After experimenting for some time, I’ve decided that the key to emulating D&D character classes in Savage Worlds is background and professional edges.
You might not want to do that; but the thing all my players have in common is exposure to D&D, so it’s a lingua franca for discussing game-related matters. They might not understand SW, but they can tell me "I wanna play a ranger," and then I can say "OK, you need this edge and these skills."
Here’s the list I wound up with.
- Barbarian: Take the Berserker edge. Consider Bloodthirsty and Outsider as hindrances. Don’t expect many friends, you’ll be at -6 Charisma before you know it.
- Bard: There’s no easy way to do this with Explorer’s Edition; you need the Troubadour edge from the Wizards & Warriors web supplement.
- Cleric/Paladin: Take Arcane Background (Miracles), Champion, and Holy Warrior. Consider Vows as hindrances to reflect your creed and any weapon limitations. The difference between clerics and paladins is that as they advance, clerics focus on learning more powers, and paladins focus on improving their martial skills.
- Druid: Take Arcane Background (Miracles); consider Vows as hindrances to reflect your creed and weapon limitations. Also consider Beast Master to gain an animal companion, and Beast Bond to buff it.
- Fighter: Consider the Brawny edge, for the Toughness bonus and extra carrying capacity.
- Monk: Again, it’s hard to do this using baseline SW; you need the Adept edge from the Wizards & Warriors supplement.
- Ranger: This requires the Woodsman edge. Consider the Outsider hindrance, and Arcane Background (Miracles) if you think rangers should cast spells.
- Rogue/Thief: Take the Thief edge.
- Sorceror: You need Arcane Background (Magic). This means that on average, your attributes are slightly better than a wizard’s.
- Wizard/Illusionist: Take Arcane Background (Magic), and Wizard (to reflect formal study of the art). This means that on average, you spend slightly fewer power points during an adventure than a sorceror.
Standard SWEE doesn’t have demi-human races in it, either, but again these are in the free W&W supplement.