Roles and Magic Combat (Feb 24, 2012)

We’ve talked about it off and on, the “intended function” of roles in Fourth Edition Dungeons & Dragons. How the roles were “supposed” to work, and how they fell short due to a variety of factors from poor design to poor implementation.

I’m a nerd. Moving along.

You’ll maybe have noticed a great deal of activity over the last couple days, perhaps even extending into the previous week, particularly with regard to game design. It’s all related to this firearm-magic-tactics thing I’ve been researching and developing.

Well, now I have something to show you.


Strategic Role: Striker. Focused on dealing high single-target damage and eschewing defenses in favor of maximizing damage potential.

Strategic Role: Defender. Draw fire away from more vulnerable allies and punish enemies that try to get past defensive lines.

Strategic Role: Leader. Identify priority targets and enable more powerful allies to concentrate fire and eliminate targets quickly.

Strategic Role: Controller. Spread damage across multiple targets to soften up tougher enemies and finish off weaker ones.


Tactical Role: Harrier, “hit and fade.” Mobility is the name of the harrier’s game, darting back and forth to probe for vulnerabilities and provoke enemies to break ranks with critical hits and first-strike powers.

Tactical Role: Charger, “shock and awe.” Constant, immediate pressure are what a charger brings to the battlefield, using a blend of enhancements to first-strike and second wind powers.

Tactical Role: Keeper, “advance and hold.” Resilient and resourceful, keepers exploit the action surge and second wind powers to push enemies back and prevent them from recovering ground.

Tactical Role: Trapper, “divide and conquer.” Manipulation and battlefield control are part of the trapper’s signature style, and they ply their trade by exploiting actions surges and take-down powers.

Tactical Role: Seeker, “seek and destroy.” Maximizing the potential of each attack is the aim of the seeker, eliminating one enemy before moving on to the next through the use of critical hits and take-down powers.


Everything that you see above is basically written to be appended to a character class folio – one strategic role and one tactical role – and to be combined with a magical state (of which there are seven) and a trade craft (of which there are twelve).

I know I say this all the time, and I’ve basically been saying this constantly since I started developing this project years ago, but I’m so ridiculously awesomely close to having something playable that I can almost taste it. Getting closer all the time.

Everything mentioned in the role descriptions above has been defined in game terms. A critical hit and an action surge are both things that happen during combat. There are clear rules for them, none of that “I think I know what this will be once I finally get around to it” shenanigans. I’m using more and more technical terms as I go.

These things all have a purpose in combat. They aren’t left dangling like “Bull Rush” or “Total Defense,” which proved to be a joke. (Not a funny one at that.)