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.
What makes the class unique however is the gimmick
. 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
. Compare and contrast Quirky Bard
, where the character class in question is just not enough to support itself.
Also compare Mechanically Unusual Fighter
, the Fighting Game
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- 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 without cost in terms of mana or items, or even charge time in some cases.
- Blue mages, like the mimes, learn their spells by copying them from monsters, although as starting classes do pay MP or charge for them. Traditionally, there are also spells that can only be copied from certain bosses or monsters that will go extinct.
- 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 Animist from Tactics Advance uses skills that involve summoning diverse animals and causing both damage and status effects in oddly shaped areas of effect.
- The Nu Mou Morph, also from Tactics Advance, mimics the abilities of monsters you captured previously.
- The Moogle Tinker from Final Fantasy Tactics A2, regarded as the worst class by most players due to its sheer unreliability. 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.
- Chocobo Knight, also, from Final Fantasy Tactics A2. Unlike the other classes which learn skills from equipments, the Chocobo Knight's skills depend on what Chocobo he is riding. He can't use any skills when unmounted.
- Gambler types from various Final Fantasy games often count. Setzer from Final Fantasy VI is the clearest example: he attacks with cards, dice, darts, slots, and GOLD PIECES.
- Relm from the same game would count, using paintbrushes as weapons and painting magical duplicates of monsters to use their own attacks against them or straight-up mind-controlling them... if not for the fact that her high Magic stat has most players ignoring those abilities and developing her as a straight mage instead.
- All player characters in Final Fantasy VI have a unique ability, but Edgar, Sabin, Gau, and Cyan fit this trope well for having what are essentially magic attacks (of varying degrees of effectiveness) for zero MP cost.
- The Memorist class from Final Fantasy Dimensions. The stats for this class are a flat 10 in every category no matter what level the character is, but by returning to places where cutscenes occured the player can get items that allow them to increase the stats by a few points according to their liking allowing for an immense amount of customization. As well rather than learning and equipping abilities like the other classes the Memorist instead draws on a randomly selected assortment of abilities the character has already learned.
- Final Fantasy XIV :
- The Arcanist class is unique, at release, in its ability to equip two different job souls and thus specialize in two drastically different roles : the Summoner Job Soul focuses on damage, while the Scholar Job Soul focuses on healing and support. Other classes only have one job soul available. The Summoner is the only damage-role job that can resurrect during battle, while the Scholar can more easily apply damage mid-fight than White Mages and do so longer without endangering mana reserves.
- The Bard is an odd combination of damage and support skills, including the only Job skill that can recover ally mana or energy resources, while not having the same damage capabilities as Monks, Dragoons, or Black Mages. They're different enough from other DPS roles that developers have discussed creating a new, hybrid role for them.
- Unlike other Jobs, Ninjas are unable to access most of their abilities at will. Instead, they must perform Mudras in a specific order, then use the Ninjutsu skill to activate the effect.
- In competitive play, Pokémon that focus on the move Baton Pass have a tendency to be this, often using Substitute for endurance purposes and then racking up status buffs in hopes of lasting long enough to pass them on to the next Pokémon. Pokemon 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.
- Ditto (which cannot do anything other than transform into the opponent, copying their moves) and Smeargle (which can permanently learn any move in the game by copying it, but has horrendous stats) are rarely used for similar reasons. Ditto at least is very useful for breeding however, while Smeargle is very useful because it can learn the only perfect-accuracy Sleep move in the game (Spore), set up buffs while the opponent sleeps, then Baton Pass. Smeargle is also used in some rather convoluted breeding chains; when breeding Pokemon, the offspring's species will be the unevolved form of the mother, with the moveset of the father. However, many Pokemon are a One-Gender Race, requiring "creative" workarounds.
- 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).
