The Concept of Perfect Imbalance (which really should be touched upon in D&D)

blip.tv/extracredits/perfect-imbalance-6...

Interesting.  Got to watch the "Power Creep" episode, but this one is something that we really should take note of in D&D.

To put it simply, it seems that the better way of going about developing D&D isn't to give everyone with the same abilities or what not, it's basically to

* define a baseline average that everyone is subject to
* provide classes with advantages at certain aspects or instances, but can NEVER be great at EVERYTHING
* create the game in such a way that there are so many real options that we can spend decades building what might be considered "best" in certain categories, yet nothing to the scale of 3.5E's "Big 5", which basically devolved the game for "a spell for most (if not all) seasons", including scrap-the-spell-immunity, ignore-the-anti-magic-field, no-such-thing-as-saves, etc.

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I'm thinking 4E actually got *pretty* close to this, because
* it has ALWAYS been clear to everyone that there was this sort of mathematical baseline in the system -- especially in the DPR and accuracy sections -- that everyone was able to use
* while there has been several clear-cut winners in terms of condition-inflicting (more of an issue with how Stun, Daze and "until the end of your next turn" were almost universally better than Slow or "save ends"), in terms of overall power development, the ONLY real comparable things were accuracy and damage.
* casters were still superior to non-casters, but not in every way.  It's very difficult to find casters that pumped out more damage than non-casters, it's fairly difficult to create a non-caster that inflicts as many types of conditions as a caster, etc.

They failed in the presentation, yes.  But the underlying system was balanced *enough*, and not perfectly balanced.

Unless someone can show me a 4E Fighter who, at level 30, can cause a one mile radius slab of land to permanently stay afloat without having to resort to the same ritual that the 4E Wizard used to do it.


In fact, in that very video, Wizards of the Coast was mentioned as using what is mentioned to be the "Jedi Curve".  This curve was a mathematical formula for the exact progression of a ability-less, colorless card in a given mana-to-power ratio.  All other cards would then deviate from this progression by 10%-15%.

Even though it was applied to TCGs and PvP-oriented play, the concepts should still be able to trickle down to TRPGs especially because we *are* talking about a game that offers choices.  If there is no baseline, you end up with a wildly swingy game that is downright broken and requires a high level of System Mastery(c) before you can even *try* experimenting.  If there is a baseline, you can adequately diverge from that and allow everyone to meaningfully contribute while showing how some classes are outright better than others in a given situation.

Putting it -- and incomparables -- into perspective, a Wizard might have a variety of spells that can help in a variety of situations, but those spells are needed by the Wizard to keep within the baseline, and their main "shtick" would involve being able to contribute to a scenario in a way that cannot be compared to a Fighter, Cleric or Rogue.  A healer-less environment would be tolerable, but improving survivability by having a Cleric on-board can be a bigger boon.  A Fighter-less party might be fine, but the deadliness of the Fighter is what would give the party an offense-oriented edge.  Without the Rogues you could have alternatives in opening doors and dealing with traps, but Rogues would give the party an edge.

So you could have a Bard that is the best conversationalist, but he isn't so far off the map that an adequately trained or skilled Fighter isn't going to stop mid-speech and say "wait, I'll have the Face here do the talking because he has a higher bonus than me".  You could have a Cleric that is the best healer, but not so much better that a Paladin or a Warlord can't go in and replace him when it comes to healing.  You could have a Wizard that is the best in dictating the flow of battle with his world-altering spells, but not so much better that a couple of warriors -- each with his own specializations -- can coordinate to produce almost the same effect.

"But it wouldn't be D&D! It would be too balanced!", you might say.  If being D&D means having to put up with broken mechanics, then I'll be looking elsewhere for my TRPG fix.  I'm not asking for perfect balance, I'm asking for REASONABLE balance... for perfect imbalance.  Some options, classes, themesspecializations, and other game elements would be better for some situations, while others would be better for other situations, but none would be best for all situations**.

"But it wouldn't be roleplaying! It would be too mechanical!", you might say.  But last I checked, D&D was a roleplaying GAME, and should cater to both ROLEPLAYING -- which should be fairly rules-light, save perhaps for elements that can alter the story... like magic [if you're into that] -- and GAME (where most of the metagaming occurs anyway).  The developers should keep both in mind: no matter how well-fluffed the game is, if the mechanics falter, there is no game... and no matter how well-developed the mechanics are, if the fanbase's imagination is not caught, even if you have tons more written fluff than any edition prior to this, none of it will fly***.

Long story short: what Mike Mearls said before that feel should come before mechanics?  Absolute crap if you ask me.

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Math is an inconvenient fact of life, but it is one of two things that powers tabletop roleplaying games in general.  The second thing being the overall atmosphere generated by the campaign setting and the people involved in the game, especially the DM.


** heck, it would probably make even the crappiest options like Toughness actually viable
*** the biggest problem with 4E has always been presentation IMHO
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57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
I believe that the thing you are calling "perfect imbalance" is pretty much what everyone else means when they say they want "balance."
Gah. I knew the moment this Extra Credits video dropped it was going to be misused like this.

I don't dispute the EC folks' arguments...for video games. But I think there are some major problems in just porting the idea over to tabletop rpgs. 


  • Tabletop games are printed media. Which means each printing of the rules is a snapshot in time, and once the rules are out there, you can't go back under the hood to fix things easily. Instead you have to come out with ever-increasing errata, splatbooks, and other additional material, which makes the game more unweildy; moreover, all of this takes much more time. You can't just whip up a new patch - it takes months to write it all up, print it, distribute it, and you have no way of knowing whether there's going to be takeup on the player side. Thus, the cyclical balance that they were talking about at 4:30 doesn't really work well with this medium. The perfect example of this is what happened when Tome of Battle landed as an attempt to introduce cyclical balance between martial and magical classes - instead of prompting everyone to think up new strategies, a significant part of the player base refused to accept the new ruleset because it changed something they had gotten used to; same thing happened with 4e.  

