Friday, January 14, 2011

Open Friday: How Many?

This is a very D&D-specific question, so my apologies to those of you who play other old school RPGs: how many character classes do you allow in your campaign? Mostly, I'm curious to see how many of us stick to just the three/four "basic" ones (and for present purposes, I'm lumping Moldvay-esque racial classes in with these) and how many allow lots more.

In my Dwimmermount campaign, I began with just OD&D's three (cleric, fighting man, magic-user) and eventually allowed a modified thief as an NPC. I also introduced paladins and planned to introduce druids. In principle, I might allow even more classes if the need ever arose, but, so far, it hasn't and the game is primarily an "original three" campaign that's open to more if the exigencies of play demanded it.

How about you?

72 comments:

  1. I play a modified B/X-LL game and use the basic four. However, at character creation players can negotiate with me to modify their character class. The only example so far is a Bounty Hunter who started as a thief, but traded out some thief abilities in order to gain fighter attack ability progression. In other cases, the guy who wanted to be an archer rolled up a fighter as usual and just calls himself a archer, put his high score in Dex, etc. I don't think you need a new class very often, but if there's a compelling case, I think I would let it happen.

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  2. It would depend on the campaign and how the classes would/could work together.

    Generally speaking I'd allow all AD&D classes but would shy away from the following character classes:

    Assassins: I prefer good-to-neutrally aligned player characters.
    Cavaliers: I think that knights are hard to incorporate into a standard adventuring party, due to their obligations to a lord.
    Monks: I prefer European-flavored campaign settings

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  3. I allow 36, which is probably a sign that mine has drifted a bit from base ;) Basically I added two classes, Ranger and Actor, so that each stat had a class with that stat as primary, then I allow dual-classing in all the combinations, with each combo having its own name and special abilities depending on which aspect is more important. E.g. Ranger/Fighter = Scout, while Fighter/Ranger = Barbarian. Most people play "pure" classes, but we've had a Barbarian and some admixtures with Thief. I'm not sure whether that's because most of the folks I play with are more used to the standard D&D classes, or whether it's just I've only been running it this way for about a year and some people are still on their first character.

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  4. I'm pretty much running my game as Adventures Dark and Deep rather than AD&D right now, so I'm allowing all 16 classes therein: Bard, Jester, Cavalier, Paladin, Cleric, Druid, Mystic, Fighter, Barbarian, Ranger, Mage, Illusionist, Savant, Thief, Acrobat, and Mountebank. The Bard is basically a new class, while Cavalier and Barbarian have been tweaked to make them a bit more balanced. No Monk or Assassin.

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  5. Full on LL & AEC so players can either do Elf class or multiclass as suits your tastes. Same with halfling and dwarf. WIth all those possibilities, I don't see the need to import other classes.

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  6. Three, but I use other classes for NPC's. I may start a B/X game soon, in which case I'll add thieves.

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  7. I'm pretty wide open in my D&D games...I allow almost any "official" character class. In OD&D I allow all classes from all books and the Strategic Review articles. In AD&D I allow anything from the PHB, Unearthed Arcana, or Oriental Adventures.

    Generally I don't do Dragon classes, but that's mostly because I don't have a Dragon collection to review them before allowance.

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  8. I use the "basic" AD&D classes as they appear in Swords & Wizardry Complete rules. Although I tend to frown upon Monks - because I just don't think they fit - unless the player comes up with a REALLY good backstory.

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  9. I included paladins and rangers in my Lamentations of the Flame Princess game. I really enjoyed James' posts about his views of these classes so I used that as my guide, introducing them as orders and not classes. He really gave me a fun, fresh way of looking at these groups.

    I'm playing down the class abilities, and I'd like to play up the benefits of the support network offered by an order. For example, paladins cannot heal wounds by touch, but they know where to find contacts that will provide them with healing potions or clerical services. That kind of thing.

    Also, players can't start out as members of these groups, they have to seek them out in play and join up.

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  10. It depends on the game I'm playing. In the campaign I'm currently working on, I'm allowing about 7 classes(most are heavily modified), including Fighter, Avenger, Sorcerer(not like the d20 version), Summoner, Cleric, Thief, and Trader. I may actually be dropping the Cleric altogether as the setting wasn't designed with clerical magic in mind.

