Legends & Lore 09/03 - RPG design philosophy - Page 2


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  1. #11
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    ° Ignore Jester Canuck
    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 11:12 PM.
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    ° Ignore Emerikol
    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.

  • #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Emerikol View Post
    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.
    Where was the snark in that remark? I really don't see it. Is it because he says they might open the "wrong" door and find Tiamat? I think he's being much more colloquial here, "wrong" in the same sense as a certain rabbit missing a turn at Albuquerque, not making a value judgment on a campaign style. Or because finding Tiamat behind a random door is a negative stereotype for such games? He's contrasting extremes between the degree to which the DM uses these tools, and specifically not judging a DM for how they are used or ignored.
    Last edited by Ainamacar; Tuesday, 4th September, 2012 at 12:02 AM.

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    ° Ignore john112364
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    Quote Originally Posted by Emerikol View Post
    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.
    I didn't read that as a snide remark. He actually used that as an example of what could happen should a DM deciede to build such an encounter. Because lets face it, Tiamat vs. 1st level party isn't exactly balanced.


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    ° Ignore Emerikol
    Quote Originally Posted by john112364 View Post
    I didn't read that as a snide remark. He actually used that as an example of what could happen should a DM deciede to build such an encounter. Because lets face it, Tiamat vs. 1st level party isn't exactly balanced.
    Thats why it's snarky. No sandbox DM is going to allow a group to meet Tiamat. It's a strawman kind of argument.

    He should have said...There are those campaigns where groups can venture into areas that are harder or easier. Playstyles that demand groups be willing to run in the face of superior force.

    Edit: it's more a case of him describing my playstyle using the language of a detractor instead of a neutral voice. Thats all. I'm not like enraged or anything. Just annoyed and saddened.

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    ° Ignore GMforPowergamers
    Quote Originally Posted by Emerikol View Post
    Thats why it's snarky. No sandbox DM is going to allow a group to meet Tiamat. It's a strawman kind of argument.

    He should have said...There are those campaigns where groups can venture into areas that are harder or easier. Playstyles that demand groups be willing to run in the face of superior force.

    Edit: it's more a case of him describing my playstyle using the language of a detractor instead of a neutral voice. Thats all. I'm not like enraged or anything. Just annoyed and saddened.
    I had a DM in 2e put a sealed door with a maralith behind it into a 3rd level dungeon.

    I also have had 3 and 4e equivalants (although lesser) I have also had story tellers in Owod bring in Cain and Samual hight into games. IN FACT, the best SO ever, was when a elder Vamp that no one was sure of(and who never gave a name or used a single.power) said "I'm sorry"... as he said it, 3 or 4 of us realized who he was and what was about to happen.
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    I don't get the Mearls hate (from this post anyway). WotC wants to make a product that sells well and that requires R&D to create a game that allows for as many play/DMing styles as possible.
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    ° Ignore Ratskinner
    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 don't think that's a fair comparison. The PCs should be players on a team not competitors. So, while its important that the same rules apply to all the competitors in Chess, the various pieces on each side function differently. The different type of PC are more like the chess pieces than the chess players, as I see it.

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    ° Ignore howandwhy99
    Point #1 is essential for me too. It's like designing a great sports car: If I'm too tall to fit inside, it doesn't matter how fast the car goes. But a well designed vehicle, game or car, is a wonderful thing. After you've changed everything to your settings it should simply *feel* right.

    I love driving that car. I should love running that game.

    Point #2 I disagree with in one major way: Player Characters should not be balanced against each other, but the world of challenges they face. Players, not designers or even DMs, should balance their character during the game. That's what cooperation means in a game. The players have to do it to survive and thrive, not rely on some baked in game design.

    Take into account the group, maybe some PCs are 10th level, maybe some are 1st. Players trade off until everyone feels they are capable as a team. Choose your challenges wisely according to what everyone wants. Not everyone is going to want the same thing. Different classes receive different XP for different accomplishments. This is why each class has their own XP total.

    Take into account the environment. Can everyone survive the cold weather? Can everyone teleport, if we need to escape. Does everyone have a +1 weapon to actually hit devils when we take Hell's bus tour.

    Take into account the situation. Characters should not only grow, but be able to change according to the challenge at hand. There is a reason you carry the warhammer even though the 2-handed frost claymore is your favorite. Tracking down information in town means preparing an entirely different retinue of spells. And sometimes you just don't want everything you own on you when you travel to the beetle infested caves of rust.

    All that said, every level should be within the scope of every other. Not all characters should be the same level by default, that shortchanges individual accomplishment, but 10th level challenges should be possible to beat at 1st, however difficult to do so. With the help of a fellow PC who is 10th level, any party should have a better chance. A mixed party should probably be focusing on challenges somewhere in the middle however, but even then it's not quite so clear cut. Race matters, Items matter, and Class especially matters. Combat challenges will be better balanced for warriors just as magic challenges are for wizards.

    The Dungeon! boardgame was a great inspiration for D&D and provides insight into understanding why different classes can have different XP requirements and still play together. Scopes can be larger or smaller depending upon the class Class being played, but they should still be relatively similar, and definitely NOT overlap in each one's niche.
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    ° Ignore triqui
    Quote Originally Posted by Jester Canuck View Post
    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.
    Sports are unbalanced in a lot of things. Let's take the 100m race. It's unbalanced toward fast-twitch black guys from center africa or their descendants. If you are born in Mongolia, or in Laponia, or in Kenia, you can┤t win the olimpic gold medal in 100m, no matter how much you train. It's simply impossible.

    Same goes to other sports. If you are short, you will find Basketball being not that much balanced.

    In Chess, the game is not perfectly balanced. White always have 1 extra move, because they start, so white has adventage. In compettitive play, among players of similar skill, games tend to be a draw, or white winning, more than black winning.

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