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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Why, instead, does working together to balance a party seem like such a foreign concept to most gamers?
    Because it is the game designers job to create a good game, not the people who are playing it. Not that there isn't responsibility to make a good game there, but players+ should never have to make up for the mistakes of the game designer. Not that it isn't worth it on occasion, but still that takes time, energy and skill that not everyone has to dedicate to the game, but it is hardly the ideal.

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    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Because it is the game designers job to create a good game, not the people who are playing it. Not that there isn't responsibility to make a good game there, but players+ should never have to make up for the mistakes of the game designer. Not that it isn't worth it on occasion, but still that takes time, energy and skill that not everyone has to dedicate to the game, but it is hardly the ideal.
    And because design choices (intentional or not) by the designers can make it much harder (or easier) to attain the desired balance point. Designers do the rough balance, parties do the fine balance (or throw it out if they wish). The players can override the developers--the reverse is not true.

    This means that the developers bear a responsibility to make a choice and work toward that. Imbalance is an acceptable choice, but it should be the result of explicit choices (Ars Magica), not poor design (3.5e D&D).
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    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    This thread seems to rest on completely unfounded assumptions and sweeping statements. Can you point to a non-D&D game where balance works the way you think it should? Or one where it doesn't?
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    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    I'll admit that I wasn't even alive during this golden age of gaming where everyone knew the game was out of balance and worked together through it, dammit, but I've seen enough stories like it to know that it's probably a myth, just like every nostalgic golden age where these problems everyone complains about didn't exist.
    As to why this is a problem...well, there are a few issues. First, every player is going to want to make their character as powerful as they can. Sometimes it's out of a desire to be the best and the coolest, but it can equally well be out of a desire not to make things harder for everyone else for something ephemeral like "balance". (Imagine someone pulling this in your campaign.) Heck, it might just be ignorance. "What're you talking about? Your fighter hits the bad guys a lot, I'm sure that's as important as my spells." Second, even if they see the issue and want to fix it, it might not be clear how to build/play your characters so they neither overshadow nor are overshadowed by other characters. It's not an easy question! On a third and related note: If professional game designers have trouble balancing encounters, what the flying frell makes you think every Average Joe Gamer is going to be able to handle it? "They know their characters better than anyone?" Technically true, but I don't think their backstories or personalities will affect game balance much, so that just leaves mechanics, and the designers know those better than anyone. Because...you know...they designed them. And because it's their job to understand them, whereas Joe's job is to understand municipal water supplies or whatever.
    There was no golden age of gaming or old school is better, you are true it's just nostalgia. Game balance has always been an issue and mostly D&D gets called out as a culprit because it's most popular. The problem today compared them good old days is optimization. Optimization?!?! WTF you may ask? Yes now we have the entire gaming collective sharing their finding via the internet and dumb as brick Johnny doesn't have to use a single braincell to make that gamebreaking character, he just looks for the most OP build online and for DM's it's hard to counter as it just gets built up level by level.

    In point buy the GM has much more control to veto things and often he'll say what is allowed and what not.

    Another solution is for people who are unhappy about the balance to fix it themselves or just get their thumb out of their butt and play other systems which are better balanced.

    I'm on the opinion that most system can be played or broken and game designers have a hard time balancing the game after the fact. It's not like a computer game where you roll out a patch. The brainpower of the collective is going to find and poke holes at the design. So in the game balance is about agreement among gentlemen and women in the gaming group. I have the ability to make OP characters in many of the systems I play but I don't because it would make the game less fun for everyone.

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    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    You're making grand, sweeping, all-inclusive claims that are really only a description of a small part of the gaming landscape. For instance:

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    oD&D and 1e were balanced stochastically across players, not at the character level.

    You got your character stats by rolling dice with a bell curve. Eventually, you'd get a character with above average stats -- because all your previous characters died.
    Lots of people say this, but it wasn't my experience. Of eleven original D&D characters I've run, only two ever died. Most DMs weren't as anti-social as Gygax.

    And those two both died because I did something stupid with them, not because of their stats. They didn't have lower statst than my other characters. Even in games with high mortality rates, it's simply not true that characters with lower stats died more quickly. Not in any game I ever saw or witnessed.

    The stats had far less importance in original D&D. I never thought a character was stronger, or less strong, than another because of stats. But Todd's character's were more effective than Richards, which were about the same as mine, which were more effective than Arthur's, which were more effective than Pat's, which were more effective than Eric's. Because how cleverly you played had a much greater impact than the stats did.

    Your discussions of 1e, 2e, and 3e are similarly stereotyped, and don't describe the games as I played them or witnessed them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    4e actually made it so you were a legitimate badass at level 1, and you were quite likely to survive, which is exactly what everybody wanted.
    I never wanted that. It's not a game until you can lose it. Once again, you are taking a single approach and claiming it covers all of gaming.

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    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Mostly true. Personally, I'm more about making things as fun as possible, being as true to the concept as possible, etc. But, when that is a conflict of interest, that's what the GM (or other players in a GM-less game?) is for.
    The position of GM is already not terribly fun for many people due to it having inbuilt conflict of interest in their eyes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Surely you're not trying to contend that humanity is populated by such dullards as could somehow be in that situation, be unhappy, and know that there is a problem, but not be able to comprehend that massive imbalance was the issue? Particularly that a whole group of such would not constitute a significant statistical anomaly?
    Comprehending that balance is an issue is far easier than fixing that balance issue.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Sure. But that's not the point. My carefully crafted character, who recovers mana fast enough to cast 20d6 lightning at will may not be suitable for play in the same party as a character whose big shtick is casting 5d6 lightning twice in a row, or the alpha strike character who goes first and deals 10d6 damage once.

    I hate to use the word, but is that the issue? That people feel - and are being encouraged to feel - entitled to play any character that they can create, regardless of the impact on the group? That their entitlement is more important than group dynamics, than fun?
    This implies that people feel like you should be able to randomly pick any crappy options for your character and still have it be as powerful as someone purposefully picking good options. In my experience, that is not really the case. In my experience, it's more like people want to be allowed to powergame without being held back by the possibility of breaking the game if they do it too well. There is a difference between trying very hard at something and succeeding only because you tried hard versus holding yourself back and succeeding at something easy.
    It always amazes me how often people on forums would rather accuse you of misreading their posts with malice than re-explain their ideas with clarity.

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    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Vitruviansquid View Post
    This implies that people feel like you should be able to randomly pick any crappy options for your character and still have it be as powerful as someone purposefully picking good options. In my experience, that is not really the case. In my experience, it's more like people want to be allowed to powergame without being held back by the possibility of breaking the game if they do it too well. There is a difference between trying very hard at something and succeeding only because you tried hard versus holding yourself back and succeeding at something easy.
    Very much this.

