PDA

View Full Version : Illiteracy: The optimizer's choice?



Tinydwarfman
2010-04-09, 08:49 PM
Everyone loathes being the big dumb barbarian who can't even read, but that's just because we haven't thought of the implications of being illiterate yet!
In a real game, any of the few things you'll need to read can be read by your party members, there's no need to have everyone invest in such an over-valued skill. The downsides are really very small.

However, the benefits of being illiterate are limitless! You gain free immunity to so many incredibly powerful spells, such as Explosive Runes, and Sepia Snake Sigil!

So I ask you, fellow optimizers, how can we have all of our characters illiterate, instead of just those fortunate enough to have taken levels in barbarian or totemist? Surely there must be a way to tap into this power with other characters!

JasonP
2010-04-09, 08:53 PM
Why not just house rule a flaw, probably with the requirement of Int =<10

Kylarra
2010-04-09, 08:53 PM
Take the trait (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/buildingCharacters/characterTraits.htm#illiterate)?

Eldariel
2010-04-09, 08:54 PM
Take the trait? Honestly, it's not a bad option, but I still make every damn one of my characters literate simply because not being able to interact with texts is a huge drawback in-game. All other party members aren't always available. They don't always have the spell available to speak the language. They aren't always of the right race or class or whatever to cover the magical writings. They don't always have the appropriate knowledges to make sense out of what they're reading. It's also often convenient to convey information in a written form. And use scrolls.

Overall, I feel there are just too many considerations in-game that affect the damage of illiteracy to be able to make a decision on its power beforehand; usually I use Illiteracy-trait just to boost a skill beyond normal max and spend my two skill points to become literate again.

mucat
2010-04-09, 08:56 PM
In a real game, any of the few things you'll need to read can be read by your party members
I know you're kinda joking, but are your characters joined at the hip to their party members? Soomer or later, you're going to be in a situation where reading something would make a huge difference, and your friends won't be nearby to help you crib it...

Or at least, that's what would happen if I were DMing...

Sophismata
2010-04-09, 09:15 PM
Hah, this just made me think of MinMax (http://goblins.keenspot.com/d/20100323.html).

Gametime
2010-04-09, 10:01 PM
Choosing to be illiterate for an extra boost of power just screams "Please, cruel and omnipotent Dungeon Master, put my character in situations where his illiteracy will become a world-damning flaw."

Unless you're the face or the brains, being illiterate probably won't get you into much trouble in your standard, action-oriented campaign. A barbarian or totemist is probably never going to have to read something, because it feels like kind of a jerky move on the DM's part. (Unless well-executed, in which case it can make for compelling tension, but that's really hard to do with reading.)

But deliberately becoming illiterate? It's like taking a trait that makes you tastier to dragons. Your campaign could be set in a Gotterdammerung-like era where the magic is gone from the world and the last dragon died centuries ago, and you'll still be accosted by dozens of flying lizards who see your head replaced by a cartoonish smoked ham.

Malacode
2010-04-09, 10:11 PM
I totally agree, Illiteracy is an awesome class feature. I have one character that used to fake illiteracy, but that didn't give all the benefits of the real thing... Only that others assumed he was dumber than he really was, and this gave him an advantage in social situations.

Tequila Sunrise
2010-04-09, 10:11 PM
So I ask you, fellow optimizers, how can we have all of our characters illiterate, instead of just those fortunate enough to have taken levels in barbarian or totemist? Surely there must be a way to tap into this power with other characters!
Get your DM to run a slightly more realistic game? (Where you need a good reason to be literate, rather than a reason to not be literate.)


Why not just house rule a flaw, probably with the requirement of Int =<10
I really hope the second part of this sentence is a joke.

Starscream
2010-04-09, 10:20 PM
Choosing to be illiterate for an extra boost of power just screams "Please, cruel and omnipotent Dungeon Master, put my character in situations where his illiteracy will become a world-damning flaw."

"You find yourself in a room with a lever and a sign on the wall. The sign has a drawing of something that sort of looks like a flagon of beer. Underneath is some of those squiggly symbols the wizard is always looking at."

