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Roethke
2007-04-21, 04:44 PM
But if you can be a gourmet cook and not put ranks in craft: gourmet food, why can't you be a monk that doesn't actually have the improved unarmed strike feat?

BWL suggests playing an 8 dex character as 'graceful.' He says other than roleplaying, what's the difference between ranks in a skill and not having any? Clearly, this only pertains to combat skills, as optimizers neglect 'roleplay' stats.

I'm saying take it a step farther. Don't even just neglect roleplay stats, neglect non-casters, then roleplay them like they're not casters. It's not a wizard studying a spell book- it's a monk studying his training tome to hone the maneuvers in his mine for the day. Then he conjurs forth things form his fists with a lot of 'hiayahs' and kicking. Like fireballs. Or grapple with black tentacles. Fluff wise, those tentacles could be anything.

See, no reason to play any classes but CoDzilla and the wizard, as you can roleplay everything else. That is, if you really wanted to optimize, and still pretend to be a martial character.

Gah, I think we've been over this before, maybe in this thread, but certainly in another one.

There's a misunderstanding as what's meant by 'optimize'

1) try to do the most damage possible/defeat anything thrown at you
2) do 1) (or choose a different target, like being the suavest guy in town), subject to self-imposed constraints.

In scenario 1), then you're right, there's no crunch reason not to play a wizard. But very, very few folks do this.

To be a bit presumptuous, most optimizers here mean 2). The self-imposed constraint in D&D is your character concept (fluff), which informs the selection of character class (crunch), stat assignment, feat selection, etc.

For a lot of folks, the wizard-as-monk mechanics doesn't fit their vision of their character. But maybe the cleric-as-monk does. Or the Swordsage-as-monk. Or maybe only the good old monk-as-monk does.

But, as Vyker pointed out, he has a nice geometer-as-monk planned out.

The idea is that fluff leads crunch, and you only need enough crunch to support your fluff, even spanning classes as you mentioned. You optimize to the concept. Sometimes the concept overlaps enough where one class is obviously superior, e.g. Unarmed Swordsage and Monk evidently are implementations of similar fluff.
---

As for the 8-DEX/graceful piece, that's a slightly different argument. The main point here, is that D&D isn't a simulation, and the crunch exists only to resolve non-RP situations, or to guide how they should be role-played.

So, while saying there's absolutely no connection between stats and activities is disingenuous, (e.g. If my INT is 2, I shouldn't RP being able to read), the connection can be tenuous at best. Compounding this problem, is the unequal distribution of skill points between classes, and different class skill lists.

Why should a High-INT, skill monkey rogue with a dex of 14, be a much,much better acrobat than a swashbuckling fighter, with a dex of 16? There are several mechanical/balance reasons for this, but there's no reason you can't play your fighter as Errol Flynn for fluff, but just not use the tumble skill in combat.

Vyker
2007-04-21, 05:07 PM
*shrug* Well, if that's your gig, enjoy it. It could be fun. I'm not sure I'd go that route, but if I wanted to play an anime-esque martial artist with all the bells and whistles, maybe I would. I'd certainly like to see how it pans out.

Still, while I like to think that fluff and crunch don't have to match up in all possible regards, certain concepts do become a bit strained. The figher who distrusts magic is hard to swallow when your class is... wizard. I mean, even a wizard with +5 Sword of Awesomeness, self-buffs out the wazoo, Armor of No Spell Failure, and enough scars to shame a Heidelberg duelist is still likely raise a few eyebrows.

On the other hand, you could say that he distrusts magic, but the nature of the world forces him to use it anyway, albeit with reluctance, disgust, or self-hate. Or maybe he only uses certain types of magic (though that would make more sense with a cleric-as-fighter type, since "divine" has some flavor difference from "arcane" in baseline D&D). Or maybe some magic is just so intrinsic to the world that it isn't considered as "magic" by most folks, and only "end o' the world spells" are seen as such.

...actually, that sounds like a really fun character to play.

All that said, I think Roethke has the right of it with his Type II optimizer. I'd certainly classify myself as that, and it's really not that hard to find ways to make your crunch and fluff coexist. I mean... hell, I just talked my own way into allowing a fighter who hates magic be the wizard class!

--

For fun, here's a "Dex 8 can be graceful" argument. Maybe you're graceful in calm (i.e., noncombat) situations, but the instant it all goes south... blam. You fumble, you trip, you get so nervous that it's hard to defend yourself (there's that -1 to AC!), etc., etc., etc. It doesn't have to mean that you automatically spill your drink on the cute chick next to you at the tavern, it doesn't mean that you trip over your own two feet, just that you shake a lot in combat. It's ugly and it'll raise those eyebrows, but there it is.

--

(pssst... Roethke... that monk-as-geometer was me!)

Tor the Fallen
2007-04-21, 05:14 PM
There's a misunderstanding as what's meant by 'optimize'

1) try to do the most damage possible/defeat anything thrown at you
2) do 1) (or choose a different target, like being the suavest guy in town), subject to self-imposed constraints.

In scenario 1), then you're right, there's no crunch reason not to play a wizard. But very, very few folks do this.

To be a bit presumptuous, most optimizers here mean 2). The self-imposed constraint in D&D is your character concept (fluff), which informs the selection of character class (crunch), stat assignment, feat selection, etc.

All agreed. Making a fluff idea as optimized in combat as possible. But if fluff is unrelated to what's written on the character sheed, why bother? Play the wizard, then fluff it up. Like a great big pillow.


For a lot of folks, the wizard-as-monk mechanics doesn't fit their vision of their character. But maybe the cleric-as-monk does. Or the Swordsage-as-monk. Or maybe only the good old monk-as-monk does.

I think swordsage-as-monk, and I say this without having ever laid eyes on ToB, epitomizes the problem. It's a class that is called swordsage, yet it does monk better than the monk does.

How closely are the classes linked to societal roles in D&D? As per 3.x, not much. The thief is no longer the thief, and, uh, I think they may say that somewhere in the PHB or DMG. But still, shouldn't the class mechanics be at least somewhat tied to the name of the class/notion of what the class does?

In the "are sorcerors underpowered" thread (or whatever it's title), shneeky said no, because if you take five levels of sorceror, and these levels of these 3 of prc class, they're not (which was only good for two builds, and he was misreading the rules). PrCs are highly flavorful. That's right in the rules, in the DMG (if we want to rules lawyer over fluff??). There are even knowledge checks you can make to know about specific PrCs. Yet somehow, the sorceror is still a 'sorceror' after entering three prestige classes. Imagine if their was a PrC called "Knight of the Round Table," where you had to serve at King Arthur's table. Let's say it gave some really great bonuses to definitively *not* knightlike build. Three level dip for those bonuses, justified by background fluff.

That's as bad as wizard 20 being a 'monk', or any class for that.
Hell, armor is just 'fluff'/ Your character can look like he's wearing armor if he says he is!!


But, as Counterspin pointed out, he has a nice geometer-as-monk planned out.

The idea is that fluff leads crunch, and you only need enough crunch to support your fluff, even spanning classes as you mentioned. You optimize to the concept. Sometimes the concept overlaps enough where one class is obviously superior, e.g. Unarmed Swordsage and Monk evidently are implementations of similar fluff.

I absolutely agree with this. Take the issue of non-casters at higher levels. They need help, and that's usually with a greatsword and very reckless leap. Two weapon fighting is wicked cool. By BWL reasoning (not to pick on you, BWL; don't want to incite your logic jujitsu), I could play a THF power leap attack shock trooper with 20 str, 16 con, 12 dex, and 8 int and describe him as making precise, careful slashes at his opponent with a dagger and rapier, his nimble, aenimc frame dodging and weaving, ducking under the blows of his clumsier opponent.

In truth, however, he's rapidly losing HP as he just sunk his AC with shock trooper ('course, that could be described as using up energy not getting hit).

I think we could go even farther and have him be a frenzied beserker who makes clever quips as he brutally bisects deftly pokes his foes.

I guess I'm just pissed at the rules that force me to make a non-sensical and 'munchkin' build to keep up with CoDzilla. Not that it's really either non-sensical or munchkinism with the proper backstory, and I'm really only trying to squeeze a viable build out of being a noncaster.



As for the 8-DEX/graceful piece, that's a slightly different argument. The main point here, is that D&D isn't a simulation, and the crunch exists only to resolve non-RP situations, or to guide how they should be role-played.

So, while saying there's absolutely no connection between stats and activities is disingenuous, (e.g. If my INT is 2, I shouldn't RP being able to read), the connection can be tenuous at best. Compounding this problem, is the unequal distribution of skill points between classes, and different class skill lists.

Why should a High-INT, skill monkey rogue with a dex of 14, be a much,much better acrobat than a swashbuckling fighter, with a dex of 16? There are several mechanical/balance reasons for this, but there's no reason you can't play your fighter as Errol Flynn for fluff, but just not use the tumble skill in combat.

Yeah. Rules. Pfffff....
I've done some thinking about this, and abilitie scores *can* be quite different than skills. I know venerable experts with slightly above average strength and constitution scores with enough ranks in survival that they could keep up with a 25 year old navy seal with biceps the size of your chest. The navy seal may have across the board better stats, but since his skill points and feats went into vastly different feats and skills, well, there you go.

Tor the Fallen
2007-04-21, 05:16 PM
You know what the whole deal is?
Nomenclature.
This is one giant semantical argument. No wonder it's so ugly and raises all these passions.

8 dex is what?
What's the 8 mean? What *is* dexterity?
Etc, etc etc.

Vyker
2007-04-21, 05:18 PM
Yup!

But ain't it fun, anyhow?

Roethke
2007-04-21, 05:24 PM
You know what the whole deal is?
Nomenclature.
This is one giant semantical argument. No wonder it's so ugly and raises all these passions.

8 dex is what?
What's the 8 mean? What *is* dexterity?
Etc, etc etc.

Agreed. But then again, the way that individuals answer those questions tells you a lot about their playstyle.

