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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    Default Why does the party need to be balanced?

    One player, or a few players are vastly stronger than the others, but each player has a lane to stay in and something that the other players can't do.

    IE: the wizard can stop time and incinerate a squad of dudes. The theif can back stab to assassinate 1 Target, but it's probably better for him to slip away during combat and use it as a distraction to steal the documents.

    The barbarian can slaughter a dragon, but the general can issue strategic orders that buff the party and lead everyone to victory.

    We see this dynamic in all our favorite stories: Eragon, Lord of the Rings, Star wars etc.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    You assume that everyone has a lane, and there is no single party member capable of doing another's job better than him while still being good at his own.

    In d&d, a lot of the time the spellcaster are *also* better theives and fighters. They are not just good at their own thing, they are amazing at everything. Every challange that can actually challange them is nigh unsolveable to everyone else. Small balance discrepancies are fine. At some point, it gets pretty silly

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    Troll in the Playground
     
    Chimera

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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    At a theoretical level, if everyone has a lane, and they all stay in theirs, and all the lanes end up having the same amount of impact in relatively representative examples of gameplay, it is fine. However, in roleplaying games, this historically hasn't been handled well. D&D has multiple examples-- from the 3e druids and clerics being able to step over into the fighter's lane to do the fighter's job about as well as they can, along with also being able to drive their own lanes --to the TSR era thief who only had a few unique abilities... that they weren't all that good at (often had very low %s), could be replicated by others, and they didn't have much else going for them mechanically. Other systems like Shadowrun and Cyberpunk have had issues with 'balance' where one character type (the hacker) is relatively useless outside their specific role and has to sit on their hands until the GM gets to the part of the game where they shine... whereupon the rest of the PCs sit on their hands.

    Also note that comparisons to fiction (like Eragon, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, etc.) are inherently problematic because those narratives are not being played by players in a game. If Chewbacca doesn't play quite as much of a role in the overall story success as Han and Luke, there's no player behind it feeling short changed. And if entire chapters of LotR happen with only Sam, Frodo, and the NPC Gollum getting to do anything, Aragorn and Legollas' players are stuck playing with their dice and waiting to get to do anything again.

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    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    Good points from you guys, the "why" here was sincere.

    What I like to do to solve the problem is have all my players submit their characters before we start a campaign I'm writing. Then I make sure I give each character a lane and a purpose.

    I remember the first campaign I ran I had a player who wanted to be a rogue specialized in thievery. I didn't write anything for him and he felt short changed. I grew from that and now I try to have something for each player.

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    RedKnightGirl

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    d6 Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    It speeds up game play. Try having 7 players no cleric.

    There is no balance at that point it survive wait days then move forward.
    9 wisdom true neutral cleric you know you want me in your adventuring party


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    False God's Avatar

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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    As has been mentioned, the problem is that certain classes (typically magicals) explicitly do not stay in their lane, and the other classes (mundanes) can't leave their lane.
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    MindFlayer

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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    A party does not need to be balanced. This is a common RPG myth.

    The biggest problem with the balance idea is that it assumes that there is ONLY one type of player: The Hyper Active Selfish Demanding Dominating Competing Action type. And, of course, not all players are like that.

    The second biggest problem with the balance idea is that it assumes that there is ONLY one way to play the game: The Use the Mechanical Rules to Show, Display, and Prove your Personal System Mastery of the Mechanical Rules.

    The third biggest problem with the balance idea is that it assumes that there is ONLY one way to have fun: Being the above type of player playing the game only the above type way.

    Now, there is NOTHING wrong with anything above: if that is the way you like to play a RPG, that is fine. There is no right way or wrong way to play an RPG.

    Though the problem comes in when you play the game only the above way....and then complain about balance.

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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    I would say, perfect balance is not only unnecessary, it is impossible. What is far more important is that all the players are enjoying the game and aren’t feeling envious at the other players.

    It is entirely possible to have a great deal of fun playing a character 10 levels lower than everyone else. I’ve done it. Because it made sense for the character I was playing, and I had him work extra hard to effect the course of the battle in significant and fun ways. But I knew what I was getting into when I decided to play as a previously stated low level NPC in a mid level game.

    I’ve had players who were completely fine being a “Chewbacca” where they mostly just watched the other players do the whole roleplaying and story business. But when it became time for her to do her thing she did it. Smiled contently and went back to passively watching.

    Imbalance really only becomes a problem when the player actually starts questioning why they’re even there. This I’ve also seen happen. To use an example I’ve previously used before. In my first even D&D game, I was a DM playing 3rd edition. I had one player as a fighter and another as a Druid (and three more who are not important to the story). Now all of us were new to the system and I can now tell you all the ways this guy’s fighter was built completely sub-optimally. But at the time we didn’t really know. Anyway after a few sessions, it became a joke that the druid’s animal companion was a better fighter than the fighter. After a bit the fighter and the Druid decided to hash it out and had a duel. And the fighter lost.

