Created By: Ghilz on June 18, 2012 Last Edited By: StarSword on February 5, 2013
Troped

Mechanically Unusual Class

Mechanically unusual classes that are not damage dealers or healers. Often named bards.

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Trope

As per this discussion on splitting Spoony Bard. Description is just a draft. Can use more pruning and tuning.

A character class that plays completely different from any other classes in the game. Either it revolves around a specific gimmick no other classes has access to, or it has a strange power set that makes it fit nowhere precisely in the Fighter, Mage, Thief spectrum. This class is often (though not always) named after some sort of entertainment profession, most often Bard, but Dancer, Mime, Minstrel, Painter and such are also possibilities.

This class is usually neither a healer nor a damage dealer. He most likely can do a bit of either, but they tend to be secondary traits. Often he tends to focus on buffs or debuffs, and may be a Jack-of-All-Stats, having both combat and magical ability, but those tend to be limited due to a subpar selection of weapons and armor for the former, and a lack of traditional offensive damage dealing or powerful healing spells for the later.

What makes the class unique however is the gimmick. Many classes wield sword, many wield spells, quite a few mix both, but this class always has a mechanic that no other classes have access to. And said mechanic is always meant to play a large role for this character. Usually this is tied to the art performance this class is named after. They may be a Musical Assassin. Or maybe they can sing songs or dance to inspire (IE: Buff) their teammates, demoralize (IE: Debuff) enemies, or cause all sorts of weird effects to happen.

Because this class is so centered on their gimmick, and said gimmick tends to put them outside the usual roles, the usefulness of this class can vary wildly, from The Load to Game Breaker. Difficult but Awesome and Magikarp Power aren't unusual. Subtrope of Competitive Balance.

Video Game Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Eastern RPGs]]
  • The Schemestress class from Soul Nomad & the World Eaters. Instead of dealing damage, healing, or casting buffs and debuffs, the Schemestress has abilities unique to her like dealing Percent Damage Attack, disabling the enemy from counterattacking, or switching the front and back row of the enemy squad. To a lesser extent, she is also the only class whose melee attack is based on INT rather than ATK. Unfortunately, these abilities fall into Useless Useful Spell category most of the time.
  • The Moogle Tinker from Final Fantasy Tactics A2, regarded as the worst class by most players due to its sheer unreliability. To elaborate, Tinker abilities can cast buffs, debuffs or ailments on either every enemy or every ally. So yes, if you're unlucky you can end up casting Haste on every enemy or inflicting Doom on all allies.
  • The Lady Luck class in Final Fantasy X-2. Among her abilities are skills which effects are determined by playing a slots mini-game in the middle of battle
  • The Dancer class in Fire Emblem. Dancing allows another character to make a second action that turn.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • The Bard, Dancer, Songstress and all their variants in the series. The specifics vary per game and can get complex, but these classes usually focus on entering a state where the player loses direct control of them, and they begin inflicting random effects on the party or enemies. Each song/dance has a specific list of effects they can cause.
    • Calculators/Arithmetician from Final Fantasy Tactics are very slow and weak, but their ability lets them cast spells from other casting classes for free, with no charge time, under certain (numerical, hence the name) parameters. After purchasing all of these, as well as all of the usable spells, they are very good characters, but this is very time consuming.
    • The Mimes, present in various games, whose specialty is the "mimic" abilities where they copy the attacks used by others. They are nearly always an end game unit as they can mimic spell and item use at not cost in terms of mana or items, or even charge time in some cases.
  • In much of competitive play, many Pokémon that focus on the move Baton Pass have a tendency to be this, often using substitute for endurance purposes and status buffs in hopes of lasting long enough to pass the status buffs on to the next Pokémon. Pokemon such given these movesets are often passed up outside competitive play, as it's faster and easier to just mow through the in-game opponents with high-leveled Pokémon.
  • Golden Sun:
    • The vast majority of classes depend on what Djinn are attached to the character (giving a Mars Djinni to a Venus character makes him go from Squire to Brute, for example). Most non-standard classes require all but two Djinni to be of the same element, but some like the Ninja, Samurai and Dark Mage require three of each. This tends to verge into Awesome, but Impractical territory, as Djinn can be summoned in battle as spells, which lowers stats and completely changes available spells.
    • In The Lost Age, there are items that can be equipped to change the character's class. These tend to be drastically different from the base classes made through djinn.
    • Dark Dawn has an inversion: Sveta's base class has some useful abilities, but what you really want is her Beastform ability, which allows her to attack every single enemy at once every turn (no one else can do this).
[[/folder]]