Ulzgoroth
2007-04-21, 05:31 PM
I think swordsage-as-monk, and I say this without having ever laid eyes on ToB, epitomizes the problem. It's a class that is called swordsage, yet it does monk better than the monk does.

I agree with some of what you're reaching for, but this is just misinformation. It's called the swordsage, but there's nothing particularly sword-concentrated about it. The name may be slightly deceptive, but then you can play a LN rogue without a bit of 'roguishness' about him.

Saph
2007-04-21, 05:36 PM
BWL suggests playing an 8 dex character as 'graceful.' He says other than roleplaying, what's the difference between ranks in a skill and not having any? Clearly, this only pertains to combat skills, as optimizers neglect 'roleplay' stats.

I'm saying take it a step farther. Don't even just neglect roleplay stats, neglect non-casters, then roleplay them like they're not casters. It's not a wizard studying a spell book- it's a monk studying his training tome to hone the maneuvers in his mine for the day. Then he conjurs forth things form his fists with a lot of 'hiayahs' and kicking. Like fireballs. Or grapple with black tentacles. Fluff wise, those tentacles could be anything.

See, no reason to play any classes but CoDzilla and the wizard, as you can roleplay everything else. That is, if you really wanted to optimize, and still pretend to be a martial character.

Come to think of it, I suppose this really is what you end up with when you divorce mechanics from fluff. There becomes no reason to play anything other than the most powerful classes, since you can duplicate nearly any ability with your spells and call it what you want in fluff terms.

- Saph

Tor the Fallen
2007-04-21, 05:38 PM
I agree with some of what you're reaching for, but this is just misinformation. It's called the swordsage, but there's nothing particularly sword-concentrated about it. The name may be slightly deceptive, but then you can play a LN rogue without a bit of 'roguishness' about him.

I know it's not *only* sword concentrated; that's probably why it can out perform the monk when it does monk-type stuff :smallwink:.

The issue here is how fluff and mechanics can be entirely seperate, deceptively so. Like the LN rogue.

It's a semantics issue.

DSCrankshaw
2007-04-21, 06:24 PM
Am I allowed to find both sides of this argument equally annoying? While there's something overbearing about those who insist some prestige class is wrong because it makes your character so powerful, there's something unsettling about those who take a level or two in six prestige classes because each one offers some powerful new ability plus six skill points, full BAB, and full spellcasting progression.

Me, I'm somewhere in the middle. I'm playing a character right now who's a Dwarf Knight. This doesn't look like an optimal choice. The Dwarven penalty on charisma really hurts, and those Armor Mastery feats aren't going to do me much good. However, I chose the class largely because it fit my character. And I mean character, not character concept. I was playing a Dwarf Fighter who was already acting like a Knight before I even discovered the class. My DM allowed me to rebuild him largely because the class fit so well. But I'm also powergaming. See, I was also planning to take Dwarven Defender at 8th level. While I could do the standard Fighter build and get a bunch of extra feats, all those knight special abilities mesh really well with the Defender: Test of Mettle to call the enemy to you, Defensive Stance to withstand the storm. While he may be slightly subpar as a Knight, he'll be a force to be reckoned with as a Defender. I'm just worried about the low DC of his Test of Mettle at those levels, and looking for ways to improve it.

Counterspin
2007-04-21, 07:00 PM
Tor - A swordsage can outperform a monk at monk stuff because it was written to replace the monk with something more powerful. That's the point. It's not some bizarre mistake. That's the point of the class.

Saph - So you have a variety of fluff to keep things interesting, and a balanced playing field. Sounds good to me.

Saph
2007-04-21, 07:06 PM
Saph - So you have a variety of fluff to keep things interesting, and a balanced playing field. Sounds good to me.

Sounds unbelievably stupid to me.

But eh, whatever works for you. I'm just glad no-one in my group thinks this way.

- Saph

Indon
2007-04-21, 11:07 PM
Saph - So you have a variety of fluff to keep things interesting, and a balanced playing field. Sounds good to me.

I do believe I've already stated this opinion, but I feel there's a point where fluff stops being a description and starts being an excuse.

I think description should be descriptive. Divorcing 'crunch' and 'fluff' makes description undescriptive (instead making it explanatory), and the farther you divorce it the worse it gets. To a limited extent, it may be neccessary for some concepts and sometimes it may even be interesting, like eating a tuna and peanut butter sandwich.

But I wouldn't eat tuna and peanut butter sandwiches every day, and I similarly feel that fluff-crunch separation is a methodology of gameplay which damages the immersion and thus story-enjoyment of many, if not most, D&D players.

Nothing against peanut butter and tuna sandwiches, mind you. They're delicious, albeit moisture-siphoning in your mouth.

Vyker
2007-04-21, 11:21 PM
I'd like to solve the "Is the baker useful" question once and for all:

Gobins hate pies. (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0091.html)

Bears With Lasers
2007-04-21, 11:29 PM
You know what the whole deal is?
Nomenclature.
This is one giant semantical argument. No wonder it's so ugly and raises all these passions.

8 dex is what?
What's the 8 mean? What *is* dexterity?
Etc, etc etc.

Exactly. "Dexterity" is meant to simulate something, but does it poorly. When you get right down to it, Dexterity is just a statistic that you apply to various dice rolls and such. As long as you keep the mecahnical benefits and consequences, things are "fair", whether you play your 8-Dex character as clumsy and tripping over things, or graceful and elegant. You won't be winning initiative, you'll be easier to hit, et cetera.

Now, because various things in D&D are meant to simulate something, it can take work to attach a different fluff than certain crunch was meant to simulate. Sometimes it can take a lot of work.

But really, when you get right down to it, you could roll a battle between the PCs and a group of orcs, finish, figure out the mechanical result (i.e. all the orcs are dead), and then describe it happening however you want. The wizard's sheet will still be down a Glitterdust, a Color Spray, and a Grease, even if the wizard describes summoning a demon from beyond the world and controlling it, then sending it forth to spew pure nothingness at the orcs. The figher can describe wading in and just chopping orc after orc down, or he can decide that he rushed in, sword whirling, performing various fancy moves, or that he had a one-on-one duel with the Boss Orc while his friends kept the rest of'em back. The end result is that you've lost HP/spells/etc. and the orcs are all dead. Sure, you could describe this like the things the combat die rolls were emulating happened--the fighter swung at that orc three times, at this one twice; the rogue got hit, the cleric cured him, they flanked a big orc and the sneak attack took him down, the wizard cast those three specific spells to disable most of the orcs...

...or you could describe them however you want. Rendered stealthy and silent by the wizard's and cleric's magics, the fighter, with the rogue creeping beside him, walked in while the orcs were sleeping and soundlessly killed them all. Then he surfed an air-shark over a mountain while wailing on a laser guitar. Whatever.
Just mark off those spells and HPs, and mechanically, you're fine. Flavor-wise, your gaming buddies might not appreciate the whole laser guitar thing.

In fact, some games use mechanics entirely based on conflict resolution rather than task resolution. In Wushu, for example, you get to describe doing whatever the hell you want (within genre conventions and assuming it's not vetoed, which is an important qualifier) so long as you don't describe winning until the dice back it up. You want to flip through the air and hit the bad guy with your Glorious Scything Wind kick, go for it. You want to describe yourself as taking a blow and not even flinching, or slipping smoothly aside and elbowing the guy in the head, or casually deflecting a blow with a flick of your fingers and some magic, go for it, as long as it fits the genre and no one vetoes it.
Your character does whatever you say it is--the dice are about who wins the conflict, not about whether or not you manage to land each individual blow and how much damage it does (which will then eventually take someone out of the conflict).
You can do the same thing with a task-resolution system, effectively turning it into a conflict-resolution system. It just takes a lot more work.

Dausuul
2007-04-22, 12:31 AM
You can do the same thing with a task-resolution system, effectively turning it into a conflict-resolution system. It just takes a lot more work.

That's the problem for me. It takes a whole lot more work, and what you end up with is a crappy-ass conflict-resolution system with heaping piles of mechanics that, having lost their intended purpose of simulating task resolution, are now just slowing down the game. Why not just play a conflict-resolution system instead if that's the way you want to go? Task-resolution systems are better used for task-resolution play.

Bears With Lasers
2007-04-22, 12:42 AM
Because the game you're playing is a task-resolution system, and it's not always that much work? Because task-resolution systems are often crunch-heavy, making them essentailly a game of the their own (and a game in the more traditional sense), which is also fun? Wushu's nice and all, but you don't really get the gaming out of it that you do out of a crunch-heavy system like Exalted or D&D--and that's something that's actually fun for a lot of people, even ones who enjoy high-concept roleplaying more.

Counterspin
2007-04-22, 12:44 AM
Saph - Well, based on the fact that you think you can judge me based on a single opinion, and the fact you feel the need to be needlessly insulting, I can guarantee the animosity is now mutual. If you're going to go on to say you're glad you don't have to deal with people like me, don't try to stick some BS statement like "whatever works for you" in front of it.

Additionally, the viewpoint I'm suggesting is the basis for, I don't know, every single game that doesn't utilize classes. So yeah, I'm not really alone.

Leush
2007-04-22, 04:34 AM
"Oh the horror! The horror!"

This idea of completely divorcing fluff from crunch is quite scary... There's a reason that d&d isn't completely crunch-fluff divorced: Because when it gets to that stage people's heads start exploding- I think that's the most concise reason I can have.

For mindless rambling onthe subject, please press one:

Well, I suppose that fluff can be divorced from crunch to get a wonderful abstract system (whose description sounds to me like something you'd see when you had too many mushrooms), but then you get into the domain: I have a set of rules of what to roll for what situation and this is the meaning they have, and you take that meaning away and end up with a lot of dice rolls that don't reflect anything. At that point you're basically playing a *freeform* game instead of deciding who wins by saying "I win", you roll a dice- you have no idea what the dice roll means, only that the bigger the number the better. You could even have perfect balance by vetoing anything that's unbalanced. JOr just roll a d6+level to resolve a combat...

