187 – Party Composition

The Mythcreant Podcast

How many wizards should a party have? What about fighters? Does it even matter? That’s right, this week we’re talking about party composition in roleplaying games. Well, mostly in roleplaying games. We touch on other mediums too. Listen as we discuss which games require a mechanically balanced party, how to make your character best stand out, and what to do when a player isn’t happy with their role in the party.

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Opening and closing theme: The Princess Who Saved Herself by Jonathan Coulton. Used with permission.

Show Notes:

Red Mage



Blades in the Dark

Legend of the Five Rings


The Next Generation

Creating a Party Leader

Delta Green

The Gamers II

Treat your friends to an evening of dark ritual murder. In a fictional game scenario, of course. Uncover your lost memories and save the day in our stand-alone game, The Voyage.

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  1. Michael Campbell

    “We touch on other mediums too.”
    Okay, just so you know:-
    The plural of “medium” is “media”.

  2. Torchbug

    Oren, your reason for being a shigenga is rather selfish, don’t you think? I approve.
    Most 5e DM’s never call for investigation rolls, they just always default to perception.
    What if… you had an all barbarian party!?

    • American Charioteer

      I don’t know if he was being selfish. A lot of players primarily enjoy combat, which shigenga aren’t optimized for. By playing a shigenga he let the other players have a larger role in combat while ensuring that his character was ready for the few situations that couldn’t be solved with swords.

  3. Prince Infidel

    In my experience with 5e D&D is that the bard is actually great at almost everything. It’s just that people only expect them to be good at a few things.

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      The Bard is way good in 5E, especially the Lore bard, with all the spell stealing you can do. You can easily get by with a party of all bards, except that none of you can roll Investigation to save your lives.

  4. Jonny Wilson

    Oren (was it Oren that said this? Oh shit I hope it was), I don’t think it’s entirely fair to say that there’s no way for someone to tank properly without DMs specifically making it happen in 5E.
    Opportunity attacks make it less wise to run past a fighter who’s blocking your way to the party wizard. The barbarian might run at the monster whilst the wizard runs away.
    There are also some character features that make it even more possible. For example, the battlemaster subclass for the fighter has the goading attack, which gives the enemy disadvantage to attack any other target.
    Of course, this isn’t the only one, but it’s a good example, and I doubt either of us wants me to trawl through the PHB and other books to find every one.

    Great podcast though guys. As someone who’s only ever played DnD (is my bias showing?) it’s interesting hearing how it compares to other systems.

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      I did say that, and I’m glad you enjoyed the podcast!

      It’s true there are a few abilities that make tanking slightly more viable. The most powerful of those is probably the Sentinel feat, which makes your opportunity attacks stop enemies in their tracks.

      But that means that you need to build your character in very specific ways to have any tanking abilities at all. A fighter who doesn’t build for that has only their single opportunity attack, and it’s almost always worth a single attack if you can reach the squishy wizard.

      This mostly comes down to how movement works in 5E and other turn based RPGs. In a real fight, the fighter would move to stop an enemy from getting past them, but in turn based movement that’s really hard to simulate.

      • Jonny Wilson

        I wouldn’t say that those are the only viable ways to tank – I listed two of them: using opportunity attacks as a deterrent and simple movement.

        Still, I’ll definitely grant you that it’d be nice if there were better options by default. I find that 5E could really use a few more optional actions besides its current roster of attack, shove, grapple, disengage, etc, such as some kind of execute for knocked-out enemies to instantly deal massive damage. Maybe something like holding your leftover movement speed to use to block someone’s path as a reaction would be good for tanking, as an example.

  5. Evil Genius

    If you don’t like leveling up in D&D, try E6.

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