Favored Class

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MinusInnocence
MinusInnocence's picture
Favored Class

Show of hands: who is actually a fan of this system? Does anyone remember what it was like in 2E? I think 3E keeps the exact worst aspects of those rules: where different races were better at different things to the extent that some races couldn't take levels in a class AT ALL, and the way multiclassing worked for humans and "demi-humans" (everyone else) was actually night and day. In 3E, at least, everyone is ostensibly on even footing: dwarves and elves have the same max level for Fighter, for example, and no one is restricted from taking levels in Bard or Sorcerer, even if they would not be particularly good at it. But there is this weirdly arbitrary clause that states everyone has to keep their progression in different classes on an even footing or they start to accrue experience point penalties, but one class (the one they are biologically or culturally predisposed to excel in) is exempt.

But that isn't the way learning things works in real life. How much you know about particle physics has no bearing on how easy or hard it is to learn how to cook, no matter how long you've been studying either. A postal worker who decides after 15 years to start training to be a librarian isn't any worse off in that endeavor than if he or she had started on Day 1 in both jobs and worked from the ground up at the same time.

Talanall
Talanall's picture

Honestly the favored class rules are barely noticeable to me, and have been for a long while.

I think I'd hate them if it was mechanically advantageous to play a brb 1/ftr 1/rog 1/wiz 17, or whatever, with any regularity. But it isn't advantageous to do that, so you almost never see it happen, and the favored class rules are therefore rarely activated.

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

Fixxxer
Fixxxer's picture

I've never been a fan of the system. It's not something I actively hate and purge from my games with fire. It just seems like an added restriction to help typecast races as being what the designers envision. It's easier for a halfling to be a rogue than anything else, but if that's the case, why isn't halfling society completely overrun by scouts, locksmiths and thieves? It's only in the context of a completely integrated multicultural society that such a thing makes any sense, and that's not always (or even usually) the case.

MinusInnocence
MinusInnocence's picture

I think their argument definitely is that X race's particular traits or inclinations predisposes them to being a better wizard, fighter, or whatever. And that seems to be the point they're trying to make with favored classes. But actually, nothing about favored classes themselves suggests those races ARE better at fulfilling the duties of those classes. It would be totally different if you earned a 10% bonus on XP rewards if your highest level class is your race's favored class. But that isn't the case at all. In fact, it isn't even the opposite (that there is a class that halflings really stink at, for example, so they take an XP penalty). Instead, arbitrarily, only your favored class is excluded from the illogical scenario of, "You can only be a really great hairdresser if you started learning how at the same time you took that job at Baskin Robbins, not the following year."

Talanall
Talanall's picture

It isn't something I like. I think it is illogical, and also that it helps justify the occasional allegations that fantasy as a genre tends to be racist.

I don't bother to kill it with fire in my games because it simply hasn't come up. Like, ever. And I played 3.0 rules before the core books were actually published. You'd think that it would have raised its head by now, but the closest I've seen was a halfling who was multiclassed as a barbarian/bard/rogue/sorcerer, just because the player didn't care that it made her character suck at everything, rather than be a jack of all trades. She gained levels pretty evenly in all four classes, so the rogue levels being favored didn't even matter.

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

deadDMwalking
deadDMwalking's picture

Favored Class isn't a good mechanic, but it doesn't come up much in 3.x. It does in Pathfinder, and it serves to reduce multi-classing. Multi-classing has it's own problems, but I don't think that it should be discouraged. If you can't create a character concept with a single class, your options are to create a new class OR find a way to encapsulate it with a combination of existing classes. I think that there are several fantasy tropes that fit in that example - Robin Hood being a perfect test case.

While you might think 'Ranger', I'm not familiar with any Robin Hood stories that have him spending a lot of time talking to animals. But he isn't really a straight up Fighter, either. If nothing else, they get too few skills and lots of abilities to use heavy armor that he never uses. Rogue is probably in there to capture some of his 'highway man' depictions. So we're probably talking a 2 or 3 class combination (or maybe wilderness rogue plus one other class).

I think the idea of 'favored class' is to reward a character for sticking to a concept. The problem occurs when the concept is good, but it's not possible to 'stick to it' without dipping into one or more additional classes. Even a lot of 2E classics (like Elf Fighter/Wizard) aren't concepts that work with a single class.

Fixxxer
Fixxxer's picture

deadDMwalking wrote:

While you might think 'Ranger', I'm not familiar with any Robin Hood stories that have him spending a lot of time talking to animals.

Oh yeah? :D

MinusInnocence
MinusInnocence's picture

The point about Pathfinder is a good one. There, people can take levels in whatever classes they like; but if it is in their favored class, they receive an extra hit point or skill point per level. This isn't exactly gamebreaking but it is a nice incentive. So nice it deters people from dipping into other classes? I'm not sure. The group I primarily played with in Houston wasn't shy about taking levels in whatever to fit exactly what they were looking for, and the Robin Hood thing came up a lot as an example of why this was necessary. Maybe fighter/rogue, but the favored terrain and woodland stride abilities are pretty fucking cool. To that end, Pathfinder does offer something by way of consolation in archetypes. There are tons for each class and each of them changes one or more aspects of the class in a fundamental way. It probably wouldn't be hard to find a version of Fighter that sacrifices armor or weapon training or even some bonus feats for some classic ranger abilities. A scout archetype for Rogue would be even more plausible.

I think this is a problem in any game that features classes at all. But the one thing I know for sure is how unsatisfactory the solution was in 3E. I'm actually a really big fan of how it worked in d20 Modern.