Five Moons RPG: Playing With Classes

Focus on the PCs

This is a rough idea of how classes in Five Moons RPG work, how you can customize your class, and how it helps guide your choices if you don’t have a strong idea about what sort of character you want to play.

(The Corebook will actually explain these concepts in more detail and with more examples. Furthermore, this blog presents these explanations with comparisons to D&D/PF terminology, which the Corebook won’t do.)

Building Your Character

Each of the classes in Five Moons RPG is based on a “skeleton” of basic abilities, such as combat prowess, or type of armor and weapon use. In D&D/Pathfinder terms, this is like how cavaliers, fighters, and paladins all have full BAB, light/medium/heavy armor proficiency, and simple/martial weapon proficiency.

Within each class, you can select from a long list of abilities. In D&D/PF terms, this is much like selecting feats and archetypes, except you’re able to pick and choose various class (and archetype) abilities to create your character around your specific concept. For example, if you’re building a melee-oriented martial character in heavy armor, you could choose something like a barbarian’s rage or a ranger’s favored class bonus.

You actually can select abilities that aren’t directly relevant to your class skeleton (for example, a “fighter” could choose to learn a low-level spell, or a “wizard” could choose to learn how to rage), though your character’s use of an unusual ability might not be as efficient or as powerful as one that’s strongly associated with your class.

You’ll also have the option to trade away some of your skeleton’s basic abilities to gain different abilities. In D&D/PF terms, this is like how the barbarian is a full-martial character that doesn’t have heavy armor proficiency, but has other abilities not available to other classes that start with heavy armor proficiency.

Skeleton Concepts

The five general concepts for the class skeletons are: caster, caster/martial, martial, martial/skill, and hybrid/support. (These are not the names the book will use, this is just to explain the focus of each class skeleton.)

Caster: This class skeleton starts with no armor, limited weapons, and a lot of spellcasting ability and other class abilities that augment spellcasting. The D&D/PF sorcerer, witch, and wizard fit into this category.

Martial: This starts with access to the best armor, all types of weapons, and a lot of martial abilities and other class abilities that augment combat and physical efforts. (This skeleton is generally considered less skilled than the martial/skill skeleton, but still has a reasonable access to skills.) The cavalier and fighter fit into this category; the barbarian does, too (although it swaps out its heavy armor prof for other abilities), and so does the ranger (although it swaps out heavy armor proficiency for some spellcasting).

Caster/Martial: This starts with some armor proficiency, some weapon use, and spellcasting that isn’t as good as a full caster skeleton. The cleric*, druid, inquisitor, magus, and oracle fit into this category.

Martial/Skill: This starts with some armor proficiency, some weapon use, and a high amount of skills, plus some abilities that augment martial abilities and skills. (This skeleton is generally considered more skilled than the martial skeleton, but still has a reasonable access to martial abilities.)The monk and rogue fit into this category; some kinds of alchemists and bards would also be appropriate here.

Hybrid/Support: This starts with some armor proficiency, some weapon use, some spellcasting, and other class abilities that support the character and their allies. Your choices determine if the character is more of a caster/support, martial/support, or skill/support character. Depending on those choices, this category includes the alchemist, bard, cavalier, paladin, and ranger.

As you can see, some of the D&D/PF classes fit into multiple categories. This is deliberate, and you’ll have the flexibility to push your character closer to the borderline between categories. For example, if you’re playing a “paladin” caster/martial character, you can focus more on combat abilities like smite (and become more like a pure martial character), or attack or healing spells (and become more like a pure caster character), or auras and defensive spells (and become more like a hybrid/support character). If you want to play a “barbarian,” you could be a berserker (using the martial skeleton and focusing on combat and physical skills), a wilderness guide (using the martial/skill skeleton to put more emphasis on all skills), or a juggernaet (using the martial/caster skeleton to emphasize defensive “spells” and self-heals).

Recommended Choices

With so many options available when you create a character, an inexperienced player is at risk of choice paralysis and can’t decide what sort of character to build. The Five Moons RPG Corebook helps dodge this problem by steering new players through character creation by making suggestions for abilities that would be appropriate for the character. (The Pathfinder RPG Beginner Box did this by giving each of the four classes suggestions for skills, feats, and equipment so you could finish creating the character and start playing.)

These suggestions can only cover a few general character concepts for each skeleton, but are helpful to a new player who doesn’t necessarily know what is a good or bad choice for their character concept. Like most of the game text, each concept is written from a second-person perspective (“You are a blank” instead of “Your character is a blank” or “The fighter is a blank”).

Here are some examples of these concept descriptions (the names are just placeholders):

Aggressive Defender: Your fighting style is a mix of offensive strikes and blocks with your shield. Choose abilities A, B, C, skills, M, N, O, and equipment X, Y, Z.

Iron Monger: You use a huge weapon with two hands to obliterate your enemies and wear heavy armor to protect yourself from incidental harm. Choose abilities A’, B’, C’, skills, M’, N’, O’, and equipment X’, Y’, Z’.

Swashbuckler: You wear light armor to focus on maneuverability, acrobatics, precise attacks, and witty repartee. Choose abilities A”, B”, C”, skills, M”, N”, O”, and equipment X”, Y”, Z”.


Altogether, these ideas let you create many different kinds of characters, covering the same sort of game options as archetypes, feat chains, and multiclassing.

If you like this post and where these ideas are going, please check out the kickstarter for my Five Moons RPG.


