Prestige classes seem dead any ideas how to resurrect them?


It seems that just about any PRC can be flavored or feated into in archetype or one of the newer classes. Is there a Place for PRC anymore.

Duelest seems allot like one handed fighter archetype now for example.

Loremaster seems redundant for a wizard because of their spiffy wizard discoveries.

The concept is cool, any ideas how one might resurrect the concept.

Liberty's Edge

In my opinion prestige classes are best for doing three things: Finding a middle ground between two classes (Mystic Theurge), finding a new way to interpret a multi-class (such as Rage Prophet or Arcane Archer) and for classes that require some role-play background (whether to be a reward for good roleplaying, or because of the concept itself).

Archetypes took over the duty of re-interpreting a single-class, which was the other major duty prestige classes used to have (assassin and shadowdancer still follow this concept).

I'm glad the "be a caster, only better" role of prestige classes got left behind.

I've always felt that Prestige Classes should be more like settling on a major in college; specializing in something, and that they should be uniquely connected to organizations within a campaign.

That said, I've enjoyed some of the many more "generic" prestige classes over the years. Given that Archetypes seem to fill the niches that the majority of Prestige Classes once filled, however, it might be a good time to revisit the idea of them being connected with organizations, rather than being more broad, catchall types of classes.

(IE, focus on the "prestige" and the uniqueness behind the qualifications to be a member of the class, rather than have them be something that just about anyone can join.)

Cthulhudrew wrote:
I've always felt that Prestige Classes should be more like settling on a major in college; specializing in something, and that they should be uniquely connected to organizations within a campaign....(IE, focus on the "prestige" and the uniqueness behind the qualifications to be a member of the class, rather than have them be something that just about anyone can join.)

Outside of the CRB and APG Prestige classes are more about carrying a sense of "Prestige". Not every person you come in contact with is going to be a Diabolist, an Inheritor's Crusader, or Living Monolith. To be any of those things shows commitment and dedication to an organization or cause, so perhaps what you want already exists.

Now the one issue may be in that if you're running campaigns outside of Golarion those prestige classes are going to feel a little odd to you. Easily fixed with reflavoring and retying them to organizations within your world.

If you want a class more tailored to an organization in your homebrew it can be very satisfying to create your own prestige classes, though, results may vary with that one.

*snaps the neck of a PrC* Oh please do not resurrect them! It's hard enough hunting these stupid things down. Last thing I need is some cleric casting his spells messing up my work.

What's that!? Aha, I see another one! *casts disintegrate* ;)

Do you think they need a little power bump to compete with base classes? the capstone abilitys of prclasses tend to suck because they usualy only have 10 levels meaning an cool power at a lv lower than 10 but also meaning you dont get that even better usualy lvl 20 power from your class.

Maybe retooling cerain Prc classes to become agailable later so their capstones are both met at level 20 and are allowed a more relitive boost to make them on par. ANyway just an idea, what do you think?

The PCR capstones don't just fail to compare to base class capstones. Actually, some base class capstones suck too.

Several classes have their real capstones at level 17. PRC capstones don't compare to these either.

But it's not the capstones that are the problem with PRCs. It's that they triple dipped the nerf sauce.

Strike one, most of them require multiclassing, which loses favored class bonuses, which have become increasingly important.

Strike two, they themselves cannot be favored classes even though they aspire to constitute half of the levels of a 20 level build.

Strike three, they didn't get beefed up as much as the base classes did in the 3.5-PF conversion.

Grand Lodge

Strike 4 - they were the means of customising a character to fit certain 'themes' but required a lot of investment. Archetypes give much the same benefit without the investment AND benefits become largely relevant at level 1-3 (even if not actually available) as opposed to levels 6-7.

I'm fine with them as long as they don't have preqs that don't match up thematiclly or a chaacter would have absolutely no reason to have with or with out the class.

Such as how a lot of 3.x prestige classes for non casters needed concentration but at no point was the skill ever used before or after taking the class.

I don't like the fact that they can't get favored class point either.

Helaman's strike 4 is another one of my reasons for not caring about them.

Shadow Lodge

That's actually the main reason I like them over Archtypes. PC's are both more open to include a varieaty of classes for intrance, (usually), but also requires the player to invest into them and to stick with them. Archtypes are basically free, but just don't offer the same sort of payoff or sense of being special or working towards something. While Archtypes are slightly better off for allowing a concept earlier, (sometimes) they also tend to be very generic, and also some classes are overly favored in options while others practically have none.

All in all, I much prefere Prestige Classes.

Way back.. about a decade ago, I first encountered the Prestige Class in the Dungeon Masters Guide, they had a very different purpose.

