D&D 5th Edition How much should 5e aim at balance? - Page 11





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  1. #101
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    I have no problems with the 4e fighter saying "You should put your highest score in Str".
    Agreed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mustrum_Ridcully View Post
    It isn't really about competition for people that are after balance either, at least not usually so.

    <snip>

    I would classify it more as "contribution". We do not want that the choice of a particular character class automatically means that character has less to contribute.
    I agree with this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Li Shenron View Post
    But of course in gaming terms it's certainly frustrating when someone in the group too often has a trick to skip a challenge, because the player's purpose is in the challenge.

    <snip>

    if the Druid can fight as well as 2 Fighters then the game is still fine IF the combat is arranged so that while the Druid fights his 2orcs then my Fighter fights her own orc, and both players are challenged enough. If that's so, I don't see why I should be worried about playing the Fighter, except of the worry that in a fight me and the Druid make the mistake of engaging the wrong opponents, in case e.g. there's an orc and an ogre and the weaker PC takes on the ogre while the stronger PC mops the floor with the orc in a round.
    I think your first para is correct. But I feel that your second para perhaps misses a couple of issues: (i) the player of the druid who is two fighters gets double spotlight time; (ii) the weaker PC is, in some sense at least, valuable only because the druid opts not to completely dominate the situation - there's a bit of a "hero and sidekick" flavour to it, I think.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mustrum_Ridcully View Post
    If we don't want to give the Fighter the ability to teleport and summon animal companions, and the Rogue the ability to cast Silence, Invisiblity and Knock, and we don't want to take these abilities away, there may be other ways than 4E. But they'll probably be heavily meta-game focused, like giving the Fighter and Rogue "Karma Points" or "Bennies" or "Possibilities" or some other metagame resources which they can use to bend the rules for their benefit. Say spend Karma so the Fighter can say "No, I can't teleport, but I once worked as body guard for a local Wizard and he still owes me a favor or two, I think he can teleport us wherever we want" or the Rogue may say: "Oh, I think I remember the kitchen servant of the BBEG, she can smuggle me in, so we don't need Invisiblity" or "I just spend Karma so the enemies ignore my failed stealth roll".
    I like this way of thinking.

    And to @Underman , there is nothing special about teleport here. It's about functionality in general - if the fighter or rogue is going to be weaker or less functional in straightforward ability terms (fewer attacks, lesser social skils, whatever) then metagame resources of some form or other are the obvious way to make it up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Emerikol View Post
    It's a rare case that craft or profession skills add much to the adventure. They do on occasion I'm not arguing but it's rare. None of them are as good though as stealth.

    <snip>

    If though you say that it has to be equally value to every other skill when on the adventuring trail then I think you are taking a lot of fun elements out of the game.

    <snip>

    I just think we need to stop obsessing over damage combo powers (basically make each class do it's damage intrinsically) and then let the powers/feats/spells etc.. be the way we vary how it works flavorfully. Then those choices become about fun instead of powergaming.
    I don't think anyone talking about skills has mentioned damage until you bring it up in this post.

    Doing damage is not the only measure of effectiveness, and in fact is largely irrelevant outside the combat "pillar". But my view is that, if an ability is purchased as part of PC building (be it via skill choice, feat choice, background choice etc) then it ought to be comparable in effectiveness/contribution to the other options foregone in making the choice.

    Otherwise it has been mispriced.

    I think framing it as an issue of fun vs powergaming is unhelpful. What is the source of fun? If it is the case that the GM will frame scenes around it, for example, then the ability is doing its job and is paying its way. (For this reason, Burning Wheel makes players pay for PC disadvantages - because they increase spotlight time by sucking up energy and attention at the table.)

    But the rules need to call all this out, both for players and GMs.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ahnehnois View Post
    A game that's about creating a reality doesn't need to simulate anything? Hard to take any of your posts seriously if you don't acknowledge the value of simulation (and implicitly put balance ahead of it).
    I don't think anyone is denying that some RPG players value simulation in their games, even ahead of balance. (Look at Classic Runequest or Travelle, for paradigm examples of this.)

    But if you're saying that an RPG can't generate a shared fiction unless it has simulating mechanics, you're just wrong. HeroWars/Quest and Maelstrom Storytelling, and to a somewhat lesser extent 4e, are all counterexamples.

    If you're wondering how it works, here is an explanation from Ron Edwards:

    Gamist and Narrativist (ie non-simulationist) play often share the following things:

    *Common use of player Author Stance (Pawn or non-Pawn) to set up the arena for conflict. . .

    *Fortune-in-the-middle during resolution, to whatever degree - the point is that Exploration as such can be deferred, rather than established at every point during play in a linear fashion.

    *More generally, Exploration overall is negotiated in a casual fashion through ongoing dialogue, using system for input (which may be constraining), rather than explicitly delivered by system per se.

