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Do Careers and races need to be balanced?

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#1 Amketch



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Posted 16 September 2009 - 12:57 AM

By this I mean do all careers have to be equal to each other, can you have some which are simply better/worse, the same goes for races.

I think a lot of designers go to a lot of effort into trying to make things exactly balanced, when realistically this is never going to be possible. Sure you will have some players who will just want to have the champion career but those more interested in the rolepaying will follow the careers best suited to them.

#2 phobiandarkmoon



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Posted 16 September 2009 - 01:13 AM

Yes and no. They need to be sufficiently balanced to encourage a variety of characters.

For example, if in WFRP 2nd edition I added a new basic career that had all the skills and talents in the game, and one person in the group rolled this career, they are going to be stupidly powerful compared to everyone else, at the expense of their fun.

We -could- do it ourselves - but let's let Awesome McAwesomegruff over there do it...

Obviously, on the flipside, we don't want each race and career to do exactly the same thing, as that is balanced but boring.

My opinion is that a game is balanced enough if two players characters can be fun in different ways, with different competencies, without completely outshining them. An overreliance on the term 'game balance' can indicate a mechanistic system that completely relies on complicated maths to resolve everything... pointing no fingers at a certain roleplaying system.


#3 Necrozius



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Posted 16 September 2009 - 01:34 AM

One possibility is a PCs reputation increasing or decreasing in direct relation to their chosen career.

Being a CHAMPION means that you're at least remotely famous. It will be hard to walk about in a busy street without being recognized by somebody. That in itself could be detrimental under the right circumstances. There are consequences to being a DragonBall Z character.

Then you get the player who outright REFUSES to leave the dung covered, syphilis tainted, crippled camp follower career because of the wondrous and disgusting roleplaying possibilities there. No one's gonna even glance at this character in a busy street (except in disgust). Much better at avoiding recognition.

So there's one way, fluff-wise, that this could be handled.

#4 Loswaith



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Posted 16 September 2009 - 11:03 PM

For a game I would have to say more than likely because it
a) makes for more diverse options and no 'best' way to do things
b) its not much fun being overshadowed by another player
c) all players like to fulfill some position in the group, even though it may not be what everyone considers the most glamerous

Though alot of factors come into play when determing whats balanced.

As an example (I dont realy want to retruge the champion issue again):
  For me I'm one of the few people that dont think the 2nd ed Champion career is over-powered, simply because a player still has to pay for everything they get out of the career, while others think it is because it has a breath of high characteristic numbers that can be achieved.

My view is that by a third tier (an advanced career only accessable from an advanced career) career the bounds are off and a player needs to spend alot of XP on getting a character up to reach those lofty characteristic potentials, while a character going another path will spend them on something with less potentially stat hights but other benefits such as allies.  While for others the factor of having to reach those heights is less significant than the heights themselves.

Conversly for me the Targeteer is much more overpowered career since its a secondary career (an advanced career accessable from a basic career) that can reach extreemly high points (just shy of the maximum possible in the game) for alot less cost.  While others dont have an issue with its high characteristics because its in but one characteristic(balistic skill).


For me balance in 2nd edition is covered by not only the tiers but the number of advances to reach the career's completion and potentials, the suitable exists the career has, what non-characteristic advantages a career requires or gives and any weaknesses that may be inherant (or developed) in going along the path to the career itself.


Ultimatly balance means different things to different players/GMs but humans have the notion of whats 'fair'.  Sure its often different between people, but its generally their in one form or another.


#5 lordmalachdrim



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Posted 17 September 2009 - 02:39 AM

Nope. Some of my best characters were in games where I was compeltly overshadowed by others mechanicly and stat wise. I fondly remember my vagabond from Rifts. It was challenging as hell to keep up with them and to do anything but I learned more from that character on how to play both in character and to think outside the box then with any character I'd played in "balanced" games.

#6 Emirikol


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Posted 17 September 2009 - 04:24 AM

I think that each race and career should fall within rough parameters.  Tier 2 careers should be roughly equal to each other and  one "oddball" shouldn't be equal to a Tier 3 career. That's kind of the point of the career tiering system.

As for races, humans should be superior to all other races mechanically and "fluff-wise".  Humans should also have more diverisity fluff-wise and mechanicswise.  I absolutely think its a travesty/joke/farce that there are two elf races, but only one human race in the introductory book.



#7 Cynical Cat

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 06:05 AM

Careers should be roughly balanced.  Basic careers should be fairly good at what ever they do, with specialization rewarded with superior performance in that area than that of generalists (i.e. a barber surgeon does healing better than say a forester who knows some first aid).  Advanced careers should be better than basic careers.

