Monday, April 5, 2010

In Praise of Race as Class

It took me a long time to come around to how good the the B/X-Lab Lord idea of race as class actually is.

The thing I think that always held me back is that thee is only one class for each race, Halfling, Dwarf, Elf and while fine its dull as dishwater and can lead to very little variety.

While later editions separated race and class this lead to the miserable excuses for a multi classing systems and all sorts of class limits on races. In other words, more complexity for little gain.

Whats needed to make that system zing are multiple races as classes.

Instead of just Halfling, how about Halfling , Halfling Thornwalker (a ranger kinda thing) Halfling Guardian, Halfling Herbalist Halfling Bounder and so?

Break the racial abilities down into points using the ODDites system (issue #7 here) , Dragon 109 or the one on Bree Yark and then graft on what abilities its class should have.

This gives you simplicity and flavor all at once and makes D&D into a kind of best of point buy with all that flexibility but in the hands of the DM to reduce the potential for min-max abuse and class level.

This can also easily solve the multi class dilemma. Want a Fighter/Magic User?. Fine here is the class XP table for the abilities that this class should have in my campaign. It keeps chargen just as fast as B/X while opening up a lot of new options.

The idea of course is hardly new, having first appeared as the Crabaugh method in Dragon #109 and of course we saw some aspects of this in the B/X Gazetteers with the Forester and Rake classes.

Still used carefully it solves a lot of problems and adds a lot of fun.


  1. I've had the same idea.

    Just as Humans have the Fighting-man, Cleric, and Magic-User, so the Elves might have the Bladesinger, Treekeeper, and Arcane Archer.

    Or whatever.

    I have whole lists of ideas about this.

  2. Yep, that's basically what I do. I'm still not crazy about class balancing via advancement tables, but I also don't worry too much about balance issues until they start actively disrupting my game, which hasn't happened yet.

  3. One thing I would add, however, is to really mix it up. There's no reason your Halfling Guardian or your Elven Bladesinger need to look anything like the Human Fighter. I'd try to give each a unique spin on the class that reinforce the race's themes.

  4. The uniqueness is exactly what I am going after. Hopefully I'll get a few up real soon.