The announcement of dnd next has kind of overtaken everyone’s thoughts in the community. It’s difficult to see beyond it, and increasingly difficult to look back at the current game without wondering what will become of it. I’m not going to speculate on that right now. Instead I’m using this as a great opportunity to get people’s opinions on hacking the base 4e engine, and taking those ideas to my nascent game, Commando.
I’ve been back and forth on a central issue about characters. Class? Or not class? I doubt very much that dnd will ever NOT have classes, they’re legacy, and they work. For that reason alone, I think I want them in my game.
Given that I’m only using the martial part of 4e, it’s interesting what that leaves me class wise. It’s fighter, rogue, ranger and warlord. Four classes, just like the old school! I find that pleasing. Perhaps the easiest thing to do is simply reskin everything in the PHB and be done with it, but I think I want to do something a bit different.
It seems to me that your class should really only be the flesh of your character rather than the spine. It’s important story defining stuff, but it isn’t necessarily character defining. Ie it tells you what you do, and (broadly) how you do it, but not why you do it. I think what I’m interested in is a big old pool of generic martial powers (exploits). As you level, you pick from here, but you also get a class specific pick. It’s like themes from 4e, but in reverse. That is, you’re all soldiers (a single class) but as you progress you pick from themes, like a fighter theme, or warlord, or rogue.
Here’s my starting suggestion: everyone plays a ranger from the off.
The ranger is really the ranged soldier, and in Commando everyone needs to have those core abilities. It’s basic training. After that, you could specialise in close combat (fighter), infiltration (rogue) or command (warlord). It’s a nod to 3e free multiclassing really.
So that’s where I’m at right now. It’s subject to change, but I really like the idea of generic martial power pools that eventually lead to more specialised characters over time.