Jordan Weisman Discusses Classless System and Archetypes

Recently developer Harebrained Schemes’ creative director Jordan Weisman talked in great detail on playable archetypes in their upcoming indie title, Shadowrun Returns. The game, which is based off a popular tabletop RPG, places players into a world mixed with elves, orcs, and trolls but instead of having the standard medieval setting, the world is filled with corporations, cities, and massive cyberpunk style buildings.

During an interview with GameInformer Weisman mentioned how the “classless system” the team is using will have six starter archetypes the player will choose from at the start of the game. From here the players can mix and match any ability they want to truly customize their style of play and the character they wish to portray.

Starting with Mage, Decker, Rigger, Street Samurai, Shaman, or Physical Adept will set the stage for your initial abilities but as Weisman stated, you can then spend Karma points to build out into the other five archetypes in any way you see fit.

But what do some of these archetypes do?

Mages as found in most RPG games will have a wide array of magical abilities to use. From healing to crowd control, to combative magic like acid stream, the mage will either boost allies or decimate and hinder enemies.

Deckers are the hackers of the world and use their considerable skills to jack into the Matrix, where they can encounter the Intrusion Countermeasures Electronics (ICE) system which is just as nasty as if you were fighting armed guards.

Rigger, an archetype I will undoubtedly be starting out when the game launches uses their skills to control different types of drones that enable them to perform various tasks in a mission.

As Riggers advance, they can use larger drones, control more than one at a time, and extend the range at which they can use the drones away from their physical bodies.

Street Samurais are the masters of shooting and martial arts for good reason. They have smart weapons melded to their bodies giving their normal reflexes substantial boosts in combat.

Shamans summon forth mystical creatures to do their bidding. Using totems to seek out powerful summoning points on the map, they can draw forth these beings to do whatever task that needs done.

When summoning, shamans must ‘invest’ their own action points into a spirit to control it. The skill of the Shaman and the level of the summoned spirit determine the base chance to do so. If the player attempts to use more action points than invested in the spirit, the chances of losing control of it go up dramatically. A spirit that breaks free from a shaman is a very dangerous rogue entity with a high likelihood of seeking revenge upon the one who summoned it.

Lastly, the Physical Adept mixes martial arts with spells but this goes well beyond what you might think.

Physical Adepts are more than mere martial artists, they are highly specialized spell casters with combat spells such as Killer Hands, Distance Strike, Mystic Armor, Traceless Walk, and Quick Strike.

Since the kickstarter was over the top successful, the only thing now players have to do is “patiently” wait for the game to release. Lucky for Shadowrun fans everywhere as Shadowrun Returns is not the only game set in the universe as there is also Shadowrun Online which will be a cross platform tactical turn-based RPG also currently being worked on.

I am curious to hear from the community your thoughts on this new classless approach developers are taking to games and which archetype you plan on starting first?