    The next session he declared that his fighter had choked to death in his sleep and came with a sorcerer.

    This is where balance comes into things. When the other player’s characters make the player feel insignificant by comparison in a way that they did not sign on for. If the game sells you on playing Druss, and you follow all the rules of the game. It better let you play Druss, not some chump that gets beat by a class feature.

    But if a player stats up a fighter fully understanding that by mid-level he’ll basically just become a luggage carrier for the mages. Well, that’s fine. So long as they’re happy carrying that luggage.

    The other solution is simple gentleman’s agreements. Sure the fighter knows the cleric can do his job better than him, and the cleric knows he can do the fighter’s job better than the fighter. But the cleric has decided not to. And that can work just as well, too.

    Really the key is just knowing what everyone wants to do, and as a GM help all your players get to do what they want to do, so long as it isn’t ruining other players fun. Communication, respecting each other, a sense of fair play. This is all way more important than balance.

    Though all that said. Do wish games were a bit better balanced. I wanna play a mundane guy that wrecks mages faces, dammit.

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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    To expand, I have typically found there are two types of "balanced" parties:

    The all-magical party.
    -This party is typically high level, assuming they played it careful and survived the lower levels. They synergize well, with all members being able to bring similar forces to bear. They all have personal buffs that make them awesome in their own right, they all have group buffs, they all have meat-shield and beat-stick capabilities in the form of some of those self buffs and in the form of summons. They all have "get out of jail free" cards and "oh phooey!" buttons. They all have crowd-control, debuffing and blasting abilities.

    -They are all capable of specializing into highly focused roles where they are almost unstoppable at what they do. They are also capable of being competent generalists. With both functions being amplified when the rest of the party follows suit. If everyone in the party can cover some of the bases, if everyone in the party covers one base like it's the only base in the world. They can be rogues, they can be fighters, they can be barbarians, they can be six incredible things before breakfast, and often they can be six incredible things all day.

    The all-mundane party.
    -This party is typically low level, before magic really kicks in to being the only way to solve problems. They are typically specialists by function, not my choice, their class features having decided for them that the rogue is going to be the rogue. That the fighter is going to be the beat stick or the meat-shield. That the barbarian is going to be the...beat stick or the meat shield. That the monk is going to be the...pokey rogue.

    -They do what they're programmed to do. The rogue sneaks. The fighter hits stuff. The other classes...hit stuff. Sometimes someone else sneaks. They don't spread out and cover each other's bases. Because their bases are little islands in an endless sea of traps, false choices, and lost levels. They do not have the ability to revamp their setup without DM approval. They cannot adjust from one fight to next what they need to solve a problem. It either gets solved with hitting things or it...doesn't get solved. If the rogue can't pick the lock, if the barbarian can't smash the door, then the obstacle is impassable.

    --
    And for as much difficulty as the second group may seem to have with, well...everything they balance well together. An all-magic party is like playing a supers game. Yes, the Justice League is all supers, but they have their specific strengths and specific weaknesses(until you actually see Supes or WW let loose, then...yeah... and those are very real builds within D&D). The all-mundane party is like playing NICS. Still awesome, and they might be able to stop the Goa'uld with a little cleverness, but they're not even the guys you call to stop Voldemort (who quite honestly, probably wouldn't pose much of a challenge to the all-magical party).

    You don't need to have a balanced party. But almost all of the roles of the mundane party can be duplicated by the magical party. Often without trying. And almost all the functions of the mundane party can be negated (see the numerous threads on how to make wizards who stop fights before they start) by the magical party. You can hyper-specialize your magic-user to avoid this to some degree, but if the game goes high-level, you'll probably outshine the mundanes on accident, or if you're the mundane in the party, you'll very rapidly fall behind without substantial magical loot.

    You do need to determine where the game is going to be balanced. If the DM understands which balance point they're working with, then things can be great. If the DM doesn't, then you're bound for problems.
    Last edited by False God; 2019-09-13 at 06:33 PM.
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  10. - Top - End - #10
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    Balance is not a synonym for fun. Balance is not even a prerequisite for fun.

    Not every actor in Romeo and Juliet has the same size role. And that's not only fine, that's actually optimal! When I played a Sentient Potted Plant, I certainly did not have a big role. I mean, sure, I was still me, so I could participate in things like planning or memory (ah, the good old pre-senility days), but I had 0 mechanical contribution.

    IMO, most games are much more believable when the PCs aren't terribly balanced.

    As for staying in your lane… battery on my phone is low, I'll come back for that later. But, short answer? There are no rights - be worthy of your lane, or get a gentleman's agreement (such as "the role of inept Wizard will be played by Quertus") in place.

