Do you actually care about Balance?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I know a lot of people seems to be obsessed with the idea of everything needs to be balanced...but quite frankly do you actually really care? Like a player wants to play a tiny fey creature barbarian and complains that he isn't doing as much damage as the half-giant barbarian? Old school players do you remember how hard it was to play a pixie barbarian?

I mean, I understand that some people like to play special snowflake characters but do you actually care that them playing a subpar option or class should be compensated by something else?

Frankly, I don't think that everything should be balanced to be viable at the same scale of power all the time but that's just my opinion.

Scarab Sages

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I do believe every character should be viable, but not that everything should be balanced.

Imbalance is what makes the game interesting: The idea that each individual character has their own strengths and weaknesses. What isn't good is when a character feels useless in EVERY capacity. That's where viability comes in, and why it's far more important than balance.


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As I tell people all the time...

Pathfinder is a team sport. As long as the team is winning it's all good.

It is the GM's job to offer a balanced game in that the challenges should be balanced with the group but I don't worry so much about character balance.


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Nope. But if I have players that do care, then I have to care at least enough to make sure everyone is having fun.


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Eltacolibre wrote:


I mean, I understand that some people like to play special snowflake characters but do you actually care that them playing a subpar option or class should be compensated by something else?

I may not care, but they might, especially if they didn't realize just how subpar their option was.

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.

It's almost like insurance fraud. I can advertise "GET $1,000,000 IN INSURANCE FOR JUST PENNIES A DAY" in large print, and then print the limitations -- you only get the money if you're killed by an elephant running amok -- in much smaller print.


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Scrogz wrote:


Pathfinder is a team sport. As long as the team is winning it's all good.

I'm not convinced of this. To continue your analogy, no one likes warming the bench; while the team may be winning, you're not really having fun watching someone else win it.

ETA: ... and that's really the problem with balance. Granted that the cleric can start (and play on the first team) at any position he wants to, if the cleric can summon a second-string player (and relegate the rogue to third-string)..... well, it's not fun to be backing up a class feature or a spell.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I care about balance up to a point. Expecting a pixie barbarian to dish out toe to to with a half-orc barbarian is beyond the point of making sense.

Not all character concepts are going to be equally viable. If equality is your goal no matter what else, play a completely point based game like HERO or GURPS.


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Pixie Barbarian? Needs no help! That'd be an unstoppable little menace - I mean, have you read Skullkickers? It'd rip your nose open, dive inside your head, scramble your brains and shove them out your mouth. A High AC, High HP monstrosity!

More seriously (not that that wasn't serious), Balance is important to keep the *range* of effectiveness and viability narrow enough that choosing an oddity like a tiny Barbarian can be made up for with the inherent advantages (high stealth, ac, etc.). Game effects that multiply Str bonus, or weapon damage dice, make this more difficult.


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Balance isn't necessary but the more unbalanced a group, the harder it is for the GM to make sure everything is going well. If you choose to be a very niche build, or do something completely without merit, then you also should be accepting of the GM's difficulty in accounting for your specific needs.

Unfortunately, it is my experience that people who do want to play so unique a choice also want their uniqueness celebrated every second of the game. If you're playing a fighter and dump your two skill points into Craft (metalwork) and Profession (blacksmith), you shouldn't complain when the GM fails to work those skills into every single adventure. But the GM should consider a way to work in everyone's strengths at some point. He should find a way for that fighter to buy/acquire/build a forge, or the GM can kick the crafting system into high gear so it becomes actually practical for the PC to make his own gear.

The players make characters they want to play and the GM makes a game in which the characters are worth playing. Sometimes compromises are necessary.


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Eltacolibre wrote:

I mean, I understand that some people like to play special snowflake characters but do you actually care that them playing a subpar option or class should be compensated by something else?

THe issue I have with your post is that you give an extreme example. Human rogue is not an special snowflake, he should not be subpar (as they are with just a minimun of optimization)


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Do I expect things that are the same CR to be equally challenging?
Yes I do.

If the system is not at-least somewhat balanced, then why am I using it?

*That's my issue with HERO or GURPS. You can make whatever you want! But there is no guarantee of any sort of balance.


