As the title points out, i'm interested in figuring out how DnD 3.X concept of roles compare to some real world roles.
Beginning with the most basic and simple, the Fighter. The concept is so broad, but when placed along side the Ranger, Barbarian and Paladin what it isn't begins to be defined.
The Fighter is tough, not as much as the Barbarian which has "rage" in taking punishment. Among the four, the Barbarian and the Ranger are more "striker" or "flanker" like since they have poorer lasting abilities, while capable of dealing more damage over time.
So the definition narrows down to the Fighter and the Paladin. Without elaborating on many points, the Paladin is definitely the leader while the Fighter is capable of dealing more damage over time.
Having compared the others, what is the equivalent of the Fighter in the more gritty realistic roles. Well, looking at toughness and ability to hold the line the Fighter is the Soldier. What defines a soldier from other warriors is discipline.
I don't want to go about the whole history of Soldiering and how all great conquering empires relied on discipline to make a rabble into an army. Individual prowess has its place in the battle field: in scouts, skirmishers, and ambushers, but for those who form the ranks, march in full kit for days, and has to worry about his brother in arms as much as his own hide Discipline is what makes this all work.
So the Fighter is the Soldier or the Disciplined Warrior.
It becomes clear that the Axial counterpart of the Disciplined Warrior is the Undisciplined one. Personal Bravery and Glory are virtues of the Ages before Military Discipline and Organization. You hear about it in the Post-Mycenean Greeks, the Gothic and Frankish Barbarians, the Raiding Danes (or more commonly known vikings), also Nomadic warriors of the Steppe East to West, etc...
In the economy of Work, an Undisciplined Warrior focuses more on his fighting skill and less on his teamwork, logistics, defense, planning, etc... All the things that make the Soldier the warmachine of the empire.
Still Undisciplined Warriors of great skill have a use. The Byzantines call them Kurasores, or Assault Troops. Technically, they are called Medium Infantry because of their good mobility like light troops but heavy hitting power like heavy troops. In the battlefield they fight in loose formation, unlike the real Soldiers. Their mobility and power is employed as, what in DnD is called Strikers or in other Game terms: "Flankers".
toe to toe against a Soldier/Fighter, what decides who wins in purely the Context of the Situation. Like in economics, there are strategic trade-offs and any absolute set of circumstances ignores the purposes of these trade offs.
The Paladin is the Commander. Again, in the Economies of effort and work trade offs and decisions must be made. A Commander is a warrior who focuses more on Logistics, Diplomacy, Camaraderie, Strategy, and Tactics.
There are Warriors, and there are Leaders. The Paladin/Commander is competent enough to stand against his Barbarian/Kurasores or Fighter/Soldier but can best them when planning, preparation, sustainability, diplomacy and organization are avenues of success.
Knights, are ideally commanders. What they lack in fighting ability, they make up for with the RIGHT to lead and the wealth and influence for the leisure to master all skills.
The Scout gets a bad rap because of Aragorn and the Rangers. It seems the Scout is the wimpy ranger or the pupa stage ranger. well in truth, the Scout IS the Ranger.
In the Economies of effort and work, the Ranger/Scout focus on their intelligence gathering skills. Note that, the skill that allows them to gather information are not "observation" or tracking, but they do help, it is actually their Mobility.
Mobility is broken down to:
- Pathfinding, the skill of finding one's way in a variety of terrains even those one has just have been to,
- Stealth, how to move silently and not disturb surroundings,
- Hiking, the endurance to travel great distances,
- Athletics, the ability to climb, run, jump and perform physical feats necessary in overcoming the obstacles,
- Foraging, the skill of being resourceful enough to travel with the lightest load possible and find enough food and water to meet the demands of the situation.
- Alertness, the presence of mind to react quickly and out witt opponents just long enough to escape or survive.
These skills all make up what counts for great mobility in hazardous and dangerous terrain, the kind one will find in war.
I have a game tomorrow. I hope to write about the Rogue, Bard, Cleric, Wizard, Sorcerer and Druid... if I can figure out what they can translate to.