Legends & Lore 09/03 - RPG design philosophy




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    Legends & Lore 09/03 - RPG design philosophy

    Not much meat here. I like what he's saying but it's going to be about the execution.

    Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game Official Home Page - Article (RPG Design Philosophy)
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    Building everything in perfect balance would lead to a boring game.


    The game is about the adventures of fighters, rogues, wizards, and clerics, not a wizard and his or her lackeys.


    Its important to contrast this point against other types of games. The rules for tennis or poker dont make things easier for players. They instead make the game fair by establishing the standards for serves, shots, conduct, and so on. Most games are concerned with maintaining fairness, providing clarity, and covering every conceivable event in the game, but D&D is different. As a cooperative game, it relies on the DM to cover those areas.
    What a hater.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ahnehnois View Post




    What a hater.
    Lol. Yeah Mike must be getting chapped lips. That was nothing but him kissing up to every faction in D&D.

    I do take exception of course to the wizards and lackey's comment. So overall I'm displeased by this post. But I'm growing disaffected by WOTC and 5e a lot lately. I'm seriously thinking maybe I should just embrace Pathfinder and be done with it.

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    Building everything in perfect balance would lead to a boring game.
    Funny how some people manage to enjoy Chess, Monopoly, Starcraft, a host of sports, and a variety of other things that are remarkably balanced. And fail utterly to find them boring.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluenose View Post
    Funny how some people manage to enjoy Chess, Monopoly, Starcraft, a host of sports, and a variety of other things that are remarkably balanced. And fail utterly to find them boring.
    Just a minor nitpick, non of those you have mentioned have perfect balance. Not even chess, where White have adventage over Black.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluenose View Post
    Funny how some people manage to enjoy Chess, Monopoly, Starcraft, a host of sports, and a variety of other things that are remarkably balanced. And fail utterly to find them boring.
    Yes, but all those examples are competitive, TT RPG is cooperative. Apples and oranges.

    I agree with what Mike said...perfect balance in cooperative TT RPG is practically unachievable (some optomizer will ALWAYS break it) and ultimately bland. I am so glad Mike made this point.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluenose View Post
    Funny how some people manage to enjoy Chess, Monopoly, Starcraft, a host of sports, and a variety of other things that are remarkably balanced. And fail utterly to find them boring.
    I think if you read the two big paragraphs before and after that quote ("Building everything in perfect balance would lead to a boring game") you'll get what he's saying. Basically, many of the coolest moments in a D&D game, where one character gets to truly shine, come from a localized "imbalance" in the game rules. The wizard killing two dozen enemy minions with a carefully-placed fireball, the fighter wading through melee without a scratch on him, the rogue taking out the enemy wizard with a single well-placed Sneak Attack. But if the rules are designed poorly so that an average rogue player can ALWAYS one-shot boss monsters and a fighter NEVER takes damage in melee, the game becomes boring.

    I don't think anything in this comment is particularly controversial. The debate lies in how much variety you need between characters or classes to keep things "interesting." 4e stripped out a lot of variety in the name of balance, and 5e is bringing a lot of variety back (first and foremost by replacing AEDU with class-specific power and ability systems). I think WOTC's position is that pre-4e D&D didn't give enough consideration to balance and 4e gave too much, so they now have to find the perfect amount so that everyone's happy - or at least, so that 4e players can pick up any class without feeling either overpowered or gimped too often, and pre-4e players don't feel like every class is just the same thing with different flavor text.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluenose View Post
    Funny how some people manage to enjoy Chess, Monopoly, Starcraft, a host of sports, and a variety of other things that are remarkably balanced. And fail utterly to find them boring.
    Monopoly is far, far from perfectly balanced. It has a host of rules that are frequently ignored, and can be very swingy based entirely on dice. Strategy has less to do with the game and it is much more luck based.

    Starcraft was laboriously balanced. But that took time and numerous patches, and among professional players it now comes down to speed in executing a winning strategy. Things have changed to be a speed game. And, player skill trumps any balance.

    Chess and most other sports are imbalanced due to the skills of the player involved. The game is balanced but there remains imbalance due to the human factor.

    D&D has elements of all three. There is the random dice factor of Monopoly, the different yet equal sides of Starcraft, and the different levels of player skill of chess. Which makes it phenomenally hard to balance without removing elements - such as the symmetry and reduction of skill mastery found in 4e.

    Perfect balance would mean normalizing the odds for both sides. And reducing the impact of disparities in player skill. And making the viable options equal in every way.
    What's the closest game to that? Rock, paper, scissors. Which still isn't completely balanced, but it's the closest humanity can come.
    Last edited by Jester Canuck; Monday, 3rd September, 2012 at 10:12 PM.
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    Yeah I resented the snide tiamat remark too. The sandbox gaming style is a vibrant and fun one. Many great and very fun campaigns have used this approach and there is no need for snark from Mikey. I do believe that while trying to please all they still have a lot of 4e mindset alongside some of their 3e mindset.

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