The debate is not just over how magic items should fit into D&D. It goes straight to the mathematical heart of D&D and raises fundamental questions about how the game should work.
The argument boils down to this. If magical bonuses are "balanced" across the system, then they become wired into the game's math so that magical accessories become mandatory if characters are to keep pace with the power curve set by monsters. If those bonuses aren't wired into the math, then even a small magical bonus boosts characters ahead of the monster/NPC power curve and upsets the balance of "level-appropriate" encounters.
The problem as I see it is that those positions assume there are only two ways to deal with the power curve: You either define it rigidly as 3X and 4E did, or you ignore it and punt the problem into the DM's lap, as the original, 1st, and 2nd editions did.
I say a third option deserves a look. That's to develop a simple, reliable way to assess actual character power that looks beyond character level. The rigid systems currently in use assume that all level X characters are equivalent in power. Actually, they don't assume it; they are engineered toward the goal of ensuring it. Every level X character is forced to be equivalent to every other, or so goes the theory.
In practice, it doesn't work. Players rebel against uniformity. There are those who always look for means to pull ahead of the pack, and in a complex system like D&D, ways are bound to be found. Others make suboptimal choices, intentionally or unintentionally, that put them behind. Some DMs give away too much magic juice and others don't give enough. Once the rulebooks leave the warehouse, it's beyond the publisher's ability to control.
So the Average Power of a level X character is a statistical datum that has little bearing on the Actual Power of a specific character. Very few level X characters sit on the average. For a host of inescapable and desirable reasons, most will be some degree stronger or weaker than the arithmetic mean. In a group of five characters, those variations can average everything back toward the center or they can cumulatively create a whopping gap between expectation and reality.
If character level is an inadequate gauge of PC power, that doesn't mean the alternative is having no gauge The alternative should be to develop a tool that is adequate -- a way to measure a character's effective level as opposed to its XP level, if you will.
I haven't developed such a system nor do I intend to, but I can illustrate how it would be used.
- Speary Mason is a level 5 fighter. He has Str 12 and no magic weapon or armor, making him slightly below average for a level 5 fighter. His EL (effective level) is 4.
- Bill Guisarme is also a level 5 fighter, but he has Str 18 and a guisarme-voulge +1. He kills things faster than an average level 5 fighter would, so Bill's EL weighs in at 6.
- Lance Wielder is another level 5 fighter, but Lance has a girdle of awesome muscles, a warhammer +3/+5 vs. creatures with bones, and a pair of Can't Touch This dancing pants. Beefed up with all that magic, Lance operates at EL 8 -- three ranks above his level.
When the DM designs an encounter for these three characters, she knows that 18 ranks of foes, not 15, will give a balanced fight, and that those foes should average around EL 6. The fact that all three PCs are level 5 is irrelevant. They could just as well be level 3 or level 8. What matters is that they function as a group of three characters at approximately EL 6.
The needed component is the system that lets DMs and players assess the real power of a character, accounting for level, ability scores, and magic. It should be easy enough to use so people will actually use it, but it doesn't need to be simplistic. The calculation needs adjustment only when something changes, as when characters go up a level or "inherit" a significant magic item. Effective Level would be more dynamic than character levels but only slightly so.
The benefit, which I see as huge, is that it cuts the wires binding together the XP tables, treasure tables, and monster tables. DMs can be as stingy or as generous as they like with magic swords and girdles, and they won't upset anything. Each campaign can establish its own power gradient unfettered by an official curve that depends on levels alone for gauging power. Whether I equip everyone with vorpal swords and pet dragons, or with bearskin diapers and t-rex jawbones, I'll still be able to put together a balanced, challenging encounter. Whether I want to is another story entirely; at least I'll have the tool.
I was skeptical at balance, you lost me at "monster power curve".ReplyDelete
RPGs aren't games that require or benefit from "balance" or even rules in the traditional sense. they have an intelligent, adaptable referee who will outperform any set of rules or mechanisms hoped to provide balance. The referee is not just another player, they are the game.
