"Your Class is Not Your Character": Is this a real problem?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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You guys have heard the phrase "your class is not your character," right? the idea is that you don’t have to be an baby-eating psychopath just because your sorcerer has the Abyssal bloodline. You don’t have to be a purehearted hero just because you know your way around a smite evil.

I'm curious if this is a real problem that people have encountered, or if it's just a good soundbite. Have you ever encountered a GM or another player who told you that you were "playing your class wrong?" I may just be lucky in my groups, but I haven't ever encountered that mess out in the wild.

Comic for illustrative purposes.


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Is it a thing? Yes, though not a big one, IME.
Is it a problem? Depends on the game.
I'd say a bigger problem is people ignoring class and background aspects because they see some mechanic they want and toss all flavor and fluff out the window in the pursuit mechanical coolness or fluffy snowflakeness.
I have seen people do things wrong because their assumptions are incompatible with the GM's. Like clerics who don't bother with any religious aspects of their class and just use the god as a nifty power battery. I don't know how many people ignored the fluff restrictions of things like Ashbound/Greenbound or how many Spellguards of Silverymoon there were without the slightest connection to the place.

To some extent your class is your character, but this is an issue of some classes having more asssumptions and specific ideas built into them in others. On the one hand you have things like Fighters, which can encompass pretty much anything that mundanely accelerates physical objects into other beings. Things like paladins have more restrictions and thus more assumptions about what they are and what they are not.
Paladins don't have to be nice goody-two-shows but there is a definite inclination that way, especially when compared to the population at large.


I'd say this is more of a problem for less complex d20 games, where class is more monolithic. Pathfinder has so many different ways to tweak a character away from the basic stereotype of each class that "playing your class wrong" doesn't have much meaning apart from players who are grossly violating their character's alignment or religious restrictions.

I actually rather enjoy playing against type with some of my characters. My PFS1 rogue is one of the most honest and forthright of my OP PCs--when he's not engaged in some undercover/spy mission for the Society. My PFS2 goblin is a redeemer champion of Sarenrae, trying to set a better example for his people. My first-ever D&D 5E PC was a tiefling warlock with the Great Old One patron--but she was more of a Call of Cthulhu-style investigator, using stolen forbidden magic to combat worse horrors.

OTOH, my dwarf paladin IS just as scrupulously honorable as you'd expect him to be. He's just not a jerk about it, like a lot of other crusaders are. ;)


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Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:

I'd say a bigger problem is people ignoring class and background aspects because they see some mechanic they want and toss all flavor and fluff out the window in the pursuit mechanical coolness or fluffy snowflakeness.

This. Some class abilities/descriptions are very flavorful and would have an impact on a character's personality and background.

For instance, I once had an elven ranger with favored-enemy elf. A lot of people might gloss over that, but it was a defining aspect of that character's roleplay for me. This was an elf who hated other elves, and that was worked heavily into his backstory and the way he interacted with other elves.

In saying "Your class is not your character" you could say, take favored enemy elf as an elf and instead of explaining it that he suffered some deep betrayal that made him embittered toward his own race and people... you could say your elf grew up in an area where there was in-fighting between elven tribes leading to a very different take on that particular ability in terms of roleplay.

In our current campaign, one of our characters has a few levels in ranger and practically worships dragons (Literally I guess considering his diety is Apsu.) We gave him favored enemies related to dragons to reflect the fact he knows a lot about and has spent time around those creatures. Spending a lot of time in the presence of good-aligned dragons means you know more about that evil dragon you need to help fight.

But if you literally never mentioned why you had this ability that causes you to be better at killing elves or dragons or whatever, it never affects your roleplay with elves/dragons etc. then I might say you're roleplaying your character wrong. Not because you chose to take an individualized spin on that element of your character, but because you chose to ignore it entirely.

TL:DR - The only way to roleplay your class wrong is to ignore it.


The Innkeeper wrote:
Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:

I'd say a bigger problem is people ignoring class and background aspects because they see some mechanic they want and toss all flavor and fluff out the window in the pursuit mechanical coolness or fluffy snowflakeness.

This. Some class abilities/descriptions are very flavorful and would have an impact on a character's personality and background.

For instance, I once had an elven ranger with favored-enemy elf. A lot of people might gloss over that, but it was a defining aspect of that character's roleplay for me. This was an elf who hated other elves, and that was worked heavily into his backstory and the way he interacted with other elves.

In saying "Your class is not your character" you could say, take favored enemy elf as an elf and instead of explaining it that he suffered some deep betrayal that made him embittered toward his own race and people... you could say your elf grew up in an area where there was in-fighting between elven tribes leading to a very different take on that particular ability in terms of roleplay.

