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    Default Welknair's Essays on Game Design

    I feel like typing, so I'm going to type. Deal with it.
    This maaay go in Roleplaying Games, given the amount of games it covers and it's lack of any actual homebrewing in it. However, it can be used as a guide for making your own system and is generally intended for those individuals who frequent this section of the boards. If you guys really think it should be moved, go ahead.

    Welknair's Essays

    Introduction
    I've come quite a way from when I first played D&D, and have since branched out and experimented with many other games, homebrewed a bit, and even tried to make my own game (I may yet get it published). I am surrounded by family and friends that share my hobby and as a result I talk to them about it. A lot. I see patterns in games and can come up with reasons why one may be more successful than another. I figured I may as well tell my story here and exposit about some of these discussions. If you aren't interested in reading about how systems as a whole work, press that back button and go take a look at someone's prestige class. If not, press forward.

    I do not claim to be an expert, by any means! There are people on these boards that have been playing for much, much longer than I and quite likely have a lot more experience with the subject than I do. I'm sure there are books on the topic. These are my views and ideas on these topics. These are my interpretations of the systems and what I view as important. I am quite possibly wrong about everything I say hereafter, and am almost certainly wrong in at least a few things. If you can't handle my fallibility or potential to totally miss a point, press that back button and look at someone's system fix. If not, press forward.

    The Beginning
    I have been playing tabletop roleplaying games for a long time. When I was in second grade, my father gave me his old second edition books. I wasn't old enough to understand the numbers and stats, but I could understand a story. And so my brother, sister and I played Dungeons and Dragons. We played without rules, we played without stats. And we had a hell of a time. I still remember snippets of those grand adventures. Throughout all of it, I was always the Dungeon Master. I used the existing monsters and spells and just looked over any numbers I came across. The only exception to this was the "Spells Known" table for one of the casting classes that we used to limit my sister's casting.

    It's been quite some time since those days. I later acquired a set of 3.5 books and set about learning how to use them. I met friends that shared my enthusiasm, and one particularly amazing one introduced me to this webcomic, for which I am immensely grateful. I got a group together to play and I've had a group more or less continuously since then. They're crazy, homicidal pyromaniacs and I love the lot of them.

    After playing D&D 3.5 for some time, I decided to try broadening my horizons. I picked up an old Exalted 1e book. I liked it. I found there were newer ones. I shortly found that I had all of the Manuals of Exalted Power. I didn't stop there. My current tally of books and systems that I've viewed:

    • D&D 2e: Core three.
    • D&D 3.0e: MM2, Deities and Demigods, and Epic Level Handbook. Thought these were 3.5 at the time.
    • D&D 3.5e: A crudton of books. Gotta imagine somewhere on the order of twenty. Not as many as some people, but still a sizable amount.
    • D&D 4e: PHB 1 and Monster Manual 1.
    • Pathfinder: DMG, Player's Guide, and Advanced Player's Guide.
    • Exalted 1e: First book.
    • Exalted 2e: All of the MoEPs, plus the first two Books of Sorcery and the Scavenger Lands.
    • Scion: Basic three.
    • World of Darkness: Basic book, plus Mage: The Awakening.
    • Modern D20: Basic book.
    • Starwars Saga D20: Basic book.
    • Mouseguard: Basic Book.
    • Shadowrun: Basic Book.
    • Call of Cthulhu: Basic Book.
    • Warhammer 40k: Basic Book
    • GURPS 4e: Basic two, Magic, Thaumatology, Fantasy, Martial Arts and Powers.
    • Homestuck D20: Pdf'd!
    • Naruto D20: Pdf'd!
    • Avatar D20: Got the site!
    • Probably one or two others I don't remember right now. Figures that I'm AFB.


    I have read these systems. I've only played D&D 3.5, D&D 4.0, Exalted, Scion, GURPS, Homestuck and Naruto. My experience and knowledge of the latter group is much greater than that with those games that I have not played.

    Why not D&D?
    I love D&D 3.5e. It was my first real system and I do believe it's the most popular on these boards. But at the same time, I've come to greatly dislike it to a degree. If you're on this section of the forums, you're either making things or looking for things to supplement your game. Or both. In any case, you must have realized by now that D&D 3.5e has problems. Who ever thought that a Fighter could ever stack up to a Wizard? Who in the world thought that a Monk's ability to slowfall was worth squat compared to Feather Fall? Did anyone actually consider that Druids would be able to shapeshift into anything to fit a situation, completely ignoring their physical traits? We, as creators or users of homebrew, know these flaws quite widely. These and others are things that homebrewers constantly attempt to fix, with varying success (Jiriku's Monk Fix ftw!).

    Then again, there are some problems that I simply cannot get over. Fighting orcs in the desert can make you a better swimmer. What. You can stab a random commoner twice in the chest with a dagger, and he's not going to die (Blah blah damage doesn't equal wounds blah blah). Wizards fighting the aforementioned desert-orcs will learn faster than those studying diligently in a top-notch university. See the entire discussion between Elan and Vaarsuvius about starting ages of classes way back near the start of the story. Wizards randomly have writing appear in their spellbook when they level up. These aren't little things, or mechanics that were required for game abstraction. These are nonsenical problems. And they drove me to look at other systems, like the ones mentioned above.

    The Other Systems
    There was good. There was bad. There were a lot of pages. Many mechanics I found interesting, others out of place. My latest acquisition is GURPS, and I'm loving it. But at the same time, I recognize what I believe to be it's largest flaws. There are many, many things that go into making a game. Whenever I get a new one, I look for these aspects and am genuinely curious to see how they were handled. Over time, and over the many systems, I have come up with the patterns that dictate these aspects, allowing me to categorize games. Anyone that has played more than one game has of course done this to a degree. I'm just going to talk about it a lot. And so the Essays finally begin.

    Definition
    This is one of the largest choices that a game needs to make, and one that I talk about with my friends and family quite often. A game has a set "Definition" - the degree to which worlds using that system are pre-defined. This is a very large spectrum. The examples I'll be using are D&D 3.5e, Exalted, and GURPS. Exalted, like all of White Wolf's games, is highly defined. Inside cover is a map of Creation. If you're playing Exalted, you are almost certainly using their map. And their types and castes of exalted. And probably a few of their pre-created Exalted characters. Good luck having a game where the Scarlet Empress plays no part. GURPS is the exact opposite, having little to no definition. They give you everything and nothing. It's a toolkit for every universe you could possibly want. But that also means that you have to make a universe. Of course you can use a pre-made world, but it's pretty obvious that this isn't the point. Dungeons and Dragons 3.5e stands smack-dab in the middle of this spectrum. You can bet there'll be some dungeons, and more than likely a dragon or two, but the DM still has a large amount of power over the type of world they run.

