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Broken or unbalanced?


D&D 3.5/d20/OGL


Since the is not one DnD book, that I know of, detailing these terms I am under the impression that they are slang and therefore subject each person's interpretation. The term broken is defined as "not functioning properly". I have read broken described as not functioning properly for everyone and by that description I would say that it is difficult to achieve.

It would be hard to against the fact that WotC would like every character the same opportunity to help the group and shine. Often classes, spells, and feats are altered in errata or future products. So there is definitely a case of classes and feats being unbalanced.

1) So what is your definition of broken and unbalanced?

2) What would you place in the catagory of unbalanced? (I suppose this is a focused rant, but since this is opinion please do not dispute other's thoughts)

3) List why you would place any in this catagory? (Saern I look forward to hearing from you) :-)


I don't get it....what's the question?....


Broken I define as being too powerful for any cost that comes with it, be it gold, LA, some supposed RP restriction, etc.
I can define unbalanced the same way, though it can have a negative connotation as well, as in "Kobolds are unbalanced", though I would more often just call them weak, lame, or some other adjective.

What would I consider unbalanced? Well, the aforementioned kobolds with the prior clarification. Mostly it comes down to two things; Personal style and combinations. Personal style is just that... What type of game do you enjoy running? If you envision some LotR type game where the PCs will be pretty mundane and fight pretty mundane stuff, then any pure caster could, in theory, unbalance your game in a similar, though less extreme fashion, as it would if you sprung a Pit Fiend on a bunch of 4th level characters. You wanted two fighters, a ranger, and a rogue, but you got a rogue, a wizard, a cleric, and a druid... You have to adapt your game or it will be out of balance.
As for combinations, it just comes down to having so many supplements to work with that people will be able to mix and match feats, skills, classes, etc to come up with something pretty far out there. Look around for Pun-Pun references to see what can be done.

As far as what I would put in the category, which I feel is something I already answered, then again, I just point you towards Pun-Pun for an extreme example.

Edit: There is an irony, here, though. The poor, beleagured kobold, whom I used as a reference for something too weak, is also the base for Pun-Pun. I don't suppose it's the only such base, but it is one of the options, which could force someone to reconsider the kobold stance. Then again, if you allow Pun-Pun in your game, you apparently have no concern that anything is unbalanced or broken. :)


Baramay wrote:
1) So what is your definition of broken and unbalanced?

Unbalanced = not balanced. (C'mon, does this really need to be "defined" any further?)

Broken = severely unbalanced.

Baramay wrote:
2) What would you place in the catagory of unbalanced?

The orb spells. Radiant Servant of Pelor. Psionics.


I tend to ascribe "broken" to something that is unbalanced in favor of it's possessing executor. A rhino rushing, true-striking, leap and power attacking ranger/sorc with a falchion is getting into the realm of "broken".

The orb spells also fall nearly into said category. But I run group fights as often as I do single monsters, which helps to minimize their impact. I also make a lot of NPC's for fights as well, and a monk makes quick agrravation for the orb caster.


Unbalanced - Players who get sick pleasure by seeing how far they can stretch the rules at the game's expense.

Broken - Poor DM's who have to suffer such players.


Unbalanced - That's my diet lately.

Broken - And that would be my financial situation at the moment.

Ultradan


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

I define unbalanced as anything that is a bit too powerful or a bit too weak, when compared with the rest of the ruleset. I define broken as anything that is severely unbalanced. I have been known to use one term where the other would have been more appropriate.

IMO, the Orb spells are unbalanced, but not truly broken. In fact, I'm hard pressed to think of anything offhand that I do consider truly broken, because I generally just mentally mark these things as "banned in my campaign", and don't spare them a second thought.


Fine. I've been invoked.

I agree more or less with the previous posters. Unbalanced is something that is substantially weaker or stronger than mainstream options, typically those presented in the Player's Handbook. I tend to consider the Core Rules as some sort of gamer's Bible which supplements shouldn't not trump; the options within should be as powerful, ideally, but should not exceed the power of the things expressed within the Player's Handbook (and Dungeon Master's Guide, for that matter). This is not a hard and fast rule and is completely subjective to me.

Broken is an extreme form of unbalanced. Many people will note that things that are unbalanced due to an weakness get less press than things that are unbalanced due to a strength. This is because of the radical and poorly understood notion that no one wants to take the weak option, and thus it doesn't risk harming one's game, as opposed to the strong option, which is clamored over.

As an aside, I believe there is a limit to the divergence of pros and cons that can be attributed to something in order to maintain balance. Granting a special class ability that increases Strength by 10 reduces Dexterity by 10 is not balanced. It simply pulls too far in different directions. The "scale" may beg to differ, but in game, this option will present more headaches than anything else, and is not balanced.

To stem the comments, the above example does not reflect anythign currently in the game and is simply a theoretical condition that I believe could exist, though I've yet to see anything that actually qualifies.

