Alternate class what? I don't get it


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Matthew Morris wrote:


Ok, so if I'm playing in Tian Xia, I'm playing a ninja. Now let's say the GM later decides to indulge the players by letting their PCs go across the roof of the world, and end up in Riddleport.

This is not the core assumption. Perhaps it should be, perhaps it shouldn't be, but the alternate classes seem to be pretty clearly built on the assumption that your pseudo-medieval primitive screwheads aren't going to be globe-trotting as a rule.

Maybe that's where the complaints should be directed? That there needs to be guidance for these assumed-rare campaigns that do.

Matthew Morris wrote:
Do they encounter a bunch of rogues in the thieves' guild, or a bunch of Ninja? Does their Samurai encounter Samurai in Taldor, or cavaliers?

Well, I'd assume Rogues and Cavaliers, since you're no longer in the pseudo-asian setting.

Matthew Morris wrote:
If they encounter rogues and cavaliers, why can't the Samurai pick up a level or two of cavalier? Or the ninja pick up two levels of rogue and get evasion?

For my games? Because I generally stab my players in the face for class-dipping.

Matthew Morris wrote:
To say 'well they're alternate classes' doesn't answer it. A sorcerer is an 'alternate' to a wizard, but you can multiclass there. By calling them 'advanced archtypes' it would be clearer.

That's awfully nitpicky, in my opinion. So naturally, I approve. :) It's an easy fix - change the name, and leave all the actual rules alone!


James Jacobs wrote:


Rogues get sneak attack at 1st level. It's a core ability of the rogue.

We happen to also think that sneak attack is a core ability of the ninja, so the ninja should get it at 1st level.

What no class combo should be able to do, though, is get 2d6 sneak attack at, effectively, 2nd level. If ninjas were a true base class, you could do that. That's not currently something we want to allow. When two classes are SO CLOSE in theme and niche and power... multiclassing between them is effectively like allowing someone to multiclass into their own class, like rogue/rogue, or wizard/wizard. That's weird.

Oh come now, at least you could do is read the thread. Or one of them somewhere. Even mdt made the point somewhere why that is a laughable argument.

Are you honestly trying to convince me that the Rogue and Ninja should be the same because you couldn't put in a rules line to the effect of "Levels of this class stack with other classes for the purpose of acquiring Sneak Attack dice."? Never mind the fact that who cares. Does anyone really care if they get an extra d6 sneak attack damage a level early? I don't.

And why let Ninja and Monk multiclass? I mean, they are both ki-focused classes - they could be the same! Or Wizard-Sorcer. Or Cleric-Druid. Etc, etc.

Quote:
Now, of course, we could redesign the ninja so that it's its own base class and thus works better when you multiclass into rogues, but that's even less attractive to us.

So basically you are confirming the suspicion that this whole alternate class thing is just an arbitrary wall to multiclassing.

Quote:
Another option would be to present the ninja as a rogue archetype. But know what? That's basically what an alternate class is—an archetype. They just get a lot more swap-outs than most archetypes, and they're just formatted with all of those swap-outs done for you.

At some point, you are either making a new class or you aren't. Ninja just looks like it was shoe-horned into the Rogue's template and declared "Asian." But using your logic, there might as well be two classes - Fighter and Wizard. All other classes are an "alternate" one of those where the class abilities were all switched out.

Quote:
Folks who are disappointed in the alternate class concept are disappointed because they'd rather see more archetypes? Or more base classes?

We are "disappointed" because it is obviously an arbitrary anti-multiclass job. I still don't know what is attempting to be achieved other than that. For some things, it makes some thematical sense at least, for other things, it just doesn't make any sense.

Rogues can't be Ninjas because Ninjas are Asian Rogues - with a bunch of awesome mystical abilities for whatever reason.


Overall, I like the idea of alternate classes. Yes, as has been pointed out, they are basically just all-encompassing archetypes, and I believe that "alternate class" would be better replaced with "expanded archetype" just so everybody gets the gist, but does it really matter?

The concept of the alternate class is solid, IMO. It's taking the skeleton of a class and re-mechanic-ing it and re-flavoring it to fit what you need as opposed to just building a new base class.

