Forums: Helping Hand > 4e Class vs. Role

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I would like to propose that we either remove the class4e field from {{Person}} or else change it to role4e.

Classes are not roles, to the best of my understanding. They do not work at all the same way.

Also, it is misleading. Szass Tam, for example, is listed in Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide as "Level 30 Elite Artillery (Leader)." However, his class is still wizard, which is listed as "Human wizard lich." His size, origin, type, and keywords are "Medium natural humanoid (undead)". All of these things are distinct. I would argue that if we keep the class4e field, Szass would be a "Wizard 30", not an "Artillery 30", according to the source. The latter simply means that he plays the role of the leader of an elite group of artillery "monsters" in an encounter, that is, he uses heavy ranged attacks and avoids melee. That has nothing to do with his class.

Szass Tam is a rarity though; most of the time, 4e sources simply don't give a class; they only provide a role. If we still want to categorize 4e characters by their role, I do not have a problem with that, but we should not be mixing it up with class and if we do categorize this, we should also be adding a role4e field to {{Creature}}.

~ Lhynard (talk) 15:38, May 22, 2017 (UTC)

Hah, I was just considering posting something on the very same subject.

To the best of my knowledge (and any 4e scholars out there feel free to correct me), NPC class in 4e is mostly "window dressing", and has no real significance in terms of the 4e combat system. Based on the stat block explanation from the 4e Monster Manual, Tam is:

  • Level 30 Elite Artillery (Leader): this tells us how powerful Tam is, and how he acts in combat. He also has the secondary Leader role, with Elite signifying he can spend "action points" to use extra actions.
  • Medium natural humanoid: these are Tam's size, origin, and type. All these things have a certain degree of combat significance.
  • Human wizard lich: these are Tam's "keywords", which are essentially what "groups" of monsters he falls into, as well as his race.

So it would be misleading to say Tam is a level 30 wizard in 4e. Wizard is just a keyword; his power and how he goes about using it is tied to his role, i.e. Elite Artillery (Leader). I agree this sounds pretty video game-y, but that's just 4e for you. I'd be in favor of adding the role4e field, and nixing class4e altogether, since "class" isn't really a thing for NPCs in 4e. You could argue we should avoid the concept of "role" altogether, but I think that would be a mistake. "Level 30 Elite Artillery (Leader)" is the best description of what sort of monster Szass Tam is (in the context of 4e) we're going to get.

{{Class table}} should also be updated to reflect this. I think we can include 4e roles with that template, but we should also add support for the "Elite" and "Leader" variant roles.
Ir'revrykal (talk) 17:04, May 22, 2017 (UTC)

Class in 4e determines what power source is used (Arcane, Divine, Primal, Martial, etc.). Szass Tam is a Wizard 30 and I believe we should keep the class4e because that's about the only way to compare 4e people with other editions (even though the level does not compare, it gives a relative scale). Lich is not a keyword, it is a Functional Template that you apply to a character or monster, usually with prerequisites. There are also Class Templates that can be applied to give a creature features related to that class. Roles can be filled by any class (some better than others), and indeed, the roles for a creature with the lich template applied are recommended to be Artillery or Controller (with a dash of Elite).

So "role" sounds like nothing more than a strong strategic recommendation. In a battle, if things get out of hand, the Artillery person might have to switch to being a Controller for a while. I don't have a problem with categorizing people or creatures by recommended role (or keywords), but I don't see how we can drop class in favor of role. As for 4e not specifying classes, the class might be deduced from the role they play or skills they have, but according to the design philosophy stated in the 4e DMG:

Even in a fantastic settlement, there shouldn’t be many nonplayer characters with classes from the Player's Handbook. The player characters are exceptional, in part because they have these classes and gain levels through their adventuring. Most citizens are 1st-level minions or other low-level examples of their races drawn from the Monster Manual or created using the design guidelines in Chapter 10. The priests in a temple are ordinary people who might have some mastery of rituals—and might not. A hedge wizard might be the human mage from the Monster Manual, with simple spells and rituals. Reserve classes for exceptional and important NPCs, particularly patrons

and villains.

So perhaps we will only get classes for the important NPCs. Disclaimer: I don't play 4th edition, I just RTFM.

Moviesign (talk) 20:10, May 22, 2017 (UTC)

Thanks for the explanation! In that case, I suppose we could categorize by role and class where the class is given or implied through available skills/spells. If we exclude role entirely, it feels like a lot of NPCs will lack stats for 4e.
Ir'revrykal (talk) 21:11, May 22, 2017 (UTC)
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