Sunday, February 24, 2008

d20 Rethought: Classless approach?

I've been working on the previously mentioned (I think) set of generic base classes for d20 rethought, using a talent-feat-talent-feat model similar to d20 Modern for the class features. But I've run up against an obstacle. Without any fixed class features *or* the easily-grasped (but needlessly complicating) fundamentals of base bonus progressions, I'm beginning to feel that these classes are simply too vague to be sufficiently interesting for the player. The goal of base classes that retain the core d20 conventions while still being for any setting has resulted in a compromise that is inferior to either side's preference- that is, setting-unique base classes vs. a completely classless system.

And as I realize this, I also realize that I've already laid the groundwork for a version of the d20 system that would indeed throw class choices out the window completely. It's really quite simple-all characters would receive the following as their level went up:
-Every level characters receive a new feat, 1d6 vitality points and 1d6 resolve points.
-Every two levels, a new talent and a +1 increase to all base bonuses.
-Every three levels, a new ability increase.
-Every four levels, a new skill.
At first level characters also select a two-part background in a similar style to spycraft, with one part representing their past experience and the other representing their general demeanor. In addition to unique bonuses like feats, talents, or other abilities each of these two parts would grant several starting bonuses:
-Demeanor would determine bonus vitality and resolve points as well as the character's starting base will and reflex bonuses.
-Background (Blue Collar Worker, Soldier) would provide starting skill number and selection options plus the character's starting base combat and fortitude bonuses.

Talents would provide all the 'class features' of the game- evasion, contacts, berzerker rage and so on- while feats would continue to function in roughly the same capacity. Characters are free to mix and match as they see fit- for example, a ranger-type character could be created by investing your feats into archery and wilderness survival while your talents go into improving your mobility during combat and granting you some basic healing magic. In this case, however, there's nothing stopping you from investing that last group of talents into flame-throwing magic instead, or mind-reading magic, or becoming a natural liar. If I want to start with a fluff concept like "Brave, charismatic young woman with a passion for wilderness exploration and no small amount of skill with the crossbow" (see above picture) and then start writing the character up, I can do so without shooting myself in the foot from a tactical perspective. (By the way, the workings of the magic system will be covered in another post. I'm quite excited about what I've come up with there) Character creation without being limited to a certain package- how does that sound?

If your answer is "very cool," then I guess I owe you an apology because I've managed to get you excited about the option I won't be pursuing (at least not at this point). My premise for d20 Rethought is that it's what I would do if singlehandedly tasked with coming up with 4E's mechanics. That means adhering to some of the basic components of the system, including classes and ability scores- even if I'll be tweaking what those options are and what roles those parts of the system play in the creation of the character. And more to the point, I now have got a good idea of how I'm going to make setting-specific classes be flavorful without becoming too restrictive for my tastes.

So. Next d20 Rethought-related post will be about my new approach to base class structure, and the one following that can be about the new magic system; as eager as I am to skip ahead, the latter piece will include a few examples that rely partlypon information provided in the former.

No comments: