Balancing Encounter types in D&D

One of the key design precepts of 3e was that roleplaying penalties should not balanced mechanical advantages. I still subscribe to that precept.

I’d like to offer something else that I think should be adhered to in 4e design. Discuss as you like:

* Characters need to be balanced in combat activities. That is, during a combat they should always have “fun” things to do – perhaps not every round, but certainly they shouldn’t sit out an entire combat going, “can we get onto the next bit please?”

* Characters need to be balanced in non-combat activities. That is, when the DM has finished doing all his combat stuff and is advancing the plot, roleplaying, presenting puzzles, all the characters have “fun” things they can do, and they’re not just sitting there going “can we get onto the next combat please?”

If I were to divide up the non-combat roles of the main classes in 3e, I’d get something like this:

Fighter – almost nothing. Perhaps intimidate.
Cleric – good Interaction skills (if Int high enough to take skills), Spells to overcome challenges.
Magic-User – Spells to overcome challenges
Rogue – Skills to overcome certain challenges; Good Interaction Skills.

There’s a big gap between the Fighter and the Cleric. The Fighter – as written – really can’t contribute to many out-of-combat situations, so sits there waiting for the next combat. Of course, individuals may roleplay well, but the actual mechanics don’t really support the Fighter in an out-of-combat role much.

I don’t think the designers can assume how much each campaign splits between combat and non-combat abilities; and so a balance for *both* aspects of the system would be appreciated.

What do you think?

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