D&D General D&D is a Team Sport. What are the positions?

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
If you can't explain it to someone who disagrees with you, is that a reflection on the person disagreeing, or on the idea that legitimately cannot be communicated? Because I'm inclined to say the latter.
This is me giving up. The juice aint worth the squeeze.
 

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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I would much prefer seeing each archetype done well rather than seeing one class trying to accomplish too much and stretch all the archetype concepts too thin like butter scrapped over too much bread.
Truth be told, me too; though there's some archetypes I'd rather not see at all (a Fighter who can also heal people at range being at or near the top of that list).
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
"Do things that actively hinder your party" is not a great selling point.
Heh - it is for me. :)
Ditto. You're not selling me on the concept here. If anything, you're making it sound worse.
Only if you insist that everything be optimized all the time, and that everyone in the party always fall in line and work in the party's best interests. Not me. I'm the cat that won't be herded unless I want to be. :)
None of these three points will ever happen. They are simply unpopular with players--and always will be, because that's literally the whole point. These are player-frustration features--what I have been calling "tedium"--used to gate power. But players can, and will, optimize the fun out of games. They will do the tedious in order to get the power. Consistently. You've got a long history of playing the game; surely you have seen this firsthand, many a time even.
Obviously players are going to try to mitigate the obstacles. It's their job, after all.

The trick is to make those obstacles more difficult to mitigate and to give them some painful bite. Adding risk to spells is one solution. Making them harder to cast is another. Making them less available is another. And those players who have been agitating for so long to remove these obstacles have only themselves to blame when the game doesn't work like it should.
Exactly. There is, of course, a concern for diminishing returns; sometimes it really is best to express multiple archetypes under the same umbrella. Neither of us is saying that there should be anything like, say, four dozen classes.
Well, if each subclass became its own root class there's a case to be made (by someone else!) for even more than that.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Only if you insist that everything be optimized all the time, and that everyone in the party always fall in line and work in the party's best interests. Not me. I'm the cat that won't be herded unless I want to be. :)
You are marrying two completely unrelated things.

I do not, and never have, wanted "everything to be optimized all the time." I care about mechanical effectiveness. There is a significant difference between those two things.

I do want, and essentially always have wanted, to play a cooperative, teamwork game. D&D explicitly indicates it is such a game. That means cooperating and aiming for the best interests of all, both as characters and as players. If that is one's aim, one should seek to do it as well as can be reasonably achieved; it is foolish in the extreme to have an aim and then blindly act without consideration for how well the actions will work, but by that same token, sometimes you must work the dough you have, not tomorrow's bread.

Obviously players are going to try to mitigate the obstacles. It's their job, after all.

The trick is to make those obstacles more difficult to mitigate and to give them some painful bite. Adding risk to spells is one solution. Making them harder to cast is another. Making them less available is another. And those players who have been agitating for so long to remove these obstacles have only themselves to blame when the game doesn't work like it should.
All that does is push people to game the system even harder. As you say, it's their job. Pile the mountain higher and people just work that much harder to circumvent, corrupt, or eliminate the obstacles. Over and over and over and over. It's a losing battle. Like trying to balance political power by making it so you have to do mind-numbingly tedious busy work for poverty wages for 20 years before you can become absolute autocrat. People will be lining up in droves.

Much better to instead lean into "their job," as you say. To make it so the best, wisest, most effective course of action is to support your fellow teammates, to think in group terms instead of selfish terms, to make supportive play engaging and fun in and of itself. To genuinely make it exciting and engaging to play the game the way it's supposed to be played, rather than tedious, frustrating, or punishing to play it in ways it wasn't meant to be played.