    "So what?" I hear you ask. The Definition of a game will determine the type of GM willing to run it and the types of game that it will be used for. I mentioned that I adore GURPS, but saw it's main weakness. That weakness? It's also it's main strength and the reason why I love it so - Its total lack of definition. I, as the GM, have total control over my world, and can shape it to be however I please. At the same time, this means a lot of work and a lot of decision making. Many GMs don't like making worlds from scratch and dislike excessive decision making. And it is for this reason that GURPS is not as popular as some other systems.

    Another large impact that Definition has on a game is the amount of homebrewing that can be done for it. The less defined it is, the more homebrew-able it is. In Exalted you can make a couple new charms, new martial arts disciplines, items and creatures. Aside from that, your only option is to make an entirely new type of exalted which is no small feat (Though I do remember it being done at one time or another). D&D sits pleasantly in the middle once more, with the wide array of things that homebrewers can create - Base classes, prestige classes, monsters, items, spells, new supernatural systems, feats, system fixes, and all manner of other things. And then you have GURPS. To make a GURPS world is to homebrew. They are effectively synonymous. Many tools are given, but one way or another you are combining factors to create a unique end-result. They just standardized the process. As one could imagine, this homebrew-ablity trait influences the type of GM attracted to the game. If you want to be making tons of unique material for your world and truly making it your own, you won't be running Exalted.

    Another way that definition influences a game is in the genres it is capable of supporting. The more defined the game, the more hard-set its genre. Exalted games are almost always action-adventure games, though the creators did a good job of making other genres, like intrigue or war campaigns, viable alternatives. GURPS can support any genre you can think of, and even has specific books to help GMs with the main ones. D&D is, as always, in the middle. Though the creators paid little mind to the topic and the game is pretty obviously geared towards heroic adventure, you can still run most genres pretty easily with it, with the right arrangement of monsters, character limitations and good description.

    Out of all the choices one makes when creating a system, Definition is among the most important. It will determine the players, GMs, worlds and stories that use it. And that isn't something you want to ignore.

    Mechanics

    There are a lot of mechanics that go into making any tabletop roleplaying game, and it is one of the most time-consuming aspects of game design. How is combat handled? How are wounds dealt with? How fast do characters heal? How do you calculate the speed of a falling object? Do you? How do you calculate the damage dealt by a falling character or object? What happens when a character gets no sleep? How does armor affect movement? How are starting stats determined? How do these affect the chance of success with a skill? These and others are all questions that must be dealt with.

    Just like with Definition, Mechanics come in a spectrum. Often the designer must make the decision between whether the game will reflect their personal perceptions of reality accurately, or whether it will be playable. I personally have encountered this problem very frequently - just look at my first homebrewing project, my Magitech system. The equation for collision damage is a bit.. unwieldy. It should be kept in mind that these are games, not simulations. In realistic games this balance can be very difficult, as the game needs to flow but simultaneously must be more or less representative of reality.

    Here's a little secret: The players don't care. Not for the most part, anyways. You can spend hours mulling over what formula perfectly describes your reality, but unless the players are particularly persnickety, they do not care one way or the other. They just want to play the game, kill some orcs and listen to a cool story. As long as the basics are covered, the mechanics don't matter besides determining the pace and mood of the story. Mechanics go a long way towards determining the genre and flavor of a game, but beyond this it is only background noise. Some elementary concepts should be supported, such as one character being stronger than another, running making you tired and wounds eventually causing death. But unless these mechanics are absolutely ridiculous (Modern D20 - A mid level character can survive being shot repeatedly in the chest) players really don't care. What's important is that the game flows and that the mechanics are fun.

    Abstractions are going to happen. As I said, this is a game and not a simulation that we're talking about. You'll notice that in my list of things wrong with D&D I didn't include things like how in real life not all people run the same speed (Dash and Run feats blah blah) or how a successful shield block has nothing to do with how much armor you're wearing (Though they should improve the way they handle shields). These are abstractions that are pretty obviously less than realistic, but to the game as a whole they mean little. They aren't game-breakers, they don't flagrantly flaunt the laws of physics in a way the players can't accept and trying to come up with more realistic systems to handle them would likely bog down gameplay to the point of tedium. So they're abstracted, like many things in the game. As long as the basic idea is there, players can overlook the specific unrealistic elements.

    The fun aspect is very key. This is a game and we play it for fun. The mechanics and rules should actively add to the experience, not detract from it. If the rules and mechanics are a detriment, there would be no reason to use them. Rules are used to mediate encounters in which the outcome is unsure and to provide a structure for how characters are defined. If either of these two factors is found to be "un-fun" then the system as a whole is a failure. It's a game, people just want to have a good time with it, not spend all day trading numbers and adding modifiers.


    Playtesting and Editions

    This is pretty self-explanatory and surprisingly lacking in D&D. You can really tell that the game wasn't extensively tested or run through a "Beta" phase before release. Or Wizards wouldn't be so all-powerful and Druids wouldn't be able to turn into about anything they want to fit the situation. Playtesting is needed for any game to be successful, no matter the genre or medium.

    I've read a few generic game design books, one of which being titled something along the lines of "Game Design: A Book of Lenses". It focused on videogames, but many of the principles it put forth were widely applicable. One such principle was the "Rule of the Loop" which stated that the more times that a game was tested, revised and tested again, the better it would be. This is of course true of tabletop RPGs as well. If you're making a system, test early and test often. For games with multiple editions, each edition should be an improvement upon the last based on the issues found in the previous edition. This is somewhere that D&D does very poorly - Instead of trying to fix 3.5e's problems, they totally ignored all the errors that countless players had found and instead opted to make an entirely new game that falsely claimed to be the same game as the one prior. This game, known as D&D 4e, is just as ill-tested as its predecessor. Conversely, Exalted did very well here, smoothly transitioning from 1e to 2e based upon the specific problems found.

