Character classes, that old cornerstone of D&D... As a DM I've always been a "more is less" kinda guy, of the school of thought that who needs a ranger, paladin, cavalier and barbarian when you have the basic fighter. But something has been shifting... I've been thinking about what the players in my campaign might want, and the main thing I think players desire for their characters, in the context of an adventuring party, is for their character to be able to do something that no one else in the party can. And this something should be of a mechanical nature, that is, not purely a role-playing / behavioural difference.
So I've got to thinking about what additional classes I could allow. Thus far we've just had the classic four -- with cleric constantly teetering on the edge of being disallowed due to me as grumpy DM not liking it and claiming it doesn't fit with the setting. The obvious course of action would be allow some or all of the "advanced" classes from the Labyrinth Lord AEC, but I have problems with all of those classes.
The paladin, druid and ranger come with too strong a role-playing / background restriction, and cause problems of how they integrate with the rest of a party -- why exactly is this druid (who's supposed to be hanging around protecting balance in a grove somewhere) keeping the company of scoundrels and joining them on expeditions to steal treasure from dungeons?
The monk I just find too Asian -- which wouldn't be a problem if I was running an Asian-themed campaign ;).
As for the assassin, I like the idea of the class, but am not keen on some of the mechanics.
Oh and of course there's the illusionist -- I love the illusionist, and have amalgamated it into the magic-user (along with my necromancer and elementalist classes) as optional areas of specialisation.
So that's all of the AD&D classes struck off the list. What I want is some classes which provide some different abilities without any required background baggage. I've been brainstorming a few ideas, and have come up with a couple of fighter variants to start off with which I'm going to run by the players to see what they think. May I present, the brute and the archer.
Requirements: STR 9, CON 9
Prime Requisite: STR, CON
Hit Dice: 1d8
Maximum Level: None
XP Progression: 2,200 for 2nd level
Brutes are warriors who rely on sheer physical power, rather than expertise with weapons and fighting techniques. Brutes are able to use all melee weapons, though favour two-handed weapons, and suffer a -1 penalty to hit when using a one-handed weapon. They are likewise not trained in the use of missile weapons, suffering -1 to hit with thrown weapons, and being unable to use bows, slings and crossbows. Brutes are able to wear any armour, but cannot use shields.
Brutes with a 13 in both prime requisites receive a 5% experience bonus. Those with a 16 in one or both prime requisites receive a 10% bonus. Brutes' saving throw and attack advancement is the same as standard fighters'.
Humans or dwarves may be brutes. Dwarfish brutes may advance to 9th level, and are permitted to use two-handed battle axes and war hammers.
Despite their weapon and armour restrictions, at 1st level brute characters gain several advantages over normal fighters.
Firstly they are able to increase either their STR or CON attribute by one point, to a maximum of 19.
Secondly, due to the force of their attacks, they add an additional 1d6 damage to any melee attack which succeeds with a natural roll of 20.
Finally, due to the vigour with which they fight, brutes are able to continue attacking even when their hit points go below 1. A brute can continue making melee attacks (and no other actions) until his hit points are reduced to the negative value of his experience level (for example, a 5th level brute can keep fighting until -5 hit points). At this point, or if no further opponents are nearby, the brute dies.
Reaching 3rd level: Upon reaching 3rd level, brutes gain the ability after making a successful melee attack, to make a second attack against another nearby foe.
Reaching 5th level: At 5th level a brute may again increase either his STR or CON by one point, to a maximum of 19.
Reaching 10th level: At 10th level a brute may again increase either his STR or CON by one point, to a maximum of 19.
Reaching 15th level, and higher: Like fighters, brutes gain an extra attack per round at 15th, 20th and 25th level.
Requirements: DEX 9
Prime Requisite: STR, DEX
Hit Dice: 1d6
Maximum Level: None
XP Progression: 1,900 for 2nd level
Archers are warriors who devote their whole training to the mastery of the bow. They are able to use any missile weapons and all one-handed melee weapons, though suffer a -1 penalty to hit with the latter. Archers can use any armour up to chain mail, and are not trained in the use of a shield.
Archers with a 13 in both prime requisites receive a 5% experience bonus. Those with a 16 in one or both prime requisites receive a 10% bonus. Archers' saving throw and attack advancement is the same as standard fighters'.
Humans, elves and halflings may be archers. Elvish archers may advance to 12th level, and halfling archers to 7th level.
Archers gain several advantages over standard fighters.
Firstly they gain +1 to hit and damage when using a long or short bow.
Secondly, an archer with STR 13 or greater can purchase a specially commissioned composite bow to take advantage of his strength. Such a bow enables the archer to add his STR bonus to damage on a successful hit. The cost of these bows is shown below. They can only be used by archers.
Reaching 5th level: Upon reaching 5th level, archers gain the ability to make two attacks with their bow every other round.
Reaching 7th level: At 7th level an archer gains the ability to make precise and deadly shots when attacking by surprise. Any successful attack made with a bow upon a target who is unaware of the archer's presence (usually due to a surprise roll) has its damage multiplied by two.
Reaching 10th level: At 10th level an archer is able to make two attacks per round with his bow
Reaching 15th level: At 15th level an archer is able to make three attacks per round with his bow.
Archer Composite Bows
Shortbow (up to +1 damage bonus) -- costs 100gp
Shortbow (up to +2 damage bonus) -- costs 200gp
Shortbow (up to +3 damage bonus) -- costs 400gp
Longbow (up to +1 damage bonus) -- costs 150gp
Longbow (up to +2 damage bonus) -- costs 300gp
Longbow (up to +3 damage bonus) -- costs 600gp