Does everyone really need to be good at combat?

I was just recalling (and posting about) a Star Wars 4E campaign I used to be a part of, where the combat droid and the ewok were three times more deadly with a blaster than the remaining 5 members of the party combined.

Yet, nobody had a problem with this at all.  We didn't all feel required to participate in every fight, and when we did we didn't feel shown up because we were good at other things the awesome combat characters were not.  Yes, we watched while they killed everything, but the Noble dude used his influence to get us out of trouble and the engineer rigged up bombs and hacked robots and slept with all the NPCs and the pilot flew the ship and everybody had a lot of fun.

4E had the goal of "Everyone is on equal footing when it comes to combat" and I'm wondering if that's really necessary.  Combat can be a secondary or tertiary focus for a class, can't it?  Do you think there can be room in the design space for characters who focus on out of combat abilities instead of just fighting?



I'd have made this a poll but I don't know how.
As long as combat is the primary vehicle of PC growth, then yes, all PCs need to be good at combat.
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I don't think everyone needs to be good at combat, per se, but in D&D, any edition, combat is one of the few things you can be sure will happen in the vast majority of games.  Players need to all be good at the activities that comprise the vast majority of games played in that system.
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Players need to all be good at the activities that comprise the vast majority of games played in that system.



One thing I hope to get from 5e is options for faster combat. If combat is quicker then it is less crucial that everybody be good at it, because there will be more time to devote to other things.

However, if PCs are less effective at combat then there need to be guidelines for DMs to create battles for a party of, say, 3 combatants and 2 non-combatants (who will still end up contributing). That could get complicated.

Further no edition of DnD has been really good at non-combat. Some were better than 4e, but they put the options in the hands of spellcasters who were already pretty good at combat. If non-combat obstacles are to be a bigger part of the game, the mechanics for dealing with them should be more robust.

(Otherwise players who choose to build PCs who are not fully functional combatants need little to no mechanics anyway, so the devs might as well only bother to develop classes that are combat-focused.) 
I agree with the responses to the OP. I would also add that, if you were to have a D&D where combat was a secondary activity, you would want to make sure that everyone is useful out of combat. This is not such a critical thing since non-combat sessions do not rely so much in game mechanics. Still, it may suck if for most of the game half of the party gets to have cool tools to contribute, and the other half is looking at a blank sheet with no option other than improvising. D&D has been traditionally weak at balancing this aspect of the game, and even in 4E, you have classes like the fighter with basically zero mechanics that can be used outside of combat.
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I feel like lofgren might be right, where if combat moves quickly then it won't comprise the vast majority of the game.  The Star Wars game I mentioned in the OP had maybe 30 to 45 minutes of fighting in a 3 or 4 hour session, meaning the rest of the time was spent walking or flying around and gambling or whatever.

ankiyavon makes a good point about the progression thing, however.  without a return to the olden tymes of 1 gp = 1 xp, i don't have an idea off the top of my head as to a solution.
It's not so much about everyone being good at combat, but about everyone being relevant.  If the party members are so widely divergent in capability that one is a liability for the other in any given sphere of activity, then it encourages the party to split up all the time, and then they're not exactly a party, are they?

I'm reminded of my ShadowRun games.  We had Riggers and Street Samurais and Deckers and whatnot, and it basically devolved into three+ seperate games.  A whole lot of interactions with one player playing out his scene, and then the GM shifts attention over to another player with a "Meanwhile..." and so on, round-robin style.  It was like combat, except each "round" is like 30 minutes long.
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Does everyone really need to be good at combat?

Yes.  Unequivocally, yes.  Everyone needs to be good out of combat, as well. 

DMs need the flexibility to run combat-heavy or combat-light games.  Having some characters that are combat monsters and others that are diplomancers ties the DM's hands, forcing him to run a meticulously bell-curved-average mix of combat & non-combat. 

 

 

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I agree on the being relevant part.

A character that "hides and do nothing" in combat is not helpful to that party.
But so is a character that keeps quiet and only fights/act during combat.

Not every character needs to do damage in combat. There should be classes/options to make characters that can perform out of combat AND still focus on supporting others, buffing, debuffing...etc, when in combat.