  • Not all metagames are good for that genre of game. You'll note that the examples used in the video are all competitive games, and none of them are RPG games where you build up a character over many levels. That makes perfect imbalance and cyclical balance more appropriate - they work great for Magic the Gathering because MtG is a collectible card game where the designers want players to be constantly chasing new cards and new strategies. They don't work as well for cooperative games where players develop their characters over time; changes in balance devalues the time players have put into their characters, and one player shining doesn't spur on the other to beat the new strategy, instead it just makes them more ancillary to the game. 

  • Perfect imbalance requires a lot of work to get right. 3.X in many ways got it really wrong; the imbalance was way too big, it rewarded those with "system mastery" (i.e, time invested/skill in the metagame) way too much and really penalized those without, and more importantly, the imbalance significantly limited the utility of too large areas of the game. If MtG comes out with a new set of cards that change how part of the game works, it's not a huge problem because your deck relies on many different parts of the game work - but if D&D's "system mastery" invalidates lower tier classes, you can't play these classes anymore, and your whole game is that class. 



 
 
Race for the Iron Throne - political and historical analysis of A Song of Ice and Fire.
I believe that the thing you are calling "perfect imbalance" is pretty much what everyone else means when they say they want "balance."


Exactly.  It's kinda why I find claims that 4E is perfectly balanced and bland rather ridiculous, when clearly the Wizard is up and out of the ballpark in terms of utilitarian potential, and yet he is nowhere near the overpoweredness of 3.5E where he can easily snuff out encounters that don't have your standard issue anti-caster array (because even with all those gamebreaking spells available, they take so long to cast it's easier to just get others to do their thing while the wizard does his thing and be done with it if it is still reasonably possible, then wait for the wizard to finish if there isn't much of an alternative left).  Even in the most broken areas of 4E (epic tier, which technically should be broken powerful for everyone anyway), the power gap between level 1 and level 21 characters is noticeable and yet nowhere near the gap between a fighter and a wizard of the same level pre-4E.

And I think that's where a lot of the friction is: some people WANT to have imbalances within the same level, even if it means outright ignoring the very function of level.  And even if SOME imbalance is fine, it seems that these people want the sort of imbalance that makes a level 20 kobold only barely comparable to a level 12 Lich... which begs to ask, "what's the use of levels and progression, if creatures of the same level are so varied in comparable power that clear winners in virtually every aspect are visible and REQUIRES the DM to neuter them in order to restore even a semblance of comparability?"

Some people do realize that level is a relative measure of creature capability, that higher level creatures have increased capability over lesser level creatures... kinda like how a person who chose to physically train regularly for two years would have a significant physical improvement in the same way a person who chose to study (mentally train) regularly for the same amount of time would have a significant improvement in the field of knowledge associated with his studies.  They're imbalanced in that they are able to do things that the other guy can't, but they're balanced in that attempting to compare one with the other is comparing apples to oranges, yet at the same time they are roughly equally rewarded for the effort they placed in their character.

- - - - -
If I were to implement Bounded Accuracy, I'd likely have
* levels 1-2 for "system/game introduction", with everyone having the simplest options and there's a reasonable baseline of comparison, upon which the fighter does a TAD better in the area of combat, the rogue does a LITTLE better in utilitarian aspects -- depending on expertise focus, with Sneak Attack as a means to keep within the baseline comparison -- the cleric doing SOMEWHAT better in the defensive support aspects (buffing, healing, sometimes utilitarian aspects) and spell-based anti-undead (not overwhelmingly better, just noticeably better), and the wizard being relatively inferior without his spells, and needing his spells to keep within the baseline.
* levels 3-5 for "establishing himself in the world", with everyone's general field of specialization being much more recognizable, but all of which are still roughly within 10%-15% of each other in terms of being able to contribute in a given scenario
* levels 6-10 for "living the adventuring spirit", with everyone given the option to further specialize, bringing them roughly 15%-20% better than others in particular situations
* levels 11-15 for "best of the best", with very clear-cut advantages being seen for choosing one class over another, but only in particular situations, and even then there are in-game/in-story ways that might be possible to at least cover weaknesses should the class not be present (like how other classes could have their own unique shtick, yet compared to the baseline and the missing class, they are a reasonable "in-between" of sorts; not the best, but reasonable nevertheless... like how an Assassin might never be as great a Thief as a Thief, but they're still decent in hiding compared to the war-mongering Barbarian or Fighter)
* levels 16-20+ for "building the legend", where complicated characters (not classes) have so many options available there's risk of bogging down but they STILL can't replace other classes UNLESS the DM goes out of his way to provide options that let him do so

[ Becoming a god or what not should be more of a quest thing than anything. ]

Then to make things more interesting AND in-line with the Bounded Accuracy concept, ALL parts of the system that progress -- hit points, damage, accuracy, etc. -- should scale almost negligibly (e.g. d4 & d6 HP classes get +1 HP every level, d8 & d10 HP classes get +2, d12 HP classes get +3).  What you get when you level up would instead be in the form of
* non-scaling, incomparable features (more expertise dice, more maneuvers, more spells [even if you don't have the spell slots to accommodate them; being a wizard does have this micromanagement mini-game going on, why not play with it?], equipment that grants non-scaling bonuses [enough with the +X already!], etc.)
* exposure to an increasingly varied number of challenge types
* greater influence in the world they are in (although this one might be best left to the DM)

Although frankly, for the sake of keeping everything within sane levels, I wouldn't mind if the max level of D&D Next was just level 15 instead of 20 or 30, leaving those upper levels as modules.
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57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
While I'd love to watch the video before commenting on it, it won't load even after trying 2 different computers, 4 different browsers, and 3 different kinds of Flash.

That being said, I cannot support M:tG or MMO style "balance".  Not only are they not balanced, they are not fun and serve no real purpose.  M:tG frequently removes playstyles, not because they are imbalanced, but simply to sell more cards and create new playstyles.  I'm not going to buy new books just to keep giving WotC money.

