Earlier this week I stuck my 3.5 Player’s Handbook in my backpack to carry around with me. Not sure what motivated it, but I figured just having it around would make me think “three-point-five thoughts.” Maybe there was some residual psychic energy lingering in the book after years of Dungeons & Dragons.

I got to thinking about the character classes in the Player’s Handbook (and the ones that came afterward) and what their class identities were (or were supposed to be). I have a couple tiers’ worth of info from the Tier System For Classes saved as a draft in WordPress to use for reference from time to time while considering game design and balance — mainly player and character powers.

I don’t think the classes in tier three and tier four are the sorts I would’ve expected to find there. I chalk it most of it up to greater nerd minds than mine, spending more time contemplating the subject than I had available, with more discussion and analysis time with peers. (I was the only one in my gaming group really interested in optimization.)

I know there have also been attempts to create similar tiers for spells and prestige classes (and individual class features, I believe). I’m not sure how effective something like that is, when you consider that the reason for the problems lies first in the classes that provide them, but I suppose it does give people something to do.

Fourth Edition … I don’t know if there’s enough variation between the classes to create the same kind of tiers. Optimization is still very important, I’ve seen what an amazing effect optimizing a few characters in the party (and then nearly the entire party by this point) can have on the overall game. But what to do with tiers?

I’m off to shower and think about what I’m trying to put in words.