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    MindFlayer

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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dienekes View Post
    Imbalance really only becomes a problem when the player actually starts questioning why they’re even there....... Anyway after a few sessions, it became a joke that the druid’s animal companion was a better fighter than the fighter.
    As I said above: note the single play stlye here. The above is only talking about the pure numbers and mechanics of the rules of the game and nothing else. So, sure, if you will say ''unless everyone has +5 to damage all the time the game is unbalanced", then amazingly your game will be unbalanced. The above player also only came to the game to endlessly mechanincal fight and compare themselves to the other players in a ego concest too.

    Again, there is nothing wrong with the above stlye of play. But you can't play the above way and then complain about blance. If you jump in a lake, you can't complain you got wet: YOU jumpped in a lake!

    Take the above example, with the fighter player who has diffrent values:

    The player with the druid has thier animal dominate the rule mecanics of the game and ''fights good". Lets even go one step further: the druid player gets right in the fighter's players face to say "nan nan my pet is better then your character!"

    Now...watch: The player of the fighter character says-"Eh, dude, I don't care!" The druid player...heck..all the players..can constantily verbaly attack the player with the fighter character and say, again, that thier character ''sucks". But again, the player of the fighter character does not care.

    Jerk player of Druid: "My animal did X damage and is so awesome! Your fighter only did X damage so my animal is better!"

    Cool fighter player: "Dude, chill. My character fought and I'm having fun."

    Now ok, sure, a LOT of the time the ''other" character wants to play the same game as the jerk druid guy and count the numbers, be hostile and competive and try to prove they are ''better" at the game then the other players.

    And really, that is just FINE. But if you want to play that stlye of game, you do have to dive into it fully.

    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post

    You do need to determine where the game is going to be balanced. If the DM understands which balance point they're working with, then things can be great. If the DM doesn't, then you're bound for problems.
    THIS is another good point. Too many GMs automatiaclly agree with the Unbalanced Way is the Only Stlye Way to Play the Game. And worse, most GMs MAKE the game that way as they like and agree with the stlye.

  12. - Top - End - #12
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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    I would say that a desirable goal for any given game is that each of the major archetypes or character builds that the game supports or encourages mechanically each contributes roughly equally to solving the problems that the game's design supports being posed to the player characters.

    That does not mean that each such archetype or build needs to contribute equally all the time in all situations; only that, over the course of a typical campaign, the sum total contribution from any given archetype or build is about the same as any other, while avoiding, say, the Shadowrun decker problem.

    It also doesn't mean that every single ability player characters can wield needs to be balanced against all the others (your once-per-day super attack is allowed to be way better than a commonplace swing of a weapon, for instance), just as long as they all mostly even out over the long run.

    Now, archetypes or builds that the game doesn't encourage don't need to meet that standard. D&D games, for instance, heavily support combat in their mechanics and don't support other activities to the same extent mechanically. So a character archetype or build that was poor at combat in those games isn't going to contribute as effectively to a D&D game played to design expectations - and that's fine.

    Likewise, if a player isn't interested in contributing to the same extent as others, that's fine, too.

    Quote Originally Posted by MonstarDM View Post
    A party does not need to be balanced. This is a common RPG myth.

    The biggest problem with the balance idea is that it assumes that there is ONLY one type of player: The Hyper Active Selfish Demanding Dominating Competing Action type. And, of course, not all players are like that.

    The second biggest problem with the balance idea is that it assumes that there is ONLY one way to play the game: The Use the Mechanical Rules to Show, Display, and Prove your Personal System Mastery of the Mechanical Rules.

    The third biggest problem with the balance idea is that it assumes that there is ONLY one way to have fun: Being the above type of player playing the game only the above type way.

    Now, there is NOTHING wrong with anything above: if that is the way you like to play a RPG, that is fine. There is no right way or wrong way to play an RPG.

    Though the problem comes in when you play the game only the above way....and then complain about balance.
    Do you... you know, actually read what other people write on the topic of character balance in RPGs? Because I can't think of a single argument made by anyone supporting better-balanced games, including in this very thread, that comes even close to matching your assumptions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dienekes View Post
    I would say, perfect balance is not only unnecessary, it is impossible. What is far more important is that all the players are enjoying the game and aren’t feeling envious at the other players.

    It is entirely possible to have a great deal of fun playing a character 10 levels lower than everyone else. I’ve done it. Because it made sense for the character I was playing, and I had him work extra hard to effect the course of the battle in significant and fun ways. But I knew what I was getting into when I decided to play as a previously stated low level NPC in a mid level game.

    I’ve had players who were completely fine being a “Chewbacca” where they mostly just watched the other players do the whole roleplaying and story business. But when it became time for her to do her thing she did it. Smiled contently and went back to passively watching.

