Can we stop the Angel Summoner BMX Bandit comparisons

S'mon

Legend
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.)

But a 7th level 3.5e Cleric or (esp) Druid can have at least as good saves, do far more damage, and has a bunch more other powers, too. 15 damage is not much in 3.5e; power attack with 2hw should reliably do more than that.

It's when you hit double figures that the power disparity between similarly min-maxed PCs gets really ridiculous, but even in the 5th-9th range a min-maxed Wiz Clr or Drd can massively outpower a non-min-maxed non-caster. And IME it's the powergamers who choose the more powerful classes, the casual players who play non-casters in 3e, so this is a common occurrence.
 

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Vyvyan Basterd

Adventurer
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.

Not in my case. My biggest complaint is as DM, not a player. The complaint being that I cannot adequately challenge my group of players using the options we like in 3E. The gap was too large between system masters and others, not a gap between spellcasters and non-spellcasters.

As a player I often chose supposedly underpowered classes like the monk or bard. At the time I probably fell into third place out of the six in our group for system mastery. I saw the same problems arise where I either felt under-challenged or the players with less system mastery felt over-challenged.

When I decided I would no longer run 3E (about a month before 4E was announced) I asked the other players if they would run our Friday night game. No one wanted to deal with the power gap issues. It seemed our weekly game was about to end after 24 years (since no one wanted to play older editions of D&D or any other game either).

4E still rewards system mastery. Those who've mastered it in my group feel rewarded for their 'stronger' character. Those who haven't don't feel like they fall too far behind. And I've never felt like any challange was too over- or underpowered for any subset of characters within the group. And those who wouldn't pick up the reins of 3E did so in 4E. One of the ones that did had never run D&D before 4E.

But like I said above, I do believe we lost some important aspects of D&D in the move to 4E. I would love for 5E to maintain a good balance while at the same time including those lost aspects. And I plan to tell Wizards that every time I have the opportunity to give feedback.
 


Elf Witch

First Post
Some of us do not like that "job." Policing the infinite combinations of an open multiclassing system with feats, spells, and magic items is not something I consider fun.



Sometimes it's not the player feeling overshadowed that is the problem. I have many players happy to play their 'BMX Bandits' just like Dannyalcatraz. The problem was on my end. The gap between the characters was too large to properly challenge everyone. Challenging for some was a cakewalk for the rest, while a challenge for those was a death sentence to the others. Could I have had split opposition to challenge each? Sure, but that wouldn't be a satisfying solution to me. It would feel forced. And if I put any kind of controls on which enemies the players should fight, I'm oversteppig my bounds. And some players would then feel like I'm telling them they're limited to the kiddie rides while the big boys tackle the real challenge.



I'm glad that works for you. My group likes options. We have always sought out new ones.

Those presented in BECMI? No system mastery gap.
1E? No problem.
2E? Some kits were traps, but self-contained enough to police.
3E? Open multi-classing and feats seemed like a great idea, but got out of hand too quick.
4E? The chaotic range of infinite variability was reigned in and is manageable. Those same players still make more powerful characters, but the gap has shrunk. But we've lost other aspects of the game that we enjoyed.
5E? I hope for a wide range of flavor and options while keeping balance in check so that a DM is not relegated to the duties of 'game balance editor.'



This is a great goal, but in my experience doesn't work. You ask the system masters to tone down their PCs? They're no longer having fun. You ask the other players to allow the system masters to help make their character 'better?' They're no longer having fun.

I don't care if one character is stronger than another. I just want a system that puts some limits on the gap bewteen any two.

I have yet to see a perfectly balanced system and that includes non DnD games.

There are three issues that I see one is a game may start out pretty closely balanced but as new splats come out the game slowly starts having power gaps.

The only cure for this is to either say no to them core only or be willing to police them and adjust them if there is a problem.

Then there is the fact that once a game is in play there are some really smart people who figure out how to maximize things go onto any board with a chr-ops and you see it.

Again you have a choice you can whine on message boards that game is broken or as DM you can take control and start saying no to certain combos.

The third is there will always be people who have system mastery and players who are not interested. Now if you end up with a situation where those who have it are walking all over those who don't and they can't have fun with a weaker character and the non system mastery folks can't have fun then there is only one logical choice and that is don't play together.

I know a lot of people don't want to hear this but sometimes certain play styles don't work together. If the issue comes that no matter what you do half your table is going to be unhappy then right there is a clue that maybe this group should either play something else or split into separate groups.
 

SkidAce

Legend
Supporter
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.

I totally agree with this.

