D&D Next (5E) How much should 5e aim at balance? - Page 8




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  1. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lwaxy View Post
    Like? We always found good uses for all of the spells and keep creating new ones.
    I should have avoided the word "silly". My experience in 3rd was that a very narrow band of spells were used at each level. Rarely did the wizard not memorize 3rd level spells not called fireball, major image, fly and haste. So from his point of view other spells were somewhat peripheral.

 

  • #72
    It seems to me the issue and conversation isn't talking about balance in any real form. It seems like we are discussing an issue of meaningful choice. I emphasize MEANINGFUL because it is just that.

    The pro-balance, dare I say pro-4e?, side don't like the swinginess of 3e but more than that they don't like that certain choices were (almost always) sub-optimal and that certain other choices were (almost always) SUPER-optimal. They don't like wizards for being as good or better than fighters and wanted balance to limit the choice between the two classes. Again, it comes to an issue of choice.

    The anti-balance, dare I say pro-3e?, side doesn't like the perception of balance as being the sole driving focus of the game. They feel that choices don't need to be balanced so long as they are fun. But this again boils down to not needing balance so long as all choices are optimal. The issue of balance to them doesn't come up BECAUSE all choices are optimal or optimal at points.

    I have to admit I fall into the anti-balance side because I don't see balance as the need all and end all of game design. But I have to admit I see the point of the pro-balance people. Choices in 3e weren't all equal because you were (almost) never going to take profession (knitting) as it wasn't as valuable as stealth or perception. Worse yet certain choices were traps in value. Some people see the non-casters as traps in choices as they think (again, real or not) that any wizard can replicate or even surpass any other class.

    Can we not both agree that a certain amount of balance is required; as it facilitates how everything is created, be that items, classes, races, traits or abilities. But that not everything needs to be balanced; that certain classes can shine at different times, that not all classes need to fill the same role or niche and that it is possible and even preferable for certain classes to surpass one another at varying levels?

    Just my two cents. But as Neo famously said, "Choice, the problem is choice."

  • #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raith5 View Post
    I should have avoided the word "silly". My experience in 3rd was that a very narrow band of spells were used at each level. Rarely did the wizard not memorize 3rd level spells not called fireball, major image, fly and haste. So from his point of view other spells were somewhat peripheral.
    It really depends on the player & campaign. I have arcane cssting PCs that memorized Haste, Fireball and Fly, but not one of them had more than 1 of the three. Most had none of those, including the latest three.
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  • #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    Ultimately, balance isn't about how good or bad, smart or stupid, honest or conniving the players are - it's about how the game is designed, and that's all. A well-balanced game will simply have more usable content than a badly balanced one, whether that's because the badly-balanced game has a lot of mostly-worthless content (trap choices), or because it's just lacking in much content at all (lack of meaningful choices).
    But you too are falling into the trap of making assumptions on how to play the game...

    Just to give you a counter-example to your assumptions: have you ever played a computer game of some sports (e.g. soccer) where you can choose to play the tournament with a variety of teams, some of which are better than the others? Like you can play world cup using Brazil (easy) or using Switzerland (challenging) or using New Zealand (hard) or using Bhutan (only the brave)? Would you call such game unbalanced? Would you call it unplayable? Don't these options actually increase the game's longevity (there's still a challenge for those who played it a lot) and even re-balance the game when you put an expert against a rookie in a PvP game?

    I'm not saying D&D should be like that... I'm just saying that a sub-par option is not the same as a worthless option!
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  • #75
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    I'm just saying that a sub-par option is not the same as a worthless option!
    Sometimes, sub-par is where the fun is!

    (Hell, probably 50% of my builds in 3.5Ed would be called sub-par...if only that few!)

    A buddy of mine and I played the Atari 2600 game Adventure so much that we had the mazes memorized. For fun, we'd turn the TV's brightness so far down that the only time you could see something was if there were a bunch of magic items in the room (which caused things to flash).

    This was especially challenging when the dragon showed up...or the Bat.
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  • #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mercule View Post
    The problem with trying too hard to bake balance deeply into the rules is that it starts to sap away what makes a TTRPG different from a minis game, a board game, or a CRPG -- the ability to do things entirely unanticipated by the game designers and not covered by the rules.
    This depends very much on what you mean by "not covered by the rules". Some systems - eg Burning Wheel, 4e, HeroWars/Quest, etc - have a default, generic resolution system. In 4e this is the skill check or skill challenge. So if a player tries something "not covered by the rules" there is a resolution system: make an appropriate check (with DCs handily specified in a DCs-by-level table). The systems in BW and HW/Q are similar in broad outline, though (unsurprisingly) different in detail.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mercule View Post
    I will adamantly resist, and even ridicule, an attempt to ensure a feat, spell, etc. can only be used in the manner intended by the game designer. 4e had a good mechanical base, but was rife with those bounds.
    What examples do you have in mind? I personally haven't found this to be the case. And if you look at the last couple of pages of the "Convincing 4e players" thread, you'll see @AbdulAlhazred and I discussing some actual play examples.

