How many movies, shows, and games have had the phrase “we’re assembling a team”? The Avengers movies are completely based on this concept, a group of individuals with varying strengths and weaknesses come together to accomplish a common goal. When it comes to D&D that is what the whole game is about, a team of misfits coming together to accomplish a common goal. So how can we play this up and have more fun with it? What happens if there is bad team comp? And also how can this concept help us in the real world?
Team Comp stands for Team Composition which is defined as; an overall mix of characteristics among people in a team, which is often a unit of two or more individuals who work together to achieve a common objective. It is based on the attributes among individuals that comprise the team, in addition to their main objective. In D&D this is often characterized in the stats used to build characters. You often can have a strength based class, a dexterity based class, an intelligence, wisdom, or charisma based class as well. Usually you excel at one or two things and where you lack in a stat a teammate usually makes up for it. This creates a dynamic where the team needs one another to accomplish their goals.
I have dmed a game where character creation was done separately and secretly from one another, which resulted in a horrible team comp and catastrophic failures; this situation even led to a player asking if they could completely change their character’s class early on since the team was suffering from a frontline fighter role. At first everyone was dexterity based characters who could not take a hit to save their lives; they nearly died several times. On top of that, there was a common complaint about toe stepping on one another’s roles. So it is in my opinion, that character creation should always be done together. Sure, you can keep backstory based things hidden but there is something about building a character with your team that builds a sense of unity. Suddenly, the excitement levels rise, people start coming up with ways that their characters might know each other, and before you know it you’ve assembled your team.
In general players already play up their strengths and weaknesses in character; it is fun as hell to play the dumb, powerful, but lovable barbarian. It is equally fun to play the charismatic, sneaky, quick, but glass cannon that is a rogue. However, just because your character is good at something doesnt mean they should always be the only ones to use that stat. One intelligent person could be amazing at math and science while another might be amazing in puzzles and riddles. Two dexterity based characters can constantly have races to see who’s the fastest one while the two strength based characters can have constant competitions as to who can lift the most. These situations are what you make of them; sure if half the team is Dex based then maybe that would make for a much more unpleasant experience, but having two characters with similar stats sets up an opportunity to have more fun. It really depends how you view things, but I can see players having a blast by roleplaying these little interactions and creating macro level cohesion within their already existing team comp.
Finally, how can all of this help us in the real world? Team comp, assembling a team, cohesion, or whatever else you want to call it teaches us two important lessons; you don’t need to do everything yourself and depending on others isn’t a bad thing. We live in a world where your perceived worth, put on you by yourself or society, is based on how much you can contribute as an individual. It is assumed by many that this is your life and what you put into it you get back, but this often means that if things don’t work out, you blame yourself (which can lead to some unfun thoughts about yourself). Maybe you’re awesome at math and equations but you utterly suck at interacting with people. Maybe you are an athlete through and through but you just aren’t good at focusing on an intellectual level. You don’t need to do and be everything, not by yourself. If you aren’t good with people, that friend of yours that is amazing in social situations can help you meet new people. Everyone is of the belief that they are the main characters of our own story. But what if, instead, we are one big adventuring party? What if we learned to make up for each other’s weaknesses and strengths by relying on one other instead. The same lessons you learn from the table can be applied to real life. If you have a big project at work or school, you can better work as a group with others. Working together we can potentially live better lives, create cohesion, and maybe make a difference in little ways.
In conclusion, team comp is the making of a group which is made up of various strengths and weaknesses. Allow room for variations of your chosen stat and give others the opportunity to do so as well. Take the lessons you learn from the table and apply some of the positive and helpful ones to real life so that you might be a better team player. Good luck out there people, go and build your teams.
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