Should the game be "balanced" and what does that mean?


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Not meaning to get too involved in this specific discussion, but did Tasha's rewrite the Battle Master? I don't recall having ever heard such a thing.
Tasha's added a collection of maneuvers, several of which let you use your superiority dice on skills effectively giving you something close to Expertise. The important three (particularly the latter two) are below.

Ambush

When you make a Dexterity (Stealth) check or an initiative roll, you can expend one superiority die and add the die to the roll, provided you aren't incapacitated.​

Commanding Presence

When you make a Charisma (Intimidation), a Charisma (Performance), or a Charisma (Persuasion) check, you can expend one superiority die and add the superiority die to the ability check.​

Tactical Assessment

When you make an Intelligence (Investigation), an Intelligence (History), or a Wisdom (Insight) check, you can expend one superiority die and add the superiority die to the ability check.​

With 17 skills in 5e and either six skills in two maneuvers or seven in three that's a pretty decent range. It also IMO goes some way to fixing the critique of the battlemaster that at level 7, 10, and 15 you can only pick maneuvers that weren't good enough for you at level 3 when three of your maneuvers extend your range into non-combat pillars rather than are competing for when you'd use them with the other combat maneuvers. (Of course the two at L15 are still pretty redundant).
 

...oh. That's...disappointing.
Eh. They're pretty narrow. One is Stealth (or Initiative). One is Intimidation, Performance, or Persuasion. One is Investigation, History, or Insight.

Besides, the game is on it's pendulum swing back towards more narrative focus. I don't expect WotC not to listen to criticism that free-form roleplay and off-stat skill checks alone aren't compelling enough options outside of combat. Especially when they're finding the short rest focus of the class to be more of a drawback than a benefit for many tables.
 

Reynard

Legend
Eh. They're pretty narrow. One is Stealth (or Initiative). One is Intimidation, Performance, or Persuasion. One is Investigation, History, or Insight.

Besides, the game is on it's pendulum swing back towards more narrative focus. I don't expect WotC not to listen to criticism that free-form roleplay and off-stat skill checks alone aren't compelling enough options outside of combat. Especially when they're finding the short rest focus of the class to be more of a drawback than a benefit for many tables.
Having to give up a limited resource for a non combat ability weakens the class rather than expands it. It would be better if all maneuvers worked like Ambush and had both in and out of combat applications.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I shouldn't have to go trawling up youtube videos, hopping on tiktok, or digging into 50 year old forums in order to run the game.

I'm going to push back on that a little bit.

The actual rules of non-competitive chess are short. You can pick them up and read them, and play the game. But, let's face it - that will yield you only the most basic play possible in the game. If you want to play chess at higher levels, you need to study the play of chess. You need to read books, watch and analyze the play of others, and play the game frequently. There have been tens to hundreds of thousands of publications (books, magazines, articles, and so on) about chess that avid players consume with relish.

And chess is a game with a strictly delineated set of moves a player can legally make at any given turn. D&D, on the other hand, is a game where the space of options for a player at any given moment is vast, and not clearly demarcated.

So, I'm going to suggest that we should consider exactly what our expectations of play are on a reading of the rules, vs what we expect out of years of play and study of the game.
 

Having to give up a limited resource for a non combat ability weakens the class rather than expands it. It would be better if all maneuvers worked like Ambush and had both in and out of combat applications.
The resource (number of battlemaster maneuvers) wasn't a bottleneck so giving other things to spend it on strengthens the class. I agree that the combat + non-combat setup of Ambush is a better structure and if re-writing the battlemaster the maneuvers should be written that way - but as a patch adding some actual non-combat maneuvers works well. It moves the battlemaster out of combat out of the territory of "commoner with good PR" into the can do something league
 

Having to give up a limited resource for a non combat ability weakens the class rather than expands it. It would be better if all maneuvers worked like Ambush and had both in and out of combat applications.

I'm not sure what you're suggesting. Your argument is that Fireball and Tongues should use different resource pools?
 


SubrosaGames

Need Players
Publisher
Well the random monster table sounds like its bad adventure writing and not an unbalanced game. This is a long held tradition of random tables. Some folks think there should be Froghemoths that 1st level characters can encounter if they are unlucky in the draw. Smart players should run away. Thats a bit old school of an idea I think. In nu skool, random encounter tables are constructed with thought in that any encounter on the table makes both narrative sense, and is something that the party should be able to handle. Further, bounded accuracy makes this actually work better than it has in the past. So, I don't find this argument about 5E very compelling.

Now the tweet in the OP, seems to be talking about missing rules for perceived important things. Sounds like some chafe against rulings over rules philosophy. You dont need a rule for every instance, the GM can just arbitrate it as necessary. This being seen as a weakness or imbalance, is sort of why rules over rulings was popular about 20 years ago. There certainly is a difference in playstyle here, but im unsure what it has to do with balance?
I've always kind of disliked the mechanic where the difficulty of the 'monster' depends on the species of monster. While it is true that some powers/defenses are species-dependent, I like to run games where how powerful a monster is depends on its age. That way, a low level adventurer group can still run into <and defeat> a metallic dragon, say, and hopefully that group will level up fast enough in the story to be ready for the full-powered mother dragon (or perhaps the offended paragon) that hunts them down for revenge...
 

