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    Default The Reason for Imbalance in D20

    I recently read on one of the 'old school' boards that I frequent, this snippet of information:

    Quote Originally Posted by T. Foster
    But remember that, by Monte Cook's own admission, they included a bunch of intentionally "sub-optimal" options and advice in the 3.0 rulebooks as a way to encourage "rules mastery" among the player-base -- that those players who studied the rules (or hung out at the Character Optimization board at WotC) would be "rewarded" by having a real advantage over the casual players who just (foolishly) followed the advice in the books. That attitude (which seems to have been carried over directly from Magic: The Gathering) was one of the biggest turn-offs of 3E for me, because at this point in my life I have zero interest in "mastering" a ruleset, but neither do I want to be stigmatized as an "inferior" player by my decision not to do so (nor do I want to kowtow to some rules-geek for his condescension-laden "help").
    Source

    Quote Originally Posted by Monte Cook's blog
    Magic also has a concept of "Timmy cards." These are cards that look cool, but aren't actually that great in the game. The purpose of such cards is to reward people for really mastering the game, and making players feel smart when they've figured out that one card is better than the other. While D&D doesn't exactly do that, it is true that certain game choices are deliberately better than others.

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

    For me, that explains a lot and I thought some folks here might be interested.
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    Default Re: The Reason for Imbalance in D20

    Urge to purge...rising.
    NS2...it's time to evolve again.

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    Default Re: The Reason for Imbalance in D20

    Bracing self for inevitable downward spiral.
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    Default Re: The Reason for Imbalance in D20

    This can only end in fire
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    Default Re: The Reason for Imbalance in D20


    Yay for built in brokeness, thanks Monty
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    Default Re: The Reason for Imbalance in D20

    D20's aren't balanced because there are more 2 digit numbers than single digit numbers. Since the digits are carved into the face of the die, that's a little less weight on the side that favors two digits. Originally, you were supposed to take a crayon and fill in those numbers so they would be more visible, but it had the added benefit of counteracting the imbalance by adding the weight of the crayon wax back to the carved out digit locations. Unfortunately, people were too lazy plus the added benefit of illegible dice being much more cheatable, thus the technique never caught on. Now, D20's use a die stain that is nearly weightless which aggravates the imbalance.

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    Default Re: The Reason for Imbalance in D20

    I've actually seen this before. I assume some people are going to get mad about it.

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    Default Re: The Reason for Imbalance in D20

    Quote Originally Posted by Artanis View Post
    This can only end in fire
    Fighting hard, fighting on for the steel / Through the wastelands evermore / The scattered souls will feel the hell, bodies wasted on the shore

    I'm just curious who couldn't figure it out on /some/ level. I don't think they meant for entire classes to suck, but..
    Last edited by Rutee; 2008-05-05 at 06:03 PM.

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    Default Re: The Reason for Imbalance in D20

    What you talking about melee classes rule
    check out my new fighter build
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    Default Re: The Reason for Imbalance in D20

    Quote Originally Posted by Vortling View Post
    I've actually seen this before. I assume some people are going to get mad about it.
    Sure, it's going to be old news to some people. I knew that D20 was imbalanced, but always assumed it was a flaw, not a design feature. Nothing to get angry about, it may even be an after the fact excuse, but still an interesting mentality (and potentially visible even in the newer supplements).

    Quote Originally Posted by Rutee View Post
    Fighting hard, fighting on for the steel / Through the wastelands evermore / The scattered souls will feel the hell, bodies wasted on the shore

    I'm just curious who couldn't figure it out on /some/ level. I don't think they meant for entire classes to suck, but..
    Heh, heh, Dragonforce. For my part, I just never put two and two together, being always too busy seeking to address 'flaws', rather than think about why they were there.
    Last edited by Matthew; 2008-05-05 at 06:09 PM.
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    Default Re: The Reason for Imbalance in D20

    Oh noes !

    WOTC wants the players to learn how to thinck for themselves!

