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Agrippa
2012-01-04, 02:19 AM
Reposted from my thread on Min Max forums.

Now this (http://jrients.blogspot.com/2012/01/warfare-in-age-of-awesome.html) is an article I found on one of my favorite old-school blogs (yes I have favorite old-school blogs deal with it). There are some obvious typos though but think of it this way. If Wizards play tested more of their material this way would there be as many balance issues, or at the very least wouldn't they be more openly acknowledged?

GnomeFighter
2012-01-04, 02:53 AM
Balance issues? This is a pen and paper rpg... There are no balance issues. There may be some classes that are better at some things, or feats that are better than others, but talking about balance problems rather misses the point.

SowZ
2012-01-04, 03:00 AM
Balance issues? This is a pen and paper rpg... There are no balance issues. There may be some classes that are better at some things, or feats that are better than others, but talking about balance problems rather misses the point.

How do you mean? A class that is unable to perform the way it is intended or to shine next to other classes would constitute a balance issue, wouldn't it?

Heliomance
2012-01-04, 04:51 AM
Balance issues? This is a pen and paper rpg... There are no balance issues. There may be some classes that are better at some things, or feats that are better than others, but talking about balance problems rather misses the point.

Is this a variant on Oberoni, or an as yet unnamed fallacy?

Anecronwashere
2012-01-04, 07:01 AM
Is this a variant on Oberoni, or an as yet unnamed fallacy?

I don't think it's Oberoni, that uses the fact you can handwave the balance issues while stating there are no baance issues.

That post is asserting that pen&paper RPGs are meant to be unbalanced, similar to the "it's not a glitch, it's a feature" argument by game designers (I forget the technical term). Of course that implies that WOTC meant Monks to be sucky and Wizards to be uber-awesome in 3.5

Killer Angel
2012-01-04, 07:05 AM
There may be are some classes that are better at some things, or feats that are better than others

fixed for you


but talking about balance problems rather misses the point.

Which is...?

gkathellar
2012-01-04, 07:18 AM
Anyway, now that that point is thoroughly proven:


Reposted from my thread on Min Max forums.

Now this (http://jrients.blogspot.com/2012/01/warfare-in-age-of-awesome.html) is an article I found on one of my favorite old-school blogs (yes I have favorite old-school blogs deal with it). There are some obvious typos though but think of it this way. If Wizards play tested more of their material this way would there be as many balance issues, or at the very least wouldn't they be more openly acknowledged?

That's actually a pretty cool story. I think, principally, the issue with it is that the more businesslike your approach to PnP design is the less valuable experiments like that seem to be - and that's not necessarily a wrong evaluation. The other problem is that 3E and 4E's designers have suffered from assuming the game they constructed is only going to be played the way it was intended to be played, and so they never bothered to test the far extremes of what their system enabled.

GnomeFighter
2012-01-04, 07:36 AM
fixed for you



Which is...?

That it's an pen and paper RPG played for fun, not an FPS. Sorry, but I am just getting iritated with this "OMG I must win the dungeon" attitude. Yes, monks suck (at low levels) in 3.5 and wizards are powerfull, but a bad attitude seems to be seeping accross from computer gameing. Rather than accepting this as part of the game and enjoying it people are getting upset because one class is doing more damage than another.

Killer Angel
2012-01-04, 07:46 AM
That it's an pen and paper RPG played for fun, not an FPS. Sorry, but I am just getting iritated with this "OMG I must win the dungeon" attitude. Yes, monks suck (at low levels) in 3.5 and wizards are powerfull, but a bad attitude seems to be seeping accross from computer gameing. Rather than accepting this as part of the game and enjoying it people are getting upset because one class is doing more damage than another.

It not "i must win the dungeon". It's "I must have fun".
If some class is so poorly designed that it's boring to play, while other classes are funny 'cause got options you can choose from, then it's a problem of design. You can like a concept, only to discover that the rules and the game mechanics don't support it... suddenly, you have no more fun playing your loved character, and that can be frustrating.
GURPS is a pen and paper RPG, and the balance problems are pratically unknown.

Xiander
2012-01-04, 07:48 AM
That it's an pen and paper RPG played for fun, not an FPS. Sorry, but I am just getting iritated with this "OMG I must win the dungeon" attitude. Yes, monks suck (at low levels) in 3.5 and wizards are powerfull, but a bad attitude seems to be seeping accross from computer gameing. Rather than accepting this as part of the game and enjoying it people are getting upset because one class is doing more damage than another.

