What's In A Name? How Character Class Can Limit Creativity


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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iambobdole1 wrote:
Neal Litherland wrote:
I've noticed something the longer I've been playing; we project a LOT of things onto the classes that just aren't in the rules. And when someone decides to color outside those pre-conceived notions, while still playing by the rules of the game, people will flip out. Lawful rogues? Paladins with stealth training? Barbarians who like theater?
Agreed, but isn't there actually something in the rules saying rogues have to be an unlawful alignment?

You're thinking of Barbarians.


Jack of Dust wrote:
iambobdole1 wrote:
Neal Litherland wrote:
I've noticed something the longer I've been playing; we project a LOT of things onto the classes that just aren't in the rules. And when someone decides to color outside those pre-conceived notions, while still playing by the rules of the game, people will flip out. Lawful rogues? Paladins with stealth training? Barbarians who like theater?
Agreed, but isn't there actually something in the rules saying rogues have to be an unlawful alignment?
You're thinking of Barbarians.

And bards in 3.x


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necromental wrote:
Jack of Dust wrote:
iambobdole1 wrote:
Neal Litherland wrote:
I've noticed something the longer I've been playing; we project a LOT of things onto the classes that just aren't in the rules. And when someone decides to color outside those pre-conceived notions, while still playing by the rules of the game, people will flip out. Lawful rogues? Paladins with stealth training? Barbarians who like theater?
Agreed, but isn't there actually something in the rules saying rogues have to be an unlawful alignment?
You're thinking of Barbarians.
And bards in 3.x

Yeah honestly, I'm more worried about alignment restrictions limiting creativity than Class names.


Neal Litherland wrote:
The goal, overall, is to get other players to color outside the traditional lines, and to provide inspiration for doing things a different way.

Why do you view coloring outside of the lines as an automatic positive? Sometimes those lines provide a good structure for creating the collaborative stories that the players are expecting.


Stereotypes limit creativity?
Optimization limits creativity?
Alignment restrictions limit creativity?

The class names and mechanics really don't limit this...imho


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Tormsskull wrote:
Neal Litherland wrote:
The goal, overall, is to get other players to color outside the traditional lines, and to provide inspiration for doing things a different way.
Why do you view coloring outside of the lines as an automatic positive? Sometimes those lines provide a good structure for creating the collaborative stories that the players are expecting.

I don't view it as a good or a bad thing, inherently. What I view it as is a different thing, and shaking the tree from time to time is a good idea. If you really want to play a white-beareded wizard with a thick tome who sounds like Gandalf, more power to you! On the other hand, if that isn't what you want to do, then you should be free to explore your options to create the character that you like best.

I am not in any way saying that players can't rely on the old, reliable shared ideas of what a class should look, think, and act like. What I am saying is simply that too often we create those characters because that's what we're expected to make, instead of because that's what we want to make.

This isn't an either/or argument, saying that you either go with tradition or burn it down to make something completely new. There's room for everything. And if you understand the mechanics not only of the game, but the mechanics of storytelling, then you can create an experience that will intrigue your fellow players as well as your DM.


In 3.5 We started a Riverport game and I decided that I wanted to play a Swashbuckler. I ended up making a Fighter that took levels in rogue.

Later in Pathfinder in Second Darkness, I made a Monk that I decided would be made up like the movie/TV show Kung-Fu. The Character didn't use any weapons. He was able to use all kinds and this frustrated the GM to no end. Eventually he got used to it.

Currently, I am playing an Arcane Duelist in Rise of the Runelords. The Party expects my bard to be the standard kind, but he doesn't and he doesn't sing, per se. His performance is puns! :D The bard is kind of a Magus wanna-be as he casts mirror image and gets into the thick of battle, rather sticking to the back like any normal bard would.


ngc7293 wrote:

In 3.5 We started a Riverport game and I decided that I wanted to play a Swashbuckler. I ended up making a Fighter that took levels in rogue.

Later in Pathfinder in Second Darkness, I made a Monk that I decided would be made up like the movie/TV show Kung-Fu. The Character didn't use any weapons. He was able to use all kinds and this frustrated the GM to no end. Eventually he got used to it.

Currently, I am playing an Arcane Duelist in Rise of the Runelords. The Party expects my bard to be the standard kind, but he doesn't and he doesn't sing, per se. His performance is puns! :D The bard is kind of a Magus wanna-be as he casts mirror image and gets into the thick of battle, rather sticking to the back like any normal bard would.

Oh man, I hope they don't pun-ish you for not buffing them. That would be bard-baric.


A class' mechanics can form the metes and bounds of character concepts possibly within a given class. For instance a low-level rogue cannot feign being an amazing wizard; I mean they can try bluffing, but it's unlikely to work. A wizard still has a spellbook and prep time; you can refluff these things, but to some extent the features of the class will necessarily impact your characters (perhaps less so amongst pure martials). But within those boundaries there are infinite creative possibilities.


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My group sidesteps this by simply not telling each other what classes they are, and just going off what abilities they witness and are told the person can do. In my latest game, people thought that the Paladin/Monk was just a Fighter. Admittedly, the character thought he was just a Commoner.


