Tales from the Gazebo – CLASSic Introduction


CLASSic Introduction
By Cape Rust

For the next few weeks I’ve decided to delve into some of the staple classes encountered in fantasy role playing games. Because the focus of Tales from the Gazebo is on GMs, I’m going to pass along some tips to make playing these classes more interesting to your players and ensuring that each class gets enough of the spotlight. Most people running games have gotten a chance to play in at least a few games, but you might be surprised at how many people haven’t played all of the basic classes. I’m not saying you have to have played all of the classes or even all of the base classes to run a good game, but I don’t think it can hurt.

Most adventures are set up to include one each of the basic classes and each pre-made adventure will tend to have situations or encounters that include each of the base or basic classes. There is a reason pre-mades are done like this: inclusion. If you take the age old formula of 4 players and a GM into account, then read some of these adventures; you can easily pick out which encounters were designed for which class / classes of characters.

If you are running a player centric game, then the process of looking at each of your players and the class of characters they are playing should be part of your already established game preparation ritual. If you already have a story in mind, but still want to appease your players, all is not lost. First, I always believe that a GM should never be so tied to your story that there is no wiggle room. I believe stories like that are better off as books without the ‘x’ factor of players involved. If you have a good, solid story in mind that you want your players to be a part of, then look at the major plot points where a cleric could do cleric-like things. Sure there will always be a need for healing, but find a time when that cleric can turn or move your plot along with some divine influence (more about clerics in the next few weeks).

If you are getting ready to run a game and you have no idea what you want to do, then look at the classes your players pick and think of encounters that will play to their class abilities; sometimes this will actually help you think of a good storyline. With this approach, I have run into a situation where the classes were so diverse that I couldn’t come up with a coherent story. It hasn’t happened that many times in the last few decades, but it has happened. If you are having problems thinking of interesting encounters for each character class in the party, go back and look really hard at the class descriptions. Determine what unique powers they have and it might give you some more hints. Look at some of the lesser used abilities or skills that a class offers and see if you can incorporate that into your game. Not only does this mix things up, it forces everyone to explore the lesser known skills or uses for each class.

One easy way to find these little treasures is to type in the class name into your preferred internet search engine. You would be surprised how many people have posted builds or special uses for skills without “breaking” those classes. I love this type of information, because it is fun to read, easy to find and helps me grow, not only as a player but as a GM. Who knew you could do so much with the heal skill.

So with this crude rambling introduction, we begin this series on base classes, tips I have for running games with them and how to make your NPCs of those classes become alive and memorable. I will start the series out with the fighter, stay tuned, it will be CLASSic.

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