Rolled Stat Disparity in Parties


Advice

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I'm not the only one to deal with this. As a GM, I converted a long time ago to point buy so that each of my players felt balanced and contributed pretty evenly throughout an adventure. I only ever had one person complain, saying "people are different, some are born better and rolling stats represents that". I called him out on it, as he was also the type to generally min max into massively overpowered characters.

Now, I'm currently a player in a group, and I've made 2 characters over the game's still short lifetime. The first was point buy, and alright, and the reason I had to change was actually because I had an issue with another player's character. He'd built it with the Bestiary 1 Drow Noble race, without any level adjustment for the fact he was playing a CR giving race. I had an issue with his, he made me change mine. I felt this fair.

My new character is still point buy, and about on par, maybe a little weaker for the early game than my previous one. His is a 3rd party race option (Half Giant), with obviously high rolled stats. We're talking 18, 18, 16 with no other stat below 10. It's less than the Drow Noble's 22 and nothing under ten, but it's still enormous compared to point buy's 16, 16, 14, 10, 9, 7 (after racial modifiers).

The others are rolled, but one person was very unlucky to the point the GM manually bumped two of his stats, and the only other member of the party with an 18 has two 9s (after racial modifiers). I had thought based on the other players stats that most of us had used point buy, I was wrong.

So I'm in a dilemma. I liked my first character, and I like my current character. However, I'm the only one in the Party who used point buy. The one who originally picked a broken race with his lucky rolls, is still basically just as above the rest of us with even luckier rolls it looks like (after racial mods, he needed 2 natural 18s, and again, no negatives)... If I complain about the character, this would be the second time, and we've only been on the new characters for one session.

My other Pathfinder group suggested I should just leave the table. There will always be other tables after all, but I am interested in the adventure module we're playing, and I don't want to abandon it. On the other hand though, I can't think of a way to address the balance issue from a player's perspective. I also can't help feeling internally maybe I'm only upset about it because I'm not the strongest member of the party, or that maybe my reasons are selfish like the game should be run my way.

*It should be noted, this high stats player, the first character he had he actively participated in a few anti-player activities. Stealing from the party's treasure, actively threatening another party member twice, so I had a good leg to argue the character was broken. This current one is less so, but he is still a player who's leading the group with his overpoweredness. We've done one dungeon where he was flaunting an 18 strength by busting every wall he could, and rushing into everything because at his power level there are no consequences. Perhaps that's why I'm concerned my reasons are selfish, because it's taking a good amount of my fun out of the game? It's difficult to self-reflect and still be objective...


I'd ask the underpowered player if he is okay with playing such a weak character. If he is, then you don't need to worry about it at all; if he's having fun, then there's no need to intervene (unless you feel his lack of optimization will lead to your party's downfall, but that's a whole separate issue).

If not, then I'd ask him to see if he'd be willing to ask for a "do-over" roll for his character. If you're content with the newer characters, but the newer player doesn't like his, then maybe him saying something will make it sound more like a genuine concern from himself and the others will be more inclined to make changes that may, in fact, solve your personal qualms.

However, I'll point out that most Adventure Paths usually roll out with the assumption that Point Buy is used as a balance point and state what the assumed Point Buy is, so if you're going beyond that norm, you're already into territory that the game isn't quite suited to accommodate for.

In addition, if he has at least one good stat, playing a Spellcaster will be something that can certainly live with the remaining bad stats (and perhaps still appear just as strong as the other characters, if not stronger, to the point where they will still eventually overpower the martials based on Caster/Martial Disparity, which is its own problem (and is about all I'm going to discuss on it here)).


Option 1: Ignore the problem player and write it off as him having fun his way. If the GM is happy, the player is happy, and it's not hurting anyone, let it be.

Option 2: Play a character that doesn't really rely on their stats. The original Summoner class is a great example here. They can get absolutely game-breakingly powerful at high level simply due to the amount of minions they can pump out during a battle. If the GM is running a high optimization level game here, it sounds like a valid strategy to keep up with the rest of the group and continue to contribute.

Option 3: As you've said, if you're not having fun, leave. Gaming's a hobby you do because you enjoy it. If you're not enjoying yourself, you're doing it wrong.


Subtlety (or not) encourage the half-giant to charge gloriously into battle (he has the stats for it) and to reserve healing for the "weaker" characters with some prompting. careful positioning and a bit of slowdown on healing the problem is likely to resolve itself. The monsters will know whose hitting them the hardest. Meanwhile see if you can get some houserules about stats being rolled in front of the GM for replacement characters.


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You're the player, not the DM.

There's an overpowered player? That's the DM's problem. There are no consequences for him rushing headlong into everything? That's definitely the DM's problem.

However, it sounds like you are more into the story (role-player): "I am interested in the adventure module we're playing, and I don't want to abandon it." And he's more into hack 'n' slash (roll-player): "busting every wall he could, and rushing into everything . . ." Both are fine ways to play, if every player at the table agrees to one or the other. They do not play well together.