Nowhere do I state that all encounters need to be balanced. Nothing's wrong with unbalanced matchups, even grossly unbalanced ones. But giving DMs a reliable tool for double-checking their grasp of probability is not a bad thing.Delete
What you say about DMs is true only when you add the qualifier "good" before the title. We know too well that most -- not just some, but most -- DMs really aren't that good. Inexperience, haste, inattention, poor skill at math, not reading or not understanding the rules, or a dozen other weaknesses in any combination can result in a very bad experience for everyone that the DM did not intend. If that can be avoided in at least some instances, why not?
The problem occurs with balanced encounters in that players can simply coast their way to the victory and therefore not achieve anything of any value except an illusory sense of achievement.Delete
If I put a Small Red Dragon on the second level of a dungeon this is viewed as unbalanced using systems of Encounter Levels, Hitdice, XP, Character Levels and so on. However, it is not unbalanced.
Why? Let me spell it out for you in case you've not worked it out yet (although I suspect you have) THE RED DRAGON IS NOT THERE TO BE SLAIN. But it surely will eat that 2nd level party that wants to kill it instead of donate some of their spare gold to its (growing) treasure pile.
So forget balance. Balance leads to boring, predictable one approach to an encounter fights where the party are never really at risk and the game of infinite possibilities has been reduced immediately to one expectation: combat and death, the sword vs every problem.
Balance is by definition not coasting. Coasting would be unbalanced, to easy is as unbalanced as to hard. Every balanced encounter should Challenge your party and run the risk of going very badly for the party. That being said of course every encounter doesn't have to be balanced.Delete
If you can't see beyond the guidelines (encounter balancing isn't a hard rule) in order to create the kind of story you want I would posit that you are not in fact a good DM at all.
It is obvious that you don't know what the real criteria is for determining if a DM is any good and therefore are a very poor judge of how good a DM might be.Delete
Who wants to play D&D without a good DM? Who wants to encourage bad DMs, those without a solid grasp of probability or the resourcefulness to overcome the lack thereof?
No one who's ever played with a good DM.
Keep in mind that I am talking about DMs here. Everyone should be able to play the game. There's no upside to pretending anyone can run it. Bad DMs shouldn't. Good DMs don't need the crutches under discussion.
Where do you think "good DMs" come from? Nobody is born as a good DM -- the title encompasses an array of skills that must be learned and practiced. To become a good DM, first you must be a "bad DM," like any other skill set.Delete
It is in everyone's best interest -- the gaming group, players in general, and the game itself -- to offer ways for DMs to improve their skills and learn how to fulfill the role.
Honestly a whole lot of arguments and garbage could be settled if it was laid out clearly that encounter levels and other measures are there for the DM to gauge his/her own feel for the game and to give them an indicator of whether or not their challenges are within spitting distance of being "appropriate" for the characters they're running through them.
Because having a decade plus experience with 3e and 4e's encounter balancing tools that's all they are - a formal way of providing guidelines to people who are getting their feeling for the games. Once you get a feel for the game, you don't need them much anymore.
(Of course 3e and 4e screw all of this up by having a linear increasing power curves for the characters that make getting in intuition about the numbers harder than it needs to be for a DM. And obfuscate what the EL mechanics are doing in an annoying way, but that's actually a separate rant).
