Part II a Classes and Careers
This part will also feature equipment and many other things too, around the theme of characters being fleshed out.
Castles & Crusades
C&C uses a D&D style class and level system with strongly niche based classes. The core game includes 13 classes with the organisation of the book being based on the prime characteristics. The classes and their primes are:
- Fighter - strength. The straightforward combat specialist.
- Ranger - strength. The typical D&D style mobile fighter type.
- Assassin - dexterity
- Rogue - dexterity. A relatively weak class at low levels, but their low XP requirements to gain levels mean that the rogue character in a party can advance much faster than the spellcasters.
- Barbarian -constitution. A class that I often feel is hard to do well, like many other barbarian classes this is a berserker with a few concessions to the tribal background. This is a class in practice I'd replace with another version.
- Monk - constitution. One of my least favourite classes in D&D from Blackmoor onwards and something that I often try to avoid using in my games.
- Illusionist - intelligence. This has always been a class that I've liked since early D&D and I've often played the iconic gnome illusionist when I get a chance. The differentiation between this and the Wizard is largely based on the spell list and a few other class abilities in C&C.
- Wizard -intelligence. The classic D&D style magic user with limited ability with weapons and weak at low levels, but very powerful at high levels.
- Cleric - wisdom. The cleric is like the old D&D clerics a combination of spellcaster and melee fighter, but with no ability to use edged or missile weapons. They are part of a normal adventuring group as a healer.
- Druid - wisdom.
- Bard - charisma. The bard is useful more in larger parties where their ability to inspire can aid the other members.
- Knight - charisma. The knight gives a good candidate for a party leader particularly with their class ability to boost other's combat abilities.
- Paladin - charisma.
Each class has its own abilities with these either increasing by level, such as the spellcasters getting more spells, or having additional abilities at higher levels. A common critcism of this D&D style advancement is that character's ability progression has little relevance to what they have done in game. For example if a cleric spends most of his time in melee and gains enough XP to level from combat and treasure he will still gain additional spells even if he'd not cast any since he'd reached the previous level.
The Careers system in Warhammer FRP is seen as a strength of the game. It does give a good handle for linking a set of skills and talents for a character rather than just having randomly selected options. As there are over 60 basic and 50 advanced careers in all in WFRP2 I will not list them all, but just discuss the approach to careers and advancement. There are also additional basic and advanced careers in the other WFRP books such as Sigmar's Heirs or the WFRP Companion.
The careers can be tied to character race as only Elves can be Kithband Warriors, Dwarves Trollslayers, etc. There are only 7 basic careers open to all four races: Entertainer, Hunter, Mercenary, Outlaw, Student, Thief and Tradesman. A character can either be assigned a career by rolling dice against a table of races and careers or be allowed to choose their career by the GM. Personally I prefer the random allocation method with two rolls on the table and the character choosing between the two choices.
For many the iconic WFRP career is the Rat Catcher with a small, but vicious dog amongst his trappings or for a Dwarf the Troll Slayer. The career does define what a character does in WFRP with it being how they would make a living if they weren't adventuring, unlike C&C where characters are 'pure' adventurers whose niche only has meaning in game terms rather than in the wider world. There does become the question of how a character can still be in his career and adventuring in WFRP, but this can be worked around by creative players and GM.
Each career has an advance scheme which allows a character to improve their attributes or gain skills and talents. This means that a character will be limited in their choices of what to spend their XP on. A character in their first career will get the skills and talents, though they can only choose one skill or talent where a choice is indicated and a free advance to one attribute. The free advance is particularly necessary for an inexperienced spell caster to give them a magic attribute of 1 so that they can actually cast spells.
In my example characters for WFRP I've shown the advance scheme with one character advanced to a second career. Each career has exits which are the next career that can be taken with this usually being a mix of basic and advanced careers. For a higher XP cost a character can enter any basic career allowing for changes in status and players' wanting to take a new direction.
There is not a class or career system in RQII in the same way as C&C or WFRP, but the characters have backgrounds that affect their starting money, equipment and skills. The prior experience system does fit characters into careers less rigidly than WFRP and allows a starting character to have a wider range of skills and better scores in their skills than the normal 16 year old from straight RQ character generation. The characters do have a background, but this does not affect their skills so much as experience.
The prior experience system allows a peasant or townsman character to join a guild to get training in their skills and also to join the militia to gain combat skills. This option is not open to nobles and barbarians, but there are prior experience rules for them too, with barbarians having different skills and weapons for foot or mounted tribes. Characters can join the mercenaries to gain experience with there being different types of unit, so light or heavy infantry or cavalry is possible. From being a guild apprentice a character can have skills that would be the basis of how they live other than by making money adventuring and this is a useful feature for RQ rather than just starting all the characters out as 16 year olds with limited skills and no other option than adventuring. In Appendix F I've shown how it works in practice.
Characters in RQ advance by using their skills or training, this is the most realistic of these three games as the improvement clearly links to what the character has done or experienced. The increase by experience mechanic requires rolling D100 with the current skill level deducted from 100 to give the target meaning that inexperienced characters improve more quickly than highly able characters which again is more realistic that a novice can improve more rapidly than a capable warrior or guildmember. There is a limit on advancing skills due to training with experience being needed over 75%.
The class and level system used in C&C has a strength in simplicity and ease of use, but it does mean that characters are less mechanically differentiated than in say D&D 3.5, WFRP or RQII. In WFRP all characters that complete the same career will have advanced their attributes and obtained roughly the same skills and talents, but at an intermediate stage they can choose what to maximise and which next career to follow. RQII is the most realistic system with skill and attribute use or training giving rise to advancement, but it means that it is harder to design adventures for publication as experienced groups of characters will tend to have widely different skills apart from their combat abilities.
The rest of the review can be found in the following posts:
Part 1 Settings, Characters and Advancement
Part 1a Character Creation
Part 2b Equipment and Encumbrance
Part 3 Melee
Part 4 Magic
Part 5 Conclusions