• The VOIDRUNNER'S CODEX is LIVE! Explore new worlds, fight oppressive empires, fend off fearsome aliens, and wield deadly psionics with this comprehensive boxed set expansion for 5E and A5E!

How balanced should a game be?

Li Shenron

Legend
Butter knives exist. Is anyone going to be of the opinion that they will be as good as a standard longsword or shortsword in a fight? No, of course, not. But the butter knives exist anyway. So, technically, they are a choice. This does not imply that a man with a butter knife in hand should be as dangerous as a man with an uzi in hand. So, either we must have any and every object in the game be a deadly lethal weapon*, or we must admit that, in fact, some choices are better than others.

And yet in 3e I had a hard time finding one weapon that was always worse than another (at least among martial weapons). There was always a reason to choose any weapon, e.g. if you planned to focus on a fighting style or tactic that benefitted from a side property (such as a certain size, reach etc.). Simple weapons were worse than martial weapons, but that only meant that martial characters would nearly always had a better choice within the martial weapons group, while the others had to spend feats to gain proficiency.

5e simplified weapons somehow (we still have sizes and reach, but not all other properties), which isn't a bad thing per se, but unfortunately restricted the design space of weapons a bit.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Cronocke

Explorer
The example was extreme to be more demonstrative, to avoid the inevitable, "Well, *really* shortswords *are* as dangerous as longswords," branch of discussion.

The point is very simple. In the real world, weapons are not all of the same effectiveness, and the differences are not always minor, and some folks like that reflected in their games. This implies that there will exist strategies that aren't as effective.

F'rex, something not absurd: Swords are categorically more damaging than knives. But, if you have knives in your game, someone may like the idea of a knife fighter. This does not put an onus on the game to make knife-fighter as effective in combat as sword-fighter.

You would have us wipe out such differences. I'm arguing that while having some games built that way is fine, there isn't call for it broadly, in *every* game.

And I would say that if your game makes one strategy Obviously Better than any others, or it makes one strategy Obviously Worse than any others, unless there is a clash of tone or something, it's generally worse than if they were equal.

You believe differently, which is fine, but then you proceed to act as if I'm being inflexible and making some sort of ridiculous demand, which is less fine.

I have largely given up on Pathfinder, for example, as the strategy of "play a fighter and have fun" relies exclusively on GM fiat, and if you want to ensure you'll have fun, you need to play a caster, and probably a powerful one, just to make sure you're always relevant and always have something to do.

You want your type of game. I want mine. Stop berating me for what I like.

No, you're the one saying what others should or should not have in their games. That's the thing I don't accept.

Upthread you were being prescriptive (and I quote), "The core rulebook of whatever your game is should intentionally be designed such that no strategy seems inherently superior to any other..."

If you prefer to play by flexible rules, by all means, do so! But stop telling us what *all* games, should be, please, because not everyone is you.

So, apparently in a thread about your opinions of what a game should be like, I'm not supposed to say what my opinion is of what a game should be like, because not everyone is me.

Got it.

Ah, but you see, you no very little about my "way". Please stopy trying to infer that just because I argue that somethign should be allowed to exist that it is "my way".

So are you just playing devil's advocate or... oh, whatever.

In practice, I am not of a single way - I am a broad-spectrum gamer. I find things to like in most games - D&D and Shadowrun (which generally allow players to shoot themselves in the foot) and FATE-based games (which are far more forgiving of less-than-optimal choices), are both frequently seen at my table.

I don't understand the appeal of games like D&D where some choices are traps and pitfalls meant to ensnare the new player, but if you want to play them, more power to you.

They're just not for me.

I am making an argument for inclusion (games should be made in various forms for various tastes), while you are making arguments for exclusion (only your sort of game should exist).

You are making an argument for inclusion... provided I am excluded.

But, whatever, we're talking in circles at this point!

I like different things than you. We have both accepted this.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
You are making an argument for inclusion... provided I am excluded.

I don't see where you get that. I'm all for having a whole bunch of games, so that everyone finds one they like to play.

If you want *all* the games to be your game, then yes, I guess I'm excluding you. Otherwise, nope.

I like different things than you. We have both accepted this.

I am pretty sure you have not a clue what I like, but that's okay.
 
Last edited:

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
And yet in 3e I had a hard time finding one weapon that was always worse than another (at least among martial weapons). There was always a reason to choose any weapon, e.g. if you planned to focus on a fighting style or tactic that benefitted from a side property (such as a certain size, reach etc.). Simple weapons were worse than martial weapons, but that only meant that martial characters would nearly always had a better choice within the martial weapons group, while the others had to spend feats to gain proficiency.

No argument. It is kind of the point - there exist choices in the game that are sub-optimal, but that doesn't seem to be a big problem.

5e simplified weapons somehow (we still have sizes and reach, but not all other properties), which isn't a bad thing per se, but unfortunately restricted the design space of weapons a bit.

I don't mind that too much. 5e Basic is *supposed* to be simpler, after all. Having many fiddly bits upon which to choose weapons is kind of the opposite of simpler.

And for the full PHB and DMG, I don't mind if they shift that design space over to the character, rather than have it in the weapon. You don't need to give me a katana with its own stats. Just give me a character with abilities that make him like a samurai, and I can use the longsword stats for the weapon. Or, leave it open, so maybe my world's samurai use a bludgeoning weapon, or something...
 

Derren

Hero
I don't understand the appeal of games like D&D where some choices are traps and pitfalls meant to ensnare the new player, but if you want to play them, more power to you.

They're just not for me.

What happened to role playing and taking/using stuff because it fits the character or because nothing else is available instead of only using things which are mathematically proven to be the best?