The ideal of Leaders and Controllers works towards this ideal, but they are limited mainly to just combat only.

A "Leader-type" should be able to do more then that.
For example, a character that can make potions on the fly. He may be limited to just throwing, low damaging, flasks of acid in combat, but once a fight is over, he can patch the party back up, get rid of status effects and damaged stats...etc.
Out of combat, he can make potions that enhance his party's charisma, give them special abilities like Darkvision or scent, or even fly.
(Getting a little off track here.)

The point is not every character MUST be great or "balanced" for combat, but should still be able to do "something" during combat. ("something" can be as little as giving a better then normal assist to hit.)
Yes. Combat is a good 60%+ of the core mechanics of D&D, and largely how characters tend to get XP. In this, it is a key focus point and every character should be at least average in its execution.

Now, if they add some new ways in 5e to expand upon non combat options for XP other than skill challenges and RP, then the need might drop a bit, but everyone loves going out and slaying Dragons at least once in their career. It's half of the reason many of us even came to the game after all.
A whole lot of interactions with one player playing out his scene, and then the GM shifts attention over to another player with a "Meanwhile..." and so on, round-robin style.  It was like combat, except each "round" is like 30 minutes long.



Some players quite like this style of game. I have been involved in games like this. We all got our face time with the DM (well storyteller actually, this was a World of Darkness game), and the rest of us would be chatting quietly about other things or checking our email on our phones. It was a very good casual-style game.

However! We were all also good at combat. So every couple of sessions we would all be involved equally because something bad was going down and we needed to heed the call.

But I could see how it could work for some other groups to have that time when all players are focused be the planning stage or something like that, rather than combat. 
I think that it is an important part of an rpg that it is up to the player what his character is good at.  If you know that your in for a combat heavy game then making a Face character is probably a bad idea. 

The devs should give the choice to the players not make it for them.

Most groups will still have characters that are all at least useful in combat... but some of those characters may have a specialisation elsewhere.

And the mechanics of the game need to support the out of combat game.
All classes should have equal potential to excel at combat.

If you choose to devote your feats and abilities to non-combat goals, then that's find, but this should not be an innate feature of any class. PERIOD.

Also wizards and CoDzilla owned noncombat too but that is as is.

(also wizards and codzilla
I think that it is an important part of an rpg that it is up to the player what his character is good at.  If you know that your in for a combat heavy game then making a Face character is probably a bad idea. 

The devs should give the choice to the players not make it for them.

Most groups will still have characters that are all at least useful in combat... but some of those characters may have a specialisation elsewhere.

And the mechanics of the game need to support the out of combat game.


I don't quite agree.   I think making a Face character should be a valid idea whether or not you're in for a combat heavy game.  Same with tinkerers or skill monkeys or whatever skill based characters.  The mechanics of the game need to support the out of combat game, but they don't need to stop supporting anyone during the combat part.
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
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Climaxes, and big finale of heroic fantasy stories as long as those feature rough and tumble battle  then hell, yes. 

 You need to be able to have some sort of role in the major scenes of the genre (both in and out of combat), The role may be some form of support and that can include, inspiration, distraction, bait and various other enabling elements, but it needs to be accounted for in some clear way so the player remains a participant.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

I'm hardly advocating having a guy who hides in a barrel until the fight is over, if that's what everyone is hearing.  Even the Face could still shoot some guys when it came down to it, and nobody was a liability.



For a classic dungeon delving party, I miss skill-focused classes that are good at fighting but not fighter good (in a moderately skilled party that didn't ignore too many rules, fighters hit hardest out of martial classes for a good while).  The kinds of solutions they can bring to the table often do a good job of protecting the limited resources which indirectly helps with combat anyways.  Although it kind of breaks the "Power without Gameplay" rule, where if you don't see the value directly, it often goes underappreciated.

For an urban kind of campaign the focus is so different that I'd see much more value to a noble-style class.  Or a game where henchmen hirelings and companions are prevalent, and the excess wealth and persuasiveness lets you keep them geared up to do your fighting for you.
Why have entire classes devoted to it? You just restrict people for stupid reasons. This sucks.

---
Newbie: "I want to make a heroic bard who inspires allies in battle while fighting ferociously"

A) lol bards are face class, they aren't useful in combat

B) you can do that.