    I enjoy optimizing my character, but I like to be able to do so without completely breaking the game and ruining it for everyone and pushing against un-written DM imposed limits feels like a frustrating game of battle-ship while pushing against my own self imposed limits is like sitting in a cup-cake factory and trying to stick to my diet.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Personally, I'm happy that Spider-Man and Quasar and Hulk and Tom Jones and Angel and Thor all have very different power levels, but are all playable in Marvel superheroes. The System allows and enables you to play whatever character you want, but leaves considerations of balance to the group. Where it belongs, IMO.

    Why do modern players, like yourself, seem to feel that most of those superheroes are invalid concepts, because balance should have been handled at the system level?
    I am not overly familiar with this system but am curious how character creation actually worked.

    Did the game have any system of "ranking" character power?

    Was it point buy or just make what you want and see what the DM will allow?

    Did the DM set power floors and ceilings?

    Was everyone expected to use up all the "character points" allotted to them?

    Was there any sort of benefit to playing a low powered character like narrative control or rerolls or something?
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    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by tensai_oni View Post
    Please explain to me how a situation where everyone meaningfully contributes to an encounter as opposed to half the party sitting on their hands and doing nothing is supposed to be a bad thing.
    It is not good or bad...it is just different. And that is the whole point. The idea that everyone must make a meaningful contribution to every single encounter is the modern idea.

    OS game, each player and each character get a chance to do something thoroughout the whole adventure..but yes, sometimes they just sit and wait..and sometimes others sit and wait...and everyone is fine with that.

    The Modern game is just endless watching and nitpicking for as soon as a single player is even slightly lessened for even a moment....the game has a balance problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by tensai_oni View Post
    Bolded for emphasis. Where did this come from? Please explain to me how reducing player character agency improves their roleplaying. Unless you are operating on some weird mutation of stormwind fallacy, where PCs who are doing something during an encounter aren't roleplaying, while those who do nothing are roleplaying.
    Game balance is a mechanical, roll playing thing...not a role playing thing. If a player is obsessed with the numbers and roll playing, then they are not role playing.

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    Asserting that modern gaming discourages roleplaying (despite the newest edition of D&D being the one where the designers made sure players had to pick more of their personality/background than an alignment, and despite older editions expecting your characters to die before they could be developed, and the fact that your assertions fail to hold up in any situation I've been able to test them in) is a common trope in the Halcyon Days of Roleplaying Before All These Dang Vidya Games stories I hear.
    Modern gaming puts the overwhelming emphasis on mechanics as a way to balance the game, as, of course, they can be measured and compared. You can easily say that the game is balanced, when all characters have the same +10 or equivalent. To the Modern Game, Role Playing is just fluff to be done outside of combat or other mechanical roll playing.

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    I became a "submissive" player who let others move to the front and do everything because my character was incapable.
    Well, note this is not being submissive. This is you not having the proper amount of Game Mastery to make the type of character you wanted to play in the game. In your example here, it would seem you wanted to have a pure roll playing combat character, but you simply did not make one to play.

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    So...if I understand this, the in-charge DM designs adventures and lets players create solutions, while the in-control DM designs challenges with solutions and lets the players find them. And then there are the on-the-fly adventures ("Quick DM"), which are another beast entirely.
    This is all very interesting, but what the HFIL does it have to do with anything?
    Because the In Charge type game is wildly unbalanced. The balance of this game is random, and depends 100% on the players. So if a player has enough role play mastery, imagination, rules mastery, setting mastery and real life knowledge....and they are aggressive and assertive enough to ask the DM to make such things and add them to the game just for their character....and all the other players do this as well....then the game will be balanced. If not...no balance.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Interesting. I mean, one does hope that the players show interest in and pick up some of the elements in the sandbox, and that they become part of the story that they want to tell. But, when the first level characters decide that they want to do something about the Dragon Lords of Athas, that's usually a long-term goal that they build towards, not something they act on right away. The "you must be this tall to ride" sign generally means "oh, not yet" rather than, "oops, I brought the wrong character".
    This is just a Type of Long Game: The Slow build up to a massive, near open ended campaign arc. And the players can't really build a character for this, as no one knows what the future will hold as the arc is so open-ended.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Because it is the game designers job to create a good game, not the people who are playing it. Not that there isn't responsibility to make a good game there, but players+ should never have to make up for the mistakes of the game designer. Not that it isn't worth it on occasion, but still that takes time, energy and skill that not everyone has to dedicate to the game, but it is hardly the ideal.
    I find this view odd. I hope I don't shatter any illusions by telling you that game designers are just employees of a company that make games just to be payed.

    Even at the most basic: the Rule Writers have no control over the final product. They do their job, and write rules. And even if they make the most amazing perfect rules ever....they still have to go past a couple other people....people that can change, adjust or alter them. And even with the best case possible, like the prefect rules make it past all them people, you still have the Dreaded Editing. And if they need to cut 12 lines of text from page 33, they will, and there goes 2/3's of the perfect rule.

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    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    It is not good or bad...it is just different. And that is the whole point. The idea that everyone must make a meaningful contribution to every single encounter is the modern idea.
    It's also far from ubiquitous among modern games - even in D&D, it tends to be more that everyone must make meaningful combat contributions, and that makes a lot of sense in a system where a quick fight with only a few belligerents can take an hour (which is still better than some systems). Other games outright encourage drastic party splitting, and if anything prevents making a meaningful contribution to an encounter it's being somewhere else entirely.

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    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Sad panda. As I love derailing asides, what concepts did people have that were completely incompatible with game balance?
    I think the main problem there was that, for me, being able to pick and plan the best spell and control the battlefield and decide exactly how to manage things from afar, that's what makes the game fun. Their idea was "well, instead of doing control spells, just blast," which would have balanced things out but leaves me wondering why I even bothered to show up. On the other hand, I was playing with kick in the door, I don't want to worry about character options I just want to hit something, types. For them, trying to scale up so you have, say, maneuvers and this and that means you're doing homework and you show up to D&D to hit things, not to do homework.

    It probably could have been balanced, but in retrospect that would have required a system mastery none of us had.
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    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post

    But, not all characters are equal. Sometimes, the problem wasn't balancing characters vs monsters, but characters vs each other. The most elegant solution I've encountered to this problem is having someone - the GM, another player, or the offending player themselves - point out that the character doesn't fit the group power level. And then have them bring a character more in line with the group.

    None of this is new. All of this is stuff I've been using for more decades than I can remember.

    So why isn't this the "state of the art", or at least the "state of the practice"? Why, instead, does working together to balance a party seem like such a foreign concept to most gamers? Why has the idea of "balance to the group" or "balance to the module" fallen out of favor with the RPG community?
    I dont think it's fallen out of favour at all, not in my experience.

    A rough intraparty balance is the only balance that matters in fact.

    Party vs monsters "balance" can be fixed by the GM just adding more monsters/using harder monsters. What is critical however is a rough balance between PCs. If that gets out of whack (eg: a min maxer with an uber PC plus 3 normal PCs), the campaign will end early either because (1) the other players get jack of playing second fiddle all the time or (2) the GM accidentally TPKS the group trying the challenge the uber PC.

