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  1. - Top - End - #61
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    Default Re: Let's Talk about Optimization

    Quote Originally Posted by Fax Celestis View Post
    Because it is a game that one is familiar with, and which teasing new concepts out of the existing structure is both fun and satisfying? Because I like playing with my friends, and it's what they play? Because I like it?
    I agree with that. As I have said in many many posts when someone said "If you don't like how D&D does it just play something else," D&D is usually the only game in town and the one that most people I know already play.

    I was just pointing out that the ideas seem somehow at odds. Wanting to play a class based game and treating it like a point buy game that is. IMO one of the big downfalls of 3.0 was that it tried to create a more flexible system than any other edition of D&D before or since, but didn't go far enough and thus we what is essentially a point buy system that fights us every step of the way.

    Quote Originally Posted by RFLS View Post
    Adding on to that...because it works, and fluff is mutable?
    Well, it kind of works. Kind of. For example the character I am currently playing is a skilled swordswoman, a talented doctor, and has a will of iron. That character archetype is almost impossible to pull off as there is no class I know of that has good will saves, heal as a class skill, and a good BaB without all sorts of magical shenanigans added on.

    Quote Originally Posted by eggynack View Post
    Why do you need to consider all of your classes and feats on an individual level in terms of flavor in order to like D&D? I feel like I can be perfectly happy playing as "Balthazar: who summons mighty creatures from beyond the veil, but has a dead younger sister who was murdered by Torkon, the Jerkiest Face, and now he seeks vengeance, and maybe some friendship adventures." I don't have to justify the fact that he took cloudy conjuration at first level, because he was being chased by gnolls as a child, and was saved by a passing fog. I can just say that he's taking this feat because it seems nifty. You can just play a cool wizard guy with diverse abilities, and not have a crazy story reason for every one. The same goes for prestige classes and ACF's. You're just a guy who can do some stuff, and that stuff is sometimes cool. The important thing is the character, not the flavor reasons behind every single component of that character.
    I agree with everything you said here. I just wish D&D actually embraced this philosophy instead of sticking with the rigid class and level structure and forcing people to make convoluted dips and builds instead of just letting people take the abilities they actually want for their character without all the baggage that is tied to it. I think feats or even ACFs would have been a great opportunity to do this, but they kind of flubbed those systems.
    Last edited by Talakeal; 2013-08-16 at 03:49 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #62
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    Default Re: Let's Talk about Optimization

    Quote Originally Posted by Nerd-o-rama View Post
    I only have an issue when someone is told that they are "playing wrong" for choosing to make a suboptimal character (i.e. anything but a Wizard, Cleric, or Druid) or for not abusing the rules to their utmost advantage. These people are rare, but very vocal on the internet.
    The only time I would really push somebody to do something "more optimal" than they want is when I am concerned that they are going to become actively frustrated with how weak their character is compared to what they think it should be. A game I'm in has a half-orc barbarian who put her high stat in Dex and only a 12 or 14 in Str. I did try to talk her into swapping those, but she really wanted the high Dex for untrained skill usage and AC (and didn't listen or didn't care that it really is a minimal impact on AC given a Barbarian's rage).

    I didn't push her after she made it clear she was sticking to her guns on it. I do worry occasionally that she is frustrated with how hard a time she has hitting and doing damage; we're only level 2. But it's her choice. And for the most part, she lets it go after the fight's over despite being clearly annoyed in the moment.

    If she were to whine and moan about how unfair the fights are or something, though, I would feel obliged to point out that she deliberately chose a sub-optimal build and that she could be hitting about 20% more often for half again the average damage (or so), and winning fights far more easily. Since she doesn't do this, for the most part, it's her choice how to play her character. I simply felt that I should offer advice and full reasons why, since I do know the system better.

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    Default Re: Let's Talk about Optimization

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I was just pointing out that the ideas seem somehow at odds. Wanting to play a class based game and treating it like a point buy game that is. IMO one of the big downfalls of 3.0 was that it tried to create a more flexible system than any other edition of D&D before or since, but didn't go far enough and thus we what is essentially a point buy system that fights us every step of the way.
    A Rogue is a better ninja than a ninja.

    A Swordsage is a better ninja than a rogue.

    If I want to play a silent stalker of the night, I can't play a swordsage, because I would be "a blade wizard whose knowledge of the Sublime Way lets him unlock potent abilities"? Come on.

    I'm also very surprised that this thread reached level 3 without anybody mentioning the stormwind fallacy:

    Quote Originally Posted by Tempest Stormwind
    Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa.

  4. - Top - End - #64
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    Default Re: Let's Talk about Optimization

    Quote Originally Posted by JusticeZero View Post
    I've been on the receiving end of the "munchkin" label before and it is very irritating. Here is how things play out.
    1: We make characters. I know a fair amount about how the system works, so I build around a mechanically effective combo or three, baking in flexibility. Other people make characters too - I offer help in a blanket sort of way. Maybe one person takes me up on it, others do not. The others show up on game day with their characters. They are.. uhh.. spoony? If I comment and offer help, I anger people.
    This. So much.
    The amount of times I've said "yeah, or you could do it this way, stomp them completely, and have more fun being awesome" only to have people be offended?
    Some people ego's are WAY too sensitive.

