Game Balance

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xanther

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Very probably, he did a lot of articles for White Dwarf in the 80's. Glad your methods work for you.
Suspecting so, just looking at an articled in The Dragon #75 "Beyond the rule book Procedure and style tips for good GMing" but have seen the name come up almost if not every issue in 1983 here.
 

ffilz

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I may be missing something, let's just say I never played much RQ and the last time was in 1984.
But if INT so so good, should being average or no value in anything else be the trade off for having an 18 INT? That just seems to make sense. Couldn't that just be corrected by giving a few more points, so one could have something else of value if that is the desire?

This is where my lack of knowledge on RQ will shine. I'm not sure what you mean by boring, to me that would mean everyone distributes points the same way so every character is the same. Yah that would be boring. Perhaps it really is system dependent, my first encounter with point buy was TFT, and although only three attributes ST, DX, IQ, real trade offs, no one is better than the other for all approaches.

My impression is this is a game specific issue. Of the three commercial games with built in point buy I'm most familiar with, TFT, Atomic Highway and D&D5, it was/is not the case at all.

Agree with you there, I have no real issue with random rolls either for my character, heck I actually like 3d6 in order for OD&D characters, with the right DM...can be fun to make it work. When random rolls though prevent a person from playing a standard species and class for example, then that can really turn people off especially those who are into role playing.

Yet I think you are very much capturing what is done in practice, despite the rules, referees allow re-rolls or bump something up etc. However if random rolls are supposed to balance things out, that kind of defeats the purpose. and if one allows re-rolls just because not happy with it or doesn't work for game/character concept...how is that functionally different than picking from sets of random attributes (which I assume is what is meant by an array)?



Fair enough, sounds like a fun player, so is that palanquin like bring two 10' poles plus 4 retainers? :smile:

Myself, I never got why people complained about 1st level magic-user. Played them all the time and with the right party and a fair DM they survived just fine, just as well as the fighters, it was those pesky clerics who had it easy. :smile: I particularly disliked you have only one spell, so? You can used daggers, darts, and oil (man oil as written was real nice...even toned down in most of our games it was good), that's just attack...all sorts of clever tricks, in fact my MUs where a bog o' tricks from stinging nettle, to caltrops, to chalk dust, to simple trip wires, if had enough gp maybe a war dog...and this in an area where the common interpretation of Sleep spell was if they where standing up and fell over (not leaning against a wall say) hitting the ground would damage them and they would wake up, albeit it would take them a round to get up...did far more with Unseen Servant than any Sleep spell.

I agree, and that sounds like a great game. A good referee can make any game work and enjoyable in my view. I'm also view the rules as a tool and to effectuate what PCs can do, not define what they can do, if that makes sense. So if a player comes up with a plan that makes sense (setting, PC wise etc.) I will use the rules to effectuate it (although that doesn't mean automatic success). In that sense I judge a game's rules by how hard or easy they make that, in both frequency and difficulty. Having to constantly make fixes (even if each are easy) is draining and bothersome as I like to take notes to be consistent, while having to make one major fix and ensure it doesn't unbalance everything else is also pretty much a no go game.

I hope you understand my posts are not about satisfying everyone, but to the extent I say why not have options it could seem that way. Even with a point buy and random option you are not going to satisfy everyone. There are also many ways to satisfy people even with limiting it to one way.

My original proposition, which I seem to have sidetracked myself with the why not have options and pushed this into point buy vs. random (which is not my intent and both work and both don't work in equal measure) is simply this.

In the situation where one has a super class (which I have also called an uber class or Mary Sue class) for a specific niche (where all other classes for that niche perform worse on every niche metric, that matter in fact) I do not agree with the the claim that "balance" is provided by these super classes only being accessible by very good die rolls (i.e. luck). Not saying that is where you are going.

Not at all trying to nay say your experience with RQ...all my comments on how point buy might work are just that, and take them for with the grain of salt intended as I don't know the system well enough. I like to fiddle with systems, like design and have the innate drive to problem solve, that is where all the suggestions are coming from.
I hear your point on uber classes being opened by uber stats. The Paladin is often offered as an example in D&D, but the Paladin comes with some constraints that mean that not everyone would want to run a Paladin in any case. With straight 3d6 down the line, it's been so rare in my OD&D campaigns that it hasn't been much of an issue. The only Paladin that even lasted very long in any of the parties was an NPC... But at low level in OD&D really all the Paladin had over a Fighter was 2 hp of healing per day...

Trying to make a point buy work for RQ is a pain, fortunately random chargen (especially with 4d6k3 instead of straight 3d6) works out pretty good. Really the only issue I've had was making the mistake of allowing elves. The non-humans I allow aren't so out of line with humans. One player has a PC that was the result of roll up several and pick your favorite. Everyone else is running the first thing they rolled up and no one has complained about being useless.

I'm surprised my OD&D play by post mages haven't made more use of daggers (OD&D so dagger only, no darts, and technically not even staves), especially since I don't use damage by weapon type so all weapons do the same damage. OD&D clerics don't get spells at 1st level...
 

tenbones

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The issue of the Uber-stat has to be resolved at the core rules level for task-resolution, not at the class level, for the reasons you cited.

This is the primary difference between say latter-era (3.x onward) design and 1e/2e design. Starting in 3.x (and its derivatives) the systems are reworked and the settings were likewise redone to reflect the assumptions of the system, rather than having the system tweaked to represent the setting in-game.

A good example of this is Dark Sun 2e. It took the core rules and changed them for the setting. Once you get to 3.x they changed the Realms to reflect all the stuff the system allowed for, so therefore the setting started accommodating all this silly stuff which 1) created setting decoherence adding to their notion that all D&D is its own fantasy sub-genre 2) created massive power-bloat which further pushed #1, and created the perceived imbalances between races, classes and PrC's that rendered any form of setting "normalcy" abnormal, except for NPC's.

This is another reason I switched to SW. Screw numerical balance. Make it fun regardless of your choices.

Savage Rifts is a real jewel in this regard. MASSIVELY unbalanced in terms of actual points. But in terms of play? Perfectenschlag..
 

ffilz

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The issue of the Uber-stat has to be resolved at the core rules level for task-resolution, not at the class level, for the reasons you cited.
I'm not quite sure what you mean by that...

In RQ, you really want the best possible INT. With random rolls, you may not get it. You can't (remotely easily) improve it. So with random rolls, you live with the INT you got. And everything works. It creates no more problem than any other "imbalanced" thing in the game.

But that falls apart with any sort of point buy. If you price it for what it seems to be worth, or even much higher than the other attributes, and almost no one has a really good INT because you DO need some other attributes to be decent. If you price it the same as any other attribute, you're going to see players designing their characters so they can get as much improvement as possible with the improvable attributes, and as much INT as possible.