    One of the problems I find with multiple editions of games is that they often obsolete previous versions. D&D 3.5e to 4e, for example. I spent how much money on all of those books? And now they're useless? Not only are my old books entirely incompatible with 4e, but there is such a disparity that any attempt to update from one version to the other is futile. Closer hops, like that from 3e to 3.5e, allow for such updates, and allow at least some use of prior books, but you still need to buy a whole slew of new ones to play effectively. Sometimes I feel that some games come out with new versions only to force their players to buy more of their books, rather than to fix legitimate problems. I greatly frown upon this, though I know they need to make their money somehow. My beloved GURPS is now up to fourth edition itself, yet all books of all prior editions are still available online in pdf format. One of the things I love about GURPS is how much emphasis they put on world and story creation - these concepts are totally independent of the mechanics that could be changed form version to version. The ideas are universal, and in fact on the back of many of their books they state "These ideas may be used with any tabletop roleplaying game". I could run a GURPS 20e two hundred years in the future when we're all robots, and my old GURPS 4e Fantasy book would still be able to advise me on how to structure a proper fantasy adventure.

    The more I played D&D 3.5e and the more I created material for it, the more and more sure I became that WotC had no clue what they were doing. As mentioned in "Why not D&D?", they have a lot of problems. This lead me to the conclusion that either: A) I'm a game-design genius, B) They're total dunces when it comes to game design, C) I'm totally missing something here, or D) Some combination of the above. So yeah, that's what prompted me to write this - the off chance that I have some sort of insight into all of this. Though from what I've seen, your average homebrewer on these boards could make material twice as good as whatever WotC has made. Leaning highly towards option B.

    It is common sense that games need testing and revising, just like any game. The more testing is done, the better the end result. Editions should be released only to improve upon prior editions, not to force loyal players to waste money on new books.


    Balance

    Why do you playtest? Well, to make sure that mechanics flow correctly, ensure there are no obvious oversights in mechanics and to, most importantly, balance the various aspects of the game. What comes up most often in this is character creation. Players want to have fun, and sadly one player having too much fun often detracts from the enjoyment of other players. The most common cause of this is one player being more powerful than another, causing them to hog the spotlight. The primary thing to look out for in playtesting is to see what character options are too powerful and which are not powerful enough. Apparently something I said in my "What in the Nine Hells is a Bloodline" thread was particularly popular - If you can't imagine a player not wanting to use an option, it's too powerful; if you can't imagine a player wanting to use an option, it's not powerful enough. This isn't a catch-all rule, but it is a pretty good rule of thumb.

    I hope that you've all heard of the Tier System by now. This system of categorizing D&D 3.5e classes did wonders to my perspective of the game and the way I viewed all characters from all games. To recap, character classes are divided into tiers based on their levels of power and versatility. This very clearly demonstrates the gap between the Wizard and the Fighter - Fighters are pretty much only useful in combat, and even then a well-built Wizard can contribute more. In all other situations the Wizard has a spell to solve the problem. The sheer versatility of Wizards causes them to be useful in almost any circumstance, and as a result the Wizard's player ends up talking far more than the Fighter's. This isn't good. This isn't balanced.

    All character options should be in the same band of usefulness and power. This does not exclude certain options being particularly relevant to a build or synergizing particularly well. It doesn't make sense for combat-options to work as well for a caster as for a melee combatant, and some of the most fun in tabletop roleplaying-games is the challenge of creating an effective and cohesive character. But there shouldn't be any options that are categorically useless (Toughness feat. Seriously, guys?) or categorically better than any other option (Wizard or CoD-zilla). That's just bad game design.


    Classed versus Non-classed/Leveled versus Non-leveled Systems

    You've played Dungeons and Dragons and you know what levels and classes are. Or at least I certainly hope so. When I first learned how to properly play D&D I took the class and level system in stride - it made sense to me at the time. It's an easy way to differentiate between characters and between different levels of power. It's easy to tell about how strong a character is and what type of character they are. But the more I played, the less and less realistic this seemed. By unrealistic, I don't mean one of those necessary and negligible abstractions, but rather a fundamental problem with the game. Classes and levels are the foundation upon which all D&D characters are built. The class and level system, while convenient, does not make sense to me in the context of the story.

    When a character "Levels up" they gain new powers dependent on their class in addition to a flurry of other benefits. The best example I can think of for this being nonsensical is the way in which the skill system works. I made reference to fighting orcs in the desert making you a better swimmer, but what about if you want to spend all of your time learning how to climb walls, to the exclusion of anything else? When you level up, you still can only put so many points on your Climb skill, and inevitably need to spend the rest on other things. How does that make an ounce of sense? Shouldn't your points go into what you used or what you trained? Wizards. What if a Wizard wanted to focus on only three schools of magic? Specializing doesn't support that, nor does any other option that I know of. But logically, it should be possible. If it weren't for the level system forcing Wizards to all have the same spell-acquisition system, this may be possible.

    It's interesting to note that D&D and the various D20 systems that are derived from it are the only games that I've encountered that make use of a class/level system. The rest have some alternate method of acquiring new abilities or improving old ones. These alternatives are varied, so I think I'll save a discussion on those for a later. The point is that a system either focuses character design by regimented classes and levels, or more of a free-form trait system.

    Though I bash it quite a lot, the class system does have the undisputed advantage of easily differentiating characters, though consideration must still be spent to avoid cross overs. Its simple to create class-ed characters and easy for the DM to determine whether or not there are role overlaps. On the other hand, classless systems provide the opportunity for much more customization of characters, but as a result more careful attention must be paid to make sure each character has at least one area in which they can shine and there must be mechanics built in to avoid players totally pumping a single aspect of their character - some sort of diminishing return system works best.

    This choice has a lot of influence over how character creation and advancement work. Both of these topics are very important to players and as a result said choice impacts the type of players attracted as well as the types of characters that result.

    The End for Now
    I don't have infinite time and my urge to type has been at least momentarily sated. If people find this interesting, informative, useful, entertaining, or at the various least anything above horrid, I will quite likely continue my Essays. Possible topics include methods of rolling, character advancement, classed versus non-classed systems, various supernatural systems, and realism versus cinematics among others. Speak up if you want more of this. Otherwise I'll stop wasting your time.
    Last edited by Welknair; 2012-02-03 at 08:39 PM.
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    Welknair, you are like... some living avatar of win. Who's made of win. And wields win as if it were but a toy. Win.
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    Welknair you are a god among men. Thank you for creating a playground for the completely insane.
    Quote Originally Posted by Morph Bark
    There have also been times where I was jealous of your ingenuity and skills.

