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In RPGs sometimes there will be hybrid-classed characters, ie, characters that can fill the roles of multiple characters. Sometimes they're really weak and useless because despite filling out many roles they're just not good enough to do it, and othertimes they're extremely overpowered because they can do the job of characters with a single dedicated role just as well, while still being able to do other jobs.

This often leads to either using those characters all the time, or avoiding using those characters because they're dead weight. Even just "fine tuning the numbers" doesn't seem to work because the weaker they get in regards to a dedicated role character the less useful they are overall, and then when buffing their numbers to make them more capable of holding their own makes a small reduction in power compared to a dedicated role character a minor tradeoff, because they're doing the roles of two characters in one spot.

Is there a way to actually make hybrid-role characters useful while still making players want to carry single-role characters too?

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Blizzard (World of Warcraft) has had this problem with their hybrid classes for years. They may be a good point of study for this situation as they are able to make them quite viable. –  UnderscoreZero Jun 10 '13 at 15:25
    
I would think this is more on the gameplay. The scenarios the game presents must provide opportunities where a weaker hybrid-role would be more useful than a stronger single role. –  Byte56 Jun 10 '13 at 15:27
    
@UnderscoreZero Yeah, but the problem with the hybrid classes in World of Warcraft is that not only are they able to fill in multiple roles, they do it so well with basically reskinned abilities that either do the same effect or have an effect of a greater magnitude. inb4 "umad" druids are pretty bad about this - they have rogue-like abilities that are just as good as a rogues, heals that are on-par, if not greater situationally than other classes, and can tank just as well as plate wearers. It used to be different, but it seems lately that hybrid classes have been more favored for patches. –  Shiester Jun 10 '13 at 17:36
    
Arguably that is a potential design choice. WoW was not designed to support a "support class" and therefore the "hybrid classes" must perform their selected jobs as successfully as a "pure class" but cannot perform all these jobs at the "pure class" level at the same time. Blizzard decided that instead of being a jack-of-all-trades, hybrids must select one job to be proficient in while their other options fall behind. –  UnderscoreZero Jun 10 '13 at 17:48
    
Yeah, but what bothers me about that in particular is that it raises the question of "why bother playing other classes if they dont have the same versatility as this hybrid class?" -- You have to get the gear to support that class, sure, but at the end of the day you wind up with a character that's effectively as good as two or three characters, versus playing a single-role character who can do the same job but in different ways. –  Shiester Jun 10 '13 at 18:03

2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I would try to look at hybrids from a different angle. You seem to trying to make a hybrid class fill two different roles. Instead try to make a class fill a single role with the tools of other classes.

Lets do an example with amonk. Monks are classic healer-fighters, or a priest-warrior hybrid. If you just give a warrior the ability to heal like a priest then you have an unstoppable killing machine. Well nerf the numbers too hard, and now you have a mediocre fighter who has heals that don't have enough impact to use. You have a class trying to do two jobs, and either being too good are not good enough. Its going to take a ton of iteration to find the right balance.

Instead of tweaking numbers we can tweak abilities and give the monk a purpose a couple of different ways.

  1. Change range and AoE. Priests and warriors may have strong AoE abilities. Monks trade could trade the ability to hit multiple targets with the ability for strong single target spells. Also maybe limit monks to short range heals. In order to heal you have to be more like a front line medic.
  2. Give advantage over base classes. Priests may be able cast strong heals and weak buffs, but monks could cast weak heals and strong buffs. Hybrid classes could excel where some roles that base classes are bad.
  3. Mechanics that reward doing both. Maybe Priests use mana, but monks use spirit, and the only way to generate spirit is to attack something. That way they are limited on how much they can do a certain job.
  4. Specialization. If you have talent trees you could choose to go more of a healer path or a warrior path.
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Runescape has the system called the Combat triangle which works as the paper, scissor, rocks.

  • Meele is strong attacking ranged armours
  • Ranged defeats Mage's
  • Magic defeats Meele

They have it easier, because they have a no class system. Which can be modified depending on what they wear, that way you are not bound to any stereotypes such as that the mage can not wear a heavy armor; a mage must look like Gandalf and due to his age he must tripp over his beard. In this type of world, players can be a hybrid of everything. That way armored mages could be effective fighters but their maneuverability could be weakened. They wouldn't be able to jump. fly, swim or do something that was possible in robes, such as creating a cyclone to life off the ground(came up with this now).

In Tibia, it has been a serious problem for Cipsoft to balance the classes. They had one class which has been a hybrid - the paladin

  • Knights - Heavy armored had high defence must approach enemies in close combat has lot of HP, easy to play, has a non degradable weapon. Their magic level raises slowly .
  • Paladins - (rangers) Hybrid of a mage and knight. They use bows and other ranged equipment to fight, they have only 30% less health than knights but they have 3x more mana than knights. Their distance fighting skill raises fast and their magic level raises a lot faster than the knights. Their defence goes slower than knights, just about 30% slower, while the mages have the defence level progression slower by around 95%.
  • Druids - healers that were also earth/ice Mages. In combat they were mostly healers, and they also supplied special healing runes to all other. They are very expensive to play at a higher level and require a massive ammount of money to fight monsters(they need to drink mana potions that are used for casting spells).
  • Mages - had most powerful spell, and were the only class that could create an item used by both Fire/Energy Mages. They also act in combat like the druids.

Cipsoft has changed some stuff in every update he delivered. When I was playing in 2008, they have downgraded the effect of healing runes that were player made, which wrecked the player based economy, the druid class has been useless, and the knight has been fairly weaker. The paladin, considered to be a balanced character, received a special weapon called the assassin star, which made the entire class 50% more deadly. In order to make up the failure, Cipsoft has weakened the weapon and made the entire class weakened. In the same time, the druids got a pump with a stronger spell. They have been keeping this up for the last few years. Leaving out the balanced classes out of the game system.

I would suggest giving every class a special ability, not an "iron fist" but a special skill, that is needed around the world, such as some kind of elemental magic, a druid in Tibia is effective against the fire creatures, where the Mage would do little harm. For roleplay make an ability, that the stronger Tank class will be good and the hybrid of both will have both of their weaknesses but this would also make them more flexible. So the tank healer will be able to sustain a very strong attack. I do not know your system so giving you my solutions to a situation I do not know.

You should look up the Path of Exile skill tree, which is the most complex level-up system in the gaming world. Path of Exile skill tree

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Are those dots skills? o_o –  Luke B. Jun 11 '13 at 1:45
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That's not a skill tree, that's a skill jungle. –  Philipp Jun 11 '13 at 7:41
    
Skill jungle, good one :D –  Mikolaj Marcisz Jun 11 '13 at 12:16
    
PoE's skill tree isn't really that much of a skill tree, it's actually more of a "passive tree" or a "stat progression web". See, all those abilities are passive, half of them are just things like "+2 Strength" (PoE has no stat points you can spend) and many effects are duplicated like 10 times (like +3% crit chance with swords, they of course stack). If they wanted to they sure could have simplified a lot by introducing stat points and allowing skilling a single effect multiple times. –  API-Beast Jun 11 '13 at 12:44
    
And it is called, Passive Skill Tree, still it is a skill tree whatever there are many definitions of skills. –  Mikolaj Marcisz Jun 11 '13 at 12:51

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