That is not at all the point being made about balance, in this thread or countless others. The point is that at a certain level of optimization certain classes stop being viable choices if you actually want to contribute to the game. Granted 70% of all gaming groups never reach that point of optimization, but the issue can become apparent at any level of optimization, it is simply more so at higher levels of optimization.

Even if no competitive spirit is involved, the fact that some classes are simply worse of than others at any level of optimization is a problem in the game design. It is not about winning the game, it is about whether or not the game actually lends itself to a fun play experience.

Killer Angel
2012-01-04, 07:59 AM
That's actually a pretty cool story.

The funnier part was the "catapults firing mirrors of life trapping that contained powerful monsters". :smalltongue:
Magical ammo: handle with care!

gkathellar
2012-01-04, 08:45 AM
That it's an pen and paper RPG played for fun, not an FPS. Sorry, but I am just getting iritated with this "OMG I must win the dungeon" attitude. Yes, monks suck (at low levels) in 3.5 and wizards are powerfull, but a bad attitude seems to be seeping accross from computer gameing. Rather than accepting this as part of the game and enjoying it people are getting upset because one class is doing more damage than another.

No, people are getting upset because they were told they bought a game where they could build a unique and effective fantasy character of nearly any variety, and succeed in wild adventures and quests. But they actually bought a game where fully half of the core options let you play out the increasingly irrelevant adventures of Joe Mook, sidekick to Awesome McRainbowpants the Spellcaster. Just because it's not a video game doesn't mean it can't have balance problems hell, you know Go, the East Asian board game? There are ongoing debates in the pro circuit about just how big the first move advantage really is, and how much of a handicap black should receive as a result. That's because the lack of accurate balance is a problem in any type of game.

PnPRPGs aren't competitive like Go, but they are social games, in which every player wants a chance to contribute to the overall activities of the group. When one player contributes more than another, that's a balance issue. And just "accepting it as part of the game and enjoying it" is exactly the kind of terrible attitude that leads to shoddy game design in the first place. Nor do arguments that people are "rollplaying" prove particularly useful: games have implicit and explicit rules, and those rules directly relate to the gameplay experience.

Mechanics must support the roleplaying experience, must encourage roleplaying, and must serve to engage the player as a participant in a social game. When only half or a third of mechanics serve that purpose, there is a balance problem.


The funnier part was the "catapults firing mirrors of life trapping that contained powerful monsters". :smalltongue:
Magical ammo: handle with care!

Yeah, I loved that part. It really made me think of the kind of shenanigans the old CO Board guys would have gotten up to if you had let them test-run the rules.

I think that's really crucial to good playtesting, actually you need guys who really love the mechanics of gameplay, guys who can and will push them past their limits so they can be rebuilt stronger.

Tyndmyr
2012-01-04, 09:26 AM
I don't think it's Oberoni, that uses the fact you can handwave the balance issues while stating there are no baance issues.

That post is asserting that pen&paper RPGs are meant to be unbalanced, similar to the "it's not a glitch, it's a feature" argument by game designers (I forget the technical term). Of course that implies that WOTC meant Monks to be sucky and Wizards to be uber-awesome in 3.5

I can't honestly think of a Pen and Paper game without at least some notable imbalances. And MANY games are worse than D&D in this regard.

Balance/Imbalance isn't the question. The question is "How MUCH imbalance". D&D is not especially bad in this regard.

Killer Angel
2012-01-04, 10:14 AM
Balance/Imbalance isn't the question. The question is "How MUCH imbalance". D&D is not especially bad in this regard.

Palladium's first edition of RIFTS was particulary awful in this regard. We stopped playing it for that reason.

Tengu_temp
2012-01-04, 11:16 AM
I can't honestly think of a Pen and Paper game without at least some notable imbalances. And MANY games are worse than D&D in this regard.

Balance/Imbalance isn't the question. The question is "How MUCH imbalance". D&D is not especially bad in this regard.

I can think of several. DND 4e doesn't have any gross imbalances I can think of after all the unintentional overpowered combos were errata'ed out. It's ridiculously hard, if possible at all, to break Fate/Spirit of the Century, because it's a system that follows a very WYSISYG design and the only way to be good at something is for your character sheet to say you're good at it. Risus is similar, but it's extremely rules-light so that's cheating. Legends of the Wulin is a very new system so my judgement on it might not be perfect, but it seems to be a more streamlined, balanced and fun version of Weapons of the Gods, a game that already was strong in those aspects.

