Monday, January 27, 2014

Honest to God Asking for Help Here.

What are Linear Fighters and Quadratic Wizards?

I saw someone bitching about them over on Google+ and I haven't the slightest idea what any of that gobbly gook means in English. Can anyone, please, explain that non-sense up there to me?

31 comments:

  1. It's a sound-byte description of how a wizard gains levels in all the ways a fighter does (base attack, hit points, saves, that's linear progression) and can prepare spells for a variety of encounters, while the poor fighter has to sit there with his thumb up his butt if he can't whack it with a sword.

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    1. I don't understand that. Since when was the fighter just a one-dimensional thug?

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    2. Oh, I don't think the fighter is, it's just some of the nonsense that WotC came up with so that's we'd all get hypno-wheel googly eyes and buy 4E.

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    3. Well that was some stupid bullshit right there.

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  2. Fighters get roughly the same amount better each level. Wizards start out very week and get a little better, then a log better, the a lot-lot better, etc.

    (As if comparing a fighter’s and a wizard’s worth could be reduced to a single axis.)

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    1. Okay, that makes a bit more sense. Thank you Robert.

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  3. It means the power gain. A linear fighter is like a linear equation; predictable measured gains in power as level increases.
    A quadratic wizard really should be called an exponential wizard since his power increases exponentially as his level increases.

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    1. So this expression on the power level of the characters eliminates the player's creativity from the conversation and focuses solely on their mechanical progression?

      Seems a bit daft to me as I've learned over the years that you never discount a creative player.

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  4. Without getting into the guts of the term, I suspect what people are trying to say is that fighters get better at a flat rate for each level. You get +1 to hit for every level, you gain +1 to damage for every level.

    Whereas wizards start at a slower rate of advance, perhaps, but then take off. So by the time you get to Level X, five levels higher than you started (or whatever), while the fighter's effetiveness has improved by E, the Wizards has gone up as E squared. Meaning at some point, the wizard is the only thing that matters.

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    1. I don't think I agree with the premiss behind the argument. What do you think Douglas?

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  5. The idea is that fighters gain power in a linear fashion (think, a 2nd level fighter is 2x as powerful as a 1st level fighter, while a 4th level fighter is 4x as powerful as a 1st level fighter. Numerically, it looks like this: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc.

    Wizards use a curve, where a 4th level wizard is 2x + 2x +2x + 2x (or, 8x as powerful) as a 1st level wizard. Or, numerically it might look like this: 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, etc.

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    1. Thank you for explaining it to me Doug, even though I find that it agitates me more as I understand it better.

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  6. In D&D, the fighter advancement keys in on THAC0/BAB, which advances at a constant rate. If you double the level of your fighter, the fighter's power level approximately doubles.
    On the other hand, the important thing for wizards is spells. As they advance wizards get MORE spells and also BETTER spells, so, vaguely, doubling the level of the wizard will make it four times as powerful.

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    1. While I know you're not advancing that argument, I find it bullshit. The only way that this premiss works is if you take the player out of the equation and focus solely on the mechanics of the game - which is the worst possible way to discuss anything related to a role-playing game!

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  7. It refers to how fast each class increases in power. This is a linear increase:

    https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/KBrP5BjyoeQW4YtfFSPOYhm0VVNwprmW-UMdUL4VTIPnR0oPTYQTleq3SO67UiXBQN3mRJhYRQXb6L74HWOpf1PTI-1Rv_fXmt_Mfqu0L0MskQ8zzQs

    This is a quadratic increase:

    https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/7wDER7O0aJEovQp-igOrupfriogR0R1_ZxgYQWlnQn5sUyN_cPlXqZL9hh4I91C3PWXrqEjIEx_tYPw-OKpmlf92GgpN8ELeIzqZz496sqp659d3AII

    This page might give you some more background: http://www.altdevblogaday.com/2011/11/29/the-craft-of-game-systems-part-2/

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    1. Thanks for the links Joseph. I'm going over there now. Probably going to yell at my computer screen while I'm there . . . maybe not, but probably.

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  8. It speaks to how the classes gain power over time, particularly in older editions of the game. Fighters are "linear" - if you looked at their power gains over time on a graph, it would be a pretty flat line, as old school fighters gain pretty much everything they're ever going to get at 1st level. Sometimes they gain extra attacks later in level, but that's about it.

    Wizards, on the other hand, gain power throughout their careers, as they gain access to more and more powerful spells. A 3rd level wizard is significantly more powerful than a 2nd level wizard, by virtue of gaining access to 2nd level spells. However, a 3rd level fighter isn't much better than a 2nd level fighter.

    The problems just exacerbate the higher in level these two classes progress.

    It's all based on math and a lot of people use the terms, incorrectly, without realizing that there are actual formulas involved in a true quadratic equation. They're just using the term in a general fashion to mean "gets better quicker over time."

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    1. I don't like it one bit Martin, and the more that I learn about it the more that I want to punch people in the face.

      Man, did I ever wake up in a feisty mood today.

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    2. Yeah you ARE a bit feisty today. :)

      I don't necessarily subscribe to it, either, but it is one of the things that later versions of the game tried to address, but giving all classes "something at every level." In Pathfinder, for example, a Fighter either gets a bonus feat or some kind of ability like "Armor Mastery" or whatever, to compensate or the fact that Wizards are just getting more and more spells. The idea is to make a class that a player wants to stick with over time, rather than multi-classing by dipping into various other classes.

