Drawbacks do not Balance make!!!

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One thing I really can't stand in the 3e and 3.5e are these feats/spells/ and miscellaneous abilities that allow you to do something, but cause a drawback.

For example, the Celerity spells from the PHB 2. I understand the need for balance and all that, but why would i want to waste a spell slot, cast the spell, and then be dazed for a round?

Or the myriad of other abilities that says "You get this, but because of reason X you suffer penalty Y".

Barbarian Rage for example. I understand the bonuses far outweigh the penalty to AC, but it is all frustrating, because what is the point in having a cool ability to do one thing, if it is just going to penalize you somewhere else, thus making you no better off than you were before.

I can't think of any more right off the top of my head. I just hope they either do away with this in 4e, or else extremely limit this.

What are some other thoughts?
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For example, the Celerity spells from the PHB 2. I understand the need for balance and all that, but why would i want to waste a spell slot, cast the spell, and then be dazed for a round?

And if this causes you to think long and hard about whether to use said ability, then the purpose of the drawback has been served.
Well, not everything has to be only +...
Some things give a + for a -, there's always a reason and many times it's realistic, like exactly Barbarian's Fury, Charge action, Defense Attack action, and many others...
Otherwise everyone would always use them without regard...
Drawbacks are there to force you to think and to make choices.

Otherwise, there's no reason for the Barbarian not to rage all the time, in which case why not just give him the bonus hit points and strength permanently just for choosing the Barbarian class?

Further, the drawback usually makes sense in terms of the ability/bonus granted. That Barbarian is in a nearly blind rage; he gets a bonus to strength and hit points thanks to the adreneline surge, but he also gets a little clumsier (adreneline messes with your fine control and dexterity) and is heedless of threats and dangers. Thus, the penalty to AC, and after the adreneline wears off, there's fatigue, which is what happens in the real world after an adreneline surge is over.

All that forces you, the player, to think "Is now a good time to Rage, or should I save it for later in the fight? Is the strength and damage worth the loss of AC and the fatigue, at this point in the fight?"
I'll say that I'll agree with the original sentiment, but not in that context.

Drawbacks, on player races, do not make balance. More importantly, for one reason or another, the game designers seem to heap on bonuses that push the race in one direction while shoving penalties on it against the other direction. This is not balance; this is shoe-horning. A race that sucks for anything but melee smashing isn't going to do anything other than melee smashing, unless a player is willing to deal with sometimes stupid and egregious penalties for playing a character of his/her choice. It sucks, and it's completely unnecessary.

The races should be balanced on their strengths, not their weaknesses.
I think the OP means that certain things are unbalanced to the "suck" side.
An example of this is armor. All armor but chainshirt, just sucks.
Now I know, all you out there, are going to say; But WH, armor does restrict your movement, and it should suck. That is true enough, to a degree, but do you really need to do "The Matrix" style back-bends to avoid a hit with high Dex? I think not. A lesser move, timed exactly right, could have more effect than a huge series of cartwheels, and dodges, that are not executed with timing. Your attacker could pick up on your pattern, and anticipate your next location.
I actually do like three point five's armor system well enough, but it does not go far enough. Martial type characters need a way to increase the max dex of the armor they wear. that would go a long way toward taking the "suck" out of armor
There probably will be some kind of "armor use" talent tree for Fighters, Paladins, possibly Clerics too. This will probably include at least one talent that allows the character to use more of the Dex bonus.
I shouldn't have to think long and hard to use an ability. I should look at the ability, say "Wow, I USE A SPELL SLOT, spend an action to cast the spell, then get a free Full Round Action on top of my spell! Sweet."

Tha balance issue comes into p[lay when the player declares her actions. if she uses the free actions to cast another spell, maybe she should have just quickened another spell.

Balance is a mutable issue. It works in one situation with one player, but not in a seperate situation with a different player.

Anyways.....

As for armor, I did away with Max Dex to AC in my campaign, and just based it on encumbrance rules. A fighter with 18 strength will still be able to move fast in heavy armor, because he is big and strong and manly, while Cecil T Dudley with a Strength of 9 won't be able to move that well in armor at all. Just watch out for his Lightning Bolts ;)
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One of the problems with armor in the game is that most players hardly ever put a low score in Dexterity. Simply because all the things a high dex is good for. Reflex saves, ranged attack roles, initiative, hide, move silently, slight of hand, many many more skills, and yes AC. I have rarely encountered a PC without at least a 12 in Dex. That pretty much restricts the types of armor that character is going to use, especially once they get dex boosting magic items.
On a similar note, flaws. You know, those things they introduced in Unearthed Arcana that provide penalties to certain things, but allowed you to pick up an extra feat. I almost never approve them whenever someone makes up a character for my games, because they usually pick one that doesn't really affect them that much. Like a wizard picking non-combatant. Getting that penalty to melee attack roles doesnt really bother most wizards, since most wizards are ranged characters.

