Monday, 28 April 2014

Solo 4e D&D: Creating the Party

If this isn't the most iconic "party portrait" of second edition AD&D I don't know what is.

I've had a chance now to have a good think about the classes and races I'd like to see in the party, as well as the balance of party "roles". I originally considered simply choosing a party from the various pre-generated first level characters published in the 4e Starter Pack or the various Gen Con demo modules. However, I find it very hard to become emotionally invested in my own characters at the best of times (having been hardened over the years by seeing so many carefully crafted and beloved NPC's fall to bloodthirsty player characters) so I think I would have a hard time valuing the imaginary lives of a bunch of pre-gens. 

Given that part of this experiment is to see if it's actually possible to become emotionally invested in PC's when you control a whole party of them in a solo game, I think that using pre-gens would ultimately undermine the whole exercise. So over the next week or so, I'm going to try to create and publish a player character every night starting on Wednesday (I'm running Dark Heresy tomorrow).

I've decided on the following mix of party roles in my party of six: 2 Defenders, 2 Leaders/Healers, 1 Striker, 1 Controller. Why six characters when five is recommended as the base party size for 4e? Well, I grew up playing in six-player tournament teams while at high-school. On top of that, all the old 2e AD&D computer games from SSI involved six characters (except for those "Eye of the Beholder£ style abominations). Even the Bard's Tale II, the first ever computer PC game I owned, featured a party of six. I can't remember the names of the entire starting party in BTII, mind you. But I know there was a Monk called Marcus and a Paladin called Balin or something similar. Of course, I used to change his name to Brian.
Another iconic AD&D 2e image
My allocation of party roles might seem a bit odd. The 4e Player's Strategy Guide recommends just one Defender per party, but I've played World of Warcraft often enough to understand the value of taking an off-tank along on six-man raids. Likewise, you can never have too many healers. Only having one Striker will limit the teams damage output quite a bit though, so I expect fights will end up being more drawn out (and therefore possibly negate the advantage of having the extra healer). As for the controller? A party really needs only one. Otherwise I risk handicapping myself in Dungeon environments by having too many persistent Area of Effects in play at once. Most five man party's seem to end up with two Strikers and even a fair number of the six person party's I've seen in other people's games have fielded three. Quite sensible really, given that the faster you put the bad-guys down, the less damage they'll do. But I do like to make things hard for myself.

Finally, here are the character classes and races I settled on. Given how much thought I put into deciding how many of each party role I wanted, you'd probably expect that I would put as much though into choosing complementary races and classes. Or even min-maxing class-race combos for each character. But nah. I basically picked them on the basis of what I thought would be cool to play.

So we  will have:
Dwarf Cleric (Leader/ Primary Healer)
Human Runesmith (Leader/ Alternative Healer)
Goliath Fighter (Defender/Tank)
Eladrin Swordmage (Defender/Off-Tank)
Tiefling Sorcerer (Striker)
Human Wizard (Controller)


Tim Pollard said...

> I basically picked them on the basis of what I thought would be cool to play.

The bestest ever way to pick class/race/weapons/spells. :-)

Caliban said...

Hi Brian, reading all of this with interest...

Lead Legion said...

@ Tim: Even in the mix/mast fest that is 4th ed, I couldn't agree more.

@Caliban: Glad to hear it. I need feedback on this thing to keep me motivated :)

Caliban said...

I still have a huge collection of old RPG materials, even though I mostly play figure games at the moment. However, my kids are getting to the stage where they might show an interest, and a sort of automatic mechanic really does interest me.