Delver Evolution: Role Review, part 3

Looking back over both my own play experience and written guides on party composition, it seems like the following are high priority roles for an adventuring party.

  • Face: Most games will have at least some situations that can be resolved by talking to someone. As such, party should have at least on member that can handle this. There may be more sub-roles for this based on different approaches and how they support each other.
  • Explorer: These roles all focus on helping the party through hostile territory. Most explorer roles will have a combination of good perception and mobility.
    • Scout: This role gathers information on upcoming areas so the group can be properly prepared. This overlaps somewhat with the Sentry role and can work nicely when combined with the guide role. This role becomes more important in settings where nasty surprises are common.
    • Guide: This role helps the part past certain inanimate or environmental obstacles and hazards. The usefulness of a given guide depends on how often the hazards the specialize in appear. Common hazards for adventurers include traps, blocked passages or doors, and dangerous terrain.
    • Sentry: This role is about detecting items of interest and potential threats. It’s value lies in both preventing ambushes and finding things that can be used to the parties advantage. This role has some overlap with the Scout, but has less reliance on mobility.
  • Combatant: These roles are built for taking out hostile creatures and keeping them from doing the same to the party. While there are a variety of combat roles, here are a couple I’ve noticed a strong need for.
    • Caller: When trying to focus fire, it helps to have at least one player who can prioritize a target for the party to focus on.
    • Life Line: This role is all about keeping party members in the fight, or least making sure they can participate in future ones. When a fight goes badly, having at least one member to minimize the losses is a great help.
  • Fixer: This role specializes in keeping the party going. It’s main focus is on removing debilitating conditions like disease and poisons. While these services can be found in town, having some one along to fix them on the spot is a big advantage. Fixers may also have tricks to work around things that put the party at a disadvantage.

In addition to above, there are some support roles which can be useful to a party. However, these are often lower priority or found on NPCs.

  • Informant: This role is about getting the party useful information. This can range from a network of contacts through having specialized knowledge.
  • Supplier: This role is about making sure the party has the tools it needs to do the job.

Roles and Character Types

All adventuring player character should probably cover at least one social, exploration, or combat role. A pure fixer is possible, but it’s generally not recommended as repair is usually a less interactive part of play. That’s not to say a PC fixer is a bad idea. It’s just that the fixer should also have the ability to contribute in at least on other areas so the player can be more active instead of passively waiting for something to go wrong.

By the same token, the more interactive roles of talker, explorer, and combatant are often better handles by player characters. The party could hire someone to fight, talks, or scout for them, but doing so may mean effectively skipping certain adventuring activities.

In contrast, NPCs and hirelings are well suited as suppliers and informants. A PC can take on these roles, however those are usually taken in addition to their other roles. A character who can’t contribute to combat, exploration, or social challenges generally isn’t much of an adventurer.

Published in: on November 26, 2010 at 8:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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