I guess it died when people started to only care about balanced tactical combat and also became so entitled that they expected, no, demanded to get everything they need for their pre planned and optimized build.
 
Last edited:

Zhaleskra

Adventurer
Given that ENWorld is so D&D/Pathfinder-centric that if you don't specify what system you're talking about it, it will assumed to be one of those, I think it's fair to assume that others would assume a D&D slant. Even media that has the research still uses D&D as the fallback because "that's what everybody knows about".

Unless one knows better, one assumes a class/level system, especially if it is rigid, to be D&D.

Having said that, I don't want my character to be optimal. It's fun for a while, but to me gets boring quickly. At the same time, I don't want her to be inefficient either.

Using my Zhalèskra World Tree character: zie's not the best fighter nor best mage, but zie's actually somewhat better at magic than at fighting. That said, with all a Zi Ri's built in negative modifiers to physical combat, I'm still surprised with what my choices revealed. Come to think of it, there's a little bit of ranger and rogue in zir as well, mostly accomplished through magic.
 

Cronocke

Explorer
What happened to role playing and taking/using stuff because it fits the character or because nothing else is available instead of only using things which are mathematically proven to be the best?

I guess it died when people started to only care about balanced tactical combat and also became so entitled that they expected, no, demanded to get everything they need for their pre planned and optimized build.

What is the problem with wanting stuff to fit the character and be as good as anything else?

I don't see where you get that.

Such snobbery! Thank you, but I'll pass on your schooling...

[snip]

Pretty inflexible. Not what I'm looking for, certainly.

It seems kind of a stretch to say these weren't meant with an exclusionary intent, but okay.

I am pretty sure you have not a clue what I like, but that's okay.
Thus proving we have different tastes.
Take this argument up with Umbran From Yesterday, man. I'm done.
 
Last edited:

Mishihari Lord

First Post
I'd count a dollop of hummus as "unarmed", frankly.

And why does this argument keep going here? The only people arguing that the game should include rules for butter knives, hummus, teddie bears, rubber chickens, etc.... are the people arguing against me, it seems, and saying that bad weapons should be made part of the game.

No player worth having in your game would show up asking to be able to dual wield spoons made of shaving cream. So the argument that "well you could say that you're using spoons made of shaving cream and it'd do as much damage as a battleaxe" is irrelevant. Yes, you can. You're likely to be kicked out for being disruptive, though, so don't.

Bounds of reason, people.

(Underline added)

Because most of us have talked with someone online who was up in arms that his dual butterknife wielding ninja midget hamster wasn't as combat effective as the guy with a rifle. "C'mon guys. Why should I be limited in effectiveness because I'm playing true to my character concept? You're cramping my STYLLLLE!" Candidly, until the post I quoted above you were coming across that way, so I'm glad to see you're more sensible than that.

Your "Bounds of reason" comment gets to the core of the issue. What is reasonable in this area is very subjective. Should the butter knife guy be as effective as the rifle guy? How about karate vs tank? Karate vs rifle? Two handed sword vs spear? While you might think it's reasonable that a long sword and short sword are equally effective, someone who's read different books or had different personal experience might see this as as much of a mismatch as the butterknife vs rifle example.

And I'll reiterate my oft repeated position on game balance in general. Game balance is a crock. What matters is spotlight balance. As long as every player gets some time to shine where their character is the star, and everyone has something good to do most of the time, the game is fine. The design sacrifice required to balance things closely are generally just not worth it. I have personally both DMed and played in games with player power imbalance similar to the classic Gandalf and Frodo example where everyone had a great time anyway. All it takes is a bit of skill on the DM's part.
 

Cronocke

Explorer
Your "Bounds of reason" comment gets to the core of the issue. What is reasonable in this area is very subjective. Should the butter knife guy be as effective as the rifle guy? How about karate vs tank? Karate vs rifle? Two handed sword vs spear? While you might think it's reasonable that a long sword and short sword are equally effective, someone who's read different books or had different personal experience might see this as as much of a mismatch as the butterknife vs rifle example.

Depends what crazy superpowers the butter knife or wielder have. Ditto karate. Sword vs. spear and sword vs. sword seem a lot easier to work out, though. But like, when magic and superpowers exist in a setting, saying that "gun always beats knife" not only doesn't match reality, it also becomes pretty much irrelevant. More important than whether or not it seems realistic, I feel, is whether or not it matches the tone of the rest of the game.

And I'll reiterate my oft repeated position on game balance in general. Game balance is a crock. What matters is spotlight balance. As long as every player gets some time to shine where their character is the star, and everyone has something good to do most of the time, the game is fine. The design sacrifice required to balance things closely are generally just not worth it. I have personally both DMed and played in games with player power imbalance similar to the classic Gandalf and Frodo example where everyone had a great time anyway. All it takes is a bit of skill on the DM's part.

Gandalf and Frodo are surprisingly close in power level, so yeah, that wouldn't be too hard to handle. On the other hand, to get Goku and Batman playing in the same game and getting the same amount of spotlight takes some amazing doing. I'm not saying it can't be done, but at some point it's easier for everyone if you just move to something where everyone's pretty much equally awesome - or equally mundane - in different ways and at different things.
 

genshou

First Post
Such snobbery! Thank you, but I'll pass on your schooling on who is, or is not, worth having in my games.

You seem to have a very particular view of what a game should be, and you don't seem to have a lot of room for any ideas or styles but your own. Pretty inflexible. Not what I'm looking for, certainly.

Thus proving we have different tastes. If there are different tastes among gamers, we need varying designs to suit. Thus, your one way doesn't fit everyone. QED.
Is this how you provide an example of proper forum conduct nowadays?
 

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top