    Imbalance really only becomes a problem when the player actually starts questioning why they’re even there. This I’ve also seen happen. To use an example I’ve previously used before. In my first even D&D game, I was a DM playing 3rd edition. I had one player as a fighter and another as a Druid (and three more who are not important to the story). Now all of us were new to the system and I can now tell you all the ways this guy’s fighter was built completely sub-optimally. But at the time we didn’t really know. Anyway after a few sessions, it became a joke that the druid’s animal companion was a better fighter than the fighter. After a bit the fighter and the Druid decided to hash it out and had a duel. And the fighter lost.

    The next session he declared that his fighter had choked to death in his sleep and came with a sorcerer.

    This is where balance comes into things. When the other player’s characters make the player feel insignificant by comparison in a way that they did not sign on for. If the game sells you on playing Druss, and you follow all the rules of the game. It better let you play Druss, not some chump that gets beat by a class feature.

    But if a player stats up a fighter fully understanding that by mid-level he’ll basically just become a luggage carrier for the mages. Well, that’s fine. So long as they’re happy carrying that luggage.

    The other solution is simple gentleman’s agreements. Sure the fighter knows the cleric can do his job better than him, and the cleric knows he can do the fighter’s job better than the fighter. But the cleric has decided not to. And that can work just as well, too.

    Really the key is just knowing what everyone wants to do, and as a GM help all your players get to do what they want to do, so long as it isn’t ruining other players fun. Communication, respecting each other, a sense of fair play. This is all way more important than balance.

    Though all that said. Do wish games were a bit better balanced. I wanna play a mundane guy that wrecks mages faces, dammit.
    Erm, slight problem: your two examples of imbalances that were okay are examples of gameplay choices, not examples of mechanical imbalances built into the game design. At least, that's how they came across based on the level of detail you've provided.

    Your example of a mechanical imbalance, of the party fighter being invalidated by the druid’s class feature, is the kind of problem that people arguing for better-balanced games want games to avoid: when, no matter how players play their game or build their characters, some more or less standard (not necessarily optimised) character builds just invalidate others.

    If a player wants to play meatshield or pack mule for the party wizards, fine, let them. When it's a problem is when the game's mechanics are designed such that that is their only option unless they pore through piles of sourcebooks and online guides. That's my takeaway of most arguments in favour of better balance in game design.
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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by MonstarDM View Post
    THIS is another good point. Too many GMs automatiaclly agree with the Unbalanced Way is the Only Stlye Way to Play the Game. And worse, most GMs MAKE the game that way as they like and agree with the stlye.
    IME, more DMs are guilty of "that's what the dice say" and "this is what the book says", as excuses for not bothering to account for inter-character imbalance or that the whole party is way off(above or below) the expected power curve. It really isn't terribly hard to set up a couple fights and get an idea for how powerful your party is and what they can and cannot handle.

    It's easy to kill your party. It's rather boring though.
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    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by MonstarDM View Post
    As I said above: note the single play stlye here. The above is only talking about the pure numbers and mechanics of the rules of the game and nothing else. So, sure, if you will say ''unless everyone has +5 to damage all the time the game is unbalanced", then amazingly your game will be unbalanced. The above player also only came to the game to endlessly mechanincal fight and compare themselves to the other players in a ego concest too.

    Again, there is nothing wrong with the above stlye of play. But you can't play the above way and then complain about blance. If you jump in a lake, you can't complain you got wet: YOU jumpped in a lake!

    Take the above example, with the fighter player who has diffrent values:

    The player with the druid has thier animal dominate the rule mecanics of the game and ''fights good". Lets even go one step further: the druid player gets right in the fighter's players face to say "nan nan my pet is better then your character!"

    Now...watch: The player of the fighter character says-"Eh, dude, I don't care!" The druid player...heck..all the players..can constantily verbaly attack the player with the fighter character and say, again, that thier character ''sucks". But again, the player of the fighter character does not care.

    Jerk player of Druid: "My animal did X damage and is so awesome! Your fighter only did X damage so my animal is better!"

    Cool fighter player: "Dude, chill. My character fought and I'm having fun."

    Now ok, sure, a LOT of the time the ''other" character wants to play the same game as the jerk druid guy and count the numbers, be hostile and competive and try to prove they are ''better" at the game then the other players.

    And really, that is just FINE. But if you want to play that stlye of game, you do have to dive into it fully.



    THIS is another good point. Too many GMs automatiaclly agree with the Unbalanced Way is the Only Stlye Way to Play the Game. And worse, most GMs MAKE the game that way as they like and agree with the stlye.
    I'm confused. How could a GM ruin the game for the (player of the) Fighter in your example?

