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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Default Play what you want, or fill in a needed role?

    Awhile back, before the forum server crashed (Side Note: Sincerely, a MASSIVE 'thank you' to Rich and the entire mod staff for all their hard work in getting things back up!), I asked what should I play to round out my upcoming Avernus group.

    And during the time the forum was unavailable, I thought a lot about the suggestions provided thus far.

    Yet I got to thinking, ultimately, it comes down to one of two things. Not for myself, but for anyone in this scenario:

    1. Do you play something that can round out the group?

    OR

    2. Do you play what you want to play, consequences be damned?

    In the case of my Avernus group, here's the party comp:

    VHuman Dragon Sorc (blaster), Eladrin Scout Rogue (ranged), Kobold Melee Fighter, Undecided (likely NOT a caster), and whatever I play.

    So with no healer, no utility caster, no tank... Not even anyone Strength-based! I could try to play something that'd fill in those roles. Maybe an Arcana Cleric or Paladin. And those subclasses are great! But... I'd likely be burning through my resources very quickly, as I try to cover so many bases.

    Or do I instead play what I want to play, how I want to play it, and let THEM fill in better party roles as they die?

    Not to say I'd play this in any sort of adversarial way. If someone is KO'd and I have the ability to heal, I'll do my best to pop them up.

    But they're all playing what they want, what sounds fun to them. So why should I feel pigeonholed into what I want to play?
    Last edited by jaappleton; 2020-02-22 at 09:21 AM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
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    Default Re: Play what you want, or fill in a needed role?

    I always go for the "Fill a role" option. There's lots of options, and approaching a role from a different direction can be weird and fun.
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  3. - Top - End - #3
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    Default Re: Play what you want, or fill in a needed role?

    I have generally found that 5E is not very demanding of the holy trinity, and high damage per round will tend to beat out the need for strong defenses or much healing, and 5E healing doesn't go very far anyway.

    So, play what you want.
    Last edited by False God; 2020-02-22 at 09:42 AM.
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  4. - Top - End - #4
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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Play what you want, or fill in a needed role?

    I don't get to play enough PCs to play all the ideas running through my head. So, in general I fill out a roll that fits one of the ideas.

    However, for the campaign that I am starting soon I'm doing a "play what you want" because I really wanted to play an Arcane Trickster. I have had a thing for rogues since I started play D&D and RPGs, so the fact that I haven't played one yet in 5e was bugging me.

  5. - Top - End - #5
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    Default Re: Play what you want, or fill in a needed role?

    Both usually. What I want to play and what will support the party coincided most of the time.
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    Default Re: Play what you want, or fill in a needed role?

    My own tendency is to fill a role, which in one group leads to the practical effect that I play a lot of spellcasters (and am frankly at least a little tired of it). If I were joining a party, I'd look at what the party had and at least not build to compete for any existing character's niche (5E isn't great at niche-protection, but I think it's worth consideration).

    Having said that, I have to say that players who always want to fill a need, and players who always want to play a specific character (especially the subset who always want to play the same character) ... grate on my nerves, at least a little bit. I want the former to pick first, occasionally, and I want the latter (especially the most annoying subset) to expand their comfort zones. So, as a GM, I'm looking at things I can do to reduce both behaviors. Rolling stats in order (ish) seems like one option; randomizing selection order (and not allowing players to defer) seems like another; randomly selecting, say, two classes letting the player choose between them (possibly with a caveat that there be o classes duplicated) is another.

    As to the OP (sorry for the rather extensive digression): I think it depends on how badly you think a missing role needs filling, and how tired you are of filling that particular role. Which isn't really a helpful answer, I suppose.

  7. - Top - End - #7
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    Default Re: Play what you want, or fill in a needed role?

    Quote Originally Posted by prabe View Post
    My own tendency is to fill a role, which in one group leads to the practical effect that I play a lot of spellcasters (and am frankly at least a little tired of it). If I were joining a party, I'd look at what the party had and at least not build to compete for any existing character's niche (5E isn't great at niche-protection, but I think it's worth consideration).

