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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Default Triforce of Classes

    So I started playing D&D with 4e, though I now much prefer 5e.
    I also played the BG saga, giving myself some idea of what 2e was like.

    I now have a picture in my mind of what D&D's main classes used to be, and how they related to each other.

    Fighter Cleric Wizard
    Ranger Bard
    Rogue
    Does that seem accurate to you? If yes, do you deplore how we moved away from this model?

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Triforce of Classes

    A little context: In 2nd edition AD&D, you get four types ('groups') of classes: Priests, Rogue, Warriors, and Wizards. Priests are clerics and druids; rogues are bards and thieves (and a thief is the closest to a modern day rogue - backstab and skillmonkey); warriors are fighters, paladins, and rangers; and wizards are mages and specialists wizards (abjurers, illusionists, etc.). The exact reason for these groupings remains elusive to me, but it seems to be down to sharing the same saving throw starting points and progressions. All wizards are always good at resisting spells, improving slowly from there, while all warriors start with relatively poor saves, but improve very quickly with them as they level.

    Rangers moved away from getting wizard spells (as they did in 1e AD&D), and became a sort of fighter (full attack progression and weapon use)/cleric (cleric-like spells)/rogue (certain skills) with an added flavour of wilderness (tracking and what later became animal empathy). In other words, things may have started with a sort of amalgam of other classes turning into a new one, as your chart partly suggests. But these days the classes are more distinct from each other (and plastic - two fighters can be quite different from each other, much more so than used to be possible), and have moved beyond the sort of relationship you suggest (to the degree it ever existed).

    I think that's a good thing, overall. I'm not wild about some of these newfangled classes, like warlocks and mystics, but that's just my taste.
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    Librarian in the Playground Moderator
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    Default Re: Triforce of Classes

    Overall, I'd say it's a pretty reasonable set-up. If you define the three "pure" classes as Warrior, Magic-User, and Skill Monkey, then you can reasonably set other classes in reference to those, and even more nuanced locations... you might call Paladins the midpoint between fighter and cleric, or move bards to the absolute center and put in something else between Skill Monkey and Magic-User.
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    Default Re: Triforce of Classes

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    or move bards to the absolute center and put in something else between Skill Monkey and Magic-User.
    Maybe a Warlock? Seems like their whole shtick is pseudo magic and magic related skills.
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    Default Re: Triforce of Classes

    Needs more dimensions. Additional edges might look like:

    Cleric --- Druid --- Wizard // axis is broad support <-> specific control

    Cleric --- Paladin --- Fighter // axis is buffing <-> fighting

    Druid --- Ranger --- Rogue // axis is caster <-> corpse

    Bard --- Marshal --- Fighter // axis is inspiration <-> stabbing

    Psion --- Psychic Warrior --- Fighter // axis is brains <-> brawns

    Warblade --- Swashbuckler --- Rogue // axis is smart big swords <-> smart small blades

    Monk --- Ninja --- Rogue // axis is magical dodger <-> regular artful dodger

    Werewolf --- Bear Warrior --- Wildshape Ranger // axis is shape-shifting uncontrolled <-> well-controlled

    Wizard --- Warlock --- Soulbow // axis is control effects <-> ranged damage

    Wizard --- Fey Warlock --- Swordmage --- Fighter // axis is controller <-> defender

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Triforce of Classes

    Hymer hit the nail on the head. It might not make sense that cleric and wizard were different classes from the earliest days of the game, until you remember that it grew out of a miniatures wargame. Wizards were glass cannon artillery, while clerics were medics.

    And while I can see the logic of a skills guy - fighting guy - magic guy triangle, the reality is a lot less idealistic than that. Gygax just made a lot of stuff up to give people more options. Often clunky, unbalanced, and/or excessively convoluted stuff, given his personal nature and the fact that there wasn't much precedent for what he was doing. It wasn't a slow, cautious exploration of the concept-space by any stretch of the imagination.

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    Default Re: Triforce of Classes

    In the first published version of D&D, the three classes were Fighting-Man ("Fighter" since AD&D), Magic-User ("Wizard" since D&D3), and Cleric.

    Though, Gygax and Arneson's personal campaigns predate the publication of the rules. The Cleric was added in response to a game that became unbalanced by a chaotic PC vampire (so the cleric was added to that the lawful side could reign them in)

    So the actual evolution of class addition is like, Fighters come from Kriegspiel (19th century), Magic-Users from Leonard Patt's nameless system for wargaming LotR, both of which were integrated into Chainmail; Clerics were added during the creation of Dungeons and Dragons; Thieves, Paladins, Rangers, Monks, and Druids come from supplements after the original publication of D&D, and I think the Bard class saw first publication in AD&D1.

    Thief skills did add another dimension to the class-space that didn't exist before, that much is true, and they're probably a more natural third to a three-person group than clerics, but that doesn't really reflect creation order (or, for the longest time, party role)

    The youngest 5e class is probably the Warlock, which has a presence in D&D dating back to Complete Arcane published in 2004; I haven't attempted to track its history any further back than that.
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    Default Re: Triforce of Classes

    It's an interesting conceptual model, but by no means is it the Way Things Used To Be - in the earliest D&D, classes were limited to fighter, mage, and cleric, with a thief class added later to facilitate dungeon crawling during the shift away from wargaming. If anything, the idea of a Warrior/Rogue/Mage triangle is a pretty contemporary one, influenced by video games and novels (and possibly anime) as much as TTRPGs. Specifically, I would say that developments away from D&D-classic tended to make the existence of two separate casting classes irrelevant or awkward, coupled with a general desire for thieves to be able to hold their own in a fight as the genre evolved and people started to dislike the conceit of "the guy who rolls to find traps". The result has been that a lot of games dispense with the cleric, and basically make the rogue into a cool ninja.