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Create Mr. Pitt wrote:
A class' mechanics can form the metes and bounds of character concepts possibly within a given class. For instance a low-level rogue cannot feign being an amazing wizard; I mean they can try bluffing, but it's unlikely to work. A wizard still has a spellbook and prep time; you can refluff these things, but to some extent the features of the class will necessarily impact your characters (perhaps less so amongst pure martials). But within those boundaries there are infinite creative possibilities.

This is true, but seems to have very little to do with the original post. The whole point was to advocate for making the limits of character concepts the actual rules of a class, rather than the limits players have in their minds about what paladins/clerics/inquisitors/sorcerers/etc. should and shouldn't be.

If you're playing a wizard, then you have a bonded item or familiar, a spellbook, and you have to study every day. That's in the rules, no arguments. However, if you want to be a wizard who wears chain armor and carries a bastard sword he's actually capable of using, then the right combination of feats and traits can let you do that. You'll never be as talented as a fighter of the same level, but the concept isn't impossible because "that's not what wizards do."

Same thing for playing a paladin who keeps his holy symbol out of sight when he isn't casting spells, and who chooses to wear light armor and wield a rapier. Nothing says you have to be a sign-post for your god, or that you personally apprehend every thief you see. Perhaps you follow the responsibility of a citizen, inform the authorities what you saw, and help the person who was robbed. It's less heroic, but still falls under the bounds of doing your duty.

Verdant Wheel

ngc7293 wrote:
His performance is puns!

nice


I have to say, I like to play both camps. Sometimes I'm the iconic full plate crusader cleric, sometimes I'm a bard/barbarian (prior to the release of skald, mind you) who tries to inspire other to goodly life or the rogue in full plate (focusing more on sneak attack via flanking and a plethora of skill sets).

Yes, the name of a class DOES shackles us a bit mentally, but sometimes it also inspires us to play the opposite way.
It's a weird, counter-culture-esqe phenomenon.


I've posted this elsewhere on the board, but I totally agree that the class names place an unnecessary limitation on class concepts.

Look at the Samurai class, if you nix all the Asian baggage, even the name, the class features of the samurai (with a slight adjustment to the weapons expertise to cover other weapons) easily fits Mongol horseman or even a Cheyenne/Sioux mounted native, by offering alternative fluff, but keeping the class features unchanged. Both the Mongol Warrior and the Great Plains Native American can be seen as having a code of honor, having a greater resiliency than others (resolve), are mounted warriors, can influence their comrades on the battlefield (challenge and banner abilities), and even be members of an order (Cheyenne Dog Soldiers, for example).

I've been thinking of creating a Great Plains Native Warrior archetype for the samurai archetype, but even from the other designer working on the setting (Gothic Western) has implied his objection to that. Why not make a cavalier archetype instead? My response, nothing wrong with that, but samurai (especially resolve) is closer to my goals than what the base cavalier offers, so why not create a non-Asian warrior based off the samurai. It makes perfect sense.


Don't let class OR race limit creativity!

Here's my take on a Swashbuckly Drow Oracle for Second Darkness. (And due to what I suspect is a messageboards limit of something like 65536 characters in a post or character sheet, I had to put her crunch in a separate page). And although I haven't read any of the Drizz't Do'Urden novels, I did look him up on Wikipedia to make sure that I wasn't accidentally making the same thing, as well as make sure that she won't break anything in th AP (she never was in the Darklands, and Andoran is an awesome place to start out).

She was REALLY hard to build within the rules, though -- feat starvation really hurts. In contrast, the Wizard that I had devious ideas for was a LOT easier to build as long as I didn't try to go thte Summoning-focused route (which is feat-intensive). This was the third character I thought of but the first to stat out, because of being in a rush to try to get into a Rise of the Runelords PbP that I didn't make it into, and because he was so much easier. (Still separate page for his cat, though -- a 20 pound cat NEEDS a separate page.)

Now I've just got to:
1. Find PbPs to et them into, and
2. Get a new computer so that I don't have to post from a phone (editing character sheets is going to be incredibly painful and dangerous on a phone).

With regard to the first character, Oracle just opens up so many possibilities for concepts so much more easily than most other classes (even though the build process itself turns out to be a nightmare on actual confrontation) that it takes some effort to keep from steering most character concepts into that class . . . .


Ryzoken wrote:
My Self wrote:
"I want to use magic" -> "You're a wizard, Harry!" (Sorcerer, Arcanist, Cleric, and Oracle may also apply for this role.)

Until that SLA FAQ got reversed a while back, I had grand designs for a PFS character that had zero spellcaster levels but insisted he was a powerful mage. He'd pull it off with a slew of scrolls and wands, UMD, and a heaping helping of some PrC's that normally only mages qualify for, letting him get better CL and stat usage out of those scrolls.

So very sad, losing him to a rules reversal...

If you read up on that, you'd know it wasn't a reversal, they stated when they put out the FAQ that it wasn't supposed to work that way and they were letting it slide to see how it ended up working out.

