So I had this idea for how to assign effectiveness to roles. I don’t even remember what brought on the train of thought. It’s sort of the culmination of several things — it doesn’t quite make sense yet because I haven’t connected it to other attributes, but I’ve been toying with the role concepts Fourth Edition uses for characters and monsters — to make them like … abstracted weapon types.

Something that’s been bothering me for a while is how unimportant weapons seem to be in the grand scheme of things. “Is it ranged or melee?” seems to be the only important question. I really liked the piercing-slashing-bludgeoning damage types from Revised Dungeons & Dragons, and I’ve tried to find a place for them in other systems.

You know something else that bothers me though? Besides being nominally considered cosmetic choices by many games, there seem to be an awful lot of restrictions as to who can use what weapons and how. Paladins seem to use swords or maces, while druids use a club or a staff. A wizard uses a staff or a wand, and a rogue uses a dagger or a club. Fighters use swords or axes.

Part of the idea necessitates treating each weapon as unique, much like the characters themselves. Each weapon has a type that corresponds to one or more character roles, and each character role has one or more corresponding classes. Equipment options equal weapon types multiplied by role, multiplied by class.

The reason Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock came into it is because I found a configuration of five character roles that I really liked.

Skirmisher-Artillery-Leader-Soldier-Brute

  • Skirmishers outrun artillery and soldiers
  • Artillery pick off leaders and brutes
  • Leaders outsmart soldiers and skirmishers
  • Soldiers endure brutes and artillery
  • Brutes overrun skirmishers and leaders
  • I got into it by thinking where each of the roles would be found on the battlefield. The skirmishers are in the front, running around and sowing confusion while trying to take out targets of opportunity. Behind them you have the brutes, who come in hard and fast and knock down or break as much as they can. They’re the shock troops.

    Behind them, you have the soldiers, who are slower and more heavily armored. They’re tough to take down and cause a lot of damage. Behind them, you have the leadership, who provide buffs to everyone within earshot. They organize and maintain formations (buffs!), and are positioned near the back for protection. Finally, you have artillery in the back, where they can rain death on the battlefield.