Please help me pick something to help optimize my party. :")

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I wasn't sure if this belonged in character development or in optimization, so I apologize if I posted in the wrong forum.

My friends are starting up a D&D session and have already played once.  They are currently comprised of a dual-wield ranger, a psion, a wizard, and a rogue.  I already told them that they should have both a defender and a leader, but I guess they didn't really listen to me. 

I was thinking about making a character that could both heal and tank, and was torn between a chaladin or an ardent.

Would it be worthwhile for me to try to make a radiant chaladin/morninglord?  And is there a particular build you could recommend?

I really don't want the party to die because it's obviously going to get a lot harder as they level up unless they have a leader/defender.  I'm not sure if the DM would consider having an npc defender to fill the gap, but I figured that I should probably try to do what I can.  Plus, a radiant build sounds like it is something fun to play.

I'll surf through this forum and try to find something in the list of character builds.  I was just hoping someone could direct me to one that would be successful in this case.

Thank you very much! :")
Speaking from experience, I've been in a party of sorc, wizard, rogue, and artificer (no defender).  Our main discovery is that a good controller can sub for a defender..if they are nicely cheesed out (wizard).  the other main discovery is that if you plan to go this method..take the enemy out and fast.

You might consider a good powerful enhancing/lazylord, or a ranged artificer (who dolls out a ton of +dmg and +tohit.  I think the one in our party is a battlefield commander?  I don't know if thats the right name..but its one that uses 'greater magic weapon' to really up damage.  She's also multi'd into resource lord to help up dmg on action points..and has grabbed a warlord utility to help up damage equal to her int mod).

That really helps to optimize a party usually.
I'm not sure a paladin can sub in for a leader.  If you tried it you'd want to max out the leader options, including going with the Hospitaler PP and probably a cleric MC for one of the nice healing utilities.

Another idea would be to play a hybrid cleric or warlord, both of which are fairly successful (particularly with the recent addition of Battle Cleric's Lore, which is a great bonus for any defender).
My vote would be a warlord or cleric.  Warlords simply because they are the most offensive leader in the game (making your rogue attack on your turn means he gets his once per turn sneak attack added again) and the Cleric actually has some decent off-tanking capability if you take battle cleric's lore and a few marking powers, or just Multiclass fighter (battle awareness is for the win).

The Ranger in the group should be able to take a couple of attacks his way as well if he took armor proficiency up to Scale mail (refer to Lordduskblade's ranger guide for more info on str rangers), and the rogue should have a high enough dex that his AC and Ref are a pain to target. 

The DM also needs to take the monsters more into consideration when throwing them at you guys.  Remember that having fun is > all rules, suggestions, or logical reasoning... most of the time, anyway...

Thank you for all the suggestions!  So it's better to pick a leader than a defender for this party?

I'm kinda partial to characters that focus on charisma as their primary stat since I like to be the party face.  Would I be okay choosing an ardent or a bard maybe?
Depending on what level you are playing at, a templar cleric can take the tactical warpriest paragon path and prety much have a fighter's mark.  Add on battle cleric's lore and you will have fighter level AC.

Warpriests are great sub-defenders from level 1.

Ardent's and Bards that have con as a secondary that MC to get a mark one per encounter should be decent.

A lifeblood warden or paladin would probably be a good pick too.  Just make sure that everyone puts some of their gold toward potions and to maybe MC leader for an emergency heal.
I think I would suggest a Lazylord, maybe a Dwarf so you can minor to Second Wind and then you can work the front line fairly well.