Honestly I'm not sure how well point buy works in general... I think there are point buy systems that work better. Burning Wheel seems to be OK, on the other hand, there's a lot of sameness in the attributes, but the skills are really where you character is going to shine outside the few attributes that contribute directly to combat. But part of the differentiation is that the life paths dictate how many points you have for attributes in a way that makes some characters have really good attributes and some have not so good, and there's a division between physical and mental attributes.
 

xanther

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....Honestly I'm not sure how well point buy works in general...
Inherently no better or no worse than random generation. It is the system it is a part of that matters. Sounds like RQs design (not RPGs in general) makes point buy near impossible for RQ.

When what you are buying, say attributes, ere each meaningful and of comparable value then point buy works wonderfully. If one attribute has far more value in the system than others then you have a problem. And by comparable value I do not mean they have some value in combat, or magic, etc., rather each attribute has an important role in an area of the game, in actions the players undertake. One could decide to focus on one role and excel, or perhaps excels at two roles but suck at another, or be great at two roles, or above average at all roles, etc. It is how the system treats those roles that provides the comparable value and prevents the uber-stat or dump-stat.

In fact, using D&D attributes as examples, if a person wants to focus on a tough fighter they would spend more points in STR and CON, or perhaps a fast fighter and spend in STR and DEX, or a tough thief with DEX and CON, or a smart thief with INT and DEX, or perhaps a spell user with focus on INT and WIS, etc., etc. D&D is not the best example as attributes are no so used...but in general a system where each class/path choice derives benefits from two attributes can lead to interesting (even if tough) choice for a given class.
D&D 5e has point buy and seems to work well in a game I played in for a awhile. You get a lot of variation, some decide that 18 is worth it, others stick to 16 (I can't recall the cost break point), some want no attribute below 11 others don't care etc. Again not a good example in a way as the system it is tacked on to doesn't give a role for every attribute no matter what class you choose.

My simplest point buy example that really is TFT; which is a very rock-paper-scissors in concept. Strength-Dexterity-IQ...all have value no matter what path you choose. Want to be a warrior, well ST determines how much damage you can take as well as access to more powerful weapons, BUT DX determines who goes first and your chance to hit yet if you are big into armor that reduces it....BUT IQ determines how many skills/talents you have and certain combat oriented talents require a minimum IQ.....WHEREAS if one want to be a wizard it is not all about IQ, certainly more powerful spells require high IQ to learn BUT spells take ST to cast BUT DX is needed to hit with most attack spells. You can't have it all but you can choose what you have and each choice is meaningful. I'd call that built-in balance.

The thing I like about point buy is it gives players choice to play the character they want, lets them decide the cost-benefit (those can be fun choices), lets them implement some strategy and skill in character creation, not simply creativity in working with what you randomly roll, and all players start off with the same "resources" to make a character...cannot overemphasize how important that last point is to most players, especially those not raised on a diet of sacred cow.

So my experience is that in general, point buy works great in theory and practice.

Random generation if actually followed does not provide choice especially if certain character builds are only available to certain scores determined randomly.

Whatever the theory behind random generation, have rarely seen it actually followed in practice. So many times re-rolls are allowed until the player qualifies for a certain build, attributes are bumped up to qualify, etc. Thus, it is no longer random, selection bias is introduced of a most insidious kind, i.e., if you did the statistics on the attribute scores actually accepted, they are far beyond the curve.

Frankly that is why a lot of players like random in my view, they ignore the bad roll sets and only take the good ones, point buy doesn't let you cheat like that. Can just hear the past instances where players whined about point buy....but if I want the highest score in this attribute that means I am "just" a bit above-average in everything else, why yes, yes it does...that's the point you don't get to eat your cake and have it to...or eat anymore cake than the other players.

So de facto, in practice, random generation is a point buy just with different amounts of points for different players. The player who complains the most gets the most "points", i.e. enough re-rolls until they get what they like. It is an illusion of randomness because if the random numbers are not "good" then they are just regenerated (or outright changed/bumped) until they are...and "good" is simply determined by how squeaky the wheel is.

Thus, good sir, I submit that I do not see how random generation (no re-rolls, no matrix of rolls) works in general. :smile:

P.S. Caveat...you may think I personally hate random generation but actually have no problem with it, cut my teeth on 3D6 in order but OD&D originally was not so attribute dependent, and loved making whatever I rolled fit, same with Traveler. All well and good when had plenty of time to play multiple characters, multiple games, frequent play, and regular character death so bad rollups get replaced and at some point you get a perfect rollup. However, it relies on a very certain masochistic play style and approach to a gaming, one I would not hard bake into a game.
 

TJS

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The big issue with point buy is I find it tends to lead to characters creating their own class. I find players have learnt through long experience that it is usually less interesting to be the second best at everything and so pick something and lean into their role. If a player is the "Pilot" then a lot of players will put as many points into piloting as they feasibily can to make sure that role is covered and they have something they can be reliably good at.

(The other thing too is that Point Buy budgets are often on the low end to allow room for growth - so this means players often end up with a choice between really good at one thing, or mediocre at several.)

Part of this issue is that point buys systems often struggle to meaningfully convey what competence is. (A lot of them make statements about how skilled the average person would be for comparison, but in my experience these numbers almost always fail to balance out with how systems actually work in play).

Also if the assumption is that point buy characters grow into competency, the reason why this is is usually not very clear setting and premise wise. (If my PC is an ex special forces guy - then he should be highly competent now - all his specific training is in the past - the zero to hero assumption utterly fails to make sense).
 

ffilz

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Obviously we're going to disagree on the specifics on when point buy works and doesn't work and when random works and doesn't work...

For myself, I am mostly tired of point buy. I do still feel Burning Wheel is enjoyable for me. I am running and playing Bushido which has point buy, and that seems to work OK (in part because each "class" gets bonuses to certain attributes that almost outweigh the point buy portion).

I do acknowledge that random does have some problems, but I think they can be worked around. Back at the end of the 1980s I was ready to swear off random generation because of the very real creep I saw in my games. But after years of point buy and returning to random generation, I find it refreshing. I am resolved to be more aware of creep in allowing re-rolls, but I do find the re-roll solution works for most folks who don't get something that excites them to play. I also note that different players have different tolerances, though the folks I play with these days are far more tolerant of poor rolls than I observed back in the 1980s.

The other problem I have with a lot of point buy, especially GURPS and Hero is another side of the coin TJS brought up. I saw a lot of meticulous character concept design which then expected the character was "done". And this extended to some players not only expecting their ex special forces guy to be some kind of super character, but they wanted to write accomplishment into their back story. This left not enough room for growth and accomplishment in the game play.