MMORPGs are simply not balanced at all.  Mechanically, they intentionally support stat bloat, and their use of patching to appease every whim of the lowest common denominator of player further imbalances things.  In fact, I'd argue the frequent patching common in many games these days is a sign of urine poor beta testing.  Many games simply aren't tested well enough before they are released, and video game companies use tjeir early players as as beta testers.

Part of why we are here is to make sure cyclical balance doesn't happen.
Tabletop games are printed media. Which means each printing of the rules is a snapshot in time, and once the rules are out there, you can't go back under the hood to fix things easily. Instead you have to come out with ever-increasing errata, splatbooks, and other additional material, which makes the game more unweildy; moreover, all of this takes much more time. You can't just whip up a new patch - it takes months to write it all up, print it, distribute it, and you have no way of knowing whether there's going to be takeup on the player side. Thus, the cyclical balance that they were talking about at 4:30 doesn't really work well with this medium. The perfect example of this is what happened when Tome of Battle landed as an attempt to introduce cyclical balance between martial and magical classes - instead of prompting everyone to think up new strategies, a significant part of the player base refused to accept the new ruleset because it changed something they had gotten used to; same thing happened with 4e.


The playtest is a chance to do it RIGHT this time.  People are pouring out their feedback well before the final release is to be sold on the market.  Also, remember that even in a non-competitive environment, choice is still a relevant issue.  Being underpowered or the laughing stock of the group is one thing, being easily overshadowed by another class is another.

Not all metagames are good for that genre of game. You'll note that the examples used in the video are all competitive games, and none of them are RPG games where you build up a character over many levels. That makes perfect imbalance and cyclical balance more appropriate - they work great for Magic the Gathering because MtG is a collectible card game where the designers want players to be constantly chasing new cards and new strategies. They don't work as well for cooperative games where players develop their characters over time; changes in balance devalues the time players have put into their characters, and one player shining doesn't spur on the other to beat the new strategy, instead it just makes them more ancillary to the game.


The point of the thread is not to encourage PvP and adapt a competitive stance in the exact same "imperfect balance" as detailed in the video.  It is to highlight that the concept of "imperfect balance" should be considered with the development of the system: the premise that we will never have fighters that will 100% be able to replace wizards without violating the very concept of wizards and fighters... yet at the same time the wizards SHOULD respect the fighter design space, in the sense that fighters are there to fight, not carry their luggage.
Perfect imbalance requires a lot of work to get right. 3.X in many ways got it really wrong; the imbalance was way too big, it rewarded those with "system mastery" (i.e, time invested/skill in the metagame) way too much and really penalized those without, and more importantly, the imbalance significantly limited the utility of too large areas of the game. If MtG comes out with a new set of cards that change how part of the game works, it's not a huge problem because your deck relies on many different parts of the game work - but if D&D's "system mastery" invalidates lower tier classes, you can't play these classes anymore, and your whole game is that class.


4E seemed to get it right, more or less.  All we need to do is tune it a bit better, while at the same time changing the format to appeal to prior editions and recapture whatever spirit of D&D was supposedly lost in the transition.
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You are both rational and emotional. You value creation and discovery, and feel strongly about what you create. At best, you're innovative and intuitive. At worst, you're scattered and unpredictable.

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57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
While I'd love to watch the video before commenting on it, it won't load even after trying 2 different computers, 4 different browsers, and 3 different kinds of Flash.

That being said, I cannot support M:tG or MMO style "balance".  Not only are they not balanced, they are not fun and serve no real purpose.  M:tG frequently removes playstyles, not because they are imbalanced, but simply to sell more cards and create new playstyles.  I'm not going to buy new books just to keep giving WotC money.

MMORPGs are simply not balanced at all.  Mechanically, they intentionally support stat bloat, and their use of patching to appease every whim of the lowest common denominator of player further imbalances things.  In fact, I'd argue the frequent patching common in many games these days is a sign of urine poor beta testing.  Many games simply aren't tested well enough before they are released, and video game companies use tjeir early players as as beta testers.

Part of why we are here is to make sure cyclical balance doesn't happen.


Cyclical balance?  Certainly, scrap that part.  What I would rather go for is the sort of imbalance that is more applicable to D&D and even to TRPGs as a whole: the imbalance that acknowledges that some classes will do better in some fields than others, but no single class should be able to do everything better than anyone else, which was the single biggest problem 3.5E had with the "big 5", if the DM didn't go out of his way to neuter magic in general.
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You are Red/Blue!
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.

You are both rational and emotional. You value creation and discovery, and feel strongly about what you create. At best, you're innovative and intuitive. At worst, you're scattered and unpredictable.

D&D Home Page - What Monster Are You? - D&D Compendium

57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
I believe that the thing you are calling "perfect imbalance" is pretty much what everyone else means when they say they want "balance."



In the development world its know as rock paper scissors balance.

Rock beat Scissors.
Scissors beat Paper.
Paper beats Rock.

As long as X, Y, and Z beat the same number of things you get a balanced game.

So if A can beat B and C and B can beat C and D and C can beat D and E and D can Beat A and E etc...

The game will end balanced...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
One more thing touched upon by the video that is relevant to the discussion AND development of D&D Next would be "metagaming".

Now for some of us in the TRPG world, metagaming is a bad concept that should burn in a fire and buried deep in the ocean after that (and if it came back up, we burn it again!).  It is one of the most hated things in TRPGing, as well as the most loved in TRPGs (hence the friction between "rollplayers" and "roleplayers").  Another term for it: min/maxing.

But what if min/maxing was taken into serious account by the developers, and instead of encouraging it like what Monte Cook did with 3E, brought down by a HUGE notch, to the point where no matter how much you metagame or min/max, you will never be so far off better than the casual gamer or the "roleplayer" that people would scorn your presence... or even if you *were* far superior to them, it would be in such a way that all your superiority would never really step on others UNLESS they took the exact same class?  And wouldn't you, as a DM, want to work on your campaigns without having to add in adamantine planar anti-magic field protected castles JUST to avoid the metagame?

