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Controller and Defender

When you are playing D&D with less than four players, your party cannot cover all character roles. If you have three players, you can refer to Chapter 1 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide for some advice on how to cope with that. If you play with only two players, there are six possible combinations of roles. Well, actually ten, but you do not want your players to play characters with the same roles.

In this article, I will present one of these combinations and present its weaknesses, and ways to ease the lack of the other two roles.

When your two players play a controller and a defender, they have two problems: dealing damage and healing damage. Nevertheless, this is one of the easier combinations.

As there is no striker in the party, your players should optimize their damage output as good as they can. If you are feeling generous, you can also give them more powerful weapons or implements than they should have at their level.

The second weakness is the lack of a leader. The defender probably will not be able to keep all the monsters away from the controller, so the controller will need some kind of healing. You should be generous with healing potions, to avoid your controller being knocked out.

A good choice of classes for this combination of roles is, e.g., druid and paladin. The druid can fill in the leader role, and a paladin can be built to be a capable striker.

When choosing monsters, bear in mind that lurkers, skirmishers and soldiers will be the monsters your players can deal with quite well. The controller can try to keep the skirmisher from moving around, and the defender can focus on him. Lurkers and soldiers do not pose a special threat to this role combination, as far as I can see.

The other monster roles, though, are more powerful in this situation. Artillery can attack your controller from a place the defender cannot reach quick enough. A brute might charge the controller, while your defender is in melee with other enemies. A controller monster might keep the defender from attacking in some way. Finally, monsters with the leader keyword also are dangerous, because they can make their allies deal more or take less damage.

What do you think about this role combination?

Picture by Francois Bennett under a creative commons license

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