Well, if each subclass became its own root class there's a case to be made (by someone else!) for even more than that.
Sure. And that is a distinct argument--one I would be quite glad to oppose. A mile-long list of classes is (at least!) as bad for the game as a list of merely 1-4 that now must house all possible archetypes no matter what. The former does disservice by spreading out work far too thin, diluting identity, and turning testing into something almost impossibly difficult. The latter does disservice by forcing every archetype into a tiny space, turning the 1-4 classes into generic blobs of nothing and leaving little to no room to explore mechanical difference. There is a sweet spot somewhere in-between (I would argue around 50% more than what 5e currently has), where there are enough big chunky archetypes to cover the space, but not so many that everything overlaps with a dozen other things.

Some examples of classes I would like to see get their own attention, without my usual semi-facetious repetition of one specific class: Warlord/Captain/Herald/etc., Swordmage, Avenger, Shaman, Summoner, Psion/Occultist/etc., maybe Assassin, and possibly a "monster" class (e.g., one class with subclasses like Vampire, Werewolf, Reanimated aka Frankenstein's monster, Mummy, Demonkin, etc.)
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
You are marrying two completely unrelated things.

I do not, and never have, wanted "everything to be optimized all the time." I care about mechanical effectiveness. There is a significant difference between those two things.

I do want, and essentially always have wanted, to play a cooperative, teamwork game. D&D explicitly indicates it is such a game. That means cooperating and aiming for the best interests of all, both as characters and as players. If that is one's aim, one should seek to do it as well as can be reasonably achieved; it is foolish in the extreme to have an aim and then blindly act without consideration for how well the actions will work, but by that same token, sometimes you must work the dough you have, not tomorrow's bread.
I'm happy to have my character do foolish things because it's what that character would do. Conversely, I'm also happy to have my (different) character be 100% on board with the team because it's what that character would do.
All that does is push people to game the system even harder. As you say, it's their job.
And it's my job as DM to push back. I'm fine with that.
Pile the mountain higher and people just work that much harder to circumvent, corrupt, or eliminate the obstacles. Over and over and over and over. It's a losing battle. Like trying to balance political power by making it so you have to do mind-numbingly tedious busy work for poverty wages for 20 years before you can become absolute autocrat. People will be lining up in droves.

Much better to instead lean into "their job," as you say. To make it so the best, wisest, most effective course of action is to support your fellow teammates, to think in group terms instead of selfish terms, to make supportive play engaging and fun in and of itself. To genuinely make it exciting and engaging to play the game the way it's supposed to be played, rather than tedious, frustrating, or punishing to play it in ways it wasn't meant to be played.
Thing is: you, me, and everyone else here probably have our own personal definition of "the way it's supposed to be played"; and those definitions ain't always gonna match.
Sure. And that is a distinct argument--one I would be quite glad to oppose. A mile-long list of classes is (at least!) as bad for the game as a list of merely 1-4 that now must house all possible archetypes no matter what. The former does disservice by spreading out work far too thin, diluting identity, and turning testing into something almost impossibly difficult. The latter does disservice by forcing every archetype into a tiny space, turning the 1-4 classes into generic blobs of nothing and leaving little to no room to explore mechanical difference. There is a sweet spot somewhere in-between (I would argue around 50% more than what 5e currently has), where there are enough big chunky archetypes to cover the space, but not so many that everything overlaps with a dozen other things.
I'd prefer, I think, that every class be its own root class starting from 1st level if the alternative options are prestige classes a la 3e or come-online-later subclasses a la 5e.
Some examples of classes I would like to see get their own attention, without my usual semi-facetious repetition of one specific class: Warlord/Captain/Herald/etc., Swordmage, Avenger, Shaman, Summoner, Psion/Occultist/etc., maybe Assassin, and possibly a "monster" class (e.g., one class with subclasses like Vampire, Werewolf, Reanimated aka Frankenstein's monster, Mummy, Demonkin, etc.)
For me that list would probably start with Scout, Assassin (though I thought that was already there), Swashbuckler, Tinkerer (non-casting version of Artificer), War Cleric, and Necromancer.

