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Can we stop the Angel Summoner BMX Bandit comparisons

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Supporter
The problem was on my end. The gap between the characters was too large to properly challenge everyone.

That IS a bona fide challenge to a DM's skill. One way to learn how to do this is to GM some system where "balance" wasn't even on the designer's radar. Something like RIFTS.

Even if you don't get a Vagabond and a Glitter Boy in the same group, it is highly probable thet you will get PCs of wildly different offensive & defensive capabilities. Some PCs can be taken out by a single shot from a weapon that others will experience as a spring rain.
 

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Vyvyan Basterd

Adventurer
That IS a bona fide challenge to a DM's skill. One way to learn how to do this is to GM some system where "balance" wasn't even on the designer's radar. Something like RIFTS.

Even if you don't get a Vagabond and a Glitter Boy in the same group, it is highly probable thet you will get PCs of wildly different offensive & defensive capabilities. Some PCs can be taken out by a single shot from a weapon that others will experience as a spring rain.

No thank you. I played a TMNT-style PC in the same RIFTS game as a Dragon PC and found it to be my least-favorite roleplaying experience of all time. It actually illustrates my point as well.

The GM tried to do a 'good job' by having Mega Damage tanks for the Dragon PC to fight and squads of mooks for the rest of us to fight. OK, I recognized quickly that I was intended to ride the 'kiddie rides' and fight the mooks, no problem, let's have fun.

Then the Dragon took a turn to breathe on the mooks, leaving us to watch her fight tanks. I tried everything I could to still contribute at that point. I climbed onto a tank and tried forcing my way in. Nope. I tried tricking the tank crew into coming out to fight me. Nope. At that point I gave up and joined those who'd already given up on the sidelines.

Did the GM do anything wrong? Should he have told the dragon player not to fight the mooks? IMO, that would have been overstepping his bounds, railroading the player into only facing opposition he desgned for her. It would have also felt more artificial than it already did to me.

Did the dragon player do anything wrong? Social-contract-wise maybe. Again, it would seem artificial to me if she didn't play her character to the best of its abilities. At least with my character it was easy to justify in-game why he only attacked who he was supposed to becasue it was obvious to him that punching a tank was futile.

In D&D this problem is worse, because unless you are throwing dragons or the tarrasque at the powerful people and sending squads of orcs at the rest, it isn't as clear as tanks vs. mooks. Even an orc could be low-level fodder or an epic warrior.

EDIT: I realized another way the RIFTS example illustrates what I'm looking for.

If I were to run RIFTS I would restrict it from the start as All-Mega-Damage or No-Mega-Damage from the start. These are big switches to turn on/off, similar to 2E kits. My non-system-mastery players in 2E could realize a kit sucks through play and ask for a change. And I'm cool with that. The same people in 3E could not navigate the choices to build anything close to the system masters and didn't want others making their characters for them. I don't mind cleaning things up in a game if they come in big chunks, but all the tiny little pieces? Never again.
 
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Dausuul

Legend
In My Opinion. It was just that any game that ran like those videos, would have to have a lot of the blame on the DM, not the system.

Or any game that did not run like those videos, deserved a lot of credit to the DM for overcoming the system. Or it just didn't come up because the caster players made blaster wizards and healbot clerics and never thought, "You know, glitterdust totally owned that encounter with the orcs. Maybe I'll prep another one today... Dang. This spell owns every encounter. It's crazy good. Why am I wasting a slot on Melf's acid arrow again? I wonder if there are other spells like this. I think I'll get Spell Focus: Conjuration next level."

(Although, to be fair, glitterdust was in a class by itself until you got to really high levels or busted out the splatbooks. When you see somebody casting a +4 Heightened glitterdust in preference to actual 6th-level spells, it's a sign that there might be a problem...)

I have experienced Angel Summoner/BMX Bandit problems multiple times in the past. Usually it was unintentional; someone made a character and didn't realized how much it would suck or rock relative to the rest of the party. Once the issue became apparent, the DM and players would work out a solution, but that doesn't change the fact that somebody had to step in and compensate for the shortcomings of the game.

I have no doubt that there is problems at higher levels, it is just that 10-12 has always been my favorite range to top off the campaign and move on.

This helps, too. You can make a broken caster before level 10, but 10-12 is when it starts to become apparent even if you aren't optimizing hard.
 
