Artisan class

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Re: Artisan class

Postby Arkon » Wed Jun 26, 2013 2:42 am

Galloglaich wrote:Another complex urban based class, the Patrician. The Knight will not be as complex but is very formidable.

Quite impressive. Makes me wish that I could actually play Codex Martialis with someone. Though probably it would end up with an abject failure to play a role well on my part.
...
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Re: Artisan class

Postby Galloglaich » Wed Jun 26, 2013 3:34 am

Ok here is the Knight
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Re: Artisan class

Postby Galloglaich » Wed Jun 26, 2013 2:35 pm

Patricians in action: Welser family expedition in Venezuela, granted to the Welser's by the King of Spain for a loan. The Welser's owned the colony for about 20 years.

Image

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Re: Artisan class

Postby drkguy3107 » Sat Jun 29, 2013 12:16 am

To answer your questions, the game is currently set in a late 15th century time period, minus gunpowder (though greek fire is still around). As for the knight class, I don't really operate that way. Instead I just have a generic fighter class, and a noble class, with completely unfettered multi-classing. So a knight is usually going to be a fighter/noble mix, though they can also have a level of anything else if it makes sense. For example, if they want to play a knight who practices a little divination or magic, they can take a level of mystic. If they have taken clerical orders they can take 1 level of priest. This complete freedom to multiclass allows players to create any kind of character that they want.

Instead of the "you have wf lance at level 3" just allow the player to get a bonus feat at level 3, an only allow them to buy a combat feat with it. Then the player has more freedom, the class can be used for a knight, or a robber, or a thug, pirate, etc.

So in summary, the reason I don't respond to many of these classes, is that my system (which I will eventually publish as my own game) fully meets my needs in many areas, only mounted combat and the simplicity of the game require any fine tuning.
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Re: Artisan class

Postby Galloglaich » Sat Jun 29, 2013 7:23 pm

That was basically the approach I took when I ran my Baltic campaign, I used a lot of multi-classing to try to get some characters which were at least in the ballpark of something historical (since all of the historical examples of characters that I was looking at seemed to have a wide variety of different types of skills and abilities), but I ran into several problems. One was that I was combining the basic adventurer PC classes (Fighter, Cleric, Rogue etc.) with the NPC classes, and found both lacking. Fighters get almost no skills (they don't even get 'spot' or 'search' or 'bluff'), clerics, sorcerers and wizards have too much magic for the kind of campaign I run (low magic and / or historical) rangers are based on a larper idea of two-weapon fighting and so on. But it was the NPC classes which had the most problems, I was using aristocrat, expert, warrior and commoner, but those classes are all too weak and lacking in many respects. This is especially compounded by the way you level-up in DnD.

There are also some balance issues with unlimited multi-classing, because you really get a 'bump' at first level with a lot of those classes. So, especially if you de-emphasize magic a little, and are using the Codex combat system instead of the standard DnD vis a vis number of attacks per round etc., a 2nd level Fighter / 2nd level Rogue / 2nd level Ranger / 1st level barbarian seemed to come out as a tougher hombre than say, a 7th level Fighter or a 4th level Fighter / 3rd level Rogue. So the incentive for PC's was to just keep getting another 1st level in a new class every time they leveled up (this is what the players did in the last campaign I ran)

And there was no way to really incorporate the "civilian" NPC classes (aristocrat, expert, commoner), even if they were improved a bit, unless you are making pre-made characters, because a PC is going to want to max out his options and the NPC classes just don't have that much to offer.

I had done the lifepath thing as a computer game years ago, and always had the intention of converting it into paper and pencil, but it's so much work to finish on the schedule that I want to have a character generation book and a magic book so I can kind of close the loop on the Codex as a complete game. I do want to revisit lifepath, partly because it will make codex more accessible to those non DnD people who can't seem to get past the idea of a class as such. But I'm going to have to get back to that later, the current book will have the lifepath rules only for the burgher artisan class.

So I decided to take a two-tiered, class-based system. There are "PC Classes", and there are "NPC Classes", but both types are viable for PC's. (Maybe I should change the names actually). PC classes are more specialized, and provide something like skill packages which people have been asking me to do for the codex for something like 5 years. They get a lot of Feats and special abilities, but you are on a more specific path in terms of what you learn (WF Lance at 3rd level and etc.). The NPC classes are a little bit weaker, but they are more flexible (and possibly cost less in experience points, though more on that in a second). Rather than specific Feats they get bonus feats for example as you described. Each NPC Class is associated with one or two PC classes, and the two can be combined. So Burgher goes with Artisan and Patrician, Mercenary goes with Knight and Soldier, etc. The NPC class acts as the basic template and there will be room to grow by adding new specialized classes later on down the road (such as for different campaign settings, Viking, Samurai whatever)

Finally, the classes are also kind of divided between pure specialist classes, like the Knight (a heavy cavalryman), and more civilian classes like the peasant or the artisan, who can earn some kind of income and have ties to a support system such as a guild or a clan.


