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  1. - Top - End - #121
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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    Its the principle of how players are what is given to them, in general. 3.5 is just the most stand out system to demonstrate the problem of imbalance honestly.

    and of course you don't hear these stories anymore, 3.5 is dead and for good reason. it was replaced 4e then 5e, and guess what they both do balance better and are more enjoyable.

    I have experience, because anything that gives more people more power than usual is corrupting, its a classic problem of humanity, regardless of jerks. and again, you did not address the fact that such overpowered character kills the tension! and tension matters to some people, and that why balance is there: to keep the tension as well as my suspension of disbelief intact so I don't start looking at adventures as essentially meaningless luxury trips for the characters where they don't experience any pain or suffering.

    such imbalance is like writing a mary sue character in a story, because all the challenges are easily solved, nothing interesting happens, so....its tepid, why is anything happening at all if none of it has a bite?
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  2. - Top - End - #122
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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Do you apply this logic to other facets of life?

    Like, if someone watches horror movies and hates them all, and watches lots of comedies and likes them all, maybe that person doesn't like horror movies?

    Why is it so hard for you to accept that there are certain people who fundamentally do not enjoy games because of the imbalances contained within?
    That's not at all what we are discussing here, is it. If I inject what we are discussing about into your statement we get:

    "If someone playes 3.5 and hates it, and plays 5e and likes it, maybe that person doesn't like 3.5"

    Great. I have no problem with that statement.

    But that's not this discussion. To try and cram this discussion into your analogy it would be something like:

    "if someone watches horror movies and hates it, and watches comedies and likes it, then horror movies must be bad movies."

    Do you see how that's taking opinion and turning it into "truth"

    Also it discounts an important part of this discussion which is "3.5 is Bad because of Balance issues" Saying there is a specific cause for its "badness"

    To which my reply is "i have personal experience of enjoying the game despite the balance issues". That its perfectly possible to stop worrying and love the bomb. And that, its possible, just theoretically possible, that the reason someone ISN'T enjoying the game may have other reasons than the balance issues. The most likely one being the other players.

    to, again, try to fit your analogy:

    "I watched horror movies and comedies. I don't like the horror movies because the plots are trite and predictable."

    "Are you sure that's why you don't like them?"

    "Yes."

    "Okay but, here's example of how comedies also have trite and predictable plots. Are you sure that THAT'S the reason you don't like horror movies or could it be something else."

    "No! its because the plots are trite and predicatble! They are bad movies!"

    "Okay. There are lots of people who still enjoy horror movies despite the trite and predictable plots."

    "Those people are wrong!"


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    Trite and predictable plots are probably a bad replacement for "balance issues" but its the best I could come up with. Feel free to paste in another reason.
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  3. - Top - End - #123
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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gallowglass View Post
    That's not at all what we are discussing here, is it. If I inject what we are discussing about into your statement we get:

    "If someone playes 3.5 and hates it, and plays 5e and likes it, maybe that person doesn't like 3.5"

    Great. I have no problem with that statement.

    But that's not this discussion. To try and cram this discussion into your analogy it would be something like:

    "if someone watches horror movies and hates it, and watches comedies and likes it, then horror movies must be bad movies."

    Do you see how that's taking opinion and turning it into "truth"

    Also it discounts an important part of this discussion which is "3.5 is Bad because of Balance issues" Saying there is a specific cause for its "badness"

    To which my reply is "i have personal experience of enjoying the game despite the balance issues". That its perfectly possible to stop worrying and love the bomb. And that, its possible, just theoretically possible, that the reason someone ISN'T enjoying the game may have other reasons than the balance issues. The most likely one being the other players.

    to, again, try to fit your analogy:

    "I watched horror movies and comedies. I don't like the horror movies because the plots are trite and predictable."

    "Are you sure that's why you don't like them?"

    "Yes."

    "Okay but, here's example of how comedies also have trite and predictable plots. Are you sure that THAT'S the reason you don't like horror movies or could it be something else."
    The analogy I was going for is that there are people who don't like horror movies because they are scary, just like there are gamers who don't like 3.5 because it is imbalanced.

    I was not trying to say that there aren't people who like it despite it being imbalanced, or that the game is bad against some objective standard.

