Fighters. Mages. Priests. Rogues. These are the primary four character classes in Dungeons & Dragons, and they have served the role-playing game well for over 30 years. But there are many others in addition to these — some awesome, some weird, and some just ridiculous. Here are 24 real D&D specialty classes that should force any player to make a saving throw against shame.
1) Fighting Man
In the original Dungeons & Dragons game, there were three classes: Magic-User, Cleric and Fighting Man. How Gary Gygax came up with "Fighting Man" as opposed to "Fighter" is unknowable. A Fighter is a profession. A Fighting Man is basically a violent drunk. It's no wonder this class changed names at the first opportunity
This is not a joke. AD&D really gave you the options to willingly play a beggar. Beggars had recommended skills, like "Seamstress/Tailor." They had to be Chaotic in alignment. It was suggested they take the Inherent Immunity to Cold and Heat traits. This is insane.
3) Peasant Hero
In one of the best examples of TSR making things way too complicated, they debuted the Peasant Hero class, which to be fair looked pretty good in comparison to the Beggar. Why this needed its own set of rules instead of just letting character play heroes who also happen to be heroes is unknown. I guess if you really wanted to shape up the peasant-ness of your character, the Peasant Hero does give you the awesome benefit of getting help from other peasants, although they never have anything worthwhile, because they're goddamn peasants. Peasant Heroes are basically just fighters with no money.
4) Arctic Druid
There are many different types of Druid in the 2nd Edition's Complete Druid's Handbook — Desert Druid, Gray Druid, Jungle Druid, Mountain Druid, Plains Druid, and Swamp Druid, for example. But only one Druid has decided to celebrate his bond with nature by going to a place devoid of nature and covered in snow, and that's the Arctic Druid. Sure, they get some cool ice magic, but really, these guys are basically just magic Eskimos.
In the Dark Sun campaign, which was like Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome but with magic instead of technology, there were evil wizards called Defilers. They sucked the energy out of vegetation and other living things nearby to gain their magical powers, which is a large part of the reason the world of Dark Sun is barren and dying. This is kind of badass, but you really can't go around calling yourself a Defiler without someone sniggering at you behind your back.
An Anchorite is a real term for someone who has withdrawn from the real world to stay in one place and focus on their religion and spiritualism. Like a monk, for example. In the Ravenloft supplement Domains of Dread (Ravenloft being D&D's horror fantasy setting), an Anchorite is either a cleric or a magic-user who loses all their magic abilities if they venture more than 100 yards from their chosen place of anchoring. In a game that is primarily focuses on storytelling an adventure, maybe you can see the problem with playing a character that can't leave his yard.
7) Barbarian Fighter
I assume this second edition AD&D class is a dude who only fights barbarians. Because otherwise he would be called a barbarian or a fighter, correct?
In the mostly forgotten Forgotten Realms supplement City of Gold, you could — willingly — choose to play a Clown, which combined the least cool parts of Thieves and Bards and did away with all the cool stuff. So if you wanted to be able to tumble around and entertain but not steal, backstab or influence people with your music, you certainly are a fool.
On the plus side, though, at least Clowns aren't Fetishists. The City of Gold supplement included a whole new type of magic called Fetishism, which I can't find anything about because you know what happens when you enter "dungeons" and "fetishism" into a Google search? Nothing good, that's what. Moving on.
10) Unicorn Rider
From the Elves of Evermeet supplement, which features the results of the brief period when Lisa Frank was brought on as an advisor.
Another Ravenloft supplement, Masque of the Red Death included a great many new character classes for the horror world, of which Dandy was hardly the worst. In the game the Dandy is a noble that can wield social influence and has a large income, none of which matters when you could be eaten by a vampire at practically any moment. And, if I was a vampire in Ravenloft, the first thing I would is run around killing everyone who willingly called themselves a Dandy.
But then you could also be a Laborer in Red Death, which was like a Dandy except you had no social influence and no money, but you could build some things and you had at least enough pride that you weren't running around calling yourself a Dandy. Who the hell would willingly play this class?
Thugs are basically fighters who start the game wanted by the local authorities. Great. Did that really need to be its own class, TSR? Couldn't the player and dungeon master just have agreed to that being part of the character's back-story? Or, god forbid, letting the player do something in the game that would earn the ire of the police? Actually, my favorite thing about the Thug class is that in 2nd Edition, characters gained experience points almost exclusively by killing things, so pretty much every character was a thug, regardless of what their class was.
