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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%

Banshee16

First Post
I voted for allowing anyone to play any role. I loathe the idea of characters (played over a 20 level or greater career), being shoehorned into specific "styles" of play.

2E and 3E had it right, IMO. If you played a fighter (for instance), you could take whatever weapon proficiences you want, wear any armor, and fight however you want...you could focus all on offense with little defense, you could tank it up, play a lightly armored fighter with two swords, an archer specialized in picking people off at a distance, etc.

Similarly, with spellcasters, you could be a summoner and bring in allies from the netherworld and have them fight for you, you could focus on defending your party against offensive magic, scrying, you could focus on spells to help to control the battlefield, spells to help with negotiations with NPCs, you could focus on being a blaster....it was your choice.

I'm not a fan of a narrow focus on roles. I don't mind roles being explained for new players, and "packages" for character configuration being explained....ie. if you have a fighter and want to focus on being a striker, pick XYZ abilities as you level up, and focus on doing ABC". But no class should be restricted that way by being built to only fill a particular role.

Let the player decide......

Banshee
 

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Banshee16

First Post
"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."

Roles in video games are set up both for game balance, and as part of how the games themselves are built, due to their inherently much more limited scope than tabletop RPGs.

That's why implementing those ideas into tabletop doesn't work. You're creating inherent limitations for no reason, in an environment that is inherently *unlimited* by comparison. In the CRPG, they need to control things much more tightly, for what the programmers and designers have been able to setup, design, and program. So, you get limits, like with Oblivion and Skyrim, where spellcasters can't fly, when they could in Morrowind. It translates into how the game is "supposed" to be played, but was implemented due to a technical limitation related to the "zones" in the game, skyboxes etc. and fundamental differences in the game engines.

There's no need to introduce these arbitrary limitations into a tabletop game.

It's not like if a fighter picks up a bow in a tabletop game, all of a sudden the four legs will fall off the gaming table, and the players sitting around the tablet will spontaneously fly off and get embedded into the walls of the room or something.

Why can't the roles be more like guides? Leave the actual character structure open, so different characters can fill different roles depending on what the player wants their character to do. Anything that says "if you want to be an archer, you're a ranger" is inherently limiting, and unnecessary.

Banshee
 

Banshee16

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.

Yes, yes I have. But my players tended to have more well rounded characters. I've seen fighters switch between S&B, TWF, and missile combat, depending on the situation. It might be something as simple as the fighter was fighting sword and board, was disarmed of his shield, pulled a dagger in his left hand, and "switched modes". Or that we had a fight that began at a distance, so everyone was ducking behind cover, using missile weapons etc. then, when the enemy was whittled down a little, the fighter drops his bow, draws his sword and charges in to finish the fight.

Some fighters were more generalists like this....and then yes, you also get the guy who piles all his choices into one style. But I've had both types of players in my group.....sometimes in the same party.

I don't agree with your assessment at all, as it hasn't been my experience in the last 20 years I've played.

Again, I'm not saying I *haven't* seen it....I'm saying it wasn't the only play style.....I've seen both styles. It just depends on the player....and sometimes, it's even the same player, but different characters they've run. By hard coding roles into the game, you're taking choice away from those who want it.

I'd much prefer a baseline of generality/flexibility, and then if you *want* to specialize in a role, you can, but that in turn limits you from other choices. That way you can have the guy who's *great* at one thing, working with the guy who's "good" at several things.

Banshee
 

Hassassin

First Post
Reasons I dislike the combat roles.


1. Terminology.

I think the rules should, where possible, use terms that have a meaning in the game world. I wouldn't want the PC's discussion of recruiting a cohort include "we could use a striker", because the word "striker" isn't something I think characters in the game world would use. The word "leader" is even more confusing, since it has nothing to do with who leads the party. At least "healer" would be unambiguous and something characters might use...

For example, the Ranger class could be described with in-game terms like: "Rangers are protectors of nature (like wardens) who are good at survival skills. In combat situations a ranger usually either fights at a distance with a ranged weapon or moves around the battlefield with two melee weapons. He is better at avoiding attacks than going toe-to-toe with strong enemies."

(As a more extreme example of describing characters using meta-game terms, surely no one would want the PHB to mention "damage per round" or "debuffing". And no, this isn't meant to refer to video games, but Char-Op terms.)


2. Emphasis on combat.

I don't think each and every character should be as good at fighting. There are a lot of other areas in the game, and balancing a strong non-combat role with weaker in-combat performance is in my opinion fine. Unless every character is as good at all areas of play, there's no reason combat should be a special case.

Players who don't like to participate as much outside combat situations often gravitate towards combat-themed classes like the fighter. Having them contribute more to combat would be a way to balance their lower out-of-combat participation.

(That doesn't mean any character should suck at combat. At least unless the player and the group are OK with that.)


3. The idea that roles are static.

In previous editions, a wizard has been able to change his role by preparing different spells and a fighter by switching weapons. Roles should be a tactical or strategic choice, not a character building choice. Magic items and even mundane equipment should allow a character to do things that fall under roles his class doesn't usually do well.