    Hell, while I would argue that in general balance is a good design principle and most people prefer balanced games, there are certainly people who enjoy game because they are imbalanced, typically people who enjoy the power fantasy aspect or the accomplishment aspects of the game.
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  4. - Top - End - #124
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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    Showing up to a discussion on what makes a game good or bad with a philosophy that it is literally impossible for any game to be bad, and if you didn't enjoy a game then that's your fault for playing it wrong or for playing it at all, is not helpful.

  5. - Top - End - #125
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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by ChamHasNoRoom View Post
    Showing up to a discussion on what makes a game good or bad with a philosophy that it is literally impossible for any game to be bad, and if you didn't enjoy a game then that's your fault for playing it wrong or for playing it at all, is not helpful.
    Yeah, agree with that pretty much. one just has to look at FATAL to see that a roleplaying game can be really bad and that no amount of "playing it right" will fix it. indeed, the concept of "playing a game right" is kind of a warning sign by itself.

    and no matter the experiences, the problem with the system remains no matter how much you scaffold it. just because someone has built the scaffolding so well, so much that it becomes indistinguishable from the system in their eyes, does not mean the system is fixed, it just means they are mistaking all this surrounding lore and guides and optimization advice for the actual game when the base assumption is not "rpg game + years of forum optimization and table experience" but "the rpg game by itself". the wizard optimization guide is not a splatbook and has nothing to do with the problems of the system, because its all about avoiding them.
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  6. - Top - End - #126
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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    Imbalance is only a problem with a system if you assume that the system is or should be trying to be balanced. That assumption is what's under debate here. I think it's a valid point to raise that the counter-argument for 'balance is something all systems should strive for' is 'there are applications in which you would want to strive for controlled imbalance instead' and not 'imbalance is something all systems should strive for'.

    In a lot of these problematic cases, the problem is caused by other underlying issues interacting with system imbalances. Rather than say 'it's the player's fault' as the current line of conversation seems to be getting stuck on, I'd say 'you can easily construct a system or situation which is just as imbalanced, but in which the given problem ceases to be problematic'.

    For the Swashbuckler story, imagine that the D&D books were exactly the same except included class power ratings and example capability analysis of builds (e.g. imagine forum tiers, or if you don't like those ratings, imagine something else more true to your play experiences). In that case, a new player wouldn't be told 'these are all equal options', they'd be told 'these are unequal options - contributing as a Barbarian is a 3 star difficulty, whereas contributing as a Fighter is a 4 star difficulty'. You might then say 'it's a problem that I want to play a swashbucklery archetype, but they're all 4 and 5 star difficulties' - but the issue there is not 'just' imbalance, it's that the system isn't providing a means to have the experience you want, any more than it wouldn't really support playing a detective or head of a merchant empire. So again, this feels like a matter of mis-communicated or mismatched expectations. A game isn't bad for not enabling every conceivable experience, but it can certainly be bad for people who are going to it to have those specific experiences.

    For the toxic wizard story, take the exact same situation and mechanics, but swap the players. Either the victim of the story would be just as toxic in that situation when playing as the wizard (in which case, I guess I'd have to say that those players deserve each-other), or otherwise perhaps the issue is more that playing anything with toxic people sucks.

    If we're talking about strategic depth, there are ways to intentionally unbalance a game to create more interesting strategic considerations. Chess has deep strategies even though its units are wildly different in utility. Go has deep strategies even though its units are identical. So, a game could be badly designed to use its imbalance (e.g. being unbalanced by accident rather than intention), but that doesn't imply that balance is necessary or sufficient for strategic depth.

    The cases which can't be resolved by modifying the context to one that doesn't assume already failed elements are specifically the cases where a player proactively desires balance for its own sake. But I'd disagree that all systems should cater to that player type - certainly some should, but its not a universal thing. Certainly, such games in both cases should clearly communicate their design intent to prospective players to avoid a mismatch of expectations.

  7. - Top - End - #127
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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    I agree that there are valid reasons to have an imbalanced game.

    That said, a game can still be judged by how well it is what it presents itself as. 3.X's class balance problems are an issue because every class is presented as equal. Even if some people in the group are totally happy to play the sidekick role, they need extensive experience with the system in order to know which classes are the sidekicks and which aren't. Even classes which are hideously overpowered can have very weak specific builds.

    3.X is no longer officially supported, and the number of new players coming into it each year is very small, but it's still not to the edition's credit that its classes are so wildly imbalanced as to only be playable with sufficient expertise to navigate the minefield of not only cripplingly bad options, but also game-breakingly good ones. Playing on godmode can be fun as a break from normal gameplay, but there's a reason why it's basically never offered as an official difficulty setting.