    There are two main solutions if you party is out of whack. (1) The GM can sometimes fix the imbalance via magic item distribution, or some other custom aspect to the game (eg making custom feats). (2) The easiest way is for the uber PC player to simply agree to "tone down" their PC - or make a new PC - to meet the rough party balance required.
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    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    Can you point to a non-D&D game where balance works the way you think it should?
    Yes.

    ...

    There is a slight awkward moment now while I explain it is a homebrew system my friend made and so I don't want to say too much about it. I will however say it is a Powered by the Apocalypse system.

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    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Vitruviansquid View Post
    This implies that people feel like you should be able to randomly pick any crappy options for your character and still have it be as powerful as someone purposefully picking good options. In my experience, that is not really the case. In my experience, it's more like people want to be allowed to powergame without being held back by the possibility of breaking the game if they do it too well. There is a difference between trying very hard at something and succeeding only because you tried hard versus holding yourself back and succeeding at something easy.
    There's also the other side of the coin--people wanting to be able to not powergame, to be able to pick choices which make sense thematically, without being completely useless. Things only get worse if there are entire thematic/demographic categories of characters who are worse, e.g. "You need magic to be good" or "Dwarves aren't viable".


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    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    It is not good or bad...it is just different. And that is the whole point. The idea that everyone must make a meaningful contribution to every single encounter is the modern idea.
    OS game, each player and each character get a chance to do something thoroughout the whole adventure..but yes, sometimes they just sit and wait..and sometimes others sit and wait...and everyone is fine with that.
    The Modern game is just endless watching and nitpicking for as soon as a single player is even slightly lessened for even a moment....the game has a balance problem.
    As a modern gamer, I'm offended that you're generalizing everyone so extremely. If you actually believe that, I'd say screw you, but you'd probably just say something about me being a whiny bitch and dismiss any arguments I made on that basis. (Not that I feel I should have to, given that your "argument" just just a series of wild assertions about how valorously patient gamers were in the good ol' days and how whiny, impatient, and/or oversensitive kids these days are.)
    If you don't actually believe that argument, but made it anyway, that's almost worse.

    Game balance is a mechanical, roll playing thing...not a role playing thing. If a player is obsessed with the numbers and roll playing, then they are not role playing.
    Stormwind Fallacy alert!
    Roleplaying and rollplaying can intersect, but never in the sense that one precludes the other. You can do both! I'd explain more, but it should be frickin' obvious enough that I don't have to.

    Modern gaming puts the overwhelming emphasis on mechanics as a way to balance the game, as, of course, they can be measured and compared. You can easily say that the game is balanced, when all characters have the same +10 or equivalent. To the Modern Game, Role Playing is just fluff to be done outside of combat or other mechanical roll playing.
    Or--and here's a funny idea--maybe it's just that game designers only influence rollplay, and should make sure that works as well as possible! Maybe the gamers at home shouldn't be forced to balance the rollplaying enough that it doesn't impede the roleplaying!

    Well, note this is not being submissive. This is you not having the proper amount of Game Mastery to make the type of character you wanted to play in the game. In your example here, it would seem you wanted to have a pure roll playing combat character, but you simply did not make one to play.
    I could make a big stink about how you're misrepresenting the situation explained in sentences of that post you left out, and in a way which insults me (I did make a ****ing roleplaying character, that's half the ****ing problem, you ****ing *******!), but that's not important. What's important is that you made an argument, I made a ****erargument, and you made a counter-counterargument that completely demolishes your original argument.
    That's a lot of profanity. You're really getting under my skin.

    Because the In Charge type game is wildly unbalanced. The balance of this game is random, and depends 100% on the players.
    Congratulations! On top of getting under my skin by asserting that because I observed that I was bad at combat, and then got bored with combat, I must only ****ing care about combat...your very next argument blunders into one of my least favorite Creationist fallacies. And as an ecology-and-evolution major, I have very strong feelings towards Creationist fallacies.
    But let's back off. Which fallacy am I talking about? The "evolution is random" fallacy, of course! It's wrong because it's actually directed by natural selection, which (in short) drives the Brownian motion of random mutaton in various directions based on environmental conditions. What does this have to do with your argument? Well, the game balance isn't actually random! It's driven by player actions, which are (despite all appearances) not ****ing random! They are entirely dependent on what problems the players have to overcome and what tools they have to overcome them. And those are both under GM control.
    A GM naturally controls the

    So if a player has enough role play mastery, imagination, rules mastery, setting mastery and real life knowledge....and they are aggressive and assertive enough to ask the DM to make such things and add them to the game just for their character....and all the other players do this as well....then the game will be balanced. If not...no balance.
    ...
    What?
    What do you mean by balanced? How does all of this lead to balance? And what does any of this have to do with this:
    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Also true. But, when one player is doing everything, and another is doing nothing - the kind of stories one hears all the time - it's pretty obvious how things are unbalanced.
    Because the situation you're describing as "balance" sounds exactly like one player doing everything while others do nothing.

    I'm a real jerk, bringing up the original context of the argument like that.

    This is just a Type of Long Game: The Slow build up to a massive, near open ended campaign arc. And the players can't really build a character for this, as no one knows what the future will hold as the arc is so open-ended.
    I have built characters for campaigns like that. It's a matter of building characters which sound interesting, which seem like characters you'd like to play.

    I find this view odd. I hope I don't shatter any illusions by telling you that game designers are just employees of a company that make games just to be payed.
    Alright, let me explain capitalism to you.
    The idea is that people who do good work get paid and outcompete people who do bad work. With me so far? Therefore, if a company wants to be as competitive as possible, they should make their products as good as possible (and sell them at good prices, but that's not important.) So, work with me--should the company be trying to make good games, or not?

    Even at the most basic: the Rule Writers have no control over the final product. They do their job, and write rules. And even if they make the most amazing perfect rules ever....they still have to go past a couple other people....people that can change, adjust or alter them. And even with the best case possible, like the prefect rules make it past all them people, you still have the Dreaded Editing. And if they need to cut 12 lines of text from page 33, they will, and there goes 2/3's of the perfect rule.
    You...you...
    That is so stupid.
    Yes, other people can ruin good work, but they usually don't. If editors take apart your work, completely change a rule you spent days on, there's always a reason for that. The fact that the editors are being paid to edit means they know how to edit, and what the point of editing is, and all of that. They're not going to ruin a "perfect" rule for no reason. However, they're perfectly willing to cut those lines of text from what the writer claims is a perfect rule if they're useless fluff or if they make the product worse.
    Say, you wouldn't happen to be a writer of some kind, would you? Or do you just buy into the deification of the writer and the demonizing of anyone who forces them to change their Artistic Vision?


    I'm getting way too involved in this. I'll get to other posts later.
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    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post

    Sounds like your get what I'm talking about. And, is your contention that, because the game focus moved away from "fun" to "power", people lost the ability to call each other out for mismatched power levels?
    I think that game designers should strive for balance, it's healthy for the game and the community unless a design principle dictates there should be a power disparity. But I'm old enough and experienced enough to understand with the amount of moving parts and subsystems in crunchy RPG's that this can be hard. You can always find a way to game the system. Therefore it's best if the gaming group reaches consensus what is unbalanced and what not.

