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Character Class System

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Which will you be?note 

A type of Game System where a character's abilities are determined by the class that they choose. Most common in Role-Playing Games, but recently it has begun appearing in other genres, particularly First Person Shooters and it's one of the main features of the subgenre Hero Shooter. A character class is defined by the abilities that it lends to a character — as such, two different characters of the same class are theoretically interchangeable, in that they can play the same role in the game because of their similar abilities. However, character class systems have varying levels of Character Customization — ranging from characters of a given class being literally identical to having so much variety that character class is no longer even a good indicator of that character's abilities. Character class systems frequently include one or more Point Build Systems as part of their rules to increase customizability.

One of the major differences between these systems (besides the classes that they offer) is how they handle "multiclassing". Because classes determine a character's abilities, giving a character multiple classes is a good way to expand their abilities, but the extent to which this is possible differs greatly. Sometimes classes are completely mutually exclusive, and a character is stuck with whatever class they have until they die. Sometimes they can "upgrade" their class at a certain point, either plot-based or level-based — this upgrade may be linear (eg, a Squire becomes a Knight) or may allow for a branching path to different Prestige Classes (eg, a Knight can upgrade to The Paladin or a Black Knight, but not both). Some systems are more lenient about multiclassing, allowing characters to change classes whenever they want; however, these systems build in drawbacks as well. Usually, either you can only be one class at a time (eg, if you change classes from Knight to Mage, you lose all Knight abilities and gain all Mage abilities), or you can only advance one class at a time (eg, if you're a Knight/Mage, you have to choose whether to increase your combat skills as a Knight or your casting skills as a Mage; you can't do both at once). Both approaches have the advantage of increased versatility (a larger number of abilities) at the price of decreased potency (each individual ability is less powerful).

In RPGs, the most common type is the Class and Level System. See also Fighter, Mage, Thief for a common set of 3 types of classes seen in RPG class systems. However, many FPSes that feature classes don't have levels, relying instead on player skill. See Common Character Classes for a list of classes that frequently turn up in games with character class systems, and Modern Day/Sci-Fi RPG Class Equivalents for their counterparts outside of the classic Heroic Fantasy settings. See Point Build System for the main alternative to this (although, as mentioned, the two can be combined).

If a character can switch between a large number of classes instead of being limited to just one or several, then you most likely have a Job System on your hands.

Note: Please only list examples that don't fit in any of the aforementioned sub-tropes or that combine two or more of them.