If 4e had one shining success it is the idea that saying yes is good. Why should a player HAVE to be less effective because he wants to play a bard? Let other things outside of class define this.
Saying yes isn't always good.  When the guy asked to put that in the book, they should have told him no.

"I want to fly around on wings of fire and summon a bear!" "No, you are a paladin."

You can design a class just as easily by what it can't do, then explaining why not.  "This class cannot fight very well." "Oh, that seems dumb.  Why can't he fight very well?"  "Well, you see, it's a spoiled rich guy kind of class.  They're kind of okay at fighting but mostly they have lots of money which as we know solves everything."

Decision tree time:
"That seems interesting let's try it out"
"Screw that I want to strangle a bugbear with a dragon's intestines."
Obviously the spoiled rich kid wouldn't have been trained by the finest fencing masters in the land or anything...


Specializing a character to the point that it's dead weight in some major sub-set of adventuring (rather that's combat or subterfuge or travel & exploration or whatever), and dominates in another /is/ something a lot of players seem to like to do.  Some try to specialize in what's most improtant in the game/campaign/setting so as to dominate, others try to specialize in something obscure and unlikely to come up so they can prove they're 'real roleplayers' by suffering for their art, I guess.  Neither sort of player is a very fun one to have at your table, and their presence forces the
DM to put in some challenges that play to the specialist so he can have his fun and some that don't, so everyone else can. 

Conversely, if the game is set up to give everyone comparable combat and non-combat abilities (that they customize separately), the DM can let the needs of the campaign drive the nature of challenges, and everyone will still be contributing and engaged.  A player can still play the spoiled rich kid who tries to solve all his problems with money - he can have expensive gear or training in combat, and bribe to his heart's content out of it.

 

 

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Really, if you're a spoiled rich kid and you aren't the sort of person who pushed to be trained by the finest fencing masters in the land, what in the Nine Hells are you doing slumming it with a college student, a thief and a war vet?

The thing you described?  That's the sort of thing a character's background should be about.  That's the idea of Backgrounds in 4E, albeit it's not handled as well as it could be.  Part of what's missing is the ability for that to inform my character's traits such as their fighting style.  I've said a few times before that 4E failed to effectively deliver on the promise made in the Races & Classes preview that different weapons and fighting styles would play differently, with too few weapon-specific powers and no real theme linking them so it was more just your choice of Dex or Con than anything else.  I would like to have enough diversity and schools of combat in 5E that I can build a character who's a spoiled brat trained in the art of fencing and have that play visibly differently from the half-orc war vet with a greatsword, with outright different moves available to each of us even if we both played fighters.

That said, I agree that line shouldn't have been in there, but mainly because some people interpret it as meaning you should never say no, or disallow things.  Certainly not everyone takes this bent, but I know at least one who does, and in that regard it's detrimental to the DM's ability to enforce the rules.
I don't think everyone needs to be good at combat, per se, but in D&D, any edition, combat is one of the few things you can be sure will happen in the vast majority of games.  Players need to all be good at the activities that comprise the vast majority of games played in that system.



+1 to this. Additionally, I think that D&D has always been rather combat-heavy and its expectation of quite a lot of combat is one of the key features of the game. Players are often able to invent their way around combat, or DMs can provide non-combat routes past certain encounters, but these to me feel like options, not the default option of the game. One thing that has been learnt from the experience of 4e is that the game should still feel strongly like D&D.

Players need to all be good at the activities that comprise the vast majority of games played in that system.

 
One thing I hope to get from 5e is options for faster combat. If combat is quicker then it is less crucial that everybody be good at it, because there will be more time to devote to other things.



This doesn't have to be true, although it may be. Faster combat could just mean more short battles. In fact, one of the features of 4e was that it got easier to design more complex combat encounters, allowing the DM to replace several short battles with breaks between with a single climatic battle with separate 'phases'. It didn't quite come off, but I don't think (maybe others can speak to the experience of their own tables) it changed the amount of time at the table that was spent in combat.
I don't think (maybe others can speak to the experience of their own tables) it changed the amount of time at the table that was spent in combat.