    The heart of the problem lies in that this is a game as I will adress below.





    Quote Originally Posted by Vitruviansquid View Post
    Comprehending that balance is an issue is far easier than fixing that balance issue.
    No it isn't. The hard part is reaching an consensus on how to deal with balance issues as some people don't acknowledge there are issues or just don't want them fixed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vitruviansquid View Post
    This implies that people feel like you should be able to randomly pick any crappy options for your character and still have it be as powerful as someone purposefully picking good options. In my experience, that is not really the case. In my experience, it's more like people want to be allowed to powergame without being held back by the possibility of breaking the game if they do it too well. There is a difference between trying very hard at something and succeeding only because you tried hard versus holding yourself back and succeeding at something easy.
    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Very much this.

    I enjoy optimizing my character, but I like to be able to do so without completely breaking the game and ruining it for everyone and pushing against un-written DM imposed limits feels like a frustrating game of battle-ship while pushing against my own self imposed limits is like sitting in a cup-cake factory and trying to stick to my diet.
    When I play games with my kids be it physical games or mental games I tend to hold myself in check as it gives me no joy in crushing them utterly. In that regard I show restraint to the benefit of us all and to enhance our fun. The same applies when we cooperate, if I solve every problem and just fix everything it diminishes their sense of accomplishment and they will learn less from the experience.

    So if I Game Master for someone who tries to break the system to the detriment of the gaming group then I will use my system mastery to crush his character. Every complex system can break down and can be broken. This can be seen in computer games. I play a lot of RPG's and strategy games and often I'll find exploits or I can game the system to the detriment of my experience. Even when I crank up the difficulty to max and use exploits or powergame and the game is too easy it ceases to be fun.

    For many people RPG's are a game...this has become blatantly obvious after started to I peruse rpg forums. These gamers tend to want to win, game the system and want to have the option open to lose the game. Balance becomes an issue when these gamers are competitive and try to break the game or push boundaries.

    For other people RPG's are immersive experience in which the system is used to adjucate and interact with a fantasy world and characters. These Roleplayers may or may not be interested in system mastery and most often balance issue occurs when a power gamer takes a dump on their immersive fantasy by destroying the game balance with their creations. Inherent system balance often doesn't matter much to this group.


    But in the end inherent system imbalances can be fixed and get fixed by a lot of gaming groups either by agreements not to abuse the rules or houseruling.
    Last edited by RazorChain; 2017-11-19 at 10:44 PM.

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    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Honestly I'm wondering if the complexity issue (which was part of the issue I had with my first group) is just a big problem no matter what.

    I tend, personally, to play characters who have lots and lots of moving parts, lots of options, lots of ways of being prepared for freaking everything. The strategy game is the fun bit, and if I can't spend lots of time an effort picking the best option within given parameters, I'm going to be bored.

    Other people want a very straightforward game. The character creation game is annoying and they just want to smash things with their axe without worrying about a lot of character options.

    I'm not sure those work well together.
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    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Oddly, I was too busy feeling drab in 4e to even notice whether or not my shade of grey was more powerful than my old colorful characters at 1st level.
    Yeah, if you didn't give 4e a chance, then 4e was not going to perform well.

    More's the pity, since it had some excellent ideas.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    IME, every 2e party was unbalanced, just a) the gulf wasn't as big as in 3e; b) it didn't matter as much even if it was. Yet, even so, we seemed to have had better tools to deal with imbalance ("dude, bring something else so the other players can play, too") than we do now. When, you know, it seems like those tools would really come in handy now.
    Did you play the same levels in 2e that you played in 3e?

    I think my 1e experience didn't include ever reaching level 13, not even as a Thief.

    One really interesting thing I noticed about 3.x was that people seemed able to blow past the previous campaign-ending "name levels" (since names were gone). The funky high-level imbalance stuff became more pronounced because the system held together longer, so we actually saw mid-to-high level play regularly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    You're making grand, sweeping, all-inclusive claims that are really only a description of a small part of the gaming landscape.
    Someone is making generalizations in a thread titled "What's happened to gaming"?

    thog saw that coming

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    Lots of people say this, but it wasn't my experience.
    That's nice. It was the experience of lots of people. This is why lots of people say it.

    There really wasn't a standard D&D experience until 3e, and I suspect that was mostly due to the Internet -- though the efforts of the M:tG generation to make RPGs with rules that could be followed (mostly) assuredly did help.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    And those two both died because I did something stupid with them, not because of their stats.
    Yes, that's how lots of PCs died.

    And that's why the stat imbalance caused by rolling didn't matter that much.

    You got good stats? Great. You can keep them but only for a while. Then your PC will die, and you'll roll new stats.

    You got bad stats? Sorry. You can live with them, it's only for a while. Then your PC will die, and you'll roll new stats.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    The stats had far less importance in original D&D. I never thought a character was stronger, or less strong, than another because of stats.
    "Todd, you get 15% more XP than Jay gets, because you have better stats."

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    I never wanted that. It's not a game until you can lose it. Once again, you are taking a single approach and claiming it covers all of gaming.
    You're hallucinating words which I didn't type.

    A 4e PC was a badass, and that did not prevent losing. Badasses can and do lose. They just kick a lot of ass on the way down.

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    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Vitruviansquid View Post
    1. This is a conflict of interests for the players. Players should not be made to balance themselves because their job is also to be as powerful as possible. Besides, most players want their own characters to be powerful.
    IMHO, this is, at best "Power Gamer" thinking, or at worst, it's "Munchkin" philosophy. The "I'm not having a good time unless my character is the most powerful entity in existence, I don't care if I overshadow the rest of the characters" style that seems to be becoming more and more common. The whole idea of a group of players, is that they work as a group, not a bunch of individuals who just all happen to be doing the same things at the same time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vitruviansquid View Post
    2. Most players and GMs are unable to achieve balance even if they honestly wanted to. Most people who don't post regularly on RPG forums (and most people who do) don't know well enough how the numbers interact in order to be any good at balancing the game.
    Again.....

    Posting on forums to find the most optimal build and be the most powerful "X" in the game, isn't the idea here. Or it might be in your games, but then you are not really role playing, you are just number crunching at best. (Or being a giant Mary Sue at worst.) Balance (in the OP's sense) doesn't mean every character is the best at everything, and always does max damage with every attack (which rarely misses, if ever). Balance (here) means each member of the party has a job to do, and does it. And ONLY that job (with maybe a slight overlap in case of emergencies).

    Quote Originally Posted by Vitruviansquid View Post
    3. It would be pretty gross to open a gamebook and see that Lightning Bolt does 1d6 damage or 2d6 damage or 3d6 damage depending on how powerful the GM and players feel wizards should be.
    Again....

    This isn't what the OP means...this isn't what any of this means....

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    I find this view odd. I hope I don't shatter any illusions by telling you that game designers are just employees of a company that make games just to be payed.

