Character Role Catalog

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In roleplaying games each character give the player a role or part to play. However, those character can have a number of roles of their own. In fact, characters can switch roles depending on the situations they find themselves in.

The Role Call section is a collection of possible character roles, grouped by what they focus on. The purpose of this list in to provide ideas for character or class design and well as provoking thought on what other roles a character could have that aren't seen as often.

The Theory section is an open area for breaking down the role system and reflection on how it can be used in designing game systems.

Defining Roles[edit] gives a good starting point for defining character roles (

1.a part or character played by an actor or actress.
2.proper or customary function: the teacher's role in society.
3.Sociology. the rights, obligations, and expected behavior patterns associated with a particular social status.

The first definition makes role synonymous with character. Since we're focusing on what roles a character can have, we'll be focusing on the later two definitions. As such, we'll define character roles as packages or templates that describe the character's function, abilities, duties, and/or expectations.

For a list of more archetypes, see also Aspects List.

Role Call[edit]

This section is currently being filled out from discussion in the Game Design forums here (

Combat Roles[edit]

Combat center around how the character handles themselves in combat.

Tactical Roles[edit]

Tactical roles deal with how the character contributes to their side's success. This includes their goals, priorities, and preferred courses of action.

Offensive Roles[edit]

Offensive Roles focus on shutting down enemies and taking them out of the conflict.

  • Slayers focus on taking out a single target at a time.
    • Strikers favor tactical strikes and being able to change targets rapidly as the situation demands.
    • Harriers favor sticking with a selected target and wearing them down until they drop.
  • Artillery focuses on multi-target attacks, sometimes at the risk of friendly fire.
  • Poisoners, "Bleeders", or "Diseasers" use attacks with ongoing or delayed effects. If these effects can be stacked up, this lets the character act as a Harrier with a gradual build up. If not, poisoners play more like stikers and artillery in that they switch frequently between a targets while waiting for existing effects to run their course.

Defensive Roles[edit]

Defensive Roles focus on keeping team member able to participate in the conflict for as long as possible.

  • Protectors make it harder for enemies to attack allies.
    • Tanks protect by making themselves the target of enemy attacks. This requires both an ability to attract more attacks and the strong personal defenses needed to survive those hits. This Protector variant may borrow Survivor elements.
      • Taunters or "Aggro-Tanks" can apply restriction effects on the enemy that force them to attack the tank.
      • Bodyguards are good at changing the target of attacks on the fly. They tend to focus on guarding an area or ally over locking down a specific enemy.
      • Blockers are good at repositioning enemies and are hard to get past. This maneuvering can make it very hard for enemies to target anyone else.
  • Healers are experts at removing damage and harmful effects after they've been applied.
  • Binders limit the enemies ability to act. Their effects weaken the enemy in the short run until offensive effects can take them out permanently.
    • Stunners completely lock their enemies out of combat for a time, but such abilities usually have significant restrictions and limitations.

Balanced Roles[edit]

Balanced Roles combine elements of offense and defense.

  • Duelists excel at isolating, studying, and taking down specific opponents. This role combines elements of the Harrier and Blocker roles.
  • Devourers steal enemy defenses and use them to bulk up their own. This makes the enemy easier to take down (Offensive role) while also helping the devourer serve a Survivor or possible Tank role.
  • Infernos or "Destroyers" have strong attacks which can be avoided with repositioning. If the enemy chooses not to reposition, this role becomes heavily offensive. If they do move, this becomes more of a defensive and control role.
  • Manipulators alter the conditions of the battle to favor their allies. This is role's offensive side may come more from exposing enemy vulnerabilities than direct damage.
    • Shapers alter the battlefield itself with things like terrain and weather manipulation.
    • Movers reposition allies and enemies as needed.
    • Charmers make enemies into temporary allies. These powerful effects often have limitations and restrictions.

Modifier Roles[edit]

Modifier Roles focus on special features that can change how the character operates in play. This also acts a general category for roles with mechanical effect but multiple possible tactical roles.

Difficulty Roles[edit]

Difficulty Roles cover much influence the character is supposed on have on the conflict. This assumes a "standard" enemy is meant to be a moderate challenge for their opponents. These are normally npc only roles.

  • Mooks or "minions" are weaker and less durable than normal enemies. They're meant to go down fast, though they may be threatening with sufficient numbers.
  • Elites or "champions" are meant to be worth two or more normal enemies. They're meant to be difficult to take on with even numbers, but relatively easy if a full group can gang up on them.
  • Bosses or "solos" are meant to be stronger to give the entire group a fair challenge by themselves.

Pacing Roles[edit]

Pacing Roles deal the character's effectiveness over time.

  • Squishies are character how don't last long if attacked, but have increased effectiveness while they're up. For low output and low durability, look at mooks. This leads to a high risk but fast style of play. Squishies can often extend their lifespan by going into full defensive mode such as running away. However, this drops their effectiveness severely. In groups they work will Protectors as those character can make up for the squishy's vulnerability.
    • Glass Cannons are squishies that focus on offensive tactics. They're built to deal a lot of damage, but not take it.
  • Survivors or "Bricks" are hard to take down, but they usually trade this for reduced effectiveness per unit time. The brick tends toward slower play which gives the player more time to react. In groups, this can lead to them being outpaced by higher output allies and ignored by enemies in favor of softer targets. Possible answers to this include giving the survivor a temporarily drop this role or switching to a higher output role when ignored, picking a tactical role that lets the group benefit from their durability (tank), augmenting already dangerous allies (buffer), or being able to bring back dropped allies (healer).
    • Regenerators are characters with strong self healing abilities. If these abilities are automatic this tends to work very well with roles that take damage frequently such as Tanks.
  • Spikers can perform at very high levels for short periods but at significantly lower levels outside those windows. These spikes are usually linked to Accumulator or Depleter mechanics.
  • Accumulators start of with low power but build up increasing power over time until they hit a peak. This build up may be dependent on certain conditions, making the peak harder to maintain but potentially higher. This peak may be even higher if the character is a Spiker who losses accumulate power after a certain amount of time.
  • Depleters start out strong but loose power as the battle progresses. When combined with spikers, this can mean a low base output with limited use abilities that have much stronger effects.

Special Roles[edit]

This category serves as a catch all for roles that don't fit into other groups.

  • Counter Agents are especially effective against a specific type of opponent. Having multiple types of counter agents can set up a class "rock, paper, scissors" scenario.
  • Pet Masters get much of their effectiveness and abilities from controlled npc allies. This can range from one powerful companion to a horde of weaker minions.
  • Swarms consist of a number of individually weak units that act as parts of a single character.


This section is currently being filled out from discussion in the Game Design forums here (

The first topic to be move in will probably be a list of what kinds of questions roles may answer about a character.