I actually found (revised) TFT very frustrating. There weren't enough points to make a character concept, or at least to realize a concept that actually worked as conceived in play. And then in play, there wasn't enough room for growth. Sacrifice DX in chargen, and your character will NEVER have a good chance to hit. I saw tank fighter builds that looked very frustrating to play. They could never hit. Even my light skirmishers had trouble hitting if they wanted enough INT to get interesting talents.
 

tenbones

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I'm not quite sure what you mean by that...

In RQ, you really want the best possible INT. With random rolls, you may not get it. You can't (remotely easily) improve it. So with random rolls, you live with the INT you got. And everything works. It creates no more problem than any other "imbalanced" thing in the game.
I have only a passing understanding of RQ (by way of Mythras) so forgive me for my general ignorance of the specific system.

But from a design point of view - unless your setting demands that *everyone* has high Int in order to play the purpose of the game, this needs to go one level deeper to the core system, not in the Character Generation process.

I.e. if the design of the game is that by having an uber-stat of any kind has a mechanical reality encoded into the setting - then you can bet your ass that players will gravitate towards that advantage.

This means before chargen even happens, design passes should be made to make all stats as relevant as possible.

If the system is designed for a specific setting and that mechanical reality isn't extant and assumed in play - then it's bad design. Because no matter what you might intend otherwise, most players are not going to ignore such mechanical advantages.

I'd also say that if you didn't take this into account as a designer, then it's on you.

But that falls apart with any sort of point buy. If you price it for what it seems to be worth, or even much higher than the other attributes, and almost no one has a really good INT because you DO need some other attributes to be decent. If you price it the same as any other attribute, you're going to see players designing their characters so they can get as much improvement as possible with the improvable attributes, and as much INT as possible.

Honestly I'm not sure how well point buy works in general... I think there are point buy systems that work better. Burning Wheel seems to be OK, on the other hand, there's a lot of sameness in the attributes, but the skills are really where you character is going to shine outside the few attributes that contribute directly to combat. But part of the differentiation is that the life paths dictate how many points you have for attributes in a way that makes some characters have really good attributes and some have not so good, and there's a division between physical and mental attributes.

You're making my point for me. Now, as a GM you could put a bandaid on it by emphasizing the needs of other stats in actual play. This is the same way we dealt with it in D&D back in the day when everyone wanted to use Charisma as a dumpstat. Force social interactions and the consequences of being poor at them and half-way smart players will start making new characters with at least an attempt to be "realistic" to the setting you're running.

I honestly don't have a problem with point-buy systems or arrays for any of the systems I use, mostly because I can adjust them within the setting conceits of the campaign as needed (which is rare - since I don't have immature players, or at least I don't have players that don't pretend to know what's coming if they decide to be the one-trick pony). My games tend to be pretty robust in terms of combat<>intrigue<>social stuff<>class-niche reinforcement. So it's not something I'm typically concerned about.

But this is also yet another reason why contextualizing your game into a larger sandbox which reinforces such things, makes the phenomenon nearly non-existent for me.

If you like RQ and INT is an uberstat mechanically - figure out how to emphasize the need for those other stats in play as much as possible. And ruthlessly enforce it to your desire to represent your world accordingly.

Or start houseruling it. Or both if necessary.
 

ffilz

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I'd also say that if you didn't take this into account as a designer, then it's on you.
Sure, it's a problem if the intent was to have a balanced point buy. RQ was designed in an era where point buy wasn't being done in published systems (I'm pretty sure that by 1978 people HAD experimented with point buy as house rules, after all, there were plenty of war games including Chainmail with point buy for armies).

If you like RQ and INT is an uberstat mechanically - figure out how to emphasize the need for those other stats in play as much as possible. And ruthlessly enforce it to your desire to represent your world accordingly.

Or start houseruling it. Or both if necessary.
The thing is it works just fine with random stats. And I assume the designers felt that INT WAS an uber "stat" in the reality they were attempting to model. And that's fine. In the real world we don't get to use point buy to build ourselves, or at least there are some fundamentals we don't get to point buy. At some point we do point buy our education.

A design is not broken because point buy doesn't work for it.
 

zanshin

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I actually think that the best solution for the INT issue in Runequest would be the one suggested downthread. Everyone rolls a set of stats - 2 with 2d6+6, 5 with 4d6 choose 3, then everyone picks a set from the pool of rolls, Int & Size must be minimum 8.

If everyone in the group is brainy, that's how it is. It's what it takes to survive in BRP :smile:
 

AsenRG

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I actually think that the best solution for the INT issue in Runequest would be the one suggested downthread. Everyone rolls a set of stats - 2 with 2d6+6, 5 with 4d6 choose 3, then everyone picks a set from the pool of rolls, Int & Size must be minimum 8.

If everyone in the group is brainy, that's how it is. It's what it takes to survive in BRP :smile:
That would probably work.
But admittedly, my preferred solution for Int in Runequest would be Pendragonning it, and making it a player's attribute:tongue:!
 

xanther

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The big issue with point buy is I find it tends to lead to characters creating their own class. I find players have learnt through long experience that it is usually less interesting to be the second best at everything and so pick something and lean into their role. If a player is the "Pilot" then a lot of players will put as many points into piloting as they feasibily can to make sure that role is covered and they have something they can be reliably good at.
I actually have no problem with players creating their own "class" that is fine by me and one of the positives of point buy. I would worry about if the rules and or setting reward 1 trick ponies. The 1 trick pony problem does not go away though with random attribute generation it is just put off until character improvement.

(The other thing too is that Point Buy budgets are often on the low end to allow room for growth - so this means players often end up with a choice between really good at one thing, or mediocre at several.)

Again I consider this a positive feature, in that if you want to be the best at one thing that comes at a price. If the systems provides comparable value for all attributes then that is a good thing to me. On the budget, well simply increase it a tad, that is very much the beauty an easy fix for point buy. But stingy point by is really no different than random generation with a zero to hero play style. The room for growth issue is again really about the steps one has in the mechanics, for example, a class based system with 9 levels has very limited growth (9 steps) regardless of how one generates attributes.


Part of this issue is that point buys systems often struggle to meaningfully convey what competence is. (A lot of them make statements about how skilled the average person would be for comparison, but in my experience these numbers almost always fail to balance out with how systems actually work in play).

I have honestly never seen that in the point buy have played. I do see it all the time in just mechanics meant to be light. Seriously though I'm not judging the game design element of point buy by the writing ability of the game designer. The actual effect can simply be calculated from the statistics of how they are used in game. It is simply math. Usually though the connection is pretty obvious between the value of an attribute and what it does in the modifiers it provides, and how it is often used to calculate other things. Random generation doesn't provide you with any better understanding, that is how you choose the numbers is independent of how they are described.