    2: We play. I enjoy the game, because my character is fun and so is the rest of the party. We get in fun fights. The other party members are challenged and come out of their battles battered. My character is a bit better designed, and is not so challenged - that's OK, I didn't go there to be challenged. My challenge happenned in chargen, now i'm here to group with cool people and enjoy my time hanging with my friends.
    3: The GM sees that my character isn't being "challenged". Maybe the party tossed a bunch of monsters my way that I dispatched handily or something. Or maybe the GM went straight to #4 accidentally...
    4: The GM throws an extra-tough monster at us. Holy heck, that thing is a TPK in a can. You know, having ones character die kind've bites, and then I won't get to hang out with my friends and game. Well then..
    5: I kill the tough monster. Seriously, you think i'm going to stand by and let the rest of the party get wiped? I pulled off my glasses, pulled my shirt open to show the letter underneath, summonned a horde of angelic superbeings, and stomped that thing flat before it could ruin my friends' day.
    6: The party goes "What." Seriously, I just saved their lives. I'm okay if they're not thankful for that, but the outrage that I didn't stand back and let them all die is a bit hurtful.
    The awkward looks/silence that follows is the worst. And the attitude of 'how dare you save us from our stupidity' is the pits too.

    7: The GM wants to "challenge" or "punish" me. For whatever reason, they do so by going back to #4.
    Or worse, gives up right in the middle of a decent story.

    That's like asking a chef to not only confine himself to making a grilled cheese sandwich, plain, but make sure to use cheap cheddar cheese, make sure to mess it up so that the cheese seperates into a greasy and disgusting mess, and burn it too. It's actively unpleasant to botch things up that badly or to play a character that I know is built badly and force myself to continue to mess up even worse at every level. I wanted to make an effective character, and I did, and now the entire party is being punished for it and ruining the entire reason I came to the game.
    What's more, the game is based on teamwork. Not only is it annoying to have to 'lift' for your whole team, only for them to smack talk you for optimizing, but they somehow turn roleplaying as some kind of excuse for being a drag.

    You there! Play poorly or I shall nag you for playing well. But, play just poorly enough that I don't nag you and well enough that you somehow keep me and the rest of us alive.
    Also, DM, continue with piling on the epic encounters above our CR so that we continue to feel epic, while our friend struggles to not outshine us yet somehow keep us alive.

    The above is an extremely selfish and entitled attitude, and tends to be justified with the excuse of "but I'm roleplaying" or "you're just a munchin" or the one that really burns my bacon, "I'm just here to have fun not to be serious."
    I get that someone is there to have fun. So is the rest of the party. Dieing isn't fun. Losing combats isn't fun. Having to shoulder the load for the rest of the party, tends not to be fun.


    Quote Originally Posted by bekeleven View Post
    I'm also very surprised that this thread reached level 3 without anybody mentioning the stormwind fallacy:
    Actually, you missed me saying that on the previous page as a preface to an anecdote, but mine was more of an example of inverse stormwind fallacy, so it's cool.
    Last edited by Karoht; 2013-08-16 at 04:08 PM.
    ~~Courage is not the lack of fear~~
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    If the party wizard can't survive a supersonic dragon made of iron at epic levels it's his own fault really.
    "In soviet dungeon, aboleth farms you!"
    "Please consult your DM before administering Steve brand Aboleth Mucus.
    Ask your DM if Aboleth Mucus is right for you.
    Side effects include coughing, sneezing, and other flu like symptoms, cancer, breathing water like a fish, loss of dignity, loss of balance, loss of bowel and bladder control."

  5. - Top - End - #65
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    Default Re: Let's Talk about Optimization

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    The only time I would really push somebody to do something "more optimal" than they want is when I am concerned that they are going to become actively frustrated with how weak their character is compared to what they think it should be. A game I'm in has a half-orc barbarian who put her high stat in Dex and only a 12 or 14 in Str. I did try to talk her into swapping those, but she really wanted the high Dex for untrained skill usage and AC (and didn't listen or didn't care that it really is a minimal impact on AC given a Barbarian's rage).

    I didn't push her after she made it clear she was sticking to her guns on it. I do worry occasionally that she is frustrated with how hard a time she has hitting and doing damage; we're only level 2. But it's her choice. And for the most part, she lets it go after the fight's over despite being clearly annoyed in the moment.

    If she were to whine and moan about how unfair the fights are or something, though, I would feel obliged to point out that she deliberately chose a sub-optimal build and that she could be hitting about 20% more often for half again the average damage (or so), and winning fights far more easily. Since she doesn't do this, for the most part, it's her choice how to play her character. I simply felt that I should offer advice and full reasons why, since I do know the system better.
    ...have you shown her Whirling Frenzy or Ferocity?

  6. - Top - End - #66
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    Default Re: Let's Talk about Optimization

    Quote Originally Posted by bekeleven View Post
    A Rogue is a better ninja than a ninja.

    A Swordsage is a better ninja than a rogue.

    If I want to play a silent stalker of the night, I can't play a swordsage, because I would be "a blade wizard whose knowledge of the Sublime Way lets him unlock potent abilities"? Come on.

    I'm also very surprised that this thread reached level 3 without anybody mentioning the stormwind fallacy:

    Stormwind is indeed a fallacy. But so is saying "the players are free to modify fluff to match their desired character but crunch is immutable". I don't see the logic behind saying I can give my sword sage ninja fluff if I want, but not I can give my ninja better powers. IMO both would have to be a house ruled compromise between the DM and player. AFAIK there is no RAW which states that the fluff is any more or less concrete than the crunch.

    Also, if you want to be a ninja, doesn't being a sword sage come with a bunch of crunch powers that are inappropriate to a ninja? Do you just ignore these abilities entirely? Still use them and ignore the contradictory fluff? Refluff them into something else entirely?

    If you had abilities, but never used them, would the other PCs yell at you?

    I tried playing 4E, but all of the classes have crazy supernatural abilities that I didn't want, and so I just crossed them off my character sheet and ignored them. The other PCs went nuts and passive aggressively killed off my character to punish me for gimping the group.
    Last edited by Talakeal; 2013-08-16 at 04:32 PM.

