Do you actually care about Balance?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Insain Dragoon wrote:

I'm ok with there being tiers, but if they're clearly labeled. Possibly spread across different books.

These are high power classes
These are medium power
Low power

This assumes (1) that a single, universal and objective metric of power exists and that (2) this metric is important enough to codify. I don't believe in tiers of classes in Pathfinder because I cannot fathom a meaningful system whereby I could place the classes on a linear scale of "best" to "worst" with respect to what I want out of the game. Some players can because they have particular expectations of what a character needs to be to satisfy them, and different classes meet those needs better than others. When enough players get together and decide they have similar expectations, the tiers they come up with to meet those expectations begin to be pushed as the tiers, when in reality they only exist for people who hold the same values.

TL;DR: Wizards ain't top tier if they don't meet your needs.


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Tiers are far from objective, but they're certainly not reliant on your "expectation".

If your "expectation" is "I want a character that's absolutely useless at everything but playing blackjack" that doesn't mean the class that is only good at playing blackjack is top tier when other characters can be really good at playing blackjack, and other games too.


blahpers wrote:
Rynjin wrote:
blahpers wrote:


Most games are just that--games. RPGs have the additional quality of providing an avenue for creative expression in one or more particular settings. Sometimes those settings include characters who, when translated to game characters, do not have similar levels of power along some power metric (combat prowess, the ever-nebulous "narrative power", and so on). In such situations, balancing these roles out for the sake of G can adversely affect the integrity of the RP.
[quoteWhich sounds very nice and pleasant on paper, but isn't really true.

It's as true as you and your table make it. If you aren't getting what you need from your table, find another or make your own.

Quote:
Unless your RP relies on you being the biggest baddest m%@*+%*+@*#+ on the planet, and the rest of the party your lackeys, balance is not going to affect your RP.
It very much can if the setting is inherently unbalanced. It may model a real-world setting or mythology in which characters are not balanced, or it may be an original creation whose lore depends on such a distribution of power.

I always wonder at the people who expect the game to have two entirely separate measures of power/ability. If you can't create a world where characters have different amounts power through the use of Levels, what are you using them for? Or conversely, if the ability to fight the tarasque is something you want characters to have at around 20th level, then make characters who can fight the tarasque 20th level. And do the same thing at other levels, so a character of level 1 or 5 or 8 or 12 or whatever contributes about as much over the course of an adventure as any other character of that level, regardless of what class they are. It's work to test, but it's hardly a difficult task.


Insain Dragoon wrote:

I'm ok with there being tiers, but if they're clearly labeled. Possibly spread across different books.

These are high power classes
These are medium power
Low power

Pick the tier that's right for your group and go adventuring! Be wary though that playing with classes of multiple tiers will cause an unbalanced party. That is the reality of Pathfinder right now and it is saddening. In the same book we have Brawlers, which are admittedly one of the best and most fun martials in the game, and the Arcanist. The power disparity in even the newest releases is downright sad considering how long the system has been around.

The amount of system mastery and gameplay experience needed for a new player to realize that is way too high.

Extra: I do think Paizo made a step in the right direction with the Shaman. It's nowhere near Wizard or Cleric levels of shenanigans and probably less crazy than the Druid. It's right around where 9th level casters should be balanced. The fact that Paizo can make full casters that don't destroy the game is pretty cool to see! If only they could do that more. If I could make a wish for Pathfinder Unchained it would be for new spell lists for the Wizard/Cleric and the rewriting of spells like Planar Binding.

Player tier is just as important as class teir, and I think player skill causes more trouble that the ability of a class, especially when there are large gaps between players or players and the GM.


I agree with you to an large extent. Though an exceptional 10/10 player using a Fighter will still have a lot less narrative power than an average 5/10 player running a Wizard. Comparatively an exceptional player running an Inquisitor will be on about even footing with an average player running a Sorceror. Some classes are stronger than others overall, but as long as they don't intrude too heavily in other classes niches this is acceptable.

Once again I do not particularly like the tier system. I use something closer to my 4 point criteria. Using those criteria a lot of the available classes are viable even though some are flat out better than others. It pretty much cuts the top (Wizard, Cleric, Arcanist, some Witches, Some Oracles, some Sorcerers, some Druids, Summoner) and bottom (Fighter, Rogue, Gunslinger, misplaced Cavalier, Swashbuckler, some Monks) off the list.

I think the most important factor to having fun is all the players and the GM being on the same page and moderating themselves accordingly. A player has to recognize that an option could be destroying fun for the other players. A prime example was the Diabolist I posted about in the last page. When confronted about that character he had no idea why we had any problems with it and said it was our faults for not having our characters commit sepuku at level 9 to join the full caster master race.


Insain Dragoon wrote:

I agree with you to an extent. An exceptional 10/10 player using a Fighter will still have a lot less narrative power than an average 5/10 player running a Wizard.

