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%


It's just phrased differently, because the edition warriors successfully portrayed "balance" as a four-letter word. The well has been so thoroughly poisoned, no one can claim they like balance. To do so is to commit debate suicide; you will instantly be dismissed as either an idiot who likes making bad games nobody actually enjoys, or a fussy, persnickety, unsatisfiable malcontent. (Both of these I have regularly experienced on this very forum, and the latter, in toned-down form, was the specific reason why 5e's designers claimed they weren't going to preview the "Tactical Combat Module" that then never actually appeared.)

Because "balance" must be hated, but people still have many of the same issues as before, they have to circumlocute.
My experience is different. :)
I am a huge proponent of balance based off PC combat abilities and feel that 4e was the best D&D has seen.

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I mean, you and I are in agreement there. I'm speaking of how the D&D community at large behaves. Watching the very same people who last week told me that balance is irrelevant or even actively damaging, then say this week that silvery barbs is overpowered and should never have been allowed to exist...well, it's an experience.
Or worse! Balance doesn't matter unless you dare suggest making the fighter better than the wizard! Then suddenly balance matters or, rather, old world of imbalance matters.


Predictable and linear. You can always add asymmetry to something after that, but if your baseline isn't balanced you're never going to be able to mod balance into it.
This. This. 1000 times this.

If the system is balanced and functional, you can unbalance it very easily and you KNOW what your changes are going to do. In an unbalanced system, any change is very difficult to predict because you can't really know how it will interact with all these other areas of imbalance.

All you have to do is look at the whole "AD&D is the MOST LETHAL GAME" meme. See, the thing is, I realize that I made all sorts of changes to AD&D when I played it. And those changes resulted in a game that played very, very differently. So, no one can really talk about playing AD&D. Because your table, my table, and Dave's table over there are all operating from such different baselines that comparisons are virtually impossible.

In a balanced system, you can actually compare tables, compare house rules and come to a fairly reasonable approximation of why X or Y occurs at one table and not another. Because that's what balanced systems are - predictable. Doubling monster HP in a balanced system has a pretty predictable result. In an unbalanced system, who knows. I know when I ran 2e, I always gave monsters max, or very close to max, HP because they were too easy in combat otherwise.

Probably due to changes I'd made during character generation plus the proliferation of TSR splat books that took the idea of game balance out behind the shed and put a gun in its ear.


Are we putting the focus and concern on merely the balance of the board game again over the characterization, narrative, description, and story?

Then whatever. Just roll up some characters. ;)

Well, I'm migrating to PF2 so I guess I'm down for "predictable and balanced." I also like 4e a lot.

I wouldn't want to play one game forever, though. I like 5e and 13th Age for certain kinds of play that 4e and PF2 don't handle well, and I enjoy both styles.

I'd be willing to settle for "more evenly distributed mechanical heft".

Page count is an imperfect metric for evaluating class balance, but it does tell a story. Currently that story is:

  • the classes without spellcasting get about 5 pages of mechanical consideration each.
  • Spellcasting classes get those 5 pages + 90 something pages and counting of additional options to choose from.


That never has and never will be what people asking for just a basic semblance of balance are talking about. We all know this and the argumentative devise to claim otherwise.
I'm not being argumentative with other people about their choices... I was explaining mine.

And if the three versions of D&D for me to choose from are all only based upon game mechanics balance (as though that's the important part of the game), then I choose the "Whatever! Let's just play!" option. Because I find those three options to choose from to be nothing choices.

Other people feel differently... hey, whatever floats your boat. Bur it's not like the poll is meaningful in any way, so I don't see the point in getting worked up about it.

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