    You could solve 3.X's problem by changing its presentation instead of its actual mechanics, building things like tier lists directly into the text of the rules (so long as the tier list is accurate - whether or not any specific tier list works doesn't matter to the abstract point), but people don't usually like that solution because the people who show up to a game of D&D are the people who liked what D&D presented itself as and want to play that game, the one they were promised.
    Last edited by ChamHasNoRoom; 2019-09-18 at 08:53 PM.

  8. - Top - End - #128
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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gallowglass View Post
    I don't CARE. Why? Because its cooperative, not competitive. I shift my focus to whatever enemies are left.

    Why is that so hard?

    Perhaps, I'm just lucky to have players that don't suck and a DM that runs a game that everyone gets to shine in. But, honestly, I think its just a matter of I have a different perspective than you do.

    I guess, the point I'm trying to make clear is this. The problem isn't balance. The problem is -you are not having fun- And you are putting the blame for that on "because the game isn't balanced" but its possible that that isn't the thing that is at fault here. That its provably possible to have fun despite any balance issues.
    But what is the point in playing a Fighter, then? If you say "imagery", then wouldn't it be better to have a sword-wizard who wears armor and swings a sword to do the things? It can even be called "Fighter". The imagery is there, but you can actually contribute a lot more.

    Sure, you can have fun through roleplaying and just doing your part, as it becomes increasingly smaller due to certain 3.5 design aspects. But, as Kaptin Keen has aptly described it, at this point you're basically playing a sidekick, and most people don't like that (and I'll add that most people like to feel like they're pulling their own weight and doing a respectable percentage of work). Especially if "Fighter" and "Wizard" are presented as equally powerful, instead of Wizards doing everything better.

    Hell, I'll even tell a small story. I had a character (in 5e, actually, so it's not a 3.5 endemic thing) who was a melee warlock with some Fighter splashed in. I did ok-ish damage (2d10+2d6+10 per turn should be fine at level 7, I think), and could pull out a trick out of my sleeve once or twice per day. However, the same party had a Bear Totem Great Weapon Master Barbarian. Just straight Barb, max strength. He did double my damage each turn and took much less damage because of his AC coupled with resistance to everything, on top of having a d12 hitdie and +3 CON.

    So when the DM felt like he needed to challenge the barbarian, enemies also doubled in HP and damage, and basically walked over me if I didn't stay back throwing Eldritch Blasts instead of meleeing like I wanted to, and if I tried to melee, I would've died before defeating even a single enemy like that. How is that fun?
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  9. - Top - End - #129
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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ignimortis View Post
    ...

    So when the DM felt like he needed to challenge the barbarian, enemies also doubled in HP and damage, and basically walked over me if I didn't stay back throwing Eldritch Blasts instead of meleeing like I wanted to, and if I tried to melee, I would've died before defeating even a single enemy like that. How is that fun?
    I have had much the same experience in unbalanced parties. The DM attempts to challenge a player who has specifically designed to character to be un-challengable. But then...the rest of the party gets murdered horribly.
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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    I have had much the same experience in unbalanced parties. The DM attempts to challenge a player who has specifically designed to character to be un-challengable. But then...the rest of the party gets murdered horribly.
    In before they say that its the GM's fault for scaling up the enemies.

    Which is the exactly the attitude that gets parties murdered. your forcing all the work of balancing and moderation on the GM when its every players job to moderate and balance themselves so that the GM doesn't feel like they have to figure out some way of killing that one invincible guy, because if they don't, then they might as well as stop GMing because if the encounters can't provide tension and such, what are they even doing here? there is no reason to humor a player like that, thats not fun for the GM.
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  11. - Top - End - #131
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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    Party balance isn't necessary for fun in the same way that an oven isn't necessary for cooking...

    It's not strictly necessary, but it sure makes things easier and allows for more options.
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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    You can have a lot of fun with an unbalanced party. Some concepts even rely on that.

    Even more so, you can have a lot of fun with unbalanced rule systems. That is true because most systems don't enforce balance that well and we had fun with those for decades.


    But every single time we had to adress balance at a table because it had stopped being fun, it was either making the strong character weaker or the weak character stronger. So balance is a really good thing that can avoid/solve problems.