In our current campaign, one of our characters has a few levels in ranger and practically worships dragons (Literally I guess considering his diety is Apsu.) We gave him favored enemies related to dragons to reflect the fact he knows a lot about and has spent time around those creatures. Spending a lot of time in the presence of good-aligned dragons means you know more about that evil dragon you need to help fight.

But if you literally never mentioned why you had this ability that causes you to be better at killing elves or dragons or whatever, it never affects your roleplay with elves/dragons etc. then I might say you're roleplaying your character wrong. Not because you chose to take an individualized spin on that element of your character, but because you chose to ignore it entirely.

TL:DR - The only way to roleplay your class wrong is to ignore it.

I mean...favored enemy elf also covers drow so its not that unusual a favored enemy. Much like a ranger bounty hunter with favored enemy humans probably doesn't despise humans, but is really great at hunting them down and fighting them


Happens with paladins all the time.

Happened all the time back in the AD&D days, especially with respect to druids and paladins (again).


There's also the option of treating bonuses as their inverse. Chosen enemy human doesn't mean you're good at fighting humans, but that you're bad at fighting anything else. Maybe your training is primarily sports based so you're used to facing people in the same competitive category as yourself, maybe you aren't well traveled and you panic when facing anything new and forget your training.

The only issue I have with "your class is not your character" is people picking a class that doesn't have the skill set they want for their character because it has the right name. Paladin being the biggest offender, rogue and fighter are up there as well.


I've seen a lot of issues regarding these sort of assumptions related to class.
Player A's character is neutral good, possess excellent Diplomacy, Craft (blacksmithing) and Sense Motive and wields a quarterstaff.
Player B tells Player A "no offense, but my character won't really trust yours. Since. You know. You're a rogue."

I long ago abandoned any hope that the average player could see beyond "race+class=character", so I started asking for *concepts* over *builds*.


It can be a bit of a problem at times... in one campaign I’m a part of I made a character whose class is Eldritch Scoundrel Rogue... however, this choice was made not to have her be a rogue, but rather due to elements of her backstory. She is a Catfolk who grew up on the streets and spent much of her life trying to be taken in for an apprenticeship by a wizard. Those that took her in quickly cast her out again and brandished her a failure. Her heart and mind however remained set on being a skilled Spellcaster one day, though living on the streets she had to learn various tricks to survive.

Since day one of the campaign I have made every effort to make it clear that she is a Spellcaster first and foremost. Her appearance, her outwards actions, everything about her says “I am a Spellcaster”. She makes no efforts to hide her spell book or to disguise her spellcasting, she is proud of her skills as a Spellcaster. However, she doesn’t much care for other spellcasters due to his she was treated growing up. As such, she has made it a point to secretly pilfer what she can from easily identifiable spellcasters, even at one point pickpocketed an archmage. However, despite all of this, the rest of the party keeps referring to her as “the rogue”... that wouldn’t be much of a problem if it were just out of character references, but sadly it isn’t...

On numerous occasions other members of the party have made in-character comments and allusions to the fact that she is a rogue, despite the fact that not once over the entire course of the campaign thus far has she taken any actions in view of other characters that would label her as anything other than an illusionist wizard. It’s not even just the other players who do this even... the DM on multiple occasions has had NPCs identify her as a rogue and single her out for that reason alone... Granted it is his first time DMing, so I can’t be that mad at him about it... but most of the other players are veteran players, many of which have been playing much much longer than myself...


There are many approaches to the same character's abilities, with a bit of creative thinking, with the exception of some obviously learned skills such as combat feats.

Take the oracle or the sorcerer. Both of these, with a slight twist, could be seen as super heroes right out of Marvel comics. You have innate, magical abilities, perhaps from some terrible accident.

Playing any non-human race too, with the GM's buy in, could simply be genetic anomaly or a magic curse.

Paladins have a strict code of ethics and by virtue of the RAW alignment restriction have to be played in adherence to that code, be it Good, Evil or Neutral (I think you can have LE and LN paladins, right?) But beyond that adherence to dogma or code, you're free to be whatever. If your deity is one whose domains and concerns include nature, community, and hunting for example, you may have to vow not to kill animals except for survival, but your code might not say anything about getting drunk or starting bar fights so long as you pay for whatever damage you do.

Your character, your game is what YOU make it, so long as everyone at the table pretty much abides by the mechanics and rules of PF.


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I really like Matthew Collville's approach to this dilemma.

"Your class is an imperfect representation of your character"

With that in mind, I think a character concept should come first, and then the most fitting class can be selected to it. Pathfinder is especially fortunate in this regard since there are so many archetypes that overlap into other classes territory that you can *really* find a class that fits a particular concept.