  • #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ahnehnois View Post
    If no choices are better or worse than any others, there's no tactical element, making it not much of a game.

    <snip>

    You compare D&D, an open-ended roleplaying game that is noncompetitive, has no definitional goals or outcomes, and no hard rules to chess, a game that is not a roleplaying game, is a simple closed system, and has a codified set of hard rules, and postulate that both should be balanced in the same way.

    Then you refer to something other than this completely inappropriate example as being "reductionist".

    Huh?
    I'm also confused. Do you think that choices in PC build should make a difference to PC effectiveness, or not? If so, but if the game is not in some sense competitive, than why? Conversely, if the game is in some sense competitive, than the comparison to chess isn't so inapt, is it?

  • #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pickles JG View Post
    I thought hard forgism did not allow games to both gamist & simulationist without being dysfunctional.
    Not at all. In the foundations GSN essays, for example, Ron Edwards identifies several systems that lend themselves well to multiple playstyles:

    * Marvel Superheroes (TSR 80s version) explicitly supports narrativsit and gamist play;

    * Champions was used for play in all 3 modes;

    * Tunnels &Trolls as written, aims at gamist play, but apparently was played by some in a more narrativist fashion.

    I personally think that 4e lends itself well to certain versions of all 3 modes (after many discussions of this with a range of other posters on these boards):

    * High-concept simulationism - let's see what happens as my guy progresses from local hero to epic demi-god (fits well with adventure-path play and strong GM plot authority);

    * Light gamism - look at the cool tricks I can get my guy to do! - and I didn't even lose any surges doing it! (@Balesir plays 4e roughly in this sort of way);

    * Vanilla narrativism - the war between order and chaos is coming - will my guy side with the gods (even Bane? Asmodeus?) or with the primordials (and Gruumsh? demons? Tharizdun?)? This is my preferred way of playing 4e (@Campbell has also talked in some recent threads about this approach to 4e).

    What I think 4e doesn't support well is purist-for-system (sometimes called process) simulation - because its mechanics are very metagamey, and obviously so. Nor do I think it supports Gygaxian "skilled play" gamism, because that depends on making the operational elements of exploration the focus of play, and 4e downplays or eliminates much of this sort of stuff. Gygaxian play is also about minimising risks confronted while maximising treasure, whereas 4e is much more about confronting risks (but then using skilled mechanical play to get through them) and about predetermined treasure parcels (they're not really rewards, but more like part of the PC build mechanics).

    Quote Originally Posted by Ratskinner View Post
    I've written and deleted this post like 4 times trying to figure out what to say without offending someone.
    Not remotely offended, but don't completely agree.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ratskinner View Post
    IMO, 3e was arguably the most Simulationist version of D&D.
    I want to add - without a doubt, 3E was the version of D&D most aimed at supporting simulationist play - just look at the changes to saving throws, for example, from a metagame mechanic to a process simulation.

    But interestingly - and fitting with @MichaelSomething and @Mustrum_Ridcully 's comments upthread - the game is not really designed to support full-fledged simulationist play. If you start exploring the system, and the fantasy world that it implicitly creates, in ways that go beyond AD&D expectations, the game breaks fairly easily.

    I think 3E is therefore a curious thing - intended to satisfy a certain sort of simulationist aesthetic, while being used for a less-than-fully simulationist purpose - AD&D-style gamism with a heavy exploratory chassis.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ratskinner View Post
    when its designers sat down to make 4e. Gamist concerns rose to the top, riding on "balance". They did, AFAICT, a fine job. They created a very finely "balanced" game, with transparent, easily demonstrated, and fairly rigidly enforced fairness, both between the party members, and between the party and their adversaries. It was, to be blunt, a tremendous swing from the Sim end of things deep into the Gamist end of things.** The differences in feel at the table are profound.
    I think 4e is extremely diffrent in feel from 3E. It doesn't cater to a process-simulation aesthetic at all - it is blatantly built on metagame mechanics.