However, as much as I consider freeform 'the holy grail' of roleplaying to strive for, A strict adherence of fluff to crunch (or a semi-strict adherence) where each roll of the dice does what it says it does has a certain charm for me. Yeah I could say that the wizard is a monk who's black tentacle spell consists of him running around the x foot area and doing a funky grapple- or that a finger of death is just that, but unless I was doing that for a one off to mess with peoples' minds...

Hmm... What is my point? Ah that's it! You're suggesting moving the fluff around randomly because any fluff can be used to describe any crunch! That's quite true. But to me, that would be very very boring. Classes exist for the sake of having some mechanical variation. If you have a wizard who calls himself a wizard and a wizard who calls himself a fighter and a wizard who calls himself a rogue and a wizard who calls himself a monk, and they all do these freeky different things -one hits with a sword for 10d6 damage to an area, the other hits with his flurry of blows for 10d6 area damage, another backstabs twenty creatures simultaneously for 10d6 damage, and one uses a fireball for the same effect, it begins to make no sense. Now you can say that the rogue does some freeked up backflips to do that and the fighter spins his sword like a helicopter, etcetera, or you could even assign sensible fluff to it, but it just makes no sense!! Why not just roll an opposing level check to determine who kills who???

Wehrkind
2007-04-22, 04:43 AM
Well, that's exactly the point Leush. Each class IS just a list of class features, with an over arching concept tying them together to a greater or lesser extent. (Exceptions exist, like paladin, whose fluff dictates mechanics.) But when you get right down to it, each character has a list of "actions" they perform in sequence, and those actions produce specific effects.
Many are pretty straight forward and described so we can easily imagine what is happening. But the effect is the key, usually not the description. Ask someone what a Force Cage actually LOOKS like, and you will likely get some odd answers. Prison bars, chicken wire, a screen, and others, all with different colors, opacity etc. One would not allow a mage to create a spell "Protection from Orange" and then run around saying all orange things were unable to harm him, even though many things have that descriptor. In the real world, lots of legends work that way, but it doesn't work mechanically in a game.

Saph
2007-04-22, 05:29 AM
Saph - Well, based on the fact that you think you can judge me based on a single opinion, and the fact you feel the need to be needlessly insulting, I can guarantee the animosity is now mutual.

Actually, I said that I thought the concept was stupid.

Your animosity's one-way, I'm afraid. I don't have any similar feelings towards you.

- Saph

Rasumichin
2007-04-22, 05:44 AM
I'd like to solve the "Is the baker useful" question once and for all:

Gobins hate pies. (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0091.html)

Hobgoblins too. (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0416.html)


As far as the divorce of fluff and crunch is concerned, i admit that a close connection of the two greatly helps to increase immersion and make your character more...i don't know, tangible.
More solid, somehow.
A lot of people find it much easier to relate to a character that is fluff-wise clearly defined by the rules.

But we should keep in mind that D&D, as a class-based system, actually may work better with a rather loose connection between fluff and crunch, since fluff-wise clearly defined character classes inevitably lead to a very finite selection of possible characters.
I'd defininetely argue that a rogue that can as well be a pickpocket or cat burglar as a LN ambassador, a thug, or just an adventurer with nimble fingers, works much better than a rogue that's always a thief.

That's a bit OT, isn't it?

Kioran
2007-04-22, 06:44 AM
Now the argument has gotten quite heated, and I think iīm picking the losing side/minority here, but I think some part of massive optimizing actually hurts the roleplaying experience.

I can relate to what Bears previously mentioned - that you can, as long as it fits the mechanics, describe the events in any way you like, and I even acknowledge it was meant in a hypothetical way. Yes, you can do this, and it isnīt even breaking any rules as BWL has explicitly stated You have to keep the mechanical side of it correct.
I also acknowledge that almost everyone here takes a more extreme and aggressive stance than he/she does in real life, for the sake of defending his sides argument(this holds true especially for the min/max-fraction).

I donīt want to blame those who divorce fluff from crunch for bad RP, Iīll just state my reasons why this is not my style, and also why I wouldnīt want you in my campaign if I were DM. That wish is mostly based on your Charsheets/crunch, but also a bit on the attitude of the player behind it. Iīll elaborate.

The thing is, the more splatbooks(ToB anyone?) or loopholes(polymorph?) you use, the more powerful your character can be if you apply these mechanics correctly. Just ask BWL or Emperor Tippy, I bet they could easily build Chars powerful in excess of most MM-Monsters of equal CR/ECL. This is not breaking the rules, just pushing your advantage to the hilt while still adhering to them.
That, in and off itself, does not hurt your game - it would as a consequence, if you have a party of similiar chars, simply increase the general power-level, moreso if you, Counterspin-style, play whatever fluff you want with these chars, leaving literally no reason not to play Swordsage/Caster/CoDzilla. Normally this would result with the GM simply increasing the challenge, for example by letting the Chars fiht underwater or introducing tons of Monsters with cleverly assembled class-levels(Fax Celestis mentioned this as one of his staples in his high powered campaigns). This works for many people....

It doesnīt work for me. For once, I would rather save the time Iīhave to expend optimizing encounters. The other, main reason for this is that such an increase in power would, in my books, massively alter the setting, in an unfavorable way.
In short, it increases the Heldigkeit/heroism of the RPS - in short the difference between the Chars and the mooks/general populace. Normally, D&D is already quite heroic, even without Epic level. Using this much optimization, especially if you totally divorce fluff and crunch, further increases the heroism.
The formerly slightly weak lvl 2 NPC Expert "Maynard the Mason" becomes, on the relative powerscale, the equivalent of "Gimpy McSuck the paraplegic Kobold". If you use this powerscale, as Bears indirectly admitted, wasting more than a small fraction of your skill ranks or squandering a Feat really amounts to gimping your Character, possibly lethally so.

(As a sidenote: I think in a quite complex an convoluted manner, seeing almost anything in relation to tons of other stuff)

The Problem I have with this is credibility. Itīs already quite a strain imagining a small village(300 Inhabitants) in D&D Setting of mid-level(lvls 6 thorugh 11). The reasons are that
- the entire village would be slaughtered by just one of the random encounters the Characters face, or at least damaged heavily enough to finish it with three strokes
- The Party Casters can, at later levels, cast spells which create more value in goods or work than the entire workforce of that town (by creating Items, food or building with shaping spells/telekinesis)
- They could never amass the Gold they would need to continually pay characters for saving their hides

However, there is a nifty something calle suspension of disbelief, and to an extent that works justs fine. But if you increase the Char power youīre beginning to use the top 0,0003% of the entire populace (representing individuals on par with these builds), regularly at that, as encounters and NPCs. In short, you either scour the lands you cross or increase the general level of Power even among NPCs, abolishing "Maynard the Mason" a.k.a. "Gimpy the paraplegic Kobold" altogether....

Iīm just saying I have an increasingly hard time maintaining suspension of disbelief at that point. The other variant is to rebuild that setting to reflect the Power-increase, generating a world consisting only of PCs and PC-Shadows(NPCs with PC-like powers and builds) in which there is no such thing as a farmer since enough people can simply cast the food and labour they need. Again, such an overflwoing Mana scenario is not my style.

In short, the main reason your chars, attitude and expectations hurt my campaign is that it doesnīt mesh with a more gritty, semi-/pseudorealistic feel.......

Cyborg Pirate
2007-04-22, 08:37 AM
In short, the main reason your chars, attitude and expectations hurt my campaign is that it doesnīt mesh with a more gritty, semi-/pseudorealistic feel.......

...

D&D is Hardly pseudo-realistic. It's a High-magic High-fantasy world. It's not gritty and any DM really has to put a lot of work into it if he/she wants to make a gritty campaign.

Your problem is not the optimized characters. Your problem is that you're looking at the wrong system for what you want to see. GURPS would be much more to your liking I believe.

Matthew
2007-04-22, 08:57 AM
Actually, it doesn't really take much work, but you can't resonably play past Level 5...

Cyborg Pirate
2007-04-22, 09:05 AM
Actually, it doesn't really take much work, but you can't resonably play past Level 5...

But still, the world itself is very houseruled. As long as one follows D&D normal guidelins, the world is decidedly high-magic high-fantasy

Matthew
2007-04-22, 09:11 AM
Not really. The world doesn't go past Level 5. You wouldn't be playing a Level 5 game in a Level 20 world, you'd be playing it in a Level 5 world. Pretty much the only thing you would end up House Ruling is the experience rate.

Kioran
2007-04-22, 10:04 AM
...

D&D is Hardly pseudo-realistic. It's a High-magic High-fantasy world. It's not gritty and any DM really has to put a lot of work into it if he/she wants to make a gritty campaign.

Your problem is not the optimized characters. Your problem is that you're looking at the wrong system for what you want to see. GURPS would be much more to your liking I believe.

With GURPS, the heroism is at an all time low, thus characters can die off if you fail even one roll + the modern weapon list is utterly ridiculous. It is, however, a very nice system and imo pioneered or at last made available a working point-buy system(which D&D does not possess since it does not affect all aspects of character creation and is a lot less versatile). I like GURPS as an idea, I just donīt think its playable.
Thatīs why I repeatedly, with varying degrees of success, cooked up my own systems.

I still think itīs a nice diversion doing something else from time to time, hence D&D. And the pseudo-realistic aspect of the setting would indeed involve staying rather low in level(say 1-8), though I wouldnīt mind even going as high as 15 or so - its not realistic in the truest sense of the word, but for the most part it still enables the World to interfere with the characters if they are not totally cheeseballed. As long as that is a given, the chracters are still forced to plan, think and interact with commoners, aristocrats and other NPCs, while a typical tricked out ueberwizard of lvl 20(think Emperor Tippy style) can do almost anything he wants to anything below ECL 15 with total impunity.
This limited power level enables adventures short of scouring continents and leveling cities, a balance that is lost even with the most stupid players as soon as you reach epic lvl or even as soon as lvl 4 or 5 (Pun-Pun or Omniscificer anyone?).
I like my campaigns better that way, not with the sky as limit but maybe a kingdom or an empire in the balance, not the fate of the world or the multiverse......

Roethke
2007-04-22, 10:12 AM
I do believe I've already stated this opinion, but I feel there's a point where fluff stops being a description and starts being an excuse.