    Even at the most basic: the Rule Writers have no control over the final product. They do their job, and write rules. And even if they make the most amazing perfect rules ever....they still have to go past a couple other people....people that can change, adjust or alter them. And even with the best case possible, like the prefect rules make it past all them people, you still have the Dreaded Editing. And if they need to cut 12 lines of text from page 33, they will, and there goes 2/3's of the perfect rule.
    "No battle plan will ever survive contact with the enemy".

    In this case it translates to "No rule system will ever survive contact with the players." You can design the perfect RPG, and your players will eventually find a way to break it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    That's nice. It was the experience of lots of people. This is why lots of people say it.

    There really wasn't a standard D&D experience until 3e, and I suspect that was mostly due to the Internet -- though the efforts of the M:tG generation to make RPGs with rules that could be followed (mostly) assuredly did help.
    There STILL isn't a "standard" D&D experience. Unless you play exclusively with clones of yourself...and that's just creepy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    Yes, that's how lots of PCs died.

    And that's why the stat imbalance caused by rolling didn't matter that much.

    You got good stats? Great. You can keep them but only for a while. Then your PC will die, and you'll roll new stats.

    You got bad stats? Sorry. You can live with them, it's only for a while. Then your PC will die, and you'll roll new stats.
    You seem to think 1e and 2e had characters dropping like flies. That's not even close to being true. Unless you just played with a douch-nozzle DM.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    "Todd, you get 15% more XP than Jay gets, because you have better stats."
    To be fair, this little bit came from a time when GP = XP. And even then, every player I ever played with ignored that bonus...too much book keeping.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    A 4e PC was a badass, and that did not prevent losing. Badasses can and do lose. They just kick a lot of ass on the way down.
    Every character, in every edition, got to kick a lot of ass on the way down....you didn't really hit the "save or die" options very often. Again...unless you had a douche-nozzle for a DM. And then you didn't play with Sir Douch-nozzle for very long.
    Last edited by Mutazoia; 2017-11-20 at 04:26 AM.
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    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    I think that game designers should strive for balance, it's healthy for the game and the community unless a design principle dictates there should be a power disparity. But I'm old enough and experienced enough to understand with the amount of moving parts and subsystems in crunchy RPG's that this can be hard. You can always find a way to game the system. Therefore it's best if the gaming group reaches consensus what is unbalanced and what not.

    The heart of the problem lies in that this is a game as I will adress below.







    No it isn't. The hard part is reaching an consensus on how to deal with balance issues as some people don't acknowledge there are issues or just don't want them fixed.





    When I play games with my kids be it physical games or mental games I tend to hold myself in check as it gives me no joy in crushing them utterly. In that regard I show restraint to the benefit of us all and to enhance our fun. The same applies when we cooperate, if I solve every problem and just fix everything it diminishes their sense of accomplishment and they will learn less from the experience.

    So if I Game Master for someone who tries to break the system to the detriment of the gaming group then I will use my system mastery to crush his character. Every complex system can break down and can be broken. This can be seen in computer games. I play a lot of RPG's and strategy games and often I'll find exploits or I can game the system to the detriment of my experience. Even when I crank up the difficulty to max and use exploits or powergame and the game is too easy it ceases to be fun.

    For many people RPG's are a game...this has become blatantly obvious after started to I peruse rpg forums. These gamers tend to want to win, game the system and want to have the option open to lose the game. Balance becomes an issue when these gamers are competitive and try to break the game or push boundaries.

    For other people RPG's are immersive experience in which the system is used to adjucate and interact with a fantasy world and characters. These Roleplayers may or may not be interested in system mastery and most often balance issue occurs when a power gamer takes a dump on their immersive fantasy by destroying the game balance with their creations. Inherent system balance often doesn't matter much to this group.


    But in the end inherent system imbalances can be fixed and get fixed by a lot of gaming groups either by agreements not to abuse the rules or houseruling.
    I feel like Talakeal and I both specified we wanted to be able to go hard without breaking the system, to which you started moralizing at Talakeal and me as if we never specified this at all and just want to break the system and "dump on" other people's experience.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mutazoia View Post
    IMHO, this is, at best "Power Gamer" thinking, or at worst, it's "Munchkin" philosophy. The "I'm not having a good time unless my character is the most powerful entity in existence, I don't care if I overshadow the rest of the characters" style that seems to be becoming more and more common. The whole idea of a group of players, is that they work as a group, not a bunch of individuals who just all happen to be doing the same things at the same time.
    Huh?

    Where are you getting these assumptions from?

    I want to play hard without worrying that the game will break if I play too hard, and all of a sudden you're putting the words, "I'm not having a good time unless my character is the most powerful entity in existence, I don't care if I overshadow the rest of the characters," into my mouth?

    Maybe I need to explain what it means when I say:

    want to be allowed to powergame without being held back by the possibility of breaking the game if they do it too well.
    It's like Dark Souls.

    When I play Dark Souls, my goal is to get all these bosses killed and get all these levels navigated. I use every trick in the book to get these things accomplished. That means powergaming, but Dark Souls isn't so poorly designed (as far as I know) that powergaming will totally trivialize the tasks of killing bosses and navigating levels, unlike D&D 3.5, which is actually that poorly designed. In Dark Souls, powergaming merely makes what is incredibly difficult into difficult. This powergaming is fun for me, but only because it there is resistance that necessitates it. If I could break into the game's code and set all the bosses to 1hp and make my character a deathless god, as you could kinda do in D&D 3.5, then the game has been broken and it wouldn't be at all fun for me because the resistance isn't there.

    It is not so much about being powerful as surmounting difficult challenges.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mutazoia View Post
    Again.....

    Posting on forums to find the most optimal build and be the most powerful "X" in the game, isn't the idea here. Or it might be in your games, but then you are not really role playing, you are just number crunching at best. (Or being a giant Mary Sue at worst.) Balance (in the OP's sense) doesn't mean every character is the best at everything, and always does max damage with every attack (which rarely misses, if ever). Balance (here) means each member of the party has a job to do, and does it. And ONLY that job (with maybe a slight overlap in case of emergencies).
    It's really weird and offputting that you typed in "Again" like you are making multiple responses to multiple posts when you are only making one response to one post, but ok...

    I don't know how you came up with this response to the point that most people are bad at balancing games. I don't know how you divined that Quertus means "balance" as the bolded part.

    But the way I see balance is that every member of the party has different ways of doing some of the same jobs, but each way is equally effective while being noticeably different in feel and execution. This is on top of also having some jobs that only some party members can do. This is on top of everybody in the party feeling like they get to contribute in a given session. Most people can't balance in all these ways while preserving the diversity of options in a game.

    Can you balance a game like D&D by giving every character their own jobs and then only letting them do those jobs? I guess. But man, who'd want to play that game?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mutazoia View Post
    Again....

    This isn't what the OP means...this isn't what any of this means....
    What can I say?

    "Lol ok."
    Last edited by Vitruviansquid; 2017-11-20 at 05:45 AM.
    It always amazes me how often people on forums would rather accuse you of misreading their posts with malice than re-explain their ideas with clarity.

