Classes as Inspiration for Worldbuilding

An interesting exercise in worldbuilding is trying to figure out how the different classes fit into your world. This serves a couple purposes; it gives you a framework to explore and expand your world and it gives you some direction for your players. If a new player is curious about, say, invokers you could tell him about the Bretani Academy where priests of varied faiths train in secret for the day when the primordials will try to retake the world.

So the next time you’re just sitting around or bored, try this. Pick a class. Now come up with three different backgrounds for or examples of that class. You don’t need to restrict yourself to the exotic classes either; as generic as a fighter is, it can serve as a great jumping off point for defining a mercenary troupe, a military, or a nomadic desert tribe known for wielding their signature khopeshes.

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6 Responses to “Classes as Inspiration for Worldbuilding”

  1. I absolutely do this. My current campaign has many elements in it which are derived from thinking about how the classes should work in my setting. It’s a really fun method.

  2. Agreed 100%. I never do a homebrew that I don’t at least think of a few organizations or cults for the classes. I think it adds a lot to the class when a symbol or name can instantly evoke an image of the character.

  3. This is why I miss prestige classes in the new edition. It’s weird that you have to wait until 10th level to begin a paragon path.

    kaeosdad’s last blog post..Aloha rpg bloggers network!

  4. Why do you think that’s weird, if you don’t mind my asking?

    I don’t think it’s inherently better or worse than 3e’s prestige classes.

    Also, worth noting that the default assumption is 3e is a level 1-20 game, and you’d need to be level 7 before you could take most prestige classes. 4e assumes levels 1-30, so waiting til level 11 is roughly equivalent, in that sense.

  5. I should explain that I haven’t played above the heroic tier in my games yet but I think the cool thing about prestige classes was the amount of flavor they added to your setting by linking the prestige class to an organization or culture.

    Paragon paths work just the same but using your example the thing I think is weird is that although it is roughly equivalent if you look at it that way 4e is also a much higher powered campaign.

    A lot of people consider a level 1 4e PC equivalent to that of a level 4 3e PC so following that same reasoning a level 10 4e character is equivalent to a level 14 3e character, which is twice the level of most minimum prestige classes. That was my take on it anyway.

    I’m not knocking 4e by the way it’s just something I found odd.

    kaeosdad’s last blog post..Grindy Combat & Roleplaying Skill Challenges in 4e

  6. You can’t really think of it that way. 4e PCs start out very powerful, but they don’t grow in power quite as quickly. A level 2 third edition character was almost twice as powerful as a level 1, but a level 2 fourth edition character is only a bit more powerful than a level 1.

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