Tiny d10’s classes are designed to be easily extended. It’s simple to create additional class abilities, as well as entirely new classes. In this, the first of many home-brewing sessions, we explore the principles of class design.
There are three main components of a class: the description, the characteristics, and the abilities. Each component will be explained in detail during this session.
The class description, while not a mechanical component like characteristics and abilities, is still of critical importance. In three to four brief sentences, the essence of the class should be summarized. Some information to include might be their histories, strengths, beliefs, or how they are perceived by others.
Class characteristics consist of toughness, usable weapons, usable armor, and any bonuses or class specific features (like beginning spells). This is easily the trickiest part to balance. In general, the following are guidelines:
Strong classes (emphasizes physical strength and melee combat, e.g. fighters, wanderers):
- High toughness (T9)
- Uses heavier weaponry and armor
- few (if any) bonuses
Moderate classes (emphasizes a balance of physical strength and dexterity, e.g. thieves, legionnaires):
- medium toughness (T8)
- uses either heavier weaponry or heavier armor
- some bonuses (usually enhancing weak areas, like HP)
Weak classes (emphasizes high intelligence or dexterity, e.g. magic-users, bards):
- low toughness (T7)
- uses lighter weaponry and armor
- numerous and/or higher bonuses (usually to compensate for weak/ineffective melee attacks)
Certain unique classes (like a ‘spell knight’, for instance) might contradict these guidelines by being both strong and magical. To prevent overpowering the class, consider adding restrictions to its class abilities.
Class abilities are special skills that are granted to each class a character creation. They generally fall into two categories:
- Level-amplified – these abilities are designed to become stronger as levels are gained. The amount of damage a certain attack inflicts, the bonus to a certain action, or the amount of targets an ability affects can increase based on a character’s level. Level-amplified abilities are essential to character growth, and should always be included when developing a new class; however, they can also be quite powerful, so it’s best to use just one.
- Core – these abilities usually express something particularly unique to the class. Their benefit should be applicable in a multitude of different situations, resulting in a more flexible ability than level-amplified abilities.
Canonically, each class has two abilities (though the magic-user has three to balance the low toughness); however, more abilities can be designed and granted to characters upon gaining higher levels.
Hopefully this analysis is detailed enough to make designing classes easy, fun, and balanced. If you use these guidelines to home-brew unique classes (or if anything needs to be more clear), let me know in the comments!