Once again I do not particularly like the tier system. I use something closer to my 4 point criteria. Using those criteria a lot of the available classes are viable even though some are flat out better than others. It pretty much cuts the top (Wizard, Cleric, Arcanist, some Witches, Some Oracles, some Sorcerers, some Druids, Summoner) and bottom (Fighter, Rogue, Gunslinger, misplaced Cavalier, Swashbuckler, some Monks) off the list.

I think the most important factor to having fun is all the players and the GM being on the same page and moderating themselves accordingly. A player has to recognize that an option could be destroying fun for the other players. A prime example was the Diabolist I posted about in the last page. When confronted about that character he had no idea why we had any problems with it and said it was our faults for not having our characters commit sepuku at level 9 to join the full caster master race.

I agree, but he might still give a GM more of a headache. I also agree that self restraint is good for a player to use in order to keep the game fun for everyone.

Back to the topic of balance--> I like the ranger bard and inquisitor as my balance focal points.


This was part of something I was editing into my post, but it made more sense to morph it into a response to Wraithstrike.

I think a list of 5 favorite Paizo classes might lend some insight to how I view classes in the game.

Bard/Skald (I don't really consider these separate classes), Inquisitor, Oracle, Shaman, and Ranger. I think it's kind of funny that we have 3 items in common!

When listed out that way it's noticeable that the only two full casters are those that have very customizable class features and a relatively weaker casting method or spell list. The only martial has a lot of non-combat power while maintaining an aspect of beefiness. The other two are half casters that have strong out of combat roles and the ability to contribute to combat in a non-superficial manner.

When the next core book comes out I feel it would be best for the game if the full casters were modeled more after the Shaman and Witch than the Cleric and Wizard. The non-full casters should aim to be balanced with the Bard and other half casters, excluding summoner.


The main issue sadly is that Pathfinder is an "old" game, and the older a game gets, the harder it is to change. You could easily think of many simple improvements for Pathfinder that get shouted down, with many apologists saying that it is a feature for wizards to be so dominant or whatever.

The newer a game is, the easier it is to fix problems as people can still see the faults of the system. Considering Pathfinder is roughly 15 years old at this point, all hope is lost.

Scarab Sages

Kolokotroni wrote:
Basically the game is expecting characters to have something close to the elite array, meaning their primary stat will start somewhere between 15 and 17. Even when using higher point buys you should be enforcing a limit in this order. Players shouldnt be starting the game with 20's in primary stats if you dont want to adjust as a dm. It throws off the basic math of the game. Simply caping starting ability scores at 17 has made my life as a gm much easier. It's actually meant i can offer higher point buys (25) without hurting giving a free pass to single ability score characters. So even if you like more generous stat generation methods, just enforce that upper starting limit (after racial modifiers) and you are just fine.

One of the contributing factors to why players try to max out their prime stats, other than the obvious benefit of a higher starting modifier, is the way levelling bonuses are applied as flat bonuses to stat values.

We apply a law of diminishing returns, when creating PCs, but don't follow through with that theme, once play has begun.

This means that a player who kept his non-essential stats low, to achieve that 18 at level 1, is rewarded at level 4 with the equivalent of an extra 4 point-buy. If the PC race grants a +2 bonus, he gains 5 point-buy.

The player who tried to make an all-rounder PC might bump a 14 up to a 15, gaining only 2 point-buy.

It's not hard to see why someone would be tempted to always make characters with uneven stats, if they perceive they will be rewarded twice as much from levelling.

A better way to reward the players evenly, without showing favour to the min-maxers, would be to do away with the single stat-boost at levels 4/8/12/16/20, and provide a more frequent stream of single point-buy rewards, which can be spent or saved as required.

If PCs were granted a single point to improve their stats, every level, then all PCs are rewarded evenly.
The player who wants to improve his 18 stat will have to wait till level 4, as normal.
The player with a starting 20 will have to wait till level 5. But why shouldn't he? He's getting more benefit, why shouldn't it take longer? And where's he going to find the advanced learning materials to improve that 20 Int, when he's travelling through a swamp?

The player who wishes to represent their introverted (Cha 9) farmer's son becoming more confident (Cha 10) from being hailed a hero, or after his first visit to the big city, can do so at level 2, without being made to feel like he made a dumb choice, wasting one of his 5 'big payoffs'. Similarly, the bookworm wizard could describe the rigors of camping in the wilds, with a boost of his low Str score. The impulsive (Wis 8) street-kid rogue could learn some caution, after seeing his first dead ally squashed like a grape.

All of these small improvements are far more believable than improving a stat that is already maxed. They reward the roleplaying of a character that grows from their experiences in game, rather than being pressured to always increase their best stat, based on spreadsheet predictions made before the game even began.