Absolutely ... and once you start designing encounters that are not meant to be solved with the sword, EL is a hinderance to creativity. In fact, throw it away right now. The minute that your players start making decisions based upon the game world (300 orcs? Run!) rather than the expected safety net of the mechanical system and level specific challenges, the better. Enrich your games by giving the players problems that they CANNOT solve by slaying them and your encounters just became three dimensional.Delete
You would only be right if EL was a hard and fast rule. Which it isn't. It is there to be useful if you need it and not be looked at at all if you don't. Arguing that nobody should get to have rulers because some people can accurately estimate a foot and some other don't give a crap about getting a foot is a crappy argumentDelete
Yes and that wasn't the argument nor the subject, therefore, the argument made was not crappy and the last statement you made... irrelevant.Delete
"It should be easy enough to use so people will actually use it, but it doesn't need to be simplistic."ReplyDelete
You lost me right there. How are you going to account for all the differences in power level caused by differences in magic weapons, ability score, spell selections, feat synergy, etc. and make it a "simple" system.
In fact, all you are doing is pushing the problem back one step. Under the current rules, the CR of a PC is dependent on them having the reccomended amount of gear. The system even has (very crude) rules for increasing or decreasing the CR of a character with more or less than the assumed gear, or for other unusual situations but (by necessity) those rules are a system so much as a direction for DMs to exercise judgement.
Actually, the necessary elements for this system already exist, at least where 4E is concerned. People who participate in the 4E character optimization boards calculate their characters' average damage/round routinely, just as WoW fans calculate their characters' damage/second. The whole picture is a bit more complex than just dmg/sec because of decisive effects that don't cause damage directly (paralysis, domination). That's why I didn't design a system; I'm advocating for someone else to do the work. But the calculations aren't that difficult, and a few well-designed tables (or an online tool) could make them even easier. Anyone who can figure out their characters' attack and damage bonuses in Pathfinder or 4E can handle it (although the actual number of players who can design and manage a 4E or PF character error-free with just a pencil and paper probably is smaller than WotC and Paizo would like to think). A tool like WotC's online character builder could do the calculation automatically and paste the character's Effective Level right next to its experience level. The paper-and-pencil version would almost certainly be a quicker and dirtier version of the computerized algorithm.Delete
If you (or someone else) can work out a system for it, it might be more helpful for adventure guidelines than "For 4-6 adventurers levels 4-7." That kind of guidance was nice but it was hard to really know if your 4-7th level PCs were really going to be appropriate for the adventure and vice-versa.ReplyDelete
Up through 2e, the rules were simple enough that a good DM could eyeball it... then the munchkins took over the rules and turned D&D into a boardgame.ReplyDelete
If a DM is constantly tinkering with his world to ensure "appropriate" encounters are available, then sooner or later the players' suspension of disbelief will evaporate. The world will not be a world, but simply a cartoon background.
There's that word "good" again. Everything works beautifully if we can assume a good DM, just like when we assume honest repairmen, unharried doctors, and competent lawyers. My experience is that weak DMs outnumber strong ones.Delete
Again, I'm not advocating for a steady diet of encounters where victory is assured, all skillfully choreographed and programmed by the DM to create the illusion of danger where none exists. I have the same disdain for that type of play as you have.
I see no reason, however, to dismiss a tool because experts don't need it. Consider an example. I drive a lot, I enjoy driving, and I pay close attention to my car. I can tell whether my tires are properly inflated by feeling how the car handles, and I can tell whether the oil needs to be topped up by the sound of the lifters when the engine starts. But I would never say people should throw away their tire pressure gauges and dipsticks because "good" drivers don't need them. I needed them for years just like everyone else and still use them to back up my other senses.
EL's lead DIRECTLY to the very thing that you say you do not want, but alas, you do not see it.Delete
EL only leads to that sort of game if a DM doesn't have an ounce of ability. EL tables are easy to ignore and move beyond. It all comes back down to the ruler argument again. Rulers aren't bad because some people don't want or need them.Delete
Sure, that's exactly what people should be doing with them. Ignoring them. At least we agree on something.Delete
There was a time, a long time, when I constantly stressed over whether or not I was throwing too much at my players.ReplyDelete
I would spend hours flipping through the MM looking over monsters and pulling my hair out because entry contained the words "Suitable for 3-6 adventurers levels 4-7".
