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Player Resources - Party Composition

A good adventuring party is greater than the sum of its parts. By carefully composing a party of any size, it can better handle the challenges commonly presented to a party in Pathfinder.

Defining Party Roles

4th edtion DnD added the concept of specifically codified class roles. Each class was specifically denoted as a Controller, Defender, Leader, or Striker. These roles helped to encourage rounded parties which met the needs of the party in combat.

However, due to 4e's fairly combat-heavy play style, these roles don't stretch to fit the more diverse and complex needs of Pathfinder. They also fail to address the versatility of many classes which can fill a variety of roles. As such, I have expanded the list of roles considerably. Some roles include sub-roles to distinguish specific strategies common to that role. These sub-roles don't generally affect party composition, but I refer to them frequently in other articles.

It would be ridiculous to expect every party to have a character dedicated to each of these roles. Instead, each character must fill multiple roles to form a complete party.

The Generic Party

The generic adventuring party consists of a Cleric, a Fighter, a Rogue, and a Wizard. While this may not be an exciting composition, it is the base line against which any decent party should be ballanced. With fairly little planning, these four classes can easily cover every role, and can even provide secondary characters to step up when the primary character needs some extra help.

Classes and Roles

Note that these roles reflect the vanilla version of each class. Archetypes and specific character builds can alter the roles which a class can fill.

Roles in Small Parties

A typicaly D&D or Pathfinder game assumes a party of 4 or 5 players. 6 player parties certainly should never have problems will role fulfilment (though I have seen it happen in my own game). 2 or 3 player parties may suffer from the lack members. With less characters to fill out the party's needs, each character must sacrifice focus in favor of versatility.

Small parties should rely on classes which can fill more roles. Bards, Clerics, Druids, and Rogues are all excellent choices since they can fill a variety of rolls, and solve a wide range of problems.

Example Party Compositions

My article on Party Themes includes several examples of party themes with suggested classes to make up vitable parties of 3 to 6 players.