If they are in 4e, then each class should have its own list of flaws to choose from. Things that actually will negatively impact the character.
If they are in 4e, then each class should have its own list of flaws to choose from. Things that actually will negatively impact the character.

Then you have the wonderful case of taking your first level of wizard, picking up as many wizard-flaws as you can, and then going straight fighter for the rest of your career. Congrats, for the low price of a point of BAB and some hp you got a handful of free feats.
I make my pc's roll randomly for flaws. They never know what they are going to get, and I as DM can veto the roll if I feel it is not going to affect the character.

But, now that flaws are brought up, it kind of makes me see my original post in a differnt light.

How about: Abilities should not have built in flaws! if an ability requires a built in flaw for it to be balanced, maybe it is too good?

Rage in Star Wars SAGA doesn't have a drawback.
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What do you mean it doesn't have a drawback in Saga?

Rage is either species dependant, in that you have to be a Wookiee, or it is a Dark Side Force power, in which case you rack up dark side points, which puts your character at risk of being taken away from you and used as an NPC.
The 'take away a dark character' rule is entirely optional.

And the Wookiee Rage, indeed, has no real drawbacks. Unless you call having to be a Wookiee a drawback (Say what?!).
I wish there were more drawbacks in 3E. The magic system might not be so out-of-control if there were.
I think that drawbacks on abilities are a good way of balancing them. The Barbarian Rage, for example, encourages the barbarian to not worry much about his AC and focus on dealing damage.

That said, drawbacks should not be so high that it makes the ability no longer useful. For Barbarian rage, the bonuses far outweigh the penalties in most cases. The main limiter on whether or not to Rage is the limited number of uses per day, rather than the penalty to AC.

What about the Vicious weapon enhancement? As a +1 bonus, it deals an extra 2d6 points of damage, with the drawback that it deals 1d6 damage to its wielder. Would it be interesting if you got rid of the drawback and costed it as a +2 enhancement bonus? I don't think so.

As far as armor, I find that the only two that get used are chain shirt (and later mithral breastplates), and full plate. Most PCs that want to max out AC tend to put a 10 in Dex, get Gloves of Dex +6, and wear Mithral full plate. I would like to see a tiny bit more variance in the armors, but not too much, since we don't need as many options for armor as we do for weapons.
As far as armor, I find that the only two that get used are chain shirt (and later mithral breastplates), and full plate. Most PCs that want to max out AC tend to put a 10 in Dex, get Gloves of Dex +6, and wear Mithral full plate. I would like to see a tiny bit more variance in the armors, but not too much, since we don't need as many options for armor as we do for weapons.

I heard somewhere that in 4e we are going to see less of a reliance on magic items and thier cheesey ways, and see more of a reliance on characters and thier abilities.

I see that armor trend also. Level 1 is usually Scale mail (Because it's cheap). By level 2 or 3 it's the chain shirt and full plate.

And Always with the Heavy Steel Shield. I believe the wooden shields are only there for Druids. Although I remember one time in an RPGA game I actually bought a Heavy Wooden Shield simply because it was cheap.
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A bigger question is how one defines drawbacks. Let's consider a relatively big one in Tome of Battle, they are the only classes I know of where you aren't given any proficiency with ranged weapons. Now, to me this isn't a huge drawback necessarily, one reason is that most of my games have around 5-6 players so someone almost always takes up ranged. Also, ranged combat has fewer overall options in terms of feats and weapon options. Another is that most ranged options tend to be superior for spellcasters as opposed to martial characters whose ranged feats tend to stop working after 30 feet.

Drawbacks and bonuses have as much to do with the context of the game and the mechanics. Also, how easy are the drawbacks to overcome and how much do they matter. Can I circumvent the weakness (a melee character taking a flaw that makes them suck at ranged) or can I render it so that it doesn't matter either by the type of team that I have or by focusing on a certain area or aspect?

What I mean is that drawbacks can be hard to measure. Some people argue that the warlock is too powerful because their abilities are useful at will. The problem is that if you have edges and drawbacks then you need to have a context for them, what are they based on?
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