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The Balance Point System

TK-Squared September 28, 2009 User blog:TK-Squared

Balance Point System

(Or Why Profession(Face-eater) is a Situational-only Awesome Skill)


Contrary to what some people may say, or infer through various actions that are with only merit to degrade, the "Balance Points" system is not a bad system. Infact, it is designed so that all people can, and will, create classes that all have varying levels of "power" (and/or balance) depending on their own personal view of balance. All the system does is assign a title to each and every 'level' of balance based upon a premade class from the Player's Handbook/

It's easy to prove that the Monk is a weak class. It's easy to prove that the Wizard is an extremely powerful class. The two other points that lay between these two boundaries (Fighter and Rogue) are, also, easy to prove if you demonstrate against various creatures in combat. This point has been argued over and over again, and I'm not even referring to the Same Game Test (which infers that balance is based off CR = Character Level [noted from the DMG], therefore, at any level, a class should be able to defeat a CR equivalent encounter 50% of the time). The Balance Point system is common sense. It splits a big mush of classes into four distinct groups, where people can easily see what they want and balance the power of their game depending on such (also useful for The Gentleman's Agreement, where a balanced power level means people aren't overshadowing others).

But, of course; there are naysayers. Well, yes; this is the internet, for everything and anything there are naysayers. I'll break the community on this matter into two groups; the Stats and the Rands. The Stats will, most likely, go for the Balance Point System. They understand that the system is not based off gaming experience; but rather the system is based off statistics (get the name?). The Stats will examine a class, in depth, base it off averages and statistics and compare it to other averages and statistics. They will not assume a random dice roll, but instead an average of a 10 or 11 on attacks, a miss 5% of the time and a critical hit 5% of the time. They will compare ability spreads and usefulness against creatures and enemies that one would be logically fighting. They will attempt to discern the answer to the question; "What do you bring to the party that is useful?" (or further; "What do you bring to the party that is useful against Encounter x?").

A Stat will tell you that a monk does not bring anything to the party, in theory. Of course, they know that in a game there is random chance, there is "carrying", skillful playing of a class and just plain luck. Of course, a monk could defeat a Balor if he manages to run in, crit x amount of times with his flurry of blows and then eat his face with an awesome Profession(Face-eater) check because the Balor was busy dancing the Hula. It's also feasible that team tactics could aid the Monk into doing things like flipping out and killing people with his bare hands! But, a Stat understands that, even though it's a group game, a class should be created to survive on their own, not just with the help of Arcane Al or Pious Paul (or Drunk Diedre).

Now, a Rand will tell you that they once saw a Monk totally flip out and crit a Balor x amount of times with his flurry of blows and eat his face with his awesome Profession(Face-eater) check; therefore the Monk is not a terrible class. The Rand believes in the random roll of the dice (random, rand? GET IT?!) and that all classes are equal because there's a certain amount of random shit that occurs in the game. They will tell you that everyone's equal because everyone's playing together. Now, some Rands aren't that bad; I exaggerate for the sake of humour (humour? On these here interwebnets!? What heresy!). A Rand can be swayed over to the points of the Stats, but still believe that there is the potential to be awesome in any game, given x amount of good luck, y amount of bad luck on someone else's part and z amount of compensation.

Also, Rand's will invoke the Oberoni Fallacy (It's balanced because you can change it) and the Stormwind Fallacy (Power is lack of roleplay!). They have words like "Powergamer" and "Munchkin" in their arsenal and they're ready to use them against the Stats with a ferocious vigor!

But, do I hold this against them? Of course not. Where would we be with those Rands? But, I have strayed from the initial point, but at least the concept of Stats and Rands has been cleared up... Just a final note, there's a subgroup of Stats I like to call Theos. Theos do exist and they are the ones who come up with those fantastic game-breakers that Stats just adore for being so creative (and Rands tend to hate for being so powerful). Some Rands seem to mistake Theos for actually WANTING to play their creations. They're called Theos because they create Theoretical Optimizations (Man, I'm on fire with this wit). Keyword: Theoretical. They know they're not meant to be played and they, most likely, don't want to play them. Where's the fun in that?

Anyway, Balance System. The Balance System is favoured by Stats, as I'm sure I've said before, because it gives them various bars to test against. You can slot any creation into the Balance System in any of the power levels. Which, much to the dismay of some Rands, is a good thing. It allows for you to say "I want a game that's Rogue level power" or "I want a game that's Fighter level power". This way, you won't have Batman going around shutting down combat everytime in one round. You won't have CoDzilla eating everyone in the face. You won't have Tim the Cowardly Monk not contributing anything to the battle and making Tim McPlayer unhappy. For homebrew classes, it allows people to see what kind of power level that class has without having to go over the Stat's analysis on various posts/talk pages/whatever and trying to make heads or tails of their arguing (because they will argue about it... which isn't a bad thing, it's so they can be sure and finally come to an agreement). If Tim McPlayer comes along to the Tome Fighter class and look at it, he's going to say "WOAH THIS IS POWERFUL". But, if he sees that little note on the right that says "Balance Level: Wizard", he'll probably be "Oooh". Or if he comes across the Marshal class and says "Hm, this isn't as good as that Tome Fighter class...", he sees it says "Balance Level: Rogue", he'll understand that this is down a step of power, but still quite good. Is this wrong?

It is wrong to help people understand that there are varying levels of power and that games do actually have power gaps?

Furthermore, it is easy to assume that each level is a fixed point (with a fixed integer number). This is not true. A balance point is a range; contrary to the name it is given. If we are to think of it as a scale of 1 - 100 (100 is the top of the reasonable power scale and 1 is the bottom of it), we could give ranges as; (where x equals the total balanced power of the class)
  • Monk Balance Point: 1 ≤ x ≤ 25
  • Fighter Balance Point: 26 ≤ x ≤ 50
  • Rogue Balance Point: 51 ≤ x ≤ 75
  • Wizard Balance Point: 76 ≤ x ≤ 100
Do not quote me on that bit as being a true statement or fact; it is only speculation and for demonstrating that the balance point is not a "MUST EQUAL IN POWER" type of thing, but rather something on the Monk's Balance Point may be slightly more powerful than a Monk, but  not good enough to hit the Fighter Balance Point range. (Obviously, based on this range, some classes may not fall in any tier but, rather, are higher or lower. Like the Prestige Class: Planar Shepard would be over the Wizard Balance Point by a fair margin, or a Commoner would probably be underneath the Monk Balance Point. But, these are classes You Should Not Take).

The Balance Point System is also not to say that Class X is always that powerful or weak. It's to demonstrate potential, not builds. A wizard who takes only toughness as his feats, dumps int and only take evocation spells is probably going to suck badly. But, that's not the power of a Wizard, that's the lack of power of the player. I reiterate; the Balance Point System measures the power of a class; not a build.

But, maybe my mind is closed because I like statistics (as I've been told by certain Rands) and I'm not open to the idea that the Monk is SO AWESOME (Profession(Face-eating) +40). But, oh well. I keep explaining why the Monk isn't a good class and people keep on ignoring me (or yell the same thing over and over and leave (or call me rude (or crass (or a bully (or a troll))) (or just ban me)).

So, all in all; that's what they Balance Point System is. If you don't like it, don't be petty.

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