If there is one thing I never understood about D&D, it was character classes and alignments. Just never got them. And I hated them. When I found The Fantasy Trip, it was like a breath of fresh air. The lack of classes and alignments just made sense.
Classes Are Too Artificial
Even as a teenager, first getting exposed to gaming, the idea of classes just seemed to arbitrary. Too controlling. Maybe it’s because I was a teenager, I didn’t like the idea of some artificial boundaries for my characters. The concept of character classes just seemed to conform to someone else’s idea of organization and what should be.
They also seemed to place an emphasis on others’ ideas of fantasy stereotypes. Fighter. Druid. Cleric. Thief. Magic-user (seriously? Why not call them wizards? Made no sense!) And do NOT get me started on the change from “thief” to “rogue.” I’m not kidding.
Anyway, why should players have to be forced to live with those controls? It just places artificial limits on the characters you can create.
Alignments Are Too Restrictive
The same thing applies to the concept of alignments. Really? What exactly does “lawful neutral” mean? I get the whole concept of Law and Chaos from the Elric books, but how does that fit into what a character should be like?
And in the end, isn’t that what we were supposed to be doing? Playing characters? Alignments seemed to drive characters into being one dimensional, like being a strict paladin or completely selfish thief. What about a character who was generally selfish, but had a soft spot and stole to help kids in an orphanage? How did we fit in multi-dimensional characters into that scheme?
TFT Got It Right
On the other hand, I saw right off that The Fantasy Trip got it right. Only two real classes–wizards and everyone else. You made up your character however the hell you wanted, and played him or her that way. Period. (I even toyed with the idea of not even having those two distinctions–just doing what GURPS did and making players take a Magery talent to be able to cast spells.)
Between the talents you chose and what you wrote up about your character, you had the freedom to have a character who was both bad and good, brave and cowardly. It all depended on what YOU wanted, not some artificial rules.
And THAT is what really appealed to even a dumb teenager like me–you created and played a character however you wanted. Not whatever someone else told you to do. What YOU wanted. That freedom was one of the things that hooked me on roleplaying–that and being limited only by my imagination. It was still enough to draw me back to gaming as a cough, cough, older man, too. It was what brought me back to The Fantasy Trip as well. And I know I’m not alone…
(OK, I’m off my soapbox now!)