There's two on your list, thogh, that I'll oppose with gusto: any sort of Warlord/Captain/Herald/Leader class, and any class that makes even more monsters PC-playable.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
I'm happy to have my character do foolish things because it's what that character would do. Conversely, I'm also happy to have my (different) character be 100% on board with the team because it's what that character would do.
Whereas I see "it's what my character would do" as, in almost all cases, a rather weak excuse for being, if you'll pardon my language, a little @#$% screwing up the table's experience for brief personal jollies. And yes, I have in fact seen this at the table. I don't play with that person anymore.

And it's my job as DM to push back. I'm fine with that.
Okay...but like...why would you want to when you could...not? When you could have the game's actual incentives be to do the fun things, not to punish people for not doing the fun things?

Thing is: you, me, and everyone else here probably have our own personal definition of "the way it's supposed to be played"; and those definitions ain't always gonna match.
I think you're going for something rather more abstract than I am. "The way it's supposed to be played" is exactly what you're saying when you say that players will (willingly) choose to avoid bothering with the tedious stuff unless pressed to do so. That's exactly why you propose it as a game design choice: the intent is that players will see and recognize, "oh, doing that cheesy thing would be frustrating, boring, tedious, and just generally un-fun. I should do the fun things instead, even though they don't work as well." That is the way your proposal is supposed to be played. But it won't be. Overall player psychology doesn't work that way--individual players may, but the game isn't made for individual players, it's made for players collectively.

For example, you already agree that a class which is simply crazy powerful all the time, able to do everything by itself, would be bad design. I know we've discussed it multiple times previously. And you recognize that, in the absence of other considerations, a system built around the idea of "the player can be extremely powerful, but they have to do a dull/tedious/complicated thing first" inherently encourages players to find whatever tricks they can pull, whether skullduggery or sincere, to not do those things but still get to be extremely powerful. We are, as far as I can tell, fully in agreement on all of that.

Your proposal is, "Then we should simply make the tedious things impossible to ignore," but that's not possible with rule design. That would, in fact, require a perfect system that can catch all possible exceptions. Instead, we must substitute the adversarial (or worse, nanny) GM who punishes bad players who stubbornly do what the rules are intended to punish, because the reward is, to most players, pretty much always worth the crap you have to put up with to get it.

But we could design things quite differently. Instead of punishing that behavior, reward it--that is, make it so the player's natural ambition to subvert the limitations placed on them is the effective thing to do. In effect, it's applying the underlying philosophy of "separation of powers" to game design. Make it so the ambitious player, the player who wants to do strong and effective things, can only do so by being a team player. Make it so the powergamer is at her mightiest only when she acts pro-socially, rather than anti-socially. This, unlike the previous, is quite doable in game design; it is not trivial by any means, but it's not horrendously difficult either.

That is what I mean by "the way it's supposed to be played." The game presents itself as a cooperative teamwork fantasy roleplaying game. Make it so being powerful requires cooperation, depends on teamwork, supports fantasy, and rewards roleplaying. Then you have no need to be draconian or nannying; you have no need to police your players' behavior, because their own natural ambition--"their job," as you put it--is to do the things the game was designed for, e.g. the aforementioned description and more specific things (like 5e's three pillars.)

If your players' own ambitions (power, success, wealth, equipment, etc.) spur them directly toward cooperative teamwork fantasy roleplaying gameplay, then there is no need to punish them for avoiding those things--because they'll only avoid them when they really, really want to, rather than avoiding it simply because that's where the advantage almost always lies.

I'd prefer, I think, that every class be its own root class starting from 1st level if the alternative options are prestige classes a la 3e or come-online-later subclasses a la 5e.
That's fair. I think there's still room between the 4e and 5e approaches, but I can't really argue with a sincere preference.

For me that list would probably start with Scout, Assassin (though I thought that was already there), Swashbuckler, Tinkerer (non-casting version of Artificer), War Cleric, and Necromancer.
TBH, I don't really know what differentiates a Scout from Ranger or Rogue, and Swashbuckler from Rogue (or certain flavors of Bard.) Aren't Clerics already basically War Clerics? They all get at least medium armor, shields, and plenty of good weapon options, and that's been the case since 3e at least. IIRC even 2e's Priests still had good armor and okay-ish weapon options.

