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Jolly
2010-08-24, 03:00 PM
I think optimization is a term that generates a lot of confusion (at least it confuses me :) ). Some people seem to use it to mean making intelligent choices so that the mechanics back up your concept, while some people seem to view it as akin to munchkinism where every possible loophole in every possible splatbook is exploited to make a character as overpowered as possible. Obviously both are valid within context, but it still gets a bit confusing when context does not make the author's intentions clear.

I don't think there is a "right" or a "wrong" usage, I'm just curious to see how different people interpret the term. For myself I tend to view it as more of the former than the latter: probably because that's how I do it myself. I generally make choices only from core books, but I try to make mechanical choices that will make the character more effective at whatever his given role is.

Connington
2010-08-24, 03:04 PM
You've pretty much covered the difference between "Practical Optimization" and "Theoretical Optimization". For better definitions of those terms, I suggest looking up the Char-Op boards on WOTC.

Kesnit
2010-08-24, 03:06 PM
I cannot picture anyone going out of their way to gimp their PC, so saying someone makes optimum choices to fit their concept is, to me, redundant. It's just part of building a PC.

When I think of optimization, I think of it as going out of their way to build as powerful a PC as they can. I differentiate this from being a munchkin by thinking munchkin=cheesy.

Greenish
2010-08-24, 03:10 PM
I cannot picture anyone going out of their way to gimp their PC, so saying someone makes optimum choices to fit their concept is, to me, redundant. It's just part of building a PC.Not for everyone.


When I think of optimization, I think of it as going out of their way to build as powerful a PC as they can. I differentiate this from being a munchkin by thinking munchkin=cheesy.Wait, what?

kyoryu
2010-08-24, 03:15 PM
I think optimization is a term that generates a lot of confusion (at least it confuses me :) ). Some people seem to use it to mean making intelligent choices so that the mechanics back up your concept, while some people seem to view it as akin to munchkinism where every possible loophole in every possible splatbook is exploited to make a character as overpowered as possible. Obviously both are valid within context, but it still gets a bit confusing when context does not make the author's intentions clear.

I don't think there is a "right" or a "wrong" usage, I'm just curious to see how different people interpret the term. For myself I tend to view it as more of the former than the latter: probably because that's how I do it myself. I generally make choices only from core books, but I try to make mechanical choices that will make the character more effective at whatever his given role is.

I think there's 3 major strata of optimization:

1) Character-based optimization: Given a character concept, how do I build it in such a way that it can be effective?

2) Pure optimization: How do I build a really powerful character?

3) Theoretical optimization: Thought exercises on how to break rules. See: Pun-Pun.

The real difference between the first two is which is the driver - character, or power? If you're starting with a character (as in, personality) in mind, and optimizing within the natural bounds of that character, you're in the first category. If you're building an optimal stat-block, and then coming up with RP justifications for it, you're in the second category.

BTW, please note that I'm not making any value judgements here. How people have fun is up to them, and there's no way I can claim that my fun is better than theirs. I'm just delineating the differences as I perceive them.

Ignition
2010-08-24, 03:15 PM
"Doing what you want to do, well" is about as simple as I can make it. And that's a sliding scale, going from "Beneath Useless/Actually Working Against What You Want To Do" to "There's No Point In Doing Anything, Because It's All Too Easy" and a thousand notches in between. Finding an optimal point of optimization - the point where effort is superseded by results to the greatest degree while the character in question remains engaging/relevant - is important to keep in mind. After all, who cares how good your Charge-a-Barb is at sundering armor when you're supposed to be having tea at the governess's house and not embarassing her in front of her guests? Different threshholds apply to different situations.

The other thing I keep in mind when in an "optimization" discussion is tools. Not as in calling someone else a tool for disagreeing with me :smallwink: , as in: when you sit down to optimize a character, what tools do you have at your disposal? Background and Concepts? Inspiration? Loaded Dice? What about the other characters/players at the table? Can they help you do something better? Are they working against you? Same goes for your GM; he/she's a great resource/starting point for knowing what will be optimized for the situations you find yourself in.

After a certain point, optimization can become a thought exercise of pushing limits. The further "optimized" a thought experiment is, the further away from true optimization that experiment becomes, since rarely do they take into account anything like extenuating circumstances.

So, TL;DR - Find a level of power vs. effort vs. engagement you feel comfortable with, collect your tools you will use for optimizing, and realize there are limits to everything. That's how I handle optimizing.

Regarding this:

I cannot picture anyone going out of their way to gimp their PC, so saying someone makes optimum choices to fit their concept is, to me, redundant. It's just part of building a PC.

I've seen this many, many times. Part of the fun of the character for some people is being less than heroic. I don't strictly speaking subscribe to this mindset, but it is fun to watch :smallwink:

Biffoniacus_Furiou
2010-08-24, 03:15 PM
It means making a character who's good at what they do. In-character it makes a lot of sense, people don't like doing things that they're bad at after all. Exploiting loopholes is not optimization, making a character whose abilities have good synergy is. Some (prestige) classes offer spectacular abilities for a brief dip, which in-character most characters would be foolish not to take advantage of:
http://archive.gamespy.com/comics/forcemonkeys/comics/01-10-03/comic.jpg
In-character, an individual has no concept of classes or levels or feats, they just know what they're capable of and may have an idea of what someone else is capable of. It doesn't matter if someone's classes, prestige classes, feats, spells, and magic items all came from different books, it doesn't matter if they're using two optional rules from two different books to accomplish their main shtick. In-character there's no such thing as abilities coming from different books, or optional rules, that's just what they can do. Out of character you may have had to look in a dozen books to get every feat and class level that combine to make your character powerful, but in-character he may have just had to talk to three different guys and try out a few techniques and figured the rest out on his own.

lesser_minion
2010-08-24, 03:59 PM
Optimisers seek to create the characters that fit their needs as efficiently and as well as possible.

Powergamers seek to play characters who are as powerful as possible (not all powergamers are optimisers, and vice versa).

Remmirath
2010-08-24, 04:25 PM
My personal definitions, and what I mean if I use these terms:

Optimisers try to make their character, whatever concept they may have, as effective as possible within what is reasonable. What their character does may well not be the most powerful thing that their character's class does, but they will try to do it as well as possible.

Powergamers make as powerful as possible a character, and then work their concept to suit it. They won't bother with anything but the most powerful class combinations and choices within those classes, and if a particular prestige class or feat doesn't seem to work with their character, they'll rework the character instead of choosing a different and less powerful one.

Munchkins exploit loopholes, take lots of random prestige class dips, templates, and generally do anything to get more power. All they care about is how much raw power/theoretical 'I win' abilities they can get, and they aren't concerned with roleplaying except possibly as a secondary thing.

Everyone I've ever actually played with has fallen into the first or second category, if any of them. Mostly what would end up in the third category is theoretical builds and exploits being applied to an actual game.

Come to think of it, I do know one person who tried to be like the third category, but since his characters always ended up actually being the least powerful in the group I don't think that really counts. :smallamused:

Those are all perfectly valid ways to play the game, of course, although I don't think they usually really mix too well together. I tend to fall into the first category.


I cannot picture anyone going out of their way to gimp their PC, so saying someone makes optimum choices to fit their concept is, to me, redundant. It's just part of building a PC.

I have certainly seen this, and even done it. Not to the point of making the character useless - but to the point of making them simply an effective member of the party instead of miles ahead of the party.

Some things that are optimum choices also aren't fun to some people, so those people avoid them. I haven't seen anyone deliberately make their character completely useless, though. That I've only seen happen by accident.

Morithias
2010-08-24, 04:28 PM
Taking things people call worthless or low-tier, and making them more powerful than I can imagine. Especially rules, call a rule or table useless and I will make a character that will destroy you with them.

Let's just say when I described the history of that city, the PC's should've paid attention. I had it setup so that a nat 1 would still have the legal system rule in favor of the 'right' party.

If there is a book that you see as useless, I will gladly crush you with it.

Ignition
2010-08-24, 04:33 PM
If there is a book that you see as useless, I will gladly crush you with it.

That depends on how big the book is :smallwink:

Kesnit
2010-08-24, 04:35 PM
I have certainly seen this, and even done it. Not to the point of making the character useless - but to the point of making them simply an effective member of the party instead of miles ahead of the party.

Since I have gotten several comments, I want to address this...

Note I said "that fits their concept." If a person's concept is, by definition, weak (say, a VoP Monk), but the player works within that concept to make the character useful, that does not fall within my initial comment.

By "going out of their way to gimp their character," I mean things that make the PC pretty much unplayable. A SORC with a CHA of 6, for example.

Morithias
2010-08-24, 04:36 PM
That depends on how big the book is :smallwink:

Puns aside. I have created builds few others would even consider. lol

The troll-blooded warforged that my friend could only find one way to kill outside of epic magic, or abusing the wish spell?

The merchant prince with more income in a month than an epic character starts with?

The rumor starter and propagandist that could literally make anyone believe anything, and literally change the plot at will?

The first one is just a tank yes, but the later two are things I'm sure few people on this forum have even considered.

Give me a book, and I'll make you something. ;)

Ignition
2010-08-24, 04:41 PM
Give me a book, and I'll make you something. ;)

Nah, I'm good, but thanks for the offer :smallwink: I'll keep it in mind when I need thought exercise crunch done, haha.

Also, the CHA 6 Sorc, yeah I've seen that. I've seen people take disadvantages that essentially make their powers useless, with the intention of unlocking them later in-character. Naturally there's no rule for that beyond Rule 0, but hey, as long as it doesn't frustrate the user, it's all good.

Kesnit
2010-08-24, 04:43 PM
Also, the CHA 6 Sorc, yeah I've seen that. I've seen people take disadvantages that essentially make their powers useless, with the intention of unlocking them later in-character. Naturally there's no rule for that beyond Rule 0, but hey, as long as it doesn't frustrate the user, it's all good.

It's one thing to be weak at the start and get stronger. It's another to never get those powers - ever.

Morithias
2010-08-24, 04:47 PM
It's one thing to be weak at the start and get stronger. It's another to never get those powers - ever.

You do get the familar, and a lot of feats for those guys don't need you to have a high stat (they assume you have it).

Although, that would raise the question of how you created the thing in the first place....

Ignition
2010-08-24, 04:53 PM
I guess the broader point is: you can make a CHA 6 Sorc without any hope of houseruled "Unlocking Your True Potential" kinds of sidequests, but why would you want to? And none of us can really answer that. I'm just saying it's possible hypothetically speaking, and I see people do it on occasion just to prove they can, for whatever twisted reasons they prefer.

But no, I don't think people always do what helps them out in the long run. I think the people who do are rewarded for it, but that's as should be, don't you think? A system that encourages people to be bad at stuff seems kind of counter-intuitive. There are, however, systems that place less weight on your characters abilities, and more on their players' abilities to justify their actions. There are systems that put little to no tools forth for players to optimize, as it were, since every choice to strengthen one area is a detriment to another to as close to a 1:1 ratio as possible.

Remmirath
2010-08-24, 05:01 PM
Since I have gotten several comments, I want to address this...

Note I said "that fits their concept." If a person's concept is, by definition, weak (say, a VoP Monk), but the player works within that concept to make the character useful, that does not fall within my initial comment.

By "going out of their way to gimp their character," I mean things that make the PC pretty much unplayable. A SORC with a CHA of 6, for example.

Ah, yeah, I've never seen anyone intentionally making their PC unplayable. That's pretty hard to imagine doing. I'm not rulling it out, though. Somebody, somewhere, has probably done just about everything.

I was talking about things like having the concept be something more like 'powerful and ancient wizard' but you tone it down deliberately so they won't outshine the rest of the party (or just because you want to, theoretically). Less extreme, certainly, but I had thought that was the sort of thing you meant.

Morithias
2010-08-24, 05:03 PM
Ah, yeah, I've never seen anyone intentionally making their PC unplayable. That's pretty hard to imagine doing. I'm not rulling it out, though. Somebody, somewhere, has probably done just about everything.

It's the rule 34 of RPG's, if you can think of it, some nutjob has done it.

Yukitsu
2010-08-24, 05:14 PM
I define it as "the process by which one attains a build meeting all mechanical and characterization goals set out by the creator prior to its creation."

It isn't always about making the strongest character. If I wanted to make a swordy type that uses a shield and challenges people to single combat, and wins his duels rather than being a complete rube, I'll still be a fairly weak character, even if I pull out most of the tricks I know. Making it a charming noble, a dashing leader and a good strategist would make this even harder and the end result even weaker in combat, but I can in fact do it. Inversely, if I just want to make a powerful character I take druid and natural spell and I'm pretty much done so long as I don't make any obviously stupid choices.

kyoryu
2010-08-24, 05:15 PM
I guess the broader point is: you can make a CHA 6 Sorc without any hope of houseruled "Unlocking Your True Potential" kinds of sidequests, but why would you want to?

Making a CHA 6 Sorc is attention-whoring, not roleplaying. It's about making the rest of the group carry their useless butts around until they magically become uber-powerful. This way, they get to be the star of the show both before and after the big reveal.

arrowhen
2010-08-24, 05:28 PM
Optimization is a playstyle that emphasizes the mechanics of character creation over actal, at-the-table gameplay, as well as more generally emphasizing mechanics over fiction.

And relax, I didn't say anything about "role playing".

Keld Denar
2010-08-24, 06:16 PM
I had to laugh. I was talking to my DM after this weekend's game. I have a Bard/LyricThamturge who recently used his LT secret to pick up Cloud of Knives, because it synergizes with his Dragonfire Inspiration. I also took Lyric Spell, because I want to make the character more of a caster and less of a bard. I talked about my plans of PrCing into Sublime Chord (which the DM is ok with, but he's worried about how strong Song of Arcane Power is...not the 9th level spells I'll get!).

The funniest thing is, he created a book restriction list. Then ACCUSED me of cherry picking the best features from those books. Excuse me...what do you want me to do, take Toughness 7 times? I took feats and abilities that make me better at what I want to do, namedly buffing my party member's damage, and being a batmanish controller wizard. He said "well, the developers never intended you to use Cloud of Knives with Dragonfire Inspiration". Um...no? Its a spell, it creates a weapon. Dragonfire works on weapons. Its not my fault they have a crappy editing staff. I can't wait till I share it with the Spellthief and he starts spellstealing with it. That'll be amuzing.

So I asked him if he wanted me to change it. I offered to drop Dragonfire Inspiration (which, I'll note, is only +3 at level 8, I didn't even really optimize it!). He said he didn't want to ret-con it, so he just continues to bemoan how over powered my character is saying that he's more "story centric" and changing a character would break continuity. He also threatened to take away all of my book access for the next game. I said "fine, I'll play a wizard then, I don't care. The most broken stuff in the game is in the PHB, if you want to ban a book, ban that one". I don't want to be antagonistic, but an attitude like that really irks me.

I mean, I don't understand it. I'm not breaking any rules, I just picked some strong features for my bard. Apparently this makes me a "cherry picker", whatever that means. Sure, all the feats I picked are strong, but I'm no where near where I could be in terms of power, and most of the stuff in the game for bards is CRAP. Tired of this, I even gave the DM my character sheet to audit (he thinks I'm cheating because of my abilities), and even included book and page numbers for everything that isn't in the PHB, just to prove its all legit and from approved sources.

Grrrrr, its frustrating some times. It also sucks that I'll never get to use ToB with this group, I'll never get to play a Dragonfire Adept, or a Factotum, or anything from Incarnum, or a Binder, or anything Psionic, or any of the other really cool and relatively balanced T3 things, just because my group has developed severe book-o-phobia because I took a few things outside of the PHB (which are all legal given the DM's "approved book list"). Why allow anything outside of the PHB if you are gonna complain about it? That sounds really passive-aggressive to me.

Gavinfoxx
2010-08-24, 06:20 PM
Grrrrr, its frustrating some times. It also sucks that I'll never get to use ToB with this group, I'll never get to play a Dragonfire Adept, or a Factotum, or anything from Incarnum, or a Binder, or anything Psionic, or any of the other really cool and relatively balanced T3 things, just because my group has developed severe book-o-phobia because I took a few things outside of the PHB (which are all legal given the DM's "approved book list").

Why don't you go to the tier threads, including the various "why is this class in this tier" thing, and the descriptions and stuff, and create a well edited word document describing all of that, and then email it to everyone in your entire game, and also take a summarized and highlighted printout version of it with you, and talk to them about it, so folk can have a better understanding of what balance in 3.5e IS and IS NOT?

Yukitsu
2010-08-24, 06:22 PM
A lot of really dogmatic "I believe in story, and story means you play dirt farmers while I talk about the important people" tend to ignore that, the rules, and anything else that gets in the way of them writing a book while you sit there. May not be as bad as all that, but that's what I am going to guess at from Keld's rant.

Gnaeus
2010-08-24, 06:23 PM
I will refer to the guide to practical optimization in my sig. It starts with a definition.

Wonton
2010-08-24, 06:40 PM
stuff

On the one hand, I agree with what Yukitsu said, the DM sounds like he wants to tell a story, not run a game.

On the other hand, it seems like you're trying to optimize in a group who don't like optimization. Things generally don't work well when one person is going against the wishes of the group.

As to actually answering the topic, this is what optimization means to me (http://xkcd.com/85/). In the context of D&D, that means taking character idea X, and using all available sources to make a character who best fills party role Y (usually with back-up plans for party roles Z, V, and W).

Morithias
2010-08-24, 07:22 PM
A lot of really dogmatic "I believe in story, and story means you play dirt farmers while I talk about the important people" tend to ignore that, the rules, and anything else that gets in the way of them writing a book while you sit there. May not be as bad as all that, but that's what I am going to guess at from Keld's rant.

To which to them, I say "write a book don't play a tabletop rpg". I mean why bother playing an interactive game if you're not allowed to interact. lol

arrowhen
2010-08-24, 07:38 PM
One of the reasons I don't like optimization is that once one person does it, everyone else has to as well, just to keep up. Which includes me as the DM, which makes it much harder to improvise and let the story go wherever the players want to take it.

kyoryu
2010-08-24, 07:40 PM
A lot of really dogmatic "I believe in story, and story means you play dirt farmers while I talk about the important people" tend to ignore that, the rules, and anything else that gets in the way of them writing a book while you sit there. May not be as bad as all that, but that's what I am going to guess at from Keld's rant.

Believing in story is great.

DMs just need to remember that it's the players' story, not theirs.

ryzouken
2010-08-24, 07:48 PM
Optimization is how I keep my character alive long enough to RP with other people. My ability to neutralize monsters effectively and efficiently with minimal threat to myself at any point in time is a critical component of any character I build. The alternative is to die, and dead characters don't do much RP (unless we're playing Ghostwalk).

Despite this philosophy, I have taken a lax approach to optimization in actual games, avoiding optimal selections in the interest of "flavor" or simply as part of a false sense of honor. Recently, I've experienced the result of this in the repeated deaths of my characters in epic play (not terribly concerning, as it's epic) and the death of my changeling in the RHoD game. The latter experience is of significance, as it resulted in my no longer being able to play the character I wanted to play. The only resurrection magic our finance starved group has access to is Reincarnation, which pulled my ability to change my face away (I became human). I am now being forced to diverge from my preferred flavor of character because I pulled my punches as a player.

I have come to the opinion that I must use every optimization option available to me that is not campaign smashing to survive in my RP group, even if the players themselves are opting to play less optimized characters. I have to build my character as tough as I can, because otherwise I don't get to play.

Which is fine, because I really enjoy breaking the crap out of characters... :smallbiggrin:

dsmiles
2010-08-24, 07:54 PM
Optimization is a playstyle that emphasizes the mechanics of character creation over actal, at-the-table gameplay, as well as more generally emphasizing mechanics over fiction.

And relax, I didn't say anything about "role playing".

Whereas I'm a little of the opposite. I emphasize the fiction or story ("fluff") over the mechanics or optimization ("crunch"). I'm not saying that they're mutually exclusive, I'm just saying that I pick the mechanics that fit within my backstory and IC goals. I don't pick my mechanics and then write the story around them.

Greenish
2010-08-24, 07:57 PM
I define it as "the process by which one attains a build meeting all mechanical and characterization goals set out by the creator prior to its creation."That goes to mah quotes, thank you.

Whereas I'm a little of the opposite. I emphasize the fiction or story ("fluff") over the mechanics or optimization ("crunch"). I'm not saying that they're mutually exclusive, I'm just saying that I pick the mechanics that fit within my backstory and IC goals. I don't pick my mechanics and then write the story around them.I create the fluff and the crunch at the same time. As the character takes shape, they influence each others, so in the end they're a match.

dsmiles
2010-08-24, 08:02 PM
Yeah, I set out a "crunchy" baseline (e.g. "two weapon human rogue" or "blue lightsaber jedi" or "Jack the Sorcerer who likes doughnuts for dinner") and that's as far as I get into mechanics and crunchy bits until after I write the story. After I write said story, I write out my IC goals, hopes, and dreams (for the DM to use as plot hooks), then I get around to laying out the character's level progression with skills and feats and what level I'll get them at.

Boren
2010-08-24, 08:15 PM
By "going out of their way to gimp their character," I mean things that make the PC pretty much unplayable. A SORC with a CHA of 6, for example.

I once had a bard with CHA 8 but that was in Never Winter Nights so I'm not 100% sure if that really counts :smallwink:

Keld Denar
2010-08-24, 08:16 PM
Yea, but if Jack the Sorcerer spent some time working for the Shadowthieves guild, would it be proper to reflect this as taking the Stealthy feat, or the Darkstalker feat? Or a few stealth themed spells (Invisibility)? Or a dip in Rogue followed by the Unseen Seer and Arcane Trickster PrCs? Its all options, some better than others. Are any more "right" than others, even though some are stronger? Stealthy is a TERRIBLE feat. What it gives compared to the value of a feat is complete crap. Unseen Seer is an awesome PrC, generally considered WAY worth the lost caster level you spend on Rogue or Spelltheif to get into it.

Thats what optimization is. Its knowing that there are multiple ways to express various character themes, and knowing the difference in power level, and making the character as powerful as possible up to a certain pre-established point. You don't want to make your DM hate you, but you don't want to feel like you have nothing useful to do because you made some poor choices.

You can't just say "I make my concept and then build my character around that", there are TONS of ways to build various concepts, some of which are great, some of which are overpowered, and some of which are steaming piles of St Bernard turds.

TaintedLight
2010-08-24, 08:19 PM
I think of optimization and powergaming as two different methods for achieving occasionally matching but often different goals.

A powergamer creates his character with the intention of abusing some mechanic(s) to create an artificially powerful effect that is beyond the scope of what the game clearly expects and thinks is appropriate, exploits dubious readings of the rules, sacrifices sensibility for practicality, ignores flavor for the sake of synergy, or some combination of those and other similar acts and qualities.

An optimizer creates a character with the goal of making him good at some thing or things. This could entail making smart, synergistic feat choices, carefully selecting spells and buffs that enable him to increase his capacity to perform a task, covering obvious weaknesses in his build, and sometimes being creative with an interpretation of a badly written rule. The essential difference between the two is that the optimizer is not necessarily setting out to create something that is totally inappropriate for the group, setting, or relative power level; the powergamer plays to win rather than to play.

A friend of mine who really likes playing Errol Flynn-esque rouges and swashbucklers recently did something in combat that made me pause and scratch my head a bit. He was a Swashbucker/Dervish with a +11 BAB, and he decided at one particular moment in the combat to perform a whirlwind attack when the only adjacent enemies were a nightmare mount and its blackguard rider. I pointed out to him after the battle that I thought he could have achieved the same thing but done it better by making three attacks like his BAB allowed for. He got annoyed at this, defensively pointing out that "three attacks doesn't feel as awesome. I WANTED to do a whirlwind attack because it looks cooler." I don't think it's unreasonable to argue that a whirwind attack against two creatures, one of which is mounted on top of the other, looks more or less like a downward/upward slash across both of them. There's no reason you couldn't describe a full attack in the same terms, no? By making a deliberately subpar choice in a situation where either would have produced essentially identical results (and where the extra attack would have meant potential extra damage, thus defining it here as the superior tactical decision), Mike was telling me that he doesn't want to make optimal decisions.

