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5E Why does 5E SUCK?

Jessica

Villager
I find it bizarre that you quoted where I talked about "2E being mid-life" and then quote articles from 1984 and 1978. 2E came out about 1989, and was mid-life in 1994 or so, 10-16 years AFTER the articles you cite.

There's not a whole lot more to say. This level of historical chrry-picking is pretty normal when people can't get it through their heads that "Balance" is not axiomatically good. If you want to argue for a "balanced" system, you have to establish why it's needed. You don't get to assume it. Period. That is not open for debate.
Balance is needed to prevent certain characters from overshadowing other characters in major portions of the game. Being consistently overshadowed often leads to people feeling worthless, bored, or frustrated and often lead to them no longer playing the game in question. While poor balance can sometimes be overcome by the DM changing up their game to set aside a special time for a certain character to shine, I imagine this puts a lot of extra stress on a job that is already stressful and might possibly lead to hurt feelings on the part of the player who needs to be given a special chance to feel like they are contributing. The developers providing for good game balance at the start, makes it so the DM doesn't have to do the job of the developers on top of their already difficult job of DMing.
 
I find it bizarre that you quoted where I talked about "2E being mid-life" and then quote articles from 1984 and 1978. 2E came out about 1989, and was mid-life in 1994 or so, 10-16 years AFTER the articles you cite.
I also quoted you asserting that no one talked about system balance until MMOs.

The passages I referred to predate MMOs by a decade or more. And during 1994, some of us remember those passages and still talked about game balance. So your claim about what was and wasn't current during the mid-life of 2nd ed AD&D is also mistaken. Perhaps you and your friends didn't talk about game and system balance. That's an interesting biographical fact about you and them, but nothing more.

There was no community discussion of balance at all if you went to cons or even sat around on Friday night at the gaming club.

<snip>

whether a system was balanced wasn't a concept that even occurred to anyone to talk about
I take it that you are claiming that something which had occurred to people, and that they cared about, in 1978 and 1984, and likewise in 1998 and 2004, is something that they ceased to think or care about in 1988 and 1994. Not only is that not true to my own experience living through those years, but it seems inherently pretty implausible, given that many of the participants in those earlier and later conversations were also part of the RPG community during the 2nd ed AD&D era.
 
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"Balance" is not axiomatically good. If you want to argue for a "balanced" system, you have to establish why it's needed. You don't get to assume it. Period.
I don't have to establish anything - certainly not to you - in order to know what sort of RPG system I want to run.

If you like systems in which one player's character has greater effectiveness than another's in impacting the fiction, go for it! No one is stopping you. Personally I don't see the appeal, but that's not something that should bother you.
 

tyrlaan

Villager
"Balance" is not axiomatically good. If you want to argue for a "balanced" system, you have to establish why it's needed. You don't get to assume it. Period. That is not open for debate.
Why don't you have to establish why a deliberately non-balanced system is needed? Why is balance not good? How is it not open for debate?

This sounds a lot like OneTrueWayism more than anything else, but I offer you the opportunity to convince me otherwise.
 

Bacon Bits

Explorer
Why don't you have to establish why a deliberately non-balanced system is needed? Why is balance not good? How is it not open for debate?

This sounds a lot like OneTrueWayism more than anything else, but I offer you the opportunity to convince me otherwise.
I don't think so.

Games that heavily favor balance -- or, more precisely, heavily limit imbalance -- are universally games of competition. In those types of games, the rules exist to establish a fair contest. Sometimes they go so far to be a pure competition of only player skill that the only imbalance is who goes first (Chess, Go). They're also often zero-sum, adversarial games: you win at the cost of others losing. Even in games where co-operation is favored and balance is considered a requirement -- MMO raiding springs to mind, obviously MMO PvP is adversarial -- you're competing with other players for the same role. It's a market competition for a position in a raid rather than a direct competition.

With D&D, however, there's not really any competition inherent to the game. Now, you can certainly add competition and make it a contest of who is most effective in combat, but that's never the stated objective of the game. That's one you've added. I mean, what is the objective of D&D? Remember when you'd play traditional board games, and the first thing they list is something like "Objective: Eliminate all other players" or "Objective: Reach the end of the board before all other players." What would D&D say? "To have fun with friends while you roll dice and tell a story about an adventure"? Why does game balance necessarily lead to a better game result? Objectively? At all tables for all players?