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Marcus Robert Hosler wrote:

Do I expect things that are the same CR to be equally challenging?

Yes I do.

Good luck.


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I don't expect a fighter using a mop to deal as much damage as a greatsword.

I expect a fighter that was planned as carefully as a wizard to have the same power, spread out in terms of versatility, defense, offense and utility.

When you tell me I have to build a very specialized fighter to use a SINGLE combat maneuver, and that even if I do, I am not going to be good at it at high levels because monster size outright nullifies my ability to perform it, and then you tell me the wizard can easily pull that maneuver off without affecting her build, then yeah, Imma claim the game is not balanced.

I honestly have no problem with the realism vs. magic thing. My issue is that many classes take permanent feat/archetype investments into stuff that makes them very specialized but peters off after a while.

My other gripe is that some classes provided flat out less in terms of versatility, defense, offense and utility to the party than others, and that makes them hard to justify in a party, particularly at certain levels.

I think these balance issues are easy to patch, and I do in my games... Here's the patches I use:

1) Fighters pick a mental attribute at level 2. They get an extra bonus depending on the stat they picked: 1) INT - add 1/2 level to all Knowledge skills and when they succeed on a knowledge check for a creature, they gain their INT bonus to attack, saves and AC against that creature. 2) WIS - add 1/2 level to all Wisdom based skills, and gains Hard to Fool advanced Rogue talent. 3) CHA - add 1/2 level to all Charisma based skills and replace WIS with CHA for Will saves. This replaces Bravery.

2) Rogues pick a mental attribute at level 8. They add that mental attribute bonus to attack (in addition to Dex/Str). Rogues get either Weapon Finesse or Armor Training I as a bonus feat at level 1, they lose this bonus if they multiclass. They get 6 skill points per level.

3) At level 1, Monks can pick between getting Weapon Finesse as a bonus feat or gain Light Armor Proficiency, and not lose any bonus while using Light Armor, this bonus is lost if they multiclass. At level 6, Monks may perform a full attack after a move action (but not a flurry), they lose this bonus if they multiclass.

4) If you beat a CMD by 5 or more, it doesn't matter if there is a size difference. A Small creature can trip a Huge creature if its good enough at tripping.

5) You can retrain combat feats once a week.

That's really about it. I also nerf some strategies - to me, scry and fry doesn't work because teleporting means being very familiar with a location, and scrying just doesn't do that. Unless you are familiar with the location. Higher level spells drain a Wizard and forbid her from casting another similar spell for the whole day.

These small patches worked well for me in terms of balance, and my players enjoy the game more knowing they provide about as much utility.

Sovereign Court

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Not really no. What I want is to have an enjoyable time with my friends and have interesting adventures. That tends not to happen when everyone is just as powerful or weak as everyone else. I don't expect people brandishing two feet of steel to be as powerful as people who've trained all their lives to injure the laws of physics a few times a day though to be fair.

A lot of these "how do we fix X" threads around here always seem like they'd be "how do we make X less fun."

What I do care about is people using stupid incorporeal alpha strikes in adventure paths. It's lazy!


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MurphysParadox wrote:


The players make characters they want to play and the GM makes a game in which the characters are worth playing.

That's not the problem. The problem is when the player playing the cleric makes the rogue not worth playing.


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Secret Wizard wrote:


I expect a fighter that was planned as carefully as a wizard to have the same power, spread out in terms of versatility, defense, offense and utility.

To be fair, asking this is asking more than Balance. I see no problem that some classes have more, for example, defense over offense. Or that you sacrifice utility to game in combat versatility.

The problems, just for example again, is when Joan the carefully planned bard have the same defense but more offense, utility and versatility than bob the carefully planned rogue.


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I'd like balance and appreciate efforts to improve it, but recognize it as a pipe dream.

Sovereign Court

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Orfamay Quest wrote:
Scrogz wrote:


Pathfinder is a team sport. As long as the team is winning it's all good.

I'm not convinced of this. To continue your analogy, no one likes warming the bench; while the team may be winning, you're not really having fun watching someone else win it.