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  11. In the Labyrinth Lord game I'm going to run this weekend I'm only allowing the basics: fighter, thief, magic-user (no cleric), dwarf, elf and halfling.

    I do have a few additional options lined up for each class though, to give them a bit of variety. Fighters get to choose from about 10 abilities (things like berserker or weapon specialist), thieves get to choose from 9 out of 15 skills (including assassin- and acrobat-like skills), and magic-users can choose different spell lists (standard / illusionist / necromancer / elementalist).

    I'm probably also going to allow the mutant race-class from the mutants & mazes appendix of Mutant Future, if I receive my recently ordered copy of the book in time for the game!

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  12. The standard four*, plus Ranger (using Brave Halfing's "Delving Deeper" pamphlet) and Illusionist from the AEC. I'm not sure about Druids, since I'd seriously consider giving the Druid spell list from the Cyclopedia to Elves, replacing MU spells. While I love the idea of Paladins, I've never been happy with them as separate class, so I'd have to think about it. Same with Monks and Assassins, classes I've never really been enamored of. Still, if someone could make a good argument, I'd be open to it.

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  13. BX D&D - eight classes.

    The totemic four (Cl, F, Mu, T) + four racial classes (Dw, E, Hf and Amityville Mike's Octopus class).

    I'm open to other things, but no one's asked for anything that can't be represented by a palate swap onto an existing class.

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  14. B/X listed, plus bard, druid, half-orc, half-ogre, scout (ranger with no spells), gnome, illusionist. Elves have druid spells.

    Most players have chosen one of the rulebook classes although the "wildwood elf" has proved popular too.

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  15. I don't see the need to limit anyones creativity at the table, so all 'official' classes are open, as are classes that have appeared in Dragon and White Dwarf Magazines. While some might argue about game balance, or the lack thereof; ultimately it doesn't really matter. No character class that I've ever encountered is so overpowered to be totally invulnerable and certain classes alignment 'difficulties' (particularly the evil ones) have in-game consequences that extend beyond the dungeon and the adventuring party.

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  16. My general modus operandi for Labyrinth Lord seems to be the basic seven (fighter, thief, cleric, magic user, and three demihuman types), swapping out the demi-humans for more setting appropriate races. I've thrown in a special setting appropriate eighth human class on occasion as well.

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  17. Basic seven from Labyrinth Lord. I only use the main Labyrinth Lord book. The next game I run will probably be an AEC affair using old AD&D modules, if I can find stuff my players haven't read. If I don't run Stars Without Number instead.

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  18. I allow any of the standards from AD&D 1st edition, although really players seem to limit themselves more than having restrictions placed on them. I don't ever recall anyone going for Illusionist or Assassin and only had 1 druid. Monk never seemed all that popular either.

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  19. I run B/X, but added a race/class split with the big 4 for each. Then I sprinkled in Brave Halfling's Paladin and Ranger classes as human-only options. So I guess that makes 4 races, 6 classes.

    During convention games though, I usually try to stick with B/X by the book -- 7 classes and no races. One of these days I'm going to get up the chutzpah to drop the Thief class.

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  20. I allow Fighting-men, clerics, and magic-users as character classes. Additionally, I have a few sub-classes (often unknown to the players) that can be reached through play, but cannot be chosen by the player.

    For example, I have a berserker class for fighters that lose control of themselves in a state of furious frenzy (5% to become a berserker every time a fighter berserks). Becoming a berserker, however, isn't necessarily a good thing (often times, it is the other way around.

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  21. Depends:

    In basic-like games I separate race from class and allow fighter, thief, cleric and magic-user with multi-classing.
    Races allowed are the basic four plus goblins or half-orcs.

    In advanced type games I allow: fighter, ranger (a la AD&D 2e), paladin ( and anti-paladin), assassin, thief, bard (a la AD&D 2e), cleric (a la AD&D 2e), druid, monk, magic-user (a la AD&D 2e).
    I avoid cavaliers, barbarians -I have yet to find a satisfactory barbarian class- and illusionists (whose spells become part of the magic-user list)
    I allow all AD&D 1e races.

    Races restrict access to some classes and may have limited multi-class combination.
    Humans have full multi-class ability and free access to all classes (and combinations).
    I usually do not use Level restrictions as they are in 1e. Once the level limit is reached, demi-humans simply receive a 50% experience penalty but keep growing.

