Countless years, countless authors and countless ways of developing characters.
“Use the Myer-Briggs system! Use the Multiple Intelligences test! Use this handy-dandy character sheet I prepared earlier!
Behold, I throw yet another option into the mix. I started watching Critical Role last year and have enjoyed Dungeons and Dragons to the point where I ran a one-shot from a world from a work-in-progress. I then started wondering—if my characters were D&D ‘classes’, who would they be?
How Characters Fit into Classes
Take the cast of Tales of the Marked: Torchbearer, which might give an insight into some classes if you’re not familiar with them. (A good overview of the classes is also here).
Amora’s the easiest—she’s grown up an urchin on the streets. She’s a quick-witted thief with fast feet and a faster tongue—an easy choice for a Rogue type.
Jayne Farer is a little trickier. On the one hand, she might have played it safe as a Fighter, but that’s a little basic. She fits nicely into a monk’s fighting style. She moves quick, is committed to a higher cause and is lethal with her staff. She makes her living in the plains of eastern Leranion, but she’s no recluse. Eventually, she might take some levels as a Ranger—just for a specific fluffy companion with violet eyes.
As for Monsun Al-Iman, I’d classify him as a Fighter—which is sad because I made a basic joke one paragraph earlier. I wouldn’t want to upset him when he’s angry, so he might multiclass into a Fighter/Barbarian mix. He’s honed his skills in the highest ranks across two kingdoms, and he’s a big man with a big axe. I think his intelligence is much higher than your stereotypical Barbarian, hence why a fighter with a more balanced build might befit the Senior Vindicator of Leranion.
Alsair? I feel like the one-armed Jinnam monk would be best suited to play a monk (surprise). This is a man sworn to peace and contemplation of scripture—and someone frighteningly good with a broadsword. His speed and reflexes are second to none, easily duelling soldiers half his age. However, he would have taken some points in Rogue—after all, he got into Imbra’s dungeons without being seen.
And finally, Eli Serae. By the end of Chapter One, it’s easy to assign him a Ranger. He’s a trained hunter, good with bow and blade and well acquainted with the wild. However, I think he’s a better fit as a Paladin, a holy warrior with high charisma and higher friends. Did someone say Lay on Hands?
Solving Problems with your Character’s D&D Class
Picking a D&D class gives your character strengths and weaknesses. A fighter with high strength and dexterity thrives on the battlefield, but they’ve less experience in the twists and turns of court intrigue. Likewise, the archbishop with charisma and a booming voice likely knows how to bend people to his will—but I’d like to see him scale the castle walls with a blade between his teeth in the dead of night.
Brandon Sanderson’s first law of magic: “An author's ability to solve conflict with magic is DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL to how well the reader understands said magic.” I want to adapt this a little further when discussing characters. “A character’s method of solving conflict is a direct insight into their habits and beliefs.”
When considering the D&D classes I mentioned earlier, each class has different skills to bring to bear
with a situation. When confronted with a locked door, a Rogue might pick the lock, a Fighter or Barbarian might break it down, a Monk might look around for a hidden button, and a Bard or Sorcerer might sweet-talk a guard into letting them in.
In a situation in Tales of the Marked, Eli and Jayne are confronted with a locked door. Eli’s immediate response is to break it down. Paladins, after all, can have a very head-on approach. When that fails, Jayne quickly offers a different solution—pick the lock.
You can use your character’s ‘class’ to know their strengths and where they’d fail miserably.
If a character could solve every problem on the first try, they aren’t going to adapt, change or grow—and your story would be pretty dull. Placing characters into situations, they aren’t good at is crucial to engaging storytelling and well-developed characters.
Eli’s a hunter, born in the mist rolling out of the dawn. He is not well suited to court intrigue. He’s comfortable in the woods—so placing him in the city means he’s out of his depth. Likewise, characters will often try the exact solution to play to their strengths, putting them in situations where they can’t. Put the hunter in the middle of swirling court intrigue, or challenge the monk by destroying their structured, peaceful life.
Characters need to learn that their habits and standard solutions don’t cut it anymore. They either need to learn new skills and new ways of looking at the world or fail, which is another story altogether.
If this seems interesting, think about how your characters solve their problems and how their ‘class’ might fit. Stay tuned for more updates. I have some exciting news that I can’t wait to share with you!