Should There Even Be Roles?

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Klaus

First Post
I think that you took the time to find those quotes shows very little about classes in 2e D&D. For example the wizard or the cleric could have any role depending on what spells and schools you focussed on. A necromancer would be very different then and evoker or a illusionist. Taking away these options and narrowly focusing on a classes "role" in battle was introduced in 4e, in my opinion.
I just pulled out my 2e PHB, went to the Classes chapter and read the descriptions of the classes (as opposed to the mechanics text, which was about 90% of each class' entry).
 

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I think that you took the time to find those quotes shows very little about classes in 2e D&D. For example the wizard or the cleric could have any role depending on what spells and schools you focussed on. A necromancer would be very different then and evoker or a illusionist. Taking away these options and narrowly focusing on a classes "role" in battle was introduced in 4e, in my opinion.

in my circles (about 20 or so players/DMs localy, 2 gen con trips, and a few local cons, so not a small, but not a huge sample size) 2e had role by other names.

I rember ever group needed a healer, so Cleric or Druid... every group needed a caster for artilary so a wizard or speclist, and every group needed a way to handle traps and stealth...so a theif, and every group needed a front line combatant so a fighter, ranger, paliden.

When we had 4 or more players we always had a cleric or druid (90% time cleric) and a thief, or a fighter theif, and we had a wizard/specilist... if we didn't someone switched

In 3e this got expanded (especialy with multi class rules) we might have a rouge, or a ninja, or a spell theif, but we always had someone who could add damage and find traps (or we would use magic to do it if needed)


I think the roles could be redefined, I also think the roles could be made better...but 4e did not invent them, they just tried to bring them out into the open.




on the 4e board I had a suggestion about makeing 5e 2 roles. combat/non combat.

a rouge is a martial striker/face, a Bard is an arcane leader/face ect.
 

Benimoto

First Post
The point I made back then was that on occasion I have wanted to play a character that is (readying myself for horrified gasps) completely incompetent in combat. So when I saw that I really couldn't create a spindly little cowardly wizard who really only shined in certain key situation, I was bummed by 4E.
I think it's important to understand that the 4e designers didn't set out to deliberately hamstring you or other people who wanted to intentionally make a character who's incompetent in combat. What they wanted to do is make it so that people didn't end up with that kind of character accidentally through bad, but legitimate, choices in character creation.

In combat, you could paraphrase The Incredibles: When everyone is great in combat, no one is.

I disagree that every 4e character was great in combat. Things like terrain, types of monsters, player power choices or especially player tactics or teamwork did still end up making some characters shine brighter in combat than others. I think they tried to make every character competent, with the possibility of becoming great, which is something different.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I have absolutely no problem putting advice in the "core" game for a play style with which roles are important. I have absolutely no problem with some options that let you "turn on" roles with in the game rules. I do have a problem with roles being "on" in any mechanical sense (including tags or keywords) in the "core" rules, because it would keep people from playing.

Do you really consider a power keyword to be part of the "core" rules that you are forced to deal with? I mean... it's a keyword. It's as easily disregarded amd ignorable as the fluff descriptions of the 4E powers we all see and pretty much read right past nowadays. If the Fireball entry in the next iteration had a keyword list that said "Arcane, Evocation, Fire, Implement, Striker" (for example), why does that cause such concern? And why does the "striker" keyword need to be left off the list so as to not alienate players who don't like Roles... but we leave on "Evocation" even though it might alienate those BECMI players who didn't use or like Wizard Schools? Do we just eliminate all keywords altogether so that we don't alienate ANYBODY? Are we really going to force the designers to produce a spell list for the arcane classes and NOT include a "role" keyword... and instead make them reprint the entire list in an entirely separate book that includes the ideas of roles just so the role keyword could be added at that point? Doesn't that seem sort of a waste of time and space?

Here's a similar situation which helps clarify what I mean.

Players of 1E and 2E for the most part did not use grids. Their spells had ranges in feet/yards etc., and distance between players and monsters were pretty much guesstimated during play. Are we now expecting the designers to NOT possibly include in the rules for Fireball (as an example)

Range: 100 feet in a 15 foot burst (Area burst 3 within 20)

...because heaven forbid we offend the 1E and 2E players by including the numbers in squares right next to the range in feet? Are you saying we are now "forcing" these old school players into rules they don't want by including ALL the alternative rules in same place? That squares are now "core" because they are included in the spell description?

Can't we go into this with the expectation that the rules will probably include all the ways for them to be interpreted via your edition of choice, and yes... you as a player and reader will just need to gloss over those small, niggling keywords, definitions and numbers that you yourself won't use, just so that the whole book doesn't have to get printed a second time to now include them? Is that really too much to ask?