If anything it was an enforcement of the rules.

As for the topic, it only becomes an issue when you start mixing metagame with in-character. There is a difference between a Fighter and a fighter. One is a mechanical construct for the game, which your character would have no knowledge of.


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@ Neal - Sorry to say I think your piece is highly overblown. It literally tells me nothing new and makes a bunch of assumptions. Perhaps it might be informative or useful for new players or those new to the hobby, but for anyone with even a sense of creativity it feels like Gollum trying to teach his grandmother...

What's In A Name? How Character Class Can Limit Creativity wrote:
It's the little things that we all accept without question that trip us up.

Yes. Accepting without question does lead to...terrible things.

What's In A Name? How Character Class Can Limit Creativity wrote:
That's why if you want to have a freeing experience the next time you create a new character, make sure you never, ever mention that character's class once you've sat down at the table.

No. I can mention my class as a mechanical aside, but all a class contains is a bunch of mechanical interactions with the rules. There are literally hundreds of posts throughout the forums of how people have reflavoured, reskinned and completely diverted from the mechanical basis of their character.

"My character is a Ranger, but in the game he is a temple diplomat's bodyguard - kind of like the flavour of the old 1e Oriental Adventures Sohei...." or "This is Awn, a vegepygmy Samurai. Awn is actually a tribal champion who closely follows the edicts of the Branch..." Or "Although Shiska is a Summoner she believes she is a divinely-gifted warden of an angelic being" Or the ubiquitous "My runaway slave character's Rage is (in-game) his cool fury, pent up but controlled..." but you know what - you've already said all this...

What's In A Name? How Character Class Can Limit Creativity wrote:
IMore often than not we think of our characters in terms of their classes.

I don't actually think we do. I know I don't.

Basically I'm saying this article is bunk. Classes are a great stepping off stone that can inspire creativity just as much as they can closet it.


Neal Litherland wrote:
I am not in any way saying that players can't rely on the old, reliable shared ideas of what a class should look, think, and act like. What I am saying is simply that too often we create those characters because that's what we're expected to make, instead of because that's what we want to make.

I'm all for making nontraditional characters - such as a lightly armored, rapier-wielding paladin you mention in a later post. I don't think paladin automatically has to equal heavy armor, sword-wielding, horse-riding, white knight.

That being said, I think some people stretch the class concepts beyond their "lines" by reflavoring the mechanics to the point that they no longer resemble the class in any way.

If you get to that point, it seems that you should just select a different class IMO.

Milo v3 wrote:
My group sidesteps this by simply not telling each other what classes they are, and just going off what abilities they witness and are told the person can do.

I'm a very big proponent of this as well. Class is mostly a mechanical construct and shouldn't be something that characters talk about in-character.


gamer-printer wrote:

I've posted this elsewhere on the board, but I totally agree that the class names place an unnecessary limitation on class concepts.

Look at the Samurai class, if you nix all the Asian baggage, even the name, the class features of the samurai (with a slight adjustment to the weapons expertise to cover other weapons) easily fits Mongol horseman or even a Cheyenne/Sioux mounted native, by offering alternative fluff, but keeping the class features unchanged. Both the Mongol Warrior and the Great Plains Native American can be seen as having a code of honor, having a greater resiliency than others (resolve), are mounted warriors, can influence their comrades on the battlefield (challenge and banner abilities), and even be members of an order (Cheyenne Dog Soldiers, for example).

So where is the unnecessary limitation? The bundled class features are "Samurai" - nothing says you have to be an "Asian Samurai as in historica". Your Cheyenne Dog Soldiers example actually supports class-names as inspiration and NOT curtailing creativity.

gamer-printer wrote:
I've been thinking of creating a Great Plains Native Warrior archetype for the samurai archetype, but even from the other designer working on the setting (Gothic Western) has implied his objection to that. Why not make a cavalier archetype instead? My response, nothing wrong with that, but samurai (especially resolve) is closer to my goals than what the base cavalier offers, so why not create a non-Asian warrior based off the samurai. It makes perfect sense.

What exactly is your co-designer's objection based on? Sounds entirely flimsy. I would welcome such an archetype for the Samurai. It does indeed make perfect sense.

Also check out LRGG's Heroes of the West - it doesn't exactly cover the mounted warrior trope, but might be useful for your Gothic Western CS, and 3PP's should definitely be working together and not recreating content where possible.

Dark Archive

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Some classes already have a little bit of flavor built in, because of the name, such as Monks and Ninja being proficient with Asian weapons, despite being perfectly viable chassis on which to build other types of unarmed combatants (like a tribal warrior who studies the fighting style of animals, including fighting without weapon or armor, like the beasts he emulates, but from fantasy-Africa and not fantasy-China).

In those specific cases, I consider the classes a little too niche.

But for most of them, it's not quite so bad. A bard can function just fine as a priest or a nobleman, with a smattering of spellcasting (from the hoity toity education, or as 'divine favor' from whomevers holy hymnal they are chanting from) and swordplay and leadership / inspiration. Ignore attempts, such as 3rd editions heavily music focused / sonic focused Complete Bard's Handbook, or bardic alignment restrictions, to pigeonhole them as chaotic magical minstrels all about song and music, and you can take that class in all sorts of directions.