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billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
That IS a bona fide challenge to a DM's skill. One way to learn how to do this is to GM some system where "balance" wasn't even on the designer's radar. Something like RIFTS.

Even if you don't get a Vagabond and a Glitter Boy in the same group, it is highly probable thet you will get PCs of wildly different offensive & defensive capabilities. Some PCs can be taken out by a single shot from a weapon that others will experience as a spring rain.

Rather than Rifts, I would have recommended superhero role playing games. Even if you build the characters along similar power level lines, the highly divergent nature of the powers will exercise your ability to write or run scenarios for all of the PCs. I ran lots of V&V in my salad days. Randomly generated powers led to some very diverse character abilities!
 

Vyvyan Basterd

Adventurer
Rather than Rifts, I would have recommended superhero role playing games. Even if you build the characters along similar power level lines, the highly divergent nature of the powers will exercise your ability to write or run scenarios for all of the PCs. I ran lots of V&V in my salad days. Randomly generated powers led to some very diverse character abilities!

While I do find your advice to be great, IMO it does not address this particular issue.

I've run superhero RPGs. Even in D&D I have to contend with challenging characters of various skills for all kinds of encounters. I've got no problem doing this. One edition became a problem to manage because I couldn't challenge one person in their area of expertise without either another character stepping in to do it better or overchallenging others in the group. It really had nothing to do with the variety of abilities.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Supporter
I have to agree with billd91: a supers group with a bunch of "kryptonians" and one "batman" type- all the same "level"- fighting an alien invasion will have challenge issues. The quasi batman may be confined to vehicles to protect him from the ravsges of hard vacuum and the invaders' weapons while the other PCs act like sentient cannonballs, flying though alien vessels and shrugging off thë effects of their defenses and weapons alike.

Its the same issue, functionally' as RIFTS utter lack of balance or high-level D&D.
 
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I play and run rifts, and Ninja's and superspies, and Super hero's unlimited.

runining into an MDC wall doesn't make me a better DM (although I think I am a damn good one) it just makes me work harder. When I was 18 that was fine, when I worked at sears ok, now adays I have alot less time, I want more from my games
 

I find ways to contribute and make my own fun.

Agreed. I also find ways to kill things and take their stuff.

If your fighter-type can't keep up with spellcaster types, there's something wrong. Build, equipment, use of the character?

My guess is the complaining is mostly from people who don't play fighter-types, don't see the appeal of them, and haven't seen/recognized one being played effectively.

When I was playing 3e with a paladin, the DM used to complain that by around 7th level I was hitting at least once every round and doing like 15 hp per average hit, plus had great saves and was immune to a fair amount of stuff (disease, fear, etc.) I don't think I was really overpowered, but I wasn't in anyone's shadow, either.

If I played him defensively, or hiding in the back to avoid blows like a wizard, yes, he wouldn't have been effective -- and I would have been bored.

For what it's worth, my favorite classes are:
- Paladin
- Fighter
- Cleric

That's true for both AD&D and 3e. For 4e, I've only played a paladin, and found it a yawn fest because he feels more boxed into the Chekov role of damage sponge until he's knocked out, rather than big bad :mad::mad::mad: with a big sword!

Rolling for the heck of it . . . rolled 14+7 base attack +4 Str + 1 magic sword + 1 Weapon Focus = 27 to hit.

Damage: 1d10 Longsword +1 for magic sword +1d6 holy = see below.

Don't even need to smite evil or Power Attack. :)
 
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Corathon

First Post
Whereas the reports I have from someone who ran through the original Isle of the Ape in 2e indicated that the MU completely dominated the fighter at that level.

I'm currently running a 1st edition game (and have been for years). There are two groups, one at levels 6-10, the other at levels 11-16. At level 6-10 the thief has still managed to make himself pretty useful. In the last session (2 days ago) the cleric found a trap with a spell, but the thief figured out the trap and disarmed it.

At up to 16th level the fighters still seem pretty damned useful also.
 

the Jester

Legend
The reason the BMXBvsAS comparison gets trotted out so much is because it's both a valid concern and an accurate assessment of some games.

Do all games suffer this problem? No. Is the level of the problem vastly different in 3e than it is in 1e? Absolutely.

But the problem does exist for some groups, and it's a valid issue worthy of discussion- and fixing.
 

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