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Monday, 6th August, 2012, 01:37 AM #31
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Monday, 6th August, 2012, 01:47 AM #32
Gallant (Lvl 3)
Monday, 6th August, 2012, 01:52 AM #33
What you need is for that common ground to be a fictionalized, fantasy-styled version of reality. (Reality has a certain inherent balance to it, but can also be abused). Then everyone can create whatever they want within that reality. That's the common ground.Not in a game with as wide an audience as D&D. You need a starting point, a common ground where every campaign starts.
"Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose"
Monday, 6th August, 2012, 02:00 AM #34
Balance basically means that the game is fundamentally fair and honest. If the game presents something as a choice, then that choice should be a fair choice that is equivalent to any of its alternatives. If the players make a choice, then the game shouldn't suddenly reveal that choice to be more powerful or less powerful than advertised. It means that everyone who has the same role in the game (typically "player of a PC" in D&D's case) should be treated equally well by the rules and not be unfairly punished or favored.
Ultimately, balance means that everyone at the table should have the same chance to have fun. Beyond being the goal of balance, that is the very nature of balance itself. Asking for a game to be deliberately imbalance is the exact same thing as asking for the game to arbitrarily ruin someone's fun or to let one player ruin everyone else's fun.
The actual way that balance is implemented is a much more complex discussion, but that's how I'd put it.
If you accept my definition, then you'll see why people's claims that balance is the antithesis of fun seems incoherent to me. Balance is simply the union of the ideas that the game should be equally fun and fair for everyone. If you want imbalance, that means you want people to not have fun. Balance is not some mere tool for achieving fun; they are inseparable concepts that are almost so close as to be the same thing.
Monday, 6th August, 2012, 02:13 AM #35
So, if I take ranks in Profession (Dishwasher), those should be equivalent to ranks in Hide and Move Silently? That if I have a fighter with an ability array of 8/9/9/17/18/18, it should be equivalent to a fighter with 18/17/18/9/9/8? That if I do nothing but try to trip a gelatinous cube, the result of the battle should be the same as if I attacked it normally? That my halfling barbarian wielding a foot-long greataxe should have an equivalent fighting capability to your half-orc barbarian with a six-foot axe? That if I cast Magic Missile on the Tarrasque, it should be equivalent to casting Disintegrate? Those are choices.Balance basically means that the game is fundamentally fair and honest. If the game presents something as a choice, then that choice should be a fair choice that is equivalent to any of its alternatives.
All choices shouldn't be equal; that defeats the whole point of having choice.
That sounds more like transparency than balance.If the players make a choice, then the game shouldn't suddenly reveal that choice to be more powerful or less powerful than advertised. It means that everyone who has the same role in the game (typically "player of a PC" in D&D's case) should be treated equally well by the rules and not be unfairly punished or favored.
That's easily accomplished. Just give everyone the same PHB, and have the DM treat them all the same. Regardless of what's in it, everyone has the same chance to have fun. Not really the most useful criterion.Ultimately, balance means that everyone at the table should have the same chance to have fun.
In any case, as you say you're "taking a stab at it". The point is that balance is nothing more than an opinion.
Last edited by Ahnehnois; Monday, 6th August, 2012 at 02:18 AM.
"Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose"
Monday, 6th August, 2012, 02:19 AM #36
Superhero (Lvl 15)
I have run games and am running a game balanced on the campaign-level and not the encounter. I drop in balanced adventure module that I converted as it grows. It is possible and your labeling such a "farce" isn't kind. I could say M:tG balance is a farce, but I don't see how mockery is not a deliberate unkindness.
There's no such thing as stories or storytelling. RPG roleplaying is game system mastering
Monday, 6th August, 2012, 02:21 AM #37
I think many posters (including me) support reasonable parity of player effectiveness across the range of situations the game is intended to throw up (the 5e designers talk about the "3 pillars" of social, exploration and combat, though all we've seen so far is combat). As 4e has shown, this needn't be mechanical identity: the sorcerer in my 4e game does more damage in combat than the invoker-wizard, for example, but the invoker-wizard still matters, and makes a contribution (control, especially via condition-infliction) that the sorcerer can't.
D&D has historically been narrow in other ways too. For example, "exploration" in D&D has almost always focused on a fairly narrow conception of dungeon exploration. Look at Moldvay Basic, for example, or Gygaxian AD&D: rules for secret doors, finding traps, listening at and opening doors, etc. But there are no rules for wandering around cities, for exploring and understanding museums or galleries, for plotting sea voyages, etc (which might be important in other games, say Cyberpunk, Cthulhu or a Pirate game).
And in AD&D "social" is confined mostly to the loyalty and morale of soldiers. There are no rules for dancing, for fast-talking or the like.
One thing I like about 4e is that it has working action resolution systems that are more expansive than these D&D traditions. And that, as a side effect, do deal with the unexpected better. Part of what lets them do that is there robustness as a framework (DCs by level, plus the skill challenge success/failure structure). If you are thinking of that as one feature of 4e's balance, I'll happily agree.
Design the game in such a way that failure matters less, and suddenly having an 8 CHA in social situations won't matter so much. Ssome games, like Burning Wheel for example, make players spend resources on PC disadvantages precisely because those disadvantages will mean those players get more spotlight time from their PCs - but Burning Wheel also has a much more relaxed approach to failure than does D&D - it doesn't generally result in PC death.
Unfortunately, it seems to me that many of the same posters who are hostile to the importance of balance are also hostile to approaches to play that increase the range of stakes in conflict, and thereby reduce the prevalence of life-and-death stakes.
Ahnehnois, but in another recent post Ahnehnois did talk about the GM being responsible for creating the story, which suggests something along these lines.)
I personally regard that sort of GM force as toxic (both from the point of view of a player, and a GM).
Monday, 6th August, 2012, 02:29 AM #38
Defender (Lvl 8)
I don't usually dissect quotes, but when I do...
Monday, 6th August, 2012, 02:29 AM #39
For example, if a DM designs a closed dungeon adventure with a lair guarded exclusively by golems, the casters are likely to be rather "unbalanced" due to lack of opportunity. If he designs a political adventure where combat is discouraged, the fighter is likely to feel rather "unbalanced", but the bard might suddenly feel overpowered. These kinds of things outweigh the basic action resolution mechanics.
Never understood that. It's hard to see how a DM runs a game without exercising all kinds of discretion, whether he wants to or not.I personally regard that sort of GM force as toxic (both from the point of view of a player, and a GM).
"Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose"
Monday, 6th August, 2012, 02:32 AM #40
Game design and distributions of expectations and authority matter a lot here.
Two PCs with those different skills should probably have very different experiences - play should deliver different stories - but arguably the game should make either viable. Conversely, if - as is the case for D&D -the game has no way of making it viable to build a PC focused around Profession (Dishwasher) than probably that should not be put forward as an option for the expenditure of PC-buidling resources. (Which I think is at least parly what @TwinBahamut was getting at in talking about "choices not being false choices".)