It's true that there's a lot of RPGs less balanced than DND 3e out there. But that doesn't mean the balance problems of 3e don't need fixing.

Greenish
2012-01-04, 02:42 PM
That post is asserting that pen&paper RPGs are meant to be unbalanced, similar to the "it's not a glitch, it's a feature" argument by game designers (I forget the technical term)."Ivory tower design", if we are to believe Monte Cook.


It's ridiculously hard, if possible at all, to break Fate/Spirit of the Century, because it's a system that follows a very WYSISYG design and the only way to be good at something is for your character sheet to say you're good at it.Not being familiar with the system in question, how is that different from D&D 3.5?

Tyndmyr
2012-01-04, 02:59 PM
"Ivory tower design", if we are to believe Monte Cook.

I sort of half believe it. Some things were likely intentional, some things are almost certainly unforeseen combinations that designers never considered.


Not being familiar with the system in question, how is that different from D&D 3.5?

I am only familiar with FATE in the Dresden Files implementation. That said, it is outright stated even in the books there that spending points in certain ways is less powerful(in this case, skill tricks instead of magic). While I haven't played it yet, this certainly appears to be the case. Now, I don't consider this to be necessarily a bad thing...but FATE is most certainly not perfectly balanced in terms of actual implementations.

lesser_minion
2012-01-04, 04:00 PM
"Ivory tower design", if we are to believe Monte Cook.

No. Ivory Tower design is where rules are provided with little or none of the rationale behind them. Monte Cook actually wrote that essay because he was ashamed of it and he felt that he'd wrecked the game by engaging in it.

It is anything but "this glitch is actually a feature", although it does effectively enable it.

As for "if only WotC did this degree of play testing", remember that hindsight is 20/20. There are plenty of D&D bugs that "anyone with two brain cells to rub together could have found in four seconds flat", but which most people will still never find without help -- and it's not because most people don't have two brain cells to rub together.

Erom
2012-01-04, 04:03 PM
FATE games, or at least particularly Dresden, tend to be heavily balanced in favor of melee as opposed to ranged combat. It depends on how much of a problem you find that, but it sticks out as the biggest wart to my gaming group.

Also, I think skill tricks are more competitive than the designers thought when compared to magic. In terms of power level, they are roughly like 3e feats when compared to spells (much lower power generally speaking), but in FATE the spells are much less predictable/reliable and can easily lead to your accidental eradication, bringing them closer to balance.

Overall though, I agree that the system is fairly well balanced. Comparing it to dnd, more balanced than 3e, less balanced than 4e.

Knaight
2012-01-04, 04:15 PM
That it's an pen and paper RPG played for fun, not an FPS. Sorry, but I am just getting iritated with this "OMG I must win the dungeon" attitude. Yes, monks suck (at low levels) in 3.5 and wizards are powerfull, but a bad attitude seems to be seeping accross from computer gameing. Rather than accepting this as part of the game and enjoying it people are getting upset because one class is doing more damage than another.
It's a bad attitude to hold a game accountable for its flaws? That a game isn't competitive doesn't mean that all flaws should just be brushed under the rug as "part of the game". For that matter, one can enjoy something that they know to be flawed, without that somehow justifying the flaws.

Lets talk about bad attitudes. There exists a notion in multiple forms of media that people should simply enjoy something, and never analyze it. Literature probably sees the most of it, but it shows up in games, including tabletop games. This attitude is an insult to the craft of the artist, as it tells them that all they did to make their work good was a waste, as the flaws don't matter and one should simply enjoy work. This attitude insults the readers, watchers, listeners, and players of media, as it implies that they have no standards and don't care enough to find good work. This is a toxic attitude that encourages the production and consumption of low grade derivative trash, as it is all the same anyways. That attitude, not the one that leads to criticism of balance problems, is the one that needs to be watched out for.