They don't want "another" sneaky, stealth-based class. They already have one, it's called the rogue. But a rogue is not a ninja, and a ninja would take up too much space to be a standard archetye, so instead let's just use the skeleton of the rogue and paste our "expanded archetype/alternate class" on that. It's like building a new class, but paying giving credit where credit is due as to where the class really came from.
NOTE: This is an example coming from a person who loathes ninjas in general, and doesn't much care for this ninja either. I'm just examining the principal idea.

NOTE 2: I've actually used the alternate class system to build a ninja (called it a shinobi) class out of an alchemist (using seals instead of extracts, SA instead of bombs, RT's instead of discoveries)

-The Beast

NOTE 3:

James Jacobs wrote:
(all the ninja/rogue stuff applies to samurai/cavaliers as well; we're not 100% sure that the gunslinger is actually going to STAY a fighter alternate though...)

If that means it's going to be a new base class, I'm 99% on board. It already has the looks of a new class rather than an AC, as opposed to the other two. But if that means it's going to be an AC for another class, then I'll throw that excess 1% at that idea (keeping the other 99 on new class), just because I want a gunslinger so badly that I'm willing to give on whatever terms, essentially.

Sovereign Court

Matthew Morris wrote:


Ok, so if I'm playing in Tian Xia, I'm playing a ninja. Now let's say the GM later decides to indulge the players by letting their PCs go across the roof of the world, and end up in Riddleport.

This is not the core assumption. Perhaps it should be, perhaps it shouldn't be, but the alternate classes seem to be pretty clearly built on the assumption that your pseudo-medieval primitive screwheads aren't going to be globe-trotting as a rule.

Maybe that's where the complaints should be directed? That there needs to be guidance for these assumed-rare campaigns that do.

Matthew Morris wrote:
Do they encounter a bunch of rogues in the thieves' guild, or a bunch of Ninja? Does their Samurai encounter Samurai in Taldor, or cavaliers?

Well, I'd assume Rogues and Cavaliers, since you're no longer in the pseudo-asian setting.

Matthew Morris wrote:
If they encounter rogues and cavaliers, why can't the Samurai pick up a level or two of cavalier? Or the ninja pick up two levels of rogue and get evasion?

For my games? Because I generally stab my players in the face for class-dipping.

Matthew Morris wrote:
To say 'well they're alternate classes' doesn't answer it. A sorcerer is an 'alternate' to a wizard, but you can multiclass there. By calling them 'advanced archtypes' it would be clearer.

That's awfully nitpicky, in my opinion. So naturally, I approve. :) It's an easy fix - change the name, and leave all the actual rules alone!


TriOmegaZero wrote:
cappadocius wrote:


jemstone said it's "Not JUST an Asian Rogue". It is also the only rogue for the Asian Setting. It is not an "Asian Rogue", but the "Asian Rogue", for use in a game where the PCs will never, NOT ONCE, go to Spain or Cheliax or what the hell ever, and thus don't need the Western Thief concept, but instead are using the Romanticized Eastern Ninja concept when they're using a Rogue.
What do you use for a pickpocket that doesn't assassinate people?

Ummm... an Expert? :)

Grand Lodge

cappadocius wrote:
For my games? Because I generally stab my players in the face for class-dipping.

I begin to see the reason we disagree.

Zmar wrote:
Ummm... an Expert? :)

Pickpockets are NPCs, got it. :)


Cartigan wrote:


No. That is the part we DID get. It's the reason it even exists or how it is applied that is confusing.

Okay, that's a fair point. I suppose I can see it making more sense because I've already implemented it some time back for the use of myself and my players. No one sits down and says "I want to play a Fighter" in the game. They say "I want to play a Swordsman who used to be a Soldier."

For the record I do see the point of "Well, why can't I play a Ninja/Rogue combo" question - In a game where you have people going cross-culture from one "setting" to another, I would absolutely allow the mingling of things such as the Rogue/Ninja, or the Samurai/Cavalier...

But if you are running a game world where there is no such thing as Spain or its Fantasy equivalent, and your entire game world shares a single set cultural points - then the "flip this switch" option is perfectly valid.

Cartigan wrote:
AKA, an Asian Rogue. Saying it isn't an Asian Rogue then describing it as one isn't going to get you anywhere.

Hey, now, let's not incite venom. It's all polite discussion, y'know? :)

I disagree on your point in that a Ninja is not just someone who skulks around stealing gold and trying to line up a Sneak Attack... Well, okay, they probably are lining up Sneak Attacks, because that's on of their defining Class abilities and I'll reserve my "Game Breaking Nonsense" rant about Sneak Attack for another thread entirely... But otherwise, they are entirely mechanically different, coming in flavor-wise closer to the PF Monk than anything else (just my opinion, mind you). Ninjas are not the traditional Rogue role. While they may ape some of its characteristics, they're closer to the Assassin being used as a Core/Base class than they are to the Rogue for their intended role.