    Having said that, I have to say that players who always want to fill a need, and players who always want to play a specific character (especially the subset who always want to play the same character) ... grate on my nerves, at least a little bit. I want the former to pick first, occasionally, and I want the latter (especially the most annoying subset) to expand their comfort zones. So, as a GM, I'm looking at things I can do to reduce both behaviors. Rolling stats in order (ish) seems like one option; randomizing selection order (and not allowing players to defer) seems like another; randomly selecting, say, two classes letting the player choose between them (possibly with a caveat that there be o classes duplicated) is another.

    As to the OP (sorry for the rather extensive digression): I think it depends on how badly you think a missing role needs filling, and how tired you are of filling that particular role. Which isn't really a helpful answer, I suppose.
    Emphasis mine.

    I really, really agree with this part. Like, in my original post, I mention someone picked Eladrin Scout Rogue. So I'm going to avoid rolling a Rogue, and probably also avoid Ranger. The Rogue Scout is pretty much designed to be an alternative to the Ranger, so let them do their thing.

    Now, despite someone going Dragon Sorc, I would be willing to do something like Divine Soul Sorc. Not for this particular party composition, but in other cases, yes, I'd be willing to go Sorc. Because while we'd both have Metamagic, we could have entirely different spell lists and handle very different roles, covering two different bases, as it were.

    We're currently finishing up Curse of Strahd, where we have two Clerics, and there's been no complaints or anything. But I do agree with your point here; If someone designs their character to do X, its poor form to design your own PC to do X better than they do.
    Last edited by jaappleton; 2020-02-22 at 10:07 AM.

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    Default Re: Play what you want, or fill in a needed role?

    Both.

    I find groups that make characters together during a session 0 have a good chance of everyone playing what they want and also having the group as a whole cover whatever roles the group felt needed to be covered.

    And that usually means new characters can be what they want.

    So with no healer, no utility caster, no tank... Not even anyone Strength-based!
    You have a Fighter, they get enough hp to hold the line for a while.
    You don't really need a Strength based character. Although maybe buy a block and tackle if it concerns you. Those pulleys can give you a strength multiplier.
    Healing is one of those areas that different parties value and need in different amounts. You might get away with just having a Inspiring Leader or Healer feat in the party. Easily calibrated at your / their next ASI.
    What utility magic do you see as lacking? Your Rogue might cover some of that with skills instead. Or it might be an interesting limitation for the party. Being without Locate Object makes you rely on social & investigation more. Being without detect magic / identify makes you treat magic differently (and use some of the Sorc's latent arcana lore).

    So you are less pigeonholed than you might think and I expect you could have your cake and eat it too. What did you want to play?
    Last edited by OldTrees1; 2020-02-22 at 10:32 AM.

  9. - Top - End - #9
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    Default Re: Play what you want, or fill in a needed role?

    Quote Originally Posted by jaappleton View Post
    If someone designs their character to do X, its poor form to design your own PC to do X better than they do.
    I think it's probably worth not trying to do X even as well as they do, unless the party is big enough where there's a legitimate need for, say, two melee tanks. Maybe build a character who can tank if needed, but not as a primary role. It reduces the odds of intra-party tension, because you're not trying to be a tank, too (and someone's going to be better at it, which is going to leave someone ... bothered), and because you're not competing for tank-type magic items (which might depend on the campaign).

  10. - Top - End - #10
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    Default Re: Play what you want, or fill in a needed role?

    Quote Originally Posted by OldTrees1 View Post
    Both.

    I find groups that make characters together during a session 0 have a good chance of everyone playing what they want and also having the group as a whole cover whatever roles the group felt needed to be covered.


    You have a Fighter, they get enough hp to hold the line for a while.
    You don't really need a Strength based character.
    Healing is one of those areas that different parties value and need in different amounts. You might get away with just having a Inspiring Leader or Healer feat in the party. Easily calibrated at your / their next ASI.
    What utility magic do you see as lacking? Your Rogue might cover some of that with skills instead. Or it might be an interesting limitation for the party. Being without Locate Object makes you rely on social & investigation more. Being without detect magic / identify makes you treat magic differently (and use some of the Sorc's latent arcana lore).

