Why play a lumberjack? Lumberjacks favor Strength as their core trait, are highly proficient with axes, climbing, and have a variety of woodland skills without being treehugging druids or rangers. Being woodsmen, the lumberjack can also very easily have hunting and trapping in their skillset, as well as survival, metalworking, and building things. Plus, a burly character with a big ax, that can always be fun.
Downsides? Lumberjacks are not combat trained warriors, and generally do not wear armor. If a tree falls on you, no amount of plate or leather will save your life.
2. Natural Shapeshifter
What is a natural shapeshifter? It is a person who can transform into an alternate animal form, but not an intermediate 'warform' like the western style werewolf. In Tolkien's work, there were a northern people who could turn into bears. They were not rage driven killing monsters, just bear vikings who really didnt do anything. So, why play a natural shapeshifter? It's cool turning into an exotic animal like a bear, wolf, or setting specific beast. Animals can have useful inhuman skills like scent tracking, flight, etc.
Downsides? Natural shapeshifters are outsiders, and are not part of the core population, and are likely stigmatized or discriminated against. Mages love them for experimental purposes, and most animals prefer flight over fight, so they are not the best tanks and warriors.
Why play a berserker? Berserkers are combat monsters, with high damage, no weapon or armor restrictions, and when in their berserker mode, cannot feel pain, and nothing less that structural damage (removing limbs,shattering support bones) slows them down. They are the hack and slash player's dream class.
Downsides? The berserker is a manic depressive character, each battle rage is followed by recuperation, lethargy, and their body can feel a lot of pain afterwards. There is chemical and potion addiction, scarring, limping, and a high burn out rate, eventually the character will have to retire, unable to berserk rage, or will enter the final berserk, the final rage, that when they come down from, they perish.
Why play an anti-social hermit? In a fantasy setting, hermits are very likely to be oracles, sages, or very specialized magi. The Hermit will have a very specific magic spell focus, and their entire spellbook will be built around it. The hermit will never become an archmage, or other high ranking magic user, as they are more concerned with their art, and less with politics and acquiring magic power. The first thought that comes to mind is a hermit summoner who's entire spellbook is based around summoning bears. War-bears, polar bears, celestial bears, etc.
Downsides? Hermits do not have social skills, and their specialization in magic requires a larger than normal spread of magic they are not familiar with and cannot use. Where a mage might have 1-2 schools of magic they are ignorant of, the hermit is likely to be ignorant of half of the available schools.
5. Constable/City Guard
Why play a constable or guard? The civic minded constable mixes investigative skills with combat skills, along with few armor restrictions, and can very easily become a jack of all trades character. Picked up a bit of magic from the Mage's Guild, a little sleight of hand from dealing with the thieves guild, and won a few magic trinkets when we found the missing princess before the Adventurers Guild lads did.
Downsides? Constables are required to be lawful good or lawful neutral alignment, and their weapons and armor are going to be modest. No spiked armor or Count Dracula Deathfang Heart-ripper swords. They also have the drawback of Duty, limiting how often and how long they can be away from their day jobs. They are also generally considered inferior to Adventurers-Upon-Return.
6. Knife Thrower
Why play a Knife Thrower? As a pillar of circus and daredevil performances, the knife thrower is really good at throwing knives with precision. While functioning at shorter range than an archer, the knife thrower can use acrobatics, close quarters combat, assassin techniques, and improvised weapon to turn anything with a sharp edge into an instrument of flying blood and pain, plus showmanship, and frequently wearing tight fitting leather that borders on fetish wear.
Downsides? Low armor protection, knives deal limited damage to high armor monsters and foes unless critical hits are scored, and the emphasis on showmanship versus actual damage makes them more face than fighter.
Why play a sea dog? Access to ships, skill with ropes, the use of nets, hooks, spears, tridents, belaying pins, and a high tolerance for the elements and alcohol. Also, piracy and pirates.
Downsides? Away from the water, a sea dog is just a rogue with a water theme.
Why play an alchemist? The alchemist makes chemicals, like smoke bombs, explosives, potions and tonics, and general physical mayhem. At higher levels, alchemists search for immortality, creating life, and turning base materials into gold.
Downsides? Without his lab and chemicals, the alchemist is unarmed. Canny alchemists can go Macguyver with improvised materials, or can cross class over with a magic using class for some spells.
Why play an actor? High charisma, master of disguise, an entertainer and diversion creator, a natural leader. Seem like pretty good reasons to me. With skill synergy, it is relatively easy to get a high Disguise score, basically turning the actor into a Scooby Doo level impersonator.
Downsides? Armor restrictions, a lawful alignment requirement (when actors go chaotic, jumping on couches and such, their careers suffer) and outside of disguises and costumes, they can be famous, or infamous.
10. An Orc
Why play a greenskin? While not actually a class, there are really very few orc and half orc characters. Plays into the fish out of water trope. Add Orc to a basic class, and they have the potential to be interesting, another acrobat thief, boring. A hobgoblin acrobat thief, well okay. Katana wielding assassin, lame. An orc assassin who has dual wield orc machetes, thats more interesting.
