Faking Class, Or Can You Impersonate a Class and Win Friends?

Being an old gamer does have it's advantages. For one thing, I have a library of old gaming stuff that I can look through from time to time. Last night I was doing just that. I started reading an old Dragon magazine article about using Magic-user (This was for AD&D) spells to simulate another class. It even had lists of spells that could be used to simulate spells from other classes. There were even spells that could be simulated by faking it. After all a spell like Detect Evil, What's to prevent someone from saying they cast it and there was not results? This got me to thinking, could a player actually get away with saying that their character was another class?

One thing to start with is the fact that there are two points of view for the players. There is the in-character and out-of-character (meta-gaming) knowledge and perceptions. For example, if a player was wizard and trying to say he was rouge a few things would come up. First most players share too much meta-game information to make this work on a player to player basis. Second, even without share, meta-information players have might ruin the ruse. After all, players are going to demand that other players use certain class features and feats that other classes don't have. Take the rouge's sneak attack ability. People are going to suggest/demand that a rouge to use that ability. It sort of ruins the ability of players to "fool" other players . So on the surface player to player is sort of out.

What about player to non-player character (NPC), or NPC to player? Here is an area that has possibilities. As the Game Master, your not going to forcing your players to use certain class feats or features. This means that the players can make an NPC think the player's character is of a certain class, race, or even alignment. As a Game Master, you base an NPC's reactions based off of what the players present. The same is true of NPC's. Heck, it even works better that way. Many NPC's can just be a name and basic description. There is no need for classes, skills, or feats for NPCs that players are just going to interact with and not fight. As Game Master you may need to fake a stat, skill, or other characteristic, but you don't normally need to do so. In these cases, you can actually write that the NPC claims to be one class and the players normally take that at face value. Now, some of you might think you need to have disguise or bluff checks. I would say that things like that are only required if the NPC is doing something that might make someone guess that they are not who they say they are. Let's face it, you see a guy in a pointy hat. He has a wand and claims he's Mandrake the Wizard. Initially, do you think most people might guess he's not? Now, if a someone was dressed like a beggar and claimed he was a wizard, then you might be a little skeptical. Still for the most part we tend to accept people initially for who they claim to be. So at least from the in-game point of view, it's very easy to handle player's characters pretending to be other classes and the like. All they need is the right attitude, a few basic skills, and maybe a few spells or magic items to simulate another class. Although, the right attitude will get them pretty far.

So what about the first case, player to player. Could you fool other players? Normally, I'd say no. However, if you have a Game Master that willing to do the work with player then it's possible to do it short term. The reason I say it's short term, is that it's going to be a lot of work to keep things from the other players. First off, the player should know the game system pretty well. They are not going to be able to normally ask other players with help with certain rules or spell descriptions. They are going to have to work with Game Master how to do certain things. For example, let's say someone is pretending to be a rouge. The player could roll for the sneak attack damage, but give the Game Master the normal damage and the sneak attack damage. The Game Master would then just apply the normal damage. Since this sort of thing can not be kept up for long, I think both the player and the Game Master should find ways to work in clues that things are not what they seem. After all, this is going to be hard to do , even if I actually think this is interesting Role-Playing challenge for a player. I don't think the Player or the Game Master is going to be able to hide it from the other players for ever.

So what about you? Have you ever had your character to pretend to be another class? Was it just for NPCs or did you try to fool the party? If so, how hard was it? I look forward to seeing your answers.

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