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Class Roleplay & Interpretation


Hi guys,

To what extent can the base NWN classes be differently interpreted and combined in order to represent a wider range of character types and abilities?

Are players required to roleplay their class(es) according to their default descriptions, incl. the source of class abilities, etc.?

Specifically and more personally, I'd ideally like to combine the Monk, Paladin and Rogue classes to create a fast, versatile champion/hero type with mystical healing, protective & thief abilities; a kind of heroic jack of all trades. Is it acceptable to imagine that a character with paladin class levels is not actually a LG divine servant in-character, but rather a warrior with learned protective & healing abilities from a sorcerous, rather than divine source?

Other examples abound - bards whose spells are learned from books; barbarians whose rages are divinely granted; fighter/rogues who are duelists rather than rogues, etc.

Although "powergamer" alarm bells may understandably ring when one mentions paladin and monk in the same sentence, the intention is not to enable more powerful character builds -- my specific example would be very much sub-optimal in that regard -- but rather to use different class features to better represent different types of character in gameplay.

Thanks!

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Re: Class Roleplay & Interpretation


Interesting that you should use a paladin build as an example. As one of the more alignment restricted classes it tends to be right up there in debates about alignment and unusual builds, more on that in a minute though.

Im not going to deal with specific but instead ramble like a drunken literature professor. My opinion only, sure Numos will correct if I'm off base and others will be more likely to deal with in universe repercussions. 

There are few (non-divine) adventurers who would deny having a little bit of rogue to them (and even then ... emoticon

Same with fighters, if a hero hasn't found themselves in the heat of battle then they are doing it wrong (or are VERY good rogues)

The core-archetypical classes are good like that (warrior-stealth-caster) there are all manner of possible backstories, motivations and feat/skill customisation.

One rogue can be completely different to another. 

Same with the slightly more mixed characters. Sure a bard could have learned magic from reading tomes of ancient stories and Epics. 

The difference between them and a wizard is possibly then that they aren't learning magic in a systematic way from textbooks and experimentation and so the range of spells available is much less.

I think just about any build can be justified. Sometimes the more unusual builds can drive interesting character development but two similar builds can be played completely differently. The important thing is creativity and thinking it through

Also the next point:

A watchword for me is to avoid a thing called "ludonarrative dissonance" 

Is there a huge and recurring inconsistency between the mechanical way you play your character (class choices+playstyle) and the way you roleplay your character?

Can you have an intelligent well spoken Orc, barbarian? Sure. There are all sorts of creative awesome backstories that could work and Would perhaps end up exploring people's low expectations of Orcs IG.

Can you play an intelligent well spoken Orc barbarian with 8 Int?
No. Less than 10 int impacts on higher cognitive function.  
(but that can be balanced out with a high wis or cha etc etc ad nauseam)

There are Hundreds upon hundreds upon thousands of potential character builds and more stories than can ever be told.



*deep breath*
Back to the paladin. 

The paladin class comes with certain expectations. The mechanics are tied so explicitly to certain aspects and expectations there is a big threat of people proclaiming PGing or it coming across as being inconsistent.

Basically the stronger the link between mechanics and RP expectations the more creative and clever you have to be with the build and justification.

Can you make it interesting?
Can you make it a character others enjoy playing alongside?
Does the character 
articulate well in storylines? 
Are you willing to accept loss of Paladin powers as a result of plot development? 

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Re: Class Roleplay & Interpretation


Thanks for the awesome response!

I'm a bit wary of turning this into a request of any kind, though - while I'll happily discuss this at length with you in great detail, I don't want to actually be arguing my case or trying to convince you of anything. I don't know the setting (and this module's specific take on it) well at all, so I made this topic with the expectation of being told, "no, these abilities are only possessed by paladins in this setting," or something similarly objective.

I'd purposefully avoid deviating from your setting at all - I just don't know whether or not [a versatile warrior with quasi-divine abilities] necessarily does that. The character's not meant to be unique or special in capabilities, IC or OOC, beyond what any other player character could achieve.

That said, I'm unsure whether your questions were rhetorical, so I'll try to answer 'em anyway, and perhaps give a better impression of what I'm talking about on the IC side of things.


quote:

everf wrote:
Can you make it interesting?


I think so. Relatively unusual class abilities would certainly be inherent to the character's behaviours and role IC. I should mention that the character's not entirely disconnected from the gods, in that she's been raised in a culture of loose, but fierce reverence for certain old, more primal divine powers (as the setting allows).


quote:


Can you make it a character others enjoy playing alongside?


I think so. The whimsical, fearless kind of heroic nature that I imagine to partly justify certain Paladin abilities is potentially what makes her fun for other characters (particularly a tendency to want to battle people in friendly duels, and the likelihood of her losing them).


quote:


Does the character
articulate well in storylines?


Others would be a better judge of that. I think the character is consistent enough (again, as far as the setting allows) to play out acceptably regardless of the scenario.


quote:


Are you willing to accept loss of Paladin powers as a result of plot development?


One of my vague longer-term intentions with the character was for her to become very experienced in defeat and gradually acquire permanent injury, curses, and the like. Basically, the metaphorical sword cutting both ways for a larger-than-life hero type of personality. So yes, I'd actually enjoy ability loss, lasting wounds, magical disadvantages, etc gained through stories.

There'd also be class abilities she wouldn't have IC, and so would never use (Turn Undead, Smite Evil).

I'm using Fighter at the moment, so I'd start over (at least insofar as experience points are concerned) if this kind of thing was acceptable. Paladin levels aren't essential, they're just a great deal closer to her concept than any other class.

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Re: Class Roleplay & Interpretation


quote:

Basically, the metaphorical sword cutting both ways for a larger-than-life hero type of personality



Aha! I love me some fatal flaw. That made me smile as a DM and your other answers as a Player.

I meant my question as more rhetorical prompts but your answers show some well thought ideas and concepts.

While avoiding specifics I think you are on the right lines. I'll leave the exactitudes to less flighty DMs.

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Re: Class Roleplay & Interpretation


quote:

A final and concise ruling:

Classes should GENERALLY be played as per D&D cannon. Though creative interpretations are never discouraged.

Divine Classes:
Clerics and Paladins are granted powers by a deity and must select domains and behave in accordance with their god's ethos. Paladins, additionally, must behave in a lawful and benevolent way. Druids' powers come from fey and elemental spirits, and must devote themselves to the preservation and cultivation of the natural world.

Dragon Disciples:
Are generally assumed to be undergoing transformation into a dragon.



This doesn't mean there can't be deviations. If you have a concept that's cool, but might violate this, its just something that requires application so the DMs can keep an eye: e.i. an urban druid, a paladin granted powers by some other force, etc.

Overall its an interesting topic of discussion. There's no specific rule that says you need to play each character as an exemplar of every class on your character sheet. Sometimes certain multiclass combinations are just necessary to achieve the a PC with the desired mechanical function. On the flip side, I think if 'any' class combination was permitted in the interest of making PCs mechanically representative of their concepts it could be taken too far. Characters tacking on dragon disciple because they "should be really strong" or monk/shifters who come from anything but a disciplined monastic background.

In your PCs case I'd consider an application for an alternative use of paladin, where the root of her power could be elaborated on further. Or if you want access to some arcane healing, bard may be an option.



Last edited by Numos, 2/28/2013, 12:33 am


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Re: Class Roleplay & Interpretation


In that case, and since Bard would require alignment changes, I'll just stick with Monk/Fighter/Rogue (assuming that combination isn't an issue).

Thanks again for the detailed replies!

Last edited by Ben Harrison, 2/28/2013, 11:01 am


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