*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
December 01, 2021, 02:32:02 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13299 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 70 - most online ever: 843 (October 22, 2020, 11:18:00 PM)
Pages: [1] 2 3
Print
Author Topic: [D&D 4e] Balance Issues  (Read 26701 times)
Natespank
Member

Posts: 97

I usually use the male pronoun to mean either sex.


« on: February 27, 2011, 09:21:55 PM »

Hello.

Sorry to begin a new thread while the other is still active. I need advice on something that came up in tonight's game- it's about balance problems in 4e.

One player had to work, so we played with 2 level 2 PCs and 1 DM. Excluding breaks, we played 7 hours.

At the start the party attacked a high level group of bandits and were TPK'd. No biggie, the ghost captain hauled their corpses back to the vessel and revived them. I need to improve my death mechanic btw. Then the party returned for revenge.

The paladin was immediately outright killed. The ranger however was able to kite the surviving bandits with his weird ranger build and wiped out a level 5 encounter all by himself. Took a bit, but victory was plainly certain. That was a little weird.

Later in the night, at the end, the party finally found the halfling island. They marched to the center of it and started shooting everything in sight. I sighed, expecting another TPK. The paladin however had declined resurrection so that the player could play a battlerage fighter. This fighter slew 40 halflings and murdered a level 3 solo single handedly while the ranger kited stuff. The ranger died (backed into a corner), but the fighter was able to genocide this entire island's inhabitants and loot it blind.

He was exploiting some skills that earns him temporary hit points and a ton of regeneration, plus had a few healing potions for emergencies. It was legit.

On another occasion, last year, we tried a level 20 game of 4e: our powergamer friend W. built a character who would buff up a barbarian. That barbarian dealt 1600 damage per round, and killed 3 solos in a single round- they're very clever character builders.

4e is full of stuff like this. It's everywhere. I banned battlerage fighters, but something else will come up next. The battleragers are even patched in the errata, this is their weakened form.

I don't know what to do. With that regen and that kiting strategy, on an overland map the party could defeat an almost infinite number of similar-level enemies. I'm tired and cranky, but I could really use some advice on how to save my game.
Logged

Natespank
Member

Posts: 97

I usually use the male pronoun to mean either sex.


« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2011, 09:23:28 PM »

Besides, obviously, making that player make a new character. The issue is that something else will arise.
Logged

Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 2775


WWW
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2011, 09:49:53 PM »

I don't have enough footing with the 4th edition to resolve the specific mechanical issues, although I am a bit surprised if what you have here are truly legitimate and overpowered builds; the game has a pretty good reputation for balance, after all. However, I do have a GMing recommendation from how I myself run D&D and similar games: instead of trying to provide the players with level-appropriate challenges, what I do is I provide them with a selection of various challenges and allow them to choose for themselves. This way I don't have to know whether the group is powerful enough to face that troll or dragon or whatever, as I can just tell the players that there is a troll in that cave, and it'll be on their own heads if they choose to go into a combat they can't handle. And of course it's a given that I'll be able to populate my setting with something that'll provide a challenge.

Admittedly mere challenge-negotiation technique is not enough if the game's mechanics run into a dead end where the characters are so powerful that they can only really be stopped by challenges that are not themselves gameable; in 4th edition context I imagine this as fighting enemies that you can only hit on natural 20s, that sort of thing. What I myself do in that situation is that I make a game of it: the player who found the rules loophole that caused the overpowered character gets a lateral reward (something that does not further unbalance the character, that is), the loophole gets houseruled and the player changes his character to not rely on the loophole in question anymore. In this way it's no big deal if the occasional unbalanced character comes up, as they can be dealt with as they happen, and everybody wins provided your reward is sexy enough.

How is your own rules mastery with the 4th edition rules? Would you say that you know the rules better than your players? It's the sort of game where I'd be hesitant to go into it without either knowing the game very well or knowing that the players know the game very well and do not cheat with the rules. Without knowing about the exact issues here, the sort of rules-failures you describe are generally really, really common in games that have involved rules-systems that are not being adjudicated entirely correctly. Because I haven't really seen anybody else complain about broken ranger builds in the Internet I'm a bit inclined to suspect that there's an issue of rules-mastery here more than game balance. Then again, you know your group better, and probably know 4th edition better as well.
Logged

Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
Chris_Chinn
Member

Posts: 280


« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2011, 09:56:50 PM »

Hi,

Quote
I don't know what to do. With that regen and that kiting strategy, on an overland map the party could defeat an almost infinite number of similar-level enemies. I'm tired and cranky, but I could really use some advice on how to save my game.