- Mercedes in Odin Sphere is the most drastically different of the five characters. While other characters use melee attacks to varying degrees, Mercedes wields a crossbow and is purely a ranged character. Being a fairy allows her to fly around indefinitely, and instead of a POW meter that acts as the character's stamina, depleting as you attack, but recharging if you idle long enough, she instead has an Ammo meter that can't be recharged until it's completely empty, and requires the player to manually reload (though absorbing Phozons still recharges it like they do for the POW meter.)
- It could be argued that all the classes are like this in Team Fortress 2 (new weapon loadouts have only accentuated it for most), 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. Also, the majority of the damage he deals doesn't even come from him, it comes from his Sentry Gun, which aims and fires automatically. Pretty much the only reason the Engineer even has a Shotgun and a Pistol is so he isn't completely dependent upon it.
- Then there's the Spy, who focuses on mind games; 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 of Critical Hits. Also, the Medigun, once it latches onto a team-mate, doesn't actually need to be aimed; the healing-beam will follow the "patient" around until he dies, the Medic dies, gets too far away, or the Medic shuts off the Medigun.
- The Pyro, while usually played as a straight-forward class, has found himself a unique niche when his flamethrower weapon gained the ability to blast compressed air to deflect projectiles, push away enemies and put out teammates on fire. That and "spy-check": Your teammates are Friendly Fireproof. A spy pretending to be a teammate is not.
- Later updates have added new loadout options for many classes that certainly qualify, at least compared to their original playstyle:
- The "Demoknight", a Demoman ditching his trademark sticky grenade launcher for a shield that allows him to charge at enemies and fight them in melee.
- Snipers with the Huntsman Bow instead of their usual sniper rifle are far more limited in range but can be very competent in close to medium ranges, especially when they know the bow well enough to compensate for the arc. Also, since the bow has no scope and a much faster charge-time, this allows Snipers to keep their peripheral vision and be more towards the front-lines of battle.
- Soldiers (and to an extent Demomen) can focus their loadout on their Rocket Jump abilities, even going for a Goomba Stomp tactic.
- Borderlands 2's DLC classes were deliberately designed this way (compared to the original 4 classes, all of which focused on shooting with an "action skill" to augment it);
- Gaige The Mecromancer was designed as a "Beginner Mode" character (the first skill tree focuses on making things easier, with skills that still do damage to enemies if the player misses or increase their ability to survive) with the option of playing her as Difficult but Awesome instead for better results (the last skill tree has skills that deliberately make the player go against what they would normally do in an FPS, such as sacrificing accuracy for higher damage thus forcing them to get up close and discouraging them from manually reloading).
- Krieg the Psycho uses a lot of Desperation Attack based skills and generally involves taking damage to deal it (one skill tree consists mainly of skills that only work when he's on fire). In addition, he's also the only class which has a melee build as one of the default options (other classes can have them, but they need some optimization). The developers noted that it was because of this reason that he was saved as DLC since his skill-set would likely turn players off compared to the easier to play ones. One of his talents even makes him vulnerable to friendly fire.
- Hexen has three player classes: mage, cleric and fighter. Both mage and cleric relies on their good magical ranged weaponry. And here comes this guy. All fighter's weapons are melee-themed. In fact, first two levels he has to go with melee weapons only, while other classes will have ranged weapons early in first level. And even for his two distant weapons it is preferable to fight close and personal.
- Sword of the Stars: While all the races have their own unique ways of moving about the strategic map, the Loa have the greatest difference from the rest. They don't build spacecraft normally, instead assembling them from "cubes" at the start of each tactical encounter, and their population growth is based on an interplay of solar activity and tax rate that other races don't have to bother with.
- The Civilization V expansion Brave New World introduces Venice as a playable civ. Unlike other civs, Venice cannot train or capture settlers; instead, it gets the Merchant of Venice, a replacement for the Great Merchant who can purchase and puppetize city-states, as well as being able to maintain twice the number of trade routes as a civilization at the same tech level. Venice is a civ built around the one-city challenge, and is essentially a city-state on steroids.
