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Sunday, 23rd September, 2012, 03:30 PM #1
If an option is presented, it needs to be good enough to take.
I was having a discussion with a friend of mine the other day, and he said something to the effect of: "I think blasting spells should be less good than melee combat because that's not what wizards are supposed to be doing. Wizards should be mostly about utility spells."
And this annoyed me, and I realized that this was what I really hate about Paizo. (Don't worry, this will relate to 5e at some point.) The idea that game designers should write an option into the game and deliberately underpower it for whatever cruel reason is foolish and encourages system mastery. As an example of this, the Pathfinder take on the VOP monk trades all your magic items for a few extra ki points a day. According to Sean K. Reynolds, it's okay for this to exist because "poverty sucks."
Naturally, what happens with this is that new players select an underpowered option and whoops it sucks lol, which then frustrates and discourages them while simultaneously encouraging an elitist sytem of character optimization.
Thus, 5e needs to take this lesson to heart: no deliberately underpowered junk. Not everything needs to be perfectly balanced, but if the developers include an option available to players, it needs to be rougly equivalent in power to the other options.
As a side note, this generally punishes non-casters more than casters. Why? Because realism or whatever. (This thread was sparked by a debate about tripping monsters in Pathfinder. The option to trip is available to everyone, but in order to use it, you have to specialize greatly, and even then, you'll probably suck at it. And the response to this was, "Well, monsters are hard to trip, duh.")
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