I started comparing the party's total hit dice to monsters, then their total hit points to how much a monster could dish out in a turn, nothing worked quite right.
Then, at some point, I stopped caring.
I just threw whatever monster was appropriate at the party and if need be, I would quietly hit the beast with the nerf bat (behind the screen, of course, and only then after the party was sure all was lost), or throw the beast a few extra HP or some other special attack on the fly.
Before I figured that out, I would read modules to see what game designers said was appropriate for characters of a certain level.
Also, I never, ever, gave out magical items.
Except when I did.
And then it was like a thousand Christmases all rolled into one Bag of Holding.
Balance be damned.Delete
Joe, I always appreciate your comments, but let me be sure I understand where you're coming from on this one. You seem to be stating, "I was a bad DM, but through all those bad experiences, I learned to be a good DM." If something could have made that process quicker, wouldn't that be a plus?Delete
I don't object at all to "balance be damned" if that's the type of game a group prefers. I've played that way too and had a great time. I do hesitate at "I never expected you'd all be wiped out when I stocked that cave with hasted ogres; oh well, you'd better get busy rolling up new 1st-level characters to replace those level 5 heroes." On-the-job training for the DM can be hard on PCs and painful for players.
Is that on the job training for the DM or are you looking at this BACK TO FRONT?Delete
Consider; those hasted Ogres DID NOT HAVE TO BE ATTACKED. Did the players presume that they should slay everything they come across? It's this presumption that is at fault. Consider...
No but then again unless you specifically want to create a game where the players never fight anything at all it would be nice to know in broad terms what they could handle. You seem to be entirely to stymied by this concept of guidelines not being mandatory. Rulers.Delete
I've got news for you, I'm not trying to create a game where the players never fight anything at all. You are mistaken.Delete
I've seen "Good DM" listed here several times, and I have an issue with this. Running a game is a very complex activity. There are dozens of skills that go into being a good DM. I've never met somebody that was a master of all of them. Most people have the areas that they are good at and the areas that they aren't so good at. I know a couple of DM's that have wonderful storytelling skill and make the game really fun. But they aren't very good at judging a good opposition. They end up with a lot of cakewalks and a lot of TPK's. Games that help them evaluate challenges help them out.ReplyDelete
I also know that there have been times in my life where my gaming options have been limited. In that situation, you take the GM you have and hopefully they'll get better.
"There's that word 'good' again. Everything works beautifully if we can assume a good DM."ReplyDelete
Steve you sound like a great driver, far above the norm.
A good driver knows the rules of the road and tracks hazard. A bad driver is not someone I want driving. Yet 1/100 people die in car accidents. Being able to design and run an encounter, without the game designers holding the wheel, is a crucial DMing skill. To extend a metaphor: if you can't design an encounter without these tools you should not have license to DM, whoever is teaching you should never have let you try to get said license, and you certainly shouldn't have been told that all there is to it is checking the tire pressure.
That good DMs come about through practice is true. I'm not saying we should abolish playing, or reading, or crunching numbers once in a while. If anything these crutch systems discourage DMs from honing their skills, flattening the learning curve. At their worst they delay greatness. At their best they reward mediocrity.
I'm not sure I follow your argument. You seem to be saying that DMs should either get good or get out. But then how do you get good?Delete
I suspect that few people who have trained others to do complex jobs would agree that "crutch systems discourage DMs from honing their skills." At least, I wouldn't. What you call crutch systems, I call teaching tools. Was AD&D's treasure table a crutch system? A DM with a good grasp of its purpose and distributions could generate similar treasures off the top of her head. I know many DMs who seldom used it. That table was a tool that could be used or ignored as DMs chose. A measure of Effective Level would be one more tool.