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    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Vitruviansquid View Post
    I feel like Talakeal and I both specified we wanted to be able to go hard without breaking the system, to which you started moralizing at Talakeal and me as if we never specified this at all and just want to break the system and "dump on" other people's experience.
    You can go as hard as you like but most systems have a breaking point but then again what constitutes as breaking the system?. If your group likes to optimize and the GM is up for it then you should just slip your inner optimizer free. At that point though the GM should be optimizing like hell and all the NPC's have realized this is a game. Then the logical conclusion is to focus fire on the PC's starting with the squishiest or the most dangerous and play the NPC's with a tactical precision and cohesion that belies their intelligence. What I am saying is that verisimilitude will probably be the first casualty in such a game.

    The only Badwrongfun is to ruin the fun for others. At some point people realize that power play only leads to that either you totally pwn the game or it just escalates. When you show up with a BFG then the bad guys show up with a tank.

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    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    You can go as hard as you like but most systems have a breaking point but then again what constitutes as breaking the system?. If your group likes to optimize and the GM is up for it then you should just slip your inner optimizer free. At that point though the GM should be optimizing like hell and all the NPC's have realized this is a game. Then the logical conclusion is to focus fire on the PC's starting with the squishiest or the most dangerous and play the NPC's with a tactical precision and cohesion that belies their intelligence. What I am saying is that verisimilitude will probably be the first casualty in such a game.

    The only Badwrongfun is to ruin the fun for others. At some point people realize that power play only leads to that either you totally pwn the game or it just escalates. When you show up with a BFG then the bad guys show up with a tank.
    What constitutes breaking the system? I would say when your optimization undermines any of the core functions of the game.

    So when your D&D 3.5 wizard can end encounters by himself? That's breaking the system, because a core function of the game is to have a party that works together to solve challenges.
    So when your D&D 3.5 wizard can kill any BBEG from anywhere in the world at any time? That's breaking the system, because a core function of the game is to have an adventure leading to the BBEG.
    So when your D&D 3.5 wizard can shatter the economic system described in the book? That's breaking the system, because a core function of the game is gathering treasure.

    We can argue what counts as a core function of any game, so there is some subjectivity there. But I will say that games that are not D&D 3.5 don't break anywhere nearly as hard as D&D 3.5 when you power game.

    I generally play 3 systems. I played D&D 4e, Savage Worlds, and now a homebrew system of my own making. But the system I've played most of is Savage Worlds.

    In Savage Worlds, my players are always powergaming all the time, but one player thinks the best way to play is to have an extremely high Shooting skill because shots cannot be parried by an opponent's Fighting skill, and you don't need to defend yourself if you're behind taking shots. Another player thinks the best way to play is to have an extremely high Fighting skill because Fighting skill helps you parry as well as deal critical hits, so it's double-dipping offense and defense, twice as powerful as any other stat. I have another player who thinks of max Toughness is the best way to play because you can't get hurt without a roll against your toughness somewhere along the line in the setting. When I play, I am just about the only person in my group who doesn't dump Spirit, because I think a small investment in Spirit can pay off disproportionately in protecting you from taking wounds. Once in awhile, we find out that some powergaming scheme tends to be the strongest. Once in awhile, we find out that the powergaming scheme we thought was strongest only turned out to be strongest outside of a certain situation. Once in awhile, the dice are fickle and the powerful characters get blown away while characters who have been weak in the past thrive in a session. It is also the case that a relatively weak character can still contribute in the same party as a relatively strong character.

    So yeah, it is possible to powergame without breaking the game down.

    You also talk about players powergaming leading to the GM powergaming, and I have issues to address with that.

    The GM does not have to powergame in response to players powergaming. Of course, if a GM wanted to really powergame, it's as easy as declaring that all players have aneurysms and die instantly and helplessly. Thus, the GM always lives with some conflict of interest that makes some people never want to play as the GM.

    The GM can also do what you label powergaming, that is in my vocabulary to set up difficult challenges, in a way that does not break down verisimilitude. If your game demands that focus firing be a thing in a challenging encounter, then the GM might have to workaround it and say that the campaign will be focused around an intelligent and tactical enemy type - let's say all enemies the players will encounter in this campaign will be soldiers of an evil human empire.

    If the GM set up more difficult challenges in response to players' powergaming, it does not escalate infinitely as you describe, outside of D&D 3.5. In Savage Worlds, I can add another goon to the next encounter if players steamroll through the previous encounter, and the difficulty of the game will raise by a fairly predictable amount. I might roughly do that until the party seems to have what I feel is a hard enough time. I do not need to pile on immunities, I do not need to give every monster flight, I do not need to make my monsters case save-or-die spells, it is an extremely simpler task to tune an encounter's difficulty without excluding my weaker player characters or breaking down verisimilitude in my experience with the games I have played than in D&D 3.5.
    It always amazes me how often people on forums would rather accuse you of misreading their posts with malice than re-explain their ideas with clarity.

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    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Vitruviansquid View Post
    What constitutes breaking the system? I would say when your optimization undermines any of the core functions of the game.

    So when your D&D 3.5 wizard can end encounters by himself? That's breaking the system, because a core function of the game is to have a party that works together to solve challenges.
    So when your D&D 3.5 wizard can kill any BBEG from anywhere in the world at any time? That's breaking the system, because a core function of the game is to have an adventure leading to the BBEG.
    So when your D&D 3.5 wizard can shatter the economic system described in the book? That's breaking the system, because a core function of the game is gathering treasure.

    We can argue what counts as a core function of any game, so there is some subjectivity there. But I will say that games that are not D&D 3.5 don't break anywhere nearly as hard as D&D 3.5 when you power game.

    I generally play 3 systems. I played D&D 4e, Savage Worlds, and now a homebrew system of my own making. But the system I've played most of is Savage Worlds.

    In Savage Worlds, my players are always powergaming all the time, but one player thinks the best way to play is to have an extremely high Shooting skill because shots cannot be parried by an opponent's Fighting skill, and you don't need to defend yourself if you're behind taking shots. Another player thinks the best way to play is to have an extremely high Fighting skill because Fighting skill helps you parry as well as deal critical hits, so it's double-dipping offense and defense, twice as powerful as any other stat. I have another player who thinks of max Toughness is the best way to play because you can't get hurt without a roll against your toughness somewhere along the line in the setting. When I play, I am just about the only person in my group who doesn't dump Spirit, because I think a small investment in Spirit can pay off disproportionately in protecting you from taking wounds. Once in awhile, we find out that some powergaming scheme tends to be the strongest. Once in awhile, we find out that the powergaming scheme we thought was strongest only turned out to be strongest outside of a certain situation. Once in awhile, the dice are fickle and the powerful characters get blown away while characters who have been weak in the past thrive in a session. It is also the case that a relatively weak character can still contribute in the same party as a relatively strong character.

    So yeah, it is possible to powergame without breaking the game down.

    You also talk about players powergaming leading to the GM powergaming, and I have issues to address with that.

