Friday, December 30, 2011

Role vs. Role vs. Roll

We're all mad here

I was looking for some great articles on Roles in 4th edition D & D. I'm sure they are there because I've read them before however I can’t find them now so if anyone knows of any feel free to post links to them in the comments.
I’m sure many of you are familiar with the role system in D and D 4e or, if not, at least with a similar idea in World of Warcraft. If you aren’t then sit down professor James the Mad is about to school you.
What is a role and why do you care?
Mark? Defender Aura? What's that? I just want to hit things!
Roles in D and D serve a dual purpose. The first is to give players an idea of what things their character can and should do. Maybe you just want to play a fighter because you remember that fighters hit things. Well if all you want is to play a fighter that hits things you may be sadly disappointed in the 4e fighter. You will have a mark to keep track of, and exploits, which are a lot like spells. You may get frustrated because all you want to do is hit things. Why, oh why, can’t you just hit things? The reason is that all classes in D and D 4e have a role or a mechanical definition of their job or purpose. Fighters are now Defenders which, in addition to hitting things, they now have ways to make the monsters focus on trying to hit them. If you are just picking up the game for the first time, picking a role before you pick a class can be a good idea. The roles give you a good idea of what your character can do, and can give you a bit of a guide on how to have them act, or role play them in combat situations. The second purpose is to provide links between class design and how a class needs to perform in a group. In essence, role is a label that identifies what your character should be good at and how to have them perform in the party
I will rule you all with my iron fist. You! Obey the Fist!
There are four roles in D and D. The roles are similar to World of Warcraft Roles but withsome subtle differences. The first role is Controller. Controller is the hardest role to define and suffered a bit from identity crisis early in the edition. Controller doesn’t have a perfect analogue in the World of Warcraft role system, but is an AoE caster and debuffer. The second role is the Defender. Defenders are the World of Warcraft Tanks, as mentioned they stand at the front and keep the back lines safe. Leaders are the third role. Leaders are like a World of Warcraft healer plus. Of course they heal, but they also provide bonuses to their friends and can even debuff though not usually as well as a Controller. The final role is the Striker. In World of Warcraft the Striker is known as the damage dealer. Each of the roles has special tools, usually in the form of class features, to help them perform their role, or job.
No Gandalf I said it first.
As   I wrote this I realized that I have a long way to go before I am done. I would like to spend some time talking about how I feel about the role system, and I would also like to share some thoughts on each role and how they work together. For now I hope you have a better understanding of roles in D&D 4e, and why they are important. Until next time remember, don’t let the DM tell you no, its always “Yes, and?....”

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