* The D&D/PF cleric is a very powerful class because it has moderate armor, two good saves, average BAB, and full spellcasting. Compared to the fighter, the cleric has slightly worse armor, slightly worse weapons, better saves, slightly worse combat ability, and a huge number of helpful spells that allow it to overcome its relative shortfalls. Compared to the wizard, the cleric has better armor, better weapons, better saves, better combat ability, a huge number of helpful spells, healing spells, and attack spells that are nearly as good as wizard spells. In Five Moons RPG,  clerics are going to be taken down a notch by placing them in the caster/martial category so they’re on par with other classes instead of clearly better.


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Five Moons RPG cover


12 thoughts on “Five Moons RPG: Playing With Classes

  1. This makes me think of a Pathfinder RPG “class builder” system I tried developing, but sadly I didn’t have the skill to work out the details for. Pick a BAB/HD, pick skills, pick spell/feat progression, and then fill it out with class features from a pool of abilities. Hearing an RPG integrating something like this as its core class system excites me greatly. I know my players will get excited for it, too.

    I always felt like the cleric always had to possess a much less useful spell list simply because their other class features were amazing compared to the wizard’s. While that dynamic made sense and helped make clerics feel less like the wizard, I always had trouble with new players wanting to make a 9-level support “white mage” character, but didn’t understand that 9-level divine classes are usually best built with some combat capability. Otherwise, their character will simply cast buffs at the start of each fight and twiddle their thumbs for 3 rounds, maybe occasionally throwing a heal to someone that needs it.

    I am suspecting Five Moons will handle spell lists much differently?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, VERY differently. Instead of schools, keywords, like fire, movement, healing, and so on. You create your spell list by choosing keywords. There’s more to it than that, but I like the idea of a “white mage” just as much as I like the idea of a WOW-style “discipline priest” or “shadow priest” who focuses on damage rather than healing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It all looks really exciting!

    I don’t mind the Cleric getting nerfed as long as it gets to be a bit more fun.
    The things that never pleased me with the 3.x/PF cleric were: it was too powerful; it was too generic; and you couldn’t really build a White mage/caster cleric.

    I always love the idea of a dedicated divine caster (with half BAB) that focused on spells and other kind of magic. I had hoped the PF Shaman would be just that, but it wasn’t what I had hoped for.

    So does this mean I can build a Bard, Monk or Fighter that can also double as a trap expert?

    BTW, will you simplify wild Shape? PF didn’t make that easier. In some ways it is even harder because the rules are spread out in three or four places.


    • There’s no reason why “I’m good at dealing with traps” has to be limited to just one class skeleton, any more than “I can create fire out of nothing” has to be limited to one class skeleton. Some skeletons might have additional class abilities that make them better at using skills than other classes (I make the comparison that the full caster class gets an ability that increases the damage or healing of its spells, the martial class does not… and likewise the martial class gets an ability that increases its melee and ranged attack bonuses, and the caster class does not.)
      I do have some plans for wild shape… I was going to put them into a PDF for Pathfinder*, but they’ll just be part of Five Moons now.


      • I don’t really see the need for a class role that “checks for traps” specifically, and why that can’t simply just be A combination of Perception, & Disable Device Skill checks. Making it “THIS CLASS FEATURE ONLY”, is kinda forcing a role, though I get it did make the Rogue have something in the old times of design (In Legend of Grimrock, the rogue seems weaker compared to the other two due to lacking something like that).

        Pending how your math sets up in 5 Moons, classes that get specific bonuses will encourage people to play within archetype. As otherwise they may feel penalized as they’re not as statistically relevant compared to their fellow Archetype brethren. One important point can be the attack bonuses from the Martials, and how important that plays into the math of the game (though since you said people will hit often in this regard, they might not miss it).


  3. A friend of mine was curious how the spells would work. Are we expecting a vancian style, Mana pool, casting VS endurance, unlimited spells, or something else?


    • Hi, Andrew! I have a future blog post planned for how magic works. The short answer is: your character will have a set of “spells known,” and will be able to select a subset of that representing which spells they’ve “practiced” for that day, and those will be readily available and usable over and over (they’ll be rebalanced according to an at-will usage). However, there will also be a game mechanic allowing them to spend a limited resource to augment a practiced spell when it is cast, and it can be used to cast a spell the caster chose not to augment that day. So you never have to deal with, “oops, I didn’t prepare Burning Hands today”… but it’ll cost you some of your limited resource to cast it on this “emergency” basis.
      Martial abilities will work the same way, as will skill and social abilities.


  4. Could you elaborate on the the divide between Martial and Martial/skill?

    I do realize I’m coming in with a bit of an axe to grind here, but specifically, there’s an ongoing theme with modern D&Dish games where the Fighter, and occasionally other pure Martial classes significantly lack out of combat options, without being seriously in front for in combat options. This is something I have personally complained about, and seen other people annoyed with, in not just 3.x/PF, but also 4e D&D, 5e D&D, and other fantasy d20 games.

    Is this something you’re aware of/looking into?


    • I am aware of that problem and I don’t want the “pure martial” characters to lack out-of-combat options.
      “Martial” probably should be called “Martial primary, skill secondary,” and “Martial/skill” should be called “Skill primary, martial secondary.” There two points on a sliding scale between 100% martial and 100% skill. M/S is probably 70% martial/30% skill, and S/M is probably 30% martial/70% skill.


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