Above, another post shows how a DM got good WITHOUT the crutch of EL's. It's the same way DM's got good before they existed... EL's are solving a problem that DOES NOT EXIST. Throw them away.Delete
And there it is. The appeal to tradition. Knew you would fall back on it eventually. Just because the pioneers of the field didn't fully understand the need for something doesn't mean that it wasn't needed. The first folks who built cars didn't put in seat belts and for a long time there were people who survived car crashes. Does that mean that the issue of safety "DOES NOT EXIST".Delete
The appeal to tradition? Do you eat breakfast in a morning? Do you wash your hands after using the toilet? These are traditions too. Or have you forgotten? What does an 'appeal to tradition' have to do with anything anyway? The issue is Encounter Levels solving a problem that does not exist. The beginner DM is running a module _that is already balanced_ by professionals.Delete
And comparing EL's to safety belts in cars is disengenuous to say the least. If you cannot champion the merits of EL's on their own terms... well you can see my point, can't you.
I like the basic idea, but I think one tricky thing is that magic items can cause different aspects of a character can be unbalanced with one another. A level 5 fighter with a +5 sword of awesomeness is going to be able to hit more often and deal more damage, but that fighter doesn't have a higher AC or more hp than one without the sword. A level 10 monster's life and defenses might be reasonable for that fighter to target, but that monster's attacks could now potentially be too dangerous. On top of that, items that grant things other than combat stat improvements can be quite hard to measure: A melee character with wings of flying is one thing, an archer or mage with those wings is an entirely different issue with regards to encounter design (unless of course, it's in a cramped space with no room to fly). Maybe the system would be more useful if a character's effectiveness rating ended up being a handful of values rather than just one (offense, defense, movement types).ReplyDelete
I never said it would be easy to design. That's why I'm leaving it to someone who's getting paid. :)Delete
I think you're arriving at the same conclusion as 4E style balance, just from a needlessly complex direction.ReplyDelete
Once you have a metric for determining effective level, players are going to start comparing each other based on their effective levels and will complain if their effective levels aren't in synch. If the imbalance continues its no different than a DM saying "Bob, you get to play a level 8 character while everyone else has to play level 5 characters." Bob may enjoy this state of affairs, but I have my doubts about everyone else putting up with this for long.
So your system still has the balance issue, you've just added a needless complexity to the system by making xp levels not equal a PC's effective level. Better I say to build the metrics you would use to determine effective level into the base mechanics so that the "effective level" simply equals the "xp level".
Imbalance within a party isn't what this system is meant to address, although it can be a useful tool in that regard, too, because it will help the DM and players see who's lagging behind and needs a boost versus who's pulling ahead and doesn't need yet another magic weapon from the treasure heap.Delete
The goal of this suggested system is to tell the DM whether his group of level 5 characters is equivalent powerwise to monsters of level 5, or 4, or 6, or 8. In a low-magic campaign, level 5 characters might be seriously challenged by level 4 monsters. In a Monte Haul campaign, level 5 characters might routinely mop the floor with level 9 monsters.
4E took the approach of saying "level 5 characters should get a good workout by fighting level 5 monsters because everything at level 5 has power X." If your campaign pushes ahead of that mark or falls behind it -- something that the advancement tables try very hard to prevent but is still inevitable -- the encounter budgets go out of whack and the only fix depends on DM finesse. I'm all for DM finesse, but not all DMs have it. If you do, great. If you don't, then here's a tool that can help smooth your path.
The best aspect of it IMO is that it means there won't be any default power level for campaigns. Low/high magic, low/high fantasy, low/high/superhuman stats, all are equally viable without adjusting the game's assumptions about monsters.
I don't see the sea change in what is being described. Whether based on actual level or observed level, a designated level or Hit Die for monsters is still something a DM has to adjust. This is because there is no way monsters/terrain/traps will all be equal.ReplyDelete
Observed level brings its own set of issues. A major one is that by adjusting to an average you can be thrown off by outliers. That really strong PC (or two) can mean the really weak one can't hit/damage/survive the now higher level foes.
