Mechanically Unusual Class
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
or even Lethal Joke Character
. Difficult, But Awesome
and Magikarp Power
aren't unusual. Subtrope of Competitive Balance
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Eastern RP Gs
- 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 Dancer class in Fire Emblem. Dancing allows another character to make a second action that turn. In the Tellius games, herons have a similar role.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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).
First Person Shooters
- It could be argued that all the classes are like this in Team Fortress 2, a few stand out. Here they are in order of uniqueness from most to least:
- The Engineer is 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.
- Then there's the Spy, who focuses on mindgames; he can turn himself invisible, and can disguise himself as the enemy, and is one of the only classes to focus on facing and is the only class in a normal game who does most of his best damage at melee range.
- The Medic is focused almost purely on healing and turning himself and one teammate either invulnerable, nearly invulnerable, or a source Critical Hits
- Ragnarok Online has a few:
- The Taekwon Kid has a mechanic where the majority of his special attacks are only usable at random, when a prompt comes up in battle while he is attacking. This gives the class a very frenetic feel compared to the typical classes, and allow them to dish out some large amounts of damage.
- Super novices have the HP, MP and equipment of a novice, but have access to all the skills of the core first-rank classes. Generally regarded as a weak 'gimmick' class, but has some unique abilities such as being able to achieve an instantaneous spell cast time if you care to tweak them.
- X-Universe series:
- While most ships are built around combat with guns, whether energy or kinetic, the M8 bombers and M7M missile frigates introduced in X3: Terran Conflict are purpose-built for Macross Missile Massacre. Where other ships have a several gun slots and a single ventrally mounted missile tube, these carry two and eight tubes respectively that can fire simultaneously in huge barrages, and at most two rear-facing guns. 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.
- Military Transport freighters introduced in X3: Terran Conflict are moderately fast, well shielded freighters with mediocre-at-best weaponry. However, they make up for their so-so stats by swapping out the standard freight modules for fighter docking clamps, allowing them to carry their own escort internally. A Magnetar TM kitted out with four Eclipse M3+ heavy fighters is a force to be reckoned with.
- The M7DC Drone Frigate ship class introduced in Xtended Terran Conflict. Terrible weaponry barely more powerful than a corvette and with poor shielding, they rely on their ability to produce their own advanced fighter drones on the fly. The drones are launched en-masse (up to 24 at a time) and have stats similar to a M4-class interceptor. The ships make excellent patrol vessels due to their speed and force-projection ability much like a real carrier, at the fraction of the price of a standard M1-class carrier. The ships later appeared in X3: Albion Prelude, though they function more like miniature carriers rather than a unique ship class.
- The expansion Albion Prelude added a few M2+ super-destroyers (which first debuted in Xtended Terran Conflict) that typically include a gimmick in addition to being even bigger, tougher, and slower than normal destroyers. The ATF Valhalla and Terran Kyoto are Battlestars that can dock ships of up to corvette size, for instance (carriers can only dock up to heavy fighters, and destroyers can't dock anything), while the Xenon I has a pair of missile turrets that can use missile frigate ammunition.
Western RP Gs
- 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.
- In The Bards Tale Trilogy, the eponymous bard is the only class that uses singing ability with a variety of effects, and that needs to drink beer to recharge this ability.
Non-video game examples:
- The bard in several editions of Dungeons & Dragons focuses on his "bard songs", songs that can be used to buff and debuff enemies. Also a bit of a Jack of All Stats, Master of None, the bard tends to combine combat, magic and thievery and tends to be pretty terrible at all three unless he decides to specialize in one of those aspects.
- The psion, in any edition, is basically a wizard but with the gimmick of spell points instead of memorization. The sorcerer, in third edition, is a wizard but with spontaneous casting instea of memorization.
- In Fourth Edition of Dungeons & Dragons, where most of the earlier classes represent a particular fantasy archetype, most of the later classes mainly exist because of a certain mechanical gimmick, and share archetypes with an earlier class. For instance, the avenger (gimmick: roll twice for each attack, same archetype as paladin), psion (as above), runepriest (gimmick: switch between offensive and defensive mode at will, same archetype as cleric), and the fact that there are two different classes named 'assassin' both with a different gimmick.
- In some early editions, the thief class itself as the only one with explicit (percentile-based) skills would fit the bill.
- And then there are 3.5 edition binders, who are not only quite dissimilar to the other classes, but can very easily end up quite dissimilar to themselves yesterday. Essentially, a binder gains powers by forming a pact with mysterious entities from outside reality; they can change pacts every day or so, and this brings with it a shift in special powers and bonus feats.
- Alchemicals in Exalted are a mechanically unusual splat which have the unique ability to trade out their Charms during downtime, while Lunars are the only ones with a shapeshifting system. Sidereals may also qualify, given that their gimmick is founded on having an incredibly weird interpretation of their skills - their Medicine tree is used to kill undead, while Archery has a Charm that allows them to shoot health at someone, and their best persistent Dodge enhancer is in Performance.