    And one really should strive for balance before those problems arise. That makes more balanced systems just better. Sure, sometrimes it is a tradeoff and you don't want to enforce balance at all costs. Usually that could happen by restricting options so much that the system becomes boring and limited or by enforcing results that strain suspension of disbelief too much.

    Balance is a good quality of a game. But not the only good quality.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    If the Fighter and the Wizard are not balanced, and the group cares about balance, then one or both players messed up.
    Or maybe the designers messed up.

    How about we agree to disagree? I vote yes.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    Or maybe the designers messed up.
    That does seem more likely
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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by zinycor View Post
    That does seem more likely
    Thank you =)

    I'm not even claiming that's conclusively and definitively the case. I'm just saying that if the hinge creaks, there's a certain limit to how much grease you need to apply before you start considering that maybe it was designed poorly to begin with.

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

    You can certainly have fun with an unbalanced party, but the whole point of RPG systems is to provide a structure to aid running and playing these games. The expectation is that the classes be very roughly balanced overall, and if that's not true, it should say so upfront. My experience is that "The wizard can always sandbag to allow the fighter to contribute" isn't consistent with most players' expectations of how D&D at least is played.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    You can have a lot of fun with an unbalanced party. Some concepts even rely on that.

    Even more so, you can have a lot of fun with unbalanced rule systems. That is true because most systems don't enforce balance that well and we had fun with those for decades.


    But every single time we had to adress balance at a table because it had stopped being fun, it was either making the strong character weaker or the weak character stronger. So balance is a really good thing that can avoid/solve problems.

    And one really should strive for balance before those problems arise. That makes more balanced systems just better. Sure, sometrimes it is a tradeoff and you don't want to enforce balance at all costs. Usually that could happen by restricting options so much that the system becomes boring and limited or by enforcing results that strain suspension of disbelief too much.

    Balance is a good quality of a game. But not the only good quality.
    Exactly.

    let's leave D&D (all iterations) for a moment and talk about Star Wars. Every single version of Star Wars I have played (all three of them) has two strata of characters. The Jedi with force powers and everybody else. The Jedi force powers are invariably game changing, allowing the jedi to do everything anyone else can do while flipping around and blindfolded. That's a core imbalance in the game. Yet somehow people still play star wars and enjoy it.

    Anyway, there's obviously a core disagreement about how important balance is to fun. I don't think we are going to resolve it here. To the OP's original question "Why does the party need to be balanced" I guess the best answer you can churn out of this discussion is "it depends on the players and their expectations. For some players, the party needs to be balanced innately, for others they are okay with the imbalance as long as the DM manages things to keep everyone involved."
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  18. - Top - End - #138
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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Theoboldi View Post
    So people who are not as wise as we great enlightened masters of D&D deserve to have their time wasted with characters they could not know in advance are not what they are promised to be? They have to waste their time coming up with balance solutions, homebrews, and other things so they can fix a game that was supposed to be fun as written?

    What's with all these assumptions, anyways? Do you think we would have known how to homebrew a satisfying solution back then? Do you know that I would have been happy relying on a McGuffin to contribute, when I wanted to play a fighter that was skillful and capable in his own right? Why do you declare that we did not try to fix it when you were not there?

    I don't understand why you try so hard to discredit me. Why can we not expect better from products that we paid money for just because you didn't have a problem with it yourself? I mean, sure, 3.5 is over and done with by now. But in the future I want to play games where I don't accidentally stumble into such painful imbalances, and then have to carefully figure out a solution with the group, especially since my free time these days is far rarer than back when I was a kid who could play D&D all day long.
    Clearly, what we have here is a failure of communication. As none of these issues seem on topic - at least, not directly - and I've lost this post once already - in interests clear and civil communication, I'll spoil a more detailed response later, for any who care to try to understand my PoV.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Try looking at is another way:

    There is a large subset of people for whom bakance is directly proportional to fun, and they are not having fun because they are playing an imbalanced game.

    I have played multiple editions of D&D with the same group, and I can attest that imbalance does create drama, high level 3.5 has glaring balance issues that repeatedly cripple people's enjoyment of the game that just dont come up elsewhere.
    You did not have fun when the party was imbalanced. Did you air your concern? Was it addressed?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Why is it so hard for you to accept that there are certain people who fundamentally do not enjoy games because of the imbalances contained within?
    Because that may not be the core problem. See, in 3e, most any concept can be made to be balanced to the table. So, if you have a problem with balance in 3e, you almost by definition have other problems.

