Thursday, March 18, 2010

Switching classes in the Majestic Wilderlands, a questions.

I like to get your opinion on an interesting question that Dwayne of Gamer's Closet asked me.

Many of you with the Majestic Wilderlands know that the additional classes I created originated in what my players did throughout the years. Some were created from antagonists while most were created as result of the players wanting to roleplay being a member of a particular part of the society I created.

Because I referee using sandbox techniques where the player drive the direction of the campaign. It is plausible that a situation may come up where a character may want to switch classes. Say a fighter worshiping Set decides he "seen" the light and becomes a devout adherent of Mitra to the point where he wants to be a member of the priesthood. Or one of the magic using classes deciding to learn the traditions of another magic using class. Order of Trehaen to order of Thoth etc.

While the d20 method of multi-class certainly solves the issue it is not in the spirit of OD&D and require a lot of messing around with the character class system which is what I don't want to do.

I come with several ideas

1) Drop the current class completely start at 1st level in the new class.

2) Do #1 but when you equal the level of the old class you get to use it's abilities again. You get to keep your old HP total tho.

3) You quit earning XP in the old class, keep all it's abilites and start as first level in the new class. You don't get any new HP until you exceed the level of the old class.

4) You start dividing XP between the old class and the new class advancing in both. The new classes starts at first level.

I am currently leaning to #3 as it make the most sense from a realism point of view.

Before folks go debating me on realism, my point of view that given X alternative for a given game system with all other things being equal I am inclined to go with the option that feel most realistic. So my first criteria for switching classes is to make sure all the alternatives are in the spirit of OD&D. Then I will weigh the pros and cons including which feels more realistic.

12 comments:

Cameron said...

Sorry - Got a lot more hot air to expend this morning.

If a player wants to try something else, give him a new character. That's my first option.

If the player insists, it gets tricky. I think a player who spends enough time away from a class should lose XP AND levels from that class the more time he spends away from it (ability stats could determine the digression rate).

Should he also lose HP? I think so, yes. The logic would be that since the differences in lifestyles and philosophies between classes are diaparate enough that going from one to the other should be not merely life changing, but ability jarring. Stress makes you a worse fighter and messes with your survival instincts.

In the end, I think I prefer a modification of your third option:

The player, at the beginning of the switch, retains his old class's level AND HP, but he loses ALL his XP and starts over again at 0 for his new class. For every level he advances in his new class, he LOSES two or three levels (including HP) of his old class. We can chalk the losing of HP up to the stress of what really should be a drastic lifestyle change. At some point, at the low levels of his new class, things even out. At that point you can switch to option 4.

Which is a very long way of saying that I hate multi-classing, and think players should suffer severe penalties for trying to game the system like that.

Tim Shorts said...

I think there may be another option here Rob. To keep some 'realism' as you say, when a player wants to switch classes have them lose like half their experience points and start in that new class. I guess like switching jobs just because you may have not worked in that field before you can take some of the experience you've gained and apply it towards it.

If they lose levels those HP are lost.

I would keep it simple, lose half experience point and no longer able to use your old abilities otherwise you won't gain anything in your new class.

If you want to make it complex you could say switching within the same 'class' a magic-user becomes an illusionist you only lose one third xp. If a thief wanted to become a cleric it would be 2/3rds lost. But I think it over complicates.

I think this is easier than option 3 and keep people from using old class skills. If a 4th level magic-user switches to a fighting man he can no longer reach into his supply of spells to save the day.

Alex Schroeder said...

If this were my campaign, I'd slowly transmogrify the character, without any hard and fast rules. No XP lost, but no new class abilities gained. When it's time to level up, let the trade-off begin. Assuming a fighter wants to become a cleric: Let the fighter player propose a trade-off. Loose the extra hit-points, loose to good attacks, or loose the use of swords, and gain first level spells. Next time the character levels, another trade-off. Over the course of three or four levels, the transformation is complete and the new character has lost no XP and the abilities of the new class (and the new level if any given the XP total) as if he had never played anything else.

