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Combat Roles

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I'd like to take inventory of combat roles a player can take in an RPG. It can be in reference to a role within a group or a method or play style for a singleton. Basically, I want an inventory to draw ideas for my classes' combat roles for my game concept. I am not asking for classes, but the roles they play, for instance a necromancer that summons undead and a druid that summons wolves and bears is basically the same role. Also, in referencing a group, my game concept is a single player game, but there should be no difference in the way designs are made for a group where some units are NPCs or if they are all players, as in MMO games. Anyway, I am looking for combat role profiles, please!

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Giving specific ideas really depends on how combat is handled...

Basically, you've got your basic arch-types:

healer, mage, warrior, rogue, ranged...

I tend to look to Shining Force for my classes because I think that series handled the single player RPG classes the best.

Healers quite obviously heal - whether it be a priest who primarily heals, but might have some useful offensive/protection abilities, or a monk who can also deal out some melee damage.

Mages, or "casters" use a wide array of offensive spells.

Warriors are at the front line; some may be softer targets than others but deal more damage... The opposite can also be true for other warrior-types...

Rogues use stealth to gain strategic position and have a wide range of roles from high damage output to utility (pick locks, set/disable traps, scout an area if there's fog of war).

Ranged is your archers who employ hit & run tactics from a distance.

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Tank
Melee damage sponge/human shield. Takes hits from the enemy so that other more fragile but more dangerous characters don't have to.

Spiker
Front loaded, high damage dealer. The spiker can do a massive amount of damage, but usually has a long cooldown. Usually quite fragile as little is invested in defense, the Spiker is also weak against large numbers of weak enemies. However, against small numbers of strong enemies, the Spiker is king. Can be melee or ranged.

Nuker
AoE damage dealer. The nuker can do a reasonable amount of damage in an area of effect. This makes him effective against massed groups of weaker enemies, but not so great against dispersed enemies or single targets. There may also be issues with friendly fire which further limit the nuker's potential. Almost always ranged, although there are rare exceptions.

DPSer
Where the spiker does a whole dollop of damage in one go and then twiddles his thumbs for half an hour, the DPSer does a continuous stream of small attacks. Although a DPSer might have the same average Damage Per Second as a spiker, the DPSer will tend to be less effective against individual, strong enemies, but stronger vs. large numbers of weak enemies. The DPSer is also a little less vulnerable to accuracy penalties. Can be melee or ranged.

Kiter
The kiter's job is not so much to kill enemies, but to lure them out in manageable groups. Kiters nearly always use some kind of very long ranged weapon to attack enemies from outside their perception range.

Healer
The healer's job is fairly self explanatory. Healers could be broken up into similar subcategories to the Spiker, nuker and DPSer, although I'm not sure it would be interesting enough from a gameplay perspective to bother.

Buffer
The buffer's job is to assist the party by maintaining buffs appropriate to their role, thus making them even better at doing their jobs.

Debuffer
The opposite of a buffer; the debuffer removes buffs from the enemy, thus making them less effective.

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I'd say Sandman hit the high points. Since it's focusing on combat, I'd say some attention should be given to ways for effects to be brought to bear, here typified as damage, although it can be used to describe heals, buffs and debuffs as well:

Direct Damage
A hit. The action is taken and the effect occurs simultaneously, with the target being an object or individual capable of sustaining damage. Ex: Chop with axe.

Sustained Damage
Not so much an action as a relationship between two entities, this sort of attack will keep dealing damage as long as the action is maintained. As an added feature, it can increase or decrease in intensity over time, either rewarding tenacity or penalizing spamming. Ex: Force Lightning

Delayed Damage
There's a delay between the action and the effect, allowing an oppurtunity to react to the action and interrupt or circumvent the attack. Ex: A thrown javelin.

Area of Effect Damage
The attack effects a specific area of the playing field, either directly or after a delay. Ex: Shotgun blast or launched fireball.

Damage Over Time
The effect continues to be applied in the time after it's initiated. As with sustained damage, the time of effect can be adjusted either to crescendo or decrescendo if that's appropriate. Ex: Bleeding, burning, poison.

There are some miscellaneous styles that don't represent categories like Sandman described, but are traditionally found in RPGs and probably deserve a mention.

Summoner
As in the OP, all your necromancers and druids and conjurors go here, using "pawn" units as surrogates in combat. Often the character is relatively weak, on its own merits, but can call on beefier units to make him more imposing.

Stealth
Again, physically inferior, but with a gimmick, stealth units avoid detection, using "don't get shot at" as their armor. If they deal damage, it's often in the classic "back stab" style, spiker-type damage dealt opportunistically.

Transformer
Some units can change from one form to another to change their attributes. Maybe it's a change of specialization, like WoW druids changing from bird to bear to seal, maybe it's a "beef-up" transformation, like Bruce Banner becoming The Hulk. In the first case, it's a trade of one set of strengths and weaknesses for another, and in the second case its a fairly complete improvement, with limited duration and few drawbacks.

That's all I've got for now.

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What I like to do is ask "What is important in Combat?" and list all the attributes that are important in combat, then form each class/role by applying a number of points to them from a limited pool each time so to balance all of your classes out, where an attribute that has 0 designated to it means it is at minimum standard.

- Character Health Points
- Character Mana/Energy Points
- Character Stamina Points (if applicable)
- Character Movement Speed/Range
- Character Stealth (anti-detection)
- Character Detection (range & anti-stealth)
- Action Target (self, allies, enemies)
- Action Trigger (instant, timed, condition such as if X then Y)
- Action Range (close-quarters/melee, short/polearms, medium, shooting/long)
- Action Speed (slow to instant/beam/teleporting)
- Action Area of Effect (body part, single target, multiple, all)
- Action Duration of Effect (instant to X time)
- Armor style (light to heavy)
- Weapon style

etc

Many of the Action attributes can also describe your spells as well.

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