TL;DR:
A 1st level fighter wielding a greatsword with Power Attack and Cleave is more optimized than a 1st level fighter wielding a dagger with Acrobatic and Dodge. A 1st level fighter with a bunch of flaws who is deliberately inflating his power beyond what is normally appropriate for a 1st level fighter with obscure feat and weapon choices is powergaming.

Gensh
2010-08-24, 08:30 PM
Yea, but if Jack the Sorcerer spent some time working for the Shadowthieves guild, would it be proper to reflect this as taking the Stealthy feat, or the Darkstalker feat? Or a few stealth themed spells (Invisibility)? Or a dip in Rogue followed by the Unseen Seer and Arcane Trickster PrCs? Its all options, some better than others. Are any more "right" than others, even though some are stronger? Stealthy is a TERRIBLE feat. What it gives compared to the value of a feat is complete crap. Unseen Seer is an awesome PrC, generally considered WAY worth the lost caster level you spend on Rogue or Spelltheif to get into it.

Thats what optimization is. Its knowing that there are multiple ways to express various character themes, and knowing the difference in power level, and making the character as powerful as possible up to a certain pre-established point. You don't want to make your DM hate you, but you don't want to feel like you have nothing useful to do because you made some poor choices.

You can't just say "I make my concept and then build my character around that", there are TONS of ways to build various concepts, some of which are great, some of which are overpowered, and some of which are steaming piles of St Bernard turds.

I wholly agree with you there. Optimization is simply building the best character you can with the resources you have, which in many cases are quite extensive. In fact, it looks like most people agree with you, which begs the question "Why do we keep having these threads with those 'optimizer-haters' always giving personal stories about being shafted by a fellow player?" The answer is simple: more "optimizers" are actually powergamers than the pro-optimization camp cares to admit. Not mentioning any names, there are at least half a dozen members of this board who insist that optimizers are never powergamers and then turn around and talk about a powergamed build of theirs in another thread.

Continuing the example of Jack the sorcerer, no, there's no problem if he spent some time working for the Shadowthieves Guild and gained levels in rogue or a stealthy PrC. The problem is if he's Jack the sorcerer who has never cast a stealth-related spell in his lifetime - and then he takes those class levels anyway. And then a dip in mindbender. And then shadowcraft mage. And then...

Yukitsu
2010-08-24, 08:40 PM
I wholly agree with you there. Optimization is simply building the best character you can with the resources you have, which in many cases are quite extensive.

This is incomplete in my opinion. It should be "...the best character you can that still complies with the backstory, personality and circumstances of the character..."

The difference in my opinion between a powergamer, which IMO is detrimental to RP is that they are willing to sacrafice characterization to gain more bonuses, while an optimizer, if they have a characterization goal will not.

A real example is this little girl dread witch I once played. Every spell I had was a fear effect, so dread witch was a very powerful choice mechanically. That was optimization. I later on dipped into psionics and gnabbed cerebromancer so I could do that "cyclone of stuff spinning telekinetically around the room" thing, which I couldn't adequitly do as a wizard (lost caster levels for fluff, pure RP) but then took a dip in thrallherd. Now, thrallherd is a very powerful class. It's leadership on crack. However, when I took it, I asked that my followers be a bunch of stuffed doll animated objects. These things were worse than level 1 fighters in combat, and unlike experts couldn't craft. That was a choice of characterization before power, and I would still say it was optimization, because it was using the resources at hand to make my characterk, well, even more creepy, even if it didn't grant mechanical bonuses.

TaintedLight
2010-08-24, 08:43 PM
This is incomplete in my opinion. It should be "...the best character you can that still complies with the backstory, personality and circumstances of the character..."

The difference in my opinion between a powergamer, which IMO is detrimental to RP is that they are willing to sacrafice characterization to gain more bonuses, while an optimizer, if they have a characterization goal will not.

Isn't optimization just a restricted form of powergaming then? The functional difference in what you wrote is that a powergamer is willing to break some taboos that an optimizer will not break, but both of them are striving to make "the best" characters. Also, I assume that "best" here means "most capable of accomplishing a task or tasks." Correct or not correct?

Yukitsu
2010-08-24, 08:48 PM
Isn't optimization just a restricted form of powergaming then? The functional difference in what you wrote is that a powergamer is willing to break some taboos that an optimizer will not break, but both of them are striving to make "the best" characters. Also, I assume that "best" here means "most capable of accomplishing a task or tasks." Correct or not correct?

No, I don't really agree that that's the only goal. I can have a different goal other than sheer competency in mind and use my knowledge of theory and the rules to create something as close to that ideal as possible. Best possible baker for example would be optimization, but would provide absolutely no benefits in game. Or even more abstractly, trying to build towards a concept may mean making choices that move you closer to the core concept even if you don't become more powerful. Such as one character I made for another player, that is Snake from metal gear solid. Does everything Snake could do, but still required considerable optimization to get the "feel" right.

If the optimizer's only goal is power, then yes he is a power gamer, but power within limitations is simply a fuzzy border of competency.

Umael
2010-08-24, 08:55 PM
DMs just need to remember that it's the players' story, not theirs.

...:smallconfused:

Why can't it be both?

I mean, when I run a game, I get some ideas together of what will happen (Mt. Important Volcano will erupt) or what I think will happen (Dr. Villian will confront John PC with the truth about his sister). I toss these plot elements at the PCs, then sit back and see what happens.

One of the ways gaming was described to me is that the GM IS writing a story, or at least, collaborating on one. He puts in the plot elements, the details, adjusts the mood, populates the world with characters... but he doesn't have the protagonists (i.e., the PCs) and their reactions written into the story. Because this is a major part of the story, he doesn't write the plotline too closely, just... lets the players play the part of the protagonists and does some quick improvization writing on how the story turns out.

(Hopefully that description will NOT prompt outcries of "Foul!" and "Railroading!"...)

[Edit: Sorry about going off-topic there]

TaintedLight
2010-08-24, 08:56 PM
No, I don't really agree that that's the only goal. I can have a different goal other than sheer competency in mind and use my knowledge of theory and the rules to create something as close to that ideal as possible. Best possible baker for example would be optimization, but would provide absolutely no benefits in game. Or even more abstractly, trying to build towards a concept may mean making choices that move you closer to the core concept even if you don't become more powerful. Such as one character I made for another player, that is Snake from metal gear solid. Does everything Snake could do, but still required considerable optimization to get the "feel" right.

If the optimizer's only goal is power, then yes he is a power gamer, but power within limitations is simply a fuzzy border of competency.

I think you misunderstood what I meant. "Capable" does not only refer to in game benefits like the highest damage output or best stealth skill checks. Capable means good at being or doing what you want that character to do.

If you want to make your character the best baker, you put ranks in Profession (baker), take Skill Focus [Profession (baker)], and you do some reading so you know what you're talking about. When the time comes to bake some bread in the course of the game, you roll some checks like you would for any other task that entails a risk of failure. You aren't doing something that's typical of a PC, but you are an optimized baker. You are DAMN good at baking by the abstracted measure of competency that is the skill check system.

If you're making Snake from MGS, you list all the things that Snake can do. Then, you decide whether or not you want him to be "the best" at those things. If you make decisions that bring you closer to making him the best at doing those things, you are optimizing. If you are making choices that are character appropriate but not necessarily mechanically advisable given possible alternative methods, you are optimizing to a lesser degree. If you do neither of these things, you're not really making Snake :D.

Yukitsu
2010-08-24, 09:00 PM
If you're making Snake from MGS, you list all the things that Snake can do. Then, you decide whether or not you want him to be "the best" at those things. If you make decisions that bring you closer to making him the best at doing those things, you are optimizing. If you are making choices that are character appropriate but not necessarily mechanically advisable given possible alternative methods, you are optimizing to a lesser degree. If you do neither of these things, you're not really making Snake :D.

This is where you go a little off base. A talented optimizer will build Snake so that he is as competent in each of his little checkboxes as he is in the game. No more, no less. The power gamer will make the build more powerful than Snake was, because he's sacraficing accuracy of the goal for power.

If the goal is something like "be a great baker" well, you don't do that by taking skill focus: underwater basket weaving. The boundary in something mechanical (being good at something) being optimized over powergamed is kind of fuzzy, but as one is generally considered neutral and the other is derogatory, I'd still think of them as seperate.

WarKitty
2010-08-24, 09:02 PM
Optimizing is the process of building a character that is good at a certain thing.

Now, how much of that you should do is a whole other discussion...

kyoryu
2010-08-24, 11:20 PM
...:smallconfused:

Why can't it be both?

I mean, when I run a game, I get some ideas together of what will happen (Mt. Important Volcano will erupt) or what I think will happen (Dr. Villian will confront John PC with the truth about his sister). I toss these plot elements at the PCs, then sit back and see what happens.


That's pretty close to what I intended, actually.

TaintedLight
2010-08-24, 11:27 PM
This is where you go a little off base. A talented optimizer will build Snake so that he is as competent in each of his little checkboxes as he is in the game. No more, no less. The power gamer will make the build more powerful than Snake was, because he's sacraficing accuracy of the goal for power.

If the goal is something like "be a great baker" well, you don't do that by taking skill focus: underwater basket weaving. The boundary in something mechanical (being good at something) being optimized over powergamed is kind of fuzzy, but as one is generally considered neutral and the other is derogatory, I'd still think of them as seperate.

If you're making Snake "as good as he is in the game", you are not optimizing. That's emulating, because to optimize something implies that you are improving it as much as is possible while still keeping the thing what it is. Making Snake as he is means that you're emulating. That's adhering as closely as possible to the source material, or at least that's how I see it.

The meaning of the word optimize in a broader context than D&D twinking reveals a lot about the mindset of an optimizer:



1. to make as effective, perfect, or useful as possible.
2. to make the best of.


I like the second definition better for D&D optimization. The first one feels more like powergaming.

Morithias
2010-08-24, 11:34 PM
I like the second definition better for D&D optimization. The first one feels more like powergaming.

Note that it does not say what you are 'effective' or what not AT. Why can't they be effective at just being a deep character?

Actually why can't you both max/min and be deep?

For example currently my mad doctor is a half-devil and is naturally loyal to the planes of baator. In order for him to get plotted into being willing to betray the archfiends when he reaches high enough level (This campaign is kinda a "Take over the multiverse" one).

So I planned to take the half-golem template from MM2, using an ECL, it's a very powerful template, and fitting but the way he gets it also makes it storywise and deep.

I plan to have him betrayed away from the group by an NPC bearded devil, but near the guild hall of the scientists (create device people). Unable to heal him with magic, they save him by rebuilding him into a cyborg. Now he's more powerful and has plot development.

(The reason he didn't just die and then reanimate, mostly was due to not knowing plane shift, and the whole "takes 100 years" thing.)

Yukitsu
2010-08-24, 11:40 PM
I like the second definition better for D&D optimization. The first one feels more like powergaming.

It's because a perfect expy of Snake is "best" when compared to one that is more powerful if perfectly recreating Snake is your goal. Being competent isn't always what is best, sometimes your character creation goal is flavour, not power. Many times these are not mutually exclusive, and you can be plenty powerful without sacraficing tone, but in this particular case, the tone included a hard cap on abilities.

It works for other principles as well, it need not be an immitation. If I want to play for example, a standard retired ex soldier who's dragged from retirement, I am off the bat not playing towards the best possible character, nor even the best of the warrior archetype, and not even towards the best old aged melee standard type. Sure, competency is always a goal you should have with your characters (and I could make that playable, with good enough stat rolls), but in this obvious absurd fringe example, he's not the best fighter, he's definitely a martial type, and he's old. An everyday kind of "poor bloody infantry" veteran. It takes real effort to make it "feel" like he's got a lot of practical experience built up over the ages, it's hard to make a melee type that isn't in the prime of his life, and it takes a lot of work putting it all together into a mechanically sound build that fits the "feel".

TaintedLight
2010-08-24, 11:41 PM
Note that it does not say what you are 'effective' or what not AT. Why can't they be effective at just being a deep character?

Actually why can't you both max/min and be deep?

For example currently my mad doctor is a half-devil and is naturally loyal to the planes of baator. In order for him to get plotted into being willing to betray the archfiends when he reaches high enough level (This campaign is kinda a "Take over the multiverse" one).

So I planned to take the half-golem template from MM2, using an ECL, it's a very powerful template, and fitting but the way he gets it also makes it storywise and deep.

I plan to have him betrayed away from the group by an NPC bearded devil, but near the guild hall of the scientists (create device people). Unable to heal him with magic, they save him by rebuilding him into a cyborg. Now he's more powerful and has plot development.

(The reason he didn't just die and then reanimate, mostly was due to not knowing plane shift, and the whole "takes 100 years" thing.)

Hey, who's saying you can't have ambitious roleplaying aspirations and optimize the numbers at the same time? That's the ultimate goal for me whenever I build a character. My Rogue 2/Swashbuckler 1/Swordsage 3/Warblade 1/Master of Masks 3 was supposed to be a bag of tricks all on his own and he was tons of fun to play.

An egotistical, melodramatic actor from a city ruled by powerful necromancer barons, he spent his childhood as a slave in one of the many morgues where undead were churned out. Since he was forced to help prepare the bodies for the necromantic rituals, he developed an intense fear of the twisted mockery of life that is mindless undeath and resolved to find a truer, purer expression of life's real meaning. That desire to express the meaningful nature of life more vividly manifested in his choice to become an actor. In his travels, he sought to learn all he could of the world and the people in it, including their talents and their mechanisms of defense should his slaveowner masters ever try to track him down.

I was omni-useful to our party, serving as a primary damage dealer, a scout, and a party face in addition to doing outrageous stunts in combat just because I felt like he was so flamboyant that he had to at least try it.

EDIT:

It's because a perfect expy of Snake is "best" when compared to one that is more powerful if perfectly recreating Snake is your goal. Being competent isn't always what is best, sometimes your character creation goal is flavour, not power. Many times these are not mutually exclusive, and you can be plenty powerful without sacraficing tone, but in this particular case, the tone included a hard cap on abilities.

It works for other principles as well, it need not be an immitation. If I want to play for example, a standard retired ex soldier who's dragged from retirement, I am off the bat not playing towards the best possible character, nor even the best of the warrior archetype, and not even towards the best old aged melee standard type. Sure, competency is always a goal you should have with your characters (and I could make that playable, with good enough stat rolls), but in this obvious absurd fringe example, he's not the best fighter, he's definitely a martial type, and he's old. An everyday kind of "poor bloody infantry" veteran. It takes real effort to make it "feel" like he's got a lot of practical experience built up over the ages, it's hard to make a melee type that isn't in the prime of his life, and it takes a lot of work putting it all together into a mechanically sound build that fits the "feel".

I don't feel that you're really optimizing at that point. There's nothing wrong with that, you're just employing a different character creation philosophy. Mechanics take a back seat in your example with character depth as the primary goal.

In my games, I combine Spot/Listen into Perception for all characters. "But Eric," one player complains, "my character is blind but has great hearing." My response is that you can always choose to forgo a skill check if you feel like a character would, could, or should not attempt it under the circumstances. The same is true of feat and class selection. Just recognize that you're not optimizing anymore. You have a different goal for which an optimizing philosophy is no longer the most appropriate approach.

Yukitsu
2010-08-25, 12:03 AM
I think the main difference between my view and others, is that I think a character should be the best at "being" something. Others simply assume best means most powerful something. I think it may be the reason I've never had a boring character. Possibly as well why, no matter how powerful the character I make, my DM doesn't complain.

Morithias
2010-08-25, 12:05 AM
Hey, who's saying you can't have ambitious roleplaying aspirations and optimize the numbers at the same time? That's the ultimate goal for me whenever I build a character. My Rogue 2/Swashbuckler 1/Swordsage 3/Warblade 1/Master of Masks 3 was supposed to be a bag of tricks all on his own and he was tons of fun to play..

Well that was basically what I was trying to say. I suppose I wasn't clear enough. Sorry! lol

TaintedLight
2010-08-25, 12:06 AM
I think the main difference between my view and others, is that I think a character should be the best at "being" something. Others simply assume best means most powerful something. I think it may be the reason I've never had a boring character.

Well, the goal of optimization as I understand it is indeed to be the best at something, but in an active sense rather than just in an existential one. Every character is by default the best at being that particular character, no matter how sound or unsound they are mechanically. No extra work is required to make it that way.

EDIT: Yeah, I had a feeling we were expressing the same sentiment there.

Yukitsu
2010-08-25, 12:09 AM
Well, the goal of optimization as I understand it is indeed to be the best at something, but in an active sense rather than just in an existential one. Every character is by default the best at being that particular character, no matter how sound or unsound they are mechanically. No extra work is required to make it that way.

You'd be amazed at how unfaithful many players will be to their archtypal role and personality for a few +1 bonuses. At that point, that character may as well be an entire other one. It goes for character creation too, and is the point at which Stormwind ceases to be a fallacy.

Lord Raziere
2010-08-25, 12:13 AM
optimizing is not making a good character. making a good character is just making a good character, optimizing is when you make the character overpowered and unstoppable, sharpening the the class to the razors edge to best slice everyone's throat.

that's what it means to me.

TaintedLight
2010-08-25, 12:14 AM
You'd be amazed at how unfaithful many players will be to their archtypal role and personality for a few +1 bonuses. At that point, that character may as well be an entire other one. It goes for character creation too, and is the point at which Stormwind ceases to be a fallacy.

How is a particular player giving into the temptation to get another +1 necessarily impacting what their character is? Whenever I play a dextrous fighter type with a more swashbuckler-type feel, I tend to do fighter rogues instead of swashbucklers. One, because I like the mechanical advantages better and two because I feel like all of the mechanical advantages of being a swashbuckler can easily be reflavored and/or replicated with feats.

Yukitsu
2010-08-25, 12:26 AM
Exaggerated example ahead*
"You have a choice. Your mother's life or a holy avenger."
"Eh, I never liked her much anyway."
*DM facepalms*

Like I said, it doesn't come up often and most mechanics can mesh with characterization, but often enough (and in a subtler form) that characters rarely have even remotely similar ideals at the beginning and end, and it's often gain that motivates the change, not RP. Or you wind up with entire parties of hypocrites.

TaintedLight
2010-08-25, 12:29 AM
Exaggerated example ahead*
"You have a choice. Your mother's life or a holy avenger."
"Eh, I never liked her much anyway."
*DM facepalms*

Like I said, it doesn't come up often and most mechanics can mesh with characterization, but often enough (and in a subtler form) that characters rarely have even remotely similar ideals at the beginning and end, and it's often gain that motivates the change, not RP.

That's an issue that has to be dealt with at the individual level, then. A player is fully entitled to make a decision on whether or not he wants to metagame and to what degree. Furthermore, it's still up to that player to decide whether his character still fits the concept the way he wants it to. Ultimately, a character only has to be satisfyingly consistent to the person playing them.

Wings of Peace
2010-08-25, 12:32 AM
Four Nymphs. The third to feed me grapes and the fourth to feed me booze. One and Two would tell you what they do but they're busy. That's a pretty optimized time to me.

nolispe
2010-08-25, 12:56 AM
By "going out of their way to gimp their character," I mean things that make the PC pretty much unplayable. A SORC with a CHA of 6, for example.

Seen that. Except it wasn't deliberate. And they thought it was overpowered because it had a high Str.

Biffoniacus_Furiou
2010-08-25, 06:18 AM
The reality is, there are many people who just aren't good at games (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7VAhzPcZ-s&feature=player_embedded) but they're encompassed by the illusion that being a drama queen completely negates that when it comes to RPGs. Some people are poor role-players but amazing gamers, some people are good role-players but poor gamers. You may be able to seduce the DM who's pretending to be a princess, but that won't help your character defeat the big mean dragon.

The game half of an RPG is just as important as the role-playing half. There's pretending to be an epic hero, and there's pretending to be a character who's pretending to be an epic hero. If you're not capable of building and piloting a powerful character who is a force to be reckoned with, then you should know better than to role-play as though that's what your character is.

DMs are no exception to this. A DM who isn't familiar enough with the rules to properly referee the game should not be in the DM seat, no matter how good a story teller he likes to think of himself as. When the rules and mechanics of the game are ignored to facilitate a story, especially when the PCs' capabilities are ignored or overridden, it stops being a game and is just interactive-story-time.

A role-playing game is still a game, there are still rules. Being good at creating a character who is powerful according to those rules and being good at thinking strategically and creatively within those rules in order for your character to succeed is being good at that game. People who are not good at those things still want to think of themselves as being good at the game anyway, so they convince themselves that those who actually are good at it are doing something wrong or cheating. If someone doesn't want you to optimize, it means he doesn't want you to be good at the game, it means he wants you to reduce yourself to his level so he can feel better about himself. This is all subconscious of course, but it's exactly what is happening. In order to maintain their own illusion of being good at the game they have to prevent you from actually being good at it.

dsmiles
2010-08-25, 07:59 AM
optimizing is not making a good character. making a good character is just making a good character, optimizing is when you make the character overpowered and unstoppable, sharpening the the class to the razors edge to best slice everyone's throat.

that's what it means to me.

Unfortunately, I think you are almost entirely alone in that definition. To most of us, that's Powergaming, Twinking, Munchkining, or just being Red Mage.

And to those of you who doubt the power of Jack the Sorcerer...
http://blogs.villagevoice.com/forkintheroad/S7S06_The_Soup_Nazi.jpg
NO DOUGHNUTS FOR YOU!

mikej
2010-08-25, 08:16 AM
The reality is, there are many people who just aren't good at games (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7VAhzPcZ-s&feature=player_embedded) but they're encompassed by the illusion that being a drama queen completely negates that when it comes to RPGs. Some people are poor role-players but amazing gamers, some people are good role-players but poor gamers. You may be able to seduce the DM who's pretending to be a princess, but that won't help your character defeat the big mean dragon.

The game half of an RPG is just as important as the role-playing half. There's pretending to be an epic hero, and there's pretending to be a character who's pretending to be an epic hero. If you're not capable of building and piloting a powerful character who is a force to be reckoned with, then you should know better than to role-play as though that's what your character is.

DMs are no exception to this. A DM who isn't familiar enough with the rules to properly referee the game should not be in the DM seat, no matter how good a story teller he likes to think of himself as. When the rules and mechanics of the game are ignored to facilitate a story, especially when the PCs' capabilities are ignored or overridden, it stops being a game and is just interactive-story-time.

A role-playing game is still a game, there are still rules. Being good at creating a character who is powerful according to those rules and being good at thinking strategically and creatively within those rules in order for your character to succeed is being good at that game. People who are not good at those things still want to think of themselves as being good at the game anyway, so they convince themselves that those who actually are good at it are doing something wrong or cheating. If someone doesn't want you to optimize, it means he doesn't want you to be good at the game, it means he wants you to reduce yourself to his level so he can feel better about himself. This is all subconscious of course, but it's exactly what is happening. In order to maintain their own illusion of being good at the game they have to prevent you from actually being good at it.

Thank you, I couldn't had said it any better myself.

The Glyphstone
2010-08-25, 08:26 AM
For me, optimizing means being the best my character can be within rules and reason at whatever role I intend for him. The first step in any character I build is what they're going to do - buff, tank, heal, blast, whatever. The second is deciding how they're going to do it, the actual mechanics. This is where I will pick Crusader if I want to tank instead of Fighter, or crack open the Inspire Courage Handbook for a Bard. The third is building the character around this skeleton - deciding what personality, what quirks, what sort of individual would develop and practice the sort of skills and role that I want to act out.