- The Endless series:
- The Harmony in Endless Space's Disharmony Expansion Pack do not utilize Dust, the game's currency, which prevents them from rushing ship production, hiring Heroes, and upgrading ships; in fact, their production is harmed by the presence of Dust. On the other hand, they don't pay upkeep on planets or ships, allowing them to have stupid huge fleets. They do not have empire approval/disapproval, and instead of a dust tax rate they have a "Mind over Matter" rate which allows them to shift food production to science or vice versa. Ship production stops population growth as well.
- Both Endless Space and Endless Legend have races that cannot utilize diplomacy and are instead locked into a state of either cold war or war; the Cravers and Necrophages, respectively. The Cravers, being a Horde of Alien Locusts, must continuously expand or consume their own civilization; their production on a planet is boosted by 25% for 40 turns, normal production after 40, and decreasing production starting at turn 60 (going up to -25%) as they depleted the planet's resources, which cannot be restored. Inverted with the Roving Traders in Endless Legend, which cannot declare war, and rely on diplomacy and their control over markets to get their way.
- 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.
- Kingdom of Loathing has, arguably, the Zombie Master class. At the very least it fits the letter of the trope; while technically classified as a Muscle class, in practice the majority of its skillset revolves around its unique gimmick: rather than an MP bar, skill costs are deducted from your horde of disposable zombie minions, and many of your skills without costs still revolve around either this gimmick or one of the other restrictions that come with the class (primarily, the fact that you can't eat any food other than brains). However, it's downplayed by the fact that it's only available on a special challenge path, and you're barred from much of the actual multiplayer content until you change back to a regular class.
- Final Fantasy XIV has the ninja job. Unlike other jobs where you just have skills on a hotbar, the lion's share of ninja skills are tied to mudras, special hand seals, which must be activated in sequence to cast a spell. Botching a mudra sequence will instead have a rabbit appear on your head for all to see and laugh at you.
- Star Trek Online: Starships of Tiers 6 and 5-Upgraded have "starship mastery", which allows your captain to improve their stats by gaining experience flying them. Additionally reaching the fourth mastery level with a T6 unlocks a starship trait you can use while flying other ships.
- League of Legends hosts a small percentage of champions that don't use Mana and use either a different resource or none at all, with varying impact on the character as a whole.
- Garen, Katarina, and Riven are manaless champions without any secondary resources. This functions similar to having infinite Mana, but cooldown times are crucial to them in exchange.
- Aatrox, Dr. Mundo, Mordekaiser, Vladimir, and Zac simply Cast from Hit Points.
- All the Ninja champions (Shen, Akali, Kennen, Zed) plus Lee Sin use Energy, which fills fast but depletes just as fast and can't be increased. These champions have skills that can recharge their Energy meter besides waiting as well.
- Tryndamere, Renekton, Shyvana, and Rek'Sai use Fury, but Fury behaves completely differently for each character, with the only similar theme being it can charge from dealing damage. Fury on Tryndamere gives him extra Critical Strike chance and can be consumed to heal him, Renekton's can use an enhanced skill with enough Fury, and Shyvana's Fury is a glorified cooldown meter for her Super Mode. Rek'Sai has a damaging skill that scales with Fury or she can use it to heal herself while burrowed.
- Rumble, Rengar, Gnar, and Yasuo don't rely on a secondary resource overall, but they have something that ties with their skills:
- Rumble's skills generate Heat. At above 50%, Rumble's skills deal extra damage, but when the Heat gauge reaches 100%, it disables his skills until all the Heat dissipates but gives his attacks extra damage during the process.
- Rengar gains Ferocity every time he uses a skill. When it's at 5 stacks, he can cast an enhanced version of his skill with no cooldown.
- Gnar gains Rage over time or when he deals or takes damage. When he reaches maximum Rage, he can transform into Mega Gnar, a hulking, close-range champion with a new set of skills.
