Class Balance Issues [Split from Comparison Sticky]

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Class Balance Issues [Split from Comparison Sticky]

Postby Eric Anondson » Tue Sep 14, 2010 1:54 am

Mod note: Discussion split from here.

Blacky the Blackball wrote:There aren't that many changes that are simply house-rules introduced because I prefer them to the RC rules. The biggest one that springs to mind is the way new magic-user spells are learned from teachers rather than books.
I like that. Though the list of skills seems inspired by 3.x skill lists, I see this as an improvement.

There certainly could be areas I'd be tempted to bring in house rules were DD my product, I honor the attempt to keep true to the imitated original. My personal house rulings might have included having demi-humans go to 36 levels but not have demi-humans be better in nearly every way (I'm looking at elves vs. magic-users), I'd find a way to bring elves down or magic-users up.

I like something similar to Gawain_VIII's post on implementing demi-human race/class combinations in a BECMI/RC game. With a bit more molding to make demi-humans not obviously more attractive in every way over a human.
viewtopic.php?f=43&t=4199#p55943
That seems ripe for a house rule . . .
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Re: Is there a comprehensive comparison between RC and DD?

Postby Blacky the Blackball » Tue Sep 14, 2010 7:22 am

Eric Anondson wrote:My personal house rulings might have included having demi-humans go to 36 levels but not have demi-humans be better in nearly every way (I'm looking at elves vs. magic-users), I'd find a way to bring elves down or magic-users up.


The big balancing factor is the experience costs for level advancement - particularly at low levels.

Since the elf is basically a magic-user who can fight like a cleric, at low levels the higher experience total means they'll always be a level or two lower than a human magic-user.

At high levels, where it's less relevant since they are less likely to run out of spells and be forced into a melee situation, the experience costs come back into line (although the costs stay higher for elves but not by as big a proportion).

Human magic-users can also supplement their spells with a larger variety of magic items than elves can (most wands and staves can only be used by human magic-users, not elves).

I like something similar to Gawain_VIII's post on implementing demi-human race/class combinations in a BECMI/RC game. With a bit more molding to make demi-humans not obviously more attractive in every way over a human.
viewtopic.php?f=43&t=4199#p55943
That seems ripe for a house rule . . .


I prefer race-as-class, but feel free to house-rule it in your campaigns.
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Re: Is there a comprehensive comparison between RC and DD?

Postby Eric Anondson » Wed Sep 15, 2010 3:24 am

Blacky the Blackball wrote:
Eric Anondson wrote:My personal house rulings might have included having demi-humans go to 36 levels but not have demi-humans be better in nearly every way (I'm looking at elves vs. magic-users), I'd find a way to bring elves down or magic-users up.
The big balancing factor is the experience costs for level advancement - particularly at low levels.

Since the elf is basically a magic-user who can fight like a cleric, at low levels the higher experience total means they'll always be a level or two lower than a human magic-user.
I guess I didn't see where the elf gets to be two levels behind the magic-user, I'll go back and stare at it. From my glance it seemed like there would be times at a particular level for a wizard where the elf would be the same level for some of the xp duration . . . Take a 5th-level magic-user: 20,000 - 39,999 xp, the elf enters 5th at 32,000, so from 32,000 to 39,999 xp both characters are the same level. 40% of the time the wizard spends at 5th level the elf is the same level.

Not to forget the elf (and other demi-humans) have crazy better saves in the mid levels as well.

Are the Settling Down rules (Chapter 13) off limit to demi-human? The terminology seems to be mostly directed towards human assumptions. Could it be claimed that the human classes have those available where the demi-human classes do not?
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Re: Is there a comprehensive comparison between RC and DD?

Postby Blacky the Blackball » Wed Sep 15, 2010 7:10 am

Eric Anondson wrote:Are the Settling Down rules (Chapter 13) off limit to demi-human? The terminology seems to be mostly directed towards human assumptions. Could it be claimed that the human classes have those available where the demi-human classes do not?


Demi-humans aren't specifically excluded from settling down and being given titles of nobility - in fact some of the examples in that chapter use a demi-human.

Of course, whether there are demi-humans (and demi-human nobles) within the majority of mostly human kingdoms or whether there is social pressure against that and they are only ever given dominions by their "own" kingdoms will be a campaign-specific choice.
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Re: Class Balance Issues [Split from Comparison Sticky]

Postby Eric Anondson » Thu Sep 16, 2010 4:02 am

Thanks for moving the tangential discussion to another thread!