ETA: ... and that's really the problem with balance. Granted that the cleric can start (and play on the first team) at any position he wants to, if the cleric can summon a second-string player (and relegate the rogue to third-string)..... well, it's not fun to be backing up a class feature or a spell.

Sure the cleric can say "step back my rogue friend I got this" then summons a monster to solo the fight, I get that point. Though in my experience it goes more like "hey rogue here is a flanking partner for you" /summons monster to work with rogue in combat.

I know I know some classes are more powerful. I also know some classes can be totally replaced like the rogue. Though what I tend to see at the table is less spotlight stealing and more team building. Instead of casters arming themselves to the teeth to solo every encounter, they choose options that work in tandem with the party.

I get that having to choose to do this on the powerful characters part can be seen as a weakness of the game system. That doesn't change the fact that play style can make up for it. Dems da breaks with 3E/PF.

with that said, obviously I believe some weaknesses and concepts can be made up for with a group effort. Though there is a limit you can stretch beyond for the table. Where that line falls will be totally different group to group. Even though I recognized that the rogue is weak, people will post after this about how its bad that people have to work together to make it fun. /shrug


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I do care about balance, but if I decide to play a subpar character (which I usually do just because I seem to have more fun trying to make them interesting and work), I don't expect the game to be "lowered" to my ability. I just roll with it and if my piece of paper dies, I'll make another one, and get to use another of my character ideas.


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Nicos wrote:
Secret Wizard wrote:


I expect a fighter that was planned as carefully as a wizard to have the same power, spread out in terms of versatility, defense, offense and utility.

To be fair, asking this is asking more than Balance. I see no problem that some classes have more, for example, defense over offense. Or that you sacrifice utility to game in combat versatility.

The problems, just for example again, is when Joan the carefully planned bard have the same defense but more offense, utility and versatility than bob the carefully planned rogue.

That's what I'm saying? Same power, spread out in terms of versatility, defense, offense and utility. You can have a 3 in versatility, a 3 in defense, a 3 in offense and a 3 in utility (somebody said warpriest?), and this other guy has a 2 in versatility, a 4 in defense, a 2 in offense and a 4 in utility (someone said monk?), and I consider that balance.

Small divergences are fine. Obsoleteness is not. Even Paizo thinks it, why do you think they banned the Vivisectionist?


Secret Wizard wrote:


Small divergences are fine. Obsoleteness is not. Even Paizo thinks it, why do you think they banned the Vivisectionist?

FOr fluff reasons. And I do not think paizo think as you say.

EDIT: It seems we agree on balance, it was jsut that your position was not clear in the text I quoted. It seems I missed the rest of you rpost, not sure if you Edited or I just missed it.


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Sure, the DM can make each character shine, no matter how sub-par the stats. And, yes, I totally agree that the DM can set appropriate and exciting challenges for an entire party of special snowflakes who have no particular abilities that recommend them to a life of adventuring. And we can all have a lot of fun with it. All that is beyond dispute.

But as a DM, if I'm going to shell out $40 for a rulebook, and if I expect all the players to do the same, then maybe I should expect more than that? Maybe that $200 outlay means that I should be freed up to focus on actually running encounters instead of contriving spotlights, and the players should be freed up to pick whatever options they like without carefully making sure one person can't complete adventures solo while babysitting the other three.

If we all just want to tell stories with our friends, and we're all happy to leave it up to the DM to make sure that everyone gets equal story spotlight, then we don't need a rulebook for that. In fact, we're far better off without one, so that the DM is not forced to work against the rules in order to fulfill that goal.

When I do buy a rule set, and expect the players to do so as well, I expect it to save me work, not make extra work for me. A well-balanced set of rules would do that. A poorly-balanced one does not.

TL;DR: Balance isn't important, but it's presumably what you're buying for the $40 cover price. If you don't want it and don't need it, you don't want or need Pathfinder, or any other rules-heavy system, either.


Ciaran Barnes wrote:
I'd like balance and appreciate efforts to improve it, but recognize it as a pipe dream.

For pathfinder, it is mostly because there are a million working parts. Every part you add increases the chance of a broken combo being discovered exponentially.


As a follow up, pathfinder has the worst balance of any game I have played, and it isn't even close really.