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    Default Re: Welknair's Essays on Game Design

    I think I'm in love :-)

    All seriousness aside, though, please continue this. I have many ideas to make a better (albeit way more complicated) form of GURPS, along with a dominating skill system and possibly a couple of story aspect of Burning Wheels. I have been trying to create the system itself for quite some time now because of lack of assistance, motivation other than from myself, and no knowledge on what I can do next. Your mindset seems to be similar to mine, and I will honestly be broken if you do not continue this.

    Sorry, I tend to babble off point. If you would like to help in the production of this system or would just like to know my ideas, please pm me, when your not busy typing these of course :-).
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    Default Re: Welknair's Essays on Game Design

    I'm glad to see that this isn't entirely useless! In that case, I think I'll add an essay every few days, or whenever the mood strikes me

    My game similarly is drawing on a lot of GURPS concepts. For the time being, I've more or less shelved it as I begin my GURPS game with the group. I'm still piling up ideas, though!


    In addition for this being a place to dump my random thoughts about all things Tabletop-RPG-related, I'd also be very pleased if it were the center for talk on systems in general. This board tends towards a 3.5e-focus, but there are many games out there besides just that. Anyone that has any ideas about what they do or don't like about various systems, this would be the place to speak up!
    Avatar by Araveugnitsuga

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daverin View Post
    Welknair, you are like... some living avatar of win. Who's made of win. And wields win as if it were but a toy. Win.
    Quote Originally Posted by Virdish
    Welknair you are a god among men. Thank you for creating a playground for the completely insane.
    Quote Originally Posted by Morph Bark
    There have also been times where I was jealous of your ingenuity and skills.

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    Default Re: Welknair's Essays on Game Design

    You focused on world definition, but perhaps almost as important to the system's flavor is mechanical definition. On one hand of the spectrum you have freeform roleplay, where there are no mechanics. On the other, you have things like computer games, where everything is pre-defined and you don't even need a DM. And once again, D&D lies right in the middle.

    And I'd be happy to read more.
    My general 3.5 balance fix.
    My psionics remix.
    My common-sense houserules.
    More minor homebrew (weapons, races).

    Complete system remake (under construction, barely started)

    Ever want to try your hand at optimizing, but dislike heavy emphasis on splatbooks and/or the rocket tag phenomenon?
    Come visit the Core Coliseum today, for a totally different style of optimization.

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    Default Re: Welknair's Essays on Game Design

    Quote Originally Posted by Yitzi View Post
    You focused on world definition, but perhaps almost as important to the system's flavor is mechanical definition. On one hand of the spectrum you have freeform roleplay, where there are no mechanics. On the other, you have things like computer games, where everything is pre-defined and you don't even need a DM. And once again, D&D lies right in the middle.

    And I'd be happy to read more.
    That is among the topics I will talk about if I do choose to continue
    Avatar by Araveugnitsuga

    Fourthland: A Game of Abstraction
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daverin View Post
    Welknair, you are like... some living avatar of win. Who's made of win. And wields win as if it were but a toy. Win.
    Quote Originally Posted by Virdish
    Welknair you are a god among men. Thank you for creating a playground for the completely insane.
    Quote Originally Posted by Morph Bark
    There have also been times where I was jealous of your ingenuity and skills.

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    Default Re: Welknair's Essays on Game Design

    I'd love to hear opinions on how 5e could be better designed.

    You know me, always a fan of your work. I enjoyed reading this.

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    Default Re: Welknair's Essays on Game Design

    Quote Originally Posted by Elfstone View Post
    I'd love to hear opinions on how 5e could be better designed.

    You know me, always a fan of your work. I enjoyed reading this.
    Glad to hear it!

    As far as 5e goes, my greatest suggestion for WotC would be for them to take a step back and honestly look at their game. Just look at it. They should read some boards and have designers that actually play the game. Imagine if you or I were involved in the making of D&D? You'd think that we'd have fixed or changed so many problems by now! Seriously, WotC! Know what it is to make a balanced character! Know that your Wizards have been too powerful. Know that we aren't looking for a videogame, we have videogames for that. What they have is great, but the more they try to fix it, the more they make it worse. I honestly believe that their best option would be for them to drop their current build of D&D and start over from scratch. Many things should remain the same - There should be dungeons, there should be dragons, there should be wizards and fighters, clerics and rogues. The focus should remain on fantasy adventure, of course. But with mechanics - how old is Vancian casting? How well does it fit most fantasy stories? How overpowered is it compared to mundane characters?

    One could argue they tried something like this with 4e. But they went in the wrong direction. We play D&D for the stories and the interesting characters. I don't have a lot of experience with 4e, but what I do have indicates that the characters are pretty hard-set (You're playing a Fighter, huh? Here are your options.). For each class there are a wide-array of powers, but for each individual level you only have a few choices. And one of the best parts of 3.5e was the ability to mix-and-match classes. 4e handles that very, very poorly in my opinion. This excludes many very cool character concepts. Meanwhile, they had all classes use the same power-mechanics. This did make progress towards balance, but also reduced the individuality of each class. Most classes of each type can do whatever else classes of the same type can. They aren't unique. They're just numbers and letters, which I really dislike.

    They should scrap it all and start over. Listen to their players. Pay attention. Playtest some. Use some Boccob-darned common sense. Include some dungeons and some dragons too. Those help.

    Edit: Oh, and feel free to ask me anything about anything.
    Last edited by Welknair; 2012-02-03 at 02:11 PM.
    Avatar by Araveugnitsuga

    Fourthland: A Game of Abstraction
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daverin View Post
    Welknair, you are like... some living avatar of win. Who's made of win. And wields win as if it were but a toy. Win.
    Quote Originally Posted by Virdish
    Welknair you are a god among men. Thank you for creating a playground for the completely insane.
    Quote Originally Posted by Morph Bark
    There have also been times where I was jealous of your ingenuity and skills.

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    Default Re: Welknair's Essays on Game Design

    Homestuck d20? I want. Where I get?

    Also, these essays are really cool, Welknair.
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    Default Re: Welknair's Essays on Game Design

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadow Lord View Post
    Homestuck d20? I want. Where I get?

    Also, these essays are really cool, Welknair.
    Ahem.

    Glad you liked my first essay.

    I posted the next four. I felt like writing again.
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    Great reflections!

    As far as balancing magic/psionics/etc to being mundane- it can't and ought not be done. Magic is exactly what it says on the tin: breaking the normal laws of reality. Psionics allows for the same.