Wouldn't it be a good idea for the people you are going to pay good, hard-earned money with, to actually go out and deal with the metagame on your behalf?

The chance to have a game where you have a lot of *real* choices, the possibility of seeing handbook guides of the future with most (if not all) options within the "decent" and "situationally good" (black/purple), few "very good" (blue) and non-existent "you'd be crazy not to get it" (gold) and "trap options" (red) -- THAT is why I brought the "perfect imbalance" concept onto the table for discussion and consideration.
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You are both rational and emotional. You value creation and discovery, and feel strongly about what you create. At best, you're innovative and intuitive. At worst, you're scattered and unpredictable.

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57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
But what if min/maxing was taken into serious account by the developers, and instead of encouraging it like what Monte Cook did with 3E, brought down by a HUGE notch, to the point where no matter how much you metagame or min/max, you will never be so far off better than the casual gamer or the "roleplayer" that people would scorn your presence... or even if you *were* far superior to them, it would be in such a way that all your superiority would never really step on others UNLESS they took the exact same class?  And wouldn't you, as a DM, want to work on your campaigns without having to add in adamantine planar anti-magic field protected castles JUST to avoid the metagame?

I don't like when people respond to me like this, so I apologize for having to be a bit hypocritical when I respond like this: and what does that look like? You're describing something that designers probably already think about and struggle with. The struggle is that you're fighting human ingenuity (the capacity to minimize your weaknesses and maximize your strengths is a great example of why humans are so awesome). Any strike that I can think of that is codified and would dash the methods of a "rollplayer" is also going to stomp on everyone else whenever ingenuity is concerned; and this time around, it seems the designers are trying to put human ingenuity in the foreground.

So I dunno. Let's make this a constructive thread. Chaosfang, you're the OP; I giveth to you the speaking banana (so no one else gets to talk while he has the banana!). What do you think would weaken the potency of metagaming without hindering human ingenuity in a way that is detrimental to the experience?
I don't use emoticons, and I'm also pretty pleasant. So if I say something that's rude or insulting, it's probably a joke.
But what if min/maxing was taken into serious account by the developers, and instead of encouraging it like what Monte Cook did with 3E, brought down by a HUGE notch, to the point where no matter how much you metagame or min/max, you will never be so far off better than the casual gamer or the "roleplayer" that people would scorn your presence... or even if you *were* far superior to them, it would be in such a way that all your superiority would never really step on others UNLESS they took the exact same class?  And wouldn't you, as a DM, want to work on your campaigns without having to add in adamantine planar anti-magic field protected castles JUST to avoid the metagame?

I don't like when people respond to me like this, so I apologize for having to be a bit hypocritical when I respond like this: and what does that look like? You're describing something that designers probably already think about and struggle with. The struggle is that you're fighting human ingenuity (the capacity to minimize your weaknesses and maximize your strengths is a great example of why humans are so awesome). Any strike that I can think of that is codified and would dash the methods of a "rollplayer" is also going to stomp on everyone else whenever ingenuity is concerned; and this time around, it seems the designers are trying to put human ingenuity in the foreground.

So I dunno. Let's make this a constructive thread. Chaosfang, you're the OP; I giveth to you the speaking banana (so no one else gets to talk while he has the banana!). What do you think would weaken the potency of metagaming without hindering human ingenuity in a way that is detrimental to the experience?


Before anything, was I responding to you at all? O.o

I am not saying that min/maxing should not exist, I meant min/maxing should not be a problem at the table in the first place.  For instance, 4E does have min/maxing, and it has various builds that are CLEARLY overpowered.  But compare the level of min/maxing in 4E to the min/maxing in 3E, and compare the min/maxing in 3E to the min/maxing of 2E and AD&D.

Human ingenuity will always be there, there's no question about it.  The problem is: how far SHOULD human ingenuity go in relation to a game that is designed to have him cooperate with other humans?  What should each element do and how should each element interact, in such a way that even in the presence of imbalance, it would still be acceptable?

Put into D&D perspective: how would you be able to put in a Vancian Wizard, a Linear Fighter, a Rogue, a Druid, and a Cleric all together on the same table and not have anyone complain about imbalance?  The answer: make it so that there is no real way to determine which is better than what on an objective basis.

The problem with Wizard vs. Fighter debates is that there is a HUGE Wizard overlap over the Fighter: he can tank better, unlock doors more efficiently, even convince people to be friendly, on top of effectively doing infinite damage.  Now, prior editions except for 3E have effectively dealt with such "imbalance" through in-system "pressure valves": anti-magic, spell interruption, weak defenses, low hit points, etc.  3E in particular however effectively threw away most of these balancing methods, while 4E did almost the exact opposite by throwing out all the imbalances outright (restricting save-or-die to items or monsters, placing most of the overpowered stuff into minute/hour/day-long rituals, etc.).

But what if there were imbalances here and there, but in a controlled manner?  Like how, in D&D Next, you already had -- they removed it in the second playtest apparently -- HP thresholds that allowed spells to be broken but only after a hit point limit was achieved?  Or how the fighter might never be able to replicate even a relatively simple, mid-level spell like "Fireball", but can still be able to do an amazing variety of stunts in such a way that not being able to kill off feeble creatures in a 60' radius would simply not matter?  Or how you could have a spell like "Knock" or "Charm Person" being broken if you cast it as a 1 minute ritual instead of a 6-second prepared spell, which would allow a skilled Rogue or Bard to handle the situation in a quicker fashion?

System Mastery will never be removed.  But rather than punishing players for having System Mastery, why not have the system built so that System Mastery wouldn't break the game?

