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Chapter 3: Player Character Classes

After choosing your character's race, you select his character class. A character class is like a profession or career. It is what your character has worked and trained at during his younger years. If you wanted to become a doctor, you could not walk out the door and begin work immediately. First you would have to get some training. The same is true of character classes in the AD&D game. Your character is assumed to have some previous training and guidance before beginning his adventuring career. Now, armed with a little knowledge, your character is ready to make his name and fortune.

The character classes are divided into four groups according to general occupations: warrior, wizard, priest, and rogue. Within each group are several similar character classes. All classes within a group share the same Hit Dice, as well as combat and saving throw progressions. Each character class within a group has different special powers and abilities that are available only to that class. Each player must select a group for his character, then a specific class within that group.

Warrior Wizard Priest Rogue
Fighter Mage Cleric Thief
Ranger Illusionist Druid Bard
Paladin Other Other

Fighter, Mage, Cleric, and Thief are the standard classes. They are historical and legendary archetypes that are common to many different cultures. Thus, they are appropriate to any sort of AD&D game campaign. All of the other classes are optional. Your DM may decide that one or more of the optional classes are not appropriate to his campaign setting. Check with your DM before selecting an optional character class. To help you choose your character's class, each group and its subordinate classes are described briefly. The groups and classes are described in detail later in this chapter.

Warrior

There are three different classes within the warrior group: Fighter, Paladin, and Ranger. All are well-trained in the use of weapons and skilled in the martial arts.

The fighter is a champion, swordsman, soldier, and brawler. He lives or dies by his knowledge of weapons and tactics. Fighters can be found at the front of any battle, contesting toe-to-toe with monsters and villains. A good fighter needs to be strong and healthy if he hopes to survive.

The paladin is a warrior bold and pure, the exemplar of everything good and true. Like the fighter, the paladin is a man of combat. However, the paladin lives for the ideals of righteousness, justice, honesty, piety, and chivalry. He strives to be a living example of these virtues so that others might learn from him as well as gain by his actions.

The ranger is a warrior and a woodsman. He is skilled with weapons and is knowledgeable in tracking and woodcraft. The ranger often protects and guides lost travelers and honest peasant-folk. A ranger needs to be strong and wise to the ways of nature to live a full life.

Wizard

The wizard strives to be a master of magical energies, shaping them and casting them as spells. To do so, he studies strange tongues and obscure facts and devotes much of his time to magical research.

A wizard must rely on knowledge and wit to survive. Wizards are rarely seen adventuring without a retinue of fighters and men-at-arms.

Because there are different types (or schools) of magic, there are different types of wizards. The Mage studies all types of magic and learns a wide variety of spells. His broad range makes him well suited to the demands of adventuring. The Illusionist is an example of how a wizard can specialize in a particular school of magic, illusion in this case.

Priest

A priest sees to the spiritual needs of a community or location. Two types of priests—clerics and druids—are described in the Player's Handbook. Other types can be created by the DM to suit specific campaigns.

The Cleric is a generic priest (of any mythos) who tends to the needs of a community. He is both protector and healer. He is not purely defensive, however. When evil threatens, the cleric is well-suited to seek it out on its own ground and destroy it.

The Druid class is optional; it is an example of how the priest can be adapted to a certain type of setting. The druid serves the cause of nature and neutrality; the wilderness is his community. He uses his special powers to protect it and to preserve balance in the world.

Rogue

The rogue can be found throughout the world, wherever people gather and money changes hands. While many rogues are motivated only by a desire to amass fortune in the easiest way possible, some rogues have noble aims; they use their skills to correct injustice, spread good will, or contribute to the success of an adventuring group.

There are two types of rogues: thieves and bards.

To accomplish his goals, for good or ill, the Thief is a skilled pilferer. Cunning, nimbleness, and stealth are his hallmarks. Whether he turns his talent against innocent passers-by and wealthy merchants or oppressors and monsters is a choice for the thief to make.

The Bard is also a rogue, but he is very different from the thief. His strength is his pleasant and charming personality. With it and his wits he makes his way through the world. A bard is a talented musician and a walking storehouse of gossip, tall tales, and lore. He learns a little bit about everything that crosses his path; he is a jack-of-all-trades but master of none. While many bards are scoundrels, their stories and songs are welcome almost everywhere.