Separating Class from Role

I’ve been thinking for a while about that way 4e ties a characters’ role to their class, and wondering: what if they weren’t linked? What if your Role was something you chose over and above the Class selection rather than being part and parcel?

Each Role could add an additional element to the Character; perhaps the Defender Role boosts your Hit Points and Defences whereas the Striker Role increases your damage and chance to hit. The Leader and Controller Roles could grant an additional Encounter Power which reinforces their style of play. Each would (in an ideal world) also grant some non-combat role-playing boon too, because we likes those. Oh yes we do.

For example, imagine that you want to play a Rogue who is a Defender. This makes him a little tougher and self-sacrificing than your average sneak-thief – perhaps he’s a Bodyguard or enforcer for the guild, and gains a bonus to Intimidate and Perception.

It would mean removing some of the elements from the existing Classes which enforce the Roles, but add the “default” Roles in and you’re back to the 4e norm. A Fighter who takes the Defender Role would be as per the 4e Core, for example.

The net result is more variety across the builds, especially if you add in the rather nice optional Backgrounds system too. And that, to my mind, is always a Good Thing.

What are your thoughts? Should Role and Class be considered separately?

Over to you.

10 Comments on “Separating Class from Role”

  1. It sounds like you and I are on exactly the same page with this one. People may find it hard to believe that we didn’t coordinate our posts today (over at Dungeon’s Master we look at the idea of making the Fighter a Striker).

    We’re in the process of putting together some templates that are very similar to the mechanics you’ve described above. What if role was something you applied to your class? What would a Rogue defender look like or a Warlord striker. I think this is the next big shift in 4e character creation and we’re going to be hearing a lot more on the subject from everyone in the coming weeks and months.

    Amerons last blog post..The Fighter as a Striker

  2. @Amerons Yep, I think we’re definitely on the same page with this one :D I think it’s an exciting concept as it means every Class effectively becomes four new ones when a Role is added. Love the idea of a Warlord Striker too.

    Looking forward to seeing the templates!

  3. I read Wimwick’s post yesterday and both of your posts today and agree with everything that has been said thus far.. I would like to see more flexibilty with the classes. I think that the roles railroad you a bit too much into what you have to do. The powers would have to be completely redone though.. A separate section with the role powers would have to be displayed (this is just my rough estimate). They could be separated by the roles, and then have the power source (if necissary) afterwards (divine, martial, arcane, etc)- and you would have to meet the prereq to take those powers…. I think I would have liked to see that rather than what we have now in 4e.

  4. Just from a general game design perspective, I think that too much normalization can lead to the point where the mechanics are too simple for players to be engaging. I remember I once started to design a game that involved the making of magic items and the searching for ingredients. I kept on normalizing the idea until I stopped and realized that at it’s core the game was boring. I had optimized all the little idiosyncrasies away.

    Alex Schröders last blog post..Literary Grounding

  5. When introducing 4th ed to new players I suggest they pick a class roll and then a class based off of that.

  6. I see the idea here, but why? You’re essentially talking about making up entirely new classes here, because the powers from the existing ones don’t fit at all into the roles you want them to play.

    If you want a ranged, martial defender, they need totally new powers from the melee martial defender. Shoe-horning some ranged powers onto the fighter isn’t a good solution.

    This whole discussion speaks to me of trying to re-make 4e into a 3e or 2e-type game. If you want to play a melee character who attacks with bows and wears plate, multi-class a ranger. Tacking on a range of “roles” to existing class structures isn’t adding flexibility – it’s adding unnecessary complexity that does nothing that simple re-skinning, feat selection and backstory can already do. Why add rules if you don’t need them?

    wickedmurphs last blog post..Incorporating High Level NPC’s

  7. GW, I really like this idea. Yes, it adds a level of complexity that seems to go against the 4e designers intent, but for seasoned players I think it would be wonderful.

    I’m currently playing a bastard-sword-weilding paladin who is regularly out-gunned by our hafling rogue. Frankly, given the concept of the character, I’d happily sacrifice a bit of defender power for a hint of strikerish goodness. In the name of the Raven Queen of course.

  8. I can see what your saying with all this, but in some ways it might not be needed. given enough time I think we’ll see a slew of classes covering each role. I mean Honestly, what is an Avenger if not a “Striker Paladin” and Invoker if not a “Controller Cleric” type? Hmmm?

    WilliamPalls last blog post..Malik Akbar Yoden

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