I recall doing two or three combats a session (6-8) hours in 3.x, at low levels, down to 1 or 2 at higher levels.  In one short-lived campaign we managed 3/session at high level, but there was no RP or exploration or anything to speak of in that campaign but combat.   We converted over the 4e, and started getting 3-4 combats/session in, plus RP and the odd skill challenge (which we didn't have much luck with the first year or so), when the group expanded to 8 players, we tried everything we could to speed up combat, but were still down to 3 combats or skill challenges per session (though, at least, the skill challenges had started to work). 

Currently, with a different group, we typically have 2-3 combats/session at Paragon (last session we had /one/), but it's a much more RP-focused group.

 

 

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It's already been proven in previous editions that everyone doesn't have to be good at combat. When you make combat the biggest priority in games then it does seem like the combat oriented character's get to shine more, but if it's a large mix of combat and non-combat then not everyone needs to be good at combat.

For the record, D&D has not been all about the combat. There are more rules in dealing with combat because those are the situations where rules are needed the most but previous editions have been focused around a mixture of combat and non-combat. 4th edition's focus was on combat so combat was the tool that they used to measure each PC class's effectiveness in the game as a whole.
D&D has always been a very violent rpg. Anyone with some special ability or items can hit anyone anywhere. Magic is the only way to create really safe place, because magic is a menace everywhere.

So the problem is not to determine if every player class should be good at combat, but if if every player class should be good at surviving in the D&D settings. But being able to survive often translates in being good at combat.

Outside combat, players need roles as well as in combat (even if I think the striker role is a mistake).
In feodal societies, nobles were the only ones having the right to carry a weapon. Soldiers didn't have access to the same weapons but this acces was authorized by nobles. Thieves were obviously outlaws, clerics and wizards were scholars, or nobles for a good number of high ranking clerics.

Roles like noble, outlaw, mercenary or scholar could open access to different kinds of informations and actions for each class, even if they are not skill masters with a Charisma score of 20.
Each class could be limited to some out-of-combat roles.
The players could decide to deny their origin but would be left with less outside ressources than the more miserable outlaw.

If you think my english is bad, just wait until you see my spanish and my italian. Defiling languages is an art.


4E had the goal of "Everyone is on equal footing when it comes to combat" and I'm wondering if that's really necessary.  Combat can be a secondary or tertiary focus for a class, can't it?  Do you think there can be room in the design space for characters who focus on out of combat abilities instead of just fighting?

 

I think what's most important is GETTING WHAT YOU EXPECTED

If you're a dungeon diving dragon slayer with a sword in one hand and a bigger sword in the other, it sucks when it turns out you actually suck at what you thought you could do. Then you are not getting what you expected (and often the Wizard who Does Everything really didn't expect to overshadow his buddies either). That's when balance is needed. 
This is something everyone can agree on (then we also get into things like character roles, fields of expertise and whatnot so its not 'wizard solves everything' and so on)

If you WANT to be the bookworm, or the cowardly expert, and you LIKE being the expert who maybe shoots a crossbow bolt at the beginning and don't mind at all hiding in a barrel, then yeah it doesn't really matter how great you are at fighting. Though I think the 'lazy warlord' archetype has a fun way of keeping the THEME while allowing a player to also have fun in the combat.

The DM and other party members should also have an idea what your intentions are, it's a cooperative experience.

So yeah, a "not great at fighting but handy in other elements" class, sure have those... though honestly I can't recall any 3.X class that really did that, and even 4e has the 'pacifist cleric'
There's a game theory combined with behavioral psychology that goes like this: What is the optimal way to reach an agreement on something, say choosing pieces of cake. The answer is, when each person thinks they got the best piece. So the ideal campaign would feature each player thinking their character is the best one at the table, because each player is assigning value to a character according to different preferences. The ideal game system would facilitate that ideal out of the box, with no houseruling, to the widest possible player base.

This is the huge challenge for 5E. How to make every player feel best served under the unknown variable X, where X = DM + other players. 