Unfortunately, that's a discussion that should have taken place before the campaign began. I'm very doubtful of Mr. Powered, Over Powered, changing his play style. I've never seen a roll-player switch gears mid-campagin and start role-playing. I'm using these terms descriptively, not pejoratively.

There's an underpowered player? That's the DM's problem, too, if the player expresses a desire to change. If I were you, I'd do no more than plant the bug in his ear, "You know, [OVERPOWERED PLAYER] and I both changed characters. If you wanted to change as well, I'm sure [ DM ] would allow it."

But you are not the DM.
You are a player.
We already know that you're having fun in this campaing DESPITE Over Powered, not BECAUSE of him, so all you have to do is weigh the fun you're having on one side and the amount of disgruntlement he causes on the other and see which is greater.


I feel like at the point where you're okay with playing with rolled stats, you're tacitly admitting that "weird stats, and wild discrepancies aren't a problem" (or at least aren't enough of a problem they can't be solved with whatever house rules).

Either that's a thing you agree with, and so you're okay with it, or it's not.

When you start playing in a lot of games where "your stats don't matter, really" is a shared assumption, you open up a lot of character creation options more fun than "roll dice."

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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The next time I run a game, I'm going to have the players roll stats, and then any player can use the stats rolled by any other player.

So if one dude rolls 18, 18, 18, 17, 16, 15, then everyone can choose to use the 18, 18, 18, 17, 16, 15 stat array.

The GM will just have to give all his monsters the Advanced Template....


SmiloDan wrote:
The GM will just have to give all his monsters the Advanced Template....

You can literally do "write down any stats you think are appropriate for how you want to play your character" and not have to do too much correction work as the GM. After all- the players are supposed to win their fights and save the day anyway.


I prefer using the email feature from dicelog.com between sessions for my players to send me their dice rolls for stats and hit points. No fudging the numbers, and I have an online record of all their previous rolls.


This is 100% a GM problem, all players should be going through their GM if they have concerns, that is the burden of a GM.
Maybe the OP player rushes into a poison cloud that happens to DRAIN some of the most egregious stats. With player permission of course.
A GM is the one that would implement any solutions anyways.

Well for ingame solutions: Stat boosting items are fantastic for letting weak characters get a little boost to match up with bigger characters. I am sure the Gm would be willing to drop 1 or 2 for the party. And no self respecting half giant would rely on cheap magic to make them strong =D


general rule don't mix point buy with rolling that's your fault for doing it that way and if your not having fun you have three options 1st is probably the least impact and will be less likely to lower anyone's fun leave the group, 2nd is stay with the group and bare the unfunness you are feeling about the campaign this will not likely impact every one else's fun immediately but overtime they will sense that you are not all that into the game and it will start to bog down their fun as well, 3rd is to complain to the gm and try and get them to change every ones characters this will improve your self fun but will likely completely and utterly destroy the fun of others in the party

Dark Archive

I'm not sure I understand the problem here.

If you chose to use point buy and everybody else chose to roll, then it was very likely that some of the characters would have better stats than you and some would have worse.

If the problem player was allowed to roll his stats then (assuming there is no reason to believe he cheated) he gets to play what he rolled. Same with the person who rolled badly, although some GMs take pity on people in those circumstances and allow them a few improvements (which seems to have happened here).

Is it that you don't like the way the character is being played? It seems like the previous character was being genuinely annoying, but as far as I can tell all this one is doing is showing off and behaving rashly. Either I'm missing something, or it seems like a pretty trivial thing to get worked up about. Sooner or later this rash behaviour will get the character killed or seriously injured and it will correct itself.

However, it is clearly detracting from your enjoyment of the game. Does the other player know this? Have you tried talking to him?


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Point buyers and dice rollers are like fleet and mobile infantry. They just don't mix.


amethal wrote:

I'm not sure I understand the problem here.

If you chose to use point buy and everybody else chose to roll, then it was very likely that some of the characters would have better stats than you and some would have worse.

Problem 1: A guy who wants to use point buy would presumably rather all the characters were equal.

Problem 2: The GM seems to have a very loose policy on what races are allowed, which exacerbates the imbalance.

But the time to fix these problems is before the characters are made.

Silver Crusade

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Rolled stats, OP races, 3rd party material, house-rules and ad hoc patches are all clear signs of bad GMing. I wouldn't be surprised if the GM also enforced critical failures on attack rolls and skill checks, or role-play for every little pointless thing such as shopping.

I suggest you leave that group before it's too late. You'd only get more and more frustrated session by session. You'll find another one.


Do like I did when I entered a game with rolled stats.

Roll stats, don't like them? Start game, then immediately describe a gorry suicide scene. Reroll, don't like them? Pick rogue as a class (because rogues are stupid) and don't stat out anything. Start the game. Suicide.

Rince, repeat, until you have base stats at like 18-18-18-15-13-12 slowly grinding the game to a slow or until everyone agrees rolled stats are stupid.