[[folder:First Person Shooters]]
  • The Engineer from Team Fortress 2 is also mechanically (har har) interesting, as while he can deal a bit of damage, his primary purpose is to build gadgets which can teleport teammates across the map and replenish their ammo (as well as heal and deal damage). Other classes fight in a more direct manner.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Simulation Games]]
  • While most ships in the X-Universe series are built around combat with guns, whether energy or kinetic, the bombers and missile frigates introduced in X3: Terran Conflict are purpose-built for Macross Missile Massacre. Where other ships have a single ventrally mounted missile tube, these carry two and eight tubes respectively that can fire simultaneously in huge barrages. Though fielding them requires construction of a supply train to produce and distribute ordnance, in player hands they're absolute Game Breakers since the AI typically doesn't have any missile defense worth mentioning.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western RPGs]]
  • Wizardry:
    • The Bard, especially the later games, is an hybrid rogue / caster. His gimmick are the various instruments, which he can use to casts various buffs and debuffs, at no mana cost (using stamina instead). With status effects being very dangerous in those games, it makes the bard a valuable asset.
    • Wizardry 8 adds the Gadgeteer, a rogue / ranged combatant whose gimmick includes the crafting of gadgets (who function like bard instruments, only needing prior assembly) and the Omnigun, a gun that they upgrade with each level up, granting it new abilities and the ability to fire a wider range of Abnormal Ammo.
[[/folder]]

Non-video game examples:

[[folder:Tabletop Games]] [[/folder]]
Community Feedback Replies: 27
  • June 18, 2012
    animeg3282
    The calculator in Final Fantasy Tactics has an odd mechanic, and it can be awesome or useless.
  • June 18, 2012
    animeg3282
    expalnation found on page: To elaborate, Calculators are very slow and weak, but their ability lets them cast spells from other casting classes for free, with no charge time, under certain parameters. After purchasing all of these, as well as all of the usable spells, they are very good characters, but this is very time consuming.

    Also, they have spells that say..cure people whose levels are multiples of five.
  • August 1, 2012
    ccoa
    Bumping this, since a TRS thread is waiting on it.
  • August 4, 2012
    Shrikesnest
    • Bards and Dancers from the Fire Emblem series are unable even to engage in combat. Instead, they contribute to combat by refreshing exhausted units with their invigorating music, granting them an extra turn. Some versions can also grant buffs.
  • September 18, 2012
    DracMonster
    Maybe Esoteric Bard? Little more succinct.
  • November 29, 2012
    lu127
    <Mod Hat>

    Is this going to move?
  • December 7, 2012
    WaxingName
    I'll take over this YKTTW.

    Also, I think I'll change this to "Mechanically Unusual Class" to make it clearer.
  • December 8, 2012
    ChaosVincent
    • In much of competitive play, many [[Pokemon]] that focus on the move, Baton Pass, have a tendency to be this, often using substitute for endurance purposes and status buffs in hopes of lasting long enough to pass the status buffs on to the next pokemon. Pokemon such given these movesets are often passed up outside competitive play, as it's faster and easier to just mow through the in-game opponents with high-leveled pokemon.
  • December 9, 2012
    Shrikesnest
    • As each edition of Dungeons And Dragons ages, more and more sourcebooks are released that contain kits or classes that operate on different rules than existing classes or serve very specialized purposes, simply as a result of the creative process. A recurring example is Psionic classes, which are traditionally released later into an edition's life cycle and which eschew the Vancian magic used by the game's other spellcasters for a system that uses Power Points instead. There are many other examples that use mechanics unique to the kit or class, but they are too numerous to list here.
  • December 10, 2012
    Chabal2
    The vast majority of classes in Golden Sun depend on what Djinn are attached to the character (giving a Mars Djinni to a Venus character makes him go from Squire to Brute, for example). Most non-standard classes require all but two Djinni to be of the same element, but some like the Ninja, Samurai and Dark Mage require three of each. This tends to verge into Awesome But Impractical territory, as Djinn can be summoned in battle as spells, which lowers stats and completely changes available spells.
  • December 10, 2012
    StarSword
    Probably should be broken down by genre.

