Can we stop the Angel Summoner BMX Bandit comparisons


From what I saw: BMX Bandit scopes out the situation devices a plan. A plan that revolves around his apparent sole physical skill (Bike Riding) and then the Angel Summoner points out that he can solve it by summoning Angels.

So basically, each member of this 'team' looks at a problem, and then devises a solution that relies entirely upon their own abilities and nobody else's?

Yeah, I think I can see where the problem is.

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So basically, each member of this 'team' looks at a problem, and then devises a solution that relies entirely upon their own abilities and nobody else's?
No, basically the "party" always relies on the abilities of one member, and never the other, because the first member's abilities outstrip the second's by many degrees. There are important things that need doing (saving innocents from harm), so effectiveness wins.

In one episode, they go along with the BMX Bandit's plan for once. And it goes very well, he's almost accomplished it...and then he realizes that the Angel Summoner has simply summoned invisible angels to help, to make him feel like he's contributing. One heck of a buff spell.


I don't think that you can have D&D, and offer all of the content that is part and parcel to the game, and the customization, without still forcing a level of DM control on challenge/balance.

If they do, they take away the feel of the game. It's part of why I don't play 4e. It just doesn't feel right to me.

This was very much my thought process behind this thread. That there's a certain level of . . . I don't know, "crunch," or "optionality" that D&D kind of assumes, and we've been accustomed to expect it now.


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.
Your first example has no real PC spellcasters (some have spellcasting abilities, but no full-blown casters). Your second example is of 1st-2nd level PCs, which no one is claiming to have an issue with. I don't see how these examples are relevant to the discussion, which is about higher-level spellcasters overshadowing other party members.

Elf Witch

First Post
In your opinion, of course. I do believe the system is the problem.

First, it was the topic of this thread. Second, I also recently shared my opinions in the 5E threads on the topic. I hope they can achieve both the variety I like and the balance, like 4 out of 5 editions of D&D I've enjoyed.

It could also be because you have players of relatively equal system mastery expertise, whether that is high or low. Or it could be because you are willing to police add-ons more tha others are. I'm not being dismissive of your success at making 3E work for you. I hope the 5E team can achieve a solution for me that doesn't get in the way of people who didn't experience the problem like you, just as their stated goal.

The above is just as dismissive as you claim others are being towards you. You strongly insinuate that someone with the problem doesn't know the system, doesn't know how to tailor the game for their party, and has players that don't try to work together as a team.

I knew the system quite well. I designed adventures to allow all to shine for many years. And my group has table rules to encourage teamwork dating back to BECMI. The solutions I came to to shrinking the power gap were similar to yours, they just didn't satisfy our needs as a group.

When did I dismiss it? I said it works for many people, just not for me. I don't consider it fun. How is that dismissive to you? I understand designers are not perfect. But 3E was the first system with open multiclassing and granular feats that allowed those broken combos to come to life. There were literally thousands of tiny switches to check. It's frustrating for some to keep finding that you next neat idea is broken too. Will the DM say yes this time? Will I be allowed to keep playing it even if he says yes once we find out how it works in play? It's fine that you are OK with these choices, we weren't.

I don't disagree, but you seem heated over the fact that I discuss my experiences with coming to that choice here on the messageboards.

Except neither side was happy in 3E because it wasn't a little bend, it was alot.

I need to apologize for coming off a as strongly as I have. I was in a foul mood partly because of stress at home and partly because off other threads that have made me have to bite my tongue.

This subject has made me kind of defensive because a lot of times my not having an issue with magic level becomes the well you don't run high levels (I do), your players must not have good system mastery (some do some don't) it feels like I am being told well that some how you not having an issue makes you an exception.

First of I don't think I am if I was then I doubt Pathfinder which didn't change the magic that much would not be doing as well as it does.

Do I think a lot of people have an issue with it, well from reading these posts yes I do.

For you the issue of having to take so much time dealing with the caster is one you would rather not have to deal with fair enough. For me it is not an issue because I don't think it really adds to my already burdensome prep time. And yes I freely admit that as you level in 3E prep times becomes a lot more work.

As a DM I don't mind a game where the DM has to take more control and say no about something not if it gives a lot of options to the players. I found it is one of the trade offs. A game with less options can't be broke as bad as a game with more options.

I played 4E for three levels and I hated it yes I could see that the characters were closer balanced and from what friends have told me higher level play is easier to run. But for all that I didn't enjoy the play experience at all. For me 4E didn't fix the things I would have liked to see fixed about 3E.

I know I came across really rude and I am truly sorry for that. Please accept my apology for letting my frustrations with this topic over whelm my manners.

We all have a horse in the race. I know fans are worried they may go to far backwards and 3E fans like me are worried they are going to go to far towards the 4E model.

Elf Witch

First Post
Another thing...

I don't consider this an old problem. In light of the direction 5E is headed I hope that they will truly delve into this once-again-current problem as they have promised.

You sound like you did alot of work to avoid the problem. I understand that you love the system. If the designers of 5E were to give you most of what you love about 3E without having to do the policing work to maintain balance, would you be happier?

Yes I would I would love to see magic item creation and metamagic reigned in. And for the skills system to be over hauled and while I like AOO they need work.

I would also like to see fighter be the best at fighting.

And even after playing for ten years I have to look up the turn undead mechanics every time because no one seems to remember how to do it.

So I do see a lot of room for improvement.

Greg K

Elf Witch,
Thanks for posting this. Twice I had started writing something similar to explain my position (my computer froze the first time and the second time a friend with seminary training called to clarify questions about his religion for my class paper and, I, accidentally closed the browser rather than minimizing it. For the most part, you pretty much covered what I wanted to say.