EDIT: Before I forget, I'd like to mention that, in spite of the brokenness potential of 13th Age in terms of mechanics, I love how the system actually encourages DMs and players to work together in conceptualizing and building characters, campaigns and stories.  So that way, even if there was power creep in the mechanical sense, most of the power creep seen in play would be more in the story-based sense -- additional backers, henchmen/armies, sentient magical items, world influence etc. etc. etc. (you know, stuff that actually make TRPGs better than CRPGs and the like).  That Fighter that is basic attack only?  He might be a warrior of the king, or even a usurper of the crown, and his story would develop in such a way that nobody would really care if he can't cast Rope Trick or what not.
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57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
Ineed that the same as when we talk about aiming for a system which is 'roughly' balanced. It doesn't mean it has to be point-per-point balanced, just that it is balanced enough: up and downs are fine and even good, but they need to be small bumps, 'cause they'll be magnifyed by optimisation.
The term folks seem to be looking for which refers to rock paper scissors is "Non-transitive".
Cyclic imbalance in the ccg arena is based on system update cycles.


Rock paper scissors was the first resolution system used in D&D by the way.
 
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

The term folks seem to be looking for which refers to rock paper scissors is "Non-transitive".
Cyclic imbalance in the ccg arena is based on system update cycles.


Rock paper scissors was the first resolution system used in D&D by the way.
 



thank you...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
A non-transitive example that is more genre appropriate might be


  • Instinctive

  • Direct

  • Responsive

  • Deceptive

  • Predictive

  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

A quick review of the Bestiary pretty much affirms the "feel before math" that Mike Mearls touted early on.  And the results can only be questionable to disastrous.

A simple comparison can be done between the Human Commoner and Kobold, which are both on the same page of the Bestiary and are both level 1.
* Kobold is 5% harder to hit (although anyone with a +2 to hit can hit them on a natural 9)
* Human has 33% more HP (4 HP vs. 3 HP)
* Both have Mob Tactics +1 (which apparently was done in reaction to the "OMG TOO MANY DICE!" of granting Advantage via Mob Tactics)
* Kobolds roll worse outright (disadvantage while in sunlight, -2 to hit in melee, and only +1 to hit with a ranged attack)
* Kobolds give 40% more XP

 Apparently the +1 AC and slightly better ranged attack was enough to not only negate the HUGE penalties Kobolds have in a fight outright, but even let him give more EXP than the tougher, more balanced creature on top of that.

Why am I posting this here at all?  Well, it is related to this discussion because in spite of the fact that we're comparing two creatures that are both effectively level 1 minions,  there is already a visible gap in terms of system math, and it only gets wider from there.  I mean LOOK AT THE GNOLL (level 4, 450 XP) AND THE ORC (level 3, 460 XP)! That just screams "WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU DEVS?!"  What sort of guidelines do we have for those monsters in the first place?!  Seriously, 2 Gnolls give more EXP than 1 Troll, and the combined HP of those two Gnolls isn't even 1/2 of the Troll's HP.

I thought Bounded Accuracy meant "monsters stay relevant", and not "all monsters are virtually the same"?

As far as I can tell, D&D Next has no system-wide math at this point.  As we've seen:
1. There's no reliable means to design encounters, due to how varied monsters are within the same level and even within the same XP range.
2. Armor had to be retweaked, and it still seems rather awkward, if not contrived.
3. Fighters are given an exciting mechanic, but the system behind the mechanic failing HORRIBLY, in part due to the forced taking of two out of 3 Combat Superiority maneuvers, for no reason other than "because the developers say so".  It would have been perfectly fine to have a huge variety of incomparable abilities, place them on the fighter and left it to the players to decide whether or not they want to take the "default" two maneuvers.
4. Dead levels? Are you kidding me?!
5. There seems to be a system-level dissonance in terms of how EVERYTHING interacts.

If at this point we're STILL having these issues and more -- like how spells suddenly lost the "HP threshold" as touted by Mike Mearls as the means to solve spell brokenness, even though the only real problem with that came with stuff like Charm Person -- how can we SERIOUSLY expect an ACTUAL, WORKING SYSTEM to buy in the near future?


Honestly, is it REALLY so hard to, at the developer-level, create a bunch of charts and graphs that would allow the development team to create even a shallow game progression curve, then create abstract modifiers that allow monsters to deviate from this curve, then create plausible, in-game reasons for them to be better... like, you know, actually USE XP and levels and have them actually work *together*, as opposed to this mess?

For example: if the Fighter gets to have +1 to hit every 5 levels, why not have the humanoid you deal at higher levels have better armor and/or thicker, tougher skins, or greater agility, to reflect the change in level?  I mean if you're going to bandy around monsters having to use various equipment, might as well scale up their equipment to actually match their level: You could have war-mongering level 4 Orogs with Chainmail as the default, giving them 16 AC; then you could have Level 8 warriors with Splint mail as the default, giving them 17 AC.  Then you could have level 12 blackguards with Plate as their default gear, giving them 18 AC.  Then maybe at level 16 we're looking at veteran armies that top off their plate with shields, giving them 19 AC.  Then at level 20 we could have magically warded corrupted elven knights who have mithril armor, high dexterity and the equivalent of a floating shield, granting them 20 AC.

And if you're the less "everything must be simulated" sort of person, just have some sort of generic baseline formula -- maybe 13 + level/4 rounded down, +/- modifiers as deemed appropriate -- and be done with it.

And THEN you modify the monster stats at each level to reflect the actual progression of monsters, leaving it up to the DM to do whatever he feels is appropriate for his campaign.

And this is just me at the "INTARWEEEBZ RAAAAAGE!!!" mode, not even at the "let's sit down and actually think this through" mode.




tl;dr -> what the hell are the game developers actually doing?! They had the chance to introduce some neat incomparables, and almost dropped the ball on it.  The stage is set to bring in perfect imbalance, and yet the game developers themselves don't seem to have anywhere near a passable grasp of the very system they're developing.  It's as if they're playing "pop in the mechanic from a random edition and modify it, maybe the playtesters will like it".

