What would the four 'core' appendix N classes be?

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vivsavage
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What would the four 'core' appendix N classes be?

Post by vivsavage »

We've all grown accustomed to the four 'standard' classes of fighter/warrior, wizard, thief, and cleric. But, while the former 3 classes all seem to fit well within the appendix N tradition, I would argue that the cleric really doesn't fit the pre-1980 mold of fantasy lit (certainly not that of Howard, Leiber, et al). If you agree, what would better fit a fourth standard character class? I'm wondering if 'archer' or 'barbarian' would be the answer? This assumes that the standard warrior class from appendix N sources is a melee combatant who wears armor and hails from a more civilized culture. The barbarians in Conan stories seem distinct from other warrior types, as does Fafhrd. REH always seemed to differentiate barbarians from other warrior-types.
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Re: What would the four 'core' appendix N classes be?

Post by Fear the Cheesemaker »

I don't agree, and think the core four of Fighter, Thief, Magic-User and Cleric still hold up in DCC, but will be interested to read what others have to say. :)

If I were to agree though, I think the four would need to be expanded to seven, since Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling are now classes in and of themselves.
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Re: What would the four 'core' appendix N classes be?

Post by Skars »

It seems like monk types and cultists were often referred to in Appendix N lit, couldn't the cleric essentially be the amalgam of those personas?

Honestly, you could go warrior/spellcaster if you wanted to pare down.
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Re: What would the four 'core' appendix N classes be?

Post by vivsavage »

Skars wrote:It seems like monk types and cultists were often referred to in Appendix N lit, couldn't the cleric essentially be the amalgam of those personas?
Yes ano no (IMHO, of course). There are certainly many priests in this stuff, but I don't ever recall reading of any armored, mace-weilding healers. The priests of Conan and Nehwon tend to be NPC-types, and are often evil. I can't think of any examples of PC-type clerics. Anyone?
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Re: What would the four 'core' appendix N classes be?

Post by Skars »

The dubious "Father Umphred" from Jack Vance's Lyonesse Trilogy comes to mind.
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Re: What would the four 'core' appendix N classes be?

Post by vivsavage »

Skars wrote:The dubious "Father Umphred" from Jack Vance's Lyonesse Trilogy comes to mind.
I'll check that out!
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Re: What would the four 'core' appendix N classes be?

Post by cjoepar »

hmmm... If I were to go strictly appendix N, I would not have classes. Just the ability to build skills as I go up in level in whatever direction I am interested in (augmented by my initial ability scores). There are many characters in the literature that do not seem to fit neatly into a character class.
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Re: What would the four 'core' appendix N classes be?

Post by Raven_Crowking »

Hiero's Journey, including a casting or two of Second Sight (Augury in D&D).

The Blue Star includes a priest who heals sea sickness.
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Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.
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Re: What would the four 'core' appendix N classes be?

Post by jozxyqk »

vivsavage wrote:
Skars wrote:The dubious "Father Umphred" from Jack Vance's Lyonesse Trilogy comes to mind.
I'll check that out!
Father U's just a classic scheming, unscrupulous flatterer-priest trying to get his hooks into pagan royalty. He doesn't heal, and I don't think he would ever enter combat voluntarily. (Also, Lyonesse isn't, strictly speaking, Appendix N. Published too late. But those books are amazing, and you should definitely read them).
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Re: What would the four 'core' appendix N classes be?

Post by Skars »

He is certainly a dubious character, I guess he might not meet the shining clerical persona referred to, but he is most certainly a "priest".
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Re: What would the four 'core' appendix N classes be?

Post by Exedor »

The cleric was not really from the appendix N, apparently:

http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?264 ... ost5787205

I have always found the cleric to be great fun to play, and a gift to the DM for compelling storyline. If the players are not just fighting, say, Orcs, but rather an Orc-cult dedicated to Gruumsh, who occasionally pluck out one eye from captives and then let them go, and it feels more believable (amazingly). And also they don't just kill some Orcs, they anger Gruumsh, and that can have consequences at higher levels...clerics help the story write itself.

Clerics also give your players a chance to pretend to believe stridently in something totally ludicrous, with all the attendant role-playing opportunities.
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Re: What would the four 'core' appendix N classes be?

Post by finarvyn »

Exedor's link certainly is correct. The original two classes from Chainmail (1972-ish) were essentially fighting men and magic-users. Fighters had only three levels (normal, hero, super hero) while magic-users had five levels (seer, magician, warlock, sorcerer, wizard).

