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Balance? Is it a good thing?

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Headless:
I'm thinking of my game.  And I'm thinking about balance, and I'm not sure I want it. 

I want may players to look for edges, look for angles.  Avoid fair fights.  If the are clever and understand the situation I want them to be able to leverage the environment or NPCs or monsters and solve the encounter with out rolly any dice.  Bot ever encounter.   Some times they'll have to fight and the dice or their tactics will decide.  But I want them looking for advantage. 

If they can never stack the odds to turn a close thing into a blow out there really isn't any point in planning ahead. 


Any one have any thoughts or suggestions on unbalanced adventures?

Krazz:
Nothing spoils verisimilitude in quite the same way as all of the encounters being slightly less powerful than the party. Sometimes they should be faced with overwhelming power (and not just when the GM wants to railroad them). And those small groups of goblins they used to fight at low levels? They shouldn't disappear as soon as the party no longer breaks a sweat dealing with them.

So let the players use their judgment of whether they can win an encounter, or whether they should run for the hills. I think that breathes life into a campaign.

Stephen Tannhauser:

--- Quote from: Headless on June 26, 2022, 04:35:17 PM ---Any one have any thoughts or suggestions on unbalanced adventures?

--- End quote ---

I think like most things it's a question of finding the right midpoint. Encounters that kill most or all of the party too soon is just as boring as encounters guaranteed to always be a little less powerful than the party.

A good variety of easy vs. hard-but-beatable-by-the-clever sounds like a good approach, as long as you do two things: (1) always make sure the really hard encounters have a way around them or an Achilles' heel the PCs can use, and (2) give people at least a ballpark sense of what their real odds are before they're inescapably committed. Nothing ticks off players faster than feeling like the GM or the adventure tricked them into a challenge or contest they couldn't possibly win.

hedgehobbit:

--- Quote from: Headless on June 26, 2022, 04:35:17 PM ---Avoid fair fights.
--- End quote ---

You are basically asking your party to be cold-blooded murderers. I've played games like this and they get very disturbing very fast.

Pausing to allow your enemy to draw his sword and prepare for the fight is the action of a hero. Stabbing them in their sleep is not.


That being said, I think the classic D&D dungeon style works the best. Since each dungeon level gets more and more dangerous as the party descends, it effectively allows the players to determine the difficulty of the game as they play it. So, the party can choose to delve deep and fact overwhelming odds or stick to the upper levels where it is safer but less lucrative. The main idea, though, is that players are just suddenly confronted with an overpowered enemy randomly, it is the result of a choice to travel away from the safer areas. Note that this doesn't have to be an actual dungeon, just any sort of system where it is possible for the players to guestimate the level of danger of different areas For example, letting them chose between an adventure in the Elven Woods or the Forbidden Forest.

KindaMeh:

--- Quote from: hedgehobbit on June 26, 2022, 06:36:21 PM ---
--- Quote from: Headless on June 26, 2022, 04:35:17 PM ---Avoid fair fights.
--- End quote ---

You are basically asking your party to be cold-blooded murderers. I've played games like this and they get very disturbing very fast.

Pausing to allow your enemy to draw his sword and prepare for the fight is the action of a hero. Stabbing them in their sleep is not.


That being said, I think the classic D&D dungeon style works the best. Since each dungeon level gets more and more dangerous as the party descends, it effectively allows the players to determine the difficulty of the game as they play it. So, the party can choose to delve deep and fact overwhelming odds or stick to the upper levels where it is safer but less lucrative. The main idea, though, is that players are just suddenly confronted with an overpowered enemy randomly, it is the result of a choice to travel away from the safer areas. Note that this doesn't have to be an actual dungeon, just any sort of system where it is possible for the players to guestimate the level of danger of different areas For example, letting them chose between an adventure in the Elven Woods or the Forbidden Forest.

--- End quote ---

So, for D&D and the like this is potentially a pretty solid point, depending on what a fair fight looks like from your perspective. Doing this sort of thing may perhaps encourage them to take every advantage, including immoral ones, unless you just mean that they should use environmental shoves, clever maneuvers on the fly, and the like, which I feel can be fun if done sparingly enough that they don't just become requirements or routine. Diplomacy can be fun, but also may encourage them to behave unheroically, which unless their alignments and the general tone of the campaign were meant to reflect that, IDK.

 I might also add that in D&D and the like a lot of the draw is often in the combat crunch, since that's where characters are best mechanically defined, and the further away you go from that the less players get to use their abilities, and the more things are determined by fiat and what the DM and DM alone thinks is a clever idea. Which can be good with a creative DM everybody agrees with and sharp players on the same wavelength, but can potentially I think fall apart otherwise. Likewise, if a DM is seen as being too harsh with rulings they may be accused of "arbitrarily killing characters", whereas letting them constantly emerge victorious from fights they mechanically should not win may potentially be seen as diminishing player agency or risk/victory railroading, albeit not in a directly cheating way like DM "fudging" without player agreement.

Speaking of combat crunch, consider that players may take this as a challenge to optimize their characters through the roof if not told not to. Which is fun for some players and DMs but not others. Or lead to cheese mechanical combos being spammed. Likewise, if not everybody does the arms race but some do, you may have things like a low level 5e moon druid overshadowing everybody else because the player felt they had to bring their mechanical A game. Which is not always a problem intrinsically, but can be where player agency is diminished and the other players care.

That said, this all assumes D&D type stuff for lawfuls or goods. Call of Cthulhu is inherently punishing and random, as well as potentially vicious to players in combat, so that kind of fight avoidance or creative mentality will almost be the default there. Or heck, wanna play WOD with a further right ST reading? Combat is potentially quite brutal because you never know what lines of attack will be utilized for supernatural and natural approaches, they can gang up on you, and hits take a sizeable chunk out of hit points typically, assuming you didn't just max oWOD soak and they don't have aggravated damage. Plus loss of humanity and the like from sketch things is legit something they may have to worry about or be encouraged to work into their characters' story. Or in DFRPG a lot of an adventure, which is not necessarily raw combat to begin with, can come down to clever FATE maneuvers and aspect invocations, or smart spellcasting (which is admittedly pretty strong if you've built for it).

So I'd say a lot of it still depends contextually on a fair number of different factors.

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