    They wanted us to develop our minds! How dare they to do this? All games should be made in such a way you could pick your character abilities at random and do whatever crosses your mind during the game and don't be crippled at all!

    Sheesssh, rewarding the players who use their brains, how much more evil can they be?

    (Had readed that ages ago. And I totally suport it)

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    Default Re: The Reason for Imbalance in D20

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew View Post
    Sure, it's going to be old news to some people. I knew that D20 was imbalanced, but always assumed it was a flaw, not a design feature. Nothing to get angry about, really, but quite interesting.
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    Default Re: The Reason for Imbalance in D20

    HAHAHAHAHAHA

    What cracks me up is the theoretical scenario of Wizard's being a coven of angry nerds that make products to reward fellow nerds for being financially dependant social outcasts while punishing softcore nerd "posers" for having better things to do than homework for a GAME.
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    Default Re: The Reason for Imbalance in D20

    Am I the only person who thinks this is perfectly acceptable? I can't remember any playing experiences that were rendered unfun because my character wasn't operating at 100% capacity....

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    Default Re: The Reason for Imbalance in D20

    Quote Originally Posted by Oslecamo View Post
    Oh noes !

    WOTC wants the players to learn how to thinck for themselves!

    They wanted us to develop our minds! How dare they to do this? All games should be made in such a way you could pick your character abilities at random and do whatever crosses your mind during the game and don't be crippled at all!

    Sheesssh, rewarding the players who use their brains, how much more evil can they be?

    (Had readed that ages ago. And I totally suport it)
    Hey, great idea. Why not sell products under false advertising and flawed to boot. I'm sorry, this car is clearly meant to explode at random times. You're supposed to learn engine mechanics and then spend your money to fix it.

    @^I'm more bugged because they did it on purpose and don't really tell people this.
    Last edited by MeklorIlavator; 2008-05-05 at 06:15 PM.

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    Default Re: The Reason for Imbalance in D20

    See, I've been calling Monte Cook my mortal foe for years now, and just when I start to forget why I put him on that list in the first place, I read something like this that makes me stop caring about why.

    In Magic: The Gathering, it kind of makes sense... if there weren't any bad cards, there would be no aspect of deck construction, since any X set of 60 cards would be about as good as any Y set, and that's against the spirit of the game. D&D is not founded around a concept of competition, nor about rules mastery. I now know the reason "rules lawyer" was about the biggest insult in 2nd edition, and disappeared in 3rd... It's because supporting rules lawyers is apparently the intended goal of one of 3rd edition's creators.
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    Default Re: The Reason for Imbalance in D20

    Well that's crappy...
    and it explains a lot.

    Could have sworn they said they were working to improve game balance in 3.x though. Guess they were lying like they did when they said 4e wasn't coming out any time soon....

    Hopefully they'll be a bit more honest with us in 4e.

    At least 1e and 2e admitted they weren't balanced and gave us different xp goals to even it out.
    DMs don't cheat, they just change the rules.

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    Default Re: The Reason for Imbalance in D20

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew View Post
    Sure, it's going to be old news to some people. I knew that D20 was imbalanced, but always assumed it was a flaw, not a design feature. Nothing to get angry about, it may even be an after the fact excuse, but still an interesting mentality (and potentially visible even in the newer supplements).
    Flaw or design depends on how far it goes. I can see putting in noob-trap feats and spells (Toughness, Polar Ray, Enlarge Spell?) But entire classes? Making almost all non-magical characters mechanically poor in order to better reward people who saw through the trap? Somehow I think that can be assigned to the designers not having enough understanding of their own game, not intentional nerfing of entire character archetypes.

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    Default Re: The Reason for Imbalance in D20

    Quote Originally Posted by MeklorIlavator View Post
    I'm more bugged because they did it on purpose and don't really tell people this.
    Yeah. It's one thing to be less effective because you didn't care about making an ineffective choice, it's another to be less effective because you didn't know your choice was ineffective.

