Darkest Dungeons classes

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smarttman
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Darkest Dungeons classes

Post by smarttman » Sat Apr 21, 2012 11:39 pm

So, looking over Rolemaster, I find myself discovering: 'Hey, besides magic, I can't tell the difference between these classes!' Maybe it's just the organization of the book, or maybe I'm just no seeing it.

So, for example, what distinguishes a Fighter from a Rogue, or in Darkest Dungeons's case, a Warrior from an Adventurer? Is it just skills? Or is it something else?

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Re: Darkest Dungeons classes

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Sun Apr 22, 2012 12:25 am

In the case of non-spell casters (which is only four classes out of 20), the difference is in skill costs and class bonuses.

The Warrior is your basic armoured knight/tank. They get weapon skills cheap, so are likely to be proficient in multiple ones, and get to wear heavy armour (theoretically the others can also wear it, but it's very expensive for them in terms of skill points).

The Ascetic is a martial artist. They can use weapons, but they're much better than anyone else at unarmed combat, focusing their Ki for superhuman feats, and dodging around in combat (like the warrior with armour, other classes can also learn martial arts but will find it very expensive).

The Scoundrel is a sneak. They get stealth and sneak attack (which is a skill, not a class feature) cheaply; along with trap disarming and lock picking skills. Once again, these are skills that anyone can learn but it will cost other characters more points to do so.

The Adventurer is the Jack-of-all-trades. They're basically average at everything, without being really bad at anything. They are also much better than the other non-spell-caster classes for people who want do dabble in a bit of magic.

It's not just the skill costs. Each of those classes also gets class bonuses (which means that they improve some skills as they go up levels even without buying additional ranks in them, and this improvement stacks with the additional ranks they buy meaning that at a given level they can be just plain better than anyone else in their speciality area.

So the difference is kind of like the difference between Fighters and Rogues in 3.x D&D. While theoretically a rogue can fight and a fighter can learn stealth skills; the difference in skill costs and natural (e.g. BAB in D&D) bonuses means that they each have a clearly visible niche to fill.

This also applies to the spell casters. The three spheres of magic are very different from each other in focus. Each does things well that the others do either badly or not at all. So while at first glance, a Penitent and Empath (Darkest Dungeons' equivalent of Rolemaster's Healer and Lay Healer respectively) both appear to be full casters with reasonably similar skills and just a different set of six Exclusive Spell Paths each only tells half the story. The Penitent gets their six exclusive paths plus the twenty Divine paths, and the Empath gets their six exclusive paths plus the twenty Psionic paths. Even though both are primarily healers (in both cases five of their six exclusive spell paths are devoted to normal healing spells and the sixth is a path for their own special way of healing people) this gives the two classes a very different "feel" in play.

Another huge difference that applies to spell casters is the armour and weapon limitations on casters. Arcane casters can't wear armour at all and can't carry much weight around without ruining their spells. This - combined with the sort of spells they have - gives them a very traditional "mage" feel. Divine casters can wear leather armour and wooden shields, but not metal; and a lot of their magic is more nature oriented, so they all tend to feel kind of rangery or druidic. Psionic casters can wear as heavy armour as they like and use whatever weapons they like as long as they leave their head uncovered. Again, this - combined with the sort of spells that they get - gives them a common feel, yet one that is different from the other types of caster.

These differences aren't that apparent by just looking at the class descriptions and skill costs (which, to be honest, tend to blur into a big list of numbers when I look at them too much) but come out strongly during play. Another difference that comes out strongly in play is the difference made by the difference in skill costs between the spell casting classes. Those casters who are only partial casters (the equivalent of Rolemaster's "Semi-" spell users) have a more expensive cost to buy spells than the full casters. Again, this doesn't look much on the class write-up (it's just a difference in a single number) but it makes a huge difference in play. The different spell buying rules and costs for the two types of class mean that in play they're as different as, say, D&D's Wizards and Paladins. Both technically spell casters but one having far more magic than the other and the one with less magic being able to fight almost as strongly as the non-caster classes. Again, the differences between the spheres also play into this.
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Re: Darkest Dungeons classes

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Sun Apr 22, 2012 1:27 am

To sum up how each class feels in play, rather than just give a dry run-down of their abilities...

