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  Click here to go to the first special guest post in this thread.   Thread: 4E: are all roles needed?

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    4E: are all roles needed?

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    Where does this question stem from. A little background:

    In early editions, you always HAD to have certain roles/classes/etc... in your party or you were in BIG trouble. Specifically, you had to have a healer (if not more than one).

    I HATED this. Never liked it, and never will.

    So when 4e came out with HS and second winds, I was super relieved. Finally, you can heal yourself, so you don't NEED to have a healer/leader, they are just nice to have. This is the way with all of the roles in my opinion. It is nice to have a striker, but you can survive and have a great adventuring experience without one.

    However, it seems like people are still of the mentality that you NEED to have a leader. They may think you can do without a striker or a controller or a defender, but you still HAVE to have a leader. Others are even more rigid thinking all roles have to be filled or you'll have a TPK at every turn.

    Why is this?
    As a healer, the only real thing leaders do is they let you use a HS by using a minor action.

    All classes can use a standard action (yes a big sacrifice but not game breaking) to heal themselves. All classes can have a nice heal score (through training or whatever) and use that to grant a HS to a person who is unconscious. All classes can use as many HS as they want after an encounter is over.

    Finally, I would think the risk of a tpk makes the game more exciting, and teaches better tactics.

    From a DM's pov, I am not a big fan of tpk, so would do minor Deus ex Machina type of maneuvers to allow for party success or at least survival.

    So why is it that a good majority of people are of the mentality that a leader is NEEDED rather than nice to have?

    Why do players feel they sacrifice their character concept because the party doesn't yet have a controller, so instead of being the whirlwind of blades fighter, they have to be a geeky wizard (no offense against wizards just making a point)?

    I am almost of the inkling next time I run a game, I will make all leader classes illegal to prove my point.

    But enough of my rambling, what is your opinion? What do you think? Do you agree with me, or do you think I am an idiot? If you don't agree, then prove me wrong. I would love to hear it.
    Last edited by yukonhorror; 06-30-2010 at 11:08 AM.
    "I'm not going crazy. I'm going sane in a CRAZY world!"

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    I agree

    I agree with you, heck 4e is made that you can run a satisfying game with just one person of any role let alone a party of 3-6. Yes having a BRD or CLR is nice but uh...me and a two of my buddies all ran Barbs in a lv 15-17 adventure and totally owned ass. And on the flip side of that coin for shits and giggles once six of us got together and had a pvp 3v3 death match once my team was made up of two Sorc and a War vs. 3 CLR...we lost so hard they all BoH'ed(Beacon of hope) right off the bat and were spam nuke-healing each other all day it was crazy. Granted it was a lv1 fight. And when it comes to skills with the PHB2 adding background traits or w/e they're called you don't need a perticular class for skills really either. I really think the HS (Healing Surge) has made the game very flexible as far as players playing what they realy want to play. That being said, for a sure PC wipe throw nothing but HS sucking monsters at the players heh. Anyway good post man.
    "...and all the people of the world as one voice sang a hymn.The Song of all creation screamed for justice. We are that justice." -unknown bard's final dictation before the last war.-

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    I would edit your post for explicit words (curse words) unless you want the mods to come down on you. Word of warning.

    Back to topic:

    Funny you mention all barbs at lvl 15-17, cause that's where this really came from. I wanted a themed party, and we decided on barbarian horde (all barbarians through MCing or hybrid classing) and most of the player INSISTED that someone had to have a leader as part of their base.
    "I'm not going crazy. I'm going sane in a CRAZY world!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by yukonhorror View Post
    So when 4e came out with HS and second winds, I was super relieved. Finally, you can heal yourself, so you don't NEED to have a healer/leader, they are just nice to have. This is the way with all of the roles in my opinion. It is nice to have a striker, but you can survive and have a great adventuring experience without one.
    Second Wind is a nice addition, with its defense bonuses, but it's only once an encounter. Potions are a better 'replacement' for healer powers, but they use up wealth as well as surges.

    Quote Originally Posted by yukonhorror View Post
    However, it seems like people are still of the mentality that you NEED to have a leader. They may think you can do without a striker or a controller or a defender, but you still HAVE to have a leader. Others are even more rigid thinking all roles have to be filled or you'll have a TPK at every turn.
    And others think they aren't, strictly speaking, necessary. (Which they aren't.) Having a healer is very much recommended, but not required; the game doesn't break without them, though it does change the tone to something more deadly. (Which isn't a universally-desired style.)