That's why balance _is_ important. By keeping PCs divergent on flavor but similar on damage, we get high creativity and the ability to forecast how an encounter will challenge. And this is the opposite of bland. Rather, in this goal the PCs are all competent, and the DM can easily (regardless of being expert/casual/new) create the right challenge. A first fight can be easy just as planned, and that final fight can be a nail-biter - just as planned and for the entire party.
We can never provide tons of options and still have balance if the options are creative/different, but it is a good goal. 3E took good steps and 4E went significantly further. The result has been many DMs being able to easily pick up the game and far further along than I was after DMing AD&D or Basic for the same time. This is a worthy cause because it is critical to the growth of our hobby. An experienced DM isn't hurt by this at all. Everyone wins, especially the hobby.
"Observed level brings its own set of issues. A major one is that by adjusting to an average you can be thrown off by outliers. That really strong PC (or two) can mean the really weak one can't hit/damage/survive the now higher level foes."Delete
That's the situation D&D has now; being able to measure Effective Level won't make it any worse. What I'm hoping to eliminate is the rulebooks forcing a group of level 5 characters in your campaign and a different level 5 group in my campaign into occupying identical slots on the power grid. 4E tries to do that and succeeds pretty well, but at what cost? A sizable chunk of players and DMs hate being shoehorned that way.
"By keeping PCs divergent on flavor but similar on damage, we get high creativity and the ability to forecast how an encounter will challenge."
Level alone has never been a good indicator of a specific character's ability to win a fight. We relied on it because there was nothing better. I think there could be something better, something that preserves the creativity and ability to forecast that you rightly praise but drops the "similar on damage" requirement so every level 5 character is not compelled to have the same ability scores and the same amounts of treasure.
Understand that I'm not advocating for great disparity within groups. That will always be a difficulty, but I believe that it's more rare than some people fear. Players notice when someone is lagging behind and are willing to help out with a bit of extra treasure so that everyone more-or-less keeps pace. That's been my experience, anyway.
A measure of Effective Level pays off in allowing two DMs to include as much or as little magic in their separate campaigns as they want, without an advancement table telling them how much is mandatory. If Dave hands out tons of magic, all his PCs might be operating at 30% above their XP level, so they'd need considerably tougher encounters than the "Target XP/Encounter" tables indicate to feel challenged. Down the street, Bob runs a quasi-historical campaign with hardly any magic weapons, so his PCs operate at 20% below nominal level and need to have their foes scaled back to avoid constant TPKs. Under the current structure, Dave and Bob are both frustrated because they can't seem to generate tense combat encounters. The Target XP/Encounter table treats them identically, and their only recourse is to make adjustments by the seats of their pants.
Or they could pull out an Effective Levels table, crunch a few numbers (or click a button on the Character Builder) and have a clear understanding that those 5th level characters are actually functioning 2 levels above (or below) level 5, and they need to adjust their encounters accordingly.
"We can never provide tons of options and still have balance if the options are creative/different"
I think we're talking about different things here. You seem to be chiefly concerned with balance within a party; I'm concerned with freeing up different DMs to run campaigns with more or less magic and higher or lower standard ability scores. The rest of this paragraph I agree with 100%.
