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Classes or classless, which system is better in RPGs?

Discussion in 'General RPG Discussion' started by S.torch, Oct 5, 2019.

  1. S.torch Learned

    S.torch
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    Now that the pendelum and order has been restored in the Codex, we can keep following the endless quest for knowledge.

    [​IMG]
    An example of classes in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

    For those who don't know, a class in a RPG usually define what the character can do, restricting the mastering of some of the abilities available in the game and boosting the ones that belong to the class that is choosen by the player. However, some CRPGs have got rid of this class system, letting the player choose the abilities he want without any restriction except being tied to the points he is given to put in each ability. This created an "implicit" class only defined by the best abilities of the character, and not the game itself. Now, some examples of each system:

    With Classes.

    - Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    - Pillars of Eternity
    - The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
    - Baldur's Gate II
    - Dark Souls
    - Divinity: Original Sin

    Classless.

    - The Fallout Series
    - Arcanum
    - Underrail
    - Age of Decadence
    - The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
    - The Witcher Series

    While some people think that the class system is innecesary, others think that too litle restriction undermine the role-playing. What people on the Codex think?
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2019
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  2. Butter Savant

    Butter
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    Age of Decadence doesn't have classes guy.
     
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  3. S.torch Learned

    S.torch
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    True, I mistaken backgrounds with classes. Fixed it already :)
     
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  4. Cross Savant

    Cross
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    Oblivion, Dark Souls and Divinity: Original Sin are all classless. Choosing a 'class' in those games is no different from choosing one of those premade characters in Fallout.

    The Witcher doesn't really belong in a discussion like this, since there's no character creation and the games don't allow you to play as anything other than the Witcher 'class'.
     
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  5. smaug Dumbfuck! Patron Shitposter

    smaug
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    Classes>Classless
     
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  6. Grauken All you need is a Volumetric Shit Compressor Patron

    Grauken
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    this
     
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  7. Riel Savant

    Riel
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    I think that class games tend to be more atmospheric and have greater re-playability, but that's mostly because most classless systems are very bad and you end basically with a master of everything character. When properly designed classless systems are the best, some great examples are: SPECIAL (fallout 1&2), Arcanum and The Dark Eye system, while some class less system s that suck would be Morrowind and onward (full decline mode here) and also Tyranny's system.

    TLDR: Class systems are easier to pull out, but good class less system are the best.
     
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  8. Butter Savant

    Butter
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    I gotta say though, Oblivion class avatars are great. More games should have that.
     
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  9. CryptRat Prestigious Gentleman Arcane Developer

    CryptRat
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    I like both classless (restrictions based on stats) and class (restriction based on class) systems. More precisely Classes + rolling for stats is the best but classless + point buy (with or without rolling first) can be fun too.

    I'm sure there are many examples which actually work but I usually like less the mixed approaches, was it fighters having abilities which are basically spells instead of relying of their equipment and/or mages allowed to use weapons or heavy armors or at the opposite a stat system which restricts what a character can do in a class based system (not being able to cast level 9 spells does not count because it's very high level stuff).

    With classes you get to choose a class, maybe re-roll a few times and play the character with its rolled strenghts and weaknesses which is often more fun than optimization classless approaches, maybe a warrior is resistant to magic or not and that sort of things, maybe he's got very high HPs but his chances to hit are not particularly high or the opposite, maybe he's simply weak (but with a good armor and a good sword he's still not completely useless), that's the kind of things where it's more fun to play with what you get rather than directly deciding.
     
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  10. undecaf Arcane Patron

    undecaf
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    Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2
    Depends on the game and its intent, but I generally prefer classless systems.

    I mean, I’m not sure games like Wizardry or Might&Magic would work well at all without classes, but games like Fallout, Arcanum or Underrail would suffer from a class system.

    /balanced
     
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  11. JarlFrank I like Thief THIS much Patron

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    Classless > Classes
     
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  12. Strange Fellow The Law Patron

    Strange Fellow
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    For party-based RPGs - classes. For single character RPGs - classless.
     
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  13. V_K Arcane

    V_K
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    The centrist that I am, I prefer "soft" classes - like in Quest for Glory or Geneforge - where you can diversify your skillset a bit, but have a (mechanical) incentive to prioritize your class' core skills. Hard ADnD-style classes for me take the fun out of leveling because you can't customize shit, just get a higher number and that's it. On the other hand, the problem with the classless systems is that they either allow you to become a master of all trades (TES), or don't provide enough guidance with regard to which character concepts work and thus require meta-knowledge to build your character properly (AoD).
     
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  14. MpuMngwana Learned

    MpuMngwana
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    In games with full party creation, I prefer classes, with the main point being picking a good combination of classes, and not having to manually tinker each one too much.