The approach that 4E took was to make all characters equal at combat and equal at noncombat. With no area to shine in, the best result you could hope for is each player feeling equal. Even that isn't guaranteed, though, because the players still value the characters along different parameters and each might feel that the character doesn't live up to internal expectations by being unable to excel in combat or in noncombat. 
There's a game theory combined with behavioral psychology that goes like this: What is the optimal way to reach an agreement on something, say choosing pieces of cake. The answer is, when each person thinks they got the best piece. So the ideal campaign would feature each player thinking their character is the best one at the table, because each player is assigning value to a character according to different preferences. The ideal game system would facilitate that ideal out of the box, with no houseruling, to the widest possible player base.

This is the huge challenge for 5E. How to make every player feel best served under the unknown variable X, where X = DM + other players. 

The approach that 4E took was to make all characters equal at combat and equal at noncombat. With no area to shine in, the best result you could hope for is each player feeling equal. Even that isn't guaranteed, though, because the players still value the characters along different parameters and each might feel that the character doesn't live up to internal expectations by being unable to excel in combat or in noncombat. 



I agree and I think it was very narrow minded. Not everyone wants the same size piece of cake, or someone may want strawberries on their piece, or apples, or cream etc....

D&D is not just a pie that needs to be cut into equal pieces, it's more complicated than that. Some people find that making their character awesome in out of combat situations is fun and is perfectly happy with that.

What I see too much of is someone playing a thief being angry because the fighter does more damage, or can do X ability better. If you want to do the damage a fighter does then play a fighter. Don't complain about one class while playing another.

If you know a thief can do X and a fighter can do Y and you want to do Y then you know what to do.
I think all characters should contribute to combat (rogue looking for a trick, pure supportive buffiing character etc), not damage.
Every PC should have something interesting to do in each encounter (or at least most of the time).

Since players should be able to build a PC that does the things that player imagines his or her character is able to do, there should be a variety of "builds" that are really good at combat.

 
I don't think everyone should be on equal footing, no...but I prefer a story driven game rather than a tactical one. In a strategy game, yes I think everyone should contribute equally. In the games I'm part of, however, the Thief doesn't mind attacking less often or doing less damage because he's playing a character...and it's what his character would do. Still, everyone wants to feel they've done something.

As was mentioned, I think a lot of this becomes less relevant when combat becomes quicker.

Also, the Fighter should dominate combat...consistent performance, if not necessarily the highest damage every round. I mean, he's a Fighter...it's in his class name! 
Saying yes isn't always good.  When the guy asked to put that in the book, they should have told him no.
 



The point of "say yes" philosophy of gaming is utterly not what you think it is, the primary element of it is to encourage dms  to exploit the players creativity.. usually you use it as starting point off which you add twists and turns, hell its the reason a DM will just let a cool idea work instead of forcing things in to a dice fest (something dms have been doing forever). Primarily the idea is actually "yes, but..." or "yes, and..." as well a "no, but" -  the buts and ands are where the DM does all that twisting and turning to make the story go forward, what it absolutely isnt is removing the challenges from the game or saying that you shouldnt ever say no.

Shallow misreadings aside, the thing is actually broadly applicable... Hit Points could be seen as the first yes but. Its a way to allow the player  to see some success ie the yes... and yet say you arent quite there yet, ie that is the but part.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

"Never split the Party"

Good advice, as it slows down the whole game, and oftem makes players lose interest as things that dont involve them go on.

Having "Combat" and "Noncombat" characters, however, does the exact same thing. It isnt as bad when combats are over quickly (as in saga) but when there's an epic skill challange to investigate the dissaperance of a nable, the fighter looks at his 3 skills, Althetics, Endurance, Heal, and goes to pick up a pizza.
Does everyone really need to be good at combat?

Yes.  Unequivocally, yes.  Everyone needs to be good out of combat, as well. 

DMs need the flexibility to run combat-heavy or combat-light games.  Having some characters that are combat monsters and others that are diplomancers ties the DM's hands, forcing him to run a meticulously bell-curved-average mix of combat & non-combat. 




This
I don't think everyone should be on equal footing, no...but I prefer a story driven game rather than a tactical one. In a strategy game, yes I think everyone should contribute equally. In the games I'm part of, however, the Thief doesn't mind attacking less often or doing less damage because he's playing a character...and it's what his character would do. Still, everyone wants to feel they've done something.

As was mentioned, I think a lot of this becomes less relevant when combat becomes quicker.

