Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Roleplaying Hindrances, my take.

Over on Tenkar's Tavern Erik talks about the addition of roleplaying hindrances to classes to balance class powers.  His observations and many of the comments are mostly negative on the idea. I strongly disagree his conclusion about Paladin example which is to ban them from his campaign.

Roleplaying hindrances work when they flow out of how the referee runs his campaign. Like the powers of the classes themselves there is rarely a problem if that how the setting actually works. Paladins are divine champions of good and make sense that they have power beyond that of ordinary fighters. However they also only make sense if they are truly servants of good, just as it only makes sense for a character to be a knight if he showed loyalty to a liege at some point.

If the referee doesn't care about religions and ethics in his campaign that when he shouldn't allow Paladins as characters. But if on the other hand the referee does enjoy this type of roleplaying then the problem will fix itself as the player will be dealing with the complication of being a Paladins.

The various roleplaying limitations in my Majestic Wilderlands races and classes are the result of year of playing through various camapaigns and finding what worked and didn't work. Not just what I am interested in but also what is fun and enjoyable for the players that play in my games. The roleplaying hindrances that survive are those complications that both I and the players enjoy dealing with.

Class balance is a illusion and a mirage that wastes the time of referees while running their campaigns. After 35 years of roleplaying I am convinced that the only time balence is needed when you are attempting to be fair during some type of organized play like a tournament or game store events. Otherwise powers and abilities should reflect the genre or campaign the referee is running.


Tom said...

"Class balance is a illusion and a mirage that wastes the time of referees while running their campaigns."

I love this observation.

MP said...

Indeed. In recent years "class balance" (as it pertains to combat) has become one of the strongest driving forces in RPG design. Designers somehow don't realize what a fool's errand this is. Games which have successfully balanced their classes have done so by making them all roughly equivalent, which defeats the purpose of having classes in the first place. Case in point: 4e.

Designers seem to forget that there is more to RPGs than just combat. If classes are to be "balanced," it should be done by giving them a variety of useful functions, not all of which should relate to fighting. Each function will not be applicable in every situation, but overall, everyone will get a chance to shine. This is contingent upon having a decent referee who makes it a point to design varied situations to engage all the player characters, but such is the beauty of a human-moderated game. "Balanced" RPGs feel like they are trying to emulate computer games, to which I say: why not just go play a computer game?

pure metal said...

"Class balance" is indeed a fool's errand and is a result of MMOs. Those worlds are designed top to bottom with constraints in place. They are very closed systems so in order for everyone "to feel like a contributor (read winner)" they need to put in artificial numbers, mechanics, etc.

After almost 35 years of DMing, I cringe every time I see this term used for D&DNext discussions around the "well my Fighter is worthless at super high levels because a wizard can just kill everything with a flick of a booger" whine. The one thing people always fail to mention is that almighty wizard going against a mighty fighter, there are saving throws involved.

Great observation all around

Tim Shorts said...

Bravo Roberto.

Ken Harrison said...

You are truly the brightest blogger of your age. Excellent post!

Matt Celis said...

D&D is such a poorly designed game, it can never be balanced anyway or else it's not D&D anymore. I say play as you want to, as long as it works for you.