I was poking around the homebrew forum over at Giant in the Playground when I noticed this post on role design for a custom system inspired by 4th edition D&D. I got a into how each of the roles turned out and what functions they ended up serving, so I figured I’d relay that here.
Strikers in 4e are the only strictly offensive role in game as their focus is strictly on reducing the enemy team’s time to defeat. They are especially good at delivering damage precisely where they want it. This makes focusing fire easier for them as well as making them good at landing finishing blows. Note that high offense and ease of targeting are independent but synergistic features, with ease of targeting often being accomplished by some combination of ranged attacks and mobility.
Leaders in 4e help their group stay at full strength by helping allies recover, acting as a kind of life line for those running out of hit points. This helps mitigate focused fire somewhat as it let’s the group shift defensive resources to anyone who’s being focused on. Since the need for this is small when the party is at full health, leaders often have secondary jobs as well. If fully defensively oriented, their secondary focus will be on providing protection to mitigate damage before it happens. If they’ve got a somewhat more offensive bent, they’ll act as an enabler, making allies better at performing their jobs.
Defenders in 4e actually seem to have discouraging focused fire as their unofficial job. Their high hit points and defenses make them unappealing focus targets. By itself, this would just result in their allies being taken out first. However, their marking mechanics let them counter that by making themselves more appealing targets to an enemy of their choice. In effect, this lets them peal a specific foe of the group that might be trying to achieve focused fire. The selective nature of marking and punishment mechanics make them less “everyone attack me” like classic “tanks” and more about making sure attacks are distributed around the party so nobody falls. From there, they tend to mirror leaders somewhat by either proactively setting up protective measures or increasing their offense. The main difference being that these defensive and offensive boosts tend to be self oriented as opposed to the leader’s more ally oriented focus.
4e controllers are bit of mess in that their focus is split between acting as artillery and manipulating the opposing side’s options with few class features directly supporting either. Granted, either of those can be made to support the other. For example, if the character was primarily artillery they might want strong manipulation options as back up plan for when limited targets cuts their total damage output. On the flip-side, area attacks can be used to discourage grouping, making it a situational way of altering enemy plans. From what I’ve seen, the online community tends to favor the focusing on the manipulation side, with the artillery side mainly used as a way to distribute control effects over multiple enemies. One side effect of the system is that “minion popping” became a secondary job of the role due to the availability of multi-target powers for this role. It’s interesting to note changing enemy plans overlaps with defender’s deciding who attacks them, which lead to occasional comments about defenders being a specialized type of melee controller.
On a side note, things have been pretty busy over here. I started a new job in a new city this year, which is admittedly part of why posting has dropped off. That being said, things are getting a bit more stable now so as time frees up I may start putting more things up here.