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I am just wondering which pen and paper systems could be considered rather "balanced" and which are not. The game and rules I know best is The Dark Eye - unfortunately I would consider it quite unbalanced:

  • Creating characters with a wide variety of skills will always be weaker then a character specialized in fighting only. This makes it hard to design a campaign: if two characters are at level 5 it does not mean they are equally strong.
  • It is almost impossible to guess your chances when rolling dice, you need a lot experience or tools. This is bad because players cannot estimate reliably if they can trust their skills in critical situations. And GMs must worry about creating enemies which make up for a challenging fight.

This is why creating challenging fights seems problematic to me. If the enemies are strong I fear they become too strong and rather create weak ones. So my question is: Which systems support GMs in creating fair fights easily.

These are other systems I already own, and I want to test them in near future, but "so many games, so little time ..." ;)

  • I am quite impressed by the One Die System (1d6) because its rules are simple and you can calculate your chances easily. At the moment it is my favorite in terms of balance and simplicity, but I still have to try it out. Also it is a system only - so GMs need to create their own world or make a conversion of an existing system.
  • Currently I read the new Iron Kingdom RPG (2d6) core rules. It has a great setting and I read somewhere the rules are similar to the table top variants. I hoped that due to this it would be a more "balanced" system. I love the possibilities in character creation, however you can create characters which rather focus on socializing than fighting - this might cause a lack of tactical possibilities and I am yet too inexperienced to tell if it is a problem estimating the fairness of a fight.
  • Brand new Splittermond ('splinter moon', in German only). Will update if I know more to its "fairness prediction".

How do you manage to create challenging but fair fights? Which other systems do you know and how do you classify them in terms of "creating a fair fight"?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by okeefe, SevenSidedDie, Wibbs, Tridus, Chuck Dee Jul 30 '14 at 20:51

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you have any specific, quantitative or qualitative measurements for a fair fight? I'm sure we all have ideas as to what a fair fight is, but I'm also sure we differ on what "fair fight" really means... \$\endgroup\$ – PipperChip Jul 30 '14 at 19:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this question would be improved if we restricted it to systems that made some particular claim of balance, so that we can evaluate if it lives up to that claim. For many (probably most) systems, balance is not advertised or intended as a feature. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jul 30 '14 at 20:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Even then, it would be an unbounded list question. I don't think there's any way to de-forum this question and make it fit SE. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 30 '14 at 20:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan I could see that being split off into a separate question, yeah. I'm dubious of saving the main "what systems are balanced" question since rarely does a general-interest question successfully transform into a one-best-answer game-rec—to write a good, narrow game-rec, the asker really needs to want only one and really put their heart in it. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 30 '14 at 21:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ To be clear, Vash, this isn't closed because it's not a good question, but simply because it doesn't fit this format: this site only works well with questions that have a one, single, "correct" answer, and that answer has to be something you can write reasonably concisely. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jul 30 '14 at 22:38
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The only System I know that offers more or less constant power level between different characters is Rule of Cool's Legend. In fact the idea that, given two chars of the same level, their relative power must be the same is on the very core of the system.

On Legend, the rule is simple. A = A', where A and A' are two different characters with the same level. The whole system is extremely stable when you get the ways around it's rules.

Also, it's free.

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