    But again, it's an interesting conceptual model for describing the activities of characters in dungeon-crawler RPGs, and observing the ways games do and don't fit into this model could have its merits. It also describes a certain simplified approach to classes and what they do found in some OSR games and retreaux products pretty well.
    Last edited by gkathellar; 2018-09-08 at 04:56 PM.
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    Default Re: Triforce of Classes

    The original classes were something like: Fighting-Man, Cleric, Magic-User. Or: guy who hits stuff, guy who heals stuff, guy who gets to do cool things. Thief came along later, along with some other classes, but originally there were just the three. In AD&D, there were those 3 (Fighting-Man became Fighter), plus Thief and Monk. They also added sub-classes, which worked a little differently than sub-classes now: generally, a subclass meant you could do a little in addition to the basic class's abilities, but took some limitations. At least as far as I know, I only really know the PHB subclasses and keep in mind I haven't played AD&D in nearly 20 years. But those were:

    Fighter: you could instead be a Ranger or Paladin. Both got some cool magic bonuses compared to fighter, as well as bonuses vs certain enemies or under certain conditions. However, both required you to be good (Paladin was very restricted), you couldn't own all that much in comparison and your keep you got at higher levels was smaller.

    Magic-User: There was only one subclass. Either you were a Magic-User or you were an Illusionist. I seem to recall illusionists got slightly better weapons and could use a few extra magic items. Or maybe it was a few fewer?

    Cleric: You were either a Cleric or Druid. Druids had different alignment restrictions, got to use stabby and slashy weapons, but had to abide rules that made their armor worse

    Tangent: The main thing shared with your subclass's main class was how good you were at fighting. Most subclasses (at least in the PHB) had different weapon and armor proficiencies. Casters are where it got really weird; their ability to fight was basically all Magic-Users and Illusionists share, going so far as to have entirely different spell lists. Cleric and Druid are a similar case, but I think their spells had more overlap.

    Thief: Or you could be an Assassin. I never saw this class in play and had no desire to be Evil as a kid, so I remember only a little. You were sort of a cross between a Fighter and a Thief, better weapons and armor than thieves, but worse at their abilities and not as good at Fighting as a Fighter. You could also get paid for assassinations.

    Monk: You were a monk.

    Bard: Waaaaaaay too complicated.
    Last edited by Luccan; 2018-09-08 at 10:14 PM.
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    Default Re: Triforce of Classes

    Quote Originally Posted by Luccan View Post
    Bard: Waaaaaaay too complicated.
    Didn't you have to do a bunch of crazy dual classing to be a bard, or something like that?
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    Default Re: Triforce of Classes

    Quote Originally Posted by Celestia View Post
    Didn't you have to do a bunch of crazy dual classing to be a bard, or something like that?
    It was either fighter then thief before switching to bard, or thief then fighter before switching. Trouble being that dual classing was a pain (at least by RAW), where basically half your class levels didn't matter because you were only allowed to use one class while adventuring. And no changing day to day, each adventure you get to use one class. Plus you were required to switch classes at specific levels and needed far too many good stats to do it.
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    Default Re: Triforce of Classes

    Quote Originally Posted by Celestia View Post
    Didn't you have to do a bunch of crazy dual classing to be a bard, or something like that?
    It required a several levels as a fighter and several levels as a thief, after which you switched to druid and got a set of bonus abilities in that class. 3.5's Fochlucan Lyrist is pretty much a direct callback to it.
    Quote Originally Posted by KKL
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    Default Re: Triforce of Classes

    Quote Originally Posted by gkathellar View Post
    It required a several levels as a fighter and several levels as a thief, after which you switched to druid and got a set of bonus abilities in that class. 3.5's Fochlucan Lyrist is pretty much a direct callback to it.
    In some ways, I feel like every overly-complicated 1-20 optimized level progression for a 3.5 character is a callback to the original bard.

    A lot of the early "sub classes" feel overly specific, probably because they were cleaned-up versions of something cool someone came up with for a specific character in a specific campaign and hadn't had enough edges rounded off to be generic enough to make sense as what we'd later think of as "classes" rather than "a specific set of cool things that this particular character did/will do as part of their level growth".

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    Default Re: Triforce of Classes

    Quote Originally Posted by Algeh View Post
    In some ways, I feel like every overly-complicated 1-20 optimized level progression for a 3.5 character is a callback to the original bard.
    Another way to look at the 1e Bard is as the original prestige class -- and yeah, either way the callbacks are everywhere.

    Quote Originally Posted by Algeh View Post
    A lot of the early "sub classes" feel overly specific, probably because they were cleaned-up versions of something cool someone came up with for a specific character in a specific campaign and hadn't had enough edges rounded off to be generic enough to make sense as what we'd later think of as "classes" rather than "a specific set of cool things that this particular character did/will do as part of their level growth".
    Also some seem to have been based on a character from a book (published or otherwise).

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