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. They most likely can do a bit of either, but these tend to be secondary traits. Often they tend 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
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. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ditto and Smeargle are rarely used for similar reasons. Ditto at least is very useful for breeding however.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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 of Critical Hits
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. 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.
- 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.
Non-video game examples:
- 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.