The following were just some things that I was going to add if I had written my response which would have included much of what you wrote.

When playing with some min-maxers and char ops people (doing it not just for theory, but to use in play), they are going to take the game and push it to the mechanical limits or break it. This does not mean the game is broken. Often, it means they are approaching a game in a manner that was not intended and this is a player issue (Yes, there may be some things that are truly broken, but that is separate from approaching a game in a manner for which it may not have been designed or intended). When supplements are added, the designers introduce new synergies that can be exploited, but the designers can't test for every combination that can be exploited

Is it possible that someone might simply stumble upon a broken synergy that does not work? yes. However, if something is found to be broken at a table, a good player will understand if a DM needs to nix or nerf an item that is problematic for the sake of the game as a whole.

A good example of blaming the system are found with point buy systems like Champions and M&M. Both games are built to allow any character to be created. The freedom means that players can abuse the tools of the system or stumble upon something that is broken for many campaigns. The designers placed responsibility on the the GMs to define the limits of their campaign and make sure the characters are appropriate. They also assume that players are going to be responsible and play nice with the tools rather than being dicks! Even though players and the GM might not want the responsibility, it does not mean the game is broken. The games do what the designers set out to do and that freedom to build anything requires responsibility.

3e D&D ,while not giving as much freedom as Champions or M&M, gives more freedom than many editions of D&D. Mearls and other described 3e as a toolbox. With so many ways to approach the game and choices of optional material, what is broken at one table is not, necessarily, broken at another. The 3e DMG tells the DM they are responsible for their table and in determining what is allowed, because the designers don't know the players at the table, the party make-up, the supplements in use and which material from those supplements are in use (I only read the 4e DMG n the stores and don't recall what, if any, advice it gives).
(Note: The differences at tables is why I wrote that just because something is created, it does not mean it is a good idea to use it (leaving aside flavor preferences for a campaign or of a given group)).

Again, not all GMs want the responsibility. That is fine. It also poses potential problems when it comes to the next edition. The designers can

1. Continue leaving these things for individual tables to deal with. Min-maxers and char op people are going to continue to do what they do regardless of the math unless either all choice is removed or the DM takes steps to address the issue. And, yes, it is possible that someone not engaging in such practice may stumble on an unexpected synergy. Responsible players, however, will understand when the DM nerfs or nixes the offending item for the good of the game at the table as a whole. Despite the drawbacks, this, allows for a wide variety of approaches to the game and freedom of concepts with the DM setting the limits for their campaign. However, this is not going to please those not wanting to deal with making such corrections at an individual/group level.

2. Tighten the math and create a game that caters to account for the min-maxers and char-ops people and raise everything to their level of expectation. The problem is that one cuts off many concepts that were viable in many other groups just not those that engage/allow the min-maxing, char Ops, or powergaming (using the term to mean people that play for powers or big numbers. Min-maxing and Char Ops would be the tool to achieve it).

3. Tighten the math to address min/maxing and Char Ops by forcing everyone to fall within a particular range (e.g, skills bonuses tied to level, the assumption of challenge DCs scaling with level, monster attack/defense). Again, they run the risk of mechanically cutting off options and concepts that were viable rather than problematic at many tables- possibly at both ends of the power spectrum.

4. Remove all true choice beyond race, class, spells and assigning random rolls.

Option 1: This will lead to some players claiming the game is broke including situations where it may come to how they approach the game or specific elements rather than the game truly being broke (which doesn't mean something might not, truly be broken. Personally, I think there are some inherent problems, but many problems I see mentioned I think are table problems).

Options 2 and 3: These have the potential to lead back to one of the big complaints regarding 4e as being a slave to the math.

Option 4: It might appeal to some players of early editions, but not the majority

I don't know how the designers will win

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.
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First Post
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!

Or you could just play a superhero role playing game that allows the Superman-wanna be and the Dark Knight-like to work side by side, without having to create complicated scenarios to make both characters meaningful.
Like, I don´t know... Marvel RPG or Mutants and Masterminds? Games that are REALLY different and still can do that?
That can be done. You just need a good ruleset.


What I learned from this thread is that I´m a horrible GM, since I want a ruleset that I can play without a lot of house rules or GM Fiat to make it work, and a horrible player, since it´s my mistake everytime my character overshadows another, even if I´m only using some spell from the corebook.
I feel enlightened.

Apropos to none of the previous discussion, my favorite example of this phenomenon is as follows:

BMX Bandit 3.x Fighter: "See that group of 15 kobold mooks standing in a tight group about a hundred feet away? I'll run into their midst using a surprise round, then I'll attack! Because I took Power Attack, I should be able to kill the most powerful one with my first attack. Then, because I took Cleave and Great Cleave, I should be able to kill every one of the mooks standing around me. Then I'll take my 5' step to get into range of more mooks, and attack again. Great Cleave will let me take out any others within reach. If they stand in the right pattern, I should be able to take out a dozen of them. Then you can swoop in behind me and clean up any leftover enemies I couldn't handle. Isn't it great that I spent all these feats to be prepared for just this situation?"

Angel Summoner 3.x Wizard: "Why don't I just cast Fireball?"


Apropos to none of the previous discussion, my favorite example of this phenomenon is as follows:
To be fair, I don't really think fireball has ever been the spell most indicative of the issue people have with high-leveled wizards.

There are lower level examples, but I've got to think the best analogy would be for the wizard to cast 'gate' and . . . um . . . summon a swarm of angels. :cool:

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