Cartigan wrote:
That is NOT the question. The question is "Why the hell does it work like this?" If the class created is too different for a generic archetype, why not just make a new class and instead of making a new class and then pretending it isn't a new class by using pointless and arbitrary constraints on both design and player use?

I don't think the restraints are arbitrary, but I think I can see why you might. I personally see no issues with saying "If you use Gunslinger, you use it in place of Fighter," or "If you use Ninja, you use it in place of Rogue."

There are points in game world design, and there are plenty of game worlds out there, where the standard, stock, base-level Fighter simply is not thematically appropriate. The Gunslinger allows that to take place. I must recall the age-old "If you don't like it, don't use it!" adage, here - if you feel that the Gunslinger should not be an Alternate-to/Exclusion-of the Fighter, then don't use it as such. But for those people who run games where the Standard Fantasy Trope Fighter is not appropriate, and the Gunslinger is, then by all means allow them to use the Gunslinger in its stead.

Matthew Morris wrote:

jemstone, I wanted to hit this point of your post.

Ok, so if I'm playing in Tian Xia, I'm playing a ninja. Now let's say the GM later decides to indulge the players by letting their PCs go across the roof of the world, and end up in Riddleport.

Do they encounter a bunch of rogues in the thieves' guild, or a bunch of Ninja? Does their Samurai encounter Samurai in Taldor, or cavaliers?

If they encounter rogues and cavaliers, why can't the Samurai pick up a level or two of cavalier? Or the ninja pick up two levels of rogue and get evasion? To say 'well they're alternate classes' doesn't answer it. A sorcerer is an 'alternate' to a wizard, but you can multiclass there. A bard can't multiclass with an arcane duelist, because they're the same class. This method gives us classes that for some reason have different rules for a specific class. By calling them 'advanced archtypes' it would be clearer.

I answer your question up above (good thing I refreshed the other window I'm watching the thread in while crafting this reply or I'd have missed it!), and I'm not saying that I see these things as invalid concerns at all - I'm merely trying to provide a viewpoint that generates an understanding as to what I personally think that Paizo was trying to put across... And I see from Mr. Jacobs' post that I was right... So I'll stop that line right there.

As to the "Who picks pockets and doesn't kill people while doing it" - I would like to mirror what cappadocius said:

cappadocius wrote:
Rogue hasn't been synonymous with Thief in something like 25 years.

I'd honestly say that the streetlevel pick pocket should be an Expert NPC class until he is one day found out by the local Ninja Hive (Warren? Cluster? Troop? Pack?) and brought into their fold. The Yakuza Tough is a Warrior until he's not... what he becomes at that point is unclear to me, because it's CERTAINLY not a Samurai...

And for the record, I'm not sure if I prefer them as Archetypes or Classes. My jury is still out.

Oh, also, Matthew?

The Pandoricum is open.

Paizo Employee Director of Game Design

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Hi there all,

James does a pretty good job explaining the point behind alternate classes here, but I want to further explain a few points.

- Alternate classes are really just expanded archtypes. The distinction is that for an alternate class, we represent all of the rules needed to run the class. It is similar to its base, but has a significant number of swaps. There are certainly some archtypes that could have received this treatment, but we chose to leave them as more abbreviated write ups.

- Alternate classes live in the same design niche as their base class. This is the most important part. Although the ninja and the rogue, for example, have a number of differences, they have a number of conceptual and rules niches in common. We did not want to have to invent another version of sneak attack, for example, when the current one works fine for both. Had we invented another, it would have been similar but undoubtedly different in power to sneak attack, which is a bad place to be.

One last thing.. the adversarial tone in this thread (and a few others) can stop now. I don't want to have to close down threads.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing


I think presentation is the issue more then anything, although I worry about the Ninja being able to accommodate new rogue content.

It would likely be better if Alt-Classes were presented just with thier altered class ability table. This removed the visual independence and makes it clear that the table is just for conviant organization of large numbers of replacement features.

The most baffling is the Gunsligner to be brutally honest. While I appreciate diversity in play styles and like my "guns in fantasy," the fact that goes so far as to even adjust the save makes it hard not to fell like it is a different class.