4. The idea that all roles should be filled.

This isn't something the rules say, just a kind of thinking that I've seen roles promote. I don't want to put that kind of limitations on party formation and character choices. Older editions that don't have explicit combat roles also have aspects that cause this sort of thinking, like the Rogue being the only class with Trapfinding. I'd like to see that fixed, rather than reinforced.

This, together with the above point, also pushes players to thinking any choice they make in building their character that doesn't contribute to their role is somehow bad.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
For example, the Ranger class could be described with in-game terms like: "Rangers are protectors of nature (like wardens) who are good at survival skills. In combat situations a ranger usually either fights at a distance with a ranged weapon or moves around the battlefield with two melee weapons. He is better at avoiding attacks than going toe-to-toe with strong enemies."
Even that is too limiting. You could simply say: "Rangers are protectors of nature (like wardens) who are good at survival skills; this has made them tough, and skilled at most forms of combat." and leave it at that. The player can figure out what she wants to do from there.

Aside: the two-weapon Ranger archetype can die in a fire any time it likes: Drizzt Do'urden was the ruination of a perfectly good class.

I don't think each and every character should be as good at fighting. There are a lot of other areas in the game, and balancing a strong non-combat role with weaker in-combat performance is in my opinion fine.
Agreed, though I'd tweak it to say not every character should be as good at fighting every opponent. Each class has its strengths and weaknesses (e.g. Illusionists vs. dumb Ogres, Illusionists vs. undead) and to me this is a feature rather than a bug.

In previous editions, a wizard has been able to change his role by preparing different spells and a fighter by switching weapons. Roles should be a tactical or strategic choice, not a character building choice. Magic items and even mundane equipment should allow a character to do things that fall under roles his class doesn't usually do well.
I think the view of roles is being taken on a much larger scale than day-to-day here, but you're quite right.


4. The idea that all roles should be filled.
Perhaps, but let's face it: a well-rounded party needs some starch up front, someone to patch up the starch, some artillery, and some stealth. Parties lacking one or more of those can certainly function, but not as well.

My answer to this: bigger parties. Let players run more than one character at a time. That way, all the bases will probably be covered and players will still be able to branch out into something else at the same time.

Lan-"rock and role"-efan
 

Hassassin

First Post
Even that is too limiting. You could simply say: "Rangers are protectors of nature (like wardens) who are good at survival skills; this has made them tough, and skilled at most forms of combat." and leave it at that. The player can figure out what she wants to do from there.

Aside: the two-weapon Ranger archetype can die in a fire any time it likes: Drizzt Do'urden was the ruination of a perfectly good class.

I assumed a 3e/4e style ranger. I agree about the TWF ranger, but I doubt that will happen.

Agreed, though I'd tweak it to say not every character should be as good at fighting every opponent. Each class has its strengths and weaknesses (e.g. Illusionists vs. dumb Ogres, Illusionists vs. undead) and to me this is a feature rather than a bug.

Definitely!

Perhaps, but let's face it: a well-rounded party needs some starch up front, someone to patch up the starch, some artillery, and some stealth. Parties lacking one or more of those can certainly function, but not as well.

But those are more like two combat roles: infantry and artillery, or melee and ranged.
 

Deadboy

First Post
I don't understand why people dislike roles so much. Maybe roles as presented in 4e were taken from MMOs, but MMOs took them from D&D first.

We've known about roles going all the way back to Basic D&D. Back then it was mostly called Tank, Healer, Skill-Monkey and Spellcaster, but it came down to mostly the same basic concepts. The Thief and later the Rogue, though being the Skill-Monkey, in combat was also highly mobile and very damaging - thus, became the Striker.

The problem with not having them acknowledged in the rules is that you often see classes that don't actually work the way people think they did - the Fighter made a pretty poor tank prior to marking because there was no good reason that the mostly highly mobile badguys couldn't take out the squishies first, running around the Fighter's slow ass. Meanwhile, other classes could switch roles at-will with the right spell selection, 'Cause Magic.

It seems to me that 4e just told us something we already knew and then gave the tools for that something to work the way it was always intended. It just seems to me that people don't like seeing under the hood that much, which to me is baffling.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Lanefan said:
Perhaps, but let's face it: a well-rounded party needs some starch up front, someone to patch up the starch, some artillery, and some stealth. Parties lacking one or more of those can certainly function, but not as well.
But those are more like two combat roles: infantry and artillery, or melee and ranged.
Plus two non-combat roles: healing and stealth. And the artillery can be by weapon or spell, leaving that "role" open to all kinds of classes.

Lanefan
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
It seems to me that 4e just told us something we already knew and then gave the tools for that something to work the way it was always intended. It just seems to me that people don't like seeing under the hood that much, which to me is baffling.
I don't mind seeing under the hood at all - I mean, hell, I already rebuilt the engine once. What I don't like seeing there is something that was always pretty vague being crystallized, hard-wired in, and then built around as if it mattered.

Lanefan
 

Hassassin

First Post
Plus two non-combat roles: healing and stealth. And the artillery can be by weapon or spell, leaving that "role" open to all kinds of classes.

Lanefan

There are other non-combat roles, at least if the play style uses character stats for things like exploration, social situations, knowledge, etc.

But yeah, I think combat roles could be reduced to just two, with most characters either good at one, or quite good at both.
 

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