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D&D 4E My Least Favourite Thing About 4e is Forced Balance

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ChainSawHobbit

First Post
Don't get me wrong. I'm not a 4e hater. I like 4e enough that I am a D&D Insider subscriber. There is just one thing about the game that I really, really hate.

Forced balance.

If a rogue goes up behind a skeleton and sneak attacks them, they get to do extra damage. This makes me mad. The Sneak Attack power represents stabbing vital bits. The skeleton has no vital bits.

If a wizard wants to blast a fire elemental with a fireball, it works just fine. Fire elemental have no fire resistance. I think I remember a developer saying this was intentional.

I understand there things make the game more fair, but at what cost to realism? I'm not saying D&D should be pure simulation, I just think the developers went too far in making a balanced game. This needs to be fixed in 5e.
 
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Raunalyn

Adventurer
Yeah, I certainly see your point. However, I tend to think that if a rogue is hitting a skeleton with a sneak attack, they are indeed hitting vital areas of the skeleton. Attack the spine, destroying ribs, etc. These tend to make the skeleton less effective in combat. And since D&D uses the abstract concept of Hitpoints to do this, it is really the only way that this type of damage can be represented.

Personally, I love 4e. However, my least favorite aspect of it are magic items. I understand why WoTC did magic items the way they did (resource management), but I don't necessarily like it.
 

Dragonblade

Adventurer
Don't get me wrong. I'm not a 4e hater. I like 4e enough that I am a D&D Insider subscriber. There is just one thing about the game that I really, really hate.

Forced balance.

If a rogue goes up behind a skeleton and sneak attacks them, they get to do extra damage. This makes me mad. The Sneak Attack power represents stabbing vital bits. The skeleton has no vital bits.

If a wizard wants to blast a fire elemental with a fireball, it works just fine. Fire elemental have no fire resistance. I think I remember a developer saying this was intentional.

I understand there things make the game more fair, but at what cost to realism? I'm not saying D&D should be pure simulation, I just think the developers went too far in making a balanced game. This needs to be fixed in 5e.

We already had a thread on things people didn't like about 4e. We seem to be rehashing the same topics over and over in this forum. No offense to you. :)

That said, sure a skeleton has vital bits. Trying to stab someone in the kidneys is no different than trying to nail the joints between the bones. So I could make a simulationist argument that you are wrong. Even Pathfinder lets rogue's sneak attack undead.

As for the fireball issue, if magical fire is infused with arcane energy, couldn't it act differently than natural or elemental fire? Its not simply normal fire created by magic. It is literally different than normal fire even though in most respects it might act or look like normal fire. In that respect, I can easily rationalize why a fire elemental could walk through a bonfire, but the arcane fire attack of a wizard could disrupt and overwhelm its very essence and thus damage it.

The bottom line is that yeah fun should trump fantasy simulationism, IMO. And you can always rationalize why something is or is not realistic.
 

Dausuul

Legend
My attitude is that resistance and immunity to damage and effects should be in the game, but unusual. For any given case, the designers should ask themselves, "Does this creature really need to be immune or resistant to this attack form?"

For undead and sneak attack, I don't think there's a strong enough case for immunity there. A carefully aimed blow that snaps the skeleton's spine will take out the skeleton, just like a knife in the heart will take out a human.

I have no idea why fire elementals don't have fire resistance, however. That's just dumb. In fact, I would give them immunity.
 

mkill

Adventurer
Sneak attacking undead really isn't that hard to explain. A skeleton does have a lot of weak points, like the spine. Making absolutely all undead immune to Sneak Attack was one of the most annoying 3rd edition rules (and they never even made a simple "you can sneak attack undead" feat .. What a PITA)

But now, try to explain how a rapier is as effective against a skeleton.

As for fire elementals having no fire resistance, yeah, that's silly. I think it's an overreaction to 3.5 bag of golfclubs. In case you never heard of that, it's the necessity to carry around weapons of exotic material like silver, adamantite and cold iron because so many monsters have exotic damage resistances.
 

nnms

First Post
This is a pretty classic "verisimilitude vs game" discussion that has been at the core of people's dislike of 4E since its launch. Lots of people react negatively to the "it doesn't make sense" moments they get from rules. The rules are designed with a goal that prioritize "making sense." So unless you want to jump through some hoops to justify these oddities after the fact, you're going to have jarring moments.
 

Crazy Jerome

First Post
I think that when things can be reasonably balanced without too much trouble, they should be. Individual groups and/or DMs can always unbalance them again by using them earlier or later than specified, or riffing off the flavor, or any number of such things.

However, if something flavorful is inherently unbalanced--or maybe practically so to keep it from being too complicated--then include it, but call it out specifically as unbalanced. That is, don't cut "wish" magic because it unbalanced. And don't warp it down to insignifigance to make it balanced. Include it in all its unbalanced glory and tell people flat, "You better thing twice before using this. No, we really mean. Yeah, you!" :D

For things like sneak attack targets, the simplest thing is to make it balanced, which is not put any incidental restrictions by flavor as the default. Then immediately below it include some options that are all deliberately unbalanced and unabashedly flavor-driven. Then at the end of the class section, or somewhere similar, have a short set of guidelines that are along the lines of, "if you totally hosed the poor rogue player doing A, B, C, you might think about using some of the options that help him out, too."

For things like flaming sword, it might run the other way. The simplest thing might be to let flaming swords do what you'd expect a magical fire on the end of sharp metal object to do. Then if there are balance concerns, put those in the options.