If you get good stats, pick a stupid race/template (Make an aasimar with the advanced template, or create your own 21 BP race that has +4 to all stats you want and some OP spell like abilities like blood money, call it ''the paragonites'' or something).

Then, play something that abuses high stats, such as an unchained monk (their main problem is MAD, high stats everywhere solves this) or a Kensai Magus, or google ''X stat to Y bonus'' and just go nuts with multiclassing. (I also like a monk/druid build so you can stack wild shape on top of your base 22 strenght and have a huge AC cause of your base 22 wisdom) Have the strongest thing on the board and comment how the module is just stupid and unchallenging.

This is obviously a GM problem, but as a player when I join a table that has houserules I know are stupid, I try to bring up their problems and have people listen. If they don't, i exploit the stupid rules to the fullest so that people understand by a more practical exemple... (But ya know, I'm a financial planner so maybe i'm biased...)

Reminds me how one time I joined a table that wanted to do a Magic Point system, I pointed out some rules that made sense about that, but the DM insisted that it should be ''ok well you have X spell slots? Well that's your number of MP, and if you cast a spell it costs MP points per level, and you can memorize a number of spells equal to your MP.'' I told him that made wizards into an even more abusive class. He disagreed.

I played a wizard and whaddayaknow the next game the rules were changed...

Guess he didn't like my ''infinite color spray'' combo...

Sovereign Court

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Personally, anyone that sits at a table and announces that they are playing a Drow noble has just indicated that our playstyles are incompatible. You may be different so perhaps that's not a hurdle for you.

When it comes to staying, you don't have much of leg to stand on. If you really want to see the module through, you need to eat a s#$t sandwich and be happy about it.


I think the real issue is less "high stats, and broken choices" and more "the one player is being a jerk", since it's not like you need overpowered choices and really high stats to threaten, rob, and generally endanger one's teammates; people inclined to do that sort of thing will do it no matter what their stats are, I have found. But "one person is being a jerk, and ruining everyone else's fun" isn't generally a problem that should be addressed by another player, this is kind of the GM's job to sit that person down and have a talk with them.

If the GM doesn't realize that, then maybe you should have a talk with the GM.

I generally find the more mature the people in the game are (like actually mature, not TV-MA mature) the less you have to worry about the damage they will do with phenomenal cosmic power.


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SmiloDan wrote:

The next time I run a game, I'm going to have the players roll stats, and then any player can use the stats rolled by any other player.

So if one dude rolls 18, 18, 18, 17, 16, 15, then everyone can choose to use the 18, 18, 18, 17, 16, 15 stat array.

The GM will just have to give all his monsters the Advanced Template....

This is probably the best option for character creation. But of course, the odds of even 1 out of 6 people rolling that high are pretty low. There's even a decent chance, there will be multiple viable arrays to make touch decisions about, as some array may favor SAD and another MAD. And it's fun, because the guy who rolls the great stats gets to be the hero of character creation.


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Pan wrote:

Personally, anyone that sits at a table and announces that they are playing a Drow noble has just indicated that our playstyles are incompatible. You may be different so perhaps that's not a hurdle for you.

When it comes to staying, you don't have much of leg to stand on. If you really want to see the module through, you need to eat a s#$t sandwich and be happy about it.

Only if the Drow Nobles had levels in Commoner, would I consider letting them exist at my table.


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As a GM, when I allow point buy I turn everyone's rolls into stat arrays that anyone can choose from. If your GM just allows this guys stats to be arrays for the other players the stat disparity will be eliminated.

As for using the cool op race, just ask the GM to modify everyone's race until their levels match up somewhat fairly. Maybe just increase the benefits to double what some of the race already gives, or look at the alternate racial traits and take them without trading.


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Something that takes a good deal of you fun out of a game is something that should be addressed. In an ideal world, everyone at the table would try and help you address this issue. Sadly, we don't live in that world though, so your success there might be limited. By all means talk to the GM and the perhaps even the other player, particularly in a non confrontational manner (things like "It feels like XXX is much more powerful than my character and that makes me feel like I can't really contribute which makes the game less fun for me, do you have any ideas that would help me?" rather than "XXX is an evil powergamer ruining my fun and you need to fix it").

Chances are fair though that having someone else fix your problem isn't really going to happen though. That leaves you with looking at things you can control on your own. The thought that "maybe I'm only upset about it because I'm not the strongest" is something you should think about, envy is a choice and you can control it. Sometimes just thinking about the other person first can make a huge difference in your own attitude, the other player probably makes characters that way because they really feel the need for 'validation' during their gaming experience, remembering that (and working to give it) might make them actually feel a need to powergame less and certainly has a good chance of adjusting your own attitude towards it.

As well as adjusting your own attitudes toward things that happen, you can also choose how much 'head space' to give to various aspects of the game. If you focus on the things you like, and try to ignore or forget about the things you don't it is likely that you will find the game more enjoyable.