And, to my mind, this is the key misunderstanding in this conversation. Folks are absolutely right-- when fluff is used as an excuse, all the abuses of power, no reason not to play a wizard, etc. etc. arguments hit home.

But what I do, or what I assume BWL and some other 'optimizer' people do for D&D, is make fluff lead crunch in character creation, not the other way around. At least that's the situation we're referring to, it's certainly not the only way.

E.g.
1) Say I want to play a 'Priest of Pelor',
2) Hmm. Cleric is the obvious choice, but Paladin, religious fighter, or even barbarian could work.
3) Decide to go with religious Fighter, as I'd like to play up the Strength aspect of Pelor
4) Maybe specialize in heavy mace, as that's Pelor's favored weapon...
5) Hmm, to make effective use of Heavy Mace, I'll want Power Attack, etc...

Now, I could have come up with some excuse for how a wizard crunch would work for a priest of Pelor. It wouldn't be all that difficult, but just because I can, doesn't mean I will. If I optimize, I optimize within the self-imposed constraints of my fluff. I have a vision of the character, and wizard, even with excuses doesn't fit. And there shouldn't be anything wrong with that. The goal isn't to make the best/most powerful/whatever character. It's to realize whatever you put in step 1).


Alternatively, you can make crunch lead fluff.
Say,
1) I want to play a cleric
2) Hmm, I've got an extra 16 on my character sheet that doesn't need to go into wisdom, I'd also like to be a warrior.
3) Pelor has a strength domain, I'll choose him as my Deity
4) etc. etc.

And I'm sure that's how lots of people go about character creation, as well. Heck, when I first played, I always chose my class first. Nothing at all wrong with that either. And to preempt the argument, of course it's rarely strictly one leading the other.

But the point the I have been trying to make, is that there's nothing inherent in the fluff leading crunch method that makes 'all characters the same', or is game-breaking, or should hurt suspension of disbelief. If a player's goal is to make 'teh uber' character, it doesn't matter how he or she goes about it. A jackass brays, even if it's wearing a prom dress. (how's that for an awful metaphor?)

Here's the trick, though. Fluff leading crunch is more open to abuse, if you start to use the fluff as an excuse to make a game-breaking character. But only slightly. I mean, Wizard-Batman/CoDzilla can be arrived at through both methods.

Sir Giacomo
2007-04-22, 12:12 PM
Hi all,

some interesting ideas voiced around here. Here are my 5 cents:

- if your character has a DEX 8, that character is NOT graceful. The rules are out there to provide a common ground for everyone. If you want to play a graceful character, put higher score on DEX, and then you'll have to have a lower stat somewhere else. That's the whole balance thing.
- if you want to play a monk, play a monk. Not a wizard. Now do not get me wrong. The idea to play a wizard in a monastery who then uses all his spells to emulate some kung fu is very cool. HOWEVER, that player should entirely realise that at low levels, his "monk" is not the kunf fu hero, but someone who'll get kicked into a moaning heap by every passing ruffian once he's expanded his "tricks" (=spells). And at low levels, that is going to happen quickly. If THIS fits the player's concept of "Monk", it's fine. Otherwise use the monk class. Or, if you wish to have a less super-natural martial artist, just plain fighter. And if a lot of your fluff depends on one item (monk's belt), then you better get the DM on your side to back the concept up.
- in general, it is a great idea to use different classes for different interpretation of a certain role. Say, a "melee warrior" could be emulated by a fighter of a CoDzilla type character. More power does not necessarily mean better playability, though. Either a player does not feel it is a good idea to be religious at the same time, or does not want any spells, or plain feels it's too complicated to memorise X spells out of 1000 spells available for every session.*
- other than that; I'll just repeat my opinion stated already above, which also seem to be shared by some further up: you ALWAYS optimise in ANY kind of ruleset in roleplaying to somehow achieve within the rules (and in accordance with the DM, most of the time also the others at the gaming table) the character concept you wish to play. The answer to the OP in my view remains rather simple. No stormwind or other fallacy needed. Everybody optimises, maybe to different degrees, but everyone does. It's a prerequisite to play.

- Giacomo

*Please note that I remain not yet entirely convinced, that in game mechanics, in lvls 1-20, a fighter is inferior to CoDzilla...:smallsmile: But that's for a different thread...

Counterspin
2007-04-22, 12:20 PM
Giacomo - Describing yourself as graceful has no effect on balance. The character still takes a penalty to Dex based skills and armor class. Why can't someone be graceful in a way that doesn't transmit to the battlefield?

Roethke
2007-04-22, 12:31 PM
Giacomo - Describing yourself as graceful has no effect on balance. The character still takes a penalty to Dex based skills and armor class. Why can't someone be graceful in a way that doesn't transmit to the battlefield?

To be fair, there are limits. E.g., if my DEX is, through circumstance or disease, 0, I can't move, and hence I can't very well accurately describe myself as graceful.

Similarly, if my character's strength is, say 5, which means he staggers under a 51 lb load, it's hard to describe him as strong. (Sure there are ways to do so, but it becomes ever more outlandish,e.g. strong, but with a bad back)

So the real difference in opinion is where you draw the line.

Sir Giacomo
2007-04-22, 01:39 PM
Giacomo - Describing yourself as graceful has no effect on balance. The character still takes a penalty to Dex based skills and armor class. Why can't someone be graceful in a way that doesn't transmit to the battlefield?

Ah, just remembered something which lends your comment support. "Graceful" in the DD3.5-world can also be based on CHR. For instance, Perform (dance) is based on CHR. So you could have a character with DEX 8, CHR 18 who IS graceful, like the archetypical slender elven maid (who just is bad at DEX, meaning all action/combat-oriented body control, but not the artistic body control).

My main point remains in this respect: you somehow need to reconcile the abilities you chose (including class and equipment) with what you want to convey. There are many, many instances when characters in groups I played in had STR 18-20 but described themselves as "very slender/slim" or even "appearing weak". Now that stretches it a bit in my opinion...
...although when looking at a person you should only get a very rough idea of the physical abilities STR/DEX/CON (and, since it is based on interaction, also CHR).

- Giacomo

Bears With Lasers
2007-04-22, 05:09 PM
Hey, Giacomo--don't tell me what my character is or isn't, huh? :P

Why do I need a higher Dex (or Cha) to be graceful? Isn't that a purely fluff decision? How does it hurt anyone if I describe my character how I like?
How one earth is "balance" affected if I describe my 8 DEX character as graceful? I've still got the AC and initiative penalty.

Roethke
2007-04-22, 05:17 PM
Hey, Giacomo--don't tell me what my character is or isn't, huh? :P

Why do I need a higher Dex (or Cha) to be graceful? Isn't that a purely fluff decision? Why should I have to pay mechanically for playing the kind of character I want?
How one earth is "balance" affected if I describe my 8 DEX character as graceful? I've still got the AC and initiative penalty.

But BWL, take it to the next level, as I mentioned above.

If I describe my paralyzed character as gracefully striding through the room, in say, a PbP game, how are the other players supposed to react?

Do they react to the crunch, which tells everyone I can't move, or to my fluff description? If the former, 'they' are telling you what your character is or isn't. If the latter, you're gaining an in-game benefit, i.e. mobility through sheer force of fluff. (Of course, this is a ridiculous example).

But, for an even murkier example, how about an INT-3 character. If I RP him as a brilliant debater, or chess player, I think there may be valid criticism to be had, as much as I generally agree with fluff/crunch separation.

PS. "Balance" is affected by a -1 Penalty, due to your 8- DEX. Sorry, had to be said :)

Merlin the Tuna
2007-04-22, 06:15 PM
Why do I need a higher Dex (or Cha) to be graceful? Isn't that a purely fluff decision?In terms of classes, I'm totally in favor of divorcing flavor from mechanics, so much so that I tend to ignore alignment and race restrictions on PrCs. But I can't agree with you on this one, Bears.

Saph's point bears mentioning. Your stats need to, at least somewhat, reflect your character. A 14 Dex character need not be totally out graceful'ed by a 16 Dex one, but you strain suspension of disbelief by breaking verisimilitude when you make a 4 Dex character and describe him as light on his feet. (Also, my use of large words clearly means I'm right. :smalltongue:) When that happens, anyone who doesn't metagame is at a disadvantage. Taking this to its logical extreme, you end up with morbidly obese Rogues and Rangers with 18 Dex; their in-game appearances scream "slow and clumsy, hit me with Fireball!" while their character sheets scream "Pfft. Improved Evasion says go away now." That is both unfair and totally weak sauce.

Tellah
2007-04-22, 07:03 PM
Saph's point bears mentioning. Your stats need to, at least somewhat, reflect your character. A 14 Dex character need not be totally out graceful'ed by a 16 Dex one, but you strain suspension of disbelief by breaking verisimilitude when you make a 4 Dex character and describe him as light on his feet. (Also, my use of large words clearly means I'm right. :smalltongue:) When that happens, anyone who doesn't metagame is at a disadvantage. Taking this to its logical extreme, you end up with morbidly obese Rogues and Rangers with 18 Dex; their in-game appearances scream "slow and clumsy, hit me with Fireball!" while their character sheets scream "Pfft. Improved Evasion says go away now." That is both unfair and totally weak sauce.

Why can't the morbidly obese Rogue's Improved Evasion class feature be based on luck?

Wizard casts fireball. Roger the Rogue makes his save. Now, the player can say, "Roger does a backflip to avoid the fireball," or he can say, "Roger trips over a raised tile on the dungeon floor. As he stumbles, the magical explosion singes the hairs on the top of his head, but Roger is otherwise unharmed."

Furthermore, movements that look graceful aren't necessarily useful for avoiding damage in combat. I doubt very much that a ballroom dancer would dodge a greatsword any better than the average joe. A character with 8 Dex could easily be quite adept at moving gracefully without those movements improving his AC.

Merlin the Tuna
2007-04-22, 07:11 PM
Why can't the morbidly obese Rogue's Improved Evasion class feature be based on luck?

