When it comes to tabletop roleplaying, almost everyone gets excited when they hear “Let’s start a new campaign.” The reason we all get excited is because now we get to create something completely new. It doesn’t matter if the new campaign is just a temporary one while in between major story arcs of another campaign or another major campaign, we still approach our new characters the same; let’s create the most awesome, fun character we can.
However, party composition and dynamics does factor in. It is not possible to have a four person party consisting entirely of fighters. Actually, that’s not true. It is possible, the party will just only be effective in combat and quite inept at most everything else. So, some consideration is needed when it comes to deciding who is going to play what. This does not, however, mean that everyone needs to pick from the very narrow list of iconic classes and roles.
You do not want to feel you have to choose a specific class just because all other roles were already picked by other players. This does happen. Sometimes people feel compelled to pick a certain role or class because that’s what the party needs. A lot of the time, when this happens, that person puts very little effort into creating their character, not really caring to fully flesh it out. It’s not really their character at this point, it’s the party’s character. This can lead to a lot of resentment within the party, especially if everyone else got to pick a class or role that they really like.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way, and I highly recommend against choosing to play something you don’t want to just because it will benefit the party the most. The players will benefit the most, and you will benefit the most, by choosing to play something you want to play. You do not have to be a cleric (the role of healer is often, in my experience, the last role chosen) just because the current party’s composition is lacking a healer. So, again, play what you want to play.
It is not your responsibility to provide the entire party with something that seems to be lacking. If the party is lacking healing, in this example, then the party, as a group, needs to find a workaround. Most systems out there are very flexible, offering numerous ways to gain the ability to heal without needing to play a specific class or role. These often come in the way of an archetype, magic items, and/or potions. The party will find a way to make it work. Remember, it is not your job to make sure every specific role is fulfilled. This leads to tabletop roleplaying feeling like a job instead of a way to relax and enjoy oneself.
Playing what you want, in this case, can lead to improved party cohesion, tactics, and roleplaying. This will increase the amount of fun and character investment everyone experiences around the table. The party will not run into a difficult fight if they know they don’t have a steady healing source. The party will also roleplay differently if they know they don’t have a specific “get out of jail free” skill. And when it comes down to it, this is why we tabletop roleplay, to unwind, relax, and have fun with friends.
When it comes time to create new characters, how does your group choose roles? Do you try to keep more with the iconic roles? Or do you mix it up a bit? Please feel free to leave a comment below and/or share on Twitter.
Image courtesy of http://www.wordle.net/create
I used wordle.net and entered in all the classes currently available from the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game source books.