There's two on your list, thogh, that I'll oppose with gusto: any sort of Warlord/Captain/Herald/Leader class, and any class that makes even more monsters PC-playable.
Okay. Not really sure why the former is such a horrible thing. I know a lot of people feel that way, but it's just...why yuck others' yum so much? Does the mere existence of such a thing truly pain you so?
 

Aldarc

Legend
Truth be told, me too; though there's some archetypes I'd rather not see at all (a Fighter who can also heal people at range being at or near the top of that list).
There's two on your list, thogh, that I'll oppose with gusto: any sort of Warlord/Captain/Herald/Leader class, and any class that makes even more monsters PC-playable.
Thank goodness my gusto for the warlord more than exceeds the gusto of your opposition to the warlord. 😜

There were mainy types of healing that the warlord could not do, but it could at least do some basic HP healing. I can tell you from personal experience, Lanefan, that an all martial party made possible through a warlord was a beautiful thing to behold in 4e. No longer was a cleric or bard required for effective healing. Suddenly players opposed to playing support characters were playing support characters because the warlord lacked the religious baggage of the cleric and the minstrel baggage of the bard.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Whereas I see "it's what my character would do" as, in almost all cases, a rather weak excuse for being, if you'll pardon my language, a little @#$% screwing up the table's experience for brief personal jollies. And yes, I have in fact seen this at the table. I don't play with that person anymore.
Where I expect "It's what the character would do" to be the primary motivator behind everyone's play. You're playing the character, so have it do what it would do rather than what you would do.

I also don't demand or even expect them to function as a team all the time, and sometimes they don't even some of the time. I don't expect the characters to get along with each other -whether they do or not is entirely up to the players.
I think you're going for something rather more abstract than I am. "The way it's supposed to be played" is exactly what you're saying when you say that players will (willingly) choose to avoid bothering with the tedious stuff unless pressed to do so. That's exactly why you propose it as a game design choice: the intent is that players will see and recognize, "oh, doing that cheesy thing would be frustrating, boring, tedious, and just generally un-fun. I should do the fun things instead, even though they don't work as well." That is the way your proposal is supposed to be played. But it won't be. Overall player psychology doesn't work that way--individual players may, but the game isn't made for individual players, it's made for players collectively.
That "collectively" is made up of individuals, and it's individuals that I'd like to design for. Do that well, and the collective will either take care of itself or it won't, and it won't matter either way.
For example, you already agree that a class which is simply crazy powerful all the time, able to do everything by itself, would be bad design. I know we've discussed it multiple times previously. And you recognize that, in the absence of other considerations, a system built around the idea of "the player can be extremely powerful, but they have to do a dull/tedious/complicated thing first" inherently encourages players to find whatever tricks they can pull, whether skullduggery or sincere, to not do those things but still get to be extremely powerful. We are, as far as I can tell, fully in agreement on all of that.
On some of it, yes. I don't see the avoidance of (what you see as) tedium to be as big a motivator as you seem to.
Your proposal is, "Then we should simply make the tedious things impossible to ignore," but that's not possible with rule design. That would, in fact, require a perfect system that can catch all possible exceptions. Instead, we must substitute the adversarial (or worse, nanny) GM who punishes bad players who stubbornly do what the rules are intended to punish, because the reward is, to most players, pretty much always worth the crap you have to put up with to get it.