    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    IME, more DMs are guilty of "that's what the dice say" and "this is what the book says", as excuses for not bothering to account for inter-character imbalance or that the whole party is way off(above or below) the expected power curve. It really isn't terribly hard to set up a couple fights and get an idea for how powerful your party is and what they can and cannot handle.

    It's easy to kill your party. It's rather boring though.
    OTOH, it's quite exciting to take a party that's below the adventure's balance point, and struggle to succeed anyway.

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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    OTOH, it's quite exciting to take a party that's below the adventure's balance point, and struggle to succeed anyway.
    I think there's a "reasonable level of struggle" that makes games fun and challenging. Too little struggle and the game is boring, too much struggle and the game becomes stressful instead of fun. Just like how video games have "Easy" and "Hard" and "Nightmare" settings. Playing on "Hard" is fine, but playing on "Nightmare" tends to require buy-in.

    IMO: I want my players to win. I want them to move on to the next leg of the adventure. I want them to get the awesome rewards I've hidden. I want them to invest in their characters, and I want their characters to invest in the world. I'm not going to hand it to them. But ultimately I've adjusted and adapted my game to ensure they have a reasonable chance of success most of the time.
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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    I think there's a "reasonable level of struggle" that makes games fun and challenging. Too little struggle and the game is boring, too much struggle and the game becomes stressful instead of fun. Just like how video games have "Easy" and "Hard" and "Nightmare" settings. Playing on "Hard" is fine, but playing on "Nightmare" tends to require buy-in.

    IMO: I want my players to win. I want them to move on to the next leg of the adventure. I want them to get the awesome rewards I've hidden. I want them to invest in their characters, and I want their characters to invest in the world. I'm not going to hand it to them. But ultimately I've adjusted and adapted my game to ensure they have a reasonable chance of success most of the time.
    Although I don't disagree with any of that, what I'm saying is, it can be fun when the characters have *no* chance of success (as measured from a CaS PoV), and the game is about them struggling to get every advantage to (maybe) pull off a win.

    Imagine playing in an e6 sandbox, against a level 20 Playgrounder Wizard BBEG. Or a group of 3rd level characters on a 10th level Tomb of Horrors. It's that Cthulhu-style in over your head, be smart or you're dead style of gameplay that stands on the opposite side of the spectrum from kick in the door CaS.

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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    one way to work around this is the gentlemen agreement, where everyone agrees to stay in their lane. casters could probably fight better than fighters with the right buffs, but they choose not to, and to do their thing instead.

    and really, it's not easy to "accidentally" outperform a reasonably optimized fighter with a decent equipment. barring some of the crazier combos, you're not invading their lane much.
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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Drache64 View Post
    One player, or a few players are vastly stronger than the others, but each player has a lane to stay in and something that the other players can't do.

    IE: the wizard can stop time and incinerate a squad of dudes. The theif can back stab to assassinate 1 Target, but it's probably better for him to slip away during combat and use it as a distraction to steal the documents.

    The barbarian can slaughter a dragon, but the general can issue strategic orders that buff the party and lead everyone to victory.

    We see this dynamic in all our favorite stories: Eragon, Lord of the Rings, Star wars etc.
    Because if you have two people who want to do the same thing in one party, they need to be balanced. If your Wizard can outdamage and outtank the Fighter, but can also fly and summon demons, then the Fighter's player is probably dismayed, because he's irrelevant. Being second-best, if even that, usually isn't fun.

    Stories aren't about enjoying the game, but games should be enjoyable. Nobody cares if Luke Skywalker is more powerful than Han Solo (even though he is). But the d20 Star Wars games tried that approach, and many people didn't like that Jedi were just superior to non-Jedi in basically everything.

    Also, many games don't actually have "lanes" per se, or some characters (typically mages) tend to get out of their lanes too easily. Take D&D, for instance. There's no combat "lane", despite the creators thinking there is. Since 3e at the very least, everyone is expected to contribute to combat almost equally. So characters who are supposed to be "combat characters" are actually just doing the thing everyone does, maybe 10-20% better, but that's usually not enough to make a solid difference.
    Last edited by Ignimortis; 2019-09-14 at 08:22 AM.
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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    So, I think the problem with "lane"-based thinking is that it is complicated by two opposed schools of thought: rules-first and character-first.

    Suppose I want to make a Hermione espy (sp?) in 3e D&D. Well, clearly, she's a Wizard (Harry). Or witch, but 3e doesn't really have a witch class. Without brewing new spells, about the most iconic spell she can replicate at low levels is Aloha Mora. So, clearly, opening locked doors is her big thing. Then some Rogue player is a jerk, and goes and puts ranks in Open Lock, becoming the party goto lock opener, with the party only falling back to the Hermione espy rare occasion. His flimsy defense for his **** move? It's not because his character actually cares about it. No, it's just because "that's what Rogues do".