And if you say 'yes'... then I don't think you're ever going to be happy with the game that gets eventually gets produced, because I guarantee it will include info attributable to all the editions, much of which won't actually be used by you depending on which dials and knobs you chose to play with.
 

DonTadow

First Post
As I mentioned upthread, D&D has had roles since the beginning. Fighters had the best armor and the most hit points, and it was a fighter's "duty" to stand on the frontlines keeping monsters away from the squishy wizard. The cleric's "duty" was to heal his companions, deal with undead and call down blessings to help his allies. Etc.

Roles have been in D&D for 30 years, except now they're summarized in a class' description to make it easier to choose what you want to play.
I hear this misconception all the time.

Roles were never in any earlier edition of D&D. At no point, was any class ever narrowed into one tiny role. The abilities of a creature never dictated play style.

For the same reason I don't want the word "square" in my dnd or I don't want "roles" These are gamey terminologies.

When i play my euro board games, the instructions rarely will refer to a token as a token. It will be take the coin or take the castle guard or take a piece of fish.

Immersion is everything dnd, and that's where they dropped the ball. We know a fighter in traditional sense may be front line, but we don't want it mechanically restricting, nor do we want a player to feel locked into it.

But, like i said earlier, this is an edition argument, not an actual mechanical one. There's ont a person who switched to Pathfinder who will want the term role or square in their RPG. It sounds corny.

The first thing that made me realize how horrible I"d enjoy 4e, was reading the elf. I passed the description to my wife without saying a word and asked her what stood out. The idea of a game telling me what I need to do sounded absurd.
 
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Greg K

Legend
I want the game to support
1. Bard
a. Warrior-Poet
b. Divine Bard (divine spells and no thieving or arcane spells)
c. Arcane Bard (no healing or thieving)
d. Nature Bard (spells based around nature, wilderness based skill set and no thieving)
e. Roguish Bard (spells only charms, illusions, luck)


2. Monk
a. unarmed martial artist divine priest: can use divine powers to turn spirits, bless, heal self and others, remove curse, and boost own their physical prowess senses and combat ability
b. martial artist with nature spells: channel the power of nature to boost their physical prowess , senses and combat ability and wield other control over nature and spirits. Skill set would be outdoor based.
c. martial artist with arcane spells to boost prowess, senses, and combat ability as well as cast other arcane spells, no healing.
d. martial artist with psychic ability to heal self, boost physical prowess and combat ability, telepathy, ESP, astral projection
 

hanez

First Post
in my circles (about 20 or so players/DMs localy, 2 gen con trips, and a few local cons, so not a small, but not a huge sample size) 2e had role by other names.

I rember ever group needed a healer, so Cleric or Druid... every group needed a caster for artilary so a wizard or speclist, and every group needed a way to handle traps and stealth...so a theif, and every group needed a front line combatant so a fighter, ranger, paliden.

When we had 4 or more players we always had a cleric or druid (90% time cleric) and a thief, or a fighter theif, and we had a wizard/specilist... if we didn't someone switched

In 3e this got expanded (especialy with multi class rules) we might have a rouge, or a ninja, or a spell theif, but we always had someone who could add damage and find traps (or we would use magic to do it if needed)


I think the roles could be redefined, I also think the roles could be made better...but 4e did not invent them, they just tried to bring them out into the open.




on the 4e board I had a suggestion about makeing 5e 2 roles. combat/non combat.

a rouge is a martial striker/face, a Bard is an arcane leader/face ect.

While I do not disagree with the content in your post I think it is misleading or misses the point as I see it. Sure groups of players WANTED those roles, there were players that said "we need a healer", but that has less to do with the system and more to do with the players.

The fact is that there were perfectly usable non artilary Wizard classes, not every theif had to specialize in stealth because they had other options, and there were other classes that could specialize detect traps and sneak. There were cleric builds that could be frontline warriors.

I might be the one missing the point, but the problem I have with "roles" is that they NARROW what a class can do. I liked the option of changing how my class works and I saw many of the options in 4e narrow the options to 1 or 2 predefined roles. I also mourn the passin of non combat roles, I often made diviners, enchanters, and charmers (not always spellcasters) that traded combat effectiveness for more effectiveness with the story.

So when I think of "combat roles" I define them as "how a class specifically benefits the party in combat" and I see this idea really becoming more focused (if not created) in 4e. A blatant way I see that 4e magnified the focus of "combat roles" was that in previous editions it was possible to build characters whose focus was not combat, this is for the first time largely impossible in 4e.