Also if the assumption is that point buy characters grow into competency, the reason why this is is usually not very clear setting and premise wise. (If my PC is an ex special forces guy - then he should be highly competent now - all his specific training is in the past - the zero to hero assumption utterly fails to make sense).

The assumption of almost all RPGs is you grow. If one feels the initial point buy makes a below average human, then up the point buy. Honestly though have never seen that in point buy, usually the points are chosen so you can at least be a bit above average in everything. Frankly the only games where have seen starting as a real zero is random generation.

In addition, I have seen many games where you start off incompetent for your stated role simply because the designer has no idea of the statistics involved, most often with d100 based systems where skills and such start low as they are often used as your base % chance to succeed. This is independent of how you generate attributes, it arises in both point buy and random generation, and if there are classes it is baked into them.

If your guy is an ex-special forces guy then yes they should have some level of training in all that. If the game says you can start so trained (which I would call a very high level of training, not just a competent soldier but an elite one, you are basically starting as the very elite of the armed forces, so 3rd or 4th level in AD&D terms to me) then the point buy should reflect and allow that. However, if the systems says you do not start so trained, then you are trying to create an uber character out of the gate, just like me saying my wizard when I start playing D&D should be able to cast fire balls otherwise I'm not a competent wizard.

Usually point buy, as at the start of your post, allows you to make a highly skilled character in one role( way above competent), with the trade off you are just average everywhere else. If you want highly skill and above average everywhere else, just add a few more points, etc. If you are worried about all points going into one thing put a max and/or min on the buy. If one wants to start more powerful that is easy in point buy, add more points.

My experience is point buy, as an independent design element (as mentioned before one can certainly make a system where it cannot work) is more flexible and much more likely to work than random generation, in general.

I think one can numerically find many more examples of point buy not working as to me it seem to be the standard these days...and the random generation stuff kept mostly to D&D and other clones. That is why I mentioned D&D 5e, point buy works there and if it can work there it can work very broadly in my view and even in the clones. Point buy also seems to work in every computer RPG ever played. Thinking of computer RPGs, even ones that had random generation (IIRC Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale), one just kept re-rolling until a great set of stats came up.
 

xanther

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Feel I'm getting off into proselytizing...not trying to as have no problem with random generation...just the follow-on typical player reaction when the rolls are not "good"...that is a social problem not a game problem.

However, if the "balance" in you game relies on or is explained by random generation then in practice (how your game is almost certainly to be played) your game will be un-balance because one of your key design assumptions is being ignored. Harkening back to the thread title, and prior posts, random generation is a poor choice as the core way to achieve such "balance." Not all games rely on attributes to achieve balance, many rely on classes, and there is no need to have such "balance". Yet this thread is about "balance" so I assume that is a desired goal for purposes of my posts here.

Point buy in its very design though allows you to "balance," as you choose the number of points. However, if you are off in the details that becomes very apparent very quickly (unlike random generation where it is hidden for a time, perhaps long enough for other game mechanics to become predominant). It also allows one to set the power level to whatever, just change the number of points to the level your group wants to start at, heck TFT gave you a whole list of different power levels based on points.

Also last, but certainly not least, it is fair. Every player is on equal footing, this is especially important in my experience for new players, even in the day. Have seen way too many times the disheartened look on a new players face when their rolls don't qualify them for a certain class they really want to play, but the person next to them can play anything because of good rolls. Sure that may be the way real life is and a way to account for the setting, but have never met a person who relished the idea of being the second class citizen in the game...frankly most people play RPGs to get away from that.
 

tenbones

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Sure, it's a problem if the intent was to have a balanced point buy. RQ was designed in an era where point buy wasn't being done in published systems (I'm pretty sure that by 1978 people HAD experimented with point buy as house rules, after all, there were plenty of war games including Chainmail with point buy for armies).


The thing is it works just fine with random stats. And I assume the designers felt that INT WAS an uber "stat" in the reality they were attempting to model. And that's fine. In the real world we don't get to use point buy to build ourselves, or at least there are some fundamentals we don't get to point buy. At some point we do point buy our education.

A design is not broken because point buy doesn't work for it.

If the intent is for random stat generation - then that is an overt conceit of the system. Fair play. Then there is no such thing as an "uber" stat if a player has no actual control over whether they can "stack it". If it's random... it's random.

If stats are something that can be manipulated - either through play or chargen, then I'll stand on my position about design.

And even IF PC's all get good rolls on their Stats - if it's a problem for GM's dealing with it... how is it not a design issue? I mean it can't be both things right? Either you adapt as a GM on the backend in play, the flaw of the design is commensurate to the skill you possess as a GM to mitigate it.

I know a lot of people that believed that about D&D through various editions. There is always *some* part of the gaming population that didn't feel a system was "balanced" for whatever reason - I'm sure we're all familiar with the arguments.

But that never stopped me one bit from running every edition of D&D (except 4th) for years before I dropped D&D altogether. It's not that I can't run it - that whatever edition's flaws can't be resolved on the backend of play, it's that after literal decades of running it in its various incarnations, I find that the problems of the system are easier to resolve by using an entirely different system, because the settings were what I was really more invested in.

There is literally no reason to stick with a system slavishly if you really believe it has unresolvable flaws. And I'm someone with a *VERY* high tolerance of flawed systems, because I'll happily fix those flaws and houserule away as needed.

But this is why I say "balance" is not something required of a system. What is required for "balance" is a GM that knows what they want for their game, and the ability to make it happen at the table to everyone's satisfaction.
 
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zanshin

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I think I have moved in my own approach from wanting open/broad point buy to pools of choice.

So in 5e D&D, you choose how to allocate your attributes, you choose your race - which affects attributes and gives some other perks, you choose a class and then make some choices about what that class emphasizes (spell choices, archetype choice).

This constrained sequence makes it easier to build a character, and providing you have rough parity between the selections, makes for a greater level of equality.

Completely open point buy is easier to break than with separate pools.
 

SavAce

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Let us not forget a beautiful 3rd option in all of this character creation talking: Just describe a character you want to play! If the GM and Player are happy, all is go!

You could do it in a Basic fashion...
BasicMarvel.png

Or... you could go Advanced!
AdvancedMarvel.png
 

ffilz

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If the intent is for random stat generation - then that is an overt conceit of the system. Fair play. Then there is no such thing as an "uber" stat if a player has no actual control over whether they can "stack it". If it's random... it's random.

If stats are something that can be manipulated - either through play or chargen, then I'll stand on my position about design.
What do you mean by that?