    If I only manage one character, classless is a better option, finely tuning your dude to perfection.
     
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  15. Sloul Learned

    Sloul
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    Classless, governed by stats. Party-based or not.
    Underrail is the best example in term of character building using a classless system, where character progression is dictated by the perks you unlock, which are unlocked or locked by stats.
     
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  16. Egosphere Erudite

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    just give me the stats and let me distribute them
     
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  17. Grauken All you need is a Volumetric Shit Compressor Patron

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    That's a pretty good point. I like class-systems in party-based games (hard-style D&D classes) because they force you to think about party combinations, trade-offs, combat strategies from early on, resource management. And later when you're better at the game or system you try out different more daring combinations and its supremely satisfying when one of the odder combinations work out great

    In single character systems, classes lose most of that justification and its far less relevant
     
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  18. frajaq Arbiter

    frajaq
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    this

    also I enjoy when the Class chosen unlocks/restricts content for the game, influences quests. A good example are the "strongholds" for Baldur's Gate 2 and alternate quest solutions in the Pillars of Eternity series.
     
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  19. deuxhero Arcane

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    A good class system needs multiclassing of some sort to function.
     
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  20. Glop_dweller Augur

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    Specifically why? More specifically... Why is is better for role playing—as opposed to digital cosplaying?

    See... a class is what the character has aspired to be, trained to be—this is what they spent their life doing before the game begins.

    This is also why they not only have little to no experience with skills outside their purview, but they are also biased against them. A wizard would scoff at having studied all their life to cast spells, only to resort to beating something on the head with a club—ie it's as insulting to them as for a warrior resorting to magic tricks instead of one on one combat.

    Also: The real [under the hood] reason is that mechanically each class needs a set of exclusive abilities—or there is no incentive not to play the spellcaster. Why would anyone choose to play Conan when they could choose to play a Barbarian mage who is Conan plus lightning & fireballs. The solution is that you cannot train to do both.

    A big [really big] deal in the concept of roleplaying, is to play the limitations of the role—what would Conan do; what would [THE] Gandalf do... and how would that be handling things differently?

    When you have a classless system where the PC can elect to learn anything... that devalues what they have already learned—and anything they can learn. This is who they are...and yet in a classless system, a master thief who spent years becoming a cat burglar/ pickpocket, can on the whim decide to learn spell casting, and within minutes be able to turn invisible, or cast a charm on their mark—who then just hands over the money.

    In period settings [and fantasy] skill knowledge is a guarded secret, to have learned at it all, is a treasure all its own, and one likely to be withheld from outsiders. So it makes the perpetual multi-classer a bit lacking in credibility. Why is it worth the teacher's time to bother with someone so indecisive, and who might abandon the craft for some other profession—or worse... reveal its secrets.

    A classless system is typically better for the ego-players, rather than the roleplayers.

    At the OP: The witcher IS a class, and Arcanum has discipline based detriments in place so that one cannot become a master of both technology and magic, and hurts both disciplines for trying. Shadowrun does the same thing... The more cybernetics the PC gets, the less and less essence they retain for spell casting.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2019
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  21. ItsChon Cipher Patron

    ItsChon
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    I tend to agree with what others have said in the thread. Classless is best for single character based systems, and classes for party based systems.
    That's why you create a system where specialization is not only incentivized but almost mandatory for success.
    This won't be a problem as long as there are appropriate trade-offs in place. Perhaps this Barbarian Mage is less skilled than his other Barbarian tribe-mates due to the time he spent reading and learning versus training, and he is similarily less skilled at casting Magic and learning complex spells then a full-time mage would be due to his split priorities.
    This isn't a problem in any system that has a finite amount of skill points and stats so that you can't get be highly specialized in two different fields.

    When you look at Underrail and Age of Decadence, games that balance this "classless" system to near perfection, I find it hard to compare any class-based system to the level of simultaneous specialization and utility that is allowed. All of your arguments are situational, and dependant on a system that manages to get everything wrong.
     
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  22. Lurker47 Learned

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    Class system because it increases the chances of warlocks.
     
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  23. Yosharian Cipher

    Yosharian
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    Both class and classless systems have their advantages and disadvantages. Neither is superior or inferior, just different. It could be that one system is better for a specific type of game, though.
     
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  24. Politician Lurker King

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    Classless, OBVIOUSLY.
     
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  25. vortex Fabulous Optimist

    vortex
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    Classless.
    You have the freedom how you want to build and how you want to play.
    If you choose classes with multiclassing often than not you bump into some weird unwanted restriction or even illogical one.
     
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