I have often written in the past about my typical default character in 4th edition (when I actually get to play) is either a defender or a leader given that there is rarely a shortage of strikers at the game table. This is understandable as the strikers have become the glitterati of the D&D world, where massive damage and eviscerating enemies in one shot has driven the rogue and ranger to Brangelina status. That’s fine; let them have their sparkling mountains of damage dice. If the strikers are the glitterati, then the defenders are the everyman, and as John Lennon once sang “a working class hero is something to be”. I thought I would make this post about how I embrace the defender role, so “if you want to be a hero, well just follow me”.
The mindset I have gotten into when I create and play a defender is that I will be the rock that my enemies break themselves against. For this I favor the straight up sword and board fighter. As for race, I have dabbled with a few, but have settled on the Dwarf for a few reasons. Firstly, there are few things as iconic and rock like as a Dwarven fighter, and secondly being able to use your second wind as a minor action is sublime for a guy that is planning on getting kicked in the nads a lot. Oh and being able to resist a square of forced movement is uber rock like as well. When I craft the rock I take a three prong approach of jacked up defenses, self-healing (let the leaders save their healing for the squishy prima donna strikers), and punishing those that disobey my mark. There is nothing like seeing the look of frustration bordering on madness in the DM’s eyes when he can’t hit me, and he has to try cause god knows I’ve marked just about everyone I can see; and if he does hit me he can’t drop me because I soak up the damage like a sponge; and then he can’t move his bad guys around the field like he wants to because they are stuck to me like glue. That look of madness in his eyes makes me as giddy as a school girl.
My current defender incarnation is Markus Laggerbelly, a Craghammer wielding Dwarven fighter. I play him as a sarcastic and wise-cracking (it’s funny how art imitates life ) nut job that launches himself maniacally into the fray with reckless abandon. He constantly taunts the enemies to come get a taste. His response to getting pummeled is a lot of 3 Stooges dialogue. For me, in 4th edition, I think the key to playing a defender is embracing the masochism.
How about you guys, how do you play the working class hero?