"What, fighters get no love? You mention clerics, magic users, etc but not the other classes. Was that just an oversight or are you restricting sages to these classes? I would prefer leaving the areas open to any class so that players can have any character concept they like. Like fighters who know about monster biology or famous arms and armour, or cultures and their military tactics, or art, science or poetry (think renaissance dandy or samurai poet), or religion and they love debating it; or thieves who know all about art and how much it is worth, or locks and mechanical devices."
Now, John's a good fellow, I have no wish to disparage the comment. He is, after all, arguing for democracy, and the principle of enabling players to participate as they like. It's noble, really.
Only, we went down this path, didn't we? This was the sentiment that began somewhere in the early 80s and gained steam through national conventions and people who wanted to listen to players complain that thier characters weren't as powerful as mages and ... well, mages, and how we had to throw open the doors and embrace skills, not classes, because skills were more individual and friendly, and everyone could be the character they wanted to be, not the characters they were forced to be. Yay. Because the game is really about how I measure up to other people, it's about how important I am, and about how my personal needs to express myself need to be incorporated right into the game, for the good of everyone! Because we know, when I get what I need, that makes me feel special, then that is always good for everyone. That's why everyone needs to get what they need, so that I can too.
And so on until 4e spills squalling out of its mother's uterus, fully deformed and quite literally 'bloodied.'
So why didn't democracy work? Well, to begin with, we began a system with skills that weren't all exactly the same value, so that power players quickly learned what were the strongest skills for the least cost. RPG character construction follows exactly the same principles as Wall Street in that regard, or any other system in which the biggest rewards are given to those prepared to be the biggest, least morally compassed dicks. This then left everyone else at the table as weaker than the biggest dicks playing, so to compensate they had to take the power options too, so that everyone's individuality ultimately became "the perfect path to sheeplehood" ... a process that was honed and refined right up through all the lovely 3.5 days.
This was then improved upon by getting rid of every skill or power that wasn't ridiculously powerful, then reducing everything in the game to meaningless proportions by giving beggars and little children living on the streets upwards of 200 hit points, and really tough monsters thousands of hit points, what with surges and special healing features and wands and god-given special compensations, until a battle between two ordinary citizens having a disagreement over bread prices could take all evening to play to its bloodied conclusion (all conclusions are necessarily bloody now, because bloody is a nice word, it works as a verb and a noun and an adverb and an adjective and ... heh heh heh, bloody - now you say it).
In reality, it isn't the expression of individuality that matters, that's just an euphemism for "When do I get what's coming to ME?" John's comment above only seems to be about nobility and players liking things and having character development about samurai's loving poetry and so on. The reality is that we see a rule like the one I proposed yesterday and a big part of our consciousness rushes towards the players in our campaign (because John was legitimately thinking about his players) suddenly moaning and complaining that the casters were getting all the pie, that the fighters and thieves and so on were getting shafted again, poor bloody fighters and their endless misery, standing in the rain and staring into the library at the mages and clerics having a great raucous time shouting phrases out of books and shimmying around in the glory of their superior knowledge. Have I no love for fighters? John asks. Hell no. Freaking brain-dead meat-shields, I hope they get a sword stuck through their middles, spilling their weak-ass crybaby intestines so they spread like a carpet for the beautiful people to walk on.
For forty years players have been pounding their chests and simpering about what their character hasn't got, what their character needs to be happy, how unfair the game system and the world is to their character, blah blah blah, and for forty years the game industry has bent over backwards in absurd ways to compensate for what amounts to a shit load of poor moral fibre and the rectitude of a rectum. This one cry and the service of it has irrevocably split the players into defensive clans, it has spoiled the continuity of the game, it has damned development, and it has now wasted two whole generations of children. And still, there is the cry, there is the damnation of any system that says, for the sake of creating individuality, some characters can do this, while some characters can't.
Never mind that this is true for every class. Never mind that the player can choose which class to play, or that options exist for a player to have more than one class at a time, so that the player can be a samurai poet (monk/bard) or a biology studying swordsman (fighter/druid) or a thief that knows about locks (um ... that would be just 'thief' - locking making is a secondary skill, not a field of knowledge). The point isn't that the player CAN be those things, the point is that the player has a right to be those things in the way the player wants to be those things. They want everything personally tailored for their personal satisfaction and their personal need, or else the thing is abusive, unloving, immoral, unacceptable and ultimately proof of poor game design.
And then everyone else, wanting no one to feel abused, answers "Yes, yes, you're right, I'm sorry, I'll redesign the game until you're happy. Okay, Veruca? Okay? Daddy loves you, yes he does! And he will buy you squirrel, any squirrel you want ..."