My only..small...concern is they break something going to far the other way. Which will affect those that didn't have the problem adversely.
 

khantroll

Explorer
It's worthy of discussion if it's a problem for some of our number, but I think we need to change the manner in which we discuss it. Invariably, those who feel it's a glitch blame the system, while those of us who don't have that problem feel that it must be something particular to that group. The truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Most RPG's that allow for advancement allow for power gaming. That isn't likely to change. But how we deal with and anticipate it, and how we share that information with others, can change.

My crew are a bunch of power gamers. Half of us are IT consultants, the other half are soldiers of some sort; we all make a living by rules and strategy of a sort, so it is no wonder that we tend to overbuild our characters. We have one rule: no dragons for players. That means nothing that gets a dragon subtype or turns you into a dragon or a half-dragon.

The reason for this: Dragon Magic = broken. End of story. This chafes certain of our number, but it's fair. No one gets to use it, and I make very sparing use of it as DM.

We allow all books from major publishers, applied in any way you'd like. I get fiat, but I rarely enforce it. There may be other campaign specific restrictions on ECL, etc, but those vary.

I mention all of this because, with all of the above, you'd think that we'd constantly run into this problem, or at the very least, it'd be Monty Haul. It's not. My wizard and cleric players are very good, and my martial class players are very good, and always make themselves useful. In fact, more often then not, they save the day through quick thinking or because they don't rely pieces of magic gear or a spellbook.

Good example: Epic level campaign (25th level IRC). The mission: break into extra-dimensional prison to free one of their number. Party make up: Assassin, Arcane Archer, Fighter, Werepanther Ranger. Opposition: powerful angels a vast array of powers, most notably dispel magic and a power called "Nail to the Sky", which is self explanatory. The day is won by the assassin and the fighter. The assassin, though pinned to the sky, manages to get off multiple hits with a cross bow capable of penetrating the angel's DR while the mounted fighter manages to harry and trip the angels. The Arcane Archer got off a few good hits, and the Werepanther got stomped.

Another example: 3 (bloodied) 2nd Level PCs (sorcerer, alchemist, cleric) and 3 (bloodied) 1st level PCs (fighter, fighter, rogue). Opposition: 4 2nd level gnome fighters, 4 2nd level gnome rogues. Action: Sorcerer provides artillery, while the fighters attack the nearest combatants. The rogue follows the fighters, sneak attacking and helping to finish them off. The cleric plays buff/healing at this level, as lower level summoning spells wouldn't make that much of a difference. They won.

I share these examples to show that Angel Summoners only overshadow others if they are allowed to by the BMX Bandit and the DM. Most games have ways of fixing it. There is no reason the BMX Bandit can't work faster or better then the Angel Summoner, other then the BMX Bandit is discouraged.

Several people said earlier that they didn't like the job of preparing for these kinds of things...well, I'm not sure what to say to that. You don't have to know everything about every player's character, and purposely build to mitigate facets of those characters every time. But, you do have to plan for your players in general. If that's what you object to...well, I got nothing.

I do, however, have play tips for anyone that is interesting in avoiding this sort of thing:

1.) Help Your Players
If you see some one or a group of some one's who is getting left behind, talk to him, find a way to help their tactics and hone their characters. If you are fighting a dragon, and the Angel Summoner is summoning angels, and your BMX Bandit is kicking the dragon four 1d4 points of damage, that's the player or (more rarely) the character. The BMX bandit could have run driven his bike right up the dragon's tail, over his head, and put out it's eyes. Or, he could have pulled a Star Wars and tied the thing's legs. Yeah, he could try to survive while the waits for the angels to show up, but beating the dragon before they do is more fun.

2.) Multiple Small Encounters
Multiple small encounters with no place to rest for 8 hours are a lot harder on spellcasters then they are on martial characters. Swords rarely run out of charges. You can take down 14th level spell caster with scaling encounters of orcs and kobolds between him and the end the adventure.

3.) Tactics
One of the hardest things to implement, but the most useful. Tucker's kobolds are really great equalizers. Further remember that anything they can do you can do better. He wants to summon Angels? Fiends make great adversaries for Angels. Or better yet, dismissal traps or similar impediments will nerf him and let the BMX bandit shine.

4.) Don't be afraid to Nerf.
If you have a player who really is being unfair to his fellow players, don't be afraid to covertly nerf him. Do it sneakily, quietly, but build in things that either take away his mojo or force him to try new tactics. He'll get the memo eventually, and you can make it like it was his idea all along.

