Friday, May 9, 2014

Which of the Core Four Classes is Most Easily Forgotten?

Neither group I current run has a thief among them (although the Saturday group does have a S&W Monk, which covers most of the needed bases). Therefore, I find a lot of 10' pole tapping (obviously linked to early dungeon maps being gridded out in 10' hexes), axe hacking at locked doors, crow-barring of locked chests and the like.

Oh, and much finding of traps the old fashioned way - "Ouch! Shit! There's a trap here guys!"

All of which leads to the question - of the current list of 4 core classes, which class can the party do without and still get by? (edit: I realize the Thief was a later addition to the core)

I would lean towards the thief, but in actual play I've seen more groups without a cleric of any sort than a thief. Figure that one out?


  1. My own recent take on LotFP has three classes, in which the characters can distribute their levels freely: specialist (thief) for skills, warrior for fighting ability and sorcerer for spellcasting ability. In this mix, cleric falls to the wayside, and it feels natural to me. It feels least "given" to my tastes.

  2. The Thief class is mediocre, the disparity only gets worse as you level, and all of his functions can be replicated by judicious action on the part of MUs, Clerics and Fighter. Useless class, IMO, a needlessly specific clone of Gray Mouser - especially lame because you look at two major thieves, Fafhrd and Conan, who are both really strong Barbarian warriors willing to wear as much armor as the situation calls for. It's not just a bad class relatively, it's a bad _thief_ class.

  3. When I run games, I usually divide into only two classes: warriors and magic users. A cleric is just a magic user with healing spells. If a warrior wants to play sneaky, have back-stabs and the like ... sure. We can do that. Have high dex? Roll on dex to sneak around, hide, get in position. And that's ... it. There's a big difference when you roll below stats if you have 18 dex or 10 dex and it really shows up in play. Same thing for social skills / smarts: you have high int, you can work things out better than Vrubus the Grimhitter with 9 int.

  4. The Thief can be replaced by HP and caution and lucky Saving Throws.

    The cleric by healing potions and direct damage to undead.

    Both of those are better than their alternative, but you can get by.

    It's hard to replace the fighter and magic-user because one is your bread-and-butter of combat and treasure recovery and the second is your high value target eliminator and utility magic caster.

    I was considering searching for a cleric or thief hireling, especially one with dark vision of some kind, but then I look at the trap finding % and wonder if it's worth the money and shared XP for the thief. And we've got a cleric now!

  5. Of the core classes I don't believe any of them are forgotten. But if one fell by the wayside it would probably be clerics. Healing potions are the new god to worship and much cheaper in the long run.

    1. Well said Tim, not "forgotten" but "put aside" and I agree the cleric is at he back of the pack.

    2. Buck up man, we need you for turning undead!

      Too bad you aren't a C/M-U/T, we'd be set!

  6. Cleric as it's a social role in reality that is and has been filled by warriors, scholars, and lowlife on and off for thousands of years.
    If turning undead is powered by strong faith anyone with strong faith and a holy symbol should have a chance of turning undead.
    If magic is magic with no rigid distinction in subtypes any spell-caster could fill a clerics shoes r.e. magic.
    The typical role a cleric fills in a party could be resolved with healing potions and the occasional protection scroll.

  7. For some reason, clever players get stupid when confronted with the cleric. The cleric is by far better than most classes and can be marginally better than a wizard.

    However, any class can be dispensed with. If you mean to say, which class has the least utility, it is the Fighter in most games. If you mean to say, which class is underplayed, it's likely the cleric.

  8. In my campaign the adventurers, "The Monday's Guild", brand as lame both fighter and magic user, they don't have a pure fighter but a barbarian instead, and the leader is a thief.

    I don't think the thief or any other class is lame, is the job of the DM to make every class and player useful...

  9. I rewrote fighters and theives a niether played much with mosly spell casters with renta flunkies. Warrior was easier sell and new club and fresh players got happening - thief a harder sell butmy version has become more popular after 20 years without one

  10. I never understood the disdain for clerics. All my D&D-type groups had one or more clerics on the team.
    On the other hand, we hardly ever had thieves. I can only think of maybe two thieves anyone has ever played in my groups. We found that there's very little a thief can do that creativity and a halberd can't do instead.

  11. Thieves...but clerics would be if there was alternate healing at low levels. No one ever wants to play a cleric/healer (in my groups) but one person always ends up "taking one for the team" and plays one.

  12. My current 3.5 game started with a barbarian, a ranger, a rogue, a bard, and a sorcerer. We went a long time without a cleric of any kind. My barbarian took levels in Favored Soul (a cleric that functions like a sorcerer), and eventually another player joined for a time with a cleric. We have a large number of NPC followers, so we just NPC'd the cleric when the player had to leave.

  13. Though I understand the traditional problems some old school gamers have had with the thief, they're mostly problems with the implementation rather than the concept itself. (Some of the main ones: thieves are too weak; they aren't good enough at their abilities; their abilities promote skill systems and rolling rather than thinking through problems. All are valid, but all are also complaints about the implementation of the class rather than the concept.) Thieves have lots of fictional and legendary inspirations (Bilbo, Ali Baba, Cugel, Grey Mouser, etc.) and really do fit in well as a concept with D&D in virtually any setting.