    So you are less pigeonholed than you might think and I expect you could have your cake and eat it too. What did you want to play?
    I'm really digging that new Way of Mercy Monk, to be frank. But I don't want to spend all my Ki on healing allies. And despite being very nimble, it also makes me one of two PCs, or perhaps the only one (I don't know if the Kobold is going Melee or Ranged fighter) that's going to fight in melee.

    False God said something intriguing, which I actually tend to agree with: High offense is likely the way to go here. Dead enemies don't inflict damage or status effects on the party. So that said, being an Avernus game, Paladin is an incredibly strong option since Smite deals +1d8 VS Fiends.

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    Default Re: Play what you want, or fill in a needed role?

    I play what I want, with my only care being to try to avoid overlapping with another player's character in a way that would make them less useful. I feel this actually leads to better games when you don't always have the same tool set at your disposal. For example, in a game I'm currently playing in there is a sorcerer, two wizards and a warlock. This campaign by design both has really big magical component and really deadly enemies, which makes combat with this incredibly fragile group a hoot. Sure, we'll all die if the enemy looks at us angrily, but that just means combat is a mad panicked scramble involving lots of 'run away!' and 'kill it! kill it with fire!'.
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    Default Re: Play what you want, or fill in a needed role?

    Well it depends on AL or not.

    In AL, party composition, which is at best I think highly overrated, means I bring Two different builds that I like and choose if I think One may be more useful. Especially high tier1, tier 2, and low tier 3. Tier 4... waiting but not excitedly.

    My recent non-AL campaign seems to have more members in/out and changing characters between sessions than my AL experiences! That seems.., odd. I have had 3 different characters (none died) in DMM starting at levels 5, 7, 8 and if I keep saying no to Willow asI am currently maybe a fourth. And that seems the norm. Weird?

    Play responsibly what things you like. Between stats, skills, spells, etc., most aspects can be dealt with with good play styles and tactics.

    For myself it is Fighters/Rangers, Wizards, and Clerics mostly. Paladin, Rogues to a lesser degree. And of course my old AL setting allowed Feats and Multi-classing fully, no DM “options” denial, so I have a set of Tier 1/2 MC PCs that I could drop in if things looked pear shaped at the start. Not that stopped the “Player saw it coming at the start but character could not use knowledge he did not have” TPK. Three virtual stitches in my Player tongue that night.
    With one exception, I play AL games only nowdays.

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    Default Re: Play what you want, or fill in a needed role?

    Personally, I tend to enjoy filling a needed role. I like helping with party cohesion and synergy, plus it means that I'll have plenty of opportunities to contribute to the group. That being said, if you want to do something different than what you believe the group needs, I would search for a way you can do both. Like if the group is lacking in healing abilities, but you would prefer to be a blaster, then maybe a cleric or druid, where you have options for both? Just an example.

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    Default Re: Play what you want, or fill in a needed role?

    I usually end up filling a role (as I play with newbies and the other group I got invited to after everyone already had their character already prepared), but since I have so many ideas for characters flying in my head it's not an issue for me as I can just pluck one of them to fill the role as necessary.

    I agree about not stepping on another player's niche, for me this is my first and big consideration when creating a character to already existing party. But after that, you should go wild. If you have more ideas for your characters, filter out those that would make a niche collision and then pick one from the rest.

    I also agree that paladin seems like a good choice - solid HPs, melee presence in case kobold goes ranged and you can do some healing as well. I don't think missing an arcane caster will be too much of issue, you have sorcerer for some AoE blasting and utility can be gained from picking up a ritual caster later if needed. If pally calls to you, go with it. Or if you had some other idea for character, you can just present it here and we can do some brainstorming.
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    Default Re: Play what you want, or fill in a needed role?