The text actually reads Master Chamber Pot cleanser. After pulling, stand clear before waste is dropped into Otyugh pit

Akal Saris
2010-04-09, 11:12 PM
You think illiteracy is good in D&D, you should try it in Call of Cthulhu! Everyone else loses their minds reading the forbidden text, but you're safe as can be!

tahu88810
2010-04-09, 11:17 PM
You think illiteracy is good in D&D, you should try it in Call of Cthulhu! Everyone else loses their minds reading the forbidden text, but you're safe as can be!

But it's Cthulhu, you could be blind, deaf, dumb, and nonsentient and somehow you would still experience something that drives you insane.

Irreverent Fool
2010-04-10, 04:34 AM
Get your DM to run a slightly more realistic game? (Where you need a good reason to be literate, rather than a reason to not be literate.)

A realistic game where every Tom, Richard & Harry of a pseudo-medieval fantasy setting is literate?

obnoxious
sig

Kobold-Bard
2010-04-10, 07:07 AM
"You find yourself in a room with a lever and a sign on the wall. The sign has a drawing of something that sort of looks like a flagon of beer. Underneath is some of those squiggly symbols the wizard is always looking at."

The text actually reads Master Chamber Pot cleanser. After pulling, stand clear before waste is dropped into Otyugh pit

On the plus side if you make it out alive you get Iron Will as a Feat.

Skaven
2010-04-10, 07:16 AM
In a real game, any of the few things you'll need to read can be read by your party members, there's no need to have everyone invest in such an over-valued skill. The downsides are really very small.

You do realize you'll likely eventually be missing out on the +1-5 to stats books like manuals of gainful exercise?

Tinydwarfman
2010-04-10, 09:18 AM
Wow, that was even worse than expected. I guess it really is hard to show sarcasm over the internet. Probably didn't help that it wasn't a very good joke to start with. :smallredface:

ScionoftheVoid
2010-04-10, 09:23 AM
If you were illiterate could you cast Comprehend Languages whenever you needed to read something? Not for Wizards, obviously, but Sorcerers could do that. It would certainly be funny.

Heliomance
2010-04-10, 09:29 AM
Our DM goes with the "everyone is assumed illiterate" approach. If you don't have ranks in Forgery or Decipher Script, or have it as a class skill, you can't read or write.

UglyPanda
2010-04-10, 09:46 AM
I've found a couple of times that some players will choose to remain illiterate because they think it's funny. And you could punish them again and again for it and they'll just laugh.


You do realize you'll likely eventually be missing out on the +1-5 to stats books like manuals of gainful exercise?That's a good point, but you can get the same effect from Wish spells.

Tiki Snakes
2010-04-10, 11:48 AM
Choosing to be illiterate for an extra boost of power just screams "Please, cruel and omnipotent Dungeon Master, put my character in situations where his illiteracy will become a world-damning flaw."

You know what, I once had the idea of playing a Half Orc in a certain way, (essentially a response to the concept that Half Orc's had to be kind of socially inept and not very smart, which always kind of annoyed me). Essentially, A Half Orc (Barbarian) who, though essentially quite pleasant at the best of times, probably had a learning difficulty or two. Possibly some kind of ADHD, Autism mix, but basically, mixed with his Orcish blood, well. He'd end up getting into situations that his brain just couldn't quite follow or comprehend, through no fault of his own.

And, well. The more confused he'd get, the more frustrated, till he'd just start flipping out and trashing stuff.

And now I have this image of him being sent to the Library to fetch the book of spells that will end the demonic incursion and prevent the encroaching Old Ones.

And then the Library is on fire and the Half Orc is both Furious and Inconsolable.

Stupid Books. :smallmad:

Gametime? I think your warning actually makes me want to play this more. :smallbiggrin:

Starbuck_II
2010-04-10, 11:50 AM
But Illiteracy means you can't you the +X stat wish books.

Tiki Snakes
2010-04-10, 11:50 AM
But it's Cthulhu, you could be blind, deaf, dumb, and nonsentient and somehow you would still experience something that drives you insane.

Well, I'm not sure about deaf blind and dumb, but if you were just illiterate the Necronomicon etc could still do their work.

Because they usually contain many and detailed informative illustrations. :smalleek:

Optimystik
2010-04-10, 01:03 PM
A realistic game where every Tom, Richard & Harry of a pseudo-medieval fantasy setting is literate?

obnoxious
sig

As long as Tom, Richard and Harry are PCs then yes :smalltongue:
Even Fighters go to college!