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I think you need to define Balance. My definition of Balance is can I balance an encounter to appropriately challenging by CR to APL for all combinations of classes. In this way Balance is very important.

So if a APL +1 encounter is trivial for one party but meat grinder for another then there is balance issue. This of course assumed standard build with default stats following the WBL guideline. For the most part I find Pathfinder very balance if you keep these 3 variables with in the guidelines. The only balance issue I find following this is rogues at high level.

Basically as GM I see balance issue when I'm having to rework things to help the party or single character out in game. For the rogue I find a problem but it's fairly easy to fix, I slip the rogue more wealth at high levels. Picking pockets in my games is very lucrative and that wealth is class feature not WBL in my games. So they don't have to share it with the party but they can. That's a balance issue though that I've fixed with little house ruling some creative GMing. For every other class the rule as written work. Sure fighter might get bit dull in the end but it's still balanced and works on CR appropriate encounters.


blahpers wrote:
Johnico wrote:
Tabletop RPGs are weird. They're the only genre of gaming on the planet, that I know of, where some people actively oppose balance.

This distinction is yet another manifestation of what makes them so freaking great.

Most games are just that--games. RPGs have the additional quality of providing an avenue for creative expression in one or more particular settings. Sometimes those settings include characters who, when translated to game characters, do not have similar levels of power along some power metric (combat prowess, the ever-nebulous "narrative power", and so on). In such situations, balancing these roles out for the sake of G can adversely affect the integrity of the RP. There are numerous solutions to this. One is to change the setting and expectations so that it is more amenable to balance. Another is to accept that imbalance exists and appreciate it for what it is. Everybody has their own approach to it, and, provided you can find a like-minded (or close enough) table, they're all correct! That's something you just don't get in most games.

And of course, since D&D is a Team game, not a competition, the fact one class has a edge just makes the team stronger.

At the end of the nite, we dont add up the damage and the guy who did the most gets a medal.


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DrDeth wrote:

And of course, since D&D is a Team game, not a competition, the fact one class has a edge just makes the team stronger.

At the end of the nite, we dont add up the damage and the guy who did the most gets a medal.

This "it's a team game so stop talking about class effectiveness" shtick is getting a little old. The enemy can have class levels, y'now. I mean, what's more frightening to you to face at the end of an AP: an 18th level rogue or an 18th level cleric? One can have have undead and outsider allies, blast the entire room with negative energy, cast Destruction on the party weaklings, or just summon the dark intervention of an evil deity for assistance. The other might be able to get off some sneak attack damage if it's got help or is lucky. That's not taking into account plot-related assistance, resources, and powers, that's just by base. Class-specific capabilities affects both how the players play with each other AND how the players play with the GM.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

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wraithstrike wrote:
***I like the ranger bard and inquisitor as my balance focal points.

There was a lot going on in the original quote, so I thought I'd just trim out the part I wanted to agree with. It's probably not a coincidence that the 1/2 and 3/4 casters form the core of that group that's referred to as "Tier 3" or "best balanced", or any of the other ways people have of saying "pretty much exactly where the game should be". I think Alchemist, Bard, Hunter, Inquisitor, Investigator, Magus, Paladin, Ranger, and Warpriest mark kind of the "sweet spot" for class balance, with special appearances by Brawlers, Cavaliers, Qinggong Monks, Ninjas, Samurai, and Slayers. If I ran a game with just those classes, I'd know that my work as a GM would be greatly simplified, and that my players would be able to just play their characters, without having to stop (and/or be reined in) because they are overshadowing the other players. My "special appearances" list would be classes that can rise to the occasion with enough system mastery but might not provide the same level of functionality on their own.

While player skill will always be a bigger factor than class tier or however you want to codify that very real divide between the capabilities of some classes (often best seen in the martial/caster divide), there's a point where anyone who sees their group hit a certain level of system mastery is going to see things start to break, which can have a negative impact on that group's fun.


I don't care about balance. As long as the rules are followed when the character is made and it fits the campaign world, all is good.

Sovereign Court

Snorter wrote:
Stuff...

Basically - you're arguing for a hybrid point buy system vs. Pathfinder's leveling system.

There are advantages to a point-buy system, especially if you don't want the characters to get exponentially more powerful over the course of the campaign.

Classes aren't generally as different in point-buy systems though, leading the characters to be far more similar.

Advantages and disadvantages.

Though I've never seen a hybrid work well, I suppose that it could be done.


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DrDeth wrote:

since D&D is a Team game, not a competition, the fact one class has a edge just makes the team stronger.

At the end of the nite, we dont add up the damage and the guy who did the most gets a medal.

But, the source of most complaints about game balance is the issue of intra-party balance.

Pathfinder is often a game of power fantasy, and most people require a sense of equivalence when living out a power fantasy as a team.

