cause massive area damage in combat, although they tend to lag behind other damage-focused classes in single-target fights.


Ranger: Individualistic hunters who live best in the woods.

Core features:
* Maintains a pet, usually a large animal that helps out in combat.
* Proficient with all ranged weapons. Rangers most commonly use a bow or throwing weapons.
* Some talent with nature magic, roughly half that of a druid. Standard ranger spells are generally healing, support, and utility focused, although their Warden specialization adds druid-type offensive spells.
* Wears light armor, has above-average health.

Ranger specializations:

Marksmanship: Hunters who focus on putting as much ammo downstream as quickly as possible. As a marksmanship specialist hunter, your pet's main purpose is to distract the enemy so you can plug half a dozen projectiles in them - then return as many projectiles as possible for reuse. Some train themselves to snipe enemies, inflicting massive single-target critical damage and debilitating debuffs. Others focus on reloading and rapid-fire, barraging enemies down a squad at a time.

Warden: Hunters who think they're druids, only they prefer to have a pet instead of shapeshifting into a pet while packing some ranged firepower on the side. Wardens have access to many druid-type offensive spells and can serve as competent DPS casters. More commonly, they can infuse spells into traps or ranged projectiles for hybrid physical/magic damage.

Pack Hunter: Because just having one pet wasn't enough. Pack Hunters call up a swarm of animals to tear up their enemies, backing them with druid-type healing/support spells and the occasional well-placed arrow.


Druids: Shapeshifting nature mages.

Core features:
* All druids can shapeshift into animals with appropriate level-up and training.
* Wears light armor.
* Poor weapon proficiency.
* Access to the full list of druid spells. This includes incredible support and utility, healing (also regenerative and area healing), and the ability to cause massive natural disasters (such as hail, tornadoes, earthquakes, and flooding). Druids can also rebirth (resurrect) allies in a literal homage to the cycle of life.

Druid specializations:

Pack Leader: Druids who focus on shapeshifting and commanding a swarm of animals. Pack leaders can shapeshift into mythical creatures (such as griffins, phoenixes, manticores, and even dragons) and can summon swarms of vicious animals.

Sky Druid: Spell-slinging nukers with bonuses to offensive spells for an exceptionally miserable forecast.

Earth Druid: Those who specialize in healing and support spells.


Ninja: Extremely mobile, lightweight warriors with a focus on stealth and debuffs. Ninjas also have access to shadow magic.

Core features:
* Can go invisible.
* Able to double-jump, parkour on walls, and take reduced falling damage.
* Wears light armor. Some ninjas skip the armor, wearing regular clothes and using a shadow veil in place of armor.
* Weapon proficiency: Any bladed melee or throwing weapon.
* Below-average health pool balanced out with superior mobility and evasion/damage mitigation.

Ninja specializations:

Combat: Ninjas who prefer to fight in something resembling an honorable manner. Focused on quick-strikes, which they can focus on one enemy or rapidly chain-strike through a whole group. Combat ninjas do a lot of single-target damage, although they lag behind other DPSers on area damage due to how most of their AoE damage splits a fixed amount of damage over a group of enemies.

Mobility: These ninjas move faster than almost anything else on the battlefield. Additionally, they can triple jump and glide, completely ignoring falling damage. Mobility ninjas are equally comfortable with melee or ranged combat, either silently jumping down on enemies for major critical damage or barraging shurikens from the rooftops.

Shadow: Rogues who think they're mages. Best invisibility and stealth features. Buffs that increase survivability - examples include siphoning health, decreasing chance of being hit, decreasing damage taken, and creating mirror images to confuse and attack enemies. Shadow ninjas also have a wide array of hostile support skills that debuff and disable enemies.


Samurai: Honorable knights who specialize in one-on-one dueling.

Core features:
* Armor proficiency up to medium weight.
* Weapon proficiency: Any sword-like weapon of any size, all the way from butter knives to dai-katanas.
* Massive health pool.

