What's new
Embers Adrift

This is a sample guest message. Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

TOPIC: Being unique in MMORPGS part 1 - How important is it for you?

Aetrion

Member
An astrology system like in Elderscrolls would certainly be cool! I would like it if the effects didn't stack with certain class choices though, so that your birthsign can be picked freely, and isn't tied to class choice. I feel like in Elderscrolls at the mage's guild when Sun's Height rolls around everyone would just get together for one big "happy birthday to all of us" party.
 

Undone

Codemaster
Stormhaven Studios
I think those ideas are fantastic. However, throughout the development of this product I have tried to keep any decisions one has to make that might impact your character's development either reversible, or changeable down the road. It's another reason we moved away from having you allocate stats to your character at creation. As designers we can't expect our players to understand the long term effects of those decisions until they've had a decent chunk of playtime under their belt.
 

Aetrion

Member
I think there should be some things about your character you can't change, because that's what makes a character a character and not just a named container for whatever flavor of the month build you decide to pour into it.

That said, I do agree that you shouldn't have to make character decisions at creation that lock you into a single path down the road, or can turn out to be sub-optimal for what you want to do. The options you have at character creation should be things that define your character intuitively, not highly mechanical things that you can't fully understand without mastery of the system.

Your character's background shouldn't be a mechanical bonus you pick because you need it to optimize your build, it should be something you pick because it speaks to you on a narrative level, and whatever mechanical effects it has should primarily serve as an acknowledgement of your choices.

Maybe different character backgrounds simply give you a number of skills that are available in the game as a baseline to work from. You never have to pay for those skills and you always have them. That way it's not a huge difference if you're building a character who advances in the trees that you already had baseline skills in and then spends the points they saved to buy up some side skills elsewhere, or if you buy up a skill tree you have no background skills in, and then gain your background skills on the side.

If you said "My character was a criminal before coming to Newhaven" you might just always have the basic stealth skill unlocked. From there you can build up further in whatever subterfuge skill trees there are, save the points you would have spent on basic stealth and learn the basic first aid skill in another tree with them for example. You could however also train to be a doctor by going up whatever healing tree exists and just always retain the basic stealth ability from your background.

That doesn't really limit your choices, but it is a constant acknowledgement of who your character was in their previous life, and I don't think it's an unreasonably hard choice to make for someone to have a look at a dozen different character backgrounds and say "You know, this sounds like something I'd like to do in a fantasy world". As long as the core balance of the game is good and the low end skills in any given tree are worth having even without being minmaxed to optimize them it gives you a system where characters have an identity from before the game that is mechanically acknowledged but doesn't determine their destiny.

It's kind of like D&D 5e fixed stat bonuses on races by capping stats at 20. That makes it so that any race can max out any stat, so you can make a half orc wizard without any problem. Of course then they ruined it by introducing a dozen other cheesy race bonuses that do stack with certain classes, but by simply putting a cap on stats they made stat bonuses on races a meaningful way to define the natural gifts of that race without making it so nobody else can achieve the same heights.
 

Undone

Codemaster
Stormhaven Studios
I think there should be some things about your character you can't change, because that's what makes a character a character and not just a named container for whatever flavor of the month build you decide to pour into it.

That said, I do agree that you shouldn't have to make character decisions at creation that lock you into a single path down the road, or can turn out to be sub-optimal for what you want to do. The options you have at character creation should be things that define your character intuitively, not highly mechanical things that you can't fully understand without mastery of the system.

Your character's background shouldn't be a mechanical bonus you pick because you need it to optimize your build, it should be something you pick because it speaks to you on a narrative level, and whatever mechanical effects it has should primarily serve as an acknowledgement of your choices.

Maybe different character backgrounds simply give you a number of skills that are available in the game as a baseline to work from. You never have to pay for those skills and you always have them. That way it's not a huge difference if you're building a character who advances in the trees that you already had baseline skills in and then spends the points they saved to buy up some side skills elsewhere, or if you buy up a skill tree you have no background skills in, and then gain your background skills on the side.

