I’m a big fan of the Risus cliché. It represents a skills cluster, effectively, for a character in a role-playing game – at one stroke brushing off skills and detailed mechanics. Everything that you would clichécally expect a character type of that name to be able to perform – he can perform. You do not need to list each and every skill.

I favour this approach because it encourages you to try new things. The alternative, I believe, is that you become limited in your thinking to the pick-list of things that you ‘know’ you can do.

The first edition AD&D classes have always struck me as the prototypical Risus style clichés. Second edition confused the matter by adding Proficiencies, which were a non-confrontational way of saying skills. The two ideas never meshed. 3rd edition broke skills out and modularised the specific class benefits, calling them Feats. Still: it was a pick-list, encouraging players to sit with the manuals open trying to figure out how to use these specific listed items.

But first edition was generic. A class was a broad category. I’m a Fighter so I can do everything a fighter could do. The trick to making this work was to clearly understand the genre. If you know the setting then the class ‘skills’ became obvious.

For this setting we need to understand the setting and give some kind of background to the class/clichés available. This table shows the available classes and lists the typical skill clusters that they have (or in most cases, their Feats).

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