Have you checked the WOTC/D&D message boards?  If there's any group who finds the most broken combos and how to use them or deal with them, it's that group.  Also, check for errata - I know battleragers are the biggest broken example I've heard of, there's probably errata or at least, sensible houserules to replace them.

Chris
Logged
Natespank
Member

Posts: 97

I usually use the male pronoun to mean either sex.


« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2011, 10:33:48 PM »

Quote
Also, check for errata

He's been errata'd. He gains half the temporary hit points he used to. Still crazy.

I was able to rebuild a version of the character just now, he's legit. As he approaches level 7+ the regen/temp hit points won't matter as much, but then he'll find something new or change characters.

The WotC forums suck anyway- I'd get 2 pages of spam saying 4e is perfect, 2 pages of spam saying 4e sucks, and 1 page of people with similar issues :(

Quote
This way I don't have to know whether the group is powerful enough to face that troll or dragon or whatever, as I can just tell the players that there is a troll in that cave, and it'll be on their own heads if they choose to go into a combat they can't handle. And of course it's a given that I'll be able to populate my setting with something that'll provide a challenge.

In my campaign last year I did that... I ended up building up an unfairly hard setting full of no encounters below level 5. The level 1 characters fought hordes of ghouls. It was retarded, but it worked. However, that's pretty lame and I ended up throwing groups of 3 PCs against over a dozen orcs at a time and they'd win. The system is crazy, that causes them to level up like wow. So, I divided out given-out xp by 4, and cutting way back on magic items so they got very little loot battle-to-battle.

All these "fixes" are a pain in the ass! I keep having to ban classes or combos and make weird houserules.
Logged

Alfryd
Member

Posts: 118


« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2011, 02:47:56 AM »

I don't know what to do. With that regen and that kiting strategy, on an overland map the party could defeat an almost infinite number of similar-level enemies. I'm tired and cranky, but I could really use some advice on how to save my game.
It might be helpful to see the specific builds being used.  Also, what kind of environments were the PCs fighting in?  Were there some kind of unusual choke points between them and the targets?  Just throwing out ideas, but this does sound quite odd for 4E.
Logged
Callan S.
Member

Posts: 4268


WWW
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2011, 08:08:01 AM »

Hi Nate,

I think it's at the point where you decide whether you concede victory to them (not only over the game world, but over the system itself) or realise all this modification and trying to find ways around what they've done is finding ways around conceding victory. Keep doing that and it's just a path down to either simulationism or narrativism, as it shoots gamism in the foot to not pay that victory. As I measure it.

I know, it feels utterly lame to put in that much effort and then on a sort of technicality of system, they just win? Further it wasn't even in in game show of ability - it was all pre game character build skill applied. I know. And your still stuck with either shooting gamism in the foot, or acknowleding the technicality win as still a win. I think alot of people go and shoot gamism in the foot and go sim.
Logged

Chris_Chinn
Member

Posts: 280


« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2011, 08:57:15 AM »

Hi Nate,

I'm not sure what you're looking for in terms of help.  It sounds a lot like you're just completely unhappy with either a) 4E overall, b) the person you're playing with, or possibly both.

I mean, there's a lot of simple houserule fixes you can go with, like capping Temp HP Battleragers get.  Or just banning that build out right (a lot of people on the WOTC/D&D boards have simply gone with that option).

But if you're not happy with D&D4E and just venting, the only thing people can really tell you is, "Hey, try another game."  Or, if the player in question "always" finds ways to do things outside the intent of your games, the problem isn't going to be the rules, and again, the end result will probably be to not play with him.

So what are you looking for and how can we help?

Chris
Logged
Natespank
Member

Posts: 97

I usually use the male pronoun to mean either sex.


« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2011, 08:39:21 PM »

Quote
I think it's at the point where you decide whether you concede victory to them

I do concede. He did win- he looted the island and has an awesome haul now. Still banned the class though. Gotta acknowledge that he sort of "beat the game" in a way.

Quote
I'm not sure what you're looking for in terms of help.  It sounds a lot like you're just completely unhappy with either a) 4E overall, b) the person you're playing with, or possibly both.