Actually built a young fey creature goblin barbarian who did great damage with his 32 dex but that is besides the point. Don't care about balance much

Shadow Lodge

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I don't really know why there is all this hate on the rogue in this thread? I have played them, and I have never found a well played rogue to be subpar, and never found it difficult to arrange sneak attacks every single round (as long as the enemy is not immune). Its on the player of the rogue to build a fun rogue, and yes, in theory a highlevel wizard can sing the "everything you can do, I can do better..." song but only if you assume he has completely free reign over his spell selection. If a campaign actually adheres strictly to the guidelines for how wizards learn new spells, its not as easy as you think. Especially if the GM limits the availability of Spell Scrolls and the campaign down time it takes to research new spells.


I actually think the lack of perfect balance is an important part of games. When you get the chance, look up the concept of "perfect imbalance". Mark Rosewater of Magic: The Gathering fame talks about a similar concept in an article he wrote called "Why We Make Bad Cards".

Half of the fun of making an effective, optimized character in Pathfinder is hunting around for the right combination of classes, feats, etc. If every class, feat, ability, etc, was perfectly effective, then there would be no fun in going on that hunt.


Balance is important for two reasons, IMO. The first is what Kirth said: saving energy, mostly the DM's energy. The second is a bit subtler, but still there.

Everybody wants to feel powerful. Even the most hard-core role players want characters who can actually do something when called upon. If certain classes can't fulfill this criteria or can only with great difficulty, they will get played less often. Bottom line is that imbalance reduces diversity in the game world, and leads to a more boring, monotone game. It's an evolutionary process, and the strong survive. All barbarians and no fighters...only Wizards of the Evocation, Divination and Conjuration schools...that sort of thing.

This has its limits, of course. Trying too hard to achieve balance can suck the flavor right out of a game. IMO, just this error is one of the things that made the previous edition of that other game such a stinker. The game was drowning in poorly-executed balance. So ya...even your balance needs to be balanced.


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CWheezy wrote:
As a follow up, pathfinder has the worst balance of any game I have played, and it isn't even close really.

I've definitely played worse games. Some games are absurdly easy to make underpowered characters. Shadowrun comes to mind, with a huge gulf between power levels between players.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

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Davor wrote:

I do believe every character should be viable, but not that everything should be balanced.

Imbalance is what makes the game interesting: The idea that each individual character has their own strengths and weaknesses. What isn't good is when a character feels useless in EVERY capacity. That's where viability comes in, and why it's far more important than balance.

I think this gets a lot closer to what people are wanting when they say they want "balance". Most of them aren't asking for 4E-style cookie-cutter mechanics where you can carve the keywords and flavor text out of a Rogue and Warlock and have no idea which abilities go where, but they want all of their adventurers to be equally capable of being adventurers.

For example, I don't want a Fighter who can fly, teleport, or throw fireballs, but I do want a Fighter who can do equally impressive and thematically appropriate things, like leaping 30 feet into the air and full attacking or vital striking the guy who can fly, intimidating an entire group of enemies with a menacing display of swordsmanship, or shrugging off an enemy fireball relatively unharmed.

Basically, I want heroes who make sense adventuring with each other. When its level 15+ and I'm playing Gimli the dwarf and the druid or wizard across the table from me is playing the First Hokage or Naruto from the most recent episodes of Naruto Shippuden, it's obvious that something is very wrong.

"Yar, I chopped down three of the buggers in a single swipe!" says the dwarf. "What'd you do, ya puny tree worshipper?"

"I transformed into a giant plant monster so I could go toe to toe with a monster strong enough to obliterate cities while the forest I brought to life trampled his hordes of minions into paste."

"Ya....yar... Well, what was your damage per swing, eh?"

"As a humongous magic-enhanced plant monster? You probably don't want to know."

It's stupid, and an example of one of the few things about (Paizo core) Pathfinder I don't like right now. I don't want characters who are all the same; I want characters whose competence in their thematically appropriate elements are on par with that of the other classes in the game.


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CWheezy wrote:
As a follow up, pathfinder has the worst balance of any game I have played, and it isn't even close really.

