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Ah, the RPG. The game genre that offers the player a mighty wealth of character choices. When you think about it, however, most Western RPGs offer three major choices of character specialization:

Likely, there will be builds that allow the player to mix and match elements of the three paths, but usually, it boils down to strength, stealth, and sorcery.

These may include:

  • Fighter+ Thief - Glass Cannon: A quick and powerful individual who does not want to get hit. May also be a Bare-Fisted Monk if he relies on unarmed martial arts rather than weapons and armor. However, if he has all the strengths of both and another weakness to off-set the balance. May be a Lightning Bruiser.
  • Fighter+ Mage - Magic Knight: Combines the power of might and magic to deadly effect.
  • Thief+ Mage - Trickster: Takes advantage of the mage's utility spells such as shapeshifting, illusion-casting, and invisibility to get the best angle on a situation.
  • Fighter+ Thief+ Mage - Jack of All Stats: A jack of all trades that risks being a Master of None if his skills don't have synergy.

This trend stretches back to the grandpappy of all RPGs, Dungeons and Dragons. First edition offered players three main character classes: Fighter (actually called the Fighting Man at first), Thief, and Magic User (it also featured Clerics who healed the party, but modern games prefer to use abundant healing items). As a result, a lot of RPGs have typically followed in their footsteps.

In a Freudian Trio situation, expect the passionate, hard-hitting Fighter to be the Id. The studious, knowledge-seeking Mage to be the Superego. With the graceful, opportunistic Thief serving lastly as the Ego. However this isn't always the case.

See also An Adventurer Is You for a breakdown of the party-based RPG (especially the MMORPG). See also, Action Hero, Science Hero, and Guile Hero.

Examples of Fighter, Mage, Thief include:


Action Adventure

Adventure Game

  • The Quest for Glory series has Fighter, Magic User (renamed Wizard in later games) and Thief. Unlocking cross-class abilities is possible at the expense of same-class starting abilities, though some quests are class-specific and criticized for it. It's possible to earn the class of Paladin, which amounts to a Fighter who does good things rather than just kill stuff, and has a Flaming Sword to kill stuff with. Appropriately but oddly, there's at least one Paladin quest which is done for the sake of right, with no reward.
    • QfG loves to hammer home the Paladin's need to be selfless: each game, starting with the second one, has a least one quest where you're either offered a reward that you should turn down, or you're not offered a reward at all. QfG4 even has a quest where the quest isn't given to you; you just hear the basics and you're expected to run with it.
      • It is possible to become a paladin if you're playing as a thief, but do any actual thieving (except to steal an item needed to defeat an elemental) and you've lost your chance.
    • Also, Wizard isn't a class, it's an title for academically certified Magic Users, earned in the second game upon graduation from the Wizard's Institute of Technocery. (As, if you haven't graduated from the school, you shouldn't be able to complete the second or subsequent games as a Magic User. This becomes part of a "new" character's assumed backstory.)

Beat'Em Up

  • Castle Crashers has three ways to fight, each with its own stat: melee weapons, ranged weapons like bows, and magic spells.
  • Demon Stone has three playable characters you can switch between at any time: Rhannek, an armored warrior who fights with a two-handed sword. Zhai, a quick, stealthy half-drow rogue. And Illius, a sorcerer.

Collectible Card Game

  • Shadow Era uses these as three of the possible kinds of Heroes in the game.