    Now, the fighter can and should be dynamic. Indeed, there can be great campaigns for fighters/knights/cavaliers/rogues/barbarians/monks... all unique, all fighting differently- combat maneuvers and feats, sneak attacks, charges, bull rushes, trips, disarms, locked tower shield formations, etc. Getting more powerful, more versatile, becoming leaders, etc.

    But without granting extreme amounts of extraordinary/supernatural/spell-like power to a fighter, its irrational to imagine him as a wizard's equal. He can be loaded up with the best magic weapons/armor and given a utility belt full of wondrous items- then he's the Batman of the Justice League, skilled and useful. But still not able to bend reality.

    I have a homebrew monk fix (link in my sig) that tries to make a spell-less character that can go toe to toe with the wizards and clerics of the world. But I essentially had to not only give the monk superpowers (mostly via weapon enhancements), but make the monk able to shift those powers on a regular basis. And the class still can't quite keep up with their versatility.

    The way I see it, magic/psionics ought be a dividing factor. Achilles, the nigh-invulnerable part-deity fighter of old, can still be 1-hit killed by a playboy archer that rolled a 20. Likewise, Alexander the Great carved an empire with martial strength and leadership alone, but then died of a fever. A high-level magical/psionics character- like Xmen's Jean Grey, Gandalf, Redcloak, etc- can win battles singlehandedly, or turn the tide of major battles.

    This divide is OK- make players choose which power setting the campaign is on: pure martial, some powers: hexblades/bards/paladins/rangers/psychic warriors/etc, or reality warping wizards/psions/clerics. Or tell players to multiclass/gestalt between tiers: the rogue/wizard, the fighter/psion, the samurai/cleric, the monk/druid.

    A system that explicitly recognizes the imbalance of power would be best. 3.5 didn't, and 4e tried to close the gaps and make magic a mere power source next to martial/primal/psionic. Let 5e be the one to say the effective character level of those with magic/mystic/psionic power rises faster than that of pure martial characters.
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    Default Re: Welknair's Essays on Game Design

    I see your point and I agree whole-heartedly. The way that D&D 3.5e has casters, there's just no way that mundanes can compete. A setup as you put forth with a pre-defined power level would work best for groups that have acknowledged the disparities between the tiers. A system with such power gaps as in 3.5e would do quite well to acknowledge the problem and suggest solutions like that.

    At the same time, I think it may yet be possible to balance supernatural powers with mundane ones. Such "set tier" games like you describe are perfectly viable, but not always what people are looking for. I believe that it is indeed possible to balance mundanes with non-mundanes. The non-mundanes in this circumstance cannot be "Reality-benders" or "Supers", at least not without extreme costs. But there are still ways to limit casters to the point where mundanes still can contribute about equally. An essay I intend to write soon is all about different supernatural systems and their "Restriction Mechanisms" that stop casters from ruling the world. It's possible to do a lot with magic, but there has to be some limits and it is in these limits that something akin to balance may be found.

    GURPS's first step towards this was treating every spell as it's own skill. If you're a mage, you aren't anything else - it takes a lot of work. Sheer time to learn can do much limit the mages' powers, as they can only learn so many spells at so high a level. Limits on how much magic can be used is pretty obvious - limit the amount of magic, limit their power. The problem with this is that casters then face the danger of "running out of magic" and suddenly being entirely useless, which isn't fun for anyone involved. This can be offset by rationing of magic, but how many players are that thought-out? My prefered restriction magic is uncertainty and the potential for negative side effects. Players can use all the magic they want, but they're never certain that it'll work, and the prices for failure (or just too much magic use) can be enough to disuade them from tossing around magic willy-nilly. If you can truly frighten them, then they would act far more conservatively. As with all things, this is a balance. If the penalties and uncertainty is too high, no one will use magic. Yet another possible restriction is casting time and required materials - the inconvenience of magic can make it less potent as a lot of consideration has to be paid to preparing for any spell. If such preparation takes long enough, mages may only be able to contribute to overcome obstacles they have spent a lot of effort preparing for. This makes them less useful in combat, but still viable characters.

    An awesome book series that everyone should read is "Discworld" by Terry Pratchett. In it, magic is a very real thing, but its use is limited by the "Law of Conservatin of Reality" which makes using magic to accomplish a task as difficult as it would be to accomplish it without magic. Witches manage to syphon energy from one place to another to mitigate this cost.

    Various mechanisms like these can go a long way towards bringing magic down to a more workable level. Like Tier 3! But still melee characters need a boost, far beyond what core Fighters get. They need options and other ways to contribute besides just bashing things to death. Give them powers to perform heroic feats, like slashing doors open, shooting ropes and the like. They don't have to be supernatural, they just have to be something to balance the field a bit.

    All of this is much easier said than done. Simply choosing a power level is much easier and this method would result in casters not being anywhere close to the 3.5e ones that can truly warp reality. But that's kinda the point - they're limited. The closest I've seen to a well-balanced game in this regard is GURPS. Exalted tried to balance magic with casting time restrictions, but went too far and as a result magic is seldom used. It takes a lot of work to get it right.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kail_Traeganni View Post
    As far as balancing magic/psionics/etc to being mundane- it can't and ought not be done. Magic is exactly what it says on the tin: breaking the normal laws of reality. Psionics allows for the same.
    I disagree entirely. That is what breaks magic, the complete disregard for the natural laws of the world and how they would limit the availability, but not effects, of using magic. Not only should it take an immense time to learn to use, require tutoring by person or book, and be reliant on materials to reduce energy costs and foci to enhance components, but its should also use lots of energy, either from oneself (quicker, but fatiguing), nature (slow, but unlimited), a nearby source (gems can hold it like copper can hold electricity, must be in contact), or from a separate powerful entity (must channel it to you willingly, slow but plentiful). The energy expended is dependent on the cost of realistically making energy do this with whatever is present. Energy can be converted into matter, and vice versa, etc. etc. I think I will prepare a post about my views on a scientific magic, but it is likely to be lengthy, so it might take a while.
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    Default Re: Welknair's Essays on Game Design

    @Welknair:

    Perhaps if the law of Equivalent Exchange could be implemented in a mechanically workable way. All healing requires either stealing or sacrificing health. Making one plant grow rapidly means stunting another's growth. Throwing a fireball makes you take cold damage, unless you snuff out nearby fires. Reality can only be bent in equivalent ways- no decanters of endless water and stock of horns of plenty acting as the mountaintop castle's infinite food/water supply.

