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I am starting to develop a home-brew system along some members of our group, and one of the things we have to decide is the advancement system. We are divided between point-based and class/level, having experienced and enjoyed both of them. After reading this question about the differences between those two, I stumbled over this other one, where the most common flags of the point-based system were discussed, and now I want to make the same question about our other candidate.
The first question linked contain some interesting answers, but those are more centered on players and DM interaction with the system, and I would like answers more focused on the issues on a game design level, like those in the second question.

Concretely, I would like to know the most common pitfalls in those systems that would encourage players playing the system instead of the game, aka powergaming.

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closed as too broad by edgerunner, Oblivious Sage, Jonathan Hobbs, LitheOhm, mxyzplk Nov 8 '13 at 0:33

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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This sounds like a too-broad list/opinion/discussion question. Can you narrow it down a bit? –  edgerunner Nov 7 '13 at 22:50
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This might be the other question's compliment, but unlike the other, this one is not very specific and is very broad. The point question is asking how players might exploit the system: this is asking about the flaws in general of the entire game. This could be asked better. –  Jonathan Hobbs Nov 7 '13 at 23:36
    
Edited question to narrow it down. –  MACN Nov 8 '13 at 9:36
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Tempted to reopen but it could be more specific. "What are the problems" is kinda vague and just seeking opinions. Even the point-buy one you link specifically asks about player exploitability. Consider how to ask what you're really concerned about. –  mxyzplk Nov 11 '13 at 13:44

1 Answer 1

Class and Level systems are most beneficial when you want to decisively choose what a character's role is. "I'm the fighter" or "I'm the thief" and such is easier to qualify knowing there are a finite number of ways to construct them. However, this usually means that once you pick something you're pretty much trapped in it. Even if it offers some creation flexibility or multiclassing, it often doesn't pay to split roles in these games. Now, personally I have to quote Ghost in the Shell here, and say "Overspecialize, and you breed in weakness". You are expected more or less to min/max by role and your characters tend to become very thin.

From the design aspect, (and I expect to get mixed responses about this) every system pretty much is a "point base" when it comes down to it. You want to be sure what every feature of a level comes down to in value so that every class-level combo is equivalent to a parallel one. This is why even the class & level systems break down in such a way. For example, the d20 system when converted to BESM or even D&D 3.5 PHB2 (I believe) breaks down how to create your own custom classes and levels and once you get past the defined point values it all goes to abstraction, especially when you weigh the values against how useful they really are when used as intended.

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+1 especially for the second paragraph. Those points just come in mandatory packaging instead of otherwise. –  LitheOhm Nov 7 '13 at 23:33
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Depends. Not every class system uses classes for niche protection and role balance. The RIFTS dogboy class is definitely not built with the same amount of "internal points" as the dragon class. –  SevenSidedDie Nov 8 '13 at 2:01

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