A few years back, I had other posts on this site. I took them down on purpose. The decision wasn’t based on anything so much as my desire to start fresh. See, I’ve changed my mind on role-playing, since last I wrote anything here, and I feel that those previous posts no longer accurately reflect my position. There are some things that remain constant and I will address those topics again, starting with this one: fuck point-buy systems.
I wrote before about AD&D (2nd Edition) and an option to create your own classes. It’s listed in the DMG. Basically, you address each skill/ability as a unique talent that a character might possess. That talent has a cost assigned to it. As you add abilities to your “new” class, the cost goes up. This total, then, is multiplied against a static value for each level of experience (at some incremental ratio, like 400 for level 1, 800 for level 2, 1600 for level 3, etc.). Thus a class with many powerful abilities might have a high total modifier and characters in that class take longer to go up levels.
“That’s not a point-buy system.” Correct, disembodied voice inside my head, it is not. A point-buy system gives a set number of points to the player who can construct a unique character by purchasing abilities. The player might even take limitations or flaws that give back points; regardless, the goal is to spend all available points and use future points to buy new (or to upgrade old) abilities.
Take note: there are three critical differences between the AD&D custom class system and a standard point-buy system:
- A point-buy system puts the points (and the decision) in the hands of the player.
- A point-buy system provides a clear limit by assigning a starting pool of points.
- A point-buy system is usually associated with a point-based advancement system.
This is why I like the AD&D custom class system: it doesn’t do those things.
Point-buy systems place too much into the hands of the player. I don’t mean to say that player agency is bad, or that players shouldn’t be able to make choices about their characters, or anything else that you might misunderstand about that statement. I mean simply this: stop letting your players waste their time on character creation. That is bullshit. They should be wasting their time playing the fucking game.
So yes, I use a custom class methodology for designing my game. But the classes are set. I have the option of changing them and I welcome input from the players concerning which classes should change, why they should change, and whether there’s a need for a new class (presumably to address a gap in the game world). But I retain the right to veto stupid decisions.