A couple of questions I am still pondering:

Should the number of experience points needed to level be a universal number, like in 3.5 DnD, or should it vary based on the class, like in AD&D? I kind of like the latter version, where you can get a couple of levels in a less specialized class a bit cheaper.

I kind of want to mimic the E6 approach somewhat, in that I am not really interested in the PC as Superhero concept, and don't really know how to make good game mechanics for that sort of thing (since Codex relies so heavily, probably more heavily than is even readily apparent, on historical sources for all of it's balance and so forth). So I want experience point cost for leveling to be relatively easy up to level 6, then get much harder, and levels to max out at level 10.

How should I handle henchmen? Historically, they were extremely common and necessary. They were a staple in the original DnD. But you don't see them so much in more modern games and can be kind of hard to handle as a DM. I found them helpful in the Codex Baltic campaign we ran, partly because due to the deadliness of the Codex combat system, it was helpful to have some 'red shirts' and the PC's took over some of the NPC characters when they got themselves killed.

I'm still not certain how to balance class vs wealth vs status. A knight for example can be an aristocrat or he can be an outlaw or he can be a serf in the service of a Lord. A courtier may be the very powerful servant of a king or a duke but untitled, and facing poverty if his patron falls from grace.... whereas an aristocrat might have an important title and a lot of land, but so little money as to be embarrassing. Both were common situations historically.

I was thinking of borrowing an element from my lifepath system where you randomly determine the class and Estate of your parents, and that would give you your own class and estate, and I'm putting wealth to some extent into the characters (where some characters earn a living automatically). Wealth and status confer major advantages, so balance is a tricky thing. You could balance it by making richer aristocrats weaker in terms of combat, which is often the case historically... but by no means always. There were also quite a few very wealthy, high - status aristocrats who were strait up gangsters. Bad mother f'kers.

So is it fairer to make this a random die roll? Or will people just fudge those die rolls like they used to do so often on character stats where everyone has 18 strength and 17 charisma... and you end up with campaigns where everyone is an archbishop or a Duke.

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Re: Artisan class

Postby zarlor » Sun Jun 30, 2013 12:57 am

On Henchmen, I like how Savage Worlds handles it, they just say let the players run them. Only step in as GM if you need them to do something fairly independent, otherwise just let the players do it. I think overall that makes them a lot less burdensome, but that combat system is fairly quick so having extra henchmen doesn't really slow things down. So it may just take setting up how they fight. Maybe henchmen have a max MP of 1 or 2, maybe they have to be broken into groups where any particular die roll is for the group as a whole, not just an individual, that kind of thing.

On the the life path stuff... personally, as a player, I don't like too many random decisions about my character's background. As an assist for an aspect of their background I don't care to work out or don't mind setting to a random roll, or as a guideline is fine, but generally I avoid that whenever possible. Then again I tend to prefer point-buy systems for stats as well over the random rolls. But there may be those who like having that kind of option available.

Wealth or status, on the other hand, do need some kind of balancing factor. Maybe the cost of a Feat, for example, unless it's gained in play. As a background, however, I'd rather have it a conscious choice by the player with some kind of cost associated with it.
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Re: Artisan class

Postby Galloglaich » Sun Jun 30, 2013 4:25 am

Maybe the thing is to allow one high-status player per game and let the players vote on it or compete for it. It's hard to think of another balancing factor that would work. I don't really like taking away a feat because it implies that the high status people were / are inferior in some way. Sometimes they are, but there are a lot of cases where it seems like just the opposite is true. There are benefits to having good nutrition, multiple tutors and mentors, careful supervision, first rate equipment (and horses etc.), leisure-time and so on.