With a few exceptions, there isn't a way to play a class wrong, because there isn't a way to play a class right. Those exceptions are classes that are meant to follow a code of conduct (Paladins, Druids to an extend, Cavaliers, Clerics, etc.)


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Chell Raighn wrote:
...the rest of the party keeps referring to her as “the rogue”... that wouldn’t be much of a problem if it were just out of character references, but sadly it isn’t...other members of the party have made in-character comments and allusions to the fact that she is a rogue...the DM on multiple occasions has had NPCs identify her as a rogue and single her out for that reason alone...

That's the kind of stuff that drives me crazy. As if "rogue" is a career choice and everyone you meet has had a chance to look over your resume.

The names of the classes are generalized labels that players can use to more easily talk about the game. I mean, rogue? Barbarian? Who actually identifies as those things? Those words have largely negative connotations.
I don't think I've ever used the word "cleric" in-game. Priest, templar, warrior-pilgrim. And fighter? FIGHTER?! Any one calls themself a "fighter" better have their brain checked.

I had serval long conversations with Player B from my previous scenario. "You can't tell someone's class by looking at them," "not all rogues are thieving, back-stabbing scoundrels," "your character doesn't know about character classes."
They relented, eventually. But it became clear that they sort of...wanted a game where everything in the world fit into convenient, neat little containers of game convention. Which is...fine, I guess. But definitely not the nuanced, realistic feel I'm going for.


Ryan Freire wrote:
I mean...favored enemy elf also covers drow so its not that unusual a favored enemy. Much like a ranger bounty hunter with favored enemy humans probably doesn't despise humans, but is really great at hunting them down and fighting them

Both valid reasons to take those favored enemies. And either should be a part of your backstory.

If an elf takes favored enemy elf because they hunted drow you would likely talk about their past where they've fought drow.

If a ranger takes favored enemy human I'd reason there should be some bounty hunter/bodyguard/soldier element to their backstory.

They might not be as massive elements of roleplay as the elf who hates elves, but still worth mentioning.

So I'd stand by my point the only way to play your character wrong, is to just ignore it. Some character elements come with roleplay attached. Be that a warlock's patron, a ranger's favored enemy, a clerics deity, etc.

Your class is not your character in that you the player get to define how these elements affect your background, personality, behavior etc. And there are many ways you can choose to define these aspects of your character.

But I think it's bad roleplay to have major character elements you make no attempt to explain and account for.


I think that no class or archetype should dictate the type of character you are making, no matter how specific an archetype might be. Yes this does mean ignoring some built in fluff, but to me what truly matters is that the character can stay consistent while keeping the relevant abilities.

After all, not everyone plays in the pre-established setting, so why should a character from X setting care about the geography or lore of Y? Ex: Why should an archetype be locked behind "being from Varisia" when there is no Varisia in the setting? Or "You can't take a spell/weapon because it's a racial weapon" but that race doesn't have those rules in the setting being used.

So yeah, I think fluff should be used as a guide and altered to fit the story, setting, and idea behind the character.


Temperans wrote:

I think that no class or archetype should dictate the type of character you are making, no matter how specific an archetype might be. Yes this does mean ignoring some built in fluff, but to me what truly matters is that the character can stay consistent while keeping the relevant abilities.

After all, not everyone plays in the pre-established setting, so why should a character from X setting care about the geography or lore of Y? Ex: Why should an archetype be locked behind "being from Varisia" when there is no Varisia in the setting? Or "You can't take a spell/weapon because it's a racial weapon" but that race doesn't have those rules in the setting being used.

So yeah, I think fluff should be used as a guide and altered to fit the story, setting, and idea behind the character.

I think this is fine so long as the fluff that you do end up using fits the mechanical benefits you're getting. I have a character that has the trait adopted so they could take the trait tusked. The fluff is that he's half human half-serpentine and that he was adopted by humans to protect him from his serpentine brethren. He looks perfectly human except for his snake fangs.

the fluff matches the mechanics "you were adopted" and "you have a bite attack", though the exact details are different from what's presented in the traits.


Quixote wrote:
Chell Raighn wrote:
...the rest of the party keeps referring to her as “the rogue”... that wouldn’t be much of a problem if it were just out of character references, but sadly it isn’t...other members of the party have made in-character comments and allusions to the fact that she is a rogue...the DM on multiple occasions has had NPCs identify her as a rogue and single her out for that reason alone...

That's the kind of stuff that drives me crazy. As if "rogue" is a career choice and everyone you meet has had a chance to look over your resume.

The names of the classes are generalized labels that players can use to more easily talk about the game. I mean, rogue? Barbarian? Who actually identifies as those things? Those words have largely negative connotations.

Do you have to tell the rest of the players in your group what class you are playing, or what your build is? I understand that the ref has to know, but if you are playing as a wizard and can convincingly fulfil the role of wizard, the fact your character sheet says ‘rogue’ is not their business.


