Creating New Character Classes (Optional Rule)

The character classes listed in the rules are not the only ones that can exist in the AD&D game. Many other character classes, either general or highly specialized, could also exist. Indeed, a common reaction of players to the character classes is to question why their characters can't have the powers or skills of another class. You can even create entirely new classes or combinations of existing character abilities.

Creating a new character class is not recommended for novice DMs or players. Before attempting this, be sure that you are familiar and comfortable with the AD&D rules. Furthermore, it is not a good idea to use this system in a brand-new campaign which has no background for players to base actions and decisions on.

The class-creation system here requires you to use your judgment--it isn't fool-proof. Without careful thought, you may find you've created an overly forceful combination of powers or a bizarre, unplayable character class. As with new character races, start with a single test case before you approve the class for all players.

Naturally, the DM must approve a class before a player can begin using it. The DM also has the right to make any changes he sees fit, even after the character has been played for some time!

You are advised not to try to create a super class--a class that allows players to do everything. Consider what is lost: A super character would require an immense amount of experience just to reach 2nd level. Normal characters would reach much higher levels, much sooner, and may even surpass the super character in ability. A super character also destroys party cooperation and group play. If you have a character who can do everything, you don't need other characters (and hence other players). Further, a whole group of super characters is nothing more than a group of one-class characters. You lose as much variety, as much color, as if you had a group consisting only of fighters. And a group of fighters (or any other single class), no matter what their abilities, is boring. There is nothing to distinguish Joe Fighter from Fred Fighter in ability.

Another factor to consider when creating new character classes is whether a new class is really needed. Some players want to create a character class for every profession or ability--jesters, witches, vampire hunters, vikings, mountaineers, etc. They forget that these are really roles, not classes.

What is a viking but a fighter with a certain outlook on life and warfare? A witch is really nothing but a female wizard. A vampire hunter is only a title assumed by a character of any class who is dedicated to the destruction and elimination of those loathsome creatures.

The same is true of assassins. Killing for profit requires no special powers, only a specific reprehensible outlook. Choosing the title does not imply any special powers or abilities. The character just uses his current skills to fulfill a specific, personal set of goals.

Before creating a character class, stop and ask yourself, "Is there already a character class that can fill the niche?" Think of ways an existing class could fulfill the desired goal through role-playing and careful choice of proficiencies. A mountaineer could easily be a fighter or ranger, born and bred on the slopes, with a love of the rugged peaks and proficiencies in climbing, mountaineering, and the like. There is no need for a mountaineer class.

Also, consider how much fun the character is going to be to play. This is particularly true when you plan to create classes with highly specialized abilities. True, there may be a place for wise old sages or alchemists, but would they be fun to play? Consider that all the sage does is conduct research and answer questions. An important task, perhaps, but boring when compared to fighters, mages, and the like. Clearly there is no great demand for the sage as a player character. So, there is no need for the character class.

Finally, remember that there is no such thing as an exclusively NPC character class. What is the logic of saying a non-player character can be such-and-such, but a player character cannot? None. This is a false restriction. Every character class you create should be open to player characters and non-player characters alike.

With all these considerations in mind, you can use the system described below to create new character classes. You are encouraged to modify the system or create one of your own. the method used here will give you a good starting place.

To use this method, choose different abilities you want the class to have. You must include some aptitudes such as fighting. But other abilities, such as spellcasting, are optional. Each ability you choose has a multiple attached to it. As you select the abilities for your class and add the multiples together. After you have chosen all the abilities, multiply the base experience value (see
Table 21 ) by this total. The result is the number of experience points your new class must earn to go up in levels.

Required Abilities: For each of the categories, choose one of the options listed. Be sure to note this choice along with the multiple cost.

Table of Contents