Razing the Dead
How Classes are Sorted
Classes are assigned in clusters by primary role in combat situations. Most of the mechanics of the game, and most (though not all) of your powers and abilities are based in combat. 4th edition rules have established four major roles in combat, and sorted their classes into these roles by their efficiency and purpose in that designated combat situation.
These classes usually stay out of direct combat, out of the front lines. You analyze and control the pace of combat, setting up better opportunities for your allies and helping guide the way the battle is going. Your abilities allow for you to handle groups of enemies, to switch positions of enemies and allies to set up critical attacks for yourself or friends, and able to handle swarms of weaker enemies with ease. These are classes that focus more on area and burst spells, leaving the harder targets to others.
You are a ‘tank’ – built to turn away, withstand or ignore great amounts of damage to protect your party. Some may gain advantage when facing more and more enemies, while other are simply hard to hit, hard to hurt, and hard to put down. The defense of the whole party begins and ends with you, and your allies may look to you to be the shield that keeps them safe.
A leader is not necessarily a single, head of the group (or perhaps they are), but instead they become a director during combat, coordinating the attacks of others and bringing out the best in their allies’ potential. You also are responsible for making sure your allies stay on their feet during battle, whether by channeling the magic of your deity or inspiring them to greatness.
You hit things. You find the weaknesses of the enemy force and use them to your advantage. You specialize in taking out single, important enemies by engaging them either directly or indirectly. You hit often and hard, though this offensive striking power may leave you easier to hit or unable to take as much damage as defender, but in combat you’re the one that will be responsible for taking down the harder targets so that your allies can level the playing field with their advantages.
• Bards (Leader) – A bard is an unspecific combination of collected skills and channeling arcane powers through an artistic medium. You may be a traveler, having picked up skills along the way, or maybe you received a higher education and look to maximize your own skills through your adventures.
• Sorcerers (Striker) – Your magic energy is wild and unpredictable, inherent in your blood and family. Whatever you’re related to, it isn’t entirely human, elven or dwarven (or whatever you turn out to be..). Somehow you tap into the raw form of energy and know how to unleash it onto the world. Be warned – those of the empire who are in power are familiar with arcane magic, and they do not like when people do not go through their channels to control it.
• Warlocks – Traditionally warlocks were already stigmatized as making deals with dark forces to achieve their power, and that continues to be the most common scenario. Most warlocks walk hand-in-hand with the Empire’s vision, though there are some that have found ways to make deals with otherworldly forces to achieve power, whether to protect their lands from the undead or for other reasons or grudges against the Empire. However, these forces are used to working with one side in this war, so they will obviously have an agenda of their own.
- Binders (Controller) – You bend extraplanar entities to your will to harness their power.
- Hexblades (Striker) – You forge power and spells into a particular weapon.
• Wizards – In all of the Empress’s lands there is but one magic school, the Arcanum. This school is strictly observed by the Lich Lords and demands admission (or execution) of students showing promise or natural talent. Wizards caught practicing outside of the Arcanum are treated as a high priority threat to the Empire, regardless of their actual abilities.
- Mages (Controller) – You have mastered a particular school of magic to shape the world.
- Enchanters – Primarily deal with altering perceptions of their opponents, whether baffling their senses or controlling their emotions.
- Illusionists – Creating visual, auditory or even physical illusions.
- Invokers – Specialize in harnessing destructive, magical effects. Typically thought of as combat wizards.
- Necromancers – Channel the powers of shadow and death, controlling and manipulating the essence of death and the undead.
- Nethermancers – Different than the powers of the necromancer, the nethermancer draws strength from darkness itself, using shadows as the power of their spells.
- Pyromancers – Fire. Beautiful, pure, cleansing fire.
- Mages (Controller) – You have mastered a particular school of magic to shape the world.
• Clerics/Paladins – None remain for the good gods. Every, single cleric of the good gods has died through murder, sacrifice or old age, or remains locked away with the other races. If you can reestablish contact with the old gods, somehow, you may be able to reignite the spark of the gods’ support of the forces of good.