  7. - Top - End - #67
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    Default Re: Let's Talk about Optimization

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    AFAIK there is no RAW which states that the fluff is any more or less concrete than the crunch.
    Read the DMG.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I tried playing 4E, but all of the classes have crazy supernatural abilities that I didn't want, and so I just crossed them off my character sheet and ignored them. The other PCs went nuts and passive aggressively killed off my character to punish me for gimping the group.
    Why not? Because it's not realistic?
    Last edited by Fax Celestis; 2013-08-16 at 04:34 PM.

  8. - Top - End - #68
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    Default Re: Let's Talk about Optimization

    Quote Originally Posted by Fax Celestis View Post
    ...have you shown her Whirling Frenzy or Ferocity?
    She, as a player, doesn't really want to mess with non-core books. She's not above optimizing, but she tends to optimize through in-setting action (like getting the most out of everything she can gather, setting up the landscape to her advantage through Craft and other skills and the cooperation of NPCs, etc.).

    In all, she can have plenty of fun. She doesn't enjoy book-diving or having to have more books around to dig through to look up her abilities. I don't share her mindset and don't entirely understand it, but as long as she's having fun...her choice.



    Edit: Still, I'll point these options out to her and see if she likes them better than Rage.
    Last edited by Segev; 2013-08-16 at 04:37 PM.

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    Default Re: Let's Talk about Optimization

    I don't find numbers optimization to be particularly compelling beyond a certain party-wide baseline, for obvious reasons. However, optimization is so much more than that - it allows you to make much more efficient use of your available resources, which has some very concrete and tangible effects on the amount of fun you can have.

    Consider two characters. Let's call them Alice and Bob. Their 1st level party includes an archer rogue, a healbot cleric, and a beguiler, so they both decide to play melee types to occupy the front line.

    Alice doesn't really know or care about optimization. She takes human fighter, and picks a bunch of things that help her deal and handle damage. At level 1, she has Weapon Focus, Toughness, and Improved Initiative, with cross-class ranks in Spot and Listen to detect threats. In battle, she rushes forward as quickly as she can and stands there, trading blows with enemies. It's not the most varied character, and these abilities don't really impart many roleplay hooks or opportunities to do stuff outside of her one role.

    Bob optimizes. In a party of fairly underpowered characters, Bob doesn't want to outshine them, but wants to do a little more than just attack, so he picks a human warblade. He takes Charging Minotaur, Stone Bones, Wolf Fang Strike, and Hunter's Sense. For his feats, he takes Improved Bull Rush and Stone Power. He picks Diplomacy, Intimidate, Tumble, Knowledge (local) and Craft (weaponsmithing). His options are many - he can push enemies away from his squishies, he can tank with DR and THP, he can move and make two attack rolls, tumbling past enemies. Outside of combat, he is well-spoken, knows quite a bit about his surroundings, and is a respectable blacksmith, plus he can track down even invisible foes with his keen nose. He doesn't deal measurably more damage than Alice, but he can contribute effectively to a wider range of situations both in battle and outside of it. Bob's character is a blast to play for the player and easy for the DM to run a game for, since the DM can throw a variety of situations at the party without worrying that Bob will have nothing to do, as well as use Bob's various competences to generate plot hooks and reveal additional information.

    As these characters grow, Bob's warblade becomes more of a master in his chosen schools, and can climb the feat tree to Shock Trooper for an even more flexible character. Meanwhile, Alice is stuck with the WF feat line, which is all small flat numerical bonuses until level 12, and doesn't really have any direction for organic character growth because there's not much of a character there.
    Last edited by Flickerdart; 2013-08-16 at 04:44 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Inevitability View Post
    Greater
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    comparative adjective
    1. Describing basically the exact same monster but with twice the RHD.
    Quote Originally Posted by Artanis View Post
    I'm going to be honest, "the Welsh became a Great Power and conquered Germany" is almost exactly the opposite of the explanation I was expecting

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    Default Re: Let's Talk about Optimization

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Stormwind is indeed a fallacy. But so is saying "the players are free to modify fluff to match their desired character but crunch is immutable". I don't see the logic behind saying I can give my sword sage ninja fluff if I want, but not I can give my ninja better powers. IMO both would have to be a house ruled compromise between the DM and player. AFAIK there is no RAW which states that the fluff is any more or less concrete than the crunch.
    Can't you just say, "I am playing a ninja, with its fancy fluff words, but every single class ability is the abilities of a swordsage,"? It seems a lot easier than modifying the crunch. Changing crunch means inventing your own game, which isn't a goal of the game we're playing. Changing fluff means inventing your own story, which is exactly the goal of the game we're playing. Fluff is always mutable, because I'm playing Rasputin the mighty beguiler, not the exact text of the beguiler's fluff text. It's just a matter of degree.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Also, if you want to be a ninja, doesn't being a sword sage come with a bunch of crunch powers that are inappropriate to a ninja? Do you just ignore these abilities entirely? Still use them and ignore the contradictory fluff? Refluff them into something else entirely?
    Which ones? They all seem rather ninja like to me. Besides, swordsages have a lot of options, and I'm sure you could build one entirely made up of ninja appropriate choices.
    Last edited by eggynack; 2014-09-13 at 04:46 PM.

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    Default Re: Let's Talk about Optimization

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Also, if you want to be a ninja, doesn't being a sword sage come with a bunch of crunch powers that are inappropriate to a ninja? Do you just ignore these abilities entirely? Still use them and ignore the contradictory fluff? Refluff them into something else entirely?