But we could design things quite differently. Instead of punishing that behavior, reward it--that is, make it so the player's natural ambition to subvert the limitations placed on them is the effective thing to do. In effect, it's applying the underlying philosophy of "separation of powers" to game design. Make it so the ambitious player, the player who wants to do strong and effective things, can only do so by being a team player. Make it so the powergamer is at her mightiest only when she acts pro-socially, rather than anti-socially. This, unlike the previous, is quite doable in game design; it is not trivial by any means, but it's not horrendously difficult either.
Curious: how can one do that and yet preserve the individuality of both players and characters? Put another way, how can that powergaming team player (as per the bolded) do his thing without in effect dragging the rest of the players/characters along for the ride, and thus preventing them from doing their own things?
That is what I mean by "the way it's supposed to be played." The game presents itself as a cooperative teamwork fantasy roleplaying game. Make it so being powerful requires cooperation, depends on teamwork, supports fantasy, and rewards roleplaying. Then you have no need to be draconian or nannying; you have no need to police your players' behavior, because their own natural ambition--"their job," as you put it--is to do the things the game was designed for, e.g. the aforementioned description and more specific things (like 5e's three pillars.)
1e tried rewarding "good roleplaying" with its as-written training rules. Really bad idea, in that it was completely dependent on DM judgment and thus made it nearly impossible for the DM to maintain any appearance of not playing favourites. I don't know of any tables that used that rule as written.
If your players' own ambitions (power, success, wealth, equipment, etc.) spur them directly toward cooperative teamwork fantasy roleplaying gameplay, then there is no need to punish them for avoiding those things--because they'll only avoid them when they really, really want to, rather than avoiding it simply because that's where the advantage almost always lies.
Thing is, some players' ambitions involve their character being better than the rest - sure they're on a team but they want to be the star of that team - and when several such players are in the same game cooperation and teamwork can quickly go flying out the window. Provided people keep it all firmly in character, the results can be highly entertaining and amusing for all.
TBH, I don't really know what differentiates a Scout from Ranger or Rogue, and Swashbuckler from Rogue (or certain flavors of Bard.)
A Scout would combine the stealth, movement, and observation capabilities from the Rogue and Ranger but eschew the thievery, lockpicking, and woodland pieces those other classes get. It would be the best class at noticing things, and at remembering what it had seen. For combat, it would be a ranged sniper.

A Swashbuckler would be a "light Fighter", getting all the Fighter-y combat benefits that the Rogue doesn't get without having to tank up in heavy armour. All offense, not much defense, but still a sub-Fighter rather than a sub-Rogue.
Aren't Clerics already basically War Clerics? They all get at least medium armor, shields, and plenty of good weapon options, and that's been the case since 3e at least. IIRC even 2e's Priests still had good armor and okay-ish weapon options.
A War Cleric dials that up to ten (a Paladin takes it to eleven). Its battle-oriented spells are enhanced and it uses a better combat matrix but its cures are relatively poor and its divniations are cut back unless they relate to combat (e.g. in place of Detect Good/Evil they get Detect Enemies). But it's still a Cleric, without all the baggage of a Paladin.

We;'ve had War Clerics in our games for over 40 years. So far so good. :)
Okay. Not really sure why the former is such a horrible thing. I know a lot of people feel that way, but it's just...why yuck others' yum so much? Does the mere existence of such a thing truly pain you so?
The existence of ranged healing pains me. It takes in-combat healing - which should be next to impossible even with the caster taking extreme risk - and makes it trivially easy.

The existence of healing that is neither natural (i.e. what you get from resting) nor magical (i.e. from a divine spell) pains me. 4e (and 5e) already have IMO ridiculously-too-fast natural healing, and that non-divine types can heal not only destroys the Cleric's niche but serves to makes healing way too easily available. (I don't like Bards being able to heal either)

That the Warlord does both at once: ouch. :)
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Thank goodness my gusto for the warlord more than exceeds the gusto of your opposition to the warlord. 😜
So, my gusto meets your gusto at dawn?

