For most fantasy MMOGs, the basic classes you can expect to be playing aren't too hard to predict. Whether you're a stalwart warrior with shield in hand, a crafty mage raining fiery bolts of destruction, a sneaky rogue with poison on his knife, or a benevolent cleric healing the wounds of his allies, you make up part of what's known as the holy trinity of MMOs: Tank-DPS-Healer. You need someone to get your foe's attention, someone to whack them over the head until they die, and someone to keep everyone alive until that happens. Everything else is just icing on the cake.
We can debate the merits of that particular combat system as long as you like, but what I really wanted to point out is how boring those three specialized roles are. The four archetypes I mentioned are a staple in almost every single fantasy MMOG on the market, but they're far from the most interesting ones. While it's true that you can't get by without them, they've become so vanilla-flavored at this point that they're practically passé. Whenever I log into a new game and look at their class list, I wince a little. "Oh, a chance to be a brave warrior... again. Hmm. Mage? Rogue? Meh."
I've always been a big fan of classes that went against the grain, played outside the box, and did something a little different from the "core" classes. Not everyone needs to fit nicely into those three archetypal slots. The classes that don't often turn out to be the most rewarding and fun to play, in my experience. That said, I thought I'd take a look at some of the more interesting class designs in the games I've played and discuss what made them so cool.