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  22. All my old-school gaming is straight B/X or EPT, and I've never seen the standard classes offered in those games confine anyone's imagination. A character is what you imagine him to be, not what the class ability table assigns a number to.

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  23. I'm playing OSRIC right now and generally anything goes at my table, but I like to restrict classes to cultural zones. I've taken the Lendore Isles for my OSRIC game and given it a very heavy celtic makeover. Consequently the only rangers, bards (dragonsfoot version) and druids in my campaign are found there (along with the core source of hobbits). I'm fooling around with making Monks into a mythic western warrior a la Cu Chulain.

    I've stolen the 2nd ed Shi'ar class and plopped it down into my more 1000 and 1 Nights zone.

    The continental European zone has plenty of choices: fighter, magic-user, thief, paladin, osric unearthed's cavalier, osric unearthed's brawler, osric unearthed's noble, assassin, thief, illusionist, Footprint's necromancer, and the recent mentalist class (restricted to elves only).

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  24. My group is minimalist when it comes to character classes. ALl PCs are human, and we use only 3 characters classes: fighters, magic-users, and clerics.

    In my Carcosa campaign, there are only 2 classes: fighters and sorcerers.

    Truth to tell, clerics get ignored by us for the most part. IMO, there are really only 2 types of character in D&D:

    1. A character who can attempt anything that does not involve the supernatural. Let's call him a fighter.

    2. A character who can also attempt supernatural things. Let's call him a magic-user.

    That covers everything.

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  25. I use just the three from S&W:WB but, have been working on a Thief and Ranger class. If I get them working the way I want, they will probably be the only additions I make to the game.

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  26. Lots of them, the AD&D PH classes plus a bunch from dragon like the bandit, duelist, jester, ect

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  27. I allow all those in the PHB except Monks and Assassins, but so far none of my players has been interested in anything beyond the basic 4.

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  28. My Borderlands campaign involves currently as PCs two fighters, a thief, a druid and an elf. There was also a magic-user, a cleric, a ranger and a dwarf. I use a homebrew (and to be published when playtested enough version of Moldvay, so races are classes. I may allow some other classes if needed, but players tend to stick with classics. The elf's players is the 11 year old daughter of one of my players, with who I played with D&D allready when we were teenagers...

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  29. I detest games that are so big that you can't experience even a corner of the total. What ever I'm playing I always stick with core classes and discourage extra classes and other gimmicks.

    I don't think I'd turn away a player who wanted to roll with another class though. After all it's about having fun isn't?

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  30. I have eleven right now, and B/X-Labyrinth Lord is so easy to tinker with, there's always the option for more. I play with the traditional fighter, magic-user, cleric, dwarf, and elf, plus rogues (created to play with alternate and deviant to-hit tables, as well as replace the thief), gnomes (to play more with the henchmen rules and Charisma), pixies (by player request), half-ogres (created just for the fun of it :D ), and witches (because they really, really fit the setting). Thieves, and halflings are verboten.

    I've been tinkering off-and-on with a hierodule class, sorta-kinda psionic clerics of Tiamat, but haven't really nailed that down yet. I also did come up with a lizardman class, but I can't find my notes on him. :p

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  31. For me: The standard B/X and LL seven are available without DM approval. Other classes require DM approval. (And a disclaimer that I reserve the right to change the rules for that class at any time.)

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  32. Gah! Lost nixies off my list. That one was added when one PC got transformed into one by a being of Chaos.

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  33. I've only ever run one old-school D&D game, which I'm currently running as we speak. It's ostensibly an OSRIC Game. This is specifically a "one-shot" (although it's really going to be a "four-shot") through module S3: Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, and I designed all of the characters for the players beforehand. Although I'm running OSRIC, I did dig out my old 1E Player's Handbook to develop the PC's. So, I chose from all of the classes in the PHB. There is a Paladin, a Fighter, an Assassin (whom the group think is a "scout"), a Monk, two Clerics, a Fighter/M-U, a Thief, an Illusionist, and a Ranger. So the only thing I didn't use was the Druid (or the Bard).

    If I were to run any other Old-School Rules Set such as LL or S&W, I'd probably allow anything that was in those particular rulebooks, including the AEC supplement. I'm a big fan of varied character classes to help flesh out the world, and as someone noted above, part of determining which classes I would allowed would depend on what my campaign world was like.

