Originally Posted by Fenris
IMO it depends alot how much micromangement is possible or necessary. Lets take a look at a standard-character in many Games, the Fighter:
In the Goldbox Games they could attack with their Melee-Weapon, shoot with their ranged Weapon, move around, use an Item and most importantly block the way to the weaker party-members, if the terrain allowed it (i.e. small corridors) and you positioned them that way. In this Expample I call them Guards, they probably wear heavy Armor, big Shields and Poleweapons.
A Fighter in a modern Game has usually different options like Bullrush, Power-Attack, Berserkermode, Taunting, Hadoken-Spiritual-Attack, and whatnot. This are interesting features - lets call this guy Champion; he would probably use a twohanded Sword, a Katana - probably with a Wakizashi at the same time - or some exotic two-bladed thingie and wear light to medium Armor. He also probably needs a Bandoleer full of Healing-Potions…
The Job of the Guards would be to protect the non-combatents of the party, the Champion would have to do some hero-stuff amidst the enemy ranks. You put the Guards to strategic Positions and are done with them but you need to micromanage the Champion.
A Caster might be a universal Caster that can cast anything from healing, to crowd-control to damage-spells like the Dragonage Mages, or highly specialized like in this eastern games - a Thaumaturge could only cast some Fireballs and Lightning, a druid might use a rain-spell to turn an area to mud or summon some animals, a Psion might use only charmspells or confusion-type spells and a healer could only heal… you would use this guys only when necessary and would try to keep them out of danger the rest of the time.
If you add some commando-style Archer/Sneak-Attacker/Traps-Guy to the Champion and the universal Caster, then you have all traditional Bases covered with only three guys… heck - if you combine Champion and Commando you get Conan the Barbarian, if you combine all three "modern Archetypes" you get the Witcher, both still interesting Characters.
It all depends what story you want to tell - something like a superhero-story or a story with lots of different protagonists. And in the later Case, to keep the Gameplay interesting, you have to distribute the abilities… i.e. to Frontline-Fighters, Skirmishers, Assassins, Archers, Traps and Locks-Guys, Diplomancers, white, grey and black mages, some Wilderness-Experts or whatever.