Neriathale wrote:
Quixote wrote:
Chell Raighn wrote:
...the rest of the party keeps referring to her as “the rogue”... that wouldn’t be much of a problem if it were just out of character references, but sadly it isn’t...other members of the party have made in-character comments and allusions to the fact that she is a rogue...the DM on multiple occasions has had NPCs identify her as a rogue and single her out for that reason alone...

That's the kind of stuff that drives me crazy. As if "rogue" is a career choice and everyone you meet has had a chance to look over your resume.

The names of the classes are generalized labels that players can use to more easily talk about the game. I mean, rogue? Barbarian? Who actually identifies as those things? Those words have largely negative connotations.

Do you have to tell the rest of the players in your group what class you are playing, or what your build is? I understand that the ref has to know, but if you are playing as a wizard and can convincingly fulfil the role of wizard, the fact your character sheet says ‘rogue’ is not their business.

You don't have to, but I know that most of the people I play with build the whole party as something of a group exercise, instead of just showing up with a character.


Garretmander wrote:
Neriathale wrote:
Quixote wrote:
Chell Raighn wrote:
...the rest of the party keeps referring to her as “the rogue”... that wouldn’t be much of a problem if it were just out of character references, but sadly it isn’t...other members of the party have made in-character comments and allusions to the fact that she is a rogue...the DM on multiple occasions has had NPCs identify her as a rogue and single her out for that reason alone...

That's the kind of stuff that drives me crazy. As if "rogue" is a career choice and everyone you meet has had a chance to look over your resume.

The names of the classes are generalized labels that players can use to more easily talk about the game. I mean, rogue? Barbarian? Who actually identifies as those things? Those words have largely negative connotations.

Do you have to tell the rest of the players in your group what class you are playing, or what your build is? I understand that the ref has to know, but if you are playing as a wizard and can convincingly fulfil the role of wizard, the fact your character sheet says ‘rogue’ is not their business.
You don't have to, but I know that most of the people I play with build the whole party as something of a group exercise, instead of just showing up with a character.

My group falls somewhere in between... we help with build ideas, but for the most part everyone makes their character on their own... however what everyone is playing usually gets known to everyone else before session one as a result...


Quixote wrote:
Chell Raighn wrote:
...the rest of the party keeps referring to her as “the rogue”... that wouldn’t be much of a problem if it were just out of character references, but sadly it isn’t...other members of the party have made in-character comments and allusions to the fact that she is a rogue...the DM on multiple occasions has had NPCs identify her as a rogue and single her out for that reason alone...

That's the kind of stuff that drives me crazy. As if "rogue" is a career choice and everyone you meet has had a chance to look over your resume.

The names of the classes are generalized labels that players can use to more easily talk about the game. I mean, rogue? Barbarian? Who actually identifies as those things? Those words have largely negative connotations.
I don't think I've ever used the word "cleric" in-game. Priest, templar, warrior-pilgrim. And fighter? FIGHTER?! Any one calls themself a "fighter" better have their brain checked.

I had serval long conversations with Player B from my previous scenario. "You can't tell someone's class by looking at them," "not all rogues are thieving, back-stabbing scoundrels," "your character doesn't know about character classes."
They relented, eventually. But it became clear that they sort of...wanted a game where everything in the world fit into convenient, neat little containers of game convention. Which is...fine, I guess. But definitely not the nuanced, realistic feel I'm going for.

I disagree with your point on 'fighter', if you'll allow some cheekiness, I find myself tempted to draw up a rogue scholar Bard poet whose body of work is meant to encourage freedom, in a world where slavery might be quite literal...who indeed deems herself a Fighter!


The Innkeeper wrote:
But if you literally never mentioned why you had this ability that causes you to be better at killing elves or dragons or whatever, it never affects your roleplay with elves/dragons etc.

I think you're describing something completely different, though, namely lack of having the character's abilities affect roleplaying. I don't see a relation between "you should explain in-game why your hated enemy choice was X" and "you are a Ranger so you must be a hardened wilderness guy good at tracking".

ErichAD wrote:
The only issue I have with "your class is not your character" is people picking a class that doesn't have the skill set they want for their character because it has the right name. Paladin being the biggest offender, rogue and fighter are up there as well.

Paladin being the biggest offender? That's interesting. My personal experience is that Rogue gets by far the most of this. Player wants someone that can sneak? Character must be a Rogue. Player wants something backstab-y? Character must be a Rogue. Player wants someone good at skills? Character must be a Rogue. Player wants someone who can hande traps? Character must be a Rogue. Player listens to Muse? Character must be a Rogue!

