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The class decks do multiple things for you.
1. They give you more characters to choose from to use in any adventure path, be it Rise of the Runelords, Skull and Shackles, Wrath of the Righteous or whatever comes next.
2. They give you boons you can add to any adventure path, be it Rise of the Runelords, Skull and Shackles, Wrath of the Righteous or whatever comes next. Just use add them with other cards of the same type of boon according to the deck number.
For your first play session, you’ll need only the base cards, so leave The Wormwood Mutiny sealed for now. If you own the Character Add-On Deck, go ahead and combine that set with the cards in the base set as described in Organizing Your Cards (see below). If you own any Class Decks, you may also add any cards from them that have a B in the upper-right corner.
3. They let you play in Organized Play, be it Season 0: Season of the Shackles, Season 1: Something Wrathful This Way Comes (or whatever it ends up being named), or whatever comes next.
Class decks are an accessory to Skull and Shackles initially. Although they can be used with Rise of the Runelords. Each class deck contains four characters, each with two roles. There are seven class decks so far: Bard, Cleric, Fighter, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer and Wizard. They are designed to carry that character from start to the end of an adventure path. They contain cards marked B through 6.
The idea is to have a transportable character that can be played from group to group if you like. They are also a requirement for organized play. The season started in October and will run through the next few months.
As far as how they fit, I think that gives you a basic idea
I also had a question about the class deck. Why is it that each deck has 1 of the exact same character that already are included in the base set?
Because they aren't exactly the same. They have the same name, but different skills, powers, and roles. For example, Valeros. I've bolded the things that differ from version to version.
--Melee Str +3
--Diplomacy: Cha +2
Hand Size: 4
Proficiency: Weapons Heavy Armor Light Armor
Add 1d4 ( +1) ( +2) to another character’s combat check at your location.
When you play a weapon, you may recharge it instead of discarding it.
Roles: Weapon Master or Guardian
--Melee Str +3
Fortitude: Con +1
--Diplomacy: Cha +1
Hand Size: 4
Proficiency: Weapons Heavy Armor Light Armor
Add 1d4 (□+1) to another character’s combat check at your location.
When you would discard a weapon for its power, you may recharge it (□or shuffle it into your deck) instead.
Roles: Corsaid or Tactician
--Melee Str +3
Fortitude: Con +1
--Diplomacy: Cha +3
Hand Size: 4
Proficiency: Weapons Heavy Armor Light Armor
Reveal an ally from your hand to add 1d6 (□+1) (□+2) to a combat check by another character at your location.
When you would discard a weapon for its power, you may recharge it (□ or shuffle it into your deck) instead.
Roles: Daredevil or Liberator
So, all that Valeros has in common in every version is Strength of d10, Melee bonus of +3, Constitution of d8, he has the Diplomacy skill, his hand size if 4, and he can recharge weapons he plays instead of discarding them, and his name is Valeros, he's a human, male, fighter.
That isn't very much really. Everything else is different on at least one of the versions. And the roles are really different. (Tactician can move when another character encounters a villain!)
The recommendation is that you only have 1 from each class in a group when you play. They could have named all the fighters Valeros, but took the time (and love) to give us some other fighters with different stories, races and genders too.
Hawkmoon when you say Class, you mean Fighters right?
Not just don't have 2 Valarii in the group
Yeah. Though I think that appears in the Organized Play Guide, and is at least partially for the purpose of keeping it clear who owns which cards.
Even then it is only a recommendation, so you can do what you wish. At home or in organized play, you can have a group of 6 Fighters, or even 6 Valeroses if you really want to.
Yeah, Hawkmoon, it is covered on pg 10 of the Guide under Mustering.
The recommendation is not to have more than one of the same character or class at the same table. (This is for party balance.) However, we have found that as long as there are two different characters of the same class it isn't much of a problem. (As long as the rest of the party compliments the others.) Kyra and Tarlin. Wu Shen and Olenjack. I play Jirelle at times and she's technically using the Rogue deck. So as long as you don't tip the party too much towards one class, you should be okay.
There's not really a lot you can do to avoid duplication, anyway.
In OP you pretty much have to run for whoever shows up - very few players have multiple characters to choose from. If you've got a rogue, a cleric, and a fighter who played together last week, and another rogue shows up this week (instead of a sorcerer the week before), that's what you're going to have at the table.