What about the DM? Well, there's no contest with the DM. He can throw the Monster Manual at you at level 1. His role is to challenge, not to compete, and the DM can modify encounters as needed to adjust difficulty. This is why the DM vs Player mentality from late 1e and early 2e was so harmful.

What about losing in D&D? The only way you objectively lose D&D is when the game ends. You don't lose when you die. At worst, you get a new character. You never actually get eliminated from the game. Sure, you lose when you're not having fun, but since "fun" is subjective that doesn't make anything an objective requirement for the whole player base.

Look at something like, say, rogue-like video games like The Binding of Issac or FTL, where combat effectiveness ostensibly is the goal. Nobody is going to argue that ??? has a better start than Issac, or that the d6 isn't a ridiculous starting item, or that few ships have a better start than the Crystal B or a worse start than the Engi B. Yet people still play the other characters and ships. Or, indeed, look at any game with a difficulty setting. Obviously, you're most effective playing on Easy. So, why do people play on Hard? Sure, some people might not be able to win on anything other than Easy, but if so, why not only use Easy? I mean, these games could be like Spelunky, where every character is identical and there's only one difficulty setting (IIRC).

So, if the game isn't competitive, and the objective isn't to maximize combat effectiveness because even death isn't losing, and even if the objective were to maximize combat effectiveness there are people who don't necessarily want to do that... why is balance considered such a Holy Grail of D&D game design? It seems to me like giving people dials is equally important. Even if you personally want a highly balanced game, D&D is generally not designed for a single play style. Allowing people to choose less effective options is a requirement, then. As long as conveyance is handled correctly and accurately -- that is, things that look powerful are powerful, and things that are powerful look powerful -- then there is no problem.

So, no, I don't see a case for tight balance in D&D. I think we got very close with 4e, and I think that game suffered quite a bit because of it.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
Why don't you have to establish why a deliberately non-balanced system is needed? Why is balance not good? How is it not open for debate?

This sounds a lot like OneTrueWayism more than anything else, but I offer you the opportunity to convince me otherwise.
If I'm not mistaken, [MENTION=42582]pemerton[/MENTION] is saying that for his group, there is One True Way, and that way involves characters having an equal opportunity to "impact the fiction." In the games he wants to play, this is a prerequisite.

I don't know that he's saying that everyone's table must follow that way, just that his does.
 

tyrlaan

Villager
So, no, I don't see a case for tight balance in D&D. I think we got very close with 4e, and I think that game suffered quite a bit because of it.
There's no balance, total balance, and a billion shades in between. Seeking total balance is probably a fools errand at best and I personally wouldn't argue for it because the effort likely yields minimal reward. But I would argue there is plenty of value in balance. I'm splitting the hair in case the commentary speaking against balance is because in the eyes of those speaking balance must equal tight or complete balance, and I don't see why that needs to be true.

I'd also say it's up for debate if 4e's balance goals caused it to suffer, and if it did, it was at best in a dead heat with a myriad of things people didn't like about it.

But there's countless of examples on these forums that demonstrate people want balance in their game. Crossbow feat conversations, CODzilla, fighter/wizard imbalance, and so on. If there's such a self-evident truism that balance is bad, why so much concern about balance?

I'll also argue it's incorrect to assume there is no inherent competition in D&D. I feel there very much is - competition over value; value to the team, value to the story, etc. People vie for "screen time" and want to feel as relatively effective as the next player in the game. It isn't about being better than the other players (though I'm sure for some players it is), it's about feeling like you are as effective as the other players; feeling needed.
 

Johnny3D3D

Adventurer
Thus far, I have two complaints about 5E.

1) It's starting to feel shallow. While I appreciate the ease of casual play, I find that I'm already getting burned out & bored while playing.

2) Using HP as a method of scaling is starting to produce feelings of grind (encounters dragging out even after the outcome is obvious).

I have a third complaint, but I don't yet have enough experience with some aspects of the system to determine if it's an actual problem. That third thing is feeling as though -despite "bounded accuracy"- some character options appear to be vastly better than others.
 