Chell Raighn wrote:
but most of the other players are veteran players, many of which have been playing much much longer than myself...

Quite frankly, in my experience, that's a big part of the problem. I have found that many who started playing in past decades have trouble accepting the fact that Pathfinder is a fundamentally different game, and what used to be true 'back in the days' might not be now. It's especially easy to see in threads about "balanced party", "party roles", "you need a healer", "bards are bad", and topics like that - almost all posters strongly believing in such (outdated) concepts turn out to be a vetaran players.

­~

Quixote wrote:
Any one calls themself a "fighter" better have their brain checked.

A fighter is someone who fights. Everyone not willing to call themself fighter is thus a dirty coward who hides when his allies are risking their lives, and should not be trusted, nor given any part of the loot!


Paladin is only the biggest offender because people end up with a character that can't do what they want them to do. Rogue is at least going to be a sneaky stabby skill guy, but a paladin fulfills a very narrow version of the good guy holy hero character. They're kind of poor at diplomatic resolution of mundane conflicts, and poor at inspiring others to their side unless magical fear is involved.

I'd take an inquisitor or a skald for my paladin character's class every time. The paladin's murder+triage chassis is just too narrow for proper heroics.


Derklord wrote:
My personal experience is that Rogue gets by far the most of this. Player wants someone that can sneak? Character must be a Rogue. Player wants something backstab-y? Character must be a Rogue. Player wants someone good at skills? Character must be a Rogue. Player wants someone who can hande traps? Character must be a Rogue. Player listens to Muse? Character must be a Rogue!

Playing a vivisectionist in this style just to mess with people is on my pathfinder bucket list.

Scarab Sages

Chell Raighn wrote:

It can be a bit of a problem at times... in one campaign I’m a part of I made a character whose class is Eldritch Scoundrel Rogue... however, this choice was made not to have her be a rogue, but rather due to elements of her backstory. She is a Catfolk who grew up on the streets and spent much of her life trying to be taken in for an apprenticeship by a wizard. Those that took her in quickly cast her out again and brandished her a failure. Her heart and mind however remained set on being a skilled Spellcaster one day, though living on the streets she had to learn various tricks to survive.

Since day one of the campaign I have made every effort to make it clear that she is a Spellcaster first and foremost. Her appearance, her outwards actions, everything about her says “I am a Spellcaster”. She makes no efforts to hide her spell book or to disguise her spellcasting, she is proud of her skills as a Spellcaster. However, she doesn’t much care for other spellcasters due to his she was treated growing up. As such, she has made it a point to secretly pilfer what she can from easily identifiable spellcasters, even at one point pickpocketed an archmage. However, despite all of this, the rest of the party keeps referring to her as “the rogue”... that wouldn’t be much of a problem if it were just out of character references, but sadly it isn’t...

On numerous occasions other members of the party have made in-character comments and allusions to the fact that she is a rogue, despite the fact that not once over the entire course of the campaign thus far has she taken any actions in view of other characters that would label her as anything other than an illusionist wizard. It’s not even just the other players who do this even... the DM on multiple occasions has had NPCs identify her as a rogue and single her out for that reason alone... Granted it is his first time DMing, so I can’t be that mad at him about it... but most of the other players are veteran players, many of which have been playing much much longer than...

Own it, the other players aren't refering to you as a rogue because of your class. They're constantly calling you a rogue because of a curse the archmage put on your character for stealing from them.

Speaking personally my character tends to determine my class as once I get a concept I wont take classes I can't make fit that concept even if they're mechanically inferior.


ErichAD wrote:
Rogue is at least going to be a sneaky stabby skill guy.

That's where you are slightly wrong. You CAN play an effective rogue in heavy armour that make use of non lethal damage and a 2-handed bludgeoning weapon.

There are very few classes that you can't play against it's stereotypes.
For the paladin, there is the vindicative bastard that allows a different kind of paladin.
Or even some classes that can make "pseudo-paladin" too, and, if you say that you are a chaotic good paladin (even if your classe is technically "vigilante" with the divine archetype), no one can tell "no", simply because Milany paladin are VERY unorthodox.

Silver Crusade

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I play my Dawnflower Dervish Bard pretty much like a paladin, and try to follow the Paladin Code of Sarenrae (she's NG, not LG). She would describe herself as an agent of the Dawnflower, rather than a bard.


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I admit I haven't played in many different campaigns, but I don't think my characters would ever introduce themselves by their classes. That would be a long introduction for some of them. "Hello, I'm Leonard the Gun Chemist / Phantom Thief / Trench Fighter / Musketeer Cavalier. What's your name?"

While I have built characters with a class in mind as a starting point, that's never who the character is. It's just what they can do.