Evard
2010-04-10, 02:15 PM
Because of the many things that a person can read a level 14 wizard asked me if he could become illiterate :p the others wanted to join suit. Traps that would change characters into bullywugs until they got to a room that had the magic would be dispelled in made them laugh/sad lol

Optimystik
2010-04-10, 02:16 PM
Because of the many things that a person can read a level 14 wizard asked me if he could become illiterate :p the others wanted to join suit. Traps that would change characters into bullywugs until they got to a room that had the magic would be dispelled in made them laugh/sad lol

An illiterate wizard? Did he think that through? :smallconfused:

NEO|Phyte
2010-04-10, 02:32 PM
An illiterate wizard? Did he think that through? :smallconfused:

Nowhere does it say that Read Magic requires you to be literate to let you read magical gubbins.

Optimystik
2010-04-10, 02:36 PM
Nowhere does it say that Read Magic requires you to be literate to let you read magical gubbins.

But a spellbook isn't a magic item.

NEO|Phyte
2010-04-10, 02:38 PM
But a spellbook isn't a magic item.

The writings inside are. Why do you think the only spell a wizard can prepare without his book (barring Spell Mastery) is Read Magic?

Optimystik
2010-04-10, 02:41 PM
The writings inside are.

No they're not. They're diagrams/instructions that relate to magic, but are not themselves magical.

Live by the RAW, die by the RAW.


Why do you think the only spell a wizard can prepare without his book (barring Spell Mastery) is Read Magic?

To scribe magical scrolls into the book.

Jack_Simth
2010-04-10, 02:45 PM
The writings inside are. Why do you think the only spell a wizard can prepare without his book (barring Spell Mastery) is Read Magic?

And why you don't have to know Elvish to read an Elf Wizard's spellbook?

NEO|Phyte
2010-04-10, 02:47 PM
No they're not. They're diagrams/instructions that relate to magic, but are not themselves magical.

Live by the RAW, die by the RAW.


To decipher an arcane magical writing (such as a single spell in written form in anotherís spellbook or on a scroll), a character must make a Spellcraft check (DC 20 + the spellís level). If the skill check fails, the character cannot attempt to read that particular spell again until the next day. A read magic spell automatically deciphers a magical writing without a skill check.
Living by the RAW here, life's great.

Optimystik
2010-04-10, 02:49 PM
Very well, I'm man enough to acknowledge defeat.

Though I confess that I'd find a DM that allows an illiterate wizard to read things very strange.

Evard
2010-04-10, 03:48 PM
well the way he figured was since he already knew the mechanics of his spells he could keep those but after that level he wouldn't be able to learn new spells. He wanted to go on as a sorcerer until someone explained to him that the two classes don't stack

the rest of us got a good laugh out of the whole conversation :p

shadow_archmagi
2010-04-10, 03:55 PM
Well, spell-writing is functional in nature, so it could be a deal like swooshy arrows to represent hand movements and then sounds symbolized some other way; designed so that just by looking at it you knew what was trying to be expressed if you knew anything about magic.

Alternatively, since it's magic, you can read it without knowing how to read. Because magic.

snoopy13a
2010-04-10, 04:03 PM
As long as Tom, Richard and Harry are PCs then yes :smalltongue:
Even Fighters go to college!

I really think Fighters get shortchanged if one takes an historical perpective. Traditionally, heavily armored soldiers come from the middle and upper classes (because those classes can afford armor) and I think they should have more skill points to reflect their higher socioeconomic status.

From a game balancing standpoint, who knows...

AslanCross
2010-04-10, 05:24 PM
This is probably one of the more ridiculous optimization threads I've seen. "Krusk, maybe it's time you learned how to read." "KRUSK NOT WANT READ. GREAT UNCLE KORLAK DIE BECAUSE HE READ!"

:smallsigh:

Irreverent Fool
2010-04-10, 06:45 PM
Because magic.

This is the single best explanation to anything in D&D I have ever read.

obnoxious
sig

Optimystik
2010-04-10, 07:05 PM
This is the single best explanation to anything in D&D I have ever read.

