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%

Voadam

Legend
I am a huge proponent of balance based off PC combat abilities and feel that 4e was the best D&D has seen. Each of the roles felt different but contributed meaningfully and the various classes in the same roles played differently but contributed to their role and to contributing to combat.

I want every player contributing to each of the three pillars of D&D (combat, exploration, social) so I don't want balance between those roles.

5e does a decent job of combat balance and a decent job of allowing everybody to participate in the three pillars so I chose the what we have now option as I am not sure what is meant by predictability and linearity, but those seem to be negatives tacked on unnecessarily to the concept of balance here.

I would prefer if 5e was a little more like 4e, but it is decent as is and is my current system of choice.
 

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TwoSix

"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
4e was more-so, IMO. The game seemed to actively resist changing anything.
4e was definitely more intimidating to homebrew for, for sure, and the ubiquity of the online character builder didn't help matters.

I think it was because of the bulk of the class definitions were power/spells as opposed to features, and homebrewing good spells is harder than just doing class features. It's one reason why class/subclass homebrew is more prevalent than spell homebrew in 5e, for example.
 

Voadam

Legend
3E came close to that. As much as I loved it in it's heyday, t was such a Jenga tower of doom that trying to make the smallest change could wreck the whole thing.

Huh, I thought it was easy to do extensive house rules to shape it to preferred tastes.

Here is a list of house rules I used in an 3.5 Freeport pirates game to shape things more to my tastes.

We Don't Need No Stinking Healers: 4e style healing surges - 6+con bonus times a day can use a healing surge to heal self of 1/4 round down of max hp in damage. All healing magic uses a healing surge. Once per combat can spend a standard action to use a healing surge.

More Death Buffer: Arcana Unearthed/Iron Heroes style extended disabled/dying and fort saves for negative hp instead of death at -10

Built Ford Tough: no massive damage save

Mostly dead: instant death effects take you to dying status, not dead.

Shirts or Skins: natural armor overlaps with regular armor instead of stacking

Hack, Hack, Hack: max hp at first level, half HD average round up for other levels

Mix and Match: No favored class, multiclass freely without xp penalty. Fractional BAB and save advancements for multiclass characters. Fractional saves give you levels in good or bad save progression (No starting over for another 2.5 with 1st level good saves). Caster level equals character level.

Feats are Easy: No ability score prerequisites for feats

I Can do Anything: No cross-class skills, everything is a class skill for everybody. Only need a story explanation for how acquired.

We Don’t Need No Stinking Skill Rolls: Don’t expect many skill rolls, particularly for social actions. Most things I see your score and character development (concept, history, characterization, and mechanical choices) and adjudicate based on that, not rolls.

What’s That Say: Decipher script does not exist as a skill

It’s a Trap: Anybody can search for traps regardless of DC

Magic is Easy: No ability score prerequisite for max spell level.

Dabblers Have Power: Caster level equals character level.

Magic Stacks: multiclassing spell caster spell slots and spells known stack Arcana Unearthed style.

Healing is Easy: All core spellcasting classes get healing type spells on their spell list and at the lowest level it is available to the other core classes.

Crafting is Easy: Crafting magic items does not cost xp

Magic’s Expensive: xp spells cost extra gold for component instead of xp

Feel the Power: levels are awarded when I say so, individual xp is not given to players.

Let’s Go: teleport is shorter range (1 mile)

Pikachu, I Choose You: Summoned celestial and fiendish smite works as a lesser constant smite against targeted aligned creatures, not a powerful 1/day thing.

Some core spells not allowed (searing light I’m talking about you, domains using it will be modified upon request, also most anything with sonic damage).

Beyond Good and Evil: Alignment is only for divine champions, undead, and outsiders, everyone else is neutral. Alignments are primal forces, not moralities. Class alignment restrictions do not apply other than as social expectations.

Specific Beasts: shape shifting and summoning requires a focus of the thing being summoned or shape assumed (usually a bone).

Did it Work?: Players are to post combat rolls using invisible castle with their character names. DM handles all other rolling. Post appropriate character mechanics and numbers in OOC portion of IC posts with spoiler tags.

Skilled: Feats every level instead of every three. I think feats are fun and add to characters and want PCs to have more.

No Wasted Learning: If you multiclass into a class that grants a bonus feat you already have you instead gain a related feat. For instance a character with Tracking who later becomes a ranger could gain Skill Focus Survival to boost his tracking instead of being out a feat compared to a character that waited to learn tracking. Taking a class that provides abilities you are good at should make you better at those abilities instead of no increased benefit.

First level benefits are for the best of your classes. So the max hp and 4x skillpoints for first level are whatever your best class is. It doesn't matter if you go sorcerer 1 then rogue 1 or rogue 1 then sorcerer 1 both second level characters will look the same mechanically.