- Cleric, Warpriests (Leader) – You combine prayer with martial power as a shield of faith.
- Paladin, Cavalier (Defender) – Your faith, honor and virtue give you the strength to stand against the darkness of the Empire.
- Paladin, Blackguard – (Striker) – An ‘anti-paladin’ you embrace a darker side, channeling the desires and vices inside of you to use as a dark weapon.
• Invokers (Controller) – Your magic is untrained and formed from the raw energies of the universe. Some say it has a divine origin, but you cannot explain where your powers come from. You simply ‘know’ how to make the magic work, like a reflex or a natural talent. Be assured, this type of magic is not understood to be any different than a wizard’s by your common observer, but those skilled in the arcane arts will know something just is not quite right about what you are able to do.
• Assassins – Plenty of guild-based groups, though closely tied into the rule of the Empress. The services of assassin guilds are best paid by the Empire, when a more surgical solution is necessary to manipulate politics or remove a particularly well-defended rebel leader. Rumors have spread of a group of assassins that penitently serve the final wishes of the forgotten gods, working against the undead and their dark plans, but these are likely nothing more than stories told in smokey taverns and dark alleys, for even thugs and petty thieves need saints.
- Executioners (Striker) – You combine your martial abilities with tricks of a rogue and flickers of dark magics.
• Fighters – Warriors of every sort, from well-trained to a common farmhand that has picked up a weapon. Some have served in various military or militia functions, and there are few men in the kingdoms involved in the battles against the Empire that have not served in defense of a town or their own homes at one time or another.
- Knights (Defender) – You embody personal honor, pledging to defend the innocent from harm, promoting your personal code above all other forms of law.
- Slayers (Striker) – You depend on your armor and your skill with weapons to deliver a stream of consistent, powerful attacks against your enemies.
- Weaponmasters (Defender) – You define the front lines of combat, wearing the heaviest armor and a wide array of weapons.
• Rogues – Rogues can vary from guild-trained thieves to children of the streets, and some fall within the methods of the class without being “thieves” so much as well-trained and skilled hunters or survivalists.
- Thieves (Striker) – You are highly skilled, fast and adaptable. You find traps, sneak through the shadows and often have the first strike against your enemies.
• Vampires – [Vampires are a class in 4th edition, not a race] Not all that are turned as a result of the Empire’s undead believe in the mission of the Empress. Some of those intended to serve a vampiric master break away from being enthralled, while others are the happenstance of a careless vampire that did not clean up after a meal on the battlefield. Some who awaken with a bloodlust direct it towards the Empire and use their dark gifts for revenge on the people that stole their life.
• Warlords – Some fighters don’t just swing a sword, reacting to situations. Some are specifically trained, whether by high-ranking soldiers or studying the tactics of those before you to lend this skill to their allies. Some may have an uncanny knack for strategy, untested in real combat, while others may have served in the front lines of one side or the other in armed conflicts before they took up their adventuring life.
- Marshal (Leader) – You excel at issuing commands to maximize the powers and strategies of your allies, all while wielding weapons to demonstrate you’re also a threat.
• Barbarian (Striker) – On the frontier, groups that were once civilized people have crowded together in near primitive masses. You may be from one of these devolved groups, or maybe you are from a more historic line from the north, or the ‘savage’ frontier societies that have held off other monsters and raiders for countless generations.
• Druids/Rangers – Few forest-based groups, although some manage to work with the elves through tentative agreements and only after they prove to the elves they are worth working with.
- Sentinels (Leader) – You use primal powers of nature to shelter your allies and defeat those that defile the natural world.
- Hunters (Controller) – You tap into the magic and knowledge of the natural world to confuse your enemies like a predator controlling a herd of prey. You specialize in ranged attacks, raining down on groups of enemies.
- Scouts (Striker) – Typically wielding dual melee weapons, you move quickly, darting through combat and making hard strikes before moving back out of range.