The player's fine, I'm upset with 4e. However, the player group loves it and I've failed over the years to switch systems.

Quote
So what are you looking for and how can we help?

I need to save my campaign, partially for my own sake. A few more episodes like this and I'll just stop DMing. It's not quite the player's fault- they're supposed to make strong characters and kick ass. It's more the system's problem. Technically, it's my problem with the system.

Is the best solution to triple the size of each encounter while banning/houseruling as I go?

Speaking of other game systems, what are some comparable ones that I might be able to introduce if I get lucky? I REALLY like 4e in essence, but it has so many little things... hah.

Quote
It might be helpful to see the specific builds being used.  Also, what kind of environments were the PCs fighting in?  Were there some kind of unusual choke points between them and the targets?  Just throwing out ideas, but this does sound quite odd for 4E.

The ranger just excels in large open areas. Ship to ship is good for him, as are plains. Just a good build for that.

The dwarf bloodrager thing... level 2 or 3, regen 6, 23 AC (partially due to items), 4-8 temp hit points per attack. Like I said, at higher levels I think it'll be far less effective, but for low levels he's a god.

Quote
I think alot of people go and shoot gamism in the foot and go sim.

I don't want sim, I want primarily gamism. I just need a structure that doesn't get ridiculously unbalanced.

Sorry if this sounds like a rant, I really want to save my game before it's too late.
Logged

Callan S.
Member

Posts: 4268


WWW
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2011, 01:50:12 AM »

Quote
I just need a structure that doesn't get ridiculously unbalanced.
I think in chess when the king is surrounded, can't move in any direction and is threatened as well, it's ridiculously unbalanced. I'd actually say winning is about one player taking balance and breaking it over his or her knee.

Well, I've talked about the whole 0-1000 winning track thing. I know it's a pain because you expect to be able to just deligate that responsiblity to the written rules, instead of having bought a product and then write your own game anyway. But I think you don't want things to be balanced forever and ever - you have to determine how they can finally unbalance things and take the king, so to speak.

Anyway, speaking in those terms I'd consider instead of trying to faff about with banning classes, just put a cap on damage output. Also a cap on the number of rounds you can kite, before the enemy automatically closes with you. It's just too hard to try to find and fill in all the little holes, so just put a bigger bag around the whole thing. But still at some point there needs to be a king taker move.

Logged

Alfryd
Member

Posts: 118


« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2011, 05:39:36 AM »

The ranger just excels in large open areas. Ship to ship is good for him, as are plains. Just a good build for that.
I take it this was some form of continuous hit-and-run attack, always dancing out of the way of potential retaliation thanks to a higher movement rating?  This would a very sim-lish hack, but perhaps limiting ammunition could put a crimp in that style?  Or, is there any kind of semi-randomised 'charge' action that melee opponents could take to potentially overtake (and maul) this guy, thus introducing an element of risk in having to run+shoot minus backup?
Quote
The dwarf bloodrager thing... level 2 or 3, regen 6, 23 AC (partially due to items), 4-8 temp hit points per attack. Like I said, at higher levels I think it'll be far less effective, but for low levels he's a god.
Yeah, that problem seems to have been mentioned elsewhere, actually...  You might consider restricting the benefit to once per round, which seems fairer, or basing the temporary HP off character level, rather than con bonus?  There are lots of tweaks you could toy around with, rather than banning the concept outright, but I agree the math here is definitely outta whack.
Logged
Chris_Chinn
Member

Posts: 280


« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2011, 08:17:04 AM »

Hi Nate,

Quote
I need to save my campaign, partially for my own sake. A few more episodes like this and I'll just stop DMing.

So, here's the thing, the big problem is you're not having fun.   We can recommend a lot of house rules and stuff, but, it really sounds like the last thing you want is -more- work.   I was going to suggest playing the game for awhile and seeing if you learn any new insights about tactics, etc. when you're not having to do all the leg work of building encounters, etc.

Strategy is tough!  As a player, you only have to think about your character, and you have the entire campaign to master your abilities and teamwork with the other players.  As a GM, you have to constantly learn new monsters, their powers, and how to work with terrain, because the monsters are almost always going to be throw-aways- you're not going to keep using the same monsters in the same mixes, so you never gain the same level of mastery.

