Character classes indicate the form of training and instruction that a levelled character has obtained, whether in fighting, spellcasting, meditation or nefarious activities. Character classes should be viewed more as a repository of knowledge and skills that an individual can apply to a wide range of professions, rather than being confined to a single specific vocation.
Classes serve as a foundational framework in the realm of role-playing games, providing players with a structured way to define their characters' skill-set, abilities and other characteristics. These classes not only contribute to the diversity of gameplay experiences but also offer players the flexibility to shape their characters' destinies within the game's narrative world.
In most cultures, young persons are selected for their aptitude and ability stats to train in culturally recognised character classes and sage studies. Often before training starts, these characters have already spent a significant portion of their lives engaged in their family's profession.
This manifests variously as youths — the age varying due to race — taking leave of their families at the age of 9 to 11, at considerable expense, to enter an thaumaturgical school, college, monastery or apprenticeship, where they'll be trained to know all they need to become fighters, bards, monks, clerics, mages and so on. Thieves often learn their skills in a less structured manner. With some races and classes, such as dwarven clerics, training doesn't begin until well into middle-age — for no reason except this is how things in those cultures are done.
When the training is done, the character has reached 1st level. This is the point at which player characters enter the game.
The majority of parents lack the resources necessary to provide their children with this type of training. Those in affluent and prestigious professions can easily afford it, but for many, the only viable option is to pursue an apprenticeship. Still, such apprenticeships are highly coveted and challenging to secure. For this reason, many characters belong to a somewhat privileged elite, who had the means to pay for their training.
Nonetheless, even the children of farmers, labourers or washer-women may have such aptitude that they obtain the good wishes of a mentor, benefactor or indeed, a whole village who join together to assure that enough coin is raised for the character's full education. None of this is meant to obligate a character to act in a certain manner, or dedicate their lives in a certain way — but it does provide some meaningful background to player characters who have come from poor families but are, nonetheless, paladins, illusionists or druids.
Training by Class
Though raised by families, classes are also associated with specific cultures and places within society. The sort of upbringing an individual recieves has no influence on their class abilities, but perhaps it helps to understand the backgrounds from which a given class often comes.
Assassins. Associated with barracks, the beggar's guild, shipboard and whorehouses. An assassin's training is often scattered and inconsistent, with time spent as a layabout or indulging in minor criminal participants. Time in gaols, if not prison, or in poor houses, accounts for characters who are in their mid-20s or older before achieving 1st level.
Bards. These characters, too, are often distracted as youths since they have a preoccupation with investigating their arts on their own. Eventually they enter a bardic college or a guildhouse as an artisan, or join with a performing troupe. Actors, circus performers or puppeteers often recieve only the sort of education that can be gotten in front of a live audience.
Cleric. A very formal education is the most common, through a seminary with social connections to the tabernacle or temple of the character's home. Sometimes a cleric is assoicated with a monastery. Each receives a diploma, and from thence, non-player characters join the religious hierarchy, participating as curates, assistants, associate deacons or in some other formal capacity for as long as 7 or 8 years. They might receive a dispensation from their religion to seek their own path (as player clerics do); otherwise, they hope to become priests, though there's not room for all in this.
Druid. Reliably, even when raised in a town or city, these persons retreat to rural settings where they become attached to a manor estate or farm — where they receive one-on-one training from another druid in the wild, with their education gleaned from every rock, tree and animal they encounter or learn about. The training is interpretive and highly spiritual.
Fighter. These are most commonly trained on the martial grounds related to a barracks, beginning with the combat training given to commoners and moving student up to becoming soldiers-at-arms. A fighter's training may take place in the baggage camp of a moving army, at the manor estate of a noble or aboard ship. Most 1st level characters have had personal familiarity with battle as a non-level.
Illusionist & mage. Both of these classes require long periods of training, upwards of 20 years just to reach 1st level. An entire language, and not an easy one, must also be learned. They receive more training in libraries, while a mage's training tends more towards laboratory settings. Most become apprentices once the language is learned and their basic training achieved. Either often remain apprentices well into adulthood, until they crack the difficulty of casting spells sufficiently well to become levelled.
Monk. These obtain their educations in obscure monasteries, many of which may number less than ten residents. Long years are spent in meditation, as the character separates themselves from want and necessities of the flesh.
Paladin. Paladins typically begin as fighters, demonstrating a religious zeal that leads to a 2 to 3 year period spent at a monastery, receiving an initial training that a cleric receives. This gives the paladin knowledge and abilities not available to fighters, but rarely does a paladin achieve a sufficient level to allow a cleric's spell use.
Ranger. Rangers, like paladins, also begin as fighters; their wanderlust affects them however, taking them abroad from urban centers to learn of the world, either through ship voyages or upon manor estates like a druid.
Thief. These receive the least structured of training. Most thieves begin to steal or indulge in criminal behaviour before the age of 7, which is steadily given direction and instruction by other persons of a selfish, anti-social bent. Unlike most classes, a thief's progenitor skill is learned after their primarily thieving skills — but for a 1st level player character, the distinction is academic. Like assassins, these characters also spend time in gaols, prisons and whorehouses ... and often poor houses besides.
When adults undergo training, their ability statistics are already well-established. Class-specific training brings the following improvements:
- Bards have their charisma improved by +2.
- Clerics and druids see a +2 increase in their wisdom.
- Thieves enjoy a +2 rise in dexterity and a +1 augmentation in intelligence.
- Assassins enjoy the same benefits of thieves, also receiving a +1 increase in strength.
There are no attribute bonuses granted to those who become monks.
For children, their ability statistics undergo significant changes as they mature, reflecting their growth into adulthood. A fixed number of dice are rolled each year during a child's growth, both before and after they commence their training. Once training commences, these rolls become more focused on the ability statistics that are essential for their chosen class.
If, during the course of their training, a student fails to acquire the ability stats needed to meet the minimum requirements for their class by the age of 15, they are deemed unsuccessful and can only advance to higher levels through day-to-day instruction received in adulthood.