Our post-counts would be awfully small if we resorted to that chestnut all the time. :smalltongue:

Tinydwarfman
2010-04-10, 09:43 PM
This is probably one of the more ridiculous optimization threads I've seen. "Krusk, maybe it's time you learned how to read." "KRUSK NOT WANT READ. GREAT UNCLE KORLAK DIE BECAUSE HE READ!"

:smallsigh:

You do realize it's supposed to be a joke right? Albeit a bad one... :smallfrown:
It was mostly an experiment to find out how many people would see this as sarcasm.

shadow_archmagi
2010-04-10, 09:48 PM
This is the single best explanation to anything in D&D I have ever read.

obnoxious
sig

Our DM was fond of this line.

"Well, if one explosives runes works, why doesn't two double the explosion?"
"BECAUSE MAGIC"
"But-"
"BECAUSE MAGIC"

TheMadLinguist
2010-04-11, 12:43 AM
You see, this is entirely the reason why your character should always wear an intelligent blindfold of true darkness that *can* read.

Man is Daredevil's player a minmaxer.

Superglucose
2010-04-11, 12:56 AM
Get your DM to run a slightly more realistic game? (Where you need a good reason to be literate, rather than a reason to not be literate.)

I did that in a houserule, that only certain classes were permitted to be literate. From core I believe it was Monks, Wizards and Clerics are literate in all languages they learn, Druids are literate in Druidic, and with Fighters, Rogues, Paladins, and Bards it depended on your backstory. Specifically if you spent a significantly large amount of time in a royal court you could have it if you chose.

Barbarians and Rangers were never allowed free literacy to start.

The corollary to that is that practically no commoners have literacy, and all NPC classes (except Aristocrat, obviously) have to buy literacy. Ergo, the world assumes that you are illiterate, and so being illiterate wouldn't be too much of a disadvantage. When it came to contracts and such with formal kings, you could be ripped off if you didn't have a "reader" you could trust, but for most adventuring it didn't make much of a difference.

It was funny when the psion pretending to be a wizard didn't buy literacy though. "Hmm, yes, it's clearly a writ of right of passage!" "You... what? It's a warrant for our arrest!" "That's what I meant! Right of passage into the nearest dungeon!"

Thurbane
2010-04-11, 02:07 AM
You do realize it's supposed to be a joke right? Albeit a bad one... :smallfrown:
It was mostly an experiment to find out how many people would see this as sarcasm.
As far as theoretical optimization goes, discussing the benefits of illiteracy is far from one of the most silly things I have seen discussed in earnest. In the realms of Pun Pun, commoner railguns, drown healing and such, avoiding written magical traps by being illiterate seems quite reasonable.

Coidzor
2010-04-11, 02:17 AM
You do realize it's supposed to be a joke right? Albeit a bad one... :smallfrown:
It was mostly an experiment to find out how many people would see this as sarcasm.

So illiteracy doesn't protect against sepia snake sigils?

Taelas
2010-04-11, 02:27 AM
You see, this is entirely the reason why your character should always wear an intelligent blindfold of true darkness that *can* read.

Man is Daredevil's player a minmaxer.

Not a particularly good one.

Solarn
2010-04-11, 03:38 AM
As far as theoretical optimization goes, discussing the benefits of illiteracy is far from one of the most silly things I have seen discussed in earnest. In the realms of Pun Pun, commoner railguns, drown healing and such, avoiding written magical traps by being illiterate seems quite reasonable.
This commoner railgun interests me. Is it a railgun built by a commoner or one that fires commoners?

Thurbane
2010-04-11, 03:58 AM
This commoner railgun interests me. Is it a railgun built by a commoner or one that fires commoners?
It somehow exploits that handing an item to an adjacent character is a free action (not sure of the exact mechanics, I may be mistaken there), so that you get a line of commoners to hand a pig (or other object) to each other instantly - if the line is long enough, you're shooting out projectiles at ridiculously high speeds...

Solarn
2010-04-11, 04:44 AM
It somehow exploits that handing an item to an adjacent character is a free action (not sure of the exact mechanics, I may be mistaken there), so that you get a line of commoners to hand a pig (or other object) to each other instantly - if the line is long enough, you're shooting out projectiles at ridiculously high speeds...
That's just broken in all kinds of ways. I'd love to see it in action.