In contrast, the solution for adversarial balance is obvious: adjust CR up or down, or exercise more fine-grain selectivity in your choice of adversary (comparing actual monster and party stats). People are almost never complaining about adversarial balance, especially not compared to intra-party (or "spotlight") balance.

The topic of balance, for most people, means intra-party balance. The issues are the usual suspects: attribute dependency, caster-martial disparity, class design, and all the other words we use for individuals' bruised egos when their powerman isn't powerful enough relative to the other powermen on their powerteam.

Lest someone mistake me, I think intra-party balance is extremely important in Pathfinder, due to the nature of the game. But I wouldn't say it's essential to ALL role-playing games.


I am pretty new to Pathfinder (only been playing for about 2 years), but i have 30 years of RPG experiecne, so I have heard this conversation before at multiple gaming conventions. Sadly, it seems that there is no concrete answer to the issue, but I've very much enjoyed this thread and the ideas people have shown. It's happened in every iteration of D&D. It seemed to always be (atleast in early versions) to be "Carry the Magic-User until he reached Level x, then he just blows up encounters" I think 5e has done a great job of balancing that out so far.
When I got into PF, I enjoyed the game and the (IMHO) improvements over the general brokenness of 3.5 and the "needing each character to have a categorized power source"/ MMO on paper-ness of 4e. I guess I'm fortunate enough to have a group that does play their characters how they want to, with no regard to how "good/bad/OP/subpar" they may seem to be, but it just works in most part due to good tactics, gaming experience in general, and a desire to RP over "powermetagame". We have a Rogue, Magus, Wizard, Fighter, and Life Oracle. No one seems to outshine the other, due to the fact that the players don't build "net characters" or cookie-cutter it. If they see afeat that interests them, they take it, and make it work. I understand there are many 'point and click" Character builds, but thankfully the group actually makes it a point to build in the opposite direction, and it really makes the game more enjoyable as the group sometimes IC bumbles through encounters, whether they be combat or interaction. IMHO, that's the heart of an RPG, and what makes it fun.
I think there are folks out there that need to realize something: you can't win at an RPG. So make it a point to have fun. If you feel a need to min/max to make yourself feel better/useful/uber/egostroked, maybe Munchkin or WOW is the game for you. you can win there. There aren't DM Death Rays in those games :)


Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:
Pathfinder is often a game of power fantasy, and most people require a sense of equivalence when living out a power fantasy as a team.

Alternately, it could be simply that RPG forums and shared campaign environments (e.g., PFS) tend to attract people who value intra-party balance.

Shadow Lodge

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There should be a class feature tier more than a class tier. Some abilities are so defining or so strong that they make or break a class. Maybe thats why arechetypes are so popular

Scarab Sages

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Charon's Little Helper wrote:

Basically - you're arguing for a hybrid point buy system vs. Pathfinder's leveling system.

There are advantages to a point-buy system, especially if you don't want the characters to get exponentially more powerful over the course of the campaign.

Classes aren't generally as different in point-buy systems though, leading the characters to be far more similar.

Not sure what you're meaning, with the bolded part.

It wasn't free-form, in the sense of classes buying each other's abilities. I get that that will almost never happen in any D&D variant, and why should it? There are other games out there that are designed from the ground up, to provide that kind of smorgasbord.

It was purely relating to stat values. A Fighter would still be a Fighter, a Wizard would still be a Wizard, a Monk would still be a Monk.

But what I see a lot on the forums, are people bemoaning what they see as lopsided characters; autistic savant wizards, with a giant brain like The Mekon, but the physical body of a starving child and the social skills of a slug.

Some classes require several ability scores to be kept above average, and these classes suffer in comparison, as the cost to keep these high is greater than it is for those classes reliant on one single attribute.
When it comes to rating the classes, however that rating is done (the Tier system, spotlight time, 'narrative power'), it is these single-attribute classes which are almost always reported as dominating the game, at the expense of those that are multiple-stat-dependent.

Spreading the 4-level +1 stat increases into smaller point-buy increases, more often, and charging the increased point-buy cost for improving stats that are already sky-high, would go a long way toward smoothing the playing field for all.

We'd see heroes with believable stat arrays more like 17/16/15/14/13/10, and less 30/16/7/7/7/5.

Sovereign Court

Snorter wrote:
Charon's Little Helper wrote:

Basically - you're arguing for a hybrid point buy system vs. Pathfinder's leveling system.

There are advantages to a point-buy system, especially if you don't want the characters to get exponentially more powerful over the course of the campaign.

Classes aren't generally as different in point-buy systems though, leading the characters to be far more similar.

Not sure what you're meaning, with the bolded part.

I wasn't really saying anything about your idea in the bolded section. I was just commenting about point-buy systems in general before mentioning that I've never seen a hybrid system like you're suggesting done before.