3e D&D Dungeon Master's Guide, pg 27 (First Printing, Sep 2000) wrote:

... (snipped intro talking about Assassins and Loremasters)

Prestige classes allow DMs to create campaign-specific, exclusive roles and positions as classes. These special roles offer abilities and powers otherwise inaccessible to PCs and focus them in specific, interesting directions. A character with a prestige class is more specialized yet perhaps slightly better than one without one.

... (snipped a bit on levels for qualifying)

Additionally, the character must meet nonrule-related requirements in-game, such as group membership fees, special training exercises, quests, and so forth.
Allowing PCs access to prestige classes is purely optional and always under the purview of the DM. Even though a few examples can be found below, prestige classes are idiosyncratic to each campaign, and DMs may choose to not allow them or to use them only for NPCs.
Dungeon Masters should use prestige classes as a tool for world-building as well as a reward for achieving high level. They set characters in the milieu and put them in the context of the world.

Right before this section are a page and a half talking about altering classes slightly to accommodate a campaign setting, or a player's request.

Behind the Curtain: Why Mess Around with Character Classes? wrote:

Sometimes, however, players come to you and say that they like a certain class, but they want to change a single feature or two.

...(snipped example)
Allowing a player to play the character she wants to play is always a desirable goal. Sure, sometimes it can't be achieved - the player asks for too much, or what she wants doesn't fit with your campaign - but the effort to accommodate reasonable modifications is almost always worth it.

Somewhere down the line.. these ideas were lost.

After the cash cow glut of books came out and prestige classes were recognized as a great fix for a problem (weak core class abilities), and recognized as a great seller for books, the prestige class and "class modification" concepts were dropped for a more favorable "buy this book, it has a dozen more options for you".

I think the class archetypes was a great way to give DMs a model to work with when modifying base classes. A person who wants to play a class that is slightly tweaked from the original, or a minor mixture of a couple class abilities.

So back to the original post.

I think the Prestige Class should regain it's Prestige. It should be presented as something specific to the campaign. Similar to how there's a few unique feats that might come out with an adventure path (due to exposure to a particular effect, or training, etc), a more elaborate or complex set of abilities would be packaged into a Prestige Class.

"Assassin" isn't a great Prestige Class. When you get that generic, anyone could be an assassin. Meeting specific requirements to gain these specific abilities feels wrong, because it feels like it should be more general.
"Red Mantis Assassin" is a good Prestige Class. It specifies where you get the training, why you are getting the abilities you get, and what needs to be done to get into the Prestige Class.

I'd like to see Prestige Classes in APs and campaign books. Ideas DMs can use to enhance their game world, and make the players feel like they are part of it. Perhaps as something to make certain humanoid NPCs more unique and wondrous.
Perhaps a follow up book to the Game Master's Guide that has Prestige Class building advice, emphasizing embedding them into the campaign setting.

With regards to the types of Prestige Classes...

"Fixit" PrCs I feel should have been base classes or archetypes. Waiting 5-7 levels of "not-what-I wanted" before finally entering the first levels of "class combination I wanted" is horrible design.
Most games are played to mid levels before moving on to something else. Rarely a game continues past 15-17th. So really.. waiting 7 levels to start taking levels in your patch class, and then potentially a couple more before you feel like you are actually playing what you wanted? 10th level is kind of late game to start actually playing the character you wanted at 1st level.
"Fixit" PrCs should be abandoned. Magus was the right course (whether you liked the specifics or not), not Eldritch Knight. Mystic Theurge should have been done as a 20 level base class.

The "make multiclassing two core classes better" is a somewhat decent approach, however a lot of that can be done by giving a decent archetype to class that already mixes the base elements of the class. An arcane trickster can be simply an archetype of a Bard (spells + sneaky), look at the precedent of how much can be changed with things like the Archeologist.

That isn't to say that it should be avoided at all costs. If the PrC is based on a campaign specific thing, but also happens to work well with a particular multiclass combination, then that's great.
My beef is more towards the PrC that is used specifically to "fix" a multiclass combination as it's primary goal. If it was a problem it should have been fixed right from the get go.

It seems almost as though prestige classes should be taken over by DMs, while archetypes are written in as alternate specializations. Perhaps something like what's happening with the new race book, or a guide for DMs on how to produce their own balanced prestige classes would be good.

For now, I like the ones like Dragon Disciple or, like an above poster said, Red Mantis Assassin, where the flavor matches with the mechanics and accentuates something unique about a class or playstyle.

Incidentally, for my own campaigns, level ten is when I allow players to take homebrewed/adjusted prestige classes. All of them cater towards exactly what that player wants to do from then on, and it lets me give them powerful capstone abilities because they'd get them at the same time as they would if they kept going with their class.

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