Try Rifts. Or better yet, buy the core Rifts book and build a character, and then go play with a group that has all of the splatbooks. Bring your sense of humor.


Albatoonoe wrote:
CWheezy wrote:
As a follow up, pathfinder has the worst balance of any game I have played, and it isn't even close really.
I've definitely played worse games. Some games are absurdly easy to make underpowered characters. Shadowrun comes to mind, with a huge gulf between power levels between players.

I think you are misunderstanding here. Balance is not related to how hard it is to make a viable character.

For example, wizards are the best class, but it is pretty hard to play them well, and very easy to play them poorly. How difficult or complex it is to make a viable character is a separate topic


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Splode wrote:

I actually think the lack of perfect balance is an important part of games. When you get the chance, look up the concept of "perfect imbalance". Mark Rosewater of Magic: The Gathering fame talks about a similar concept in an article he wrote called "Why We Make Bad Cards".

Half of the fun of making an effective, optimized character in Pathfinder is hunting around for the right combination of classes, feats, etc. If every class, feat, ability, etc, was perfectly effective, then there would be no fun in going on that hunt.

If Rosewater's argument is what I remember reading a while ago it is a bad argument and he should feel bad for making it. It's not proper game design, it's good marketing. Bad cards make money for WotC because players have to sift through those crummy cards to get to the good ones, requiring them to either buy a ton of booster packs or pay through the nose for singles. It's a skeevy marketing scheme in the TCG world and it doesn't make a lick of sense to apply it to a game like Pathfinder, where every option is as available as every other option for no additional cost (unless you're playing PFS, and even then you always know exactly what you're buying and there's no premium for the privilege of that knowledge).

Silver Crusade

Eltacolibre wrote:

I know a lot of people seems to be obsessed with the idea of everything needs to be balanced...but quite frankly do you actually really care? Like a player wants to play a tiny fey creature barbarian and complains that he isn't doing as much damage as the half-giant barbarian? Old school players do you remember how hard it was to play a pixie barbarian?

I mean, I understand that some people like to play special snowflake characters but do you actually care that them playing a subpar option or class should be compensated by something else?

Frankly, I don't think that everything should be balanced to be viable at the same scale of power all the time but that's just my opinion.

I think it's incredibly important, but not on a micro-scale. Every class doesn't specifically need to be balanced, or we would have 4E. At that point, you may as well tell everyone "Okay, to balance it all, you can be whatever you want, and all of your attributes/abilities/attributedependencies are the same as one another, just re-named/skinned. You're totally not the same though, no worries." Overall, on the huge-scale, it needs to be a Proper Balance of Give and Take whilst still being unique and allowing freedom and creativity to exist. "Balancing" things on a micro-scale case-to-case basis, is what destroys the internal structure of the game. If they play a small pixie barb, they better get used to not-so-great damage.

I think whatever people specialize in, they should really shine in. However, where you shine in one ability, you'll suffer elsewhere. Give and Take; We all need to fill our specific role.

I always think of the Law of Equivalent Exchange from FMA, in a sense.

That kind of "perfect" balance, is so incredibly hard to achieve though... but worth it!


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I like balance. Balance is good. I don't like to fall on my face or my ass every minute because I can't keep balance.


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CWheezy wrote:
Albatoonoe wrote:
CWheezy wrote:
As a follow up, pathfinder has the worst balance of any game I have played, and it isn't even close really.
I've definitely played worse games. Some games are absurdly easy to make underpowered characters. Shadowrun comes to mind, with a huge gulf between power levels between players.

I think you are misunderstanding here. Balance is not related to how hard it is to make a viable character.

For example, wizards are the best class, but it is pretty hard to play them well, and very easy to play them poorly. How difficult or complex it is to make a viable character is a separate topic

In a game like Shadowrun, they are not separate issues. And also, gun users tend to be better and have an easier time than anyone else on the offense front. So there is your "non-character creation imbalance"


Arachnofiend wrote:


If Rosewater's argument is what I remember reading a while ago it is a bad argument and he should feel bad for making it.

Oh yes, that and that Ivory tower desings articles are just horrible.