First-Person Shooter

  • System Shock 2 opens with the main character, a soldier, deciding whether to join the Marines (which specializes in combat), the Navy (which specializes in technical skills), or the OSA (which specializes in psychic powers), but there's nothing restricting a player from becoming adept with any particular skill. It's entirely possible to have a super-hacker psychic, for example.
    • Escalating skill point costs do restrict the player. While everyone can feasibly get a smattering of cross-training in other class abilities, attempting to be an across-the-board Jack-of-all-trades really will leave you Master of None. It may be possible to have a super-hacker psychic, it's not advisable except as a Self-Imposed Challenge.
  • Although most people like to forget, the First-Person Shooter genre also utilize that concept of Fighter, Mage, Thief via its own weapons and equipment. The assault-rifle, shotgun, and RPG-launcher are to the fighter, in that they rely on raw-power more than accuracy and lightness. The submachine-gun, handgun, and sniper-rifle are to the thief, in that they rely on either precision or lightweight to make-up for their lack of any raw-power. And the ordnance, tech, and medkits are to the mage, in that they rely on high intelligence to be used properly. This trope would otherwise be called "Soldier Scientist Sniper" if fantasy hadn't gotten there first.
    • Team Fortress 2 does this as well with its nine classes. Loosely speaking, the Heavy, Soldier, and Demoman are fighters--possessing decent HP and lots of power, but lower speeds. The Scout, Sniper, and Spy are thieves, being weaker, but use speed and stealth to make up for it. The Pyro, Engineer, and Medic are mages, being more supporting classes with a medley of abilities that aren't wholly focused on direct combat.
  • Hexen allows you to choose one of three characters to play the game with. While the Fighter and the Mage play the trope straight, the Cleric does not act like a typical thief - his abilities are more of a combination of the Fighter and Mage.

MMORPGs

  • In Kingdom of Loathing, there are three main stats: Muscle, Mysticality, and Moxie (in that order), and two classes "attuned" to each stat. The fact that the whole game is basically a parody of the RPG genre makes this a no-brainer.
  • Phantasy Star Online has three classes: Hunter, Ranger, and Force. Hunters use melee weapons, Rangers use ranged weapons, and Forces use Techniques.
  • Many of the classes in World of Warcraft are either these, or combinations of these:
    • Warrior = Fighter
    • Rogue = Thief
    • Mage = Mage
    • Paladin = Fighter+ Mage with an emphasis on melee attacks and healing/defensive spells
    • Shaman = Fighter+ Mage with an emphasis on spells
    • Druid = Fighter+ Mage+ Thief (depending on which form it's in)
    • Priest = Mage with an emphasis on healing magic
    • Hunter = Thief, but less sneaky and with more emphasis on ranged weapons and pets
    • Warlock = Mage, but tougher and with more emphasis on demon pets
    • Death Knight = Fighter+ Mage, with an emphasis on melee attacks and offensive spells
      • Note that Death Knights in Warcraft 3 are literally Evil Counterparts to Paladins, even referred to such in the manual, hence the similarities.
  • La Tale originally had four character classes, those being the warrior and knight, fighters who specialized in offense and defense respectively, and then wizards and explorers, who fit the stereotypical mage and thief mold. They later added engineers which are something of a Jack of All Trades.
  • Dragonica has 4 base classes: Warrior, Magician, Thief, and Archer. Later in the game, you can branch off to a different class.
  • Guild Wars 2 divides the classes into "soldiers", "adventurers", and "scholars" depending on the type of armor available. Though characters are in general quite flexible in roles, the two "soldier" classes are somewhat more direct combat and melee focused, the scholars are more magic focused, and the adventurer classes are all somewhat more range or quick movement focused.
  • Age of Conan directly divides its classes into 4 archetypes, "warriors", 'rogues", "priests", and "mages". Classes within these roles get the same set of tortage quests and a talent tree in common.

Platform Game

  • Some games in Wizards and Warriors series let you choose between a knight, wizard and a thief.
  • Castlevania: Circle of the Moon has a version of this. After beating the game in "Vampire Hunter" mode (which has no perks) you get a code to change your class to Magician mode in the next playthrough. Beating Magician unlocks a code for another class (and so on).
    • 2nd playthrough= Magician Mode (High MP and all abilities from beginning, but low Strength and Defense)
    • 3rd Playthrough= Fighter Mode (High Strength and Defense, but no magic)
    • 4th Playthrough= Shooter Mode (Increases Hearts, which are used for long range attacks)
    • 5th Playthrough= Thief Mode (Low everything, but insane luck)
  • In Trine, the Mage can create boxes to use as platforms and use telekinesis to move objects; the Thief can swing on certain ceilings and use her arrow to shoot targets from afar; and the Fighter is your basic bash-things-with-your-sword character.