You're going to need to be honest with yourself if you want to put in that kind of work.  If the answer is no, nothing anyone is going to say or do can change that - it's like knowing your favorite flavor and flavors you dislike- you can't make yourself -like- something you don't.  If not, you probably should let someone else run 4E and see if they can do a better job and take notes.  (and if it's still not fun, don't play.  It's ok, you can be friends with people you don't play with.)

That said, here's what I can say generally:

1) Battleragers are a known problem.   Either outlaw them or houserule them down.

2) Hazards!   Consider one-off hazards that make things hard for the players.  "We're fighing in a blizzard, -2 to all ranged attacks, everyone is Slowed, and monsters that aren't Yetis take 2 damage a turn!"   Change these up, they force the players to constantly re-evaluate how to deal with problems and make the best of bad situations.  Players who find a winning formula find they can't do it the same way anymore.

3) Delay hazards.   Pits, heavy sacks of grain that fall on you, a deep bog, things that you can set up that force players to lose one action or turn.  This is an excellent way to delay the players and incapacitate the heavy hitters a bit.  It adds frustration to the players, so try to spread it out.  It also makes them wary of terrain.

4) Bad choices.  "The easiest place to fight the monsters is in the magic circle.  But in the magic circle, if killed, they rise up as undead versions.   Crap."

5) Divide requirements.  "Someone has to go open the gate on the left path while some one else disables the trap mechanism on the right path, within 2 rounds of each other, otherwise they both reset."   This splits up the party within the same encounter, and also might be a fun skill challenge along with the fight.

6) Pain in the Ass combos.  Get monsters together that really combo well.  Some of the monster groups in 4E do this, but a lot don't.  If you have someone who creates a damaging zone, you want someone else who pushes targets into it, and someone else who immobilizes them there.  A useful trick is to look across the monster board and see if someone has a power that does it, and reskin them appropriately or just pull the power- that way you don't have weird stuff like, "Wait, why is an Aboleth working with these goblins?"

Like I said, this kind of stuff is a lot of work to think about, and you tend to either be the kind of person who goes, "I get to build wacky tactical puzzles? AWESOME!" or "Wow... that's a lot of work..."    The good news is that while builds play a role, you don't actually have to master each players' set of powers- following the general guidelines and looking at the general tactics of the players works just as well using a lot of the stuff above.

4E is very much built around players working as a team and mastering their powers and abilities, and, funny enough, it ranges across the board in skill level.  For a lot of groups, the stuff in the published adventures is fine, because a lot of groups haven't bothered really coordinating their abilities.   The groups who have, though, all that kind of stuff needs to come in to really keep up the challenge.

The hardest part of "versus" gamism, that is, a GM producing challenges for everyone else, is that you have to constantly challenge the group, which isn't easy if you're not the most tactical minded and power-nitpicky of the bunch.

Chris
Logged
Erik Weissengruber
Member

Posts: 601

Designing "In this Sign, Conquer:


WWW
« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2011, 08:46:23 AM »

"... instead of trying to provide the players with level-appropriate challenges, what I do is I provide them with a selection of various challenges and allow them to choose for themselves. This way I don't have to know whether the group is powerful enough to face that troll or dragon or whatever, as I can just tell the players that there is a troll in that cave, and it'll be on their own heads if they choose to go into a combat they can't handle. And of course it's a given that I'll be able to populate my setting with something that'll provide a challenge."

My recent 4e experience took this form.  Our GM was explicit about the level of challenges we could face, with statements like "this is a level 3 area."  We PCs made decisions where to go and took the risks of heading to those places.  The GM was deliberately negating the advice of the DM guide on how to ratchet challenges up and down to make sure every encounter would be always balanced.  A deft hand with monster manuals, he preped a few locales but was strict about checking for random encounters.

At all points we chose our risks.  I liked it.  I wanted to start GMing again so I stopped playing but it was a good gamist group.
Logged
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 17707


WWW
« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2011, 09:01:53 AM »

Hi Nate,

I wanted to follow up on Chris' first point, which might be easy to miss. In fact, I think I want to dissect one of your statements, without anesthetic.

Quote
I need to save my campaign

Now, I do get that you'd prefer to have fun, and that you're not having fun, and without the fun, you'll have to stop. What I'm about to go over isn't about that. It's kind of a blunt instrument smite-statement, and I stress that if it doesn't work or fit for you, then please simply ignore it.

Here's my point, at last: Why?

Why save it? Do you really need to, as you put it? I've seen people stuck in the circular logic of saying they need to save it because if they don't, they won't have it, although they acknowledge that what they have isn't worth saving.