    But it doesn't support traditional D&D gamisim either, because you get XP just for turning up and playing the game (look at the rules for awarding XP, including the DMG 2 - it's not like AD&D, where you have to actually hunt out the XP, in the form of treasure), and likewise treasure turns up in pre-packaged parcels.

    As I said above, I think it can support a "lighter" form of gamism, based on exploiting those featurse of the game that are well-suited for "step on up" - showing off the cool stuff you can do with your PC.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ratskinner View Post
    While some groups saw 4e as a welcome breath of fresh air, others saw it has a horrid betrayal of the game they loved.

    <snip>

    Narrativist emphasis has waxed and waned slightly over the years, but D&D seems to mostly not know how to actually handle Narrative things. Instead, D&D has left most of that to either emerge from play or to be the direct result the DM putting his hand on the scales by fudging die rolls, etc. Exactly who has narrative authority over what is often unclear.
    For me, 4e is a breath of fresh air because it lets me play fairly traditional D&D (in terms of the tropes and themes) in a narrativist way without the system getting in the way.

    I agree the game is ambiguous on who has plot authority, but I think that, as a whole (including the empahsis on scene framing; player choices actually mattering to action resolution and scene outcomes in either combat or skill challenges; player-designed quests; players getting to choose what thematic aspects to foreground via choice of race, class, paragon path, epic destiny, and the like; etc) that it most naturally supports plot as emergent from play, rather than predetermined and managed by the GM.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Choice View Post
    Not a single form of entertainment in the world punishes bad character creation/customization choices the way you advocate

    <snip>

    I know of noone within my larger circle of gaming friends who think such a game would be good.
    I think this is one point of breakdown in the AD&D to 3E transition. In AD&D there basically is no such thing as character customisation: you roll your stats, then do the best you can with them.

    Tunnels & Trolls takes this to its maximum limit: only PCs with good stats can wield the best weapons, or enter the best classes. Other PCs will be mechanically less effective.

    The oddity in 3E is that, instead of the winning or losing in PC build turning on luck, it starts to turn on familiarity with the range of choices and their interactions ("system mastery"). I agree with you that this is bad for the game - whereas as the more classic D&D/T&T approach is fine for a certain sort of light-hearted fun, I think.

  • #79
    Quote Originally Posted by Li Shenron View Post
    I'm not saying D&D should be like that... I'm just saying that a sub-par option is not the same as a worthless option!
    If parity is the goal, then I guess sub-par is worthless.

    If I want to be an olympic swimming champion, it wouldn't do to NOT shave before the competition. A hairy Olympic swimmer is both sub-par and worthless.

    But in another light, if it's not an Olympic swimming race, then who cares?

    Myself, I don't want D&D to be a closed artificial environment like the Olympics are. If everyone is completely hairless for competitive parity, then we're "all the same" in a sense. The sport regulations and competitive landscape narrowly defines what has inherent worth. Absent are those who don't play by the rules or dare to be compared: the tattooed blue-haired UFC fighter who fights fair in the ring and fights dirty on the street, the sneaky little hobbitses, or Indiana Jones's father with his umbrella. [wait, read below before you criticize that D&D doesn't well support roleplaying Indie's dad]

    Admittedly D&D has never supported as wide a scope as found in other RPGs and fantasy literature, but it's less about the breadth of heroic archetypes and more about what PCs comparitively do and how they behave. It's pretty paramount to me that 5E empowers the DM and players to play the characters they want without feeling that 'gamist' optimization has been hard-wired to the forefront of deciding what has inherent worth. (and lots of that has to do with psychology and presentation as much as rules design)
    Last edited by Underman; Monday, 6th August, 2012 at 11:31 AM.

  • #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by Underman View Post
    If parity is the goal, then I guess sub-par is worthless.

    If I want to be an olympic swimming champion, it wouldn't do to NOT shave before the competition. A hairy Olympic swimmer is both sub-par and worthless.

    But in another light, if it's not an Olympic swimming race, then who cares?
    Exactly!

    For me D&D is not a competition, but I am not against some other group thinking of it that way...

    Quote Originally Posted by Underman View Post
    Admittedly D&D has never supported as wide a breadth/scope as found in other RPGs and fantasy literature, but it's pretty paramount to me that 5E empowers the DM and players to play the characters they want without feeling that 'gamist' optimization must be at the forefront of deciding what has inherent worth.
    I definitely hope so.
    "There is no survival without order, there is no evolution without chaos."
    "You have to see past the RAW to understand the rules of the game."
    "And rules are OVERRATED by the way!

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