Personally I would have preferred multiple archetypes for multiple classes to cover Ninjas and Samuri. Ninjas (monks, rogues, possibly even druids, could even see an altered Magus), Samuri (Fighters, Cavaliers, Rangers, Paladins).

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

James Jacobs wrote:

ANYWAY...

Just so I'm understanding the point clearly:

Folks who are disappointed in the alternate class concept are disappointed because they'd rather see more archetypes? Or more base classes?

I'd rather see more archtypes, James.

Here's how my brain organizes it.

Core Classes = 20 level Classes in the core RPG.

Base Classes = 20 Classes in suplimental books (APG, Ultimates series, etc)

Archtypes = Modifications to base classes.

The problem for me with the ninja/Samurai/antipaladin (and maybe the gunslinger) is that they're in a strange world where they're Classes that can't mix with certain Classes (but only those classes) which is a property of archtypes. (No bard/arcane duelist, for example) I feel it would be easier to add them to the above as this:

Advanced Archtypes = modifications to base classes that require more detail.

It would be an editor's call to figure out which catagory an archtype would fall in, 'archtype' or 'advanced archtype'. But it would also avoid the kludgy method you currently have in the playtest document. Instead of asking 'why can't my ninja take levels in rogue?' and making exceptions to the core rules, you just simply say, "Ninja is an archtype of rogue, that's why." Instead of them being 'kind of the same class, but not really' it becomes "They're the same class."

And I like the archtypes as a whole.

  • They take less space, which means we can see more of them.
  • They encourage player/DM colaberation and creativity. "I want my rogue to be a duelist from level 1. If I dump trap sense and trapfinding, what can I get in their place?"
  • Given that Paizo's embracing of the OGL means that a player/GM can put their home grown archtypes out on the web with a minimum of effort; everyone wins.

  • Paizo Employee Director of Game Design

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    Cartigan wrote:
    We are "disappointed" because it is obviously an arbitrary anti-multiclass job.

    It was an anti-multiclassing decision. On that you are right. But it was not arbitrary.

    And please lay off using "we". Please speak for yourself.

    Jason Bulmahn
    Lead Designer
    Paizo Publishing


    jemstone wrote:

    I think perhaps several of you are missing something here...

    An "Alternate Class" is not something you can simply multi-class into, or use in conjunction with, a "Normal Class."

    If a Gunslinger is an alternate Class to the Fighter, it is intended to be used in place of that Class where the setting is appropriate for it to be.

    For example, in my longest running campaign world, the "base fighter" is simply not something that exists. It has several Alternate Classes taking its place - the classic D&D Fighter Trope of a warrior trained in all types of weapons and armor with all manner of combat prowess, facing down hordes of enemies all Paladin In Hell style simply doesn't exist.

    Riflemen, Soldiers, and Swordsmen, however, do. These are each base classes for the game that have their own flavor, their own abilities, and their own Fighter-based abilities, but are not, per se, Fighters.

    Riflemen are trained in powder weapons (up to and including Cannon), are not trained in Medium or Heavy armors, and are capable of working together in teams for volley fire and have the ability to turn portions of the battlefield into Difficult (or Impassible) Terrain with enough time and ammunition.

    Soldiers are trained in unit tactics, have Commander-related abilities, and gain bonuses to their AC and Damage as they progress through their levels. They are the rank and file Infantry, the Archers, and the Naval Marines of the game world. The average PC "Fighter" is a Soldier, returned home from the War. (Don't you know there's a WAR ON?!)

    Swordsmen are generally the Gentry, training in dueling and the "Persuasive Arts" of the blade - these are people who spend most of their lives in Salle's learning new and interesting tricks with their blades, cloaks, chairs, pistols, canes, and bucklers and would rapidly find themselves suffering from Dysentery on a battlefield. But, if you give them a mug and a ham-shank, they can defend themselves adequately in a bar fight until they can get to the...

    If this definition of Alternate Class reflect's Paizo's intent, then I can get behind it. However, it needs to be called out much more clearly and in big, bold letters.

    Simply put, there's no way in hell a gunslinger will ever be run at my table in a Golarion campaign.


    James Jacobs wrote:


    Rogues get sneak attack at 1st level. It's a core ability of the rogue.

    We happen to also think that sneak attack is a core ability of the ninja, so the ninja should get it at 1st level.

