Over the years I’ve looked at how character classes are designed. It seems that most of the common class abilities could be reasonably modeled as feats. Using just the Revised System Resource Document, the classes tend to be fairly cohesive and have clearly-defined class abilities — and stepping on the special abilities of other classes is frowned on because it invades the class niche.
However, looking at the power and scope of many of these abilities, many of them look like they’re worth about a feat or could be reasonably modeled as a feat tree. With the number of ‘substitution levels’ in publications over the last few years, the niche abilities of the classes are being worn away (it’s possible for a Rogue to trade off Sneak Attack for a different ability; the Ranger can trade off his combat style access for special abilities, and so on). I think it’s time for me to revisit this idea.
Note that though this is marked ‘Work in Progress’ because it’s not complete, it’s also deprecated because I don’t plan to work on it any more. I have another plan that should work better, but this information may still be of interest.
Point-Based Class Frameworks
I’ve seen a few attempts at point-based class frameworks. In my mind they usually fall down because it’s easy to minmax things. Trade off things you don’t plan to use for things you do (‘+0 BAB progression’ comes to mind), really crank benefits (exceeding those in RAW), or taking bogus prerequisites (I had a player try to foist off a specialist prestige class that required lots of ranks in Spellcraft, Concentration, Knowledge: Arcana, etc. because ‘they limit the characters who can take the class’). Even granting that these things need to be applied with common sense and DM discretion, I think they’re a little too flexible.
They can also lead to strange combinations, such as “fighter BAB, wizard HD”.
Axis-Based Class Framework
I examined the extant character classes and found some common patterns in their abilities. They generally fall into fairly tidy combinations of ability progressions and related effects. For instance, classes with good BAB (+1/level) have big hit dice, classes with good Fortitude saves *usually* have good armor proficiency, and so on. The model I’m about to present takes advantage of this.
The framework now incorporates the Revised Character Advancement rules.
The Basics of How it Works
There are three primary axes in a game that models RSRD (there are optional axes that may come into play in a game that includes other things). An axis defines certain things that are gained at each level (BAB, HD, skill points) and helps identify what feats are gained as ‘class feats’.
Base classes start with one good axis, one medium axis, and one poor axis.
The Martial axis governs the base fighting ability of the class. It directly affects base attack bonus (BAB) and Hit Dice. At first character level it provides a number of combat-related feats.
Associated feats come from the Armor Focus, Combat Expertise, Martial, Mobility, Mounted, Power Attack, Ranged, Two Weapon, Unarmed Combat, Weapon Focus, and Weapon Proficiency groups.
|Good||+1/1||d8||3 from Armor Focus, Combat Expertise, Martial, Mobility, Mounted, Power Attack, Ranged, Two Weapon, Unarmed Combat, Weapon Focus, Weapon Proficiency|
|Medium||+3/4||d6||2 from Armor Focus, Combat Expertise, Martial, Mobility, Mounted, Power Attack, Ranged, Two Weapon, Unarmed Combat, Weapon Focus, Weapon Proficiency|
|Poor||+1/2||d4||1 from Armor Focus, Combat Expertise, Martial, Mobility, Mounted, Power Attack, Ranged, Two Weapon, Unarmed Combat, Weapon Focus, Weapon Proficiency|
The Caster axis determines how well the class works with magic. It directly affects the spell slots available and the number of magical feats received by the character.
Associated feats come from the Familiar, Item Creation, Metamagic, Spell, and Tradition groups.
|Good||+2 ranks/level||2 from Item Creation, Metamagic, Spell, Tradition|
|Medium||+1 rank/level||1 from Item Creation, Metamagic, Spell, Tradition|
The Skill axis defines how many skills the character has and can influence how they may be applied.
I’ve dropped the concept of ‘class skills’ IMC. All skills are considered ‘class skills’ (one point per rank, maximum ranks = HD+3). However, I do have Skill Groups (idea taken from Iron Heroes), where a single skill point provides one rank in each of the skills in the group. Access to a skill group is gained by taking a Skill Group feat. This is reflected below.
Associated feats come from the Skill group.
Good Skill axis gets only four more skill points per level than poor Skill axis, but taking Skill Group feats greatly increases the number of skills that can be maxed.)
|Rank||Skill Points||Skill Feats|
|Good||8/level||3 from Skill|
|Medium||6/level||2 from Skill|
|Poor||4/level||1 from Skill|
A class has a base of one good save, one medium save, and one poor save.
Associated feats come from the Armor Proficiency, Rage, and Endurance groups.
|Good||+2||+1/2 levels||2 from Armor proficiency, 2 from Armor Proficiency, Rage, Endurance|
|Medium||+1||+1/2.5 levels||1 from Armor proficiency, 2 from Armor Proficiency, Rage, Endurance|
Associated feats come from the Evasion, Movement, Sneak Attack, and Speed groups.
|Good||+2||+1/2 levels||2 from Evasion, Movement, Sneak Attack, Speed|
|Medium||+1||+1/2.5 levels||1 from Evasion, Movement, Sneak Attack, Speed|
Associated feats come from the Saving Throw group.
(TODO: I *really* want to see this list widened.)
|Good||+2||+1/2 levels||2 from Saving Throw|
|Medium||+1||+1/2.5 levels||1 from Saving Throw|