[ Because honestly the Cleave maneuver of the fighter was worded like in 3.5, yet it seemed to TRY to get a 4E feel to it, but with the need to expend expertise dice, you're actually forced to do less damage on an enemy with half hit points in the hopes of using it at all. It's mechanics interfering with fluff (which is WAY worse than fluff intermingling with mechanics)... almost as if it was a really cruel jab by Mike Mearls at the 4E crowd. ]
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You are Red/Blue!
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.

You are both rational and emotional. You value creation and discovery, and feel strongly about what you create. At best, you're innovative and intuitive. At worst, you're scattered and unpredictable.

D&D Home Page - What Monster Are You? - D&D Compendium

57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
I believe that the thing you are calling "perfect imbalance" is pretty much what everyone else means when they say they want "balance."



Yeah.

Basically you want everyone to feel special at their own niche and to be able to contribute. The biggest problems that need the closest watchng are cases of archetype theft. Where the 3E cleric or druid for instance outfights the fighter. These tend to make people the most sour, because not only are you overpowered, but you're also totally overshadowing another PC.
Title aside, all we're talking about here is balance.  Perfect balance is impossible, so any attempt at balance could as easily be seen as minimizing the negative impact of the inevitable imbalances...

I'll agree that D&D doesn't have it as easy as digital-media-only games in that it can't push errata out as seamlessly, but it can still be done.  And, on-line tools have already gotten us there, it's more a matter of attitude at this point.  You could have a constantly-updated RPG with all the rule available on your mobile device, but would it still feel like an RPG without all the books?

 

 

Oops, looks like this request tried to create an infinite loop. We do not allow such things here. We are a professional website!

On the subject of CharOp and minimizing the differences between hyper optimized and unoptimized, there is a system that does that already... Just sayin.
On the subject of CharOp and minimizing the differences between hyper optimized and unoptimized, there is a system that does that already... Just sayin.



If D&D Next is to truly incorporate everyone, it would be favorable for the development team to consider said system before jumping the gun.

- - - - -
It's kinda sad that this thread had been ignored by the guy who posted community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758... given that this is almost the exact same topic but FAR LESS FLAMMABLE.

There can be perfect imbalance without having to use the same feature delivery system.  Heck, things might have been perfectly fine if
* casters had spells
* non-casters had feats
* hybrids (like the Paladin, Ranger, and Barbarian) had access to spell-like abilities AND feats (but at a slower rate than the purely non-caster or purely caster)
* few, if any, MINOR overlaps occurred
* major overlaps (like Knock and Find Traps) should be done in such a fashion that the class that is being overlapped is the better choice outright; make the overlap the last choice rather than the first [even if it's as simple as a 10-round cast that is audible for miles around for Knock, for instance, making door-bashing and lockpicking -- especially lockpicking -- better options]

So feats couldn't be used to duplicate spells (without penalty), spells couldn't be used to duplicate feats or features (without penalty), and the ratio of distribution between spells and feats would depend on class concept.  By introducing such a wide variety of possible combinations that are only advantageous in particular situations -- incomparables being set against incomparables, so to speak -- we would end up with a game where even if the wizard was better than the fighter in some ways, the fighter was better than the wizard in other ways, resulting in perfect imbalance so to speak.

I mean, if the Fighter is classically portrayed as the guy with the most feats, why not make the system tailored in such a way that only he gets to REALLY benefit from the customization offered by feats?  Casters obviously abused the combination granted by both feats and spells, and Fighters were not really considered special because his main shtick (feat taking) was doable by everyone else... so why not make the system in such a way that not only are most feats tailored to him, but basically the more spells your base class can acquire, the less feats you can take (with Wizards and Druids able to take almost no feats, and Clerics would clearly be unable to take enough feats to match the flexibility of the Fighter, even with the spells to shore up the lack of defensive and offensive capabilities of the Cleric [let us NOT go back to the time when the Cleric or Druid were secondary fighters if they felt like it])?

That's one possible way to look at it, although providing each class with a unique set of class features -- with spells, feats, and other subclass feature delivery systems as shared class resources -- and ensuring that we do not return to the "dead levels" of pre-4E, is certainly an interesting idea as well.  The former I see in D&D Next and I'm pleased... the latter, D&D Next is still failing at it miserably.
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Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.

You are both rational and emotional. You value creation and discovery, and feel strongly about what you create. At best, you're innovative and intuitive. At worst, you're scattered and unpredictable.

D&D Home Page - What Monster Are You? - D&D Compendium

57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
chaosfang, that's an interesting concept: have feats be the "martial" spells. Since players like customization, you could still have some "class feats" at certain points in a class's progression, letting them choose between different trees of abilities (in 4E terms, these would be class feats, so a cleric could choose to improve upon their healing word, their channel divinity, or their at-will powers ...). Then martial characters would have feats to improve upon their combat abilities or even their skills. Wizards don't need to improve their skills, they can learn spider climb, polymorph, and charm person instead of climb, swim, diplomacy.

No one ever complained about spell casters having a lack of options in 2E.

Then, if we're going to use a daily balance metric (4 fights, X rounds per fight, for 4x rounds per day), we can balance things against each other. If the wizard gets a spell that deals 20 damage more than their at-wills, then a fighter could pick up a feat that gave 20/(4x) additional damage to all their attacks. But, additionally, what you're talking about is introducing more incomparables between the classes, which I am less familiar with.
Before anything, was I responding to you at all? O.o

Can't a guy just butt in like that? This is the internet, there are no manners here!
I am not saying that min/maxing should not exist, I meant min/maxing should not be a problem at the table in the first place.  For instance, 4E does have min/maxing, and it has various builds that are CLEARLY overpowered.  But compare the level of min/maxing in 4E to the min/maxing in 3E, and compare the min/maxing in 3E to the min/maxing of 2E and AD&D.