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  34. Wow...that's actually an interesting question (um...not that they aren't usually...). I mean interesting in that it makes you think about what you're doing with your campaign.

    I've only allowed the B/X standard ones for the last 18 months or so. When I created some "additional ones" (like the witch hunter and bounty hunter, etc.) I allowed players to try them out for playtest purposes...but they died pretty quickly and we reverted back to the standard seven (including the three demihuman classes).

    In reflecting on THAT, it feels like *I* would have gotten bored by now with so few different classes in the game...I like options and variety as much as anyone!...however, it has worked well for us for a couple reasons (I think):

    1) the players have all been newbies (even the guy with lots of D&D experience has more experience as a DM than a player), and it's easier to learn the ropes with the basic archetypes (no need for subtle variations)

    2) the high "turnover rate" (i.e. PC death) means characters haven't had the chance to plumb the depths of the classes...we're on the verge of one guy leveling up to 2nd level!

    3) my players are fairly imaginative folk and are able to add their own creative twists to their adventurers without needing additional class options. Part of what made the variety of classes so cool back in my AD&D days (when we used everything from the PHB and UA as well as some Dragon Magazines) was that different classes helped DISTINGUISH characters from each other. These days, I can do that with my random hats chart!

    : )

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  35. Formerly, I allowed all classes in my campaigns. Now, however, I have an aversion to bards (the worst designed class), barbarians (overpowered), cavaliers (overpowered plus lopsided design), and assassins (for a multitude of reasons). I can accept monks and the classes from Oriental Adventures in my Occidental campaigns if there is a reasonable explanation for their presence (namely, as foreigners), but monks are otherwise just non-spellcasting cleric NPCs.

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  36. Fighter, paladin, thief/rogue, wizard, cleric, barbarian, druid, monk (grudgingly), ranger, illusionist. Plus two made up ones: alchemist and witch--though nobody's tried witch yet.

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  37. Technically I could go Assassin if I'm sure the player won't be a dick about it.

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  38. I allow pretty much everything to be honest.

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  39. The initial party has to be humans of the three core classes, but after that it opens up to:

    Alchemist
    Cleric
    Druid
    Dwarf (Dwarf Craftsman)
    Elf (Fighter/Magic-User)
    Fighter
    Hobbit (Fighter)
    Illusionist
    Magic-User
    Merchant
    Mon Calamari (Druid)
    Orc (Fighter)
    Paladin
    Pyromancer
    Ranger
    Vulcan (Fighter w/ Psionics)

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  40. Three -- Fighter, Wizard, Thief (no Cleric).

    In principle, I could broadly imagine using some other classes, but I actually don't think they're necessary. Generally open use of Multi-classing and a few Feats serve the purposes I need, which is pretty elegant and more stable balance-wise.

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  41. Like James, I started with the basic three (plus racial classes), expanded to include the thief in modified form. I have introduced some of the AEC classes in the form of NPCs (monk, paladin and ranger to be specific). Interestingly, all of my players continue to adhere to the original three (plus racial classes).

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  42. Several dozen. I find that the fewer, the harder it can be to realize an interesting concept.

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  43. The 4 classes and the 3 "races as classes" of the BECMI. My players never reached 9th level and thus never qualified for Paladin, Avenger nor Druid.

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  44. In the beginning: lots. Off hand I couldn't tell you how many, but I'd frequently allow all sorts of specialty classes from magazines like the Dragon, White Dwarf, and fanzines like Alarums & Excursions and Underworld Oracle. As well as quite a few I designed myself for campaign specific classes. Most specialty mages had their own character class. And standard clerics were the members of a single semi-monastic religious order, rather than being your typical priest. Although that being said, most players played one of the standard AD&D classes. Assassins were surprisingly popular; I don't think I ever had a monk in the game. Although there was a very successful witch/houri (multiclass) PC and a very famous sword-dancer PC.

    Now: it's down to three (or five, two, or none at all, depending on how you count these things). These form a continuum from "warrior" to "sorceror." Originally I called the middle class "adventurer," and then found it useful to add two intermediate (and unnamed) "classes" to the mix. So now when you gain a level it's a matter of choosing a hit die (d12 to d4), gaining the associated bonuses, and picking one of the feats/abilities associated with each hit die (martial, militant, mundane, mystical, magical).