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Gaming Examples

    Eastern RPGs 
  • Dark Souls games have five to ten character classes that determine your starting character stats and equipment. From there, you're free to enhance and equip your character however you want.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Dragon Quest III has 8 Hero vocations: Sage, Priest, Warrior, Mage, Thief, Gadabout, Martial Artist, and Merchant. Not all of them are combat-oriented, but compensate for it by being high in other stats such as luck or getting better rewards after defeating Mooks.
    • Dragon Quest VI split the vocations into nine Basic ones and seven Hybrid ones. The Basic Vocations comprise Warrior, Martial Artist, Priest, Mage, Dancer, Gadabout, Merchant, Monster Master, and Thief. While the Hybrid Vocations include Gladiator (Warrior + Martial Artist), Paladin (Martial Artist + Priest), Sage (Priest + Mage), Luminary (Gadabout + Dancer), Ranger (Merchant + Monster Master + Thief), Armamentalist (Warrior + Mage), Hero (gained after mastering either Gladiator, Sage, or Luminary). The Secret Vocations (Dragon and Liquid Metal Slime) are unlocked by books.
    • Dragon Quest VII further complicates the system by throwing monsters into the mix (the previous vocations apply only for humans). Players have access to race-exclusive sets of Basic Vocations which unlock the Intermediate Vocations after being mastered and, in turn, the Intermediate Vocations give place to the Advanced Vocations after being leveled up to their maximum. The total number of classes can be read here.
    • Dragon Quest IX simplifies things and leaves the player with six classes available from the start (Warrior, Priest, Mage, Martial Artist, Thief, and Minstrel) plus six more obtainable after completing certain quests (Gladiator, Paladin, Sage, Ranger, Armamentalist, and Luminary).
  • Final Fantasy has used classes, usually called Jobs, from the very beginning. They run the gamut of "no class changes whatsoever" to "can change classes at will" to "can have all classes' abilities at once" to "doesn't actually use classes".
  • The Final Fantasy Legend and Final Fantasy Legend II deviate from the Class Systems of other installments. Instead of choosing vocations for their party, players choose from different races (and genders, where applicable), each having their own strengths and weaknesses:
    • Humans have eight equipment slots available to them, allowing them to equip a wide range of weapons and armor. They do not level up like in other RPGs and must use special items to increase their stats.
    • Espers ("Mutants" in English releases) only have four equipment slots, so they are more limited in how many weapons and armors they can use. On the other hand, they have four slots set aside for magical spells and special attributes. They get stronger as they battle, but the abilities they learn are randomized.
    • Monsters cannot use any equipment or items, but naturally have access to special skills and spells depending on their species. They can change their species by devouring meat dropped from defeated enemy monsters, with the species they change into depending on the combination of their current species and that of the defeated monster's meat.
    • Robots, introduced in SaGa 2, are completely reliant on equipment for their stat growth: without any weapons or armor, they have no stats at all and are completely helpless. While the benefits of armor are not as high as with humans and espers, they can equip multiple pieces of the same armor to stack benefits. In addition, any weapons they equip will have their maximum number of uses reduced by half, but their durability will be restored when resting in inns. Finally, robots have a natural immunity to poison and paralysis, but they are also more susceptible to magic attacks.
  • Game Master Plus: At the start of the game, the player can select Elsa's class. This affects both her combat abilities and non-combat events.
    • Elsa's Fighter class allows her to equip swords, pikes, shields, and corslets. She learns offensive skills and self-buffs, but otherwise has no support skills.
    • Elsa's Tinker class allows her to equip hammers and waistcoats. She can read books to increase her MP, use her hammer to lower enemy defenses, use items to permanently increase her robots' stats, and learn support skills that specifically target her robot allies.
    • Elsa's Joker class allows her to equip staves, chakrams, scythes, mojos, and robes. She can learn enemy skills, but her early game equipment options are limited.
  • Golden Sun: Classes are determined by the type of Djinn attached to a character. However, as using Djinn in battle also reverts those class changes (and stat boosts), many players simply give each character his own type of Djinn and bring down summon after summon on their hapless enemies' heads.
  • Completely inverted in The Last Remnant — the main character can use every ability in the game, so a character's class is based off on the abilities they use rather than the other way around. Using only item arts, for example, will change Rush to a class that does extra damage with items. Different character classes have different bonuses, so it can be worth only using certain skills in order to obtain a desired class.
  • The MMORPG Tree of Savior features a class system that combines elements of a Prestige Class system with a Job System. There are four starting classes—Swordsman, Wizard, Archer, and Cleric—which each have their own families of classes. After a certain amount of job levels, a character reaches a new Rank, from which they'll have to make a decision—either stay as the class they are now (which can only be done three times in a row for a given class), or change to a different class (depending on what's available). IMC Games has said there will be 80 or so classes overall, meaning 20 possible classes for each basic class—as well as some hidden classes which will be available only after meeting certain requirements (and with a population cap to boot).
    • As a side note, this system is an evolution of what had originally been planned for Ragnarok Online, when IMC Games' developers were still part of the original development team at Gravity Corporation.
  • Dragon's Dogma uses a class system which allows players to take on one of nine vocations:
    • The basic vocations: Fighters, Mages, and Striders
    • The advanced vocations: Warriors (fighters who trade shields for a BFS, sacrificing defense for damage), Sorcerers (mages who sacrifice supportive abilities for pure offensive magicks), and Rangers (striders who sacrifice melee combat abilities for better long-range abilities with longbows)
    • The hybrid vocations: Mystic Knights (melee + magic, uses enchanted wall shields to stave off damage), Magick Archers (range + magic, uses enchanted bows to assail enemies with magic bolts), and Assassins (melee + range, can use any combination of short swords, short bows, daggers, and shields). Unlike basic and advanced vocations, the player's pawn cannot use hybrid vocations.
  • Phantasy Star Online gives players a choice of nine character types (twelve from Episode II onwards) which run the gamot across three axes:
  • Miitopia features a wide range of classes, from traditional RPG staples to off-beat selections, including:
    • Warrior: A standard sword-wielding knight with an emphasis on defense and single-target damage.
    • Thief: A nimble rogue who can perform multi-target attacks and impede enemies.
    • Mage: A spell-slinging sorcerer who commands a wide array of offensive magic.
    • Cleric: A support-oriented magician who keeps allies alive and strong.
    • Pop Star: An analogue for The Bard who uses the power of song and dance to support allies and debilitate enemies.
    • Chef: A combination damager and healer who can batter enemies while healing allies.
    • Cat: A fleet-footed damage-oriented class with strong multi-target attacks and some supportive skills.
    • Imp: A mischievous trickster whose magic abilities specialize in wreaking havoc on enemies.
    • Scientist: A chaotic chemist whose chemical concoctions cure companions and cripple enemy combatants.
    • Tank: A literal tank. Slow, but sturdy and possessed of overwhelming firepower.
    • Flower: A blooming blossom on the battlefield who supports allies while possessing some damaging spells.
    • Princess: Royalty who can keep allies fueled with MP while hitting enemies with status ailments. Compatible with any gender!
    • Vampire: A bloodsucker who can sap HP from enemies while unleashing elemental attacks. Unlockable in the endgame.
    • Elf: A Forest Ranger that operates as a Jack of All Trades, but is a Master of None. Unlockable in the endgame.
  • In Monark, the generic "Fiend" party members all belong to a specific "Authority" based on the Seven Deadly Sins and have a corresponding playstyle and weapon of choice. To list some examples:
    • Pride: Tanks with polearms, poison and sleep debuffs, along with healing abilities. Primarily useful as frontline fighters or supporting the team, gradually wicking away at multiple enemy's health before a stronger ally finishes them off.
    • Lust: Glass Cannons with crossbows, primarily relying on their high-damage, wide-reaching Herd Hitting Attacks that bypass normal Defense and scale off of the "Psy" attribute instead. They can also Charm enemies to turn them against their allies or make them sitting, hypnotized ducks to your attacks.
    • Greed: Highly mobile assassins and utility party members, capable of getting around the map better than any other character, reviving party members, and speeding up their movement, among other benefits, using their Space Master and Time Master abilites.

