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D&D 5E How would you like 5e to handle combat roles.

5e combat roles

  • 1 role. Defender or Striker or Leader or Controler.

    Votes: 27 21.8%
  • Everyone is a striker plus a secondary role: Defender or Leader or Controler.

    Votes: 27 21.8%
  • Everyone can play each role but in different ways.

    Votes: 70 56.5%


First Post
There are three different ways I see.

  • Each character class supports one combat role of the following: Defender, Striker, Controller, Leader
  • Each character class is a striker with one secondary combat role among the following: Defender, Controller, Leader.
  • Each character class has all combat roles but in different ways than other classes. So every class has his unique way to do damage, to defend, to control, to lead.

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Viking Bastard

So option 2 is basically option 1, but everyone does a bit more damage?

I like the roles, they really work for me, but I think they should be downplayed a bit.


I vote #1. But what I think is that each class should fill 1 role - at the time. But each class should be flexible enough to fill different roles. Not just as the same time.

For example:
Fighter: Tank, striker
Cleric: leader, controller
Rogue: striker, tank
Wizard: controller, striker.

That's assuming we even want roles, or those 4 roles.


First Post
Some roles, like defender, may not work as well without using a combat grid / miniatures - that's a real thing to think about as that becomes optional.

Personally, I'd like to drop two of the roles with prejudice - Controller and Leader.

Controllers by general design focus are intended to _make combats more boring_. Freezing half the enemies in place so they can't act, stunning the big boss for an entire combat, sleeping this or that, etc. In play, some of them (thankfully) fail at that, or only do so in some of the combats and not others - though that tends to mean the most dangerous and exciting combats are the ones trivialized by a barrage of spells (swinging back towards 15 minute day problems). The more I play, the happier I am to say that everyone can get a little control (daze, slow, forced movement, whatever) without making it the entire focus of a character.

Leaders... well, technically I'm fine with having healers. But I'd like to drop the _Leader_ part. I don't need people granting everyone a ton of attacks, or fiddly bonuses to track constantly. Don't center a character on making everyone else's turns more complicated and giving people things to track and forget.

So, yeah, my roles might look something like:
Defender: Tougher, slightly better defenses, in an optimal world reduces total party damage taken
Healer: Increases party's ability to recover from damage taken

Hopefully in vaguely similar terms - so if a group can effectively take 10 hits before dropping, swapping in a defender or healer might up that to 12.

Striker: Focuses on killing one target more quickly
Blaster: Focuses on killing multiple targets

Both of which would effectively shorten combat rounds. So if a group was taking 12 attacks over 5 rounds without, swapping a striker or blaster in might kill things faster so they only take 10 attacks.

Note that _functionally_ all 4 of those roles resulted in the same thing, better party survivability through shifting about 20% of incoming damage. I'm a big fan of personal choice - not having a particular role should be fine, and having extra should be fine.


Personally, I'd like to see the lists of Exploits, Prayers, and Spells be one big list per source, with keywords in the individidual entries to tell us which ones are defenderish, lurkerish, artillerish, leaderish, and controllerish. Then whatever Class you decide to play (which would grant you certain Class Abilities that are independent of "role" and which get better over time)... you can then start picking your Exploits, Prayers, or Spells from any of the ones in that individual big list... allowing you to play your character however you want to play.

The game would of course tell you that focusing on one or two "role keywords" would probably be a good idea so that you don't over-extend yourself and become too broad and shallow... but you would still thus be able to be a "sneaky paladin" or a "artillery fighter" or "healing druid" etc. Plus, this way all spellcasting characters could have access to Fireball if they wanted, rogues could Cleave if they wanted to pick it up, and paladins could Cure Moderate Wounds.

The biggest advantage to this is that the names of the Exploits, Prayers, and Spells return to being more iconic, because they are now in use over however many Classes you create, rather than every single class having its own list of powers.


I would prefer each class having one primary role. Allowing multiple roles increases complexity and makes it harder to figure out what an individual's PCs contribution to the group is.

Now, allowing everyone to play whatever they want and still having a viable group is a design goal, I believe, but I'm not sure how that can be achieved without DM adjustment. Roles exist, whether they are explicity stated or not, by the very fact of having different classes and different PC combinations will have different strengths and weaknesses and so will different class combinations in the group.


Each class gets different sets of abilities that define the role. I'd call them paths.

I'd also keep the role definitions rather broad and loose. For example, striker could be a heavy-hitting tank, or a sneaky bastard with poisoned daggers, or a wizard shooting lightning to the sky.


First Post
I've played a lot of 4th Edition and what I miss most about the game is the ability to play any party of characters and still work as a combat unit. That is all rogues and still fight well together as we did in 3.5E. Where people could play whatever they wanted and didn't feel pressure to fit a particular cog.

What we need are powers that can link into class features. So that all players have at least one of the 5 basic slots: tank, damage, heal, control, social.

They're class allows them to add certain types of powers into those slots. So a rogue could take a heal power but it could not be a magical or divine heal. But they could take a heal power like "First Aid" or something.

That way you could have a party of all rogues but say one rogue is more tank like and another rogue is more controller like and the last two rogues are straight damage. But that party will not be powered by divine or magical power and will function very differently than a party with a cleric or wizard. Healing here will require a lot of movement to get next to each other and retreating while a cleric would allow some ranged healing.

I throw in the social slot because we need a place for powers that are not combat oriented. A lot of the utilities I felt fell into this area. I want to be able to take "Bravado" once during a non-combat scene a rogue can roll his bluff check twice and take the better result. Etc.

I say scrap everything apart from the Classes - and let players make up their own minds about what 'Role' they want to play. You could, I guess, have an essay discussing tactical roles and team work, but the notion of having built in rules that dictate the way you should play your character detracts from the very idea of roleplaying in the first place. It codifies character behaviour - what should be left up to the players to decide.

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