Gods & Magic mentions bards, illusionists (of Sivanah) and even monks (of Irori) serving as 'priests,' alongside divine spellcasting clerics, so Pathfinder has some precedent for coloring outside of the lines and not being stuck in the box, playing only a straight Cleric class as a priest.


I played a Soulknife/Psion(Nomad)/Elocator/Dark Tempest in mechanics. In fluff, he was a womanizing swashbuckler.


Neal Litherland wrote:
If you're playing a wizard, then you have a bonded item or familiar, a spellbook, and you have to study every day. That's in the rules, no arguments. However, if you want to be a wizard who wears chain armor and carries a bastard sword he's actually capable of using, then the right combination of feats and traits can let you do that. You'll never be as talented as a fighter of the same level, but the concept isn't impossible because "that's not what wizards do."

Note: I've played wizards by the rules who went around in iron-man style armour and fights on the frontlines and there methods to replace not only having a bonded item or familiar, but replacing the spell book entirely.


Milo v3 wrote:
My group sidesteps this by simply not telling each other what classes they are, and just going off what abilities they witness and are told the person can do.

I sometimes miss the days of mystery, where indeed we did not tell each other what we were playing and it was considered bad form (aggression) to use abilities like detect evil on PC's and NPC's alike.

I often gave penalties to diplomacy rolls after detect evil was used.....


Milo v3 wrote:

{. . .}

Note: I've played wizards by the rules who went around in iron-man style armour and fights on the frontlines and there methods to replace not only having a bonded item or familiar, but replacing the spell book entirely.

Okay, now you've got me curious. How did you put THAT together?


UnArcaneElection wrote:
Milo v3 wrote:

{. . .}

Note: I've played wizards by the rules who went around in iron-man style armour and fights on the frontlines and there methods to replace not only having a bonded item or familiar, but replacing the spell book entirely.

Okay, now you've got me curious. How did you put THAT together?

Ironman was is simply glamoured ceremonial cloth with armour bonuses, seperate gauntlets that shoot a powerful attack spell on command word (had to change gaunlets now and then as I gained levels or needed to fight something that resisted electricity), and boots that gave decent flight. Though, I was recently able to make a better ironman using Akashic Mysteries vizier class, much better at it than wizard, since you can have your veils be the armour and you still have the artificer capabilities.

As for replacing bonded item/familiar many archetypes do that.

As for replacing spell book, there is an archetype that replaces your spellbook in Advanced Class Guide, and there may be more in other books that I haven't seen.


Neal Li[QUOTE="Jack of Dust wrote:
This actually hasn't been my experience at all. To me and my gaming group, a class name is usually just a very basic description of the mechanical abilities it has.

It's a playstyle thing. Some playstyles entwine flavour and mechanics tightly together and put the flavour concerns above mechanical concerns. For example the falling rules get capped at 20d6 because that signifies terminal velocity. The fact that higher level characters can survive hitting a hard surface after having reached terminal velocity is a bug rather than a feature. If Pathfinder was concerned about the balance of the game then they would quite possibly remove the 20d6 cap or they would give characters non-magical ways to brush off the damage they suffer from a fall that mechancially speaking become irrelevant at higher levels. We also see hints of mechanics and flavour being closely tied together in core Pathfinder with barbarians, clerics, monks and paladins who are restricted in what their alignment can be. Pathfinder decreased how tightly the core classes were linked to their flavour in some instances (literate barbarians are a core part of the rules). In other cases they didn't (clerics need a holy symbol (despite the fact other spellcasters don't a special implement to cast spells). It's why druids get a secret language. These are all reinforcing a preconceived flavour for these classes.

However as gaming has developed other RPGs have moved away from keeping flavour and mechanics so closely connected and the concept of reflavouring has been introduced. While the conept of reflavouring was not present in the core rulebooks for Pathfinder, we have seen them introduced in later books. We have several dancing dervishes whereas in the past to be a dancing dervish they may have required you to be a very specific class. I believe it's also why prestige classes have become less prominent over the years. The only unique thing prestige classes had was needing to meet certain pre-requisites. The reason for those pre-requisites were either game balance (you must give up X numbr of resources on almost useless abilities), or for flavour.

I personally have no problem with reflavouring to a degree. If someone says they want to play a wizard but then proceed to take the rogue class I'll talk with them as to why they're calling themselves a wizard and how what that means to their character. I typically see wizards as someone whose undergone formalised training (either at an academy or a master/apprentice relationship). But once I know what they're trying to achieve I can work with them in order to achieve that. If soemone wanted to be a human who had magical abilities born within them and then wanted to play an ifrit on a mechanical level I wouldn't refuse it out of hand. I'd talk with them about it and consider it and work with them to realise their character.