    Quote Originally Posted by Biotroll View Post
    I usually end up filling a role (as I play with newbies and the other group I got invited to after everyone already had their character already prepared), but since I have so many ideas for characters flying in my head it's not an issue for me as I can just pluck one of them to fill the role as necessary.

    I agree about not stepping on another player's niche, for me this is my first and big consideration when creating a character to already existing party. But after that, you should go wild. If you have more ideas for your characters, filter out those that would make a niche collision and then pick one from the rest.

    I also agree that paladin seems like a good choice - solid HPs, melee presence in case kobold goes ranged and you can do some healing as well. I don't think missing an arcane caster will be too much of issue, you have sorcerer for some AoE blasting and utility can be gained from picking up a ritual caster later if needed. If pally calls to you, go with it. Or if you had some other idea for character, you can just present it here and we can do some brainstorming.
    My fear is if I'm the only melee, its rather obvious I'm the only one up on the front. And that means I'm going to get ganged up on, enemy-wise.

    So.... Would it actually be better for EVERYONE to go Ranged? So when combat starts, we all sort of scatter?

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    Default Re: Play what you want, or fill in a needed role?

    Quote Originally Posted by jaappleton View Post
    My fear is if I'm the only melee, its rather obvious I'm the only one up on the front. And that means I'm going to get ganged up on, enemy-wise.

    So.... Would it actually be better for EVERYONE to go Ranged? So when combat starts, we all sort of scatter?
    I understand the fear, but you can try to contact other players to see if the undecided one already picked up a class and if the kobold is going to be ranged or not. Or you could just go with paladin and try to find a way to deal with being ganged upon.

    I never looked into Avernus adventure but it's fairly obvious that even simple Protection from Evil and Good will do you good - disadvantage on attacks for most enemies you might encounter is nothing to sneeze at and if you can stack AC up you might avoid many hits you would take otherwise. Warding Bond would also be nice to distribute damage to others while you hold the line (kobold player would be my prime target if he is going ranged) (note: Apparently it's not on paladin's list? I thought it was, never mind then.), and there are other ways to deal with the situation depending on Oath you are planning to take. Hell, if you are getting ganged up on and you see you are going to fall soon, let your sorc target you with big AoE.
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    Default Re: Play what you want, or fill in a needed role?

    party doesn't have a healer? No tank?

    no worries

    it only becomes an issue if players die

    and if that happens, then the new character will (hopefully) fill that role

    and if they still don't learn? Well, that in itself can be a valuable experience..

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    Default Re: Play what you want, or fill in a needed role?

    Quote Originally Posted by jaappleton View Post
    I'm really digging that new Way of Mercy Monk, to be frank. But I don't want to spend all my Ki on healing allies. And despite being very nimble, it also makes me one of two PCs, or perhaps the only one (I don't know if the Kobold is going Melee or Ranged fighter) that's going to fight in melee.
    So you want to be a Way of Mercy Monk but without feeling like you should spend all your Ki on healing allies.

    Have you considered taking the Healer feat? At the cost of 1 feat you get a lot of healing per short rest and the ability to wake up the dying with 1hp. That would make it easy for you to avoid spending any Ki on healing allies.

    --------

    However you also asked about what if everyone was ranged. That can work. I suggest being able to notice encounters while still at a distance and then having enough mobility to keep at range.
    Last edited by OldTrees1; 2020-02-22 at 06:47 PM.

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    Default Re: Play what you want, or fill in a needed role?

    Play what you want, if there is a hole in the party role wise then the party as a whole can rise to fill it (feats and dips) or the DM can help (no healer? more potions available to buy). It's a game and as long as it doesn't come at the detriment of anyone else, fun should come first.
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    Default Re: Play what you want, or fill in a needed role?

    I think it's very important to play what you want - because if you do what is needed - then you might end up with a character class you don't enjoy (or hey, might not even be all that familiar with). The lack of enjoyment of investing time (played) into a character you have no interest in, is going to reflect in the game; and not being familiar with it, may slow down the game. Now that said, who knows, if you did a what is needed and were not familiar and/or didn't want to originally play; you may come to love the character after all.

