Adventuring Basics

A typical adventuring party consists of four characters, each representing one of the iconic elements of fantasy roleplaying. The fighter, the wizard, the cleric, and the rogue form the classic group. The fighter relies on weapons to mete out damage and wears armor to avoid injury. The wizard uses spells to destroy enemies and to circumvent hazards. The cleric supports the other characters through healing spells and “buff” spells that enhance abilities, though he can also aid the fighter in combat. The rogue bypasses traps, assists the fighter and cleric on the battlefi eld, and brings to bear an impressive skill set that makes her the party’s “go-to” person in just about any situation.

The D&D game offers many other classes, but the rest are variations on these core themes. The druid shares many of the cleric’s spells but also has specialized abilities that allow her to thrive in wilderness environments. The ranger, an amalgam of both the druid and the fighter classes, has some of the druid’s abilities plus bonus feats based on a chosen combat style. In like manner, the paladin blends the abilities of the cleric with those of the fighter. The monk is a fighting character who eschews armor to gain more mobility on the battlefi eld, and the bard blends the skills of the rogue with a smattering of magic from multiple classes. In short, almost every other class beyond the basic four is a combination, variation, or extension of the four basic themes. Consider carefully how your character choice will interact with those of your fellow players in an adventuring party. If two people want to play rogues, and your group has only four players, the party might have to do without one of the four key elements unless someone else chooses a character whose abilities cover the missing theme. Even choosing characters similar to those in the ideal party can create problems. For example, choosing a druid or a paladin in place of a cleric, or a bard instead of a rogue can produce severe consequences for a party that cannot fi ll the gaps in expertise. The same problem exists with the new standard classes presented in recent publications. What must the other characters do to compensate when a party includes a warlock instead of a wizard, for instance?

Proper character class selection is vital to the long-term success of an adventuring party. The choices you make when building your team determine the group’s ability to face off against the denizens of the dungeon as well as the horrors of the wilds. The following sections examine the four basic character roles—warrior, expert, arcane spellcaster, and divine spellcaster—as well as the implications of alternative class choices. Each section also provides some advice on how to compensate for deviations from the four iconic classes.

Adventuring Basics

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