I was asked the other day by my co-author Noble: where do I start when making a class. She is working on a Valkyrie themed class that fits within the canon of Veil of the Void for our Norse themed expansion and wanted to know how I generally tackle a new class. That is a great question, one I didn’t think of before! I answered her and now I want to share that here as well.
I told her that I start at level 1; and that was not sarcasm towards her question. You see, every class starts with unique level 1 abilities. This ability gives shape and definition to your class. The abilities the class gains beyond level 1 often reflect back on or use the level 1 ability. I personally start there.
Let’s look at an example. When I was making the Mechromancer my idea was to build a melee class that uses death magic and summons all manner of mechanical undead. However, I wanted there to be a central feature, something that drives their ability to summon undead. That limiter was the level 1, which absorbs souls around them and stores them in a powerful melee weapon.
These souls then feed their undead summons and give both balance and a lore based explanation of the Mechromancer. It’s super cool because this single level 1, and the idea of soul manipulation, lead to their unique and flavored level abilities! Their level 2 ability summons undead based on the souls within your weapons; you can consume the souls to grow stronger in combat for a moment, etc. This unique level 1 now gave a pathway to follow to make the whole class.
I personally start this way as it gives the most idea of how the class works, but I also make sure to have at least a basic concept idea in mind. Doing this can really help speed up and balance your class. But, start in whatever area best feels comfortable! Just read the rules and look over other classes for examples and you will very quickly build that perfect class.
Also, be flexible. Writing a class often times changes as you come up with better ideas. I rewrote the whole Thaumatech class near the end before the release for instance! So even I, the author, went back and rewrote it. Also, discuss the class idea with others; it’s amazing how others perspectives can bring new light and ideas to your own. Thankfully, we have both a Discord and a section on this forum just for that very thing!
I hope this little section helps bring your ideas to life, and please, if you have any questions feel free to ask away; and share your ideas in the Homebrewing or roleplaying sections!
You’re all awesome and may your stories be as well!