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Pushing the limits of a class trinity

Mike Schramm

Relmstein is at it again, this time with a look at class trinity in MMORPGs. This is old, old RPG strategy stuff-- basically almost every RPG out there is based around three different class roles: that of tank, DPS or healing. Tanks (like Warriors and Fighters) take damage, DPS classes (like Mage and Rogue) dish the damage out, and healing classes (obviously) keep the party alive long enough to win the battle. For a while now, game developers have tried to vary up this class trinity, so that you don't just have the same options in every game. In WoW, hybrid classes like Paladin and Shaman can play more than one role, and classes like Hunters and Warlocks have extra abilities (crowd control and buffing/debuffing) that help them be something more than what the class trinity lays out for them. Or there are classes like Druids, who can play all three roles at various times.

But the problem here is that while there are some extra abilities floating around, there aren't any new class types to speak of. The reason for this in WoW is because the developers want to give every class the option to go all the way to 70 solo, which means classes that could be total crowd control classes, like Hunters, are forced back into one of the class trinity roles (in this case, DPS). So far, we haven't seen a really pure crowd control class-- at least not like we've seen pure tanking, pure healing, or pure DPS classes.

So let's put our minds to it. What kinds of classes could we make that would do something fundamentally different from tanking, healing, or damage?

Relmstein comes up with the great idea of a "Threatmaster" class-- kind of a whole class that revolves around the Hunter's Misdirection ability. That person could direct aggro from monsters whereever they wanted it to go-- if the healer pulled aggro, you'd have the Threatmaster just point it back at the tank, or if there was no tank, the Threatmaster could push it around to different players, and bounce the mob between them. To carry Relmstein's great idea to the solo game, a Threatmaster class could even turn mobs against each other-- he could use their abilities and damage to supplement his own.

For my own idea, I'd suggest a time-based class. All of the classes now revolve around controlling something that affects every player in the game-- life, mana, or the ability to take either away. But there's something else that affects all players, and that's time. Blizzard has already played around a little bit with this in Outland-- Haste and Slow abilities are making a more solid appearance. But a "Timebender" could be a class that could control time flow-- not just speed players up or slow mobs down, but record a certain reading on a players' health, and then restore that reading at a later time, or reverse a spell and send it back at the mob that casted it.

In truth, we're messing with the primary rules of roleplaying games here-- the reason almost every game has a Fighter, a Caster, and a Healer class is because those roles work so well together. But originality is always welcome, especially in the world of gaming. Is the class trinity holy, or is there room for more roles in roleplaying?

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