Class And Level System
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Basic Information

A class and level system is a set of RPG rules that defines a character's skill set by Character Class and tracks their development by their Character Level in one or more classes.

These systems have the benefit of being mechanically straightforward (at least in principle) and tend to be more or less balanced between classes, leading to a fairly coherent party with defined character roles, combat roles, and niche protection.

However, they also inherit all of the disadvantages of class and level mechanics - characters tend to be over specialised in their class skill set and may well struggle unless part of a full party, levelling leads to very strange effects in development and so on. If you have fewer players than the number of "must have" character archetypes in your system, the party's performance may suffer. (Examples: A D&D party without a healer will have to stop and rest frequently. One without a tanky front-line fighter will have to be very careful with tactics or risk being cut down quickly. One with no spellcasters may occasionally get stopped dead cold at obstacles that could be easily solved with a ubiquitous low-level spell.)

In general, a class and level system is best suited to cinematic, gamist play and begins to creak if used for detailed, simulationist games - although as always a good group should be able to overcome the limitations of their system.

Sources

The various incarnations of D&D are probably the archetypical class and level system.

Bibliography
1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

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