Thursday, November 3, 2016

Using Roles in Pathfinder (and maybe in other D&Ds)

Yes, I’m still alive (sort of...). Because of Real Life threats of extremely high Challenge Rating (like the Job! or the dreaded Certification Exams!) I was forced to decide to use my spare time wisely, so I’m using it to run a hilarious and deadly DCC RPG campaign every 15-20 days instead of blogging (sorry). However, I’m still sketching stuff and I hope to post some here, like this small idea.

When the D&D Next/5E open playtest started, you theoretically built a character by choosing a race, a class, a background…

… and a theme.

It was weird but I rather like it. At the time backgrounds were basically skill groups to ground your character in the fantasy setting society (Soldier, Acolyte, Craftsman etc.). Themes were something more nebulous. Sometimes they worked like Feats, other time as narrative/flavor abilities.

Breaking expectations: here we have a Leader, a Defender, a Controller and a Striker.

The examples I can remember now are Slayer, Guardian and Sage.

Slayer – I think – allowed you to deal damage equal to your Str modifier even if you missed (something taken from D&D 4E I guess). Guardian allowed you to protect someone adjacent by inflicting Disadvantage (roll twice, pick the worst result) to the enemy’s strike. Sage was really original and cool, if you character failed a lore check, you didn’t get the information but you knew someone (or someplace) who has it.

It’s easy to see now that Themes were too different and so they’re mixed with Backgrounds so that in the final D&D 5E a Background would give you a social grounding, a few skills, equipment and a narrative advantage (besides other stuff).
However, like I said, I enjoyed Themes. The fact that you could create, for example, a Wizard Slayer or a Fighter Sage were things that I very much appreciated. Themes could create really different characters, although the mechanic was still a little off.
So, a few months ago I thought that maybe what I was looking was not Themes, but at Roles (yup, from D&D 4E).
What if every character in Pathfinder/D&D (every edition except 4E and 5E) were made of race, class and role? Roles here would be something completely separated from class (unlike 4E).
It’s just a random thought but see if you can find anything useful in this madness. The mechanics below were made thinking about Pathfinder and they give a little boost to PCs (but I believe you can place them in other editions).

Character Roles:

The Striker: You’re the one responsible for dealing damage. Once per round you can roll damage twice and pick the best result.

The Defender: You’re the shield of the party. At any time, once per round, you can become the target of any attack against an adjacent ally.

The Controller: You’re the strategist and battlefield master. At any time, you can give Disadvantage to one NPC check or force one NPC to choose between moving or acting (in Pathfinder terms you can negate one Move Action). You can’t use this ability two rounds consecutively.

The Leader: You’re the heart of the party. At any time, you can give Advantage to one PC or allied NPC check. You can’t use this ability two rounds consecutively.

Please note that these abilities are purposely abstract/generic. It falls to the player to described how his character use a Role’s ability (easy for Strikes, but Leaders and Controllers will have to describe their Role’s effects with a little more effourt… a Wizard Controller could launch a lesser magic dart, slowing an enemy; while a Fighter Controller could throw a small knife or maybe even the head of that goblin he just killed).

Until next!

Damnit Thranduil, you blinked again!