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    Default Re: The Reason for Imbalance in D20

    Quote Originally Posted by MeklorIlavator View Post
    Hey, great idea. Why not sell products under false advertising and flawed to boot. I'm sorry, this car is clearly meant to explode at random times. You're supposed to learn engine mechanics and then spend your money to fix it.

    @^I'm more bugged because they did it on purpose and don't really tell people this.
    By all means, point me to an oficial D&D advertisement that says D&D is not only 100% balanced but also it doesn't reward in any way more skilled players by playing.

    And then you can go ask microsoft why their operating system crashes randomly for everything and anything, yet it is used by 99% of the computers out there since we're at it.

    EDIT:Actually, point me to ANY game wich doesn't reward the players for having experience in it.
    Last edited by Oslecamo; 2008-05-05 at 06:26 PM.

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    Default Re: The Reason for Imbalance in D20

    Imbalance has to be a part of the game, so that you can feel good about a powerful build. That said, WotC went far too far.

    I also believe that Monte isn't talking about huge unbalances like Batman or CoDzilla, but rather small(ish) imbalances like Monks vs Fighters.

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    Default Re: The Reason for Imbalance in D20

    Quote Originally Posted by tyckspoon View Post
    Flaw or design depends on how far it goes. I can see putting in noob-trap feats and spells (Toughness, Polar Ray, Enlarge Spell?) But entire classes? Making almost all non-magical characters mechanically poor in order to better reward people who saw through the trap? Somehow I think that can be assigned to the designers not having enough understanding of their own game, not intentional nerfing of entire character archetypes.
    Sure, I'm not so much interested in the nitty gritty of what was considered to be more powerful than what, I'm just interested to read one of the designers admit that some of it (if not all of it) was purposeful. I did not know that, and it explains a lot about the mentality of the game design. To be clear, I am not judging it, I am just discovering it.

    If I had known that the game was meant to be unbalanced and that players were meant, as part of the game, to find the rules exploits to feel clever, I never would have bothered trying to house rule those 'abuses' away.
    Last edited by Matthew; 2008-05-05 at 06:35 PM.
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    Default Re: The Reason for Imbalance in D20

    Quote Originally Posted by Oslecamo View Post
    EDIT:Actually, point me to ANY game wich doesn't reward the players for having experience in it.
    Snakes and ladders.

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    Default Re: The Reason for Imbalance in D20

    Quote Originally Posted by Oslecamo View Post
    By all means, point me to an oficial D&D advertisement that says D&D is not only 100% balanced but also it doesn't reward in any way more skilled players by playing.

    And then you can go ask microsoft why their operating system crashes randomly for everything and anything, yet it is used by 99% of the computers out there since we're at it.
    I'm not asking for 100% balance, in my analogy that would be a car that never breaks down. What I'm asking is that they not design it to breakdown. And I'm pretty sure that the official wizards advertisement for the PHB(3.5) says
    The revised Player's Handbook received revisions to character classes to make them more balanced, including updates to the bard, druid, monk, paladin, and ranger. Spell lists for characters have been revised and some spell levels adjusted. Skills have been consolidated somewhat and clarified. A larger number of feats have been added to give even more options for character customization in this area. In addition, the new and revised content instructs players on how to take full advantage of the tie-in D&D miniatures line planned to release in the fall of 2003 from Wizards of the Coast, Inc.
    , boldings are mine.
    http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x...core/175240000

    And while being experienced in a game should make you better at it, it doesn't mean that they have to put aspects that will purposefully gimp you.
    Last edited by MeklorIlavator; 2008-05-05 at 06:33 PM.

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    Default Re: The Reason for Imbalance in D20

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverClawShift View Post
    Am I the only person who thinks this is perfectly acceptable? I can't remember any playing experiences that were rendered unfun because my character wasn't operating at 100% capacity....
    I find it acceptable to an extent.

    I don't have a problem that their are superior ways to support a concept or that some combinations are more efficent then others.

    I do have a problem that some concepts are not well supported, that some roles and archtypes are simply ineffectual because the mechanics are designed that way.