None of this is to imply that this is all easy to do, or that success is guaranteed. At the end of the day you will have to decide if the effort is worth it and if the experience is a net positive or not. But it is worth remembering that their are more options than 'the game changes to what you enjoy' and 'leave the game.' Many of those options are entirely under your control and are probably worth at least exploring.


Gray Warden wrote:
Rolled stats, OP races, 3rd party material, house-rules and ad hoc patches are all clear signs of bad GMing. I wouldn't be surprised if the GM also enforced critical failures on attack rolls and skill checks, or role-play for every little pointless thing such as shopping.

Hang on a second there. So if I DON'T...

- use rolled stats
- used 3rd party material
- use ad hoc patches
- use critical failures on attack rolls
- add in critical failures on skill rolls
- role-play minor stuff like shopping

But I DO...

- have some house rules

Then that's a clear sign I'm a bad GM? Just making sure I understand your perspective here since it seems to be fairly popular.


Balkoth wrote:
Gray Warden wrote:
Rolled stats, OP races, 3rd party material, house-rules and ad hoc patches are all clear signs of bad GMing. I wouldn't be surprised if the GM also enforced critical failures on attack rolls and skill checks, or role-play for every little pointless thing such as shopping.

Hang on a second there. So if I DON'T...

- use rolled stats
- used 3rd party material
- use ad hoc patches
- use critical failures on attack rolls
- add in critical failures on skill rolls
- role-play minor stuff like shopping

But I DO...

- have some house rules

Then that's a clear sign I'm a bad GM? Just making sure I understand your perspective here since it seems to be fairly popular.

none of those are a sign of bad gming, some people like rolled stats some like stat arrays some like point buy every forum is used and just because you use one doesn't mean your a bad gm, unless you make your party use 10 point buy then you are a monster. the only reason the race was op was because they ignored the level adjustment that the race would normally acquire so it was less op race more im not following the rules, most 3rd party ive seen it way better balanced then paizo published stuff so saying 3rd party makes bad gm is just plain stupid, and most house rules lists i've seen are decent there are a few outlyers that i personally see as making the game worse but others seem to enjoy them role playing things even minor stuff just depends on the players some love to do it others not so much ive seen a group enjoy themselves just role playing a minor dinner in an inn/tavern for hours they had a blast, dm had a blast. As for making patches to the game sometimes things just need a patch were the written rules are just dumb or unclear doesn't make you a bad dm for doing so.


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Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Gray Warden wrote:

Rolled stats, OP races, 3rd party material, house-rules and ad hoc patches are all clear signs of bad GMing. I wouldn't be surprised if the GM also enforced critical failures on attack rolls and skill checks, or role-play for every little pointless thing such as shopping.

I suggest you leave that group before it's too late. You'd only get more and more frustrated session by session. You'll find another one.

Oh my, I've been using rolled stats, house-rules, and critical fumbles for 20+ years of D&D. And all that time, me and my friends have been having badwrongfun!! Thanks, Gray Warden, for setting me straight!


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Jhaeman wrote:
Gray Warden wrote:

Rolled stats, OP races, 3rd party material, house-rules and ad hoc patches are all clear signs of bad GMing. I wouldn't be surprised if the GM also enforced critical failures on attack rolls and skill checks, or role-play for every little pointless thing such as shopping.

I suggest you leave that group before it's too late. You'd only get more and more frustrated session by session. You'll find another one.

Oh my, I've been using rolled stats, house-rules, and critical fumbles for 20+ years of D&D. And all that time, me and my friends have been having badwrongfun!! Thanks, Gray Warden, for setting me straight!

You're missing the point of his post.

The fact of the matter is that those games are far and away not the norm, and in the past, have been reasons why players have become frustrated with playing at certain tables. I'd treat it more as a "This raises a lot of red flags, so I'd carefully consider if you truly want to continue playing with this group as these can be reasons why several others would not" post than a "You're doing it wrong" post. But even then, I'd have to say he's still spot on the money.

Using rolled stats more often than not results in character disparities that, if valuing characters as equals, shouldn't be present unless it is something that all players participating desire. Overpowered races and third party material being equally selective means that you're furthering this disparity that, if unwanted, only perpetuates this potential problem.

Houserules that aren't brought up ahead of time, and "ad hoc" patches in unclear rules are also things that can turn players off from participating further if not handled properly, and critical failures are a prime example of the sort of thing that, even if brought up ahead of time, aren't very liked due to how they are handled 99% of the time.

It also doesn't help that several of those things are being applied in favor of certain players over others, implying that their fun or enjoyment (assuming it is based on them receiving these things that they normally shouldn't) is more important than any other individual's fun, which is a big no-no for games like this.


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Gray Warden wrote:
Jhaeman wrote:
Gray Warden wrote:

Rolled stats, OP races, 3rd party material, house-rules and ad hoc patches are all clear signs of bad GMing. I wouldn't be surprised if the GM also enforced critical failures on attack rolls and skill checks, or role-play for every little pointless thing such as shopping.

