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Thursday, March 30th, 2006
2:14p - RPing parties and disco bands
I was bored and reading Wikipedia, and it struck me that a typical gaming group works much the same way as the Village People. The songwriters who founded the VP sat down and worked out what archetypes they needed to cover - construction worker, cop, cowboy, etc etc - and then recruited people to fill those roles; when they lost their cop, biker, and cowboy, they replaced them with new guys playing the exact same roles. We plan our parties to have a tank, healer, 'face', scout, and magical artillery; there's some variation within that, and occasional cross-training, but those roles dominate party construction, and when we lose the party healer we try to replace them ASAP.

This is a very tactically effective approach. If you're trying to appeal to gay music-lovers, those are good archetypes to tap, and if you want a party that can chop up ogres, pick locks, and sweet-talk NPCs, the 'balanced party' is the best way to do it. But while it's a powerful way to play, power isn't everything; eventually that approach starts to feel a little tired, no matter how many different devices we invent to explain why a cleric, a wizard, and a rogue are hanging out together.

It seems to me that the alternatives might be just as interesting to play. IME, when parties do double up on one role or lose another, that often leads to some fun interplay - if two characters have the same skillset, there's more incentive to flesh them out beyond "I'm the healer". And if nobody knows how to pick a lock, the party has to get a lot more creative when they need to break somebody out of prison. I'd be interested to hear if anybody's had experience in taking this further, and suggestions on how to run a game for an 'unbalanced' party.


current mood: long-winded

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