    *Reward systems that reflect player choices (strategy, aesthetics, whatever) rather than on in-game character logic or on conformity to a pre-stated plan of play.

    Notice the eschewel of simulation at each point. PCs and NPCs are played with reference to metagame priorities ("Author stance") rather than simply by "inhabitation"/immersion. Resolution is often FitM, as a particular instances of a more casual approach to establishing the shared fiction, using the results of the mechanics to set parameters for permissible narration rather than actually specifying the results (in 4e, this is utterly crucial for skill challenges, but is important to a lot of other stuff too, such as narrating forced movement and psychic damage). And "rewards", which in the context of D&D is mostly PC development, is based not on ingame causation (think the skill gain rolls in RuneQuest) but on metagame priorities of the participants.

    In short: an RPG with a shared fiction among the participants; but no simulation. 4e doesn't go this way completely. HeroWars/Quest, and Maelstrom Storytelling, both do.

 

  • #102
    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    Sometimes it is. But only when you are doing it intentionally. You know what's going to happen. When the game deceives you about what's good there is a problem.
    This I don't get. Sure sounds ominous, but I can't think of a single example of an rpg being "deceptive" enough to create this sort of concern.

    ***

    Quote Originally Posted by Pickles JG
    Similarly noone wants all characters to be exactly the same regardless of class so why does this straw man keep popping up?
    ...
    Noone surely would object to being 80% as effective as another player character 50% of the time & 125% the rest (or even 150% for a quarter of the time) It is when we get out of this sort of broad equivalency that balance becomes an issue.
    Some people in this thread have pretty explicitly advocated your (reasonable) descriptions of what "no one" wants. It's best that someone contest that.

    Why does this issue get so entrenched?
    I don't know. My guess would be that a small number of people have had really bad gaming experiences, and choose to attribute them to an abstract concept of balance in order to avoid addressing whatever the real issue was.

    Ayway I would like the game to be as balanced as possible while retaining a strong sense of diversity.
    Sounds reasonable.

    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton
    I don't think anyone is denying that some RPG players value simulation in their games, even ahead of balance.
    Perhaps you should reread some of the posts I quoted. I think anyone is.

    But if you're saying that an RPG can't generate a shared fiction unless it has simulating mechanics, you're just wrong.
    The concept of what an rpg can be is indeed broader than that. However, D&D has (with, as you say, the possible exception of 4e) taken a stance that simulation is important. While it is broad, D&D is a subset of what an rpg can be, and I think it's fair to say that most people who play it expect at least a modest amount of simulation.
    Last edited by Ahnehnois; Monday, 6th August, 2012 at 04:58 PM. Reason: Multiquote madness; my bad
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  • #103
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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    I think your first para is correct. But I feel that your second para perhaps misses a couple of issues: (i) the player of the druid who is two fighters gets double spotlight time; (ii) the weaker PC is, in some sense at least, valuable only because the druid opts not to completely dominate the situation - there's a bit of a "hero and sidekick" flavour to it, I think.
    (i) Well not really... I'm just thinking in vague terms here because every combat is different, but if the average result is that the strongest PC* engages the strongest monster (e.g. the Ogre) while everybody else engage the minions (e.g. one Orc each) then everybody gets exactly the same spotlight.

    Now maybe you might feel that fighting the Ogre (or whoever is the "top" opponent each time) is a more "shiny" spotlight than fighting a minion... Again I think there's some competition assumption there. But still I think this is indeed fair, that a Fighter is supposed in fact to be best at fighting, and the one the groups look at when a battle starts, just like the Rogue is the one the groups look at when there's a trapped area to bypass and so on.

    *I think Fighter because that's who I think should be really the strongest in combat, if it's the Druid then there's something wrong IMHO

    (ii) I agree that "hero and sidekick" is something most group wouldn't like, but that's again because of the competition mentality (and because Combat has become by far the most important part of the game for most gamers, but not for me). Everybody wants to be equally good to the others all the time. I'm not saying this is wrong, but just that I have no problem with a game where you're good at different times.
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  • #104
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pickles JG View Post
    If the druid is fighting twice as many bad guys he has twice as much stage time & some of us like a fair share of spotlight.
    I'm not really getting how you can possibly get "twice as much stage time" in fighting, since every PC has the same amount of rounds and actions per round.

    It's possible that one PC is so much better that he's the only one dropping enemies while the other PCs are just holding them off and waiting for the dominating PC to finish everybody, and that's certainly not a nice outcome.
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  • #105
    @Ahnehnois , you're attributing most of a @pickles JG post to me. Could you fix this please?