    Of course, a canny player might say, "Poor me: Incinerating one opponent at the cost of freezing another. Equivalent heat exchange, yes?"

    I also like the GURPS system, though the guide notes how the GM has to be careful: something difficult for a well-trained investigator that acquires information with sex appeal and fast talking and puts the pieces together with Criminology can be very easy for a telepath. Magic/psionics won't simply break the world in GURPS, but their users are a cut above those without.

    @Xechon I wholeheartedly agree that scientific, rules based magic is far better and more gripping than when magic as a handwave to explain the impossible. However, the sheer versatility of magic means that skilled users of a practical, rules-based system can still be massively more powerful than mundane characters.

    "Energy can be converted into matter, and vice versa, etc. etc." Physics-based, scientific... and nuclear magic would be even more powerful than DnD Vancian unscientific world-breaking. "I consume the mass of the pebble and convert it into pure kinetic energy applied to my opponents. The orcs are instantly launched into the air at terrifying velocity."

    Science-based magic, rather than "Spell X has Effects 1a and 4z," leaves power to a player's scientific knowledge/imagination. Subtle, low-power, high-finesse, scientific magic/psionics, in my hands, is deadlier than the sharpest sword. Give me magic that: 1) has a range of mere yards and b) can only be used to break or form the bonds protons, neutrons, and electron sized objects and c) comes from my own life-energy... well, the physical effort of that is less than basic stretching, so it shouldn't be too taxing to go saying: "I denature the potassium in my opponent's neurons responsible for telling his heart to beat. He dies, instantly." "I turn lead into gold." etc...
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    Default Re: Welknair's Essays on Game Design

    Quote Originally Posted by Kail_Traeganni View Post
    @Xechon I wholeheartedly agree that scientific, rules based magic is far better and more gripping than when magic as a handwave to explain the impossible. However, the sheer versatility of magic means that skilled users of a practical, rules-based system can still be massively more powerful than mundane characters.

    "Energy can be converted into matter, and vice versa, etc. etc." Physics-based, scientific... and nuclear magic would be even more powerful than DnD Vancian unscientific world-breaking. "I consume the mass of the pebble and convert it into pure kinetic energy applied to my opponents. The orcs are instantly launched into the air at terrifying velocity."

    Science-based magic, rather than "Spell X has Effects 1a and 4z," leaves power to a player's scientific knowledge/imagination. Subtle, low-power, high-finesse, scientific magic/psionics, in my hands, is deadlier than the sharpest sword. Give me magic that: 1) has a range of mere yards and b) can only be used to break or form the bonds protons, neutrons, and electron sized objects and c) comes from my own life-energy... well, the physical effort of that is less than basic stretching, so it shouldn't be too taxing to go saying: "I denature the potassium in my opponent's neurons responsible for telling his heart to beat. He dies, instantly." "I turn lead into gold." etc...
    Sheer versatility is not a problem. Anyone can do anything magic can do in that time period. A scientific viewpoint on magic combined with classic folklore would make magic extremely versatile, but either time-consuming (which also allows more chance for an enemy to distract, disable, or destroy you) or resource consuming, and your character must have the knowledge to do so.

    Go ahead. Eat the pebble. Enjoy digestion problems for the next week or so. To convert matter into energy is a process in which you must spend a lot of time and precise concentration and components, else you unleash the side effects of a nuclear reactor. It is actually way more efficient just to draw from your surroundings, but this is here for people to do dying novas and if they need to get energy but the GM is being a jerk.

    Third example, break bonds between the atomic particles in their neurons? You seem to be forgetting the level of skill, in magic and knowledge, focused on just that point, that it would take. Not to mention the time (in which the opponent should interrupt you if he wants or currently has life) And in a medieval world, know one could possibly even know about that. That move is just like a coup de grace, save it costs more.

    I will get to working on a full description of my view on it, and post it on these forums for all to criticize and challenge, so I may change my wording and fix what is broken, but I do believe this is closer to balance and reality and way further away from vanacian spellcasting and the horror that is... 4e.
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    Default Re: Welknair's Essays on Game Design

    Fighting orcs in the desert can make you a better swimmer. What. You can stab a random commoner twice in the chest with a dagger, and he's not going to die (Blah blah damage doesn't equal wounds blah blah). Wizards fighting the aforementioned desert-orcs will learn faster than those studying diligently in a top-notch university. See the entire discussion between Elan and Vaarsuvius about starting ages of classes way back near the start of the story. Wizards randomly have writing appear in their spellbook when they level up. These aren't little things, or mechanics that were required for game abstraction. These are nonsenical problems. And they drove me to look at other systems, like the ones mentioned above.
    This is something I disagree with for quite fundamental reasons. My philosophy on game design is that when fun conflicts with realism, fun always wins. If you want to do a freeform RP where the game mechanics will never get in the way of your fluff then... do a freeform RP? These "nonsensical problems" exist for good reasons, and I wouldn't dismiss them so quickly unless you already have alternative solutions in mind.

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    Default Re: Welknair's Essays on Game Design

    @Xechon:

    Yes, by tying magic to spending time and odd components (eventually, Ritual Magic rather than Battle Magic), you can take it down many notches.

    Also, my comment was in a context of more than DnD, as the thread is. Magic/Psionics in a modern setting, knowledge a college-educated character might have is fully applicable.

    Even in an ancient setting, it'd be fully within the character of a wizard with any capacity for divination/scrying magic to, if scientifically possible, use it to scry the living body. This may or may not, at DM discretion, allow for using srcying to view areas at greater magnification than possible with the human eye. So in a world of scientific magic, great advances in scientific knowledge as compared to the medieval world are very much possible. Who is to say that wizards haven't discovered the scientific method (only everyone calls it "wizards method."

    This isn't the case in DnD settings, because wizards of vancian magic have no reason to do this: their magic isn't really bound by rules, they can just research a spell and poof, it works for some reason.

    But in a scientific magic world, even pushed hundreds of years back, many things now known thanks to modern technologies for seeing things and testing theories may well have been discovered by curious wizards using magic for seeing things and testing theories. They could be said (outside Eberron) not have the craft-focused, engineering-type minds that would result in technological advances, but could result in advanced knowledge about the natural world and about the rules of their own powers.

    After that, its just a matter of using great rituals to bind natural forces to funnel into a great storehouse of well-organized gems. The oldest and most full come out, those spent by adventuring wizards come back, and voila the wizards of the organization are generally walking around with power and knowledge aplenty.
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    Default Re: Welknair's Essays on Game Design

    Hmmmm.....interesting and well-written as usual, Welknair.