Senko wrote:
Own it, the other players aren't refering to you as a rogue because of your class. They're constantly calling you a rogue because of a curse the archmage put on your character for stealing from them.

I would... but the Archmage still hasn’t figured out that it was me... and we’ve been working under him for half the campaign now... technically the party still has a job request from him to locate the pickpocket...


ErichAD wrote:
Rogue is at least going to be a sneaky stabby skill guy

Are they? What happens when the player discovers that they can't really use stealth in combat, and that any arcane caster is better at sneaking because Invisibility grants a way bigger bonus than their Rogue's skill ranks and dex combined? What happens when instead of making few attacks to carefully selected body parts, the character has to rely on teamwork and making a bunch of inaccurate attacks? What happens when, due to MADness and lack of bonuses on the Rogue's part, the other characters are better than half the skills, while the other half gets surpassed by spells?

The "end up with a character that can't do what they want them to do" is exactly what I see with the Rogue. It takes a lot of system mastery to make a Rogue into a rogue, if you know what I mean.
I remember a story from a thread about a GM who wanted to give the Rogue some limelight, and thus created a "sneak into the castle and get item x" quest. The Rogue quickly failed a check, and it ended up being the Magus using multiple castings of Vanish who succeeded.

I'm not entirely sure what you mean regarding the Paladin, e.g. why a Paladin would be poor at diplomacy. I guess I just never made that experience. I'm curious, care for some stories/anekdotes?

Darigaaz the Igniter wrote:
Playing a vivisectionist in this style just to mess with people is on my pathfinder bucket list.

I kinda once suggested doing something like that with a Paladin! A character introduced himself as "I'm Keris, swiftest blade in the southern slums, there's no lock I can't pick and no problem I can't fix.", and the group's jerk Paladin player went all "with my skillset you must be a scoundrel and a thief, a menace to society". My suggestion was "[that description] could even be a Paladin who dedicated his life to ending slavery (including picking locks to open slave collars) and helping the the poor, while being adept with a sword; you should have made such a Paladin who introduced himself the exact same way and when the nasty guy started his routine, respond with a Smite Evil to his face while explaining the "breaker of chains" thing."


Heather 540 wrote:

I admit I haven't played in many different campaigns, but I don't think my characters would ever introduce themselves by their classes. That would be a long introduction for some of them. "Hello, I'm Leonard the Gun Chemist / Phantom Thief / Trench Fighter / Musketeer Cavalier. What's your name?"

While I have built characters with a class in mind as a starting point, that's never who the character is. It's just what they can do.

This, a million times this.


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Heather 540 wrote:
...I don't think my characters would ever introduce themselves by their classes.

I have a hard time imagining any character that would ever do that. It's not like people within the setting understand classes. Sure, they might recognize that the guy over there is some sort of bookish spellcaster, but are they a wizard? A mage? A magus? A witch? A warlock? Your average Joe won't know the difference, and even two wizards might call their professions by different names, depending on where they studied and what their particular skill sets are.

It's even less obvious when you've got some kind of Barbarian/Fighter/Monk/Rogue. No one is going to call that dude by their classes; they're some kind of ascetic guerilla warrior. Maybe just a highwayman, or a "berserker from the north" or just a thief, depending on which of their abilities is witnessed or seems most prominent.

If a character at any point says "hi I'm a fighter," they might as well mention their level, Strength score, hit points, Will save and feat selection. Character classes are features of the SYSTEM, not the STORY.


Some classes come with a lot less baggage than others and sometimes a classes name could be a profession. I could see a monk who actually introduces themselves as a monk.
Bards are often bards

For example.


Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:

I could see a monk who actually introduces themselves as a monk.

Bards are often bards

For example.

Sure, those make sense. Those are actual lines of work/lifestyles. Though in your typical medieval European fantasy, most monks you'd encounter would not be accomplished martial artists. And I believe, by definition, a bard is someone who recites poetry. There are also musicians, buskers, actors, troupers, minstrels, troubadours, pipers, balliards, jesters, harlequins, jack-of-all-trades, rakes...

I'm fine with it if it makes sense that your character--the living, breathing person that they are--would, within their world view, refer to people as X or Y.
...or if you're going for a very tongue-in-cheek, self-aware type game ("Comrades, this encounter is beyond our average level. I say we retreat and grind for a bit"). But that's it. In most of my games, I'm going for something that feels real.


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ErichAD wrote:

[paladins are] kind of poor at diplomatic resolution of mundane conflicts, and poor at inspiring others to their side unless magical fear is involved.

How does high Charisma and Diplomacy as a class skill mean you're bad at diplomatic resolutions?