    For example, I find it very acceptable that there is a 'right' way to make a fighter or cleric. I don't not find it acceptable that clerics and druids are inherently better then fighters, and that picking that class is inherently superior.

    People should be rewarded for making the most of their concept, for playing efficiently, and for making informed and synergetic choices. They shouldn't be rewarded merely for picking druid and Natural Spell. Sword and broad fighters shouldn't be inherently inferior, just less potent for pure offense then 2Handers, etc.

    I support competitive play. I encourage optimization at my table, and intense, deadly play. In fact, the fairly veteran players I game with often dissapoint me.

    I have created and continue work on my Tome of House Rules with the primary purpose of creating balance in the game and make people work harder to create optimal characters.

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    Default Re: The Reason for Imbalance in D20

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew View Post
    If I had known that the game was meant to be unbalanced and that players were meant, as part of the game, to find the rules exploits to feel clever, I never would have bothered trying to house rule those 'abuses' away.
    Hehehe. Reminds me of Disgaea. I spent the longest time doing my best to not 'cheat' in that game. Then I find out in the second one, from NPCs revealing some of the 'cheats' I've deliberately been avoiding, that the designers intentionally left them in to be abused.

    Except that was just me and the computer, not me trying to have fun with other players.

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    Default Re: The Reason for Imbalance in D20

    I heard that the source of the problem was this:

    3rd Edition was originally playtested by a very small group of people whose idea of how the classes were meant to be played was very stereotyped. Wizards were blasters. Clerics were primarily healers, with a side-order of frontline melee and general magical support. Rogues were D&D thieves; their uniquely excellent stealth abilities were actually supposed to let them shine by giving them things they and only they could do. Whereas they were only moderately survivable in combat itself (though with a nasty punch, if they could line it up right).

    The classes are more or less balanced with that in mind. Blaster wizards can't lock down an entire battlefield with one spell the way generalized wizards can, and their damage output isn't that much better than the fighter's.* Their iconic fighters were probably mostly sword-and-shield, and their clerics were mostly healers and frontline combatants who spread a few buffs around for emergencies.

    All this was closely in line with earlier editions of D&D. The difference was that by making a few "wouldn't it be cool if..." changes, Wizards of the Coast had altered the game balance radically, probably without realizing it.

    1) New saving throw system.Saving throw DC now scaled with spell level and with caster ability score. In previous editions this was not true- a monster had a more or less fixed chance of resisting any spell you could throw at it. A powerful monster was almost guaranteed to do so, and there were a lot fewer options for boosting your save DCs.

    Therefore, wizards had to balance their spell lineups against the serious chance that the target would save. Spells that were guaranteed to have at least some effect even if the target saved, or which allowed no save, were very useful. That made blasting spells somewhat better, since most of them were 'save for half' and one (magic missile) was 'no save'. It also deflated the value of many 'save or suck/lose/die' spells, because the save option was more likely to occur. It was inherently an all or nothing action, and the high risk of getting nothing offset the great value of getting something.

    So sure, spells like web, grease, and confusion were effective. But they didn't have quite such an enormous margin. And since the blasting spells really were about adequately balanced against the other characters' power levels, wizards didn't dominate quite so much.

    Then Wizards rationalized the save DC system. The old fixed save DCs that each monster had (designated save vs. poison, vs. spell, and so on) were gone. In their place was a three-save sliding spell DC system and a sliding save modifier system.

    There were obvious reasons to do this- the old system wasn't very intuitive, for starters. But it had two drawbacks:

    -A metagaming (or just in-character smart) wizard could tailor his spells to his targets. Fighters have lousy Will saves, so throw save-or-lose spells requiring a Will save at them. [insert monster here] has a powerful Will save? Use something requiring a Fortitude save. And so on. Before, this was harder to do, because almost everything you could cast would require the monster to make a "saving throw vs. spell," which meant that they had no easily exploited strengths or weaknesses due to that.

    -Wizards provided ways for save DC to outstrip saving throw bonuses. This meant that wizards could use save-or-lose spells far more reliably, increasing their power to lock down encounters.

