The debate over adding more classes to the game has been a semi-hot one since I started back in '98. From what I have seen, most kingdoms either don't use them at all (because their people don't use them, or have any interest in them), or have varied rules about them.
In the Iron Mountains, we have two non-rulebook classes that are legal within the Empire. Neither are that powerful, and it is rare to find someone who plays one regularly. (I have known one Duelist and one Bushi in the two years I've been here... Wolf and Zumat, if you must know.) Other groups within the Empire have passed either all the alternate classes or specific classes.
I know the Wetlands had a number of core alternate classes they allowed, but later made them all into monsters. When I played in Goldenvale, they didn't really care how their groups did it. I am unsure how they did it in the Kingdom proper.
My question deals with one reason I was given a long time ago about why alternate classes should be legal: Evolution of the game. Reading over the first rulebook, I saw perhaps five classes (warrior, healer, wizard, paladin, and page I believe). Looking at later rulebooks, you see more and more classes. Those classes had to be made and later added after being played. But will the current playing of alternate classes lead to the good ones being added to the rules?
Back when the classes we use now were first played, the game was not spread across the country. A single class could be played, more or less, in all the groups. This is not the case anymore.
Personally, I am against the use of any alternate class as anything except a monster. I feel it's a crutch for the people who are not creative enough to use existing classes to fit their persona.
If you have ever played any table-top RPG, you know what I am talking about. The new guy to the group who declares that his character is so 'unique', so 'original' that the current classes/clans/guilds/whatever simply do not fit. But, never fear, he happened to make something up/have a different sourcebook just for what he wants to do. We also know how this ends.
Whatever concept you can come up with, it can fit into our current rules. Now, with that statement, I am sure many of you are going to go looking through some rulebook that's probably older than Amtgard just to prove me wrong. Go for it. Any non-exotic, non-homebrew 'class' can, with a little effort, fit into our existing classes. By exotic, I mean some 'class' from some rulebook from some game that hasn't been printed in forever (or is only really played by a minority of players).
The main class these advocates of Alternate Classes hype is Necromancer. "But, no class has powers like a necromancer!" they cry. By definition, Necromancy is black magic. Go to http://www.dictionary.com and check it out if you don't believe me. It's about black magic and communicating with the dead to gain insight for the future. Guess what - every class can fit into that realm.
"But, we mean Necromancer like those guys who raise the dead and kill people!" Oh, so you want something thats even MORE powerful than Wizard? For a magic class that delivers death swiftly, Wizard is your best bet. Spell balls, verbals, and hey, at later levels, you can even raise the dead.
"But, but, that isn't a Necromancer!" Why isn't it? Because it doesn't have a ton of mass-death spells? Because you can't raise people as skeleton warriors? Because you can't kill with a word? You don't want a new class for roleplay... you want it to make you powerful enough to 'win' without having to work for it.
So, you want to play an alternate class? Before you start whining about how this is the only class that fits your persona, why not try to see what else you might be able to use to fit? Sure, you might not have that cool power you want, but in the end, it is a much more rewarding experience when you can play and do well using what everyone else has. The greatest thing is playing a class so well that someone actually asks you if you are playing an alternate class, then you explain how you are playing an existing class in a new way. Go out, see how the current classes can work for you. If you still haven't figured it out, send me an e-mail. I would be happy to help.
Let's help make this game a much more simple place. When a friend offers you an alternate class.. just say no.
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