    What no class combo should be able to do, though, is get 2d6 sneak attack at, effectively, 2nd level.

    Really? I know personally, as a rogue, I really, REALLY look forward to getting that point of BAB and the rogue talent at level 2. An extra die of sneak attack usually isn't worth it, at least in my eyes.


    The whole hanging on Sneak Attack is just compounding my opposition to this.
    Why can't another class have Sneak Attack? No one else can figure out how to shank some one when they aren't looking? Or moreover, why need Sneak Attack at all anyway? Either use Sneak Attack or don't; there isn't a reason to make up a Sneak Attack but not Sneak Attack alternative like there isn't a reason for a Rogue but not a Rogue alternative.

    Samurai probably could just be a normal archetype instead of a full faux class "alternate" from the look of it. But the Ninja is almost like the guns. We want guns in the game but we want them to be special. Ok, we want Ninjas in the game but we want them to be special. And in both cases, we can't have them outshining stuff we already have. It's a big "have your cake and eat it to" problem.


    I think it was because the class is called one thing, but the rules for not multiclassing make it something else. I think they should be called "advanced archetypes" or "alternate classes" but not "base classes".


    Jason Bulmahn wrote:
    Cartigan wrote:
    We are "disappointed" because it is obviously an arbitrary anti-multiclass job.

    It was an anti-multiclassing decision. On that you are right. But it was not arbitrary.

    And please lay off using "we". Please speak for yourself.

    Jason Bulmahn
    Lead Designer
    Paizo Publishing

    Multiple people agreed with me on the point about making this a multiclass wall.

    And I will certainly keep the opinion that it is arbitrary.


    James Jacobs wrote:

    Folks who are disappointed in the alternate class concept are disappointed because they'd rather see more archetypes? Or more base classes?

    Well 1 class is an alt class. The gunslinger. This one needs work, but at lest looks like an alt class as it changes a good part of the class while leaving the base frame. This is what you did with the anti-paladin.

    The other two change less then 6 things which is less then some archetypes in the APG. You are calling em something other then what they are and it is just confusing as to why. It makes it seem they get a new name as well they are Asian so must be cooler.

    The you add Rogue talents that are out right better, that rogues can't take because seemingly they are not Asian so can not be as awesome. No other class disallows you to take its new toys. You can take rage powers or the ranger fighting style as long as you can meet the requirements for them. Even the "samurai" orders can be taken by other cavilers.

    I like what you have done over all with the ninja and samurai, they need balanced but they are archetypes that get more glory simply because they are Asian.

    I know ya guys hate hearing that but that is the way it feels to me.

    Shadow Lodge

    Matthew Morris wrote:
    James Jacobs wrote:

    ANYWAY...

    Just so I'm understanding the point clearly:

    Folks who are disappointed in the alternate class concept are disappointed because they'd rather see more archetypes? Or more base classes?

    I'd rather see more archtypes, James.

    Here's how my brain organizes it.

    Core Classes = 20 level Classes in the core RPG.

    Base Classes = 20 Classes in suplimental books (APG, Ultimates series, etc)

    Archtypes = Modifications to base classes.

    <Other Good Stuff>

    And I like the archtypes as a whole.

  • They take less space, which means we can see more of them.
  • They encourage player/DM colaberation and creativity. "I want my rogue to be a duelist from level 1. If I dump trap sense and trapfinding, what can I get in their place?"
  • Given that Paizo's embracing of the OGL means that a player/GM can put their home grown archtypes out on the web with a minimum of effort; everyone wins.
  • Rather than write out essentially the same explanation, I'll just say that Matthew hit what I was feeling spot on. I've not spoken out so far, but I was pretty disappointed in the three offerings. What I love about Paizo's take on base classes is that they fill holes in class offerings rather than just muddy the field with a whole bunch of other offerings. I only felt that one fit a niche that wasn't already filled and was pretty disappointed before I realized that they weren't really base classes. I think that might be part of the fundamental problem.

    Paizo Employee Director of Game Design

    8 people marked this as a favorite.
    Cartigan wrote:

    Multiple people agreed with me on the point about making this a multiclass wall.

    And I will certainly keep the opinion that it is arbitrary.

    As I have learned many times in the past, trying to convince you of anything is a waste of my time.

    This thread is locked.

    Jason Bulmahn
    Lead Designer
    Paizo Publishing

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