Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The myth of party balance.

I'm hoping that 4e will finally put to rest the mindset that a party has to be "balanced" in order to survive. By balanced, I mean the traditional Fighter/Rogue/Wizard/Cleric group.

Yes, another class can fill in for one of those roles. A paladin, barbarian, or even a monk can take the fighter spot. A druid can fill in for a cleric.

But, in essence, for a party to be called "balanced" you need to have a damage dealer, a damage healer, a caster, and a trap disarmer.

I say bollocks to that. A group of good players can overcome or find their way around any obstacle with enough time, ingenuity, and skill. A bit of luck never hurts either.

We've had parties of characters that didn't have a cleric or a true rogue, but we did just fine thank you very much. We've also had parties that were the definition of balanced, and were wiped out. It always comes down the player smarts and the roll of the dice. The dreaded natural 1 on a saving throw is the case in point.

I'm optimistic that 4e is going to emphasize versatility and variation within each class. If my wizard uses some of his book smarts to learn how to disarm traps or pick locks, then why do we need a rogue? If my barbarian learns to set bones and bandage wounds then we can do without a cleric.

So, I'm hoping that with rumors of talent trees and race abilities that grow in level, that the idea of needing party balance will go the way of THAC0.

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