Adventurer - Very much the "fifth man" in an adventuring party, covering the bases that there might not be a specialist for. They could have learned a few spells from a sphere that there is no caster for, they can fight if needed, and they might have miscellaneous or stealth skills so they can act as back-up for or as a replacement for a full-time scoundrel.

Artificer - Very much an oddity in an adventuring party. They're very useful to have in the system because they're the backbone of the magic item creation rules, but they often feel out of place in an adventuring party. To be honest, they make better NPCs than PCs. Still, if you have the sort of player who likes crafting items then the Artificer can be an okay choice; but they tend to feel like the token civilian who needs the rest of the party to protect them during adventures in order that they can then make things for the party between adventures.

Ascetic - Two words: Bruce Lee.

Conjurer - These are very much the "Batman Wizard". They clearly fit the robe-wearing-wizard stereotype, and their spells tend to be those that can be really useful but require imagination and cunning to realise the right spell for the right situation. With the way illusions work in Darkest Dungeons (an illusionary bridge can have physical substance to it and support your weight) they are excellent at creating the right item/solution for any puzzle and are great for players who like that sort of character.

Elementalist - While another robe-wearing-wizard type, these are obviously the "Blaster Wizard". They throw fireballs and lightning bolts around and who could ask for more than that?

Empath - These are very much the surgeons of the world. As the only non-Divine class that's any good at healing people, they also make a good "White Mage" type character (albeit a psionic one).

Explorer - With their leather armour, combat abilities, and nature magic, these guys are clearly rangers and feel the part strongly.

Lifemaster - Of all the classes, this is the one that I've always felt has the least strong "hook" or theme. They can raise the dead and destroy undead, but their other spells have often felt rather disparate to me. They're obviously priests, but don't have the feel of D&D's paladin or cleric. I might try to do something about this and see if I can give them a stronger theme than the Rolemaster class that they emulate by swapping out a couple of their spell paths for those from other Rolemaster classes (from supplements) that I'm not using.

Penitent - The way Penitents heal by taking the wounds of others onto their own body is great flavour and makes them really stand out as different from the other clerical types. Despite wearing less armour than an Empath can, they've always felt more of a combat medic to me. The Empath will fight alongside you with Psionic spells, and then patch you up afterwards. The Penitent, on the other hand, will dive into the fray to suck those wounds off you so and take them onto themselves, sacrificing their combat ability so that you can keep standing and fighting for longer.

Ravager - As an Arcane/Divine caster, the Ravager very much has the feel of the "Cultist". The fact that all their spells concentrate on destroying things also makes them good as moustache-twirling villains (or morally dubious anti-heroes in a party). While they still fit the robe-wearing-wizard archetype somewhat, they tend to be less flashy than others. If they want something gone they don't blow it up like an Elementalist would. They just make it disappear.

Rhymer - Similar to D&D's bards (although Rolemaster's version of this class - also called a Bard - predates them by quite a way), these guys have a clear niche to fill that distinguishes them from the other Arcane users (they're far more worldly). If anything, they're closest to the non-specialised Adventurer in theme. They tend to be more magical, however, and their spells make them a great party "Face". It's just a pity that they're a bit underpowered at times.

Scoundrel - These guys clearly fit the Thief/Scout mould. They're built for sneaking, backstabbing, and breaking and entering and have a very clear theme to them.

Shadowmancer - As necromancers, and as Divine/Psionic casters, these guys have a lot in common thematically with Ravagers. Both are the more anti-social side of magic and both have a bit of a "Cultist" feel about them because of their divine side. Although theoretically a Shadowmancer could wear much more armour (because they don't use Arcane spells), they tend not to anyway and kind of end up as a robe-wearing-wizard to an extent. However, the fact that they are based on having minions easily distinguishes them from the other more wizardly types.