4th edition's potentials were restricted by a very cautious group of designers. Feats, features and items rarely gave you benefits at-will, and those benefits that were at-will were usually small. Every class operated on the same timetable, and very few abilities were themselves imaginative -- everything was very clearly codified. D&D Next seems to desire to make things less codified and restricted, with abilities that are more describing what the ability is in-universe than what its exact effect is. What I mean to say is that I don't think the designers can use 4th edition's method of balance in D&D Next, given their goals. It's a different system. 
Human ingenuity will always be there, there's no question about it.  The problem is: how far SHOULD human ingenuity go in relation to a game that is designed to have him cooperate with other humans?  What should each element do and how should each element interact, in such a way that even in the presence of imbalance, it would still be acceptable?

A good question. Maybe the solution could be in an emphasis on cooperative options? The best options being things that require you to synergize with your friends? That way no single person steals the show because that one person needs help to use his abilities to the max.
Put into D&D perspective: how would you be able to put in a Vancian Wizard, a Linear Fighter, a Rogue, a Druid, and a Cleric all together on the same table and not have anyone complain about imbalance?  The answer: make it so that there is no real way to determine which is better than what on an objective basis.

Basically, not balancing them at all. Not a bad thing, just saying. Balance is the answer to "how can a game guarantee that everyone playing has fun?" The best answer so far objectively. Your answer (being able to obfuscate comparitive merits) might serve well too, if it was done well.
EDIT: Before I forget, I'd like to mention that, in spite of the brokenness potential of 13th Age in terms of mechanics, I love how the system actually encourages DMs and players to work together in conceptualizing and building characters, campaigns and stories.  So that way, even if there was power creep in the mechanical sense, most of the power creep seen in play would be more in the story-based sense -- additional backers, henchmen/armies, sentient magical items, world influence etc. etc. etc. (you know, stuff that actually make TRPGs better than CRPGs and the like).  That Fighter that is basic attack only?  He might be a warrior of the king, or even a usurper of the crown, and his story would develop in such a way that nobody would really care if he can't cast Rope Trick or what not.

That's a good idea. I think I've heard in the past that Fighters in some edition would get castles after a certain level. Maybe that could return? I can imagine that the game might offer you the option, at level x, of choosing something like a 4th edition daily power for the Fighter, or choosing to have a keep full of servants. Some people would scoff at the keep, saying that it either doesn't fit their character or it doesn't give any practical benefit. Some would scoff at the power saying that it doesn't fit the class or that a keep would give the character the influence it needs to make a greater impact on the same scale that the party wizard does. Rough idea, obviously, but an idea.

Also, I rather like the idea of not giving casters feats, though I fear that a player that actually likes playing casters might not feel the same way. It sounds like it'd be a net loss for those that like to play wizards. But I suppose given what wizards have had, a net loss is necessary.
I don't use emoticons, and I'm also pretty pleasant. So if I say something that's rude or insulting, it's probably a joke.
Can't a guy just butt in like that? This is the internet, there are no manners here!


I don't care if this is the Internet.  Respect given is respect due, so to speak.


I am not saying that min/maxing should not exist, I meant min/maxing should not be a problem at the table in the first place.  For instance, 4E does have min/maxing, and it has various builds that are CLEARLY overpowered.  But compare the level of min/maxing in 4E to the min/maxing in 3E, and compare the min/maxing in 3E to the min/maxing of 2E and AD&D.

4th edition's potentials were restricted by a very cautious group of designers. Feats, features and items rarely gave you benefits at-will, and those benefits that were at-will were usually small. Every class operated on the same timetable, and very few abilities were themselves imaginative -- everything was very clearly codified. D&D Next seems to desire to make things less codified and restricted, with abilities that are more describing what the ability is in-universe than what its exact effect is. What I mean to say is that I don't think the designers can use 4th edition's method of balance in D&D Next, given their goals. It's a different system.


Except you can take inspiration from D&D 4E's design philosophy and intermingle it with pre-4E mechanics.  13th Age has shown that much, at least.

Contrary to what the naysayers claim, 4E is not "perfectly balanced" in the chess-like sort of way, although has the appearance of such due to how everyone is, as you said, working on the same timetable (which I consider as a plus by the way, because that stops the whiny low level wizard and the luggage-bearing high level fighter slippery slope discussions on imbalance).  Fact of the matter is, it is considered "perfectly balanced" because it is perfectly imbalanced: fighters are supposed to be masters of combat, but up until 4E has only maintained that title up to a certain level barring DM and system intervention (and 3E offered loopholes around those too); it was only in 4E that the claimed "sweet spot" of gameplay has been stretched from levels 6-9 to levels 5-20 (and is still playable even in the extremes)... wherein the fighter and the wizard can be found on the same battlefield, doing his own thing, without the DM having to go about making tweaks that weaken/negate the wizard and strengthen the fighter.  But no matter what the fighter does, unless he REALLY gimps his character build he can never hold a candle to what the wizard can do. In 4E.

So how can that work in a system that offers multiple resource management systems?  How can the at-will Fighter match up to the daily/Vancian Wizard?  Suggestions, based on existing D&D and D&D Next material, would include:
* Remove Tenser's Transformation forever (biggest offender in Wizard overlap with Fighter)
* Stoneskin should offer damage resistance based on base class hit die (to reduce overlap in tanking ability with Fighter)
* Add multi-round casting, especially for stuff that can overlap with other class features, or are primarily non-combat (but can be used in combat)
* Have the Fighter gain expertise dice at a faster rate (so he can be either a melee damage machine or a guile and cunning combatant, and either way he'd be a master of combat skill)
* Allow the Fighter access to a wider variety of combat superiority maneuvers, some of which may lower his stamina for one battle or one day, and simply assuming that the default option is the damage+, damage- and one other maneuver, rather than forcing the damage+ and damage- maneuvers to all Fighters

Just because the Fighter is at-will and the Vancian Wizard is daily doesn't mean that the Fighter should be restricted to only basic attack and a trinket or two, and certainly doesn't mean that the Wizard is eligible to unrestricted access to an entire vault of game breaking stuff.  There's a LOT of design space both can work in, and the system can be designed with perfect imbalance in mind.


