Balance class design introduction

In this series of articles, I will be exploring in relatively short form the design behind each of the seven classes in Balance. The goal is to provide a peek behind the curtain into what sort of thought process went into choosing the directions I’ve decided to take each of them – and the lessons I learned along the way.

Class articles:
Warrior | Knight | Rogue | Hunter | Wizard | Witch | Monk

But before all that, some amount of context needs to be established. You can grab the open beta from here, but either way here is an overview:

Like any other (well made) game, Balance aims to deliver a particular type of experience. In this case, it also serves as a systematic exploration of balancing mechanics in TTRPGs, but that’s not really the focus of this series. On a meta level, it is, but from a gameplay perspective, the point of the game is to put you in the shoes of an agent of twilight, and force you to solve problems using a very focused and somewhat limited tool set. Still, it wants to cater to every type of player, which is where the class system comes in – by delegating the different approaches to problem-solving, I can make sure there is something for everyone, while at the same time making these things more linear and focused at what they do. However it’s still important to be flexible and provide wiggle room, so that’s why the different Paths offer classes distinct ways to be built. In many ways, the class is the type of fantasy the player wants, while the paths are the different ways they have to explore that via gameplay.

There are three paths for every class – light, twilight, and dark – and they explore the core class identities in different ways, asking the question “How does this class look and feel from a “good guy” and “bad guy” perspective?” Of course, this is an oversimplification for the sake of illustration, because I’m hoping to avoid light and dark being “good” and “bad”, respectively, sometimes so much so that the concepts are outright flipped on their head. So the question becomes a little bit more like “How does this class concept look from these two different philosophies?” In many ways, this is akin to the colour pie of magic and the way different colours may overlap in some things they can do, but they do them differently.

After identifying the four pillars of gameplay that I want – combat, tactics, stealth, social – I went and distributed the class identities between these gameplay elements (which of course are not explicitly codified in the game itself, so as not to break the player’s immersion and create “I’m a tactics class” metagaming), giving each of them a Strenght-based, Agility-based, and Intelligence-based class, so that no matter what, every player has an option available to their play style. Perhaps it’s better illustrated with a picture… or a table, since the picture broke:

STR
AGI
INT
Combat
Warrior (L)
Hunter (D)
Mage (D)
Tactics
Knight (L)
Hunter (L)
Witch (D)
Stealth
Warrior (D)
Rogue (D)
Witch (L)
Social
Knight (D)
Rogue (L)
Mage (L)

This table has a few notable properties that are worth mentioning. For instance, every row is a unique combination of classes (i.e. Warrior, Hunter, Mage) and paths configurations (i.e. L, D, D). Every column also features unique class spreads (Warrior, Knight, Warrior, Knight) and path configurations (L, L, D, D). This was done to ensure the utmost diversity and widest spread of play patterns across archetypes, ensuring there is something for literally everyone, regardless of what type of gameplay they wanted or where they were approaching the game from.
Want to play a STR-based character? Great, there is an option for you in every type of gameplay – combat, tactics, stealth and social.
Want to play a combat class? Wonderful, you are not limited to the type of character you want, and if you want to compliment your dark path-heavy party, there is always an alternative path in that area (in this case it’s Warrior’s).
Want to play Warrior? No problem, there are two distinct gameplay patterns for you, and you’re not limited to only one kind of path.

I’ve purposefully excluded the Twilight path from these, because it’s “neutral” and simply reinforces the class’ core identity without actually exploring how a different philosophy within that class would handle problem-solving. The Monk is also missing, because they are a bit of a special class. More on that in their own article.

So, with this out of the way, seven more articles are to follow, one for each of the classes, going in-depth about the choices that were made in order to fill this table the way it turned out to be, and the type of gameplay I want to provide with them.

Class articles:
Warrior | Knight | Rogue | Hunter | Wizard | Witch | Monk

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