14) Pest Controller
This is exactly what it sounds like, although you should know this is a class from The Complete Book of Dwarves. They are dwarves that specialize is a bizarre and not-particularly-applicable-to-adventure skill set, namely ridding their underground dwarven stronghold of small pests. As the handbook puts it, "Pest Controllers are members of the Pest Control Guild." Great. Awesome.
15) Rapid Response Rider
These are essentially the Dwarven version of cavalry, which would have been a much better name given the Rapid Response Rider immediately implies they have glowing sirens on their heads. They usually ride ponies or mules, and the handbook says very few dwarven strongholds even employ them, because even the fictional setting knows this is ludicrous.
16) Ghetto Fighter
NO. JUST NO. Another completely insane and needless Dwarf specialty class, which included the following lines in its description:" The Ghetto Fighter never forgets his lowly origins and may harbor resentments against dwarves who are better off. However, he stays true to his roots, and will try to better the lives of ghetto children."
Not content to let the dwarves hog all the bizarre character classes, The Complete Book of Gnomes and Halflings introduced the Goblinsticker, who are basically insane gnomes determined to commit goblin and kobold genocide. The handbook suggests these guys are motivated by some past tragedy, which makes them the Batmen of the D&D world, which is pretty cool until you you remember they call themselves Goblinstickers.
These are Gnome/Halfling specialty thieves, but they are called mouseburglers. Because mice are small and they are small. Get it? GET IT?! Hell, even a class that specifically stole stuff from mice would be more interesting.
19) Mine Rowdy
Not an elf, dwarf, gnome or halfling? Then you might have ended up in The Complete Book of Humanoids, the point where TSR had clearly run out of ideas but was going to churn out as many supplements as they could. Enter the Mine Rowdy, which is a fighter who's specialized in working at mines and beating the prisoners who act up or try to stop working. Great. That was super-necessary, guys. I really wanted to play a fighter, but I was looking for a way to make sure he was penalized -1 for fighting outside of underground tunnels, so this is perfect!
20) Lost Druid
From The Complete Druid's Handbook, of course. Lost Druids actually sound pretty cool — they're Druids whose elands have been completely destroyed, and they've devoted their lives to getting revenge. So they're formidable warriors, but generally lose their Druid magic in exchange. WHICH MAKES THEM ANOTHER GODDAMN FIGHTER.
Well, you can't say this Druid class is a Fighter. In fact, they refuse to fight. This isn't actually a bad character concept… for other role-playing games. But again, 2nd Edition AD&D is a game focused almost entirely about murdering things, so you get more experience points to get more powers to be able to murder more things, and taking their gold so you can get better equipment in order to be more efficient at murdering things. How a Pacifist Druid ever advances past first level is beyond me.
22) Mountain Man
I'm sorry, Complete Book of Rangers, but a Mountain Man is just a forest hobo, Period.
23) Paladin of Slaughter
This 3rd edition character class is trying waaaaay too hard. First of all, the idea of someone so completely devoted to evil as regular paladins are to good is absurd, even for D&D. Second of all, paladin is D&D terms is a holy heroic knight, so these guys are essentially called "holy heroic knights of slaughter. That's like a "superhero of death." The most ridiculous part of these guys is that like Paladins, they lose all their powers if they don't don't constantly commit acts of evil. How much evil could you really accomplish if you're constantly taking candy from babies and preventing old women from crossing the street?
24) Urban Druid
These members of this 3.5 edition class celebrate nature by… staying as far as hell away from it as possible. Hell, at least the Arctic Druids may occasionally encounter a penguin or something. Clearly this is just a cheat to let players have Druid powers while ignoring everything else about Druids, which I'm kind of down with in principle, but even just typing it sounds completely obnoxious. These guys are the hipsters of the Druid world. "Yeah, I liked nature all right, but then all these other Druids moved out and ruined everything, So I've come to the city to get my head together. Maybe start a band or something."
All art comes from WotC promotional materials with the exception of the still from the movie Jeremiah Johnson. The artists are, from top to bottom: Clyde Caldwell, Brom, Larry Elmore, Clyde Caldwell again, Mathias Kollros and Eva Widermann.