You’ve decided that your next character will be an archer and your primary weapon will be the longbow. But you’re not interested in playing a tree-hugging, one-with-nature Ranger. You want to play a tough as nails Fighter in plate armor who is a longbow master. Interesting character concept, but can you make this character using the 4e mechanics?
Remember when a character of any class could pick up a bow, choose a few bow related feats, and suddenly become a competent archer? It was a great time to play the guy wit the bow. And then we were introduced to 4e D&D and things changed.
Sure you could still pick up a bow, but none of your class powers work with a longbow – unless you’re a Ranger. Well I don’t want to play a Ranger. I want to play a Fighter, a Rogue, a Paladin or a Warlord. And I want to be threatening and dangerous from a distance. But the mechanics of 4e won’t let me do more than a basic ranged attack with my bow because I’m not a Ranger.
Yesterday Wimwick brought up the idea that classes are becoming secondary to roles. But if we take this argument a step further, I’d like to know why do any of the classes have to be limited to one role?
What if I want to play a Fighter but I don’t want to be a defender. What if I want to use a longbow and be a kick-ass, non-Ranger Fighter? Sounds to me like the role I’m looking for is striker, not defender.
I can choose my race, my feats, my class and my powers, but not my role. The roles and classes have been merged thereby limiting flexibility. All classes that fall into the defender role have class features that make them uniquely suited to melee combat. They can mark opponents and hinder their ability to move or take on other opponents.
Now if a defender attempts to use ranged weapons the advantages gained by marking an opponent are thrown out the window. If he tries to shift away what am I gong to do? I’m certainly not going to take an opportunity attack with my bow. That would only provoke on opportunity attack from the marked foe. But if I don’t attack him why bother marking him at all? If I don’t I’m missing out on a big part of what the Fighter class is all about.
Well, this is not entirely correct. I’m missing out on what the defender role is all about, and that’s an important distinction. If I could choose my class (Fighter) and choose my role (striker) then I’d loose the defender’s ability to mark my foes, but I’d probably gain some sort of striker bonus that allows me to deal more damage in certain circumstances just like the Rogue’s sneak dice or the Ranger’s hunter’s quarry.
After going through this example I’m betting that we’re going to see the roles play an increasingly more important part in character creation as 4e continues to grow. I’m also confident that we’ll see new rules (possibly in PHB3 or by a third-party publisher) that allow you to apply any role to any class.
Looking back at my original dilemma, I don’t see an easy way to use the existing Fighter model to make a really cool archer. For now, if I want to make a powerful archer I think I’m stuck playing the Ranger. I guess I’ll have to use role-playing to make him the PC I envisioned and not just another hippy elf with a bow.