Be Classy: Some Thoughts on D&D Party Roles
Salutations, nerds! Today we’re going to take a moment to talk about party roles and classes, specifically doubling up on them within the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons adventuring party. I have seen a lot of trouble crop up regarding two people in a party wanting to play the same class. Particularly in fifth edition D&D, this is not as much of a problem as it sounds like it is, especially when you go into the situation with a little bit of good will.
The Bard’s Tale is a D&D live gameplay series on the Initiative Coffee YouTube channel. They whole party are bards. Click the image to check out a playlist of the campaign! [Art by Tyler Anderson – intheyearoftherabbit.com]
Same D&D class, different party roles
Most of us have been in this situation before. You go into a D&D session zero and you and another player both blurt, “Well I was thinking about playing a rogue.” Never fear! Neither one of you has to change your mind! There are dozens of things you could do to both get to play the class you want as well as still feel like you are contributing something to the party.
A rogue as seen in the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons Basic Rules. [Image courtesy Wizards of the Coast]
Most of us have things in real life that we like to talk shop about. Even if the only thing is D&D I am sure you’ve experienced that moment where you’ve met someone else who is interested in something you are, gotten excited about it and started chattering. Your D&D character can absolutely do that too.
Think about some of the things your class does or has to deal with that other classes don’t. For instance, if you’re a warlock, you could sit down and have a conversation commiserating about your patrons, or a couple of rogues could sit down and talk in thieves’ cant about how ridiculous a certain type of lock is. Instead of getting hostile and territorial, use it as a chance to bond.
Use it as a way to interconnect your characters
In Scarlet Sisterhood, at one point in the game my character Kenna wanted to take a couple of levels in rogue for that sweet sneak attack damage and the ability to disengage as a bonus action. It could have been so easy for that to turn into a mess, but instead, she asked Jen’s character Danine to teach her and they formed a master-student relationship that honestly made the roleplaying between them more entertaining as a result.
By the same token we had Elyunn come in as a cleric (Haylie) and Danine has a couple of levels in cleric and the two of them have gotten into a little bit of religious discourse and I’m looking forward to seeing how that develops in the future.
It’s okay for characters to teach each other things, and playing the student can be fun, but if you’re looking for something more even or if it’s happening at the beginning of a campaign where everyone is 1st level, consider having your two wizards be from the same tower or school. Same class is an excellent excuse to connect your backstories!
Consider how the characters could play off of one another, socially
Anthony and I play the same class in Ingest Quest but our characters are very different people. Let me be the first to say, I love Eugustus as a character. He is a slimy, vile, wriggling worm of a man and he is hilarious to see in action.
Meanwhile, my Syr’kaas (arachnoid, she is pretty much a spider) is very no nonsense, and we have an excellent back and forth where he will try to ooze up to her and suggest something and she will deadpan “no” or hiss at him and he lurches away, or she will do something stereotypically spidery and he will make a suspicious face at her. They have a wonderful dynamic and I don’t feel at all like it would be the same if they weren’t both warlocks. [NERDITOR’S NOTE: All the campaigns Megan mentions are excellent examples of how the players make the game! When players engage and support each other, encouraging other characters to shine, the story becomes much more collaborative and fun for everyone.]
All in all, it isn’t necessarily the end of the world if two players in your D&D game want to play the same class. Double up! It can be a really fun experience if you let yourself be flexible about it.
From the Nerditor’s desk
Speaking of D&D party and class roles, one of the video series over at the Nerdarchy YouTube channel drills down on the meaning of party roles, if and how they’re relevant in today’s D&D climate and what players and Dungeon Masters can do to mitigate situations where a traditional party role is absent from the group. Nerdarchist Dave is following up the videos with further thoughts here on the website too, so keep an eye out for those.
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