Real Time Strategy

  • Warcraft III uses this as the base for the RPG-based Hero units. Heroes with the main attribute of Strength tend to be front-line brawlers with lots of hit points, Agility heroes are either sneaky types or ranged, and those that focus on Intelligence are, without exception, casters with powerful spells but not much in terms of physical damage.
    • The Undead heroes subverts this, due to the inherent fragileness of the faction itself. Both of its strenght-based heroes, the Death Knight and Dreadlord, are relatively squishy compared to the other factions. One of the better tactics for the Death Knight, for instance, is to stay out of melee fights entirely, taking advantage of their above-average movement speed to keep him out of harms reach and healing friendly units or sniping enemies using Death Coil. Played straight with the Crypt Lord hero added in the expansion, which has a passive that increases his armor and reflects damage, in addition an ultimate that heals him.
    • There IS one melee int hero, the Goblin Tinker. No ranged STR heroes, though.
  • And when you think about the more modern real-time strategy games like Starcraft II, each of the units are classified into the following:
    • Fighter=Slow-but-strong units like tanks.
    • Mage=Ranged splash-damage units like artillery and naval-ships.
    • Thief=Fast-but-weak units like the ATVs and aircraft.

Role Playing Game

  • Planescape: Torment: the Nameless One begins the game as a Fighter, and can remember the skills needed to become a Thief or a Mage by respectively speaking to the thief Ratbone and to the midwife Old Mebbeth (who will first send you on a set of Fetch Quests that help create your spellbook, and which you can realise taught you some secret lessons about magic if your Intelligence or Wisdom is at least better then average), both of whom are in the Ragpicker's Square. The Nameless One can only be one class at a time (though a bug does exist to make multiclassing possible), but once having "remembered" the other classes can switch between gaining experience by talking to party members of the appropriate classes. The other characters consist of Vhailor (Fighter), Morte (Fighter), Nordom ("Archer" - that is, a Fighter who uses twin crossbows, thanks to having four arms), Dak'kon (Fighter/Mage), Annah (Fighter/Thief), Ignus (Pyromaniac Mage) and Fall-From-Grace ("Cleric" - that is, a Mage who uses healing spells).
  • In Pokémon Red and Blue, the "Fighter" Ground, Rock, Steel, Dark and Fighting types were typically associated with high Attack or Defense, "special" types (Water, Fire, Grass, Ghost, Psychic) with high Special Attack and Special Defense, and Flying and Bug types had generally high Speed stat and attacks that allowed them to act fast or evade attacks. With the appearance of more and more Pokèmon, the type combinations multiplied mixing and matching these properties more and more.
    • In one particular battle in Pokemon Rangers Shadows Of Almia you face three bosses that fit perfectly in the categories: Rhyperior (slow-moving but resistant and with an array of close-range attack), Magmortar (Less HP, but capable of using devastating long-range and area attacks) and Gallade (Smaller, faster, and regularly teleporting away from danger)
  • The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion generally tacks in these three directions, though some of the builds you're offered at the beginning are a blend of two or three. The leveling system generally means that every character winds up the pinnacle of all 3, especially in games before Morrowind, where a bunch of skills leveled even if you weren't trying to practice them - Stealth, Medical, Backstab, Critical Hit, and Running and Jumping, for some examples.
    • TES's skill breakdown demonstrates how this trope can be carried on through a purely skill-based character system. Though there are classes presented, the player can arbitrarily select any skills up to the limit and define the class with any name, and that class will still be predominantly combat, magic or stealth-based. Any class's leaning is subject to change at any time regardless of the name, but because of TES's skillpoint leveling system, it's as a result of what the player does. If you become more fighter-like it's because you're acting more fighter-like.
      • Although normally invisible to the player, when you start modding around NPCs, espescially if you are modding in partners/followers, they strictly grow in skill according to their class. Fortunately, you can custom-build classes for them, as well, to cherry-pick the abilities of your companions.
    • The Elder Scrolls also has an in-universe example of this trope in the form of the three "guardian constellations" in the in-game zodiac. Each confer benefits suited to their corresponding play styles.