Reflavouring can introduce mechanical imbalances where a small innocuous change suddenly has massive ramifications. Other times someone wants the mechanical benefit of one choice (racial traits of a drow) without the in-world disadvantages of that race (gets killed on sight). The traditional "can't I just get AC +9 bonus I would get from full plate and we say it's a gift from his god and that he doesn't wear armor" request can be frought with problems that may not be immediately obvious (e.g. you can now sleep in armor. You can be fully armored in situations where everyone else in the party has to give up their armor).

I typically present a default flavour for classes that if used will help cement their character into the game world, but always make it clear I'm open to reflavouring for innovative or interesting ideas. I've played a drunken frat college student who was an angry drunk and spent most days drunk (human barbarian). Some people would demand that the barbarian act out some preconceived notions of what raging is and try to foist that flavour onto the character because that's what makes the game more enjoyable for them. Others (such as me) wouldn't find that enjoyable. It's not a problem so long as everyone at the table can enjoy the game when played under the same playstyle.

Neal Litherland wrote:
There's also the Noble Scion prestige class.

There's also a noble scion feat.

Ryzoken wrote:

Until that SLA FAQ got reversed a while back, I had grand designs for a PFS character that had zero spellcaster levels but insisted he was a powerful mage. He'd pull it off with a slew of scrolls and wands, UMD, and a heaping helping of some PrC's that normally only mages qualify for, letting him get better CL and stat usage out of those scrolls.

So very sad, losing him to a rules reversal...

My barbarian had mastery over the spirits of the dead and could call upon them to do his bidding (raging powers). He spent an inordinate amount of time reading through necromancer spellbooks and playing with necromantic magical items (he understood NONE of it, but insisted on collecting such items).

I've also done the opposite and used classes to represent parts of a character's story or flavour. I once built a halfling that had 4 levels in bard and I would tell people he was a halfling bard (with a smattering of levels in various other classes). Then when they saw he was wearing mithral fullplate and wielded a greatsword and would wade into battle and deal horrendous damage to his enemies while shouting at his allies to stop hiding in the back and fight better they realised he wasn't your typical bard. He did, however, start life out as an actual bard and he would regularly regale people with tales of an Andoran knight he once squired for. When the knight died he took up that knight's cause and so started wading into battle (took levels in fighter). Eventually he was inducted into the Andoran Eagle Knights, so I took levels in the Eagle Knight prestige class.

iambobdole1 wrote:
isn't there actually something in the rules saying rogues have to be an unlawful alignment?

You're thinking of the AD&D 2nd edition thief that the rogue is based on. It wasn't true for 3.5e (I don't know about 3.0e).

KenderKin wrote:
The class names and mechanics really don't limit this...imho

What happens if a druid does the forbidden and teaches someone the secret language of druidic? Or are people simply incapable of learning the language without taking a level in druidic (despite the fact no in world action is required to take levels in the druid class)?


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
John Lynch 106 wrote:
Neal Li[QUOTE="Jack of Dust wrote:
This actually hasn't been my experience at all. To me and my gaming group, a class name is usually just a very basic description of the mechanical abilities it has.
It's a playstyle thing. Some playstyles entwine flavour and mechanics tightly together and put the flavour concerns above mechanical concerns.

i feel this should make them more likely to ignore a classes fluff...

I had a witch that would be called a wizard or a mage, or any other practical taught magic, because in fluff he did go to college for his specific kind of magic.


UnArcaneElection wrote:

Don't let class OR race limit creativity!

Here's my take on a Swashbuckly Drow Oracle for Second Darkness. (And due to what I suspect is a messageboards limit of something like 65536 characters in a post or character sheet, I had to put her crunch in a separate page). And although I haven't read any of the Drizz't Do'Urden novels, I did look him up on Wikipedia to make sure that I wasn't accidentally making the same thing, as well as make sure that she won't break anything in th AP (she never was in the Darklands, and Andoran is an awesome place to start out.)

Up to the DM I guess, but I think you have a mistaken impression about drow PCs not breaking Second Darkness. They really do, and the DM would have a lot of work fixing it. The AP recommends against drow PCs in the strongest terms possible without dropping a bunch of F-bombs, so that's going to be a long shot.


I can see where the original poster is coming from.

It's not that it limits EVERYONE's creativity, but for every success story from someone who's had no problem with it, I'm sure there's a horror story from someone who's effectively been told "you can't do that!" from players and/or GMs when trying to break free from a class stereotype that barely exists in fluff, let alone the actual mechanics.

For example, I've had groups I had to walk away from that wanted to argue that Fighters can't be smart, or that Rogues had to be dishonest lawbreakers who steal from the party, or Paladins had to be obnoxiously good and at the same time had to be tricked into falling, and so on.

And it's not just class stereotypes that seem to be lodged into some sort of unwritten gaming oral tradition... it happens with races (try playing a Dwarf that gets along great with Elves and doesn't speak in a bad accent in some groups!), monsters (in spite of Goblins having roughly human intelligence and wisdom and Dragons over a certain age having super-human intelligence and wisdom, try portraying intelligent Goblins or thoughtful Dragons in some groups!), alignments (there's a good reason for the existence of the cynical jokes about lawful/chaotic/good/evil/neutral-stupid alignments), and so on.