Wizard casts fireball. Roger the Rogue makes his save. Now, the player can say, "Roger does a backflip to avoid the fireball," or he can say, "Roger trips over a raised tile on the dungeon floor. As he stumbles, the magical explosion singes the hairs on the top of his head, but Roger is otherwise unharmed."Comic relief is, sometimes, fun. But having Roger the morbidly obese Rogue just happen to trip perfectly for 12 consecutive fireballs is criminally stupid. If you want to make a morbidly obese Rogue, ask the DM to use an adaptation, because the Rogue class does not model your character. Otherwise you're just stuck slamming a square peg into a round hole.

Roethke
2007-04-22, 07:31 PM
Comic relief is, sometimes, fun. But having Roger the morbidly obese Rogue just happen to trip perfectly for 12 consecutive fireballs is criminally stupid. If you want to make a morbidly obese Rogue, ask the DM to use an adaptation, because the Rogue class does not model your character. Otherwise you're just stuck slamming a square peg into a round hole.


Hmm seems more like a fat round peg in a smaller round hole, to me.

Anyhow, it all depends on where your disbelief threshold is. I've seen some big guys who can move pretty quick. Remember, D&D is a world where both the short-legged, stout, 4'11" human, and the 6'6" lanky guy can both charge 60' in a round or run 120', and the winner of a short sprint has nothing to do with STR.

So, if you accept the above, an obese rogue, who manages to roll out of the way of danger doesn't seem like too big of a step more.

Hallavast
2007-04-22, 07:39 PM
Furthermore, movements that look graceful aren't necessarily useful for avoiding damage in combat. I doubt very much that a ballroom dancer would dodge a greatsword any better than the average joe.
Perform is dictated by charisma. Your ballroom dancer has a better charisma than Average Joe, but as you say their dex is the same. That's why he doesn't dodge the greatsword any better. A basketball player or similar athlete that trains his dex mod will dodge a sword better.


A character with 8 Dex could easily be quite adept at moving gracefully without those movements improving his AC.
This is modeled by his high charisma. Not his dexterity.

Bears With Lasers
2007-04-22, 07:43 PM
But it's possible to move gracefully while having a completely abrasive personality and not attract much in the way of default attention or have a commanding presence.

Stats are pretty abstract. By your reasoning, everyone who is agile and has good reflexes also has good aim (ranged AB), good fine manipulation, et cetera. Oh, and since Charisma represents attractiveness, among other things, everyone who's graceful or a smooth talker is also very attractive. Why doesn't that damage your suspension of disbelief?

Hallavast
2007-04-22, 07:48 PM
But it's possible to move gracefully while having a completely abrasive personality and not attract much in the way of default attention or have a commanding presence.
Yeah, but this would be modeled by a character with low charisma but ranks in perform.


Oh, and since Charisma represents attractiveness, among other things, everyone who's graceful or a smooth talker is also very attractive. Why doesn't that damage your suspension of disbelief?
Again, you can have low cha but have ranks in diplomacy or bluff to achieve this affect.

Bears With Lasers
2007-04-22, 07:56 PM
But if you have a high CHA, you will be attractive, a smooth talker, and graceful. You can't be attractive without being good at talking and having a commanding presence. And you can't have enough Perform rank at level 1 to make much of a difference. You can't have an abrasive personality and be attractive.

At the same time, you can be the world's strongest person but not be very healthy (high STR, 8 CON)--all that brawn apparently doesn't help. You can't be a quick learner without knowing many languages. You can't be a fighter who is good with animals, intimidating, a good climber and jumper, and who can ride horses and swim without also being really, really intelligent (to get those skill points).

Your hearing gets better as you age.

And yet those are fine, because they're the default? Leave the 8-DEX, 10-CHA graceful character alone. He's not hurting anyone, he's just having more fun with his roleplaying.


Oh, and Perform doesn't cover moving gracefully. It covers performing. If you're just walking around, it doesn't apply.

Roethke
2007-04-22, 07:57 PM
Yeah, but this would be modeled by a character with low charisma but ranks in perform.

Again, you can have low cha but have ranks in diplomacy or bluff to achieve this affect.

Right. But now you run into the trouble that the number of ranks you have available is proportional to your intelligence (and maybe class). Is there any sensical reason that, assuming they both have 12-int and 12-Cha, a Barbarian, should be able to outdo a fighter in Diplomacy?

The skill ranks aren't a good simulation, either.

Hallavast
2007-04-22, 08:14 PM
But if you have a high CHA, you will be attractive, a smooth talker, and graceful. Not really.


You can't be attractive without being good at talking and having a commanding presence. sure you can. it just means that it doesn't matter quite what you say or how you say it. You're so damn pretty that people don't care. Look at Paris Hilton, for example.

And you can't have enough Perform rank at level 1 to make much of a difference. You can have up to a +6 bonus with just ranks and a feat. I think that's enough to make a difference.


At the same time, you can be the world's strongest person but not be very healthy (high STR, 8 CON) --all that brawn apparently doesn't help.
why should it? It just means you're a big fat guy. Lots of strength. No stamina. (that pretty much describes me, actually. I can bench 275 but i'm overweight and am hypoglycemic).


You can't be a quick learner without knowing many languages. Yes you can. Just means you haven't actually taken the languages yet, but you have the ability to learn them.

You can't be a fighter who is good with animals, intimidating, a good climber and jumper, and who can ride horses and swim without also being really, really intelligent (to get those skill points). you can if you're high enough level, and/or if you take some skill focuses. (and if you don't take these things or aren't high enough level, then you shouldn't have super above average skills in these fields. Not very many people do in real life (and if they do, then they prolly aren't fighters). They're more likely rangers.


Your hearing gets better as you age. lol. Yeah. This needs changing.


And yet those are fine, because they're the default? Leave the 8-DEX, 10-CHA graceful character alone. He's not hurting anyone, he's just having more fun with his roleplaying. He is hurting the people that have put high abilities in those respective places to better reflect their traits. At best, the clumsy average joe can pretend to be graceful without perform ranks or feats,


Oh, and Perform doesn't cover moving gracefully. It covers performing. If you're just walking around, it doesn't apply. Right. Charisma does. Perform covers dancing.

Tellah
2007-04-22, 08:19 PM
Oh, and Perform doesn't cover moving gracefully. It covers performing. If you're just walking around, it doesn't apply.Right. Charisma does. Perform covers dancing.

Page reference, please.

Hallavast
2007-04-22, 08:22 PM
Right. But now you run into the trouble that the number of ranks you have available is proportional to your intelligence (and maybe class). Is there any sensical reason that, assuming they both have 12-int and 12-Cha, a Barbarian, should be able to outdo a fighter in Diplomacy?

The skill ranks aren't a good simulation, either.
Yes they are. You just have to remember that you don't have to max ranks out at higher levels to get your point across. You're still good at these things as far as common people go, but if you're trying to roleplay epic grace, then you have to invest more (meaning you may have to multiclass into expert or something).

And i don't really understand your fighter vs barb question. If one has more ranks in diplomacy than the other, then that means the former has put more training into diplomacy than the latter has.

Hallavast
2007-04-22, 08:25 PM
Page reference, please.
PHB page 79 under the perform skill. And, you know, because perform is charisma based...

Edit: sorry for the double post.

Bears With Lasers
2007-04-22, 08:48 PM
Your argument is getting more and more ridiculous.

"Charisma measures a character’s force of personality, persuasiveness, personal magnetism, ability to lead, and physical attractiveness." Nothing in there about gracefulness.

Perform is Charisma-based, but has nothing to do with being graceful. Perform(oratory), perform(winds), perform(percussion), perform(comedy)... no grace requires. Dance is the only one that might require it.

Your talk of the fighter using skill focuses just so he can be competent at dealing with animals, riding, and swimming is fairly absurd. If he does that, he won't be able to fight. You can have someone grow up on a farm, then become a Fighter, and have all those skills--the point is, they're physical skills. Why would a high intelligence help?

Each ability covers a number of things. Either you say that you can have one of the qualities of an ability without the ability being high, or you say that everyone who has one of the qualities has all the others.

For example, "Wisdom describes a character’s willpower, common sense, perception, and intuition." So everyone who's strong-willed is also perceptive?

D&D makes for a fairly poor simulation. It's not a realistic representation. It's an approximation.
And given all that, there's no reason an 8-DEX, 10-CHA character couldn't be played as graceful.

Hallavast
2007-04-22, 09:14 PM
Your argument is getting more and more ridiculous. I dissagree. I think they are fairly logical points backed up with specific examples that most people can agree with (if they aren't predispositioned to dissagree with them, that is).


"Charisma measures a character’s force of personality, persuasiveness, personal magnetism, ability to lead, and physical attractiveness." Nothing in there about gracefulness.

Perform is Charisma-based, but has nothing to do with being graceful. Perform(oratory), perform(winds), perform(percussion), perform(comedy)... no grace requires. Dance is the only one that might require it.
What is Grace, Bears?



Your talk of the fighter using skill focuses just so he can be competent at dealing with animals, riding, and swimming is fairly absurd. If he does that, he won't be able to fight. Why is skill focus in the game then, Bears? Last I checked, taking skill focus didn't decrease your armor class, hit points, or anything like that. It just means you've chosen to train in other things, and are thus a better rounded, more realistic character.



You can have someone grow up on a farm, then become a Fighter, and have all those skills--the point is, they're physical skills. Why would a high intelligence help? Because, if you're smart enough, you can train in a larger variety of subjects.


Each ability covers a number of things. Either you say that you can have one of the qualities of an ability without the ability being high, or you say that everyone who has one of the qualities has all the others.

For example, "Wisdom describes a character’s willpower, common sense, perception, and intuition." So everyone who's strong-willed is also perceptive? "strong willed" and "common sense" are subjective and relative terms.


D&D makes for a fairly poor simulation. It's not a realistic representation. It's an approximation. Only if you choose to interpret it as such.