Smarts!: Int skill bonuses are retroactive. If somebody increases their int permanently through level advancement they get the extra skill points and can learn a new language. Skill increases must still make sense for the character from a story perspective and can be saved until appropriate opportunities for skill development.

I got better: heal works like treat injury from d20 modern, but the treat injury application can be done once per encounter resulting in wounds and cures 1d4 for every 5 points above DC 10 on the heal check.

Falling is Dangerous: falling damage accelerates, it is 1d6 for each ten feet fallen, for each set of 10'. Still 20d6 max

So:
10=1d6
20=3d6
30=6d6
40=10d6
50=15d6
60=20d6

Poisons are Deadly: successful saves on poisons result in half damage

Beasts are Dangerous: iterative attacks work with natural weapons

Red in Tooth and claw: claws do slashing, bite does piercing.
 

ECMO3

Hero
I’d love a D&D that’s “balanced” in a very different way than what WotC strives for. Rather than everyone being able to contribute a similar amount in combat, I’d like the game to be balanced by having different classes excel in different contexts (and struggle in other contexts). Yes, that would mean a balanced party would be necessary; that would be a feature, not a bug in my opinion.

I would agree to an exxtent, but I don't thinik this should really be based solely on class design, while class can and should invluence this, I think more of this should be specific to character design and span classes. I think D&D did a fairly good job of this in 5E.
 

Oofta

Legend
Nothing will ever be perfect, I think 5E does a decent job of balance. Different classes and build serve different purposes but despite attestations to the contrary, I find that even at high levels different classes all contribute on a regular basis. It's not that they contribute the exact same, that would be boring.

If you want perfect balance in a game, play checkers.
 

4e was definitely more intimidating to homebrew for, for sure, and the ubiquity of the online character builder didn't help matters.

I think it was because of the bulk of the class definitions were power/spells as opposed to features, and homebrewing good spells is harder than just doing class features. It's one reason why class/subclass homebrew is more prevalent than spell homebrew in 5e, for example.
I guess people were put off by the powers format? Cause once you understood the baseline principles, homebrewing stuff is easy.
 

TwoSix

"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
I guess people were put off by the powers format? Cause once you understood the baseline principles, homebrewing stuff is easy.
I think it's generally harder to homebrew spells (or powers in 4e). There are a lot more comparables at the same spell level that a new spell needs to be designed to be within the same power range, and the ubiquity of spells/powers means making something that doesn't fill the exact same niche is harder.

Not to mention that in 4e, small deviations from the design template can cause larger power swings; like how Twin Strike was generally viewed as the best Striker power because of its interaction with per-hit damage sources.
 

Stormonu

Legend
Huh, I thought it was easy to do extensive house rules to shape it to preferred tastes.

Here is a list of house rules I used in an 3.5 Freeport pirates game to shape things more to my tastes.

We Don't Need No Stinking Healers: 4e style healing surges - 6+con bonus times a day can use a healing surge to heal self of 1/4 round down of max hp in damage. All healing magic uses a healing surge. Once per combat can spend a standard action to use a healing surge.

More Death Buffer: Arcana Unearthed/Iron Heroes style extended disabled/dying and fort saves for negative hp instead of death at -10

Built Ford Tough: no massive damage save

Mostly dead: instant death effects take you to dying status, not dead.

Shirts or Skins: natural armor overlaps with regular armor instead of stacking

Hack, Hack, Hack: max hp at first level, half HD average round up for other levels

Mix and Match: No favored class, multiclass freely without xp penalty. Fractional BAB and save advancements for multiclass characters. Fractional saves give you levels in good or bad save progression (No starting over for another 2.5 with 1st level good saves). Caster level equals character level.

Feats are Easy: No ability score prerequisites for feats

I Can do Anything: No cross-class skills, everything is a class skill for everybody. Only need a story explanation for how acquired.

We Don’t Need No Stinking Skill Rolls: Don’t expect many skill rolls, particularly for social actions. Most things I see your score and character development (concept, history, characterization, and mechanical choices) and adjudicate based on that, not rolls.

What’s That Say: Decipher script does not exist as a skill

It’s a Trap: Anybody can search for traps regardless of DC

Magic is Easy: No ability score prerequisite for max spell level.

Dabblers Have Power: Caster level equals character level.

Magic Stacks: multiclassing spell caster spell slots and spells known stack Arcana Unearthed style.

Healing is Easy: All core spellcasting classes get healing type spells on their spell list and at the lowest level it is available to the other core classes.

Crafting is Easy: Crafting magic items does not cost xp

Magic’s Expensive: xp spells cost extra gold for component instead of xp

Feel the Power: levels are awarded when I say so, individual xp is not given to players.

Let’s Go: teleport is shorter range (1 mile)

Pikachu, I Choose You: Summoned celestial and fiendish smite works as a lesser constant smite against targeted aligned creatures, not a powerful 1/day thing.

