I've been thinking a bit about Classes. You know, the part that Race on your typical old school character sheet. Like a lot of New School gamers, I've never been a big fan of classes, in practice-- or well, that sounds more condemnatory than I mean it to. What I want to say is they just aren't for me. I think classes are fun to talk about, fun to goof around with, but when I sit down at the table to get my game on...well, I prefer a system without them, as I've said before. In the first Oubliette campaign-- there was a prototype game with kingtycoon, Isaac & Jeremy back in The Wasteland but for all intents & purposes I still call the game with martak, toughlad, Gerd & Bernie "Campaign One"-- I had classes. I ran it on the d20 system, since the Open Game License made that so appealing. As an aside-- I'd like to point out that the OGL was the sole reason I spent hundred & hundreds of dollars on Wizards of the Coasts. The current failure of a license, the GSL, is one of the many problems 4e has. Keep your secrets, WotC, but I'll keep my wallet closed.
Even when I used classes, I stripped them down to the most generic framework I could. Fighter prioritized your base attack bonus. Magic-User got you base caster level. Expert got you tons of skill points. Survivor had great saving throw bonuses & hit points. I fiddled around with a Magic Knight, that would balance attack bonuses & caster level, but I wasn't happy with it. Still, it was something. James played a Fighter/Expert/Survivor, Bernie played an Expert/Magic-User/Fighter, Gerd played a Magic-User/Expert & Mike played an Expert/Magic-User. Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition has gone the opposite direction, relying very heavily on class. Your class is the most important thing about your character in 4e, & they are very specialized. Heck, stuff like The Avenger can really only be played one way-- your stats are all laid out for you, your skills, your armor. At least you can pick what weapon you want to use. & that isn't bad! In Oubliette, I left that for Prestige Classes. You went from generic classes to the specialized prestige class, & nobody looked alike. Gerd's bookish witch was utterly different from Bernie's sex-magic martial artist even though their classes weren't that far apart, but when Gerd's character Emma became a Alchemical Thaumaturge & Bernie's character Atahwa became a Xitari, that was the end. & Mike's necromancer bard crimelord Balphus & James' giant blacksmith wrapped in iron Garrick, despite being radically different builds, both had things in common with their secret Trismegistus Conspirator class.
I don't have a point, other than last night as I was falling asleep I kept thinking about the Fighter, Mage, Thief division. It is a pretty strong framework for looking at the fantasy genre. Things that we think of as basic classes could easily be reduced to multi-classing; Ranger is just Fighter & Thief, Paladin is just Fighter & Mage, you know? It makes me think about other genres, other ways to play it out. Legend of the Five Rings has "Samurai, Shugenja & Courtier," which is pretty close to Fighter, Mage & Thief...but how many people really elect to play a Courtier? Is there a similar pattern we can find in the science-fiction? I don't know. Star Wars has...Jedi, Scoundrel & Aristocrat? & I guess Droid, though that is fine as an appendage. Scoundrel & Aristocrat need something to balance them, of course, & that something is "a spaceship." You get magic Force powers, you get The Millennium Falcon. Seems fair. That is fairly specific, though. Can you just replace "Magic" with "Science?" Fighter, Thief, Scientist? Oh I don't know. Leverage is a modern heist show, with the Mastermind, the Grifter, the Hitter, the Hacker & the Burglar...but you could think of all of those as sub-classes of the "Thief," really, given the tenor of the program.
This is just what I was mulling over as I fell asleep last night, along with "What DnD alignment are the Houses in A Song of Ice & Fire?" Or rather, in reverse-- I was matching a clan to each point on the alignment axis. I mean, the Lannister's are Lawful Evil, what with "A Lannister Always Pays His Debts" & all that rot. The Starks are Lawful Neutral? They are too austere & uncompromising to be Good. Is anybody Lawful Good? Maybe a bit player, like the Tullys, but Lawful Good is the hardest to pin down...unsurprisingly. The Greyjoys are Chaotic Evil, of course. They definitely are. The Baratheons-- Stannis excluded-- are Chaotic Neutral. Renly & Robert are proof enough of that. Chaotic Good? Targaryen! Or at least, Daenerys Targaryen is, & that is good enough for me. Neutral Evil is another easy one-- They Freys. Yup, definitely Neutral Evil. I said the Martells of Dorne are True Neutral, & the Tyrells were Neutral Good. That might be giving the Tyrell's too much of the benefit of the doubt; I certainly don't think they are toothless. So yeah, that is what keeps me up at night. Matching imaginary royals to imaginary systems of morality. Still, some are a good fit, I think, though a system of categorical self-interest might better summarize them. Of course, the George R. R. Martin formula is to press every character into a corner where they have to compromise their principles.