What do I consider unbalanced/broken? M)%^#$-!@&*ing Frenzied Berserkers, that's what! Why? They are basically barbarians squared, and the requirements (which I feel should be a balancing factor and often should require sub-par feats and skills to be taken to balance out powerful abilities) impose no significant burden on the character. The power is tremendous and stacks with the already extreme nature of the barbarian to be soundly BROKEN, and the "risk" of having to make a DC 20 Will save is actually a paper tiger, since once they actually enter a frenzy/rage, they have a +4 bonus on the save! I have experience from the DM's and player's chair to justify me. Frenzied Berserkers are forever banned!

The Leap Attack feat. Mix that with Power Attack and you have every damage-dealer's wet dream. I've seen a 12th level fighter/barbarian kill a maralith in one shot with that feat. Sorry, goodbye, not at my table.

I feel the Orb spells are unbalanced, but not broken. I feel warmages are unbalanced, but not broken.

I think favored souls and spirit shamans and wu jen are stupid turd-cakes, but not necessarily unbalanced. I think the samurai sucks and is unbalanced in the weakness-sense.

I think psionics are unbalanced, which is, of course, an objectice stance that I managed to completely separate from the loathing I feel for them and the "logic" used to explain their existence in 3.x edition D&D with every atom of my being (heavy sarcasm implied re: the separation; I really do feel that way about psionics).

There, happy?


The Black Bard wrote:

A rhino rushing, true-striking, leap and power attacking ranger/sorc with a falchion is getting into the realm of "broken".

keen falcion

And yes I agree.


I'll throw my two cents in here - The Diplomcay Skill. Its broken both in the sense that it is unbalanced in the extremely unbalanced and in terms of being mechanically essentially unusuable. The Game simply falls aparit if mid level bards automatically make huge red dragons (and each and every other encounter without exception) friendly.

Cheliax Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
I'll throw my two cents in here - The Diplomcay Skill. Its broken both in the sense that it is unbalanced in the extremely unbalanced and in terms of being mechanically essentially unusuable. The Game simply falls aparit if mid level bards automatically make huge red dragons (and each and every other encounter without exception) friendly.

Nice. Finally something I can get behind. Care to explain some more, I haven't heard that one before.

What I don't find unbalanced is the six feat combo that, when combined with three spells a racial ability, and the optimal set up, does 3.8 billion damage. Big deal. How often does that optimal set up come up? At what level? Plus, at a certain level, the fighter should be able to say once per combat "I'm going to hit that creature, and it's going to die."

Expert tactician from 3.0 was broken because it didn't do what it was meant to do (i.e., it worked for wizards better than it worked for fighters). Greater cleave and a pack of blind weasels is broken because it twists the letter of the rules inside out. Broken rules allow you to do something outside of their intent.

Clerics are slightly unbalanced. 3.0 Haste was unbalanced (it was better than any other 3rd level spell). 3.0 skill focus was unbalanced (it was worse than any other feat). Unbalanced rules sets dominate over other rules sets or are dominated by other rules sets.

Come to think of it, my feeling is that most of the things that were badly unbalanced were in 3.0 and have been subsequently fixed.

Qadira

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
I'll throw my two cents in here - The Diplomcay Skill. Its broken both in the sense that it is unbalanced in the extremely unbalanced and in terms of being mechanically essentially unusuable. The Game simply falls aparit if mid level bards automatically make huge red dragons (and each and every other encounter without exception) friendly.

Rich Burlew not only has one of the hottest webcomics in existance but also has one of the best revamps of the diplomacy skill I ever read. Happy reading. The man is a genius.

FH


For what little it's worth, the Dwarven Defender PrC seems waaaay to good. Way too many special abilities and DR better than a barbarian?


Jim Helbron wrote:
For what little it's worth, the Dwarven Defender PrC seems waaaay to good. Way too many special abilities and DR better than a barbarian?

It's not better than a barbarian's until 17th character level at the earliest, and I don't see them as having any more special abilities than many other prestige classes. Plus, they have to take three sucky feats (two of them among the suckiest of all core feats) to qualify.

No, I don't think DD is "too good." In point of fact, I've never seen anyone bother to take it.

Cheliax Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

Vegepygmy wrote:
Jim Helbron wrote:
For what little it's worth, the Dwarven Defender PrC seems waaaay to good. Way too many special abilities and DR better than a barbarian?

It's not better than a barbarian's until 17th character level at the earliest, and I don't see them as having any more special abilities than many other prestige classes. Plus, they have to take three sucky feats (two of them among the suckiest of all core feats) to qualify.

No, I don't think DD is "too good." In point of fact, I've never seen anyone bother to take it.

Agreed. The dwarven defender is a negligble PrC. Plus, IIRC, all of their abilities require them to stand still. Not a very effective tactic against foes smart enough to use ranged attacks, hit and run attacks, or who otherwise choose not to engage the PC in the environment that is optimal for its abilities.