Downsides? A greenskin is going to face discrimination wherever they go, and racism especially from elves, who really really hate them.
What is a memorist? Drawing on the mimic job in Final Fantasy, a memorist is a specialist who copies the moves of another character. Thus, in a battle, the memorist can duplicate a spell thrown by a friend or a foe, then copy a powerful combat move used by another character. The ability can be quite powerful, but requires the memorist to be in the right place, at the right time.
Downsides? Becoming a memorist is hard and requires levels in all four basic classes (warrior, thief, mage, cleric). The memorist cannot equip heavy armor, and are by nature, reactive, and not proactive.
12. Rabbit Hunter
What is a rabbit hunter? It is a person who hunts small game that is not dangerous, but not necessarily easy to catch. This class emphasizes accuracy over damage, setting traps and snares, and being very stealthy. Rabbits and other small game are fast, and hard to sneak up on. The majority of rabbit hunters are women, or come from races not known for their great strength. Killing a great elk or a boar is dandy, but there is a bit of a problem when you can't bring all of the meat back and have to leave a huge amount behind for the scavengers.
Downsides? The rabbit hunter, regardless of their skill with bow, sling, or traps, is treated as inferior to the big game hunter, and adventurers-upon-return. With the majority of rabbit hunters being women, there is also a degree of sexism involved.
13. Shieldmaiden and Spear Girls
Why play a shieldmaiden or spear girl? Skilled in combat, able to equip various armors, kill opponents at 6-10 foot range, work in a team, and function as a strong blocker or support fighter for the main tank, or main damage dealer. Proof that you can be smart, female, and fully capable of carrying front line combat duty without magic.
Downsides? Will likely come from a martial culture, will experience sexism, and will be considered second class to conventional adventurers-upon-return.
Drawing on the mythos of the caravaner, the merchant is a soldier shopkeeper who sells wares and generally takes care of themselves without resorting to mercenaries or adventurers. Well versed in haggling, well connected and very well equipped, and experienced in dealing with people who don't want to pay (thieves) and people who think they shouldn't have to (wanna be heroes). Super easy to get adventuring gear, magic items, and well connected for traveling, adventures, and knows a ton of people.
Downsides? no armor equip, has inventory to protect, treated poorly unless someone wants a discount, and not a front line fighter or damage dealer, more a defender or rogue for heroic purposes. Also, likely to come across cursed or tainted magic items.
15. Shrine Maiden/Manservant
Why play a shrine maiden or manservant? Access to clerical powers with fewer clerical ethos restrictions, and more access to rogue or other class options. The Shrine Attendant knows prayers and low level clerical powers, is versed in basic combat (to protect the shrine and it's treasures, and is typically a young man or woman. The Shrine Attendant is expected to grow/level up into another class like a proper cleric, paladin, or templar.
Downsides? Class is for young characters, potentially exposed to evil spirits and thieves on a semi-regular basis, in the event of a horrific celestial or infernal event, mortality is high. No armor, limited weapons, and limited clerical magic. Best to join a group of heroes before the demonic entity consumes the wise master and destroys the shrine
Why play a lizardperson? The lizardfolk are well represented in pulp action and adventure stories, guarding ancient treasures, lost kingdoms, and so forth. Resistance to desert conditions, higher endurance, lower food and water requirements, less empathetic than simians, natural armor scales, able to take any traditional heroic classes, plus being a freaking lizard man, man.
See 10. Orc for more details
Downsides? Vulnerability to cold, alien nature and outsider status to humans and other warmblooded simian races, potential of being poisonous and ruining interspecies relationship with accidental love bite on human lover.
Why play a sentient undead humanoid? Very low metabolic needs, high durability, high pain threshold, the angle of seeking redemption or revenge, combat and blood are exciting instead of terrifying, undead nature largely easy to conceal. Ghouls are naturally stealthy, are very strong, and excel in combat roles. A natural for gravediggers, grave robbers, corpse thieves, and a good wrangler for zombies and skeletons. Being undead themselves, they are not targeted by other undead unless those undead are under a necromancers command, or are sentient themselves.
Downsides? Aversion to sunlight (not lethal, just unpleasant), cannot have any clerical levels, no magic use, vulnerable to fire, clerical turning powers, and while food requirements are low, the fact that it living humanoid is preferred can be problematic. Also, the slow decline into inhuman undead atavistic state is inevitable
18. Jester or Fool
Why play a character based around buffoonery and dressing like a clown? The class draws on the rogue skillset, but can be a very interesting grab bag of skills, from improvised weapons, chaos magic casting, trick gadgets, misdirection and diversion, and a strong set of social skills. It is easy to play the fool, it is hard to play a fool and not end up killed or eaten by a dragon.
Downsides? Negative stealth score, no subtlety, social ostracism associated with being a clown because clowns are freaky. Potential for being an actual freak with a deformity, mutation, mixed race heritage, magical alteration, or curse.