I am only familiar with FATE in the Dresden Files implementation. That said, it is outright stated even in the books there that spending points in certain ways is less powerful(in this case, skill tricks instead of magic). While I haven't played it yet, this certainly appears to be the case. Now, I don't consider this to be necessarily a bad thing...but FATE is most certainly not perfectly balanced in terms of actual implementations.
Dresden Files is probably FATE's least balanced incarnation. I'd also argue that it's among the worst games Evil Hat has ever produced, is an example of how not to design a FATE game, and has one of the worst magic systems I've ever seen, but then, I have a very negative view of that game in general.

Tengu_temp
2012-01-04, 04:21 PM
I'm not familiar with Dresden Files, just Spirit of the Century - which doesn't even have a magic system. And I noticed some of the stunts you can pick in it are stronger than others, but none are gamebreaking.


Not being familiar with the system in question, how is that different from D&D 3.5?

Look at your character's attack bonus and base damage. Do they cover entirely how good its offensive is in combat? Or is there a whole lot of additional bonuses - spells, items, feats, class features, et cetera - that improve it, often significantly? And aren't a lot of these bonuses hard to find at a first glance, and often require decent experience with the system to actually realize?

In comparison, if a SotC character has Weapons +5, that means they're amazing at fighting with weapons. That's all. No hard to notice bonuses, no build combos that pump it much higher than the base you bought. At most you have an item that gives you extra +1 and/or a bunch of stunts that give you extra tricks in combat. It's easy to figure out which character is supposed to be good at what at a first glance, without having much experience with the system.

nyarlathotep
2012-01-04, 04:37 PM
Look at your character's attack bonus and base damage. Do they cover entirely how good its offensive is in combat? Or is there a whole lot of additional bonuses - spells, items, feats, class features, et cetera - that improve it, often significantly? And aren't a lot of these bonuses hard to find at a first glance, and often require decent experience with the system to actually realize?

In comparison, if a SotC character has Weapons +5, that means they're amazing at fighting with weapons. That's all. No hard to notice bonuses, no build combos that pump it much higher than the base you bought. At most you have an item that gives you extra +1 and/or a bunch of stunts that give you extra tricks in combat. It's easy to figure out which character is supposed to be good at what at a first glance, without having much experience with the system.

That is system elegance and simplicity not balance. Although those two things usually go together they are not in fact the same.

Also Risus is unbalanced by the sense of humor of your GM and how well you can play to it. :smallbiggrin:

horseboy
2012-01-04, 04:38 PM
It's true that there's a lot of RPGs less balanced than DND 3e out there. But that doesn't mean the balance problems of 3e don't need fixing.Man it seems like I was just in this debate.
The problem isn't always one of "balance" but of "archetype fulfillment." D&D fails at both, Systems that aren't as well balanced are better at archetype fulfillment therefore balance isn't as much of an issue. For instance Fighters in Rolemaster actually get better at fighting as they become more powerful as opposed to a 3.x fighter struggling against hit point inflation. So someone interested in being a fighter doesn't really care that a magician can fly at his walk speed.

Edit: Punctuation, it matters.

Zeta Kai
2012-01-04, 04:45 PM
Okay, there seems to be 2 conversations going on here: the one that the OP started, & the one that sprung up about game balance.

For the first topic, cool story, & yes, I wish that more game designers took better care to playtest their games. Since I like to read about gameplay sessions (I know, I'm weird), I would also wish that they shared their playtest notes after a game's release, so that the Internet could do what it does best: nitpick it to death.

For the second topic, this debate has no end, & game balance means different things to different people. Sleep tight.

Tyndmyr
2012-01-05, 08:45 AM
Okay, there seems to be 2 conversations going on here: the one that the OP started, & the one that sprung up about game balance.

For the first topic, cool story, & yes, I wish that more game designers took better care to playtest their games. Since I like to read about gameplay sessions (I know, I'm weird), I would also wish that they shared their playtest notes after a game's release, so that the Internet could do what it does best: nitpick it to death.

For the second topic, this debate has no end, & game balance means different things to different people. Sleep tight.

The OP's link has been dead for me for days. So, can't really discuss it meaningfully.



Dresden Files is probably FATE's least balanced incarnation. I'd also argue that it's among the worst games Evil Hat has ever produced, is an example of how not to design a FATE game, and has one of the worst magic systems I've ever seen, but then, I have a very negative view of that game in general.

That may be...I can't say without knowing other FATE games. However, the primary point is that FATE is a metasystem, and as such, you can't really judge it's balance directly...but you can judge the games produced using it. I don't think it's a particularly bad system, but it's not going to guarantee balance from the end results.