The cleric was created in response to the vampire PC which entered the Blackmoor campaign, and its inspiration was pretty much from priests in movies like The Omen who could scare off the undead, plus Crusaders who would smite evil as holy warriors. (Which is why the paladin duplicates the cleric so much.) If you look in the "beta" section, you can find a couple of pre-DCC threads where we discussed whether clerics had a real place in Appendix N role playing. The final result was essentially "we think probably not, but Joseph likes them and he's da man" so the cleric was left in for historical purposes and to appease the guy who has his name on the letterhead stationary. :wink:

The concept of a "big four" class scheme didn't really come into play until Supplement I Greyhawk (1975) when the thief was added into the mix. I still tend to use the "big four" in most of my campaigns because it gives a nice range of diverse options for players.

Race-as-class (the remaining three of DCC's "big seven") didn't actually come into play until Tom Moldvay's Basic D&D rules from 1981. Prior to that date, you could run elves or dwarves or hobbits with limited options. Dwarves were fighters only (then later could be thieves or ftr-thief characters), elves fighters or magic-users (then later could be ftr-mu-thief), hobbits only fighters (then later thieves or fighter-thieves). Molldvay actually put together class charts so that you could "play a dwarf" or other racial class.

So, bottom line is that Appendix N doesn't really have a "big four" but probably a "big three" (fighter, magic-user, thief) instead. DCC RPG doesn't have a "big four" either, but has seven instead.

Just my two coppers.
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Re: What would the four 'core' appendix N classes be?

Post by Ravenheart87 »

finarvyn wrote:The cleric was created in response to the vampire PC which entered the Blackmoor campaign, and its inspiration was pretty much from priests in movies like The Omen who could scare off the undead, plus Crusaders who would smite evil as holy warriors. (Which is why the paladin duplicates the cleric so much.)
Probably the most important from those movie priests is Peter Cushing's van Helsing from the Hammer horror movies. He's one badass vampire slayer. :)
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Re: What would the four 'core' appendix N classes be?

Post by Raven_Crowking »

While the above is true, there is precedence for clerical healing in Appendix N, as well as clerical support magic in REH's Conan stories. There is precedence for Turn the Unholy (fey) in Poul Anderson and Lord Dunsany. There is precedence for both in Andre Norton.

For what it's worth, I really like the Disapproval system, which has been quite flavourful in my games. We have a Chaotic cleric of the Toad-Fiend who is convinced that his god hates him.
SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.
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Re: What would the four 'core' appendix N classes be?

Post by cjoepar »

Some great background on the origins of the Cleric, guys. Thanks for the history. Finarvyn, I haven't thought about the old Chainmail rules in many years. We used to fight huge battles with hundreds and hundreds of miniatures using those rules back in the mid-70's.

There is another reason why I think the Cleric surfaced, and why it will tend remain one of the core classes as rpg's evolve over the years. If you look at the 4 core classes, each represents one of the 4 basic human personality arch-types fairly closely. The Fighter is the Director, the Wizard is the Thinker, the Thief is the Socializer and the Cleric fits the Relator mold. I think that part of the draw to playing rpg's is the ability to assume the roles of other personality types. For instance, I am a Relator/Socializer personality type, but I have found that I enjoy the roles of Wizard and Fighter the most when I play, and Thief to a lessor extent and the Cleric least of all.

Just my personal thoughts on the topic.
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Re: What would the four 'core' appendix N classes be?

Post by Raven_Crowking »

Interesting analysis, cjoepar. You may be on to something there.
SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.
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Re: What would the four 'core' appendix N classes be?

Post by JRR »

I prefer the big 3 of fighter,cleric, magic user.IMO.the addition of the thief began stripping role playing out and replacing it with roll playing. Before the thief, dms described traps,and pcs roleplayed disarming them. With the thief, it gets glossed over and reduced to a single dieroll, Boring.
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Re: What would the four 'core' appendix N classes be?

Post by finarvyn »

JRR wrote:I prefer the big 3 of fighter,cleric, magic user.IMO.the addition of the thief began stripping role playing out and replacing it with roll playing. Before the thief, dms described traps,and pcs roleplayed disarming them. With the thief, it gets glossed over and reduced to a single dieroll, Boring.
My experience was very different, but yours is an interesting perspective. I've never felt that the thief took the "role" out of any game, and have several players who enjoy playing the thief with a lot of role in their style. I guess different groups had different reactions.

The objection I hear most to inclusion of the thief is that pre-thief characters could all attempt thief actions, but post-thief characters felt that they couldn't attempt them any more.
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Re: What would the four 'core' appendix N classes be?

Post by Ravenheart87 »

finarvyn wrote:The objection I hear most to inclusion of the thief is that pre-thief characters could all attempt thief actions, but post-thief characters felt that they couldn't attempt them any more.
Something I never understood. Why would the creative solutions of non-thief characters for disarm and thievery become meaningless once the thief appears? The thief only gets a "saving throw" to automatically succeed in such tasks.
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