Group Role

4E D&D has a lot of stuff about party role. What function does a character play in the party? You could be: a leader, healing and protecting your allies or boosting damage; a striker, dealing high damage to kill the enemy faster; a controller, locking down enemies with status effects and creating obstacles; or a defender, drawing the collective wrath of the enemy so you take the bulk of the damage.

This has worked pretty well, over all. Characters are focused and parties are efficient. What about outside the game?should players divide up areas of expertise (and expense) to make the group better?

The idea of group role first came to me when one of our guys started modding and painting all the character figs for the new campaign. He moonlights as a 40k player so he’s got a lot of experience. He even seems to enjoy painting minis. Hell, he’s GOOD at it. Painting for the rest of us started when the wizard found the perfect fig… except it had a wand and not an orb. Our Painter offered to mod it. Then the guy playing an Artificer found a fig that matched his character and Painter painted and modded it with a bigger gun barrel. (The Artificer is using a crossbow that is being RP’ed as a magic grenade launcher. His fig now looks like a midievil Gordon Freeman.) Heck, Painter is even doing my fig by replacing a dagger with a warhammer. Those of us without the time or talent to paint really appreciate his help. In short, he has taken on a Group Role.

Our erstwhile DM lives the WotC miniatures. He’s got over 1,000 of them. In the main campaign, when I DM, I use his monster minis even though I have a 10 lb box at home full of them. It started as a transportation issue – he has a car, I take the train – but has changed to “eDM can provide the monsters so he does”. His most common D&D purchase is a new box of minis. eDM is our Monster Guy.

There are other roles like Chronicler and Cartographer.

For my part, in addition to primary DM, I think I might become Terrain Guy. Dungeon Tiles have been a staple in my game for about a year and a half. They’re great. Easy to use, tons of possibilities and reusable. They aren’t the greatest for creating a truly absorbing set, though. 3D terrain is my pinnacle of dungeoncraft. Dwarven Forge has haunted me for a couple of years now but remains out of my price range. A few days ago I caught a link to World Works Games. That is so up my alley. I can do papercraft and foam core. The modular nature of the design really appeals to me. Today I saw Hirst Arts for the first time. Yes, it requires painting but I like that it has texture. When Swan and I move and have a hobby room, I think I will be doing a bunch of 3D terrain.

About PK

PK Sullivan is a game designer and writer living in Chicago.
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