Why would saving it be on your shoulders alone? Unless you see your role as utterly transitive, i.e., the GM as author of fun for everyone else, then your satisfaction or dissatisfaction is entirely equal in status to anyone else's at the table. If one of the players were flatly not enjoying himself or herself, then I'd guess you'd see that as an issue for everyone else's sympathy and expect them to contribute to solutions. Does this not apply to you as well?

Again, please ignore if none of this is relevant to you at all. But if it is, even to 51% or above, then I'm interested in what you make of it.

Best, Ron
Logged
Natespank
Member

Posts: 97

I usually use the male pronoun to mean either sex.


« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2011, 06:04:47 PM »

Quote
So, here's the thing, the big problem is you're not having fun.   We can recommend a lot of house rules and stuff, but, it really sounds like the last thing you want is -more- work.

I don't mind work. I spend hours each week working on material, but the rules are just so screwy.

Quote
My recent 4e experience took this form.  Our GM was explicit about the level of challenges we could face, with statements like "this is a level 3 area."  We PCs made decisions where to go and took the risks of heading to those places.  The GM was deliberately negating the advice of the DM guide on how to ratchet challenges up and down to make sure every encounter would be always balanced.  A deft hand with monster manuals, he preped a few locales but was strict about checking for random encounters.

At all points we chose our risks.  I liked it.  I wanted to start GMing again so I stopped playing but it was a good gamist group.

Could you elaborate on how he did this a little more? How were the random encounters?

I may take an approach like this. I'll make a setting that's horrendously difficult to survive in but with weak areas... let them proceed as they like.

I might have to make a bunch of my own monsters and house rule the game to hell though. For example, hard encounters blast the PCs through levels like you wouldn't believe.

I think I'm gonna have to heavily modify the game though. Sigh...

Quote
why save it? Do you really need to, as you put it? I've seen people stuck in the circular logic of saying they need to save it because if they don't, they won't have it, although they acknowledge that what they have isn't worth saving.

Why would saving it be on your shoulders alone? Unless you see your role as utterly transitive, i.e., the GM as author of fun for everyone else, then your satisfaction or dissatisfaction is entirely equal in status to anyone else's at the table. If one of the players were flatly not enjoying himself or herself, then I'd guess you'd see that as an issue for everyone else's sympathy and expect them to contribute to solutions. Does this not apply to you as well?

This sounds similar to a social contract approach.

I have 2 main groups of friends; one great, sociable group and one nerd group. I play RPGs with the nerd group. The nerd group is sort of irresponsible and selfish, but we like to play games together. They're all quite bright, in university, and avid gamers that challenge me. Nearly impossible to hang out with purely socially though.

Each other player has flatly refused to DM, and they really like it when I DM. They enjoy the current campaign. They've only played versions of D&D and are suspicious of other systems, and they love 4e. Basically, 4e is a good system- it just needs a thick layer of polish...

Finding new players would be a serious pain in the ass- all the likely candidates are similar to them but worse.

Anyway, they appreciate the problem and want to address it- it's just that they want to "fix" 4e instead of changing rules. I could change systems, since they'd have no backup DM, but I dislike *most* systems and want to avoid an RPG of the Week approach.

I had actually tried to start a game of Sorcerer but nobody read the rulebook. Same thing with a few other systems that require actual work from this group. They're sort of lazy, irresponsible and selfish- however my other friends are "too cool" for RPGS :(

The nice thing about D&D is typically you can just tell a player to show up and teach them as you go. It's also the "standard" kind of RPG, so you can sort of know what to expect from it. They'll HEAVILY invest in a system once they decide they like it, but the initial investment must be minimal.

I feel like I'm rambling. Let me cut this short and take a nap- I can't really expect the other players to "step on up" when it comes to making the game enjoyable for everyone. They ensure a basic level of enjoyment for everyone but beyond that attempt to maximize how much they can screw with stuff- each other, enemies, the rule loopholes, yadda yadda...

Besides, how would we collectively solve the issue? "G., stop making douchebag characters. K., no obnoxious builds that require 50 rounds to end a fight but can't lose. J., don't go through 1-2 characters every 3 sessions, stick with one. C., give your character at least SOME personality." It won't happen.
Logged

Pages: [1] 2 3
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.16 | SMF © 2011, Simple Machines
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!