    Admittedly, some of those problems are from poor expectations because of bad presentation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    I have to yet to see a player who hasn't become a jerk when given godlike power. they always become entitled and talking about special treatment just because their character is so powerful, more than any other character,
    I must admit, the one time I was handed totally OP power, I handled it poorly. For one session. Until l realized that the powers that the rest of the party had been handed at the same time were nowhere near balanced with mine.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gallowglass View Post
    To which my reply is "i have personal experience of enjoying the game despite the balance issues".
    I'll do you one better (why is Gamora): I have enjoyed games because of the imbalance.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    But every single time we had to adress balance at a table because it had stopped being fun, it was either making the strong character weaker or the weak character stronger. So balance is a really good thing that can avoid/solve problems.
    I have had groups that, to fix fun, made the strong character stronger, or the weak character weaker. They just didn't call it "addressing balance".

    So, following your logic, imbalance is a good thing. How about we try my logic: adjustable balance is a good thing. That works for both of our stories.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Lemmy View Post
    Party balance isn't necessary for fun in the same way that an oven isn't necessary for cooking...

    It's not strictly necessary, but it sure makes things easier and allows for more options.
    You've got that backwards: party imbalance allows for more options.

    If I pick 100 random characters, like Superman, Dr. Strange, Quertus, Conan, Chewbacca, Picard, Neo, Rand, Sherlock Holmes, E.T., Johnny 5, etc etc, you'll have a lot more options for possible team ups if you allow imbalance than if you don't.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    Or maybe the designers messed up.

    How about we agree to disagree? I vote yes.
    Can't. Because we don't disagree.

    If the designers didn't give you the ability to create balanced characters, then they *probably* messed up. Ars Magica notwithstanding.

    If the designers hinted, implied, etc, that the characters were balanced, then they probably messed up.

    If they *flat out told you* that the characters were balanced, then they bloody well messed up. Which the 3e developers did.

    However, just because the 3e developers messed up, doesn't mean that players can't mess up, too. Afaict, that's the part we may disagree on.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    I have had groups that, to fix fun, made the strong character stronger, or the weak character weaker. They just didn't call it "addressing balance".

    So, following your logic, imbalance is a good thing. How about we try my logic: adjustable balance is a good thing. That works for both of our stories.
    If i ever see that even once (a group that has lost fun and adjusts the power of the characters (not other things about the characters) to intentionally create bigger imbalance and regains the fun this way), i'll agree. But i am not convinced that does actually happen.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    How about we try my logic: adjustable balance is a good thing. That works for both of our stories.
    Doesn't literally every game have adjustable balance? If someone is a better chess player than me, then you could adjust the balance by removing their pieces until we match.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    You've got that backwards: party imbalance allows for more options.

    If I pick 100 random characters, like Superman, Dr. Strange, Quertus, Conan, Chewbacca, Picard, Neo, Rand, Sherlock Holmes, E.T., Johnny 5, etc etc, you'll have a lot more options for possible team ups if you allow imbalance than if you don't.
    Not really, because...

    A- What makes for a good book/film/whatever doesn't necessarily make for a good game.

    Having Green Arrow next to Superman in a comic book where the reader follows every character and the writer has no real rules and can create contrived situations to make Green Arrow relevant (including Superman "forgeting" to use his powers) is OK. Playing GA next to Superman in a game where freedom of choice is important and the GM isn't playing favorites would be frustrating more often than not.

    B- It's much easier to adapt your game to be unbalanced than to try and fix fix to be balanced (just give one character more xp, more loot, more allies, etc).

    i.e.: You can always choose to not use the oven. But that doesn't change the fact that having it there and not using it is much better than not having it at all just because your favorite food is sushi.
    Last edited by Lemmy; 2019-09-19 at 01:53 PM.

  23. - Top - End - #143
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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Because that may not be the core problem. See, in 3e, most any concept can be made to be balanced to the table. So, if you have a problem with balance in 3e, you almost by definition have other problems.
    Let me try an analogy:

    Do you think sports would be improved if they didn't have levels? Like if they let NBA players play in middle school youth league tournaments and vice versa?

    IMO enjoying being on a team with people who are at a similar level to yourself does not indicate any sort of problem.
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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Let me try an analogy:

    Do you think sports would be improved if they didn't have levels? Like if they let NBA players play in middle school youth league tournaments and vice versa?