I don't think that it would be a bad thing. I just wanted to point out some disadvantages of the system type. (there are also many advantages - as you pointed out in your previous post)

Perhaps just allow characters an extra stat point (as per character creation rules - so beyond 13 would cost multiple points) each time they level? Only allow characters to buy beyond 18. (for increasingly more points)


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
voska66 wrote:

I think you need to define Balance. My definition of Balance is can I balance an encounter to appropriately challenging by CR to APL for all combinations of classes. In this way Balance is very important.

So if a APL +1 encounter is trivial for one party but meat grinder for another then there is balance issue. This of course assumed standard build with default stats following the WBL guideline. For the most part I find Pathfinder very balance if you keep these 3 variables with in the guidelines. The only balance issue I find following this is rogues at high level.

Basically as GM I see balance issue when I'm having to rework things to help the party or single character out in game. For the rogue I find a problem but it's fairly easy to fix, I slip the rogue more wealth at high levels. Picking pockets in my games is very lucrative and that wealth is class feature not WBL in my games. So they don't have to share it with the party but they can. That's a balance issue though that I've fixed with little house ruling some creative GMing. For every other class the rule as written work. Sure fighter might get bit dull in the end but it's still balanced and works on CR appropriate encounters.

The idea that CR can be a tell all scale is fundamentally flawed in a game as robust as pathfinder. If it was simply a matter of everyone standing there and bashing eachother with sharp metal, sure we can even out the math and make it a certain amount of difficult, but thats not how this game works for more then half the classes.

Different classes/concepts/combinations of options are good at different things, and even if we had that 'balance' where each class/concept/combination of options could contribute equally, they wouldnt all contribute in the same way. A 2handed barbarian, synthesist summoner, paladin, combat focused druid, will dish out alot of direct damage in an encounter, with some control options on the part of the summoner and the druid. But in order to adequately challenge these folks, you will likely need big tough monsters that can take and dish out lots of damage.

A party of a sword and board defence minded fighter, a life oracle, a conjuration wizard, and a buff focused bard, while potentially quite capable, wont dish out anywhere near as much damage as the first party. The way in which they take on encounters will be differently. While the first party needs monsters with a butt ton of hit points to survive the pounding they are going to take, the second party needs flexible opponents with the ability to get around the hurdles and defences the party will put in place to protect themselves as they take on the foe.

To somehow even all that out to a universal number is literally not possible. Party composition will always matter as long as different concepts differ in ability in different areas. A druid with a big cat companion, and a life oracle are both divine casters, but their potential contributions to a conflict are wildly different.

While a useful tool, the cr system in pathfinder (in any form that even vaguely resembles it's current state) will never be an end all be all. It just cant. Even concepts that are roughly balanced in the general sense will skew different ways depending on the type and proficiency of an opponent.

Lets take for instance, a 2handed paladin, and a 2handed barbarian. Both are quite capable of filling the big beat stick role in a party, and doing so well, with a set of tools to help them do their job. But the barbarian is more or less unaffected by the nature of the opponent, where as the paladin generally gets to roflstomp enemies on team evil (undead, outsiders and dragons) and will struggle against neutral enemies.

Granted I'd love it if at least we could look at the focus of each class/concept/combination of options and say, that fits into a certain category and judge CR that way. And honestly, baring a few outliers that is becoming more and more possible I think.

I think the best 'balance' in this sense comes out of the non-summoner 3/4 bab 6 level casting classes. I think each of those are actually pretty close to eachother (again baring the summoner). Any combination of 4 of the inquisitor, magus, bard, alchemist, warpriest, skald, investigator, and hunter will probably about even against the cr scale.

Actually that might be an interesting experiment. A series of all 6 level caster parties in various combinations, compared against eachother. Might work.


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CR is adequate to the task for which it is intended: it gives you a rough comparison of the challenge that creatures pose given certain assumptions.

People get hung up on the differences between their party and the generic assumptive party. Doesn't matter. A CR 4 is still less of a challenge than a CR 5, regardless of the Party Level, and that's all you need. CR gives us the relative power of critters, and it will always be up to individual GMs to determine where their PCs fall on the spectrum -- given their gear, player expertise, deviations in point buy, party size etc.

I used to desire an expansion of the CR system to account for all these variables. Nowadays, I think it's fine that CR just indicates relative power, even if the benchmark is a kind of crappy, generic party played by novices. It doesn't matter if all you need is a gauge of relative power, the number works just fine.

Dark Archive

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Balance is over rated and subjective. As long as everyone has their moments to shine and are having fun. That is far more important than everyone being "balanced" IMHO.

Shadow Lodge

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Dark_Mistress wrote:
Balance is over rated and subjective. As long as everyone has their moments to shine and are having fun.

Then we only disagree on the point that 'Pathfinder allows everyone to have their moments to shine'.

