unbalanced races

The enemy lurks in shadows
easl
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habdankm wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 9:24 am
easl:
Even if you will put human highest roll to I it will not match elf lowest roll.
Yes, see my "D'oh!" post.
I know how my team plays. Before the game I'm trying to mimic their strategy, to see if it is possible to win over the enemy. So it's not dueling. I just use their PC sheets and roll few times (maybe it's not few, but still ;-)...
...I'm concerned about the balance of the gameplay between players, not characters.
Balanced game play doesn't require everyone go first in equal amounts or hit in equal amounts or do damage in equal amounts. One player can be good at getting the first shot in. Another can be the guy who doesn't hit as often, but does huge damage when he does. A third can be the advantage-remover. And so on. And NPC groups can be built the same way. Not everyone has to compete force-on-force with a fast-warrior designed elf in order to be useful in combat (on the player side), or be a threat to the party (on the npc side).
In our team, everybody is "warrior". No matter if he is "rat catcher", "artist" or even "herbalist". All guys are "troopers", which have to face the enemy in first-line during army march. It might be just a recon unit or securing squad which close tail the of the army. Sometimes, they just stand next to hundreds and story carry on.
I respect that you know your group's preferred style of play. Have they built characters yet? If so, how many dwarves, elves, vs. humans and halflings?
habdankm
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When enemies are stronger than PCs team than it's difficult to set their powers accordingly. If you set them to let elf struggle, then they will wipe out all others with ease. If you set it lower - to match other skills than elf will kill all enemies instantly. Moreover, "specialization" found in many "normal" fantasy teams only works, because usually enemies are weaker than PCs.
In our case, if players win (and there might be casualties), there is almost a celebration, as the level is very high (me - GM cheats, as I have a strategy planned upfront, but I'm challenging 4 smart brains against me).
After playing heavy tuned WFRP 1ed, we are preparing to play with the 4th edition. So far we've been playing always humans (4, no mages, all just "fresh" characters). There were no elves, gnomes, or dwarfs ever. I've done some simple tests how our battles would look like in 4th edition. So far without elves and dwarfs looks brutal, blalanced, very fast, which I like.
macd21
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I don’t understand how you’re getting such a power discrepancy between elf and human characters, unless they’re different careers. The difference is 10% on most tests, and the humans get fortune and resolve. IME there really isn’t much of a difference.
makrellen
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macd21 wrote:
Sun Dec 08, 2019 2:21 am
I don’t understand how you’re getting such a power discrepancy between elf and human characters, unless they’re different careers. The difference is 10% on most tests, and the humans get fortune and resolve. IME there really isn’t much of a difference.
This is unfortunately a common misconception about 4th ed. A 10 % difference in stats means a much bigger difference is actual play outcome.

Since almost all rolls in 4th ed are opposed a 10 % stat difference (45 vs 55 for example) equals a 20 % outcome difference. A human with a stat of 45 vs an elf with a stat of 55 is going to win 40 % of the time - the elf will win 60 % of the time.

So a starting difference of 10 % between an Elf and a human is going to mean a lot in actual play. And in my experience the fortune and resolve difference does not balance this out in any way - in most combats I run a character will often roll 10-15 times during an encounter (all of which are opposed rolls). A fortune point adds up to about a +25 % on one of those rolls (if your skill is around 50 %). If you compare that to 10-15 rolls where an Elf has a 20 % lead over the human I think you will see that the math is in the Elfs favor.
CapnZapp
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Don't listen to people like macd21 - they have comprehensively shown themselves entirely blind to any flaws in C7s game, which there are too many to list.

In a game such as 2E WFRP, ten percentage units more or less does indeed not play a significant role. If you hit 10% more often, and your foes parries half your attacks, that's only a 5% increase. Then add the independent statistic of strength/damage and getting something like +10% WS is no big deal. (Of course, if your human goes on to choose a civilian career, while the elf/dwarf becomes a Assassin or Veteran, the power discrepance can still quickly become unmanageable. Not saying WFRP handles intra-party balance well. Just want to set up the next paragraph).