    The GM does not have to powergame in response to players powergaming. Of course, if a GM wanted to really powergame, it's as easy as declaring that all players have aneurysms and die instantly and helplessly. Thus, the GM always lives with some conflict of interest that makes some people never want to play as the GM.

    The GM can also do what you label powergaming, that is in my vocabulary to set up difficult challenges, in a way that does not break down verisimilitude. If your game demands that focus firing be a thing in a challenging encounter, then the GM might have to workaround it and say that the campaign will be focused around an intelligent and tactical enemy type - let's say all enemies the players will encounter in this campaign will be soldiers of an evil human empire.

    If the GM set up more difficult challenges in response to players' powergaming, it does not escalate infinitely as you describe, outside of D&D 3.5. In Savage Worlds, I can add another goon to the next encounter if players steamroll through the previous encounter, and the difficulty of the game will raise by a fairly predictable amount. I might roughly do that until the party seems to have what I feel is a hard enough time. I do not need to pile on immunities, I do not need to give every monster flight, I do not need to make my monsters case save-or-die spells, it is an extremely simpler task to tune an encounter's difficulty without excluding my weaker player characters or breaking down verisimilitude in my experience with the games I have played than in D&D 3.5.
    And this describes the imbalance of D&D in a nutshell. Most systems don't break so hard when you optimize.

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    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Vitruviansquid View Post
    If the GM set up more difficult challenges in response to players' powergaming, it does not escalate infinitely as you describe, outside of D&D 3.5. In Savage Worlds, I can add another goon to the next encounter if players steamroll through the previous encounter, and the difficulty of the game will raise by a fairly predictable amount. I might roughly do that until the party seems to have what I feel is a hard enough time. I do not need to pile on immunities, I do not need to give every monster flight, I do not need to make my monsters case save-or-die spells, it is an extremely simpler task to tune an encounter's difficulty without excluding my weaker player characters or breaking down verisimilitude in my experience with the games I have played than in D&D 3.5.
    I think this is an underrated issue. As a DM I've been facing this. Many monsters? There's so many area of effect spells that can render all or at least most into a non-issue. Fewer monsters? There's ways to crank up save DC's so high that they're impossible, or to just simply not even bother with saves.
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    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    As a modern gamer, I'm offended that you're generalizing everyone so extremely. If you actually believe that, I'd say screw you, but you'd probably just say something about me being a whiny bitch and dismiss any arguments I made on that basis. (Not that I feel I should have to, given that your "argument" just just a series of wild assertions about how valorously patient gamers were in the good ol' days and how whiny, impatient, and/or oversensitive kids these days are.)
    If you don't actually believe that argument, but made it anyway, that's almost worse.
    As I said right from the start: there is nothing wrong with being different.

    My point is more like:
    1.Game type One: Rides a bike down a flat, level road...no balance issues.
    2.Game type Two: Rides a bike up high on a rope tied between two poles...has balance issues.

    Now, note that Game Two is not wrong. And then comes the more tricky part:

    To fix the balance issue of riding a bike on a rope, people are asking: what can I do, while on the bike on the rope, to get better balance, but they are only asking that question. I'm pointing out that, if you take the bike and get off the rope...and get on the road to will fix the balance problems. Again, not because it is ''right'', but because it will ''work''.

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    I could make a big stink about how you're misrepresenting the situation explained in sentences of that post you left out, and in a way which insults me (I did make a ****ing roleplaying character, that's half the ****ing problem, you ****ing *******!), but that's not important. What's important is that you made an argument, I made a ****erargument, and you made a counter-counterargument that completely demolishes your original argument.
    Well, you did only mention combat roll playing in your example. You felt bad as your character could not do what you wanted them to do..in roll playing combat. You give no example of how you ''could not'' role player your character.

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    What?
    What do you mean by balanced? How does all of this lead to balance? And what does any of this have to do with this:

    Because the situation you're describing as "balance" sounds exactly like one player doing everything while others do nothing.
    If you break it down by encounter: yes. For say Encounter Six, Players A and B will take the spotlight and do something; players C and D just wait. Then in Encounter Seven it is players A and C. Encounter Nine it is just player D. Encounter Ten is A, B, C, and D. And so on. But it is not every single player making a meaningful contribution to the game every single encounter. Over all, over the course of say 30 encounters everyone gets the same amount of game spotlight time, just often not all at the same time.

    And yes, the above does not work if one character is a Demi-God and the other characters are just guys from a gym....but fixing that is what we are talking about.

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    You...you...
    That is so stupid.
    Yes, other people can ruin good work, but they usually don't. If editors take apart your work, completely change a rule you spent days on, there's always a reason for that. The fact that the editors are being paid to edit means they know how to edit, and what the point of editing is, and all of that. They're not going to ruin a "perfect" rule for no reason. However, they're perfectly willing to cut those lines of text from what the writer claims is a perfect rule if they're useless fluff or if they make the product worse.
    Say, you wouldn't happen to be a writer of some kind, would you? Or do you just buy into the deification of the writer and the demonizing of anyone who forces them to change their Artistic Vision?
    This is not the way it works. Frist off a lot of people that stuff has to ''go through''...well they kinda just do whatever they want. Some times it might be based on something they think or do not think.....but most of the time they change something just to change it. They want ''credit'' for doing something, at the very least.

  24. - Top - End - #54
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    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    The question is wrong.
    The Hulk and Spider-Man and Dr. Strange and so on are all excellent characters in the context of Marvel's comics (and movies and whatnot). However, they would be terrible characters in, say, Earth Bet or the 40k universe. What works in one does not always work in another.
    Similarly, what works for Marvel won't work for your tabletop RPG. Let's take the heroes from the first Avengers movie--Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye. Most of the players are annoyed that all the NPCs are giving the Captain extra respect just because of what he wrote in his backstory, Widow and Hawkeye are almost useless in most combat situations, Bruce loses control at the point where everyone else is having the most fun, Tony is distracted sketching up ideas for future suits, and Thor's just killing time until his power-up a few adventures down the road. What on Midgard possessed you to make you think that this would be a fun game to play?
    It gets worse when you look at, say, the Justice League. They work as a team in all the same media as the Avengers, but the issues from their power disparity are even more obvious.
    I think you harmed your argument there, mate, because Avengers is my go-to example of a great table-top dynamic where everyone has fun even though everyone isn't on the same power level.

    Captain America's player is THE roleplayer, he's got the lengthy tragic backstory that ties into the DM's world. The other players aren't annoyed that he "gets extra respect from NPCs," they are excited to have a party face that will interact with the world and, at times, almost co-DM in providing backstory, context and motivation. He's the one who will have in-universe debates with the NPCs about whether they are doing the right thing, and is happy to play the righteous foil to a table full of snarky wiseasses. In combat, he's not a super-optimized heavy hitter, but he's a bard-type character who coordinates and boosts the other combat characters.