To be fair, I see it much more often in "vanilla" D&D than I do in Pathfinder, but I still see it in Pathfinder as well.

I'm not sure anything can be done about it, though - those who get it, get it. But those who can't tell the difference between 'crunch', 'fluff', 'house rules', and '40-something years of accumulated stereotyped baggage that doesn't exist in any modern rule book anywhere and probably never did' will flip the tables if you try too hard to separate these concepts with the wrong groups.


The article won't do much for those groups.


chocobot wrote:
UnArcaneElection wrote:

Don't let class OR race limit creativity!

Here's my take on a Swashbuckly Drow Oracle for Second Darkness. (And due to what I suspect is a messageboards limit of something like 65536 characters in a post or character sheet, I had to put her crunch in a separate page). And although I haven't read any of the Drizz't Do'Urden novels, I did look him up on Wikipedia to make sure that I wasn't accidentally making the same thing, as well as make sure that she won't break anything in th AP (she never was in the Darklands, and Andoran is an awesome place to start out.)

Up to the DM I guess, but I think you have a mistaken impression about drow PCs not breaking Second Darkness. They really do, and the DM would have a lot of work fixing it. The AP recommends against drow PCs in the strongest terms possible without dropping a bunch of F-bombs, so that's going to be a long shot.

Not sure how much of the Background you read, but it seems to me that in the absence of the character having specific information about what is going on down in the Darklands AND being unfamiliar with the customs down there (having been brought up in Andoran by parents who were perhaps overzealous about assimilating), the DM of Second Darkness doesn't have to feel that this would be an AP-breaking character.

Besides, although I don't have the AP itself (nor a Player's Guide for it since it and Legacy of Fire didn't offer separate free Player's Guides), I got the impression from these boards that the reason they didn't want Drow PCs in this AP was to avoid a flood of Drizz't Do'Urden clones, which I checked to make sure I wasn't creating by accident.

Paizo Employee Design Manager

mourge40k wrote:
To me, it's a game of concepts. My players tell me what sort of thing they want to play, and I help them get to where that mechanically works. The names really don't matter.

This has been my experience as well. I've seen "ninjas" who used the Magus class, or the Wizard, or the Monk... Honestly, I've seen more ninjas who didn't use the actual Ninja class than ones who did.

I remember my wife played an elf who fought with a bow and was an expert rider, eventually gaining a pegasus companion. The group met her character in the woods when she offered to guide them to the entrance to a maddened fey queen's realm. The group just started referring to her as "the ranger" all on their own. She was actually a Sohei Monk, never took a single level of Ranger.

One of my earliest Pathfinder characters was a sneaky, lightly armored assassin and bounty hunter who ended up taking over the thieve's guild of a major city and creating a massive criminal enterprise. He was a deadly killer and an expert lock-picker. Obviously, I went with the only build that could cover such a complex character: a single-classed Ranger with Favored Enemy (humans) and Favored Terrain (urban).

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PIXIE DUST wrote:

Honestlt I care not for class names...

After all, maybe I want to play a rogue similiar to Dragon Age or Neverwinter Online. I would actually pick Ninja over Rogue 9/10 for these ideas since they are near magical in prowess. But just because the classss name is ninja does not mean i mandate pajamas. You are just a magical rogue. Simple.

Offtopic, but true ninja wouldn't even wear "pajamas", you wouldn't recognize one since they would look like regular peons until they suddenly pull out hidden weapon, stab you in back and run away

UnArcaneElection wrote:
chocobot wrote:
UnArcaneElection wrote:

Don't let class OR race limit creativity!

Here's my take on a Swashbuckly Drow Oracle for Second Darkness. (And due to what I suspect is a messageboards limit of something like 65536 characters in a post or character sheet, I had to put her crunch in a separate page). And although I haven't read any of the Drizz't Do'Urden novels, I did look him up on Wikipedia to make sure that I wasn't accidentally making the same thing, as well as make sure that she won't break anything in th AP (she never was in the Darklands, and Andoran is an awesome place to start out.)

Up to the DM I guess, but I think you have a mistaken impression about drow PCs not breaking Second Darkness. They really do, and the DM would have a lot of work fixing it. The AP recommends against drow PCs in the strongest terms possible without dropping a bunch of F-bombs, so that's going to be a long shot.

Not sure how much of the Background you read, but it seems to me that in the absence of the character having specific information about what is going on down in the Darklands AND being unfamiliar with the customs down there (having been brought up in Andoran by parents who were perhaps overzealous about assimilating), the DM of Second Darkness doesn't have to feel that this would be an AP-breaking character.

Besides, although I don't have the AP itself (nor a Player's Guide for it since it and Legacy of Fire didn't offer separate free Player's Guides), I got the impression from these boards that the reason they didn't want Drow PCs in this AP was to avoid a flood of Drizz't Do'Urden clones, which I checked to make sure I wasn't creating by accident.