  • Fable I allows you to invest experience into Strength (health, damage resistance, and melee weapons), Skill (archery, bartering, and stealth), and Will (magic powers).
    • Fable II streamlines things further, though still into Strength (melee), Skill (ranged) and Will (magic). It also has heroes as NPCs that each personify one of these paths, so the Hero of Strength is big and muscular, the Hero of Will is glowing with magic power, and the Hero of Skill is tall and lanky, just like how the character will look if they specialize in a particular path.
      • Not like anyone would specialize in a single path unless they wanted a Self-Imposed Challenge. As Exp is available from numerous sources, most people will specialize in all areas, which eventually makes the character look like a giant (Skill) glowing (Will) barrel (Strength) with arms and legs (same goes if you're playing as a female).
  • Ultima has the stats of strength, dexterity, and intellect, with the three Principles each related to one stat (Strength = Courage, Int = Truth, Dex = Love). The classes associated with the virtues derived from the principles also mostly work out, with the meleeist Fighter for Valor (courage), pure-caster Mage for Honesty (truth), ranged fighter Bard for Compassion (love), Magic Knight Paladin for Honor (truth and courage), more-agile fighter Tinker for Sacrifice (love and courage), more-agile caster Druid for Justice (truth and love), jack-of-all-trades Ranger for Spirituality (all three), and mostly-worthless Shepherd for Humility (none!)
    • Ultima IX gives you starting equipment based on what class you choose. The super-awesome Ranger gets an immediate boost to the three main stats, but crappy equipment. The super-crappy Shepherd, which gets no boost at all to the three main stats, gets equipment that other classes can't get for a least four or five hours. It pays to handicap yourself, apparently.
    • While Ultima I and II and the standard roster of fighter, cleric, thief and wizard, Ultima III expanded this to include not only RPG standbys such as the barbarian and druid, but also the illusionist and lark.
  • Jade Empire has the stats of Body (health and strength), Mind (raises Focus, which allows you to enact Bullet Time and use special or non-mastered weapons), and Spirit (raises Chi, which allows you to heal and use magical martial arts). It's not a traditional breakdown, as there's little stealth involved, but it does provide a basic breakdown between strength, speed, and sorcery.
  • Because magic doesn't exist in the Fallout universe, the three basic character builds are Fighter (punches and guns), Thief (stealth and stealing), and Diplomat (talking your enemies to death). The first two games offered 3 pre-built characters fitting each type. Of course, the open-ended character system allows you to mix and match attributes as you like.
  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura: The game does not have pure character classes, instead having more open-ended character building like in Fallout (see above), but there are still three basic builds: fighter (put the bulk of your points into combat skills), thief (distribute points broadly among stealth and social skills), and wizard (concentrate on willpower, intelligence and magickal skils). Technology is a unique fourth option; it functions as a prototypical Item Crafting system, and technological aptitude interferes with your magickal aptitude. (However, there's no such thing as a "pure" technologist; a tech-user must use his technological skills to enhance his abilities as a fighter or thief.)
  • Knights of the Old Republic uses a modified version of the D&D D20 system. Basically, a character can have 3 kinds of features that the user specifically selects: skills, feats, and Force Powers. Each of the 6 classes in the game focuses on one of these. Soldiers focus on feats, while Scouts and Scoundrels focus on different sets of skills. The Jedi classes work like this too, only adding Force Powers to the mix. Guardians are basically Fighters with a few Force Powers; they get lots of access to feats. Consulars are Wizards with lightsabers. And Sentinels are Thieves that don't steal (skill-focused).
    • The sequel's Prestige Classes play it even straighter, essentially boiling down to a combat monster, an arch-wizard and a stealthy assassin each with some Jedi or Sith flavour text.
  • Dokapon Kingdom, a hybrid board game and RPG, has these as the three default classes. All weapons can be equipped by any class, but certain ones grant special bonuses.
