It’s time for step 2 of Rich Burlews layout for designing a game-setting. Since this setting is not intended for D&D, this seems a useless step, but instead of skipping, I want to take time now to decide what I do want for the player to be instead. Mainly my idea is that the player should have a huge amount of options in-game and it’s the job of the designer to show some interesting paths to follow. I always really enjoy crafting systems in a game, but often I find them time consuming and complicated with insufficient in-game explanation. But what if the player really wants to enact a certain profession. I think that should be possible. So instead of predefined adventurer-classes, I’m looking more for activities and professions, perhaps just skills to describe and regulate player activities.
I also believe picking a class at the start of a game discourages experimenting with the player character. Rather I think the preferred activities should flow from the characters abilities. A nice feature of this game might be a game option where the character is ‘born’ with certain talents, and the player has no influence on which ones. For example only 1 in 3 characters will then be generated with magic capabilities, and it’s the players job to make the best with the given set of talents. Perhaps to become a famous weapon-smith is the chosen career. Or become an ambitious priest for one strand of the religion.
But for one moment, lets assume I am going to divide players in classes, what would be useful? Well, since just playing a blacksmith in an RPG isn’t that exciting, and neither is a pacifistic priest, let’s assume there will be combat for every player. And why not start with classifying in the way characters deal with combat? First we got the general melee of close quarter ‘Fighter‘. Next there is the ranged fighter, or perhaps plainly the ‘Archer’. Then there are those that use magic, shortly referred to as the ‘Mage‘. And lastly there are those that use trickery and ‘Stealth’. These basic classes are not exclusive. A Mage might hide from view, and an Archer will likely switch to a melee weapon when his enemy gets too close. But this is a good way of separating different skills involved in combat.
Other main classes might be gathering, crafting and performing. Those would be the more miscellaneous classes. I believe I have some great ideas how to classify attributes, skills and player activities, but that’s something I like to reveal and discuss in one go, so I’m not going further into it now. Suffice to say, there will be plenty possibilities to perform different professions and studies in-game.
Looking at it from a broader sense, what type of characters should be in the game? Well, I already spoke about farmers, sailors, priest, but I will try to come up here with a list of classes of (non-)player-characters, that I feel could be in the game. How about we first divide the list in to groups of characters:
- Common folk
- Middle class
Well, I don’t know if this fits all I seek, but it will do for now. Perhaps I will add more class categories later when needed. Lets expand on the first one: Common Folk.
Next one up is the middle class.
- Middleman (a ship’s mate, a work overseer)
I realized now it’s hard to distinguish here, because some middle class characters also fit in the scholar or ruler categories. A mage that has a shop for his products, or a state official. Anyways, next is the list of scholars.
And right into a list of ruling classes. Actually my definition here is a bit like everyone that has legal power over another, whether just or not, is a ruler in some sense.
- Kings (and other Royal family)
- Any other Noble
I skipped the warrior set of classes, but that was on purpose, because most likely the PC will fit into one of these.
Now that I’ve made these lists I’m not sure how useful they will become in the game itself, but it did give me some base idea about what’s all involved. This list is far from complete, and I’m not happy with how the classes don’t fit nicely into categories, but by trying to do so, it becomes much easier to see common grounds and in what way they could then be categorized.
Next time a post about a topic in which I’m also far from having decided, but on which my direction of thinking is at least much more clear and logical: Races.