- Yasuo gains Flow whenever me moves across the battlefield. When his Flow is full, he gains a shield the next time he takes damage.
- In Dota 2, the Techies plays like a trap setter instead of the usual brawling heroes, possessing a skillset dedicated entirely to trap-setting (except for a Suicide Attack) with very limited capabilities in direct combat.
- Heroes of the Storm features the "specialist" class, an entire fourth category of this trope. Each one is essentially built around a particular gimmick, which, while very hard for your average beginner to use effectively, can be deadly in the right hands.
- Azmodan is essentially a player form of a Flunky Boss, using spawned demons to attack for him. This makes him very effective in lane pushes, but very weak on his own.
- Much like in his home universe, Abathur doesn't get involved in the combat directly, instead acting through his teammates via a small zerg organism. He can also place toxic nest mines around the map (globally with the proper talent) to defend objectives. Basically, Abathur is Mission Control.
- Playing as The Lost Vikings gives you three heroes to play at a time. Naturally, you're gonna need all three of 'em.
- Murky is built around the Zerg Rush (despite not being from the Starcraft universe). He starts with a health pool of a minion, and deals very little damage, but respawns almost immediately from an egg that can be planted anywhere on the map.
- The Dragon class of Rogue Legacy is unique in many ways: first, it cannot jump, but can fly infinitely (other characters must use a rune slot to be able to fly, and only for a limited time). Second, it cannot use its sword, and pressing the button instead uses the character's spell, which is the third point: unlike other characters, who start off with a random spell, this class always starts with a unique spell, which is a projectile attack. Characters of this class also regenerate MP rapidly, unlike most other classes for whom MP is a limited and valuable resource.
- Sword of the Stars: The Pit: The Lich. In exchange for immunity to poison, disease and hunger and a variety of unique abilities including Animate Dead, he needs to keep track of his psionic reserves because running out will kill him as surely as actually running out of HP.
- 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 NPC ships rarely have any missile defense worth mentioning until X3: Albion Prelude added the Mosquito Missile Defense system.
- 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 with significantly easier logistics. 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 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. In their original incarnation in the Xtended Terran Conflict Game Mod, they also were the only (non-Kha'ak) ships capable of using the Point-To-Point jumpdrive to jump anywhere in a sector rather than being forced to rely on jump gates.
Third Person Shooter
- Vauban from Warframe deploys grenades to cause his abilities, rather than using them direct from himself.
- 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 Bard's 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.
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- The bard in several editions 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 instead of memorization.
- The warlock in the 3.5 edition add-on Complete Arcane has a sharply limited selection of available spells, but can cast them unlimited times per day.
- 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.
- The 3.5 splat Magic of Incarnum adds a whole new magic category called meldshaping, which allows the user to prepare soulmelds and attach them to points on their body. They can then invest from a special point pool into the soulmelds as a swift action.
- Alchemicals 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.
- The previews for third edition indicate that the Infernals are going to have their own unusual-ness in the form of the Shintai system, which has gone from One-Winged Angel Charms to a point-buy system with effects based on the Charms you buy, and the new Exigents are going to be unusual because they will be focused on designing your own powers rather than starting with ones that already exist.
- The Ghost faction from Smash Up. For most other factions (and most card games), it is favourable to have more cards on hand. The Ghost faction requires the player to have as few cards on hand in order to be at their most effective, and even have cards that force discarding from hand. However, their cards are very powerful when used right, including playing from the discard pile, a Mind Control action, and an action that makes a minion an Intangible Man.
- Thirteenth Age has the Occultist from "13 True Ways". Unlike most other classes, which do things in their turn, the Occultist mostly gathers Focus in its own turn, then expends that Focus to power a move in someone else's turn depending on the circumstances of the battle and the actions their allies are taking. They do get a Focus-expending attack that allows them to discharge it at the start of their turn if they haven't had a power triggered, then charge it up again with their standard action.