Why play a character who is a plant or part plant? Minimal food requirements, high durability, rarely harmed by the elements, strong resonance with nature, natural for druid magic, ranger abilities, and basically all the ent/treant things without being a multi-ton booming old tree. Dryads and dryad spawn favor natural magic and rogue paths, very high stealth and sneak scores. (Groot would be this)
Downsides? Slow healing, flammable, alien biology to humanoids, only cleric to nature gods, probably naked so zero armor protection, few weapons other than own limbs, very unlikely to ever explore sorcery or academic magic
20. Dragon Dancer
What is a dragon dancer? They are a class who emulate the powerful movements and soul of the dragon, channeling it into powerful hand to hand combat, and then (functioning as sorcerers) can jump great distances, turn their skin to armor, and even breath gouts of magical flame. They claim draconian heritage, but are specialized martial sorcerers, and often are worshippers of dragons, even becoming clerics of the dragon god, servants of actual dragons, or powerful foes.
Downsides? Kinda nutty, when their spell supply is run down they can only deal mundane hand to hand damage, cannot great leap or fly, and cannot cause any of their other dragon powers. Also, when it comes to actual dragons or dragon spawn, they are either embraced or squished as being offensive, there is no middle ground.
21. Swashbuckler/Red Mage
Not to be confused with a flamboyant man swinging through the rigging of a ship with a laugh, a rapier, and a buckler, the Red Mage/Swashbuckler is a bombastic class that has access to the majority of weapons, can learn magic and cast clerical spells (generally of neutral or chaotic alignment), and can pick and choice generally what it wants. Swap magic spells for Bard abilities, sure. Change swords for thief skills, sure.
Downsides are simple, red magi cannot equip heavy armor, they are based around dexterity and charisma. Red Magi are also considered loose cannons and are not afforded the same gravitas as their light and dark counterparts. There are also far fewer redi magi than of the light and dark types as well.
People with animal sidekicks are cool, and in a fantasy setting, this means that instead of the general horse, hound, or hawk choices, a beastmaster could have companioned with a displacer beast, made friends with a grell, or share treats with a pack of leucrotta. The beastmaster functions as a non-stealing rogue, but has the ability to command beasts to fight for them, or otherwise aid them.
Downside, if you kill a beastmaster's beast, you have done them great harm. While they can still command other animals, they must undergo a new spirit quest to find a new companion, and this is only if the beastmaster is strong enough to survive their beast being slain. Similar to destroying a wizard's familiar.
23. Gambler/Chaos Mage
Gamblers rely on wild luck, and in combat can deal a stupendous amount of damage, a modest amount, or their luck can turn and cause the party grief. Gamblers utilize chaos magic and unusual talismans such as cards, dice, and other implements of fortune and chance. Advance as a rogue, can steal and cheat, can activate magic items and cast spells from prepared sources, and generally get into trouble.
Downsides, as a magi class, gamblers cannot equip heavy armor, and their magic is unreliable. What decimates enemies one round, might bolster them the next.
24. Lore Master/Blue Mage
The blue mage is at heart, a mimic. They can learn spells, and even imitate spell like abilities, but they have to experience such things before they can use them themselves. This means that while very few blue mages know instant death spells (unless someone was quick on hand to revive them) many know things that aren't even known to be spells, such as a blue mage using a Gorgon's Stare as an attack, or imitating a dragon's breath attack (on a much smaller scale)
Downsides, as per the usual for mages, no armor and low HP, but also the blue mage can potentially learn the special attacks and moves of anything thrown at them, so a DM will have to be conscientious in their random encounters.
The puppeteer has a puppet, or multiple puppets, that they control. This isn't with strings and gadgets, but rather magic. The mundane expression of this is entertainment. In functionality, the puppeteer is functionally similar to a rigger or drone controller in a modern or shadowrun game. The puppets can be large, or even golem like, and function as a golemic version of a beastmaster, and be a powerful fighter. Puppets can be small and quick, for a roguish role, and so forth. The puppets are animated by the magic of the puppetmaster and their range and autonomy are limited only by the power of the puppetmaster. Weak masters can only control their charges within line of sight, while the master puppeteer can send them out on jobs and wait for them to come back, hours or even days later.
Downsides, puppets can be destroyed, and a puppeteer without a puppet is just a person with basic skills and whatever support abilities they had. Puppets can be replaced, but the puppeteer has to spend time with one to acclamate to it and to animate it.
The Summoner is a mage who literally only knows summon spells. The magi will have a rapport with the entity they summon, be it a school of creatures, such as being the spidermancer who summons arachnids in swarms, or giant spiders, and so forth, or a summoner who has a stable of specific entities such as storm elementals, holy creatures, devils, etc.
Downsides, as mage, no armor, weak weaponry skills, and reliance on summoned creatures. If dispelled, in an anti-magic area, or in an area antithetical to their summon spells, they are nearly powerless. Like a beastmaster or puppeteer, the summoner relies on others for their main ability to deal damage in combat.