Friday, January 11, 2008

You tank, I'll heal.

I'll be the first to admit I've played more than my fair share of MMORPGs. I was never one of those elites at the top of their realm, but I made a few accomplishments I consider noteworthy. But the subject of these MMORPGs is only half of the topic for the moment.

We see in these games usually a party of clearly defined roles: tanks, healers, damage dealers, crowd control, support, buffs/debuffs, and a solid array of less conventional purposes as well. What has always interested me are the influence that these games have on tabletop roleplaying games.

You know the ones. Dungeons and Dragons, GURPS, RIFTS, Shadowrun, the whole gamut of White Wolf Games, these are systems completely apart from their online likenesses, though it seems that they have undergone a sort of arranged marriage, more and more binding the more popular each one gets.

Now I've been tabletop gaming for more than 11 years, and it took the better part of that time to hear the word "tank" mentioned regularly in game sessions and post-game. I don't know, maybe you've been playing with a different sort of people than I, but before MMORPGs took off in the way they have the last half-decade, these party roles were much more of a general guide than the rule of thumb that they have become.

I mean, sure. Wizards are frail! They don't have alot of health to throw around at the orcs and assorted thugs that may accost them. The close combat fighters generally do, however, and they made it their sworn and solemn duty to protect their weaker comrades from the deaths they so feared. But that was always an unspoken thing, I suppose.

The fighter was always a combatant, excelling in the art of just that: combat, not a soaker of damage.
The wizard was a worker of the arcane arts, not merely a source of damage.
The priest was a holy man, divine in his own right, not a package of band-aids.
The rogue was sneaky and sly, working his way around the battlefield, not another source of damage.

I suppose that its all in the element of flavor. The tabletops have always offered it in copious amounts, tenfold the times that any MMORPG could ever hope to achieve, assuming your Game Master was worth his weight in dice. It just seems almost as if we've lost a bit of it, or are losing it. The flexibility of the tabletop RPG, the face-to-face interaction (or screen-to-screen for those of us who enjoy a bit of online dice rolling as well), that is what the game is all about, and I think we lose a little bit of that by limiting our minds to these two-dimensional character archetypes.

Tabletops don't limit you to a skillbar. That's the whole point.

I'm all about a priest who makes it his personal obligations to see to the needs of the wounded. In fact, I usually build my healers to heal the most obscene amounts of health I possibly can. But that is by no means all that my cleric could do, and even less is it all my cleric could be.

Greetings and Salutations

Greetings and salutations all, welcome to my personal foray into this big wide world we call blogging.

I can't quite accurately say what will go on here exactly, but I do hope you find it enjoyable, interesting, or otherwise.

That being said, I suppose I'll take my leave for now. I've always been one for introductions.