So all this reading about balance and fairness has got me thinking why. Why should it be balanced and above all why should it be fair? A better word should be impartial. Yes the GM should be impartial, but fair? You're in a freaking adventure for frack's sake!! Your characters are putting their lives on the line. If they come back home label yourself lucky and call it a night.
Oh it's not fair I got hit. It's not fair my character lost his sword. It's not fair my character died. Of course its not fair! It's the whole point of going on adventure get over it. You're going against the odds and trying to beat them. If you succeed you're clever, smart, witty, resourceful, tenacious and even lucky. But get over it fairness has nothing to do with it. Yes the GM has to be impartial, not overly loading encounters or for heavens sake the dice themselves. But fair?
What's all this about balance? What is balance? Balance is a euphemism for constraint. Balance exists in the scenario it was measured for. If you try to develop a different setting with the game rules there is no guarantee the balance will hold. Heck there is no guarantee the balance will hold in the setting it was designed for as it is hard to believe the designers played out every possibility. What's the main goal of balance? That all players have an equal chance at participating in the adventure with their characters? That all players have equal opportunity in a stereotypical adventure? So there can be "stock GMs" that rehearse the same line over and over again with different backdrops? To be fair? But fairness doesn't exist. Only adventure, risk and excitement. The GM should provide the balance not the character class. Let them be different and of varied strength. Rather than bound with rules promoting "fairness" and "balance" inspire the GM to provide challenging adventures, plot twists, to look into the strength of characters and find weaknesses and use them. Use them not to destroy the character or assail the player, but to provide intrigue, challenge, risk, excitement, twists and adventure. Keep the players hanging on the edge. As a GM you have the whole world at your disposal, use it. Don't be limited preemptive boundaries set for balance and fairness. Those will come along the game and fairness will be replaced with the joy of triumphing in a challenging adventure in which the odds were highly against you and your fellow players.