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ErichAD wrote:

Paladin is only the biggest offender because people end up with a character that can't do what they want them to do. Rogue is at least going to be a sneaky stabby skill guy, but a paladin fulfills a very narrow version of the good guy holy hero character. They're kind of poor at diplomatic resolution of mundane conflicts, and poor at inspiring others to their side unless magical fear is involved.

I'd take an inquisitor or a skald for my paladin character's class every time. The paladin's murder+triage chassis is just too narrow for proper heroics.

The Paladin in my recent game, near the end, was often making Diplomacy rolls in the 40s. It really was what he did.


Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:
ErichAD wrote:

[paladins are] kind of poor at diplomatic resolution of mundane conflicts, and poor at inspiring others to their side unless magical fear is involved.

How does high Charisma and Diplomacy as a class skill mean you're bad at diplomatic resolutions?

I think it's because people read the following

Paladin wrote:
Associates: While she may adventure with good or neutral allies, a paladin avoids working with evil characters or with anyone who consistently offends her moral code. Under exceptional circumstances, a paladin can ally with evil associates, but only to defeat what she believes to be a greater evil. A paladin should seek an atonement spell periodically during such an unusual alliance, and should end the alliance immediately should she feel it is doing more harm than good. A paladin may accept only henchmen, followers, or cohorts who are lawful good.

and assume that it means they must adopt a "Repent or Die" attitude against all foes and/or friends lest they be required to seek out an atonement spell.


One thing about classes that leads to a lot of this is spell lists. If I am a wizard I have a certain spell list. I can pick up and use other wizard's stuff. I can't do the same with a some things that a witch could. So while I might be called a lot of things, sorceror, wizard, witch necromancer etc. there is a whole group of people that have the same set of abilities. I'm going to understand and so will many other people. Therefore it's sensible to identify that group of people by a term that makes sense. It's also going to be a distinction people in a world full of wizards and witches, clerics and shamans, would reasonably understand.


Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:
ErichAD wrote:

[paladins are] kind of poor at diplomatic resolution of mundane conflicts, and poor at inspiring others to their side unless magical fear is involved.

How does high Charisma and Diplomacy as a class skill mean you're bad at diplomatic resolutions?

2 skill points per level and a high stat demand. Diplomacy is great, you probably need sense motive as well since you're out front in social situations. And you're tapped for skills without more stat demand boosting int. Maybe you wanted to ride a horse, or make heal checks, perhaps you wanted to know something about the people and creatures you're facing so you weren't going into negotiations blind. When negotiations fail, what's their method of peaceful resolution, beat people to submission?

I'd rather go with a class that wasn't scraping by to provide the bare minimum of peacekeeping ability and had built in peaceful resolution abilities via disabling spells.


baggageboy wrote:
One thing about classes that leads to a lot of this is spell lists. If I am a wizard I have a certain spell list. I can pick up and use other wizard's stuff. I can't do the same with a some things that a witch could. So while I might be called a lot of things, sorceror, wizard, witch necromancer etc. there is a whole group of people that have the same set of abilities. I'm going to understand and so will many other people. Therefore it's sensible to identify that group of people by a term that makes sense. It's also going to be a distinction people in a world full of wizards and witches, clerics and shamans, would reasonably understand.

Reasonably understated possibly... but such distinctions may not always be common knowledge or wide spread. A sorcerer may find themselves explaining to others the differences between what they can do and what a wizard can do frequently as common knowledge may simply say “magic can do everything”, while those who use magic know the more minute details pertaining to their uses for magic compared to others. It might even be that the common belief among scholars and those who wield magic is that magic behaves differently from one person to the next and that there is no clear cut way to define different practicians of Magic.


True, but I'll give an real world example of how I figure it would go. Engineers. There are a lot of different kinds of engineers, mechanical engineers electrical engineers, software engineers, civil engineers etc. Without being a software engineer i may not really understand what they do and how it different from a computer systems engineer. But I even from outside that profession understand that there are different kinds of engineers, they do different things.

Now if we take it back to classes with spell lists, wizards, clerics, bards, witches, the may all be "magic users" in the same way that there are "engineers" but even as someone who doesn't understand the intricacies of magic or even what that really is I likely understand that differences exist. A spell list is a specific set of skills that every one of a certain group of "magic user" has access to and so likely people form the groups that usually access those skills have a name that they can identify membership in that group by. That name may as well be what we think of as a class name.

There are always acceptions to these type of "stereotypes" but the fact that the group is very likely to share a lot of basic abilities gives a name like "wizard" a lot of use and would be something that would likely be used.

Some of these same types of generalizations would apply to more martial characters, but they lines between each are far more muddied so it would be less useful.