    For example, I am not one for playing a Cleric/Priest type. The healing aspect of trying to keep others alive is not my general gaming style. In such a case, I'd rather opt for a Paladin or Druid. Someone who can heal but that's not their primary role. Similar, not a fan of playing Wizards because of the massive amount of spells to know and have at the ready to be able to use later.
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    Default Re: Play what you want, or fill in a needed role?

    I personally try to round out the group, but I try to encourage other players (or my players when I DM) to run what they like. I find the concept of groups learning to cover for their deficiencies interesting, but I'm not comfortable forcing that on my group by just running whatever I like without talking to them.

    Edit: Should say I like playing most rolls, if not most classes, to some degree. I'm not really put out by it like some might be.
    Last edited by Luccan; 2020-02-22 at 08:15 PM.
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    Default Re: Play what you want, or fill in a needed role?

    Do you like to play Druids?

    If, so, you can be the tank, DPS, healer, controller, spy or general utility, depending on the circumstances. No other class adjusts to the party needs on a case by case basis like the Druid.

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    Default Re: Play what you want, or fill in a needed role?

    Quote Originally Posted by jaappleton View Post
    1. Do you play something that can round out the group?

    OR

    2. Do you play what you want to play, consequences be damned?
    I typically go for 1 as I'm just that sort of player.
    That said, the reason I go for 1 is that my party typically dies as my current group works... not all that well together and many of them have exceedingly poor impulse control against a DM that will kill your character if the dice go that way and it's clear that you deserve it. So I try to round out the group in fashions that can help make up for poor plays.
    Which then somewhat rapidly leaves 1 a wasted choice as the party I end up with is not the one I initially made the character for as I inevitably fail and they die for good.

    Of my current group, there are no characters of the initial party my Necromancer Wizard joined still alive with him. This is an issue as with the exception of the Fighter- every single player is mainly a spellcaster.
    Sorcerer, Wizard, Warlock, Bard, Fighter, Wizard <- Our current group. The Sorcerer is level 11, I'm 9 Wiz/1 Cleric, the Fighter is either 8 or 9, and I believe everyone else is 7. We use point-buy and either rolling for HP/level or taking average.

    Needless to say- we're squishy and there is not much I can do about it. Currently all I can do is personally survive and work to ensure I can stabilize them before they die for good.
    It's time for a preemptive retaliatory strike.

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    Default Re: Play what you want, or fill in a needed role?

    Play what i want! I haven't played much 5ed game and there's some characters i want to try. Though i'll try not to overshadow a character with a specific niche. (Some are always good to have multiple of. Nobody will complain about multiple tanks or multiple casters who can heal)

    I might try to round the group but not if it's something i really don't want to play.

    At present, i joined a group with only a favored soul as healer and they seem to think we really needed healing. I really didn't feel like playing a "healer" though, so i picked the healer feat on a eldritch knight. Party really had only one melee so i can lots of damage away from them and 1d6+4+lvl HP per short rest is pretty amazing.

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    Default Re: Play what you want, or fill in a needed role?

    For what it's worth, I tell my group that my #1 job as DM is to make sure everyone is having fun...so I typically lean towards "play what you want."

    This did lead to a situation where we had 3 Rogues at one point (all different subclasses), which WAS admittedly challenging to balance combat encounters with...but we all made it work, and everyone had a blast (one of the Rogues has since rolled a Sorcerer, and another left the group for personal reasons...but now we have 2 Warlocks! Haha).

    Maybe it's just because I'm primarily a DM, but my philosophy has always been to give players freedom to do what they want (within reason, of course) and it's up to ME to figure out a way to make it work. Sometimes it's a pain, but I'm fortunate to be close friends with all my players and they seem to be responding positively to my approach.

    TLDR: Play what you want and let the DM figure out how to appropriately balance encounters.

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    Default Re: Play what you want, or fill in a needed role?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Aboleth View Post
    For what it's worth, I tell my group that my #1 job as DM is to make sure everyone is having fun...so I typically lean towards "play what you want."