    If you had abilities, but never used them, would the other PCs yell at you?
    There are a bunch of maneuvers that don't fit being a ninja.

    Swordsages don't actually get all maneuvers, or even a large portion of them.

    Just don't take the ones that let you shoot fire and you're still left with a massive amount of options compared to what you can get, nearly all of which can fit being a ninja.
    Quote Originally Posted by jamieth View Post
    ...though Talla does her best to sound objective and impartial, it doesn't cover stuff like "ask a 9-year-old to tank for the party."
    My Homebrew

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    Default Re: Let's Talk about Optimization

    For me, optimization and preparation time are interesting challenges. The actual unfolding of combat is to me as interesting as watching paint dry. I have a better time playing a strong character that can coast through a well orchestrated combat as compared to anything that is going to have an "epic struggle." during combat where I'm only hanging on by the skin of my teeth. That latter variety of play seems to me the kind that should get the party killed more often than not, while the former seems more reasonable from a success stand point, and is on the whole, much more exciting.
    Me: I'd get the paladin to help, but we might end up with a kid that believes in fairy tales.
    DM: aye, and it's not like she's been saved by a mysterious little girl and a band of real live puppets from a bad man and worse step-sister to go live with the faries in the happy land.
    Me: Yeah, a knight in shining armour might just bring her over the edge.

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    Default Re: Let's Talk about Optimization

    Quote Originally Posted by LordBlades View Post
    Classes are metagame constructs gives players absolute creative freedom. Classes are in-game constructs has the tendency to kill some concepts. For me, the former is clearly superior to the latter.
    For pure creative freedom (of character generation at least), the former is clearly superior.

    As Talakael has pointed out, though, not everyone will approach the game this way. The fluff *is* there in each book, and while "mileage may vary" for how much everyone likes or appreciates it, some people do like it and would find their enjoyment of the game and immersion in the total game experience to be diminished by ignoring and/or changing it.

    There is even an element of creative freedom opened up when one treats classes as in-game constructs, though this element is in world building and not character creation. Having classes as in-game constructs allows one to build regional variations or interesting organizations based off of different classes/ACFs/etc. being common or available only to certain segments of the game world. There's lots of examples of this sort of thing in classic fantasy literature (to say nothing of real life), so some people will get a lot of enjoyment out of participating in a world built this way.

    -------------

    Just for the record, I'm not trying to advocate either position or impose anything on anyone. I'm just pointing out that a likely 'default' assumption that a heavy optimizer might use isn't a default assumption that everyone wants or cares to have, and that (as much as any "big numbers" it generates) might be a reason why heavy optimization gets more of a cold shoulder than it might otherwise expect.

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    Default Re: Let's Talk about Optimization

    Quote Originally Posted by Calimehter View Post
    There is even an element of creative freedom opened up when one treats classes as in-game constructs, though this element is in world building and not character creation. Having classes as in-game constructs allows one to build regional variations or interesting organizations based off of different classes/ACFs/etc. being common or available only to certain segments of the game world. There's lots of examples of this sort of thing in classic fantasy literature (to say nothing of real life), so some people will get a lot of enjoyment out of participating in a world built this way.
    Serious question: doesn't the absurdity of someone differentiating his fighting style from his compatriot by saying, "I can't do that, I'm a Barbarian, not a Crusader," totally ruin any semblance of immersion for you?

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    Default Re: Let's Talk about Optimization

    Quote Originally Posted by Fax Celestis View Post
    Read the DMG.


    Why not? Because it's not realistic?

    I have read the whole dmg, but it was a while ago. Mind being a bit more specific?

    It wasnt a realism issue. It happened twice. One time i wanted to play a pacifist crowd control / buff based bard and found that some levels had nothing but direct damage powers. Another time i wanted to play a swordsman but the party needed a striker so i played a barbarian and ignore all the mystical totem spirit stuff and just concentrated on the conan style big sword guy.

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    Default Re: Let's Talk about Optimization

    There are several problems associated with optimisation, and they tend to come up when the level of optimisation varies within the group.

    1) Optimised (or underoptimised) character dominates particular scenes (typically combat, but not always), to the detriment of other players
    2) It becomes impossible to challenge the group without killing them, because abilities are so varied
    3) Certain teamwork strategies don't work between different levels of optimisation.
    4) Optimisation considerations can lead people to make mechanical choices which strain game immersion.
    5) High standards of optimisation can reduce the number of viable character build choices, viable strategies, leading to a less varied game
    6) High standards of optimisations can reduce the number of viable challenges, thus leading to a less varied game.
    7) Low standards of optimisation can make some characters mechanically ineffective at their perceived role, leading to frustration and lack of immersion
    8) Because optimisation is seen as a skill, it can be used to add a veneer of respectability to bad behaviour, such as bullying other players about their game choices, or hogging the spotlight.

    I'm sure people can think of more.

    A sucessful game is one in which a group of player characters work well together in overcoming obstacles, develop as personalities within a shared world, and have interesting and memorable interactions. Making a character notably more or less capable than the rest of the group gets in the way of this.

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    Default Re: Let's Talk about Optimization

    Quote Originally Posted by Togo View Post
    There are several problems associated with optimisation, and they tend to come up when the level of optimisation varies within the group.

    1) Optimised (or underoptimised) character dominates particular scenes (typically combat, but not always), to the detriment of other players
    2) It becomes impossible to challenge the group without killing them, because abilities are so varied
    3) Certain teamwork strategies don't work between different levels of optimisation.
    4) Optimisation considerations can lead people to make mechanical choices which strain game immersion.
    5) High standards of optimisation can reduce the number of viable character build choices, viable strategies, leading to a less varied game
    6) High standards of optimisations can reduce the number of viable challenges, thus leading to a less varied game.
    7) Low standards of optimisation can make some characters mechanically ineffective at their perceived role, leading to frustration and lack of immersion
    8) Because optimisation is seen as a skill, it can be used to add a veneer of respectability to bad behaviour, such as bullying other players about their game choices, or hogging the spotlight.