I actually know a few people who are semi-diehard Stormwinders...someone above jokingly said that 'real roleplayers take Self-Sufficiency and Iron Will'; I've seen a very similar argument made in real life. My counterpoint to them was the following: D&D is a scary, screwed-up world. There are demons, dragons, and extradimensional horrors from beyond time and space. Being horribly killed and having your soul devoured is only midway up on the list of 'bad things that can happen'. Thus, the only people who survive past their first few levels are the ones that are good at their job. Adventuring is the most Darwinian career out there, and if you're deliberately hampering yourself in that respect, it's bad roleplaying.

dsmiles
2010-08-25, 08:28 AM
When the rules and mechanics of the game are ignored to facilitate a story

Out of that whole thing, this is the only thing that bothers me, since it states in the book that "The Rules" are just guidelines and aren't written in stone. But ignoring the rules to override a PC's capabilities is a definite no-no.

And, yes, when the guidelines in the DMG, or PHB, or whatever, get in the way of us having fun with telling a story about our characters, they do get sidelined as secondary to having fun. Because the only way to play the game incorrectly is to not have fun.

EDIT:
@Glyphstone: You, sir, are once again correct. I could nominate many adventurers for a Darwin award.

Snake-Aes
2010-08-25, 08:40 AM
[...]The first step in any character I build is what they're going to do - buff, tank, heal, blast, whatever.
The second is deciding how they're going to do it, the actual mechanics. This is where I will pick Crusader if I want to tank instead of Fighter, or crack open the Inspire Courage Handbook for a Bard.
The third is building the character around this skeleton - deciding what personality, what quirks, what sort of individual would develop and practice the sort of skills and role that I want to act out.[...]
Much of the discrepancy I see between players is the order of these things.

For me it is natural to do your 1-2-3, but Many complain and say it should be 3-1-2 instead.

Optimization is: the design and operation of a system or process to make it as good as possible in some defined sense.

If your character does exactly what you want it to do, it's optimized :p

dsmiles
2010-08-25, 08:44 AM
Much of the discrepancy I see between players is the order of these things.

For me it is natural to do your 1-2-3, but Many complain and say it should be 3-1-2 instead.

Optimization is: the design and operation of a system or process to make it as good as possible in some defined sense.

If your character does exactly what you want it to do, it's optimized :p

What about 1-3-2. I write the character's history and goals before I decide which mechanics I'm going to use to achieve those goals. (Of course, I have rarely had to build a character that wasn't starting fresh at level 1, so mechanics don't play much into his/her history.)

Avilan the Grey
2010-08-25, 09:02 AM
For me it is two totally different things depending on if its PnP or CRPG.

For PnP Optimization is a very effective character that also works well in the group.
Examples can be, depending on system, an Half-Orc fighter with average intelligence and not absolutely maximum strength, or a very knowledgeable but plucky librarian with slightly bad luck, or a mutated rabbit with low strength but bonuses in projectile weapons and dodging.

For CRPG on the other hand it is usually a question of Min-Maxing. Not talking much? CHA=1 or 3 depending on system. Etc.

Chess435
2010-08-25, 09:02 AM
What does "optimization" mean to me?

Two Words: Breaking things. :smallbiggrin:

WarKitty
2010-08-25, 09:03 AM
Ironically my best roleplayers in my current group are also my best optimizers. My non-optimized players are the type that seem to think standing around making fart jokes and innuendo all the time constitutes roleplaying.

Ignition
2010-08-25, 09:05 AM
Ironically my best roleplayers in my current group are also my best optimizers. My non-optimized players are the type that seem to think standing around making fart jokes and innuendo all the time constitutes roleplaying.

Well, optimizing implies you care about what happens in the game, now doesn't it? If you didn't care, you wouldn't put in the effort :smallwink: To me, this makes perfect sense.

Snake-Aes
2010-08-25, 09:07 AM
Well, optimizing implies you care about what happens in the game, now doesn't it? If you didn't care, you wouldn't put in the effort :smallwink: To me, this makes perfect sense.

Different perspectives. Do you care about acting like some sort of whiny "art is angsty and uncomprehensible" cult actor wannabe? Then you will probably absolutely deny the mere possibility of your fighter having top bab and power attack.

The Big Dice
2010-08-25, 09:08 AM
A DM who isn't familiar enough with the rules to properly referee the game should not be in the DM seat, no matter how good a story teller he likes to think of himself as. When the rules and mechanics of the game are ignored to facilitate a story, especially when the PCs' capabilities are ignored or overridden, it stops being a game and is just interactive-story-time.

So a GM has to be a rules layer or he's a waste of flesh and bone as a GM? I'm sorry, but that is patently ridiculous and just a little narrow minded. It's a fallacy created by D&D 3.X players, who are utterly obsessed by rules. But the fact is, you don't need in depth and complicated rules on every possible situation to play a fun and engrossing roleplaying game.

Here's a free piece of advice from John Wick.


Know your rules.

Notice it doesn't say "the" rules, it says "your" rules.

Everything the book is a suggestion, even the rules. If you come across a rule you don't like, don't use it. Just throw it out and forget about it. The only rule you shouldn't throw out is, "Have Fun."

Modern D&D, especially the 3.X line, forgets this principle and dresses up bad game design as encouraging people to develop "system mastery." Encouraging people to think of characters as "builds" rather than characters. In other words, turning a roleplaying game into a trading card game.

To me, optimisation is treating your character as if it were a deck rather than a character. Nothing more than a collection of options designed to interface with a rules system and produce certain outcomes under certain conditions.

How many times do you hear "I'm going to play a <race> <class> with <feat> and <piece of equipment>" compared to "I'm going to play a <race> <class> with <a motivation> and <connection to the game world>?"

Now admittedly, the first example there isn't limited to optimisers, it's also something less experience players do. But that mindset, combined with having your character's feat and class choices mapped out further ahead than just qualifying for that PRC are often hallmarks of the serial optimiser.

WarKitty
2010-08-25, 09:10 AM
Well, optimizing implies you care about what happens in the game, now doesn't it? If you didn't care, you wouldn't put in the effort :smallwink: To me, this makes perfect sense.

:smallyuk: This particular player cares more about staring at his girlfriend, as far as I can tell. (Incidentally, the girlfriend is a really kick-ass roleplayer.)

Ignition
2010-08-25, 09:11 AM
Different perspectives. Do you care about acting like some sort of whiny "art is angsty and uncomprehensible" cult actor wannabe? Then you will probably absolutely deny the mere possibility of your fighter having top bab and power attack.

Pfffffffff those people don't actually exist, they're just a construct of your imagination as a "negative example" of how not to play a game. Free your mind, man! :smallwink:

Besides, as we've already established, there are multiple tools for optimization depending on the situation; if being a cult actor wannabe gets you the most screentime, as it were, I'd call it optimized to go off about art being angsty and uncomprehensible. Said cult actor wannabe would just be playing a slightly different game on a slightly different level.


:smallyuk: This particular player cares more about staring at his girlfriend, as far as I can tell. (Incidentally, the girlfriend is a really kick-ass roleplayer.)

So he doesn't care about the game except insofar as it lets him leer at women. What a classy gentleman :smallwink:

dsmiles
2010-08-25, 09:15 AM
So a GM has to be a rules layer or he's a waste of flesh and bone as a GM? I'm sorry, but that is patently ridiculous and just a little narrow minded. It's a fallacy created by D&D 3.X players, who are utterly obsessed by rules. But the fact is, you don't need in depth and complicated rules on every possible situation to play a fun and engrossing roleplaying game.

Here's a free piece of advice from John Wick.

Know your rules.

Notice it doesn't say "the" rules, it says "your" rules.

Everything the book is a suggestion, even the rules. If you come across a rule you don't like, don't use it. Just throw it out and forget about it. The only rule you shouldn't throw out is, "Have Fun."

Modern D&D, especially the 3.X line, forgets this principle and dresses up bad game design as encouraging people to develop "system mastery." Encouraging people to think of characters as "builds" rather than characters. In other words, turning a roleplaying game into a trading card game.

To me, optimisation is treating your character as if it were a deck rather than a character. Nothing more than a collection of options designed to interface with a rules system and produce certain outcomes under certain conditions.

How many times do you hear "I'm going to play a <race> <class> with <feat> and <piece of equipment>" compared to "I'm going to play a <race> <class> with <a motivation> and <connection to the game world>?"

Now admittedly, the first example there isn't limited to optimisers, it's also something less experience players do. But that mindset, combined with having your character's feat and class choices mapped out further ahead than just qualifying for that PRC are often hallmarks of the serial optimiser.

The Big Dice Has spoken (and spoken well, at that). Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

EDIT:
@Ignition: Pffff...leering at women...what nerve (we have an entirely different thread for that :smallwink:).

Vantharion
2010-08-25, 09:18 AM
Optimization means making the most optimal choices. Optimal means most satisfactory.
An optimized character can be a three foot tall halfling with a str score of 4 playing a barbarian.
I think in core Optimization should be about having fun.
Optimized Damage or Optimized Stats is what I regularly see it as.
I don't want to flaw and deck out my character by abusing the system, I get optimized damage stats or abilities there, but that doesn't necessarily optimize fun for me.
On the counterpoint, Pun-Pun and The Wish and the Word are two hilarious 'Optimizations' that go so far into Optimizing capabilities that I think they sacrifice play value completely.
Optimization should be about having as much fun as possible, not about maxing damage, Climb-While-Underwater Skillchecks or anything else. Dnd should be about fun.
There is a rule in DMG, what I believe to be the most important rule. It states that all other 'rules' are just guidelines to help you have fun.

The reason we fall into the 'Highest Damage' mindset is because it's difficult to have fun in a vacuum, so when someone asks for 'Optimized Bard' people generally will spit out a power build because being powerful is usually fun. Its difficult to know what people will and wont enjoy.

Pretty much dsmiles and Big Dice beat me too it. Curse their higher forum spot and forum initiative rolls!

Snake-Aes
2010-08-25, 09:19 AM
Pfffffffff those people don't actually exist, they're just a construct of your imagination as a "negative example" of how not to play a game. Free your mind, man! :smallwink:

I wish, I wish... I have actually met such types when playing Exalted, of all things.


Besides, as we've already established, there are multiple tools for optimization depending on the situation; if being a cult actor wannabe gets you the most screentime, as it were, I'd call it optimized to go off about art being angsty and uncomprehensible. Said cult actor wannabe would just be playing a slightly different game on a slightly different level.
Yeah, but that's also off context. I was specifically disagreeing with your broad statement that merged together "roleplayers" and "optimizers". Such overlap is not a consequence of caring about the game, but a consequence of caring about both aspects within the game (story and mechanics).

liquid150
2010-08-25, 09:22 AM
For me, optimization is simply not being a wimp.

Although the real answer is somewhere in the first 3 responses, where the difference between practical optimization and theoretical optimization is stressed.

For example, there's a difference between making a strong character, and intentionally shattering the game. A player that wants to make a strong spellcaster and goes Transmuter/Master Specialist/Incantrix is likely wanting to be very strong, but not intentionally break the game.

A player that squeezes in early entry on Beholder Mage at level 2, and takes 10 levels of Rainbow Servant, is likely intentionally shattering the game.

Ignition
2010-08-25, 09:29 AM
I wish, I wish... I have actually met such types when playing Exalted, of all things.

Yeah, but that's also off context. I was specifically disagreeing with your broad statement that merged together "roleplayers" and "optimizers". Such overlap is not a consequence of caring about the game, but a consequence of caring about both aspects within the game (story and mechanics).

Lol Exalted.

Fair enough, though. I do tend to think of things in broad terms like that, haha. Specifics trip me up sometimes.



@Ignition: Pffff...leering at women...what nerve (we have an entirely different thread for that :smallwink:).

I saw, I saved, I conquered those threads :smallwink: I'll probably be contributing there as well, later.

Quietus
2010-08-25, 09:36 AM
I had to laugh. I was talking to my DM after this weekend's game. I have a Bard/LyricThamturge who recently used his LT secret to pick up Cloud of Knives, because it synergizes with his Dragonfire Inspiration. I also took Lyric Spell, because I want to make the character more of a caster and less of a bard. I talked about my plans of PrCing into Sublime Chord (which the DM is ok with, but he's worried about how strong Song of Arcane Power is...not the 9th level spells I'll get!).

The funniest thing is, he created a book restriction list. Then ACCUSED me of cherry picking the best features from those books. Excuse me...what do you want me to do, take Toughness 7 times? I took feats and abilities that make me better at what I want to do, namedly buffing my party member's damage, and being a batmanish controller wizard. He said "well, the developers never intended you to use Cloud of Knives with Dragonfire Inspiration". Um...no? Its a spell, it creates a weapon. Dragonfire works on weapons. Its not my fault they have a crappy editing staff. I can't wait till I share it with the Spellthief and he starts spellstealing with it. That'll be amuzing.

So I asked him if he wanted me to change it. I offered to drop Dragonfire Inspiration (which, I'll note, is only +3 at level 8, I didn't even really optimize it!). He said he didn't want to ret-con it, so he just continues to bemoan how over powered my character is saying that he's more "story centric" and changing a character would break continuity. He also threatened to take away all of my book access for the next game. I said "fine, I'll play a wizard then, I don't care. The most broken stuff in the game is in the PHB, if you want to ban a book, ban that one". I don't want to be antagonistic, but an attitude like that really irks me.

I mean, I don't understand it. I'm not breaking any rules, I just picked some strong features for my bard. Apparently this makes me a "cherry picker", whatever that means. Sure, all the feats I picked are strong, but I'm no where near where I could be in terms of power, and most of the stuff in the game for bards is CRAP. Tired of this, I even gave the DM my character sheet to audit (he thinks I'm cheating because of my abilities), and even included book and page numbers for everything that isn't in the PHB, just to prove its all legit and from approved sources.

Grrrrr, its frustrating some times. It also sucks that I'll never get to use ToB with this group, I'll never get to play a Dragonfire Adept, or a Factotum, or anything from Incarnum, or a Binder, or anything Psionic, or any of the other really cool and relatively balanced T3 things, just because my group has developed severe book-o-phobia because I took a few things outside of the PHB (which are all legal given the DM's "approved book list"). Why allow anything outside of the PHB if you are gonna complain about it? That sounds really passive-aggressive to me.

Really? 3d6 fire damage on one dagger a round is overpowered to him? Holy crap, that's... ridiculous.

As for the OP - optimization, to me, is making a character who can contribute to the party, and be effective in his chosen role, within given limitations. Those limitations can include character choices (my wall-breaking tank dwarf shouldn't be an ubercharger, though he can be competent at it), group limitations (I shouldn't be singlehandedly winning every encounter unless everyone else is playing horribly optimized characters), or anything else that is appropriate to the character. So essentially, walking the line between being good at something, and being better than everyone.

Greenish
2010-08-25, 09:36 AM
Modern D&D, especially the 3.X line, forgets this principle and dresses up bad game design as encouraging people to develop "system mastery." Encouraging people to think of characters as "builds" rather than characters. In other words, turning a roleplaying game into a trading card game.

To me, optimisation is treating your character as if it were a deck rather than a character. Nothing more than a collection of options designed to interface with a rules system and produce certain outcomes under certain conditions.A good character is more than just it's build.

But having an optimized build doesn't detract from the character. If you want to roleplay a powerful hero capable of going toe-to-toe with huge monsters, you need a character who can do it (otherwise you're roleplaying someone who pretends to be a powerful hero).

Every character (aside from free-form game ones) is "a collection of options designed to interface with a rules system and produce certain outcomes under certain conditions", optimization just means you know how to design your own collection so that it matches with how you imagine your character to be.

Emmerask
2010-08-25, 09:43 AM
The game half of an RPG is just as important as the role-playing half. There's pretending to be an epic hero, and there's pretending to be a character who's pretending to be an epic hero. If you're not capable of building and piloting a powerful character who is a force to be reckoned with, then you should know better than to role-play as though that's what your character is.


This is not really correct, how powerful a character is has nothing to do with how powerful he might view himself in the game and how the player roleplays him. To make a real world analogy I see people who think they are java gods every day and it turns out they are not really any good at it it doesn´t stop them from boasting about their quasi superhuman programming skills :smallwink:




DMs are no exception to this. A DM who isn't familiar enough with the rules to properly referee the game should not be in the DM seat, no matter how good a story teller he likes to think of himself as. When the rules and mechanics of the game are ignored to facilitate a story, especially when the PCs' capabilities are ignored or overridden, it stops being a game and is just interactive-story-time.


*Shrug* I´ll have a great story teller with mediocre gaming ability over a mediocre story teller with great gaming ability any day. D&d has build in ignore mechanics and rules anyway, its called epic magic.


Well the rest is addressed by Big Dice :smallsmile:

thompur
2010-08-25, 09:44 AM
Pfffffffff those people don't actually exist, they're just a construct of your imagination as a "negative example" of how not to play a game. Free your mind, man! :smallwink:

Besides, as we've already established, there are multiple tools for optimization depending on the situation; if being a cult actor wannabe gets you the most screentime, as it were, I'd call it optimized to go off about art being angsty and uncomprehensible. Said cult actor wannabe would just be playing a slightly different game on a slightly different level.



So he doesn't care about the game except insofar as it lets him leer at women. What a classy gentleman :smallwink:

What? You're knocking my hobbies now? :smallwink:

Greenish
2010-08-25, 09:46 AM
This is not really correct, how powerful a character is has nothing to do with how powerful he might view himself in the game and how the player roleplays him. To make a real world analogy I see people who think they are java gods every day and it turns out they are not really any good at it it doesn´t stop them from boasting about their quasi superhuman programming skills :smallwink:Of course, when you stroll with a confident swagger in your step to a computer to program something, it's a minor thing if the program doesn't turn out to be so good.

When you stroll to the dragon's lair, however…

Emmerask
2010-08-25, 09:51 AM
Of course, when you stroll with a confident swagger in your step to a computer to program something, it's a minor thing if the program doesn't turn out to be so good.

When you stroll to the dragon's lair, however…

But until you stroll into that lair (and get your ass handed to you) nothing is stopping the pc from thinking about himself as the god of war :smallsmile:

And if you survive the lair because an optimized character saved you in your mind you can still downplay his role and emphasize yours so even then there is really nothing to stop that characters notion of grandeur.

And this is nothing so out of the ordinary in the real world (well without the dragons :smallbiggrin: but other similar stuff) so I would consider it quite good roleplay ^^

Ignition
2010-08-25, 09:57 AM
[/B]

What? You're knocking my hobbies now? :smallwink:

Depends on how attractive your 'hobbies' are, I suppose :smallwink:

Greenish
2010-08-25, 09:57 AM
But until you stroll into that lair (and get your ass handed to you) nothing is stopping the pc from thinking about himself as the god of war :smallsmile:

And if you survive the lair because an optimized character saved you in your mind you can still downplay his role and emphasize yours so even then there is really nothing to stop that characters notion of grandeur.Granted, if the character survives, he can keep thinking himself a powerful hero. His player isn't playing one, though.

And if you make a character that's useless and has to be baby-sat by other PCs, it's not good roleplaying, it's just being a jerk.

potatocubed
2010-08-25, 09:59 AM
A role-playing game is still a game, there are still rules. Being good at creating a character who is powerful according to those rules and being good at thinking strategically and creatively within those rules in order for your character to succeed is being good at that game.

I disagree. An RPG is a game, and there are rules, but it is not a game in the same way, say, Monopoly is a game or pool is a game.

A traditional game ends with at least one winner and at least one loser. Being good at playing according to the rules and thinking strategically and creatively within those rules ensures that you are the winner more often than the loser. You are good at that game.

D&D should not have winners and losers. The objective is for everyone to have a good time. What makes you good at D&D is nothing to do with how powerfully you can build a character, and everything to do with how well you facilitate the enjoyment of everyone at the table.

Being good at D&D optimisation is not about playing an unstoppable demigod every time - it's about recognising the comfort level of the people you're playing with and adjusting up or down as appropriate.

Emmerask
2010-08-25, 09:59 AM
And if you make a character that's useless and has to be baby-sat by other PCs, it's not good roleplaying, it's just being a jerk.

I agree, though for a one shot adventure I could see that as a fun addition to a team (especially the excuses part why he did not one shot the particular enemy could be very fine comic relief :smallbiggrin:) for a campaign it gets old pretty fast I guess ^^

Biffoniacus_Furiou
2010-08-25, 10:34 AM
All the time on these boards and in my gaming experiences I've seen DMs who fit my above description of someone who's bad at this game. Just a few examples:

One or more characters has it in his power to prevent something from happening, or escape capture, or remove a Geas that was unfairly place on him, etc. The DM tells him that it doesn't work, the only reason being that his story requires something to happen a certain way. At this point the DM has removed the players' ability to affect the story, and he may as well just tell them what their characters are doing. The only interaction their characters are capable of is what he's planned for in his plot line, and anything they try to do outside of that automatically fails regardless of their characters' abilities. This is the most selfish form of DMing I've ever experienced, and due to his lack of being able to make his story work within the rules and within the characters' capabilities he is indeed "a waste of flesh and bone as a GM."

The PCs learn who their opponents are, how many there are, and what their capabilities are, through divination spells or gather information checks or knowledge skills or just good old-fashioned scouting. This is not metagame information, it was given to the characters by the DM as a result of their own capabilities and efforts. The PCs set up an ambush and proceed to mop the floor with the opponents. This is an encounter which the DM had intended to be extremely challenging based on the PCs' capabilities, but like so many times before they just danced over it with planning, tactics, and creativity. The DM, rather than admit that he's a poor tactician/gamer, comes to the conclusion that their victory was less legitimate than it otherwise would have been and severely penalizes their XP reward. This is extremely unfair, but it's exactly what I was talking about. As a game, there's always going to be someone who's better at it than you. You can admit that this is the case, or you can convince yourself that your play style is more pure than theirs, or that theirs is otherwise less legitimate than your own. This occurs quite often when the players are significantly better at the game portion than the DM is.

In one game I played a little over a year ago the DM had been into D&D since first edition. He'd been playing 3e since its release, converted to 3.5, and has probably been playing it for just as long as I have. Apparently there was some sort of magical debuff on our characters which we were unaware of, and we happened to set off an audible Alarm spell. I immediately cast an area-mode Dispel Magic, and told him what it did. He disagreed, convinced that it was only capable of dispelling a single effect per casting. He read the spell description a few times, and proceeded to houserule it on the spot, mid-session, mid-action. My character was a Battle Sorcerer, with a very limited number of spells known, and I told him that I probably wouldn't have even bothered learning it if that's how it was going to work (he'd made targeted dispel only dispel one thing as well). The game we were playing was mostly his rules instead of the rules, but that's no excuse to not even be familiar with one of the baseline spells of a game you've been playing regularly for six years. Making a house rule in the middle of a session, as a character is taking an action, is hardly a fair ruling for a DM to make. He may have been a good story teller, but he was a very poor arbitrator of the rules.

DMs who are bad at games will typically try to turn it from a game into a story. They'll penalize people for being good at the game, whether by restricting books or reducing XP rewards for good tactics or overriding actions. They'll treat people like cheaters for being better at the game than they are. Other people who are bad at games will support them, just like in the video I linked people who are bad at video games support bad video games. The people who are good at games are in the minority, so the majority uses their numbers to convince themselves of how right they are, and regard those who are good at games with hostility for making them look worse by comparison.

Jolly
2010-08-25, 10:39 AM
What an interesting discussion, thanks everyone. :)

Warkitty's thread about optimization levels got me thinking about this topic, and the discussion has me reminiscing. I suppose I'm odd, but I've always tended to powergame/optimize non-combat abilities. As an example, one of my favorite characters (the Jolly I took my forum name from) was power gamed to be sneaky. Every feat, skill point, racial choice, item etc was chosen to enhance Hide and Move Silent. I even scammed my DM to get double racial bonuses I really shouldn't have gotten :smallredface: . So I wasn't as effective at combat mechanically, but I had Hide and Move Silent scores in the mid-thirties by the time I was level.... 5 or 6 I think? And I played the heck out of that character and made the best use of those skills that I could, and was still effective. But I wasn't overshadowing the rest of the group, so no one cared and it was a beloved character. And then there was my d20 Star Wars slicer who was great at computer checks and spent every combat doing nothing but throwing grenades... :D

Umael
2010-08-25, 10:41 AM
That's pretty close to what I intended, actually.

