Class Balancing...

I was thinking about making some new custom classes for my campaign to replace the basic ones and the idea behind them is to make more ‘Vancian’ characters who are more well rounded than the typical mage/fighter/cleric/thief.

So instead of 4 point niche classes I’d create a set of 6 point classes that are all Fighter 2, Thief 1 in basic ability and then add 3 more points in magic, divine, thieving, Hit Dice or general customization, based upon the class specifics. Basically I’m creating a set of more general adventurer types with specialties ala Conan, Fafhrd, Elric, etc.

But the question is this: are the classes balanced so long as they all are built on 6 or is 4 also balanced against the game world as well (especially when taking into account elves, dwarves, etc.)? Considering the increased XP cost to level and the still fragile nature of characters due to beginning HP totals, Save or Die effects, etc. I’m fairly certain the same old school play-style will continue to manifest itself, but I wanted to see the reasoning behind the Player’s Companion system before I implemented them…

While I can’t answer for Alex and Tavis, my understanding is that the 4 point limitation is entirely due to ‘that’s how it was done’ rather than some magical underlying math. The creation system came after the fact to allow the building of what already existed. So if you dispense with existing classes and replace them with a 6 point base seems like it would just create a new basis for balance.

To think about it another way, when AD&D came out, most classes got a HD bump (except Magic Users), effectively ‘resetting’ the point builds to 5 instead of 4 (same xp costs). No one really thought that was out of whack.

Now, if you are building a new campaign with that sort of thing inherent in the setting then:
a) I would love to see it. :slight_smile:
b) I think non-humans should ignore (for level restrictions) 2 points of class builds. So, a Spellblade as written would advance to level 12 (as though they were a 5 point class instead of a 7 pt one). Alternatively, you refigure them with two more points of abilities and leave the level limits as is.

There is some balancing inherent in the four-point build total. There are 4 class categories: Fighter, Cleric, Mage, Thief. There are 4 points. The Mage, being the most specialized class, has the highest points in his class category. The Priestess is a similar build, but for Clerics. And so on.

When you create classes with more than 4 points each,  you are creating classes that can specialize in two categories. For example, the elven spellsword can fight as well as the fighter, and cast spells as well as the mage. This is why ACKS has fairly punitive level restrictions, to prevent generalists from advancing as high as specialists.

That said, if you were playing a single player campaing (1 Judge, 1 Player) I could see an argument for assigning 8 build points to the PC without impacting the level cap. That would give you a hero with d8 hit points who could fight like a fighter and cast spells as a mage - Elric, in other words. If you were playing a two-player campaign (1 Judge, 2 Players), I could see giving 6 build points per PC. That would let you build Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser. 

If you have more than 2 players, I'd stick to 4 build points with level caps for excess build points, in order to ensure niche protection.

Alex, not to appear dim, but I’m not sure I fully understand your reply. Are you saying that classes are, indeed, balanced against more than each other, then? The way you put it, all that seems to matter is the level cap, which in this case would be 11, but if all characters in those classes have that level cap (except Demi-Humans) then why is the cap necessary? Is it for balance against the standard monsters and NPCs, and/or important when it comes to the internal sub-systems?

If not, then I’m thinking that Twyll’s demihuman cap increase would work to redress the balance. After all, if all classes share the common point bonus of Fighter 2, Thief 1 and can use their remaining points to specialize, then the niches are still technically protected, aren’t they? Even the fighter, who can spend their extra points on bigger HD or by claiming a Hero Tier in fighting ability.

I’m not adverse to level capping the PCs at 11, as that is relatively light given the 14 level max, but I wonder if it is necessary given the general increase for all classes across the board.

Sounds neat, and very pulpy / genre-appropriate. Definitely post 'em if you end up making them; I look forward to seeing your results.

Hi Maxwell,

I apologize that I was unclear. You asked "Are you saying that classes are, indeed, balanced against more than each other, then?" 

What I was trying to say is that the classes are balanced with the idea that there will be 4 or more players in the group, with each player intended to fill one niche in the game (fighter, thief, mage, cleric). Classes with more than 4 points are generalists who overlap two niches at a cost of depth. 

So I was simply cautioning that, while the idea of Vancian characters is fun and attractive, IF your group is large (4+ players) it may actually decrease the fun of the game by eliminating niche protection and reducing the benefits of team work. IF your group is small (1-3 players), it will be great fun.

Regardless of the size of the group, you should set level 14 as the maximum level for whatever you decide is the "base build points" in your setting. If all of your players get 6 build points for their classes, then set level 14 as the maximum level for 6 build points.

Hell, if you wanted to try something really out-there, you could go with the following:

0 Build Points: Max Level 1 - 50% of population gets 0 build points

1 Build Point: Max Level 2 - 25% of population gets 1 build point

2 Build Points: Max Level 4 - 10% of population gets 2 build points

3 Build Points: Max Level  6 - 5% of population gets 3 build points

4 Build Points: Max Level 8 - 2% of population gets 4 build points

5 Build Points: Max Level 11 - 0.5% of population gets 5 build points

6 Build Points: Max Level 14 - 0.01% of population gets 6 build points


Ah, that makes sense. Thanks for the advice. And consider that population breakdown yoinked.