JP On Gaming

Friday, September 23, 2022

[Rant] Fighting with Feedback

I have been receiving feedback on a new class for 5e: the Courtier. In short, the courtier is a class that is a low-magic version of the bard and a less combat-focused version of the rogue.

I asked a crack group of experts from the FOE Facebook group a couple of questions
- What do you think of the class overall?
- What is the weakness of the class?
- What is its strength?
- Would you allow this class in your home game? Why/Why not?
- Is there anything missing? Anything you would add?
- Is there anything you deem overpowered? Why?

I'll admit the courtier is focused on the social pillar of RPG (with combat and exploration). But it needs to be good enough to be at least functional in the other pillars. Nothing worse than a character who is completely useless when not in their element. The trick to the courtier was to make the class something of a non-magical toolbox that you can tailor to your own campaign.

I'll talk more about the class later but here is what made me write this post. Two weeks ago, I reached out to the FOE Facebook Group asking for feedback on the class. Got a lot of very diverse feedback: what someone likes another dislikes. What one thinks is "meh" another thinks is very exciting and full of role-play potential. Which means it is up to ME, the designer to read into the arguments for why something is good or something sucks... The glorious life of a game designer.

This is pretty much why I think large-scale public playtests like Pathfinder and the current OneD&D one leads to fairly little as even things you may think if great and obvious will have its fans and detractors. Now my pool of feedback-providers is much smaller than WotC's but I think the issue is the same.

The touchy part is that both sides have value and their impression matters. I, as the writer/designer, form the third leg of that love triangle.

Like trying to get three historians agree who is the best General in history is (toughie between Alexander, Caesar, and Napoleon)... Or what is the best Rush song of all times (these days, I'll say Time Stand Still). Or the best Genesis album ever (Selling England by the Pound, I will fight you).

All of this to say two things: design has many elements of addressing gut feelings and impression AND a new FOE product allowing you to create a courtier character is coming "soon".

I guess this is the least offensive rant I ever posted here... Pretty tame, old man...

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