Do you prefer pistols, or swords? :)
There were mainy types of healing that the warlord could not do, but it could at least do some basic HP healing. I can tell you from personal experience, Lanefan, that an all martial party made possible through a warlord was a beautiful thing to behold in 4e. No longer was a cleric or bard required for effective healing. Suddenly players opposed to playing support characters were playing support characters because the warlord lacked the religious baggage of the cleric and the minstrel baggage of the bard.
Basic HP healing is by far the most common and important kind, IME. :)

Thing is, an all-martial party simply shouldn't be able to heal itself other than by either taking the time to recover or - if available - by potions and the like. Were I a player in an all-martial party I'd be expecting (by 4e-5e standards) a very slow-paced and gritty adventure, with lots of rest-recovery breaks and a lot of attention paid to minimizing damage taken from any source.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Where I expect "It's what the character would do" to be the primary motivator behind everyone's play. You're playing the character, so have it do what it would do rather than what you would do.

I also don't demand or even expect them to function as a team all the time, and sometimes they don't even some of the time. I don't expect the characters to get along with each other -whether they do or not is entirely up to the players.
I mean, it's literally a game about cooperative adventure. Even if they don't always like each other, the point is to adventure together.

That "collectively" is made up of individuals, and it's individuals that I'd like to design for. Do that well, and the collective will either take care of itself or it won't, and it won't matter either way.
You cannot design for every possible individual; that goal cannot be achieved even in principle.

On some of it, yes. I don't see the avoidance of (what you see as) tedium to be as big a motivator as you seem to.
Check out video game design sometime. Particularly in MMOs. It's an incredibly significant motivator in game design. As I said: people will optimize the fun out of your game if it's a possibility. It's a near-inevitability.

Curious: how can one do that and yet preserve the individuality of both players and characters? Put another way, how can that powergaming team player (as per the bolded) do his thing without in effect dragging the rest of the players/characters along for the ride, and thus preventing them from doing their own things?
Player individuality is not something you can meaningfully affect, so I can't really respond on that front--the players will be what they will be.

As for the other? By making it so that the most powerful things you have access to actually depend on someone else's contributions. To use a very simple example (meaning, most examples will be more involved) from 4e, the "Radiant Mafia" concept. Unlike in 3e and (most of the time) 5e, where optimization is almost exclusively about personal actions and personal power, 4e optimization was almost always about teamwork and cooperation. Sure, each player has things they can do to make their contributions better, but most of the time that optimization pales in comparison to what a team can achieve by collaborating. The "Radiant Mafia" does this by having all players work together to deal more damage through applying and exploiting vulnerability to radiant damage. While Divine characters are particularly good at this, almost everyone else can get in on the game with careful choice of powers, or (for Martial characters, who never get elemental/energy keywords) items like sunblades or holy weapons (in 3e that would have been a "brilliant energy" weapon).

For a more complex example, a power I used liberally on a Paladin I once played was One Heart, One Mind. It telepathically links the party together, and makes "aid another" rolls stronger. Other players also invested into things (powers, equipment, consumables, rituals, etc.) that benefited from skill-sharing and aiding others. When we truly did work as a team to resolve a skill-based encounter, we could achieve things genuinely impossible for anyone to achieve alone. I couldn't roll Dex or Int stuff to save my soul, but the Barbarian and Wizard could. They couldn't persuade or deceive, but my Paladin and the Bard could. Our Shaman made use of banners and potions and all sorts of other tricks and doodads to grease the wheels even further. Was I "dragging them along" by using One Heart, One Mind? Was she "dragging us along" by using such consumable resources? The individual characters' actions were carrying the day; I (and each of us) was simply helping all of us to be better at it, and living up to the character's personality and ethos as a "father to his men" noble-soldier character (for whom the party really was a surrogate family.)

