Day 3 of the 30-Day D&D Challenge asks for favorite character class.
If you’ve read my initial posts, or just about anything else on this blog, you can probably guess this already. Yup, as a die-hard Robert E. Howard fan my choice was very predictably the Fighter. I probably would’ve chosen Barbarian or Ranger if they were available in the Mentzer rules. Those old pulp S&S stories were almost always about fighters. The old epics that were the ancestors of S&S were about fighters.
Since we played BECMI most of the time, we tended to use the Weapon Proficiency rules from the Master rulebook even for beginning characters. Looking back, I think this actually made our characters far more effective for their level than they would’ve been using the Basic and Expert rules alone.
However, it seemed the Master rules presaged the power creep and complexification by exception that would peak in the D&D 3.x series, which would increasingly turn me off. D&D 3e’s addition of Feats initially excited me – I tried building a swashbuckler character, and for the first time the character (on paper) looked right for a swashbuckler: increased chances to hit with a rapier and a Dexterity-based attack bonus, and a better AC even without heavy armor. As I delved deeper, though, I found that these features I had initially liked were proving to be obstacles to my preferred style of play. I didn’t like the way 3e was encouraging players to focus so much on making the most effective ‘build,’ thinking solely in game terms instead of the fiction.
Yeah, I admit it – I’m something of a story snob. I want my character to be part of a cool saga. I wanted fiction first. I wanted concepts first. In a way, my entire gaming history has been a rebellion from the tropes and assumptions introduced to me through D&D. In the end, I could say I found my true preferred character class in Pendragon’s knight.
Pendragon knights had backgrounds that mattered, had a very definite role in society and thus more built-in role playing hooks, alignments that related concretely to persons and game world institutions instead of abstract ideals, and I liked that your character’s fate was linked to mortality in the setting, not a one-way stair to immortality.