Human ingenuity will always be there, there's no question about it.  The problem is: how far SHOULD human ingenuity go in relation to a game that is designed to have him cooperate with other humans?  What should each element do and how should each element interact, in such a way that even in the presence of imbalance, it would still be acceptable?

A good question. Maybe the solution could be in an emphasis on cooperative options? The best options being things that require you to synergize with your friends? That way no single person steals the show because that one person needs help to use his abilities to the max.


Which is almost exactly how D&D 4E operated: you could certainly make a variety of characters whose builds are completely selfish, yet the most powerful parties resulted not from individuals who just so happened to be in the same group, but from a group that works as a single, cohesive unit.  Even though the resource delivery system is admittedly bland, the system IS designed in such a way that cooperative options *are* the better choice.

Compare:
* Combat Superiority (party beneficial as it increases opportunity attack accuracy and negates movement) vs. Combat Agility (considered inferior because it allows enemies to slip past you and the system is designed so that you don't really get to benefit much from going solo)
* Aegis of Shielding (party beneficial as it nullifies an enemy's effectiveness against the party) vs. any other Aegis (all considered inferior because they are not party beneficial)

D&D has always provided options for group synchronization, albeit mostly in the form of "Mass X" spells (Mass Cure Light Wounds, Mass Bear's Endurance, etc.)... which means group synchronization was only the Cleric's (or Druid's) job.  There was no "Mass Stoneskin", there was no "Mass Invisibility" (just Invisibility Sphere, which seemed to be designed with real time -- as opposed to turn-based -- in mind), Mass Fly sure, but how about "Mass Protection from Arrows"? (Ragnarok Online had this covered, with an Acolyte spell that rendered all ranged attacks useless [although sometimes to the detriment of the party]).  And how about the pure warriors and part-casting warriors?  There was nothing party-oriented towards the Fighter, and the Rogue was only party-oriented by the fact that he was the only guy with access to skills that allowed him to deal with the dangerous traps and what not... which effectively made him party-oriented by accident (as he is obviously the most selfish of the group, almost by design).

Like you said yourself, the solution is to provide emphasis on cooperative options.  That is a design framework that is certainly feasible even in the Linear Fighter/Quadratic Wizard setup (although the Exponential Cleric or Druid has to be stopped, because the Quadratic Wizard was tame compared to these monsters of game design [the "I'm too weak" is no longer a valid excuse post-0E]).


Put into D&D perspective: how would you be able to put in a Vancian Wizard, a Linear Fighter, a Rogue, a Druid, and a Cleric all together on the same table and not have anyone complain about imbalance?  The answer: make it so that there is no real way to determine which is better than what on an objective basis.

Basically, not balancing them at all. Not a bad thing, just saying. Balance is the answer to "how can a game guarantee that everyone playing has fun?" The best answer so far objectively. Your answer (being able to obfuscate comparitive merits) might serve well too, if it was done well.


Not exactly not balancing them at all per se, just not trying to balance them so hard that they look and feel exactly the same (because we have chess for that).

Let's see: if you compare a Wizard casting a spell that knocks a Gelatinous Cube prone and a Fighter attempting -- and auto-failing -- to trip a Gelatinous Cube, you can automatically compare the two because you have two prone-delivering systems [mundane vs. magic] and one is clearly inferior to the other, regardless of the limits on use (the system forces the player to consider resting to recover lost spells, and the DM to consider rather artificial means to discourage or prevent resting).  But if you compare a Wizard casting a spell that causes the Gelatinous Cube and everyone between the caster and the Gelatinous Cube to be buffeted away a couple of feet and possibly knocked prone, and a Fighter being able to damage and weaken, confuse or stun the Gelatinous Cube, you simply cannot compare the two actions, because they are two completely different things.

Only then can balance be kicked on to the curb.

It's a more difficult path to tread, but the reward of being able to solve a LOT of the mechanical issues of D&D without having to resort to just one resource delivery system should be ample enough reward.

EDIT: Before I forget, I'd like to mention that, in spite of the brokenness potential of 13th Age in terms of mechanics, I love how the system actually encourages DMs and players to work together in conceptualizing and building characters, campaigns and stories.  So that way, even if there was power creep in the mechanical sense, most of the power creep seen in play would be more in the story-based sense -- additional backers, henchmen/armies, sentient magical items, world influence etc. etc. etc. (you know, stuff that actually make TRPGs better than CRPGs and the like).  That Fighter that is basic attack only?  He might be a warrior of the king, or even a usurper of the crown, and his story would develop in such a way that nobody would really care if he can't cast Rope Trick or what not.

That's a good idea. I think I've heard in the past that Fighters in some edition would get castles after a certain level. Maybe that could return? I can imagine that the game might offer you the option, at level x, of choosing something like a 4th edition daily power for the Fighter, or choosing to have a keep full of servants. Some people would scoff at the keep, saying that it either doesn't fit their character or it doesn't give any practical benefit. Some would scoff at the power saying that it doesn't fit the class or that a keep would give the character the influence it needs to make a greater impact on the same scale that the party wizard does. Rough idea, obviously, but an idea.

Also, I rather like the idea of not giving casters feats, though I fear that a player that actually likes playing casters might not feel the same way. It sounds like it'd be a net loss for those that like to play wizards. But I suppose given what wizards have had, a net loss is necessary.


Wizards have flexible feats in the form of spells.  Fighters have constantly beneficial spells in the form of class features and feats.  It's a decent trade-off really.

I would personally not recommend a return to "all Fighters become Lords of their land", if only because it quickly stales.  Becoming a sovereign leader should be a story reward, not a rules expectation.

Besides, the Vikings have always found pride in battle because they believe that death on the battlefield assures them a place in Valhalla, accompanied by the beautiful and powerful Valkyries.  Why shouldn't a warrior so reknowned in legendary battle prowess gain the attention of a God of War and granted extraordinary abilities (be it from items or divine blessings) or an assured spot as exarch or demigod of battle (like the Red Knight)? 
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This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
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