    First Person Shooters 
  • The Battlefield series has had a class system since the beginning, though how many classes there are (from seven in Battlefield 2, to four from Battlefield: Bad Company 2 onwards) and how customizable they are varies by game.
  • The Call of Duty series, starting from Modern Warfare, uses classes for its multiplayer, though unlike the above, each class's weapons, equipment, and whatnot are entirely decided by the player. Call of Duty: Black Ops II notably also includes customizable classes for the singleplayer campaign mode.
  • Destiny has three character classes: Hunters, Titans and Warlocks. Each of these has three subclasses that correspond to one of the game's elemental damage types. The sequel expanded the subclass count up to four for each main class in the Beyond Light expansion.
    • Hunters generally have the highest mobility of the three classes and abilities that focus on movement, marksmanship and deception to get the best of enemies. The second game grants them the ability to dodge enemy fire, which can be used to either recharge one's melee ability or reload their equipped weapon.
    • Titans are typically the most resilient of the three classes, with a general focus on powerful melee combat and protecting oneself and allies in their abilities. In Destiny 2, they can spawn barricades to act as cover against enemy fire.
    • Warlocks have the highest base Regenerating Health of the three classes, and have a mix of offensive and support-based powers. In D2, they can drop Rifts, energy fields that boost health recovery or weapon damage to any allies that stand inside.
  • Hell Let Loose divides classes into 4 categories: Commander, Infantry, Armor, and Recon. The Commander, as the name suggests, is responsible for leading the entire unit, providing air and artillery support as well as supply drops and Airhead redeployments. Infantry classes are the backbone of the squad and platoon, and do most of the frontline fighting. Armor classes are tasked with crewing tanks and armored cars, and Recon units are tasked with spotting targets and killing important enemy units.
  • Overwatch has a cast of heroes that behaves much like classes — the player can switch between them in spawn rooms, and they each fill different roles on the battlefield.
  • Primal Carnage: Both humans and dinosaur characters are based around this style of gameplay, although it differs slightly. There are only five human characters, but all of them have weapons and items that are interchangeable before spawning. There are twelve different selectable dinosaur classes, but their abilities cannot be changed; however, there are five "subclasses" which the twelve species are separated into.
    • Humans:
      • The Commando specializes in high-damage weaponry, with all three of his gun choices being automatic rifles or machine guns with lots of ammo per clip and moderate damage output per bullet, at the cost of poor accuracy. This makes him a better choice against larger dinosaurs with huge health pools, where aiming is less important.
      • The Pathfinder is armed with a shotgun, of which he has three choices. There are minor differences between the shotguns, but they have the same basic pros and cons: tremendous short-range damage, but terrible long-range damage and fire-rate. Combined with his flares (which blind any nearby dinosaurs) and machete, this makes him extremely good at protecting the human team from charging dinosaurs, especially small ones, as a single well-aimed blast of the shotgun can obliterate them.
      • The Trapper is armed with dual pistols which have medium damage output and fire-rate, but his main gimmick is being a Trap Master, with utilities like a Net Gun and Bear Traps that can instantly incapacitate small dinosaurs for several seconds, allowing for a One-Hit Kill with his knife. He also has secondary disposable items, such as land mines and electrical pylons, which can weaken larger dinosaurs or kill smaller ones. As can be expected, his forte is dealing with smaller dinosaurs, but he is much less effective against big ones.
      • The Scientist is the sniper class, with three different sniper rifles to pick from (the standard, an armour-piercing, a poison dart one), as well as a compound bow. They differ in minor details, but in general they have great aim, do a large amount of damage, but terrible firing rate and clip size. Along with her tranquilizer pistols, which weakens and slows dinosaurs, and her sensor mines (which mark dinosaurs that walk over them), this makes her good for picking dinosaurs off from a distance, but bad at close up combat.
      • The Pyromaniac, as his name implies, deals primarily with incendiary weapons, which have a large amount of spread damage. His primary weapons are a "flamesaw" (a flamethrower with a chainsaw attached) and the "flame lobber" (an incendiary grenade launcher and rapid-fire shotgun combo). The first weapon is better against small dinosaurs close up (since the fire damage is only a nuisance to larger dinosaurs and it's a really bad idea to be close enough to use the chainsaw on them too), while the latter is more of an all-round weapon. Both, along with his single-use items, grenades, molotov cocktails, and dynamite, illustrate his purpose of hitting into groups of dinosaurs.
    • Dinosaurs:
      • "Tyrant" class dinosaurs are Mighty Glaciers with massive health pools, the ability to One-Hit Kill humans by stomping on them or eating them, and a roar that is able to empower their fellow dinosaurs for short periods. There can only be one or two of them at once.
      • "Bruiser" class dinosaurs are moderately durable, have armoured regions of their bodies, and share the ability to passively bulldoze humans by running into them at high speeds, at the cost of limited agility.
      • "Predator" class dinosaurs are fast, agile, and vicious, with snapping and biting attacks that can be performed while running. They have to ability to perform a "pounce" attack that pins a human to the ground while they're mauled to death, an attack which is a One-Hit Kill if performed to completion.
      • "Spitter" class dinosaurs are fast, agile, and physically weak, but have the ability to lob toxic projectiles from great distances, which is a highly effective Herd-Hitting Attack, and can quickly replenish their stamina bar with their roar.
      • "Flyer" class dinosaurs (or technically, pterosaurs) have moderate health and the ability to fly unlimitedly, giving them unmatched speed, possess a peck attack that can be performed in midair, and can mark humans on the map (making them visible to all other dinosaurs for several seconds). However, they are slow and cumbersome on the ground.
  • Team Fortress 2, and its predecessor Team Fortress Classic, (and its predecessor Team Fortress) are based entirely around classes. There are nine total, each balanced for different playstyles, situations, and enemies.
  • Transformers: War for Cybertron has Soldiers, Scouts, Scientists, and Leaders.
  • Vermintide II: A Hero Shooter set in the Warhammer universe, the Ubersreik Five can each take one of five careers, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, unique passive and active abilities, and weapon specialties. From a story perspective, each class represents a path in their Character Development: their default path is a direct improvement on their career from the first Vermintide but largely leaves them as they were before, one class represents positive development as the character finds new purpose in a higher calling, and one class represents their Sanity Slippage and the character taking a darker pathnote .
    • Saltzpyre:
      • Witch Hunter Captain - As a Witch Hunter Captain, old Salty is everything he was at the Battle for Ubersreik, but the zeal to punish and destroy any enemies of Sigmar's empire that lies within him has not diminished one bit. His default career, a hybrid Critical Hit Class that boasts a good mixture of versatile melee and ranged weapons and can kill any non-boss enemy with a single skilled headshot. He can also tag enemies to let others deal bonus damage.
      • Bounty Hunter - Cutting his ties with the Witch Hunter order, Saltzpyre adopts the life of a bounty hunter to take the fight to the Skaven independently, tempering his zeal and fighting them in a more methodical and practical manner. Donning heavier armour and preferring to kill his enemies at range, he gains extra ammo and bonus ammo from every headshot.
      • Zealot - Driven to madness by his hatred of the Skaven and falling into fanatical Sigmar worship, Saltzpyre has set out to cleanse the Skaven by himself, measuring his success in blood. The Zealot eschews ranged combat to thrash heretics and monsters, harnessing the pain of his injuries to destroy his enemies.
      • Warrior Priest (DLC) - Warrior Priests of Sigmar travel the Empire, fighting evil in all their forms. As a Warrior Priest, Saltzpyre draws upon his faith constructively to empower his blows and shield his comrades from harm. Though restricted in what weapons they can use - no ranged weapons or blades of any kind, only hammers or flails - his divine magics more than make up for it.
    • Kruber:
      • Mercenary - When Saltzpyre recruited Kruber into his retinue, it represented the former State Trooper's first foray into mercenary work. As a Mercenary, Kruber is a versatile fighter who balances offensive and defensive power; his armour provides decent protection without severely hampering his mobility, he is very capable in close-quarters with an arsenal of weaponry but also able to reach out and touch enemies with his firearms if needed. He has a powerful Battle Cry that staggers enemies and grants temporary HP to allies.
      • Huntsman - Walking the path of the Hunstman, Kruber returns to his roots and finds solace in his faith in Taal and Rhya, the gods of nature. Forgoing the vestments of the soldier in favour of lighter armour that grants more speed and agility, Kruber becomes a master at removing troublesome targets with his steady aim using gun or longbow (especially after an ale or two). His special ability, Hunter's Prowl, temporarily grants him a number of benefits including increased damage, increased zoom and invisibility.
      • Foot Knight - Knighted for his heroic deeds at Ubersreik, Kruber has - with some reluctance - climbed the social ladder. Donning heavier protection, a Foot Knight is at home in the thick of combat, able to shrug off mighty blows and knocking enemies flat with a formidable charge attack. He stands tall while myriad foes lie slain around him.