Ah, got it. Mis-communication. 'Sokay.



Exaggerated example ahead*
"You have a choice. Your mother's life or a holy avenger."
"Eh, I never liked her much anyway."
*DM facepalms*

...you know, ironicly, I have a character concept that is kinda the polar opposite of this.

If I get this character concept approved, I will have a 1st-level PC running around with a holy avenger that functions like a MacGuffin (i.e., never to be used except as a plot point and character development). It sounds horrible, but I do actually have a legitimate set of reasons for this. I figure that when I have everything polished, my GM will allow it... and then suggest I seek therapy.



What does "optimization" mean to me?

Two Words: Breaking things. :smallbiggrin:

I have a feeling this was meant only as a joke - but I have known people who, sadly, believe that it IS the definition of "optimization".

For me, optimization is making the most efficient rendering of your character concept, mechanics and non-mechanics alike.

Greenish
2010-08-25, 10:47 AM
I have a feeling this was meant only as a joke - but I have known people who, sadly, believe that it IS the definition of "optimization".Perhaps he meant that he always optimizes his characters to be good at breaking things? As in, Imp. Sunder, adamantine weapons, Eagle Claw Attack, Mountain Hammer line of maneuvers, Iaijutsu Focus, Dungeoncrasher fighter levels and the like.

Umael
2010-08-25, 10:51 AM
Perhaps he meant that he always optimizes his characters to be good at breaking things? As in, Imp. Sunder, adamantine weapons, Eagle Claw Attack, Mountain Hammer line of maneuvers, Iaijutsu Focus, Dungeoncrasher fighter levels and the like.

Perhaps.

Or he could mean Pun-Pun.

And like I said, I know people who want to break the "game" (whatever game it happens to be). One bad ruling, one mistake in the interpretation, one loophole, and the game becomes "who gets the first shot off".

Tyndmyr
2010-08-25, 10:53 AM
I've had similar experiences with a number of such DMs. It's incredibly annoying. My favorite example was one that made everything "epic" and thus, ignored all the rules. Looking at his DMPC, I had detect magic up. I apparently went blind from the light.

My character, knowing he would have to run in this guy repeatedly, purchased goggles that would grant him immunity to blinding, so I could at least look upon his greatness. After a long "adventure" in which another DMPC knocked him out, I decided to investigate him. Not only could I not get any information whatsoever from detect magic, I couldn't dispel ANYTHING from him(no rolls involved), nor could I even walk up and touch him. He was not a caster.

Morithias
2010-08-25, 10:53 AM
Granted, if the character survives, he can keep thinking himself a powerful hero. His player isn't playing one, though.

And if you make a character that's useless and has to be baby-sat by other PCs, it's not good roleplaying, it's just being a jerk.

Well there is that little thing commonly called "magikarp power". The merchant prince is virtually worthless around level 6, but once he levels up a few you're getting almost everything 25% off, his swappable cohorts can make you items and get you almost any info you need, you have a free stay at the guildhouse eliminating the need for bargaining for a room at a stuffed inn, and once enough time goes by, he's bringing in more money a month than what most characters his level start with.

Sure he's a pain to defend early on, but later he's easily doubling your power with the items and stuff.

dsmiles
2010-08-25, 11:09 AM
I'm not going to re-post all of that because it's too long.

None of those examples fit where I was going with my dislike of your statement. Those are examples of the part of your statement that I agreed with about ignoring the rules to override a PC's capabilities.

That first one is simply railroading. If the PC's deviate from the plot, improvise! If it's a time-sensitive plot, however, the world keeps on a-rollin'. This may force the PCs to advance the plot, and seem like railroading, but time waits for no man (or woman).

If you plan on scouting your enemies, don't expect them to not think of doing that too, but if you legitimately get the info, there is no reason to penalize the PCs. Planning and tactics are part of role-playing, if that's what the party, in-character, is capable of. A party where no one has an INT over 8 (because sometimes 4d6b3 doesn't work out so well)? They better play like they have low intelligence, planning and tactics are pretty much out.

I am not a rules-lawyer, nor should I have to be to be a DM. That's what houserules are for. If I disagree with RAW, on a previously undiscovered point of interest, I adjudicate it by RAW for that session, and make the houserule after. You are correct on that one, he shouldn't have done it mid-session, let alone mid-action. He also should have let you switch that spell out for another after the session.

I restrict books. I skim through all of the books, and if it does not fit the campaign setting I am using, it's out. Not all options are available in all campaign settings. Certain settings don't have Psionics, some don't have arcane magic, some don't have ninjas, some don't have swordsages, some don't have factotums. Just because it's in a book, doesn't mean that I am required to use it in may campaign setting.

So, on certain points, you are correct. But not all DMs who ignore "rules" are necessarily bad at "The Game." (Ignoring "teh rulez" is not an immediate indicator of a bad DM.)

(And yes, for those of you who just read this, you just lost The Game. :smalltongue:)

HamHam
2010-08-25, 11:30 AM
Optimization is that thing I do to make sure my character doesn't die.

Tyndmyr
2010-08-25, 11:37 AM
I am not a rules-lawyer, nor should I have to be to be a DM. That's what houserules are for.

Nobody ever said you had to be.

But it's a game, and there are rules. If you don't play by the rules, you're not really playing that game. In any game more complex than candyland, there are typically variant rules that are wonderfully fine if everyone agrees to play by them beforehand. However, otherwise playing by rules not listed in the rulebook is generally described as cheating.

dsmiles
2010-08-25, 11:42 AM
Nobody ever said you had to be.

But it's a game, and there are rules. If you don't play by the rules, you're not really playing that game. In any game more complex than candyland, there are typically variant rules that are wonderfully fine if everyone agrees to play by them beforehand. However, otherwise playing by rules not listed in the rulebook is generally described as cheating.

Actually, the poster I was replying to was implying that any DM who didn't know and abide by all 'teh rulez' was bad at the game. (And I believe that there are even variants on the Candyland rules. :smallwink:)

Tyndmyr
2010-08-25, 11:47 AM
I went back and read Biff's posts. They seemed directed at those who are anti-optimization on principle, and those who don't stick to a consistant set of rules. They didn't claim superiority of any specific set of rules.

Keld Denar
2010-08-25, 11:47 AM
*Shrug* I´ll have a great story teller with mediocre gaming ability over a mediocre story teller with great gaming ability any day. D&d has build in ignore mechanics and rules anyway, its called epic magic.

See, I don't see why they are mutually exclusive. People who are "good" at the game, the ones who are most interested in it, are generally the best roleplayers AND the best rollplayers. They love their hobby and invest time into it, and as such come up with better crafted characters, both story and plot-wise. Similarly, good DMs create strong stories AND challenging encounters. I wouldn't want to play in a game where every fight is a mop-up, simply because the DM doesn't understand the CR system, only to stumble into a TPK as a result of poor game knowledge.

On the other side, my group of "story oriented" older players still refer to each other as "the fighter", "the halfling", "the dwarf", and "the mage". This breaks character. I guess this is the crux of my disappointment. These grand roleplayers, so focused on their story, are bad all around, but mask it with a haughty air of superiority simply because they've been playing D&D since before I was born. Grrrrr.

I don't want a DM to limit my creativity because he can't adjust, especially when I give him advanced warning about what some of my abilities will be. Thats either laziness or irresponsibility. One or the other, they are both bad. If you take on the mantle of DMship, you should have a good enough grasp on the rules to know exactly what your players are doing, what their typical abilities are, what fields they excell at, and what fields they don't, so you can adequately challenge them, plot-wise and combat-wise. I don't mind a bit of cheating by doing things like increasing HP on the fly because you weren't expecting a certain amount of burst damage, but nonsensical blanket bans spawned out of paranoia that cover a blister with a bandaide while leaving the artery to gush is what I would consider "bad gaming".


Planning and tactics are part of role-playing, if that's what the party, in-character, is capable of. A party where no one has an INT over 8 (because sometimes 4d6b3 doesn't work out so well)? They better play like they have low intelligence, planning and tactics are pretty much out.

There is a difference between cunning and intelligence. Most animals have a minimal int score, yet you can't tell me that a wolf just runs at its prey with its mouth open, hoping that something falls in. Similarly, an adventurer, regardless of int score, should have some idea of tactics, and shouldn't just rush into every situation with his sword out, hoping something will run into it. Adventuring is DANGEROUS. Even the most reckless PC should treat his chosen profession with respect and make sure he's as prepared as possible for the challenges he may face. Otherwise he'll end up face down in a sewer somewhere watching his blood trickle slowly down the drain while the carrion crawler devours him alive.

Emmerask
2010-08-25, 11:56 AM
See, I don't see why they are mutually exclusive.

Oh I never said that they are exclusive.
The poster I answered however gave the hypothetical restriction that at one trait a specific dm was not good.
And if I have to choose between both traits I can´t say " I want both"... well I could but it would have been no argument under the restriction :smallwink:

Ideally a dm is a great story teller and has great indepth knowledge of the rules and its application but that is not always on the menu :smallwink:

Keld Denar
2010-08-25, 12:07 PM
And if I have to choose between both traits I can´t say " I want both"... well I could but it would have been no argument under the restriction :smallwink:

Why settle? Thats my question.

dsmiles
2010-08-25, 12:10 PM
There is a difference between cunning and intelligence. Most animals have a minimal int score, yet you can't tell me that a wolf just runs at its prey with its mouth open, hoping that something falls in. Similarly, an adventurer, regardless of int score, should have some idea of tactics, and shouldn't just rush into every situation with his sword out, hoping something will run into it. Adventuring is DANGEROUS. Even the most reckless PC should treat his chosen profession with respect and make sure he's as prepared as possible for the challenges he may face. Otherwise he'll end up face down in a sewer somewhere watching his blood trickle slowly down the drain while the carrion crawler devours him alive.

Oh, I expect planning and tactics. Just not good planning and tactics. At least, not at the start. See, people (and I use the term loosely to include demihumans and semi-humans) aren't taught to be pack hunters, like, oh, let's say...wolves. Through generations of trial-and-error, wolves became pack hunters. Anything with an INT score can (in theory, anyways) learn. People with even an 8 INT have a better learning curve than animals with an INT of 2. They can learn to use tactics, but if they're out there at level 1, never having been taught tactics mind you, outflanking goblins that are waiting in ambush, and luring kobolds into deathtraps, there's something a little meta-gamey going on there, and the players aren't playing their ability scores.
I expect them to learn and grow, that's what XP is for. It's an abstract quantification of the characters learning new stuff.

Ignition
2010-08-25, 12:12 PM
Why settle? Thats my question.

Because you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you might find you get what you need.

:smallwink:

The Big Dice
2010-08-25, 12:14 PM
DMs who are bad at games will typically try to turn it from a game into a story. They'll penalize people for being good at the game, whether by restricting books or reducing XP rewards for good tactics or overriding actions. They'll treat people like cheaters for being better at the game than they are. Other people who are bad at games will support them, just like in the video I linked people who are bad at video games support bad video games. The people who are good at games are in the minority, so the majority uses their numbers to convince themselves of how right they are, and regard those who are good at games with hostility for making them look worse by comparison.
I notice how it's almost always GMs that are getting the flak for being "bad at games" and other sundry accusations. It's never players that are bad at team sports or that have "Doesn't play well with others" written on their report card. It's always the GM getting accused of all kinds of things, never the player's fault for being overly competitive in a co-operative environment.

Is system mastery, rules lawyering, excessively self aggrandizing optimisation and ultra competitive behaviour being good at roleplaying games?

It might be fine for playing Gears of War over XBL. But in an RPG, it's not appropriate to act in a way that causes conflict and bad feeling between the people at the table.

If fact, I'd go as far as saying acting like that and then griping about the GM, especially without accepting responsibility for your own actions, is the diametric opposite of being good at roleplaying games.

But it's a game, and there are rules. If you don't play by the rules, you're not really playing that game. In any game more complex than candyland, there are typically variant rules that are wonderfully fine if everyone agrees to play by them beforehand. However, otherwise playing by rules not listed in the rulebook is generally described as cheating.
Here's a thing about being a GM: you cheat. You cheat outrageously. You fudge dice, change your mind about resources, hit point totals, numbers of opponents and amounts of charges in magic items all the time. You cheat in ways that in theory should be getting you thrown out of the game.

Except for the fact that you should be cheating in ways that improve the experience.

If the BBEG is about to go down in one round, you double his hit points without telling anyone. If the players are mtoring through minions too fast, you add more. Heck, zombies and skeletons don't get stronger they just get more of them.

The problem is, WotC have ruined the fun for GMs. A huge part of the fun used to be making rulings on the fly and making stuff up to cover situations that arose in play. Except the people who came up with 3rd ed D&D decided to copy the thought process behind Magic the Gathering.

That is, rules, rules and more rules. Every possible interaction between players, characters and game environment needs a rule. Sometimes more than one rule and often so many rules that nobody really bothers with that aspect of the game, as it takes too much effort to really get to grips with a complicated and cluttered rules construct. I'm looking at you, Grappling.

That changed the gaming aspect of the GM's role from arbitrator of actions and being the one interpreting the rules to simply being an umpire.

Then players started buying the DMG. Or worse, reasing the SRD. The'd be studying up on concepts that don't really belong in the player's area of the game. Things like Wealth by Level, Challenge Ratings and availability of items in a settlement of a given size.

And they assume they're entitled to them. Because it's in the book. And the book became The Book. ALL HAIL THE BOOK!

There's a piece of wisdom in Legend of the Five Rings. It says "Remember, what is written is not what is. It is only what is written." Rules in RPGs are like that. They aren't set in stone. Older games used to say things like "these rules are only guidelines." or "use or ignore these rules as you see fit." Now, the rules are The Rules and all must obey them!

That's a mindset that came along with the advent of WotC. The truth is, Paranoia is the only RPG that really printed the truth of RPGs. The players and the GM are really playing different games by different rules. Ironically, this was enshrined in early editions of D&D, from OD&D through BECMI and both editions of AD&D.

Now, people act like a GM should be an interface. Know the rules or be made of suck. And it's not like that. GMs make mistakes and they have to have a broader understanding of things than players. A player will always know the rules regarding their character better than the GM does.

But the GM always has the final word on how things work in his game.

dsmiles
2010-08-25, 12:20 PM
ALL HAIL THE BOOK! ALL HAIL THE BOOK! ALL HAIL THE BOOK!
:smalltongue:

EDIT: I'm sorry, I thought that we were supposed to start chanting that in unison, and then THE BOOK would appear and grant us greater understanding of TEH RULEZ.

HamHam
2010-08-25, 12:27 PM
[snip]

What you are overlooking is the advantages of that way of doing things. Players can have a reasonable expectations of the results of their actions, and their chance of success. These things are constant and thus fair. The DC to jump a wall is not 15 one week and 20 the next (obviously assuming the same or similar wall before anyone gets pedantic). The rules are what separate and RPG from playing cops and robbers and arguing about who did or did not get shot. And while arguments about rules can be bad, I think arguments about what seems reasonable to one person but not another would be worse.

Keld Denar
2010-08-25, 12:28 PM
Oh, I expect planning and tactics. Just not good planning and tactics.

They I guess we agree to disagree. All sorts of people can come up with clever plans. An army private might say "why don't we just use the back door" even though the general told everyone to run in the front door. Is he smarter than the general? Probably not, but that doesn't mean he can't ever possibly notice something that the general overlooked. PCs who aren't perceptive and aware won't survive to level 2. It doesn't matter how amazing your backstory is if you have to write a new one every other gaming session.

Jolly
2010-08-25, 12:29 PM
Sometimes more than one rule and often so many rules that nobody really bothers with that aspect of the game, as it takes too much effort to really get to grips with a complicated and cluttered rules construct. I'm looking at you, Grappling

Thank you! I hate any time a situation arises where a grapple check is needed as the complex rules ensure a lengthy break while the DM double checks things.

Emmerask
2010-08-25, 12:31 PM
Why settle? Thats my question.

Why do we settle on anything?
There might be the perfect girlfriend/boyfriend husband/wife somewhere.
There might be the perfect job somewhere.
etc

When always chasing perfection and never settle on anything you miss out on life thats why :smallwink:

And to The Big Dice, very nicely said

Greenish
2010-08-25, 12:36 PM
Why do we settle on anything?
There might be the perfect girlfriend/boyfriend husband/wife somewhere.
There might be the perfect job somewhere.
etc

When always chasing perfection and never settle on anything you miss out on life thats why :smallwink:And if you always settle for mediocre you'll never get anything really great. Drawing the line, golden mean, blah blah…

Jolly
2010-08-25, 12:36 PM
They I guess we agree to disagree. All sorts of people can come up with clever plans. An army private might say "why don't we just use the back door" even though the general told everyone to run in the front door. Is he smarter than the general? Probably not, but that doesn't mean he can't ever possibly notice something that the general overlooked. PCs who aren't perceptive and aware won't survive to level 2. It doesn't matter how amazing your backstory is if you have to write a new one every other gaming session.

Then what is the point of having scores for intellectual stats? If you roleplay your character with low Int and Wis scores in an intelligent and insightful way, doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose of those scores?

Ignition
2010-08-25, 12:37 PM
Then what is the point of having scores for intellectual stats? If you roleplay your character with low Int and Wis scores in an intelligent and insightful way, doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose of those scores?


Because your real life intelligence and wisdom don't determine your spell DCs, obviously :smallwink:

Jolly
2010-08-25, 12:44 PM
Because your real life intelligence and wisdom don't determine your spell DCs, obviously :smallwink:

Right, but my point is that if you are an intelligent and charming person irl, you can easily "cheat" the fluffier aspects of the game by making intelligent decisions and non-check interactions far better than your characters stats should allow them to do.

Caphi
2010-08-25, 12:47 PM
I notice how it's almost always GMs that are getting the flak for being "bad at games" and other sundry accusations. It's never players that are bad at team sports or that have "Doesn't play well with others" written on their report card. It's always the GM getting accused of all kinds of things, never the player's fault for being overly competitive in a co-operative environment.

Are you saying players need to deliberately not use smart ideas, good planning, and creative tactics, and if they do they aren't being a team player?

I'm seriously asking, because that's what it superficially sounds like, yet I don't think that's what you meant.

Ignition
2010-08-25, 12:55 PM
Right, but my point is that if you are an intelligent and charming person irl, you can easily "cheat" the fluffier aspects of the game by making intelligent decisions and non-check interactions far better than your characters stats should allow them to do.

That's correct. Provided, of course, that you are using the best tool for the job of succeeding at whatever task your GM provides for you, rather than being concerned with your character's limitations. If that means your character's smarter than you are, then you can take a chance and roll Int checks to get help, more or less, coming up with plans. If you're smarter than your character, you can come up with the plans, and then roll Int to see if your character would also think of such a plan. If that's how you want to play, please, by all means. I play like that too, I don't see a problem with it.

Effective planning isn't always complex, either; low intelligence just means you think in simple ways, not that you can't think at all. Relatedly, I think the scale of "intelligence" in game and in-character is somewhat overplayed/overthought. People with Int lower than 18 can still come up with clever plans. People with Int lower than 8 aren't just stumbling around waiting to get eaten. For that matter, smart people do dumb things on occasion too - like get into arguments over alignments and character builds :smallwink: Doesn't make them any less smart, in the overall scheme of things, and it doesn't make a generally dumb person smart just because they figured out "hey, the back door is where no one else is, maybe I can go in there and not get shot".

There isn't enough 'reality' behind the Int stat to make it anything more than a mechanical concern, in my opinion.

Jolly
2010-08-25, 01:04 PM
Yeah, it's just always bothered me when the level 1 barbarian with the 6 int has the same tactical acumen as the level 20 fighter with a 16.

Keld Denar
2010-08-25, 01:07 PM
Maybe you should play a different game then? D&D just doesn't model that aspect as well as you'd like. Its an abstraction, and when you make an abstraction, you sometimes have to clip corners from reality. Its ok, there are lots of other games out there that handle this better. D&D just isn't one of them.

Jolly
2010-08-25, 01:17 PM
Maybe you should play a different game then? D&D just doesn't model that aspect as well as you'd like. Its an abstraction, and when you make an abstraction, you sometimes have to clip corners from reality. Its ok, there are lots of other games out there that handle this better. D&D just isn't one of them.

It's not a terrible issue, more of an annoyance. I prefer people who try to play their character, rather than a system that forces you to. :)

Ignition
2010-08-25, 01:35 PM
In that case, D&D's the perfect system for you :smallwink:

Yukitsu
2010-08-25, 01:56 PM
I notice how it's almost always GMs that are getting the flak for being "bad at games" and other sundry accusations. It's never players that are bad at team sports or that have "Doesn't play well with others" written on their report card. It's always the GM getting accused of all kinds of things, never the player's fault for being overly competitive in a co-operative environment.

Mostly for the same reason newbie DMs are given some slack. Players at the table will vary in competence or experience, and maybe the DM's they have had don't reward team work (in fact, many times I've seen DMs penalize good teamwork by reducing EXP rewards because teamwork is a force multiplier.) An experienced DM however is a constant, you don't have a bunch of people with varying amounts of slack.

Come to think of it, generally the people who excel are given greater overall rewards in many games, as opposed to people who work as a team, so I think DMs have been harbouring some sort of anti-teamwork ultra capitolist mentality in players.


Here's a thing about being a GM: you cheat. You cheat outrageously. You fudge dice, change your mind about resources, hit point totals, numbers of opponents and amounts of charges in magic items all the time. You cheat in ways that in theory should be getting you thrown out of the game.

I don't know. I've never found this at all necessary, so long as I have a tentative understanding of what I've given the party, and what their mentality and builds are, I can challenge them within the rules. It feels lazy to me to just toss in more ad-hoc instead of stopping to think about what would be an interesting challenge. Some people noted that my players also levelled ultra fast, because I threw high CR challenges at them fairly regularly. My response was always "so what? It's not like I can't just keep tossing CR+4 at them, it's not as though I'm going to run out of numbers."


Etc. on rules

Eh, I don't really agree with any of that. A DM shouldn't need to simplify or play by different rules to present an adventure and provide story or plot hooks for the players. I think it's OK when certain places have a mechanical gimmick that is readily expressed to the players before hand, and I think all campaigns should have a set of house-rules (such as no drown healing) but I don't think anything should give the DM the right to just ad-hoc the rules at any time. It's incredibly boring, frustrating and unintuitive from the player's side of things.

The Big Dice
2010-08-25, 02:03 PM
Are you saying players need to deliberately not use smart ideas, good planning, and creative tactics, and if they do they aren't being a team player?

I'm seriously asking, because that's what it superficially sounds like, yet I don't think that's what you meant.
What I'm saying is, look to your own actions before condemning someone else for theirs. Nobody likes a glory hound, a showboater or a kill stealer. But I see people talking about doing just that, then complaining about the fact that the GM isn't up to scratch. Or worse, the GM dares to take steps that aren't in The Book to try and arrange things so that everyone can have some fun instead of the one person who is trying to do everything that anyone else in the group might try to do.

Roleplaying games are group efforts. It's incumbent on every member of the group to contribute towards the enjoyment of the whole. That means it's as much the player's responsibility to see that the Gm has a good time as it is the GM to make sure the players have fun.

A DM shouldn't need to simplify or play by different rules to present an adventure and provide story or plot hooks for the players. I think it's OK when certain places have a mechanical gimmick that is readily expressed to the players before hand, and I think all campaigns should have a set of house-rules (such as no drown healing) but I don't think anything should give the DM the right to just ad-hoc the rules at any time. It's incredibly boring, frustrating and unintuitive from the player's side of things.
Go check out John Wick's Youtube channel. (http://www.youtube.com/user/LordStrange#p/u) He can say these things better than I could ever hope to.

The GM is the final arbiter of what happens in his game sessions. The very rulebooks that other people enshrine empower him to ignore them. You could even argue that by playing to the same rules as the players, the GM is breaking the rules. And equally, by cheating he is playing by the rules as given in The Book.