Dark Archive

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TOZ wrote:
Dark_Mistress wrote:
Balance is over rated and subjective. As long as everyone has their moments to shine and are having fun.
Then we only disagree on the point that 'Pathfinder allows everyone to have their moments to shine'.

IMHO everyone having their moment to shine has more to do with the GM than the game rules. A GM is god in their game they can set up situations where everyone has their moments. Of course what it means to shine is also subjective and heavily based on what the player wants out of the game. Knowing what your players want out of the game and giving them moments to accomplish it, in my experience works and makes everyone happy.


TOZ wrote:
Dark_Mistress wrote:
Balance is over rated and subjective. As long as everyone has their moments to shine and are having fun.
Then we only disagree on the point that 'Pathfinder allows everyone to have their moments to shine'.

Hrm.

Not quite right.

Pathfinder does ALLOW that, it just doesn't make it easy for the GM to do so.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Dark_Mistress wrote:
IMHO everyone having their moment to shine has more to do with the GM than the game rules.

I disagree. The more the rules support everyone getting their moment, the less I have to work on it as a GM, leaving me more time and energy to work on things the system cannot help me with, like personalities and plots.


Dark_Mistress wrote:
Balance is over rated and subjective.

It turns out that these kinds of statements are useless for game design. You really can figure out balance in a game if you decide to work on it. Saying it is "subjective" is kind of like saying working on it is pointless. For a counter example to this, see every asymmetrical game ever made


Dark_Mistress wrote:
TOZ wrote:
Dark_Mistress wrote:
Balance is over rated and subjective. As long as everyone has their moments to shine and are having fun.
Then we only disagree on the point that 'Pathfinder allows everyone to have their moments to shine'.
IMHO everyone having their moment to shine has more to do with the GM than the game rules. A GM is god in their game they can set up situations where everyone has their moments. Of course what it means to shine is also subjective and heavily based on what the player wants out of the game. Knowing what your players want out of the game and giving them moments to accomplish it, in my experience works and makes everyone happy.

And in this I see more shades of my point about Power fantasy. I'm sorry to keep drilling on this point, but I think it's at the heart of the matter.

In a game where people are not living out power fantasies, the relative power of their characters is not as important. But honestly, given the nature of Pathfinder, the distribution of rules, the combat emphasis, and the huge lists of superpowers, I fully expect that MOST players play this way.

This encompasses both ToZ and DM's points. In DM's hypothetical game, maybe power fantasy is not front-and-center. Maybe the players have objectives to meet besides simply character-creation-driven *$(&-measuring. In ToZ's hypothetical game, he's acknowledging that HUGE pile of rules dictates what is important to the players, and noting that some choices are indeed inferior in a way that perhaps they should not be.

So much hinges on the motivations and style of play of the party, and the rules largely set the tone for that. In this case, I side with ToZ -- if the rules are going to set the tone, they should be internally consistent.

Dark Archive

TriOmegaZero wrote:
Dark_Mistress wrote:
IMHO everyone having their moment to shine has more to do with the GM than the game rules.
I disagree. The more the rules support everyone getting their moment, the less I have to work on it as a GM, leaving me more time and energy to work on things the system cannot help me with, like personalities and plots.

Except how the GM runs will always trump the game system. If someone makes a beast of a combat character in a game, no matter the game system. Then if all the GM runs is social encounters and investigations, said combat beast will never have a moment to shine regardless of the rules.


Dark_Mistress wrote:
Except how the GM runs will always trump the game system. If someone makes a beast of a combat character in a game, no matter the game system. Then if all the GM runs is social encounters and investigations, said combat beast will never have a moment to shine regardless of the rules.

You're right. But again, in the wide-world of RPGs, the odds that a GM is going to choose Pathfinder to run such a game are fairly slim.

It doesn't perform well in those genres. Not in my opinion, anyway.

Paizo Glitterati Robot

Removed a few sniping posts and responses to them. Let's not elevate this discussion please.

Shadow Lodge

Dark_Mistress wrote:
Except how the GM runs will always trump the game system.

The fact that someone will shove a tool in orifices it is not meant to go is not a reason to stop improving the tool.

Dark Archive

CWheezy wrote:
Dark_Mistress wrote:
Balance is over rated and subjective.
It turns out that these kinds of statements are useless for game design. You really can figure out balance in a game if you decide to work on it. Saying it is "subjective" is kind of like saying working on it is pointless. For a counter example to this, see every asymmetrical game ever made

No what it means is what is balanced to me and my group may or may not be considered balanced to another group. Because of the types of games they play. You can't have perfect balance against all things, in all situations. Because the game designs can not possible know what all types of game styles people are going to be running in their games. So part of the idea of balance must fall on the group in question and the GM in question, to insure their is balance with how they play the game.

