I am continuing down the rabbit hole that is the 30 Day D&D Challenge from Polar Bear Dreams and Stranger Things.
3. What is your Favorite Playable Class?
Much like my previous post on races, I don’t have one. Or I have one of the moment, but not one overall.
My very first character in Basic D&D was a cleric. I loved the idea of being able to wear armor and cast spells and I really didn’t understand what a cleric was beyond that. As other bloggers have commented on, the cleric is a character not well represented in classic pre-D&D fantasy. At least, not in an easily recognizable format that you can directly take from the source to the game book. Merlin was a magic user, Arthur a fighter, Aragorn a ranger, Lancelot a paladin. Who springs to mind when you say cleric? Van Helsing could turn undead, but he was no wielder of divine power combined with a worldly mace. Holy orders like the Templars and Hospitlars seem a closer fit, but seem more appropriate to the paladin image than the cleric.
Still, none of that bothered me. I was taken with the allure of bashing monsters with my mace and sling spells, all while clad in chainmail. Elves didn’t hold the same appeal for me, but not for any reason I can put my finger on. Maybe it was simply because I was already familiar with elves and the cleric was something new and unknown. However the appeal of clerics didn’t last and of the core classes it remains the one I have played the least. Though this is something I would be interested in changing and I have a renewed interest in the class based on various re-readings of the rules and from other OSR bloggers.
I didn’t play many demi-humans until after making the jump to AD&D and leaving behind race-as-class. That was a concept I didn’t like once I’d gotten a look at AD&D, but which I have a renewed fondness for these days. I don’t see either method as superior to the other, the question is which is right for the flavor of game you want to run (more on that in a later post).
In those early days, when my friends and I had far more free time and spent amazing amounts of it on gaming, we tried out every class that came down the pipe. We made 1st Edition bards (shudder), monks (which I still don’t get), assassins (a class I still like), and all the others. We tried all the classes introduced in the Unearthed Arcana and quickly decided that the thief-acrobat was the only one approaching a good idea. I still have nightmares about the paladin-as-chavalier rules and being baffled that one of the achievements illusionists gained from reaching the pinnacle of their arcane might was learning 1st level magic-user spells.
We pulled out classes from Dragon Magazine, especially the ones that were not intended to be PCs. Gary and company had to know that it was impossible to resist the allure of playing “forbidden” classes. I remember the bandit with fondness, with its special ability for carving initials into things. One of my favorite characters of all time was an anti-paladin who managed to conceal his identity for over a year from the rest of the party. That all culminated in an epic (and completely unscripted) reveal followed by a down-to-the-wire duel with the party’s true paladin. After a battle carried out as much with wits as blades, good triumphed over evil in one of the rare instances where inter-party player vs player combat left everyone cheering.
I would have gotten away with it too, if it hadn’t been for those two crit-fails.
Give me a thief, give me a fighter, a ranger, an elf or dwarf. Give me a half-orc assassin, a druid, a paladin. I won’t claim to a favorite class because it’s the huge variety of possibilities that holds my imagination.
There is no class I like more than the one I am currently playing, except perhaps the one I’m going to play next.