You'll just make high stats meaningless. What is the point of a +2 in a stat if it is not an advantage due to you adjusting the encounters to compensate? I'll tell you. There is no point.Delete
Well the adjustment of the challenge should go hand in hand with an adjustment in the story challenge. The fighter with 16 strength is knocking goblins around the fighter with an 18 is knocking hobgoblins around and the guy with a 20 is knocking bugbears around.Delete
Making Strength 20 a completely useless thing to have. You might as well have a Strength 3 and be knocking normal rats around. Your approach is what RUINED Oblivion... scaling encounters. Go read up on that.Delete
I suggested this on the WotC forums a while back. The problem is the only way to do this would be to write down every status effect a character could do, then calculate their DPR, then play the mix and match game with the monsters. If a character has the ability to knock a creature prone and that creature is immune to prone, then those two would cancel out. So the only thing I can say would be to calculate the DPR of the character using an app or webpage or excel document. Then you can get an idea of how powerful your characters are.ReplyDelete
I'm sorry I missed your post on that, but I was away from the WotC forums for a long time. How'd it go over?Delete
Be warned that those who refuse to play with learning DMs are destined for DM burnout - as they, and their good DMs get constantly requested to DM. For that reason, I agree with Steve -- we need to give all the tools that we can to new DMs, so that they become old DMs, and not new-ex-DMs.ReplyDelete
As for lokaire's point -- I disagree. While, a complete perfect simulation would include that, and "how well will the party/monsters roll", the system doesn't have to be that good. In general, in 4e, balance was pretty good, assuming that your party would use Dailies if the fight went against them. In that case, anything within 4-6 levels of the party was a good challenge, depending on rolls. I see no reason that next can't have the same broad level of player challenge.
As for Steve's idea - a broad brush would be sufficient -- for each +2 for armor and weapons, assume level +1. For each -2 for primary stat, assume level -1. That level of advice would probably suffice -- or another suggestion -- tell the DM how to evaluate player ability based on combat. So, if the DM throws a level 2 encounter at a level 3 party, and the party finishes in 1.5 rounds, then maybe the party is more like level 5. If they finish in 15 rounds, maybe the party is level 0.5.
Don't bother. I might as well take a character with 3's in every stat who doesn't even wear armour into your 'balanced' campaign because you're going to adjust the encounters to compensate anyway. Just throw away EL and this worship of 'balance' in the game and allow players to use uneven characters. The goal is FUN and not normalised, averaged experiences.Delete
Not if the rest of the party is playing reasonably competent characters. Then I am going to kill the shit out of that fool. However perhaps in a campaign where the characters were children I would re balance the encounters using this system to work for the lower expectations... Hey what do you know a perfect use of this system.Delete
You have clearly decided that your one way of designing and running games is the only way to do it right. Which is awesome because that is the only way in which you can earn the label Terrible DM. Here is your introductory packet and you can pick up a membership card on the way out.
Being a good or bad DM has in no way anything to do with holding a single or multiple points of view.Delete
In fact, if there were only one way to be a good DM, holding to that one way would be the correct thing to do.
In other words, you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.
I find the topic of whether, when, and how much encounters should be "balanced" a fascinating one and can talk about it endlessly, but it's not really the topic under discussion here. The debate on this page is for people who want to know with reasonable accuracy which way a fight is likely to tip, and the topic is whether there's a better tool than XP level for that job. Some of you don't need or want that tool, and that's fine; we'll have a debate about whether this is all a waste of effort on another day. Let's keep the conversation focused.ReplyDelete
Of course there's a better way. There's always a better way. The difficulty with what you're proposing occurs thusly:Delete
let's suppose statblocks/PlayerCharacterBuilds are built using XP levels and expected wealth as limits and opposing statblocks/difficulties/encounters/whatevertheGMchooses are built using power levels as limits. XP/wealth level is meant to be a measurement of the limits of power levels. What you're talking about seems to me to be a refinement of the EL system. Not sure why you're calling it something else.
Remember: "Players rebel against uniformity." Different challenges better suit different characters, that's an adventuring building GM skill that no measurement system will overcome. Party composition matters, so do dice slightly warped with age. You can't control for everything.
Yes, XP and EL are rough systems. No, hell's no, what you're proposing won't accomplish much. You're time would be better spent elsewhere (writing even more awesome adventures?). The iterations overwhelm the exactitude your post seems to indicate you desire, further refinement and complication would discourage good and bad GMs alike, and the tools on hand are sufficient for accomplishing the outcome of having a good game.
Great article. I really enjoyed reading it, and all of your points are excellent That said, I've never been a huge fan of balance. Also, I tend to have such a good feel for balance in most systems that I never use EL.ReplyDelete