There was once a guy who played a monk with 16 wis (because monks shoudl be wise), 14 dex and str 12 (because he wants to be athletic but not hulk, like in the monk class description) and then he took scorpion style (because the writers of the book woudl not put a bad feat in teh list of monk bonus feats, right?). he then discover his character sucks, Ivory tower desing did not give him fun.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Marcus Robert Hosler wrote:

Do I expect things that are the same CR to be equally challenging?

Yes I do.

If the system is not at-least somewhat balanced, then why am I using it?

*That's my issue with HERO or GURPS. You can make whatever you want! But there is no guarantee of any sort of balance.

The CR system is not held to be perfect by anyone, even the devs themselves. Monsters with the same CR can target different areas and characters may vary as to where they are strong and weak against. The Fighter vs Will saves, the Wizard vs Fort, for example.


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I think balance is important, but as a means of fun rather than an end in and of itself. It doesn't have to be perfect or anything but it should make the game easier to run and the game more fun for the people playing it.

I recall reading a blog post about a week ago in which the author angrily asserted that game balance doesn't matter, that it was spotlight balance that did, but it feels like he didn't consider that game balance might be a contributor to spotlight balance. I dunno tabletop games are weird.


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I care abut balance. I'd wager EVERYONE cares about balance.

The thing is, so few people actually understand what balance IS.

It's not about every individual option being perfectly equal.

Options do not need to be the same, but re-fluffed.

A "mop wielding Fighter" need not be as powerful as a Greatsword using one.

A Fighter does not have to have "spells by any other name" to be balanced.

And these are just a small sample of the things people on this board actually make balance out to be for whatever agenda they're pushing, or just ignorance.

Balance is about all the options the game providing being viable. A level 10 Fighter should be able to take on CR 10 creatures, and struggle with creatures higher than his CR. The Wizard should do likewise. Unfortunately, this is often not the case.

If the game provides the option to wield a mop, wielding a mop should be a viable option. If a level 10 mop wielding Fighter cannot fight a CR 10 creature on equal terms, then mop wielding is unbalanced (underpowered).

If a level 10 Wizard can easily crush a CR 13 creature in a single turn, then the Wizard is unbalanced (overpowered).

There is room for variance. There is room for a range of power levels. But the power level gap should not be THAT large.

Likewise, one of the more common misconceptions I see is "Well 'balancing' just means buffing the Fighter to ridiculous heights, or nerfing the Wizard into being worse. That's no fun."

And you're right. It's not fun.

It's also not balancing, so it's not relevant. Nerfing another option into the dirt so a separate option can shine is just masking the problem, not balancing it.

Buffing the Fighter to a pre-determined middle ground, and nerfing the Wizard to that same middle ground (while keeping its viability and basic abilities) would be balance.

At that point, a Fighter can fight a CR 10 creature with his mop, and a Wizard can fight a CR 10 creature with his spells, and everyone contributes equally, if in different ways.

That is balance. Balance is good. It is the foundation on which any game is built.

Providing options that are vastly unequal is poor design.

Splode wrote:
I actually think the lack of perfect balance is an important part of games. When you get the chance, look up the concept of "perfect imbalance". Mark Rosewater of Magic: The Gathering fame talks about a similar concept in an article he wrote called "Why We Make Bad Cards".

Perfect Imbalance is only relevant in competitive gameplay. Perfect Imbalance is meant to make sure matches don't end in stalemates above a certain small percentage of the time, as is likely to happen if all options are perfectly equal.

You can see this in very small ways (White going first in Chess, with all other things being equal), or very large ones (the different Tiers of characters in most fighting games).

Splode wrote:
Half of the fun of making an effective, optimized character in Pathfinder is hunting around for the right combination of classes, feats, etc. If every class, feat, ability, etc, was perfectly effective, then there would be no fun in going on that hunt.

"Perfectly effective" is not the point. It is also another thing that is not balance.

"As effective as other options for a certain build" would be balanced, as would "A perfectly effective option for some build, somewhere" which many options are not.

Dumpster diving for Feats is not, in itself, fun. Digging through trash Feats like Monkey Lunge which you will summarily ignore forever afterwards is not fun, and does not enhance your ability to build an effective character.

