Rift's official release date is March 1st, 2011. If you've pre-ordered the game, however, you get a head start as of February 24, 2011 – only a few days away now! As the opening post here on Rift Craft, I thought sharing an excellent video about how the soul classes work in the game would be a fantastic introduction to Rift.
This official Rift video talks about the soul trees of Rift. You start with an Archtype, one of four: Cleric, Mage, Rogue and Warrior. From that archtype, you choose an initial soul (or a calling). You skill up a few levels with this soul and then get another via a quest in the newbie area. By the time you've finished the newbie area, you will have 3 souls in total. If you think you've goofed up, or decided you didn't like one of the souls you chose, don't worry! At level 13, you can go to your major city (Defiants: Meridian, Guardians: Sanctum) to quest for more souls.
There are 8 souls in total per archtype plus 1 pvp soul. To gain more souls, you need to do the quest started by that soul representative in your major city. Only one quest may be done at a time and it involves going out to a Rift, participating, and getting a Soul Shard for the quest item drop requirement. Once you get this shard, you can click it to summon and then defeat that soul. Once you've defeated it, you now are able to switch that soul out with another you've chosen that has zero points spent in that particular tree.
The pvp soul is purchased with Favor, a currency you acquire through warfronts – aka pvp instances. The pvp soul is different for each archtype, and you can't spend all your points in it, you still need to have a main soul. More on that in another post!
If you've already spent points and want to change things up, you can always visit your trainer (cleric, mage, rogue, warrior) to rest your souls. Or, you may buy a "role". Roles are essentially saved soul builds (or for the WoW inclined, a dual spec). You may buy and save up to 4 roles and switch them out any time you like – while not in battle. Yep, that means while you are in a warfront (pvp instance) or a dungeon or even before you join a public rift event. Whenever you like, you can switch to your tank, pvp, or dps build. That's the beauty of Rift. So many options.
You really don't have to remake or start over a new character in Rift. If you don't like the soul you first chose, reset your soul and use the points in the another soul(s) you took in the newbie area. Tough it out to level 13 and then go get all the souls, then mix and match to your heart's content. Say goodbye to rolling an army of alts! You only need 4 characters in Rift, one per archtype. Then you can play exactly how you want to – whenever you want to do it!