Telepath - Another class with a very distinctive feel. They feel very "Psi-Corps" with their telepathy and mental attacks/control, and being Psionic they are great for players who want to play the "character with dangerous powers" who isn't a wizardly type.

Transcendental - If the Ascetic is Bruce Lee, the Transcendental is Jackie Chan. They are clearly martial artists, but of the Wu Xia stunt type rather than the intense brooding warrior type. Their spells have them bouncing off the walls - quite literally at times.

Visionary - As the third type of Psionic (after Telepaths and Empaths), a Visionary has a very distinct feel of their own. They can sometimes feel a bit like an Artificer in that they can't do much in a fight and need protecting, but their premonitions and other spells give them far more reason to be out adventuring. They tend to end up in a subdued and gentle advisory role that makes them feel very different from the other Psionic classes.

Warlock - An Arcane/Psionic caster, but they are able to avoid the robe-wearing-wizard trope, mainly by being so scary as a magical thief/assassin. In fact their stealth, distraction and disguise based spells often make them seem more like a ninja than a wizard (lack of martial arts ability notwithstanding).

Warrior - The archetypal heavily armoured "meat shield". Given the lack of heavy armour amongst the other classes (the Psionic casters can theoretically wear it - but one is a martial artist, one is pretty much a non-combatant advisor, and one is a healer) this is actually a surprisingly protected, and surprisingly powerful, niche.

Witch - This is the Darkest Dungeons class that is least similar to its Rolemaster inspiration. It's actually an amalgam of three Rolemaster classes and is far closer to a D&D Druid than anything else, with shapechanging and animal companions. Because they are a "new" class, I don't have personal experience of how they play (I do for all the other classes)

Wizard - Yes, it's another robe-wearing-wizard class. It's hard to describe how these guys feel, because each one can be so different. They're sort of like a D&D Sorcerer, in that they get less magic choice than others but because they can choose any six spell paths they will often end up with an unusual combination with a unique feel of their own. Two wizards can be very different in play.
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Re: Darkest Dungeons classes

Post by smarttman » Sun Apr 22, 2012 2:33 am

Shadowmancer and Wizard? They weren't listed in the "Putting Rolemaster in the SRD thread"! I assume you re-named the Prophet as the Shadowmancer, since he is the Divine/Psionic class now, but the Wizard seems entirely new! Does he, perhaps, combine all three types of magic?

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Re: Darkest Dungeons classes

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Sun Apr 22, 2012 10:49 am

There are three classes in Darkest Dungeons that don't match the Rolemaster ones.

The "Witch" was going to be a simple copy of Rolemaster's "Animist" class, but the problem there was that the Animist is really rubbish and underpowered except for a single spell list that's completely overpowered. So you end up with no-one wanting to play one but everyone wanting to someone else to play one so that there's someone in the party with the overpowered list (it's the list of spells that enhance healing herbs). So instead, I combined three Rolemaster classes to make the Witch. The skill costs and one of their spell paths are from the Animist. Four of their other spell paths are from Rolemaster's "Druid" class (from the "Rolemaster Companion" supplement) which is a much better class and in my long experience of Rolemaster is one that people are far more likely to actually want to play, and the last of their spell paths is from Rolemaster's "Beastmaster" class (from the "Rolemaster Companion II" supplement). I didn't want to include the whole Beastmaster class, partly because it's not core and partly because by the Companion II the power creep was really starting to set in, but that one spell path is a good one to give to the Witch.