      I really do think it kind of comes down to an "old school" versus "new school" mentality, and I don't necessarily think either one is right or wrong. It's just a personal preference of the style of play.

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    3. You know how I deal with that problem as a player - I kill the damned wizard. So it puts my jealous rage to rest and I can focus on swinging my stupid sword and not being a creative individual who uses a goblin as a club so that he can beat the vampire into submission.

      That's how I deal.

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  9. This idea totally has blinders on, as it ignores plenty. First off, it assumes effectiveness = damage output in combat, which is where I find it lacking. Even with that assumption, a fighter can go all day dealing the same (linear) amount of damage on a hit. The wizard has a few choice slots and then needs a nap, something that the Encounter powers in 4e was designed to "solve".

    So yeah, if both characters are fresh, then the Wizard gets the edge. After a full day on the battlefield, the fighter is dinged up and tired but still ready to rumble (at the exact same effectiveness!), but the wizard is fresh out of spells (or down to cantrips or at-will powers, depending on system).

    See also: 15 minute adventuring day.

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    1. See, this is why among the many reasons why I like you.

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  10. It's a way for people to complain about the balance issues in D&D while forgetting they are playing a game, with a GM, that has all the power possible in the fictional universe to make sure the Fighter and the Wizard stay relevant.
    It's like blaming the cheetah that it runs faster than a cow..

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    1. Damned CHEETAH! It mocks me with it's speed.

      That's fine, my bullets run faster.

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  11. Everyone has pretty much answered the question, and as you say, it's a stupid argument because it leaves out player ability... but it's an even *stupider* argument than that, because it leaves out a whole lot more.

    Fighters pay for their equipment, and their equipment is fairly cheap: if they can't afford all they need fresh off the boat, they will have enough cash after an adventure or two. They might even find a magic sword or armor, although the "linear fighter" whiners point out -- correctly -- that finding magical items depends a lot on the GM's whim.

    But then, so does the M-U's spells. It's generally implied that M-Us adventure partly to find new spells, and depending on the official rules in play, getting that "quadratic" Fireball spell may be difficult or expensive. In B/X, I believe, M-Us learn only one spell per level and have to find others on scrolls. In AD&D, they start with 4 or 5 spells, learn 1/level, and have to find the rest. If using the Intelligence Table from Greyhawk or AD&D, an unlucky roll means you can *never* learn Fireball.

    And that's not even taking into account spell interruption, the possibility of material spell components, the complexity of needing to know the ins and outs of each spell, and the simple fact that you might have picked the wrong spells to memorize for this adventure. M-Us can be flashy, but they aren't really "quadratic" at all.

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    1. And this is yet another reason why you're my hero.

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  12. To call the argument stupid is to ignore some very valid observations about the problems inherent with past D&D game design. Playing a fighter doesn't make the player more or less creative. Player creativity is generally magnified by the agency granted by their class features. A spellcaster can teleport, turn invisible, summon additional allies, call on telekinetic force, etc. Unfortunately, all that a fighter gets is a number that increases to reflect his martial acumen. A spellcaster has access to the same mechanic and can even use spells inflate it to match the fighter's in scale. As a result, fighter is often demonstratively a strictly inferior strategic option as characters grow more and more advanced and face more and more fantastic situations.

    Obviously good game-mastering and conscientious play-styles can help mitigate this problem, but it is a very real issue that has troubled many gaming troupes for years. Thus that naming of the trope to begin with.

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    1. Benjamin, I understand that you'd like me to take this argument seriously, but it's not going to happen. It's a meaningless argument perpetrated by people who demand that their class spell out how they play the game and I refuse to accept it as valid.

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  13. Yes, yes. A fighter gets better at swinging their sword and taking damage.

    But a magic-user becomes an invisible, scrying, teleporting, flying, flinger of words of death.

    I've seen it happen in older editions, but not nearly like the train wreck of design that was 3.x

    Granted, this is worse in 3.x editions because of a) saving throw changes (a magic user can power game how difficult it is to save versus spells a lot better than fighters or monsters can raise their bonuses to save, making 'save or die' spells so much better than damage (which the fighter is stuck with) and b) in 3.x, you can move and cast a spell in the same round, removing a lot of the spellcaster vulnerability and debilitating the melee characters that have measly attacks unless they don't move.

    Hit points are also inflated, meaning that a fighter's main method is counter productive and the magic-user 'save or die' short cut the better choice.

    Older editions have more lower level play and have many other mitigating factors, including more limited spell selection (in 3.x, magic-users automatically get to choose 2 free spells each level) and easier, default creation of magical items (like scrolls, which can cut the spells per day problem and wands, which are a cost-effective way of eliminating the problem.)

    Even out of combat, in 3.x, reaction rolls are replaced by skill checks, which again short changes the fighter (2 skill points per level) whereas the wizard gets 2+intelligence bonus per level (so 6 points because you of course have an 18 int if not higher). So a fighter in 3.x is no longer even a party leader or useful in anything other than damage dealing.

    And so on.

    I don't DM 3.x anymore.

    It's more a problem in theory in older editions, but I'm a bit ... vigilant from prior trauma.



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  14. This is the kind of jargon that keeps lawyers and game designers employed all over the world.

    The key to job security? Introducing confusing techo-speak into what is otherwise a simple concept.

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