Dungeons and Dragons Wiki:The Same Game Test
The Same Game Test, or SGT, is a balance guideline used to gauge the level of power a character class or option brings to the table. It is derived from the definitions and explanations of encounter challenges in the Dungeon Masters Guide and Monster Manual. It states that a character of any given level should have, on average, a 50% chance to win an encounter against a creature with a CR equal to the character's level or a group of creatures in a single encounter whose EL equals the character's level. On this wiki we have assigned this level of aptitude to the Rogue balance level. Characters who perform noticeably better than 50% on an SGT, especially at later levels, are generally considered to fall into our Wizard balance level. Characters who perform noticeably worse than 50%, especially at higher levels, are generally considered to fall into our Fighter or Monk balance levels.
The test was originally written to test 10th level characters, but has been expanded to also include levels 5 and 15 on this wiki.
Running a Same Game Test
Running a SGT is essentially a thought exercise where you attempt to gauge the results of a character attempting to overcome each of the listed challenges. A character should be assumed to be at full health and ability before beginning the encounter, but should not be assumed to have any knowledge of it that would allow them to plan specifically for that encounter. The encounter must be beaten, in whatever sense that most applies to the encounter; the ability to escape or bypass a combat encounter is not treated as a win. The results of these individual challenges fall into one of the "Sure Win", "Likely Win", "Toss Up", "Likely Loss", or "Sure Loss" categories, and are often accompanied by a brief explanation to support that result. These are then totaled up, with each "Sure" result generally counted as twice as valuable as each "Likely" result to get a feel for the win / loss ratio of the character class or option.
Unfortunately, there is a gray area in this test. You have the option of testing a fully written up character with specific feats and equipment or testing a shell of a character with only a class, class features, and the basic bonus providing equipment we would expect them to have at their level. A fully written character, especially one who is reasonably optimized against monsters who are almost universally not optimized and generally do not get the benefit of equipment, will always give you better results than testing the character who is just a class. The reverse is also true, in that a character without specific feats and equipment will perform less well than a character with these things against monsters who do have them, even if they aren't optimized.
The results from a less complete character are less accurate, but can be generalized to more builds and actual games than a more specified character. If you are trying to gauge the power of a class rather than a specific build, the less specified build is often more useful because of that reason. It will underperform on the test because it lacks options it would normally have, but if you expect that you can balance appropriately.
A Level 5 Same Game Test
- A locked door behind an arbitrarily high number of assorted CR 4 traps.
- A huge Animated iron statue in a throne room.
- A Basilisk in its desert burrow.
- A Large Fire Elemental in a mystic forge.
- A Manticore on the wing above a plain.
- A Phase Spider anywhere. They're tricky creatures like that.
- A couple of Centaur Archers in a light to medium wood.
- A Howler/Allip tag team in an abandoned temple to a dark god.
- A Grimlock assault team (4 members) hidden in a cavern.
- A Cleric of Hextor (with his dozen zombies) in a crypt.
A Level 10 Same Game Test
- A hallway filled with magical runes.
- A Fire Giant on an active volcano, who hides under lava if kited.
- A Young Blue Dragon, soaring over a seemingly endless expanse of sand dunes.
- A Bebilith hidden on the ceiling of a cave in the abyss.
- A Vrock in a demonic forest.
- A tag team of Mind Flayers in a cramped underground structure.
- An Evil Necromancer in a graveyard with extensive catacombs.
- 6 Trolls in a small cave behind a waterfall.
- 12 Shadows in an inn after the lights have been doused for the night.
A Level 15 Same Game Test
- A Marut in a metropolis.
- A Hullathoin (with its army of skeletons and bloodfiend locusts).
- A Nightmare Beast deep in a hedge maze.
- A Windghost in the sky.
- A Yakfolk cleric with a party of Dao, submerged in the elemental plane of earth.
- A Drow Priestess with an army of ghouls.
- A warparty of Cloud Giants, in the process of assaulting the party's favorite village.
- A Mature Adult White Dragon, in its cavernous lair on the side of a mountain made entirely of ice, with an extensive series of tunnels it dug to inconvenience creatures that can't burrow or climb icy walls.
- A Death Slaad riding a Titanic Toad.
- A Cornugon in a cave structure with massive, 300 foot caves, who has obscured some of the connecting tunnels with illusions.
- A Gelugon and his Iron Golem bodyguard, travelling hellish glaciers in a blizzard.
- A Rube Goldberg series of contingent weirds triggered to a set of symbols of pain surrounding the artifact.
- A pair of Glabrezus, teleporting to trap the players in a 15 foot wide tunnel.
- A harem of Succubi using a brothel as cover while they prepare to allow more demons into the material plane.
- Twenty Dire Bears in a forest.
- A dozen Medusa archers mounted on Hellcats pretending to be hellcat-less archaelogists in a ruined temple complex.
- A forest made out of lava and infested with hostile fire-element dire badgers.
- A pair of Beholders in a disintegrated cavern structure, filled with smooth vertical tunnels and heavy plug-shaped objects waiting to be dropped into them.
Using Your Results
For classes, it is fairly easy to use the SGT to assign a balance level.
- Low Balance Level - If a class wins less than 50% of the level 5 SGT, it is very likely a low balance level class.
- Moderate Balance Level - If a class wins around 50% of the level 5 SGT but less than 50% of the level 10 SGT, it is very likely a moderate balance level class.
- High Balance Level - If wins around 50% of the level 5 and 10 SGTs, and does not fall behind significantly on the level 15 SGT, it is very likely a high balance level class.
- Very High Balance Level - If a class wins significantly more than 50% of the level 10 and 15 SGTs, it is very likely a very high level class.
Also remember that we expect characters with specific, and thus likely optimized, feats and gear from character levels to perform better than a simple shell character with only class abilities and unspecified equipment. Such a character could perform a bit better than the percentages listed here without being above the level. Similarly, a character who is just a shell of class features and vague level appropriate bonus items might perform a bit below the percentages listed here without being below the level. The percentages listed here are not absolutes in any way, and the expected deviations from them depend on what method of test you use.
For other character options, it is much harder to use the SGT to gauge balance. A test is often run with the option and with a different option of the same balance level, and the results then compared to make sure they still line up appropriately. If they do, the option is likely at the same level as the option it was compared against, but this is much more shaky ground than class testing.