      • Grail Knight (DLC) - Discovering a distant Bretonnian ancestor, Kruber has taken up arms in honour of the Lady of the Lake as a blessed warrior granted supernatural might. Wielding a magical blade that burns with holy fire, Kruber represents death to any foul creatures that cross his path... although the Bretonnian code of chivalry does restrict him from using any ranged weapons, forcing him to seek melee combat with whatever stands in his way.
    • Bardin:
      • Ranger Veteran - Rangers forsake the comforts of hearth and hold to take the fight directly to the enemies of the Dwarfs, and Bardin still walks this path with boisterous merriment, becoming a Veteran through his adventures in Ubersreik. The Ranger Veteran is a balanced class that slightly favours attacking with crossbow and firearm, but is certainly no stranger to melee combat. His party trick is a smoke bomb that Bardin throws at his feet, granting him concealment for a time.
      • Ironbreaker - Ironbreakers are the stalwart defenders of the Dwarfholds, armoured in the heaviest gromril plating. Returning to his hold a hero, Bardin becomes the indomitable bastion on which the Vermintide breaks itself. A defensive class with increased health and stamina, and the ability to taunt enemies around him, forcing their focus and also increasing the strength of his block.
      • Slayer - Haunted by the events of Ubersreik, Bardin has made a life-changing... or rather, life-ending decision. Casting aside his pride, Bardin has become a Slayer, a warrior under a suicidal oath to seek an honourable death in battle against the enemies of the Dwarfs. A true specialist in close-quarters slaughter, the Slayer oath forbids Bardin from using any armour or ranged weaponry.
      • Outcast Engineer (DLC) - Connecting with his iconoclastic uncle from Karak Norn, one Drakki Dagsson, Bardin has found a new obsession with new-fangled weapons and inventions instead of the traditional Dwarf obsession with runic magic and good stone and metalwork. The Outcast Engineer is a ranged specialist who uses a customizable steam-powered gatling gun to mow down the Vermintide, and he can also carry three bombs instead of one, making him a reliable grenadier.
    • Sienna:
      • Battle Wizard - In order to find peace, Sienna had to temper her flame-addiction. It will always be there deep down, but it dims through discipline and structure. As a Battle Wizard, Sienna unleashes powerful fire magics on her foes, roasting swathes of them alive. Her special ability is the Flame Walk, a short-ranged teleport with a fiery kick.
      • Pyromancer - As a Pyromancer, Sienna revels in her power but maintains extra care to not overstep the mark, at least outside of battle. Through instinct and half-remembered lessons learned at the Bright College, Sienna wields her magic in such a way that avoids damnation. The Pyromancer focuses on annihilating single targets with her powers, and unleashes the Burning Head, a homing projectile with incredible power.
      • Unchained - As the Unchained, Sienna has thrown caution to the wind and succumbed to the addiction within, embracing every scrap of power with reckless abandon... with terrifying results. This lack of caution translates to her tactics, now actively seeking close combat against as many enemies as possible, forever seeking the next dizzying magical high. She can become a Living Bomb, blasting flames outwards to surrounding foes and melting the flesh from their bones.
  • Kerillian:
    • Waystalker - Disgusted by the Skaven's machinations at Ubersreik and despairing at her allies' clumsy efforts, Kerillian has pursued the path of the Waywatcher to perfection. She returns with Bow and Sword in Accord, more quick-witted and deadly than ever. The Waystalker is a master archer, able to fell the mightiest enemies with pinpoint precision or unleashing a deadly volley against the hordes. Though the Asrai way of war encourages mobility at the expense of protection, an elf's keen eyes and quick hands are equally suited to blade work too.
    • Handmaiden - Seeing a beautiful vision of the High Elf Everqueen in a dream and encountering a long-abandoned shrine to the goddess Isha, Kerillian has been given a new lease of life in service to a higher power. In battle as a Handmaiden, Kerillian dodges and weaves through clumsy strikes without effort, retaliating with deadly thrusts and cuts.
    • Shade - As hatred and madness festered in Kerillian's soul after the horrors of Ubersreik, a new voice introduced himself in her dreams - Khaine, the elven god of war and murder. Sick to death of the world of men, Kerillian continues her kill count, not in penance for her actions but for her own sinister pleasure. As a Shade, Kerillian is a master of stealth and infiltration, able to outpace any foe with fleet-footed agility and deadly grace, striking the unaware and distracted with cruel stabs to the back and exposed areas. She is death that steps, come to claim the blood of mortals.
    • Sister of the Thorn (DLC) - The Sisters of the Thorn are the handpicked handmaidens of Ariel, the life-giving Queen of Athel Loren. However they also wield dark and malevolent powers against the enemies of the wild wood. Eschewing blade and bow in favour of javelins and Druidic spellcraft, Kerillian becomes a crowd control and support specialist able to throw up walls of razor-sharp thorns and drawing upon nature's bounty to invigorate and protect her allies.

