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We are starting a D&D 5e campaign where we will be playing through released adventure books. We are starting at level 1 and rolling for stats. We currently have

  • a half elf wild magic sorcerer with the acolyte background
  • a kenku paladin (who is aiming for oath of vengeance) with the entertainer background
  • an aarakocra revised ranger (who is going to be a deep stalker) with the soldier background

What traditional party roles are left unfilled and/or only slightly covered?

Possible class/race/background combinations to fill those roles with a 4th party member are appreciated, but not required.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This question might have broader appeal if it simply asks about typical party roles, and omits the specific party you've listed. \$\endgroup\$ – hideous-laughter Jan 22 '17 at 15:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ Well, it would be a huge question to ask what roles each race, class, background combinations could fulfill. Just what the roles are wouldn't fulfill what I was looking for. \$\endgroup\$ – Levi Jan 23 '17 at 1:03
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Going by the roles listed in this answer I would say that you have a fairly balanced party that covers most roles adequately.

A person who can heal

This is one area where you might be lacking a little. The Paladin gets Lay on Hands starting at level 1, and they get spells that include Cure Wounds at level 2. The Ranger also gets spells like Cure Wounds at level 2, however they have a limited number of spells known so they probably can't devote too many to healing ones. I would recommend having someone with the Healer feat if at all possible, or proficiency with a Herbalism Kit to make your own potions.

A person who can do area of effect damage

This is covered by the sorcerer. They can start at level 1 with Burning Hand or Thunderwave, and have more options as they level up.

A person who can tank up damage well

The paladin has this covered, with d10 hit dice, heavy armor and a shield they should be difficult to hit and if they are hit they take a lot of damage before they are removed from the fight. The ranger is also decent at this, also having d10 hit dice and a decent AC.

A person who can deal lots of damage

This can be done by everyone fairly well. The paladin has Holy Smite to boost his damage, sorcerer has spells that do a good amount of damage and metamagic to improve them as well, and the ranger gets the spell Hunter's Mark.

A person who can bypass obstacles easily

This one is a little vague since an 'obstacle' can be just about anything. However you have most of the most common ones. For a party face the sorcerer should be able to do well (and possibly the paladin depending on where they put their stats and proficiencies, though being a kenku their ability to help here may be limited). The ranger should be able to be a good scout with Stealth and Perception.

There are a few places they might struggle however. One being traps and locks since nobody has thieves' tools proficiency their main answer is going to be to brute force it. And the other is knowledge based challenges since they might not be proficient in many of the requisite skills (acolyte has Religion, however the rest might not be covered), and unlike things like being a party face or scout the party probably won't have the intelligence to do well with these checks if they don't have proficiency in them.

A 4th member

My recommendation would be either Bard or Wizard, with a background that gets proficiency with thieves' tools (Criminal or Urchin from the PHB or Urban Bounty Hunter from SCAG), or a herbalism kit (Hermit from PHB). Both of these classes help with some of the skills you are missing and also add some battlefield control that while it isn't a necessary role is helpful. Half-elf or Human would help with getting skills, however this isn't super relevant.

For the Bard they should pick one of the ways to get thieves' tools, since they get spells can heal so they don't have to worry about that. I would say something like Sage to help pick up the knowledge skills. And with Jack of All trades at level 2 they will be somewhat competent at most things.

For the Wizard I would probably choose the Hermit background, because they have spells that can fake the usage of thieves' tools (things like Knock aren't perfect, but I think the party could use more healing). For them while picking up proficiency in some knowledge skills is useful it isn't as necessary since they will have the intelligence to pull them off a lot of the time any way.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ According to those have downvoted my answer and claimed the Kenku cannot fill a Face role, and this question and answer the Paladin can not fill that role. \$\endgroup\$ – Randomorph Jan 17 '17 at 16:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Randomorph I'm not sure I entirely agree with that line of thought, but I did add a little bit mentioning that that race may make it difficult to help. \$\endgroup\$ – diego Jan 17 '17 at 17:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't agree either, just letting you know as well. \$\endgroup\$ – Randomorph Jan 17 '17 at 17:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Adam tricksters still have limited spells known, from limited schools, and learn them very slowly. They lack the flexibility aspect, as well as healing. \$\endgroup\$ – Randomorph Jan 17 '17 at 17:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Adam I didn't mention rogue because it tends to play in a similar space as the ranger, and while it helps with skills it doesn't help as much in combat. Rogues tend towards a striker role, and as I stated in this answer they party already does well on the damage dealing front. \$\endgroup\$ – diego Jan 17 '17 at 18:12
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For a three person party, this is quite well rounded, but has a few gaps.