Did you consider imitating the demi-human clan concepts from the BECMI rules? Too near to potential claimed copyright? Roleplaying differences are often claimed as not mattering for balance . . . except when the DM is prepared to work it. Having humans get stronghold rewards different(better?) than the demi-human classes would add an element to differentiate things.
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Re: Class Balance Issues [Split from Comparison Sticky]

Postby Blacky the Blackball » Thu Sep 16, 2010 8:03 am

Eric Anondson wrote:Did you consider imitating the demi-human clan concepts from the BECMI rules? Too near to potential claimed copyright?


Yes. Like the stuff on the cosmology and the hollow world (and "Spheres" for Immortals), I considered it to be too close to being copyrighted setting material rather than non-copyright mechanics.

Roleplaying differences are often claimed as not mattering for balance . . . except when the DM is prepared to work it. Having humans get stronghold rewards different(better?) than the demi-human classes would add an element to differentiate things.


The problem with doing that with strongholds is that generally switching from the travelling-adventurer style of play to the dominion-management style of play tends to be something that happens to the campaign as a whole rather than something that happens to an individual character. If demi-humans are excluded or made different at that stage, it can spoil play for the gaming group.

That's also a problem with gaining Immortality. The RC rules only really worked if there was a single character who was the centre of attention for an extended campaign, and weren't really suitable for group play where everyone's character is equally important to the game. Luckily, when I went through those rules, I realised that the actual mechanical requirements for becoming an Immortal were very simple and that the complex "rules" about tasks and trials and so forth were actually just a set of setting-specific "these are the hoops that existing Immortals will make you jump through before bestowing Immortality on you" stuff rather than globally applicable rules. That's why I just ditched them all and presented only the raw mechanics of becoming an Immortal. Whether the existing Immortals make you go through an extended set of tests and trials that force the spotlight to be on a single character for an extended period or whether a powerful Immortal (or group of Immortals) simply wave their hands and bestow Immortality on the whole party at once is up to the individual gaming group and which style of play they prefer.
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Re: Is there a comprehensive comparison between RC and DD?

Postby Atlas » Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:48 am

Blacky the Blackball wrote:
The big balancing factor is the experience costs for level advancement - particularly at low levels.

Since the elf is basically a magic-user who can fight like a cleric

False.

Elf can use weapon that cleric can't use (the most powerful weapon). Elf has combat options like warrior (smash, multiple attacks, set spear, charge, parry) and at 36th level they can make tree times the attack of a cleric. So elf is MORE powerful in fighting than cleric. ;)

Pay attention because unbalanced class DESTROY all the game. :)

, at low levels the higher experience total means they'll always be a level or two lower than a human magic-user.


One level, with your actual XP table. And don't need me to remember you that a 35th level elf is definitely more powerful than a 36 level mage. Also a 30th elf is better than 36 mage, simply because Elf is more powerful than a mage of the same level PLUS the ability of a fighter to 35th level, PLUS elf racial ability.

The experience point table of original TSR game was good and VERY tested. At 10th level of RC elf must have 600k XP, mage the half, 300k. That because al 10th level elf is also a 10th level mage and more or less a 9th fighter PLUS elf racial abilities. That table was perfectly balanced. On high level nothing change, a 36th elf is like a 30th level fighter (more or less) and a 36th mage PLUS elf racial abilities (and live for hundred years, don't forget it!).



Human magic-users can also supplement their spells with a larger variety of magic items than elves can (most wands and staves can only be used by human magic-users, not elves).

little limitation. At high level elf can make on his own every orginal magical item. He can make (example) a sword +5 with all power of Staff of Wizardry without class limitations.




I prefer race-as-class, but feel free to house-rule it in your campaigns.


Original D&D was based on race-as-class. If someone want race and class separated, there is AD&D 2nd or more. ;)
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Re: Is there a comprehensive comparison between RC and DD?

Postby Blacky the Blackball » Thu Sep 08, 2011 2:04 pm

Atlas wrote:
Blacky the Blackball wrote:
The big balancing factor is the experience costs for level advancement - particularly at low levels.

Since the elf is basically a magic-user who can fight like a cleric

False.

Elf can use weapon that cleric can't use (the most powerful weapon). Elf has combat options like warrior (smash, multiple attacks, set spear, charge, parry) and at 36th level they can make tree times the attack of a cleric. So elf is MORE powerful in fighting than cleric. ;)

Pay attention because unbalanced class DESTROY all the game. :)


I said "basically", not "exactly"!

But I disagree with you about how unbalanced the classes are. Can an elf use a smash attack? Sure if they know that losing initiative isn't going to be a problem since their opponent declared first (because smash attacks always go last). But in that situation they also know that a spell wouldn't be disrupted and therefore has no need to make a melee attack in the first place.

