Settling on a Combat Playstyle

rgoodbb

Explorer
When I started 5th as a player, my first PC Pash Tandaro was a Human Bard/Warlock multiclass with the Magic Initiate feat. I had come from 4th where Hybrids worked really well. I soon found however that even though I had a gazillion Cantrips, I was many steps behind other players in (perceived) power level, and coming from 4th, power meant quite a bit. So I decided multiclassing was bad.

My next PC Vito Vitochovic was a Lightfoot Rogue (thief) dagger thrower and whilst single classed, he felt a bit limited without the magic that all the other players had. That game ended at 6th. Next was Grum the Stout Barbarian for Strahd. Very boring combat playstyle. He went and in came Hess a head-butting human Monk/Cleric multiclass (yes I didn’t learn my lesson). I was again behind the power curve with my multiclassing.

It has to be pointed out at this stage I didn’t want to be better than other players, I just wanted to feel both equal and content with my choice. From there I went opposites: If I played a martial PC, the next would be full magic. I was trying to find a class that I was comfortable with. Wizard had too much book keeping for my liking, Warlock was the wrong fit for the campaign that most often had one big battle at the end of the session. Battlemaster didn’t have the feels for me. Sorcerer felt a bit bitty in the middle of combat. Cleric felt like the table expected one thing from you and one thing only (in my mind).

Throughout a long journey (which I am glad to say I am still continuing), I have settled on a few classes/subclasses that I really enjoy playing in the combat pillar. For me the Land Druid, the Lore Bard and the Arcane Trickster really stand out as my kind of playstyle.

Saying that though, I played a one-shot recently and asked the DM to randomly roll Race and Class for me. He half-apologetically rolled me a Goliath Warlock. Ouch! But d’you know what. I had a scream playing and roleplaying Lathgar the Purger whose favourite trick was to grapple your head into a high level Cloud of Daggers. Who would have thought that? The random element kicked me out of my settled ways.

Still learning, I guess.

TL;DR (I believe)
What are your favourite Combat Playstyles that you are fully content with, and how did you get there?
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
IN D&D (only), I really like bards, battlefield control, support, and similar characters who are also the very good in some other pillar of play (social, wilderness exploration, etc.). Part of it is that everyone likes having you on your team, and even if you pull out sick combos, you're helping other people shine, not stealing the spotlight. Also I like to talk so I like characters who are not bad at it.

As an outreach of that, defender types seem to be my next favorite, especially because across all game systems I tend to prioritize survivability (except when I don't, like my fearless halfling bard with the lowest AC and HPs, who often goes into melee because he's got big brass balls).

I also like casting - both the flexibility of it, but also the "do I use this now, save it for later" tension I enjoy.

My last couple of characters (in any system):
  • Duris - a semi-shifter-flavored totem barbarian form a line of moon druids. Sentinel, polearm mastery, uber defender.
  • Jac* - a resleeved doctor who can mentally "code" both brains and machines (Supers Cyberpunk/FATE)
  • "Corporal" Droozh - Loxodon Order Cleric in a Greek-themed legion-based game. (Reskinned Ravnica)
  • Sebastian Macadamus Zest - iconic surgeon that is so good he can even do things like remove parts of personalities or someone's magic. (Homebrew system, mythical post-end-of-world game)
  • Erevan - half elf oath of ancients paladin. Inspiring leader, more tanky than damaging
  • Jillian Briarfoot - fearless halfling bard who helped refound an ancient kingdom and became the First Herald of Pal. Battlefield and buffing, had little direct damage spells.
  • Garreck Houndsman - UA ranger, crossbow expert. My only primary damage dealer.
  • Dang, I'm forgetting his name. Oath of Ancients paladin but the game ended quickly.
  • Krieger - deep gnome abjuration wizard. battlefield control expert who had basically no damaging spells.
  • Smoke - shifter runepriest (4e leader - runepriests were all about auras, healing, buffs, and debuffs)
  • Measure - warforged warden (4e defender - primal powers giving soft control and durability)
What I look for now is a lot different than what I used to play when I was younger.
 
My preference was always been for sneaky fighters. Whether that's an Assassin, a fighter/thief, some sort of ranger, whatever, that's always been my fall back. I enjoy scouting and sneakery, laying ambushes, and the occasional bit of vertical larceny. So I guess that means lighter armored mobile type fighters. I want to swing from chandeliers defty avoid strikes.

I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy many different types of characters though.
 

RogueJK

It's not "Rouge"... That's makeup.
I agree that many straight melee characters like most Fighters and Barbarians tend towards boring, and are missing the creativity and out of combat utility that magic brings. Straight melee characters with some nifty tricks like Battlemasters, Rogues, and Monks are less boring, but still slightly so.

So I prefer melee characters with magic, like Paladins and Sorcadins, Hexblades, certain Clerics, Ranger/Clerics, Moon Druids, and Arcane Trickster/Bladesingers. "Gishes", if you will.

A close second favorite would be Support/Face characters like Lore Bards, provided you have a large enough group to make it worthwhile (e.g. a dedicated Support character is less ideal for a 2-3 person party, but shines in a 5+ person party).
 

DMMike

Game Masticator
Saying that though, I played a one-shot recently and asked the DM to randomly roll Race and Class for me. He half-apologetically rolled me a Goliath Warlock. Ouch! But d’you know what. I had a scream playing and roleplaying Lathgar the Purger whose favourite trick was to grapple your head into a high level Cloud of Daggers. Who would have thought that? The random element kicked me out of my settled ways.

What are your favourite Combat Playstyles that you are fully content with, and how did you get there?
That's pretty much what I do. Randomly determine something, in the absence of an obvious theme- or campaign-appropriate choice. Which means I end up with a random combat style.

I'm on a bit of an electro-shock binge, though. If I can get an unaware watchman to start walking (away) by making his feet magically tingle, good. If I can call down a lightning bolt and decorate the area with his entrails, so much the better.
 

TwoSix

The hero you deserve
There's usually a couple of boxes I like to tick off with my character.

-I like decent combat ability, but favor more consistent damage and survivability over overwhelming damage.
-I like a mix of different resources, to change up combat a bit. (It's why I liked the 4E AEDU system so much.)
-I like to to have a niche in non-combat situations. (Face, Lore guy, scout, anything like that.)
-I like reliable effects over save-or-suck type effects. I prefer to shift the battle than end it. I like spells like buffs and summons and terrain effects over stuns or incapacitates.
-I love fun at-will effects to play with outside of combat. (Like warlock's at-will silent image.)
-I love alternate modes of movement. Some of my favorite characters have had at-will fly, or teleporting effects, or burrowing.

It's a lot of boxes to hit, but characters like my hexblade warlock in 5e or my summoner in PF have come the closest.
 

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