For example you could have the same class in a Pathfinder game and how good that class is can vary from game to game based on how they run it.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Dark_Mistress wrote:
IMHO everyone having their moment to shine has more to do with the GM than the game rules.
I disagree. The more the rules support everyone getting their moment, the less I have to work on it as a GM, leaving me more time and energy to work on things the system cannot help me with, like personalities and plots.

Agreed, the point is not that we can somehow remove the gms from the equation but making his job easier. The more even the various player's contributions are to overcoming the various challenges involved in the game, the easier it is to give everyone their moment to shine.

If I have an adventuring team consisting of superman, green lantern, wonderwoman and Aragorn, I have to do alot of work to make sure the relatively human guy with a sword is involved and has a moment to shine. If we change out aragorn for batman, who has billions of dollars, a brilliant mind that plans for every contingecny, and an endless supply of tech toys built straight into the fact that he is batman, then that normalish human can now participate in my adventure on a comparable level as the others. He many not punch as hard as superman, or wonderwoman, or have as flexible a tool as green lanterns ring, but he has the whole 'because he's batman' thing going, in addition to bat-anti-thing spray he might need in that belt of his.

Dark Archive

TOZ wrote:
Dark_Mistress wrote:
Except how the GM runs will always trump the game system.
The fact that someone will shove a tool in orifices it is not meant to go is not a reason to stop improving the tool.

I never said one should not work on making things more balanced. My point was, you can get lost on chasing balance and miss the reason most of us got into playing in the first place. Which is to have fun. Trying to make something balanced is all well and good and I agree the closer things are the better, but there is no mythical perfect balance.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Dark_Mistress wrote:
Trying to make something balanced is all well and good and I agree the closer things are the better, but there is no mythical perfect balance.

Then 'the GM has more effect on spotlight times' is meaningless to the pursuit of balance. I'm fully aware of the need to not make the perfect the enemy of the good, but some people advocate for totally discarding balance as a metric.

I don't agree with all of Paizo's decisions towards balance, but they ARE making the effort.


TriOmegaZero wrote:


I don't agree with all of Paizo's decisions towards balance, but they ARE making the effort.

Hmmm, from what I have noticed the opposite is true. Do you have examples to back up this claim?

Even from the core rulebook from 3.5 to pathfinder, wizards were buffed. I have not seen any nerfs to them in subsequent books, in fact they are just getting significantly more powerful as time goes on

Shadow Lodge

CWheezy wrote:
Hmmm, from what I have noticed the opposite is true. Do you have examples to back up this claim?

From reading what they write, and from how they actually issue errata.

Note: failed efforts are still efforts. Not nerfing something you think is already balanced isn't an example against them.


CWheezy wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:


I don't agree with all of Paizo's decisions towards balance, but they ARE making the effort.

Hmmm, from what I have noticed the opposite is true. Do you have examples to back up this claim?

Even from the core rulebook from 3.5 to pathfinder, wizards were buffed. I have not seen any nerfs to them in subsequent books, in fact they are just getting significantly more powerful as time goes on

The Shaman from ACG is probably the closest thing to a balanced full caster Paizo has published.

The Monk has been moved from one of the worst classes to able to fulfill several niches.

They did not nerf the Slayer or Investigator even though Rogue was a parent.

Though the inclusion of the Arcanist is troubling.


Dark_Mistress wrote:
TOZ wrote:
Dark_Mistress wrote:
Except how the GM runs will always trump the game system.
The fact that someone will shove a tool in orifices it is not meant to go is not a reason to stop improving the tool.
I never said one should not work on making things more balanced. My point was, you can get lost on chasing balance and miss the reason most of us got into playing in the first place. Which is to have fun. Trying to make something balanced is all well and good and I agree the closer things are the better, but there is no mythical perfect balance.

I wouldn't call imperfect balance mythical though as it's quite common. The only way for anyone besides the Diabolist to contribute was for the DM to call for a sense motive or for the player to be absent

2 pages ago wrote:

Having been in a group where we played a full campaign RAW I certainly felt like the audience. I was playing a Ranger using the old Hippogryph Rider archetype (before it got super nerfed) doing a mounted charge build. I used my traits for additional skills and was capable of passing a lot of skill challenges with no problem. That did not help me though as one member of our party was a Sorceror into Diabolist and he completed just about every challenge faster and more efficiently than anyone else in the party.

Who needs a player to scout when you have a permanently invisible flying imp that can also turn into a bird or octopus.

Need someone assassinated? Said Imp can turn into an octopus and use all 9 of his natural attacks to grapple, pin, jaw lock, and kill the target in 1-2 rounds. Then stuff them into a bag.

Need shock troops? Diabolist has you covered with a small army of planar bounded outsides.

Combat? Don't worry the Diabolist will destroy the enemies ability to act, buff the party, and watch his outsider minions+party minions decimate.