    Racing Games 
  • The Mario Kart series divides character up based on weight (or size in Wii). Each category performs differently, and in Double Dash!! and Wii, racers have access to different karts depending on their class. There are typically three different categories (Light/Small, Medium, Heavy/Large), but 7 adds in the Cruiser (between Medium and Heavy) and Feather (below Light) for a total of five categories.
    • Wii and 8 also include different types of vehicles. In Wii, bikes were typically lighter and had better handling than karts, and they had the ability to do a wheelie to get a speed boost, at the cost of only having a single level of mini-turbo strength compared to the two that karts had. 8 makes the wheelie aesthetic and gives bikes back the ability to use the stronger mini-turbo, but keeps their proficiency at steering. ATV's were also added, and perform differently from both bikes and karts.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • World in Conflict had four "Roles", albeit only in team multiplayer: Armor (tanks roughly equivalent to RPG Fighers), Support (mainly AA+repair = Clerics, but also artillery = Long-Range Wizards), Air (attack helicopters = damage dealing rogues), and Infantry (...bards?). Each player can only assume one of them and has to rely on the rest of their "party" to compensate their role's weaknesses.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Classic and New World of Darkness primarily use a Point Build System, but a werewolf's Auspice, vampire's Clan, mage's Path, and so on are class-like in that they define particular strengths, weaknesses, and predispositions.
  • Dungeons & Dragons is the most famous, and the Trope Maker. The third edition of D&D gave the world the d20 System, allowing other publishers to use the same general mechanics of the tabletop RPG Ur-Example. Many — but not all — d20 RPGs also use classes.
  • Earthdawn calls them Disciplines. They're somewhat more fleshed out than in many cases, with social context given, as well as how the worldviews of different disciplines work together (or don't). Also, if you act against your discipline (wizards not thinking things through if they have the time, beastmasters hurting animals that aren't attacking them), you may lose some of your powers.
  • Ironclaw uses a mix between character classes and a Point Build System. Career is treated like an ability score (like Body, Mind, Speed, Will, and Species) that is applied to certain skills, and in 2nd edition comes with three traits. Players can increase their Career with experience, or buy a secondary one if they have the associated traits, or spend their XP on their other abilities or skills or traits.
  • Numenera starts with the Fighter, Mage, Thief archetype and expands from it. Glaives are the Fighter, equally capable of being built as a heavily armored Badass Normal or a Fragile Speedster. Nanos are the Mage, who uses the power of numenera to work what amount to miracles. Jacks are the Thief, whose name comes from "jack-of-all-trades" and have a lot of tricks to make them the setting's skillmonkeys. The CRPG Torment: Tides of Numenera uses the Numenera Game System.
  • Palladium Books's Megaversal system uses character classes, though the exact system varies slightly by specific game.
    • Most Palladium games such as Rifts have O.C.C.s (Occupational Character Class), as well as R.C.C.s (Racial Character Class) for non-human characters. Where it gets confusing is that sometimes a character's R.C.C. doubles as his O.C.C(this usually happens when the race is either extremely powerful on its own, or so physically or culturally isolated it doesn't use the usual O.C.C. set), and sometimes a player has to pick an O.C.C. as well as an R.C.C. Then there's P.C.C.s, for Psychic Character class, but that terminology is barely ever used in the books since functionally they're no different from O.C.C.s.
    • Palladium Fantasy has players select an O.C.C.s and a race, much like the classic Dungeons and Dragons class and race system.
  • The Star Wars D20 RPG uses a Character Class System for basic roles like Noble, Jedi, Scout, and so on, and adds Prestige Classes for more customization.
  • Powered by the Apocalypse games tend to rely on Playbooks built around common character archetypes in the genre they're emulating. In Monster of the Week, for example, the Professional is good at remaining cool under pressure, providing nice things for the team and turning up with lots of guns, while the Monstrous is a Friendly Neighbourhood Vampire (or werewolf or whatever) and tends to favour weird superpowers. You're limited to one of each to ensure niche protection.
  • Blades in the Dark, which is somewhat related to PbtA but is very much its own thing, has seven Playbooks for its Scoundrels: Cutters (violent criminals), Hounds (trackers and sharpshooters), Leeches (technically gifted saboteurs and medics), Lurks (stealthy infiltrators), Slides (social manipulators), Spiders (Diabolical Masterminds) and Whispers (witch-thieves).