Using your example of an engineer, there are a surprisingly high number of people who have no idea that there are different types of engineers and most of those cant even distinguish an engineer from a mechanic... to a lot of people engineers and mechanics are the same thing even though they are far from it... to most the only difference is engineers work with electronics, mechanics work with machines... the various different types of engineers don’t even actually register as a thing to a lot of people, it’s often used as a comedy trope but it’s based in reality, “but you work with computers right? So you can fix this.”

Taken into pathfinder with magic, the Engineer would be your Arcane Spellcaster and the Mechanic your Divine Spellcaster... to anyone with even the smallest insight on how magic works, these two are night and day, but to the masses they may as well be indistinguishable...

Anyways I think we’ve gotten a bit off topic at this point...


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Your class simply reflects some choices your character made at one time or another. Some choices are more all-consuming than others.

Scarab Sages

Chell Raighn wrote:

Using your example of an engineer, there are a surprisingly high number of people who have no idea that there are different types of engineers and most of those cant even distinguish an engineer from a mechanic... to a lot of people engineers and mechanics are the same thing even though they are far from it... to most the only difference is engineers work with electronics, mechanics work with machines... the various different types of engineers don’t even actually register as a thing to a lot of people, it’s often used as a comedy trope but it’s based in reality, “but you work with computers right? So you can fix this.”

Taken into pathfinder with magic, the Engineer would be your Arcane Spellcaster and the Mechanic your Divine Spellcaster... to anyone with even the smallest insight on how magic works, these two are night and day, but to the masses they may as well be indistinguishable...

Anyways I think we’ve gotten a bit off topic at this point...

Hpw many people go to a wuzard for healing?


ErichAD wrote:

When negotiations fail, what's their method of peaceful resolution, beat people to submission?

Isn't that what everybody does?

And I'm only partially kidding.

On the subject of skill points, I agree that classes getting only 2 is a bad thing, but that is hardly unique to the paladin. Also, many people seem to forget that you don't need to have max ranks in skills in order for those skills to still be useful. A couple of points is often enough.

You seem to be complaining that the paladin is what it is and not what you think it should be. It's kind of like complaining that the Fighter is not more of a skill monkey or the Rogue a better frontliner - that's not what they are for.

Paladins are holy warriors, guardians of the faith and killers of evil. They bring immediate relief to the sick and injured and by deed give hope to those set upon by evil.

The class is not meant to make police nor diplomats, paladins are not shepherds of the people, nor are they generals or leaders. Of course individuals can go any of those routes, but you can say the same for pretty much any class.

So you have a class which is dedicated to finding and killing evil, surviving the encounter and cleaning up the immediate ill effects of said evil, then moving on.
To me that sounds like a good way to hero.


Paladin is fine at what it does, but it's narrow. My point is that people who go to a class based on the name rather than the abilities, seem frequently left with poorly realized versions of their character. Paladin being a frequent offender since it's very narrow mechanically, but very broad thematically.


This is the first I've heard that this is a problem.
I guess it's one of those things that I only learn on certain parts of the internet, like how paladins are always evil, or how high level play is impossible to pull off, or how teleportation and magical flight ruin adventures, etc.

I'm still interested in hearing what you think they should do if negotiations fail.


Senko wrote:
Hpw many people go to a wuzard for healing?

How many people know that the weird old hermit on the edge of town is a wizard or an alchemist or an expert with ranks in craft (alchemy), heal and knowledge (nature)?

Some in-game use of class names is acceptable, but generally speaking, the less the better. 'Lest you fall into the "that charitable, selfless champion of the downtrodden is untrustworthy beecher they're a ROGUE" probablem.

I agree with ErichAD. The paladin is a solid class, mechanically. But thematically, they just can't do all the stuff you'd imagine some of the White Knight guys doing. For that you'd need a little cleric and a little bard thrown in.


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Hm. For me, the quintessential Paladin is Paksenarrion Dothansdottir.


An Oathbound Paladin can get Inspire Courage if he takes Oath of the People's Council.


Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:

Some classes come with a lot less baggage than others and sometimes a classes name could be a profession. I could see a monk who actually introduces themselves as a monk.

Bards are often bards

For example.

An archer named Bard, for example.

https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/lotr/images/9/94/Luke_Evans_as_Bard.jpg /revision/latest?cb=20181121032346

Or a rogue named Archer.

https://www.indiewire.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/archer-season-6-traile r.01.2820PM.png


DRD1812 wrote:
Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:

Some classes come with a lot less baggage than others and sometimes a classes name could be a profession. I could see a monk who actually introduces themselves as a monk.

Bards are often bards

For example.

An archer named Bard, for example.

https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/lotr/images/9/94/Luke_Evans_as_Bard.jpg /revision/latest?cb=20181121032346

Or a rogue named Archer.

https://www.indiewire.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/archer-season-6-traile r.01.2820PM.png

LOL, the paladin in my last game carried the family name Archer.

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