The Paladin can cover the following roles depending on focus: Tank, Damage (Thanks to Smite), Healer (mostly thanks to Lay on Hands), and Party Face (Albeit with some extra difficulty due to being a Kenku), with limited buffing.

The Sorcerer can cover the following roles depending on focus: Damage, Party Face, Buffing, Crowd Control, and some Utility (although they suffer due to lack of spells known). Note the Sorcerer has to specialize in spell selection, and make some hard choices of what to focus on.

The Ranger can cover the following roles depending on focus: Damage, Off-tanking, Healing (especially with Goodberry for out of combat healing, or as an emergency to bring someone back to 1 hp), and some utility.

The things you will be missing, (or lacking for a long time):

  • Resurrection Magic
  • A wider variety of utility spells (although you can cherry pick some of the best ones)
  • Some higher spell level Divine buffs
  • Thieving skills and tools

The things you have well covered:

  • Damage: All the characters should have decent damage output
  • Tanking: Paladin primary, and the ranger is tough enough to step in and help
  • Social Skills: Both the Paladin and Sorcerer can cover this area

Things that could go either way, depending on the Sorcerer's specialization:

  • Buffing: Paladin has some, but many are concentration, and he'll be in melee a lot, so he's more likely to lose concentration, leaving the burden on the Sorcerer.
  • Control Effects: These are usually covered by Arcane casters, and Full Divine casters. As you don't have a Full Divine caster (Paladin and Ranger are both half-casters) and your only Arcane is the Sorcerer, they will have to make a lot of hard spell choices between Buffs, Control spells, and Damage spells.
  • Utility: Things like being able to Fly, Detecting Magic, or other spells to help overcome obstacles, become aware of things you wouldn't normally be, or solve a rare and niche problem.

Good candidates for a fourth party member:

  • Someone who can fill a Crowd Control and Utility role, such as a Wizard, Druid, or Bard, all of which have ritual casting, and good crowd control, summoning, and utility spell access. This removes pressure from your Sorcerer to pick these spells.
  • Someone who can fill a more active healing role (with many more slots to spend on it, as well as other things), particularly for the Reviving spells, such as a Bard, Cleric, Druid. The Paladin can do well, but has limited resources to spend on this, and the Ranger has limited spell choices and slots to spend.
  • Someone who can fill a variety of niches to help the existing party with a bit of everything. Again, Bards, Clerics, Druids, and Wizards are all good here, either through their class features, or spells.
  • Someone who can pull off sneaking, and picking of locks. Rogue is always solid, but a Bard with the Criminal background works well too.

An important note, is damage on your fourth party member is much less necessary, rather you want support skills and spells, buffs, and crowd control, as that is the one area you will struggle the most to meet, due to the Sorcerer's limited spells known, and the other two classes limited abilities in those departments.

From the above, I'd say a Bard with the Criminal or Urchin background could do very well for this group, covering nearly all your gaps, and being able to be quite good at skills your group does not have.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I really don't think a Kenku is going to be able to work as a party face. They can't talk normally. And while he can entertain, trying to convince a giant to let you pass without a fight isn't going to be easy if the best you can do is mimic something you've already heard. \$\endgroup\$ – Adam Jan 17 '17 at 16:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Adam I believe they are using the Volo's Guide Kenku race. They may speak through through Mimicry. It might sound a bit odd, but they are fully capable of communication, and Kenku as a race are Smart enough to learn words on their own over time. Literally nothing stops a Kenku from being able to speak Fluent common given practice. \$\endgroup\$ – Randomorph Jan 17 '17 at 16:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nothing's stopping them from getting their point across, but that doesn't mean that they won't sound like a speak-and-spell. \$\endgroup\$ – chif-ii Jan 17 '17 at 16:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ Aren't you overstimating Goodberry? Crawford's position is one berry per round, making it basicly an out-of-combat spell. \$\endgroup\$ – Sent_ Jan 17 '17 at 16:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ Good berry is good for revives in combat much like lay on hands in that it doesn't apply that much healing but it is a way to distribute HP to bring someone to 1. \$\endgroup\$ – Joshua Aslan Smith Jan 17 '17 at 16:32
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I would swap out the sorcerer for a cleric, build the ranger with high dexterity and use a background that would allow thieves tools, and have a different race for your paladin that has a charisma ability score increase

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    \$\begingroup\$ Could you edit your answer with explanation as to why you make such recommendations? \$\endgroup\$ – RyanFromGDSE Apr 9 '18 at 16:19

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