March 6th, 2006


Archtypes in Classless Games

So watching Firefly got me thinking of this...

In classic standard D&D, it was generally agreed by all that a party with any hope of survival needed a Fighter, a Magic User, a Thief and a Cleric. Once you had those 4 nailed down, someone could make a Ranger or a second Fighter or if you didn't have all those, the last guy had to make a Cleric damnit.

((Yes, yes I know you could make a party of 4 Rogues and a Druid if you really wanted to or if that was the campaign you were playing in, but for typical dungeon crawling, evil slaying, the above mentioned party was pretty well standard, and seems to be pretty standard to this day. Please don't reply with "But my party doesn't have a Rogue and we have 2 Clerics!" That's not my point.))

Anyway, looking at Firefly, we have a different set of Archtypes that show up frequently in tv and movies and fiction. (And I should mention, in roleplaying game groups. They're just usually not predefined.)

The Leader
The Muscle
The Wise One
The Comedic Relief
The Outsider

(Yes, we also have The Other Wise One, Second in Command, The Fixer, and The Healer. But how many RPG parties have 9 PCs?) (I also just noticed that most of these archtypes showed up on the A Team too...)

So here's what I'm thinking. What if you made a concious decision to insert these archtypes in a party at character creation, in a game without standard classes and roles?

For my upcoming 50 Fathoms campaign, I'm thinking of handing out cards with the above archtypes (or a variant thereof) and letting players pick a role, and using that as a guideline to build their character. It might or might not have actual mechanical effects. Right now I'm leaning towards yes.

Anyway, thoughts, comments, flames?

To randomise?

Ok, after reading the last post on here, a question for all:

Do you like, dislike, or not care about, having random backgrounds? I'm not talking about stats or anything, I'm referring to the backstories - for example, rolling to see what happened in your past, or random events that happened during your life, or whatever.

Additionally, would you make your character concept before or after making the rolls? I'm one of the people who likes to write up a 2 page backstory, personality and reason for adventuring before touching the dice for making the character mechanically, and I find random backgrounds to really interfere with that.
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