    Here, the Wizard's player was thinking in terms of their character; the Rogue's player was thinking in terms of the rules.

    IMO, neither are "right". IMO, noone has any "right" to a lane. If your fun necessitates your character fulfilling a particular role (that's your problem, and) you either a) need to optimize sufficiently that you defacto fill that role, or b) get "character X fills role Y" added to the gentleman's agreement.

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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    It depends so much on the DM/GM, the players, and the game system, that there is no way we can all come to agreement, simply because we have had different experiences.

    Back when I was playing original D&D, I didn't care about character balance, because the cleverest and most original player would have the most effect, regardless of the character sheet. It was a point of pride sometimes to play a "weak" character and make him effective. I once played a very successful nine-year-old kid.

    In a more developed game like D&D 3.5, when most options are already worked out and written down in the rules, I don't need to play the most powerful character, but I do want to play a character with useful and effective options to play with.

    And it still has more to do with the player's ability to play the character well. In our current game, at 8th level, we have one player who is running a wizard. That wizard is far less effective than most other players, in large part because the player isn't doing what it takes to be effective. My character has spent most of his money on useful items and spells, and that wizard hasn't spent anything (despite my suggestions). In our last game, that player kept the wizard in the tavern when mine was at the docks, when we expected an attack on our ship. The wizard arrived late, and had little left to do. The player's choices are still the most important aspect of optimization.

    Obviously, that player and I disagree about the need for enforced balance.

    I repeat: It depends so much on the DM/GM, the players, and the game system, that there is no way we can all come to agreement, simply because we have had different experiences.

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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    I'm confused. How could a GM ruin the game for the (player of the) Fighter in your example?
    Basicaly show favortism to ay player of a magic using class while being hostile to the player of the fighter character.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    So, I think the problem with "lane"-based thinking is that it is complicated by two opposed schools of thought: rules-first and character-first.
    I think Rules vs Role Play fits better here.

    Lane thinking is ONLY for The Hyper Active Selfish Demanding Dominating Competing Action type. All the other types of players don't care about ''lanes".



    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    IMO, neither are "right". IMO, noone has any "right" to a lane. If your fun necessitates your character fulfilling a particular role (that's your problem, and) you either a) need to optimize sufficiently that you defacto fill that role, or b) get "character X fills role Y" added to the gentleman's agreement.
    To the above A and B, I'll also add C) Pick (or make) a unique lane that others can not easily duplicate.


    I think a lot of people see ''Balance" in a game like this:

    1.The game must only have four character types(1 to 4) and each has a Lane (A,B,C and D) that is unique and something the other three characters can't do at all.

    2.Then, each hour of the game is broken into 15 minute segments of encounters that feature a single lane problem challenge. So for the first 15 minutes character 1 with lane power A will over come the challenge of Lane problem A. Then character 2 will do the same for the lane problem B, and so on.

    3.So at the end of each hour, each player with thier lane character has gotten to dominate the game play for a full fifteen minutes.

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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    I think the important thing is for everyone to be able to make a meaningful contribution.

    Having a balanced (or roughly balanced) characters makes this easier. As does specialization where everyone has their own area. But there are other ways to do it. I have played campaigns driven by the weakest member of the party, who was also effectively our quest giver.

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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    First, let's make it clear: balance and symmetry are two vastly different things. If I look at all the strategy games I've played, some of the most well balanced ones where fully asymmetric.

    What are the good of symmetry? Well, the most important one is probably time efficiency. D&D is a complex game, where a simple things like a fight. If a player is very bad at fighting, and run away from fight to let the good fighter fight, but 3/4 of each of your sessions are fight, then the sessions light feel a little boring to him/her.

    Hence the conclusion: if there is a part of the game that will be major in your campaign, you want all the characters to be somewhat useful to this part. A solution is having the rules of the game (and the DM) actually forcing every character created to be actually proficient with what is considered by the designer (and your group) as the main part of the game (if any)

    Then, the counter-cost of symmetry is that it kind of reduces the variety of characters, and the will to find unorthodox solutions to problems (since your character will almost always be adapted to the situation).

    Now, about balance. Balance is not required, bit strongly advised if you do not know well your players. I've met a significant portion of players that don't live well the fact of being overshadowed, but are not "good" at finding their own line to have fun. It can be players that are bad at optimizing, but don't like feeling useless in fighting, players that are bad at talking but don't like when another player essentially makes all the social interactions. Balance try to ensure that everyone has a room to grow without having to fight for his/her spot.

    But once you know more your players, you will find that some players do not abuse of whatever overpowered things they have, that some players always find interesting gameplay out of what would be considered as a bad character by any optimiser, and that some players are just happy with being part of the "secondary cast". In fact with the good group, you can even have a very fun campaign with a true "main character" quite obviously more powerful than the others ones.

