The four elements of class design in D&D
Fire, water, air and earth. The four primal elements that make up the classical cosmos, the foundation upon which all other forms of matter are built.
It’s no accident that the four classes in the new Basic D&D mirror these essential elements, and everything else (with precious few exceptions) is built upon these rock-solid foundations.
Basic D&D takes the four character classes from the earliest incarnations of Dungeons & Dragons and presents them as the baseline core classes in the game. We have the Fighter, Rogue, Cleric and Wizard classes we all know and love with race options, backgrounds and specializations fleshing them out and enabling you to customize your hero.
Thinking of them in terms of the four elements we get this (your interpretation may differ of course):
Fighter – Earth
Rogue – Air
Cleric – Water
Wizard – Fire
Wind blows… Fire Burns… Water Falls…
— Leeloo, the Fifth Element
Where things get more interesting is when the elements are combined. In D&D terms this could either mean multi-classing or the creation of a whole new class that mixes up the four metaphorical elements to varying degrees. Here’s a few of the more common combinations:
Air and Earth – Ranger
Water and Air – Monk
Earth and Water – Paladin
Air and Fire – Warlock
I still long for a class that combines the Cleric (Water) and Rogue (Air) to make a Godsthief but that’s just me.
These four core classes aren’t just a good combination on which to lay the foundations for everything that follows, they are exactly the right classes. Elementary even.
Personally, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for the game.