    Quote Originally Posted by Li Shenron View Post
    I'm not really getting how you can possibly get "twice as much stage time" in fighting, since every PC has the same amount of rounds and actions per round.
    Um... the Druid gets twice as many rounds or actions per round as the fighter - he has a set of actions for himself and one for his animal companion. A Pathfinder Summoner without an Eidolon is arguably worse - he gets his own actions plus (normally) those of d3+1 summoned critters. Who can, at high level, be spellcasters in their own right.

  • #106
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    My wizards play uber because they are in a fight for their lives against the monsters trying to kill them. That is one form of competition. It is also roleplaying. The goals of my character are not necessarily aligned with my goals as a player - and not dying is pretty much at the top of my character's list for most characters.

    It's the jerk test. If I'm using the uber strategies out of character I'm being a jerk to those of classes who can't use them. If I'm not using them in character, I'm recklessly risking the lives of my companions and the fate of the world and I'm therefore being a jerk.
    But I think you're talking about downplaying, which I agree it has no excuse in-character.

    What I am saying is that if I learn that e.g. some spells or feats are better than others, I may purposefully choose not to pick them for my character during the design phase, should I have the feeling of wanting more challenge. Thus my original post, that I don't worry too much about everything being balanced or equal. Character design choices can be much more easily be justified in-characters (perhaps the PC didn't have any source to learn the spell from, or anybody teaching her the feat, or just that nobody inside the fantasy world knows about the existence of every spell/feat in the game).

    I guess that some gamers think these kind of choices are "dumb", but if they make the game more challenging thus more fun for me, then I actually think they are kind of "smart".

    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    It's also a game with a character called a fighter. Fighting is his thing. If it's arranged so the fighter fights four orcs and the wizard fights one, as the wizard I'm not unhappy - I'll get my time to shine. On the other hand the fighter's time to shine is in combat (the druid is also a skill monkey and a caster) and if the fighter isn't shining in combat he's a benchwarmer.
    I totally agree with this, that's in fact what I've been trying to say.

    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    And why can't they do this by just giving a level handicap? Or a stats handicap? Comes to the same effect but doesn't leave traps for the new players to fall into.
    Of course you can, it's another option, although it's more blunt, less fine-tunable (in some editions, 1 level less can be too much). I usually like the idea that with a couple of subpar choices, the beginners in the group are not going to actually notice that I'm doing this, while taking 1 level less is a bit like throwing it into their faces that I take penalties because I'm better than them
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  • #107
    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    @Ahnehnois , you're attributing most of a @pickles JG post to me. Could you fix this please?
    Multiquoting across several pages and splitting up the quotes is a headache. Fixed it.
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  • #108
    Quote Originally Posted by Li Shenron View Post
    But I think you're talking about downplaying, which I agree it has no excuse in-character.

    What I am saying is that if I learn that e.g. some spells or feats are better than others, I may purposefully choose not to pick them for my character during the design phase, should I have the feeling of wanting more challenge.
    And this is one of my big criticisms of Gygaxo-Vancian spellcasting. Which spells you take is an in character choice. Purposely not picking them in the design phase is one thing - but if the character is smart then they should be trying to learn the good spells. Picking sub-optimal feats or sub-optimal spells for a sorceror is one thing. But for an Int 18 wizard picking a poor spell list is an in character choice to downplay.

    Of course you can, it's another option, although it's more blunt, less fine-tunable (in some editions, 1 level less can be too much). I usually like the idea that with a couple of subpar choices, the beginners in the group are not going to actually notice that I'm doing this, while taking 1 level less is a bit like throwing it into their faces that I take penalties because I'm better than them
    Oh, I normally go for odd feats and a build I wouldn't normally play. Sub par for me isn't necessarily sub par from a game design perspective. And there will always be feats (e.g. linguistics) that are of marginal utility.

  • #109
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pickles JG View Post
    I think you may be right though I thought hard forgism did not allow games to both gamist & simulationist without being dysfunctional.
    I fully accept the rest of your experience. I wanted to respond to this part, though. I'm not really a hard forgist, I think GNS terms often apply better to motivations and individual rules or structures, rather than games themselves.* In particular, Narrativism in a game like D&D is almost entirely dependent on the personalities involved. IMO, each edition has made it easier to (as you aptly put it) run D&D as a skirmish wargame with a chat mode. I would also submit, that by Forge terms, older D&D is dysfunctional.



    *What if, for example, you are trying to Simulate a Gamist experience?

  • #110
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    I haven't read through the entire thread, so apologies if this has already been expressed.

    In all my years of gaming, I've come to the following conclusion regarding balance:

    It's something that's found at the game table, not in the rules.

    "Balance" is usually taken to mean "parity" between various facets of the game, be they characters, combat options, economy of actions, or something else. However, all of these are affected by what your characters are actually going through at any given moment.

    "Balance" isn't some perfect state that the game rules can deliver; it's an equilibrium that changes from one moment to the next, and so requires the GM and the players to work together in keeping it at the center of the game.
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