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Re: Artisan class

Postby zarlor » Sun Jun 30, 2013 11:36 am

I would think the main balancing factor for high status would really have to be up to the GM. To my mind historically high status comes with trade-offs, most of which have to do with certain responsibilities and duties that must be performed and an estate(s) that must be maintained, not to mention the sheer diplomatic responsibilities of who you have to answer to, not just to those higher status individuals but also to those you are responsible for. The latter may accept a certain amount of neglect, but push it too far and revolt isn't too out of the question. I just don't see a particular way of handling that by rules and, in my experience, DMs rarely want to bother pulling such things into a game where the focus is generally more on adventuring and the group rather than the politics that might be focused more on a single player, thus a high status character probably tends to gain a lot more benefit from the position than it costs them, it would seem to me. I don't see how to get around that beyond a suggestion to the GM, though.
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"A soldier uses arms merely with skill, whereas a knight uses them with virtuous intention." - Pomponio Torelli, 1596.

- Systeme D'armes, New Orleans, Louisiana
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Re: Artisan class

Postby Galloglaich » Sun Jun 30, 2013 3:35 pm

Well, what I'm talking about is 'balance' in terms of both the overall campaign and the comparison to the other characters (or your NPC's). If you give players the ability to play a character who is, say, a baron or a duke, and within the rules of the game a baron or a duke has all the real power that an actual baron or duke has, then ... everybody is going to play a baron or a duke. You are right back to the same situation of everyone playing 20th level god like super-hero characters. And you know how I feel about superheroes. It's just that usual typical 'inflation' or power creep or whatever that game designers always contend with. You let the kids choose what they want for dinner every night and ice cream is one of the options, they'll be eating ice cream for dinner every single night and you'll have diabetic kids by the time they are 8. Either that or one player is a duke and the others aren't, and then you have a strong power imbalance between the characters.

I mean, there is little point in having say, an adventure in an abandoned monastery infested by cultists, when one or more of the players could just afford to buy an army to go clear it out for them.

But it's not my job as a game designer to tell people how they have to play the games, I'm just supposed to supply tools to enable them to play a fun game and to meet the challenges which tend to disrupt that. So I'll have the random parentage thing as an option (personally random elements in character generation and I like having the parents lineage being known, but I also like to combine the random elements with some choice), and I'll suggest the limitation of one 'high status' player per party as another option (because if one player is of this status, you can kind of put in all the situational checks and balances in that you were alluding to at least in theory) and I can also recommend to 'flatten out' the social classes in a given game, there are issues with playing serfs or barons, the 'sweet spot is more in the middle.

On a design level it does still seem like a rather vexing problem though, and I'm not entirely satisfied with any of those approaches. I just can't think of anything better yet.

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Re: Artisan class

Postby Daeruin » Sun Jun 30, 2013 8:48 pm

If you allow only one player to start out as a baron, why not allow one to start out with extra feats, or start at level 5? If you say it's because that's how life was back then, I don't think that's a good answer. Life isn't fair, but games still need to be fair. So if you are going to the trouble of making character classes balanced, why not do the same for stats and status as well?

I'm aware that your view of balance is different than most people's, so pardon me if I'm rehashing arguments you've already considered. But I think that balance between players is important. When you have two level 6 fighters who are otherwise roughly equal, but one is a baron and the other a serf, it tends to make the serf player unhappy. (I say "tends to" because it depends a lot on the group. Some players can have fun roleplaying any character, no matter how powerful they are, but I think they are a minority. And those people can still have fun playing balanced characters.) Same thing with character stats. When one character has two 18s but another character's highest is 16, it doesn't feel fair. It leads to people wanting to fudge their rolls or just outright cheat (the guy with two 18s probably cheated anyway). I have seen this play out in many different groups.

That's why the point-buy method has become popular in so many other games and why D&D started providing it as an option in later editions. It works especially well if you provide options where the GM can choose different amounts of points depending on the power level you want for the game. Let groups decide their own power level and create balanced characters, rather than starting with a system that encourages imbalance and dice fudging and still doesn't let players get the characters they wanted half the time.

So I don't really see a problem with requiring the use of feats, XP, or whatever to acquire status and wealth. Players get to choose what kind of character they want to play the most. Their choice affects how their character deals with problems in the game, but doesn't make them automatically better or worse than other characters. I'm an advocate of the point-buy system. If you did it for status and wealth, it would provide really well for the dichotomy you mentioned of powerful but poor nobles versus rich but powerless courtiers. So you could say that each character starts out with the same number of points, say 15, and you can spend them to get money, or titles, or henchmen, or political clout. Maybe sacrifice a feat to get 5 extra points, or something along those lines. Then provide different starting levels, so those groups where everyone wants to play a baron who's also a bad-ass fighter will start out with 20 status points when making their characters, but a GM wanting a lower powered game will have them start out with only 5 status points. Something along those lines.
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