And given all that, there's no reason an 8-DEX, 10-CHA character couldn't be played as graceful. Except that he isn't REALLY graceful. What is it that you imagine such an "average yet eloquent" character actually doing? How do you roleplay such a character as graceful while maintaining a straight face as he continually botches any dex or cha based skill? I would describe such a character as pretentious. Not graceful.

Counterpower
2007-04-22, 11:07 PM
There is such a thing called the suspension of disbelief. I do that every time I play D&D, since, as a fantasy world, it is most assuredly not real. And having a DEX 8, CHA 10 character described as "graceful" while there's a 18 DEX, 10 CHA rogue who is described as "anything but graceful" strains said suspension.

This is supposed to be a world. A world that I willingly enter every time I can manage to call together my D&D group. And for those five hours, I would vastly prefer to be telling my players about the storm-tossed waves below the airship ringed by glowing fire, not thinking "how in **** does that DEX 4 character gracefully stride across the stage while the DEX 18 rogue manages to trip over his own feet?" Sure, you can describe the wizard doing anything you really feel like. And there can even be contradictions, like a DEX 7 who has agile feet. But if he has that DEX 7, then I expect to see some kind of contrast between that and the DEX 27 shadowdancer. Basically, I have no problem with the DEX 8, CHA 10 being graceful. I have a problem with him being more graceful than a DEX 17, CHA 14 character. I respectfully submit that it's easy to create such differences. And if you're trying to RP a DEX 6 character as graceful, in all ways and more so than a character with DEX 36, then I will find some way to prove to the people in the campaign world exactly how graceful you are. Probably a DEX check to compete in some contest, or with that DEX 36 character. Even if a DEX check isn't the best for determining grace, if it's the best indicator available........... And if it's not, then I'll use whatever I can find that's the best available. In other words, I am fully ready to make players back their RPing fluff up with their actual abilities, if necessary. Then we will see who is, or is not, graceful.

Likewise, I won't create a character who can't back up the fluff with their mechanical abilities. If I want to play a graceful or attractive wizard, I'll put the 15s in DEX and CHA instead of CON and WIS. I described a wizard as wearing full body armor once. After I struck a disguise self spell off his prepared spells before the party even met him. I could create an agile fighter who was almost impossible to hit due to his incredible agility. If I wanted to do that, I would not create a fighter who had DEX 12 and wore full plate. The game effect is the same: high AC, can't hit him as easily as you could some other characters. But that's a fighter who relies on his heavy armor to protect him, not his agility. I can describe my characters as really anything. I could even add flavor to a fighter's attack rolls by telling everyone about the magic power flickering about his hands that he smote people with. None of that would actually make the descriptions resemble what was actually happening. Sure, the fighter may be a wizard now that he uses magic, but he's still a lvl 1 fighter wielding a longsword and a shield, with high STR and no INT to speak of. I can describe the events as anything I want, but that doesn't make any of it the truth. And when this is a world that I am trying to live in for those short five hours, what's actually happening in that world is important.

Okay, rant's over, you may now return to your regularly scheduled foruming.

Artemician
2007-04-23, 03:54 AM
I've always subscribed to Bears' school of thought regarding ability scores. They're already abstracted anyway, there doesn't seem to be any harm in taking this abstraction all the way.

For example, my 18 Wis Elf Swordsage has the common sense of a baboon. He may know how to shrug off enchantments and stare really hard, but his Wisdom is nil.

Sir Giacomo
2007-04-23, 04:18 AM
Hi again,

hmmm- I must say, that I am more and more fascinated by the point of view of BWL and, just above, Artemician, to give as much freedom as possible in the interpretation of the stats.
- you could have the graceful elven maid (DEX 8, CHR 18) who is clumsy at critical points in action
- you could have a rogue with DEX 20 who is NOT graceful, but apparently escapes the problems unscathed by sheer luck (and DEX is chosen high to reflect this)
- you could have a massive man with low CON and high STR, or the other way round.
- you could have a character with WIS 18 who is completely clueless. High mental strength (not easily swayed), but without any philosophical ambition (hey, an illiterate barbarian can have WIS 22 this way...without being able/not wanting to provide any wise words...)
etc etc

Probably the "as much as..." ends at the point indicated by Counterpower above: when it comes to the relative comparison of the player characters (as well as the npcs in the world around them), it is highly difficult to say for two characters that they are equally graceful, while one has low DEX and CHR, and the other has high DEX and CHR.
The "balance" thing I brought up because, for instance, a Czilla player with high STR, CON and WIS, but dump stats for DEX, CHF and INT may be tempted to desribe himself has "strong, highly resilient and a very wise man" AND as well "graceful, charming, witty". Which would then tread on the roleplaying terrain of the players wanting to fill that niche (say with a witty wizard, or a graceful rogue).

The rules are not set in stone (as is repeated time and again in the DMG); they are there to help achieve a common ground for everyone. Additionally, the rules cannot cover everything. There is no stat for "gracefulness" (although the descriptions of DEX and CHR strongly suggest they should be used as guidelines for that); so basically in every group the players and the DM should agree beforehand (or will realise in the course of play) what they see as "graceful" and what not.

However tempting the cool new interpretations of stats and abilities and classes are, I would generally caution not to take a very free interpretation of the rules too far. DD3.5 already struggles to preserve any kind of realism with the introduction of magic - which is completely "unrealistic". It would, in my view, unnecessarily make things more complicated for a DM if he then also has to take into consideration that certain basic rules can be interpreted completely differently than the mainstream would.

- Giacomo

EDIT: just noticed that one:

Hey, Giacomo--don't tell me what my character is or isn't, huh? :P


I never would dare do that! ;-)
My secret wish is actually to at some point play alongside BWL in a group of fighters hunting CoDzillas and high-level arcane casters...

Cyborg Pirate
2007-04-23, 05:01 AM
- you could have the graceful elven maid (DEX 8, CHR 18) who is clumsy at critical points in action
- you could have a rogue with DEX 20 who is NOT graceful, but apparently escapes the problems unscathed by sheer luck (and DEX is chosen high to reflect this)
- you could have a massive man with low CON and high STR, or the other way round.
- you could have a character with WIS 18 who is completely clueless. High mental strength (not easily swayed), but without any philosophical ambition (hey, an illiterate barbarian can have WIS 22 this way...without being able/not wanting to provide any wise words...)
etc etc

What I like about this list, is that these are also popular archtypes.

Graceful seeming maiden who's clumsy as hell in fights; there are a couple like that in several anime.

Ungraceful rogue who somehow still escapes traps and dodges like the best; very well known too. The guy everyone considers an idiot yet somehow seems to luck out on all occasions. Hell, even Rincewind comes to mind as an example of this.

Massive man with low hitpoints; Seen from time to time in movies and cartoons. That one big guy who smashes everything, but goes down to a single headbutt from the hero.

And the mentally strong man who doesn't seem very wise; this archtype is even more prevalent in the media then the wise sage archtype. How often have we not seen a simple man who just isn't easily swayed? More often then we see a wise sage who isn't easily swayed.



Stats are abstractions. They only give us mechanics to work with. The flavour, is at best circumstantial.

Rasumichin
2007-04-23, 06:14 AM
DD3.5 already struggles to preserve any kind of realism with the introduction of magic - which is completely "unrealistic".

As has recently been mentioned on this board, it would be reasonable to take this even further :
D&D is not a game bothered with realism.
D&D is designed to provide playable, fun mechanics that abstract as much as necessary since providing a consistent simulation of a fantasy world simply is not the focus of the game.

It never was.

That's why RuneQuest was written back in 1979, introducing more realistic mechanics and starting a whole school of likewise oriented RPGs such as GURPS or Hârnmaster (and did its share in rendering DSA completely broken, but that's another issue and not to be blamed on RQ).
Because D&D is not a realistic game and there have always been gamers disliking this fact and starting their own systems, because you can not turn D&D into a (pseudo- or alterna-)medieval simulation system without breaking it.


I mean, think about.
Character classes?

All RPGs devoted to realism/simulation/plausibility do without those, replacing them with pointbuy systems, lifepaths and so on.

XP? Levels?

This has nothing to do with how learning and developing in real life works.
It's a game ressource, roughly modelled after experience (XP) and a means to measure a character's power (lvl), not a simulation.
Which works great for D&D.
But every simulationist system at least abandons the concept of levels, many also replace XP with other mechanics (like rules for training) as RuneQuest did 28 years ago.

AC?

I wear a suit of plate mail that hampers my movement and become harder to hit? Sure.
Armor has the same effect as high DEX?
Why not let armor reduce weapon damage and introduce rules for dodging and parrying, as RuneQuest did in '79?
Because AC is an easier, quicker mechanism.



The very core mechanics of D&D should make clear that it does not attempt a close relation to fluff.
If you criticise lack of realism or reason in certain character concepts, you are most likely playing the wrong game.

Play RQ with a historic background juiced up with some low-level magic.
Honestly.
It's a great game, it's fun (even though i admittedly don't know about the recent editions), you might really enjoy it.
But please don't tell your players their concepts aren't realistic.

Leush
2007-04-23, 06:39 AM
Actually armor does make you harder to hit: It makes the soft fleshy bits of you harder to hit since you know, they're covered in metal.

You have rules for dodging in D&D: It's called 'Touch AC' (okay not quite dodging but something like it) and 'Reflex saves'. Essentially when an enemy beats your touch AC but not your AC it means that you failed to dodge the sword and it hit you, but the strike did not hit an unprotected part of you and bounced off your armor (or something).

Now according to some arguments you can interpret touch AC as caterpillars spouting out of your eyes and smothering the enemy preventing him from striking true, but when I open a can of beans I don't expect it to be full worms genetically modified to be nutritionally equivalent to my beans.

Sir Giacomo
2007-04-23, 06:41 AM
Play RQ with a historic background juiced up with some low-level magic.
Honestly.
It's a great game, it's fun (even though i admittedly don't know about the recent editions), you might really enjoy it.
But please don't tell your players their concepts aren't realistic.

But I will, if I am the DM, I consider it as unrealistic, and it is also felt so this way by the other players. I would actually do that in all systems when trying to roleplay. Some systems are admittedly better at doing that than others. I guess that the low-magic, very historic medieval kind of campaign style can also be done with DD3.5 (I both DMed and played in such a setting).