SubrosaGames

Need Players
Publisher
I wasn't really thinking that way, but now that you mention it, yes. Personally I would go with the difference between "fast casting" and "ritual casting" but that's a little farther afield than the thread topic.
Agreed - and not so much off topic of 'balance,' as pertains to character (instead of DM) balance. We have MTAP (magical tapping power pool) and Synergy (non-magical pool that goes off the 'synergy' of your attributes). This type of dual-pool powers structure has allowed several interesting Classes to flourish in our game: Politicians, Minstrels, and the like who have very powerful Synergy-based powers that have nothing to do with magic (or even many times, combat for that matter). We have it so the class you choose has more or less Magic/Synergy than another class, but it is generally expected that everyone has Synergy, and most have at least some access to Magic, at least so you can cast a defensive spell on yourself if you're playing just a straight Warrior.
 

payn

Legend
I've always kind of disliked the mechanic where the difficulty of the 'monster' depends on the species of monster. While it is true that some powers/defenses are species-dependent, I like to run games where how powerful a monster is depends on its age. That way, a low level adventurer group can still run into <and defeat> a metallic dragon, say, and hopefully that group will level up fast enough in the story to be ready for the full-powered mother dragon (or perhaps the offended paragon) that hunts them down for revenge...
Well, a lot of this depends on how you view leveling. For me, the earliest levels are the start of your adventuring career. How you went from just learning to hold a sword to being a legendary swordsmen. Some folks like to start with a background of dragon slayer even at level 1. Bounded accuracy makes this slightly possible (not a solo dragon slayer, but perhaps a member of a large group). So, I would say 5E is capable of doing what you want, but its not a typical situation and one you may need to manufacture. Which is totally acceptable to me. If I wanted a dragon to seek revenge on a party, I'd likely use a low level ally of the dragon and have the PCs interrupt an important mission. Either way, I dont think default encounter rules should account for noobs killing super powerful dragons out of the box. YMMV.
 

I'm going to push back on that a little bit.

The actual rules of non-competitive chess are short. You can pick them up and read them, and play the game. But, let's face it - that will yield you only the most basic play possible in the game. If you want to play chess at higher levels, you need to study the play of chess. You need to read books, watch and analyze the play of others, and play the game frequently. There have been tens to hundreds of thousands of publications (books, magazines, articles, and so on) about chess that avid players consume with relish.

And chess is a game with a strictly delineated set of moves a player can legally make at any given turn. D&D, on the other hand, is a game where the space of options for a player at any given moment is vast, and not clearly demarcated.

So, I'm going to suggest that we should consider exactly what our expectations of play are on a reading of the rules, vs what we expect out of years of play and study of the game.
There's a world of difference between chess and DnD. Even ignoring that, looking up tips or ideas shouldn't be seen as a stand in for explaining the game in any amount of detail. It's cool these resources exist for DND but that doesn't mean WotC isn't slacking od on prepping me to run the 150 dollar game I just bought.
 

SubrosaGames

Need Players
Publisher
Well, a lot of this depends on how you view leveling. For me, the earliest levels are the start of your adventuring career. How you went from just learning to hold a sword to being a legendary swordsmen. Some folks like to start with a background of dragon slayer even at level 1. Bounded accuracy makes this slightly possible (not a solo dragon slayer, but perhaps a member of a large group). So, I would say 5E is capable of doing what you want, but its not a typical situation and one you may need to manufacture. Which is totally acceptable to me. If I wanted a dragon to seek revenge on a party, I'd likely use a low level ally of the dragon and have the PCs interrupt an important mission. Either way, I dont think default encounter rules should account for noobs killing super powerful dragons out of the box. YMMV.
We allow people to start as Master Scholars (which means they have greater access in all 15 schools of magic (which means they can cast more various types of spells)), BUT they pay for it DEARLY with a huge increase in their Fortune Point Ratio (which means they will level up much more slowly than a PC who chose to begin the character with more humble abilities). The system is such that a Level 0 Master Scholar has a huge social advantage, and can do all sorts of spells, but still does not have a huge Casting ability and certainly has no Greater Magic, so s/he would still need to apologize or flee from an Immortal or even a nonmagical Politician of higher level. In the many years of playing, I've had both scenarios -- even people starting their characters as slaves specialized in only one or two skills. Both paths, starting with/without power, have their challenges and the advantageous starting characters did not unbalance the game at all if their were other party members (Players) without such advantages, since the latter leveled up much faster. But perhaps that type of thing wouldn't work in most of the game systems out there, and probably not in 5e.
 

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