  • The early Geneforge series by Spiderweb Software explicitly follows this trope in its class system, which offers a choice between "Guardian" (Fighter), "Agent" (Thief, albeit with combat magic) and "Shaper" (Mage). Later parts of the series have added new classes, however.
  • Kingdom Hearts gives you a similar choice at the beginning, between Fighter, Mage, and Defender. The latter isn't as strong or agile as the Fighter, but learns defense and drop related abilities earlier, and has more item slots. The game also makes you give up one of the three, giving the feel of a bit more depth in the trio set-up.
    • Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep is a straighter example. It has three Magic Knight protagonists, each with a different specialty: Terra specializes in strength, Ven specializes in speed, and Aqua specializes in magic.
  • Dragon Age goes in this direction with its classes, having the typical Fighter-Rogue-Mage setup. The playable races are also set up in a similar pattern, with the magical elves, hardy dwarves, and average humans.
    • The classical lineup is particularly obvious in the Leliana's Song DLC, where your party consists of exactly three characters: warrior (Tug, who is, subversively, not the leader, and Silas), mage (Sketch), and thief (Leliana herself). Other DLCs tend to remove one of the three parts: Golems of Amgarrak gives you no real mage (unless your PC is one), while Witch Hunt features no rogues (ditto).
  • The original Diablo provided a breakdown of Warrior, Rogue, and Sorcerer, with later games adding more classes.
    • Diablo is also a partial subversion in that any character can potentially learn any magic and use any equipment.
    • Played straight in Diablo III with the followers; Kormac the Templar, Lyndon the Scoundrel, and Eirena the Enchantress.
  • Torchlight: Destroyer is fighter, Vanquisher is thief (archer/gunslinger), Alchemist is mage. Like Diablo, classes are fairly customizable, e.g. you can easily make a magic knight, a sneaky sorcerer, or Jack of All Trades out of the Alchemist.
  • Final Fantasy I has the original forms for several of the classes found (in various mutations) throughout the series. Given its dependence on the original D&D, it's hardly surprising.
    • Fighter = Fighter
    • Thief = Thief
    • (Black) Mage = Mage
    • (White) Mage = Cleric
    • (Red) Mage = Magic Knight
    • Monk = Fighter
    • In addition, the Class Change that marked the midpoint of the game would give the magic-users access to more powerful spells and the monk a better attack, but would also grant Magic Knight status to the Fighter (who became the Knight and could use White Magic) and the Thief (who got a major upgrade as the Ninja and could use Black Magic).
  • Mass Effect does this with a little sci-fi flavor, dividing proficiency into three categories, with respect to this trope's name: Combat, Biotics and Tech. You can be a pure class, or a class hybridized with any two:
    • Soldier (pure Combat): Jack of All Trades (a gun for any situation), or Mighty Glacier (most durable of all player classes)
    • Engineer (pure Tech): Debuffer, Master of Unlocking
    • Adept (pure Biotics): Mind Over Matter (though the hybridized biotic classes are too, to a lesser extent)
    • Vanguard (Combat/Biotics): Magic Knight
    • Infiltrator (Combat/Tech): Glass Cannon Trickster
    • Sentinel (Tech/Biotics): Jack of All Stats or The Tank, depending on how you play the class.
    • In the third game, the only three squad-mates you're guaranteed to have the entire game fall into this - James (weapons), Liara (biotics) and EDI (tech).
  • Played straight in The Tomb of the Task Maker: fighters can use the most weapons, magicians can use the most spells, and thieves can steal items and pick locks.
  • Fate Extra Allows the player to choose one of three servants to fight for him/her.
  • Kingdoms of Amalur Reckoning has three paths that you can choose to pursue. However, by putting enough points into the paths, you can unlock a different path that gives you different bonuses, such as becoming a Mighty Glacier Magic Knight or a Glass Cannon version. You can also switch between paths whenever you want.
  • Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology has four basic classes you can choose, and three of them are a Fighter, a Mage and a Thief. The fourth is a Cleric, which is basically a mage with healing magic.
  • Dark Souls: Through stat allocation, it is possible to role-play your character this way, throughout all three games. The abundance of different weapons, spells and armors, make this game series perfect to experiment with. Though in terms of being a Thief or Mage, you may want to consider putting on some defense. Because these games are infamous, for their ridiculously overpowered enemies.

