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Class Switching Ideas

by David Knott

One interesting difference that I have noticed between Mystara and most other game worlds is that Mystara has more options than other game worlds for characters to change or refine their classes after play starts. Humans may begin play as basic fighters or clerics and later commit themselves to become paladins or druids. Halflings begin play as basic fighters but have the option later on to become priests or "Masters". Most of the races in the Creature Crucibles may train to become priests or wizards at nearly any point in their careers.

Here are my ideas (loosely based on the "Warrior Elf" rules in the Hollow World boxed set) for implementing a similar scheme in AD&D:

Primary class: Every character has a primary class from which hit dice and hit points are determined. For obvious reasons, "Fighter" is the most popular choice for primary class.

Requirements to switch class: To switch classes, a character must:

1) Have an ability score of 13+ in the prime requisite of the new class

2) Have a campaign rationale for being able to learn the skills of the new class.

3) Announce his intention to switch classes immediately after gaining a level (or at the start of play, if he intended to be multi-classed from the beginning).

4) After earning enough XPs to gain the next level, the character gains first level ability in the new class. The XPs earned since previous level are divided between (or among) all classes, but the character loses any XPs over half the total required to reach the next level in any class.

From this point on the character is considered multi-classed and follows all of the rules for multi-classed characters except for those concerning hit points (which are still based on the primary class alone). This process may be repeated as desired, within reason.

Dividing XPs: XPs should be divided evenly between (or among) the character's classes. However, if a character waits until relatively late in his character's career to acquire a new class, he may find that he is advancing much faster in the new class. In such a case, we should impose the restriction that a character may gain no more than two levels per level acquired in the primary class.

Level limits: Single-classed characters of any race have no level limits (but see "XP table changes" below). Multi-classed characters have no level limit in one class, a level limit of twice that given in the appropriate table for a second class, and a level limit as given in the appropriate table for the third class. A character may assign his choices at any time before exceeding a nominal level limit in any class. A character who elects to limit his advancement as a Fighter gains one hit point per level that he advances beyond his maximum fighter level.

XP table changes: The XP tables given in the PHB are assumed to be valid only for single-classed humans. For other characters, modify the XP tables as follows:

Fighter: +500,000 XP per level beyond 10th
Paladin/Ranger: +600,000 XP per level beyond 10th (if that table is even used)
Wizard: +750,000 XP per level beyond 12th
Cleric: +450,000 XP per level beyond 10th
Druid: +750,000 XP per level beyond 14th (again, if that table is even used)
Rogue: +440,000 XP per level beyond 12th
Psionicist: +1 level per 2 levels earned beyond level 10 (change required because Psionicist XP table is not constant beyond that point)

Humans who switch classes have no level limits beyond those that they voluntarily impose on themselves (in order to speed up advancement in their remaining classes -- a human character who renounces further advancement in a class no longer has to allocate XPs to it). However, upon becoming multi-classed they must switch over to the demi-human tables and use them from that point on. Obviously, this requirement gives most human characters a strong incentive to pick a single class from the beginning and stick with it.

Advanced options: Many kits and subclasses would be considered as "advanced options" under this scheme. For these options a character would retain his old class but gain new abilities in exchange for new restrictions on his conduct.

Paladin/Ranger: These are basically Fighters who swear allegiance to a Lawful or Neutral religion, respectively. They each gain all of the abilities of a Cleric or Druid of one third their level, rounded down, without any limitations on armour or weaponry.

Druid: A Neutral Cleric gives up the ability to use metal weapons or armour in exchange for access to the spells and perhaps other special abilities of a Druid. They lose none of their other Cleric abilities but also do not gain the ability to use the edges and pointed weapons that Druids in other campaigns can use.

Specialist Wizard: Mages of level 20- should be strongly discouraged from becoming specialists in a Mystaran campaign. Any character who wishes to become a specialist wizard must forfeit half the XPs required to acquire the next level. Once he has done so, he gains all of the benefits and penalties of his chosen speciality. Spells of opposition schools are not lost, but he is unable to perform further research in those schools.

Bard: Mystaran Bards may be developed by using the "Skills and Powers" rules. Delete the wizard spells ability and replace it with other abilities as desired. Any Rogue who wishes to learn wizard spells must apprentice himself to a Wizard and serve him as loyally as a Paladin or Avenger serves his religion. In return, he gains the abilities of a Mage of one third his Rogue level, rounded down, and may cast spells while wearing armour up to leather armour.