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Default Freeform vs class-based character building?

September 7th, 2018, 13:54
Which do you prefer and why?

Freeform character building - Fallout, Arcanum, Morrowind, VTMB, Deus Ex, Gothic,

Class based - Baldurs Gate, Wizardry, Might & Magic, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, ect.
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September 7th, 2018, 14:55
I prefer a mix of the two.

I don't like it when classes are stuck to using only one or two weapon type or a single type of armor which is what most modern RPGs are doing when they have classes, but I like the identity that comes with picking a class (especially if it is referred to in-game) which is absent from pure freeform.
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September 7th, 2018, 16:53
I actually don't care. How can I when I love both types.

What I don't like is respec allowed in character building games. Blackguards was refreshing - game over if you screwed your builds. Now that's a challenge IMO all character building games should have, not silly so called "iron mode" difficulty which is make opponents bulletsponges and yet no actual game fail mechanics because the player wasn't thinking but was clicking randomly on character sheet screen.
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September 7th, 2018, 17:34
Having come from the traditions of D&D, I'd have to say I would pick the class based system over the freeform, if I had to choose one.

But that doesn't mean I hate the non-class based system, it just is not to my tastes like the class based is. I definitely like making characters of a more "pure" build when playing freeform though. For example, my fighter will be a specialist, and the wizard will also specialize in one or two schools of magic. I'm not making characters with vastly different skills or combining builds like having a thief with a wizard and fighter… No.

Like a previous commenter, I like the focus of the class system.
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September 7th, 2018, 17:47
I usually prefer free-form because I tend to like to pick how my character will become as the game progresses.

I don't mind it if you pick some skills early on but I don't like picking everything at the start usually because I then feel my build doesn't fit the character I am building.

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September 7th, 2018, 20:14
I like the point build system because of the flexibility it provides in designing your character. I can get closer to the character concept I want to play, and I don't feel trapped in some stereotypical role. That being said, I'm okay with class-based systems since that is the more common type. Why limit my gaming options? I can see how it would be easier to write a class-based game, since point-based is more difficult to balance.
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September 8th, 2018, 01:48
If I'm stuck deciding between the two, I'll take skill based.

What I would really like to see, though, are bonuses to learn similar skills. If my character has learned how to use a long sword already, learning a short sword should be easier. Learning dagger, however, wouldn't be much easier. Learning the bow wouldn't be easier at all.

I *think* that would lead to something much like a class system where your class is determined by your groups of skills. If you first picked a magic spell then just picked similar spells forever, you would be a pure mage - quite stunning when it comes to casting spells but totally ordinary in every other respect. Buying a wide variety of skills will make for a character a very flexible character but a master of nothing.

The real nice thing about this is that it can be done one piece at a time. You could start out as a simple fighter, learning an easy weapon and easy armor, but then spread out to learn magic, thieving, or whatever after a few hours of play. Then perhaps spreading out even more - or going back and improving the fighter skills. Not only is it flexible, it also puts a lot less importance on the player's initial choices which the player has to make before really knowing how the game works.
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September 8th, 2018, 02:36
The only advantage I see with class-based systems is that compartmentalizing makes it easier to balance the system. Otherwise, classes are unnecessary limitations.
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September 8th, 2018, 03:45
I much prefer the class system. I like the limitations put on different classes. I also like having each character specialize on different skills and abilities.

I don’t like the everyone can do anything or one character being able to master everything that free form allows.

Having said that I don’t feel one is necessarily better than the other. It’s just a personal preference thing.

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September 8th, 2018, 04:51
Again, saki says everything I want to say I prefer class system for the reasons stated above.

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September 8th, 2018, 05:13
class based if I'm forced to play a party, free form for single-character games.
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September 8th, 2018, 11:20
Originally Posted by Zloth View Post
If I'm stuck deciding between the two, I'll take skill based.

What I would really like to see, though, are bonuses to learn similar skills. If my character has learned how to use a long sword already, learning a short sword should be easier. Learning dagger, however, wouldn't be much easier. Learning the bow wouldn't be easier at all.
Age of Decadence has that, but it's not done strong enough to be useful to wield a dagger if you were a swordfighter.
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September 8th, 2018, 11:27
Class-based as it can be tied into the story and side quests. Then again, freeform systems where you can join a guild (or you have like an origin) achieve a similar experience.
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September 8th, 2018, 14:53
Class based all the way. Freeform is ok with single-character games, but for multi-character I want Joe to be the warrior (no he's too stupid to cast spells), Louis to be the cleric, Antor is the rogue and Storm is the wizard.
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September 8th, 2018, 15:39
Bloodlines is a mixture IMO. Each class (race) has its specific Disciplines and playstyle, yet most skills and abilities remain the same besides those. I prefer that sort of thing, it's a nice balanced mix. I also liked Drakensang where you could just go buck wild and put points in whatever you wanted, but it was class-based. Get EXP, spend it on anything from stat points to magic, weapon skills and more. Those 2 stand out to me as what I really enjoyed from my recent CRPG'ing.
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September 8th, 2018, 18:53
No preference but i dislike games where equipment defines the class/skills. I could see such a system work but the ones i've played have (imho) been quite poor.
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September 8th, 2018, 19:24
Both are fine to me, as long as no character can be everything. I prefer it if the system is limited (not in regards to how many options I can pick from, but in regards to how many I can pick before my character is maxed out). But if I pick Joe to be a fighter from the start or if I specialize him to be one is of less importance.

Having said that, I can't remember playing any party based games where a freeform system was done well.
Last edited by TomRon; September 11th, 2018 at 20:23.
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September 10th, 2018, 10:17
I don't really care as long as there are enough choices that are interesting, and the game can satisfy me in terms of my playstyle.

With that said, when I look at the most freeform character systems - including TES and Fallout - they tend to lack flavor in terms of the power fantasy. With rigid class-based systems, like (the original) D&D and 1st/2nd Edition AD&D - they lack flexibility and diversity.

So, for me, an ideal is a mixture of both - but they're relatively rare. Even rarer is that they're handled well.

3rd Edition D&D is probably the most established system that does this well, but there's plenty of room for improvement.

DDO changes the system to include more active feats and abilities - which is a definite improvement, and I'd say DDO is among my favorite CRPGs in terms of character development and progression.

If I could have a game with the rich flavor and insane amount of active abilities of, say, Diablo 3 - and it was combined with the complexity and build diversity of D&D 3/3.5 - that would probably be ideal.

I'm developing my own RPG system, currently - which is freeform, but I'm attempting to add as much flavor and meaning to the power fantasy as I can.

I wonder how others will find it.

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