And even IF PC's all get good rolls on their Stats - if it's a problem for GM's dealing with it... how is it not a design issue? I mean it can't be both things right? Either you adapt as a GM on the backend in play, the flaw of the design is commensurate to the skill you possess as a GM to mitigate it.
With random rolls, I really see no problem with RQ. The ONLY problem with random rolls we have in my current campaign is due to my forgetting why I stopped allowing elf PCs with their uber stats (including higher INT than human...).

I know a lot of people that believed that about D&D through various editions. There is always *some* part of the gaming population that didn't feel a system was "balanced" for whatever reason - I'm sure we're all familiar with the arguments.

But that never stopped me one bit from running every edition of D&D (except 4th) for years before I dropped D&D altogether. It's not that I can't run it - that whatever edition's flaws can't be resolved on the backend of play, it's that after literal decades of running it in its various incarnations, I find that the problems of the system are easier to resolve by using an entirely different system, because the settings were what I was really more invested in.

There is literally no reason to stick with a system slavishly if you really believe it has unresolvable flaws. And I'm someone with a *VERY* high tolerance of flawed systems, because I'll happily fix those flaws and houserule away as needed.

But this is why I say "balance" is not something required of a system. What is required for "balance" is a GM that knows what they want for their game, and the ability to make it happen at the table to everyone's satisfaction.
I play/run the games I play because I find them interesting. Now some games I may more quickly lose interest in. I have never ended an RQ campaign out of being tired of the system. It isn't what I want to play all the time, and I feel blessed right now that I have two alternating groups, which means I get to balance the RQ with something else. I could probably run RQ indefinitely under these conditions.
 

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The big issue with point buy is I find it tends to lead to characters creating their own class. I find players have learnt through long experience that it is usually less interesting to be the second best at everything and so pick something and lean into their role. If a player is the "Pilot" then a lot of players will put as many points into piloting as they feasibily can to make sure that role is covered and they have something they can be reliably good at.

(The other thing too is that Point Buy budgets are often on the low end to allow room for growth - so this means players often end up with a choice between really good at one thing, or mediocre at several.)

Part of this issue is that point buys systems often struggle to meaningfully convey what competence is. (A lot of them make statements about how skilled the average person would be for comparison, but in my experience these numbers almost always fail to balance out with how systems actually work in play).

Also if the assumption is that point buy characters grow into competency, the reason why this is is usually not very clear setting and premise wise. (If my PC is an ex special forces guy - then he should be highly competent now - all his specific training is in the past - the zero to hero assumption utterly fails to make sense).
The key problem is the opportunity cost of being second best in many skills is fairly high, because all other things being equal, if a given thing needs doing, it's going to be the PC with the highest skill (eg. has invested the most resources in that given thing) that gets to try; and if they can't do it then it's even less likely that the second-best could. The second-best character isn't going to get to use their skill unless the best isn't available for whatever reason. So the resources spent on them are almost wasted; the player isn't going to get as much fun from using them (As they likely won't be using them) and the group has effectively spent more resources to not make someone better at a task.

(Note that this only really applies to uncommon skills - basics like combat and perception are absolutely fine, and probably advisable, for the group to stock up on, because having more people with them makes the group more capable; they're self-reinforcing at that level. Two people that can fight is better for the group than one person that can fight; two mechanics or medics is probably going to be less so.)

In addition, for RP reasons there's generally a baseline level of capability that we'd expect PC's in a game to have in order to just function in that setting. Ideally the game would have some sort of mechanism to make sure that PC's have that, eg. in a modern-day game in the UK, probably being able to read, use a computer, speak to people, drive a car, and build flat-pack furniture. The specific nature of the game matters as well; if we were playing a game about paramedics, for example, I'd expect everyone to have some form of medical training as a baseline.
 

ffilz

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The key problem is the opportunity cost of being second best in many skills is fairly high, because all other things being equal, if a given thing needs doing, it's going to be the PC with the highest skill (eg. has invested the most resources in that given thing) that gets to try; and if they can't do it then it's even less likely that the second-best could. The second-best character isn't going to get to use their skill unless the best isn't available for whatever reason. So the resources spent on them are almost wasted; the player isn't going to get as much fun from using them (As they likely won't be using them) and the group has effectively spent more resources to not make someone better at a task.

(Note that this only really applies to uncommon skills - basics like combat and perception are absolutely fine, and probably advisable, for the group to stock up on, because having more people with them makes the group more capable; they're self-reinforcing at that level. Two people that can fight is better for the group than one person that can fight; two mechanics or medics is probably going to be less so.)

In addition, for RP reasons there's generally a baseline level of capability that we'd expect PC's in a game to have in order to just function in that setting. Ideally the game would have some sort of mechanism to make sure that PC's have that, eg. in a modern-day game in the UK, probably being able to read, use a computer, speak to people, drive a car, and build flat-pack furniture. The specific nature of the game matters as well; if we were playing a game about paramedics, for example, I'd expect everyone to have some form of medical training as a baseline.
Yea, second best can create frustrating dynamics. How frustrating can be dependent on how the skills/abilities are distributed. 2nd best at lock picking isn't bad in RuneQuest for starting characters because you haven't necessarily invested much in it. If you're second best for free, who cares, and it's a bonus. Second best when you have can take a goodly number of skills isn't that bad. Systems that allow help are nice too. In Burning Wheel, in fact, you WANT to be second best and helping for the best chance of improvement...

What was really frustrating when I ran Fantasy Hero was the "bard" who was second best at performance because another PC had a high Presence and decided to pick up a performance skill... The "bard" had actually not invested many points in performance, and may have been a poor build, but the ease of falling into the trap, and then the fact the other PC could choose familiarity with performance or be a top performer was a problem (this is an area I like GURPS a bit better for, though in GURPS if you have a high attribute you have no option to be "just familiar" with a skill, but at least you can take skills at IQ-1, or IQ-2, or even IQ-3).

But the best defense against "second best" is communication while creating characters. Make sure you invest well in the things you want to be good at, and if it's important that you be the best at something, make sure the other players are on board and don't trample your lawn accidentally.

Oh, and I want two medics on my team... Whose going to tend to the medic when he goes down if no one else is decent at it? In fact, there are a variety of skills you want backups for. Also, if the whole team has been whacked, multiple medics to spread the load of tending to the injuries may be a benefit.
 

tenbones

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What do you mean by that?

I mean this - if the system RAW is implicit in its demand that character generation is a random process, then I agree with you a little more that the design is "not broken". It doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad design, in my opinion, but it means that its part of the assumed notion you're playing the game as intended.

However... that also means you have to accept that some stats might be more useful than others. If it becomes a *problem* for you - then we can reopen the discussion whether it is a bad design. There is a presumption that people in this thread (including myself) are making with what we think rules are for.