    Third-Person Shooter 

    Tower Defense 
  • Arknights divides the playable Operators into a series of classes that define their broad combat role, though individual sub-branches of each class can mix things up, along with individual Operators having their own twists.
    • Vanguard: Operators who are deployed first to hold off the initial waves of enemies and generate Deployment Points to allow the player to send out other, more expensive units.
    • Defender: High defense, low-attack Operators who can block large numbers of enemies and take a lot of damage.
    • Guard: High-damage, low defense melee Operators who generally specialize in eliminating enemies.
    • Sniper: Ranged units who specialize in dealing physical damage and attacking airborne enemies and enemies with low defense.
    • Caster: Ranged wizard-like units who use Arts attacks to do high damage to to enemies with strong defense.
    • Medic: Healers who try to keep your units in the battle and usually have support abilities.
    • Supporter: Support-oriented Operators with abilities focused on slowing enemies, buffing allies, or summoning minions.
    • Specialist: Operators with unusual or specific abilities, such as pushing or pulling enemies, deploying traps, or fast-redeployment.

    Turn-Based Tactics 
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown has each rookie soldier (randomly) specialize in one of the four fields upon reaching the Squaddie rank: Assault (close-range frontline combat), Sniper (long-range damage dealing), Heavy (suppressive fire and explosives), and Support (healing and buffing allies). Each class has a separate skill tree that gives them unique abilities and bonuses as they level. Later in the game, soldiers who exhibit psionic potential can be upgraded into Psi-operatives. The Enemy Within expansion also allows promoted soldiers to reclass into MEC Troopers.
  • XCOM 2 uses a similar system as its predecessor, with some changes made to the classes. Key among the changes: Assaults are now Rangers who can fight with a Sword and Gun, and Supports are now Specialists who can use remote-controlled drones to remotely heal allies or perform hacks on terminals and robotic enemies. Psi Operatives were made into their own class, rather than an upgrade for any of the four stamdard classes. In lieu of MEC Troopers, the DLC "Shen's Last Gift" adds "SPARKs", Mecha-Mooks that benefit from a natural immunity to most status ailments and jump jet-aided mobility. The War of the Chosen expansion adds special classes for each recruitable faction: Reapers are enhanced Sharpshooters with better stealth capabilities, Skirmishers are enhanced Rangers who can attack multiple times and use grappling hooks to improve their mobility, and Templars are enhanced Psi-operatives who can pulverize enemies in melee combat.
  • Hogs Of War. Promotion points could be found in each level and as a reward. Similar to the above, your units could be upgraded in 4 different routes; Artillery (Blow stuff up from a distance), Engineering (Blow stuff up close and see minefields), Sniper (Stealth) and Medic (Heal your units). Once maxed out, all routes converged into Commando and Hero (Do everything)

    Western RPGs 
  • In For the King, part of the premise is that every character starts out as an ordinary villager who's just set out for adventure, so the classes are named after the occupation the character's everyday occupation: the starting four options are "Blacksmith", "Hunter", "Scholar", and "Minstrel". Each class has one or more unique passive abilities, and a set of initial character stats suiting them to one or more of the game's four fighting styles: the four starting classes are built for melee combat, ranged combat, spellcasting, and Magic Music respectively; other classes that can be unlocked over time may be built to be equally comfortable in two styles, such as the Monk who can do melee combat and spellcasting.
  • Grim Dawn has 6 classes, although you can dual-class anytime after level 10, which result in a new class name. The core classes are Soldier, Demolitionist, Shaman, Nightblade, Occultist and Arcanist. The expansions add the Inquisitor, Necromancer and the Oathkeeper.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • The first four games in the series play with this trope a bit. Each game has a number of pre-made classes the player can choose from, or create a custom class. Each class has a set of preferred skills, and, if chosen, gives a substantial initial boost to that set of skills. Increases to these skills also go toward leveling up overall. The skills outside of those preferred by the class are still available to the player, they just start lower and increases in those skills do not contribute toward leveling up. (Though they do apply to multipliers for those skills' governing attributes. See Empty Levels for additional details about that.)
    • Skyrim does away with the series' class system in favor of pure skill-leveling. Leveling up any skills contributes toward leveling up overall, and with each level-up, you get the opportunity to select perks within any of your skills that make you even more effective, reminiscent of the Fallout sister series. The higher your skill level, the more perks you have access to.
    • The Elder Scrolls Online, an MMORPG prequel set 500 years prior to the start of the main series, goes for more of a skill tree approach. Ultimately Subverted, as only three out of many more skill trees available to your character.
  • Path of Exile has one class representing one of three attributes - Marauder for Strength, Ranger for Dexterity, and Witch for Intelligence - and three hybrid classes, Duelist (Str/Dex), Shadow (Dex/Int), and Templar (Str/Int), plus the Scion, the Jack of All Stats. The gameplay differences between the classes are their starting attributes and their starting location in the expansive skill tree. Pathing all the way around to the other side of the tree isn't recommended, but it's possible. Another major difference between them are their available Ascendancy classes, which contain powerful passive skills that greatly shape the direction of their build.
  • Marvel: Avengers Alliance has six general classes: Blaster, Scrapper, Infiltrator, Bruiser, Tactician, or Generalist. Other than Generalist, each is strong against one class and weak against another. Heroes have a native character class; Agents may switch between them at will with a change of uniform. Some alternate costumes also provide an alternate class.
  • Marvel Strike Force has five charcter classes: Blaster, Brawler, Protector, Controller, and Support.
  • Marvel Super War has six classes: Fighter, Energy, Marksman, Assasssin, Tank, and Support.
  • Mass Effect has three ability types, Combat, Tech, and Biotic, from which the classes pick up to two for six classes altogether. Soldiers are pure combat, Engineers are pure tech, Adepts are pure biotic. Infiltrators are combat/tech, Vanguards are combat/biotic, and Sentinels are tech/biotic.
    • Mass Effect: Andromeda downplays this heavily: instead of being restricted to a single class throughout the entire game, the Player Character can learn, mix, and match various abilities from Combat, Tech, and Biotic skill trees. The classes from the previous games take the form of "Profiles", a Job System that provides passive bonuses based on the classes' capabilities, which also introduces a Jack of All Trades setting called "Explorer".
  • Might and Magic have gone through several variations of class systems and classes over the games. The first five games had a basic class system (chose one class when you create a character, that is that character's class), VI and VII had two-step linear upgrade-able classes (VII split at the final upgrade in design but not in play, as the final class promotion for each class depended on which side you aligned with, and for the most part weren't all that different from the counterpart), VIII consolidated race and class into one choice and only had a single class upgrade step, IX split both back and had each class promotion be a genuine choice (starting from basic Might or Magic and then branching out towards the old, more specialised, classes), and X had each race have one Might and one Magic class that could be upgraded twice.
  • Pillars of Eternity is not directly based on D&D, though the influence is especially obvious when you consider who the devs are. The classes are Barbarian, Chanternote , Ciphernote , Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Priest, Ranger, Rogue, and Wizard. The sequel allows you to multiclass, which grants you a new class name based on what combination you have.
  • South Park: The Stick of Truth has four classes available; Warrior, Mage, Thief, and Jew. However, unlike a lot of RPGs, the class only determines what the New Kid's special attacks are. They can equip any weapon or armor they wish, though some have effects that are a little more beneficial to one class than the others. The sequel changes it to a Job System.
  • StarCrawlers starts with seven classes, with the eighth class being unlocked after a few missions into the storyline.
  • Titan Quest has 10 masteries, although you can dual-class anytime after level 8, which results in a new class name (full list can be found here). The core masteries are Warfare, Defense, Hunting, Rogue, Nature, Spirit, Earth, Storm, Dream, and Rune.
  • World of Warcraft has quite an extensive system with twelve classes as of the Shadowlands expansion — Warrior, Paladin, Hunter, Rogue, Priest, Shaman, Mage, Warlock, Monk, Druid, Demon Hunter, and Death Knight. The class is further influenced by the racial traits and the faction of the character to the point of some races being outright incompatible with certain classes (an Undead will never be a Paladin, for instance). When the player approaches the current highest level, armor tiers, the talent tree, and focusing on either Player Versus Player or Player versus Environment will greatly affect each Class' skillset and limitations. Often, this will revert the Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors. Many of World of Warcraft's classes stem from the units used in Warcraft.
  • The page image depicts the five classes of Wynncraft, each of whom wields a different weapon of choice and a unique loadout of abilities, called "spells":

