Hello! How are you? In my story, there’s a group of people who regularly work together. Of course, with any story that has a group of people, there are going to be “roles” assigned to each character. How do I designate the “Strategist” from the “Group Leader”?

Atlas

Hey Atlas, great to hear from you! 

This is a great question and is indeed a bit tricky. By default, whoever comes up with plans is the leader, since they’re the one telling the other characters what to do. However, this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case, and the key is to separate creating the plans from executing the plans. 

The group strategist uses objectives and information to form a plan. If the group is trying to rescue a prisoner, the strategist decides which characters should create a diversion and which one should sneak over the wall with bolt cutters. 

Once that plan is made, the leader tells everyone what to do and is in charge on the ground. Since no plan survives first contact with the enemy, the leader is the one who improvises and issues new commands. It’s also their job to inspire the group and know what other characters need. 

Basically, the strategist is a planner, but the leader is a people person. In D&D terms, it’s the difference between an intelligence roll and a charisma roll. There will probably be at least some overlap, as the leader needs to understand the strategist’s plans, but you can definitely make those different jobs. 

For a well-known example, I’d look at the Animorphs books by K.A. Applegate. Our heroes are a group of kids with shapeshifting powers fighting a covert insurgency against alien invaders, and Jake is their leader. Jake sometimes comes up with plans himself, but just as often, it’s another character. 

When a different character makes the plan, Jake is the one who gets the team moving and makes sure everyone is ready to do what the plan calls on them for. When things inevitably go wrong, Jake makes the quick decisions necessary for the team to adapt. That’s a pretty reliable model for the sort of job splitting you’re describing. 

Hope that answers your question, and good luck with your story!

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