    I'm sure people can think of more.

    A sucessful game is one in which a group of player characters work well together in overcoming obstacles, develop as personalities within a shared world, and have interesting and memorable interactions. Making a character notably more or less capable than the rest of the group gets in the way of this.
    1. That...would be an OoC problem, and can be solved by talking to the player(s) in question.
    2. It becomes impossible if:
      • You haven't talked to them, and
      • You are incapable of optimizing at their level.
    3. See number 1.
    4. See....number 1.
    5. Go ahead and guess what the answer here is.
    6. Wow, it's a really applicable answer.
    7. Holy cow, the same answer again!


    It seems as though every problem you've mentioned can be solved by just having an honest, OoC discussion about the comfort level for optimization of the table.

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    Default Re: Let's Talk about Optimization

    Quote Originally Posted by Togo View Post
    2) It becomes impossible to challenge the group without killing them, because abilities are so varied
    This is what makes the GM ruin their own game. I as a person who can make a decently competent character build am not responsible for the destructive actions of the GM.
    3) Certain teamwork strategies don't work between different levels of optimisation.
    Certain teamwork choices are specific. That's nothing new.
    7) Low standards of optimisation can make some characters mechanically ineffective at their perceived role, leading to frustration and lack of immersion
    And yet people get angry if I try to offer help to step their game up. Fascinating. Since I do in fact try to be helpful to the point of making builds for people, sometimes even multiple builds (Choose the one you like most) to attempt to follow their concept as truely as possible on request, I can't see that this is my fault.
    8) Because optimisation is seen as a skill, it can be used to add a veneer of respectability to bad behaviour, such as bullying other players about their game choices, or hogging the spotlight.
    Again, this isn't my fault. I'm not trying to get the spotlight. But i'm not going to act like a complete idiot and cripple myself, either, just so that YOU can feel like you are awesomely powerful playing your crossbow barbarian or whatever. I have no responsibility to awkwardly hobble myself just to feed your ego when i'm not making any attempt to be disruptive. You guys get that neat looking group over there, i'll take these ones here. No really, i'll be fine.
    Again, this works best when you, as the GM, says "Oh, he's playing this optimized high powered character. He put a personality on it and is RPing it though, so as long as I don't throw a dragon or something at him, he isn't DOING anything to cause problems."

    This is especially important because if you DO start throwing huge fights at me, the rest of the party will learn the outliers to my ability and start expecting me to use it all the time. Gosh darn it, just because my wizard can arrange to melee and tank better than Gomen the Barbarian next to me doesn't mean i'm itching to run out into melee and put the fighters out of a job.

    Seriously, I think it's pretty awesome watching the barbarian run out and flip out like a ninja on those orcs. He has such cool lines! And he's, like, the Chosen One of the Third MacGuffin Shrine, how cool is that? It just means I have that combo of abilities in my back pocket if I ever need to save everyone from a TPK, because it's just so easy for me to arrange to have that it would bug me to spend it on something insipid.
    A sucessful game is one in which a group of player characters work well together in overcoming obstacles, develop as personalities within a shared world, and have interesting and memorable interactions.
    Making a character notably more or less capable than the rest of the group gets in the way of this.
    Your statement does not follow.

    I want to work together and overcome obstacles. I want to develop my personality and history. I want to experience your awesome world and story. I want to interact with interesting characters.

    It's just that if the BBEG spontaneously decides to sic an overpowered, over-leveled enemy on us, probably because the GM thinks i'm not being "challenged", my choices are to either stand back and watch the campaign go up in smoke with the PCs I love to be around dying left and right, or to step up to the plate and unleash what is actually going to be a quite anticlimactic ubercombo of abilities and stomp the enemy flat.

    If I stomp the enemy flat, everyone will suddenly get moralistic on me, call me a powergamer, a horrible team member, and wreck the game.

    If I do nothing, then I get to watch the whole party die in front of me, destroying the whole campaign... then either I just commit suicide while people ask "Why don't you use the abilities we know you have?", or I fight back in self defense at the end and everyone calls me a powergamer, and since the rest of the party is TPK, I don't get to do any of that anyways because the game is over.

    So seriously, what do you want me to do? What do you expect from me? Ban everyone from gaming once they know how to make an effective character?
    Last edited by JusticeZero; 2013-08-16 at 10:40 PM.
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  19. - Top - End - #79
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    Default Re: Let's Talk about Optimization

    Quote Originally Posted by JusticeZero View Post
    So seriously, what do you want me to do? What do you expect from me? Ban everyone from gaming once they know how to make an effective character?
    Make sure that the party is all roughly at a similar level of power. If you do this by going up to your party members and saying "hey, your class choice is stupid, play a spell-to-power erudite" then they probably won't listen. So you trade down.

    And there's nothing wrong with having flexibility! Don't play a fighter charger just because your party is centered around tier 4-5. Feel free to play a rogue or a ranger. Not significantly more powerful, but never without things to do.

