Friday Favourite: Band of Brothers – Adventuring Parties of the Same Race

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on November 6, 2015

On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From January 26, 2011, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: Band of Brothers – Adventuring Parties of the Same Race.

In the upcoming Lair Assault public play adventure series Wizards is introducing “Glory,” a new achievement system where players earn points for accomplishing different goals. However, not all Glory is earned for defeating the monsters. In order to encourage repeat play they’re awarding Glory for trying things you might not normally consider trying – one such scenario is playing a party where everyone is the same race.

Have you ever played in a party where everyone was the same race? Normally, when you’re creating a character you can choose from any race or class that interests you; the sky’s the limit. What this usually means is that the party ends up with five PCs each representing different races and classes, and that’s ok. In fact it’s practically expected. A party where everyone’s the same race is an anomaly in D&D. But after hearing that Wizards would reward players with special Glory for trying this unusual party make-up I started considering just what such a party might look like. The more I thought about it the more excited I got about where this might lead.

Although Lair Assault is a tactical encounter and the focus is on combat, there is a lot of excellent role-playing potential for a party where everyone is the same race. Right off the bat it allows the party to create a shared history. No more boring explanations for how and why this group of eclectic misfits came to be working together in an adventuring party. If they’re all the same race there’s a really good chance that they all grew up together, are from the same community or are possibly even all related. This kind of bond adds a level or loyalty and likely a few long-standing grudges that you don’t usually see in a normal party where everyone was just thrown together.

Another interesting possibility about a party of common race is that they’ll all know a foreign language. This gives the party an easy way to communicate secretly when others are within earshot.

DMs can create specially designed campaigns that are going to appeal to a party where everyone is the same race that wouldn’t work nearly as well for a mixed race party. There are plenty of magical items that enhance racial bonuses or bestow special properties to members of a certain race. If everyone in the party is that race then motivating them to go on a quest to find one (or more) of these items should be easy.

So what might a party where everyone is the same race be like from a gaming and mechanics perspective? We’ll that all depends on how creative you want to be. Here are a few suggestions I came up with.

Dwarf

This is probably the most likely same-race party we’re going to see. A group of five Dwarven brothers, definitely from the same clan or possibly even blood relatives venture out on a quest or just to seek adventure. Maybe they’re exiles, treasure seekers, or exiles. An interesting quark to add to an all Dwarf party is to have them all use hammers; for whatever reason they refuse to use edged weapons like swords or axes.

The class composition would almost certainly include a Fighter, Cleric and Barbarian, with a good chance of having an Avenger, Invoker, Monk, Warden or Artificer. Obviously classes that favour Wisdom would be well represented and Arcane classes would likely be excluded.

See Dwarves Are The Best Race and Exploiting Racial and Class Abilities: Dwarven Resilience.

Drow

Not as common as a party of Dwarves, a striker-heavy Drow party could deal enough damage to any potential foe so quickly that they’d be down before they knew they were under attack. By using their Darkfire racial power they could target creatures one by one and focus their fire until they drop. An all Drow party that specializes in ranged attacks (bows and crossbows) could be particularly deadly.

The class composition would certainly have one or two Rangers (archers) and Rogues (hand crossbows). Continuing with the all bow theme then you could also have a Warlord (archer build), Bard, and possibly even an Artificer. Of course a straight up Cleric, Wizard or Sorcerer probably wouldn’t hurt either.

See Exploiting Racial and Class Powers: Cloud of Darkness.

Dragonborn

Dragonborn may be new to 4e D&D but they are incredibly powerful, popular and mysterious. A party of five Dragonborn could carry enough intrigue and unpredictability to interest a group of players. As most established settings don’t have an abundance of Dragonborn areas, they party is going to stand out no matter what they do anyway. Why not play that up. Have the PCs only converse in Draconic no matter who else is around. Feigning an ignorance of the local language could give the PCs an edge they might not normally have if the party was more cosmopolitan.

With all of the feats and powers available to maximize their Dragon Breath racial power, a party of all Dragonborn could easily get by without a controller. The class composition is likely to have a Paladin, Warlord and Barbarian. Monk and Ranger are good choices if you need more strikers, and the Dragonborn’s naturally high Charisma means that Sorcerer and Bard are good Arcane options. The Honorblade Paragon Path allows the Dragonborn to truly maximize his Dragon Breath so players that don’t choose a martial class right off the bat may want to take a multi-class feat in order to qualify. This makes the Warden a really good build if you’re looking to focus on maximizing Dragon Breath.

A quest to find the items that make up the Silver Dragon Regalia is an obvious and ideal adventure hook for a party of Dragonborn adventurers. The Ring of the Dragonborn Emperor and the Conqueror’s Weapon are mandatory for any Dragonborn looking to truly empower their Dragon Breath.

See Exploiting Racial and Class Powers: Dragon Breath.

Eladrin

These fey folk are often looked at as soft by other races. A creative party can easily change that preconception in a hurry. The Fey Step racial power gives every member of the party a “get out of jail free card” if they find themselves in a really tight spot. It also means that they can plan and coordinate attacks from unexpected positions. As long as they can see their destination square they can get there using Fey Step.

The class composition of a party of Eladrins will certainly have a Wizard, Ranger and Rogue. Strong contenders for the rest of the party include Swordmage, Bard, Warlock and Bladesinger.

A party of Eladrin would certainly welcome any opportunity equip each member with an Eladrin Ring of Passage. These rings provide increased range on the Eladrin’s Fey Step and allow them to teleport without line of sight once per day. This advantage is something no foe would expect.

See Exploiting Racial and Class Features: Fey Step.

These are just a few examples of parties where all the PCs are the same race. If you chose to play in a party like this what race would you play? How do you see the class selection of such a party breaking down? Are there any races that you think would be unsuited to this kind of party composition?

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1 Corbin Dallas March 9, 2016 at 4:03 pm

I’m actually building a party of all Gnomes to play test a campaign idea. I thought of the Idea based on the Dragonlance Series Gnomes. They are always researching and forming committee’s to figure out, or solve questions. I thought, what if one such committee decided to study what they termed “Classes”. So they took a bunch of Gnome Children at age 5 and placed them in certain controlled areas depending on what “class” they would be. They lived in these simulated areas(Think Westworld) till age 20. Now one Gnome (best of the best) is chosen from each group and formed into a party. This is were the story begins. These four or five Gnomes are thrown into the wide open world for one year to journal their daily experience’s.

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