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  45. There are no classes in my games. Generally I make the players choose from a limited number of abilities and their HP and level totals are static and unchanging. The game rewards revolve around social and monetary gains, not experience points and power.

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  46. New Model Colony runs using BECMI/Dark Dungeons.

    At this time, only four human classes (Cleric, Fighter, Magic-User, Thief) are allowed. Additional classes are considered to be treasure; players must find NPCs in play, make peaceful contact with them, befriend them, recruit them and somehow assimilate them into the Colony's community- if so, players may now access that class.

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  47. When I was running a Swords and Wizardry campaign, I added some additional classes, such as the Ranger class that you developed, and a few elven classes that were specific to my campaign world. I realized, however, that I was just trying to recreate the flavor of 1st Edition AD&D. Therefore, when the opportunity to start a new campaign arose, I switched to Labyrinth Lord, and allowed all of the classes in the Advanced Edition Companion, save for assassins. That was more by more by consensus than by my decree, however; nobody was able to explain why an assassin would join a traditional adventuring party, nor did anyone care to try.

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  48. I used to think more classes was where it's at, these days I prefer fewer classes but broad interpretations of them. Example: Illusionist is a Magic User who picks the right spells. B/X or LL classes do just fine. I allow multiclassing so, for example, Paladin = Fighter\Cleric and if just HAVE to be an Elven Thief you can do it, (although I would encourage you to try just Elf). Less rules more imagination.

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  49. Don't like classes but if you're going to have them, don't be a nancy and limit the damn things. I say if there are a dozen 'official' classes than I'll have a dozen.

    My D&D-But-Not game currently has about 14 - Assassin, Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Shaman, Sorcerer, Thief, Warlock/Witch and Wizard.

    Bare in mind that some of these have little in common with their traditional D&D counterparts.

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  50. Looking and thinking about the comments, I think it's fair to say the classes aren't so much about how the -game- goes as how much help the players need to imagine themselves into the game.

    I have new players all the time, so I have lots of classes so they get an idea of their options, but I feel like i could go the way Delta does with some of my more experienced players who know that "fighter" can mean like 90 different things.

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  51. I also feel like brand-new players can get overwhelmed by options. So, I give them 3 things to chew on for 1st level; once they play a while and hit a higher level, then unlock some more options within that class for depth and distinction. If everyone's experienced, then you can opt to start at the higher level and have all of it on the table. IMO.

    I like Bradford's and Zarcanthropus' stuff above very much.

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  52. I'm prepping an old school AD&D game. If I'm able to gather the guys together next time I'm in town (I moved 70 mins drive away), it would have all the PHB classes, with some tweeks. I'm playing with 5 alignments, using your clerics are lawful and anti-clerics are chaotic rule. I'd like to write up a fire-mage based off that old Gygax newsletter you posted once. I'll have also anti-paladin (more of an NPC class), dwarven paladin (defender from 3e, my house rules will borrow from all editions), and elven paladin (since I'm not using cavalier). I'm allowing monk, but not advertising it (don't want it).

    And Delta, it will be a Target 20 game all the way (fighting, saving throws, ability score skills, thief skills, tracking... everything).

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  53. For "Classic" (Moldvay or Mentzer), I allow all seven: Fighter, Cleric, Magic-User, Thief, Dwarf, Elf, & Halfling. For AD&D1E/2E, I also allow seven: Fighters, Rangers, Paladins, Clerics (an extremely toned-down version [see The Complete Priest's Handbook]), Magic-Users, Illusionists, & Thieves (dual-class & multi-class characters allowed as listed per the Player's Handbook). All racial restrictions & level limits apply per the Player's Handbook.

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  54. Mighty Veil: Awesome. Spread the word. :)

    (Posting from the RECESS con in nyc, waiting for victims... Eh, registrants...)

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  55. Fow my Swords & Wizardry compatible World of Onn I use Clerics (Druids & Shao Disciples), Fighting-men (Barbarians, Divine Champions, Rangers & Spellblades) and Magic-users (Bards & Illusionists), so 3 primary classes and 8 sub-classes.

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  56. My 2e campaign, while it lasted used : fighter, paladin, ranger, druid, priest (from the 2e Complete Priests book - no clerics per se at all), wizard, specialist wizard, thief, runecaster (from the Vikings book), and bard.

