Actually RPG's should not be about balance. They are about telling stories, not about winning or losing. If my character is the suckiest of suck, but I love playing them, that makes a better game, no matter whether my group mates are far mor EPIC than me.
What I believe Moraline meant is that in MMO characters should be balanced in usefulness, because MMO's are about defeating monsters, and you want the best for that. So less epic characters get left behind.
In an RPG it doesn't matter if characters are EPIC, or skilled, or even useful. It's about whether the players enjoying the unfolding story.
Oh, and you can debate my point as much as you want, I love debate. But let me leave you with a thought from the big guy himself
There is no winning or losing, but rather the value is in the experience of imagining yourself as a character in whatever genre you're involved in, whether it's a fantasy game, the Wild West, secret agenst or whatever else. You get to sort of vicariously experience those things.
I don't see why people wouldn't want to be balanced. It doesn't make much sense from either perspective, for me; of course, people want different things, from different games, but unless I sign up for a game which is intentionally supposed to be screwing me over (Call of Cthulhu, Paranoia), I don't see what being pathetic adds to the story. Every character should have a part to play. Hence, why classes are so popular in such games; it helps create a niche for that character to shine, and be the hero for their own little bit of time. I don't see what being useless -adds- to the story.
Black Crusade tries this, and succeeds somewhat, in that Cultists (plain humans) can be played alongside Chaos Space Marines (who're toned down from the other incarnations). Chaos Space Marines have slightly better stats, some good combat stats and better gear, but also get less skills, are obvious mutant freaks and get less Gifts of the Gods than Cultists, who get more XP, more starting skills and more easily fit into society on a whole. Cultists, while inferior to Marines straight up stats-wise, have their place and are still competant combatants in their own right. Useless characters are good in stories - as NPCs. Are you honestly telling me that you, or a majority proportion of people within the hobby enjoy setting aside six hours of their week on a Sunday, where they come to have fun, only to sit down, do nothing, watch everyone else do anything of importance and maybe add a few lines of dialogue?
To me, that's the equivilent of being invited to play a board game, then not being given any pieces to play except the piece which represents you - sure, you're a player, but you have no impact on anything and can do nothing.
Some of my favorite players to game with had the most horrifically flawed characters, and played them to the hilt. At one point, the GM revealed that the gods of the world had a place where they could watch what went on 'down below' on a variety of crystal balls. Their favorite was the 'Bobo and Ito show'.
Oh, and VonDoom? My online system-play is a little rusty, but I love the environment and concept behind Ravenloft. We never played it tabletop, but I'm one of those people that buys source books 'just in case'.
And being a flawed character isn't the same as being a useless character. That's a large difference; flaws are what add flavour to a character. Fighters have strong Fortitude saves, but weak Reflex and Will saves. I'm not sure where people got this idea that being balanced = everyone being the exact same, which I find a very odd way of looking at things.
I mean, I know some people do enjoy playing characters who're so cripplingly bad they might as well curl up in a corner and do nothing (I've met a couple of max-minners in my time), but for my opinion on them, see the Stormwind Fallacy.