    Quote Originally Posted by yukonhorror View Post
    Why is this?
    As a healer, the only real thing leaders do is they let you use a HS by using a minor action.
    More than once an encounter, and with a bonus. And the character being healed isn't the one taking the action (usually). Leaders can also grant healing and/or surge spending through other powers that aren't the class feature ones. Not to mention temporary hit points effects, and extra saving throws or removing negative status effects.

    Quote Originally Posted by yukonhorror View Post
    All classes can use a standard action (yes a big sacrifice but not game breaking) to heal themselves. All classes can have a nice heal score (through training or whatever) and use that to grant a HS to a person who is unconscious. All classes can use as many HS as they want after an encounter is over.
    Stabilizing an unconscious character via the Heal skill doesn't modify hit points; it just removes the need to make a death save, until being damaged again. And, again, Second Wind is a once an encounter deal, which limits the amount of healing available each fight.

    Quote Originally Posted by yukonhorror View Post
    Finally, I would think the risk of a tpk makes the game more exciting, and teaches better tactics.
    That's more encounter design, less party makeup. (Being that good encounter design takes into account party makeup.) Also, making the game more exciting by increasing the risk of TPK assumes the players are the sort that would want such a thing; not all do.

    Quote Originally Posted by yukonhorror View Post
    From a DM's pov, I am not a big fan of tpk, so would do minor Deus ex Machina type of maneuvers to allow for party success or at least survival.
    I'm finding this an odd statement, given the rest of the post (especially the line above). Could you clarify this a bit? Like what sort of situations or maneuvers are you talking about?

    Quote Originally Posted by yukonhorror View Post
    But enough of my rambling, what is your opinion? What do you think? Do you agree with me, or do you think I am an idiot? If you don't agree, then prove me wrong. I would love to hear it.
    It might be that you're focusing too much on Leaders, and less on the bigger picture. You can remove Leaders (Defenders, Strikers, Controllers), and the game still functions. Their absence does change the dynamic of play, however, namely in making combat riskier (not only from damage, but from status effects). Whether that change is desired, well, that's the question.

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    I am focusing on leaders, because that's the one people focus on being NECESSARY.

    Maneuvers like taking them captive versus killing them or fudging dice rolls so the character has a chance to help a buddy regain consciousness.

    Another would include (and to address your other point) is to provide more healing potions than recommended.


    In terms of being able to use healing more than once/encounter, how often do your party members lose more than 125% of their total hp. What I mean is that all party members lose 125% of their total hp, not just one guy loses 130% and the mage loses 2 hp.

    In terms of the bonuses associate with healing and free ST's etc... That where the "nice to have" comes into play. Just like dealing +1d6 extra dam is "nice to have" for a striker.
    "I'm not going crazy. I'm going sane in a CRAZY world!"

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    Leaders will be coveted soon, fear not

    Take a look at the new MM3.
    Matt James
    Lead Developer, Vorpal Games
    Follow me on Twitter

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt James View Post
    Leaders will be coveted soon, fear not

    Take a look at the new MM3.
    That's too bad. I really don't like any one role being coveted.

    But I am going to run an experiment when my wife is out of town. I am going to run through a 3-encounter dungeon delve with an all defender, all leader, all striker, all controller, and no leader (2 defenders, 2 strikers, and 1 controller) and see who fares the best. I.e. who has the most HS when they are done (%) and how many rds did it take to finish all 3 encounters.

    If I can find the time to jet over to the bookstore to pick up a MM3, then maybe I'll use monsters from there.
    "I'm not going crazy. I'm going sane in a CRAZY world!"

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    Something to keep in mind that Leaders aren't strictly healers. Certainly its one of their features, but the area my groups have found them indispensable is in the buffs/debuffs that they offer. The group I was most recently playing with consisted of a Fighter (Defender), Sorcerer (Striker), Rogue (Striker), and a Bard (Leader). The Bard's attendance isn't the best, real world stuff limits his game time, when he's not there the party doesn't miss his Majestic Words (Healing power) as much as his powers that make the enemies easier to hit. This sort of proves your point that with decent tactics and judicious use of other healing options (like Second Wind and potions) the party does just fine. You might also note that the party lacks a Controller as well.