Tyndmyr
2010-08-25, 02:28 PM
I notice how it's almost always GMs that are getting the flak for being "bad at games" and other sundry accusations. It's never players that are bad at team sports or that have "Doesn't play well with others" written on their report card. It's always the GM getting accused of all kinds of things, never the player's fault for being overly competitive in a co-operative environment.

Teamwork is essential in team games. Plenty of people here will mention the importance of considering party optimization level when character building. The guy who makes pun-pun is not a team player, but neither is the guy who makes nup-nup the incompetent.

People are certainly willing to blame bad players, but they are also willing to blame the GM. If the GM issue seems to come up more, it's because the GM often is responsible for quite a lot. In most systems, including D&D, it's easier to be a good player than it is to be a good GM. Fair, nah...but such is life.


Is system mastery, rules lawyering, excessively self aggrandizing optimisation and ultra competitive behaviour being good at roleplaying games?

System mastery is. The player experienced with a system will be able to use it better than one who is new to it. That's just part of any complex system.

Rules lawyering. Knowing rules is great. Helping others to learn the rules, also great. Abusing the lack of knowledge of others to get an advantage is not. It's extremely helpful to have a player with very complete knowledge of the rules around. It's generally faster than looking through books. It's not helpful to have long arguments over say, alignment viewpoints.

Excessively self aggrandizing optimization. Well, you've described an obviously negative level of optimization. Some optimization is great. I suggest helping brand new players build characters so they'll accomplish what the player wants them to, and they won't feel dissapointed or left out. ANYTHING that is "excessively self aggrandizing" is bad. Blame that, not the optimization itself.


Here's a thing about being a GM: you cheat. You cheat outrageously. You fudge dice, change your mind about resources, hit point totals, numbers of opponents and amounts of charges in magic items all the time. You cheat in ways that in theory should be getting you thrown out of the game.

No you don't cheat. Or at least, I don't. Sure, I build the game world, and I can add things to it for the players, but that's the GMs job. That's what they do.

Fudging dice? Bah. I consider the DM screen a crutch. Try playing without it. I don't even tell the players they got hit. I ask them "Does a 27 hit?". It works fine. If they one shot an opponent, clearly I significantly misjudged their capabilites, and will ensure they face more difficult challenges in the future. That isn't cheating, that's doing exactly what a DM is supposed to do...design challenges for the players.


That changed the gaming aspect of the GM's role from arbitrator of actions and being the one interpreting the rules to simply being an umpire.

D&D came from a wargame. In a wargame, the only comparable role IS that of umpire. The idea of a DM as an all powerful person who can change things willy nilly is the exception, not the norm.

And you're also overlooking the assigned role of the DM in creating challenges. Yes, there are rules and such for that, but they are extremely flexible ones. There is much latitude in what is acceptable for say, a DM designed dungeon.


Then players started buying the DMG. Or worse, reasing the SRD. The'd be studying up on concepts that don't really belong in the player's area of the game. Things like Wealth by Level, Challenge Ratings and availability of items in a settlement of a given size.

And they assume they're entitled to them. Because it's in the book. And the book became The Book. ALL HAIL THE BOOK!

WBL is a guideline. It says so, and it describes alternate systems for higher and lower, along with their implications. CR explicitly gives you instructions to throw a variety of challenge levels at the players. Not everything SHOULD be equal CR. These are popular assumptions, because they are averages, not hard and fast rules.

Oh, and player entitlement issues were not invented with D&D 3.5.


Now, people act like a GM should be an interface. Know the rules or be made of suck. And it's not like that. GMs make mistakes and they have to have a broader understanding of things than players. A player will always know the rules regarding their character better than the GM does.

But the GM always has the final word on how things work in his game.

If as a GM, you don't know the rules, you do suck. Mistakes happen, sure, and sometimes books need to get pulled out, and things work a bit differently than we thought they did. That's fine, and it's all part of getting good at GMing. But if you don't actually know the rules, and when you find them, instead of making an effort to learn them, you merely ignore them, you ARE a bad GM.

Morithias
2010-08-25, 02:56 PM
The DM cannot cheat. That is thanks to that little thing called "rule 0". Screw the rules I make them.

This is what ultimately in my book is what decides if you are a "high quality" DM.

A low quality DM will do one of two things, either always go by the book no matter what, even when it's clearly stupid or obviously wrong (Healing by drowning anyone?), or will 'cheat' because they want the players to lose, they want to basically be the killer DM.

A high quality DM will 'cheat' yes, but the difference is he/she knows where to draw the line. They will not 'cheat' because an encounter is too easy, or too hard. They will 'cheat' because they don't need to waste an hour while the dead guy rolls up another character because he died before the party had access to raise dead.

A high quality DM will also scale his 'cheating' by level. It's just bad to kill someone at level 1, it's annoying and overall didn't even let them get into the story.

Once they're level 15? Have access to all kinds of divination magic? And can afford to be raised in almost any city that has the spell? The gloves come off. TPK is allowed if they deserve it (for example deciding to plane shift to baator and try to take on the whole plane at once).

But again, even though the gloves are off, the high quality DM realizes that this is a game about fun, not about players vs DM, or about railroading whatever plot you had.

The players need to realize this too though, and realize that just because you have an overpowered plot coupon doesn't mean you need to use it. In a recently campaign I talked my DM into letting my Paladin have a copy of the "townsaver" sword from a series of books. It's basically a Deus Ex Machina if I ever use it, but I don't plan to. He gave it to me for free for character development, and I have no reason besides being a jerk to screw him over cause of it. And good players don't do that to friends.

Umael
2010-08-25, 03:16 PM
D&D came from a wargame. In a wargame, the only comparable role IS that of umpire.

If you are saying that D&D was strictly the progeny of wargaming, then I must respectfully disagree. All RPGs have their roots in both wargaming AND storytelling. It is like neglecting to mention one parent when discussing the lineage of a particular child.

Morithias
2010-08-25, 03:18 PM
If you are saying that D&D was strictly the progeny of wargaming, then I must respectfully disagree. All RPGs have their roots in both wargaming AND storytelling. It is like neglecting to mention one parent when discussing the lineage of a particular child.

If Dnd was meant to be a wargame why the hell does almost no one know about the mass combat rules, and even then we all found the third party "AEG Empire" mass combat rules to be BETTER than the ones in heroes of battle.

Tyndmyr
2010-08-25, 03:27 PM
If Dnd was meant to be a wargame why the hell does almost no one know about the mass combat rules, and even then we all found the third party "AEG Empire" mass combat rules to be BETTER than the ones in heroes of battle.

Descendant of /= is. That should answer your question.


Umael, storytelling is an addition to roleplaying, certainly, but D&D did not originate from storytelling. Nor did it originate by mixing the rules of wargaming with those of a storytelling game. So, calling it a descendant of storytelling is not really true.

For comparison, modern computer games very frequently contain a story too, but they are not descended from storytelling in the sense that the earliest computer games had no story at all. It was a later addition.

Swordguy
2010-08-25, 03:30 PM
@The Big Dice vs. Everybody: It's like I'm watching the last two years of my posting history, but from the outside. May you have better luck spitting into the wind than I did, TBD!


That aside, something extraordinarily insightful was mentioned back around page 2 and got lost in the shuffle. The question always comes up in these threads "why do people insist on disliking/arguing against optimization?" Replies to that question are bandied about by a community of self-described optimizers (that's YOU people, playgrounders!) who have literally no concept on why somebody wouldn't want to optimize a character. We've seen all the theories in this thread already: they're bad at the game, they want to cause drama, they're ignorant and don't know any better, etc.

But, as I mentioned, back about page 2, Genzodus made a whisper in the storm that I think cuts to the heart of the matter. Let's listen in:


The answer is simple: more "optimizers" are actually powergamers than the pro-optimization camp cares to admit.

Now, all of you people jumping out of your chairs and screaming at the screen, you'll note he does NOT say anything resembling "optimizers are powergamers". There is a difference between correlation and causation. A great many optimizers are willing to be team players and work within the group's defined power level for a better game experience for everyone. That's being responsible player, and those folks are fine. However, I would be willing to put a LARGE sum of money on a wager that, out of a pool between self-described "non-optimizers" and "optimizers", a neutral third party would pull a FAR greater number of what that third party would term "powergamers" out of the "optimizer" pool than the "non-optimizer" pool.

Optimizing correlates to powergaming. Depending on the local meta, it can correlate very strongly. And, I think, once somebody has been burnt enough times by a powergamer defending himself by saying "I'm just trying to make the best character I can!", it's not totally unreasonable to be more than a little suspicious when you start hearing self-described optimizers defending their gaming style with words along the lines of "I'm just trying to make the best character I can!".

Does that make more sense to those of you who can't fathom why somebody might object to the practice? I know the tendency on the internet is to hyperbolize everything, so please be aware there is a difference between "basic" optimizing (a Fighter putting their best stat into Strength, or Wizard into Int, not playing a commoner) and the optimizing we have around here (with 30 seconds of looking, here's some example):

"I'm building a mage who I wanted to be as min/maxed as possible, so I managed to get his Spellcasting through the roof..."
(http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=164886)

"i need help (suggestions) for my DnD character...And its free to use all "abuses", "bugs" and "tricks"" (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=165622)

Breaking E6 (thread full of ways to reduce an E6 DM to an unwillingness to run a game in the future follows) (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=164945)

...much of which seems centered around breaking the game or reducing the efforts of a GM who plays without a knowledge of this arms race to tears.

When you wonder why people argue against optimization, they're arguing against stuff like this. And this isn't even Theoretical Optimization - these threads (and we get a new one every few days asking similar questions of how to break a game) are all intended for use in actual play. Thus, Responsible Optimizers, you're getting tarred with the same brush as your powergaming Optimizing brethren in the eyes of everybody else. I can go through this very thread and pick out at least a half-dozen usernames who are arguing that Optimization and Powergaming have nothing to do with one another, and juxtapose their comments with comments in a variety of forum threads asking various ways to "break a game", "make a DM cry", etc. Luckily, I'd rather not be seen as making personal attacks, even when they're completely fact-based.

Is it necessarily fair that those optimizers out there who go out of their way to work with the limitations of the setting, DM's preference, and the rest of the group are getting lumped in with the people who want to optimize to be so good at something a DM can't defeat their character? Nope. But it's human nature, and you're just going to have to deal with it.

Finally, what does optimizing mean to me? I've got several. My definition of "Responsible Optimization" is this:


Mechanically building a character that best fits your design and roleplay goals, and which both accurately reflects your character's backstory and is continually updated to match current in-game experiences. This is subject to the limitations and wishes of DM/GM's preferences, group optimization level, setting, and the desire not to make the game un-enjoyable for any other party...even if the rules allow you to create a more mechanically powerful character.

And at my table, if you don't fit that definition, you're part of the problem.

Morithias
2010-08-25, 03:30 PM
Descendant of /= is. That should answer your question.


Umael, storytelling is an addition to roleplaying, certainly, but D&D did not originate from storytelling. Nor did it originate by mixing the rules of wargaming with those of a storytelling game. So, calling it a descendant of storytelling is not really true.

For comparison, modern computer games very frequently contain a story too, but they are not descended from storytelling in the sense that the earliest computer games had no story at all. It was a later addition.

That's like saying that if a family has nothing but elves for 20 generations then one of them marries a human and makes a half-elf, that the half-elf has no human ancestors.

HamHam
2010-08-25, 03:32 PM
If Dnd was meant to be a wargame why the hell does almost no one know about the mass combat rules, and even then we all found the third party "AEG Empire" mass combat rules to be BETTER than the ones in heroes of battle.

Wargame doesn't mean mass combat. Battletech is a wargame and each unit is a single mech.


[snip]

People like playing powerful characters. I'm not sure what is wrong with this.

Morithias
2010-08-25, 03:34 PM
Wargame doesn't mean mass combat. Battletech is a wargame and each unit is a single mech.

If you took a character for every soldier on both sides of say WW1 and actually plays each one out during the rounds of battle, I can promise you would quickly get sick of having to do thousands of actions to get pass 6 seconds of game time.

WarKitty
2010-08-25, 03:35 PM
To be fair, the boards also have a fair number of us that just like building blatantly optimized characters for the heck of it. I have been known to show my DM a crazy sheet just for the look on his face before pulling out my real character sheet.

HamHam
2010-08-25, 03:46 PM
To expand on my previous point, as a person who powergames I feel that some people perhaps don't understand why, and thus it might help if I tried to explain.

I, and I believe people like me, do not want to play Bilbo, and run away from monsters and succeed only because of fudged rolls and DM fiat having an NPC kill the BBEG. I want to play Gandalf, and walk into rooms full of goblins and beat them singlehandedly because I am awesome.

What is required to do this is to have a powerful character. And that means being mechanically powerful. Thus, playing an optimized character.

This has other effects. For example, when presented with an unknown enemy, I will run away until I determine the difference in power level between myself and it, and once I'm sure I'm better than it, I will kill it.

Weimann
2010-08-25, 03:48 PM
"Optimizing" for me means finding the most efficient way to represent your character concept.

Swordguy
2010-08-25, 03:50 PM
People like playing powerful characters. I'm not sure what is wrong with this.

If you're (general you, not you personally) are unable to recognize the difference between playing a powerful character within the limitations of group/setting/DM's wishes and just playing a powerful character that MUST be allowed because it's "rules legal", then I don't know what to tell you.

No, really. I can't think of anything. Everything I can think of which a person incapable of recognizing that difference ought to be told is outside of board rules.

@Warkitty: Fair enough. But those of us who just read the boards have no idea of that. All the people on the other end of the intertubes get to see is a person advocating an immensely powerful character. Sometimes that character is accompanied by a disclaimer (and for those folks who put those in, THANK YOU), and sometimes it's accompanied by a boast that this PC is going to make the DM's life miserable and the build is proud of that fact. Most of the time it's accompanied by nothing, and so we're left to wonder what exactly you want to take the time building an immensely powerful PC for. And just as those people with a natural love of CharOP have a problem figuring out why somebody wouldn't optimize, so too do people who don't go in for that have a hard time figuring out why somebody would go through the trouble of building a character with seemingly no purpose but to be powerful. Thus, it's not a hard jump from "why would you build a PC like that" to "you're building PCs like that because you want to break the game".

Again, make sense from that perspective? If not, I'll try and rephrase.

Morithias
2010-08-25, 03:52 PM
Ok I did some calculations for you "wargamers".

The battle of vimy ridge had approximately 200,000 soldiers in total in it. And it took 3 days to be over.

On the first day the fight went from 5:30 am to 6 pm or 12.5 hours.

so we take hours and convert it to rounds

12.5 * 60 * 10 = 7500

then we multiply it by the number of soldiers in it assuming you have to play out each round, since you're using the core rules for combat.

7500 * 200000 = 1.5 million

It would take you 1.5 million actions to finish the first day, of a 3 day battle.

Think about how long your normal 20 round battles take, and alter the time using that as a base.

Wouldn't surprise me if you wasted a good month doing that one fight.

That is why we have mass combat rules.

HamHam
2010-08-25, 03:56 PM
If you're (general you, not you personally) are unable to recognize the difference between playing a powerful character within the limitations of group/setting/DM's wishes and just playing a powerful character that MUST be allowed because it's "rules legal", then I don't know what to tell you.

No, really. I can't think of anything. Everything I can think of which a person incapable of recognizing that difference ought to be told is outside of board rules.

There's no real definite line there. It's at best arbitrary.

Keld Denar
2010-08-25, 03:57 PM
I'm an optimizer. I give optimization advise. I never advocate breaking the game though. Check my posting history. My advice may be strong, by some standards, but none of it is game breaking. Synergy is fine. Abuse is not. Just check out this recent thread (still active). Player says "I want to break the rules and cast XP-free shadow miracles at level 11". My response to him?

"The rules don't actually work like that. Doing so is abusive to the rules, and your DM. Don't blame us when things go bad. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9221767&postcount=29)" Shadowcraft Mage is a perfectly fine PrC. Its strong, but not nearly as strong as Iot7V or Incantatrix. Its really just this one trick, which is so retardedly rediculous, that make people think its the most OP thing since Pun-Pun. Without the shadow miracle trick, ScM is mearly a glorified blaster. I could build a Sorcerer who could out-blast a ScM even with greater than 100% quasireality.

Plus, a healthy dose of Wizard's Second Rule (http://www.google.com/url?q=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sword_of_Truth_universe%23Wizard.27s_Rules&usg=AFQjCNGCse55q0DxKuY6DDO9WNeTIw8Yyw&sa=X&ei=AIN1TNq9Ao2isQOz_I2hDQ&ved=0CBsQygQ) seldom goes wrong. People often desire that which is worst for them. Desire must be tempered by reason, or we might find that we regret that desire.

Greenish
2010-08-25, 04:03 PM
so please be aware there is a difference between "basic" optimizing (a Fighter putting their best stat into Strength, or Wizard into Int, not playing a commoner) and the optimizing we have around here (with 30 seconds of looking, here's some example):

"I'm building a mage who I wanted to be as min/maxed as possible, so I managed to get his Spellcasting through the roof..."
(http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=164886)

"i need help (suggestions) for my DnD character...And its free to use all "abuses", "bugs" and "tricks"" (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=165622)

Breaking E6 (thread full of ways to reduce an E6 DM to an unwillingness to run a game in the future follows) (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=164945)

...much of which seems centered around breaking the game or reducing the efforts of a GM who plays without a knowledge of this arms race to tears.

When you wonder why people argue against optimization, they're arguing against stuff like this. And this isn't even Theoretical Optimization - these threadsYou might want to pick new examples. The first thread there is someone who tried to make a stronger character because he felt his last one wasn't very useful, and is asking if a particular thing (I don't know shadowrun) is useful, with people telling him their opinions. No making DM cry.

Second one is making a character for a campaign with explicitly high power level. Is powergaming bad if you're expected and encouraged to do it?

The third is, for as far as I can tell, theoretical, much like it's predecessor where you'd build an E6 party that can defeat a balor. The only reference to an actual game is a comment of the OP about not trying to break the game. ("Am actually in an E6 game atm. All players involved, despite still being at level 4, have schemes for how to increase their effective power after level 6 via wise feat selection, etc. All sources are allowed. While I wouldn't classify that as breaking the game, I wouldn't presume that all E6 games are core.")


For what I've seen, when someone comes to the forum asking help for breaking an actual game, people tell the poster not to do it.

[Edit]:
Ok I did some calculations for you "wargamers".
<snip>
That is why we have mass combat rules.That's irrelevant to anything. You're missing the point by miles.

Swordguy
2010-08-25, 04:06 PM
There's no real definite line there. It's at best arbitrary.

Yes. Yes it is. And you need respect it and be proactive about finding that line within your own gaming group all the same. Every group will have a different line, and the community as a whole will have a "general" line beyond which they feel something should not be done. It is up to you to exercise your social skills to find that line, and your own sense of restraint and desire to not want to make other people upset with you to abide by that line, or be asked to leave the group.

Here in Cincinnati, we've got several people who are no longer involved in the hobby because they failed to take the above course of action, and they are no longer welcome in groups, stores, and people's homes. Across the entire city no less. They have been exiled from the hobby, and frankly, I don't care about them too much. Gamers have infamously bad social skills, but it's a social game. Part of the social contract is to ensure that everybody has a good time, and my Guide to Responsible Optimization up there goes a LONG way toward ensuring that. Ignore it at your peril.

As a side note, if arbitrariness is a turn-off for you, I respectfully suggest you find a hobby where the rule which is listed first and that overrides ALL the others isn't based totally and completely on arbitrariness.

Tyndmyr
2010-08-25, 04:08 PM
Breaking E6 (thread full of ways to reduce an E6 DM to an unwillingness to run a game in the future follows) (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=164945)

...much of which seems centered around breaking the game or reducing the efforts of a GM who plays without a knowledge of this arms race to tears.

I can speak for this one, as it's my thread. Clearly, the 30 seconds spent looking didn't include reading the actual thread, as it's TO. It's not about making a DM unwilling to run a game in the future, it's about finding what crazy tricks you can pull off in E6(or better, because of E6).

Use of TO, such as Pun-Pun, by sneaking it into a practical game would indeed be terrible sportsmanship. However, this is an extreme case, and almost everyone, optimizers or not, are against this sort of thing. Using TO topics as justification for your theory that optimizers consist mainly of powergamers is sketchy at best.


The mass combat thing is an attempt to avoid the primary topic. D&D isn't the ideal mass combat system, this is true. However, that shortcoming is mostly irrelevant to the historical fact that it came from wargaming, and contains a great many things as a result of that.

Apparently, to a lot of people "optimization" means "bad, evil, kill it with fire".

WarKitty
2010-08-25, 04:12 PM
I have noticed a fair amount of the playground seems to think optimization=bad. Like in my last thread about optimization levels, I was getting told to "tell the optimizers to tone it down because they're making it less fun for everyone." Despite my saying several times the optimized characters were not munchkins, the problem was the uninvolved players had built characters that weren't any good at their primary role and/or only made use of one suboptimal class ability despite having several available.

I haven't gamed much with munchkins. I have gamed with loonies however, and it's equally annoying.

HamHam
2010-08-25, 04:17 PM
[snip]

And the non-optimizers need to adapt as well. As does the DM. Compromise.

For that matter, as long as you aren't being silly geese to each other in game, or out, I doubt it is even actually an issue.

Rule 0 is fine as a last resort, but really you should try and stick to the standard rules as much as possible. And it really does nothing to address the issue most of the time.

Umael
2010-08-25, 04:45 PM
Umael, storytelling is an addition to roleplaying, certainly, but D&D did not originate from storytelling. Nor did it originate by mixing the rules of wargaming with those of a storytelling game. So, calling it a descendant of storytelling is not really true.

Look a little more closely at my analogy.

I equated role-playing games to the child of wargaming and storytelling. While the creator of D&D started with wargaming and modified it by adding storytelling, you cannot divorce the storytelling aspect from D&D, nor can you mark the origin of D&D as a wargame, even if that was the first model upon which the creator used.


For comparison, modern computer games very frequently contain a story too, but they are not descended from storytelling in the sense that the earliest computer games had no story at all. It was a later addition.

Bad analogy. The story in a modern computer game is clunky, more akin to a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure than an actual story. However, it is still a story, albeit using a poor medium.

Just as a pop-up book for youngsters or a movie tells a story, so does the modern computer game.

Think of it this way - if you considered yourself a storyteller and wondered what kind of medium you could use to tell a story, using a modern computer game IS a valid choice. My proof of this - professional credit can be given to people who write the stories for your computer games.

The Big Dice
2010-08-25, 04:49 PM
@The Big Dice vs. Everybody: It's like I'm watching the last two years of my posting history, but from the outside. May you have better luck spitting into the wind than I did, TBD!
Thanks for the vote of confidence. If I can get one person to open their mind up and see things from a different angle, the spears and arrows I get in return are worth it! :smallamused:

To expand on my previous point, as a person who powergames I feel that some people perhaps don't understand why, and thus it might help if I tried to explain.

I, and I believe people like me, do not want to play Bilbo, and run away from monsters and succeed only because of fudged rolls and DM fiat having an NPC kill the BBEG. I want to play Gandalf, and walk into rooms full of goblins and beat them singlehandedly because I am awesome.

What is required to do this is to have a powerful character. And that means being mechanically powerful. Thus, playing an optimized character.

This has other effects. For example, when presented with an unknown enemy, I will run away until I determine the difference in power level between myself and it, and once I'm sure I'm better than it, I will kill it.
I've played a character so powerful he could literally break plots apart with a couple of spells. This was a GURPS wizard, based on the maxim that "Knowledge is Power." See, simply being able to kill things isn't power. That's just destructive potential. And there's always a bigger damage roll. Or any of a dozen or more different ways to kill what is effectively a very squishy means to hurling energy around.

Power is the ability to control the fate of nations. Without wasting magical effort.