Some core spells not allowed (searing light I’m talking about you, domains using it will be modified upon request, also most anything with sonic damage).

Beyond Good and Evil: Alignment is only for divine champions, undead, and outsiders, everyone else is neutral. Alignments are primal forces, not moralities. Class alignment restrictions do not apply other than as social expectations.

Specific Beasts: shape shifting and summoning requires a focus of the thing being summoned or shape assumed (usually a bone).

Did it Work?: Players are to post combat rolls using invisible castle with their character names. DM handles all other rolling. Post appropriate character mechanics and numbers in OOC portion of IC posts with spoiler tags.

Skilled: Feats every level instead of every three. I think feats are fun and add to characters and want PCs to have more.

No Wasted Learning: If you multiclass into a class that grants a bonus feat you already have you instead gain a related feat. For instance a character with Tracking who later becomes a ranger could gain Skill Focus Survival to boost his tracking instead of being out a feat compared to a character that waited to learn tracking. Taking a class that provides abilities you are good at should make you better at those abilities instead of no increased benefit.

First level benefits are for the best of your classes. So the max hp and 4x skillpoints for first level are whatever your best class is. It doesn't matter if you go sorcerer 1 then rogue 1 or rogue 1 then sorcerer 1 both second level characters will look the same mechanically.

Smarts!: Int skill bonuses are retroactive. If somebody increases their int permanently through level advancement they get the extra skill points and can learn a new language. Skill increases must still make sense for the character from a story perspective and can be saved until appropriate opportunities for skill development.

I got better: heal works like treat injury from d20 modern, but the treat injury application can be done once per encounter resulting in wounds and cures 1d4 for every 5 points above DC 10 on the heal check.

Falling is Dangerous: falling damage accelerates, it is 1d6 for each ten feet fallen, for each set of 10'. Still 20d6 max

So:
10=1d6
20=3d6
30=6d6
40=10d6
50=15d6
60=20d6

Poisons are Deadly: successful saves on poisons result in half damage

Beasts are Dangerous: iterative attacks work with natural weapons

Red in Tooth and claw: claws do slashing, bite does piercing.
These were mine, that I can find (I know I had more, but this appears to be what I handed out.
VARIANT RULES



Armor Can Be Sundered (see Amberos Play Guide)

Critical Success & Critical Failure of Skill checks (on nat 20 for Skill check, roll 1d20 and add again to total; on nat 1, roll 1d20 and subtract from total)

Simple Fumbles (on nat 1, make 2nd attack, if you miss target’s touch AC, provokes Attack of Opportunity)

Dodge is +1 AC vs. all opponents

Counterspelling Variant (see Amberos Play Guide)

Complex Tumble Check (Tumble DC = 11 + Attacker’s bonus to hit; tumble through space is DC 21 + Attacker’s bonus to hit)

Fighter Ability Pool in effect (see Amberos Play Guide)

Extended spell durations (see Amberos Play Guide)

No more than one Prestige Class per character. Prestige classes cannot be added to a character at character generation. Please give at least 1 level warning before shooting for a prestige class; acquisition of the prestige class must come about through RP; if no RP towards obtaining the prestige class occurs, the DM may refuse to allow levels to be taken in the class. DM reserves the right to forbid entry into any prestige class or remove a prestige class from the game.

Clerics, Druids, Ranger & Paladin can freely choose spells from the PHB. They may swap out knowledge of a PHB spell for a spell from another book (such as the Spell Compendium) on a spell-by-spell basis.

Not using material from Dragon Magic, Tome of Battle, Incarnum or Races of the Dragon. Classes Duskblade, Warmage, Dragon Shaman are unavailable

Shugenja, Wu Jen, Samuria, Ninja and Monk classes only by special permission of the DM.

Cleric can choose to damage/heal undead instead of turn/rebuke (see Complete Divine p 87)

Replacement characters begin one level lower than previous character. 28 point-buy build for new characters and character starts with standard GP for level. Mundane items may be purchased normally, but magic items will be randomly generated.

Evil characters become NPC’s (unless the DM agrees to allow you to “redeem” the character), unless the whole group decides to go evil as well

But I never felt more like the system was actively fighting against me as in 3E. One change in an area might cascade to change a dozen things elsewhere, and I started to get annoyed by it. Moreso, a lot of the homebrew I'd do would look good on paper, only to utterly fall in play - especially any attempts to fix fighters without going the path of Tome of Battle.
 
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Stormonu

Legend
I guess people were put off by the powers format? Cause once you understood the baseline principles, homebrewing stuff is easy.
As much as I disliked running 4E, boy did I try to create a lot of homebrew stuff for it. 520 pages, in fact. Although, all of that was back when just the 1st series of books had been dropped, and I wanted to fill in the classes, races and monsters that had been left behind.
 

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