I suggest you leave that group before it's too late. You'd only get more and more frustrated session by session. You'll find another one.

Oh my, I've been using rolled stats, house-rules, and critical fumbles for 20+ years of D&D. And all that time, me and my friends have been having badwrongfun!! Thanks, Gray Warden, for setting me straight!

Good for you! Also, oranges contain lots of vitamin C.

Oh wait, this isn't a collection of irrelevant answers. I don't recall saying that you cannot have fun with that type of game. Lemme check...yep, no mention whatsoever.

Yet, how is that bad GMing? Because all those things make the game arbitrarily aleatory and unbalanced. As a rule of thumb: anything that undermines game balance is bad.

Rolled stats. The game offers billions of possibilities in which you can customize your character, but it lays on the assumption that ALL characters start equal. Choosing the building elements that better reflect your original concept while being competitive is part of the challenge: choose poorly and your character will suck, and eventually die, choose wisely and it'll grow stronger day by day. Rolling stats however puts inevitably some characters ahead of others without any fault or merit on the player's side. And playing an effective 13pt buy character because you happened to roll poorly, while your teammate is playing an effective 25pt one is not challenging, nor fun. Just frustrating.

OP races. For characters to start equal, all races involved must be on the same power level. If not, some characters will be inherently stronger than others, undermining party balance and bringing up...

Sounds like wrongbadfun to me, and I know from wrongbadfun. More seriously, this sounds less like tabletop and more like a video game.


Gray Warden wrote:

Rolled stats, OP races, 3rd party material, house-rules and ad hoc patches are all clear signs of bad GMing. I wouldn't be surprised if the GM also enforced critical failures on attack rolls and skill checks, or role-play for every little pointless thing such as shopping.

We can put it another way: disagreeing with any of these things are clear signs of a bad player.

Silver Crusade

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Freehold DM wrote:
Sounds like wrongbadfun to me, and I know from wrongbadfun. More seriously, this sounds less like tabletop and more like a video game.

In video games, the ways characters can interact with the environment are hardcoded within the code, and therefore are very limited. Tabletop games instead offer virtually infinite options, and thus a far more immersive experience. This is the main difference between the two. Game balance has nothing to do with the video/tabletop games categorization, as both system (as any game system) should be balanced to be good.

Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:
Gray Warden wrote:

Rolled stats, OP races, 3rd party material, house-rules and ad hoc patches are all clear signs of bad GMing. I wouldn't be surprised if the GM also enforced critical failures on attack rolls and skill checks, or role-play for every little pointless thing such as shopping.

We can put it another way: disagreeing with any of these things are clear signs of a bad player.

If you disagree with me, do it by addressing the arguments I made one by one and explaining why each of them is wrong, and specifically not why you don't have a problem with them. Because while it's true that if everyone has fun, there is no problem, it's clear that not everyone has fun with this system. And a balanced system is the only way to ensure everybody have fun, not only those who were lucky during character creation or are favored by the GM.

I'm looking forward to know why it's OK to interpret characters inherently unbalanced with an unclear and arbitrary game system patched on the run since it doesn't work.


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Gray Warden wrote:
3rd party material. Unlike official Paizo material, 3rd party material does not usually undergo the same thorough play-test process, and does not benefit from the same level of upkeep (no erratas, FAQs and so on). As a result, unregulated use of 3rd party material will probably introduce disparities within the game. If playing a 3rd party campaign, I guess allowing material from the same source would be OK, since the game system would then be internally balanced, but it depends on the specific case and the quality of the material.

Lots of core material has pretty bad balance. I don't see any evidence 3PP stuff is worse.

Gray Warden wrote:
House-rules. House-rules are even less reliable than 3rd party material, so their use is bound to break the game system. Of course I'm not talking about minor rules to cover holes in the RAW or to make the game more fluent, but about major alterations to the game that have no reason to exist in the first place, and that are there just because of the GM's delusions of grandeur.

Practically everyone uses some house rules. If you declare house-rules to be a sign of bad GMing, you're insulting 90% of GMs.

Of course the bad ones are bad. (But the bad ones are usually dropped fairly quickly.)


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Matthew Downie wrote:
Lots of core material has pretty bad balance. I don't see any evidence 3PP stuff is worse.

It really doesn't. Except for a handful of game-breaking spells, the core rules are amazingly balanced, especially in the first 12 levels.

Matthew Downie wrote:
Of course the bad ones are bad. (But the bad ones are usually dropped fairly quickly.)

I think the opposite is true. players gravitate to the most powerful options and then those most powerful options become their version of default power level, with everything else being crap. This is power creep.

Silver Crusade

Matthew Downie wrote:
Gray Warden wrote:
3rd party material. Unlike official Paizo material, 3rd party material does not usually undergo the same thorough play-test process, and does not benefit from the same level of upkeep (no erratas, FAQs and so on). As a result, unregulated use of 3rd party material will probably introduce disparities within the game. If playing a 3rd party campaign, I guess allowing material from the same source would be OK, since the game system would then be internally balanced, but it depends on the specific case and the quality of the material.
Lots of core material has pretty bad balance. I don't see any evidence 3PP stuff is worse.

