D&D General Balanced vs. Imbalanced vs. Today's D&D

Suppose there are three versions of D&D. Which one would you choose?

  • Perfectly balanced, but also predictable and linear.

    Votes: 13 14.6%
  • Not balanced, but also unpredictable and swingy.

    Votes: 23 25.8%
  • The version of D&D that we have today.

    Votes: 30 33.7%
  • Whatever, let's just roll up some characters.

    Votes: 12 13.5%
  • No house-rules allowed? Tyranny!!! I wouldn't play any of them.

    Votes: 11 12.4%

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing (He/They)
Suppose there were three different versions of D&D:
  • One where all of the mechanics (race, class, ability scores, feats, weapons and spells, everything) are completely and perfectly balanced with each other, but at the cost of being extremely predictable and linear.
  • Another where none of those mechanics are balanced with each other, such that it causes the game to be extremely random, unpredictable, and swingy.
  • And the third option is the version of D&D we have today.
Your group is going to play strictly by-the-book...no house-rules, not even the most minor adjustments will be allowed.
So! Which would you play?

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And since we can't easily make "sticky" posts, which always stay at the top of the list near the poll, here's an important quote and clarification that might be useful.

I don't know if you were implying this, but I don't think 5E is the middle ground between the first 2. It is badly balanced in places but not particularly swingy.
Yes, that was my implication. Maybe not in the exact middle between the two, but I think 5E definitely lies somewhere between those two extremes. Its exact position on that curve will probably vary from table to table.
 
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Reynard

Legend
Supporter
I answered "unbalanced and swingy" because a) I don't actually care that much about an RPG being unbalanced as long as it isn't "unfair", and b) I would rather play something chaotic and fun rather than rigid and boring.

I don't know if you were implying this, but I don't think 5E is the middle ground between the first 2. It is badly balanced in places but not particularly swingy. A better mid point is Savage Worlds.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing (He/They)
My vote: The version of D&D that we have today. I don't have any qualms with 5E D&D; it strikes just the right balance of rigidity and flexibility, predictability and randomness, order and chaos.

My Day 1 prediction: I'm in the minority.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing (He/They)
I don't know if you were implying this, but I don't think 5E is the middle ground between the first 2. It is badly balanced in places but not particularly swingy.
Yes, that was my implication. Maybe not in the exact middle between the two, but I think 5E definitely lies somewhere between those two extremes. Its exact position on that curve will probably vary from table to table.
 


Reynard

Legend
Supporter
Yes, that was my implication. Maybe not in the exact middle between the two, but I think 5E definitely lies somewhere between those two extremes. Its exact position on that curve will probably vary from table to table.
Yeah, I don't think 5E qualifies as "swingy" in any meaningful way, at least beyond level 3 or 4. Earlier than that there is enough variability in damage dice and hit points that a crit might make something interesting happen, but overall the flat math intentionally avoids that.
 


ad_hoc

(they/them)
The inherent balancing component in the game is that different situations require different kinds of solutions.

If someone highly specialized their character they may seem to be overpowered or 'break' the game until they run into a situation where they have little solution. If the entire party does this then failed adventures or even TPKs are likely unless the DM caters the challenges specifically to their abilities.

5e does pretty well at making different options cover different situations.

2 instances of unbalanced design I can think of:

SS and GWM. It is just a lot more damage, esp. SS as it also removes partial cover as a consideration.

Resilient: Constitution. It is a huge power up for every spellcaster and takes away a unique advantage sorcerer's have as they have con prof. innately. Concentration is not only a balancing mechanic but also creates tension in battle.
 

Clint_L

Legend
Current version with home brew allowed. I’m not sure why the “no home brew” stipulation was added. I don’t like it because that stipulation takes our discussion from reality to hypothetical land, where it will become pointless.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
If multiple votes had been allowed I'd have gone for 2, 4, and 5 above.

2 because at its heart D&D is and IMO always should be a game of luck as well as skill. 4 because far too much overthinking is going into this stuff these days. And 5 because if a game can't be kitbashed to suit what I want then what's the point?

That said, I think the issue of balance isn't necessarily related to whether a game is unpredictable, random and-or swingy; in that a system can be reasonably balanced (as in, no one build/character/class/species/etc. is significantly more or less powerful than the others in the long run) and still be highly random, swingy, etc.
 

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