And that's what my wizard did. If he couldn't use Divinations or Seek spells to find out what he needed to know, he'd use Summonings of all kinds or even more esoteric methods. Being able to walk into a room, concentrate for a few moments and dig up all kinds of incriminating information on all kinds of important people, plus the things you need to know to take out insurance policies, makes you far more powerful than any Batman, God or whatever kind of D&D caster you are.

D&D is such a limited game, after all.

"Optimizing" for me means finding the most efficient way to represent your character concept.
The relative positive or negative of that really does depend on your concept...

Rixx
2010-08-25, 04:56 PM
When I tell a story, I play to win.

HamHam
2010-08-25, 04:57 PM
I've played a character so powerful he could literally break plots apart with a couple of spells. This was a GURPS wizard, based on the maxim that "Knowledge is Power." See, simply being able to kill things isn't power. That's just destructive potential. And there's always a bigger damage roll. Or any of a dozen or more different ways to kill what is effectively a very squishy means to hurling energy around.

Power is the ability to control the fate of nations. Without wasting magical effort.

And that's what my wizard did. If he couldn't use Divinations or Seek spells to find out what he needed to know, he'd use Summonings of all kinds or even more esoteric methods. Being able to walk into a room, concentrate for a few moments and dig up all kinds of incriminating information on all kinds of important people, plus the things you need to know to take out insurance policies, makes you far more powerful than any Batman, God or whatever kind of D&D caster you are.

D&D is such a limited game, after all.

You can do some crazy stuff with divination and Legend Lore and Bardic Knowledge.

Really, the question is why waste your time with any of that. When you can just mind controller all these people to do exactly what you want.

WarKitty
2010-08-25, 04:58 PM
Hmmm...it seems like part of the problem is "fit your character concept to the game." A high-powered wizard that has the ability to freeze time is out of place in a campaign where everyone is bumbling around trying to impress the barkeep's daughter. A barbarian that tries to panse the monsters in a dramatic save-the-world campaign is equally out of place.

Greenish
2010-08-25, 05:01 PM
Thanks for the vote of confidence. If I can get one person to open their mind up and see things from a different angle, the spears and arrows I get in return are worth it! :smallamused:The horrible, horrible spears and arrows of someone disagreeing with you. :smallamused:
I've played a character so powerful he could literally break plots apart with a couple of spells.

…makes you far more powerful than any Batman, God or whatever kind of D&D caster you are.I'm not sure how bragging how you've made a game-breaking character (or dripping condescension on people who like D&D) helps you point.


The relative positive or negative of that really does depend on your concept...Obviously. The concept should fit the game, just like the build should fit to the power level of the other players.

Lord Raziere
2010-08-25, 05:02 PM
Unfortunately, I think you are almost entirely alone in that definition. To most of us, that's Powergaming, Twinking, Munchkining, or just being Red Mage.


Then alone I shall be. I make a functional character, but I don't try to maximize it, I just make one, sit down and start roleplaying, the mechanics are just there to make the game fair for everyone, to me its roleplaying that is important.

Boci
2010-08-25, 05:09 PM
Then alone I shall be. I make a functional character, but I don't try to maximize it, I just make one, sit down and start roleplaying, the mechanics are just there to make the game fair for everyone, to me its roleplaying that is important.

Yes but you're using a different definition of a word to pretty much everyone else. The fact that you are unbothered by this is fine, but some find it strange.

Chaelos
2010-08-25, 05:11 PM
My views:

High-end optimization, frequently, serves as little more than a euphemism referring to the process by which munchkins convince themselves that they're not munchkining at the moment. Low-end optimization involves building a character guided by the simple notion that, in a de facto "superhero" team game like D&D (especially at higher levels), a character ought to be powerful/capable enough to make a meaningful mechanical contribution to the efforts of the party.

There is a difference, of course, between creating a (mechanically) competent character and deliberately setting out to embody a tried-and-true "optimization" concept/build (e.g. Batman/Controller/God Wizard, Mailman Sorcerer, Ubercharger, etc.)--but the line of demarcation is frequently very much ephemeral and difficult to pin down. Intent goes a long way in fixing the location of this line, but part of the trouble lies in the type of game your DM is running. Some DM's will throw things at you that require excessive amounts of optimization, while others require very little at all to excel.

I apply a (highly subjective, admittedly) two-part test in determining whether or not a build lies in the munchkin side of things, or in the hypothetical "healthy optimization" side: 1) "Would I, as a DM, forbid this? and 2) "Would I be ashamed to play this at my weekly tabletop session?" If the answer is "yes" to either question, I rework things until I'm satisfied. Obviously, every person (and every table) is different, but I've found this to be a helpful rule-of-thumb.

Umael
2010-08-25, 05:18 PM
Then alone I shall be. I make a functional character, but I don't try to maximize it, I just make one, sit down and start roleplaying, the mechanics are just there to make the game fair for everyone, to me its roleplaying that is important.

That's fine, but don't lump everyone else in the same pot, please.

When I sit down to create a character, I might spend just five minutes, or I might spend days, weeks, months, even years on a concept. I have an idea, I write it down, I fill it away, I find it again, I revise it once, I put it away, I let it percolate... insight! Then it is a frenzy of finding the right merits and flaws, backgrounds, disadvantages, advantages.

In the end, it is the concept, not the build, that matters. The build is the slave to that concept. If optimization means I am willing to intentionally cripple myself with a mechanical flaw because it means I have to RP something new from a different angle, then that's optimization with which I can agree.

The Big Dice
2010-08-25, 05:18 PM
You can do some crazy stuff with divination and Legend Lore and Bardic Knowledge.

Really, the question is why waste your time with any of that. When you can just mind controller all these people to do exactly what you want.
GURPS is in a different league when it comes to subtle but powerful magic. D&D blows stuff up great. GURPS lets you be broken in ways that have nothing to do with killing stuff. But really, it's comparing apples and golf clubs, the two games are so radically different from each other.

As for why you'd want to use knowledge as a weapon instead of using magic as a blunt instrument, read this. (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0657.html) Then read the Wizard's Rules. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sword_of_Truth_universe#Wizard.27s_Rules) Particularly the first. Then put those ideas into action

. As a Scorpion character of mine in an L5R game once said, sometimes it's not what you do. It's what the other guy thinks you'll do that matters. And overt uses of magic don't often serve a purpose. At least not in games where experience isn't directly tied to killing things.

Caphi
2010-08-25, 05:19 PM
GURPS is in a different league when it comes to subtle but powerful magic. D&D blows stuff up great. GURPS lets you be broken in ways that have nothing to do with killing stuff.

And you can't do this in D&D3 because...?

Boci
2010-08-25, 05:20 PM
GURPS is in a different league when it comes to subtle but powerful magic. D&D blows stuff up great. GURPS lets you be broken in ways that have nothing to do with killing stuff.

Trippyverse?

Edit: skitternerved.

The Big Dice
2010-08-25, 05:30 PM
And you can't do this in D&D3 because...?

Because being subtle in D&D doesn't net you experience points. And the spells aren't really geared for a more academic mage to be an effective character.

It's not so much a dig at D&D as it is acknowledging that there are things D&D can't do. Just as a GURPS mage can't toss Fireballs and Lightning Bolts around, a D&D Wizard can't contribute in quite as roundabout and indirect a manner as a GURPS one.

But the real reason I brought up my old GURPS wizard was to illustrate that I've been there when it comes to munchkin style play. And it gets boring. When you have the ability to break a game in two, you start to ask yourself, "Why am I playing this depressing, all powerful character? There's no challenge to anything anymore and things are getting boring because of that. I wanna play a Ranger instead. Go all TWF and archery feats and have some fun by having to work for it instead of getting it on a plate!"

I have a feeling that quite a few people who have been roleplaying for a long time and using a variety of systems are going to have had the same epiphany that I did.

Boci
2010-08-25, 05:33 PM
Because being subtle in D&D doesn't net you experience points.

You can for rp.


And the spells aren't really geared for a more academic mage to be an effective character.

Trippyverse?


It's not so much a dig at D&D as it is acknowledging that there are things D&D can't do. Just as a GURPS mage can't toss Fireballs and Lightning Bolts around

You do know optimizers consider blasting suboptimal?


But the real reason I brought up my old GURPS wizard was to illustrate that I've been there when it comes to munchkin style play. And it gets boring. When you have the ability to break a game in two, you start to ask yourself, "Why am I playing this depressing, all powerful character? There's no challenge to anything anymore and things are getting boring because of that. I wanna play a Ranger instead. Go all TWF and archery feats and have some fun by having to work for it instead of getting it on a plate!"

So the Dm ups the challange. Only problem is if not everyone in the party is at the same power level, and that could be either sides fault.

WarKitty
2010-08-25, 05:34 PM
And now you understand why I sometimes like to play a kobold. Or a druid that is absolutely attached to her heirloom dragonhide full plate despite having 9 strength.

Boci
2010-08-25, 05:37 PM
Or a druid that is absolutely attached to her heirloom dragonhide full plate despite having 9 strength.

Attached as in wore or just carried with her?

Greenish
2010-08-25, 05:38 PM
And now you understand why I sometimes like to play a kobold.…Because your munchkiny instincts gain an upper hand from your more sensible side? :smallcool:

WarKitty
2010-08-25, 05:41 PM
Attached as in wore or just carried with her?

As in wore.


…Because your munchkiny instincts gain an upper hand from your more sensible side? :smallcool:

Huh? Seriously though, it is fun taking a weaker class or race or whatever and making it work. And I am talking normal kobold, not venerable dragonwrought kobold.

Boci
2010-08-25, 05:43 PM
As in wore.

Well, if you're in wildshape form for most of the day...in all seriousness, why did your character put a valuable family hairloom risk and ware armour ill suited for her?


Huh? Seriously though, it is fun taking a weaker class or race or whatever and making it work. And I am talking normal kobold, not venerable dragonwrought kobold.

Even regular kobolds are nasty buggers if you play them right and use the web enhancement.

Greenish
2010-08-25, 05:44 PM
Huh? Seriously though, it is fun taking a weaker class or race or whatever and making it work. And I am talking normal kobold, not venerable dragonwrought kobold.They're pretty decent without dragonwrought, with RoD and it's web enhancement.

Just pointing out that they don't really work as a byword for "weak race" anymore. :smallcool:

WarKitty
2010-08-25, 05:47 PM
Well, if you're in wildshape form for most of the day...in all seriousness, why did your character put a valuable family hairloom risk and ware armour ill suited for her.

Short version, it is actually wild armor I just neglected to specify that. It was her father's armor and she inherited it as part of her training.



Even regular kobolds are nasty buggers if you play them right and use the web enhancement.

Forgot about that. Our DM doesn't allow web enhancements.

Yukitsu
2010-08-25, 05:47 PM
Go check out John Wick's Youtube channel. (http://www.youtube.com/user/LordStrange#p/u) He can say these things better than I could ever hope to.

The GM is the final arbiter of what happens in his game sessions. The very rulebooks that other people enshrine empower him to ignore them. You could even argue that by playing to the same rules as the players, the GM is breaking the rules. And equally, by cheating he is playing by the rules as given in The Book.

Actually, he uses a lot of logical fallacies, so I don't really like his arguments in a lot of issues. I especially dislike his incorrect use of the term "murder" as that's one of my biggest pet peeves. I really hear better arguments in classes dedicated to discussion of those issues than his rantings.

That aside, I don't think there's anything wrong with DM's thinking they are the be all and end all of what is balanced and what are the rules, but if they try to pull that in the middle of combat, or after play has started, I generally leave. And 9/10 times, the rest of the party has as well. When we're at the table and we're in play, there should be no "surprise rules" that are suddenly used in the middle of combat.

Edit: One of his arguments relies upon a complete off the cuff re-definition of protagonist. I don't really like people that can't use words as conventional English defines.

Greenish
2010-08-25, 05:49 PM
Short version, it is actually wild armor I just neglected to specify that. It was her father's armor and she inherited it as part of her training.So how is using the armour a weak choice? :smallconfused:

Boci
2010-08-25, 05:50 PM
Short version, it is actually wild armor I just neglected to specify that. It was her father's armor and she inherited it as part of her training.

Is it really that suboptimal then? Or were you never saying it was.


Forgot about that. Our DM doesn't allow web enhancements.

Well, without web enhancements they're pretty much weaker halflings, so I'd just reflavour the latter, but I can see the atraction to playing a genuine kobold.

WarKitty
2010-08-25, 05:53 PM
Is it really that suboptimal then? Or were you never saying it was.

Heh - silly me forgot to mention this was a pathfinder game. Wild shape nets you a +2 to strength. So I go from a 9 to an 11 when I wild shape appropriately. I'm still not exactly an effective melee fighter. It's armor that cost a feat on a caster. It's not a useless item, but it's not the greatest choice either.

Boci
2010-08-25, 05:55 PM
Heh - silly me forgot to mention this was a pathfinder game. Wild shape nets you a +2 to strength. So I go from a 9 to an 11 when I wild shape appropriately. I'm still not exactly an effective melee fighter. It's armor that cost a feat on a caster. It's not a useless item, but it's not the greatest choice either.

Was there any particular reason it had to be armour druids don't have proficiency with?

Keld Denar
2010-08-25, 05:57 PM
GURPS lets you be broken in ways that have nothing to do with killing stuff.

2 words...Planar Binding (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/planarBindingLesser.htm).

1 spell, and your options are limitless. Oh, and guess what book its in? Right...the PHB, the most blatently overpowered book in the game. Tell me again what a GURPS wizard can do that this one spell can't?

I'm not advocating the abuse of this spell, just that things aren't exactly as you seem to think they are. Wizards in D&D are all about action/option advantage. They take as many actions as possible, and take away as many as possible.

WarKitty
2010-08-25, 05:57 PM
Was there any particular reason it had to be armour druids don't have proficiency with?

Had to do with her father, who was actually a previously played character. He already had a dip in fighter by the time he picked the armor up.

Boci
2010-08-25, 06:02 PM
Had to do with her father, who was actually a previously played character. He already had a dip in fighter by the time he picked the armor up.

This is what I don't get. My father used this armour, he had training to do so, its now a family heirloom. So far so good. But then why do you waer it when it was made for your farther? If it was something to do with how she was taught, why was she taught to fight like that when she aparantly wasn't suited that well for that particular fighting style?

I know such a character can still function, but it strikes me as odd that they would spend time learning to use something that is ill suited for them.

WarKitty
2010-08-25, 06:10 PM
This is what I don't get. My father used this armour, he had training to do so, its now a family heirloom. So far so good. But then why do you waer it when it was made for your farther? If it was something to do with how she was taught, why was she taught to fight like that when she aparantly wasn't suited that well for that particular fighting style?

I know such a character can still function, but it strikes me as odd that they would spend time learning to use something that is ill suited for them.

Meh, makes sense to me at least. In-game, her stated reason is "It helps me not take damage while I'm casting my spells." Her unstated reason is that she wants to be like her dad and has a bit of an inferiority complex.

Boci
2010-08-25, 06:14 PM
Meh, makes sense to me at least. In-game, her stated reason is "It helps me not take damage while I'm casting my spells." Her unstated reason is that she wants to be like her dad and has a bit of an inferiority complex.

Well we're different people. If it was my character I would probably have had her keep it tucked away in her backpack to look at before going to sleep, but thats just me. Your character isn't a one of those stupid examples of sacrificing power unneccissarily and claiming tis for flavour, and I wouldn't be bothered if she was in my group.

WarKitty
2010-08-25, 06:18 PM
Well we're different people. If it was my character I would probably have had her keep it tucked away in her backpack to look at before going to sleep, but thats just me. Your character isn't a one of those stupid examples of sacrificing power unneccissarily and claiming tis for flavour, and I wouldn't be bothered if she was in my group.

Depends on the tier I'm playing too. The higher tier my class is compared to the rest of my group, the more I sacrifice. The lower tier my class is compared to my group, the more I optimize. In this case I'd say I'm 1-2 tiers ahead of the group to start with.

Greenish
2010-08-25, 06:19 PM
Well we're different people. If it was my character I would probably have had her keep it tucked away in her backpack to look at before going to sleep, but thats just me.I dunno. It's not the best option ever, but it's not a bad choice either. Druids aren't so feat-heavy (and PF gives more feats but less options), using one for better protection (full plate, after all) is viable.

liquid150
2010-08-25, 07:00 PM
2 words...Planar Binding (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/planarBindingLesser.htm).

1 spell, and your options are limitless. Oh, and guess what book its in? Right...the PHB, the most blatently overpowered book in the game. Tell me again what a GURPS wizard can do that this one spell can't?

I'm not advocating the abuse of this spell, just that things aren't exactly as you seem to think they are. Wizards in D&D are all about action/option advantage. They take as many actions as possible, and take away as many as possible.

Well, 300 points of damage to everything in the universe every second...that's not something easily acquired with Planar Binding.

HamHam
2010-08-25, 07:17 PM
GURPS is in a different league when it comes to subtle but powerful magic. D&D blows stuff up great. GURPS lets you be broken in ways that have nothing to do with killing stuff. But really, it's comparing apples and golf clubs, the two games are so radically different from each other.

As for why you'd want to use knowledge as a weapon instead of using magic as a blunt instrument, read this. (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0657.html) Then read the Wizard's Rules. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sword_of_Truth_universe#Wizard.27s_Rules) Particularly the first. Then put those ideas into action

. As a Scorpion character of mine in an L5R game once said, sometimes it's not what you do. It's what the other guy thinks you'll do that matters. And overt uses of magic don't often serve a purpose. At least not in games where experience isn't directly tied to killing things.

DnD wizards can do all sorts ridiculous stuff that have nothing to do with killing if they want to.

But unnecessary subtlety is something that should be on the evil overlord list as a DO NOT DO. No point messing around with manipulation and such when you can just make people do what you want. Or make reality do what you want for that matter.


Well, 300 points of damage to everything in the universe every second...that's not something easily acquired with Planar Binding.

Locate City Bomb.

Yukitsu
2010-08-25, 07:19 PM
Well, 300 points of damage to everything in the universe every second...that's not something easily acquired with Planar Binding.

Just keep summoning demons with fireball and you'll eventually get there. :smalltongue:

Boci
2010-08-25, 07:27 PM
Gamers have infamously bad social skills, but it's a social game. Part of the social contract is to ensure that everybody has a good time, and my Guide to Responsible Optimization up there goes a LONG way toward ensuring that. Ignore it at your peril.

Do you really have such little faith in gamers that you cannot imagine the following situation:

PC: "Hey, remember that character concept I had. I got a build for it here."
DM: "I dunno, it looks pretty powerful."
PC: "Well lets see how well it works during this session abd discuss if we need anything changed."

Swordguy
2010-08-25, 07:51 PM
Do you really have such little faith in gamers that you cannot imagine the following situation:

PC: "Hey, remember that character concept I had. I got a build for it here."
DM: "I dunno, it looks pretty powerful."
PC: "Well lets see how well it works during this session abd discuss if we need anything changed."

I can see that happening. You know what else I can see (and, in fact HAVE seen)?

(Examples somewhat truncated for space.)

PC: "Hey, remember that character concept I had. I got a build for it here."
DM: *looks at sheet* "Dude, this is gonna break my game wide open. I'm not set up for a character this powerful. Can you rework it so you're not auto-succeeding on skills X, Y, and Z, being a better fighter than our fighter, AND having 9th level spells at mid-level?"
PC: "Hey! It's rules-legal. I just want to make my character the best he can be, and this is how to do it. If it's by the rules, you have to allow it - that's why the rules exist. If you have such a problem with the rules, maybe you should be running a different game instead of interfering with MY fun!"

...and a violent confrontation ensues.

Or here's an easier one:

PC: "Hey, remember that character concept I had. I got a build for it here."
DM: *looks at sheet* "Dude, I said no non-spontaneous arcane casters. They don't fit in my game world where casters do their thing through force of will and personality. You were told this during the campaign intro session, and I put it in the handouts for players. And yet...you've got levels of Wizard in here. So, no - go make another build. See if yo can make it work with Sorcerer levels."
PC: "Well, I have to have the levels of Wizard to make the build work, and they're in the book, so I get to use them. You can't stop me from doing that if it's in the book. You're not allowed."

...and a violent confrontation ensues.

Or an even EASIER one:

PC: "Hey, remember that character concept I had. I got a build for it here."
DM: *looks at sheet* "Dude, I specifically said before the campaign started, and we ALL agreed...no Tome of Battle! A) I don't like the flavor and don't want to have to refluff everything, B) I don't want to have to learn the new mechanics, and C) I'm running the game and I just don't like it."
PC: "But the ToB is so much more POWERFUL. It's unfair for me to not have access to the most powerful tools for the job! Why would I even choose to go out to adventure while being a Fighter!"
DM: "Cause you chose roll one up and go adventuring? You know, during our character creation session?"
PC:"You're a bad GM for not allowing me to be as powerful as I want to be."

...and a violent confrontation ensues.


So, Boci, do you really believe that every optimizer is such a perfect person that discussions like these never happen? Even knowing that these are first-person accounts?

It's discussions like these that I remember when I hear somebody talking about optimizing. If they can honor the social contract and behave like the guy in your example...great! No issues! But far more often in my experience, and the experience of every long-term GM I know personally, "optimizers" behave like the guys in my examples, and that's not so great.

Yukitsu
2010-08-25, 07:53 PM
Optimizers follow rules. Not just book rules. Evidently, your players are munchkins. :smallyuk:

Emmerask
2010-08-25, 08:00 PM
Huh? Seriously though, it is fun taking a weaker class or race or whatever and making it work. And I am talking normal kobold, not venerable dragonwrought kobold.

Indeed, I would even say that for me it is the most fun I can have optimizing.
Everyone and their mother can take a tier 1 or 2 class and make it powerful.
Making an asset for the group out of tier 4 and 5´s is where it becomes fun and you can be proud if you achieve your goal. :smallsmile:


Depends on the tier I'm playing too. The higher tier my class is compared to the rest of my group, the more I sacrifice. The lower tier my class is compared to my group, the more I optimize. In this case I'd say I'm 1-2 tiers ahead of the group to start with.

exactly how I try to balance my characters power with the groups powerlevel too :smallsmile:

HamHam
2010-08-25, 08:02 PM
[snip]

The first of those is impossible.

The second and third are just not very good DMing. Refluffing something is incredibly easy. Wizards can cast by the power of willpower as well as anyone else with absolutely no mechanical change. And Warblade was the exact same flavor as Fighter so unless you banned Fighters you are simply wrong.

So a more fair reading of that last one is:

PC: I want to play a melee fighter that is actually useful!
DM: No! Play fighter and like it!
PC: I guess I'll just play a caster... again...

Boci
2010-08-25, 08:02 PM
I can see that happening. You know what else I can see (and, in fact HAVE seen)?

PC: "Hey, remember that character concept I had. I got a build for it here."
DM: *looks at sheet* "Dude, this is gonna break my game wide open. I'm not set up for a character this powerful. Can you rework it so you're not auto-succeeding on skills X, Y, and Z, being a better fighter than our fighter, AND having 9th level spells at mid-level?"
PC: "Hey! It's rules-legal. I just want to make my character the best he can be, and this is how to do it. If it's by the rules, you have to allow it - that's why the rules exist. If you have such a problem with the rules, maybe you should be running a different game instead of interfering with MY fun!"

DM: Thank you for making whether or not you should stay in this group an easy choice. Better luck in your next group.



Or here's an easier one:

PC: "Hey, remember that character concept I had. I got a build for it here."
DM: *looks at sheet* "Dude, I said no non-spontaneous arcane casters. They don't fit in my game world where casters do their thing through force of will and personality. You were told this during the campaign intro session, and I put it in the handouts for players. And yet...you've got levels of Wizard in here. So, no - go make another build. See if yo can make it work with Sorcerer levels."
PC: "Well, I have to have the levels of Wizard to make the build work, and they're in the book, so I get to use them. You can't stop me from doing that if it's in the book. You're not allowed."