Samurai specializations:

Duelist: Focused on honorable one-on-one combat. Duelists are equally good at doing damage and tanking. They have innate increased block chance and damage blocked against the enemy they most recently damaged with a single-target attacked, and the ability to draw attacks ("tank"). Samurais have little in the way of health regeneration and typically rely on a healer to keep them going in an extended fight, although many healers like being paired with samurai tanks just because they have good mitigation.

Swordsman: The offensive samurai specialization focusing on rapid strikes and extreme single-target damage. Mechanically similar to a combat ninja except with armor instead of mobility.

Warlord: A hybrid support/buffing class with some warrior thrown in. Warlords don't do (or absorb) as much damage as other samurai specializations, making up for it in commands that buff their squad.

Goof-off: Basically the whole big-budget "AAA" video game industry right now


Epic Store: Offers dodgy game giveaways at the hidden price of having your Steam profile datamined "by accident". Questionable ties with Tencent and China as an added bonus. Expert at denying others games through aggressive pursuit of exclusives.

Activision Blizzard: Has skills specializing in transferring wealth from the little guy on both sides (workers and customers) to line the stockholders' pockets. Other prominent skills include the ability to bring catastrophic ruin down on whole franchises and virtual worlds. Basically a chaos warlock with the financial skills of a rogue. This specialization has the "Always Online" feature, which inflicts debuffs if you're the last remaining member of your squad.

Bethesda/Zenimax: Focused on fundamentally broken/malfunctioning skills that become extremely good with support buffs, at which point "It Just Works" (tm). Can create nerfed mirror images of allies - a skill that turns allies invisible and puts weaker versions of them in their original places (also known as the "Special Edition" maneuver). Also works as a support class able to build badly-designed platforms, but their buffs are fundamentally broken except if a squadmate buffs you first.
Paladin - Holy Warrior. Should be restricted to Lawful Good or some similar constraints on moral choices. Restrictions on who they can be in party with - no vampires, for example. Should have some simple direct prayer-based magics: healing, light, dispel spirit, turn undead, etc. Armor and weapons like a medieval knight.

Ranger - High survival skills. Ranged weapons. Trap-making/disarming skills. Poisons, healing potions creation. Has good animal and nature lore.

Druid - Magic + Nature. Shape-shifter. Controls/calls animals to help in battle. Nature-based spells: entangle, poison cloud, sleep, invigorate...

Ninja - Assassin is what I'm more familiar with. Stealth fighter. Short blades and hand-to-hand combat skills. Other skills: deception, concealment, disguise, acrobatics. Uses poisons and traps to augment stealth kills. Difficult to have in party.

Samurai - ??

Bard - Support character. In battle, songs to buff/debuff, moderate skills with sword and bow/crossbow. Out of combat, high charisma for charm, seduce, haggle.

Most of these I don't havor in the party rpgs I play. I prefer the simpler classic triangle of fighter/rogue/wizard. Ninja, ranger and bard fall under rogue. Paladin, Samurai fall under fighter. Druid falls under wizard.
Ninja shouldn't be a class. Rather, a multiclass. They aren't particularly strong in any given field, or even experts, rather jack of all trades or something. Can't go against a fighter toe to toe, use superstition and lesser spirituality not like a mage or a priest but rather to spook their targets, they are more of an assassin instead of a warrior, their skills and arrays are "incomplete" and basic (swordsmanship for example: real life comparison would be Kenjutsu VS Kendo, while their repertoire of knowledges like strategy, weather foretelling, tactics, medicine, chemistry -yogen- aren't of "science" level). They should be named "scounts", instead, because that is the role they actually fill. Espionage, information gathering, sabotage, infiltration, etc. Preferrably, they should be female, because they are more physically adept towards escape artist feats and to add seduction to their weaponry, as well as more convincing *deception*. Maintaining a second (or multi) profile is important too, like street performers, peddlers, actors, etc. If their implementation in a game tries to portray them realistically, they are weak, inconsistent, almost pointless to play as and a group around them, is actually a hindrance.

