5E What are the Roles now?
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  1. #1
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    Magsman (Lvl 14)



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    What are the Roles now?

    Following on from the discussion about clerics in another thread, people were discussing how it is more important to simply cover roles than have a particular class. This got me thinking, what are the actual roles in 5e now? In 4e they were blatant and we seem to assume they are the same in 5e, but I doubt that is the case.

    Is Defender a role now? Paladins, Bear Barbarians and Fighters can do it, but even then only really with a feat. How important is it? Are they tough enough to warrant wanting to direct attacks at them?

    How necessary is the Healer? Short of an emergency heal, most healing seems to be done out of combat, something that some feats and medial expertise can deal with to an extent. Can it be viewed as a sidenote of a class, or do we need a dedicated Healer roll?

    Is Striker a unique enough set of skills to call it a roll? It seems that many classes can do good damage these days. Sorc, Warlock, Evok Wizard, Barbarian, Ranger, Rogue, Fighter, Paladin, Monk all compete for great damage. Is it fair to say that damage dealing is also a bit of a given these days, not worthy of a dedicated roll?

    Despite the way I have phrased the above questions, I don't have much of an opinion on the topic.

    I would say that when creating a party, I tend to want certain rolls covered. Just for interest I'm trying to put them in priority order.

    1. A sneaky guy who can pick locks and disarm traps.
    2. Somebody with social skills.
    3. A meat shield of some sort, need not be a dedicated defender.
    4. Some healing, need not be a dedicated healer.
    5. Area effect damage
    6. Arcana skills
    7. Outdoor skills
    8. Hold person or some other way to remove people from a fight non-fatally.

    So really, for me it comes down to wanting to see:
    1. A dex based guy
    2. A guy with good charisma
    3. Somebody with decent AC

    The rest we can get by with using backgrounds, spells and feats. Sure I want more than that, but at a pinch we can get by.

    What do you think the roles that need covering are?
    And how would your priorities them in a small group?
    I am more interested in roles than which specific characters are best, but feel free to include your small group dream-team if you like.

  2. #2
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    Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)



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    4E was a bit of an aberration where it comes to DnD; it tried to enforce a few roles that, realistically, had not existed before. Other roles were forced to act in ways that sometimes did not quite match to DnD norm.

    Realistically? You need martial damage-dealers, arcane users, divine users, and someone else to fill in whatever is left that is needed. Rogues, in some editions, are better for their skill monkey traits than their damage traits, but 5E appears to make them more of a strategic combatant that aptly supports any other role. Note that some classes can cover multiple roles.

    Beyond that, it entirely depends on party tactics; some parties work very well with a lot of fighters, some depend more on having a lot of access to magic. Different people may give different ideas of roles and what roles exist, but that depends on which theory they approach the game with. Ultimately, the old standard of fighter, wizard, cleric, rogue can cover things pretty nicely.
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  3. #3
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    The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)



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    Hiya!

    Don't take this the wrong way or anything, but I think you're pretty much wrong on all accounts.

    With 5e, there are no "needed roles" covered. The 5e system is EXTREMELY forgiving...there are nigh-infinite ways of getting around or otherwise overcoming any problem...so long as the players think and play smart in stead of relying on the numbers and special abilities listed on their PC's sheet.

    That said, I think the "most bases covered" party would consist of Fighter, Cleric, Wizard, Rogue. Any of the 'archtypes' within those would do. If the players all work together to create their characters as a cohesive, elite, fighting force that carries out adventuring like a well-oiled machine...there is virtually nothing they couldn't do. Of course, this is a blatant white-room scenario. Players don't do that. Players latch onto something interesting they want to try out, or have some particular background or 'theme' in mind for a character, etc...etc...etc. This is expected and a good thing! And I firmly believe that this way of thinking was at the forefront of the design of 5e as a system.

    Anyway...I don't believe the "roles" thing plays much of a part in 5e at all. A party of all fighters would do just as well as a mix of classes....it's just that the all-fighter group would be highly specialized and need to either find ways to avoid certain situations or find ways to overcome them (oh, I don't know, maybe hire NPC's and henchmen...? Like in the olden' days of yor...).

    Now, if you are narrowing your "situational focus" down to lazer-precision, where "in all situations that could come up in a campaign, and then tackling those situations as expected through the metagame"...then, yeah. You need F/C/W/R. But that's not realistically going to be going on in a campaign, so it's a moot point.

    ^_^

    Paul L. Ming

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    Pretty much what Nergal &Paul say. The "roles" are whatever the players want their characters to do...in a roleplaying game, no less.
    Last edited by steeldragons; Tuesday, 20th January, 2015 at 03:26 AM.
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  5. #5
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    The Great Druid (Lvl 17)



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    I think the roles as the same they always were, just harder and more hidden...

    so defender/striker/leader/controler
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    I don't necessarily disagree with your choices there, that is what our groups has done in the past, but I have a few queries

    - Why is it important that the damage come from a martial guy? Why not a warlock over a bowman? If you meant a frontline guy, could he just be a low-damage defender?
    - Why is it important to have both a divine and arcane caster? Is that just because of heal spells? If it is for arcane utility spells, then do warlock and sorcerer even count?

    My group has always felt the same, I am just re-evaluating my thoughts on it.