    In my current campaign, I'm probably the largest optimizer - the party is a werebear paladin (straight from the book, although I'm thinking of talking with him and the GM to get a paladin class upgrade), a warforged melee warlock, an anthropomorphic cat unarmed swordsage, a goliath crusader, and me. I could've played a summoner build I've been working on, but instead I played a shapeshifter. In combat I turn into a giant ant and eat people, or maybe a fleshraker. Out of combat I can serve as a mount, burn holes in walls as a thoqqua, scout as an eagle, ferry people through the air as a giant owl, disguise as other people I know, and I serve as the party face too. I can do a lot - but I can't solve encounters. Like the master of many forms bible says:

    Quote Originally Posted by Master of Many Forms Bible
    Don't overkill. Choose forms that fit to your groups power level. If you have a group that plays high-power, with other players being wizards using only the best spells and other characters being optimized race-class-feat combos, you can use the best forms available to you. However, when your group rather consists of a bard, a normal ranger and an average monk, taking a powerful form like cryohydra early on and killing all opponents by yourself before your fellow characters have much time to do any damage will make your DM ban you. I found it best to use middling forms and only pull out the big guns once the tide of battle has seriously turned against you. If you play powerful forms, the DM will send more powerful monstres, and you less optimized comrades may not be able to keep up with this escalation. In short: De-escalate and avoid the problem.
    If your response after finding the party's average tier and optimization level is significantly below yours is "well I gave them a chance, I guess they would prefer to watch me win at D&D", then the problem is not them.

    And if you're playing nice within your group's power level, maybe swapping your mailman sorcerer to a buffer, letting the melees have their moment in the sun - haste is higher damage than fireball, after all - and the GM is STILL sending overpowering encounters at you, then the problem isn't you either.

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    Default Re: Let's Talk about Optimization

    I've never cared for optimization.
    The players are usually "That Guy"
    People who map out a career of 5 classes over 15-20 levels aren't playing a character they are generating numbers.
    Not to mention they usually want to enter into esoteric classes that have conflicting ideologies or just ignore entry requirements like finding that group of secretive occult clerics or devoting your life to X, or being invited by someone willing to vouch for you and train you. It usually goes something like Oh I'm lvl 6 now. Time to take a 2 level dip into X.

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    Default Re: Let's Talk about Optimization

    Quote Originally Posted by JungleChicken View Post
    I've never cared for optimization.
    The players are usually "That Guy"
    People who map out a career of 5 classes over 15-20 levels aren't playing a character they are generating numbers.
    Not to mention they usually want to enter into esoteric classes that have conflicting ideologies or just ignore entry requirements like finding that group of secretive occult clerics or devoting your life to X, or being invited by someone willing to vouch for you and train you. It usually goes something like Oh I'm lvl 6 now. Time to take a 2 level dip into X.
    This was linked earlier in the thread.

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    Default Re: Let's Talk about Optimization

    Quote Originally Posted by JungleChicken View Post
    I've never cared for optimization.
    The players are usually "That Guy"
    People who map out a career of 5 classes over 15-20 levels aren't playing a character they are generating numbers.
    Not to mention they usually want to enter into esoteric classes that have conflicting ideologies or just ignore entry requirements like finding that group of secretive occult clerics or devoting your life to X, or being invited by someone willing to vouch for you and train you. It usually goes something like Oh I'm lvl 6 now. Time to take a 2 level dip into X.
    Optimization is not just about numbers. I invite you to read my post above if you haven't already, and respond to the points I have made there.

    In the case of dips, a Wizard 20 is miles beyond what any number of esoteric multiclass combinations are going to accomplish for a mundane type.

    Also, why do you find a character aiming to join an organization ahead of time to be so distasteful? Before applying for my master's degree program, I planned my undergraduate courses so I would be qualified to enter it. Before entering undergrad, I picked out the high school electives that would get me there. After I got into the master's, I picked courses that would help me get the job I wanted.

    "Oh, I'm a Bachelor of Design now, time to take a 1-year degree in Human-Computer Interaction so I can get a job at Google" is exactly the same as "Oh, I'm a 6th level Fighter now, time to take a 1-level dip into Paladin so I can join the Divine Crusaders".

    Given that only one of these career paths involves putting your life on the line four times every day, I would think that a D&D character would be even more inclined to optimize themselves.
    Quote Originally Posted by Inevitability View Post
    Greater
    \ˈgrā-tər \
    comparative adjective
    1. Describing basically the exact same monster but with twice the RHD.
    Quote Originally Posted by Artanis View Post
    I'm going to be honest, "the Welsh became a Great Power and conquered Germany" is almost exactly the opposite of the explanation I was expecting

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    Default Re: Let's Talk about Optimization

    Quote Originally Posted by Flickerdart View Post
    Optimization is not just about numbers. I invite you to read my post above if you haven't already, and respond to the points I have made there.

    In the case of dips, a Wizard 20 is miles beyond what any number of esoteric multiclass combinations are going to accomplish for a mundane type.

    Also, why do you find a character aiming to join an organization ahead of time to be so distasteful? Before applying for my master's degree program, I planned my undergraduate courses so I would be qualified to enter it. Before entering undergrad, I picked out the high school electives that would get me there. After I got into the master's, I picked courses that would help me get the job I wanted.

    "Oh, I'm a Bachelor of Design now, time to take a 1-year degree in Human-Computer Interaction so I can get a job at Google" is exactly the same as "Oh, I'm a 6th level Fighter now, time to take a 1-level dip into Paladin so I can join the Divine Crusaders".

    Given that only one of these career paths involves putting your life on the line four times every day, I would think that a D&D character would be even more inclined to optimize themselves.
    Why the 4 levels of fighter and not straight paladin?

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    Default Re: Let's Talk about Optimization

    Quote Originally Posted by Calimehter View Post
    For pure creative freedom (of character generation at least), the former is clearly superior.

    As Talakael has pointed out, though, not everyone will approach the game this way. The fluff *is* there in each book, and while "mileage may vary" for how much everyone likes or appreciates it, some people do like it and would find their enjoyment of the game and immersion in the total game experience to be diminished by ignoring and/or changing it.