    I think what this means is that having the 4 roles in the party is recommended, but clearly not required. So long as the DM and the players are willing to adapt to the abilities the party has everything will be just fine.

    As for the MM3 meaning that Leaders will be required, I'd like to respond by tossing the PHB 3 at you sir
    With the new skill based powers you can get even more options to heal yourself or others; things like Physicians Care, Faith Healing, and Third Wind. You may want Leaders around, but if you require them as a healer I suggest you rethink your character and party builds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by yukonhorror View Post
    I am going to run an experiment when my wife is out of town. I am going to run through a 3-encounter dungeon delve with an all defender, all leader, all striker, all controller, and no leader (2 defenders, 2 strikers, and 1 controller) and see who fares the best. I.e. who has the most HS when they are done (%) and how many rds did it take to finish all 3 encounters..
    I am about half-way. I have done the 3 encounters for a pure defender group, a pure striker group, and a truly leader-free group (no leaders or even leader subtypes).

    Prelim results, none of these groups had a leader, and they all survived (no deaths). Some close calls, but that's what makes the game fun. The possibility of death makes it exciting in my eyes.

    Will have a full summary of results when I get them. Main things I am keeping track of: number of rounds for each encounter (pure striker has the least {not suprising}), % of HS remaining, number of HS spent, and number of death ST rolled. As for the last three, the pure defender group did not roll one death ST and spent maybe 30% of their HS (as opposed to 70% of the other 2 groups).

    I did get a MM3 and added some monsters from there, and oh my they are evil, but still survivable without a leader.
    "I'm not going crazy. I'm going sane in a CRAZY world!"

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    I don't have the EXACT numbers on me, but I can remember the numbers in general. I also haven't done the full leader group, but most of this experiment was run to show you don't NEED a leader, but it was in general that you don't NEED any role specifically.

    So the details of the experiment:

    First encounter: 7x lvl 9 skirmisher minions, lvl 8 soldier swarm, lvl 8 elite brute leader
    Second encounter: lvl 7 soldier, brute, artillery, 2x skirmishers
    third encounter: lvl 9 solo soldier dragon, 2x lvl 6 skirmishers

    Characters:
    lvl 7
    abilities (with bonuses added in from race and lvl 4 boost): 20,18, 13 10, 10, 8
    Race: give bonus in two best scores
    feats: weapon expertise (or versatile or implement expertise), weapon focus (or something similar for non-weapon users), toughness, durable
    equipment: lvl 7 +2 viscious weapon (or similar if implement), lvl 6 +2 summoned armor, lvl 6 +2 amulet of protection, and a lvl 8 item that gives +1 to a def (i.e. belt of vim).

    Except for non-leader mix, the most leadery type powers were chosen.

    For first encounter, one AP was used, for second, one daily power was used, and for third both an AP was used and the other daily power.

    Each HS spent (except after the third encounter) didn't waste HP (if HS value was 13, wouldn't use if had 40/52 hp).

    Counted death ST rolled, but didn't count number of rounds at unconscious.

    No leader mix group:
    warforged storm warden, revenent (human) bleak assassin, 1/2 orc ruffian rogue, halfling chaos sorcerer, dwarf wrathful invoker

    Defender group:
    warforged battlerager fighter, githyanki shielding swordmage, hobgoblin quick battlemind, longtooth shifter lifespring warden, kalashtar healing-focused paladin

    Striker group:
    dragonborn thaneborn barbarian, githyanki vestige warlock, elf archer ranger, deva united avenger, 1/2 orc stone monk

    controller group:
    longtooth shifter spiritbond seeker, githyanki summoner wizard, dwarf swarm summoner druid, deva protecing (summoner) invoker, shardmind mental psion

    leader group:
    warforged wrathful runepriest, kalashtar prescient bard, dwarf bear shaman, 1/2 elf elation ardent, dragonborn inspiring warlord

    Like I said, these are approximate, but close (also leader group not finished)
    Group: rds (encounter 1) (encounter 2) (encounter 3) HS spent %HS remaining death ST rolled
    mix 5 6 6 ~39 ~32% 5
    defenders 7 9 8 ~22 ~68% 0
    strikers 5 7 6 ~42 ~30% 5
    controllers 6 8 7 ~37 ~35% 3

    In short, nobody died. A couple of close calls (especially with the striker and controller groups). The defender group had so many HP (making their HS worth so much more) and such high defenses, that they could have done at least 3 more encounters, but their low dam output made encounters longer. The high dam output of strikers made encounters quicker (less rounds to be hit). The versatility of the mix group made them a bit more effective than the pure striker group. I was surprised how well the controller group did, but if it were built different, it probably would not have (the summoned creatures served as good defenders).