If I'm not mistaken, pemerton is saying that for his group, there is One True Way
I don't know anything about "One True Way". I know there are approaches to RPGing that I enjoy, and approaches that I don't.

I prefer a game in which every player has the same degree of capacity to impact the fiction via his/her PC.

There are a range of different ways this can be achieved. In D&D, given (i) the absence of GM-side mechanics to constrain/control scene-framing, and (ii) of a metagame economy driven by PC descriptors (like MHRP plot points, FATE fate points, etc), I think this is best achieved via comparable mechanical effectiveness.

I'm not a big fan of the "job for Aquaman" approach to GMing, though this is obviously a matter of degree, and what some see as throwing Aquaman a bone others will see as deft GM scene-framing.

I don't know that he's saying that everyone's table must follow that way, just that his does.
I had hoped I was pretty clear: If you like systems in which one player's character has greater effectiveness than another's in impacting the fiction, go for it! No one is stopping you. Personally I don't see the appeal, but that's not something that should bother you.

Games that heavily favor balance -- or, more precisely, heavily limit imbalance -- are universally games of competition.

<snip>

What about the DM? Well, there's no contest with the DM. He can throw the Monster Manual at you at level 1. His role is to challenge, not to compete, and the DM can modify encounters as needed to adjust difficulty.

<snip>

So, if the game isn't competitive, and the objective isn't to maximize combat effectiveness because even death isn't losing, and even if the objective were to maximize combat effectiveness there are people who don't necessarily want to do that... why is balance considered such a Holy Grail of D&D game design?
A few responses to this:

(1) I played Forbidden Desert with my daughter last night. It's a cooperative game, not a competitive one, but the different player options are clearly intended to be balanced.

(2) The GM in D&D is under some degree of constraint in some versions of D&D - eg there are rules that at least loosely govern dungeon design in classic versions of the game. And other RPGs have GM-side constraints. For instance, in Marvel Heroic RP the GM isn't free to modify encounters without expending resources.

(3) Some versions of D&D are competitive. Competition between players was a feature of play in the classic game - not arena-style PvP, but competition between players to collect loot, beat dungeons, etc.

(4) I think combat is a bit of a red herring in these discussions. Balance as a goal in RPG design is quite orthogonal to combat, at least in general. To the extent that in D&D combat is the focus of balance concerns, that's because it tends to be the only action resolution option where the players have a very high degree of agency. (4e is something of an exception, having closed scene resolution via the skill challenge mechanic.)
 

Rygar

Villager
My group, which ATM is made up mostly of people who haven't played since 1e, started out playing 5th edition. Two of my group almost immediately wanted to play Pathfinder instead because they wanted content and options, and the more they looked at 5th edition the more they realized it isn't coming. The last person really just wants to kill Tiamat, and isn't so much invested in 5th edition. I personally am finding myself increasingly favoring Pathfinder. I just appriciate the content and the extra things like maps.

Overall, the group just finds it pretty simple and lacking in content. The indication that WOTC doesn't intend to release any meaningful content any time soon means we'll likely just be back to full-on Pathfinder soon.
 

Jessica

Villager
We're starting up a game soon in our local area and the two suggested games weren't 5e, but rather 4e or 13th Age.
 

BryonD

Villager
I don't have to establish anything - certainly not to you - in order to know what sort of RPG system I want to run.
LOL, I love it.

I completely agree with you. But I can't help but enjoy the irony of this statement after years of being told that I needed to prove my complete mastery of 4E (with an ever moving goal line at that) or else my lack of desire to play 4E was dubious in merit.

And, to be clear, I'm not accusing you personally. I'm just enjoying the heck out of seeing someone on your side the fence feel that frustration.


And, why does 5E suck? Cuz you can take three weeks off and not see a single new thing to talk about.

See ya in 3 weeks.
 
I can't help but enjoy the irony of this statement after years of being told that I needed to prove my complete mastery of 4E (with an ever moving goal line at that) or else my lack of desire to play 4E was dubious in merit.
What do you think I'm unaware of, that is colouring my preference for a game in which the players have roughly comparable abilities to impact the fiction?

In other words, I'm not seeing the parallel that you are.
 

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