The role/class of a Protagonist in a RPG

I’ve been having the itch to play old school RPGs of late, which led me here to download as many rpgmaker games as possible. This in turn of course led to me thinking about the possibility of starting a project of my own.
However I have come upon an interesting dilemma, what role/class should the protagonist fill and what roles do others like to see? Clearly the most obvious is a balanced Jack of all Trades, but I’m wondering how well other options would work.
Would people prefer to be a damage dealing warrior or to be the party tank? A mage with destructive spells or a healer/buffer?
Would love to get some opinions.


you could also let the player pick their preferred “school” instead of having it be decided beforehand. but unless you have some specific/special system that one class takes more advantage of than others (and you don’t want to have the player pick a class) a jack of all trades is the safest option


Unless you plan to start the protagonist off with a party, a fixed-class protagonist needs to be fairly self-sufficient until they get a party together. That’s why you see a lot of games using Fighter protagonists with a mediocre self-heal tacked onto their moveset. That setup has reasonable damage and enough sustain to be able to recover after a fight as necessary. This shouldn’t be as necessary with careful earlygame level design, though. Something less necessarily self-sufficient is possible if you design the earlygame to account for that.

Also, the Fighter With Heal protagonist is a tired trope of RPGM. xD

tl;dr It doesn’t matter as long as you make the protagonist reasonably self-sufficient or design the earlygame around them not being self-sufficient.


In what way do you mean? What is the role or preferred class for a protagonist relative to player interest? What is the role or preferred class relative to the needs and demands of game design? What’s the vibe!

The “most obvious” is the generic route where the MC is 90% melee (kinda tanky swordsman, usually), 10% jack of all trades (with some basic healing abilities, too).
They generally do MCs like this so that he can hold his own during plots where he’s separated from the party, that way he wont get one-shot, doesn’t need someone to tank for him, and doesn’t need to chug a million hp/mp potions that the player may or may not have.
It’s a bit bland, but safe.

I’ve had a couple RPGs I’ve played where I’ll be some kind of glass cannon mage that blows universes apart with just a look, but I’d hit a plot point where the party splits up and suddenly I can’t maintain my MP because the party member with an MP recovery skill is gone, die in one hit because the tank isn’t there, etc.


Yeah, I kind of figured the Jack of all Trades has that advantage of being able to hold it’s own, regardless of the situation. I know in the end it comes down to my choice, but I just wanted to see what others thought about it.
@Yamhead I would love to do somethign like that but wouldn’t even know how to get it to work, like it might be cool to have a few options to pick from for the player but I would have no idea how to code it, plus it would probably require a heap more writing in order to be viable long term.
My initial idea would be to make the Protag a Tank, with minor healing in a similar way to the traditional Paladin, I’m just worried that it would make fights drag on too long until a 2nd party member is gained.

Depends on the story really. There’s nothing stopping the MC being some niche or specialised role if there is initial support for them, say the story opens with MC and their buddy/buddies being the initial party.

Just look at Edypos for an example of this. The MC, Wayfarer, really can’t do a lot in the beginning and has a pretty unique skillset.

I think the reason why a lot of MCs tend to be fighters/warriors is more down to simplicity. An unhindered, uncomplicated modus operandi that is readily understandable by an audience as a typical hero archetype and can reflect well on the character’s personality. Nothing says you can’t break convention of course and have the focus shift elsewhere…


Maybe a weak class that you can change later on or a Bard

1 Like

Personally when I play games, I prefer mage or support type of characters for my Main Character, but I can play most anything.

Perhaps instead of giving the MC a fixed class, you could give the PC a way to change what they are. I don’t think RPG maker games handle classless system well (I could be wrong though), but you could look at a system where the PC can change their class at will, and in fact may need to have several levels of two or three classes to unlock advanced classes (the old Final Fantasy Tactics worked like this).


Trying to figure out a particular class for the Protag isn’t easy, in a sense I would advise they need to be a class that can mesh with other party members but can do fine on their own. The same can be said about the rest of the party, by themselves they should be able to handle danger to a certain degree.

In Xenoblade you have Shulk who is a high damage user but weak to heavy hits while Reyn can deal alright damage but is tanky and can create agro. Over time you gain characters that fill out niche sections but they mesh effectively to combat enemies and bosses. However by themselves is… well tricky since they are niche.

Chrono Trigger at least to me has flexible party members, each can stand alone but are monsters when combined. Chrono can deal massive physical damage with a high crit rate, Lucca has many offensive spells as well as being a range unit, Marle is great for healing, Frog is a mix healer and attacker, Robo being tanky and great support, Ayla being a massive heavy hitter, and Magus having the largest offensive spell pool and being decent as a physical attacker when needed. Baring a few bosses each character can handle just about anything, and when together barely anything can stand in the way.

So when you come to a conclusion to what your Protag’s main focus is make sure the other party members can be paired well with them while being flexible with others and by themselves. I could be wrong, but I’ve played and watch many Rpgs and enjoyed certain mechanics while not liking others.


I think the kinds of enemies you start out against is also going to play a major part in what your protagonist’s role is. Maybe enemies need heavy debuffs to be attacked effectively, or maybe they’re glass cannons that need a tank to handle. If you tailor the starting encounters to be weak to a niche role then you can make the starting role whatever you want.

1 Like

Short answer; whatever the player wants.

Long answer; if the ‘class’ system your game has is going to cookie-cutter copy the ‘rock-paper-scissors’ approach with a ‘party’ of NPCs, then the protagonist’s ideal role is always going to be whatever works with the followers the player is with.

If the player likes certain NPCs, but can’t build a balanced party with them because the PC is pushed towards play styles that don’t mesh, that’s a point of frustration. I personally love being able to turn the PC into whatever kind of build I want and using that flexibility to be whatever my preferred team needs.

That’s not the same as being a jack-of-all-trades. They might still be specialized for a few things, but it’ll be a specialization that benefits the party. If it also allows you to come up with fun, funky builds, even better.

1 Like

It depends, I’d say. If the game lets you swap out party members, including the protagonist, then it doesn’t really matter what their role is, as long as they’re not rendered obsolete by the other party members. If the game requires that the protagonist always be an active party member, then their role should be one that is essential to every possible situation. At the top of that list would probably be that of primary damage dealer, since you can’t win a fight without dealing damage. Second below that might be that of support, such as a healer, that’s essential to the party’s survival. I’d advise against making the protagonist a tank, since standard RPG Maker mechanics have enemies attacking party members at random without the use of a dedicated Taunt (or similar) ability.

1 Like