Geek Girls Rule! #475 – Character Classes = Tropes

Ok, I know I haven’t written about gaming in a while.

I haven’t gamed in awhile.

Part of it is my own doing, because I wanted more time for writing.  The rest is because being an adult is gods damned time consuming.  Ugh.

Seriously, I wouldn’t have tried to grow up so fast if I’d known how horrible most of it would be.

Anyway, this is a fight that pops up in gaming culture from time to time: Character Classes or not to Character Classes.

I am kind of right on the fence with this one.  I hate when they’re too restrictive and you can’t DO anything fun with them.  But, I also feel that for people who are new to gaming they’re a really useful tool for building at least somewhat effective characters.  And over the years I’ve put together sort of a handy “This is what X does,” sort of shorthand.

Because, lets face it, a lot of characters in media follow along those character class lines.

Captain America is obviously a Chaotic Good Paladin.*

Han Solo, Tony Stark, Star Lord are all Chaotic Neutral Rogues.  Tony thinks he’s Chaotic Good, but not really.  None of them are exactly evil, just kind of selfish, maybe a little short-sighted.

Natasha ranges, in her history, from Lawful Evil to Chaotic Neutral-ish/Good-ish Assassin.

Loki is Chaotic Evil Sorcerer/Wizard/Mage, whatever.

I’m sure you can find examples of everything if you think about it.  Batman ranges from Lawful Good Paladin to Chaotic Neutral Paladin all the time, depending on who’s writing him.

The thing is, as I said, these can be super helpful when introducing people to the idea of character concepts, and how to build them.  Lets face it, a lot of new gamers, faced with the pages upon pages of skill choices in GURPS for the first time, lose their tiny minds, and you get these characters who are either very, very good at one thing, and nothing else.  Or you get the characters who are a little bit ok at lots of things, but not really good at any of it.

Ok, so if I was building Cap in GURPS…** Cap would be kind of difficult to build well in GURPS unless you were given a fairly substantial amount of points to spend, say 300-400 points.  You have to give him pretty damn high Attributes, all four of them: Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence and HT.

You could get more points by giving him some Disadvantages like Code of Honor, Impulsiveness, Increased Consumption, Low Self-Image or Depression.  But you also need some serious Advantages for things like Appearance, Advanced Move, Enhanced Defenses, Charisma, Combat Reflexes, Fearlessness, Fit, Flexibility…

I mean, seriously.

Tony Stark would be less costly to build, but still at least 200 I’m thinking, with most of it spent on IQ, Wealth, and Gadget-y skills and Advantages, as well as Charisma and Appearance.  His Disads, though, would definitely help with points, Impulsiveness, Alcoholism…

I am so glad GURPS did away with that “Every point you buy in a skill cost double what it did before” thing in the earlier versions.  I am perfectly content to just keep paying four and four and four.

I do get grumpy with D&D and their character classes, because sometimes they are so restrictive, or have been in past editions.  I have not played 5th Ed.  Any system with classes that tells me that I can do nothing outside of a narrow, super narrow set of skills is not going to be my favorite.

Often when we would build characters for GURPS, the Geek Husband What Rules would encourage us to put at least a point into some frivolous skill as a hobby.  So, you’d get the knight who wrote poetry (badly).  The tank gunner who arranged flowers.  The professional gambler who fished.

He also gave us 5 points in quirks (1 point disads) that you could use on one 5 point disadvantage, but he encouraged us to use them for five weird little one point disads.  And honestly, sometimes those odd little hobbies came in handy, or a quirk would set off a scene.

If your system will not let me have a Ratcatcher who also plays the harp, or a debutante who can throw knives like a circus performer, then I have very little interest in your system.

*He is not Lawful Good, because Lawful Good would never have disobeyed orders to rescue the 107th (MCU Cap here), or become Nomad (comics Cap. So glad they did not go for the original costume in Infinity War).

**Damn it, now I want to stat out Cap in GURPS.  sigh


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