If you said "My character was a criminal before coming to Newhaven" you might just always have the basic stealth skill unlocked. From there you can build up further in whatever subterfuge skill trees there are, save the points you would have spent on basic stealth and learn the basic first aid skill in another tree with them for example. You could however also train to be a doctor by going up whatever healing tree exists and just always retain the basic stealth ability from your background.

That doesn't really limit your choices, but it is a constant acknowledgement of who your character was in their previous life, and I don't think it's an unreasonably hard choice to make for someone to have a look at a dozen different character backgrounds and say "You know, this sounds like something I'd like to do in a fantasy world". As long as the core balance of the game is good and the low end skills in any given tree are worth having even without being minmaxed to optimize them it gives you a system where characters have an identity from before the game that is mechanically acknowledged but doesn't determine their destiny.

It's kind of like D&D 5e fixed stat bonuses on races by capping stats at 20. That makes it so that any race can max out any stat, so you can make a half orc wizard without any problem. Of course then they ruined it by introducing a dozen other cheesy race bonuses that do stack with certain classes, but by simply putting a cap on stats they made stat bonuses on races a meaningful way to define the natural gifts of that race without making it so nobody else can achieve the same heights.
I should have included my thoughts on changing your character --> those changes should come at a cost. And by cost I do not mean money but rather time. I agree that your choices should come to define your character, but I prefer that those choices define your character over time as you play the game and acquire a more robust understanding of the gameplay systems. If you would like to change one of your choices you have to forfeit any progress made and sort of "start over" - hence the cost is time. The appealing part about systems like this (to me at least) is that it allows for some experimentation when just starting out with little to no cost associated with changing since you haven't invested much time. However, once you invest time into a choice and progress it a bit the choice to forfeit your progress and start over becomes a lot more difficult.
 

Aetrion

Member
That's definitely true, Ultima Online allowed you to completely remake your character, but it was a very significant investment to redistribute your stats and re-learn all of the skills.

I still think your character's background should matter in some way, because whatever defines your character's past in a fantasy world is what grounds them in that world.

It would be cool if once you learn a skill you don't completely forget it, you just sort of "lose your edge" in it when you start training other skills. There could be a duality between regaining your edge in a skill, which would happen relatively quickly, and shifting attributes or other really fundamental aspects of the character, which would take a long time. Then characters have a certain adaptability range that falls within their general archetype, but larger shifts require significant retraining.
 
Last edited:

Kaerwin

Member
I've been wondering for some time whether there is any merit in a system in which gaining competence in one skill causes you to lose (a small amount of) competence in every other skill. The amount of competence you lose in each skill would be proportional to your level in that skill, so a starting character would lose basically nothing and would hardly even notice the effect occurring. But for experienced characters, every time you train a skill, you are reconfiguring your character. The intention is to make it impossible to be expert at everything, and to ensure that you have to keep using a skill in order to stay good at it.
 

Aetrion

Member
The "get good at what you're actually using" advancement system is always one of those holy grails of RPG design, but in practice it's almost always a mess.

For one it creates situations where people deliberately don't use certain skills just because they want to avoid accidentally learning them. Morrowind and Oblivion come to mind, where the skills you gained while working toward a level determined which stats you could increase after a levelup. The result was that naturally leveling your character by just using whatever skills were handy didn't get you good results when it came time to level, and in order to make a strong character you had to very deliberately train only the skills tied to the stats you wanted to raise. Instead of having a leveling experience that felt more natural you wound up with one that was much less natural.

