class/race, race/class

HotFL presents the class chapters first, followed by race. This is a reversal for D&D: since First Edition, race has been chosen first.

In 1e, race followed by class made sense. Races imposed attribute bonuses, penalties, minimums, and maximums. Classes, on the other hand, had strict entry requirements: for instance, you needed a 17 CHA to be a paladin, and with a 5 or lower CON you could only be an illusionist. Until you applied the racial modifiers, you didn’t know what classes you qualified for. (It was, of course, perfectly possible to roll up a character who didn’t qualify for any classes.)

This order lasted long after the 1e restrictions were gone. As late as the 4e PHB, players have been asked to choose race first:

from the 4e PHB:
Follow these steps to create your D&D character. You can take these out of order; for example, some people prefer to pick their powers last.
1. Choose Race. Decide the race of your character. Your choice of race offers several racial advantages to your character. Chapter 3.
2. Choose Class. Your class represents your training or profession, and it is the most important part of your character’s capabilities. Chapter 4.

It’s a little bit insane that this was still the order in 4e. I think most people choose a class first, and then pick a race that complements it. I’m sure there are some people out there who are happy to play any class, as long as it’s an elf, but I haven’t met them.

2nd edition had a similar format, though some of the classes had laughable requirements like 9 strength (to be fighter). But with 3E on it really didn’t make any sense. In fact, even in 1st and 2nd edition, I almost never picked my race first. I would usually look at the classes and then pick a race that allowed me to qualify for the class that I wanted based on the stats that I rolled.

More Essentials thoughts…


2 Responses to “class/race, race/class”

  1. Moon DM says:

    I have always chosen class first, no matter what the rule books said. I didn’t even think about the fact thatthe books were not in that order.

  2. […] Heroes of the Forgotten Lands is, I think, the first D&D book, I think, where you choose class first. The race chapter came first in 1e, 2e, 3e, and 4e PHB, right? The fact is, though, that no one […]

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