    As for my thoughts on 5e:

    I think that 5e will probably be, for lack of a better comparison, the lovechild of 3.5e and 4e. I think Wizards of the Coast has noticed how many people still hold a torch for 3.5e, but have also noticed how martially-inclined players are weeping with joy because their fighter isn't nigh-useless now. So, I think they'll probably end up doing something like giving each class dailies, encounters, and at-wills still, but make it so each class is more unique, hopefully.

    Also I miss your bloodlines.

    Yep, those are my thoughts on that.
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    Default Re: Welknair's Essays on Game Design

    About the new posts:

    1. Toughness isn't badly designed, it's just misunderstood. Toughness isn't meant to be an effective combat skill; if it were, it would be available as a bonus fighter feat. Toughness is simply there so that monsters with too many feats can spend them on something near useless. Effectively, Toughness is to feats as Commoner is to classes, and is not underpowered for the same reason.

    2. As far as I can tell, the absurdities in levelling arise from it being a mix between "you gained skill by practicing" and "while you were adventuring and during downtime, you learned some new skills." It used to be that a need for training helped emphasize the second enough to prevent absurdities, but then they removed that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kail_Traeganni View Post
    Great reflections!

    As far as balancing magic/psionics/etc to being mundane- it can't and ought not be done. Magic is exactly what it says on the tin: breaking the normal laws of reality. Psionics allows for the same.

    Now, the fighter can and should be dynamic. Indeed, there can be great campaigns for fighters/knights/cavaliers/rogues/barbarians/monks... all unique, all fighting differently- combat maneuvers and feats, sneak attacks, charges, bull rushes, trips, disarms, locked tower shield formations, etc. Getting more powerful, more versatile, becoming leaders, etc.

    But without granting extreme amounts of extraordinary/supernatural/spell-like power to a fighter, its irrational to imagine him as a wizard's equal. He can be loaded up with the best magic weapons/armor and given a utility belt full of wondrous items- then he's the Batman of the Justice League, skilled and useful. But still not able to bend reality.

    I have a homebrew monk fix (link in my sig) that tries to make a spell-less character that can go toe to toe with the wizards and clerics of the world. But I essentially had to not only give the monk superpowers (mostly via weapon enhancements), but make the monk able to shift those powers on a regular basis. And the class still can't quite keep up with their versatility.

    The way I see it, magic/psionics ought be a dividing factor. Achilles, the nigh-invulnerable part-deity fighter of old, can still be 1-hit killed by a playboy archer that rolled a 20. Likewise, Alexander the Great carved an empire with martial strength and leadership alone, but then died of a fever. A high-level magical/psionics character- like Xmen's Jean Grey, Gandalf, Redcloak, etc- can win battles singlehandedly, or turn the tide of major battles.

    This divide is OK- make players choose which power setting the campaign is on: pure martial, some powers: hexblades/bards/paladins/rangers/psychic warriors/etc, or reality warping wizards/psions/clerics. Or tell players to multiclass/gestalt between tiers: the rogue/wizard, the fighter/psion, the samurai/cleric, the monk/druid.

    A system that explicitly recognizes the imbalance of power would be best. 3.5 didn't, and 4e tried to close the gaps and make magic a mere power source next to martial/primal/psionic. Let 5e be the one to say the effective character level of those with magic/mystic/psionic power rises faster than that of pure martial characters.
    If going that way, the best approach would probably be to just use the 2e method and make martial characters actually advance in level faster in order to compensate.

    That said, I don't think it's necessary to have that imbalance of power. It's definitely one approach, but I see no reason that casters can't be depowered and noncasters powered up to balance them without changing the flavor of either one. "Bend reality" is only unmatchable if its limitations are somehow less restrictive (rather than just different) than the ability a high-level fighter has to affect reality through his skills.
    Last edited by Yitzi; 2012-02-04 at 10:39 PM.
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    Default Re: Welknair's Essays on Game Design

    Quote Originally Posted by Kail_Traeganni View Post
    @Xechon:

    Yes, by tying magic to spending time and odd components (eventually, Ritual Magic rather than Battle Magic), you can take it down many notches.

    Also, my comment was in a context of more than DnD, as the thread is. Magic/Psionics in a modern setting, knowledge a college-educated character might have is fully applicable.

    Even in an ancient setting, it'd be fully within the character of a wizard with any capacity for divination/scrying magic to, if scientifically possible, use it to scry the living body. This may or may not, at DM discretion, allow for using srcying to view areas at greater magnification than possible with the human eye. So in a world of scientific magic, great advances in scientific knowledge as compared to the medieval world are very much possible. Who is to say that wizards haven't discovered the scientific method (only everyone calls it "wizards method."

    This isn't the case in DnD settings, because wizards of vancian magic have no reason to do this: their magic isn't really bound by rules, they can just research a spell and poof, it works for some reason.

    But in a scientific magic world, even pushed hundreds of years back, many things now known thanks to modern technologies for seeing things and testing theories may well have been discovered by curious wizards using magic for seeing things and testing theories. They could be said (outside Eberron) not have the craft-focused, engineering-type minds that would result in technological advances, but could result in advanced knowledge about the natural world and about the rules of their own powers.

    After that, its just a matter of using great rituals to bind natural forces to funnel into a great storehouse of well-organized gems. The oldest and most full come out, those spent by adventuring wizards come back, and voila the wizards of the organization are generally walking around with power and knowledge aplenty.
    All magic is ritual magic. Battle magic goes against all practicality, and will either be very weak but affect multiple foes at a range (to differentiate from basic bow attacks) or, as it is in 3.5, horribly overpowered, even when used as intended, not as read.

    I am not using D&D as my example here, and I believe I took into considerations more modern situations by saying by time they could do that, they're dead. Like I said above, I am using my own system ideas as a base, but stating in the general to be used wherever implemented. So it could be homebrewed into D&D. But it's not intended directly.

    Scrying on human anatomy to study it is completely possible, but sadly, only when they have the knowledge to create structures that can record light and send/store the information somewhere where it can be decoded, and the sensor would have to be small enough to fit inside the body, unless they had cut it up, in which case you really don't need to scry it. Pretty much, you need knowledge of modern-day sensory technology, and that's where magic does not equal technology.

