Mesmer (Guild Wars 2)
If Mysterio from Spider-Man's Sinister Six played MMOs, Guild Wars 2's Mesmer would be his go-to class. This purple-hued wizard is all about trickery, deception, and misdirection, able to conjure illusionary clones of him or herself at will. And though many of the Mesmer's abilities classify as familiar mind-control-type magic, its blinding abilities are truly special.
Take the Mesmer ability The Prestige, which makes you disappear in a puff of smoke, blinding nearby enemies, before you reappear and burn them with your torch. In Guild Wars, getting blinded isn't just a boring attack-missing status effect - your screen actually dims and your field-of-view becomes almost entirely obscured. That's ingenious design, making you actually feel like you're getting your mind melted when squaring off against Mesmers in PvP.
Animist (Dark Age of Camelot)
A lot of RPGs give you access to some variety of the druid class - sorcerers who draw all their power from the forces of nature. But few let you become a fungus-obsessed weirdo that summons giant mushrooms to do your bidding. That's the Animist in a nutshell, a spell-caster that focuses almost entirely on the creation and propagation of spores and overgrown shiitakes.
I don't even know if you could classify large, animate, carnivorous mushrooms as "pets," but my gut feeling is that doing so would be considered profoundly creepy. Which I suppose is fitting, since one of the Animist's talent trees is literally called "The Creeping Path."
Mime (Final Fantasy Tactics)
It was Bruce Lee who famously advised fighters to be "shapeless, formless, like water." And funnily enough, that pretty much summarizes the Mime class. Though being a mime is usually thought of a clownish profession, meant only for performers who wish to be hated on sight, the Final Fantasy Tactics variation is actually pretty freaking cool. The general idea is that they have zero abilities of their own, but can perfectly mimic the actions and spells performed by allies around them.
Becoming a Mime is no easy feat, since it requires extensive training across a wide range of other jobs. But the reward is a fighter who can do almost anything, provided you're adept at planning ahead to account for all their mirrored movements and attacks.
Festivalist (Final Fantasy 10-2)
Many of the dresspheres in Yuna's starring adventure are pretty out there, yet none can compare to the delightful quirkiness of the Festivalist look. It's easy to see why this class was a Japanese exclusive until the recent HD Remaster of FFX-2: it's almost entirely based on nostalgic traditions of par-taying in Japan, what with Yuna donning a kimono and swinging around ornamental temari thread balls.
That said, you don't have to know Japanese culture to appreciate the sight of Rikku bashing skulls like a weaponized piece of cotton candy. And the Moogle-shaped fireworks celebrating Yuna, Rikku, and Paine's festive spherechanges are an excellent touch. To make it all that much more precious, the Festivalist designs were actually based on a contest fan submission that I'm convinced was the work of an adorable, imaginative little girl.
Orator (Final Fantasy Tactics)
This feature is on the verge of becoming a full-blown Final Fantasy Tactics love letter - but dammit, its myriad classes are just too good. Arithmetician and Mime are both excellent RPG outliers, but my personal favorite has to be the Orator, a scholar who literally talks the opposition into submission. With ability names like Persuade, Enlighten, Condemn, and Negotiate, the Orator is every debate team member's and self-important egotist's dream class.
How great is it that the Insult ability actually sends the target into a Berserk rage? And I love that the in-game description of the class says that the Orator "manipulates enemies through skilled rhetoric." Plus, if words fail you, the Orator can just whip out a gun and end conversations the easy way.
Postman (Free Realms)
There is a sacred oath, known only to those that deliver parcels for a living: "Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." By taking the mantle of the (kinda sexist?) Postman class, the now-defunct Free Realms let you join the hallowed ranks of those brave souls that stuff pieces of marked paper into countless mailboxes.
The class boiled down to a sort of exploratory footrace, where you had to deliver mail by chucking it to its intended recipient. There was also a block minigame to sort the many letters, packages, and scrolls that needed postage. It might not be the most exciting RPG class in the world (or even in Free Realms, which had other oddities like Kart Driver or Soccer Star), but something about the mundanity of spending your virtual life as a Postman is absolutely charming to me.
Those are my picks for some of the most out-there RPG classes - but with so many RPGs in the world, there have to be more awesomely unique ones (like the bizarre roles from Kingdom of Loathing, pictured above). Do you know of any more excellent oddities? Enlighten me and your fellow readers in the comments below!