The Shadowmancer isn't connected to the Prophet class (which was my original renaming of Rolemaster's "Astrologer"). The problem in this case was that the Astrologer is a really weak class both thematically and in terms of power. They kind of end up as a second-rate Seer (which I was already using, renamed as the Visionary) with a few light spells. So the Shadowmancer is a wholesale replacement for them. It's actually mostly an adaption of Rolemaster's "Necromancer" class (again from the Rolemaster Companion II). I included this for three reasons; firstly it is a dual-sphere class so fits the gap left by taking the Astrologer out, secondly it means that there is a way of creating undead in the system (core Rolemaster has this only in the optional "Evil Cleric" spell lists that I'm not using), and thirdly it's one of my favourite classes! The only change I've made (other than renaming it) is that one of the Necromancer's spell lists deals with a optional mechanic ("Life Levels") that the Rolemaster Companion II introduced. Since I'm not adding that mechanic to Darkest Dungeons I had to replace that list. I replaced it with one of the otherwise unused "Evil Magician" lists that seemed to be a good fit thematically.

Finally, the Wizard. The Wizard is a straight adaption of Rolemaster's "Archmage" class (from the Rolemaster Companion). They are a full spell caster of all three spheres, and they don't have any exclusive spell paths of their own. Instead they can choose any six paths (even those normally restricted to other classes) to use as their spell paths. This makes them a kind of "roll your own" spell caster for if you want something different that isn't covered by the existing classes. They pay for this extra flexibility by having a slightly increased skill point cost for buying spell paths (twice as much as other full casters, half as much as partial casters).
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Re: Darkest Dungeons classes

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Sun Apr 22, 2012 11:07 am

The Lifemaster Problem

When describing the classes yesterday, I drew attention to something that's been bugging me about the Lifemaster (based on Rolemaster's "Cleric"). The problem is that they have six spell paths but those paths don't serve to give them a unifying theme. If I had to describe any theme for them, it would be "they can do what D&D's clerics do". Their spells seem to be trying to cover all the bases of a D&D cleric and therefore seem rather disconnected from each other.

As it stands, the Cleric spell lists that I'm using as source material are:

Channels - A bunch of spells for passing other spells to people (so they can cast them instead of you) along with Rolemaster equivalents of D&D's Cause Blindness, Holy Word, and Finger of Death. That last one, by the way, is Rolemaster's only save-or-die spell.

Summons - A whole bunch of spells for summoning monsters, with a couple of demon summoning spells thrown in too.

Communal Ways - A set of minor precognition spells, along with equivalents of D&D's Speak With Dead and Commune spells.

Life Mastery - A set of spells for preserving corpses, raising the dead, and preventing people from dying in the first place.

Protections - As the name implies, it's a bunch of spells to protect people from elements and magic.

Repulsions - A set of spells that between them mimic the Turn Undead ability of D&D's clerics.

As you can see, that's a big mishmash of spells that aren't really connected to each other.

I renamed the class to "Lifemaster", picking up on the common theme of the Life Mastery and Repulsions lists (raising dead and defeating undead). The Summons list fits the life theme really well if we think of it as summoning life. Similarly, the Protections list can be thought of (and renamed) as preserving life.

But the Channels and Communal Ways lists just don't fit.

So I'm looking for a couple of unused lists (probably from one of the Companions) that will be a better fit to the Life theme.

Any suggestions from the Rolemaster players out there?
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Re: Darkest Dungeons classes

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Mon Apr 23, 2012 3:12 pm

I've been mulling this over, and looking through my Rolemaster books, and I think I may go for the following:

Turn Undead - ("Repulsions" renamed)
Raise Dead - ("Life Mastery" renamed)
Protect Life - ("Protections" renamed)
Summon Life - ("Summons" renamed)
Detect Life - (A slightly modified version of the "Starsense" Astrologer list)
Atificial Life - (A slightly modified version of the "Entity Mastery" Arcane list from the Rolemaster Companion)

That's only a small change to the class: it's only swapping out two spell lists. However, it reinforces the life theme much more - and I really like the fact that with adations of Entity Mastery and Repulsions, the Life Master ends up being paradoxically the best person to deal with undead, golems, elementals and the like. It's a nice change from the common "they're not really alive so your life magic doesn't work on them" cliche.
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