Fantasy Role Playing Builds--The Guardian

By Dustin Schwerman

What separates a guardian from other defensive builds is that it isn't really a defender at all, at least not in the sense that it has significant ability to avoid or absorb attacks. Rather, a guardian is a character designed to make attacking their charges too great a threat. A typical fantasy guardian would be a pikeman or town guard. Although their defenses may not be exceptional (they may even be lacking!) they use reach to make their position too dangerous to attack.

Not all game systems will necessarily support guardian builds. To make an effective guardian, you need abilities that allow you to attack in response to enemy actions. Some guardians, such as the aforementioned pikemen, might use reach to strike foes as they close. Other guardians are more close-range warriors, relying on abilities that allow them to counter-attack their enemies.
Magically inclined guardians may be able to deflect enemy attacks back upon them, backlash the damage they sustain, or even absorb enemy attacks to empower their own actions.

A guardian build rarely stands alone, unless it has abilities to redirect the attacks of enemies.
Otherwise, a guardian will need to have an offensive presence capable of dropping enemies before they get to make their attacks, or potent defenses that will negate enemy assaults and allow the character to reciprocate. The guardian build is paired well with either the protector or crusher builds; the former creates a foe that is not only difficult to attack but also likely to strike back, making such assaults a foolish proposition. The latter may not counter as many attacks, but enemies know that to strike at such an opponent is to invite its powerful offenses.

Just as the method of defense can vary between guardians, so too will you want to decide how to use your abilities. Some guardians, particularly those with a protector bent, specialize in drawing attacks onto themselves by using their guardian abilities to strike back when foes attack their allies. More offensively-minded guardians are just the opposite; they use the threat of a reciprocated offense to keep foes off of themselves, or drop enemies as they approach, freeing them up to focus on their offensive duties.

Since the goal of a guardian is defense through superior offense, abilities that can weaken or neutralize opponents quickly are much favored. The combination of a guardian and neutralizer build can be very effective, allowing the character to significantly debilitate or even dispatch enemies who assault its position. This provides a greater threat, as a neutralizer's powers can leave an enemy too weak to complete its attack even if it doesn't fall.

The guardian is a more difficult build to play than a tank or protector, but can be highly effective when used well. Your goal is to make the enemy not want to attack by turning it against itself. Bear in mind, though, that when battle is joined in an RPG, the enemies will be attacking. Do not assume that the threat alone will be sufficient; focus on obtaining strong abilities that allow you to drop those enemies who test your resolve, or potent defenses that give you the edge in a battle of attrition.

Copyright © 2007 Dustin Schwerman.

Dustin Schwerman is the primary web designer and an article writer at Truly Unique--Affordable Custom Website Design. In his spare time, he enjoys fantasy role playing games, favoring those that offer extensive options for character customization.

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