    This did lead to a situation where we had 3 Rogues at one point (all different subclasses), which WAS admittedly challenging to balance combat encounters with...but we all made it work, and everyone had a blast (one of the Rogues has since rolled a Sorcerer, and another left the group for personal reasons...but now we have 2 Warlocks! Haha).

    Maybe it's just because I'm primarily a DM, but my philosophy has always been to give players freedom to do what they want (within reason, of course) and it's up to ME to figure out a way to make it work. Sometimes it's a pain, but I'm fortunate to be close friends with all my players and they seem to be responding positively to my approach.

    TLDR: Play what you want and let the DM figure out how to appropriately balance encounters.
    5e is generally very forgiving as far as party make-up. I've had one table who only play all same class at a time and they handle all of the published campaigns without much issues. Sure sometimes challenges arise but nothing 5 barbarians can't fix with adequate force.
    what is the point of living if you can't deadlift?

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  27. - Top - End - #27
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    iTreeby's Avatar

    Join Date
    Aug 2008

    Default Re: Play what you want, or fill in a needed role?

    Absolutely play what you want.

    That being said, it sounds like you could have an all range team that doesn't autofail stealth rolls so you might be able to do a different play style all together if you can get someone to cast pass without trace.
    avatar by Elrond

    "You should just homebrew the world's tiniest violin for your bard."

  28. - Top - End - #28
    Orc in the Playground
     
    ClericGirl

    Join Date
    Jan 2018

    Default Re: Play what you want, or fill in a needed role?

    It's simple - if someone has a problem with a certain role not being filled, they should do it themselves.

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Orc in the Playground
    Join Date
    Dec 2017

    Default Re: Play what you want, or fill in a needed role?

    Fill *every* role. Kind of half-heartedly, but if there's someone already doing that, they'll love you for the resource savings, so they might be able to do something else one day (they won't). You could even make them do their thing better, if you wanted to. If there's no-one else to do a thing, then that's your shtick for them for a moment, but why be trapped in your own little box? Do everything, fairly well.

    I am, of course, saying, you should always be a high'ish Charisma, high Wisdom, Firbolg Moon Druid in absolutely every campaign if you're entering into it late. Every time. No questions, regardless of other characters in the party. Even if the campaign hasn't started yet. You must do everything well. Or at least fairly well. They will not.

    At worst, cast Guidance on them. They still won't keep up with your magical/ knowledgey/ tanky/ lockdowny/ hitty/ stealthed/ smack-talking disguisey awesomeness. Or the damage that you will allow them to do, when they're just doing their thing.

    So, I humbly leave, having answered your question.


    (just because I'm all about options, you could just be a Firbolg Str Paladin. There's nothing stopping you, it'd just be boring)
    Last edited by sambojin; 2020-02-23 at 12:36 PM.

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Orc in the Playground
     
    HalflingRogueGuy

    Join Date
    Dec 2007

    Default Re: Play what you want, or fill in a needed role?

    Quote Originally Posted by prabe View Post
    If I were joining a party, I'd look at what the party had and at least not build to compete for any existing character's niche (5E isn't great at niche-protection, but I think it's worth consideration).
    Quote Originally Posted by MeimuHakurei View Post
    It's simple - if someone has a problem with a certain role not being filled, they should do it themselves.
    These things. If you want to play a particular kind of character do it. If doing so is going to stomp all over someone else's existing character because their PC is covering a certain niche already, consider a bit more carefully how your PC is going to fit in. However, unless the DM says, "Don't play this, or this, or that," or other players say (politely), "Please don't play a PC like this because the party really doesn't need or want another PC covering that niche," then play what you want. If nobody is setting conditions on your participation you don't need to place any special restrictions on yourself. As noted, if someone wants a certain role filled then THEY can f'n well do that, not demand that YOU do that.

    Also, you really can't ever go wrong with just creating a PC that stands at the front line and helps deal more damage.

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