Another problem is that in a system that runs on "learning by doing" you run into issues with skills you want to have but rarely use, skills that start out weak but end strong, crafting skills and other skills that don't see predictable regular usage while simply playing the game. For example you end up having to craft thousands of trash items nobody wants just to get the skill high enough to be able to make something worth using, which isn't at all a positive experience compared to gradually getting better at swordfighting as you take on stronger enemies. In Ultima Online people would deliberately stand in fires for hours to get their magic resistance up, because there was practically no way to get good at the skill naturally. A good player avoided getting hit with a lot of spells because they were very dangerous, but you had to get hit with a lot of spells to train the skill that made them less dangerous.

Usually you have to throw in some kind of leveling, or a way to control your gains, or some way to deliberately train skills to make a system like that work, because there are too many ways in which a system that wants to create natural progression forces people to act in unnatural ways to get the system to produce the exact character they want.
 

Kaerwin

Member
My view is that the elements of a game that are based on the real world should work the way they do in the real world. It's fine to say "it's fantasy, so we can make it work any way we want" only with respect to those elements of the game (such as magic) that are based on fantasy.

As the concept of characters learning stuff is based on what happens in the real world, it should work the way the real world works. In the real world, experience is not generic, it is skill-specific; you don't just gain experience, you gain experience in a particular skill. (A corollary to this is that you don't have a generic level, you have a level of competence in each skill.) You learn a skill either by using that skill or by being taught that skill; you can't learn to do something by doing something else.

I agree that crafting mountains of trash in order to gain crafting experience is desperately tedious. It's also unrealistic - in the real world, an apprentice armourer isn't left alone to make thousands of bunny-skin hats in order to gain enough skill to make something useful. Instead, an apprentice assists a master while the master makes useful things, and in the process the master teaches the apprentice. So why don't we make the game work the same way? I'm not saying you shouldn't be able to learn crafting by making stuff on your own, just that learning from a master should be a more efficient option.

Finally, if accidentally learning a skill you don't want is a serious problem, or if there is practically no way to get good at a skill without doing something totally weird, then the game is badly designed and inadequately play-tested. But I don't think that means the whole "you learn what you do" concept needs to be discarded.
 
Last edited:

Aetrion

Member
The issue you're running into is that in real life the limit to how many skills you can learn is largely determined by the limited time you have in your life and how you spend it. Playing a game in itself trades some of your potential for self improvement for virtual entertainment. That's why, even though it's most realistic, a game shouldn't be designed to limit your progress by how much time you can devote to the game, since that rewards unhealthy behaviors and punishes people with other priorities in their life. As a result the game usually simulates limited time through other systems.

Experience points aren't meant to imply that you simply get better at whatever you want by killing monsters, they are meant to let you engage with the most interesting and adventurous portion of your character's life, and then proportionally awards you with points to spend on what your character does when you're not playing. Likewise a hard limit on how many skillpoints you have isn't meant to represent that your character for some reason isn't capable of learning more skills despite the fact that he has all the time in the world to practice them, but is meant to simulate that learning those skills actually takes much longer than what the game mechanically portrays to be able to fit into a reasonable schedule.

The whole "learning things by accident" problem comes about when you can learn things very fast mechanically but you have to control what you learn to satisfy the skill cap system that is meant to simulate not being able to do it all very quickly.

You also have to be able to pin skills to allow hybridization. For example if I wanted a character with 100 points in magic and 50 points in swordfighting then I can't simply stop using my sword when I get to 50 points. I put those points there because I wanted some ability to use the sword, so how do I make the game understand that my character is simply a mediocre swordfighter, not someone still trying to perfect it?
 