I would like to second Sebastian.

Broken isn't just unbalanced- it is unbalanced because it is being used outside of its intent. It follows the letter, but not the spirit of the law.


Fake Healer wrote:
Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
I'll throw my two cents in here - The Diplomcay Skill. Its broken both in the sense that it is unbalanced in the extremely unbalanced and in terms of being mechanically essentially unusuable. The Game simply falls aparit if mid level bards automatically make huge red dragons (and each and every other encounter without exception) friendly.

Rich Burlew not only has one of the hottest webcomics in existance but also has one of the best revamps of the diplomacy skill I ever read. Happy reading. The man is a genius.

FH

I think he is certianly a brilliant writer and I admire his attempt to fix the diplomacy skill but its at bets a slight improvement. Strangly enough he actually used, as an example, trading a piece of dirty string for a castle. Now admitedly that's a really bad deal and comes with a -10 penalty. The problem is that its a breeze to make a mid level bard that can easily beat that -10 peanalty. OK so maybe the DM makes sure that all castle owning fighters spend points in diplomacy like crazy in a desperate attempt to keep their castles out of teh hands of bards armed with pieces of dirty string. It just might work in this specific case. The problem is that every merchant in teh game can't have massivly high diplomacy scores. Most of them must only have a level or two of commoner and expert. By mid level our bard can walk into any store anywhere and get the merchant to hand over his entire stock for a bunch of gravel the bard found by the side of the road.

The monsters are even worse off - I mean teh Dragons have a enough skill points to keep their diplomacy skills maxed out thus defending their Treasure Horde but what about teh rest of the monsters? I mean go grab your monster manual - how many critters in that book have a diplomacy skill of even +5? Very very few.

Ultimatly even Rich's attempt to fix this fails. The concept that one can use diplomacy to get people to do things or give up things that they are not intrinsically interested in doing is flawed at its source.


I like the Diplomacy fix and plan on using it. Keep in mind that using it requires at least a minute. How many orcs are going to stop for that long and talk to the bard? Or howlers or gibbering mouthers or trolls or kuo-toa or whatever else? That's not really a relevant consideration, in my mind. Also, the DM remains free to place certain maximums and minimums on deals where he sees fit, just to keep things within the realm of believeability (sp?) (and game balance). This system is more dynamic, but actually quite a bit simpler due to its clearly stated function and outcomes. I plan on implementing it in the future. My group had been using a subsystem of Diplomacy for quite a while back in high school Diplomacy check minus 10 (or was it 15?) was the percentage that one could reduce a buying price or increase a selling price, but did nothing to alter moods or opinions.


Saern wrote:
My group had been using a subsystem of Diplomacy for quite a while back in high school Diplomacy check minus 10 (or was it 15?) was the percentage that one could reduce a buying price or increase a selling price, but did nothing to alter moods or opinions.

Yep It was 15 as long as the mrchant in question was on friendly terms with the party. And we used diplomacy in fixed DC situations too. Like that time you walked into town with the dominated berserker orc and had to keep the local guard from going to red alert.

Osirion

Saern wrote:
Also, the DM remains free to place certain maximums and minimums on deals where he sees fit, just to keep things within the realm of believeability (sp?) (and game balance).

I think that there are simply some circumstances that should be (nearly) impossible. Limiting a penalty to any kind of fixed penalty is ... well ... limiting.

There are some really great car salespeople out there, but I find it hard to believe that no matter how good their roll is, that I would go in looking for a car and come out paying $10,000 for a tricycle.

Some things just simply shouldn't be possible. Trading a string for a castle -- assuming that you want this kind of scenario possible in your campaign -- should have a penalty of -50 or so (IMO). (Which should limit it to epic play anyway.)


I took the "string for a castle" bit as tongue in cheeck. This is Rich Burlew, the creator of Order of the Stick, we're talking about here. I think he was trying to be funny, although I agree that a more serious application may have been slightly more useful.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Hmm, I'd probably set the penalty exponentially -- say something like a -10 or -20 if you're trying to trade for something worth twice what you are offering. (And an additional -10 or -20 for each subsequent doubling.)

For argument's sake, we'll start with a -10: So, if are trying to trade a heavy crossbow to get a composite longbow, you take a -10 penalty. If you are trying to trade a dagger to get a morningstar, you take a -20. And if you are trying to trade a dagger to get a light crossbow, you take a -40. If you are trying to trade a ball of string* worth 0.1 coppers for a tower worth about 10,000 gold, you take a -230.

Note that this would allow a series of progressive trades, probably with different people, at much lower penalties. But that seems reasonable to me, as witness the guy who recently traded his way up to a house starting with one red paperclip:

http://oneredpaperclip.blogspot.com/

* Let's assume some nominal value here, since if you assume exactly 0 value, the multiplier is undefined.

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