Okay, so we've established that the 4E devs went into this thinking (correctly) that 10% is neither here nor there. But then things went downhill, fast. Almost every rule change they made inadvertently makes a 10% difference larger.

The biggest, of course, is the opposed rolls. Now Strength and weapon damage is of tertiary importance. Your Weapon Skill is now all-important. Be better at hitting your foe, and greater damage comes automatically - and getting hit less often yourself. AND getting more Advantage, which is a self-feeding loop.

In previous editions (and by that I mean 1E and 2E) you could feature quick, skilled opponents and you could feature clumsy but strong opponents. Even a monster with only WS 30% hits every third attack after all, and if you're dead from just one hit, there is still excitement and tension.

In 4E, a low WS like that gets you absolutely nowhere. You simply cannot compensate for a low skill with a high Strength and a brutal weapon. If you can't hit, Damage is useless. And if you CAN hit, you get all the damage you need just from Success Levels. (This doesn't mean Damage is entirely useless. If you can maximize your chance to hit and still have XP over, do feel free to increase your Strength or upgrade your weapon)

In 4E civilians simply die against half-competent monsters. Alternatively, any foe feeble enough to present a surmountable challenge for a civilian human will be completely trashed by a martial-minded Elf or Dwarf.

Same with social contests and so on; meaning that while this problem is most felt in combat situations, it permeates the entire edition. It's like playing D&D except only Halflings begin at level 1. Humans begin at level 2. Dwarves and Elves begin at level 4 or so. And no, you don't get diddly squat in return for playing a level 1 halfling - you're simply worse off in every regard. Especially "hit points" - being small means every Large monster instagibbs you.

And please don't bring up fortune points as if that fig leaf of compensation will in any way rebalance gameplay.

The cascading consequences are things Cubicle 7's dev team should have spotted, and corrected for, but didn't. A competent dev team would have DECREASED the difference between species, not increased them.

4th edition is objectively an amateurish wreck of an edition.
habdankm
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CapnZapp, makrellen this is exactly what I observed. That's why +10% for a charge (it's granted as the elves initiative is so high) and +10% for elves by default is already +20%. This is huge and that's what I've observed as elves are going for killing frenzy because of Advantage.
I don't have a problem with this outcome, as long as differences between enemies are in a range of +/- 5% (which was higher for previous editions) which is not elves case.
But maybe another mitigation might be to lower +X for Advantage (to for example 5% per each, but then math will be complex)? But I'm not sure how much it will affect.
macd21
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makrellen wrote:
Mon Dec 09, 2019 2:32 am
macd21 wrote:
Sun Dec 08, 2019 2:21 am
I don’t understand how you’re getting such a power discrepancy between elf and human characters, unless they’re different careers. The difference is 10% on most tests, and the humans get fortune and resolve. IME there really isn’t much of a difference.
This is unfortunately a common misconception about 4th ed. A 10 % difference in stats means a much bigger difference is actual play outcome.

Since almost all rolls in 4th ed are opposed a 10 % stat difference (45 vs 55 for example) equals a 20 % outcome difference. A human with a stat of 45 vs an elf with a stat of 55 is going to win 40 % of the time - the elf will win 60 % of the time.

So a starting difference of 10 % between an Elf and a human is going to mean a lot in actual play. And in my experience the fortune and resolve difference does not balance this out in any way - in most combats I run a character will often roll 10-15 times during an encounter (all of which are opposed rolls). A fortune point adds up to about a +25 % on one of those rolls (if your skill is around 50 %). If you compare that to 10-15 rolls where an Elf has a 20 % lead over the human I think you will see that the math is in the Elfs favor.
It’s not just +25% to a roll, it’s +25% to a roll you failed. This greatly increases its value. When the human fumbles, or miscasts, or just plain fails an important roll, he can use a fortune point. The elf is generally shit out of luck.

In most sessions the elf is going to succeed slightly more often than the human. But both are going to fail sometimes, and when that happens, the human has options the elf doesn’t.