SOME people think the rules *are* the game. I'm not one of those people. Some people don't even realize that's what they're even saying - especially when talking about "balance".

To me, the rules are supposed to describe how tasks are resolved, and should be designed to exemplify the scale appropriate to the genre of the setting in question.

In the case of "Universal" systems - they should exemplify task resolution for the baseline normal person, then extrapolate further within setting exceptions contextual to the settings themselves.

With random rolls, I really see no problem with RQ. The ONLY problem with random rolls we have in my current campaign is due to my forgetting why I stopped allowing elf PCs with their uber stats (including higher INT than human...).


I play/run the games I play because I find them interesting. Now some games I may more quickly lose interest in. I have never ended an RQ campaign out of being tired of the system. It isn't what I want to play all the time, and I feel blessed right now that I have two alternating groups, which means I get to balance the RQ with something else. I could probably run RQ indefinitely under these conditions.
So it seems to be working for you. Again, I don't know RQ well, are Elves *supposed* to be superior to humans/everyone else contextually to the setting? Or are they superior simply because the system makes them that way by dint of the design?

Would you ever run the RQ setting with another system - or do you run RQ because that's the system you like most?
 

tenbones

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I find it weird that players do the dick-measuring thing about being 2nd, 3rd best at things. It seems like if you utilize a system with randomness as part of the character-generation process, that should mitigate such complaints. It's not like its their fault, after all.

But if it is worthy of complaint - why use that system? Or why not simply fix it?

Being 2nd best on paper has never been an issue for me. That doesn't mean the actions you take in the game are less meaningful. Batman beats Superman in only one real department - he's way fucking cooler. He's not even 10000000th best in physical stats. And in actual mental stats - Supes ain't a chump (being able to construct alien technology is not something most human minds can do easily even in the comics), but Bats is easily playable in most supers systems right alongside of Superman. I do it every week (with my players who have Superman/Batman level analogs).
 

tenbones

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Let us not forget a beautiful 3rd option in all of this character creation talking: Just describe a character you want to play! If the GM and Player are happy, all is go!

You could do it in a Basic fashion...
View attachment 30286

Or... you could go Advanced!
View attachment 30287

I wanted to add: this is how I do my chargen in most games.

I want my players to play the character they want to play within the context of the campaign I'm running. In my Marvel game there is no real rolling of any dice or any random stuff. We just negotiate it all.

Edit: I should specify for clarity - this is for Character Generation, not actual play in-game.
 
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ffilz

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I mean this - if the system RAW is implicit in its demand that character generation is a random process, then I agree with you a little more that the design is "not broken". It doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad design, in my opinion, but it means that its part of the assumed notion you're playing the game as intended.

However... that also means you have to accept that some stats might be more useful than others. If it becomes a *problem* for you - then we can reopen the discussion whether it is a bad design. There is a presumption that people in this thread (including myself) are making with what we think rules are for.

SOME people think the rules *are* the game. I'm not one of those people. Some people don't even realize that's what they're even saying - especially when talking about "balance".

To me, the rules are supposed to describe how tasks are resolved, and should be designed to exemplify the scale appropriate to the genre of the setting in question.

In the case of "Universal" systems - they should exemplify task resolution for the baseline normal person, then extrapolate further within setting exceptions contextual to the settings themselves.


So it seems to be working for you. Again, I don't know RQ well, are Elves *supposed* to be superior to humans/everyone else contextually to the setting? Or are they superior simply because the system makes them that way by dint of the design?

Would you ever run the RQ setting with another system - or do you run RQ because that's the system you like most?
Mostly I would never use another system for Glorantha, and mostly (a little less mostly) I wouldn't use RQ for another setting...

I don't know how elves are "supposed" to be conceived by the designers. To me, they are what they are. And really, I had other reasons for not having PC elves in the past because they really are sort of alien being plants and all. The rest of the races I allow as PCs are much more "balanced" and I don't have much problem with them. Actually I probably wouldn't even actually have a problem with elves if the elf PC wasn't being played by a power gamer... If the player actually took time to consider how his elf actually fits in human society, it could be a much more interesting character. And sure, it's stats on paper would be uber. But that wouldn't matter so much because he isn't the best at everything. It would be more like Batman and Superman teaming up...
 

Fenris-77

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The idea of balance that's current seems new to me. Lots of games have unbalanced characters, some games even kind of run on it (Rifts and lots of Supers games). I don't get why the design goal should be completely balanced characters in general either, as that's not really reflective of a lot of the genre source material. I get that sometimes playing that shite character isn't fun (Rifts comes to mind) but when it's a thing that's supposed to be the case (see tenbones tenbones example of his Supers game) it should be fine. I think some people feel insecure when their power fantasy turns less powerful. It's just a theory but I think it has legs.
 

zanshin

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The idea of balance that's current seems new to me. Lots of games have unbalanced characters, some games even kind of run on it (Rifts and lots of Supers games). I don't get why the design goal should be completely balanced characters in general either, as that's not really reflective of a lot of the genre source material. I get that sometimes playing that shite character isn't fun (Rifts comes to mind) but when it's a thing that's supposed to be the case (see tenbones tenbones example of his Supers game) it should be fine. I think some people feel insecure when their power fantasy turns less powerful. It's just a theory but I think it has legs.
My experience of actual play is that it's less fun to have your character overshadowed. Not everyone feels like that and some people derive fun from off beat characters that don't contribute much to resolving the action but provide colour.

Some RPGs have aimed at parity of power going way back - Bushido had point buy for stats, though other aspects such as random caste moved away from that. RQ 2 offered point buy as an option for stats. Champions/Hero system set out to set everything in a point buy context, and Superworld mimicked that.

There are clearly a fair number of people on the board for whom it is not an important aspect of play, but for me and some others it is.
 

TristramEvans

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My experience of actual play is that it's less fun to have your character overshadowed. Not everyone feels like that and some people derive fun from off beat characters that don't contribute much to resolving the action but provide colour.

That's a false equivalency though.

"Not balanced" doesn't mean "don't contribute much to resolving the action but provide colour" - there's a giant gap between "not as powerful in a single aspect of play" and "incompetant"
 

zanshin

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That's a false equivalency though.

"Not balanced" doesn't mean "don't contribute much to resolving the action but provide colour" - there's a giant gap between "not as powerful in a single aspect of play" and "incompetant"
Nevertheless, thats the experience that some character creation/play systems offer.
 

zanshin

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Like what?
The 1st level 1 hit point magic user from AD&D with a randomly assigned non useful spell, the 10th level fighter in 3e D&D in a party with 3 spellcasters, the flavour build in GURPs, any Rifts game which allows a spread of classes, the badly statted human in 5e T&T in a party of Dwarves and Elves.

