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
Really? Have you actually seen players change their fighter's weaponry and styles around during play? Sure, the fighter might have a ranged weapon and a melee weapon, but, beyond that, I've never seen a play switch styles. If the fighter uses a shield, he always uses a shield. If he uses two weapons, he always uses two weapons. Again, barring specific circumstances when he switches to a bow. But, fighters have always baselined on whatever single style they chose at 1st level.

Maybe we've played different styles, but yes.

The fighter basically changes his main weapon whenever the party finds a new, more powerful magic weapon. Most fighters I've seen have a lance to use when mounted, regardless of their usual combat style. Having a tower shield for heavy duty defender action is also not uncommon, even though few would use that in all fights due to the -2 penalty to hit.

Sometimes the fighter borrows another character's weapon. The cleric's mace is more effective against skeletons and the cleric doesn't need it, since he's Turning Undead. The rogue's flaming sword works against trolls - and he'd rather stay ranged. Etc.

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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.

Classes are just names for roles. An AD&D Cleric was clearly a healer ("leader"). A Fighter was clearly a defender. But when the class design is muddy, or when the players are allowed too much leeway to customize a class into a different creature altogether, it can create a situation where the party has no healer or defender because someone is being a dick and bringing their non-healing cleric to the table. Now if everyone knows beforehand what your cleric really is and understands what that entails, cool; but otherwise, not.


Doing the best imitation of myself
I think this is another case of showing how the sausage is made.

D&D has roles, and has had them right from the beginning. It has roles that you need to use in order to survive the Fantasy Vietnam of dungeon adventures.

The Magic User is a squishy. If left unprotected, he'll die, almost immediately. The only reason he's there is for his artillery effects.

The Fighting Man has a lot of hit points, and the best armor class in the game. He's a shield of meat that stands in front of the squishies.

The Cleric is a hybrid role: he has access to healing spells, but also can take a fair bit of punishment. The reason he's there, however, is to keep the group alive and moving. He's the person who looks up when the fighter says, "heal, please!"

The Thief, well in combat, there's a question as to what the Thief is doing there. Depending on the GM, he might get to use his backstab, which can do a fair bit of damage (it's swingy, but with a good roll, he can do the most damage of any of the classes). The Thief is there, however, to pick the locks and deal with the traps. And, oftentimes at low levels, to die to those traps.

Those are pretty basic roles that were used in the game since it started, and people who didn't want to use the character generation system a lot paid attention to them. Over time, when computer games were developed, those were the roles they took from D&D. I have to laugh at the notion of the roles being from computer games and ask... where do you think the computer games got them from in the first place?

It seems like when we talk about things, they lose some of their mystery and wonder ... and a lot of their appeal (that's my "knowing what's in the sausage," comment). My take on D&D next is that a lot of the discussions about how and why the game works will be removed from it so as to leave the mystery of the sausage intact.

If D&D is only concerned with the current audience and existing gamers, there's not a huge reason to describe the roles in detail: we can rely on people basically figuring it out for themselves, or already knowing them from decades of experience. That seems to be what D&D next is try to do.

I'd argue, however, that if we bring new people into the game, they're going to want to know what they're character is expected to do in the game. That's what 4E tried to do. And using the terms that 4E spelled out is very useful in that case. The anger it created, however, means it's likely to end as a design goal.


I don't understand all the roles hate.

Looking back at the first D&D iterations the classes were all extremely pigeonholed. Everyone got a weapon that they swung each round: fighters usually a sword, clerics got a mace, thieves a dagger or shortsword and mages a staff or dagger. Mages got to mix it up by casting a few hideously powerful spells (magic missile hit and killed low level enemies or sleep knocked out a heap). Clerics could cast a few heals, but mostly after the battle. The thief was weak and their best hope was to get a chance backstab once every couple of combats. In fact, it was designed so fighters would shine most in combat as other classes had non-combat times to be in the spotlight.

I find 4e far more inclusive for letting everyone to get their moment in the spotlight. Roles in my mind help facilitate that.

Yes, it means a 'balanced party) has advantages over 5 rogues. But I think that can be a good thing, plus no one says that you can't all be strikers if that's what your group wants.