Strategy Game

  • Lords of Magic: Warrior, Mage, and Thief are the three types of champions (single unit characters that lead armies) in its gameplay, and much of the rest of gameplay is influenced by this division. Unit production buildings are divided along these lines as well, with a "barracks" producing infantry, cavalry, ships, and warrior champions, a "thieves Guild" producing thieves, ranged units, and scouts, and a "mage tower" used to produce mages and magical creatures, as well as having an associated building for spell research. Each chamopion can be used to "train" at its associated building, improving the experience of units produced there, and each type of unit uses different types of resources to produce and maintain depending on its category.
  • In the iOS game Highborn, the three Heroes are Archie, a knight/paladin; Enzo, a wizard; and Trillian, a rogue.


Non-video game examples:

Anime and Manga

  • The three main heroes of A Certain Magical Index: Touma Kamijou, who relies on his Anti-Magic fist and inherenttoughness to beat bad guys into submission (Fighter); Accelerator, who is a super genius and relies on his Superpower Lottery (Mage); and Shiage Hamazura, who is a skilled fighter like Touma but relies more on stealth, tactics, and guns(Thief).
  • Zigzagged in Digimon Adventure 02 for the Jogress Digivolution.
    • Paildramon is balanced in both offense, defense, and mobility, making him the Fighter. One of his Mega Level Digivolutions is even called Imperialdramon Fighter mode.
    • Silphymon trades off defense for aven greater mobility and agility while also focuses on techniques, but cannot take as much punishment as Paildramon, making him the Thief.
    • Shakkoumon has highest offense and defense of the trio but has lowest mobility and also plays support role of nullifying enemy's attacks for the team, making him the Stone Wall Mage.
  • In The Powerpuff Girls, Buttercup is the physically strongest member of the trio (Fighter), Blossom has her smarts and ice powers (Mage), and Bubbles has her charms and the ability to speak any language and to communicate with animals (Thief).
    • In the Japanese adaptation Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z, Buttercup, who now wields a hammer, keeps her spot as the Fighter; while Bubbles and Blossom swap places, making the former the staff-wielding Mage, and the latter the yoyo-wielding Thief.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, the three main duelist protagonists, Yugi Muto, Seto Kaiba, and Joey Wheeler, each center their respective decks to fit a certain playing style. Yugi's deck is very adaptable and focuses on strategy (Mage), Kaiba's deck is loaded with powerful cards and monsters and focuses on strength (Fighter), while Joey's deck uses a lot of chance-based cards and focuses on luck (Thief). As if it gets any better, Yugi's signature monster is the Dark Magician and Joey has a card called Graverobber which allows him to steal a card from his opponent's graveyard, saving him on several occasions.
  • The Three Musketeers from Accel World: Takumu Mayuzumi / Cyan Pile (Fighter), Chiyuri Kurashima / Lime Bell(Mage), and Haruyuki Arita / Silver Crow (Thief).
  • Subverted in Lyrical Nanoha where all combatants are mages. We have Nanoha (the Fighter+Thief who uses big and bigger lasers, but they need time to charge; she has also the best defense and she is a Combat Pragmatist), Fate (the Thief+Fighter who is the fastest and she is the only one who is specialized in melee combat, but has a poor armor; her Morph Weapon can also transform into a BFS), and Hayate (the Mage who is a Person of Mass Destruction, but also a Glass Cannon).
  • Naruto:
    • The three main fighting styles are Taijutsu (Fighter), Ninjutsu (Mage), and Genjutsu (Thief).
    • Many of the three-man squads can also be divided up this way, although some characters have traits of more than one class. This is possibly intentional, as the squads are designed to either balance out or specialise in certain fields.
    • Perhaps the straightest example in the series is the Sannin. Jiraiya with his perverted ways of getting "research" by peeking on women (Thief). Tsunade is physically superior between both men, capable of permanent damage (Fighter). Orochimaru and his wide range of jutsu, that had saved him from death on numerous occasions (Mage).
    • The Three Great Dojutsu:
      • Byakugan: Grants the user X-Ray vision in order to see chakra and vital points even through solid objects. However it possesses a blind spot, that when carefully timed leaves the user open to a critical hit. (Fighter)
      • Rinnegan: A legendary mutation of the eyes that boosts the abilities of the user to godly levels. One of it's most infamous techniques, is it's assimilation to other eyes creating a shared field of vision and a Hive Mind. However it comes at the cost of lethal amounts of chakra, that when push comes to shove can kill the user. (Mage)
      • Sharingan: Inherited primarily by the Uchiha Clan, allows the user to cast malign illusions, manipulate the reality of others and even teleport themselves. The affects of the illusions are very real causing pain, madness and even death. It could even grant the user the potential to copy other jutsu, like a human flash drive. However if overused, inflicts permanent blindness and harsh fatigue. (Thief)
  • In the penultimate battle of Bleachs arrancar arc, Aizen fights against three people. Isshin Kurosaki mainly attacks with straight sword strikes, Urahara with kido and careful planning, and Yoruichi with sneak attacks.
  • The treasure hunters from Fairy Tail Zero fit this before they learn magic. Warrod is a Mighty Glacier who can plow through an armed crowd, Yuri uses lightning bombs, and Precht is a Dance Battler who favors chainblades.
  • It isn't long before they pick up more friends, but the initial crew of Log Horizon follows this. Naotsugu plays a Guardian, soaking up damage; Shiroe plays an Enchanter, laying buffs and debuffs; and Akatsuki plays an Assassin, hitting the baddies hard and fast.
  • The Barbarois in Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust are a trio of mutants that fit this trope nicely: the werewolf Mashira is the Fighter, the shape-shifting Caroline is the Mage and the shadowbinder Bengé is the thief.
  • Etienne, Nicolas, and Guy from Innocents Shounen Juujigun make up one. Etienne is a chosen child with the power of making miracles through Godly force, Nicolas is a would be knight with a lot of brute power, but little finesse or brains, and Guy is a literal former thief with underhanded tactics and less morals than Nicolas.