IME, the elf fared slightly better than the human, but is far more vulnerable to something going horribly wrong. Humans can shake off conditions or avoid catastrophic failures in a way elves can’t.
makrellen
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macd21 wrote:
Mon Dec 09, 2019 10:36 am
It’s not just +25% to a roll, it’s +25% to a roll you failed. This greatly increases its value. When the human fumbles, or miscasts, or just plain fails an important roll, he can use a fortune point. The elf is generally shit out of luck.

In most sessions the elf is going to succeed slightly more often than the human. But both are going to fail sometimes, and when that happens, the human has options the elf doesn’t.

IME, the elf fared slightly better than the human, but is far more vulnerable to something going horribly wrong. Humans can shake off conditions or avoid catastrophic failures in a way elves can’t.
If you don't think there is a problem with balance between races - don't take my word for it. But I think you should take the developers word.

Andy and the rest of the team have already acknowledged that this is an issue - in the core rulebook all creatures have very low (or no) skills. The same was true in the first 2 adventures they released. But they quickly found out that a difference in skill of 10-20 % was a huge power gap - hence all adventures since then have had enemies that have skills in the 40-60 % range. It should of course not have come as a surprise (if you know anything about probabilities) but apparently it did.

Given that you Macd apparently do freelance work for 4th ed I am deeply troubled by the fact that you seemingly won't recognize the issue - either you don't understand the math involved or you refuse to see that the devs made a major mistake when calibrating the core system. But I rest my case - we have already discussed this to death on StS.
Iltherion
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Where did Andy and the other devs say that it was an issue?
easl
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makrellen wrote:
Mon Dec 09, 2019 2:32 am
A human with a stat of 45 vs an elf with a stat of 55 is going to win 40 % of the time - the elf will win 60 % of the time.
Except I asked habankm about that, and this isn't the problem he's worried about. He's worried about players playing a human being outclassed by another player playing an elf. While at the same time he's stated there are no actual elves in his play party (4 players...4 human characters). And my point much earlier in reply to this worry was that very rarely do you get two PCs trying to fulfill the same role. So chances are, the other players are happy when the elf PC kicks butt at something that isn't their own specialty.
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Orin J.
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easl wrote:
Mon Dec 09, 2019 1:56 pm
makrellen wrote:
Mon Dec 09, 2019 2:32 am
A human with a stat of 45 vs an elf with a stat of 55 is going to win 40 % of the time - the elf will win 60 % of the time.
Except I asked habankm about that, and this isn't the problem he's worried about. He's worried about players playing a human being outclassed by another player playing an elf. While at the same time he's stated there are no actual elves in his play party (4 players...4 human characters). And my point much earlier in reply to this worry was that very rarely do you get two PCs trying to fulfill the same role. So chances are, the other players are happy when the elf PC kicks butt at something that isn't their own specialty.
if hi concern is that he thinks one of his players will try an elf and start overshadowing the other players and make them unhappy, that sounds like a party problem as much as a stats problem. does he not think they will try to solve the problem off-table before he has to step in?
easl
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habdankm wrote:
Mon Dec 09, 2019 8:34 am
CapnZapp, makrellen this is exactly what I observed. That's why +10% for a charge (it's granted as the elves initiative is so high) and +10% for elves by default is already +20%. This is huge and that's what I've observed as elves are going for killing frenzy because of Advantage.
This is why I suggest not trying to make simple force-on-force threats. Throw in NPCs with a mix of abilities. If you've got one guy running away with an advantage cascade, have an enemy spellcaster throw a dart at him. It won't do much damage but it'll reset his advantage to 0 and it's not an opposed roll, so his advantage doesn't help him prevent it. Beat Blade, Beneath Notice, Distract, and Shieldsman can also work against an attacker trying to build it up. Knock them down. Take cover. Rather than have NPC grunts attack everyone in the party equally, have them outnumber the obvious melee challenge (+20 to hit him, and he loses 1 advantage per round). Use a trick to inflict a condition on them (wizards should also be pretty good at this, since several of the winds inflict a condition automatically with any successful cast). Take on a melee specialist with ranged opponents (he can't use melee against a ranged attack) and a ranged specialist with melee fighters (he can't shoot while engaged). And so on, and so on.

