We've heard it all before; magic-users were too busy studying magic to learn how to use any weapons or armor, clerics are opposed to bloodshed and thus eschew swords (but apparently they are not opposed to bludgeoning someone to death...)and blah blah blah. All hand waving aside, it comes down to this:
In a world where some dudes can shoot lightning out of their fingertips, there must exist some incentive to play any other type of dude.
I've been playing in a RIFTS game for a few months now, as you have probably read about. RIFTS is a rule book that contains character classes that can literally stand up to clusters of missiles and have personal weapons that can level buildings. There are classes that have magic and psionics. There is a playable dragon class... and yet, there are also classes that are scientists, doctors, and petty thieves, characters who have only skills. There are characters who have cybernetics and big ass guns, but not as big as the walking tank characters. There are dudes who can shoot lighting (or worse) from their fingertips, and yet the game has no inherent mechanical incentive for playing a class like Rogue Scholar or Vagabond. (Dudes who know stuff, but have no lighting, and who have puny personal weaponry to start with)
So here is a little bitty theoretical question for you, readers: if all character classes in D&D could use any weapon and any armor, if everyone had d6 hit dice (for instance), would anyone still play a fighter?
Expand that...if your favorite game had absolutely no balancing factor at all, would you still play the character you wanted, or would you play the guy who can shoot lighting from his fingertips?