    I suspect the playtesters never noticed this was happening because they were so obsessed with playing blasters that they didn't really try to play a dedicated Battlefield Control wizard.

    2) Clerics gained automatic spell substitution.This was "wouldn't it be cool if we improved clerics' ability to cast their nonhealing spells?" just as the previous issue was "wouldn't it be cool if the saving throw system were easier to understand?" The way WoTC fixed this was by allowing Good and Evil clerics to substitute cure and inflict spells for the prememorized ones in their inventory. Sounded neat.

    But in the process, it gave them one of the advantages Wizards seems to have wanted to reserve for spontaneous casters. A cleric did not have to balance his spell lineup against the most obvious threat available to him- that the party would get mauled and look to him for healing. No matter what spells he memorized he could patch everyone up later.

    Which, as intended, gave clerics more room to memorize buffs and utility spells. But then some cleric had the bright idea "Why don't I cast all these wonderful buffs on myself?" And so a monster was born, putting the 'C' in CoDzilla. CoDzilla was a better melee fighter than the melee fighter at equal level, which kind of stank since melee fighting was the melee fighter's only talent, while the cleric also had utility spells and healing (which could also be used to enhance a CoDzilla's performance).

    The 'D' comes from the insane imaginative powers of Wizards' Monster Manuals- by providing so many animals of vastly enhanced power, and by providing a single feat to let Druids cast in animal form, they greatly increased the power of changing into animal form.

    Again, I'm not sure Wizards noticed this fully- if their clerics were dedicated healers who spread their buffs around the party, their increased mechanical strength might have gone unnoticed. Likewise, the overpowering of druids wouldn't have mattered as much until someone realized that druids could technically change into velociraptors or dire bears or whatever.
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    Default Re: The Reason for Imbalance in D20

    So, on the one hand, we had designers who wanted to reward people who were taking advantage of the best possible set of options to try to break the game, and on the other hand, we had playtesters who were completely ignoring most of the options available, and only considering one set, which happened to be pretty poor. Yeah, that's a recipe to make a good game if I ever heard of one.
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    Default Re: The Reason for Imbalance in D20

    Quote Originally Posted by MeklorIlavator View Post
    I'm not asking for 100% balance, in my analogy that would be a car that never breaks down. What I'm asking is that they not design it to breakdown. And I'm pretty sure that the official wizards advertisement for the PHB(3.5) says
    , boldings are mine.
    http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x...core/175240000

    And while being experienced in a game should make you better at it, it doesn't mean that they have to put aspects that will purposefully gimp you.
    Well, unless you defend that 2e is more balanced than 3e, then they didn't tell any lie. 3e is definetely superior than 2e.

    And the "instructs players on how to take full advantage" refers to the miniature line being released, and indeed they did, with all the maps and grid system. In 2e you had no reason to use those.

    EDIT:And since nobody seems to remember it:

    1-Natural spell wasn't in 3.0
    2-Dinossaurs weren't animals in 3.0
    3-Polymorph didn't grant extraordinary abilities in 3.0
    4-Shapechange didn't grant supernatural abilities in 3.0

    But guess what? Nobody played druids in 3.0 unless they were desesperate. So they allowed the druid to transform into velociraptors and gave him natural spell because it seemed to be the only way anyone would play a druid at all.

    The fighter, meanwhile, was always played, so they didn't touch him.
    Last edited by Oslecamo; 2008-05-05 at 07:05 PM.

  30. - Top - End - #30
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    Default Re: The Reason for Imbalance in D20

    Quote Originally Posted by Oslecamo View Post
    Well, unless you defend that 2e is more balanced than 3e, then they didn't tell any lie. 3e is definetely superior than 2e.
    Please don't start this off here. There are plenty of other threads available on the subject and absolute statements as to the virtues of one edition over another are unwelcome.

    Also, notice that you are quoting out of context. The poster is referring to changes made between 3e and 3.5e, not between 2e and 3e.
    Last edited by Matthew; 2008-05-05 at 07:07 PM.
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