My Favorite Role: Matthew, What Is Best In Life?
Loq, a shapeshifting spellcaster enlisted in the service of the military of The Mullier Empire, was discorporated in the process of trying to disarm an arcane shielding device. He shoved his clockwork implement into it and attempted to set it off from twenty-five feet away via his mage hand, but the energy unleashed caused a rebound effect that proceeded to disassemble his physical form. His last words? “Oh, fuck.”
This was not an unplanned death. It was a deliberate decision made to give me the opportunity to play a new character in place of one I wasn’t entirely happy with playing. In this campaign, we gave the newbies first choice over the pregens I created. They chose to play a swordmage and a ranger. That left me to play the wizard because magic is important to the premise of the setting that Girlfriend DM created.
I’ve played wizards before, but I’ve never been entirely comfortable with the class. In 3rd Edition, the wizard is a highly strategic class that requires a player to anticipate the challenges of the day in order to determine the spells he or she chooses to memorize. In 4th Edition, the wizard no longer suffers from a ‘15 minute adventuring day,’ which forces him or her to resort to a crossbow (and firing poorly with it).
I knew very well that in order to change characters, I would have to get rid of my existing character. I made my arrangements with Girlfriend DM ahead of time. I have to tell you though, it’s tough to fake drama for your fellow players when you know what’s going to happen. I made sure that Loq didn’t just throw his hands up and die. All manner of effort was made by him to keep himself from unnecessary danger, much to Girlfriend DM’s chagrin.
That said, my new character is a defender: a mordenkrad-wielding dragonborn warrior. In this world, the dragonborn are long thought to be extinct, wiped out with the empire that predates the current empire. In effect, I’m returning to my favorite class role EVAR. For some reason, playing as a controller doesn’t work for me. Not only do I get antsy trying to apply my bursts and blasts, but my d20 rolls turn out lower (before modifier) almost as if the d20 is trying to tell me something.
For me, the defender is the best role. A striker is the deadly arm of the party — self-centered (in a good way) living weapons moving around and hoping the rest of the party can clear out the path to her target and keep enemies from smacking out the few hit points he has. A controller ensures that whatever backup the big bad of an encounter is rendered ineffective as he keeps them in line. A leader keeps the party going by allowing them to stay on their feet as she heals them, protects them and jolts them with encounter caffeine.
Defenders are for players who ask for trouble in ways they can’t do in real life. Ever since I started playing role-playing games on a regular basis, I’ve relished in how many hit points I can lose in a given session — even when I’m an 11 hit point wizard or a barely armored gunslinger. My most frequent complaint in the previous 4e campaign under Girlfriend DM was the lack of punishment I suffered. Everytime I saw the kalashtar artificer get smacked around, I wept and thought, “That’s damage I could be taking!”
The other joy I get from defenders is the ability to act out of turn. When you’re the kind of person who can plan his actions long before the rest of the players and monsters can take their turn, that matters a lot, especially if you’re as impatient as I am. Spanking marks during someone else’s turn is one of my favorite things and it’s something that squishy controllers and leaders don’t get to do since being in a position to give opportunity attacks means being in the center of the fray.
Furthermore, there’s a tactical joy that comes from trying to manage all the decisions that need to be made to keep monsters locked away from your friends and find ways to make them turn their eyes towards you. I’ll leave the out of combat thinking to the ritual-wielding controllers and the tense social negotiation to the charisma-dependent leaders.
I enjoy role-playing, but when someone else is behind the DM screen, I don’t pretend to have the combination of poker-faced negotiations and theatrical drama that comes with interacting with NPCs or the ability to outwit my DM. Instead, I like to portray my character in broad strokes with simple but appealing personalities that let others lead the way while I shield them from harm.
What’s your favorite role in 4th Edition?
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