As already said, 3PP material doesn't have the same level of support and control of official material. Also, while the interactions between 3PP and official elements might have been tested (if the source is reliable), interactions between multiple 3PP sources are most certainly not, and therefore mixing sources could cause unexpected consequences. So, while all this is not evidence that 3PP material is bad, it certainly raises doubts and GMs allowing it should: limit the number of sources, check their quality and check very thoroughly for possible interference.

Matthew Downie wrote:
Gray Warden wrote:
House-rules. House-rules are even less reliable than 3rd party material, so their use is bound to break the game system. Of course I'm not talking about minor rules to cover holes in the RAW or to make the game more fluent, but about major alterations to the game that have no reason to exist in the first place, and that are there just because of the GM's delusions of grandeur.

Practically everyone uses some house rules. If you declare house-rules to be a sign of bad GMing, you're insulting 90% of GMs.

Of course the bad ones are bad. (But the bad ones are usually dropped fairly quickly.)

Minor house-rules to improve gameplay are mostly welcome. Shady house-rules that need continuous steering during the game because they simply do not work, or clearly go against RAW, are not.


Gray Warden wrote:
Rolled stats, OP races, 3rd party material, house-rules and ad hoc patches are all clear signs of bad GMing. I wouldn't be surprised if the GM also enforced critical failures on attack rolls and skill checks, or role-play for every little pointless thing such as shopping.

I don't think they're necessarily signs of bad GMing, but they are things I dislike.


Gray Warden wrote:
OP races. For characters to start equal, all races involved must be on the same power level.

When has this ever been the case? I mean, Half-Orcs aren't as powerful as Aasimars, but somehow we get by. How are you going to measure this power level anyway? The RP from the ARG system says "Dwarves are better than Humans" but we know that's not true in practice.

Silver Crusade

PossibleCabbage wrote:
Gray Warden wrote:
OP races. For characters to start equal, all races involved must be on the same power level.
When has this ever been the case? I mean, Half-Orcs aren't as powerful as Aasimars, but somehow we get by.

And in fact Aasimars are at the border of playable races and often are not allowed since are clearly more powerful than standard races. And guess what, the OP does not get along with the Noble Drow. I wonder why...(RP 41 vs average RP 10 of standard races? We'll never know).

PossibleCabbage wrote:
Gray Warden wrote:
How are you going to measure this power level anyway? The RP from the ARG system says "Dwarves are better than Humans" but we know that's not true in practice.

What are you trying to say exactly? That it's perfectly fine to have a RP 41 and a RP 10 character in the same party? Because this is what OverPower means. I understand that a difference of few points might be negligible, but this is quite obviously not what I was talking about.

PS. but we know that's not true in practice. I disagree. It clearly depends on the build. A melee-Warpriest might not need the extra feat at level 1, and instead might very well appreciate the +2 to Con and Wis, and be perfectly fine with a very low Cha. So yeah, two can play the anecdotes game.


Melkiador wrote:
Matthew Downie wrote:
Lots of core material has pretty bad balance. I don't see any evidence 3PP stuff is worse.

It really doesn't. Except for a handful of game-breaking spells, the core rules are amazingly balanced, especially in the first 12 levels.

Matthew Downie wrote:
Of course the bad ones are bad. (But the bad ones are usually dropped fairly quickly.)
I think the opposite is true. players gravitate to the most powerful options and then those most powerful options become their version of default power level, with everything else being crap. This is power creep.

yup. Player/DM cold war-cum-disposable income war is a real thing.


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Sure, the Drow Noble and the Half-Giant are ridiculously overpowered, I agree. But the broader point I'm making is that the insistence that "things need to be balanced otherwise it's bad GMing" is silly since basically nothing in this game is balanced. Dealing with a game where someone is playing an Elf Wizard and somebody else is playing a Kobold Monk is more or less part and parcel to the experience of GMing. Since this isn't a competitive game, the only really downside to "someone is more powerful than someone else" is if that results in anybody having less fun.

I would observe that people keep missing the problem with the OP's complaint: It's less that one player is more powerful because of structural things like races and stat generation, it's more that this player is using this as a platform from which to be a jerk.

I would say that the real "bad GMing" is not noticing or doing anything when one of your players is being a jerk, and hurting the experience of everybody else.


Gray Warden wrote:
Freehold DM wrote:
Sounds like wrongbadfun to me, and I know from wrongbadfun. More seriously, this sounds less like tabletop and more like a video game.

In video games, the ways characters can interact with the environment are hardcoded within the code, and therefore are very limited. Tabletop games instead offer virtually infinite options, and thus a far more immersive experience. This is the main difference between the two. Game balance has nothing to do with the video/tabletop games categorization, as both system (as any game system) should be balanced to be good.

Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:
Gray Warden wrote:

Rolled stats, OP races, 3rd party material, house-rules and ad hoc patches are all clear signs of bad GMing. I wouldn't be surprised if the GM also enforced critical failures on attack rolls and skill checks, or role-play for every little pointless thing such as shopping.

We can put it another way: disagreeing with any of these things are clear signs of a bad player.

If you disagree with me, do it by addressing the arguments I made one by one and explaining why each of them is wrong, and specifically not why you don't have a problem with them. Because while it's true that if everyone has fun, there is no problem, it's clear that not everyone has fun with this system. And a balanced system is the only way to ensure everybody have fun, not only those who were lucky during character creation or are favored by the GM.

I'm looking forward to know why it's OK to interpret characters inherently unbalanced with an unclear and arbitrary game system patched on the run since it doesn't work.

were going to have to disagree here- if the dm is just another player and has no more or less say than the person to their right or left, then it is a video game in many respects. I would indeed rather just play dragon age.

Silver Crusade

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Freehold DM wrote:
were going to have to disagree here- if the dm is just another player and has no more or less say than the person to their right or left, then it is a video game in many respects. I would indeed rather just play dragon age.

If for you a very immersive game such as Pathfinder, where players and GM play together, as peers and friends, by sticking to the rules (or at least as much as possible), with no one being inherently better or more powerful than the other, where the players enjoy interpreting fantastic heroes and the GM shapes the world and the story around them, with billions of details that make it almost real, almost palpable in a perfectly coherent and balanced universe... if THIS is for you comparable to, if not worse than, playing Dragon Age unless the GM enforces his almighty power to impose himself over the others, then I'm afraid you had quite mediocre gaming experiences so far.

Having tried both, I assure you that there is nothing better than playing at a table where everyone knows the rules, and if anything is unclear everybody participates in the ruling process.

Silver Crusade

PossibleCabbage wrote:

Sure, the Drow Noble and the Half-Giant are ridiculously overpowered, I agree. But the broader point I'm making is that the insistence that "things need to be balanced otherwise it's bad GMing" is silly since basically nothing in this game is balanced. Dealing with a game where someone is playing an Elf Wizard and somebody else is playing a Kobold Monk is more or less part and parcel to the experience of GMing. Since this isn't a competitive game, the only really downside to "someone is more powerful than someone else" is if that results in anybody having less fun.

I would observe that people keep missing the problem with the OP's complaint: It's less that one player is more powerful because of structural things like races and stat generation, it's more that this player is using this as a platform from which to be a jerk.

I would say that the real "bad GMing" is not noticing or doing anything when one of your players is being a jerk, and hurting the experience of everybody else.

Of course it is a team-game, but you'll agree that playing a Kobold Monk dealing the same damage as the Wizard's familiar it's not fun even if the party is doing good. At the same time, I don't think is fair for the GM either having to continuously patch the aforementioned Kobold Monk with extra items or whatnot just to put him on par with the others. But anyway, this is another very circumstantial story.

I know this does not reflect specifically what the OP was talking about: I was trying to make a more general point. While I do overall agree with you on this matter, I just think that just because things cannot be 100%, it doesn't mean we shouldn't tend to it. And a good starting point would be limiting the disparity between races, that's it.


Freehold DM wrote:
Point buyers and dice rollers are like fleet and mobile infantry. They just don't mix.

"REAL roleplayers roll 3d6 in order and take what they get. This new generation of ROLLplayers are a bunch of entitled millenial munchkin brats who can't handle losing, and can't handle not having complete control of every aspect of their character, and think the DM is just there to set up pins for them to knock down."

A lot of 1e/2e fans actually have this mentality.


Athaleon wrote:
Freehold DM wrote:
Point buyers and dice rollers are like fleet and mobile infantry. They just don't mix.

"REAL roleplayers roll 3d6 in order and take what they get. This new generation of ROLLplayers are a bunch of entitled millenial munchkin brats who can't handle losing, and can't handle not having complete control of every aspect of their character, and think the DM is just there to set up pins for them to knock down."

A lot of 1e/2e fans actually have this mentality.

interesting, as I am neither.

I am a long time white wolf player and have noticed issues with people going from one system to another in this regard. Some of the biggest arguements I have encountered have come from this disparity.


Gray Warden wrote:
Freehold DM wrote:
were going to have to disagree here- if the dm is just another player and has no more or less say than the person to their right or left, then it is a video game in many respects. I would indeed rather just play dragon age.

If for you a very immersive game such as Pathfinder, where players and GM play together, as peers and friends, by sticking to the rules (or at least as much as possible), with no one being inherently better or more powerful than the other, where the players enjoy interpreting fantastic heroes and the GM shapes the world and the story around them, with billions of details that make it almost real, almost palpable in a perfectly coherent and balanced universe... if THIS is for you comparable to, if not worse than, playing Dragon Age unless the GM enforces his almighty power to impose himself over the others, then I'm afraid you had quite mediocre gaming experiences so far.