The rest of the classes aren't rare and there have been countless approaches to portray their profile/role/feel/"emulation", in gaming.
Post edited May 17, 2019 by KiNgBrAdLeY7
Paladin - strength priest/buffs
Ranger - dual weild fighter with useless terrain buffs
Druid - nature priest
Ninja - dexterity rogue
Samurai - strength rogue
Bard - buffs/debuffs/annoying
Goof Off - I <3 luck builds
Bard - Mainly support class, focused on songs to buff allies and hinder enemies. Can be pretty agile, maybe somewhat fast as well, but weak of both strength and constitution. At most lightly armored, and may in fact be hindered by any armor, and with modest skills with daggers, staves and maybe crossbows and some thrown weapons, possibly bows as well. Their primary combat role is the magic of their music, which buffs allies and hinders enemies for periods of time. May be reasonably stealthy and have some lockpicking and stealing skills, possibly decent at spotting and disarming traps too. Intelligent and masters of lore, can make great use of magical items, identify them, determine the value of items and are otherwise very valuable when knowledge is concerned, be it of worldly matters or myths and legends. Excellent charisma and social skills, great hagglers, excellent at playing a role and downright lying for whatever reason and in whatever circumstances, good diplomats if need be, also quite good at determining the true motives of others. Tend to require being part of a group, but would rather not lead it, while at the same time not caring much to follow others' orders either, preferring to just work together while they happen to have the same cause or go the same way. Dancing to the beat of their own drum, in "classic" alignment terms they're chaotic, but may be anywhere on the good-evil scale, or downright hard to place anywhere on it.
Paladin: Boring stuffy class for a player that wasn't creative enough to roll a mystic knight or spellblade.
Ranger: Interesting lower tier class that exists as a springboard to better classes; but typically has an ability or two worth snagging.
Druid: It depends on the type of druid, but most are played akin to just a more bite flavored type of beserker who can take messages from the cats.
Ninja: Good for doing weird things to the system, such as trapping in advance of an encounter. Basically an upgraded thief.
Samurai: Throw your cash, catch things with your hands, have a generally good time.
Bard: Potental gamebreaker in the hands of a good player. Partywide buffs and many talents out the wazoo.
Paladin - Tank character with a religious theme and Cleric magic undertones
Ranger - Grizzly Adams with a bow
Druid - Grizzly Adams with nature magic
Ninja - A rogue that's better at stabbing with swords
Samurai - Tank with Japanese theme and usually alchemy (though I don't know why)
Bard - Support character with music based support magic
At some point, people associated shape shifting as a necessity for druid, rather than just one of its possible nature-magic abilities. To me, Druids CAN shape shift. But they don't HAVE TO have that power to be a druid. To me, the focus on nature-related magic and versatility is more important core traits.

(This inspired by a recent discussion about Gloomhaven, where most, for some reason, don't see Cragheart as a druid.)

BTW, dtgreene, did you try Fell Seal? I don't remember if you said you liked tactical/sRPGs. It's relevant to this discussion because it has a fairly robust class system, some validating tropes, some deviating. (How about the aforementioned tabletop game, Gloomhaven? The whole game's character set is about bucking class norms.)

EDIT: I'll do a one-liner for each:

Paladin - This is almost entirely flavor/RP. Mechanically, should skew toward sacrifice and redemption powers.
Ranger - Nature-warrior. Should interact with traps andor terrain.
Druid - (above) Nature-mage
Ninja - Just an Asian-themed rogue. Often high stealth and poison.
Bard - Should focus on supporting others in combat, and dominating in social situations.
Samurai - I've never seen a Samurai I truly like in a game. Samurais should be broadly-generalist fighter-types (rather than than heavily-specialized in one weapon fighter types). They should be equally as good with a bow as with a sword, and mounted as not, and armored as not.
Post edited May 17, 2019 by mqstout