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Forums: General Discussion Board

Prestige Classes
Started on April 3rd, 2005 at 10:22PM CST by Sulerin
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I've a great deal of interest in 3rd Edition D&D's prestige class mechanic. Each product I purchase for the d20 system inevitably comes with several prestige classes, or more. The Master's of the Wild book, which covers Druids, Barbarians, and Rangers, has about twenty different prestige classes in it; that's half of the book. I figure that I have more than 200 prestige classes in my combined library of official publications. That is certainly a lot more than the eleven standard classes which come from the Player's Hand Book.

As I design my own prestige classes for Sulerin I've noticed that the payoffs for most of the prestige classes typically don't make up for the sacrifices one must make to get into them and the exchange of power one makes when taking a prestige class level over a standard class. The exception to this are prestige classes geared towards fighters, which there seems to be an extensive quantity of. While the fighter might lose a few of their great number of feats, most fighter prestige classes come with bonus feats of their own in addition to other special powers included in the class.

It seems too that many of the prestige classes I have read are geared not towards player characters, but to NPCs. The Ooze Master? The Alienist? What about that Fang of Lolth prestige class from Song and Silence? Are there many players who would pursue one of these prestige classes for more than one gaming session and really invest their time into them? Somehow, I doubt it. Many of these classes, upon examination, reveal poor forethought. They each have a neat idea, but not all neat ideas are fit for adventuring material and the mechanics behind a few (The Forsaker from Master's of the Wild, for example) are so drastic that one wonders if they were play tested at all before going to the press.

When I am creating prestige classes for Sulerin, my goal is to create classes which are interesting and useful for player's to use. Prestige classes which don't just bend the rules a little at the cost of power and flexibility, but which are a fair trade for the cost that player's make when they choose to enter a prestige class.

I have a couple reasons of my own for liking prestige classes. They encourage players to play their characters beyond the low and mid levels of character play. Second, they give the Paladin and Monk classes some flexibility, allowing them to gain powers similar to those from other classes without jeopardizing their advancement as Paladins and Monks.

Are you using a prestige class? I'd love to hear what you find laudable and lacking about this mechanic and its impact on gaming. Do you have suggestions for improvements to prestige classes. Whether specific or general, I'm interested in hearing your opinions.