Standard RPG Classes?

Having been playing LOADS of Etrian Odyssey IV recently, it got me thinking about the classes in the game and the class system in general. Classes are a way of depicting various skill sets and fighting styles within an RPG game. One could also use this to refer to shows or even real life examples but the term is primarily used in video games to define specific roles that one may assume. It's much like defining a working individual based on their job.

If you've ever played your fair share of RPGs then you'd know that some classes are staple in the genre. They usually represent the broadest distinction of the different combat styles and one can consider them to be standard RPG classes. Of course, their names differ from game to game and some games might not even have them but that's what I'd like to discuss about. What are the standard RPG classes?

There's almost always a melee swordsman. The main physical damage dealer that can double as a tank, they usually possess almost zero magical capabilities. More often than not, they fight with a simple sword and sometimes even a shield. They attack when they can, defend the team when necessary and is usually considered a very balanced class.

The next class is the mage. A magical user that can deal enormous amounts of magical damage but boasts very little HP and physical damage. They're essentially the classic glass cannons. Also another staple in team compositions as they're usually the lone magical damage dealer.

Another major class is the archer that are sometimes coupled together with another class known as the rogue. Both classes certainly share similarities in that they both exploit enemy weaknesses for quick kills, they both make use of debilitation skills and they're both exceptionally quick on their feet. They only difference I can recognise is that one is ranged and direct while the other strikes at melee range from the shadows. Another classic class needed to round off the party.

You might think that healers are a staple part of the team too but almost all classes used to have small healing abilities of their own and even if they didn't, using items was a big part in maintaining the party.

And that's actually it for the standard classes. I remembered playing video games whereby a party of three was considered the most optimal. You have a physical damage dealer and tank, a magical damage dealer and a specialised attacker. If they ever added an extra, it was primarily because the archer and the rogue were separated. There is also a possibility of the separation of the mage class into the elemental magical user and the more unique, specialised magical user.

As you can tell, these classes are pretty broad in their skill set and while they do define their roles well, these roles can be further broken down into a number of sub categories that can be classed as their own. This is the norm nowadays with RPGs as the gameplay becomes more specialised. Fighting isn't as simple as choosing attack, defend and items anymore. The need to play around with status changes, ailments, environmental effects, speed, etc. are essential to victory.

I intend to break down this discussion further with the other sub-classes. While I understand that there are a LOT of different classes, I'll be talking about those commonly found and/or the next category down from the main ones listed here.


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