Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Classes as Skill Bundles

While putting together the secondary skills section for Emprise!™, it struck me that it would be possible to describe the character classes in terms of collections of discrete skills, rather than as monolithic constructs.

For example, a ranger could said to be a class that consists of the following skills/advantages:

  • Experience point bonus
  • Multiple attacks per round
  • Weapon specialization
  • Bonuses in combat vs. giants and humanoids
  • Increased surprise
  • Tracking
  • Limited spell casting ability
  • Expanded magic item use
  • Attract followers at high level
  • Collect taxes after building strongholds
And the following disadvantages:

  • High minimum attributes
  • Alignment restriction
  • Weapon restrictions
  • Travelling light
  • Limits on hirelings

What this allows is not only for consistency in how skills are applied (the verbal patter of mountebanks and jesters, for example, or the woodcraft of barbarians and druids), but it allows for the eventual learning of those skills by other classes; there would be nothing preventing a magic-user from knowing how to disguise himself like an assassin, for example.

Mechanically, this would work pretty well; it's mostly a question of organization in the rulebook. The essential question is, does this move too far away from the core concept of a class-based game? I'm going to be having a skill system (inspired by that created by Gary Gygax for his Yggsburg setting in C&C), but does pulling all or most of the character abilities out and turning them into skills take the principle too far into the realm of all-skills games?