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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    It doesn't NEED to be.

    But usually, a balanced party results in everyone having a good time, assuming the players and GM are good folk. Whereas imbalance can frequently, without any malice, result in at least one person having a bad time, due to someone being rendered obsolete due to mechanical differences.
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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    I think the important thing is for everyone to be able to make a meaningful contribution.
    I agree. And most others might say this too....except when people talk about balance they are only talking about combat. And worse as they are only talking about the mechanincal rules and numbers.

    A meaningful contribution does not have to be ''Only Combat".

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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by MonstarDM View Post
    I agree. And most others might say this too....except when people talk about balance they are only talking about combat. And worse as they are only talking about the mechanincal rules and numbers.

    A meaningful contribution does not have to be ''Only Combat".
    Sure, no argument, but again magicals can contribute to non-combat just as well as mundanes. Plus while mundanes must interact with the world via skill checks, magicals can do that and interact with it in ways skill checks can't even comprehend. Charm. Divination. Find the Path.

    They can do travel better, in the form of summoning mounts which don't need food and never tire. Or creating portals to skip travel entirely.
    -The Fighter still has to feed his horse and he has to let it rest and make Handle Animal checks just like everyone else and the horse may make his travel faster, but it will never be "instant".

    They can do camp better, in the form of nigh-impenetrable extra-dimensional huts.
    -Even the Ranger still needs to set up tents, find a safe location and take watches. Short of a wizard attack or magic shenanigans, nothing breaches the wizard's hut.

    They can do survival better, summoning food and water from thin air.
    -The Barbarian still has to hunt for his supper and if he gets nothing, he goes hungry. Heck, "create water" is a cantrip!

    And lets not forget that magicals favor mental stats. And our poor little fighter getting only 2+int skill points. Only our dear rogue really cares about int at all and that's only because of his massive skill point pool and equally massive spread of skills. Any mundane who is investing into their mental stats is putting their other roles at a disadvantage, while any magical who favors their mental stats is...likely just boosting scores they already care about.

    Again, maybe not right away. Which again was my point with high/low level balance points. Mundanes are likely to perform longer and better at lower levels, while magicals will take the lead at higher ones (basically, level 10 and the game splits). Which was also my point with the "dual balance points".
    Last edited by False God; 2019-09-14 at 08:07 PM.
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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    I think the important thing is for everyone to be able to make a meaningful contribution.

    Having a balanced (or roughly balanced) characters makes this easier. As does specialization where everyone has their own area. But there are other ways to do it. I have played campaigns driven by the weakest member of the party, who was also effectively our quest giver.
    Quote Originally Posted by MoiMagnus View Post
    and that some players are just happy with being part of the "secondary cast". In fact with the good group, you can even have a very fun campaign with a true "main character" quite obviously more powerful than the others ones.
    I like to liken an RPG to putting on a play. Not all roles are equal. Good players, like good actors, understand this and act accordingly.

    Every character in a play has a meaningful contribution - otherwise, they would be written out of the play. You'll hear me speak happily of my time playing a sentient potted plant, which was certainly one of the most minor roles I've played. Whereas you'll hear me complain about the character I played who contributed *exactly nothing* to the game (well, and about the players who, despite that fact, incorrectly complained that my *exactly useless* character was OP).

    Put another way, IMO, happiness is in having a role, and accepting that role. "Equality" is just a Power Rangers way to try to force that to be true. And, IMO, it makes the game worse in its misunderstanding by taking the focus away from what is actually important. I've talked to too many players and GMs who could only comprehend mechanical balance, and could not conceptualize ideas like "narrative balance" or "having a role to play".

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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Not every actor in Romeo and Juliet has the same size role. And that's not only fine, that's actually optimal!
    Romeo and Juliet is a play, not an RPG. It's generally assumed, that if you get a bunch of people together to play a game, everyone is going to get to play as much as everyone else. Nobody wants to be the bench-warmer while the rest of the group is having fun, and THIS is the reason for party balance. Everyone get's their time to shine.

    If, out of a group of 5 players, one or two get 90% of the spot light, the rest of the players will get bored and find something else to do.

    IMHO, people who don't believe in party balance, or say that it's not necessary, tend to be the people that create the characters that hog 90% of the spot light (I'm looking at YOU, Batman Wizards). Of course the are not going to give a rats arse about party balance when they are what's throwing it out of balance in the first place.

    Now, party balance doesn't mean you have to have a set roster of characters, but it does mean that you try not to make characters that excel at everything (Unless the entire party is built along those lines). So , if Bob makes a fighter, you don't go and make a war domain cleric and muscle him out of his job. There are plenty of options in the game, that you shouldn't have this problem.

    A good "session zero" will help to alleviate these problems before they start.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    I like to liken an RPG to putting on a play. Not all roles are equal. Good players, like good actors, understand this and act accordingly.