Kobold-Bard
2010-04-11, 04:53 AM
It somehow exploits that handing an item to an adjacent character is a free action (not sure of the exact mechanics, I may be mistaken there), so that you get a line of commoners to hand a pig (or other object) to each other instantly - if the line is long enough, you're shooting out projectiles at ridiculously high speeds...

Basically.

1. Line up a load of Commoners (bought legally for about 50gp).
2. Hand the one at the back a spear/chicken/whatever.
3. Everyone in front of the end one delays initiative to just after the person behind them, and readies an action to take the item from the person behind them and pass it forward.
4. Person at the front readies an action to take the item and launch it.
5. This will all happen in one round (aka 6 seconds).
6. This means the spear/pig/whatever goes from back of the line to the front in under 6 seconds and is launched.
7. Depending on your line's length the item can be moving ridiculously fast (speed of light etc.) so when it hit's it's target it's going to leave a hell of a crater :smalltongue:
8. ???
9. DM throws a book at you and everyone leaves in disgust.

Or something to that effect.

AslanCross
2010-04-11, 05:29 AM
You do realize it's supposed to be a joke right? Albeit a bad one... :smallfrown:
It was mostly an experiment to find out how many people would see this as sarcasm.

Well, people tend to get the wrong idea. I sure did.

hewhosaysfish
2010-04-11, 05:41 AM
Not strictly OT but kinda related...
Another player in on of my regular games was playing a Frenzied Berserker and was surprised and confused to realise that (by a literal reading of RAW) taking a level of FB made his Barbarian literate.


A barbarian who gains a level in any other class automatically gains literacy. (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/classes/barbarian.htm)

Explain that, if you can. :smallamused:

Yora
2010-04-11, 06:01 AM
Basically.

1. Line up a load of Commoners (bought legally for about 50gp).
2. Hand the one at the back a spear/chicken/whatever.
3. Everyone in front of the end one delays initiative to just after the person behind them, and readies an action to take the item from the person behind them and pass it forward.
4. Person at the front readies an action to take the item and launch it.
5. This will all happen in one round (aka 6 seconds).
6. This means the spear/pig/whatever goes from back of the line to the front in under 6 seconds and is launched.
7. Depending on your line's length the item can be moving ridiculously fast (speed of light etc.) so when it hit's it's target it's going to leave a hell of a crater :smalltongue:
8. ???
9. DM throws a book at you and everyone leaves in disgust.

Or something to that effect.
Take one chicken infested commoner with the Quick Draw feat and you can throw unlimited amounts of chicken at the same time.:smallbiggrin:

Solarn
2010-04-11, 07:10 AM
Take one chicken infested commoner with the Quick Draw feat and you can throw unlimited amounts of chicken at the same time.:smallbiggrin:
Commoner rail machinegun? That's just insane!

Coidzor
2010-04-11, 07:36 AM
Ahhh, the plane of chickens.

Ormur
2010-04-11, 03:35 PM
Even though a player took illiteracy to optimize on the basis they couldn't be harmed by stuff like explosive runes it would still lend itself to fun roleplaying. I at least I laughed at this quote.


"KRUSK NOT WANT READ. GREAT UNCLE KORLAK DIE BECAUSE HE READ!"

It certainly doesn't seem unreasonable playing someone suspicious of writing in a pseudo-medieval society.

The Glyphstone
2010-04-11, 04:24 PM
"Krusk not learn to read. Great-Uncle Korlak learn to read, he get letter that explode! Grandpa Thog learn to read, he open book and get bitten by deadly snake! Funny frog-elf wizard Krusk travel with read odd symbol on door and drop dead! Reading kill you, Krusk not want to die!

Flickerdart
2010-04-11, 04:27 PM
Explain that, if you can. :smallamused:
Frenzied Berserkers do extensive research into internet message boards to channel the potent power of the Nerd Rage.

Caphi
2010-04-11, 04:35 PM
Commoner rail machinegun? That's just insane!

Can't, the other commoners in the line have expended their actions. You can still only do one per round.

Thurbane
2010-04-11, 08:06 PM
So, if my math is right, to get an object up to the muzzle velocity of a Rheinmetall 120 mm gun (5200 fps), would require 6240 commoners (assuming one commoner per 5 feet)...the population of a small city.

For the more modest velocity of a M1857 12-pounder "Napoleon" (1440 fps) would require 1728 commoners...the population of a small town.