    There is even an element of creative freedom opened up when one treats classes as in-game constructs, though this element is in world building and not character creation. Having classes as in-game constructs allows one to build regional variations or interesting organizations based off of different classes/ACFs/etc. being common or available only to certain segments of the game world. There's lots of examples of this sort of thing in classic fantasy literature (to say nothing of real life), so some people will get a lot of enjoyment out of participating in a world built this way.

    -------------

    Just for the record, I'm not trying to advocate either position or impose anything on anyone. I'm just pointing out that a likely 'default' assumption that a heavy optimizer might use isn't a default assumption that everyone wants or cares to have, and that (as much as any "big numbers" it generates) might be a reason why heavy optimization gets more of a cold shoulder than it might otherwise expect.
    I'm not trying to tell anyone what to do. It's just that a game where the DM tells me 'no, you can't call yourself a ninja because you don't have Ninja levels despite being better at all the ninja stuff than a single class Ninja' is not a game I'd consider playing in.

    As for fluff being more mutable than crunch....fluff rarely breaks games. There's a lot more 'OMG this guy optimized his wizard and broke the game' than 'OMG this guy refluffed his wizard and broke my game'.

    Also, in regard to mapping out character progression over several levels, the very nature of prerequisites for both prestige classes and feats pretty much forces you to do that.
    Last edited by LordBlades; 2013-08-17 at 02:20 AM.

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    Default Re: Let's Talk about Optimization

    Quote Originally Posted by JungleChicken View Post
    Why the 4 levels of fighter and not straight paladin?
    Because the character's fighting style is more firmly rooted in traditional warrior training? Because the player doesn't want the character to have divine resilience and a magic horse?

    The paladin dip is not even necessary (it's there just to avoid taking CC Knowedge Religion ranks, mechanically) but it demonstrates a more organic discovery of divine potential than just "oh look, I qualify for this thing now". Divine Crusader is super easy to qualify for with basically any full BAB class.
    Quote Originally Posted by Inevitability View Post
    Greater
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artanis View Post
    I'm going to be honest, "the Welsh became a Great Power and conquered Germany" is almost exactly the opposite of the explanation I was expecting

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    Default Re: Let's Talk about Optimization

    As a bit of different perspective, let me just say, I do enjoy the numbers game. I like to make characters that can do things well. And that's okay. Other people like to make characters that pursue long quest chains that lead to some big backstory began conflict. And that's also okay. We can even go ahead and exist in the same party. I could be a Lloth Touched Draconic Incarnate Warforged with an absurdly eleborate backstory just to justify how on earth that happened. As long as the other memebers of the party aren't trying to be melee beatsticks, there probably won't be many issues, assuming the DM adjusts combat encounters accordingly.
    One of my favorite character archtypes is the Demon Summoner who believes that the power is worth the unsavory company. The extraplanar equivalent to the horde necromancer. Now in D&D, this concept is really strong. And there are games where this is a reasonable concept. Just because it's strong, doesn't mean I should be punished for picking it. It satisfies my desire to see those numbers go up, and it can boost the party as well.
    I now realize I lost where I was going with this, but optimization is overall not a bad thing is the point I was trying to make.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kardar233 View Post
    I was going to PM you about it because I wanted to know, but then you posted it later. Elegant solution. Watch out for Necropolitans.
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  27. - Top - End - #87
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    Default Re: Let's Talk about Optimization

    Quote Originally Posted by RFLS View Post
    That...would be an OoC problem, and can be solved by talking to the player(s) in question.
    Not necessarily. While I'm a great believer in talking problems through, the problem is game-mechanical one. Either the characters change, or the game changes, or the the problem remains.

    Let's take an example. You have a game set in a monestry, full of monks. One person plays an optimised wizard. Sooner or later you're going to get into one of the situations on the list. Yes, you can talk to people about it, but there is still a game mechanical gap to deal with, and it causes problems.

    Quote Originally Posted by JusticeZero View Post
    This is what makes the GM ruin their own game. I as a person who can make a decently competent character build am not responsible for the destructive actions of the GM.
    Sure you are. The DM is trying to set the challenge at a level that will challenge but not kill off the PCs. In order to challenge your character, the encounter has to be lethal to everyone else.

    Quote Originally Posted by JusticeZero View Post
    Certain teamwork choices are specific. That's nothing new.And yet people get angry if I try to offer help to step their game up. Fascinating.
    Maybe I missed the point where you offered to step your game down?

    Quote Originally Posted by JusticeZero View Post
    Since I do in fact try to be helpful to the point of making builds for people, sometimes even multiple builds (Choose the one you like most) to attempt to follow their concept as truely as possible on request, I can't see that this is my fault.Again, this isn't my fault. I'm not trying to get the spotlight. But i'm not going to act like a complete idiot and cripple myself, either, just so that YOU can feel like you are awesomely powerful playing your crossbow barbarian or whatever. I have no responsibility to awkwardly hobble myself just to feed your ego when i'm not making any attempt to be disruptive.
    Of course it's your fault. Running a game with characters with violently different capabilities causes problems. If you're playing an outlier, too high or too low, and this is causing problems, this is your fault.

    Quote Originally Posted by JusticeZero View Post
    Again, this works best when you, as the GM, says "Oh, he's playing this optimized high powered character. He put a personality on it and is RPing it though, so as long as I don't throw a dragon or something at him, he isn't DOING anything to cause problems."
    Sure, and that can work, but that isn't the kind of game that everyone wants to run, or to play. Some games rely on the player characters actually being in danger now and then, and having a demigod in disguise who will step in to smite the game whenever he feels like it, gets in the way, even if it's a very responsible and polite demigod who humours the amusing little mortals most of the time.