Alan said...

I was thinking about this topic just the other day, and was leaning towards option #3 as well. Clean, simple, and easy to understand.

Robert Fisher said...

This is what I plan to do. (Haven’t had the need to playtest it yet.)

The DM must first determine what the PC must go through to change class. The switch will seldom come easy. No hard-and-fast rules here, because it should be adapted to the specific situation.

The PC then begins at first level in the new class with zero XP. The player tracks level, XP, and max-hp separately for each class. They PC always uses the best choice from between the two classes. Whichever max-hp is higher is the max-hp that gets used in play. Whichever saving throw is better is the one that gets used in play. Etc.

Whether the PC may continue to progress in their first class and how XP gets split... I think this is something else that needs to be handled on a case-by-case basis. The “default” is that the PC switches class. i.e. Stops progressing in the old class.

Depending on how it worked in practice, I might consider some sort of XP penalty for the lower level class.

Koren n'Rhys said...

I like the simplicity of #3, Rob.

A comment above mentions "bringing over experience" and starting the new class at 1/2 XP, but I don't think that is needed. The character will still be member of a party at his original level and by facing higher HD monsters, should gain XP quickly and rise through the lower levels in short order. I'd keep full HP too, and only start gaining new HPs at the new class's rate once he catches back up to his old level. He wouldn't forget how to avoid damage just because he had changed his study focus. The same rule might apply to the Saving Throw as well. Finally, I'd even let them use abilities from the old class, but not gain any XP in that case, at least until after they've exceeded their original level in the new class.

I suppose this all points out I'min favor of allowing a switch without too much penalty so long as it is for good RP purposes and not just an "ability dip", which I see the 3E method endorsing.

Chgowiz said...

I like #3, but I'd add in Alex's "slow ride" deal.

Timeshadows said...

How about having them earn the requisite XP in the most expensive class to reach a new level, then allow them to add the 1st level in the new class, but continue to advance in that new class at the old class' XP requisites (thus making their advancement more difficult at higher levels of the switch rather than at lower levels --old dog/new tricks).

Example: 5th level fighter wants to start thief. He reaches the threshold of 6th fighter and starts as thief 1. To reach thief 2, he must earn fighter 7 XPs. Thief 2 continues on and has accumulated enough XP to reach (fighter 8), and then becomes thief 3. Etcetera.

All abilities are retained from fighter for the levels earned, and all thieving abilities for the new class levels are gained (including the presumably lower HD [don't know if you are using variable HD]).

If the fighter had only been 2nd level, the switch would have been less costly, but would continue at the fighter progression regardless.

Thoughts?

(started at 11AM)

Robert Fisher said...

How about having them earn the requisite XP in the most expensive class to reach a new level, then allow them to add the 1st level in the new class, but continue to advance in that new class at the old class' XP requisites (thus making their advancement more difficult at higher levels of the switch rather than at lower levels --old dog/new tricks).

The weird(est) bit here (IMHO) is that the second class always costs the same. It’s equally hard for the fighter→thief to gain thief levels as for the fighter→MU to gain MU levels.

(From a “power gamer” perspective, it encourages players to initially choose a low XP class and switch to a high XP class.)

Timeshadows said...

** The most expensive class. **

If my wording of 'the old class' threw anyone off, I apologise.

So, if someone were to start as an MU and then go to Thief, they'd still be paying at MU costs.

A Cleric goes to MU, they then pay the more expensive of the two (likely MU in most systems).

A Thief goes to Fighter: They pay the higher of the two (likely Fighter).

A Fighter goes to Thief and continues paying (fighter), and then adds MU. Now that character must pay at the highest, which in all the versions I've seen, is the MU progression.

I hope that clears it up.

Robert Fisher said...

Oops. Sorry, Timeshadows. Misread it.

Timeshadows said...

No need to apologise, Robert. :)
--I think my original post became a bit incoherent as I had to leave the computer for a while before I finished the comment about two hours later. :P

Best,