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Friday, January 22, 2010

balance vs trade-offs

Trade offs win again!

There's a lot said (pro and con) about "game balance", and I think that most of the arguments in the pro column use 'character-power-equanimity' as a benchmark. I sit pretty comfortably in the con column here. I like the fact that there's not a strict 1:1 relationship between benefits/restrictions, possibilities/limitations of early D&D classes (and races if they are decoupled in that version).

The idea that a 4th level thief should be (by some metric I don't think I've understood) 'just as good' in some way as a 4th level Cleric/Fighter/etc is. In the end, I don't get it. Different classes are different...

The thought process leading up to this match up was to open up the PHB Attacks/round for fighters to the other classes too. On an abstract level, I like it
Class1/round3/2 rounds2/round
Magic User1-1011-2021+

...but does this 'rob' the fighting man of something too iconic, class defining? I dunno - not so much for me. Fighting men will still be more effective in their attacks (to-hit progression, strength bonuses, etc) than the other classes, and I like to think of thieves and assassins (especially) as being more 'fighter-ly'... Moreover, fighters have the 'attack as many <1 HD as levels' thing which no other classes get... I dunno - just an idea, something nice to have around if some 12th level wizard thinks they should have gotten better at fending scaly goblins off with their dagger... at least I'll have a little logic already in place...

So, anyway - balance vs trade off? I doubt that anyone chooses their character's class based solely on the criteria of multiple attacks at higher level.

Ugh. another ramble.


Timeshadows said...

If one were referencing my example on SHARK EMPIRE, for instance, I hope it wouldn't be mistaken that I was making an argument in favour of across the board equality. I was, instead, merely defining the progression and the hierarchy of the classes.
--I have no illusions that Thieves will ever match or surpass the power of the M-U, but I do think that (as Pathfinder has addressed to a degree) making the higher levels in all classes more enjoyable for high-level gaming.
---That said, I:

1). Don't like classes
2). Do believe in the End Game
3). Think it is possible to have PCs built upon personal interpretation and expression (thus my point-design-system)
4). Think that ignoring mathematical and graphable evidences that illustrate disparities between class/race/level is akin to either 'That's the way it is and *I* like it that way'-statements (well and fine, for some), or sticking one's head in the sand and pretending they simply don't exist.

So, since this entire hobby is based around one's personal enjoyment of how one invests time and money into gaming, the whole idea that there are correct ways/old ways/new ways that are better than others for doing this or that, are ultimately mental masturbation.

But, that is merely my opinion. :)

Getting to the idea of multiple attacks/round for non-fighting types.
--Sigh. How long is a Round? What is going on in a Round? Are these actual swing/connect rolls or 'the best of the Round's'? etc.
---If a Round represents only 1:1, then YES, eventually non-fighting types ought to get better at that but never eclipse or even impinge upon the fighter-types.


Ragnorakk said...

I hadn't seen your comment at Shark Empire, just kinda rambling again!
I'm thinking of the 1-minute round, and that is an aspect I hadn't considered - though in the end, if I applied it, I'd probably do so regardless.

Anonymous said...

I think a better approach than multiple attacks is just to have a level-based damage bonus, only for fighters. It gives the same effect, without all the extra die rolls. And since D&D combat is meant to be abstract (1 minute rounds, multiple feints and attacks represented in the one roll, HPs as luck or situation as much as physical damage), multiple rolls seem to undermine the fundamental principle of the combat.

And yes, I think the role of non-fighters in combat should be a non-fightery one - if Rogues aren't useful enough in combat, give them more ancillary combat abilities (better backstab, or disabling moves, or trips, or whatever). If wizards are weak in combat, give them free cantrips, or somesuch.

For me balance is primarily about every character having a chance to do lots of stuff during an adventure. Typically in an unbalanced game fighters are only useful during a fight, wizards only useful once, rogues only useful in a dungeon, etc. Balance should fix this, not make them all able to hit something equally well.