Kaerwin

Member
Experience points aren't meant to imply that you simply get better at whatever you want by killing monsters, they are meant to let you engage with the most interesting and adventurous portion of your character's life, and then proportionally awards you with points to spend on what your character does when you're not playing.
So you go on an adventure that earns you some points, then you spend those points on skills that you didn't use on the adventure. That's supposed to represent your character spending (off-camera) time after the adventure learning or practising those skills. To me that would make perfect sense and be completely realistic if what you spend to buy those skills is money, not experience points. You acquire loot from the adventure, and use it to pay people to teach you stuff. But the experience you got on the adventure is experience in the skills you used on the adventure; I don't see how you can just decide that it will be some other kind of experience.
You also have to be able to pin skills to allow hybridization. For example if I wanted a character with 100 points in magic and 50 points in swordfighting then I can't simply stop using my sword when I get to 50 points. I put those points there because I wanted some ability to use the sword, so how do I make the game understand that my character is simply a mediocre swordfighter, not someone still trying to perfect it?
Well, pinning skills at a particular level is one way of achieving that outcome, but it's not the only way. A couple of posts ago, I suggested a system in which gaining experience in a skill causes you to lose experience in every other skill. Under that system, if you use magic twice as much as you use your sword, you will naturally gravitate towards twice as much skill in spell-casting as in sword-fighting. Also, that system imposes a limit on your total skill level (because, when you reach that limit, any experience you gain will be fully offset by the experience lost in other skills), but doesn't stop your character from evolving and doesn't require any arbitrary boundaries.
 
Last edited:

Aetrion

Member
So you go on an adventure that earns you some points, then you spend those points on skills that you didn't use on the adventure. That's supposed to represent your character spending (off-camera) time after the adventure learning or practising those skills. To me that would make perfect sense and be completely realistic if what you spend to buy those skills is money, not experience points. You acquire loot from the adventure, and use it to pay people to teach you stuff. But the experience you got on the adventure is experience in the skills you used on the adventure; I don't see how you can just decide that it will be some other kind of experience.

If you could acquire skills with money in an MMORPG people could simply hand someone all the money they need to buy themselves to max level, and the wealth gap between new and established characters would be even more extreme when there is a huge sum of money you have to put down before you can even start building up wealth to actually buy things with. Money as XP works well in single player games like Outward though.

Sometimes resources need to be separate to stop systems from screwing with each other. Experience is very distinctly a resource that measures how much you personally have engaged with the central mechanics of the game and as such is a good way to abstract how much character progression you should be rewarded with. Money on the other hand is much more fluid, it can be obtained without playing the game much at all, or even through things like real money trading, duping items, or fishing for accounts and cleaning them out. The value of money also fluctuates by how much of it other people have.

Well, pinning skills at a particular level is one way of achieving that outcome, but it's not the only way. A couple of posts ago, I suggested a system in which gaining experience in a skill causes you to lose experience in every other skill. Under that system, if you use magic twice as much as you use your sword, you will naturally gravitate towards twice as much skill in spell-casting as in sword-fighting. Also, that system imposes a limit on your total skill level (because, when you reach that limit, any experience you gain will be fully offset by the experience lost in other skills), but doesn't stop your character from evolving and doesn't require any arbitrary boundaries.

This would be anathema to everyone who considers character building to be an integral part of RPGs. It's simply not possible to design a system where skill gains are perfectly proportional to what people naturally use, and somehow create the perfect character for everyone.

Let's take an example from Skyrim: I want to play a spellblade, so I roll through a dungeon with a longsword in one hand and a destruction spell in the other. The natural way to use that combination would be to use your spell at range until you run out of mana, and then finish the enemy off with your blade. The problem is that by playing that way which of these skills gains quicker depends entirely on the difficulty level I set the game to. If I set the difficulty level low and I attack enemies with fire while I approach them they will often be dead before I get to strike them with my sword. Subsequently my character progresses as a mage, his spells become more powerful while his swordfighting abilities fall behind which reinforces this trend. If I set the difficulty very high I will run out of mana long before the enemies die, and I will have to work on them for a long time with my sword. My character becomes a better and better swordfighter, but his spellcasting falls way behind.

MMORPGs don't have difficulty settings, but the exact same problem would still creep in depending on which other characters I team up with and what we are fighting. If I have a very powerful team and fights are short I will proportionally use more ranged attacks and burst abilities. If my team is having trouble and every fight is a struggle I will rely much more on control, healing and tanking.

