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In my 4e campaign the group (4 players) often ran into trouble in combat if they didn't have one person was in each role of Striker, Defender, Controller & Leader (especially for published adventures). I don't see those roles anywhere mentioned in the new 5e PHB. How important is group diversity in D&D 5e?

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Answers should not be pure opinion - this is one of those that answering without real play experience makes for a diversity of unfounded opinions. Please answer with Good Subjective, Bad Subjective in mind. –  mxyzplk Aug 20 '14 at 17:07
I didn't mention that I'm a DM in this question because I didn't think it was relevant. Would the question be better if I pointed that out? –  Fridaypants Aug 25 '14 at 0:00

5 Answers 5

up vote 12 down vote accepted

The answer to this is going to greatly depend on your playstyle. I'm currently playing in a few groups. One of them has no cleric (but has a paladin) the other has no cleric or paladin. Another group has no arcane spell casters of any kind. And another has a cleric, a wizard, a fighter and a rogue.

The group with the cleric, wizard, fighter and rogue is certainly having a much easier time than the other groups. However, the other groups are not doing badly. The group with no cleric or paladin is certainly spending more time with medical kits, and making sure there is always an escape route.

Nothing in the rules per se list what sort of roles a party needs, but for the easiest time, there should probably be:

  • a person who can heal
  • a person who can do area of effect damage
  • a person who can tank up damage well
  • a person who can deal lots of damage
  • a person who can bypass obstacles easily.

That does not mean that you need a 5 person party, as often the person who can do lots of damage can also do one of those other roles, but from my experience those "roles" will make you prepared for almost any adventure.

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The answer depends greatly on your DM. You can be effective with any group and setup, provided you actually focus on the group's strengths and avoid it's weaknesses. This means you need a DM that allows those opportunities.

Published adventures are railroading. They have a very narrow focus and can only accomplish so much without knowing what the party will look like. So by the book you will always have problems without a very balanced party. But as soon as you have a good GM that takes the published adventure as a set of guidelines for his or her own adventure with more options and more freedom, you will be fine.

This goes for pretty much any game and any system I played in the last 25 years.

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The answer is: It deppends on the game you are playing and how you handle the challenges.

5E isn't a "tactical minis" game as 4E was, but there is still a certain degree of "role balance" on it. You're deffinitely gonna have a harder time without a Paladin and Cleric that can use Healing Powers (even with access to Hit Dice mechanics), or a Bard or Druid that can pull some field control spells to keep the foes at bay, also, a Ranger might not be as useful as say, an Archer Warrior if your campaign isn't based on exploration or you don't give enough scenes where the players move on the wilderness.

You should encourage your players to think of backgrounds and abilities that not only are part of their character, but can be of aid for the party, after all, this is a co-operative game. If any, you should try to look at the weaknessees and strengths of the party as a whole and tailor encounters and adventures according to it, since you can't make players craft something they don't like either.

This is easier in Fifth edition tho, since every melee class now has the option to cast spells and have some degree of utilities, so don't sweat it!

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Yes, based on the starter kit...

I'm both DMing and playing the 5e starter kit and it seems a cleric is necessary to avoid party member deaths or party wipes. That said, clerics are not healbots and can be harder to hit than certain fighter builds, but they do have to balance using spells for attack and keeping them in reserve for heals. Wizards also seem like a requirement (or a sorcerer) as only magic users get access to AOE style attacks. Martial classes like the fighter or rogue are great at single target attack damage and control but they don't have many options or answers to deal with multiple targets.

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Paladins and Rangers also get AOE style attacks. (Though only at higher levels) And Monks do pretty well at first level with killing off multiple opponents. –  GMNoob Aug 20 '14 at 13:53

No, but it helps slightly, numbers count for more.

My experience in running two different groups through the Starter Set adventure has revealed to me the following.

  • outside of specific class abilities all characters have similar capabilities.
  • there is just enough non-clerical healing for a group to recover. Cleric and other healing classes greatly extends the number of times the group can recover.
  • Sheer quantity counts for more than any particular mix of characters classes.
  • Characters need to employ sensible tactics regardless of the character class mix. Eight fighters rushing a balanced group of four with a wizard are going to get into trouble with area effect spell. However with some basic tactics like dispersing before the charge. The numbers will carry the day.
  • 5e monsters generate enough damage that character tend to go down in one or two blows rather than the slow degrading of hit points in classic, or the yo-yo up and down effect of 4e healing surges.

My conclusion is that a party of mix of capabilities can face a slightly larger group. But numbers count more. It is better to add two characters of any class than one character of a particular class.

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