Develop a good concept
You want something with enough meat to inspire the class abilites. It also needs to be clear enough in focus to not trample the other classes alreay availible. And in preparation for later work, be sure that the class can get by on cool factor rather than raw power. A giant stack of bonuses is not as interesting as a variety of bonus and new tricks.
Class abilites follow fixed a pattern. Look at existing classes for examples. A can be combined with C (e.g., Soldier’s bonus feat). C, D, or E can be split into odd/even groups (e.g., Explorer’s All Over the World/Danger Sense). For Prestige Classes try to make the D abilities team related.
Other important things to consider:
- Would you be willing to take every level in the new class? Yes is good.
- Does the new class have an ability that people would enter that class for then leave (i.e., D&D’s Ranger and their two weapon ability)? Yes is bad.
- Will a player think twice before sacrificing a core ability? Yes is good.
- Is there any way the new class ability might combine with something else to really disrupt game balance (i.e., Mystic feats/invocations and Unlocked Potential: Knowledge (Occult))? Yes is bad.
|Base Class Ability Template||Prestige Class Ability Template|
|1||A, core ability||1||A. Core|
A abilities tend to be comparable with a good feat. Ideally they should give an immediate sense of the class’ purpose and function.
Example: Faceman, Martial Artist and Wheelman all grant a first tier level 6 feat. Scientist gains a choice of feats with some prerequisites waived. Soldier gains choice of feat from 4 trees, establishing a base to capitalize on future feats. Hacker, Scout, Sleuth, and Snoop have 2 “Flawless” skills which quickly define the class while encouraging continued levels in that class. Advocate and Pointman quickly establish their flexibility and poise using skills – which sets up later abilities in those classes.
B and F abilities tend to be much better than a feat. F abilities are often slightly better than B, but B abilities having 3 iterations and showing up early tend to shape the feel of the class – and thus need to exemplify the class more.
C abilities are dead even with feats. Their high number of iterations (9) tend to make the C ability as a whole better than 9 feats simply because they pick a drum and beat it steadily. They are the working guts of the class. They can be split into two alternating abilities, but I greatly prefer a single C ability to the alternating ones.
D abilities are also on par with a feat if selectable, or slightly better if providing a fixed benefit. They tend to show off secondary themes. Their lower number of occurrences usually shapes a predictable and increasingly useful trick.
E abilities are better than feats, but not nearly as strong as B or F abilities. This is the most common place to find attribute increases, floating feats, and selectable abilities. As a result this is often where characters pursuing the class get to make the most choices, and where two characters fro the same class often strongly diverge.
G abilities are called “game breakers” and often temporarily suspend the normal workings of the game (“Roll? Why would I roll for something that important?”), bypass major plot obstacles, or provide a constant, often game-altering benefit. These are often the hardest part of each class to conceive and script.
An example of comparative power levels among similar abilities in increasing value:
- D +1 to lowest of all attributes (usually 3 or 5 times overall – provides well rounded character but not easily leveraged into a powerful benefit)
- E +1 to a specific attribute (usually 3 or 5 times overall – focused benefit that easily leads to a single super attribute that you can capitalize on with other benefits)
- B +1 to 2 different attributes, often with a component of choice (3 times overall for a total of +6 distributed across several stats – provides flexible benefit that usually plays into supporting choices)
- F +2 to specific attribute (2 times for a total of +4 to a single attribute – Like the E ability generates a single class defining super-attribute, but benefit shows up later and permits the E ability to be used for a more flexible class overall)
Prestige Class abilities tend to match up with the base class abilities – they are intended to be alternate progressions through the 5th-14th career levels after all.
A. Often combined with C2/C4 to create a 3-part progression that forms the core of the class’ practical functionality. These are typically on par with a base class D ability. Like the base class A, they need to quickly establish the tone of the class as a whole, and often provide incentive to stay in class.
B. Thematically similar to base class B abilities, but usually on par with a typical feat. Ironically the B ability ussually ISN’T a feat.
C. Pretty much on par with the base class C abilities. Often split into 2 alternating abilities (C1/C3 and C2/C4).
D. On par with (or legacy version) of a base class D ability.
E and G. On par with a base class E ability. Often each is a unique ability, but they may be paired together.
F. On par with (or legacy version) of a base class B ability.
Ex. Evasion I, which is useful by itself, but meshes neatly with any Evasion abilities the character already possesses.
H This is the Expert Class’ “game breaker” and generally comparable to a base class G ability.
Vitality Die/Skill Points
|Vitality Die||Total Skills||Skill Points|
There are 8 columns (BAB, Fort/Ref/Will saves, Init, Def, BP and GP) and you have 8 points to distribute: Slow advancement costs 0 points; Medium advancement is 1 point; and Fast advancement is 2 points.