You are absolutely correct in saying that DD3.5 is not the best system out there to simulate the "real" world, although it is not that bad, either. It is full of compromises that lead to oddities like falling damage as offensive tactics, improved listening and spot abilities when older, levels getting you an amount of abilities inside days and weeks which before took you a whole life to learn, etc.
The compromises are there to lend better and faster playability vs too much realism and more fun to play vs too many statistics (like, for instance, the boring, constrained magic rules for Rolemaster).

Still, when pinpointing all these realism shortcomings, in my view it does not help to say: "the rules are not perfect, a far cry from being realistic everywhere, so just let's do as we please for all the rest."

Eventually it all boils to how the different groups approach it. However, in my view, the majority will see the DD3.5 rules on abilities and stats as a guideline on how the character is shaped and comes across in that world, not merely apply the statistics where it explicitly says so.

- Giacomo

Rasumichin
2007-04-23, 07:35 AM
You have rules for dodging in D&D: It's called 'Touch AC' (okay not quite dodging but something like it) and 'Reflex saves'.

I get your point, but it is still much more abstract than "okay, the enemy might hit you...roll for parry or dodge...hm, didn't work...okay, subtract the armor's value from damage and apply it to your...*roll* left kidney's hitpoints."




The compromises are there to lend better and faster playability vs too much realism and more fun to play vs too many statistics (like, for instance, the boring, constrained magic rules for Rolemaster).

I know, and in my opinion, this is a reasonable tradeoff i apreciate.
You are completely right at pointing out that overly "realistic" systems can become terribly clumsy.
I'd prefer D&D anytime (unless i want to play Unisystem. Or SR).


Still, when pinpointing all these realism shortcomings, in my view it does not help to say: "the rules are not perfect, a far cry from being realistic everywhere, so just let's do as we please for all the rest."

This is understandable.
But i consider it to be a good reason for generally taking a more relaxed and easygoing attitude towards the issue of realism in D&D games.
Not "anything goes" but "a lot more than some people expect goes, since it is just a game (that does not pretend to be more than a game), and not a simulation (that somehow started out as a game)".


Eventually it all boils to how the different groups approach it.

Of course.

Kioran
2007-04-23, 08:16 AM
Your argument is getting more and more ridiculous.

"Charisma measures a character’s force of personality, persuasiveness, personal magnetism, ability to lead, and physical attractiveness." Nothing in there about gracefulness.

Perform is Charisma-based, but has nothing to do with being graceful. Perform(oratory), perform(winds), perform(percussion), perform(comedy)... no grace requires. Dance is the only one that might require it.

Your talk of the fighter using skill focuses just so he can be competent at dealing with animals, riding, and swimming is fairly absurd. If he does that, he won't be able to fight. You can have someone grow up on a farm, then become a Fighter, and have all those skills--the point is, they're physical skills. Why would a high intelligence help?

Each ability covers a number of things. Either you say that you can have one of the qualities of an ability without the ability being high, or you say that everyone who has one of the qualities has all the others.

For example, "Wisdom describes a character’s willpower, common sense, perception, and intuition." So everyone who's strong-willed is also perceptive?

D&D makes for a fairly poor simulation. It's not a realistic representation. It's an approximation.
And given all that, there's no reason an 8-DEX, 10-CHA character couldn't be played as graceful.

In short, youīre saying "as long is it doesnīt make absolute sense we can have it make even less sense if ti suits us. I think thatīs bullcrap.

D&D is not a good simulation, granted - thatīs why I use different stats in my Homebrew RPS: Str, Con, Agility, Dexterity, Inteligence and Sensory ability, relegating Charisma and willpower, which were originally abilities on par with the others, to my Advantages section(think GURPS).

I mean although itīs not perfect, i would try to make do - the less deviation from accurate simulation you have, the easier Suspension of disbelief is. A graceful Char 8 Dex 8 Char strains it, heavily, since he sucks in all crunchy applications of thinks related to grace apart from a few exceptions (by investing skill ranks, though I bet only few of the chars in your campaigns drop many points into semi-useful skills). Itīs unneccesary, and if you canīt play your Char without being graceful, thatīs bad RP to boot.....

Roethke
2007-04-23, 08:56 AM
In short, youīre saying "as long is it doesnīt make absolute sense we can have it make even less sense if ti suits us. I think thatīs bullcrap.

D&D is not a good simulation, granted - thatīs why I use different stats in my Homebrew RPS: Str, Con, Agility, Dexterity, Inteligence and Sensory ability, relegating Charisma and willpower, which were originally abilities on par with the others, to my Advantages section(think GURPS).

I mean although itīs not perfect, i would try to make do - the less deviation from accurate simulation you have, the easier Suspension of disbelief is. A graceful Char 8 Dex 8 Char strains it, heavily, since he sucks in all crunchy applications of thinks related to grace apart from a few exceptions (by investing skill ranks, though I bet only few of the chars in your campaigns drop many points into semi-useful skills). Itīs unneccesary, and if you canīt play your Char without being graceful, thatīs bad RP to boot.....


I'm beginning to think the dispute may have its roots in system bias. I grew up on 2nd Ed. AD&D, which had a weapon/nonweapon proficiency system that was so godawful, went through a few official revisions (weapon groupings, something-for-nothing kits, skills & powers), and by no means was even close to simulation worthy. (Don't get me wrong, I loved the system, warts and all).

So, you were basically forced into separating crunch from fluff there, with the nonweapon proficiencies adding little touches of flavor for what a character was particularly good at, but lacking them didn't mean you're character couldn't do something.

So it doesn't seem like such a radical idea, to me.

EDIT:And to explain where I am, in response to your post,
To me, the abstractions of skill ranks, physical attributes, etc. are so coarse, that saying that one particular interpretation of crunch, e.g. high DEX= graceful, makes no more sense to me than another, e.g. high DEX means good at aiming, manual dexterity, and several balance oriented tasks.

Take the Climb, skill, which is STR based. Anyone who has been rock climbing can tell you that it depends a little on strength, a lot on dexterity and some on intelligence. So they simplified to STR for D&D. Does this mean you must then accept the D&D premise that climbing is solely dependent on STR? For crunch, yes, but why for fluff?

Call it bull crap, if you like, but I don't see one making more sense than the other.

Ulzgoroth
2007-04-23, 11:39 AM
I think a lot of the problem with 'grace' is that the word is problematic to define. After all, one reads of 'languid grace' and 'studied grace', which don't seem to require any sort of physical capabilities so much as a particular style of movement, often consciously forced. It doesn't seem that would call for Charisma either...you could be ugly as a week-old corpse with all the social competence of a wolverine and, um, no 'personal magnetism', but move the same way. Granted people might not call you graceful, but that's largely because they'd be too busy getting far away from you. So...depending on what you mean by it, being 'graceful' might not require anything but occasional concentration checks for distraction and never needing to move fast.

As for the characters who show some possible attributes of their high ability scores but not others...that's perfectly reasonable roleplaying. High int, great logical reasoning but faulty memory? High dex but just can't make yourself palm something inconspicuously? No problem there. At the same time, if it impinges on game mechanics, you may not retain all the effects of your normal ability score. If the forgetful genius wants to make an int check to remember something, he's working on a base int closer to 8 than 18 for that. If your highly empathic and perceptive (high wis) character with the common sense of a lemming were allowed the wis check some DMs use to see if you realize how stupid an action would be, it wouldn't be with a +5 modifier.

Adding flaws like that to your character is may be interesting. If you don't get some kind of compensatory bonus, they do make your character functionally weaker (kind of what flaw means). Having the stats to be good at something and being weak at it instead is something you can inflict on yourself voluntarily. Being better at something than your character sheet accounts for is not equivalent.

Opinion, obviously...if you subscribe to the school of freeform RP interspersed with conflict resolution by an entirely unrelated tactical wargame, you're only having badwrongfun if you're doing it in a game that doesn't take that interpretation.

Vyker
2007-04-23, 12:58 PM
How many times have you sat down to make a character and thought, "Gee, I'd like him to have [positive trait]. That means I have a high [attribute]. But wait... that also means I have [another positive trait]. That's not in the concept at all!"

As an example, Dex covers "hand-eye coordination, agility, reflexes, and balance." It adds bonuses to ranged attack rolls, AC, reflex saving throws, and a bunch of skills.

Is it so hard to believe that there are dexterous people out there who don't have some innate ability to not be where fireballs go off?

Is every good dancer also a good archer?

Is a tight-rope walker (a man who, by definition, walks a straight line slowly) a dodge master?

I mentioned this earlier, but at eleven pages long, "earlier" really means "somewhere you'll never read it." So here it is again, for your enjoyment and edification!

"For fun, here's a "Dex 8 can be graceful" argument. Maybe you're graceful in calm (i.e., noncombat) situations, but the instant it all goes south... blam! You fumble, you trip, you get so nervous that it's hard to defend yourself (there's that -1 to AC!), etc., etc., etc. It doesn't have to mean that you automatically spill your drink on the cute chick next to you at the tavern, it doesn't mean that you trip over your own two feet, just that you shake a lot in combat."

You've got the balance-between-characters going, since once combat (or any other mechanically-based moment) hits, the penalties start kicking in. You've not prevented the player from rolling with his concept (hey, maybe there's a good story behind why he gets nervous at key moments). And since most moments that require checks are probably under some degree of stress ("Dude! Five gold says you can't fence the balor on the rickety rope bridge over a pit of lava!"), it's fairly internally consistent.

As others have said, the whole system is so coarse and abstract that I don't feel like this is where it lost me. That, and I'd rather let someone play out their concept rather than be railroaded into something they really don't want by WotC or a stingy DM.

Kioran
2007-04-23, 01:15 PM
How many times have you sat down to make a character and thought, "Gee, I'd like him to have [positive trait]. That means I have a high [attribute]. But wait... that also means I have [another positive trait]. That's not in the concept at all!"

