Fighter, Caster, Rogue and Mageblade. The four Mageblade classes are patterned on the usual four-classes model: the fighter is tough, the rogue cheats in mundane ways (backstabbing and picking locks and climbing, for example), the caster cheats in extramundane ways (the guard dogs fell asleep) and the mageblade is an extramundane cheating tough (I’m going to fight you and also do magic stuff, like the D&D cleric does).
However, while traditionally similar classes are implemented by having more competencies with a reduced capacity, sometimes decorated with extra bits (bardic music, I look at you right now), both the D&D cleric and the Mage/blade/shade triplet are actually about something else entirely. In addition to being able to fight, the cleric, due to the forced split of right hand and left hand path magic in D&D, can cure and turn undead in ways wizards can’t. And the Mageblade, while not able to cast spells, can rely on devotions, plus be clad in iron and use banes and blademagic in combat.
Most importantly, the Fighter, the Mageblade, the Rogue and the Caster play in different ways by design:
- fighters can wiggle combat math in reliable ways (armour and stances) indefinitely.
- casters have great effects in a lot of different ways with spells (each school grants access to many spells), but both each spell can be used once, and the mana to cast them is limited
- rogues learn and then master a lot of extra skills thus increasing their scope, and can use their roguish luck to push any roll, even multiple times.
- mageblades learn a very limited amount of devotions and blademagic: each is a single “effect”, but as long as there’s mana, each can be used many times.
This makes Mageblades very different from Casters, and not in a quantitative way: casters know a lot of spells, but each is a snowflake, while mageblades know little magic, but can use it repeatedly.
The difference with the fighter is also not simply a “lesser” fighter: fighters fight better and harder for a longer time, and mageblades (even pumping mana in combat) can’t match them, but fighters can’t do blademagic either. Fighters especially do not have Banes, which are blademagic specific to Mageblade orders that lets them do double damage against a specific type of enemy, so for example Exorcists have Bane: Undead. Mageblades also have their athame, which is their magic sword/wand, from character generation.
They play differently. And have different roles. They also feel different in a way that is not clearly the somewhat milquetoast “wider but lesser”. They definitely are not hybrid classes the way they are normally intended.
Furthermore, there’s two more such classes in this little game: Mageshade (name courtesy of Eric Nieudan) and the Shadeblade. They technically do not exist fully yet, but this is the direction the development will take:
- Mageshades could have a small number of magick rites to do mundane stuff, powered by mana and reusable. While rogues can do many things unreliably but can use their luck, mageshades can spend mana to “make it work”. As perk (all classes have one), some shadow/night/oblivion-related ability (like shadowstep or sleep or forgetfulness). Not sure what the Focus should do for mageshades yet.
- Shadeblades similarly can start by mixing the scopes of the fighter and the rogue and come off in some completely different shape. So some skills, plus for example how to mingle the spending of rogue’s luck and the steadiness of fighters into something similar to both but different?
- A first example, definitely underdeveloped and untested, is to have shadeblades do silly over the top wuxia moves, so that if they miss they can spend one mana to hit instead, or then they are hit spend mana to parry or dodge and jump away.
- An alternative is maybe to have the shadeblade have a fresh pool of rogue’s luck every combat, but only limited to combat rolls?
- Or maybe a mix of the two, electing to spend luck in the combat get a combat reroll, or to spend it for the whole day in order to succeed at dodging or hitting without rolling.