    Every character in a play has a meaningful contribution - otherwise, they would be written out of the play. You'll hear me speak happily of my time playing a sentient potted plant, which was certainly one of the most minor roles I've played. Whereas you'll hear me complain about the character I played who contributed *exactly nothing* to the game (well, and about the players who, despite that fact, incorrectly complained that my *exactly useless* character was OP).

    Put another way, IMO, happiness is in having a role, and accepting that role. "Equality" is just a Power Rangers way to try to force that to be true. And, IMO, it makes the game worse in its misunderstanding by taking the focus away from what is actually important. I've talked to too many players and GMs who could only comprehend mechanical balance, and could not conceptualize ideas like "narrative balance" or "having a role to play".
    Again, and RPG is NOT a play. A play is something you sit and watch. A book is something you sit and read.

    A game is something you actively participate in. Would you sit and play Monopoly if you only got to take 1 turn for everybody else's 4? No. You wouldn't. That would be boring.

    If you join 4 or 5 other people to play a game, you expect to play just as much as the rest of the players. You don't expect to let one or two people do most of the playing, while you're just there to roll dice in combat. You expect equal play time, not to be marginally more important than an NPC.
    Last edited by Mutazoia; 2019-09-15 at 02:14 PM.
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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    My mind goes back to soccer.

    Each player has a role and a region of the field to cover, but these roles and regions are fluid. You cover your teammate's role when necessary.

    RPGs (especially like D&D) require your table to cover certain roles. Multiple players can cover each other's roles, but it's usually a waste of resources to actively double up when it isn't necessary. It can leave you vulnerable in other areas on the field and it suggests your teammate can't be trusted to do their job.
    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
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    Everyone has their own jam.

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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    Sure, no argument, but again magicals can contribute to non-combat just as well as mundanes. Plus while mundanes must interact with the world via skill checks, magicals can do that and interact with it in ways skill checks can't even comprehend. Charm. Divination. Find the Path.

    Note that mundanes have more then just skills, they have abilities too.

    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    They can do travel better, in the form of summoning mounts which don't need food and never tire. Or creating portals to skip travel entirely.
    -The Fighter still has to feed his horse and he has to let it rest and make Handle Animal checks just like everyone else and the horse may make his travel faster, but it will never be "instant".
    The flaw here is that your saying Better=Instant. And if you want to go with that single idea, that is fine. BUT remember that is NOT the only idea in the whole world.

    Character Z just snaps there fingers and zips around the world.

    Character A travels for six weeks and has several adventures, gains fame and fortune, and goes up two levels.

    Humm...wonder what one ''sounds better"?

    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    They can do camp better, in the form of nigh-impenetrable extra-dimensional huts.
    -Even the Ranger still needs to set up tents, find a safe location and take watches. Short of a wizard attack or magic shenanigans, nothing breaches the wizard's hut.
    Well, guess this is mechanincal rules specific. THIS is also the huge problem of game Stlye: of Awesome Magic. If the GM and players are going to say Magic is All Awesome, well then your type of game example happens. Almost nothing can effect and extra deminsinal space, in your stlye....AND you'd abslutely insist that anything that ''could" effect MUST be so super rare as to just about never be used.

    Do you see the HUGE bias in the Awesome Magic stlye?


    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    They can do survival better, summoning food and water from thin air.
    -The Barbarian still has to hunt for his supper and if he gets nothing, he goes hungry. Heck, "create water" is a cantrip!

    Well, guess this is mechanincal rules specific. THIS is also the huge problem of game Stlye: of Awesome Magic.


    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    And lets not forget that magicals favor mental stats. And our poor little fighter getting only 2+int skill points. Only our dear rogue really cares about int at all and that's only because of his massive skill point pool and equally massive spread of skills. Any mundane who is investing into their mental stats is putting their other roles at a disadvantage, while any magical who favors their mental stats is...likely just boosting scores they already care about.
    Well, guess this is mechanincal rules specific. And it's only for the Style of: The Numbers Game.


    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    Again, maybe not right away. Which again was my point with high/low level balance points. Mundanes are likely to perform longer and better at lower levels, while magicals will take the lead at higher ones (basically, level 10 and the game splits). Which was also my point with the "dual balance points".
    Really, this is all about game Style. You are talking about a game Style where everyone just says Magic is Awesome, and then just hangs thier head down.

    And, ok, fine, that is ONE Stlye and ONE way to play the game.

    Lets try a good example of another Stlye: Lets call it the Magic Breaking Style.

    1.Magic is NOT special in any way.

    2.ANYTHING you think is ''Rare" for the expresse reason as you don't want it used againts your magic using character, is in fact, COMMON.

    Wow, just think what this game would be like.....

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