    Clerics on the other hand are really out of place in the typical game setting, only really fitting in well some kind of pseudo-historical setting with a strong Catholic church or a Hammer horror pastiche. Most of the fictional counterparts to the Cleric either barely fit the mold (Van Helsing) or are inspired by rather than inspirations for D&D. (Of course this isn't saying that Clerics aren't a terribly effective class - they are - probably the most effective in the game overall.) The worst thing about the class is it either requires almost endless creation of variants to fit the world (the 2nd Edition Priest's Handbook Version) or a shoehorning of some faux-medieval faux-Christianity into a campaign whether it needs it or not (the OD&D and BX version).

    Sorry for the rant. :-/

  14. I've always loved the thief.

    I do agree that the class isn't very well implemented in most branches of the Old Game.
    Nobody wants to play a guy who has abilities that are only 10-15% likely to work, and for which a failed roll could spell death for that particular character.

    I was okay with 2nd edition's "customizable" thief skills (being able to distribute your points how you like) and use that when I run games.

    ...although lately, I've been using Lamentations style thief skills with my online group.

    As for the whole "magic-users can replace thieves," I have always countered with the notion that it's better to have a guy who can pick locks and sneak all day than a guy who has to waste a valuable spell slot or scroll on the very same activity.

    Anyone who says that the thief class is a needlessly specific reproduction of Gray Mouser should probably think the same of Aragorn and the ranger class.

    At the end of the day, though, the utility of a class depends very heavily on the campaign and setting you're playing in and what kinds of challenges your DM devises. I've played in games where thieves are all but useless, and in games where playing anyone who can't wear armor is a death sentence.

  15. Interest in the thief class, at least as it is realized in old school D&D, has always kind of baffled me. As a player I have always felt they were pitifully inept, and as a GM I almost resent having to account for their skill set when designing scenarios (I admit that I lack an imagination for clever traps, but based on my familiarity with published adventure material, I would say that just about everyone else does as well). All that said, I do have a couple players who enjoy running thieves, so I do my best to accommodate then. In order to make their skills more reliably useful, I do employ a difficulty rating system according to which most applications are rated "easy", meaning that they roll twice and keep the more favorable result. I thought it was interesting when my players basically vetoed my suggestion that we make thief abilities automatically successful in most cases.

  16. Cleric for sure, though I've always enjoyed playing them myself. If you get rid of the need to heal between fights, you get rid of the need of a cleric. I say NEED, because a party could always do with a buff or two. But then those are spells, and wizards can cover that. Heck, wizards can even heal if you let them.

    Thief comes in at a close second, because every murdering hobo is a thief...

    But then we get into class vs skill debates, and well. I prefer the simplicity of classes over fiddly skill systems in fantasy games.

  17. I don't understand the disdain for clerics AT ALL. They can:

    * wear any armor, all the way up to full plate (in AD&D)
    * use some effective weapons - The weapons do decent damage, the fact that they're "blunt" is basically irrelevant rules-wise. In fact, blunt weapons are even superior against some monsters!
    * have the second-best chance to hit with those weapons
    * have the second-best hit points
    * have a wide variety of protective and healing spells, and they even get a few attack spells
    * TURN UNDEAD - This is huge. ALL undead above zombies have deadly special attacks. Wouldn't you like to get rid of them without a fight? I sure would!
    * And to top it all off, they have a very generous XP advancement rate! Unbelievable.

    If I were ever going to play (as opposed to running a game as I normally do) it would definitely be a cleric. It's the total package as far as classes go.

    1. They're a very good package, and part of the reason why is because people didn't want to play them.
      If I had to guess major reasons it's that: 1) most people don't like playing healbots and 2) most players aren't interested in - may even be averse to - serious religiosity.
      Because of 2) you're basically such worth 1) unless you're in an unusual group.

  18. Reading through these comments, I notice two things:

    1. People seem to like the concept of the Thief but not the mechanics.
    2. People seem to like the mechanics of the Cleric but not the concept.


    1. I love Clerics in both senses, but I am a religion nerd and a reactionary. I've got no problem smiting druids for worshiping their dirty hippy tree demons, but I think a lot of people find religious I intolerance and strict mores cuts into their more light hearted play.
      I think the Specialist from Lamentations of the Flame Princess or the Practitioner from Adventure Fantasy Game are far superior 'Thief' style classes.

  19. I might be missing something here. What four classes would you say were core?

    Our current group consists of a Paladin, Fighter, Rogue, Druid, and Cleric.

  20. I love thieves, they level up SO fast. To me, fighters are the easiest to let go, kinda like Konsumterra says, they can pretty easily just be mooks.

  21. seldom even allow clerics much less use them as they don't fit the genre

  22. In our 3.5/PF games, the only divine casters we typically have are either Druid or seldomly Favored Soul. It seems the domains of the 3.5 cleric are what end up turning people off. PF did a great job in that respect.


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