That said, Dresden Files is at least excellent from a fluff point of view...though I dislike how many chars they didn't bother to stat out, instead describing them as plot devices. It's...clumsy.

Greenish
2012-01-05, 03:55 PM
No. Ivory Tower design is where rules are provided with little or none of the rationale behind them. Monte Cook actually wrote that essay because he was ashamed of it and he felt that he'd wrecked the game by engaging in it.

It is anything but "this glitch is actually a feature", although it does effectively enable it.No, Ivory Tower Game Design, as Monte Cook expressed it, is specifically an attempt to call the imbalance of the game a feature instead of a bug.


Look at your character's attack bonus and base damage. Do they cover entirely how good its offensive is in combat? Or is there a whole lot of additional bonuses - spells, items, feats, class features, et cetera - that improve it, often significantly? And aren't a lot of these bonuses hard to find at a first glance, and often require decent experience with the system to actually realize?No, yes, and yes. Still, it's all in the sheet. :smallwink:

I see your point, though.

gkathellar
2012-01-05, 05:34 PM
That said, Dresden Files is at least excellent from a fluff point of view...though I dislike how many chars they didn't bother to stat out, instead describing them as plot devices. It's...clumsy.

Which has everything to do with the fantastic book series it's based on and nothing to do with FATE or the game's mechanics.

lesser_minion
2012-01-07, 07:13 AM
No, Ivory Tower Game Design, as Monte Cook expressed it, is specifically an attempt to call the imbalance of the game a feature instead of a bug.

I believe this speaks for itself:


There's a third concept that we took from Magic-style rules design, though. Only with six years of hindsight do I call the concept "Ivory Tower Game Design." (Perhaps a bit of misnomer, but it's got a ring to it.) This is the approach we took in 3rd Edition: basically just laying out the rules without a lot of advice or help. This strategy relates tangentially to the second point above. The idea here is that the game just gives the rules, and players figure out the ins and outs for themselves -- players are rewarded for achieving mastery of the rules and making good choices rather than poor ones.

From here. (http://www.montecook.com/cgi-bin/page.cgi?mc_los_142)

Yes, people like to represent his comments as if every unbalanced element to the game was deliberately included to reward people for mastering the system, but that's a separate matter, and one that isn't true for some of the more serious problems with the game.

If you don't get how the designers missed something, you're probably better off remembering that hindsight is 20:20 than assuming some sort of plot to reward certain gamers for mastering the game.

Greenish
2012-01-07, 09:51 AM
I believe this speaks for itself:I believe it does:
Toughness, for example, has its uses, but in most cases it's not the best choice of feat. If you can use martial weapons, a longsword is better than many other one-handed weapons. And so on -- there are many other, far more intricate examples. (Arguably, this kind of thing has always existed in D&D. Mostly, we just made sure that we didn't design it away -- we wanted to reward mastery of the game.)

If that's not a way of saying they made the game imbalanced on purpose, I don't know what is.

nightwyrm
2012-01-07, 10:29 AM
I believe it does:

If that's not a way of saying they made the game imbalanced on purpose, I don't know what is.

Making one feat worse than others is very different from deliberately making the mountain of decisions which ended up making the fighter useless (increasing everybody's hp, giving iterative attacks to everyone, having few skill pts., poorly thought out saves, making casters more powerful etc.).

They made certain imbalances on purpose but they didn't made all the imbalances purposefully. The ones they made are probably the fairly superficial ones that are easy to spot, ie. some weapons are better than others, some feats are better etc. The imbalances which has their roots in multiple design decisions (ie. melee vs casters) are probably unintentional.

For all the design advice about system mastery they have taken from MtG, I don't believe that they deliberately miss one of the biggest one - keeping a dynamic metagame (meaning that no one deck/strategy is so powerful that no other decks can compete).

gkathellar
2012-01-07, 10:46 AM
They made certain imbalances on purpose but they didn't made all the imbalances purposefully. The ones they made are probably the fairly superficial ones that are easy to spot, ie. some weapons are better than others, some feats are better etc. The imbalances which has their roots in multiple design decisions (ie. melee vs casters) are probably unintentional.

This. Monte has demonstrated in all of his Malhavoc work that he simply does not understand game balance, even when he demonstrably attempts to implement it.

