DESIGNER’S DIARY 11: CLASSES OF CONFLICT – MARAUDER
Marauder has always been a class that we had in mind for a long time, but it took quite a while for the mechanics to shape up.
The theme of this class was always clear: a hit-and-run, dirty-fighting, dynamic warrior who, despite all, wears the armor and wields the weapons they find. However, it should not resemble any existing ranger, fighter, or rogue subclass.
Among the notes we took while brainstorming about the Marauder, there was a mention of a speed bonus and a focus on being a melee debuffer. However, one notable aspect we considered was initiative. There are feats, class, or subclass features that grant bonuses to initiative, but once combat starts, there isn’t anything that changes the initiative order. From one perspective, this is one of the strict rules of D&D, but from another, it presents an area for potential improvement. Ultimately, when we decided to emphasize the Marauder’s speed in terms of getting ahead in the initiative order and engaging in more actions overall, this feature became the core mechanic of the class. As a result, the melee debuff abilities were somewhat reduced, but tools were introduced to operate this mechanic. Still, with this change, it gained uniqueness that ranger, fighter, or rogue subclasses couldn’t replicate.
The subclasses, on the other hand, were topics of lengthy and separate discussions. One of the fundamental subclass ideas we had during the extensive discussions about this class was a sort of greedy character, someone who could instantly see the total value of items on enemies and gain bonuses accordingly. However, we realized the challenges of implementing this idea from a mechanical standpoint. Dungeon Masters don’t meticulously design every item on each enemy. A player with such an ability would naturally want to use it, creating unnecessary workload and mathematical pressure on the DM. Therefore, although this concept may not be used in the future, it won’t be entirely useless and will pave the way for another subclass called the Vault Robber.
The Vault Robber, adorned with Divination spells, is essentially the successor and a mechanically complete version of the greedy unnamed subclass. When you see the names of the features it gains, you can easily establish the connection between them.
Another Marauder subclass we spent a lot of time on was a sort of Slave Master. This subclass specialized in weapons like the whip and had the ability to control humanoid and perhaps some beast-type enemies by defeating them or beating them enough. It was an intriguing concept, but it had some issues. One of the problems was mechanical. Calculating CR or HD, determining the total number of controlled slaves, under what conditions they could free themselves, whether they could communicate with others socially, and similar issues needed to be addressed. Simply saying that these features “work like charm person or dominate person” would have been an oversimplification. Every feature should not be a direct copy of a spell, right?
The second problem with this subclass was more contemporary and intellectual. It involved the ethical dilemma of creating a subclass centered around enslaving and inflicting pain on other intelligent beings. While slavery is prevalent in the cultures of Brutal Races, giving such mechanics directly to a player character could be disturbing. Naturally, a character who played this way wouldn’t be expected to be a hero, and it would inevitably narrow down the choices for the player in the game.
In the end, this subclass was permanently discarded and unlike the other, it didn’t transform into something else. Instead, the two subclasses that were added seem to be quite fitting for the theme. Among them, Raider is a complete pyromaniac. It’s a character who controls fire, dealing area-effect damage. Additionally, its effectiveness increases when there are spellcasters in the party who can cast fire-based spells. This makes Raider an exotic and intriguing character.
The final Marauder subclass adheres to the idea of the default subclass we mentioned earlier. Named Bandit Legend, this subclass’s title already tells its theme. It excels in utilizing the core Marauder abilities and possesses some small bandit tricks. Moreover, it’s a faster warrior than all the other Marauder subclasses, making it quite dangerous.
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