So the system you're proposing where people can't lock their skills would force them to simply disregard certain content in order to maintain their character. For example, if someone is a raid healer then they will almost exclusively cast healing spells when they are in a group fighting bosses. They need the best healing skills to be viable for that activity. But what if they roam around in the world with a group, or do an easier dungeon? People will only need a fraction as much healing as in a raid. The mere fact that their heals are very powerful will make people require even less healing. Their role in the party simply shifts to helping dispatch the enemies quickly by dishing out a bit of extra damage, except with a system where you can't pin your skills doing that is eroding their healing ability which they will need when the next raid happens.

So, no, having skills constantly trend toward whatever you're using most without any way to pin them would not at all create natural characters. It would force people to actively avoid certain groups or certain content just to maintain a build they want. A healer can't just solo for a bit for fun when that hurts their ability to be a healer when their friends get online. A tank can't go after a bunch of easy enemies if that hurts their ability to stand up to the really nasty ones. You need to be able to secure the abilities you have set aside for difficult content, and engage with easy content without the game trying to re-train your character for that.
 

Kaerwin

Member
If you could acquire skills with money in an MMORPG people could simply hand someone all the money they need to buy themselves to max level,
True, and I did think of that. But what if money and other valuable items are not tradable between characters? Would that be a cure that's worse than the disease? Or better still: what if the amount of actual loot you get from dungeon-delving is very limited (after all, how likely is it that mindless monsters will be found just sitting on piles of treasure?), but you get rewarded by NPCs who are grateful for your having rid their realm of monsters, and the reward comes in the form of free (and non-transferable) training in skills of your choice.

So the system you're proposing where people can't lock their skills would force them to simply disregard certain content in order to maintain their character.
Remember that, in my proposed system, the rate at which an experienced character's skill levels would evolve would be pretty low. So doing one or two activities that use the 'wrong' skills would not nerf your primary skills to any significant extent. Your skills would gravitate towards the long-term average of what you use. My argument is that for them to gravitate towards any other number would be manifestly unrealistic, however much the player might want that outcome.
Addendum: If you want to maintain a skill above the long-term average of what you use, you can spend the training you get as a reward for dungeon-delving on that skill.
 
Last edited:

Aetrion

Member
[...] the reward comes in the form of free (and non-transferable) training in skills of your choice.
That's functionally the same as an XP system where you can spend experience on whatever skill you want.

Your skills would gravitate towards the long-term average of what you use.
I think trying to develop a system that gives people the character they want by correctly interpreting their preference through averages is an incredibly convoluted and failure prone way to get to the same goal as just letting them choose.
 

Kaerwin

Member
That's functionally the same as an XP system where you can spend experience on whatever skill you want.
Not entirely. You could choose which skills you want to put the training reward into, but you couldn't choose where the experience you get during the adventure goes. And that's as it should be - if you use a skill during adventure, you will gain experience in that skill, whether you want to or not. As I like to say, you can't break eggs without making an omelette.
I think trying to develop a system that gives people the character they want by correctly interpreting their preference through averages is an incredibly convoluted and failure prone way to get to the same goal as just letting them choose.
It would be a mistake to assume that a complex outcome must be produced by a complex system. In any case, my goal is not to produce a system that allows the player to develop a character exactly as the player wants - it is to produce a system that develops a character that reflects how that character is played. In other words, you are what you do; if you don't like what you are, don't do what you do.
 

Aetrion

Member
In any case, my goal is not to produce a system that allows the player to develop a character exactly as the player wants - it is to produce a system that develops a character that reflects how that character is played. In other words, you are what you do; if you don't like what you are, don't do what you do.
Who does a system like that serve?

If you have a system where you can pin skills people can choose if they want their character to dynamically adapt to what they are doing or if they want their character to maintain a specific build.

If you remove the ability to pin skills people who want to maintain a specific build get pushed out of the game.