Tabletop Games

  • The True20 RPG system, based off of the D20 system for Dungeons and Dragons, provides the three basic classes of warrior, expert, and adept.
  • Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game has four classes; Fighter, Thief, Magic-User and Cleric
    • Swords and Wizardry uses five classes based on OD&D: the Fighting-Man (or Fighter), the Magic-User, the Cleric, the Dwarven Warrior (who was much like the fighting-man) and the Elven Adventurer (who could choose whether to be a fighter or a magic-user once a day).
    • Labyrinth Lord, another old-style D&D retroclone, uses the Cleric, the Fighter, the Magic-User, and the Thief. In addition, the other races are classes in their own: the Dwarf (basically a Fighter, who is limited to level 12), the Elf (a Magic Knight who combines the powers of a Fighter and a Magic-User and is limited to 10th level), and the Halfling (small fighters with a few thief abilities who are limited to level 8).
  • Werewolf the Apocalypse somewhat does this with the five Auspices. Ragabashes are the thief-type with gifts related to stealth and deception, Theurges and Galliards could be considered mages as their gifts don't give direct combat ability but can act as buffers/good for working with spirits to make magical effects, and Philodoxes and Ahrouns as the fighters with Philodox gifts more focused on taking it and shrugging it off and Ahroun gifts more focused on dishing out punishment for extended periods.
  • Exalted does it, too--White Wolf has a thing for the number 5, and most types of Exalted have 5 subtypes. For example, the 5 castes of Solar Exalted are Dawn (Warriors), Zenith (Leaders), Twilight (Sorcerers/Smart Guys), Nights (Thieves), and Eclipse (Masters of Social Fu).
    • It's been noted that White Wolf games that stick to the five-by-five system usually have a familiar breakdown for the social splats: Leader, Warrior, Mystic, Rebel, and Spy. Werewolf: The Forsaken goes Blood Talons (Warrior), Bone Shadows (Mystics), Hunters in Darkness (Spy), Iron Masters (Rebel), and Storm Lords (Leader). Mage: The Awakening goes Adamantine Arrow (Warrior), Free Council (Rebel), Guardians of the Veil (Spy), Mysterium (Mystic), and Silver Ladder (Leader). Vampire: The Requiem divides by the clans of Ventrue (Leader), Gangrel (Mystic/Warrior), Mekhet (Spy), Nosferatu (Rebel), Daeva (Warrior/Leader). Promethean: The Created has Ferrum (Warrior), Mercurius (Mystic), and Stannum (Rebel) with Aurum (embracing humanity and mortals) and Cuprum (remaining isolated from humanity and touching on the inner self) blending elements of Leader and Spy.
    • From Exalted you have the Lunar who are the exception to the White Wolf usual trope of the Five-Man Band by sticking more closely to this trope. The Full Moon (Fighter), the No Moon (Mage) and the Changing Moon (Thief).
  • In the Dungeons and Dragons Forgotten Realms setting there were three adventurers who quested to overthrow Jergal, the god of discord, death, and the dead. They were a warlord named Bane, an assassin named Bhaal, and a necromancer named Myrkul, making them an evil version of this trope. Each of them ended up being freely given an aspect of the god's power, as he'd become bored with the job.
  • There's an indie roleplaying game called Warrior, Rogue, and Mage that fills this trope perfectly.