(Also don't forget that "parry" is useless, they don't get "set spear" or "charge" as options (because I'm using weapon mastery as core), that their multiple attacks are only against things they can hit on a roll of 2+, and that comparing a 36th level elf to a cleric is a waste of time anyway because clerics max out at less that 3,000,000 XP any elf with more than that XP is expected to be better regardless of level.)

, at low levels the higher experience total means they'll always be a level or two lower than a human magic-user.


One level, with your actual XP table. And don't need me to remember you that a 35th level elf is definitely more powerful than a 36 level mage. Also a 30th elf is better than 36 mage, simply because Elf is more powerful than a mage of the same level PLUS the ability of a fighter to 35th level, PLUS elf racial ability.


You'll notice that I'm talking about low levels there, not high levels.

At high levels, the elf doesn't have the abilities of a fighter and magic-user. They have the abilities of a sub-par fighter (there's no way a 30th level elf is a better fighter than a 35th level fighter, that's just ridiculous) or magic-user. They aren't going to be using both sets of abilities at the same time; and, in fact, are rarely going to need to fight at all.

Hence their fighting ability is less important at high level. Hence their experience penalty compared to a regular magic-user flattens out.

The experience point table of original TSR game was good and VERY tested. At 10th level of RC elf must have 600k XP, mage the half, 300k. That because al 10th level elf is also a 10th level mage and more or less a 9th fighter PLUS elf racial abilities. That table was perfectly balanced. On high level nothing change, a 36th elf is like a 30th level fighter (more or less) and a 36th mage PLUS elf racial abilities (and live for hundred years, don't forget it!).


You're wrong about nothing changing. For the first nine or ten levels, characters need to double their experience total each time they go up a level. Therefore if the elf has almost double the requirements compared to the magic-user they'll always be about a level behind.

However, once characters (of all classes) reach name level the experience chart changes and they start needing a fixed amount per level after that point. To expect the elf to continue to need twice as much XP at higher levels is unrealistic. If instead you want them to continue to be about one level behind the magic-user (like they have been all along) then my revised XP values are more suitable than the ones in the back of the RC - which as I mentioned in the other thread are clearly not "VERY tested" since they are simply a copy of the Attack Rank charts with attack ranks swapped for levels (even though the two are not the same thing).


Human magic-users can also supplement their spells with a larger variety of magic items than elves can (most wands and staves can only be used by human magic-users, not elves).

little limitation. At high level elf can make on his own every orginal magical item. He can make (example) a sword +5 with all power of Staff of Wizardry without class limitations.


If you let them make such an overpowered item then that's your problem - just as if you let a magic-user or cleric make a similar or equivalent one. The rules can't cover every eventuality when it comes to that sort of thing (although I'd like to see the cost and chance of success for even a 36th level spell caster making such an item!)
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Re: Is there a comprehensive comparison between RC and DD?

Postby Atlas » Thu Sep 08, 2011 6:58 pm

Blacky the Blackball wrote:

At high levels, the elf doesn't have the abilities of a fighter and magic-user. They have the abilities of a sub-par fighter (there's no way a 30th level elf is a better fighter than a 35th level fighter, that's just ridiculous) or magic-user. They aren't going to be using both sets of abilities at the same time; and, in fact, are rarely going to need to fight at all.


Wait for XP value you can't use this way.

Character has ALL of two powers, so he has a huge more flexibility than single fighter or single mage. He can make tens of 50hit points melee attaks, then fly, then make a meteor swarm, then became a dragon, then go down, return elf and make other tens sword attack. He could use his magic abilities to improver his fighting ability. Use fly, haste, invisibility, permanence, contingency, becaming more overpowered than a single fighter of a single mage. But repeat, they can CHOOSE between a 90% fighter or a 130% mage. It can't cost only 100k XP.


You're wrong about nothing changing. For the first nine or ten levels, characters need to double their experience total each time they go up a level. Therefore if the elf has almost double the requirements compared to the magic-user they'll always be about a level behind.

However, once characters (of all classes) reach name level the experience chart changes and they start needing a fixed amount per level after that point. To expect the elf to continue to need twice as much XP at higher levels is unrealistic. If instead you want them to continue to be about one level behind the magic-user (like they have been all along) then my revised XP values are more suitable than the ones in the back of the RC - which as I mentioned in the other thread are clearly not "VERY tested" since they are simply a copy of the Attack Rank charts with attack ranks swapped for levels (even though the two are not the same thing).


