I’ve been discussing this preface with a friend of mine. Altough not a powergamer, he was (and still is) a veteran gamemaster whom I often consult with when it comes to more sensible subjects like this one. The turning point of our discussion had been scenarios bundled with professions, whereas the conclusion has been that having a background along with few specializations is in fact - a character subclass.
Let’s set it off with answering a simple question:
“How does one resemble a subclass amongst known character classes?”
Let’s reminescence “Gladiator”, the Oscar-winning spectacle with plenty of action scenes. A high-ranking Roman officer, which is perhaps the textbook definition for a reasonable Fighter character, is captured and therefore forced to drop his profession for another, not so different subclass. His choice is not accidental - he could’ve oriented towards the Barbarian portion of his Fighter class experience or become more subtle and cunning (Rogue) - but he makes a deliberate decision to take a high road back to Rome in order to face his adversary.
If he was a trained soldier that followed a different path to ultimate freedom, I must ask another question:
“Could the pre-cataclysmic Fast Food Cook adapt to a more suitable subclass?”
Let’s take an angle, rather an innocent one, on the abovementioned Gladiator character subclass. We oughta perceive the exact moment the change occurs, going from a class to a (more dedicated) subclass. The (primary) test of his skills is followed by a change in style; he focuses on a weapon, develops a stance in order to adapt to the atmosphere in the arena. He becomes “The Spaniard”, as he entertains the crowds; his reputation grows, but his leadership abilities from an early period prove to be crucial when finishing his quest.
The Arena Champion feat he acquired, amongst severeal others, makes him suitable for his commander role once again.
If the focus is on the development aspect of his subclass, a clear distinction pops up, whereas the freedom is an achievement accomplished through survival “in the ropes”. Even though he has some ability to shape the Fame portion of development, the Rank which follows him all the way to the great Colloseum in Rome recursively depends on the attitude of the audience (“the crowd”) but also time.
The Spaniard can make no such decision as to challenge one champion or another for the title - Venues, therefore Time dictates the pace of his Subclass Skill Level(s).
This is where the Subclass system becomes interesting for the CataDDA player!
Post-cataclysmic survival is The Challenge, whereas Time is the primary development factor.
In other words, it’s important how long you’re going to shake it, if you’re going to actually make it.
To make it work anyhow, let’s recall the professions - therefore the mechanism that “works” the characters into the CataDDA game.
It’s important to hereby mention that the players choose professions in order to speed up their in-game development and achieve certain goals. Therefore, an athletic character chooses a fitting sports profession, whilst the perceptive + dexterous choice might propose a less physical occupation where the right tool put in good use makes the difference between survival and a threat to his/her very life.