Coming to the end of this play test and I'm still reflecting on what I've seen and learned. Admittedly we really only ran the gamut of levels 1-3, but those are important levels for a fantasy heart-breaker because they introduce the system and because most game mechanics are at least touched on. In the future I will be happy to get into lessons from mid-level play but for now it's enough to process. I think that the fighter class is pretty good and them fighters seem to be able to do some smash and bash. The magic classes are pretty good I think - I do need to do more work on their spells but I think the classes themselves are mostly good. I do know that I had some fundamental problems with the Hunter and the Rogue classes however.
The Hunter class worked pretty good related to the Survival skill, but I have a problem with the combat bonuses. I think that without the second ranged attack it would not have worked at all but I can't help thinking that the hunter is too powerful if allowed to use a ranged weapon all the time in combat. I'm seriously thinking of either removing the attack bonus perk for ranged weapons. Barring that I have to figure out some way to limit the use of ranged weapons in combat because otherwise hunters will only ever use ranged weapons and so get all the benefits of a fighter in combat. The problem is; without some sort of engagement and/or attack of opportunity rule it is hard to keep characters engaged in a melee and they can simply dance around the room each turn using ranged attacks. I can try to discourage this or I can ignore it and simply give hunters two attacks but remove the attack bonus for ranged weapons - leaving them with the same attack bonus as a Cleric or a Rogue. Simpler is usually better but I want to meditate on it some more anyway, maybe get some input from the players.
As for the Rogue - they simply don't seem to have enough...something. Of all the classes they get the least perks - the advantage of using DEX for any weapon is offset by the fact that most players will use a weapon suited to their bonuses anyway. I even thought of merging the Rogue and Hunter class but I really want to avoid this. I thought of a couple things I could try to make the Rogue work, one was to give the rogue more free skill points on advancement - this would reinforce the Jack-of-all-trades feel and lead to some interesting builds. For example, instead of giving them one skill point per level and a subterfuge bump every three levels, just give them 2 skill points to spend every level. Rogue could be the super class for all the would be sages, the con-men, the merchants and the thieves. They would be the most customizable class in any case as you would be able to sock points into any of the skills you wanted to bump. Rogues would likely be the kings of the non-combat sphere, but that might not be bad. The other idea would be to figure out another class ability like the sneak attack. This one is more traditional (the old thieves skills bit) so would probably be easy to implement, but it doesn't fit with the design principle of streamline as much as the skill point idea, however it does fit with the other design principle of interesting .