June 14, 2009

Optimization Leading To Interesting Class-Race Combinations

Optimization leads to accusations of powergaming. Accusations of powergaming leads to flamewars. Flamewars lead to anger. Anger leads to the dark side.

Ahem. Despite that, optimization can lead to interesting things. Take, for example, the various combinations of race and class in D&D 4E. Dragonborn make good paladins, dwarves make decent fighters and good clerics, elves are good rangers. All as expected. But there are other interesting combinations. I'll just scratch the surface a bit:

  • Tieflings, drow, goblins and hobgoblins have a charisma bonus and make decent paladins. You wouldn't expect that from the average member, but it makes for interesting redemption stories.
  • For that matter, halflings and gnomes make decent paladins too. Isn't the halfling paladin practically a meme, starting with Mazzy Fentan from Baldur's Gate 2?
  • Githzerai (that's the less bad Gith, for those who can't keep track) and shifters get Wisdom bonuses and make decent clerics. Decent monks too, when that class comes out, which makes sense for the 'zerai but will be interesting for the shifters. Who knew the shifters were so devout?
  • Devas and Doppelgangers have Intelligence bonuses and end up good at all arcane classes (Wizard, Swordmage, Artificer and to a lesser extent Warlock and Bard). Lots of other races do too, but they all have some kind of arcane theme (Tieflings, Githyanki, etc).
  • Warforged (strength bonus) make good fighters, but also decent warlords and rangers (and anything else that uses strength). A Warforged leading an army! Who would have thought it? Great potential for Tin Woodsman jokes too.
  • Eladrin get a dexterity bonus which makes them good rogues. Their teleport ability also helps. High elves being good thieves kind of dates back to D&D 3.0 though, where the default elf fluff made them out to be great mages, and the crunch then scrapped all that and made them better off as rogues or rangers.
  • Finally constitution. Good stat in general, but mainly useful for warlocks with the infernal or star (Cthulhu) pact. Plenty of "monster" races have it, but half-elves, warforged and dwarves stick out. Maybe that's why dwarves distrust magic - those dwarves that go arcane tend to literally make deals with the devil.

So, is there a point to this post? Well, don't get stuck in classical archetypes when making characters. Mix it up with an elven monk sometimes. This applies to any game, not just D&D 4E.
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