As an example, Dex covers "hand-eye coordination, agility, reflexes, and balance." It adds bonuses to ranged attack rolls, AC, reflex saving throws, and a bunch of skills.

Is it so hard to believe that there are dexterous people out there who don't have some innate ability to not be where fireballs go off?

Is every good dancer also a good archer?

Is a tight-rope walker (a man who, by definition, walks a straight line slowly) a dodge master?

I mentioned this earlier, but at eleven pages long, "earlier" really means "somewhere you'll never read it." So here it is again, for your enjoyment and edification!

"For fun, here's a "Dex 8 can be graceful" argument. Maybe you're graceful in calm (i.e., noncombat) situations, but the instant it all goes south... blam! You fumble, you trip, you get so nervous that it's hard to defend yourself (there's that -1 to AC!), etc., etc., etc. It doesn't have to mean that you automatically spill your drink on the cute chick next to you at the tavern, it doesn't mean that you trip over your own two feet, just that you shake a lot in combat."

You've got the balance-between-characters going, since once combat (or any other mechanically-based moment) hits, the penalties start kicking in. You've not prevented the player from rolling with his concept (hey, maybe there's a good story behind why he gets nervous at key moments). And since most moments that require checks are probably under some degree of stress ("Dude! Five gold says you can't fence the balor on the rickety rope bridge over a pit of lava!"), it's fairly internally consistent.

As others have said, the whole system is so coarse and abstract that I don't feel like this is where it lost me. That, and I'd rather let someone play out their concept rather than be railroaded into something they really don't want by WotC or a stingy DM.

If you want your character to be graceful, you can,but at least give him a little crunchy means to do so. A few ranks in Profession(Courtier) or Perform(Dancing) or Balance or whatever would suffice - be creative. But a character who can in no situation whatsoever "outgrace" average Joe reliably in crunch - not so much.
As well as there are several builds to simulate a Pirate(generic Warrior, Swashbuckler, Fighter, Barbarian, heck, even Ranger) there are several ways to attain grace in something, be it dancing/combat/bearing. Just give it a modicum of crunch to back it (it would, even if it doesnīt give you AC or an advantage at balancing, still effect the way people see you -> social skills).

We donīt want you too knuckle under an resort to playing archetypes forevermore - just give your DM a little something to work with an youīll be okay.

Vyker
2007-04-23, 02:03 PM
If you want your character to be graceful, you can,but at least give him a little crunchy means to do so. A few ranks in Profession(Courtier) or Perform(Dancing) or Balance or whatever would suffice - be creative.

Eh. You can do that. But asking the Fighter to use his two skill points on something like Walking: Don't Trip Over My Own Feet is just mean.

Roethke
2007-04-23, 02:06 PM
Eh. You can do that. But asking the Fighter to use his two skill points on something like Walking: Don't Trip Over My Own Feet is just mean.

Or,for the weird, when the Fighter takes a level of Barbarian, he can now dump a couple of extra points into Profession (Courtier).

Jayabalard
2007-04-23, 02:31 PM
Or,for the weird, when the Fighter takes a level of Barbarian, he can now dump a couple of extra points into Profession (Courtier).imo taking profession courtier is pretty contradictory to being a barbarian...

Vyker
2007-04-23, 02:37 PM
I do believe that was the point.

The rules are not always the best way to resolve a situation, quandry, or conundrum.

Kioran
2007-04-23, 03:17 PM
I do believe that was the point.

The rules are not always the best way to resolve a situation, quandry, or conundrum.

True point. I also donīt like this situation all that much - but a fighter whoīd dump Dex, Int and Char(since heīs neither "agile-graceful" nor "charming-graceful" nor does he have additional Skills/lvl) will either have abysmal stats(in which case you may liberally compensate, nobody should be forced to play a sucker) or be more of the collossus-with-indomitable-will type, which probably isnīt all that graceful fluff-wise anyway. And if you want to play the perfect superhero - well thatīs what Wushu and freeform is for, or one of the ubiquitous monstrous ToB+Gestalt campaigns are for - but youīd never lack skill ranks in these.
Point is, I just want players to make small adjustments as a gesture for playning unusual fluff, not always using the same crunch with different paint jobs. iīm not talking about gimping, Iīm talking bout(*gasp*) actually adapting your crunch to the role you want to play.

That said the Fighter is probably one of the most versatile classes fluff-wise.

Vyker
2007-04-23, 03:45 PM
ubiquitous monstrous ToB+Gestalt campaigns

...these are ubiquitous? Man, I gotta get in whatever groups you hang out with. I've always wanted to play one of these!

Erm. Yeah. Back to the topic at hand...


Point is, I just want players to make small adjustments as a gesture for playning unusual fluff, not always using the same crunch with different paint jobs. iīm not talking about gimping, Iīm talking bout(*gasp*) actually adapting your crunch to the role you want to play.

On an abstract level, I most heartily agree. In other systems (say, Shadowrun), it's a lot easier to do since the game goes out of its way to give you that opportunity. Heck, Shadowrun even has specifically allocated points for fluff stuff.

In D&D, I "optimize" my character to achieve a set of stats which match my concept and are reasonably effective. Unfortunately, I often find that certain elements of D&D (in particular skills and feats) are so penny-pinching in their implimentation that it's difficult to portray my character concept with mechanics alone. I mean, that "small adjustment" you mentioned is fifty percent of the Fighter's already meager supply of skill points.

Feats like "Skill Focus" are interesting, but when I can either get a +2 to remembering that Lord Fancypants is the distant cousin of Baron McPompous or I can, say, cast two spells per turn... well, that's not really a hard choice to make when then the name of the game is "Nasty Places and Nastier Things That Live in Them."

In my games, I compensate for this by giving players additional skill points for background fluff. Things like knowledge skills, profession/crafting, performance, whatever helps keep their fluff and crunch at least somewhat related to one another. They're good enough to not immediately toss it in something that'll be a bonus in combat.

But really, while that helps add to the character, you still have the odd questions like, "Why are good dancers also good archers?"

All in all, though, the most important thing for your roleplaying is... your roleplaying. You can have infinite skill points in Craft: Pointless Object, but if you never actually craft it, talk about crafting it ("Man, I remember back in the summer of Level Seven... I made me some pointless objects back in those days..."), or reference it in any way, it hasn't improved your character, your game, or your roleplay.

If you want to roleplay, roleplay. That's the best, most direct method to get it done!

Ulzgoroth
2007-04-23, 05:54 PM
But really, while that helps add to the character, you still have the odd questions like, "Why are good dancers also good archers?"
Well, right off they aren't really (even if we suppose dancing is a dex-based skill, which it isn't)...especially good dancers are mostly the ones with Skill Focus and level+3 skill ranks. That's a bare minimum of skill modifier 7, whereas ability mods just don't go above 5 for people within the far outermost edges of the ordinary. Phenomenal dancers, or people with an undeveloped gift in that area, are relatively good archers. But only really good if they're in a full BAB class, which most probably aren't.

The other answer is that it's for the same reason as a gifted weightlifter is also a gifted high and long jumper. Because they didn't want you to have a dozen physical stats, of which you had to reference 5 every time you attack. (Or maybe because they're keeping some continuity with a game that originally didn't even think of that, I don't know for sure.)

Vyker
2007-04-24, 02:24 AM
Going straight off of Dex, there is a correlation between dancing (or tight-rope walking, if you don't like dancing) and archery. When looking at attributes, there's a lot of stuff that gets "lumped in" together which might not really fit in with your character concept.

Being very perceptive suggests a high wisdom; being weak-willed suggests a low one. Which do you take? Do you just average them out? Go with the lowest, and sacrifice the perception side of your concept? Or stick with the highest, and cover up a weakness which your fluff had originally intended to exist?

Given enough skill points and feats, in some cases you could make enough adjustments beyond your attributes to "fine tune" your concept/mechanic combo, but most classes have a pretty drastic lack of one, the other, or both. Or, say you want a high strength, because you like to bash stuff. A lot. On the other hand, you want to be a terrible climber (maybe your character is afraid of heights). Even given "enough" skill points/feats, you can't take negative ranks in climb... but if you ditch your strength attribute, you can't compensate by putting ranks in your "Hit Stuff Harder" skill. So do you go for the climbing (guess he got over that fear!), or do you hamper your damage, which, aside from being bad in a traditional (dare I say most?) D&D game, also scuttles your fluff concept.

And, again, I cannot stress enough that many of the classes simply do not have many (if any) skill points to spare for that sort of thing. It's not always even a question of whether or not you're willing to allocate skill ranks to fluff skills. Sometimes it's a matter of mechanical limitation. Two skill points will only go so far, and the list of options before cross-classing is pretty short, too!

The upshot of all this is that I find it much harder to make a fluff character than a twink character from a pure mechanical perspective. The game is slanted towards a proactive, combat approach. That's not a bad thing. It's just the approach the game (mechanically) favors. Given that I'm playing D&D with friends for the roleplay as much as the "You pwnz0r teh mob!" moments, it doesn't strike me as odd that we sometimes ignore the inconsistencies in a fairly abstract system when fluff or acting comes into play. After all, we're there to have fun, and we prefer to examiine what we can do than extol the virtues of what we can't do (heck, any character has a near infinite supply of things he can't do).

Or, look at it from another perspective:

As for the characters who show some possible attributes of their high ability scores but not others...that's perfectly reasonable roleplaying.
(above posted by Ulzgoroth, post #311 of page 11)

Why is it perfectly reasonable roleplay to ignore certain elements of a high ability score, but taboo to ignore certain elements of a low ability score? Why does a negative modifier improve roleplay? And why does -- not a positive modifier -- but even no modifier at all hinder it? Why does it go one way, yet not the other?

Yes, there may be a mechanical balance to worry about (though for anyone who believes that the game really is mechanically balanced, I submit the Wizard & CoDzilla vs. the Monk & the Bard). But if mechanical balance is your concern to such a degree that you sacrifice RP... are you really supporting RP in the first place?

--

Sidequest for all you kids keeping score at home: Count up the number of folks saying, "I support RP over mechanics, but if your mechanics don't match your fluff, your RP must change to match the mechanics."