Just The Rules: One Path or Another

In my first take on the cavalier expert path, I tried to distill the path down to the primary elements that made it a ‘cavalier’ rather than some other kind of warrior. I ended up with

  • Mount and charge
  • Order and challenge
  • Banner

Three elements, with different abilities gained in the six levels an expert path has. My second take on the cavalier expert path mostly increased the effect (and hopefully the awesome) of the path, without changing the elements that went into it. With the amount of ability that was going in, though, it was getting heavy. I thought of breaking it up, then the pieces all fit together.

About that time, I realized I needed to go back and reconsider what defines ‘cavalier’. I broke out a dictionary (online), and among the definitions I found that relate to the class in the game, I see

  • A gentleman trained in arms and horsemanship;
  • A mounted soldier (knight).

If I reduced the path elements to ‘mount and charge’ and ‘order and challenge’, I focus the cavalier on personal combat ability. This removes the aspect of being a leader, and… that’s probably okay, because I can make a commander or marshal master path that provides the banner and associated benefits to allies.

I can work with this for now, sure.

So, what defines each class?

  • Barbarian: Rage and rage powers, obviously, and great resistance to harm (physical damage or mental effects). Trap sense is a too minor an ability to consider defining. Rage at level 3, and a rage power at each level, is a good start. I’d be willing to have various defensive abilities kick at different levels to model the hardiness, but I don’t want to bother with increasing bonuses by 1 point per path level. I could see having different ‘barbarian paths’, something like in Iron Heroes, or totems.
  • Bard: Entertainer who can use performances to enact her will on the world. Bardic performance, for sure, but with the actual effects determined by ‘college’ (analogous to cavalier orders). I’d probably look for some performance-related class features to round things out. I’m not sure spells would still be part of it, but if they are I expect they’d be determined by the college. Could probably adapt the mystery model for the college abilities, and almost certainly lean on bardic masterpieces.
  • Cleric: Devout agent of a deity. The specific manifestation (healing, etc.) depends on the deity. I see aura, channel energy, domains, and spells. I’ve always wanted to have a priest class based on channeling instead of spells, so let’s give it a try: a cleric gets domains and channeling effects (commit effort). Spells might or might not be relevant, I’ll have to see.
  • Druid: Wild shape definitely has to be here. Nature effects (perhaps like the ranger’s favored terrain, or animal/terrain domains) are certainly appropriate, as is some kind of animal bonding.
  • Fighter: Probably gets split up. Armiger (tanky warrior), archer (pew pew pew with a bow), etc. Bonus feats and bigger numbers is all they really get. I’d rather see combat style-specific awesomeness, and in this case I think it would offload enough that they would become different paths rather than a path option.
  • Monk: Almost a fighter, really. I tried to articulate what makes a monk, and ended up with ‘highly mobile unarmed fighter, but some are armed, and they might be differentiated by order or combat style’. That is, ‘fighter’, just in the base system a sparkly fighter.
  • Paladin: I suspect this would turn into a ‘holy warrior’ expert path (probably want to lean on Green Ronin’s Book of the Righteous for some ideas). I’m sure holy warrior gets smite deity’s enemy, and probably alternate between combat and channeling options depending on the chosen deity/church/order. Paladin then becomes a master path.
  • Ranger: Probably focused primarily on favored terrain and favored enemy options (and looking to FantasyCraft for how they are modeled — I don’t like ‘just numbers’, and FantasyCraft makes the relevant abilities various more qualitatively). I’m not sure about the combat styles, to be honest.
  • Rogue: Stabby skill monkey. Simplest would be sneak attack (probably both sneak attack elements from Iron Heroes executioner class) and a rogue talent at each level. Not really inspiring yet, I suspect it could be better to break apart (like fighter).
  • Sorcerer: Base rules make this a spell caster with a bloodline. I really want to flip that, make this a character with a bloodline that can enact some things that look like spells. Spell selection should be heavily determined by the bloodline, with a bloodline power each level. Not sure if the powers would be prescriptive, or could be chosen from a subset as with a mystery.
  • Wizard: Dedicated spell caster. Possibly the only one at this stage. Almost certain to have a tradition somewhat comparable to a cavalier’s order. This tradition probably affects how the wizard casts spells (adding or removing limitations and benefits, modify casting stunts, and so on). There could be aspects of ‘specialization’ that affect the spells that can be learned, but ‘true specialization’ is almost certainly a master path. That is, a character might go ‘magician, wizard, necromancer’ when gaining paths… and a priest could become a necromancer, or a holy warrior (just because they follow a deity doesn’t mean they can’t consort with the powers of death) could become a necromancer, or even a cavalier could. Where else do death knights come from?

Some things that are currently a single class feature will likely be expanded. For instance, I see there could easily be ‘expert domains’ and ‘master domains’. A cleric/paladin would likely have the expert and master Law and Good domains, while a cavalier/paladin would have only the master Law and Good domains.

Obviously not going to get to Advanced and Ultimate classes tonight… but I do have a sense for how the core base classes could be modeled. That’s good enough for me, today.

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