Thursday, January 14, 2016

Gaming Theory - Roles Within An Adventuring Party

Well, I guess the title pretty much says it all. Most (if not all) of us have played an RPG, or a cooperative miniature war game, where we had to function as part of a group. MMORPGs are included, of course, as they seem to even further stylize the relationship between classes and how they are dependent upon each other. I seem to recall some years back, discussing with a long defunct gaming group, what the ideal set up for an adventuring party was, depending upon what game you were playing and the number of players.

The classic set up, of course, is for four players of a fantasy RPG, D&D or the like. This would traditionally consist of a Fighter, Rogue, Mage, and Cleric. You have a tank, a damage dealer, a healer, and a support/utility. As fantasy games became more intricate, you could swap a rogue for a ranger for extra staying power at the expense of some skills, or a sorcerer or psion for mage, which honestly mostly was a flavor or preference thing.

Where things get really tricky, in a fantasy environment at least, is when you have less than four players. How do you cover the proverbial bases with three players, or two? Do you forgo a designated healer and drop some heavy coin on potions and scrolls? Do you go for jack of all trade classes like bards and rangers? I could see a paladin/mage/rogue team working pretty well, as the Paladin usually gets some healing early on, and is a good tank, particularly in an undead heavy setting.

What are some other solutions you guys have tried? What gaming systems have you used with this, and how successful were you?


Matthew Forish said...

I used to run around in WoW with my brother-in-law in either rapid-questing mode or slightly-below-level instance runs. He would play as a Gnome Mage, I as a Dwarf Hunter. My Hunter's Bear pet would Tank for us, I'd provide utility and heals (and some DPS) with my Hunter, while he'd provide DPS and further utility with his Mage.

Worked pretty well for only being the two of us, and could probably translate fairly well to a tabletop setting, provided you can build a Tank pet of some kind, and provide it with healing somehow.

CounterFett said...

That's a really interesting point. In D&D, for example, a Druid has some decent healing spells early on, and can summon all kinds of critters, plus can have an animal companion. I suppose a mage with summons could also team up with any variety of healer, as long as the healing works on non-humanoids.

WQRobb said...

D&D 4E actually integrated this into the rules, laying out four roles: defender, striker, leader, and controller. The leader was essentially a healer/buff class like cleric or warlord. Controllers could manipulate the battlefield with AoE powers.

With three, we usually skimped on the controller, or looked for a leader/defender like the warlord or paladin.

CounterFett said...

That's interesting, WQRobb, as it even mirrors what those roles are called by some serious MMORPG players. Sort of makes me regret that I missed 4E. I suppose it's not too late to look into this...