There will be many more. Those characters (with the exception of the 10th level fighter) are probably doomed to a brief and inglorious existence.

They can all come about from RAW
 

ffilz

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The 1st level 1 hit point magic user from AD&D with a randomly assigned non useful spell, the 10th level fighter in 3e D&D in a party with 3 spellcasters, the flavour build in GURPs, any Rifts game which allows a spread of classes, the badly statted human in 5e T&T in a party of Dwarves and Elves.

There will be many more. Those characters (with the exception of the 10th level fighter) are probably doomed to a brief and inglorious existence.

They can all come about from RAW
There definitely can be problems with overshadowed characters. My Cold Iron experiences with playing a 2nd string fighter in a party of characters that were better fighters AND they were either a mage or a cleric was pretty demoralizing. Because of this, my Cold Iron house rules give more combat skills to the pure fighters, less to clerics, and the least to mages. This tends to assure the non-casters are better fighters than the casters and reduces the overshadowing aspect.

There are a variety of ways to handle this overshadowing but they need not be a mechanical change. The GM and/or players can change how the campaign is addressed. The AD&D party might choose to protect the MU as a valuable resource, and seek to find scrolls with first level spells (plus, AD&D gives the starting mage 4 random spells, Read Magic, and one from each of three columns, actually assuring that the mage will have an interesting array of spells, he may not have Sleep or Magic Missile, but the other offensive spells while less flashy can also be useful). Why is someone playing the lone human in a party of dwarves and elves? If the setting doesn't give humans some advantage, yea, humans suck in that setting...
 

tenbones

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Nevertheless, thats the experience that some character creation/play systems offer.
while you dig up an example,

I'd also add - not all players are competent, and want the system alone to do all the work for them.
 

tenbones

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The 1st level 1 hit point magic user from AD&D with a randomly assigned non useful spell, the 10th level fighter in 3e D&D in a party with 3 spellcasters, the flavour build in GURPs, any Rifts game which allows a spread of classes, the badly statted human in 5e T&T in a party of Dwarves and Elves.

There will be many more. Those characters (with the exception of the 10th level fighter) are probably doomed to a brief and inglorious existence.

They can all come about from RAW
wait...

who ever ran their games that way? In the last 40+ years of GMing all of these games - aside from GURPs, no player at my table that randomly created an obvious crappy randomly generated character at level 1 which they didn't like, they just said "new character" and created a new one. If you have a GM that forced someone to play something like that, then you have a different kind of issue (The GM).

As for the rest... again - "balance" has to be modulated by the GM. I literally know of *no* system where this isn't true in a campaign where the system hits a setting.

But for every instance where the numbers don't "add up" - I've had players that did play the ball where it landed. I've had many players that later rolled shit for their HP for a string of levels without any Con bonuses and had less than 30hp at 10th+ play. Again, it's not the numbers it's the dance between player and GM.

That's part of the game. Not the rules. And if we're going to say the rules alone are to blame the solution is *glaringly* simple: get new rules.
 

AsenRG

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wait...

who ever ran their games that way? In the last 40+ years of GMing all of these games - aside from GURPs, no player at my table that randomly created an obvious crappy randomly generated character at level 1 which they didn't like, they just said "new character" and created a new one. If you have a GM that forced someone to play something like that, then you have a different kind of issue (The GM).
*Raises hand.*
Been there, played a magic user on B/X D&D, because the stats rolled, much to my chagrin, didn't allow him to be anything else. A Str of 3 is pretty crippling if you have to rely on weapons...and I believe clerics didn't get any spells at 1st level.
No other stat rolls were forthcoming, despite me not liking being fuelled in a class I generally dislike.

It's not that he wasn't useful. His one spell ended up as Sleep, so he wasn't even bad, mechanically speaking. In fact, he retired 1 XP from 3rd level, and that was only because we couldn't get more than one level at once.
Of course I wasn't going to squander him stupidly, not if it could be helped...though I'd still have preferred a fighting man:tongue:! But such was the will of the dice: I rolled hoping for a fighting man, and got someone who could have made a good "evil vizier", instead:shade:!

And the retirement was due to me having a falling out with the GM - due to me wanting to stop raiding dungeons after we had something like well over 50k GP each, probably closer to 100k, due to finding a bunch of gems in a hidden treasure (which ailso would have sent us somewhere around the 7th level if not for the "no more than one level per dungeon venture" rule).
However, the game was advertised to me as a sandbox, and it just made sense for my character to decide to invest in a mercantile expedition or the like...:evil:
Keep in mind his background: "Former rich trader, squandered his inheritance on lessons of magic, which netted him an ACTUAL SPELL, needs to adventure to build it up again - and to find more magical knowledge." And he was still fat, albeit graceful, like a fat dancer...one who's been pampered his whole life. He was "the poster boy for civilised men in a barbarian's world".
So, you tell me what else makes more sense for this guy...dungeoncrawling, or investing in a trading expedition:grin:?
Except the GM was going to have none of this. And for that matter, it turned out some of the other players weren't thrilled, either. I tried pointing out that this doesn't preclude us from adventuring - but to them it wasn't the same, period.

Was that as you say, a problem with the dice modifier...sorry, DM:devil:? Not necessarily, the other players seemed to dig his style. But after the discussion, he decided I'm not a good fit for the group...and at this point, I was inclined to agree. Though I did offer to make a new PC instead.
He decided to go with a new player and PC, instead. Can't say I lost much sleep over it. I did actually agree we're not a good fit for each other:thumbsup:!
 

zanshin

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wait...

who ever ran their games that way? In the last 40+ years of GMing all of these games - aside from GURPs, no player at my table that randomly created an obvious crappy randomly generated character at level 1 which they didn't like, they just said "new character" and created a new one. If you have a GM that forced someone to play something like that, then you have a different kind of issue (The GM).

As for the rest... again - "balance" has to be modulated by the GM. I literally know of *no* system where this isn't true in a campaign where the system hits a setting.

But for every instance where the numbers don't "add up" - I've had players that did play the ball where it landed. I've had many players that later rolled shit for their HP for a string of levels without any Con bonuses and had less than 30hp at 10th+ play. Again, it's not the numbers it's the dance between player and GM.

That's part of the game. Not the rules. And if we're going to say the rules alone are to blame the solution is *glaringly* simple: get new rules.
It's RAW and people will and do play like that. Upthread I said 'random hit points should die in a fire' and people countered they were fine with it. Another contributor on espousing random stats in the thread said he was fine with 1 hit point at first level.

Different folks, different strokes. I have played ( a long time ago) in an AD&D game where the GM insisted the Magic User roll on the DMG table for which spell he started with. It wasn't sleep.

If random roll means roll until you get something awesome then let people start as awesome. If random roll means deal with the crap character the dice give you and enjoy it, then people will find different ways to have fun with it. Or not.