(I wanted to give you experience.) It seems to me that people are simply in denial. They do not like the terminology, fine. But it is not very accurate to deny that there are actual roles in a party, and that classes make it easier to determine. I played OD&D, AD&D and several other roleplaying games before encountering the clear and explicit terminology of the Fourth Edition: it suddenly all made sense to me.



Classes are just names for roles. An AD&D Cleric was clearly a healer ("leader"). A Fighter was clearly a defender. But when the class design is muddy, or when the players are allowed too much leeway to customize a class into a different creature altogether, it can create a situation where the party has no healer or defender because someone is being a dick and bringing their non-healing cleric to the table. Now if everyone knows beforehand what your cleric really is and understands what that entails, cool; but otherwise, not.

At the same time, people need to be able to play their favorite class without risking being forced into their least-favorite role. There's some pretty darn good ways to build a non-healing cleric and that should definitely be available to players. Most editions have at least 2 ways to play any given character, and I'd love to see that expanded upon in 5e, in fact, I think it's downright mandatory.


In a role-playing game, non-combat is the soul of the activity.

I think there are much better roleplaying games for that sort of gaming than D&D. Most of my D&D players think the most exciting part of D&D is a good fight (with some suitable story tension to make it worthwhile and memorable). There have been other systems which I sampled (and quit) which catered far more to fluff and drama.


I have to admit, I've never really understood the dislike of roles, other than "Oh noes, it's from video games, it must be baaaaaaad!" Which, honestly, I have no patience for.

Good grief, I don't even play video games and I can still recognize that that MOUNTAIN of analysis that has been applied to how video games work is of great value in RPG design. There are differences between TTRPG's and video games of course. But, there are a number of similarities as well. A number of the basic concepts do port back and forth.

Why wouldn't you want to avail yourself of that analysis? Why stick your head in the sand and try to re-invent the wheel? Or, worse yet, try to prevent the wheel from being invented in the first place.

Roles didn't originate in video games. They might have been codified there, but, roles have their origins in wargaming. The terminology might shift, but the concepts are all right there.

When discussing how a class operates in combat, why wouldn't you use the language that's been developed to discuss how a given class operates in combat despite the change in medium?

The problem comes when people want to do two things:

1. Conflate role with what the character can do. Role talks about combat. That's ALL it talks about. It does not comment in any way, shape or form on what a class does outside of combat. Claiming that all a fighter can do is "defend" ignores the fact that defend has nothing to do with what a fighter does outside of combat.

2. Try to argue that somehow TTRPG's are special snowflakes and not games. That TTRPG's do not share any commonality with other games out there. Unless, of course, we happen to like a particular game, in which case, commonalities are perfectly fine to discuss.

After sifting through five pages, I finally found this piece of sage advice. This certainly expresses much better than I, what I have been trying to say.


I thought the 4e roles were dumb and limiting.

What I would do is this. Give each class a primary ability focus, from this list.

specialty caster

Then let each player choose a lesser focus from this list
specialty caster.
skill monkey

LOL get it? Cross training like the special forces. You want a ranger? Warrior major focus, sneak minor. Want a ninja? Sneak/ warrior. Want a gladiator who was raised in the pits? Warior/warrior.

The options are basically endless.

Maybe even give a tertiary focus as well that players can customize.
skill monkey

want a 3e rogue? sneak/skill monkey/ warrior
palidan? warrior/ face/ healer
You want spartacus? warrior/ warrior/ leader
caesar? face, skill monkey/ warrior
Classic wizened sage? Skill monkey, caster/skill monkey

Note I list specialty caster because I think the key to killing codzilla is limiting casters by school more. Let them pick one or two for each focus on caster.

If I had my way thats they way they would handle classes in 5e.

Your first choice goes with your class name and adjusts attack bonuses and saves, skills and some powers/feats/ whatever they call them in 5e.

2nd choice gives additional abilities, class skills, but smaller list then 1st choice

3rd choice follows suit.

Get rid of multi-classing and maybe give players the ability to add a new focus every few levels if they choose.

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