Recently, Chris Pramas of Green Ronin asked the Twtitterverse if he were to add a fourth class to a generic fantasy game based on the AGE system, what should it be? The majority of respondents went with a Priest class. But is that the right way to go? Let’s take a look at the three classes that exist in Set 1, and see if what roles in a generic adventuring group aren’t being filled.

The Mage is the guy with magic: lightly armored, big magic spells. The magic in Dragon Age is broad enough, that even expanding the spell lists to a generic fantasy game, you can cover quite a lot with just the basic class. Even looking at the magic spells only in the first book, you’ll see that a priest class is already in there. With the description of the Mage and his first few class powers, all that’s needed is to change out the word “Arcane” for “Holy” in the Arcane Lance skill, and choose the Creation Mage suite of spells for a first level character, and bam! There’s your priest. (Actually, it’s your AD&D Cleric. You’ll be able to “turn undead” using the Horror or Repulsion Field spells in Set 2.)

Now the Rogue, she’s the dirty fighter of the group. Sneak in and stab is what this character is all about. She’s the one that “can launch devastating attacks with [her] backstab ability”, and a look at the class powers in Set 1 and in the beta Set 2 document all point to that. Backstab works with melee attacks, Bluff adds onto that, Dirty Fighting in Set 2 is all about melee.

The last guy in our group is the Warrior. Described as the true frontline fighter, this is the guy that supposed to wade into combat, take up a lot of damage, and beat the crap out of the bad guys. He’s got five weapon groups by fourth level and two or three weapon-focused talents. He’s going to be rather powerful in straight hand-to-hand combat all throughout the lower levels of the game.

So what’s missing? I really don’t think it’s a priest class. The whole notion that there has to be a separate class for someone to heal and provide support for the rest of the group is something that comes from the dragon in the room. Just because D&D did it doesn’t mean this game needs to. (And, as described above, if you really want your Priest of St. Fiacre, you can just Mage him up.)

What I see as missing is a combatant that is focused on ranged attacks. Take a look at the Rogue class on page 28 of Set 1. Sure, you’ve got a guy with a bow and arrow and the class description says “you are excellent at ranged combat”, but the class powers seem to focus on being within dagger’s distance of the bad guys. Backstab, Bluff, Dirty Fighting — all give bonuses and abilities to getting up close and personal. Only at level 2 and at level 9 is the Rogue given abilities that can be used at a distance.

Ah, but what about kitting up an archer from the Warrior class? Well, let’s see about making up an archer based on the Warrior (and just using Set 1). Right off the bat, she is going to get the Bows group and Archery Style (novice). Level 3, I’m bumping that up to Archery Style (journeyman), and at level 4, she can perform the Dual Strike stunt for cheaper (which does help out with archery). Then at Level 5, I would increase that Archery Style to Master, but that’s in Set 2. Although if I do sneak a peek at Set 2, there really aren’t any Warrior specialization to focus on, so well, I guess Champion, which helps when she charges an enemy. Which she won’t do. Because, you know, bow and arrow.

It seems like the archer concept sort of falls flat around level six.

Or I take her as a Rogue and get a whole bunch of class skills that she’ll not use.

Let’s also peek ahead at the Rogue specializations in Set 2. The only one of the three that might fit is the Assassin, and it’s really just the Novice-level ability that works for her. Journeyman level and Master level are all about close combat again.

If I were going to generic fantasy the game up, I’d have your all-purpose Mage fill in the magic roles — it should be simple enough to tweak the spell selection to fit a mold of magic-user. The warrior, I’d make into the primary frontline fighter with some weaker ranged abilities: take out Archery Style and Thrown Weapon Style as part of the Warrior Talent tree. Create a class that’s just the opposite: strong distance fighting abilities and weaker close combat abilities, and use the Rogue class as the class that fits comfortably between the two.

So, what do you think? Does there need to be a fourth class in a generic fantasy Dragon Age-based game? If so, what class would that be?

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