The one-level-less isn't a rule. So there is in no place that the correct proportion between elf and mage is the one level less. With RC table, at 4,5 million XP mage is at 36th and elf is at 27th. And a 27th is powerful like a mage (Wish apart). He has mor hit points, armor class, full melee powered, and has not 81 but about 65 spell of ALL levels. So he at 27th can make exactly the same thing of a mage, only a few times less. You can simulate an encounter between elf and mage (27 vs 36) and between elf vs monsters and mage vs monsters, and will see that a 27 elf has no real limitation respect a 36 level wizard. One level minus isn't a rule but a consequence of a rule (Xp table in this case). TSR made a complete system to calculate XP value, made by ability and powers.

At 8th level a mage is more similar to a 6-7 level elf than a 3-4 level elf. But if it is true at low levels, it isn't necessary true also at high level. Infact a 35th level elf is definitely more and more powerful than a 36th mage. There no question on this.


I think, friendly :) , I focus too much on "single round action: or spell or fight" and too less on AAALLL other variants during sessions and encounters. If you can ONLY fight with sword and I can fight with sword AND cast fly, haste, teleport.... I am two times powerful than you (casual number).


If you let them make such an overpowered item then that's your problem - just as if you let a magic-user or cleric make a similar or equivalent one. The rules can't cover every eventuality when it comes to that sort of thing (although I'd like to see the cost and chance of success for even a 36th level spell caster making such an item!)



No no, wait, it's not my problem, it is a thing made possibile by RC rules. On Glantri Gazetteer (that use the same RC rules to make magical items) there is the medallion of metero swarm PERMANENT between example and cost 54000 gp, it meaning that is a permanent free use meteor swarm, one per round for "secula seculorum". The rules for magical item don't say that a sword of my example isn't possibile. On the contrary give master and players possibility to make everything freely, then, IF DM don't want some kind of objects, he can limit them. But the rules cover every variants.

Cost is no problem. A wizardry staff (I calculate) cost about 300k gp, an amount of money that a character could raise at lowmiddle level (10-15) with no great problem. And like a weapon you can add powers no need (like a ring o medallion) to put them togheter where if you fail one you lost all.
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Re: Is there a comprehensive comparison between RC and DD?

Postby Blacky the Blackball » Fri Sep 09, 2011 11:57 am

Atlas wrote:
If you let them make such an overpowered item then that's your problem - just as if you let a magic-user or cleric make a similar or equivalent one. The rules can't cover every eventuality when it comes to that sort of thing (although I'd like to see the cost and chance of success for even a 36th level spell caster making such an item!)


No no, wait, it's not my problem, it is a thing made possibile by RC rules. On Glantri Gazetteer (that use the same RC rules to make magical items) there is the medallion of metero swarm PERMANENT between example and cost 54000 gp, it meaning that is a permanent free use meteor swarm, one per round for "secula seculorum". The rules for magical item don't say that a sword of my example isn't possibile. On the contrary give master and players possibility to make everything freely, then, IF DM don't want some kind of objects, he can limit them. But the rules cover every variants.

Cost is no problem. A wizardry staff (I calculate) cost about 300k gp, an amount of money that a character could raise at lowmiddle level (10-15) with no great problem. And like a weapon you can add powers no need (like a ring o medallion) to put them togheter where if you fail one you lost all.


If you're letting low to mid level characters create Staffs of Wizardry then you're clearly being very generous with the item creation rules - to the point of house ruling them.

A Staff of Wizardry has the following powers:

+2d6 damage (equivalent to 3rd level "Striking" spell) = 300gp per charge
Fireball (3rd level spell) = 300gp per charge
Lightning Bolt (3rd level spell) = 300gp per charge
Ice Storm (4th level spell) = 400gp per charge
Continual Light (2nd level spell) = 200gp per charge
Telekinesis (5th level spell) = 500gp per charge
Invisibility (2nd level spell) = 200gp per charge
Passwall (5th level spell) = 500gp per charge
Web (2nd level spell) = 200gp per charge
Conjure Elemental (5th level spell) = 500gp per charge
"Paralyze" (equivalent to 5th level "Hold Monster" spell) = 500gp per charge

Assuming you're trying to make one with maximum (i.e. 30) charges. Since it's a staff with multiple powers, we add the costs of the powers together and then multiply by the number of charges. This gives us a total cost to make of 117,00gp for the staff.

