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What's a well-balanced D&D Party?


Is a well-balanced D&D party:

1 Fighter
1 Wizard
1 Rogue
1 Cleric

Is this what WotC is thinking of when they talk about Challenge Ratings being based on 4 PCs of a certain level?

Surely an all Wizard party is more disadvantaged than the example "well-balanced" party above.

Should WotC state (or maybe they already do, I haven't read my books in a while) that a party of 4 should ideally feature 1 each of the 4 "main" classes as featured above?

Furthermore, should a GM make players compromise when they are building an adventuring party? For example, say all the players wanted to play Wizards in their D&D game. Can the GM say: "No, some one has to play a Cleric, a Rogue, and a Fighter".

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First Post
What is a well balanced party? A myth.

Ley the player play what they want. If they all want to be Wizards, let them. THere is nothing wrong with parties that are a bit unusual. I've found players think a bit more in parties like these.

The Serge

First Post
A well-balanced party is one cleric, one fighter, one rogue, and one wizard. This is clear from the majority of examples used in the PH and DMG. When I playtest my material, that's what I require because it gives me a good gauge based upon the most "classic" character-types.

That said, a DM really has no right to impose what PCs play in a real game (not a playtest). While I think the DM can determine which texts are available and even which classes are accessible in his game, he should not dictate that the party must be balanced from a class perspective. Certainly, he can strongly suggest what may be a good idea to have, but that's it. I've done that many times; my games, but their nature, require at least one divine spellcaster, at least one arcane spellcaster, and at least one rogue. If anyone of these are missing, the PCs end up having a harder time over the course of a campaign.

Now, I do think that a DM is responsible for tailoring his game -- to a degree -- to what his players are running. That is, if there's a druid in the party, it would be nice every now and again to run a game in a wilderness location. However, this is a two-way street and PCs need to find out from the DM what kind of locations/world he plans on running.


Mod Squad
Staff member
Yes, the canonical party is fighter, cleric, rogue, wizard. And as I recall the books are pretty clear about that base assumption. It isn't that a party "should" have those, merely that the basic design assumes that the party has abilities similar to the canonical party. It isn't a restriction. It is a reference point for the DM.

Whether or not a DM should enforce the party spread really depends upon the flavor the DM and party wants, what the DM intends to do, and the DM's skills.


This is one of the many reasons why CR is a broken concept. The make up of a party changes the level and types of encounters you can throw at a party. How much curing, how many hitpoints, how much magic situation altering power your party has fluxuates the power of the party greatly.

That said, almost any party can work. I've run into problems where too many people played the same concept (one group had nine fighters and one magic user ouch) or when the concepts don't work well together (three stealthy sneak characters and one human in full plate with a move silently of -5). Those situations are tough because someone is usually in the shadow of another character and doesn't get the chance to shine or one persons tactics are left out of the game because they don't fit with the party (Say Bob why don't you stay in the Inn while we go sneak into the warehouse and do the adventure.)

Other then that most groups work fairly well, even if they are lopsided in the canocal sense.


For a generic, standard adventure (involving a "dungeon", a bunch of combat encounters, a few puzzles and a couple of traps), a well-balanced party, IMO and IME, would include:
  • a combat-oriented character (IMO, the fighter is the best choice, but a barbarian or paladin will usually do);
  • an character for combat assistance, some buffing, and utility spells (IOW, an arcanre caster - wizard or sorcerer);
  • a spellcaster for buffing and (especially) healing (usually cleric, a druid will do, and a bard *might* fill this role as well);
  • a rogue (he's the only class that has an ability that cannot be effectively duplicated until higher levels - trapfinding).
Now, naturally, there are better and worse combinations. A party with a fighter might fare rather well with druid character instead of a cleric, but a barbarian pretty much requires a dedicated healer (his AC is generally lower than a fighter's, and driops even further when he's raging, which causes more hp loss, and healing that much hp might tax druid's limited healing resources; OTOH fighter will probably less damage per round, but druid's animal companion and summoning abilities will help in that department).
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