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  57. Most of my players are not used to classes. They envision/imagine themselves in roles and than try to locate them in the game (D&D & its variants) and don't find them. I need a lot of classes so I can get close to the ideas for characters that my players have.

    My players usually want more options than most Class/Level systems make available.

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  58. When I ran OD&D I had the basic three classes, but everyone was sort of a thief as well: everyone could backstab, hide, climb, move silently etc.

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  59. Recently inspired to run an old-school game (largely by this site) using a Microlite 74 Heartbreaker.
    I use Adventurers (fighters), Magicians (Magic users) and White Mages (sot of clerics). Plus a few Npc types.
    No thieves- it's great. Everyone wants to check for traps and pick the next lock.

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  60. I run Menter D&D (last night with a group of newbie; it was a blast) and I allow all classes. As a recent option, I added the possibility of multiclassing and dualclassing of demihuman classes with human classes (so you can have, say, an halfling/thief or a dwarf/cleric or a dual-class fighter/thief) and it also worked well.

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  61. Joshua that sounds like a really good idea, I woul love to see the 36 combinations and special abilities. Do you have them on a web site somewhere?

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  62. I've yet to see a class in 4E that bothers me, but I remember disliking some of the ones in 2, 3 and 3.5 even if right now I can't name them. Some of the wonky ones in 3.5 appeared the psionics book.

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  63. We play with groups of classes being regionally dependent. We find that this kind of realm/class diversity allows us to be more actively involved in different portions of our vast kingdoms, instead of pigeon-holing ourselves in a regional "comfort zone" after every campaign. This also makes for some really interesting character backgrounds.

    So, if we play a 2E game we have all supplement kits and classes spread smartly across various regions. The same is done for a 3E game with all base, prestige, and expanded classes.

    I guess (in a long winded manner) my answer would be: we use ALL classes from every available source we own.

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  64. Since I am currently using 2nd Ed I use the basic classes out of that edition of PHB. That includes the Fighter, Ranger, Paladin, Thief, Bard, and Mages and Priests that have specific spell lists based on their school of magic (like illusionists) or based on their religious point of view (like healing priests, or weather priests). I don't mind the specialist magic users or specialty priests, because it adds campaign flavor, while the main effect on rules are limiting the selection of spells available.

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  65. I usually run 1st edition circa 1980 and allow all the classes and races from the original PHB.

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  66. @Michael, I don't have a web page publicly accessible, but if you give me a day or so I'll write up the gist of it as a blog post on http://webamused.com/bumblers

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  67. Over almost 30 years of running 1st edition, I've noticed that theoretically having a lot of races and character classes hasn't made much difference, because only a relatively few get used anyway. I don't believe I've EVER seen anyone play a monk, druid, assassin, or gnome in one of my games. Offhand I can't think of any pure magic users either; people tend to play elves multiclassed with fighter for hit points and combat power. I have had a few illusionists (maybe their starting spells are considered to be better). Rangers are incredibly popular; it's not uncommon to have two or three rangers in a group and no actual fighters. Most fighters I see tend to be dwarves, and paladins are pretty unpopular. Thieves (often halfling thieves) and clerics are both popular, probably because they combine special abilities with decent combat power.

    Given my experience, I probably wouldn't add any more classes. People seem to have narrowed the available choices down pretty far already.

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  68. @Joshua - Awesome, looking forward to it. I find I like dual classed / multi classed over more classes, I think most effects can be accomplished by combining the base classes over adding another class that is say part thief part MU. Adding in a small special ability for flavor to differentiate is brilliant.

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  69. @Mike, ok I posted it at http://webamused.com/bumblers/2011/01/18/simple-combination-classes/

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  71. When we were still playing 2E we used the full range of classes (including occasional Dragon-zine classes) and pretty much unlimited multiclassing: one memorable character was an Anti-Paladin/Assassin, and my most successful character was a Paladin/Cleric.

    One innovation I made that was fairly popular was to allow players to "weight" their multi-class characters at time of creation in terms of how xp were allocated. For example, one player had an elven Magic-user/Thief weighted 75/25 - he became a powerful mage who wasn't bad at scouting (or cat-burglary). It allowed a lot more variety without the need for a gazillion new classes.

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  72. Wasn't there a Dragon Magazine article that included a system for making your own class for AD&D? I dimly recall one.

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