However, even if we assume a 15th level magic-user (the upper limit of the range you gave) with a 17 Int (high but not unlikely), the chance of successfully making such an item first try is surprisingly low. The chance for each 2nd level spell is (15+17)*2-(2*3) = 58%; the chance for each 3rd level spell is (15+17)*2-(3*3) = 55%; the chance of each 4th level spell is (15+17)*2-(4*3) = 52%; and the chance of each 5th level spell is (15+17)*2-(5*3) = 49%. Since all powers must be done successfully or the item is completely ruined, the chance of the staff being successfully created is .55*.55*.55*.52*.58*.49*.58*.49*.58*.49*.49 = 0.0001 or 0.01%. A fifteenth level magic-user has less than a 1 in 10,000 chance of being able to make the staff each time they try. Since each attempt not only costs them 117,000gp but also requires them to go on a major quest for ingredients and also takes over four months, it's basically not feasible to even try.

Even with a 36th level magic-user, with a 18 Int (the absolute maximum possible), the chance isn't 100%. It's 1*1*1*.99*1*.97*1*.97*1*.97*.97 = 0.876 = 87.6% or about 7 in 8.

I don't know if you've got to the item pricing rules in Dark Dungeons yet, but they are explicitly labelled as not being full item creation rules, and are only there as a guideline for the value (and therefore XP or PP cost) for when an Immortal casts the "Create Mundane Object" spell. While it doesn't ban it completely, Dark Dungeons does its best to discourage the creation of (and buying and selling of) magic items by mortal PCs. It's assumption (and re-reading the text I can see that it doesn't make this clear enough) is that the listed items in the treasure section are the only ones that can normally be made, because simply allowing any spell to be put into any type of item with any type of activation would have far too many exploitable loopholes for players to try to create "rules legal" but completely overpowered items and end up with too many player/GM arguments about what is allowed and what isn't.
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Re: Class Balance Issues [Split from Comparison Sticky]

Postby DeathFromAbove » Sat Sep 24, 2011 11:06 am

Hi, I'm new here and new to Dark Dungeons.

I've an old player that didn't like much AD&D / D&D 3.x but, after years of more "involved" sessions with other systems, we choose to give DD a try.
And it's a hell of work you have here! Excellent work!

So, to the point.
I own Rules Cyclopedia, AD&D 1st/2nd and 3.x
I wonder why the XP table for the elf isn't the one from the variant rules of the cyclopedia.

Rules Cyclopedia
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Re: Class Balance Issues [Split from Comparison Sticky]

Postby Blacky the Blackball » Sat Sep 24, 2011 12:26 pm

DeathFromAbove wrote:Hi, I'm new here and new to Dark Dungeons.


Hi, and welcome to The Piazza!

I've an old player that didn't like much AD&D / D&D 3.x but, after years of more "involved" sessions with other systems, we choose to give DD a try.
And it's a hell of work you have here! Excellent work!


Thanks! It was (and is) a real labour of love.

So, to the point.
I own Rules Cyclopedia, AD&D 1st/2nd and 3.x
I wonder why the XP table for the elf isn't the one from the variant rules of the cyclopedia.

Rules Cyclopedia


Dark Dungeons doesn't use any of the demi-human advancement tables from the variant rules in the RC, basically because (in my opinion) they're rather silly. If you look at the numbers, what Aaron Allston has done is simply take how much experience each of those classes needs to gain an extra Attack Rank (in the normal tables in the character generation chapter) and swap attack ranks for levels.

However, the two are not equivalent. Generally an attack rank is worth a lot more than a level. It also makes demi-humans take ridiculous amounts of experience to get to the high levels - for example Halflings take more experience to reach 36th level than any other class, and that's just silly.

So what I did instead was look at the patterns in the low level stuff - Halflings (and Mystics) need the same XP as Fighters; Dwarves need a little bit more; Elves are always a level or two behind Magic-Users; All classes go from a geometric progression to a linear progression at around level 9 - and extrapolated that to the higher levels instead.

In the case of elves, I agree that the difference between elves and magic-users is slightly too small - but I tend to think that is because magic-users need too much experience to go up levels rather than elves needing too little. The experience costs for magic-users were originally "balanced" against fighters and so forth without Weapon Mastery. When all the classes have access to Weapon Mastery, the high level spells of magic-users aren't as dominating any more.
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Re: Class Balance Issues [Split from Comparison Sticky]

Postby DeathFromAbove » Sat Sep 24, 2011 3:32 pm

I understand. Yes, what you say makes sense.

Tough I feel some balancing could be made.

The most problematic classes, imho, are: Elf <-> Halfling <-> Magic User <-> Cleric
Perhaps just a XP revision will be sufficient.
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