It is trying to make one size fit all that causes the problem, and then mixing balance and flavor in some unholy mess that we all spend the whole edition cycle arguing over. (When 3E and 4E gave different classes different numbers and different picks for class skills, how much is balance and how much is flavor? We don't really know.)
 
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Plane Sailing

Astral Admin - Mwahahaha!
Please could you change your thread title to reflect the main thrust of your argument - that you don't like forced balance - and don't have 4e in the title.

This will help reduce the chance of edition war temperatures rising b accident.

Thanks
 

HardcoreDandDGirl

First Post
If a rogue goes up behind a skeleton and sneak attacks them, they get to do extra damage. This makes me mad. The Sneak Attack power represents stabbing vital bits. The skeleton has no vital bits.

There is a funny and well written adult movie called Pirates 2 stagnettes’ revenge and in it the captain is fighting skeletons with a sword (yea I know skinamax movies with real fantasy plot and good special effects) and keeps having no effect, and even getting his sword caught in the ribs. Another pirate tells him to hit the head, and they start taking their heads off. I see backstab or sneak attack against undead to taking the right aimed shot at the right target.

If a wizard wants to blast a fire elemental with a fireball, it works just fine. Fire elemental have no fire resistance. I think I remember a developer saying this was intentional.

Now you are talking. I think fire elementals are a great example of miss opportunity in 4e. Imagine if they were insubstantial (half damage from all attacks) resist 5/10/20 fire(by tier) and had a vulnerability to cold 5/10/20 and the cold shut down there insubstantial for a turn.
What does this do, it makes it hard to fight fire with fire (but not undoable), and makes fire resistant to a lot if not almost all attacks. It also gives a bump to fighting heat with cold.


I understand there things make the game more fair, but at what cost to realism? I'm not saying D&D should be pure simulation, I just think the developers went too far in making a balanced game. This needs to be fixed in 5e.

Lets get the pendulum to swing a little more back (it doesn’t need to go too far, just a bit)
 

foolish_mortals

First Post
Don't get me wrong. I'm not a 4e hater. I like 4e enough that I am a D&D Insider subscriber. There is just one thing about the game that I really, really hate.

Forced balance.

If a rogue goes up behind a skeleton and sneak attacks them, they get to do extra damage. This makes me mad. The Sneak Attack power represents stabbing vital bits. The skeleton has no vital bits.

If a wizard wants to blast a fire elemental with a fireball, it works just fine. Fire elemental have no fire resistance. I think I remember a developer saying this was intentional.

I understand there things make the game more fair, but at what cost to realism? I'm not saying D&D should be pure simulation, I just think the developers went too far in making a balanced game. This needs to be fixed in 5e.

god, I have to dig those awful 4th books out again to see if this is true or not. How could they do something so horrible to the gaming community to let a creature made of flame take damage from a fireball?

the horror,
foolish_mortals
 

Felon

First Post
Don't get me wrong. I'm not a 4e hater. I like 4e enough that I am a D&D Insider subscriber. There is just one thing about the game that I really, really hate.

Forced balance.

If a rogue goes up behind a skeleton and sneak attacks them, they get to do extra damage. This makes me mad. The Sneak Attack power represents stabbing vital bits. The skeleton has no vital bits.

If a wizard wants to blast a fire elemental with a fireball, it works just fine. Fire elemental have no fire resistance. I think I remember a developer saying this was intentional.

I understand there things make the game more fair, but at what cost to realism? I'm not saying D&D should be pure simulation, I just think the developers went too far in making a balanced game. This needs to be fixed in 5e.
Seems like your default outlook is negative and narrow.

Skeletons have no vital spots? The human skeleton is full of weak points. It is not a seamless, flawless construct by any means. It has oints that can shattered, vertebrae that can be severed. Cut the spine below the ribcage, and what holds the rest up?

I've seen fire elementals with fire resistance, so I don't know where you got that they didn't. heck, I've seen ice elementals with fire resistance. 4e is actually pretty sick with energy resistances that make implement-users consistently weaker than weapon-users. They don't have fire immunity, but that can just be viewed as the creature being overloaded, disrupted, burned out.
 
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enrious

Registered User
god, I have to dig those awful 4th books out again to see if this is true or not. How could they do something so horrible to the gaming community to let a creature made of flame take damage from a fireball?

the horror,
foolish_mortals

Considering that 4e fire elementals have fire resistance 25, the simple answer is they didn't.
 


enrious

Registered User
The fire elementals in the Compendium have no listed fire resistance. Maybe it was a data entry error.

I just verified that they do in the MM1, no idea about later books.

Although now I have this picture in my head of a fire elemental dying from fire, with the thought in his head that his mom always warned him that the Compendium would kill him.
 




SensoryThought

First Post
A DM can certainly rule reduced or extra damage situationally - it all comes down to whether you are a proponent of an implicit rule zero.
 
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SensoryThought

First Post
But I'll add you make an interesting point about forced balance and 4e. I think the biggest balance change is nerfing high level caster supremacy and buffing low level caster weakness.

I'm not sure still whether this is a good thing or not.
 

Felon

First Post
I believe skeletons are immune to sneak attack damage and i think someone pointed out fire elementals have fire resistance.
3e skeletons were immune to sneak attack damage. Pathfinder and 4e skeletons are not. in 4e, you always get sneak attack damage.

Again, it's not hard to interpret why a sneak attack is more damaging. Pretty much anything has a week point (GalaxyQuest rock monsters notwithstanding).

But even if not, a DM can rule reduced or extra damage situationally - it all comes down to whether you are a proponent of an implicit rule zero.
The topic is specific to rules design, so DM aribtrary fiat really isn't germaine.
 

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