    Subtrope of Competitive Balance. Supertrope to Spoony Bard, a common version of this. (Maybe. Haven't read the relevant TRS thread.)

    [[folder:Simulation Games]]
    • While most ships in the X-Universe series are built around combat with guns, whether energy or kinetic, the bombers and missile frigates introduced in X3: Terran Conflict are purpose-built for Macross Missile Massacre. Though fielding them requires construction of a supply train to produce and distribute ordnance, in player hands they're absolute Game Breakers since the AI typically doesn't have any missile defense worth mentioning.
    [[/folder]]
  • December 11, 2012
    StarSword
    Folderized, namespaced, and added a subtrope note on Competitive Balance. Also, what's this trope's relationship to Lethal Joke Character?
  • December 11, 2012
    WaxingName
    ^This character may or may not be a Lethal Joke Character. It's an entirely different concept.
  • January 3, 2013
    TrueShadow1
    • The Blue Mages from various Final Fantasy games may fall under this trope, as they have a different method of learning skills than other classes.
  • February 1, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    Bumping this to get it done.
  • February 1, 2013
    Rognik
    • The Dancer class in Fire Emblem. Dancing allows another character to make a second action that turn. ((I know it's in Fire Emblem: Awakening, but I think it appeared in FE 6, too?))

    • In Golden Sun's The Lost Ages, there are items that can be equipped to change the character's class. These tend to be drastically different from the base classes made through djinn.
  • February 1, 2013
    TrueShadow1
    • The Schemestress class from Soul Nomad And The World Eaters. Instead of dealing damage, healing, or casting buffs and debuffs, the Schemestress has abilities unique to her like dealing Percent Damage Attack, disabling the enemy from counterattacking, or switching the front and back row of the enemy squad. To a lesser extent, she is also the only class whose melee attack is based on INT rather than ATK. Unfortunately, these abilities fall into Useless Useful Spell category most of the time.
    • The Moogle Tinker from Final Fantasy Tactics A 2, regarded as the worst class by most players due to its sheer unreliability. To elaborate, Tinker abilities can cast buffs, debuffs or ailments on either every enemy or every ally. So yes, if you're unlucky you can end up casting Haste on every enemy or inflicting Doom on all allies.
    • The Lady Luck class in Final Fantasy X 2. Among her abilities are skills which effects are determined by playing a slots mini-game in the middle of battle.
  • February 2, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    ^ and ^^: Where do these examples belong to?
  • February 2, 2013
    TrueShadow1
    All of them are RPG (or if you want to differentiate them, Fire Emblem, FFTA 2, and Soul Nomad are Turn Based Strategy games)
  • February 3, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    Added these. Unless any objections arise, launching soon.
  • February 3, 2013
    azul120
    • The Dragon Quest franchise has had a few, including Merchant and Beastmaster, which have special abilities that set them apart.
  • February 3, 2013
    Chabal2
    Golden Sun Dark Dawn has an inversion: Sveta's base class has some useful abilities, but what you really want is her Beastform ability, which allows her to attack every single enemy at once every turn (no one else can do this).
  • February 3, 2013
    ekolis
    The Engineer from Team Fortress 2 is also mechanically (har har) interesting, as while he can deal a bit of damage, his primary purpose is to build gadgets which can teleport teammates across the map and replenish their ammo (as well as heal and deal damage).
  • February 4, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    And again: Where do these examples belong?
  • February 4, 2013
    StarSword
    Eastern RPG, Eastern RPG, and First Person Shooter, respectively.
  • February 5, 2013
    StarSword
    We've got a TRS thread waiting on this and five hats. As it's Up For Grabs, I'm adding the remaining examples, giving it until I get home at 8PM EST, then launching.
  • February 5, 2013
    StarSword
    Trope deployed.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=wd6s4dl3l2yrev0nsqxw2zf9&trope=MechanicallyUnusualClass