Actually, reason why Drow PC breaks Second Darkness is that in setting, the existence of drows themselves are a spoiler.

Basically, in universe drow haven't been seen for so long time that they are considered to be a myth


CorvusMask wrote:


Actually, reason why Drow PC breaks Second Darkness is that in setting, the existence of drows themselves are a spoiler.

Basically, in universe drow haven't been seen for so long time that they are considered to be a myth

Ah, bt that's where the setting itself gives you an out. If Drow haven't been seen so long that they are considered to be a myth, expecially to the point where most people don't know about them at all, then a couple of Drow that pop up and don't cause a fuss (except from the point of view of the Chelish overlords who don't know anything about Drow anyway) don't break the AP, because most people won't connect them to a myth that they don't know about or know very little about. From most people's point of view, they would just be some weirdos tha popped in randomly -- it isn't as if major cities (by Golarion's standards, and especially port cities) never get people that they can't identify the origin of. Now, an obvious exception to this is the Winter Council and their Lantern Bearer agents, but even they know that they can't just go murderhobo in a major city in Andoran (or if they do, they at least have to be discrete about it). But here, the AP doesn't break either, since at least the upper leadership of these organizations by definition knows about the Drow (even if misinformed), and those who aren't high up enough the chain of command to know about Drow could easily be fed some bogus story about how they have to maintain surveillance upon and if possible quietly eliminate thaat small family of Mwangi Elves in Almas that have been identified as consorting with Demons . . . Since murder in a back alley in the cosmopolitan yet tightly knit environment of Andoran's capital city has proven to be an elusive goal, could they instead try to manipulate events so that at least some of the members of this family get sent individually to some place where they can be quietly dealt with more easily? Like for instance, Riddleport, where murder in a back alley is considered an everyday occurrence . . . .

Liberty's Edge

A drow character could theoretically make it through the first couple books with minimal alterations, although there's at least one NPC who is supposed to be helpful who would instead probably be doing everything in his power to kill the PCs (or at least that PC). Once you hit book three, though, it basically becomes impossible to sustain the storyline in any meaningful fashion. Every single NPC you meet in the third book would be trying to kill you, and there's no reason in the world they'd be willing to "overlook" your presence on the basis of past heroism or the like.


KenderKin wrote:

Actually I think this is more a matter of how people tend to view the character classes, than the classes themselves.

The paladin is especially often put into this box of the one and only way to play a paladin.

Which in turn influences what weapons are chosen and other details.

That reminds me - I vaguely remember some AD&D module where the PCs could come across several NPCs stuck in some sort of magic stasis, one of whom is a woman in robes armed with daggers and magic bracers. Guess the class!

She's a a Paladin who doesn't like being weighted down. (AD&D designers did love their 'Gotcha!' encounters.)


Oceanshieldwolf wrote:
The article won't do much for those groups.

This is very true... but I am hoping that for people who have been going along with the stereotypes because they were told they were rules will realize that isn't the case. (Not to pick on folks, but similar to how one responder thought rogues couldn't be lawful. That's a common misconception we so rarely check because everyone agrees on it without cracking a book to verify).


Ssalarn wrote:
mourge40k wrote:
To me, it's a game of concepts. My players tell me what sort of thing they want to play, and I help them get to where that mechanically works. The names really don't matter.

This has been my experience as well. I've seen "ninjas" who used the Magus class, or the Wizard, or the Monk... Honestly, I've seen more ninjas who didn't use the actual Ninja class than ones who did.

I remember my wife played an elf who fought with a bow and was an expert rider, eventually gaining a pegasus companion. The group met her character in the woods when she offered to guide them to the entrance to a maddened fey queen's realm. The group just started referring to her as "the ranger" all on their own. She was actually a Sohei Monk, never took a single level of Ranger.

One of my earliest Pathfinder characters was a sneaky, lightly armored assassin and bounty hunter who ended up taking over the thieve's guild of a major city and creating a massive criminal enterprise. He was a deadly killer and an expert lock-picker. Obviously, I went with the only build that could cover such a complex character: a single-classed Ranger with Favored Enemy (humans) and Favored Terrain (urban).

I've got this going with a character I started last night. A half-orc marksman who served with the Nirmathan Rangers under the Forest Marshall during a previous war (DM is using Pathfinder's world, but not an AP. Good times.). He's stealthy, observant, exceedingly dangerous, and deadly with his arrows. He calls himself a former ranger, and there's at least one person in the party who thinks he means that in an OOC way. He's a Fighter, Archer archetype, but his profession just happens to be the name of another class.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder PF Special Edition, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
John Lynch 106 wrote:
It's a playstyle thing. Some playstyles entwine flavour and mechanics tightly together and put the flavour concerns above mechanical concerns. For example the falling rules get capped at 20d6 because that signifies terminal velocity. The fact that higher level characters can survive hitting a hard surface after having reached terminal velocity is a bug rather than a feature.

In your opinion. Some of us like a form of fantasy where great heroes survive things that would flatten the common man.