Non-gaming examples:

  • The Dream Park series: Warriors, magic users and thieves appear in all four novels, and clerics appear in the first and third. Engineers feature prominently in Dream Park, as do scouts in California Voodoo. Multi-class characters turn up in the original novel (Holly Frost) and the California Voodoo tournament.
  • The Gam3, being about a galaxy-spanning MMORPG, has Character Classes as a central element. All players have one or more classes, which opens paths to further specialized abilities.
    • Each player is offered a game-chosen class following the tutorial or may make their own choice of class (which is very expensive).
    • Each class has a selection of Major Abilities, effectively sub-classes that further specialize the player. Only one may be chosen by a player.
    • Access to additional classes is possible, and we do not yet know how common it is.
    • Advancement in a class occurs not by levels, but by developing class-specific abilities and by completing sidequests assigned by your class mentor, a stronger player who has chosen to guide your advancement.
  • The True Game features twelve different inborn magical "talents".note  These are mixed in myriad combinations to create literally hundreds of character classes like Herald, Bonewalker, and King, used in the chess-like battles of the setting. People without a talent (normal humans) are called "pawns".
  • In Homerooms & Hall Passes, the In-Universe game of the same name has "ten rigidly defined character classes" corresponding to school clique stereotypes. The ones mentioned by name in the book are Class Clown, Overachiever, Loner, Gamer, nerd, and Jock.

  • Homestuck:
    • SBURB assigns each player character to a mythological role with the title "[Class] of [Aspect]" that determines their powers and shapes their personal quest arc within the session. Aspect determines what objects and forces within the game the player can influence and class determines the ways in which they can influence their aspect. For example, the Time aspect is Exactly What It Says on the Tin but a Seer of Time will have influence primarily through comprehension of past and future events while a Knight of Time will manipulate time travel for combat purposes. Aspect and class definitions are not always immediately obvious from their names, as Light denotes luck instead of literal light, and Bards are highly destructive. While aspect seems to be largely innate player class is more closely tied to acquired personality traits—Thief characters tend towards pathological narcissism, Knights tend to hide their true personality. There is in-game speculation about a possible underlying active/passive class "thing" and perceived gender bias in-class assignment.
    • For the interested, the classes are Bard, Knight, Heir, Mage, Maid, Page, Prince, Rogue, Seer, Sylph, Thief, and Witch (though the powers of each class are strictly vague, this is just one possible interpretation)., and the aspects (which are more firmly defined) are Blood, Breath, Doom, Heart, Hope, Life, Light, Mind, Rage, Space, Time, and Void.

    Real Life 
  • Older Than Feudalism: Roman gladiators were typically trained in specific fighting styles that were meant to counter each other in interesting ways. The earlier examples divide gladiators into Retiarii (lightly armored, wielding a trident and a net) and Secutores (heavily armored, wielding a short sword). As the gladiatorial games evolved, the "class system" became more and more complex, adding in a wider variety of matchups to keep crowds entertained.

Alternative Title(s): Character Class