Classes are an easy way to define a character's role in a game. Whether this is simply a combat role or a signifier of their background by means of some exclusive membership, they are a useful shorthand for us, the players.
No matter the setting, tech level, or combat system the game employs, you'll find various archetypes and classes popping up a lot. Sometimes, it's just too hard to stray from the tried and tested classics brought to us by the likes of Dungeons and Dragons, Dragon Quest, and Final Fantasy.
Call them what you want to, Soldiers, Fighters, Vagrants – these are your quintessential physical attackers. They'll be good at one thing and one thing only – dishing out the damage. Luckily, they do this quite well and are often an easy go-to in many games.
In games with class trees, these may serve as branching points for more physically-aligned classes or be your generic class that doesn't have all the bells and whistles of the more interesting, specialized alternatives.
The thing that distinguishes the Knight from the Soldier is its role in battle. Knights are tanks. Usually heavily armored with a ton of hit points and probably some way of drawing attention to themselves. They'll likely be able to deal some mean damage, but their purpose is to serve protection.
Sometimes, they'll have specific abilities that draw attention away from their allies and towards themselves, or they may have abilities that reduce damage all-around or even be an off-healer to complement the party's White Mage.
7 Black Mage
In settings where magic abounds, you are more than likely going to encounter magical damage dealers. The archetypal examples are the Wizard from Dungeons and Dragons and the Black Mage from Final Fantasy. If there's no magic in the RPG's setting, this class may make use of elemental ammo or some convenient analog.
Characters of these classes will usually inflict elemental damage to target weaknesses, probably be a bit squishy in the defense department, and may even be masters of status infliction. They're often on the more fun end of the scale, thanks to the high numbers they can put out, too.
6 White Mage
Where damage goes, healing follows. White Mages, so named for their darker cousins, are the masters of healing magic/skills/abilities and are crucial to a party setup in many games. Besides their affinity for healing, they'll also probably have some defensive skills to help extend your characters' lives.
If they're not actually mages, expect them to be called things like Chemists, Medics, or Herbalists. How necessary they are will depend on the balance of the game at hand – in games like Final Fantasy 14, they are non-negotiable, but in games where you may find alternate sources of healing in items or environmental set pieces, they're less critical.
Sneaky, agile, and probably a bit larcenous. Rogues are another classic staple of RPGs and one of the most prominent back in the day. It was Fighter, Mage, Rogue, and nothing more!
These days, Rogues will likely be physical damage dealers with a bit more utility than regular old Soldiers. They may be able to steal items, unlock chests, disarm traps, inflict status ailments (usually some variety of poison), or even sneak past enemies easily.
Depending on how in-depth the game's class system is, Archers may simply be a sub-type of Rogue. In others, they are a class entirely in themselves – long-range specialists. In games with a modern edge, these warriors will be wielding sniper rifles – in more traditional settings, expect longbows and complicated crossbows.
Thanks to their range, Archers are likely to be a bit squishier than other fighters but compensate for that with serious damage and possibly the ability to inflict status ailments, target elemental weaknesses, or even charge up their attacks. In games where elevation might provide a nice strategic advantage, an Archer is your best friend.
While not as common as swordfighters or gunners, fistfighters have long been a staple of RPGs. As a class, Monks are usually characterized by fighting barehanded, being lightly armored, having the agility of a tiger, and being proficient in counterattacks.
Some games may also provide Monks with special powers, often spiritual nature. Expect them to be associated with words like Ki or Chakra, and take the visual appearance of glowing, spiritual tendrils.
For many of you, Summoner will evoke images of caster types in long robes who conjure gigantic, mystical beasts and demons to attack enemies for them. Summoners can be more than that, however.
This class category includes necromancers who raise the dead, wizards who summon elemental pawns and even high-tech mechanics who send swift nanobots onto the battlefield. Their abilities will often revolve around making their summons stronger, and they're very likely to be quite weak without their conjured pals.
While Summoners will usually have a roster of creatures to bring to the battlefield, Beastmasters are attuned to one or two pets in particular, and they don't simply disappear at the end of a battle. These might be tamed in the wild, taken from the monsters you fight in random battles, or they may be narrative-based, with the pets being characters unto themselves.
As far as abilities go, Beastmasters will invariably learn how to control their pets better, grant them extra stats or abilities, or even learn how to get new ones.
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