    One of the things I don't miss from 4e is the death of the Striker roll. By moving that out of being a particular set of classes niche, nobody now has to suck at damage dealing. I did not like the feeling that an attack from a non-striker was worthless at higher levels.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unwise View Post
    - Why is it important that the damage come from a martial guy? Why not a warlock over a bowman? If you meant a frontline guy, could he just be a low-damage defender?
    5E is not designed with the idea of a low-damage frontline defender being viable. It can be done, but the character is probably going to die a lot; the character defends better by both being in the way and dealing a lot of damage quickly. Plus, the high monster HPs in this edition make a low-damage frontline character a bad idea.

    Plus, magic is more limited in this edition than it was in 3E and rests are a lot less frequent than in 4E (and a lot less effective for short rests), so spellcaster resources may not stretch as much; you need other damage dealers to help make up the difference for those times the spellcasters are saving spells for tougher opponents.

    - Why is it important to have both a divine and arcane caster? Is that just because of heal spells? If it is for arcane utility spells, then do warlock and sorcerer even count?
    Aside from healing that can be done by clerics, there are certain areas where each caster tends to be a bit better; divine casters, for example, tend to be better at damaging undead. Or healing. Arcane casters tend to be slightly better at damaging magic. Having one of each is to cover your bases so you can take down anything you face... and if things go wrong, the divine caster's healing that you've mostly not used can suddenly come in handy.

    And, whether or not utility spells of either caster class is important depends a lot upon your group's strategy; a very viable one is to have an arcane caster focus on pure damage and let the divine caster handle utility and crowd control. You can also reverse that and get a viable result, or have both do the same role and have a team that works well.

    So, in general, picking one of each damage type is more about having variety of tactical options open and covering potential unforeseen events than it is about sticking to particular roles or strategies.
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  8. #8
    I think that Roles is a problematic term as:

    a) it suggests that each character has to revert to a type or has a job to do, when actually they can choose to play anything they like and how the like, and

    b) the lines are very blurred with so many Classes having a mix of magical, martial and other abilities in varying amounts.

    That said, most successful adventuring parties still tend to balance out abilities and protect particular niches - so in a sense there are still roles to play. They dont need to be categorised in a heavy handed way, however.

  9. #9
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    Waghalter (Lvl 7)



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    Quote Originally Posted by GMforPowergamers View Post
    I think the roles as the same they always were, just harder and more hidden...

    so defender/striker/leader/controler
    Uhhh...no. Just no.

    Those "roles" didn't exist before 4e in rules or in play. Period.

    Now, I know some people did play in a way that they could have categorized their characters in that manner even earlier. But that was not a function of the rules, nor was it a requirement of the game. Many tables never had "roles" that corresponded to those.

    The entire concept of roles (as differentiated from classes) is a product of the forced miniatures/table-top beginning with 3e. Many of the TotM games I played in had no roles aside from your class abilities. And even those were general. A cleric could hold a doorway and crowd-control just as easily as a magic-user with a wall of force... if crowd control was even necessary (which it often wasn't). Roleplay and DM adjudication meant that players were free to come up with clever and creative ways to solve problems, and combat. Roles are only necessary when you are bound to a handful of legally approved actions on a grid, with a rule set that punishes characters for not specializing. And 5e has solved that, with "rulings, not rules" and bounded accuracy.

    Look, if you have fun with your group assigning "roles" to your characters, more power to you. Have fun. But that's a feature of your table. It's no more part of the 5e rules than wealth-by-level.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eirikrautha View Post
    Uhhh...no. Just no.
    this is really getting old... I get it not everyone liked 4e, but people who do like it get to answer too...

    Those "roles" didn't exist before 4e in rules or in play. Period.
    those roles where not invented for 4e they are based on the way D&D evolved, and they very much exsisted in 2e and 3e. They were much more hard coded and very much labled in 4e...but I bet they were there in 1976...


    Now, I know some people did play in a way that they could have categorized their characters in that manner even earlier. But that was not a function of the rules, nor was it a requirement of the game. Many tables never had "roles" that corresponded to those.
    and people played 4e disregarding them too, your point?

    The entire concept of roles (as differentiated from classes) is a product of the forced miniatures/table-top beginning with 3e. Many of the TotM games I played in had no roles aside from your class abilities.
    so your fighters never took a hit for the casters (defender) your fighters never dished out tons of damage (striker) your clerics never focused on healing and buffing (leader) and your wizard never tried to control the battlefield and lock down enemies with save or sucks (controller)???

    And even those were general. A cleric could hold a doorway and crowd-control just as easily as a magic-user with a wall of force...
    they could in 4e too...



    if crowd control was even necessary (which it often wasn't). Roleplay and DM adjudication meant that players were free to come up with clever and creative ways to solve problems, and combat.
    so, the same as 4e...


    Look, if you have fun with your group assigning "roles" to your characters, more power to you. Have fun. But that's a feature of your table. It's no more part of the 5e rules than wealth-by-level.
    and if your table likes to pretend that there is no roles, that's fine, but when people WANT to talk about roles maybe you could sit that discussion out since all you want to says is "I don't like to think that way."



    in 3.5 I played a warlock and didn't have the words to describe what made it play so different, I used to say "Even though I'm a caster, I'm way more limited even then a sorcerer, but I put out a bunch of damage a lot like sneak attack on a roge with my eldritch blast"

    today I would say "I'm mostly a striker with a good secondary in control."
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