Party Roles: Playing D&D Games without a Tank

Party Roles: Playing D&D Games without a Tank

 

D&D Tank – is it even a really thing in the game?”

This is a comment we received on our No Tank, No Problem – Running D&D Games without Filling Party Roles video. This is our first video in the Running D&D Games without Filling Party Roles series. The truth of the matter is I’ve been playing D&D games since first edition Dungeons & Dragons we looked for someone to fill the cleric, warrior, magic-user, and thief roles to fill out the D&D adventuring party even back then.

D&D adventuring party
This iconic image from second edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons shows one example of a classic D&D adventuring party. [Art by Clyde Caldwell]

Tanks for playing

The reason I don’t call out a specific character class for warrior was because paladin, fighter, and ranger can all be swapped out for each other as where the other character classes didn’t have alternate choices. Even from the early days of the game players worried about party composition.

MMO and other video games modeled much after the D&D adventuring party. With the release of fourth edition D&D a lot of the mechanics were codified. The roles that made up a D&D adventuring party were no different.

Fourth edition D&D went as far as to even borrow from the roles used in MMO Games. Unfortunately it wasn’t well received by the D&D community as a whole. That being said it still gets talked about by gamers playing D&D games.

There are four party roles presented for fourth edition D&D – defender, leader, striker, and controller. Healer and DPS would be the MMO terms. Healer works just fine for a D&D adventuring party. Personally I didn’t feel this hurt the game in the least. It just kind of brought things back full circle.

I like party roles conceptually as a discussion topic in blog posts, discussions, and videos, but in my games I don’t worry about them from the player’s or Dungeon Master’s perspective.

In the Scarlet Sisterhood game I run every Tuesday night 7 p.m. eastern on the Nerdarchy YouTube Channel none of the D&D adventuring party roles have pretty much ever been filled. It never has impeded our ability to play the game or have fun. Sometimes the bard would get stuck tanking, the rogue would have to dish out a little healing, or barbarian ends up running the unconscious halfling through the streets of Gryphongaffe to the Temple of Light before she could bleed out.

Just remember the most important thing is to have fun and tell stories with your friends at the gaming table.

Our first party roles video tackles the D&D tank

 

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My name is Dave Friant I’ve been gaming off and on for over 27 years. But here is the thing it’s always been a part of my life I’ve kept secret and hidden away. I’ve always been ashamed of the stigma that gaming and my other nerdy and geeky pursuits summon forth.

Recently I decided screw it! This is who I am the world be damned. From now on I’m gonna be a geek, nerd, or however folks want to judge me and just enjoy life.

Currently one of my greatest joys is introducing my 13 yr old son to table top RPG’s.

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My name is Dave Friant I've been gaming off and on for over 27 years. But here is the thing it's always been a part of my life I've kept secret and hidden away. I've always been ashamed of the stigma that gaming and my other nerdy and geeky pursuits summon forth. Recently I decided screw it! This is who I am the world be damned. From now on I'm gonna be a geek, nerd, or however folks want to judge me and just enjoy life. Currently one of my greatest joys is introducing my 13 yr old son to table top RPG's.

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