Monday, August 11, 2014

Class as Race

If you watch Thundarr the Barbarian (and you should) you'll notice that "Barbarian","sorceress", and "wizard" as treated almost as if they are special classes of individuals rather than just vocations or cultures. We don't see any evidence that barbarians come from anymore primitive a background than a lot of other characters, but they dress is skins and are all tough fighters.

In fantasy comics (at least older ones) people tend to dress more for their particular skill set than for any cultural reason. Forest thieves tend to look like Robin Hood, despite other characters dressing in Sword & Sorcery fashion. You know have a pretty good guess and what their skill set just by looking at them.

Both of these things lead me to the same thought. Maybe "race as class" in D&D doesn't just apply to demihumans? It could be that all classes are, in fact, races--or at least some sort group identity. It could be that you don't choose to be a fighter or a magic-user: You're born one.

I don't know what the"in world" explanation would be for this. Being chosen by the gods would be one explanation (something like Exalted's castes), but far from the only one. Maybe it doesn't need explaining--it's just another weird thing about a world with underground structures full of monsters and magic.


Scott Anderson said...

I tried it that way with my B/X game for wizards. You were born with the capacity to learn elf magic, or you weren't.

bombasticus said...

I always liked the vestigial "class as culture" notes we sometimes saw in professions like the assassins, monks and druids with a global hierarchy. Are these social or ethnic groupings, or something in between?

What I am really kind of perversely interested in right now, though, is what you'd make of Sheri Tepper's True Game books where a dizzying array of what we would consider ultra-specialized (arduinesque) subclasses are hardwired into heredity itself? Class as mutant power...

anarchist said...

I think that being a witch or wizard is inherited in the Harry Potter series.