Characters in RPG's get a wide assortment of cool and exciting abilities. Your fighters and warriors may attack with their sword, your thef will steal his stuff
, Your Black Mage
will drain some magic
to feed his attacks, your bard
a song that makes everyone faster
. It can seem as if everyone has a interesting way to contribute to the fight,
but not every character is so lucky. This character gets skills that are only worth using occasionally, are too weak to use
or won't work even if used
, instead most of this characters turns are spent on defending. They defend over and over again.
At first glance a defender character can appear rather useless in combat, after all how much can they be contributing if most of their turns are spent defending? But these characters can still be powerful and useful assets in many games. The most common cause for defender characters are mages conserving their magical reserves during easier battles so they have enough power to easily destroy more credible threats. Alternatively a defender character may be legitimately less useful in combat, but provide powerful and needed non-combat abilities which support the characters. Even a defending character can be an asset in a battle, as their increased damage mitigation while defending make them better able to absorb powerful enemy blows while sustaining less damage then allies focused on attacking, and thus requiring fewer resources to heal.
This sort of character most often comes up in older western RPG, especially games with a strong emphasis on a class system and switching between classes. These games tend towards characters who are so specialized in their given field that they have limited fighting talent outside of that field. More modern games tend to be moving away from this style of character. Modern games tend not to specialize their characters to such extremes, ensuring even their mage style characters have sufficient attack power that they contribute more to the fight by attacking with melee abilities then they would by defending. Modern games that contain characters with negligible melee attack power tend to compensate by giving them other cheap/free abilities which they can use rather then defending, such as allowing the White Mage
to cast a small free heal that increases everyone health by a negligible amount, or giving the Black Mage
a Mana Drain
ability so he can afford to cast spells without worrying he will run out of mana.