Now. I'm not saying that a GM should tune the NPCs to take away all the excellent cool things a player has built their character to do. If someone wants to build a character that shines in combat, they should generally be allowed to shine in combat. At the same time however, I'm a big believer in not playing any enemy except the throw-away brute squads as dumb. Players know to kite the tank - why shouldn't most enemies know the same strategy? If the NPCs see a party with a merchant, mystic, and elf knight, Why wouldn't they assess the knight as the biggest threat and throw every trick at him?
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Orin J.
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easl wrote:
Mon Dec 09, 2019 6:40 pm
Now. I'm not saying that a GM should tune the NPCs to take away all the excellent cool things a player has built their character to do-
-but if you don't it's going to snowball on you because of how the rules work so you kind of HAVE to.
habdankm
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easl: to clarify, in our WFRP, all players have the same role, which is "trooper" in the Imperial Army. In most cases, they will advance just a little... :-) Novice mage is worth as much as a rat catcher. I agree with most of the arguments from "WHFR 4e - Are Wizards playable?". After some "level" they get powerfull, but our PCs never get there.
So far we played only humans, as you can't play elves in WFRP 1ed. I'm evaluating if migration to WFRP 4th will solve this and we could add other races. So far, I think it's not possible.
Orin J. You pinpoint issue which I'm afraid: "if hi concern is that he thinks one of his players will try an elf and start overshadowing the other players and make them unhappy"
This is exactly what I see, as an outcome of rules and high elves stats. We enjoy competing between players. We count how many "headshots" each player have. We enjoy successes of heroic actions and count them as well. So-called "roleplay" based on the fact that "elves" should be the best to sneak through the forest is not our type. I don't understand why this is "Bad" RPG and a "party problem" to solve as it's fun for all of us what we do.
Regarding: "If the NPCs see a party with a merchant, mystic, and elf knight, Why wouldn't they assess the knight as the biggest threat and throw every trick at him?"
This is exactly what we do - all encounters have a lot of tactics and we (GM and team) use all possible advantages (terrain, surprise, etc.). So far I've tested that mixed specialties don't work. Is it only me? In WFRP 4th, so far all weaklings (low-level mages, exposed rangers etc. btw. anyone who has 20% lower WS below average - yes so far this looks that bad!), get annihilated instantly. Close combat with a bow doesn't work in 4th and I like this. Am I wrong? But this means that if the ranger will lose protection, he is considered dead.
I'm still learning in WFRP 4th, so for example, I didn't go through all the skills yet. I wasn't aware of Beat Blade, but it looks like it's only available for Duelist. "Beneath Notice" it's limited to only a few career paths, so it's not very often that NPC will get those. I'll add those, but I doubt if all enemies should have it...
"Distract" - I have no idea how you would like to use it, as it needs "move" action.
Anyway - thanks for all input, I'm learning and I will reevaluate and tests your suggestions.
easl
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habdankm wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 2:00 pm
easl: to clarify, in our WFRP, all players have the same role, which is "trooper" in the Imperial Army. In most cases, they will advance just a little... :-)

...We enjoy competing between players. We count how many "headshots" each player have. We enjoy successes of heroic actions and count them as well....

...In WFRP 4th, so far all weaklings (low-level mages, exposed rangers etc. btw. anyone who has 20% lower WS below average - yes so far this looks that bad!), get annihilated instantly...
First, it's your game. I would not call it bad role playing. Rule 0 of roleplaying; the goal is to have fun. Your play group decides elves make the game less fun? No elves.

I think if your sessions are mostly combat, and most characters die before advancing far, and most characters not built to max WS and other combat abilities get wiped out fast, and your players like to keep track of who kills how many and think that matters...then yes, I think under the conditions you've described, the approach of limiting race selection or flattening it (i.e. make it more cosmetic rather than attribute-changing) seems reasonable.

