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Dungeons and Dragons Wiki:Balance Points

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Campaign balance is a fine art, as it is extremely difficult to classify exactly. What is balanced in one campaign might not be balanced in another, by virtue of what classes, feats, and other such options are available to characters. Balance goes both ways, and it's important to realize that material that is perfectly reasonable in some games may be ridiculously overpowered or so weak as to not be worth writing down in others. A primary goal of this wiki is to help our users more easily find homebrew material that fits well within the balance their campaign already uses.

To that end, most of our pages will list a level of balance. These levels are described here. Each level is named after the class that best exemplifies it, and contains a number of classes, prestige classes, and character options published by Wizards of the Coast to provide further examples of material at that level. The options listed here aren't intended to be used to win or lose any contests, but just to give you a good pool of work to compare our homebrew against. It should be said right off that no level is better or worse than any other, the only right level is the one that works for your game and your playstyle.

As part of that, we accept that an option is only overpowered or underpowered when compared with the other available options. There is material within published works that is going to be overpowered for some campaigns, just as there is material that is going to be weak in some campaigns. Sometimes that is even the same material viewed from two different games. These balance levels are an attempt to place homebrew works on this site in a greater context. If an article is listed at a given level, we believe it is appropriate for inclusion in a campaign that already primarily includes the options indicated at that level.

So please look over our balance levels, and see if you can pick out which one your games tend to work under. We hope that you find material here for that balance level that helps expand the fun of your games without making you worry about unbalancing it.

3.5th Edition Balance Points

I never had a problem before...
  You may never have had a character in your game consistently overshadowing everyone else. Or a character feel completely useless because they just don't contribute like the rest of the party without that artifact sword you gave them. It's possible that you've never banned a spell because it was too strong, or boosted a feat that you thought was too weak. Perhaps you've never had a player use a strong class ability in a way that seemed like abuse, or you've never seen a group stack some abilities and rules together to "win" the game without actually playing it anymore. If that's the case, you probably don't need to worry about this and can just use whatever you like from the wiki. And you should feel very lucky.

  For the rest of us who have had some of these problems, these balance points should help to minimize or at least point out the potential pitfalls. Even if you've never worried about it before and don't particularly feel like worrying about it now, we hope that these levels make it easier for your to identify and resolve the actual root of any instances where you feel that a player is over or under performing.

Monk Level

The Monk Level is the lowest possible level of balance. Materials in this category will remain competitive with fighter level material up to level 9 and with rogue and wizard level material, as well as appropriate CR monsters, up to level 5. Additional levels may be possible with extensive optimization, but after these points the higher category content will likely begin to pull away.

The Monk is widely considered to be the weakest of all the core classes, and this fact is agreed upon by this wiki's Rating Committee. We do not allow any level of balance lower than Monk-level on the wiki, and anything weaker than the core monk may be deleted per wiki policy.

Other classes and prestige classes, published by Wizards of the Coast, that can be considered around the Monk level of balance include:

Some feats, published by Wizards of the Coast, that can be considered around the Monk level of balance include:

For a complete list of articles on this wiki that use the Monk Level of balance, click here.

Fighter Level

A step up from Monk Level is the balance level corresponding to the core Fighter. Materials in this category will remain competitive with rogue level material and appropriate CR monsters up to level 9, and it will be passed up by wizard level material earlier than that. Additional competitive levels may be possible with extensive optimization, but after these points the higher category content will likely begin to pull away.

This balance point stretches roughly from the chain tripper Fighter to a Fighter whose primary goal in life is to wield a lance and use Spirited Charge and have very careful magic item selection (a build that is fairly competitive, if boring, against monsters at all levels of the game). The latter is an example of the level of optimization required to keep this content relevant in simple damage with Rogues and published monsters at high levels; it is still a fighter level build because of its general lack of options and one-dimensionality.

Other classes and prestige classes, published by Wizards of the Coast, that can be considered around the Fighter level of balance include:

Some feats, published by Wizards of the Coast, that can be considered around the Fighter level of balance include:

For a complete list of articles on this wiki that use the Fighter Level of balance, click here.

Rogue Level

A step up from the Fighter Level is the balance level corresponding to the Rogue. This level of balance can also be called Same Game Test level, as the Rogue corresponds to an approximately 50/50 matchup on that balance guideline. Materials in this category will remain competitive against appropriate CR monsters over all levels of the game, and can generally be optimized for play with wizard level content.

Other classes and prestige classes, published by Wizards of the Coast, that can be considered around the Rogue level of balance include:

Some feats, published by Wizards of the Coast, that can be considered around the Rogue level of balance include:

For a complete list of articles on this wiki that use the Rogue Level of balance, click here.

Wizard Level

The highest level of balance on the wiki is the Wizard level. Though generally spellcasters, this level also happens to contain a substantial portion of Tome material. It will generally pull away from lower level material and even appropriate CR creatures as early as mid levels. Note that the Wizard level should not be considered a "badge of shame", as some have referred to it. It is, like the rest of our balance levels, a perfectly acceptable balance point to use and is used for many items on this wiki.

It is important to note that this level does not include people who play their wizards casting spells like Magic Missile and Lightning Bolt. These are a perfectly appropriate selection of spells, but are considered to be fighter level tactics and thus make the class fighter level when played in such a way (which is why you can get away with wizards in fighter level games without continuous overshadowing). Material in this category assumes that players will be using tactical spells like Color Spray and Stinking Cloud and make otherwise optimal spell and tactical decisions that often end or decide the battle with one spell. This is an important distinction to make, as spell selection and play style will impact which material you allow or disallow.

Other classes and prestige classes, published by Wizards of the Coast, that can be considered around the Wizard level of balance include:

Some feats, published by Wizards of the Coast, that can be considered around the Wizard level of balance include:

  • Divine Metamagic[9]
  • Dragon Wild Shape[10]

For a complete list of articles on this wiki that use the Wizard Level of balance, click here.

4th Edition Balance Points

Righteous Brand Level

The top balance point in 4th edition is one that uses the Righteous Brand power of the Cleric (Muscle Cleric style build) as an example. Other such examples of this balance point include Orbizards and Rangers.

Unquantifiable

There are a few rare articles on the wiki whose balance is completely unquantifiable. These articles are very rare, and are generally reserved for NPC stuff that PCs won't take because it does not have an effect on any in-game statistic or provide any new options. The best example of such an article is Memories of Death, whose effect on gameplay cannot be quantified by any means because it's so entirely volatile. Some examples from the SRD include the Leadership feat, the Planar Binding line of spells, and the Gate spell.

For a complete list of articles on this wiki that are unquantifiable, click here.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Complete Warrior
  2. Miniatures Handbook
  3. 3.0 3.1 Complete Arcane
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Tome of Battle
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Player's Handbook II
  6. Complete Adventurer
  7. Eberron Campaign Setting
  8. Heroes of Horror
  9. Complete Divine
  10. Draconomicon

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