Resurrecting this old thread: We are rapidly making our way through Mummy's Mask. We love it so much that with the recent sale of all the PACG sets, we've decided to get them all, including a non-mint copy of RotR for the sake of completeness.
But I'm on the fence in terms of the class decks (and also selecting which ones to get). It seems to me that each set has its own flavor -- This definitely has been true in Mummy's Mask. -- and that adding cards from outside the set (the class decks) might detract from that. I also worry about things like characters that are unbalancing.
I played RotR a couple years ago with a friend of mine, but beyond that my experience is limited to Mummy's Mask. I'll probably pick up at least a few of the class decks so I can try out Organized Play (which, if I understand correctly, is required). But what do you think about adding these decks to the base game? Is it worth it? Has it caused any problems?
Personally, I only add class decks in moderation, and only when needed because the boons in the AP don't support a class deck character I want to use.
The handiest example of this is the iconic gunslinger, Lirianne. Lirianne needs weapons with the Firearm trait. If you're playing anything other than Skull & Shackles/Season of the Shackles, you're not going to find any of those weapons. So Lirianne (and the other gunslinger) will need the addition of the Gunslinger CD to the AP in order to be worth playing. Other similar examples include playing the villains in anything other than Wrath of the Righteous/Season of the Righteous (many of them work better with cards that have the Corrupted trait). Talitha and Ahmotep, the staff magi, need those boons with the Staff trait. The APs other than Mummy's Mask/Season of the Plundered Tombs/Season of Factions' Favor, however, don't have a lot of boons with the Staff trait, so you'll probably want to add the Magus CD if you're playing these characters.
Adding too many class/character decks to an AP will water it down, though, so you don't want to add too many. Ideally, you would only add it for those characters that need the boons in the CD, and hopefully that's a maximum of 3.
If I understand things correctly, technically, you're supposed to add the entire CD. However, since there's always room to adjust play to suit your personal gaming needs (outside of organized play), you might find it better to simply add just the boons that you need (e.g., boons with the Firearm or Ammunition trait for the gunslingers; items with the Staff trait for the staff magi; etc.). There's always room to add specific boons from a CD if you think they really complement a character's play even when they might not be necessary (e.g., Wrathack might need a few more weapons with the 2-Handed trait, so you might want to add the vicious double axe).
Just to add above comments you can buy the PDF for season games From these pages and use them in the home games and then those class decks Are really handy!
In those games you use your old box for minions and ”shops ready boons and build you character deck just using boons From your of class deck (and one ultimate deck).
Those season PDF give you whole new story and adventure with their unique boon and banes and douple or trible your game value that you can get From your old cards.
There's nothing to stop you buying the PDFs of the seasons and playing them as normal adventures either (i.e. without the OP rules, building your deck from the game box and the actual cards you acquire). It seems like at least some effort was made to make this possible - in that the rewards say things like "get a random weapon from the box", which is then replaced by the OP rules, rather than just saying what the OP rules would have you do directly. Maybe that changes at some point, I haven't seen very many yet.
For home play, I'd usually want to play with the characters from the actual box first, but having done that once the class deck characters then provide some variety. I have some (theory-crafted) opinions about specific characters, but in general the character deck characters should be well enough balanced for any box. Box characters do have the opportunity to specifically play to the themes of the set, but it's not necessary to do that, and indeed not all of them even take that opportunity anyway.
As far as the character deck cards go, mixing in one or two works fine I've found so far. If you add a lot of them then yes you will dilute the box cards, though I'm not convinced that matters. There was a long discussion about it in this thread already.
I also limit their addition in "standard" play. Either the character really needs those cards, or we are playing with a significant number of characters that has shifted the "balance" of desired cards in one direction. For example, if we are playing a bunch of "ranged" types because of class deck characters being played, I will add a class deck that contains some good ranged weapons.
But I also get my fix of seeing class decks through organized play. Not as much as I would like, but enough.
We're playing it "mixed": we don't add any CD's to the *box* itself, but let's say the party has acquired an AD3 weapon that nobody else wants - now, our Gunslinger can either take *that* weapon, or "exchange" it for an AD3 Weapon from her own Gunslinger CD. (In some parties, if "exchanged", we will also remove the Set weapon from the game - so the number of total boons between characters and the box remains unchanged)
Warning, a lot of text here so I've spoilered most of my post.