Build situational Feats are fine. You won't take Rapid Reload unless you use guns or crossbows. That's okay, because it's an effective option there.

Nobody will take Prone Shooter. It is never an effective option.


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Rynjin wrote:


A "mop wielding Fighter" need not be as powerful as a Greatsword using one.

Time to build the Toxic Avenger!


I have seen no Balance issues in Pathfinder up thru level 15.

Same with 3.5, but we did run into a wall at about level 17, where spellcasters outshine everyone.

OTOH, spellcasters were pretty weak thru level 4, so it balances.


Quote:
TL;DR: Balance isn't important, but it's presumably what you're buying for the $40 cover price. If you don't want it and don't need it, you don't want or need Pathfinder, or any other rules-heavy system, either.

Considering no D&D or D&D-derived game has ever provided such balance, I can't agree with your presumption. Balance has never entered my mind when shopping for an RPG.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

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FanaticRat wrote:
I recall reading a blog post about a week ago in which the author angrily asserted that game balance doesn't matter, that it was spotlight balance that did, but it feels like he didn't consider that game balance might be a contributor to spotlight balance. I dunno tabletop games are weird.

This is a big thing. Spotlight balance tends to be used in support of the argument "If class/character X seems like he never has anything to do, that's the GM's fault", which just isn't true. If I put out a combat scenario tailored to the Fighter's strengths and the Paladina and Wizard steal the show, that's not the GM's fault. That's an unfortunate result of the group dynamics and class mechanics. The same if I build a dungeon full of traps to help the Rogue show off what he's got and it turns out the cleric and/or wizard are better and more efficient at spotting and disarming them. Spotlight balance only works if the individual classes are capable of being the best at their particular roles. I'm not going to tell Jeff the Paladin to shut up and let Bob the Fighter have a chance to whack things (though being a Paladin, Jeff was probably already considerate enough to try and do that). Bob should be able to rise up and have his shining moments pretty organically, it shouldn't require me to write scenarios where roving bands of ninjas show up to tie down everyone but Bob and then suddenly forget how to tie knots when Bob comes derping into the fray.

Liberty's Edge

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Balance is an impossible goal but one the game should still strive for. We should never accept the status quo as good enough.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

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DrDeth wrote:
OTOH, spellcasters were pretty weak thru level 4, so it balances.

I have rarely, if ever, found this to be the case. In fact, many of the spellcasters biggest weaknesses (low BAB, low hit points) matter a lot less at low levels where there's rarely more than a 5-10% difference between one class and another in any given area.

Anecdotally, my recent experiences have been-

In RotRL, our elven wizard was regularly a more effective archer than our Crossbowman Fighter at levels 1 and 2 (before archery started being a waste of her time), dealing more damage thanks to her gravity bow spell, with comparative AC, only a 5% smaller chance to hit, and better saves on average (her Fort was a bit lower, but she had better Dex and resistance up 24/7).

In Kingmaker, the oracle and cleric were consistently the strongest characters in the party, from level 1 right up until the campaign ended.

Jade Regent, alchemist and cleric started stealing the spotlight through sheer competence right from level 1. The whole party would have wiped at 2nd level if the cleric hadn't virtually soloed a room full of undead including a skeletal cavalier.

Wrath of the Righteous, Sorcerer, Cleric, and Soulknife are the backbone of the group. The Soulknife gets props for being a martial character who actually makes sense and performs on par in a group that includes competent spellcasters.


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Hmm... Yes and no.

If it is out of balance to the point where 1 PC is like Superman, the rest are Lois Lane, constantly being saved, and just there to express admiration of the superman PC? Then I think that is a problem and most of the group will not be having fun. The lack of balance is not acceptable.

If the party is the Justice League except for one PC who is Joe Schmoe Average, can't contribute anything, and only survives because they other protect him? Then I think there is a problem and at least 1 player will not be having fun. The lack of balance is not acceptable.

If each PC has enough 'stage and shine' time to satisfy the players and contribute something to success? Then I think all is good even if not balanced.

Dark Archive

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Cheliax of course.

1984 Earth a close second.

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