    Iron Man, on the other hand, is the power-gamer who is in it to be super-cool. He's got feats and abilities from a dozen splat-books, and if he doesn't have the raw power of Thor or the Hulk, he's got versatility like you wouldn't believe. He's the Batman wizard who has prepared for just such an emergency, and is really excited to put his contingencies in play. When it's his turn to RP, he makes a point of how cool and rich and sarcastic he is, so the NPCs can be appropriately annoyed/impressed. The DM rewards him by making the big climactic fight smack dab in the middle of his home town, where all of his preparation can pay off.

    The Hulk is the guy who, frankly, just plays the game because his friends do. He's probably Iron Man's buddy (or maybe his boyfriend/girlfriend) - he creates a backstory that gives him a reason to hang out with Iron Man when they aren't saving the worlds, has a few non-combat skills that let him support Iron Man's out-of-combat shenanigans, and lets his super-cool optimizer boyfriend make him an extremely powerful character that is (and this is important) REALLY EASY TO PLAY. When he Hulks out, he attacks the enemy Captain America tells him to attack, and then rolls the dice Iron Man tells him to roll. It's easy, it's fun to see everyone else at the table cheer when he gets some hella big numbers, he's just here for the pizza and beer and companionship, guys.

    Hawkeye and Black Widow are the rogues. In a straight fight, they'd get slaughtered, but remember that there is a lot more to the movie/campaign than just combat. They are the ones who infiltrate enemy compounds, grab the intel, translate the foreign language, place the bugs, steal the artifact, whatever. From their player's perspective, they are the ones who "win" the campaign while the combat guys distract the evil hordes. They are having fun because, from their perspective, success around the table isn't rolling the highest damage numbers, or winning the evil minion body count competition, but instead it is interacting with the DM's world to solve the puzzle of "how do we accomplish our end goal."

    Thor, on the other hand, IS in it to win the body-count competition. He's the char-op munchkin with a build from the forums who handed the DM his character sheet and said "you tell me my backstory, dude, I'm here to roll some effing dice and punch some tickets." So he just shows up, says he's an alien god, and everyone just rolls with it because hey, we're all here to have fun. Then, he gets a fun non-lethal punchup with the other players so that he can show off his build's chops (Captain America's player is bored with this, but he goes with it because it gets him back to his story), spars a little more seriously with the Hulk so that they can both roll some big numbers at each other, and then gets to shine in the fight against the enemy army at the big finale where he kills more minions than the rest of the group combined. He's having a blast swatting dozens of bad guys down every round while Cap and the Rogues do the "boring stuff" of actually resolving the campaign.

    TL:DR version: the Avengers is actually a GREAT example of wildly different playstyles and power levels sitting around the same table and having a good time.
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    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Bearing in mind that I've still seen no proof that the situation OP talks about has occurred, there's a major flaw in arguments behind GMs adjusting things for players. Namely, GMs aren't omniscient. This shouldn't be a radical argument, but it is. Everyone GMs for the first time at some point; many GMs do it because no one else wanted to. The GM might not know the rules better than the players do, particularly in case of rules as byzantine as pre-5E D&D's have always been (it's not like 5E D&D is super-approachable, either). The GM also wants to tell a story, design some challenges and... here's another controversial statement... have some fun as well. Which is a bit hard if challenges and encounters they design aren't viable, because one or two of the party members can defeat them too easily.

    This is mostly unrelated to the fact that, again, the supposed shift doesn't seem to have ever happened.
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    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    Bearing in mind that I've still seen no proof that the situation OP talks about has occurred, there's a major flaw in arguments behind GMs adjusting things for players. Namely, GMs aren't omniscient. This shouldn't be a radical argument, but it is. Everyone GMs for the first time at some point; many GMs do it because no one else wanted to. The GM might not know the rules better than the players do, particularly in case of rules as byzantine as pre-5E D&D's have always been (it's not like 5E D&D is super-approachable, either). The GM also wants to tell a story, design some challenges and... here's another controversial statement... have some fun as well. Which is a bit hard if challenges and encounters they design aren't viable, because one or two of the party members can defeat them too easily.
    That 5e is being touted as a rules light system is a testament to just how ridiculously crunchy earlier D&D editions were.

    Quote Originally Posted by WarKitty View Post
    Honestly I'm wondering if the complexity issue (which was part of the issue I had with my first group) is just a big problem no matter what.

    I tend, personally, to play characters who have lots and lots of moving parts, lots of options, lots of ways of being prepared for freaking everything. The strategy game is the fun bit, and if I can't spend lots of time an effort picking the best option within given parameters, I'm going to be bored.

    Other people want a very straightforward game. The character creation game is annoying and they just want to smash things with their axe without worrying about a lot of character options.

    I'm not sure those work well together.
    You're conflating two phenomena. The desired complexity of character creation and the desired complexity of play are two separate variables, and while there's likely some correlation between the two I'm not convinced that it's non-negative. Plenty of people heavily optimize during the character creation minigame to make one extremely effective tactic which they then use over and over, and lots of games which emphasize fast character creation also deliberately have a lot of options open to every character without having to buy in to them during character creation and advancement.

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    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    That 5e is being touted as a rules light system is a testament to just how ridiculously crunchy earlier D&D editions were.
    5e isn't light - but it's solidly mid-crunch, arguably slightly on the lite side of the spectrum, at least for low level games.

    (Even 3e isn't nearly as crunchy as games like GURPS. Really - even 3e isn't THAT hard to jump into since it's an exception based system - though that's part of the reason for the balance issues mentioned in this thread. Because you can jump in without a full knowledge of the crunch.)
    Last edited by CharonsHelper; 2017-11-20 at 12:01 PM.

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    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by CharonsHelper View Post
    (Even 3e isn't nearly as crunchy as games like GURPS. Really - even 3e isn't THAT hard to jump into since it's an exception based system - though that's part of the reason for the balance issues mentioned in this thread. Because you can jump in without a full knowledge of the crunch.)
    The crunch level of 3e is routinely underestimated because just about everyone is familiar with it; this is a good example of that phenomenon. It's an exception based system with a very large baseline stat block for every in game entity to make exceptions for, and that baseline is substantially crunchier than GURPS.

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    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    The crunch level of 3e is routinely underestimated because just about everyone is familiar with it; this is a good example of that phenomenon. It's an exception based system with a very large baseline stat block for every in game entity to make exceptions for, and that baseline is substantially crunchier than GURPS.
    I suppose in part it depends upon what you consider "crunch". For GURPS (admittedly - I've read but not played) it seems that you need to know the bulk of the rules before playing anything, while in 3e you can play with knowing a small % of the rules, gaining system mastery through play and mostly just in relation to your own class/abilities. (And - if like most games you stay in single digit levels - you never need to know many of the rules.)

    Even if GURPS has somewhat less rules overall - it makes the barrier to play much higher. So - which is 'crunchier' depends upon your definition.
    Last edited by CharonsHelper; 2017-11-20 at 12:36 PM.

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    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    That 5e is being touted as a rules light system is a testament to just how ridiculously crunchy earlier D&D editions were.
    Certainly, but it still didn't feel right to lump it with the others.
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