Greenish
2012-01-07, 10:56 AM
They made certain imbalances on purpose but they didn't made all the imbalances purposefully.I never claimed that! "Ivory Tower Design" is mostly an excuse, a way to claim that imbalance is "a feature, not a bug".

Tengu_temp
2012-01-07, 11:02 AM
Am I the only one who thinks that Monte Cook article on DND 3e design is:
1. A pile of bullcrap. He tries to cover his ass by saying "no no, we didn't fail as RPG designers, we put those ridiculous imbalances on purpose", and he fails to fool anyone.
2. Proof that he has no idea how to design RPGs. He's applying the design philosophy of CCGs, with cards/feats that seem powerful but really aren't, system mastery and other similar concepts, and treats it as if it was a good thing in a cooperative game.

lesser_minion
2012-01-07, 11:32 AM
If that's not a way of saying they made the game imbalanced on purpose, I don't know what is.

The paragraph I snipped from his article is the paragraph where Monte Cook actually defined the phrase. The two paragraphs where he talks about Timmy cards have nothing whatsoever to do with the main point of the article.

He wasn't presenting Timmy cards as a feature, he was presenting them as a monumental ****-up that sounded like a good idea at the time.

Greenish
2012-01-07, 12:07 PM
The paragraph I snipped from his article is the paragraph where Monte Cook actually defined the phrase. The two paragraphs where he talks about Timmy cards have nothing whatsoever to do with the main point of the article.

He wasn't presenting Timmy cards as a feature, he was presenting them as a monumental ****-up that sounded like a good idea at the time.We read the same text, yet it seems we didn't read the same thing. To me, it seems obvious that Ivory Tower assumes and requires imbalances to exists, and instead of being concerned with it, treats it as a desirable feature, "to reward system mastery".

Obviously, your take is different, so I guess we'll just drop it.

horseboy
2012-01-07, 02:16 PM
Am I the only one who thinks that Monte Cook article on DND 3e design is:
1. A pile of bullcrap. He tries to cover his ass by saying "no no, we didn't fail as RPG designers, we put those ridiculous imbalances on purpose", and he fails to fool anyone.
2. Proof that he has no idea how to design RPGs. He's applying the design philosophy of CCGs, with cards/feats that seem powerful but really aren't, system mastery and other similar concepts, and treats it as if it was a good thing in a cooperative game.
Nope. Design mastery being rewarded with crushing your enemies even better and learning how to utilize "trap" units is the purview of war gaming and belongs there.

Shyftir
2012-01-08, 01:25 AM
Which has everything to do with the fantastic book series it's based on and nothing to do with FATE or the game's mechanics.

Yeah, Dresden Files huge power imbalance toward Magic is very much a design choice focused on recreating the feeling of the books. That game relies on the players accepting that whoever plays the Wizard is gonna be the main character, and making choices to play fun supporting cast types. Same with ranged combat being weaker, because it is recreating a "cinematic" kind of feel where bullets fly but the heroes only get wounded enough to increase the tension.

And this post is completely off the OPs topic.

LansXero
2012-01-08, 01:46 AM
For all the design advice about system mastery they have taken from MtG, I don't believe that they deliberately miss one of the biggest one - keeping a dynamic metagame (meaning that no one deck/strategy is so powerful that no other decks can compete).

Jace the Meta-Sculptor say hi (even though its been banned, it took forever and is a rather recent case, far more recent than 3.x so even for MtG they didnt really learn anything. Ravager Affinity also says hello.)

Tyndmyr
2012-01-09, 09:59 AM
Yeah, Dresden Files huge power imbalance toward Magic is very much a design choice focused on recreating the feeling of the books. That game relies on the players accepting that whoever plays the Wizard is gonna be the main character, and making choices to play fun supporting cast types. Same with ranged combat being weaker, because it is recreating a "cinematic" kind of feel where bullets fly but the heroes only get wounded enough to increase the tension.

And this post is completely off the OPs topic.

Not entirely. It's a valid example that sometimes balance isn't the most important thing.

Even assuming a pure skills-only system, not all skills are going to be used equally often, and are unlikely to be of equal value. Some imbalance is necessary, and is basically unavoidable if you want to allow significant divergence in char types. As long as it's worth the tradeoffs...I don't mind it.