System matters.
 

ffilz

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It's RAW and people will and do play like that. Upthread I said 'random hit points should die in a fire' and people countered they were fine with it. Another contributor on espousing random stats in the thread said he was fine with 1 hit point at first level.

Different folks, different strokes. I have played ( a long time ago) in an AD&D game where the GM insisted the Magic User roll on the DMG table for which spell he started with. It wasn't sleep.

If random roll means roll until you get something awesome then let people start as awesome. If random roll means deal with the crap character the dice give you and enjoy it, then people will find different ways to have fun with it. Or not.

System matters.
Actually, I'd love to have a good system for randomly rolling sets of attribute that would give some minimum floor. The problem is that I don't want a minimum for each attribute (which is easy to fix, either say, roll 3d6 and if it's less than 10 make it 10, or roll 2d5+8 or whatever). What I want as a minimum is sort of subjective. And I want the chance that someone comes out with several 16+ rolls. And I don't want players arranging to choice. One way is for each player to roll several sets and pick their favorite, but they might all be crappy. I guess you could roll 3 times the number of players, each player gets to pick one set (no picking the same set). If a new PC is introduced, roll a new set of 3 and new player gets to pick one of those or one of the originally unused sets.

So instead, I look at what the player rolled up, and if it doesn't look great, tell them to roll again. And if someone wants to play a spell caster and doesn't roll a good INT or WIS, well roll another set, or maybe I'll suggest an attribute swap.

My idea is to keep as much randomness as possible while not saddling a player with a poor character or something they don't want to play.
 

Stevethulhu

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while you dig up an example,

I'd also add - not all players are competent, and want the system alone to do all the work for them.
You don't need to dig. Stormbringer is right there. One guy gets wings, another guy can summon demons and elementals. The other guy gets missing limbs and leprosy or something.
 

tenbones

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You don't need to dig. Stormbringer is right there. One guy gets wings, another guy can summon demons and elementals. The other guy gets missing limbs and leprosy or something.
And the intent of the setting vs. system are inconsistent how?

If you're going to say just because something mechanically exists in the system exclusive of the setting assumptions - do winged guys and demon-summoning Melniboneans normally cohabitate? Or are you trying to say because the system allows the possibility it *must* be represented in play.

Because that's playing the system not the game.

And even *then* the GM is the final arbiter on whether it can work or not.

Edit: in defense of both you and Zanshin - it's this mentality that has proliferated through D&D which makes established settings no longer resemble their original conceits. The proliferation of "freakshow" versions of the Realms, where all these newer races suddenly appear and all co-exist exclusive of established history in previous incarnations, plus the entitlement that new players bring that assume that just because something exists in a system it *must* exist in whatever setting they might be playing.

Again - it reinforces this weird idea about "balance" without context. MMO's certainly have been a force multiplier in this idea too.
 
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tenbones

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It's RAW and people will and do play like that. Upthread I said 'random hit points should die in a fire' and people countered they were fine with it. Another contributor on espousing random stats in the thread said he was fine with 1 hit point at first level.

Right. So you're playing the system. Not necessarily the spirit of the game and/or setting. And you're implying the GM has no say in the matter.


Different folks, different strokes. I have played ( a long time ago) in an AD&D game where the GM insisted the Magic User roll on the DMG table for which spell he started with. It wasn't sleep.

If random roll means roll until you get something awesome then let people start as awesome. If random roll means deal with the crap character the dice give you and enjoy it, then people will find different ways to have fun with it. Or not.

System matters.

Well if we're going to say different strokes etc. then what exactly is the complaint about balance? My response is it's voluntary for players. Don't play. If the GM is incapable of making a system feel good for the players, or is unable to simply enforce some standards the WHOLE PARTY can get down and have fun with - this is kind of a meaningless venture. If anyone is wanting a TTRPG to "run itself" without someone adjudicating the chemistry of system/setting in regards to the party, you may as well be playing a videogame.

System matters LESS than the GM running the system. And System doesn't exist without assumptions of a setting in play.
 

TristramEvans

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There will be many more. Those characters (with the exception of the 10th level fighter) are probably doomed to a brief and inglorious existence.

They can all come about from RAW

lol, they all come about from player choice, not dictated by the game, and none of them are useless/incompetant

Your first two examples show the balance offered through two choices t a player - you play a fighter, and are better in combat than the other classes from the beginning, and gradually increase in ability as you level up, or you play a wizard and you exchange low power at low levels to much higher powers at higher levels. But nothing is forcing a player to play one or the other, and neither is unable to contribute to the game. The 1st level wizard has the exact same combat ability as every other not-Warrior-based class. It doesn't in anyway affect their abilities in social environments, unravelling mysteries, solving puzzles, negotiating and bargaining, stealth, etc.
 

Stevethulhu

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And the intent of the setting vs. system are inconsistent how?

If you're going to say just because something mechanically exists in the system exclusive of the setting assumptions - do winged guys and demon-summoning Melniboneans normally cohabitate? Or are you trying to say because the system allows the possibility it *must* be represented in play.

Because that's playing the system not the game.

And even *then* the GM is the final arbiter on whether it can work or not.

Edit: in defense of both you and Zanshin - it's this mentality that has proliferated through D&D which makes established settings no longer resemble their original conceits. The proliferation of "freakshow" versions of the Realms, where all these newer races suddenly appear and all co-exist exclusive of established history in previous incarnations, plus the entitlement that new players bring that assume that just because something exists in a system it *must* exist in whatever setting they might be playing.

Again - it reinforces this weird idea about "balance" without context. MMO's certainly have been a force multiplier in this idea too.
First, back up in putting words in my mouth. You have zero concept of my mentality, which has evolved over the past 40 years anyway.

Stormbringer is good example of imbalance. Because it is completely imbalanced. You can argue til you're blue in the face that it represents the setting. Which in this game is highly debatable anyway.

But the fact is, a Melnibonean, Pan Tangian or Myrrhn outclassed pretty much everything else on the table. And if you roll a Beggar of Nadsokor, you basically have a near unplayable character. Even compared to a more average roll, like maybe Tarkeshite or even Eshmir.

So fucking what if the setting is being represented by the system? How is it fun to have a group where one guy so far outclassed the rest of the party that they may as well just be there to hold his coat?

Because the dice said so? Fluke isnt fair. I've seen too many random roll games where one guy has nothing below the upper 75% of the range, while another has nothing out of the middle 50%. The ST 18 Halfing was running joke for the whole time we played 3.5

I did use BRP to cook up what I called a semi random system for Sormbringer. Hoping to iron out some of the unfairness. I might share that for some feedback, if I can find the files.
 
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