DM: Yes I am it is called rule 0 I am invoking it because your character does not fir the fluff of my game. If you want to make your character compatible with my fluff then try, otherwise play something else or find a new group.


Or an even EASIER one:

PC: "Hey, remember that character concept I had. I got a build for it here."
DM: *looks at sheet* "Dude, I specifically said before the campaign started, and we ALL agreed...no Tome of Battle! A) I don't like the flavor and don't want to have to refluff everything,

PC: Then I'll do the refluffing for you. Take the fighter's fluff and apply it to the warblade. Take the monk's fluff and apply it to the swordsage. Take the paladin's fluff and apply it to the crusader. Done.


B) I don't want to have to learn the new mechanics,

PC: It's fine, I'll explain things for you.


and C) I'm running the game and I just don't like it."

PC: But I do want to play it. You don't have to, but will me playing it really ruin your fun that much?


So, Boci, do you really believe that every optimizer is such a perfect person that discussions like these never happen?

I don't have much faith in humanity, but I believe such cases would be the exception.

Also I find your test for determining whether or not someone is perfect to be...lacking.


Even knowing that these are first-person accounts?

I'm assuming you've included a healthy amount of hyperbole. Besides, you just seem to live in an area with a lot of jerks. Sorry to hear that.


But far more often in my experience, and the experience of every long-term GM I know personally, "optimizers" behave like the guys in my examples, and that's not so great.

How old are the people you play with? Besides, such players get blacklisted. Where's the problem?

dsmiles
2010-08-25, 08:06 PM
I can see that happening. You know what else I can see (and, in fact HAVE seen)?

(Examples somewhat truncated for space.)

PC: "Hey, remember that character concept I had. I got a build for it here."
DM: *looks at sheet* "Dude, this is gonna break my game wide open. I'm not set up for a character this powerful. Can you rework it so you're not auto-succeeding on skills X, Y, and Z, being a better fighter than our fighter, AND having 9th level spells at mid-level?"
PC: "Hey! It's rules-legal. I just want to make my character the best he can be, and this is how to do it. If it's by the rules, you have to allow it - that's why the rules exist. If you have such a problem with the rules, maybe you should be running a different game instead of interfering with MY fun!"

...and a violent confrontation ensues.

Or here's an easier one:

PC: "Hey, remember that character concept I had. I got a build for it here."
DM: *looks at sheet* "Dude, I said no non-spontaneous arcane casters. They don't fit in my game world where casters do their thing through force of will and personality. You were told this during the campaign intro session, and I put it in the handouts for players. And yet...you've got levels of Wizard in here. So, no - go make another build. See if yo can make it work with Sorcerer levels."
PC: "Well, I have to have the levels of Wizard to make the build work, and they're in the book, so I get to use them. You can't stop me from doing that if it's in the book. You're not allowed."

...and a violent confrontation ensues.

Or an even EASIER one:

PC: "Hey, remember that character concept I had. I got a build for it here."
DM: *looks at sheet* "Dude, I specifically said before the campaign started, and we ALL agreed...no Tome of Battle! A) I don't like the flavor and don't want to have to refluff everything, B) I don't want to have to learn the new mechanics, and C) I'm running the game and I just don't like it."
PC: "But the ToB is so much more POWERFUL. It's unfair for me to not have access to the most powerful tools for the job! Why would I even choose to go out to adventure while being a Fighter!"
DM: "Cause you chose roll one up and go adventuring? You know, during our character creation session?"
PC:"You're a bad GM for not allowing me to be as powerful as I want to be."

...and a violent confrontation ensues.


So, Boci, do you really believe that every optimizer is such a perfect person that discussions like these never happen? Even knowing that these are first-person accounts?

It's discussions like these that I remember when I hear somebody talking about optimizing. If they can honor the social contract and behave like the guy in your example...great! No issues! But far more often in my experience, and the experience of every long-term GM I know personally, "optimizers" behave like the guys in my examples, and that's not so great.

This is why I'm afraid of recruiting a new gaming group. My friends all had to move (we're all military, and that's a hazard of the job), and as much as I'd like us to get together with OpenRPG, it hasn't happened as yet (and I'm fiendin' for a game fix). I don't want to even take the chance that somebody is going to be like those examples. If they say, "can we try it for this session, and see how it goes?" I'm likely to say yes, unless it was something specifically outlawed in the campaign introduction. My group never "intentionally gimped" a character to "role-play better." We basically all worked together on each others' characters to make sure we were all on the same page when it came to power levels and story elements.
It's not optimization that worries me, it's people who take it too far. And I'm sorry if I offend anyone when I say this, but if you can one-shot Cthulhu at 3rd level, that's taking it too far.

EDIT: @HamHam: So by your definition, all options must exist in all campaign settings? Not trying to be inflammatory, just want to clarify.

Swordguy
2010-08-25, 08:09 PM
Two things:





and C) I'm running the game and I just don't like it."

PC: But I do want to play it. You don't have to, but will me playing it really ruin your fun that much?

Yes. It will. My table, my house, my campaign, my rules. No ToB. I run very "Medieval Europe+light magic"-style games, NOT dungeonpunk or Eberron "magic=tech" games, and everyone is told that up-front. Deal with it, or find another group.



How old are the people you play with? Besides, such players get blacklisted. Where's the problem?

Anywhere from low-20's to mid-50's. I'll take on a teenager every now and again if they come with a reference from another area GM I trust.

Every player listed described himself as an "optimizer". Thus, I get...twitchy...when people talk about it. While optimizer =/= munchkin, there's a MUCH higher correlation between optimizers and munchkins than there are between the "high-drama, don't-care-about-mechanics roleplayers" and munchkins.

Therefore, I've found it safer and less stressful to treat EVERY "optimizer" as a munchkin unless they prove differently. The people who aren't munchkins don't mind the restrictions anyway.

Greenish
2010-08-25, 08:10 PM
Let us not go into ToB/refluffing tangent here. Those have had (and will have) many, many threads already.


if you can one-shot Cthulhu at 3rd level, that's taking it too far.Depends. If you have a boat, it's okay.

dsmiles
2010-08-25, 08:12 PM
Depends. If you have a boat, it's okay.

Only if you can make the Profession: Sailor DC to ram it into his head.

I was specifically talking about walking up to Cthulhu, giving him the finger, and poking him in the eye with something pointy and him keeling over and dying. (If you poke him in the eye with a boat: 1. I'd allow it due to rule 0, and 2. it's not exactly pointy.)

HamHam
2010-08-25, 08:12 PM
Yes. It will. My table, my house, my campaign, my rules. No ToB. I run very "Medieval Europe+light magic"-style games, NOT dungeonpunk or Eberron "magic=tech" games, and everyone is told that up-front. Deal with it, or find another group.

So you're problem is not with optimization, but with people who don't agree with your preconceived notions about things you don't understand?

Boci
2010-08-25, 08:16 PM
Yes. It will. My table, my house, my campaign, my rules. No ToB. I run very "Medieval Europe+light magic"-style games, NOT dungeonpunk or Eberron "magic=tech" games, and everyone is told that up-front. Deal with it, or find another group.

Okay I am not going to ask you why you think ToB fits better into the latter because thats for another thread. This is just different play styles. For me, since D&D is about fun, the DM needs a better reason than "I do not like it" to disallow something in his game.


Anywhere from low-20's to mid-50's. I'll take on a teenager every now and again if they come with a reference from another area GM I trust.

Every player listed described himself as an "optimizer". Thus, I get...twitchy...when people talk about it. While optimizer =/= munchkin, there's a MUCH higher correlation between optimizers and munchkins than there are between the "high-drama, don't-care-about-mechanics roleplayers" and munchkins.

Therefore, I've found it safer and less stressful to treat EVERY "optimizer" as a munchkin unless they prove differently. The people who aren't munchkins don't mind the restrictions anyway.

Well then the only rational conclusion I can make is that there are far more jerks in your area than mine. Shrug.


Only if you can make the Profession: Sailor DC to ram it into his head.

I was specifically talking about walking up to Cthulhu, giving him the finger, and poking him in the eye with something pointy and him keeling over and dying. (If you poke him in the eye with a boat: 1. I'd allow it due to rule 0, and 2. it's not exactly pointy.)

What if I shrink it, have my fighter throw it into his eye, and ready an action to dismiss my spell?

Greenish
2010-08-25, 08:17 PM
Therefore, I've found it safer and less stressful to treat EVERY "optimizer" as a munchkin unless they prove differently. The people who aren't munchkins don't mind the restrictions anyway.Assuming guilt until proven otherwise. :smallconfused:

Well, I guess it depends on how you treat muchkins, but getting unwarranted hostility from the DM may provoke some people. That said, the three examples of yours were clearly being uncooperative jerks.

So you're problem is not with optimization, but with people who don't agree with your preconceived notions about things you don't understand?Now now, I don't agree with his opinions on ToB, but lets try to keep civil (and on topic).

Swordguy
2010-08-25, 08:18 PM
So you're problem is not with optimization, but with people who don't agree with your preconceived notions about things you don't understand?

No. It is not. Way to totally focus on a side topic and extrapolate that out as though it has something to do with the issue of the thread. Please lay off the attacks (and considering I've gotten an Infraction for an almost identical wording...) or I'll report the post.

My issue related to THIS topic is very much with the correlation between optimizers and munchkins. Specifically, more optimizers than non-optimizers have proven themselves to be munchkins in my experience. A LOT more. Therefore, they get treated as though they ARE munchkins until they can prove they aren't. That is all.



Assuming guilt until proven otherwise.

I'd prefer not to, but I'm just so tired of people mucking up campaigns so their PC can be more awesome, and wasting the time, investment, and experiences of not just myself, but everyone else in the group. This way sucks for the munchkin, is probably mildly annoying for the optimizer, and everybody else doesn't even notice.

Emmerask
2010-08-25, 08:18 PM
So you're problem is not with optimization, but with people who don't agree with your preconceived notions about things you don't understand?

I don´t quite see the need for slightly veiled attempts to insult him :smallwink:

And yes as a dm you have every right to ban things that don´t fit the campaign setting, if it´s because of fluff the player may rewrite the fluff and then it may be approved, if its because of powerlevel then you can´t do much about it.

Boci
2010-08-25, 08:20 PM
My issue related to THIS topic is very much with the correlation between optimizers and munchkins. Specifically, more optimizers than non-optimizers have proven themselves to be munchkins in my experience. A LOT more. Therefore, they get treated as though they ARE munchkins until they can prove they aren't. That is all.

As greenish said, some people can act as jerks due to the frustration at the whole guilty until proven innocent attitude they get.

Yukitsu
2010-08-25, 08:22 PM
No. It is not. Way to totally focus on a side topic and extrapolate that out as though it has something to do with the issue of the thread. Please lay off the attacks (and considering I've gotten an Infraction for an almost identical wording...) or I'll report the post.

My issue related to THIS topic is very much with the correlation between optimizers and munchkins. Specifically, more optimizers than non-optimizers have proven themselves to be munchkins in my experience. A LOT more. Therefore, they get treated as though they ARE munchkins until they can prove they aren't. That is all.

This is more an issue of people saying that they are one thing, not that they are something. You generally aren't both, you're kind of one or the other. I agree you shouldn't take a self expressed optimizer as an optimizer until he shows it kind of like how you don't listen to that internet guy who says he's got an int of 20 until he proves it.

Now, if they don't say they are something, and later prove to be, or if you explicitly ask, then you don't really have any grounds to go gnabbing your torch and pitchfork.

WarKitty
2010-08-25, 08:26 PM
Two things:



Yes. It will. My table, my house, my campaign, my rules. No ToB. I run very "Medieval Europe+light magic"-style games, NOT dungeonpunk or Eberron "magic=tech" games, and everyone is told that up-front. Deal with it, or find another group.




Anywhere from low-20's to mid-50's. I'll take on a teenager every now and again if they come with a reference from another area GM I trust.

Every player listed described himself as an "optimizer". Thus, I get...twitchy...when people talk about it. While optimizer =/= munchkin, there's a MUCH higher correlation between optimizers and munchkins than there are between the "high-drama, don't-care-about-mechanics roleplayers" and munchkins.

Therefore, I've found it safer and less stressful to treat EVERY "optimizer" as a munchkin unless they prove differently. The people who aren't munchkins don't mind the restrictions anyway.

Seems to vary a lot with who you get. I get twitchy when someone says they don't optimize...because I've had to deal with several characters that were too ineffective to live.

dsmiles
2010-08-25, 08:29 PM
Seems to vary a lot with who you get. I get twitchy when someone says they don't optimize...because I've had to deal with several characters that were too ineffective to live.

Honestly, I still remember picking up the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Players Handbook and reading that no character was unplayable. Whatever happened to that mentality in gamers?

Boci
2010-08-25, 08:31 PM
Honestly, I still remember picking up the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Players Handbook and reading that no character was unplayable. Whatever happened to that mentality in gamers?

Its still true, but not every character is apropiate in every group.

WarKitty
2010-08-25, 08:35 PM
Honestly, I still remember picking up the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Players Handbook and reading that no character was unplayable. Whatever happened to that mentality in gamers?

Meh. Depends on what you mean by "unplayable." The non-optimizers I've had to deal with tend to be the too-dumb-to-live type anyways.

Do I think that you can take any concept and make it into a workable character? Yes. Do I think a character that hasn't had any effort invested into making it workable is playable? No, not without really annoying the rest of the party.

Greenish
2010-08-25, 08:37 PM
Honestly, I still remember picking up the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Players Handbook and reading that no character was unplayable.Well, given enough resurrection magic, it holds true. :smallwink:

Seriously though, no character is unplayable, but some builds don't fit to some campaigns.

Say, there's this kobold paladin that rarely fits into even the most optimized games... :smallcool:

Swordguy
2010-08-25, 08:38 PM
As greenish said, some people can act as jerks due to the frustration at the whole guilty until proven innocent attitude they get.

Well, then, it sucks to be them. I'm sorry, but I don't really care anymore. The friends whom I normally play with aren't optimizers, and I'm fairly clear to new players that I have a fairly authoritarian table. Agreeing to abide my my restrictions is part of you being allowed to play at my game.

If people are high-strung enough that the anti-munchkin measures I take will put their back up, then they can leave, and I won't care. They were either munchkins or too uptight for my group anyway.

Frankly, between being a Demo Agent for BattleTech (http://www.classicbattletech.com/forums/index.php?topic=70701.msg1699574#msg1699574), and Leviathans (http://forums.monstersinthesky.com/index.php/topic,111.msg2927.html#new), playing in a Pathfinder game (http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/looking-for-a-few-good-adventurers/characters/menion-leah), getting a Shadowrun game (http://forums.cincybattletech.com/index.php?topic=16.msg121#msg121) off the ground, and running a Dark Heresy short-campaign over September and October (same group as Pathfinder), as well as doing an immense amount of work for my local boffer LARP (http://roae.us/STUFF/NERO2010/index.html?detectflash=false) (that would be me on the front page there)...I don't lack for players, so I must be doing something right. If I put off one or two, well, can't make an omlette without breaking a few eggs and all that. If my GMing style is all that off-putting, then my local meta definitely loves "off-putting".

Boci
2010-08-25, 08:40 PM
Well, then, it sucks to be them. I'm sorry, but I don't really care anymore. The friends whom I normally play with aren't optimizers, and I'm fairly clear to new players that I have a fairly authoritarian table. Agreeing to abide my my restrictions is part of you being allowed to play at my game.

As I said, different play styles, but try imagining going to a new group, saying you do not care about optimizing, and immediatly being labelled a troubelsome one whose logic is fraught with the stormwind fallacy, until you prove otherwise.

My main problem with an authoritive DM is that humans tend to make mistakes, and ignoring feedback from your players is not always the best aproach, but whatever works for your group.

WarKitty
2010-08-25, 08:49 PM
If people are high-strung enough that the anti-munchkin measures I take will put their back up, then they can leave, and I won't care. They were either munchkins or too uptight for my group anyway.

This. How you run your group is fine, but please don't imply there's something wrong with those of us that find it odd. I would be extremely put off by your play style because it tends from my experience to produce characters that are plain incompetent.

Swordguy
2010-08-25, 08:52 PM
My main problem with an authoritive DM is that humans tend to make mistakes, and ignoring feedback from your players is not always the best aproach, but whatever works for your group.

Those two things are not necessarily automatically hand-in-glove. Just so you know.

And you've invoked Stormwind incorrectly. Nowhere have I (or, glancing back over the thread, has anyone else) alluded to someone's ability to roleplay, whether linked to someone's proclivity to optimize or not. That's all Stormwind is about. Sorry - you don't get to win the thread simply because you can quote somebody else's internet law.




This. How you run your group is fine, but please don't imply there's something wrong with those of us that find it odd. I would be extremely put off by your play style because it tends from my experience to produce characters that are plain incompetent.

There is nothing, nothing, wrong with how you run your own games. These are my opinions, regarding how I run my games vis a vis optimizers, and why I have an issue with people who describe themselves as such. The fact that so much of GiTP describes themselves as optimizers, juxtaposed with what I've said here, should help clue folks in as to why I don't post much anymore. :smallfrown:

Greenish
2010-08-25, 08:54 PM
Agreeing to abide my restrictions is part of you being allowed to play at my game.Yeah, I agree that DM can set his/her restrictions and houserules prior to the game, and if you agree to them, you're supposed to follow them (instead of trying to do something that has been explicitly forbidden). I should have thought it a basic assumption, but maybe I've just been lucky.

Something which might be skewing the view even farther is that being an optimizer might simply not come up, unless you're the type of jerk to brag on how powerful your character is.

The Glyphstone
2010-08-25, 08:55 PM
Great Modthulhu: It's getting a little heated in here. Please continue to avoid insulting other people's play styles, DMing habits, or player habits.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled thread.

Terazul
2010-08-25, 08:56 PM
Those two things are not necessarily automatically hand-in-glove. Just so you know.

And you've invoked Stormwind incorrectly. Nowhere have I (or, glancing back over the thread, has anyone else) alluded to someone's ability to roleplay, whether linked to someone's proclivity to optimize or not. That's all Stormwind is about. Sorry - you don't get to win the thread simply because you can quote somebody else's internet law.

Uhh. Maybe actually read his post dude. He's saying if you went to a group, exclaimed that you don't like optimizing, and then everyone immediately thought you were one of those Stormwind slingers, that it would give off the same vibe as your table vs optimizers. He never actually accused you of anything. No need to be so defensive.

Boci
2010-08-25, 08:56 PM
Those two things are not necessarily automatically hand-in-glove. Just so you know.

No, but I am pretty sure we can agree that an authoritive DM is more likely to ingore feedback.


And you've invoked Stormwind incorrectly.

That was the whole point. I am just reversing the situation. What if you made a comment about not caring about optimization and they immediatly assumed that you used the storwind fallacy until you proved otherwise.



There is nothing, nothing, wrong with how you run your own games. These are my opinions, regarding how I run my games vis a vis optimizers, and why I have an issue with people who describe themselves as such. The fact that so much of GiTP describes themselves as optimizers, juxtaposed with what I've said here, should help clue folks in as to why I don't post much anymore. :smallfrown:

Its really not our fault we use a word to describe ourselves that you have coined as being far more negative than we assume it is.

Swordguy
2010-08-25, 09:02 PM
Great Modthulhu: It's getting a little heated in here. Please continue to avoid insulting other people's play styles, DMing habits, or player habits.

S'all right. Since I've inadvertently taken over from The Big Dice on the whole "spitting into the wind" thing, I'll just go back to lurking so that the argument will die down. "The nail that sticks up, something, something" applies even here, after all.

Ya'll can get back to reinforcing each other's opinions of people who don't play like you do now. Greenish, Warkitty, nice talking to you guys.

Gensh
2010-08-25, 09:09 PM
The reason for this debate's continuance through multiple threads, over months if not years, is really quite simple: tl;dr. Before anyone posts again, he/she should read all of the recent posts, then reread certain parts for comprehension, sit and think about it, then post. I may not post frequently, but as an experienced lurker, I've noticed this same problem again and again: everyone reads something that gets them riled up, then hastily makes a post without keying in on certain facts vital to another poster's argument. Over the past four or so pages, I've watched as this is done repeatedly. In fact, isn't it almost always the same posters in these types of arguments?

Everyone always makes the same arguments, and even when the debaters change, their points remain essentially the same, and no one actually listens to the other side. This is potentially worse than watching a political debate. Come on, guys, this is a discussion about a game, yet you can't even agree to disagree and move on.

Despite being in the opti-free camp, I will try to remain as neutral as possible in trying to list the views of both sides. Note that this is a generalization rather than pointing out anything in specific.

On character concept
Pro: I decide what type of character I want to play then build a story for it. It's not like it takes any time at all to fit in a subplot any prerequisites I need for one class or another. This way, I don't hurt the party by playing a weak or unneeded class.
Anti: I decide who I want to play then pick a class. Who cares if he/she is lacking in a certain area; that makes for a great roleplaying opportunity.

On the rules
Pro: DnD is a game. You can't play a game without rules, that would be silly, wouldn't it? If the DM is breaking the rules then why are we playing this game? As long as I'm within the rules, there should be no problem (not including obvious things like Pun-Pun).
Anti: DnD is a roleplaying medium. It has rules so that you can't just say "my dad can beat up your dad," and that's all they're there for.

On Tome of Battle
Pro: It's not like it's any different from being a fighter or whatever, except...you know, useful...Besides, if you don't like the anime sorts of things, you can just disallow swordsages specifically.
Anti: Saying that the two types of combat are the same thing is like saying that boxing and karate is the same thing just because the end result is hitting someone. Some people like the flourishes and fancy moves, but I just like to hit things.

On the tier system
Pro: You have to try to make your character as powerful as possible within your bounds so that you don't cripple the party.
Anti: The DM knows how powerful your party is. If you're holding back the party frequently, then it's time to find a new DM.

On personal experiences
Pro: Everyone is courteous, of course. Except those guys who were so weak that the DM held back but everyone still died anyway. Then they complained about how they lost such a great roleplaying character.
Anti: Everyone is courteous, of course. Except those guys who were so powerful the DM had to send in the big guns and everyone else died. Then they had the gall to say that it was our fault for not minmaxing enough.

...Preview...10 new posts...I spent way too long on this...

Greenish
2010-08-25, 09:09 PM
S'all right. Since I've inadvertently taken over from The Big Dice on the whole "spitting into the wind" thing, I'll just go back to lurking so that the argument will die down. "The nail that sticks up, something, something" applies even here, after all.

Ya'll can get back to reinforcing each other's opinions of people who don't play like you do now.Well, if you find a lot of people disagree with you, it might have reasons other than herd mentality...

Greenish, Warkitty, nice talking to you guys.We shall meet again!

Boci
2010-08-25, 09:17 PM
Well, if you find a lot of people disagree with you, it might have reasons other than herd mentality...

Also, wasn't that exactly what Swordguy and The Big Dice were doing?

Greenish
2010-08-25, 09:18 PM
Also, wasn't that exactly what Swordguy and The Big Dice were doing?I don't quite follow. That what?

Boci
2010-08-25, 09:20 PM
I don't quite follow. That what?

"reinforcing each other's opinions"?

As far as my opinions for people with different play styles to me, I don't know about you guys, but mine is: they're different. I just argue with them since that is more fun and allows me to understand their reasons and opinions better.

HamHam
2010-08-25, 09:43 PM
No. It is not. Way to totally focus on a side topic and extrapolate that out as though it has something to do with the issue of the thread. Please lay off the attacks (and considering I've gotten an Infraction for an almost identical wording...) or I'll report the post.

My issue related to THIS topic is very much with the correlation between optimizers and munchkins. Specifically, more optimizers than non-optimizers have proven themselves to be munchkins in my experience. A LOT more. Therefore, they get treated as though they ARE munchkins until they can prove they aren't. That is all.

I find it insane that "munchkin" somehow means "wants to play a character that the DM thinks is the wrong flavor (whatever the heck that even means)".