    IMO enjoying being on a team with people who are at a similar level to yourself does not indicate any sort of problem.
    So you think that new players should play with new players, and veterans with veterans? That would make sense on a table at a store, where there could be enough people of different levels of expertise. Very unlikely for that to happen at a home game.
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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Clearly, what we have here is a failure of communication. As none of these issues seem on topic - at least, not directly - and I've lost this post once already - in interests clear and civil communication, I'll spoil a more detailed response later, for any who care to try to understand my PoV.
    All of these issues are entirely on-topic. Each of them directly relates to my reasons why I consider it important that a game be either balanced or clearly communicate its imbalances. I'll wait for your detailed response, but be aware that my complaints of wasted time and effort stem entirely from the imbalance in a game that presented its classes as equally powerful.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gallowglass View Post
    let's leave D&D (all iterations) for a moment and talk about Star Wars. Every single version of Star Wars I have played (all three of them) has two strata of characters. The Jedi with force powers and everybody else. The Jedi force powers are invariably game changing, allowing the jedi to do everything anyone else can do while flipping around and blindfolded. That's a core imbalance in the game. Yet somehow people still play star wars and enjoy it.

    Anyway, there's obviously a core disagreement about how important balance is to fun. I don't think we are going to resolve it here. To the OP's original question "Why does the party need to be balanced" I guess the best answer you can churn out of this discussion is "it depends on the players and their expectations. For some players, the party needs to be balanced innately, for others they are okay with the imbalance as long as the DM manages things to keep everyone involved."
    The issue with your example of Star Wars is that people who wish to play that source material are already aware going in that of course a jedi is a more powerful character than a non-jedi. And that's really the crux of it. Imbalances need to be either obvious (like when you are working with a pre-existing source material) or explicitly addressed so that players can make informed decisions about what they'll play going in. Yes, you can always fix arising problems later, but at that point they have already enacted a cost in time, effort, and possibly nerves and drama. And while it's true that you can have fun with a non-balanced game, that same game can also ruin the fun of uninformed players when they try it out.
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    You don't win people over by beating them with facts until they surrender; at best all you've got is a conversion under duress, and at worst you've actively made an enemy of your position.

    You don't convince by proving someone wrong. You convince by showing them a better way to be right. The difference may seem subtle or semantic, but I assure you it matters a lot.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    Imbalance is only a problem with a system if you assume that the system is or should be trying to be balanced. That assumption is what's under debate here. I think it's a valid point to raise that the counter-argument for 'balance is something all systems should strive for' is 'there are applications in which you would want to strive for controlled imbalance instead' and not 'imbalance is something all systems should strive for'.

    In a lot of these problematic cases, the problem is caused by other underlying issues interacting with system imbalances. Rather than say 'it's the player's fault' as the current line of conversation seems to be getting stuck on, I'd say 'you can easily construct a system or situation which is just as imbalanced, but in which the given problem ceases to be problematic'.

    For the Swashbuckler story, imagine that the D&D books were exactly the same except included class power ratings and example capability analysis of builds (e.g. imagine forum tiers, or if you don't like those ratings, imagine something else more true to your play experiences). In that case, a new player wouldn't be told 'these are all equal options', they'd be told 'these are unequal options - contributing as a Barbarian is a 3 star difficulty, whereas contributing as a Fighter is a 4 star difficulty'. You might then say 'it's a problem that I want to play a swashbucklery archetype, but they're all 4 and 5 star difficulties' - but the issue there is not 'just' imbalance, it's that the system isn't providing a means to have the experience you want, any more than it wouldn't really support playing a detective or head of a merchant empire. So again, this feels like a matter of mis-communicated or mismatched expectations. A game isn't bad for not enabling every conceivable experience, but it can certainly be bad for people who are going to it to have those specific experiences.

    For the toxic wizard story, take the exact same situation and mechanics, but swap the players. Either the victim of the story would be just as toxic in that situation when playing as the wizard (in which case, I guess I'd have to say that those players deserve each-other), or otherwise perhaps the issue is more that playing anything with toxic people sucks.

    If we're talking about strategic depth, there are ways to intentionally unbalance a game to create more interesting strategic considerations. Chess has deep strategies even though its units are wildly different in utility. Go has deep strategies even though its units are identical. So, a game could be badly designed to use its imbalance (e.g. being unbalanced by accident rather than intention), but that doesn't imply that balance is necessary or sufficient for strategic depth.

