Heroes of the New Day
In general, 4th ed D&D is designed for specialization. The DM’s guide suggests several roles that different classes might fill out:
- Striker: hits for lots of damage
- Defender: the “tank” who can take lots of hits while helping others
- Leader: giving bonuses and healing to allies
- Controller: penalizing enemies and moving them around the battlefield
Some classes may fill one role mostly, with backup duties related to another role. There are also range classifications, so a ranged controller is probably a wizard who throws around status-related spells, while a melee striker does lots of stabbing damage up-close.
In general, classes are geared towards particular roles. Sometimes there are sub-classes of a particular class that fill different roles. For example, a Slayer Fighter is more of a striker, while a Knight Fighter is a defender. Both get the extra hit points and some of the same powers that all Fighters get, but their focus is different.
Even among classes that fill the same roles, there are differences. A swordmage is a defender that is very mobile, capable of teleporting around the battlefield; while a paladin is a defender that tends to stay in one place, drawing enemies to him so they can be smacked with radiant power; and a Knight is more geared towards stopping enemies in place next to him so they can’t go after others. Similarly, a Templar Cleric is numerically the best Leader/Healer in terms of HP restored; but the Bard can do slightly less healing, but also move allies; and a Warlord can do some healing that also grants saving throws.
And yes, there are feats to tweak out your character so that you can do things similar to other classes… but each class is, in fact, pretty unique, and it often takes so many feats to make the cleric work like a bard that you might as well just play a bard in the first place. Below are some of the classes and their general roles and feels. I’ve also listed races that tend to work well with these classes, though that’s mostly just from the racial ability boosts… and playing off-expectation is kind of awesome (you would not believe how cool a Halfling Barbarian actually is).
(Classes to be added soon)