TL;DR: I think adding Class Deck boons will often fight against the carefully designed intent of a given Base Set, and small balance changes with I don't think are desirable. I also think that adding class deck characters into normal play is often undesirable (see my Holy Light and Divine Casters in RotR note in my full post below) as well, but not nearly as big of a deal, especially if you're going to use OP rules (optionally or mandatorily) to include their class deck boons, like what Longshot described.
I also don't like the idea of adding Class Decks to a base set playthrough. A few reasons I take that approach. (From the perspective of adding in the Class Deck BOONS)
- More cards dilute the size of the decks further, making it less likely that you'll dig for specific boons which may have very good reasons for being in the deck in the first place. In Skull and Shackles, for example, there's the skullcap (I think the item's full name is Worn Leather Skullcap) that lets you auto-pass (or improve) Survival checks, which is CRITICAL later on if you have a party without Survival capabilities. Why? Because a lot of locations require it to close, and every single Ship in the game can (and often are) defeated with Survival checks.
- Balance issues. Class Decks will often provide unusually powerful or unusually weak boons in given settings. For example, the Augury spell did not exist in Skull and Shackles or Wrath of the Righteous, from memory, and it is one of the most powerful deck B spells (when it is a Deck B spell) in the game, from my perspective. In fact, some newer decks have effectively released various "strictly-worse" auguries to fill the same role without the same power concerns. Augury did, however, return in Mummy's Mask because "Trigger" cards weakened it...
- But that's my point. Boons in a base set are included and are inherently mechanically contextualised by their environment. Cards that are too strong in one set are too weak in another (look at anti-Demon cards in Wrath of the Righteous as another example), and so expecting Class Decks to 'universally slot in' without hindering the delicate balance that was refined in later Base Sets is unreasonable.
- Some cards thematically fit less than others, and how much that bothers you varies from player to player. Maybe you don't like seeing the "Bouyancy" spell whilst you're delving into hell itself in Wrath of the Righteous. Maybe you don't like seeing pistols and muskets in Rise of the Runelords (where not a single ally, monster, barrier or base class suggests the use of firearms, from memory).
- Getting extra copies of some cards may also adjust the balance of a character. Wisdom-focused Kyra becomes WAY better in Rise of the Runelords (at least decks B through to 3) if she can access more Holy Lights, and late Kyra may become better if there's more than 5 Blessings of Saranrae to pick up.
Mostly, it's balance and contextualisation concerns. Holy Light may not be included in a base set because it's a divine spell that breaks the mold by exceeding the combat capabilities of Arcane spells in the same deck (when, generally speaking, Arcane casters are better at spell-based combat but Divine casters have more utility spells or weapon proficiency)... but it might be fine in Rise of the Runelords where there is no 1d12 Divine user, but there is a 1d12 Arcane user.
I'm much more open to including class deck characters in general (which may necessitate the use of their class decks, such as a Gunslinger outside of Skull and Shackles), but I'd usually only encourage that when the class doesn't need their decks to perform in the set you're using them in. Using a Gunslinger or an Alchemist from a class deck in Skull and Shackles seems fine to me without leaning on their deck, or using characters from Occult Adventures in Mummy's Mask. I also would be fine with someone playing with "Organized Play rules" with a base set if they were using a class deck (switching cards out so that the class deck wasn't merged with the box, but was their source of cards between scenarios), and I'd be happy working out houserules around that too.
But as a general rule, I would not be interested in playing a Base Set with a class deck's boons added in, due to balance and context concerns.
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While I agree with Yewstance's concerns in theory, I don't think they're a big deal. Yes guns in RotR is a bit odd, but you made that choice when you chose to play a gunslinger. Yes Augury is good in S&S + WotR, but having a few tools that are strong in the set is a trade-off for having a character whose powers don't play to the theme of the set. Yes I might not see some important cards, but if so I see other cards instead, and how to cope with e.g. no Worn Leather Skullcap is part of the fun.
My take on it is you add the decks and/or characters because you want variety. The fact that the it's different and balance is thrown a bit is not the problem, it's the whole point of doing it. Some things are easier, some are harder, working out what they are and what to do about it is half the fun.