We learn by playing. In theory, playing a mad warlock who stealthily backstabs his victims, clad in a mithril platmail sounds the coolest class in any RPG. However, switching GOD mode on in any singleplayer game has proven to quickly diminish its appeal.
Meaningful RPG classes have strengths and weaknesses, which enhance gameplay and require the players’ cooperation.
Instead of looking at Neverwinter Nights 2, arguably one of the best examples of AD&D 3.5 ruleset, we would rather examine the original Diablo. Why? Because NW2 has 24 prestige classes and we are interested in the core, not the variations. So Diablo is a better source of inspiration when it comes to character design.
Here’s the three classic RPG archetypes:
Warrior - Excellent defense, moderate but sustained damage to a single target
Rogue - Burst physical damage with highly positional combat, speed is her defense
Sorcerer- Versatile skills with AOE and nuking choices, dependent on mana, very fragile
Diablo 2 expanded to add the logical hybrids: the Paladin is a warrior with auras (AOE buff or debuffs); the Necromancer is a ranged damage dealer specializing in damage over time spells (poisons); and the Assassin is a melee hero with high burst damage.
Obviously, time has proven that hybrids are never as popular as the “pure” archetypes and Blizzard’s return to core classes with Diablo 3 indicates that. Nevertheless, they have added two hybrids to spice up gameplay: the Monk (elemental Assassin?) and the Witch Hunter (Necromancer with AOE?).
Within Riftforge, you are always part of one of the three core archetypes:
Guardians - protection, melee damage
Raiders - stealth, burst melee damage
Rangers - ranged & area of effect damage
This guarantees that players can immediately select a class based on their preferred player style without reading extensive guides and specific builds. It also highlights each class' strong points and weaknesses, so that end-game cooperation is a level playing field, unlike current MMOs where some classes get all the love.
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