    Again,in summary,
    A) no role is NECESSARY (especially leaders).

    This was an example, but I think it is representative of the norm. If the dice rolls were worse/better, the numbers would be different, but I think the results would be similar.

    B) versatile groups do better

    I am not saying a group won't benefit from variety (my results support variety). I am saying it isn't necessary.

    C)strikers are quick, defenders are tough, controllers are great for crowds and trouble makers, and leaders/leader subtypes give nice boosts/healing.

    Was there times where a free HS would have been nice? Heck yeah! But I lived. Which leads to

    D) No role is necessary, BUT is nice to have

    Having a free HS would have been great. Having a meat cushion would most likely have prevented the weaker strikers from falling unconscious. Having strikers make the encounter quicker and less drawn out. Having controllers made for easy crowd control (blasts/bursts, conditions like dazing/free hits from enemy2enemy, and forced movement) and for filling in for those missing roles.


    Enjoy.

    I don't know if I'll do leaders (because of time). I want to, but it may not happen. Also, I may try and revisit this using true averaging (%chance to hit * average dam output), with using second wind whenever bloodied.
    "I'm not going crazy. I'm going sane in a CRAZY world!"

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    Interesting results.

    Obviously no single role is *needed* but nice to have. It depends entirely on the encounters your DM designs. As a DM, I prefer every role to be covered so I don't have to worry about tailoring the encounters to the particular party.

    If anything, I'd say defenders are the most crutial class.

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    I didn't do any tailoring of my encounters, and they still did ok. The controllers faired really well against the minions, but the elite in that encounter took them a while to wittle down.
    "I'm not going crazy. I'm going sane in a CRAZY world!"

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    I fully agree that Leaders are not needed, though their presence certainly makes things easier. Personally, I don't like the flavor of Leaders that much. It seems weird to have someone inspiring my character all the time to various ends. Of all the classes, it's the one that I could most easily do without when it comes to my style of roleplaying. On a practical level, however, they aren't so easy to toss aside.

    I'd much rather that players played a character they want to play without trying to balance themselves against the party. That said, it really sucks when your role is over-covered and your uniqueness is therefore squelched. It's fun to have a valued role to play, and have the party miss you when you can't attend.

    I think your experiment was very interesting and tells a lot about the class roles. Kudos. I'd have to say that WotC balanced the roles pretty well if no one group fared particularly badly.

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    Super easy

    This answer is super easy to me.

    Leaders make groups able to handle tough scenarios. Period, end of statement. To test this is far simpler than the tests you propose. Take a group of 5 with a leader and one without. Make the characters typical and not loaded with insane gear or insane abilities. Continue to increase the threat by simply adding more orcs or gargoyles or whatever to the enemy. The leader populated group will simply live longer and do more damage over the long haul almost every time on the average. Nolo contendre.

    If your fights work without leaders one can make the arguement that the fights are simply too easy. I'm not saying it isn't fun to whomp ass on some easy fights over and over, but, the ideal game raises the challenge level to where there is a real risk of death and thus conversely a real chance for bravery and superior success. It's just an opinion but I think if you make the tests you'll see that leaders flat ARE necessary for tough encounters. Without them the GM has to scale back for the party to survive.

    One really tough but fun way to run a campaign is to have a lot of fights with classed enemies so its more like a party fighting a party. Put one of your parties without a leader (more than 3 characters) up against an enemy party with a leader. A TPK is likely. Very liekly.

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    Leaders in 4e are not so much healers as supporters and debilitators. Most classes can take abilities to cover alternate roles, so no one role is especially needed. Personally, I'd say Defenders are the most important for keeping groups alive, by means of preventing damage in the first place.

    Group size affects the value of any particular role. A group of varied specialists is of course the most effective. So any group of 4 or more should really have at least one character specializing in each role to be most effective. Once a group has one of each, an additional Defender seems to have the most value.

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