I'm DMing a 4e dnd game. The party is level 2 and contains a Dragonborn Warlord, Shifter Ranger (Two-Blade) and a Dwarf Summoner Wizard. As you can see, no defender. I'm aware that the Warlord is defenderish and I think that the Wizard may be able to sufficiently fill this role that the addition of an NPC is unnecessary. Thoughts?


No, a summoner wizard cannot replace a defender.

Summons won't even come close to replacing a defender. First, summon powers are all dailies, so at level 2 unless the party is only having 1 fight per day then the wizard is not going to have a summon for every fight. Second, summons lack any method of actually defending. They have no marks, and they usually can't make opportunity attacks, so they have no way of getting monsters to actually attack them.

That said, while the dwarf wizard is probably going to be mostly dead weight, the warlord & ranger should do quite well for themselves. You shouldn't toss in any NPCs to help defend for a level or two; just use the standard XP budgets for a 3-person party and see how they do. You should only toss in a defender NPC if they're taking too much damage and are having trouble making it through 3-4 encounters per day without running out of surges.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Agreed, nothing short of a defender class can fill the defender's roll simply due to the nature of defenders (unique punishment mechanics, and either super high AC or super high health). \$\endgroup\$ – Joshua Aslan Smith Feb 4 '13 at 22:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JoshuaAslanSmith: Actually there are a few striker builds that can do a decent job of filling in for a defender; they're not as good as an actual defender, but they have the basic pieces. Iron Soul monks are probably the easiest to do it with. \$\endgroup\$ – Oblivious Sage Feb 4 '13 at 22:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ I concede that you can build very defender-y strikers (my Retrovenger went this route) but was simply stating that if you are looking for a true defender ability its best to go with something like a knight, fighter, or paladin in 4e simply because of the strength of their class features. \$\endgroup\$ – Joshua Aslan Smith Feb 6 '13 at 16:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JoshuaAslanSmith: Almost any defender can do a good job of defending (except cavaliers, they're useless), though some (like wardens and battleminds) take a little more optimization. \$\endgroup\$ – Oblivious Sage Feb 6 '13 at 16:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, wasn't trying be snippy but I see defenders like Warden and Battlemind as being more offtanks (which are really great at what they do) than the more punishment focused classes I mentioned. \$\endgroup\$ – Joshua Aslan Smith Feb 12 '13 at 22:39

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