    Magic is ingenuity, and while it can be used to simulate technology, you must know how it works in both practical terms and magical. The advancement of technology wont happen any faster because of magic because it is generally rare, shunned, and is limited by technology. You could, however, have an ebberon style world if the people embrace magic and view it as better than developing technology, but advances will still happen at the same pace. We would just be in 2012 now with magic repeating crossbows instead of guns.

    Okay, I have the very first part of my ideas about magic up for criticism, we should move that discussion there.
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    Default Re: Welknair's Essays on Game Design

    For the most part, good points well made. Keep it up.

    I'd argue that balance can be a lot more complicated as a topic than you might think, and that you're probably being unfair on the designers -- you have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight and a complete view of the game. The designers obviously didn't have the benefit of hindsight, and there's no guarantee that their view of the game was complete.

    As for playtesting, it's well worth doing, but "Playtesting. You need more of it" seems overly simplistic. It's important to make sure that your tests are good and that you're getting the most out of them, but it's not necessarily an easy task. Simply doing more playtests when your playtests aren't actually any better than smoke tests isn't going to help you at all.

    Indeed, my understanding is that that's exactly what went wrong with 3rd edition -- it's not that they didn't playtest enough, it's that their playtests weren't any good.
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    Default Re: Welknair's Essays on Game Design

    Ok, some clarifications are in order.

    Quote Originally Posted by Welknair
    Fighting orcs in the desert can make you a better swimmer. What.
    Any reasonable DM should make sure that levels are gained through experience in a wide variety of things.
    A group where all you do is fight is a group I'd strongly advise you retire from.


    Quote Originally Posted by Welknair
    You can stab a random commoner twice in the chest with a dagger, and he's not going to die (Blah blah damage doesn't equal wounds blah blah).
    Yes. Successful attack rolls represent many combat scenarios, not just stabs to the chest. For all it matters, a successful attack could mean nothing more than a close call that has surprised the target and has shaken its resolve.


    Quote Originally Posted by Welknair
    Wizards fighting the aforementioned desert-orcs will learn faster than those studying diligently in a top-notch university.
    I'm gonna make an educated guess that you don't do a lot of martial arts, do you?
    It so happens that raising my son the wrong way for several years and the right way for several others has taught me that striving for perfection and stretching one's abilities to the limits makes things easier, as it sharpens both body and mind.


    Quote Originally Posted by Welknair
    Wizards randomly have writing appear in their spellbook when they level up.
    No, it's an abstraction, to spare players of unimportant details involving the party wizard's accumulation of knowledge - bits and pieces of information that together amount to the knowledge of how to generate a specific effect.




    Quote Originally Posted by Welknair
    I honestly believe that their best option would be for them to drop their current build of D&D and start over from scratch. Many things should remain the same - There should be dungeons, there should be dragons, there should be wizards and fighters, clerics and rogues. The focus should remain on fantasy adventure, of course. But with mechanics - how old is Vancian casting? How well does it fit most fantasy stories? How overpowered is it compared to mundane characters?
    No need to reinvent the wheel. There are lots of things that 3.5 did right:
    - The ability scores and modifiers
    - The number of levels
    - Iterative attacks (the concept at least)
    - Saving throws
    - Skills mechanics
    - Feats mechanics
    - Combat in general (needs some additions and modifications, but the baseline is wonderful)
    - Conditions
    - Special attacks (they listed most of them, anyway)
    - Most class features.


    WotC's primary mistake was the huge power and action-economy gap between melees and casters. Add their implementations for everything involving PrCs and you get one big mess of imbalance.
    But they're much more to blame for the latter than the former. It took me a very long time to find equilibrium between melees, skillmonkeys and spellcasters and I fully understand how tough this challenge is.
    Making PrCs far more powerful than base classes and making it at all possible for players to meet the prereqs for more than one pre-epic was a mistake of epic proportions.

  22. - Top - End - #22
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Sep 2009

    Default Re: Welknair's Essays on Game Design

    Quote Originally Posted by nonsi View Post
    It took me a very long time to find equilibrium between melees, skillmonkeys and spellcasters and I fully understand how tough this challenge is.
    It would seem to me that as long as you don't insist on having them all equal for each individual encounter, the problem should be solvable by having them good at different things (thereby preventing any one of them from taking the spotlight of the others) and having different weaknesses which can cover each other (particularly if you make smart enemies who will take advantage of any holes they leave.)

    I'd say the way to find equilibrium is to ask "what should group X be able to do that nobody else can, or nobody else can as well". If there isn't one, you've got a problem (either a tier 1 or a tier 5 or lower). If there is one but it's not really needed or very rarely needed, you've got a slightly milder problem (probably a tier 4).
    My general 3.5 balance fix.
    My psionics remix.
    My common-sense houserules.
    More minor homebrew (weapons, races).

    Complete system remake (under construction, barely started)

    Ever want to try your hand at optimizing, but dislike heavy emphasis on splatbooks and/or the rocket tag phenomenon?
    Come visit the Core Coliseum today, for a totally different style of optimization.

  23. - Top - End - #23
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Apr 2010

    Default Re: Welknair's Essays on Game Design

    Quote Originally Posted by Yitzi View Post
    It would seem to me that as long as you don't insist on having them all equal for each individual encounter, the problem should be solvable by having them good at different things (thereby preventing any one of them from taking the spotlight of the others) and having different weaknesses which can cover each other (particularly if you make smart enemies who will take advantage of any holes they leave.)

    I'd say the way to find equilibrium is to ask "what should group X be able to do that nobody else can, or nobody else can as well". If there isn't one, you've got a problem (either a tier 1 or a tier 5 or lower). If there is one but it's not really needed or very rarely needed, you've got a slightly milder problem (probably a tier 4).
    Having them all equal for each individual encounter would kinda make the game pointless, wouldn't it?
    Regarding tier of power - all of my classes and PrCs are either tier-3 or tier-2 out of the box. Even with the worst possible multiclassing choices, you'd have to go out of your way to produce a tier-4 character and creating a tier-1 character is practically impossible.
    And as for the makeup of an adventuring party: I present 43 different level 1 - 20 routes (prior to spells/skills/feats selection), folded into 13 base classes (12 options for primary healers, 4(9) bard variants, 4 skillmonkeys, awesome DFA/Wizard/Warlock remakes, 4 primary melees (one of which is extremely customizable) and almost no 5th-wheelers). A group would have to work really hard to exclusively select 4 from those 43 and be less than very capable of handling a wide variety of challenges.
    Last edited by nonsi; 2012-02-07 at 01:34 AM.

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