Having tried both, I assure you that there is nothing better than playing at a table where everyone knows the rules, and if anything is unclear everybody participates in the ruling process.

and I would argue you have had bad DMing experiences thus far if you view the DM as a punitive deity.

Silver Crusade

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Athaleon wrote:
Freehold DM wrote:
Point buyers and dice rollers are like fleet and mobile infantry. They just don't mix.

"REAL roleplayers roll 3d6 in order and take what they get. This new generation of ROLLplayers are a bunch of entitled millenial munchkin brats who can't handle losing, and can't handle not having complete control of every aspect of their character, and think the DM is just there to set up pins for them to knock down."

A lot of 1e/2e fans actually have this mentality.

So true.

I guess many people just don't care about rolling stats or point buy, and I understand them, it isn't in fact a life-changing thing. But those who actually prefer rolling over point buy? No, those I do not understand:

You can choose your name, race, class, feats, skills, traits, origin, gender, color and length of hair, color of eyes, weight and a million of other different and equally aleatory things, BUT HELL NO I'LL BE DAMNED IF YOU CAN CHOOSE YOUR STATS BECAUSE REALISM!

I'm pretty sure those divide into new players who want to feel the thrill of rolling, and who'll get tired of it once they know how the game works, and 2eD&D aficionados bragging a 20+ years long gaming experience who have however lost all kind of contact with modern gaming, nostalgic of the good ol' days when GMs used to play against players, were GODs in- and out-of-game, and characters used to die for no real reason ("rock falls, everyone dies") unless the GM was feeling generous.


Jhaeman wrote:
Gray Warden wrote:

Rolled stats, OP races, 3rd party material, house-rules and ad hoc patches are all clear signs of bad GMing. I wouldn't be surprised if the GM also enforced critical failures on attack rolls and skill checks, or role-play for every little pointless thing such as shopping.

I suggest you leave that group before it's too late. You'd only get more and more frustrated session by session. You'll find another one.

Oh my, I've been using rolled stats, house-rules, and critical fumbles for 20+ years of D&D. And all that time, me and my friends have been having badwrongfun!! Thanks, Gray Warden, for setting me straight!

To be fair your house rules in Homebrew are pretty much the worst collection of house rules I've seen (IMO, of course, they obviously work for you). I would skip a game with practically any of them.

Melkiador wrote:
Matthew Downie wrote:
Lots of core material has pretty bad balance. I don't see any evidence 3PP stuff is worse.
It really doesn't. Except for a handful of game-breaking spells, the core rules are amazingly balanced, especially in the first 12 levels.

At least three (current) threads on C/MD would like a word with you.


The caster vs martial thing doesn't really start hitting until about level 12. And very few games will make it far enough to see that. And I did say there was a problem with a few game-breaking spells.


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Gray Warden wrote:
I'm pretty sure those divide into new players who want to feel the thrill of rolling, and who'll get tired of it once they know how the game works, and 2eD&D aficionados bragging a 20+ years long gaming experience who have however lost all kind of contact with modern gaming, nostalgic of the good ol' days when GMs used to play against players, were GODs in- and out-of-game, and characters used to die for no real reason ("rock falls, everyone dies") unless the GM was feeling generous.

Or people who fit somewhere in the middle, who play plenty of role-playing games that use a point-buy system, and who generally like that, but still fondly think back to the days where D&D used a roll-your-stats system, and like to use rolled stats when playing this particular game.


You know, Matt Mercer on Critical Role uses:


  • Rolled stats
  • 3rd party material (namely his own homebrew classes)
  • House-rules
  • Useless roleplay, including shopping.

He doesn't use critical fumbles or particularly powerful races. But he solidly meets four out of your six criteria.

And yet somehow his games have deeper, richer narrative than any other I've ever seen, none of his players are unhappy about power disparities in the party, and they all appear to be having a blast playing.

If that's bad GM'ing, sign me up!

Silver Crusade

necromental wrote:
Melkiador wrote:
Matthew Downie wrote:
Lots of core material has pretty bad balance. I don't see any evidence 3PP stuff is worse.
It really doesn't. Except for a handful of game-breaking spells, the core rules are amazingly balanced, especially in the first 12 levels.
At least three (current) threads on C/MD would like a word with you.

Of course there is room for improvement, I'm not saying it's a perfect system. However, if a widely tested and controlled system such as Pathfinder has flaws, I cannot imagine what a huge mess it would become if 3PP material was allowed as the norm. Obviously you can always find good 3PP stuff and compare it with Sacred Geometry, but it wouldn't a fair comparison.

Melkiador wrote:
The caster vs martial thing doesn't really start hitting until about level 12. And very few games will make it far enough to see that. And I did say there was a problem with a few game-breaking spells.

And no 3PP material or house-rule seem to solve the problem. So there's no reason to talk about this (also because there is another thread on the topic going on these days).

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