Extending your logic, you should also have problems with high level characters surviving dragon's breath.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder PF Special Edition, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Neal Litherland wrote:


If you're playing a wizard, then you have a bonded item or familiar, a spellbook, and you have to study every day. That's in the rules, no arguments. However, if you want to be a wizard who wears chain armor and carries a bastard sword he's actually capable of using, then the right combination of feats and traits can let you do that. You'll never be as talented as a fighter of the same level, but the concept isn't impossible because "that's not what wizards do."

.

On the other hand, there really isn't anything wrong to use the right class for your concept. If a player wants to play an armored sword swinging spellcaster, I'd suggest he'd take a look at the magus class.

There are people who can drive nails into wood using their foreheads. For most of us though, I'd suggest using a hammer.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder PF Special Edition, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

One more thing. being too rigid with a concept can be a lot more damming of the creative process than getting hung up on names.


LazarX wrote:
One more thing. being too rigid with a concept can be a lot more damming of the creative process than getting hung up on names.

This is so. Like I said, I think we're coming from the same general direction. I advocate that players always choose the methods that work best for their concepts and which they feel are most effective.

Magus is an option. So is the eldritch knight. So is a sorcerer with barbarian levels and a selection of feats. Some are easier, some are harder, and it all depends on what the rules say, and what the player is comfortable with.


LazarX wrote:
In your opinion. Some of us like a form of fantasy where great heroes survive things that would flatten the common man.

I explicitly say in my post that SOME people have this preference. I also suggested that to truly support a playstyle where high level PCs are big damn heroes than the game should have a non-magical way to brush off the falling damage. How much more awesome would it be to stand up from the fall and not need to spend a minute UMDing yourself back to full hit points?

LazarX wrote:
you should also have problems with high level characters surviving dragon's breath.

I never said this was my playstyle, but sure. We can go with that's my playstyle so you can attack me for it. This is despite the fact I use inherent bonuses and houserule in healing dice that everyone intrinsically had and can take an hour rest to use so that wands of cure light wounds are no longer a necessity and the party can function without needing quite so many magical crutches.


Shisumo wrote:
A drow character could theoretically make it through the first couple books with minimal alterations, although there's at least one NPC who is supposed to be helpful who would instead probably be doing everything in his power to kill the PCs (or at least that PC). Once you hit book three, though, it basically becomes impossible to sustain the storyline in any meaningful fashion. Every single NPC you meet in the third book would be trying to kill you, and there's no reason in the world they'd be willing to "overlook" your presence on the basis of past heroism or the like.

Seond Darkness:

A true possible trouble point -- I guess it depends upon how closely said NPCs are connected to the Winter Council/Lantern Bearers, whether they feel ideologially onnected deep down or are just taking orders from them because they are soldiers on the front line in a war.


The Fighter name is completely correct and probably doesn't limit creativity for people who haven't played older editions. I mean, everybody fights, but fighting is the only thing the Fighter is good at.


LazarX wrote:

On the other hand, there really isn't anything wrong to use the right class for your concept. If a player wants to play an armored sword swinging spellcaster, I'd suggest he'd take a look at the magus class.

There are people who can drive nails into wood using their foreheads. For most of us though, I'd suggest using a hammer.

What throws a lot of people off is that 'the right class for your concept' isn't always the class whose name matches your concept. The ninja class is rarely the right class for the ninja concept. The monk class is not always the right class for the monk concept. The wizard class isn't always the right class for a wizard concept. The paladin class is a horrendous choice for modeling the traditional paladins of legend and literature.

Getting hung up on a class' name can cause you to pick the wrong class for your concept.


More Second Darkness Thoughts
Now that I think about it more, I remember this movie (1970s or 1980s vintage? -- I think before Mississippi Burning) in which a black FBI officer ends up investigating civil rights violations (including murder) in the 1960s rural South.

More Second Darkness Spoiler thoughts:

So the idea would be that my Drow character ends up in a similar situation, only it gets worse, because she ends up at odds with the Kyonin KKK and its allies without even knowing that was what the mission would be -- the first NPC that wants to kill her, instead of doing so directly, lies to her to take her into the most hostile territory easily acessible from Riddleport. Then, in the next part of the mission, it gets worse as she finds that she has jumped from the equivalent of KKK frontline territory into the Golarion equivalent of 1990s/early 2000s Somalia, and then after getting out of that, finds herself on the doorstep of the equivalent of KKK Grand Lodge.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder PF Special Edition, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
UnArcaneElection wrote:
Shisumo wrote:
A drow character could theoretically make it through the first couple books with minimal alterations, although there's at least one NPC who is supposed to be helpful who would instead probably be doing everything in his power to kill the PCs (or at least that PC). Once you hit book three, though, it basically becomes impossible to sustain the storyline in any meaningful fashion. Every single NPC you meet in the third book would be trying to kill you, and there's no reason in the world they'd be willing to "overlook" your presence on the basis of past heroism or the like.
** spoiler omitted **

It's intentional Second Darkness IS really the AP where the Drow ARE intended to be bad guys. You've got every other AP to play a drow. SD is where the idea of playing one really needs not to happen.

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