Adventuring Parties: A Job For Everyone . . . Except Billy

Final Fantasy 9

Final Fantasy 9

Like with every group, an adventuring party usually consists of members who each have a niche.  Even if you have all warriors, they tend to differ in combat style, tactics, and weapons.  Typically, a group has people of various skills and backgrounds to bring depth and possibly some friction into the story.  Not everyone supports the thief’s love of leaving battle to pilfer the kitchen pantry.  So, what are some roles you may find?

  1. The Healer– Pretty self-explanatory.  Not much of a fighter, but you can’t get very far without them.  Whether it be a magical healer or a master of medicine, the other team members will literally fall apart without a character like this.  Just make sure people thank them.  Not a good idea to anger the person responsible for erasing all those cuts, bruises, poisonings, and whatever else happens.
  2. The Long-Range Threat–  This includes archers and spellcasters.  You don’t always have someone with magic, but they fall into this category because they fight from outside the main melee.  Are they useful if drawn into close range?  Sometimes, but typically this is their weapon point.  Seriously, the point blank longbow move isn’t as useful as the movies make.  Rather easy to dodge or knock the weapon to the side if you think about it.
  3. The Muscle– Big and strong and ready to break whatever they get their hands on.  This is usually a fighter type who doesn’t do much thinking.  There is some variety here because the role is defined more by physical focus than mental ability.  So you can have a tactical Muscle to avoid the dumb brute idea.
  4. The Strategist– Usually the leader, but not always.  This is the one who makes the plans for traveling, combat, and whatever else requires forethought.  They know the strengths and weaknesses of the group, which means they have insight into every member.  It doesn’t mean everyone likes them though.  Some characters that fall into this category can be rather pompous and anger the less friendly of the group.
  5. The Loose Cannon–  Every team seems to have one.  The anti-hero who the fans love and the other team members wish would stop causing trouble.  Either they rush headfirst into battle or wander off whenever they feel like it, you get the sense that these characters aren’t team players.  So, why are they here?  Because they still need a place to live and enjoy having friends more than they let on.
  6. The Thief–  More of a fantasy trope than most other genres, this is an occupation that usually is an initial drive for the character.  They aren’t fully trusted for most of their time.  In fact, the moment they are trusted tends to be right before they either die or turn traitor.  Still, the skill set makes them incredibly valuable for adventuring because you never know when a trap has been set, a lock needs picking, or a pocket needs pilfering.
  7. The Money–  This can be held by other roles and isn’t very common.  Most times they end up being a supporting character.  Still, there’s no reason the person with the money can’t go on the adventure.  This is a lot easier with credit cards, but the most fun with this character is the chance of friction.  They tend to have a different world view than the others, which can be a source of development and humor.
  8. The Life of the Party– More about personality than ability, this can overlap with the others roles.  The point of this character is to be the positive energy and possibly a bonding hero for the others.  No matter what’s going on, this character is ready to make people happy and smile.  In fact, it’s the best way for them to get over hard time because they don’t feel alone.  One thing to always be aware of is that the loss of this hero will have massive repercussions even if they weren’t the strongest, smartest, fastest, or whatever.  Imagine the heart getting ripped out and you’ll have an idea of why these characters can be more important than one realizes.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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23 Responses to Adventuring Parties: A Job For Everyone . . . Except Billy

  1. #1 made me think of Monty Python, “’tis but a flesh wound.” These characters are good studies and occur outside fantasy to a degree. Maybe not magic, but you get an explosives expert, a kung fu master, etc. Group dynamics are fun to play with.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. portapatetcormagis says:

    Ah well, where would those heroes be without the one who cooks the meals and cares for the horses and the equipment!
    I often wonder why/how they can survive and why they make it through the town gate. They should be pretty dirty and ragged 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • At least in my mind, warriors know the basics for those skills. I’d assume anyone who goes adventuring learns that. Although I used to hate having horses. Things always got eaten.

      Liked by 1 person

      • portapatetcormagis says:

        I just notice that in books or in pen and paper adventures this is never mentioned.
        Are you sure everyone has the skills? I’ve seen 6 ft tall warriors who are able to ride a battle horse in full armour losing the fight with a match to light the fire for some hot water (reenactment) 😉

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      • In pen and paper, there are basic skills given to a character that don’t have to be listed. At least from what I remember. You also have food that doesn’t have to be cooked like jerky and hard biscuits. Horse maintenance does sound like something a warrior is taught or there are specialists. I think it’s really a non-issue unless it’s important to the plot.

        Liked by 1 person

      • portapatetcormagis says:

        It may be the reenactor in me. I always enjoy it when those things are mentioned and an idea is given how the characters solve this. Usually not an issue for the plot but a nice extra.

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      • It just has to fit into the story and not be plunked down. That’s usually the hard part for the minor stuff.

        Liked by 1 person

      • portapatetcormagis says:

        Yeah, I have the easier part as a reader to tell you what *I* think should belong into the story 😉

        I once read a story in which the party travelled in bad weather. Just a few sentences on how miserable they were. But so rare that it really stuck in my mind (forgot the rest of the plot though)

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      • Extreme weather really should have an impact on characters and story. I usually do that with snow and rain. Terrain like jungles and deserts tend to require more travel details too.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I think this crew could move from genre to genre and pick up plenty of work. They for hire?

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  4. L. Marie says:

    They are a motley crew. But we love them. Great list. So where does the animal sidekick fit in this? I was thinking of hawks or ferrets or other trainable animals that travel with mercenaries.

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  5. Great analysis of standard group members and the group dynamics! Bookmarking.

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  6. Only thing I would add to your list is something along the lines of Brains — a character that spots things that aren’t necessarily obvious. Maybe they know their history or a foreign language, allowing them to connect clues. Or they have enough “wisdom” to sense someone the group encounters has mixed motives. This character figures out the villain’s plan so the team can rush off to stop it.

    This is another one that can be mixed with other roles, so you could have a Loose Cannon or Life of the Party who proves her worth by figures out the team is being framed, etc.

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    • I wasn’t sure about a mastermind or observant leader part. As you said, it can be merged with other roles. Guess it depends on the genre too. Healers and bards tend to be the knowledge characters. Would this always be the leader?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Unless you want your leader to be all-knowing, I think it would be better as a surprise attribute for another character. Then you get to see if the leader is worthy, by how they react to advice from an unexpected source.

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      • I’ve never been a fan of all-knowing characters. This is why I give each one an area of expertise. So each situation can have a different leader. This might stem from me never having a true leader in my ensembles.

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