Unity of purpose can create a streamlined and efficient team but it can be constricting and even act as a hindrance. I like to think of the analogy of a multi billion dollar business that had a strong and well defined mission statement. The company actively pursued this mission and encouraged all its staff to strive for the same goal. Yet ultimately such inflexible dedication brought about a paralysing lack of imagination that stopped them from seeing the disaster they were creating for themselves. And when that business came to grief it took the whole of the financial sector with it and ultimately failed to achieve its mission in the most spectacular act of self destruction seen for 80 years.
Individuality may not be efficient but it is dynamic and can throw up unpredictable strengths. One is the ability to deal with a wide variety of situations. This is why we don't create an adventure party that consists wholly of fighters or clerics. The strength of the team comes from its differences, not its similarities. I think this is even more evident in 4th Edition D&D than in previous versions. In 3.5e for instance the adventuring party sometimes felt and acted like a group of individuals that just happened to be going in the same direction as each other. In 4th edition the subtle interplay between the powers of different PC's can produce some stunning and unexpected results.
That's not to say that individuality doesn't have its restrictions. Extravagant and conflicting back stories can be a nightmare for a GM to circumnavigate. But that's a subject for another day.
I used to play AD&D (long time ago mind) as a standard thief (rogue) and it was a constant pain.ReplyDelete
"Door! Get the thief to listen, then check for traps, then pick the lock, then stand out of the way" etc.
So I decided to become an assasin pretending to be a thief. I was therefore useless at detecting traps and picking locks - but much of the humour end enjoyment came from declaring a door 'safe' then having the burly fighter trip a trap as they barged the door down.
I also learned the art of sneaking around the back of a fight and backstabbing to massive effect - without the party knowing (the DM and myself had an understanding). So I'd stay at the back until the bashing started, got round the rear - bit of 'wet work' on the opposing MU / shamen / leader then back round to the starting point.
The party never cottoned on, even when the DM would say "the evil MU appears to have collapsed" or "the ogre leader has fallen". The fighters would congratulate themselves on their impressive performance...and I'd just smile and count up the XP's.
Myself and the DM also had a bit of fun by passing a rumour in the tavern that certain characters had got on the wrong side of a certain Guild who had despatched their best man to inflict revenge. All made up, of course - I started it myself so I could have a crack at a couple of party members who'd stepped out of line.
Two murders later and the party were in uproar...how do we get the Guild off out backs? What was it we did? Who's going to be next?
I offered to 'make enquiries' and came back to say that the Guild would back off for a specific sum of GP and a couple of nice magical items, which they eventually paid up! I pocketed the lot - went back to the Guild for a bit of training and R&R and returned with the good news.
Trusting lot - they sent another thief to follow me and reported back that I had entered the building rumoured to be the Assasins Guild and came back out in one piece so they assumed that I'd done the deal. They even thanked me!
It made such a change from the usual dungeon bash, added a whole new dynamic to the party and certainly gave me and the DM a lot of enjoyment! To this day, the other players have no idea about Roderick's true identity.