Somehow things went sour? Thank god Diabolist has quickened dispel magic to remove D. Anchors and teleport.

Need someone talked to? Well as a Sorceror he had optimized his charisma and had a diplomacy, bluff, and intimidation that was through the roof!

*Insert most jobs here* Either he or his Imp could do it. Either better than anyone else or by expending easily replenished resources.

Needed to sense a motive? That he couldn't do. I was the sense motive guy. By the end of the campaign my only jobs were to sense motive and to blow a guy up with a mounted charge every round.

Diabolist is PFS legal last I checked BTW. I have never had a God wizard in my group, but I've definitely seen caster supremacy in a campaign and it is not fun to be Krillin.

Paizo publishes a lot of material that's so broken it should never be seen in games. In both directions as we have stuff that's so weak it shouldn't be an option and stuff that's so strong it shouldn't be an option.

This wouldn't be a large problem if we didn't have players that abuse the broken options to create characters that destroy community storytelling.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Insain Dragoon wrote:
CWheezy wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:


I don't agree with all of Paizo's decisions towards balance, but they ARE making the effort.

Hmmm, from what I have noticed the opposite is true. Do you have examples to back up this claim?

Even from the core rulebook from 3.5 to pathfinder, wizards were buffed. I have not seen any nerfs to them in subsequent books, in fact they are just getting significantly more powerful as time goes on

The Shaman from ACG is probably the closest thing to a balanced full caster Paizo has published.

The Monk has been moved from one of the worst classes to able to fulfill several niches.

They did not nerf the Slayer or Investigator even though Rogue was a parent.

Though the inclusion of the Arcanist is troubling.

Its not really troubling, its sort of par for the course.

Core rules have the druid and wizard, advanced players guide had the summoner, the advanced class guide has the arcanist.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Insain Dragoon wrote:

Paizo publishes a lot of material that's so broken it should never be seen in games. In both directions as we have stuff that's so weak it shouldn't be an option and stuff that's so strong it shouldn't be an option.

This wouldn't be a large problem if we didn't have players that abuse the broken options to create characters that destroy community storytelling.

It would also be less of a problem if certain fundamental concepts were not vastly superior in their ability to influence that community story telling, to the point where one group requires you to change the kind of story you tell and the other doesnt.


Kolokotroni wrote:
Insain Dragoon wrote:
CWheezy wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:


I don't agree with all of Paizo's decisions towards balance, but they ARE making the effort.

Hmmm, from what I have noticed the opposite is true. Do you have examples to back up this claim?

Even from the core rulebook from 3.5 to pathfinder, wizards were buffed. I have not seen any nerfs to them in subsequent books, in fact they are just getting significantly more powerful as time goes on

The Shaman from ACG is probably the closest thing to a balanced full caster Paizo has published.

The Monk has been moved from one of the worst classes to able to fulfill several niches.

They did not nerf the Slayer or Investigator even though Rogue was a parent.

Though the inclusion of the Arcanist is troubling.

Its not really troubling, its sort of par for the course.

Core rules have the druid and wizard, advanced players guide had the summoner, the advanced class guide has the arcanist.

I do agree.

My usage of the term was more that in the same book that we have one of the most balanced 9th level casters we get a return to DOOM casters.


Insain Dragoon wrote:


The Shaman from ACG is probably the closest thing to a balanced full caster Paizo has published.

The Monk has been moved from one of the worst classes to able to fulfill several niches.

They did not nerf the Slayer or Investigator even though Rogue was a parent.

Though the inclusion of the Arcanist is troubling.

The changes to monk or whatever are nice, but monk or rogue power level is not really a major issue between classes. The monk went from 2nd lowest of the low power guys to an ok low power guy. Functionally that is not really much of a change, because he is still in the bottom tier of classes.

Mixing where you are in the tier isn't much of a balance effort imo. That is like nerfing the wizard so that he is slightly worse than the witch or something. If monks had been moved up to tier 3, that would have been great! Instead, they are still worse than barbarians, rangers, and paladins.

Finally, they released the Arcanist. I think with the arcanist release it shows how paizo views balance


Orfamay Quest wrote:


It would be one thing if the rogue archetype came with a warning label saying in large print "THE SURGEON GENERAL HAS DETERMINED THAT THE CHANCES OF YOUR RELIABLY GETTING SNEAK ATTACK DAMAGE IN COMBAT AGAINST A LEVEL-APPROPRIATE FOE ARE SMALL." As is, many people look at the possibility of getting a fist full of bonus dice, not realizing how hard it is to set up and how much your lack of BAB hampers your chance to hit successfully, and they think it's a lot better than it is.

If they aren't getting sneak attack damage in combat against level-appropriate foes, they're playing the rogue wrong or haven't taken the right feats.

My rogue got it all the time against level-appropriate foes. You just need a Flank buddy! Or invisibility potions.

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