You make things work by building up synergies. One player sets up an opening, another exploits it. Without a powerful follow-through, the first player's setup is weak; without first being set up, the second player's follow-through is weak. Only together are they strong, and there's no meaningful sense in which one or the other is "dragging" anyone along. They're cooperating. In the ideal case, this is scaled up to the level of the whole team--each person contributes a piece of the puzzle. The Wizard blows away the little pissers that would have blocked other characters' approach. The Paladin locks eyes with the greater foe and issues a divine challenge, making it both likely to fail and costly merely to try to fight anyone else. The Warlord nods to the Barbarian, and the two do their practiced maneuver, hammer into anvil. Without the Wizard clearing the way, none of them could have approached so close. Without the Paladin commanding the foe's attention, the Warlord and Barbarian would have been grievously wounded. Without the Warlord, the Barbarian's blow couldn't have felled it in one strike; but without the Barbarian, the Warlord's strategy is useless, it requires the help of another.

Who was the MVP? The Barbarian whose rage and battleaxe bit deep into the foe? The Warlord whose cunning strategies turned a powerful strike into a deathblow? The Wizard who toasted half a dozen kobolds? The Paladin whose steely glare and steely-er sword kept the foe distracted? I don't know if we can say any of them did. Instead, their cooperation is the MVP. Each of them did what was wise for them to do--but the wisest thing they could each do was something that made everyone better-equipped to face the threat.

That's how any actual small-unit tactics situation is going to play out. In actual battles, you can't afford to act as five individuals who all happen to fight in the same general space at the same time. You need to be a team. And a well-designed game can--and should!--reward players who actually act and think like teammates, and punish those who act and think like lone wolves trying to be solo acts.

1e tried rewarding "good roleplaying" with its as-written training rules. Really bad idea, in that it was completely dependent on DM judgment and thus made it nearly impossible for the DM to maintain any appearance of not playing favourites. I don't know of any tables that used that rule as written.
Oh, don't get me wrong, you really do have to be careful with design in that space. 3e's attempt at rewarding good roleplaying resulted in the horrible mess that was Prestige Classes. But that doesn't mean it can't be done. Dungeon World's alignment moves, for example, are a great, straightforward way to reward roleplaying. They can't be ported over to D&D directly (due to being based on DW's much different XP rules), but they show that roleplay rewards can be all three of good, simple, and worthwhile if refined.

Thing is, some players' ambitions involve their character being better than the rest - sure they're on a team but they want to be the star of that team
"I can only be happy if I'm the absolute best, and everyone else is inferior" is not behavior appropriate to a cooperative teamwork game. That is the kind of game D&D is, that is the kind of game WotC has always presented it as, and that is the kind of game they continue to sell today. Those who can only have fun by being the best, the star, the most important person, the protagonist while everyone else is just a sidekick, should not be encouraged to play D&D. They only have fun by reducing others' fun, and that is not acceptable behavior in the D&D space. It's actively rude.

- and when several such players are in the same game cooperation and teamwork can quickly go flying out the window. Provided people keep it all firmly in character, the results can be highly entertaining and amusing for all.
But you've already said they haven't. It is the player's ambition. Not the character's ambition. A character wanting to be the best is a totally different beast.

A Scout would combine the stealth, movement, and observation capabilities from the Rogue and Ranger but eschew the thievery, lockpicking, and woodland pieces those other classes get. It would be the best class at noticing things, and at remembering what it had seen. For combat, it would be a ranged sniper.
Still sounds like that makes the most sense as a Ranger subclass, if we simply make the Ranger a non-spellcaster and have a subclass that swaps out whatever "woodland" or "nature" features it gets for some other thing. It's a clear, coherent concept, it just has such complete overlap with the Ranger's fundamentals (moderate to heavy armored warrior who exploits observation, terrain, and pinpoint accuracy to both deliver devastating blows and guide his allies' efforts toward the most effective locations/targets/goals they can find) that I worry it would be widely derided as "oh, so it's just the Ranger with a different coat of paint."

E.g., what I would see for this is, assuming a 5e-like base...
Ranger 1: Baseline, get decent armor, good broad-range skill choices (so you don't have to pick Nature and Animal Handling, you can pick Perception and Investigation), good weapon selection, and a Fighting Style
Ranger 2: Terrain focus, which would include Urban or something like "cross-country" (roads and travel focus, rather than any specific environment)
Ranger 3: Subclass, which could offer spells, or a powerful animal companion, or your sharpshooter/observer/encyclopedia Scout, or etc.