Edit - I found a rule of three article where Rich Baker expands on roles in 4e- http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4ro3/20111114

One more lesson learned: It's harder to customize a character or play against type when the class is built to serve a specific role. If you want to build a wizard who behaves like a striker by putting out a ton of damage on a single target, you can't really do it; you need to build a warlock instead. Similarly, if you want to build an axe-throwing fighter, you'll find that the fighter offers darned few ranged weapon powers; it's hard to make the fighter into a character who fights well at range. You have to create that character by figuring out which class makes that concept work (slayer or ranger, perhaps) and call yourself an axe fighter while using the chassis provided by a class in the "proper" role. Role insulation helps to guide players into building effective characters, but it also limits creativity. It'd be nice to give players more control over which role their characters were filling, or even if they were filling a role at all.
 
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Herschel

Adventurer
I think I have to disagree with where the base level should be, if I'm reading you correctly. I think making the core level of the game look more at combat than, say, RP concerns is going to rub a lot of people the wrong way. Some people are much more interested in RP aspects than in combat aspects. For example, I like both, while one of my players doesn't like combat too much (he has fun still, but not as much as out-of-combat concerns).

I think both are going to have to have a pretty generic base actually and add-ons are going to have to be in numerous layers. Take a fighter, for example. The "base" fighter may be a guy who can wear armor and use all the standard weapons. His attack will basically be a Melee Basic. One module may add iterative attacks, a different module may add defender aura and associated abilities, another may add marks and AEDU power structures.
I'd like to see the game recognize that many people see "contributing to the group" as more than just combat. And, by "more", I don't mean "in addition to". D&D has always been a strong combat game, for sure. Don't deny it that. However, I'd say it's best not to deny RP-focused players their preferences on a "core" level if you plan on making the game as inclusive as possible.

Which is why at its "base" level it may not even have a skill system, ala 1E. One module could add secondary skills, ala 2E, another a base skill set, ala 4E, and then a full skill suite, ala #E in another.

Personally, I vote for almost no "core" if they're going to really go through with this approach. Make classes, like the rogue or thief, sure, but then let the players dial the game to what they think that means. Don't set the "core" game to "everyone's decent at combat, and RP skills can be added later." That's bad presentation, in my mind.

I think that's why 4e was accused (however unjustly) as being "less RP-oriented" than past editions. That is, if the game knowingly separates combat from useful "RP" skills, people will accuse them of being mutually exclusive. Make "combat" a part of "RP" and I think you're golden. If combat is a useful "RP" skill to have, so is "crafting" or "performing" or whatever. Make them all part of the "core" game, and then let the players choose the dials of complexity they want for those skills.

Just my thoughts. I think we might need to agree to disagree on our visions of how the game should be made. As always, play what you like :)

I don't think we're that far apart really, but with 'almost no core' I think that will likely mean the "core" is VERY bare bones and the social vs. combat skills will need to be presented separately and exclusively.

What's going to be really intersting is how wizards are handled. Will the base wizard just be a guy who shoots magic missiles with modules for Vancian vs. AEDU casting?

And will the modules just basically be the editions re-printed in a modular format meaning if you really like any edition as-is you could just stick with what you have and find no difference in your actual game?
 

Herschel

Adventurer
Roles will always exist in any group of people, whether real people or fictional people. For me the problem with roles in 4e was that they weren't really roles in the general or dramatic sense...they were the COMBAT roles.

They didn't have a role called "Con Artist", because it didn't apply to combat. I am not saying you couldn't roleplay a con artist, but the role system was essentially based around combat.

And for many that's exactly the way it SHOULD be. I came from the old red box and AD&D and while I chose to be melee guy, archer guy, healer guy or wizard guy it had NOTHING to do with my character's personality, background or previous profession. The personality was whatever I chose it to be taking in to account ability scores and alignment. My LG charisma-dump guy wouldn't be a Con Artist, nor would my high-charisma, low -stregth character be played in a tough guy role but otherwise it was pretty open.
 

Herschel

Adventurer
No they have not. This is purely a revisionist history. 'Roles' as they are defined in 4th Edition were introduced in 4th Edition. And I don't ever recall a clamour of players struggling to choose a class in any previous edition whatsoever. The only thing 'Roles' made easier to choose was whether you wanted to play 4th Edition or not.

You're completely denying the game as it was and is. The classic party was fighter (melee tank guy defending the squishies), Cleric (healer, buffer/de-buffer), Thief (trap guy and sneaky guy) and Wizard (mess us the enemy's plans guy). If you had a fair amount of dungeon crawls and combat in your game, you wanted a guy to fill each role.
 

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