Races are trickier because in universe they aren't equal.  Elves are superior in just about everyway and men are weak of will and body compared to dwarves.  Fate points are a good compensation for the superior abilities of nonhumans.  I think second edition did a good job of handling the races by portraying the uber elves and dwarves as many career veterans and the PCs as just starting on the road to elder race badassery and closer to humans in terms of ability, in my less than humble opinion.



#8 NewTroski



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Posted 17 September 2009 - 06:41 AM

I think they do need to be balanced, at least in some fashion.  That doesn't mean there has to be an exact give and take for every stat point, but just a rough sort of equality.

lordmalachdrim, that can be a fun experience (once played as a ghoul in a Vampire game), but it's definitely not for everyone.  As a game design decision, I think there should be equality.  That way, players that want or expect to be on par with everyone else are, and the ones that don't mind it or have a very specific idea in mind can voluntarily give up some things, because it fits with their idea better.

Emirikol, why should humans be superior?  In the back story, elves are definitely more agile and dwarves are tougher.  This is also supported in WFB.  I thought a lot of the idea around being a human in the Old World is that you aren't necessarily that much better than any one else, yet you're going out to face challenges anyhow.

#9 macd21



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Posted 17 September 2009 - 07:21 AM

It doesn't hurt a game to be balanced, but it can hurt a game to be unbalanced. It is much easier to take a balanced game and change things so the characters are no longer balanced than it is to take an unbalanced game and balance it.

#10 Necrozius



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Posted 17 September 2009 - 07:31 AM

I think that it depends on the GM, to a degree.

Most of the GMs that I've encountered reward the players almost entirely based on how successful their characters were in their application of skills, both outside and inside combat.

When you have a character who's overshadowed in just about every way by the other characters, and the GM doesn't really appreciate the roleplaying effort on such a lower key concept, then it can really suck.


in the last Dark Heresy campaign I was in, one player chose the Scum class. He wanted to be a stereotypical scheming, sneaking rogue.

The Cleric was better than him in social skills, the Assassin was better than him in stealth, the Arbitrator was better at interacting with the Criminal Underworld, and the Tech Priest was better at disabling traps. Hell even the NPC psyker was better at climbing walls and buildings.

Now the problem there was big: not only did he roll up worse stats (that's a whole other discussion: random attributes vs. point buy...) but all the other classes had better access to all the skills that he wanted to use in order to be a good rogue.

Yeah he quit after a handful of games. Now no one ever wants to pick the Scum class in Dark Heresy.

#11 lordsneek



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Posted 17 September 2009 - 08:39 AM

I think that even the more "gritty" careers should have something cool about them. Take the Toll Keeper from WFRP 2nd edtion for example when one of my player rolled that he hated it instantly. He just didn't see anything interesting about playing a guy that stands by a bridge all day and collects money. I don't really mind if a few "odd ball" careers have balance issues too much as long as they keep the careers random I'm happy. Though I would mind if too many of these careers existed. I do like many of the gritty careers such as Outlaw. It's kind of like a cool "steal from the rich" sort of career. Yet some career aren't all that appealing to player (or at least my player anyway) like bone picker or toll keeper. 

Being cool to my players is just as important to me as balance. Being interesting gets players to want to play careers while balance keeps them fair.     

#12 Emirikol


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Posted 17 September 2009 - 09:10 AM

NewTroski said:

Emirikol, why should humans be superior?  In the back story, elves are definitely more agile and dwarves are tougher.  This is also supported in WFB.  I thought a lot of the idea around being a human in the Old World is that you aren't necessarily that much better than any one else, yet you're going out to face challenges anyhow.


I'd like to see humans get more skills and talents.  They're obviously a very successful race if they've managed to overpopulate the planet, whereas the elfs  Leave the crappy stuff to the dwarfs and elfs :)





#13 sudden real

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 10:28 AM

Emirikol said:

They're obviously a very successful race if they've managed to overpopulate the planet

That's because they breed like rabbits. The Dwarfs and Elfs look away for a decade or such and suddenly a human settlement pops up. Success has nothing to do with it.

#14 Foolishboy



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Posted 17 September 2009 - 11:57 AM

It depends on your group. If you have a group of roleplayers that make Character and Career choices based on roleplaying, then it is fine to have unbalanced races and careers as it only adds more variety. However, if your group contains even one Power Player then the Power Player(s) will always pick to be the better race and will always select the better Career, so instead of adding variety it actually restricts the system and the style of play.So most games makers err on the side of caution, they balance the races and careers so that the game cannot be ruined by a Power Player. 

#15 KjetilKverndokken



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Posted 18 September 2009 - 12:46 AM

If a game is a board game or a miniature game, then yes it needs balance. In a role playing game, no, thats not the point of rpg's. Its about telling a fiction together - and people (whatever they are) are not created equal.

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