    The cases which can't be resolved by modifying the context to one that doesn't assume already failed elements are specifically the cases where a player proactively desires balance for its own sake. But I'd disagree that all systems should cater to that player type - certainly some should, but its not a universal thing. Certainly, such games in both cases should clearly communicate their design intent to prospective players to avoid a mismatch of expectations.
    I think this post speaks the greatest truth of any in this thread and I think it has been hinted at quite a bit without being stated directly. Balance in itself isn't so much a problem. All kinds of games have imbalanced rules, roles, and/or mechanics. Even popular ones. The problem is the expectation of the players. There must be a feeling of agency or buy-in for the power level. Playing a weak character doesn't feel bad if I know it is weak. Having limitations that others won't have isn't bad if I know those limitations from the outset.

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

    Part of the problem is that people have different tolerances for imbalance, so their opinions will never align.

    I hate mustard. While I can tolerate small amounts in something, if I can taste "mustard taste", I hate it. The answer isn't for me to learn to like mustard (I mean, I've tried). It's to not eat things that taste like mustard.

    Same with balance. Some people don't care. Some do. Most people care about some level of imbalance. Some people want a certain level of imbalance, as that leads to interesting challenges in the character build space (see: Complaints about 4e being "too balanced").

    Lots of people here are saying "balance doesn't matter" or "balance does matter." If they'd just add "to me", they'd all be right.
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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie the Duck View Post

    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.
    You are aware that Sam and Frodo are the weakest members of the party, along with Merry and Pippin ... are you?

    This sort of thing could easily happen in a well-balanced party, or in one where Aragorn and Legolas are exactly as much more powerful than Frodo and Sam, if the DM likes the plot arch Sam and Frodo are in, and enjoys playing Gollum. It has nothing to do with balance.



    Whether a party needs to be balanced depends on the DM and the players. If you have players who choose to let others shine, and who don't care that much about winning fights and being great at things, but are more interested in their characters' tragic backstory and exploring that, it can work.


    Of course, if you assume that players all want to be great and awesome heroes, and the DM won't be able to let the weaker characters shine, too, then it is wiser to design the system in a way where a party would either consist of Legolas, Aragorn, Boromir and Gimli, or of Sam, Frodo, Merry and Pippin, but never both.

  29. - Top - End - #149
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    Default Re: Why does the party need to be balanced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Themrys View Post
    You are aware that Sam and Frodo are the weakest members of the party, along with Merry and Pippin ... are you?
    Honestly speaking, that really depends on the metric one uses/the system they are using (to convert it to game terms). Sam and Frodo are the two characters with the most direct ability to effect the actual outcome of the scenario. It's only really touched on in the movies with Gandalf and Galadriel, but it's made more clear in the books that really none of the fellowship other than Sam and Frodo can attempt the main function of quest at all. Everyone else literally can only play a support role.

    This sort of thing could easily happen in a well-balanced party, or in one where Aragorn and Legolas are exactly as much more powerful than Frodo and Sam, if the DM likes the plot arch Sam and Frodo are in, and enjoys playing Gollum. It has nothing to do with balance.
    You're right, it doesn't, nor was it intended to be. The topic of that comparison was whether anyone cared if all characters in a fictional narrative got the same amount of attention or had the same amount of agency. People (obviously not everyone, as this thread evidences) do care about the same in TTRPGs, and that agency is what balance is related to.

    Whether a party needs to be balanced depends on the DM and the players. If you have players who choose to let others shine, and who don't care that much about winning fights and being great at things, but are more interested in their characters' tragic backstory and exploring that, it can work.

    Of course, if you assume that players all want to be great and awesome heroes, and the DM won't be able to let the weaker characters shine, too, then it is wiser to design the system in a way where a party would either consist of Legolas, Aragorn, Boromir and Gimli, or of Sam, Frodo, Merry and Pippin, but never both.
    That's not a bad way of framing what it. It's better/wiser for a game to match people up on relative 'awesome heroes'-ness, in case that is important to them.
    Last edited by Willie the Duck; 2019-09-20 at 08:25 AM.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    However, just because the 3e developers messed up, doesn't mean that players can't mess up, too. Afaict, that's the part we may disagree on.
    Well - I know my players, and you don't.

    But speaking in more general terms, I agree with you: Sometimes lack of balance is a result of bad player choices.

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