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GM’s Journal – Party Roles, Part III

In the GM’s Journal we will discuss all things role playing. From tips for running a successful table to reviews of various systems, you’ll find it here.

Party Roles Part III: Non-Combat, Continued

In Party Roles Part I, we talked about the different combat roles and their importance in roleplaying games. In Party Roles Part II, we discussed the first three of six non-combat roles required in any party, the Face, the Transporter and the Investigator. Today we will cover the final three non-combat roles:

The Mastermind

Every thought has a thinker, and every plot has a planner. The mastermind creates elaborate plans and encourages the other players to think and work like a unit. The role of the mastermind is to help create a plan that will maximize the effectiveness of the party while using limited resources. This character plans the infiltration, sets the trap, and organizes the ambush. They take careful stock of the party’s resources and suggest how to use them to the best effect. This type of character is able to think their way out of tough situations. Crafting and executing plans on a grand scale is a mastermind specialty. However, the mastermind also excels at tactical thinking. The mastermind is sometimes the leader of the party, but not always.

If you enjoy thoughtful planning, pulling the strings, being a leader, and making the hard choices, play the mastermind.

The Scout

The role of the scout is to make sure the way ahead is safe for the party. They perform this duty by scouting ahead of the rest of the party, disabling traps, eliminating small threats, and reporting back to the party on what lies ahead. Without this role, the party has little to no idea what lies behind the next door, around the next corner, or over the next hill. This role is also responsible for helping the party gain access to restricted areas or areas that they would normally have trouble entering.

If you enjoy being stealthy, splitting off from the rest of the party, disabling traps, and avoiding detection, play the scout.

The Jack of All Trades

Admittedly this type of character is kind of a catch-all. The jack of all trades is responsible for everything that the other characters are unable to do. They are the one who gets the job done when others can’t. The role of the jack of all trades is to fill in the gaps where other characters have weaknesses. While other characters tend to specialize, the jack of all trades tends to spread his resources around. There are few situations where having a jack of all trades is not helpful. While a specialized character is always preferred, you can always count on the jack of all trades to pull something out of his sleeve when the time calls for it. The only weakness of this character is that while they are good at quite a few things, they rarely excel at anything.

If you enjoy making use of rarely used talents, filling in the gaps, being a bit of a wild card, and focusing on a little bit of everything, play the jack of all trades.

The End

In order to maintain a good party balance, it is always good to have an even mix of the six non-combat roles. For a group of six, I recommend having one of each type for a well-balanced party. This way everyone is able to contribute in some special way to non-combat encounters. It is important to note that each roleplaying system will have some roles that are essential to the experience, while other roles will be less important. It is the role of the Game Master to figure out who is playing what role and to make sure each player has their moment to shine.

Do you have a favorite role to play? Tell us what it is and why! Are there any roles we left out? Join the conversation on Facebook.

Until next time: See you at the Table!

Meeple Karington Hess - Small

Karington Hess is a lifelong gamer whose passions for hospitality and all things game-related led him to Ravenwood Castle, where he served as an Innkeeper before joining The Malted Meeple. When not pouring beers, crafting milkshakes, or teaching boardgames, Karington can be found behind the DM’s screen, weaving intricate stories for his fellow gamers.

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