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3e had some good points, but at it's core it was (explicitly) a way to sell supplements. That meant pumping out new classes, feats, playable races etc. at an alarming rate.

They had to talk up "balance" to convince DM's to let players roll up a half-dragon, half-giant vampire deathknight with the "advanced insta-kill" feat, or they weren't going sell as many dragonkin supplements, giantkin supplements, undead supplements, *or* underdark prestige class supplements.

Eric R. Wirsing

Amusingly enough, this "cult of balance" has been around since the early days of the hobby. Gary Gygax, both in Dragon and in the Advanced D&D rulebooks, was very clear about the fact that the game as written was carefully balanced, and that care must be taken when houseruling lest the careful balance be completely upset.

Scott Malthouse

Couldn't agree more – in fact you inspired me to make my own post about the topic at Trollish Delver.

Joe Bardales

"unless the design is as fixed as a boardgame or a computer RPG with little of no campaign or adventure design done by the GM and player actions are limited as much as possible to things covered by the balanced rules — only individual campaigns can really be balanced. "

Exactly. I never could understand the obsession with "game balance across the board" that some had during the 3e/d20 era. "Game balance" became a throwaway term (in both reviews and message board conversations) and a lot of products were accused of it, but rarely did anyone ever do the math/show their work.