So you're excluding one set of players (the significant majority as well), without adding a functionality that the other group of players couldn't already enjoy.

So who are you serving by taking away that option?

The only argument for why you'd want the ability to pin skills removed is so that pure dynamic characters aren't at a disadvantage against optimized builds, but that's also not a good argument, because optimized builds still exist, you're just forcing people to create them by very carefully avoiding situations where their skills could drift. Having your skills determined by natural play still places you at a disadvantage, and creating a build is now no longer compatible with natural play.

Effectively you've pissed off a huge number of people with nothing to show for it.
 
Last edited:

Kaerwin

Member
Who does a system like that serve?
Me. I'm not trying to please other people - I'm just saying what I'd like to see. If nobody else agrees, then I guess I'm outvoted, but I won't know that until I put forward the idea.

Every game (tennis, golf, tiddlywinks, everything) has rules that restrict the means that players are allowed to employ in achieving the goal of the game. Players like those rules because they make the game more challenging. So how do we know that making it harder for players to maintain their desired character build won't attract more players to the game? I don't think it is wise to make assumptions about what other people want.
 
Last edited:

Undone

Codemaster
Stormhaven Studios
It's been great following along this conversation! I think we can all agree that there are merits to all kinds of different systems it's just a matter of finding which ones best suite the vision of the game. My driving philosophies have been mainly a) make major decisions reversible in some fashion (typically coupled with some form of loss to impose an actual decision), and b) make the game fun and intuitive. Many of the designs we have implemented end up failing the second test hence we continue to iterate.

In my mind, the most general thing we can do to make you feel attached to your characters is provide a large number of decisions throughout progression. This can come in many forms; some of which will include specializations, which abilities you want to choose, and even which armor you end up wearing. The trick is making it seem like you have much more freedom than you actually do; if we let you get too far out of the guard rails then the game can get a little nutty. Thankfully we are a fully PvE game so a little bit of imbalance here or there isn't as severe. Anyway, keep it coming!
 

Kaerwin

Member
You said "keep it coming", so...

I'm not a fan of binary abilities or shticks; that is, abilities that you either do or don't have, things you either can or can't do. Typically, characters will start without (most) such abilities, and will have the option to acquire them at some point in their development. My objection is that it's just not realistic to make learning work like a switch that goes instantly from fully off to fully on. And if you acquire these abilities by spending experience points, then you're learning to do something by doing something else, which (as I've said before in this forum) is also just not realistic.

I prefer systems in which every character (even starting characters) can do everything - just not necessarily very well. Learning is the process of gradually improving existing abilities, rather than suddenly acquiring previously absent abilities.
 

AdricLives

Well-Known Member
Stormhaven Studios
You said "keep it coming", so...

I'm not a fan of binary abilities or shticks; that is, abilities that you either do or don't have, things you either can or can't do. Typically, characters will start without (most) such abilities, and will have the option to acquire them at some point in their development. My objection is that it's just not realistic to make learning work like a switch that goes instantly from fully off to fully on. And if you acquire these abilities by spending experience points, then you're learning to do something by doing something else, which (as I've said before in this forum) is also just not realistic.

I prefer systems in which every character (even starting characters) can do everything - just not necessarily very well. Learning is the process of gradually improving existing abilities, rather than suddenly acquiring previously absent abilities.

Realistic does not necessarily make an interesting game.

Experience points, ability unlocks, etc. these are all quantified game abstractions used to simplify that real life interaction to something more numerically sound.

There's nothing wrong with liking these systems, just there are tradeoffs, and depending on the direction of any one game, maybe it makes more sense for every character to be able to max everything (Darkfall, New World) or maybe it makes more sense to restrict things to create more tight interactions between players (EQ, EQ2) or there's some balance where you can do everything, but never at the same time (FFXI, FFXIV), etc. etc.