Also, the Fighter should dominate combat...consistent performance, if not necessarily the highest damage every round. I mean, he's a Fighter...it's in his class name! 

Nice try Laughing
So it's not possible to dominate a fighter to dominate the fight if the dominator is involved in a fight with the fighter ?

I think the contribution to fights is very important. Rogues before the 3rd edition were almost useless during fights, and low level wizard were barely noticeable. A Thief before 10th level didn't even has a good chance to hide before fights to avoid being involved. So they opted to wear an armor that was imposing penalties to already low chances to use rogues skills. And their basic attacks were laughable.

To reduce overall class damage in favor of another form of combat influence is OK, but doing it to favor out of combat abilities is a problem. When a class do not contribute to a fight, someone have to compensate. And then, it's unjust to force the all the hard combat optimization on two classes as before, fighters and clerics taking hits and spamming healing spells, leaving all the fun shiny too powerful secure attacks to the wizard and to a lesser extend, to the druid. The other otpion is to count on the DM to throw less challenging combats, and fighting rats until 5th level is not fun for the players who invest them in fighting.

The problem with weak combat class is being able to protect them when the group face more than one enemy. Why would the fighter train himself for protecting more than the ones who contribute to the fight if the party member do not see the use to helps his comrades to survive ? The roleplaying argument doesn't work, because a character will want to survive or help the people who saved its life before if its not a some kind of sociopath or is not suffering from schizophrenia.

Selfish characters should be good in combat. If they survive without this, then other players are not roleplaying their characters to not create conflict at the table : not funny for them at all.
Being bad at combat for roleplaying reasons at 1st level is ok, being bad after in a D&D setting is selfish or the result of a bad class design.

Adventuring class bad at combat in a world full of teleporting bad guys where attacks can be organized everywhere is not logical to me.

If you think my english is bad, just wait until you see my spanish and my italian. Defiling languages is an art.

As I run my game, I literally tell my players that every level is like the chapter of a novel and they are the primary characters driving the story forward (along with bad guys in the background).



  • I IGNORE the experience tables set forth in the DMG.

  • I use the DMG tables to create balanced encounters based around XP value of monsters. 

  • I sprinkle in 4-5 combats per level, and have an equal share of travel, investigation, intrigue, skill use, and overall story propagation that makes it a total immersion experience. 


I use my gut intuition and a sense of my players to determine when they are ready to level up and when the story feels like it is moving to a new chapter. This weekend they leveled up to 20th level and we're well on our way to 30th level with this cast of characters. This game started at 1st level and has been running for 2 years. 

Not one of my players ever pines over a feat they'll take at next level, or a new power they can't wait to get at next level because they are too busy working through the story to even care.

I truly believe that the biggest problem with Dungeons & Dragons has nothing to do with game mechanics, but it has everything to do with crappy DMs who don't know how to draw people into a story and really make them care. I can't tell you how many games in which I've played where not one players gave a rats behind whether their character died or not. Every player in my game feels a deep attachment to their character that has nothing to do with the mechanics, powers, or feats. When a character dies in my game, it isn't just dismissed as, "time to roll up a new one."
As long as combat is the primary vehicle of PC growth, then yes, all PCs need to be good at combat.



With quest XP, skill checks, and roleplay XP, I'm not sure this needs to be the case. I give just as much XP for creativly avioding a conflict with the bad guy as I do for fighting him. There are ways to sneak into an armory room and steal magic items without fighting one battle. 

Now I like a good fight like every red blooded American male, but I have been playing way too long for this to be the primary vehicle of PC growth in every game I play. I have been at this since 1986 and I would have been bored long ago and quit if this was the case.
The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules. Attributed to Gary Gygax by Allan Varney in a sidebar to a review of the Amber Diceless Roleplaying Game
Combat is one of the most common points of conflict resolution. It is, in most campaigns, the primary means for character growth (XP). This isn't surprising considering it arose from a miniatures wargame. Yes, many of us have run low-combat campaigns. I've had cases in every edition where an entire session, or even several sessions in a row, featured no combat at all. However, combat is where your character sheet really comes into play. You aren't as likely to die making a Diplomacy check with the local merchant as you are when locking blades with the hobgoblin overlord.

