Secondly, one must have an idea of what sort of classes are to be expected in the game.
Initially, there should only be maybe two classes. I'm happier publishing mini splatbooks that deal with each seperate class than publishing one hundred damn thousand classes in the basic game. The way I see it, if you just want the basic game, then play the basic game. Simplicity has a beauty of its own.
If you like to have a thousand classes and advanced classes and subclasses and bloodlines and a hundred thousand other things going on in your games, then you're free to do that as well.
But the basic game is just that- the basic game. It sets the baseline levels of power for both warrior types and wizard types. All other classes need to both answer to this and to balance themselves in proportion to this.
The three classes that will make it into the basic game are:
I know there are a couple of, perhaps, glaring omissions. Firstly, no theif or cleric? No, not even a little.
There's no theif because, well, I side with the grognards heavily on this one. There's no special rules for sneaking and climbing walls and stealing things and all of that oh-so-theifly specialties because it delimits what the other characters can and cannot do in a way that the fighter and occultist simply don't. The fighter is defined by his ability to be good at fighting and taking damage, the occultist by his spellcraft, and the spellsword by having a mix of both. The theif, however, has skills that every other character can have as well. He is simply better at it, at the expense of being nearly useless in combat or other situations. Basically, he is a weak fighter who, by default, tends to limit the sneaking options of other characters and tends to change the balance of power. He tends to take, basically, the entire trap-finding, lock-picking, chest opening dungeon aspect out and convert it from a roleplaying experience to an excersize in dice rolling.
It's for the same reason that I dislike the World of Darkness scheme of having stats for social encounters. A discussion should be roleplayed based on the characters and the real merits or disadvantages of the argument, not rolled and determined by character sheets.
In other words, for the same reasons that I would want for a character to actually roleplay an encounter as opposed to rolling Persuasion vs Stubbornness and then going on with the game.
And as for the cleric- why, he's right there, with a different name and a different flavor! A fighting man with magical skills? That's the Spellsword to a tee. Sure, he's not limited to blunt weapons and healing magic, but that's part of the fun. Since a Spellsword can only use one Weapon Group and Two schools of magic instead of Four, a Spellsword can certainly be played as a traditional cleric. Or he could be a Abysnian Blood-Channeler wielding the characteristic black-iron halberd. Or he could be a Harkannite Stormtrooper, casing fire magic ahead of himself while he charges forward behind his sword and shield.