Let me begin with a disclaimer: I’ve sunk A LOT of hours into MMOs. I’ve spent months of my life working the DPS charts in a WoW raiding guild (Enhancement Shaman FTW!), and my SWOTR smuggler is currently trudging through the hot sands of Tatooine. (Which sucks, BTW. The sand is coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere.) I love that these games have introduced a new generation of gamers to tabletop, and I think that TRPGs are better for their presence.

HOWEVER!

The Heal/Tank/DPS thing sticks in my craw. I can forgive the notion of DPS, since dealing hit point damage is a necessary and common part of the TRPG experience (magus, monk, fighter, archers, etc.). And the party generally needs some form of healing, even if it’s only the ubiquitous Wand of Cure Light Wounds for use after combat (as it probably should be after level 1 and before heal comes online at 11th). But I see the idea of a Tank come up again and again on forums, and I’ll sit and stare at my monitor and wonder what these guys are thinking.

Bottom line: THERE IS NO AGGRO MECHANIC!

You can plop your big tough lump into a narrow corridor, or you can try and role-play insulting the baddies, but if compel hostility is your best mechanical option, you need to reexamine your paradigms. The big dumb fighter is not there to “protect the party;” he’s there to fight! The squishy guys are supposed to see to their own defense by A) standing in the back B) casting defensive spells like Mirror Image or C) getting out of the way via mobility spells like Fly. In my mind the correct video game reference isn’t DPS/Healer/Tank, but Shoot the Medic First! That’s how this game is played, and no amount of AC or HP from the front line is going to change that.

What do you guys think about the DPS/Healer/Tank paradigm? Does it have a place on the tabletop, or does it need to be excised from our collective TRPG vernacular? Let’s hear it in the comments!