View Full Version : Optimizing while Building Characters

2007-10-14, 07:52 PM
These are just a few guidelines I follow when building characters with optimization in mind. It helps making a character be a bit more streamlined at least for myself. I hope some of these tips help you. Now without further ado, the first thing you should ask yourself when optimizing a character is.

1. Who is your character? (WHAT!!!!!)

That's right, the first thing to do when optimizing is consider who your character is, I know this seems stupid, but I'll let you in on a little secret, if you think having 20 I-win buttons is "real optimizing" then all you'll ever play is a wizard/artificer/CoDzilla.

The first mistake in optimizing is attempting to make your character something he/she is not. If you character is a generic fighter than they aren't a cleric, simple as that. Its true you can make a Cleric be a better fighter than a fighter, but Cleric's come with flavor and character background requirements.

Therefore, understand the first rule is build your character as he/she is, even if its not "optimal," "Real Optimizing" is taking a character concept and getting the most out of it, it is not building an I-win machine.

2. Stats

The second step in character creation after defining who your character is, is normally stat-allocation. I don't think I need to explain this too much, other than making a short addendum.

Your goal for optimizing your characters potential is optimizing for your characters end-strength.

You need to allocate your stats for the characters end-strength. End-strength is whatever level your campaign is going to end at, whether that's level 2 or level 40 epic ridiculousness.

The concept of end-strength is pretty much tantamount to optimizing your characters potential, making a character that is optimized for level 6 play, is very different from having a 20-level build in mind.

3. Class

I know you may be thinking, why is class after stats, its simple, lets say you are playing and your DM says, "For this campaign, i'm gonna have you guys roll stats instead of point buy." You roll four 18's and 2 16's. I know its unlikely but roll with it. Your stats, suddenly make a difference on how you might make your character. If you were thinking I want to make a "gish" then suddenly how you make your gish is very open to interpretation based on your stats. Stats create and limit options, therefore class choices should come after stat rolls.

This will save your frustration down the line. If you come into the game thinking I want to play a rogue, and you roll stats like above, you are going to be saying, maybe I shouldn't play a rogue.... Therefore hurting the goal of making your character. Who is your character comes first. Who your character is, is not defined by class(class defines what your character does), but it is partially defined by stats(strong/wise), therefore you should roll stats first.

4. Picking Abilities(feats/skills/what-not)
Abilities are tricky. A lot of times you might run into the trouble of saying, hey my character is fast, so you pick up improved initiative, but in the end you regret it later because it didn't help your build. Taking a feat because it fits your character concept, isn't wrong, but there needs to be a balance if your goal is at least to partially optimize your character.

Character concept does not equal feats/class/skills. Don't confuse the two.

Also when picking abilities, plan out your character level by level, all the way to whatever end-strength you have in mind. This will allow you to see how your character will perform each level, and also gives you insight into when you are eligible for feats you are looking to attain.

(NOTE: I know some people like to level up their character as they play, to see how their character has been influenced by the story. That's fine, but we aren't talking about purist role-playing here, we are talking about optimizing while role-playing, so don't take offense, but the mindsets are different even if they are equal.)

5. Evaluate your build

Evaluating your build has a couple of steps, but to sum up, it more or less comes down to, do you like it, and do you want to play it? If either of those are no, see if you can change something around. One of the important things to remember is optimizing and getting the most out of your character is always secondary to fun.

Feel free to comment on this, or make mention of common mistakes made while optimizing, or building characters and I'll try and add them into this, make it a good step by step, for optimizing/character building. Also feel free to point out spelling or grammar errors, so I can iron them out and make this thing easier to read.

2007-10-14, 07:53 PM
Reserved for later use

2007-10-14, 07:54 PM
Reserved for later use, can't be too careful

Azerian Kelimon
2007-10-14, 08:06 PM
6) Double check, a lot. A LOT. Many times, your character concept can be misguided, and so can be your optimization. Want an all-rounder? Screw the desc. of Bard, it's a lie. A Factotum will likely suit you more. Heck, a Factotum suits jus' about anything. Or maybe, you follow an idea of someone who fights by using many a jumping attack. Maybe Leap attack looks good, but if you don't want to just say "I leap to the heavens and hit him. AGAIN". Maybe a Warblade with Tiger claw maneuvers would be nice, or a Swordsage if you favor more finessey characters.

2007-10-14, 08:19 PM
7) Give it to a friend/CharOp boards and the DM.
The First group can help you improve the idea if you need help, especially by showing other ways to gain certain abilities that may help focus the character. The second because you want to make sure that your character in neither to powerful or too weak for a campaign. For example, if you make a frenzied berserker who flies into a rage at the drop of a hat, your friends campaign of Machiavellian intrigue may not be a good fit, and you should change for the campaign, not the other way around.

2007-10-14, 08:24 PM
Another good idea is to balance the goals of numbers and options, as a lack of either can make for a very poor experience. Having a whole bunch of options can get very frustrating if none of them are powerful enough to be effective, and maximizing a single strategy, while easy, opens you up to being denied it's use.

2007-10-14, 08:54 PM
Good stuff! Keep it rolling. :smallbiggrin: