This is the first of the entries on K20 on the most commonly requested part of the game, classes. This is the biggest departure from 2,3,4 or 5e in K20, and while I’d love to be able to say you can just lift and shift them into a 3.5 game, you probably can’t. It also means if you read some, they may seem obviously overpowered or under powered. To that, I’d ask you in regard to what? The baseline power levels for the various editions are pretty different, as is the power levels within editions. These classes should be considered within the context of K20 itself.
The most obvious difference to a reader, is the reminder that K20 minimizes non-mechanical fluff. This doesn’t mean the classes are not evocative and don’t impact the world. Quite the opposite in most cases. What it means is that the classes don’t have a lot of words in a “how they fit in the world” section. Instead, a class may grant dominion over the spell magic missile and allow you to know whenever anyone casts it. It’s up to the player and DM to interpret how that changes the world.
Classes are tied to tiers of play. In the beginning all PCs begin at the Heroic Tier. As a character gains levels, they eventually move into the Prestige Tier, onto Paragon, Epic, and Deific levels of play. Each class is 5 levels long and tied to a power source. At the completion of your current tier’s class (when achieving level 6, 11, 16, or 21) you must select a new class from your new tier and your existing power source. Alternatively, you can choose not to advance, but will not gain any new abilities or features.
EX: Beldum the level 5 wizard has just cleared a dungeon and his GM asked the group to level up. He enjoyed the versatility of the wizard but wants to focus on damage for the next adventure. They are now level 6, and because Wizards are Arcane, he chooses the Evoker class. He retains his wizard utility but picked up quite a few new blasting tricks. When he reaches level 11, Beldam pursues the Arcane Living Spell class and becomes the living embodiment of his go to blasting spells. After conquering the material plane at level 15, he approaches level 16 and wants to expand his empire. He moves into the Chronomancer class, and can now travel to anywhere, and anywhen to stop his foes.
Most character classes fill a combat role in a group. The standard adventurering group contains four characters, one of each role. Many choose to have a 5th or 6th and double up on roles, and others only have three and get by without. This is not a hard and fast rule, and nothing stops a group from having four strikers if they want, but it usually makes things harder. Roles are very important at lower levels, and as such the heroic classes spell out their intended roles. As you hit prestige and paragon tier, skipping a role is more forgiving, and the lines become more blurred.
The iconic defender is the heavily armored paladin leading the charge with a big shield and sword. That is certainly one way to fulfill the role, although there are many others. In combat, defenders have abilities that draw attacks to them instead of their allies, and powers that make them hard to defeat.
The iconic striker is the stealthy ninja jumping from the shadows and defeating an enemy before they are seen. In combat, strikers are mobile, and deal high amounts of damage. The goal of a striker is to kill your opponents before they have a chance to fight back. They have powers that multiply damage and increase their ability to get in close with an enemy.
The iconic utilitarian is the prepared wizard, who has every spell in his book and can break out the perfect one for just this situation. In combat, utilitarian’s control the battlefield with walls or difficult terrain, setting their allies up for the inevitable finishing blow. The goal of a utilitarian is to control a fight, so your team has the advantage. If your allies are fire immune, you are throwing walls of fire. If they fly, you are turning the ground into mud.
The iconic Support character is the Abjurer, throwing prepared wards on his party and preventing damage. In combat, Support characters buff their allies and debuff their enemies directly. This means a ward of protection on your party with some healing thrown in for extra help and potentially some curses for the enemy. Your role in combat is to keep your team operating at full capacity, and to prevent the enemy from doing the same.
All characters have a hit die. Their hit die determines how powerful they are and is used to gate-keep various powers. In general, a character’s hit die is equal to their class level, unless they are playing a more powerful origin.
BAB and Saves
One retained mechanic, and remember this whole game runs on a 3.x D&D chassis, is the use of base attack bonuses and saving throws. In K20, classes either grant Good or Bad base attack bonuses or saving throws using the traditional progressions from 3.0.