I have only ever had one player who I would even consider describing as a "munchkin" and his characters were all terrible glass cannons that died a lot.



On character concept
Pro: I decide what type of character I want to play then build a story for it. It's not like it takes any time at all to fit in a subplot any prerequisites I need for one class or another. This way, I don't hurt the party by playing a weak or unneeded class.
Anti: I decide who I want to play then pick a class. Who cares if he/she is lacking in a certain area; that makes for a great roleplaying opportunity.

And these two types of players/characters can't coexist at the same table because...?


On Tome of Battle
Pro: It's not like it's any different from being a fighter or whatever, except...you know, useful...Besides, if you don't like the anime sorts of things, you can just disallow swordsages specifically.
Anti: Saying that the two types of combat are the same thing is like saying that boxing and karate is the same thing just because the end result is hitting someone. Some people like the flourishes and fancy moves, but I just like to hit things.

So do Stone Dragon Warblades.

Boci
2010-08-25, 09:46 PM
So do Stone Dragon Warblades.

This is pretty much it. Fighter's can be vastly different from each other based on their feat selection. I am sure you could make a warlbade and two fighter builds and have fighter A resemble the warblade more than fighter B.

Gensh
2010-08-25, 10:07 PM
And these two types of players/characters can't coexist at the same table because...?

Oh, they can. Remember how my post starts with the "nobody actually reads anyone else's posts" part. I was providing a generalized list of what both sides of the argument believed in respectively. The way I described it is just the way the those tables usually run. Personally, I pick a base class, then write the story, then pick PrCs, but do I care about how other people do it? Not unless they're just BSing their way into a prestige class, no.


So do Stone Dragon Warblades.

No, not really. That was why I used boxing as the example. You've basically got your jabs (iterative attacks) and your haymaker (power attack). Yes, there are actually other things, and most of them aren't mutually exclusive like different types of punches, but you get the point. They're not something that you can only use once every so often.

A boxer could very well fight only by using his strongest punches. It's not smart, but it's a valid strategy if he doesn't burn himself out. With ToB, you have to take an action to recover your stuff, and if I'm not mistaken (but it's been years since I read ToB so correct me if I am wrong), you also have to pick a certain selection of maneuvers ahead of time. That, to me, feels wholly wrong. I don't care if I can break a mountain with a maneuver or whatever, having to recharge it just feels wrong; melee should just hit things - I'll play a glaivelock with a silly, ineffective build instead.

That's my take on it at least. It's nothing more than my opinion, and I'm sure that it's the opinion of others in the anti group, but that's just that: it's an opinion. You can disagree with it, yes, but some of the pro group need to stop insisting that we're outright wrong.

EDIT: Fixed quotes.

Greenish
2010-08-25, 10:11 PM
A boxer could very well fight only by using his strongest punches. It's not smart, but it's a valid strategy if he doesn't burn himself out. With ToB, you have to take an action to recover your stuff, and if I'm not mistaken (but it's been years since I read ToB so correct me if I am wrong), you also have to pick a certain selection of maneuvers ahead of time. That, to me, feels wholly wrong. I don't care if I can break a mountain with a maneuver or whatever, having to recharge it just feels wrong; melee should just hit things - I'll play a glaivelock with a silly, ineffective build instead.ToB classes can "just hit things" - indeed, that's how warblade recovers it's maneuvers.

The explanation often used is that you need to prepare and get to the right position before you can use the same strike again.

But meh, sliding into ToB again. It seems to be contagious.

Yukitsu
2010-08-25, 10:13 PM
if I'm not mistaken...

In general principle, you are. The only one that is an explicitly martial fighty type that has to recharge is the warblade, and he recharges by hitting people. Which easily represents mixing a good combination of complex or risky techniques and distracting jabs. The other explicitly fighty type is the crusader, who doesn't have to recharge at all. The one you're complaining about is the wierd ninja class that everyone thinks represents ToB, the swordsage, which is pretty much a rogue type, not a fighter type.

Gensh
2010-08-25, 10:20 PM
ToB classes can "just hit things" - indeed, that's how warblade recovers it's maneuvers.

The explanation often used is that you need to prepare and get to the right position before you can use the same strike again.

But meh, sliding into ToB again. It seems to be contagious.

Well, sure, a warblade can just hit things, but then he's just a fighter without feats...blah blah blah. Combination of [did not do the research] (actually, I read it when it was first released) and general dislike of how the maneuvers too closely resemble spells on my part. I knew that swordsages actually have to sit around to recharge their fire blasts and whatnot, but the others I was unsure about (though I could have sworn that the crusader had to spend a standard action to pray or something).

But yeah, Godwin's Law, bro, Godwin's Law. Back to the main discussion!

Greenish
2010-08-25, 10:24 PM
Well, sure, a warblade can just hit things, but then he's just a fighter without feats...blah blah blah.He's a fighter with actual class features, even beyond the maneuvers. He gets less bonus feats from a smaller list, yes, but he has maneuvers.

Crusaders regain their maneuvers automatically, no actions required.

And really, you should look beyond swordsage and desert wind. :smallamused:

[Edit]: Argh, again! If they weren't already a legion, I'd recommend you to start a ToB thread...

Cainen
2010-08-25, 10:27 PM
Well, sure, a warblade can just hit things, but then he's just a fighter without feats...

A Warblade's attack maneuvers usually ARE just hitting things.

Gensh
2010-08-25, 10:37 PM
He's a fighter with actual class features, even beyond the maneuvers. He gets less bonus feats from a smaller list, yes, but he has maneuvers.

Crusaders regain their maneuvers automatically, no actions required.

And really, you should look beyond swordsage and desert wind. :smallamused:

[Edit]: Argh, again! If they weren't already a legion, I'd recommend you to start a ToB thread...

No, no, I had already removed swordsages from the equation, but I did not know (or remember, rather) that warblade had actual class features beyond the usual icing-on-the-cake-that's-actually-paper like damage reduction.


A Warblade's attack maneuvers usually ARE just hitting things.

That's why I used boxing vs. karate. "Are you hitting things, or are you striking them?" is the question of importance. Superman vs. the Martian Manhunter. Not a difference that many people appreciate, but some of us prefer regular marshmallows to Peeps.

We are done with ToB. If you really want to keep chatting with me about how bad I am at remembering it, let's go to PMs.

Yukitsu
2010-08-25, 10:41 PM
Uh, what. I've never heard of any differentiation between hitting and striking. I take karate, do I hit or strike? :smallconfused:

Gensh
2010-08-25, 10:48 PM
Uh, what. I've never heard of any differentiation between hitting and striking. I take karate, do I hit or strike? :smallconfused:

Well, so much for ending that discussion...:smallbiggrin:

What I was saying was a combination of the fact that boxers aren't really being precise with their hits while most martial artists are and also that boxing uses the brawl skill in Gurps. So if your punches aren't just glorified flailing solely for the purpose of smashing things because it's testosterone-tastic, then you're striking (using the karate skill and possibly making targeted attacks).

Boci
2010-08-25, 10:50 PM
Well, so much for ending that discussion...:smallbiggrin:

What I was saying was a combination of the fact that boxers aren't really being precise with their hits while most martial artists are and also that boxing uses the brawl skill in Gurps. So if your punches aren't just glorified flailing solely for the purpose of smashing things because it's testosterone-tastic, then you're striking (using the karate skill and possibly making targeted attacks).

But thats fluff, not mechanics. If you're going to derail, you may as well derail with style.

Yukitsu
2010-08-25, 10:57 PM
Unfortunately, real fights aren't anything like that. Both boxers and karate guys need to have accuracy to be taken seriously. They just often aim at different points, and in different ways, but ultimately, accuracy and precision is important in both boxing and Eastern martial arts.

Fantasy martial arts of both kinds can have that wierd hitting pressure points pintpoint precision crap, or cutting a perfect z into a guy's shirt while duelling without hurting him, but people aren't good enough to do that in real life. Doesn't mean a Western duellist is any less precise than an Eastern one. The Fechtbuch is a good example of a western martial art style as compared to say Kenjutsu, an Eastern equivalent. Neither advocates just hitting something wherever. Or to put it into unarmed style thought, Pankration and Judo.

Gensh
2010-08-25, 11:00 PM
But thats fluff, not mechanics. If you're going to derail, you may as well derail with style.

Train keeps a-rollin' all night long...

It's not fluff, though. There are tangible benefits associated with the way one attacks a target. They're not as pronounced in DnD as in other systems, but the fact remains that one guy just hits something while the other does some sort of probably-more-practical attack and gains added benefits as a result. Something small like power attack is fine because it could be included within those small bounds of actual realism, but in my opinion, I'll say it again, one attack generating markedly different effects than another goes beyond certain boundaries of what I believe that meleers should do. I'm not saying melee shouldn't have nice things; I'm saying that melee shouldn't have spells but should have a set of always-on buffs, with a capstone of a personal, selective antimagic field or something and the ability to punch back fireballs in the middle.

Boci
2010-08-25, 11:03 PM
Train keeps a-rollin' all night long...

It's not fluff, though. There are tangible benefits associated with the way one attacks a target.

But you can flavour crushing vice strike as a brute force smash that stuns the target, or a precise strike against a more vulnerable part of the skeletal system. Same with power attack. It could be more power, less accuracy, or a more precise strike that is easier to dodge, bot does more damage if you have the required strength to push your weapon deep enough to nit an artery.

Gensh
2010-08-25, 11:21 PM
Unfortunately, real fights aren't anything like that. Both boxers and karate guys need to have accuracy to be taken seriously. They just often aim at different points, and in different ways, but ultimately, accuracy and precision is important in both boxing and Eastern martial arts.

Fantasy martial arts of both kinds can have that wierd hitting pressure points pintpoint precision crap, or cutting a perfect z into a guy's shirt while duelling without hurting him, but people aren't good enough to do that in real life.

Actually, with boxing, most of what people know is just Hollywood magic and doesn't really happen. Your targets are more like: front, side-front, maybe side. Regardless, the point of the example was to compare fighting styles with and without defined techniques.


But you can flavour crushing vice strike as a brute force smash that stuns the target, or a precise strike against a more vulnerable part of the skeletal system. Same with power attack. It could be more power, less accuracy, or a more precise strike that is easier to dodge, bot does more damage if you have the required strength to push your weapon deep enough to nit an artery.

I know what you guys are saying. What I'm saying is that I don't like having delineations between attacks. If it has a name, then it's your finisher, which is 1/day, and there's nothing like that in DnD3 as far as I know. And it's not like I'm an old guy talking about how things were back in the good old days; I'm 18 and have only been in RPGs for like 2 years. Anyway, I've got to go, and the thread is way off track. If you really still want to continue, PM me, and I'll check it tomorrow.

Cainen
2010-08-25, 11:26 PM
It's not fluff, though. There are tangible benefits associated with the way one attacks a target.

Sure, the mechanics are different, but they're accomplishing the same goal with similar fluff and end results. It's really not ToB's fault that 3.x melee was so limited out of the gate.

A full attack isn't necessarily X amount of swings, either.


Something small like power attack is fine because it could be included within those small bounds of actual realism

What small bounds of actual realism? 3.X's melee is notoriously unrealistic, default or not.


I'm not saying melee shouldn't have nice things; I'm saying that melee shouldn't have spells but should have a set of always-on buffs, with a capstone of a personal, selective antimagic field or something and the ability to punch back fireballs in the middle.

That's not realistic, either. Very, very few fighters that I know of can indefinitely stay at their peak of ability during a fight.

And again, ToB maneuvers don't equate to spells. The two classes that do have explicitly magical abilities are effectively the Paladin and an Arcane Trickster - both of which have GOOD reasons to be able to do what they do.

Yukitsu
2010-08-25, 11:29 PM
Actually, with boxing, most of what people know is just Hollywood magic and doesn't really happen. Your targets are more like: front, side-front, maybe side. Regardless, the point of the example was to compare fighting styles with and without defined techniques.


We got the same targets in karate dude. Our punches aren't laser guided, we don't aim right at the bridge of your nose at a precisely 50 degree angle from the hip. You got a shot to the head, great, ribs, great, stomach, meh. And a few other places if it's a real fight and not in the ring.

That aside, no self respecting European, Asian, Middle Easter, whatever swordsman is going to go into a fight without using defined techniques. What do you think the fechtbuchs were for? The only people who ran in doing nothing but swinging their axes (swords were for trained, rich people, not common unwashed masses) were walking chunks of meat.

kyoryu
2010-08-25, 11:32 PM
Honestly, I still remember picking up the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Players Handbook and reading that no character was unplayable. Whatever happened to that mentality in gamers?

3.x happened, frankly. It set the power disparity between optimal, baseline, and gimped to far greater degrees than it had been previously.

I think it might even be worse than GURPS in that regard, but not as bad as Champions.

Yes, you could cheese or gimp yourself in previous editions, but the mid-range was a lot more balanced, and what you could do without blatantly cheesing was a lot less - unless you used Unearthed Arcana, that is.

Edit: Another thing that seems to have happened is M:tG. A lot of "optimization" seems to be people building characters the way M:tG players build decks.

Jyokage
2010-08-25, 11:36 PM
Optimization is a tricky word, as the previous pages can attest to. Many times people have issues with character concepts that seem to involve mulitclassing Tourettes. But sometimes this needs to be put into perspective.
I always play fist fighters in DnD 3.5. Optimization for me is making my fist fighting character relevant at any level beyond 5th. Now if my goal is, "Have a fist fighting pc who doesn't rely on psionics or inherent magical ability." Then I'm going to have get really creative. I'm going to ask the dm to thow multiclassing penalties out the window. I'm going to be looking up every alternative feature and obscure ability I can come up with; simply because what I want for my character concept isn't easily supported by the system. So if I have to crack my head and make brain omelettes to do it, I'm going to. :smalltongue:

Curmudgeon
2010-08-26, 12:00 AM
To me it means using the best legal rules combinations to make the most effective character.

Of course, to make things interesting I mostly stick to classes in Tier 4 and 5 before I start optimizing. What's the point if there's no challenge?

dsmiles
2010-08-26, 04:39 AM
3.x happened, frankly. It set the power disparity between optimal, baseline, and gimped to far greater degrees than it had been previously.
I've noticed. And it's one of the reasons I dislike 3.x and like 4e, where a sword & board fighter is just as useful as a wizard. 3d6, in order! w00t!

I think it might even be worse than GURPS in that regard, but not as bad as Champions.
Ssshhhhhh...thou shalt not mention that which shalt not be mentioned. Champions was (is?) way broken. Unless you were playing in the Tickverse, where everybody and their brother is a superhero.

Yes, you could cheese or gimp yourself in previous editions, but the mid-range was a lot more balanced, and what you could do without blatantly cheesing was a lot less - unless you used Unearthed Arcana, that is.
Nothing wrong with the 1e UA. Without it, we would have no Barbarian, and most of us old-timers wouldn't know what a Glaive-Guisarme was (unless you're a member of the SCA).http://retromud.org/images/weapons/polearms.gif
If they weren't labeled, could you pick out the Glaive-Guisarme?

Edit: Another thing that seems to have happened is M:tG. A lot of "optimization" seems to be people building characters the way M:tG players build decks.
Hmm...I don't know about that one. I built a whole crapton of 'themed' M:tG decks that kicked much butt (family friendly words, gotta love 'em). However, building a 'themed' character (you know, picking feats that are 'just powerful' within the theme, instead of the ones that provide phenomenal cosmic power that don't fit the theme) leads many people to say, "You're playing an ineffective character! You must optimize!"

potatocubed
2010-08-26, 06:17 AM
3.x happened, frankly. It set the power disparity between optimal, baseline, and gimped to far greater degrees than it had been previously.

I think this is a key element of the problem with 3.x and optimisation - not all characters need to equally effective, but when the gulf between 'optimised a bit' and 'pick feats based on the names' is so huge, unrest is always going to result.

Greenish
2010-08-26, 07:35 AM
Hmm...I don't know about that one. I built a whole crapton of 'themed' M:tG decks that kicked much butt (family friendly words, gotta love 'em). However, building a 'themed' character (you know, picking feats that are 'just powerful' within the theme, instead of the ones that provide phenomenal cosmic power that don't fit the theme) leads many strawmen to say, "You're playing an ineffective character! You must optimize!"Fixed that for you. :smallamused:

WarKitty
2010-08-26, 08:46 AM
To me it means using the best legal rules combinations to make the most effective character.

Of course, to make things interesting I mostly stick to classes in Tier 4 and 5 before I start optimizing. What's the point if there's no challenge?

Definitely this. Optimizing a Tier 4 or 5 class is great fun. I've actually taken the strategy of encouraging my optimizers to play lower-tier classes and my non-optimizers to play high-tier. Currently my fairly heavily optimized TWF fighter and my non-optimized sorcerer have about the same power level. It works out fairly well.

Edit: This (http://www.giantitp.com/articles/tll307KmEm4H9k6efFP.html) is why I get nervous when someone says "I don't optimize." (Second half - in my experience the "I don't optimize" is often attached to only one way of doing their character no matter how well it fits in the party.)

Tyndmyr
2010-08-26, 09:03 AM
Something small like power attack is fine because it could be included within those small bounds of actual realism, but in my opinion, I'll say it again, one attack generating markedly different effects than another goes beyond certain boundaries of what I believe that meleers should do.

:smallconfused: You need to go look at the manuver progressions. Most of them are extremely mundane in nature, with the exception of a few desert wind ones, which isn't known by warblade/crusader by default anyhow. Things like stunning, tripping, extra damage, minor buffs/debuffs. Fluffwise, you can find melee equivalents all over different books if you trawl hard enough.


I'm not saying melee shouldn't have nice things; I'm saying that melee shouldn't have spells but should have a set of always-on buffs, with a capstone of a personal, selective antimagic field or something and the ability to punch back fireballs in the middle.

Always on buffs? Like...stances? From Tome of Battle? Good idea.

Personal selective antimagic field filled with fireballs? You want melee to have this, but think that ToB is too similar to spells. Er...what kind of things do you think are in ToB anyway?

Jayabalard
2010-08-26, 09:05 AM
Fixed that for you. :smallamused:Not really; you can't really call that a strawman when counter examples appear so regularly in this forum.

Jolly
2010-08-26, 10:31 AM
Wow, I had no idea this was such a contentious area...

I've seen bad things both ways, personally. Nerd-boys who have every book ever published and spend several hours a day, seven days a week dreaming up the most powerful and obscure combinations they can think of (my friend who did this was actually a great roleplayer as well, he just liked the cheese).

People who think even having a conflict resolution system is constraining their artistic license, and who roll dice begrudgingly and with a proud lack of understanding of the mechanics.

I think both camps fall into the trap (especially common in MMORPG's as well in my experience) of drawing an ego boost from their chars. Some people optimize or drama queen role play because they associate their character with themselves, and thus overcompensate for their lack of self worth by being either uber-powerful or extra "sensitive and artistic." Kinda pathetic either way.

Some people (generally girls who get dragged into it by their boyfriends/husbands, in my experience) have no interest in even attempting to learn how skill checks work, let alone what their class abilities are.

Sometimes these last folks just need help learning. When we were teens my wife (girlfriend at the time) and I played our first ever game of DnD. She was a choir nerd so she wanted to play a bard. Only no one really explained what her abilities were, we didn't have a PHB and only looked at it when at the house of the friend who was DM'ing. I don't think she cast a spell the entire campaign, and as a consequence felt very frustrated and useless.

WarKitty
2010-08-26, 10:33 AM
Some people (generally girls who get dragged into it by their boyfriends/husbands, in my experience) have no interest in even attempting to learn how skill checks work, let alone what their class abilities are.

Ironically, my worst player got dragged into it by his girlfriend. Must be a nice day for gender equality all around? :smallbiggrin:

dsmiles
2010-08-26, 10:39 AM
Wow, I had no idea this was such a contentious area...

I've seen bad things both ways, personally. Nerd-boys who have every book ever published and spend several hours a day, seven days a week dreaming up the most powerful and obscure combinations they can think of (my friend who did this was actually a great roleplayer as well, he just liked the cheese).

People who think even having a conflict resolution system is constraining their artistic license, and who roll dice begrudgingly and with a proud lack of understanding of the mechanics.

I think both camps fall into the trap (especially common in MMORPG's as well in my experience) of drawing an ego boost from their chars. Some people optimize or drama queen role play because they associate their character with themselves, and thus overcompensate for their lack of self worth by being either uber-powerful or extra "sensitive and artistic." Kinda pathetic either way.

Some people (generally girls who get dragged into it by their boyfriends/husbands, in my experience) have no interest in even attempting to learn how skill checks work, let alone what their class abilities are.

Sometimes these last folks just need help learning. When we were teens my wife (girlfriend at the time) and I played our first ever game of DnD. She was a choir nerd so she wanted to play a bard. Only no one really explained what her abilities were, we didn't have a PHB and only looked at it when at the house of the friend who was DM'ing. I don't think she cast a spell the entire campaign, and as a consequence felt very frustrated and useless.

Two questions:

1. What kind of cheese did your friend like? I prefer Cracker Barrel's "New York Extra-Sharp White Cheddar," myself.

2. "sensitive and artistic" or "SENsitive and arTIStic"?

:smallbiggrin:

The Big Dice
2010-08-26, 11:15 AM
DnD wizards can do all sorts ridiculous stuff that have nothing to do with killing if they want to.

But unnecessary subtlety is something that should be on the evil overlord list as a DO NOT DO. No point messing around with manipulation and such when you can just make people do what you want. Or make reality do what you want for that matter.
If you can't do your thing without using magic, you shouldn't be doing it. Especially if you're into the whole ruling the world thing. If you have to use magic to enforce your will, you're nothing but a bully.

And worse, you're cluing people in on exactly what you can do. Which means, just like O-Chul, one save at a time, you're giving people the information they need to take you down.

S'all right. Since I've inadvertently taken over from The Big Dice on the whole "spitting into the wind" thing, I'll just go back to lurking so that the argument will die down. "The nail that sticks up, something, something" applies even here, after all.
I went to bed and the thread grew by like, several pages. I think this might be my closing comments on the topic at hand, as it's one that brings out heated opinions in people.

But as I mentioned in an earlier post, if I've got one person to stop for a second and look at different possibilities and alternative ideas, even if those thoughts get dropped in a heartbeat, I'll feel like it was worth the effort.

And the thread growing a few pages did give me a chance to see opinions formed and expressed. And as far as I can tell, there seems to be three sides to the debate.

On the one hand, there's a camp that thinks optimisation is ok, as long as it's appropriate to the character at the time. I think I'm in this camp. Make a character that's good at what he's meant to do, but not a the expense of the character's role in the campaign. In fact, I'd say most gamers are in this camp.

On the other hand, there's a camp that doesn't like optimisation at all. No way, no how. Optimisers are munchkins, powergamers, rules lawyers and generally conform to all those negative stereotypes gaming magazines used to talk about in the 80s and 90s. You know, before they were just glossy advertisements for a specific company.

And on the gripping hand, you have the other group. The ones that say things like "If you refluff the mechanic that you didn't want in your game, it's now compatible with your campaign. Even though you used your right as a GM to say no to a certain group of mechanics. And by saying no to me, you're obviously a bad GM."

Now I appreciate that these are fairly broad generalisations. But then, I'm not writing a dissertation on the merits and flaws of optimised character design in a rules heavy game system. I probably could, but there would be no point, since I left college almost 20 years ago.

That might even make me a Beardy. I don't know. And I'm not sure I'm too worried about that.

What I will say to finish is, I've seen where too much of the wrong kind of optimisation leads. It seems like absolute freedom and power at first. But really it's a trip to characters all being the same and to a boring game experience. The more you optimise, the narrower your set of choices are. Until you reach the point where the last three characters of a given type that you played are almost indistinguishable.

I've seen it in GURPS, in Cyberpunk, in D&D, in L5R and in quite a few other games. People hit on combinations that work, and either repeat them over and over or other people copy them.

Usually when that happens, it's time for a new game system. One where people don't know the exploits yet.