Role Book: The Tank

PC Role Book
Your character in a tabletop rpg can be usefully understood in terms of certain roles. This Role Book series explores some of the ways these various roles can help enrich the roleplaying of your character – things like background, tactics, and story. These posts will help both the single-role min/maxer get more mileage out of their abilities as well as help the multi-faceted PC more effectively don a variety of hats.

The Tank
Whether your character is particularly hard to kill or just not especially concerned with the prospect of dying, being able to take a vicious beating can be invaluable to your fellow adventurers. Don’t worry though, there’s more to playing a Tank character than simply being a punching bag!

Background Considerations
Fearless Origin
What is it that keeps your character relatively un-bothered by physical harm? Is it a deep-rooted pessimism triggered by a tragic event, an accreted stoic disposition, or maybe just plain recklessness. Either way, the majority of people (adventurers included) have a healthy dislike for pain and injury, so it’s worth considering why your character is at least less-than-bothered by the sight of his/her own blood.

Fallen NPC
However brave or brash you may be, you can’t be everywhere at once. If you’ve spent much of your life diving in front of punches, bar stools, or blaster-fire, there has likely been a time or two when an errant attack struck home just over your shoulder. Give yourself an NPC who was killed or seriously wounded while in a scrap with you – a friend, employer, bystander, or family member of one such – and decide how the two of you feel about their injury. Do you feel ashamed or guilty for their loss or are you unaffected by it, and do they begrudge you for what happened?

Tactical Considerations
Marching Order
Contrary to the old adage, it can often be wiser to lead your spear with the thickest/densest tip rather than the sharpest. While adventuring, always consider your party’s marching order and try to keep yourself placed between your allies and the most immediate danger. If venturing into unknown caves or woods, put yourself closer to the front; if being pursued by trigger-happy bandits on horseback, maybe ride further back.

Biggest Baddy
While it may go without saying, it can’t be left unsaid: every ounce of hurt you take upon yourself keeps your companions alive that much longer. One of the biggest roles you can play in combat is soaking up extra stabs/shots/bashes so your friends don’t have to. Try to physically impose yourself on the biggest threat early and, if they try to disengage, shout all manner of foul dwarven curse at their backside to redirect their attention!

Story Considerations
Storied Scars
Ya, it’s safe to say that you’ve got a few…More than just grisly conversation starters, these storied scars can also serve as rough a Baedeker Guide for common wounds – that bump under your ribs is a daily reminder to never to fully cover a sucking chest wound from a gun-shot! Having seen first hand and recovered from more than a few serious injuries, it’s not unreasonable for your character to have some basic familiarity with common first aid treatments. Ask your GM about gaining some partial first aid proficiency, perhaps limited to a small list of wound types you’ve suffered most often.

Be sure to check out the other parts in this series: The Damage Dealer; The Skill-Monkey; The Textbook; and The Face!

Image © 2015 Paizo Inc.

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