Rampant Games - Skills or Class?
The latest RPG design post at the Rampant Coyote starts to examine the old question of a Skills versus Class character development system, although this first part primarily lays the options on the table:
D&D 3.x – used in the Neverwinter Nights series, The Temple of Elemental Evil, Icewind Dale 2, etc., is a strong class-based hybrid. While there are plenty of skills (mainly non-combat based) and a common pool of feats that theoretically any character of any class can acquire, and one’s “class” is pretty flexible where class choice can change from level to level, most of the more significant upgrades and choices are dictated by class. While it’s possible for a wizard to pick a bunch of fighter-type abilities, it’s almost always a very poor choice. I’m really looking forward to any games (including the announced MMO) using the Pathfinder system, which is the spiritual sequel to third generation Dungeons & Dragons.
The loose implementations of the Vampire: The Masquerade system in the two CRPGs that drew from the system are, in my opinion, pretty evenly split in terms of class or skill focus. Much of the character dynamics are purely in skill-based territory, but some very key elements of the game are based upon the character’s clan. Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines did a fantastic job of making much of the game truly different for some clan choices, particularly the Malkavian or Nosferatu clans.