I have likes and dislikes for each type. I like the freedom of being able to do anything, but I dislike feeling like a number instead of a unique character. I like being unique and bringing specific skills to my class, but I dislike the lack of freedom of choice these systems bring. I like the freedom to change between different roles, but it makes the character in my head more muddled, who am I?
 

Aetrion

Member
Every game (tennis, golf, tiddlywinks, everything) has rules that restrict the means that players are allowed to employ in achieving the goal of the game. Players like those rules because they make the game more challenging. So how do we know that making it harder for players to maintain their desired character build won't attract more players to the game? I don't think it is wise to make assumptions about what other people want.

I don't think I'm making assumptions because every single learning by doing system with a skill sum cap I can think of gives people both options and they overwhelmingly pick pinning their skills over perpetual drift. I think there is no reason to assume that they would be happier if their preferred option was removed.

I prefer systems in which every character (even starting characters) can do everything - just not necessarily very well. Learning is the process of gradually improving existing abilities, rather than suddenly acquiring previously absent abilities.

I'm with you on this one, I like systems where characters aren't arbitrarily unable to perform basic tasks. I would like it if characters could maintain a certain level in almost all skills, and then there was a layer of ability above that that encompassed your "edge" in that skill, which you could only maintain for a small number of skills.

I think there should also be some character traits that are mutually exclusive. Especially when it comes to magic I find it kind of makes characters less interesting if everyone can do magic and there is nothing you have to give up for it. It takes away the ability to play a mundane character.

Outward did a pretty good job of letting everyone use everything and learn the rudiments of every skill tree, but keeping builds tight. It also made you sacrifice health and stamina to get mana, so there was a reason not to learn magic (Though even just having a tiny amount of magic made the game a lot easier).

I have likes and dislikes for each type. I like the freedom of being able to do anything, but I dislike feeling like a number instead of a unique character. I like being unique and bringing specific skills to my class, but I dislike the lack of freedom of choice these systems bring. I like the freedom to change between different roles, but it makes the character in my head more muddled, who am I?

I think there needs to be a good mix of skills that everyone can learn and character traits that you can only obtain by making a hard choice between different ones. The really big things that I don't think everyone should have are the things that are essentially superpowers. Magic for one simply isn't interesting if it doesn't require any serious sacrifices and simply becomes a handwave for anything anyone does that makes sense as a game mechanic but not as a story element.

I like it when characters have some significant abilities that are exclusive to others. Especially when it comes to archetypal stuff. In a game where you're supposed to be able to change your character around these could be something like which god you follow determining how your character's magical potential is utilized.

For example, you'd have four gods, one for each general archetype.

The Warrior - Favors self reliance and prowess at arms. Followers of the warrior don't do magic, instead they use their mana as a kind of shield that absorbs a portion of incoming damage.
The Trickster - The trickster's followers don't exactly do magic, but have the uncanny ability to go unnoticed in plain sight. The mana bar is spent to be invisible.
The Healer - Followers of the healer are unmatched at providing aid to their allies. They can learn magic that heals people.
The Sage - God to those who seek deep knowledge and use it to control and confound their enemies. Followers of the sage learn magic that affects the mind.

So within that framework you can then leave people free to pick whatever skills they want. There is a reason to have stats that give you more mana even if your character doesn't know magic because your deities gifts always run on mana. You could learn any weapon group, tactics and leadership, laying traps and fieldcraft etc and basically create a character that is a combination of a general fantasy archetype and a bunch of skills you'd see in more historic fiction. You'd be able to get a lot of different character builds out of it without having to make things like "Turn invisible" or "Restore health" into simple skill trees where everyone will always pick up the basic level because having even just the most basic competence in those things makes any character much more powerful. Instead these would be skill trees you can only acquire by choosing it instead of the others.

By having it be related to a deity you worship you also still have the idea that you can switch between these. Maybe switching faiths means having to start training the associated progression from the ground up again, because it takes a level of devotion to gain these benefits, so switching rapidly all the time isn't a good idea, but you're not locked into a class choice either.