3.5 is not extremely bad on the balance spectrum. It's not extremely GOOD, either, but it's quite playable, and balance is probably not the biggest concern a new group will face.

nyarlathotep
2012-01-09, 10:34 AM
Jace the Meta-Sculptor say hi (even though its been banned, it took forever and is a rather recent case, far more recent than 3.x so even for MtG they didnt really learn anything. Ravager Affinity also says hello.)

Faeries also would like to say hi, ravager affinity is sad that it is not invited, lion's eye/will doesn't even need a specific deck to boulder through everyone else, etc. I could go on forever.

Oh and before anyone says "with that many overpowered things they balance against eachother" all of those were the metagame at different times.

Knaight
2012-01-09, 04:47 PM
Not entirely. It's a valid example that sometimes balance isn't the most important thing.

Even assuming a pure skills-only system, not all skills are going to be used equally often, and are unlikely to be of equal value. Some imbalance is necessary, and is basically unavoidable if you want to allow significant divergence in char types. As long as it's worth the tradeoffs...I don't mind it.

3.5 is not extremely bad on the balance spectrum. It's not extremely GOOD, either, but it's quite playable, and balance is probably not the biggest concern a new group will face.

There are also different methods of balance. One that is often under looked is the idea of balancing spotlight time, where each player has about even control of the story and as such each PC has about even time in a central role. In a highly diverse system, with a lot of different aspects spotlight balance is easy. In a highly focused system (say one that is basically a combat engine) spotlight balance becomes extremely difficult to implement, and conventional balance becomes more important.

FATE is interesting because it uses both of these. It does conventional balance far better than D&D does, and Aspects are practically built in spotlight balance tools. This has a lot to do with why it is an elegant system in most incarnations, the utter mess that was Dresden Files notwithstanding.

wumpus
2012-01-11, 03:25 PM
Ivory tower design: "The idea here is that the game just gives the rules, and players figure out the ins and outs for themselves -- players are rewarded for achieving mastery of the rules and making good choices rather than poor ones."

I see two things:

A deliberate imbalance between optimizers and others. This was almost certainly a design requirement coming from WOTC to sell splat books in much the same way that sold expansion cards. I fail to see that this implies any huge imbalance between classes, nor does there seem any indication that this was intentional for 3.0. 3.5 is another story. I have no idea why they left in things like natural spell and failed to rebalance wizards with the understanding that blasting was underpowered (from memory evocation wizards are more expensive in 3.5 than 3.0).

The other thing that hasn't been mentioned is that is an effective (IMO) means of world-building. Like the quote says, the rules tell you how actions occur. What happens in the game world appears to be emergent behavior. Much of my distaste for 4e is that the first things to get "streamlined" away are any hints that the play exists in a larger world. In fact the PR campaign for 4e basically highlighted the non-existence of any world besides the dungeon. The world was to consist of dungeons and non-disguised DM puppets handing out quests (not sure how long that lasted in 4e, but that was what we were told it would be).

The name "ivory tower design" does give a hint that imbalance was specifically a design goal. Since you could presumably take any "ivory tower game" and rewrite it (or the include a D&D for Dummies book mentioned) and come up with a "non-ivory tower design" game, something was presumably different. Presumably in one, all of the "Timmy" feats would be given to NPCs and monsters, just to make things look cool without gimping any player.

Finally, anybody who has dealt with trying deal with engineering or software release understands that any design that allows conflicting information is likely to ship the wrong information. This is pretty inherent in "ivory tower design". For all I may approve of ITD for worldbuilding, the assumptions made by the designer, the assumptions made by the editor, the assumptions made by the player, and the assumptions made by the DM may differ. I am pretty sure there have been several feats published and then nerfed by errata that are absolutely worthless for anything other than sneaking into mystic theurge early. Since RAI must be inferred from RAW, it becomes impossible to claim that the game the DM sees has been fully tested. Publishing RAI would make testing much more consistent (although I won't call this a feature until they can explain how 4e skill tests were shipped as originally written).

PS. Wasn't there a recent thread - what I made, what the DM saw, what I played?
I suspect game designers (especially ones that write splat books after the fact) have similar claims to what editors and DMs do with their work.

Synovia
2012-01-13, 11:32 AM
That is system elegance and simplicity not balance. Although those two things usually go together they are not in fact the same.

Also Risus is unbalanced by the sense of humor of your GM and how well you can play to it. :smallbiggrin:

System elegance makes systems easier to balance because it makes them easier to measure power/utility levels.