OTOH, have you thought about the fact that maybe allowing elves for some careers might be a way to make more careers viable in your campaign? Not all careers get WS advances to start with. If your players are rejecting careers such as apothecary out of hand because, without WS, they'll get wiped out fast, maybe allowing a High Elf apothecary-trooper actually opens up the career to your players. Maybe a rule like "you can only take Elf or Dwarf if neither WS or BS show up as a + or "crossed axe" allowed advance" might work for your game.
CapnZapp
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Regarding Advantage.

Please realize it's unfixable. I have a grasp on probabilities and we tried various fixes, such as limiting you to being able to only gain one Advantage per round.

In the end it just became too complicated. And still too good. As has been established each +10% is more valuable in 4E than in 1E/2E. The very idea that you can get +30, 40, etc simply isn't a good one.

Especially given the obvious alternative: dumping the idea of escalating Advantage altogether. That saves considerable administration - keeping track of what foe has how many Advantage isn't trivial.

That doesn't mean you can't have SOME benefit for getting the upper hand or gaining ground.

In fact, the rule that does work was invented already by 1st edition. It's called, wait for it, "winning and losing":
winning and losing.png
If the image ever gets lost, it basically says that if you damaged your foe(s) more than they damaged you last round, you gain +10% this round, and you can move a couple of yards forward, forcing your foe(s) to yield ground. Alternatively, while "winning" you can instead leave the combat without penalty.

This works beautifully in 4E. A +10% is plenty given the 4E framework. It also accomplishes everything the 4E designers strove for but without the imbalance, the complication or the administration.

I'm not a professional game designer, but my proposal - to use a rule invented forty years ago by actually good developers - is objectively better than C7's rushed and sloppy Advantage rule, that basically transforms the game into "chase the Advantage": basically, the default 4E tactic is never mind what weapon you're using - just collect Advantage and you don't need anything else. (Ideally, you want to focus on an activity that lets you amass Advantage with as little opposition as possible; the opposite of realistic or at least heroic action) Conversely, you're made to run through artificial hoops and think of the meta game "shoot him before his Advantage runs away" that yanks you out of the immersion.
FasterThanJesus
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I've twice typed up my set of proposals to fix racial imbalance issues, including halving the stat differences between elves/dwarfs and humans and halfing advantage after clamping it to IB.

That 1st ed rule (that I'd forgotten) pretty much fixes advantage at least. Thanks cap'n
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Orin J.
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CapnZapp wrote:
Wed Dec 11, 2019 5:18 am

I'm not a professional game designer, but my proposal - to use a rule invented forty years ago by actually good developers - is objectively better than C7's rushed and sloppy Advantage rule-
Not to defend advantage, but "rushed and sloppy" doesnt' apply to it. The advantage system is a extremely thoroughly designed and carefully balanced system- just one that was then carelessly slapped onto an incompatible and entirely nonfunctional system of "rolls don't matter!" for a result of chasing the most broken modifiers possible to render the uncontrollable RNG-off moot. If the core system it was added to was functional they could have made advantage into a useful system, but as-published it's a mess of trying to hide the fact the core combat rolls are largely meaningless. It's a meticulous and elegantly crafted attempt to obfuscate that they fucked up on an even more basic level.
Zisse
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Orin J. wrote:
Wed Dec 11, 2019 7:45 pm

If the core system it was added to was functional they could have made advantage into a useful system, ...
This may be a wild proposal. Wouldn't that mean that it may be worth trying the 4e advantage system with 1e or 2e? Did someone try such a thing?
habdankm
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The Advantage rule system breaks WFRP 1ed. In 4th edition rolls based on differences can "swallow" this. In WFRTP 1ed there is no such thing. You end up with rolls like 99% on both sides and it doesn't make any sense.
I'm not sure who was balancing Advantage, but it leads to very brutal fights (I like this btw.). So far I see (no matter how I try) the same scenario: weakling are wiped out almost instantly, and then there is a battle of real fighters which is resolved almost by one roll. For me, it makes sense, as you just need to know when to flee or die with honor :-) But that's why elves are such a problem.
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