So the same core base of a flexible warrior (Str or Dex) who can specialize in different styles of combat (Fighting Styles), who learns how to leverage some kind of terrain/situation/environment very effectively, with subclass then zeroing in on being a mystical tracker-hunter, a beast-tamer, an observer/sniper, etc.

A Swashbuckler would be a "light Fighter", getting all the Fighter-y combat benefits that the Rogue doesn't get without having to tank up in heavy armour. All offense, not much defense, but still a sub-Fighter rather than a sub-Rogue.
Ah. Fair enough. I personally see this as either a Rogue that gets Fighter stuff (like a Fighting Style and Extra Attack at higher levels) or a Ranger that gets rewarded for eschewing heavy armor and specializes in the art of the blade. But I recognize that both of those could feel like a bad fit; Swashbuckler is its own class in many games, both tabletop and computer.

A War Cleric dials that up to ten (a Paladin takes it to eleven). Its battle-oriented spells are enhanced and it uses a better combat matrix but its cures are relatively poor and its divniations are cut back unless they relate to combat (e.g. in place of Detect Good/Evil they get Detect Enemies). But it's still a Cleric, without all the baggage of a Paladin.
I guess I just don't see the need for something that dials it up to 10 when there's already something that dials it up to 11 and something else that's hovering at a comfortable 7-8.

The existence of ranged healing pains me. It takes in-combat healing - which should be next to impossible even with the caster taking extreme risk - and makes it trivially easy.

The existence of healing that is neither natural (i.e. what you get from resting) nor magical (i.e. from a divine spell) pains me. 4e (and 5e) already have IMO ridiculously-too-fast natural healing, and that non-divine types can heal not only destroys the Cleric's niche but serves to makes healing way too easily available. (I don't like Bards being able to heal either)

That the Warlord does both at once: ouch. :)
Ah. That's a pity. With ranged but limited healing, you can make combat highly volatile (status changes wildly from round to round, perhaps even from turn to turn) without needing to risk all that much lethality (that is, characters don't actually die all that often unless players make actual tactical errors.)

The key, of course, is the limitations. 4e limited healing in two ways: Standard healing powers (e.g. the ones Clerics, Bards, Warlords, etc. get at first level) could only be used twice per combat (three times for levels 16-30), and Healing Surges put a very strict soft cap on how much healing someone could get each day (so long as you correctly followed the "no bag of rats" rules--powers that give you healing from attacking an enemy actually require a real combat, not just a manufactured "I use this attack on a rat I pulled out of my bag!" type situation.)

Between the two, Leaders had to be cautious about not blowing through their resources right away, and players in general needed to avoid having one person always in front, always taking all the hits. You needed those Cleric etc. heals because healing yourself was usually risky and tactically wasteful, but you also couldn't just leap blindly into the fray knowing that there was an endless font of healing behind you, neither tactically (only 2x per combat!) nor strategically (you only get ~8 surges a day, less for squishies, more for beefy classes like Barbarian or Paladin). A party running out of healing surges genuinely has to weigh whether it is worth the risk to engage in combat again, regardless of who is bringing the party heals. That's part of why having stuff like Skill Challenges or environmental hazards (e.g. Dark Sun stuff) cost Healing Surges was so useful--it was a way to heighten tension and force difficult, nail-biting strategic decisions without directly just threatening characters with death.

Things are better in 5e than they were in 3e, but still flawed on the "forcing both tactical and strategic decisions" front, for a variety of reasons on both ends. No more wands of CLW (or, more typically, lesser vigor), but conversely, still tons of low-level spell slots to dump on healing at high levels. No more ridiculous CL cheese, but now Life Cleric goodberry cheese. Etc.
 

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