Words from the Wise (Guys)

Copyright Peter Mork © 2013

Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion

Welcome to the 177th edition of the Guild Companion. We open this issue with the Spheres of the Elements, six new magic items of an elemental nature. Next, we offer New Combat Companion Weapon Styles that are also compatible with Fighting With Style. This issue also includes an addendum to chapter 7 of Mind over Matter that provides rules for instantaneous psionic powers. Finally, we present the fifth installment of our serial converting the Forgotten Realms Deities - The Gnome Pantheon into Channeling Companion format.

Many games place a great deal of emphasis on play balance. Game designers apparently learned from early D&D that it's not much fun to play the fighter once the wizard can conquer every challenge with a hail of fireballs laced with lightning bolts. Thus, with each release of D&D, Rolemaster, etc., the professions are increasingly "balanced."

Generally speaking, this trend is useful. I know from experience that it gets boring being the least capable member of a party. But, let us not be too hasty.

In our current Gods of Kur game, of the seven players: two are playing deities capable of changing portions of the world with a thought, three are playing heroes with full access to their abilities, and two are playing heroes greatly limited in their magical abilities. And yet, the last few sessions have been a blast!

What makes the huge imbalance work? I haven't performed a full retrospective, but I have some thoughts. First, every few weeks we change characters so that nobody is stuck with a complete dud for very long. Second, the characters' abilities differ widely. Even the less capable characters are good at something that nobody else offers the party.

I do know from experience that the second point is important. Years ago, I ran a Rolemaster game with 18 players. This was in the days of RM2 when play balance was completely out-of-whack. So, across those 18 players we observed a wide range of power levels. However, with that many players, the weaker characters didn't have their own niche. We kept the game running (at that size) for a few months, but we slowly lost players (in part) because they had less-powerful characters and were therefore getting bored.

In conclusion, the trend towards play balance is useful, but it can be fun to tell stories in which there are clearly heroes and followers!

Until next month, may all of your Large criticals be open-ended.
Peter Mork
General Editor