5.) Size your adventure appropriately.
I put this here because it doesn't fit anywhere else. If you a 10th level party, and you see a disparity between the casters and the martial players, don't play a 10th level adventure; play 11th or 12. This will force the caster to work harder, and eventually trigger the same effect as Tip 2.


This is what I do, at any rate, and it seems to work. As usual, you mileage may vary.


Now that I have given my 2 cents on the purpose of the meme, to the OP I say this:

Yes, please, I'd love to stop this goofy meme. It's founded on exaggeration and just gives people a crutch to use when complaining about this problem.

Although, I do kinda want to play a rogue with mechanical horse right now....
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Supporter
I have yet to see a perfectly balanced system and that includes non DnD games.

My favorite system- HERO- is point based. Each PC in the party starts off with the same point total. However, system mastery means that player choices about what particular powers a PC has- and how limited they are- can make for a party with a great detective adventuring alongside a planet-busting incorporeal being.
 

But a 7th level 3.5e Cleric or (esp) Druid can have at least as good saves, do far more damage, and has a bunch more other powers, too. 15 damage is not much in 3.5e; power attack with 2hw should reliably do more than that.

It's when you hit double figures that the power disparity between similarly min-maxed PCs gets really ridiculous, but even in the 5th-9th range a min-maxed Wiz Clr or Drd can massively outpower a non-min-maxed non-caster. And IME it's the powergamers who choose the more powerful classes, the casual players who play non-casters in 3e, so this is a common occurrence.

We really never noticed a difference.

I can speculate on a number of areas where My Mileage my vary from yours:
-- All Old Schoolers. About 90% of the folks I played with were avid AD&D players back in the day. About 70% of us are more into Tolkien than modern fantasy.

-- We don't PvP, and we think about group success, not grudging who is better in each scene. If you grow up without people telling you to care about "balance", and you're a team player, why the heck should you care?

-- Duels - 1-on-1 fights -- are rare, and they're almost always fighter-type versus fighter-type. The only Fighter v. caster 1:1 fight I can recall was my Paladin versus the boss sorcerer in the Standing Stones. The sorcerer went down in 2 rounds, I think . . . I got init, made my save on the one spell he cast, and Smited the Evil out of his sorry hide whatever the max # of times was, and just wiped the floor with him.

-- I've never played high levels. AD&D was up to maybe 13, somewhere in that range. 3.5e was the same -- I think one campaign made 15th, but it got tedious by then. 4e we've only gotten to 5th, I think, so far . . . we don't play the same. The "sweet spot" is 1st-13th, I think.

-- Most clerics I've seen were healers and buffers. Medics in military terms, maybe coachs in football terms.

-- Most wizards I've seen were blasters. Artillery in military terms, something between special teams, kickers, and quarterback in football terms.

-- Most fighter-types were "charge the enemy and kill-kill-kill" types. Often the party leader. They were not just "damage sponge" BMX Bandits -- they were infantry or tanks in the sense of an armored spreadhead that smashes its way through the enemy. "Tank" as a synonym for "Chekov" -- the guy who always gets knocked out -- makes no sense to me. In football terms, the DEFENSIVE linemen -- people who rush in and put a hurt on the enemy quarterback. Not offensive lineman -- people who get run into for a living.

-- Most thief-types were combat engineers crossed with assassins -- get us, and kill the guards. Special teams from a football perspective, I guess. :)
 

there will always be people who have system mastery and players who are not interested. Now if you end up with a situation where those who have it are walking all over those who don't and they can't have fun with a weaker character and the non system mastery folks can't have fun then there is only one logical choice and that is don't play together.

I know a lot of people don't want to hear this but sometimes certain play styles don't work together. If the issue comes that no matter what you do half your table is going to be unhappy then right there is a clue that maybe this group should either play something else or split into separate groups.

This makes a lot of sense to me.

The alternative, of course, is to suck it up and play anyhow to support and hang out with your gaming friends, keeping your whining at the table to a minimum and then complaining over here on ENworld.

That's what I do about the game I'm a player in (but don't DM), whose rules I don't like . . . I still like the people, and I learn stuff from them for the games I DO like (that I run).

Diversity of opinion on what is good at the gaming table isn't necessarily a bad thing . . . complaining about it when you don't get your way is.
 

My favorite system- HERO- is point based. Each PC in the party starts off with the same point total. However, system mastery means that player choices about what particular powers a PC has- and how limited they are- can make for a party with a great detective adventuring alongside a planet-busting incorporeal being.

I'd rather play Magnum, PI than Superman anyhow. ;)
 

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