With all of that in mind, it is certainly important that every character be able contribute meaningfully in combat. Note I did not say everyone should be good at combat or equally good, I said every character should be able to contribute meaningfully.

If you want to play a lazylord/princess build where your character doesn't actually do anything much in combat, but your actions buff other characters or grant them other actions, that is meaningful contribution, even if that character didn't directly inflict damage. If a cleric wants to play a healbot for whatever reason and just focus on keeping the other characters alive, that is meaningful contribution. However, those styles aren't fun for everyone. I think every class should have the option of being good at combat with the right build, with other options for those that aren't as interested in the dicefest.

On the flip side, since noncombat actions have been part of pretty much every edition, every class should also be able to contribute meaningfully during noncombat encounters.
Owner and Proprietor of the House of Trolls. God of ownership and possession.
You aren't as likely to die making a Diplomacy check with the local merchant as you are when locking blades with the hobgoblin overlord.


I tend to differ my opinion with this one. Botching a diplomacy roll could give you the wost way to enter the dungeon, or a cursed dagger, or a poison instead of a healing potion. All of which may not kill you immediatly, but may end up doing so in the long run. Now it does take a more expienced GM to make botched diplomacy rolls a dangerous thing, but they can be just as deadly if not moreso than a combat roll. 


With all of that in mind, it is certainly important that every character be able contribute meaningfully in combat. Note I did not say everyone should be good at combat or equally good, I said every character should be able to contribute meaningfully.


While I tend to differ on the previous statement, I respectfully disagree completly with this one. Do you think every character should be able to roll diplomacy? or ride? or pick locks? or climb a tree?

Every player should roll up the character they want to play, and that they will have fun with. Whether it is all fighters or all bards. It is the unending job of the GM to make it work. It comes back down to a good GM. A good GM will make it work. If everyone is has fun smashing orcs, then do that; however, if everyone has fun bartering the price of horses then go with that. If it is a mix, then overthrowing the political structure of a town migth have elements of both. 
The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules. Attributed to Gary Gygax by Allan Varney in a sidebar to a review of the Amber Diceless Roleplaying Game
you should be able to meaningfully participate in all aspects of the game, should you choose to do so.

it's one thing to chose to make a character that can't participate in combat. 

it's another to have that forced on you.

it doesn't matter if your class is named "fighter", "mage", "aristocrat" or "courtesan". the game should allow your character to participate in combat if you want to 

on the flipside, it should also allow you to participate in non-combat activities like exploration, diplomacy and whatnot.

the starting baseline the game should strive for is "regardless of the task, you should be able to participate". afterwords it should be up to the player to tweak if he's bad in one aspect or another. 

if you have one class that's the combat class, one class that the exploration class & one class that's the diplomacy class then you're obviously going to run into issues... what does the EC and DC do when CC guy's locking blades... cower and cry? does CC & DC simply stay in the wagon and twiddle their thumbs when EC guy is navigating? does CC and EC simply shut up when DC is talking with the big boys? 

the baseline should be "you can actively participate and contribute". the ability to be bad at combat or diplomacy should be irrelevant to the baseline, but rather a choice made by the player once the baseline is established.
 

Do you think every character should be able to roll diplomacy? or ride? or pick locks? or climb a tree?
 

yes, yes yes and yes.
Characters yes ...  not CHARICATURES 


  • Every charater should be able to take a shot at charming and convincing someone of there point of view

  • Every character can sit on a horse unless they have a phobia or ride crappy and describe there saddle sores you know role play it. 

  • And everyone with the patience should have a meh shot at many of those simplistic medieval locks (although lock picking should take a minute or ten without some sort of gift)

  • Everyone, should have a good shot at most trees (we are almost arborial )- the exceptions are really not heroic.



And everyone approaching godling status should barely have to think about it. 
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

you should be able to meaningfully participate in all aspects of the game, should you choose to do so.

it's one thing to chose to make a character that can't participate in combat. 

it's another to have that forced on you. 



Heroic non-combatant characters in action movies participate as a form of support role often very effective ones. There doesnt seem to require characters to have a "hide uselessly and blatantly incompetant in the corner" role ... twiddling there thumbs because this is the climax of the story and they literally cant participate.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

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