Comic Books

  • The three main characters in the Birds of Prey comic each fit these archetypes: Oracle, who, with her hacking abilities, can gain knowledge and harm enemies from a great distance, but, being a paraplegic, is not as good (thought not completely helpless) in close combat, is the wizard; Black Canary, who, being the best martial artist of the three, and having the canary cry for dealing with more powerful enemies, is the best close combatant, is the fighter (although her ability to soak up damage is not appreciably greater than the others'); Huntress, being the best at and most reliant upon stealth, and using a crossbow as her primary weapon, is the thief.

Literature

  • Unsurprisingly, a number of Dungeons and Dragons novels contain this trope:
    • Vampire of the Mists has Jander Sunstar (fighter, although he has some supernatural abilities, and is quite stealthy, from being a vampire), Sasha (spellcaster, although he's actually a cleric, not a mage), and Leisl (thief).
    • War of the Twins has Caramon Majere (fighter), Raistlin Majere (mage), Crysania of Tarinius (cleric, which, again, is a different kind of spellcaster in D&D), and Tasslehoff Burrfoot (thief, but don't you dare call him one).
  • In Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, each of the Hallows seems to fall into one of the archetypes here: The Elder Wand (fighter), the Resurrection Stone (mage), and the Invisibility Cloak (thief).

Live Action Television

  • The Minbari on Babylon5 have the warrior, worker, and religious castes.
  • On Leverage, Eliot, Hardison, and Parker largely fulfill these roles, though Hardison is a hacker instead of a mage.

Web Comics

  • Problem Sleuth, which was designed to imitate a video game, has its three main characters match up with the archetypes: Ace Dick is the Fighter, Pickle Inspector is the Mage, and Problem Sleuth is the Thief.
    • Defined by their high Vim, Imagination and Pulchritude, respectively.

Western Animation

  • In My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, the ponies are divided into Earth Ponies, who tend to be stronger than average (Fighter), Unicorns, who have the most powerful magic (Mage), and Pegasi, who are Fragile Speedsters in the air (Thief).
    • Interestingly, prior to the founding of Equestria, the Pegasus tribe was the Proud Warrior Race.
  • The Galaxy Rangers: Zach and Shane are the Fighters (and both the career military types). Niko is the Mage (Psychic Powers and a Fragile Speedster compared to the guys), and Doc is a classic Thief (breaking and entering, espionage, and computer hacking).

Real Life

  • When you consider the United States military branches, they also fall into one of those three categories:
    • Fighter=Army and Marines
    • Mage=Navy and Coast Guard
    • Thief=Air Force
  • The authority of your average civilized society may count as well:
    • Fighter=The Military, Debt Collectors, Bouncers and Riot Squads
    • Mage=Politicians, Doctors, Mayors and Royalty
    • Thief=Local Police, Surveillance Officers and Secret Services
  • During the early days of Japan (for example the Edo Period). The Japanese society had a hierarchy very similar to this trope, though it was significantly more cutthroat than most Western examples:
    • Fighter: Samurai/Onna-bugeisha, Shoguns, Rikishi, Rōnin
    • Mage: Shinto Monks/Priests, Miko, Emperors, Daimyō
    • Thief: Ninja

Notes

  1. In many games, the Healer/Cleric is a fourth archetype in the setup. In this case they can cast healing spells and take more damage through force fields and/or better armor, but their offensive spells might be weaker or cost more Mana
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