    Quote Originally Posted by JusticeZero View Post
    This is especially important because if you DO start throwing huge fights at me, the rest of the party will learn the outliers to my ability and start expecting me to use it all the time. Gosh darn it, just because my wizard can arrange to melee and tank better than Gomen the Barbarian next to me doesn't mean i'm itching to run out into melee and put the fighters out of a job.
    No, but it may not matter if you do or not. Your presence means the party are never really in trouble - they're just playing around.

    Have you ever played in one of those games where the DM dreams up a uber-powerful NPC who turns up every so often to drag the party out of trouble and take credit for their efforts? Was it fun? Because you're playing that guy.

    Quote Originally Posted by JusticeZero View Post
    I want to work together and overcome obstacles. I want to develop my personality and history. I want to experience your awesome world and story. I want to interact with interesting characters.
    But you also want to play an optimised PC, and that seems to be the priority for you. How do you manage to work together to overcome obstacles when you don't really the need the other characters?

    Quote Originally Posted by JusticeZero View Post
    It's just that if the BBEG spontaneously decides to sic an overpowered, over-leveled enemy on us, probably because the GM thinks i'm not being "challenged", my choices are to either stand back and watch the campaign go up in smoke with the PCs I love to be around dying left and right, or to step up to the plate and unleash what is actually going to be a quite anticlimactic ubercombo of abilities and stomp the enemy flat.

    If I stomp the enemy flat, everyone will suddenly get moralistic on me, call me a powergamer, a horrible team member, and wreck the game.

    If I do nothing, then I get to watch the whole party die in front of me, destroying the whole campaign... then either I just commit suicide while people ask "Why don't you use the abilities we know you have?", or I fight back in self defense at the end and everyone calls me a powergamer, and since the rest of the party is TPK, I don't get to do any of that anyways because the game is over.
    Yeah the game is pretty much toast no matter what you do. And you say this came about because the DM couldn't challenge you any other way? Surely there is an obvious solution here.

    Quote Originally Posted by JusticeZero View Post
    So seriously, what do you want me to do? What do you expect from me? Ban everyone from gaming once they know how to make an effective character?
    No, just don't make a character that's significantly more powerful than everyone else's. It's a challenge, it's actually harder to do than optimisation. Anyone with a half-decent knoweldge of the game system and access to the internet can come up with an optimised character, but designing a character whose abilities mesh well with others is much harder, and requires a broader knowledge of the system to do well. You sound like you know what you're doing, and could probably manage it, with a bit of practice.

    A more basic problem may be trust. At the moment you're stepping in the stop the DM ruining the game and offering to redesign other people's characters. It sounds like you don't trust them to make the right choices. If you can't work with them on their terms, as well as yours, you're going run into problems no matter what you do. Why not try trusting the DM, trusting the other characters, and making a character that fits in with what they want to do, and see if the game still goes horribly wrong?

  28. - Top - End - #88
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    Default Re: Let's Talk about Optimization

    How about the GM recognize that i'm not there to be "challenged", i'm there to hang out with my friends, interact with the cool world, and the story? I don't give a damn about being "challenged". I want to RP, and I don't want to be actively punished just because I have some awareness that clerics aren't just heal-bots, wizards aren't just blasters, and so on.

    And how about recognizing that I like to make something other than a gnomish monk now and then? Like, say, when I show up and everyone asks, nay, begs for someone to play "the healer"? For most games, that's the cleric. That's tier one! And has a lot of RP potential. It's a class I enjoy playing just because they have a lot of interesting fiddly bits in their characterization, and it's a class that people regularly tell me they desperately need and oh please make a healer. By the way, these same people probably wouldn't go for any of the other options for "healers" since those are pretty arcane 3P things. Gee, I could play a Vitalist? Oh, no no, that's psionic and we read once that that's overpowered, so we can't be having you play a T3. You need to be playing a T1 out of the CRB instead!

    And what do I do? Buff up the party, carry a couple wands of CLW in my pocket, then walk around bonking things on the head while talking about the will of Insertgodhere. That's not particularly disruptive. At least, not unless the GM is trying to destroy his own game by doing me in.

    Actively making my character ineffective and dysfunctional isn't "a challenge", it's a travesty. It's a Bergeron-esque bit of egomaniacal harrassment which is absolutely the same thing as if I started abusing you and yelling at you for making your character wrong for not optimizing yourself to Pun-Pun levels. There is zero difference.

    You are abusing me for not making MY character the way YOU want my character to be, then YOU are blaming ME for something that YOU did. Isn't that one of the main things that was being complained about? Particularly when my character isn't some unique snowflake and fits in with the setting just fine?

    Seriously, "Now I had to go kill the rest of the party off with a Balor, see what you made me do? You're such a horrible person that hates your party! I like the party, and now I had to kill them all to punish you!" doesn't come off as a bit messed up to you?
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    Default Re: Let's Talk about Optimization

    Nobody is telling you to run a commoner. You may just need to adjust the dial.

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    Default Re: Let's Talk about Optimization

    Quote Originally Posted by Fax Celestis View Post
    Serious question: doesn't the absurdity of someone differentiating his fighting style from his compatriot by saying, "I can't do that, I'm a Barbarian, not a Crusader," totally ruin any semblance of immersion for you?
    If the guy standing right next to him is actually a Crusader and is also his longtime adventuring bud, then yes it would.

    However, if the Barbarian hailed from a region where the training was unavailable and hadn't met any Crusaders (or at least not known them long enough to train with them or observe them fighting long enough to gain any benefits), then no it wouldn't.

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