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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    DrowGirl

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    Default "Optimized" characters or parties?

    I have to admit that since lurking, then becoming a poster here, I've been interested to see how much time and effort goes into the "optimised" or "crunch over fluff" characters.

    Without any value judgment whatsoever attached to either end of the spectrum, how often do people make/play characters in their home games that adhere so closely to these "optimal" builds?

    For my part, I've learned some things, considered some options, use some of the (good) advice I've gotten and passed on others, for personal preference reasons or because my experiences in my own games tell me not to. (YMMV of course.)

    I mean, my Dervish build would be more effective with a reach/trip weapon, but it wouldn't match the image I had going into the build, so I snipped that part out. Does it make her sub-optimal? Sure. Does it make her useless? I hope not!

    I'm just curious to hear/see where peoples' own experiences/preferences fall on the spectrum.

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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: "Optimized" characters or parties?

    I want my characters to fall as close to the "useful" mark as I can, not too far past it, but not behind it either. I typically play "concept characters" which is my way of saying fluff first, cruch second. With some concepts optimization is easy, too easy and I reign myself back so as to not overshadow the rest of the party, and with other characters the concept is so marginal or god forbid ineffective that I have to stretch for every rules advantage I can find. So I would definitely say that the level of "optimization" that goes into my builds varies considerably based on my vision of the character and the extent to which other party members seek to optimize their characters.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: "Optimized" characters or parties?

    I'm playing a 2 Brd/6 sorc/5 Heartwarder(PrC), despite the "non-optimal" bard/sorceror multiclass right off the start, entirely for "fluff." It fits the character background.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    DwarfClericGuy

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    Default Re: "Optimized" characters or parties?

    I don't use optimal builds at all... my closest is my friend and I are twin halfling rogues who use spiked chains... we could be total cheese-holes, but we aren't. I haven't even tried to trip or sunder or anything.

    I enjoy reading the optimization boards, because I learn something new all the time. Be it spell or feat, or just a new (to me) trick, it's great. There are so many splatbooks, and so many feats and abilities and classes and spells spread out all over, I can't take the time to check out every last bit of information - so that's what I use the boards for.

    I do think, the next character I play will be a wizard - all batman styled out. Both wizards in our game went pure evo build - and it really is suboptimal. I'm definitely gonna do something better :)

    Theo
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  5. - Top - End - #5

    Default Re: "Optimized" characters or parties?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talya View Post
    I'm playing a 2 Brd/6 sorc/5 Heartwarder(PrC), despite the "non-optimal" bard/sorceror multiclass right off the start, entirely for "fluff." It fits the character background.
    How does it fit the background any better than 1 bard/7 sorc, say, or with sorcerer cross-classing Perform (unless you need Bard to enter Heartwarder).

    With its CHA boosts, Heartwarder isn't exactly bad or anything for a CHA-based caster, mind you.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Talya's Avatar

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    Default Re: "Optimized" characters or parties?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bears With Lasers View Post
    How does it fit the background any better than 1 bard/7 sorc, say, or with sorcerer cross-classing Perform (unless you need Bard to enter Heartwarder).

    With its CHA boosts, Heartwarder isn't exactly bad or anything for a CHA-based caster, mind you.
    Her background is a harem girl who won her freedom from her mostly benevolent calishiite master. 1/7 would probably have worked alright. But her earlier focus was on entertainment in every possible form.

    (As for needing bard, i don't. One level of it did get me into the PrC sooner though, as proficiency with a whip is a class requirement, as are a number of other feats i needed to take, and skill ranks which are all class for bard.)
    Last edited by Talya; 2007-04-16 at 06:35 PM.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Epiphanis's Avatar

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    Default Re: "Optimized" characters or parties?

    The decision to go hardcore optimal or more lax is dictated a lot by the group you are gaming with and the DM's style.

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: "Optimized" characters or parties?

    Honestly, I've yet to play a truly optimized character. Generally I'll come up with a character first, and then I'll build the character as best I can while adhering to the concept. If I can't come up with a playable build for the concept, I start over. So I won't deliberately nerf myself to the point of uselessness, but I don't just grab things for power, either. It works for me, anyway.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morgan_Scott82 View Post
    ...From an in character perspective, being one who knows they're about to face emminant demise, it makes every bit of sense to pursue the course of greatest power...To not try to make your character as effective as possible within the confines of the rules and the characters background, and surrounding environment is to be decidely out of character.




    Credit to Ceika for the awesome avatar (which happens to be Norril, my Nomad).

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: "Optimized" characters or parties?

    I tend to take stuff that I think sounds cool, and avoid mechanics I don't like. I'd never play a wildshaping druid, for example, because I don't like the way the ability works. I do like shapeshift, though. Once I have an idea of what the character is, and a few things to bolster that, I'll take powerful stuff when I have room for it. My judgement on powerful isn't the best, though.
    Thanks to Veera for the avatar.

    I keep my stories in a blog. You should read them.

    5E Sorcerous Origin: Arcanist

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    Dhavaer, your ideas are like candy from the sky, sprinkled lightly with cinnamon.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gwyn chan 'r Gwyll View Post
    Wow. Badass without being flashy and showy, attractive while remaining classy. Bravo Dhavaer.
    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    ...Why do I imagine you licking your lips and rubbing your hands together?

  10. - Top - End - #10
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    Grr's Avatar

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    Default Re: "Optimized" characters or parties?

    I hate min-maxxers. They aren't allowed in my games. You build the character based upon background, concept, and how the character "matures" for lack of a better word, as they experience the world and change because of it. And before any number crunching munchkins chime in, I don't care how convoluted your background is. It's very easy to spot when you're writing the background around the classes and levels chosen, rather than choosing classes based upon the background.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: "Optimized" characters or parties?

    I don't optimize per se...I ensure my character's survival. I attempt to make them both thematically and mechanically sound, erring to the side of thematics when in a quandry.

    However, I have been known to make the occasional cheesebuild, but those are mostly for arenas and for display.

  12. - Top - End - #12

    Default Re: "Optimized" characters or parties?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grr View Post
    I hate min-maxxers. They aren't allowed in my games. You build the character based upon background, concept, and how the character "matures" for lack of a better word, as they experience the world and change because of it. And before any number crunching munchkins chime in, I don't care how convoluted your background is. It's very easy to spot when you're writing the background around the classes and levels chosen, rather than choosing classes based upon the background.
    Min-maxing and background have very little to do with each other.
    The same background could describe a mechanically competent character and a mechanically highly feeble one. Fluff is fluff, crunch is crunch. There are dozens of ways to represent any given background mechanically, especially when you consider how broad and flexible the fluff of many classes is. Some of these ways will be better than others.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: "Optimized" characters or parties?

    i have been known to min/max if thats the party i am with so i dont fall behind..its nice to feel useful. But i mostly play alot of RP heavy games with my old buddies when they have time so i guess thats fun to. Min/Maxing is ok with in reason, there just needs to be a level you have to see your not going to have fun. When i DM i DM more for RP, and my wife's school run D&D program seems to like that just fine.
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  14. - Top - End - #14
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Annarrkkii's Avatar

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    Default Re: "Optimized" characters or parties?

    I find something I like—a theme, an image—and go with it. In my mind, I generally decide 4 things.

    1. Race, gender, and approximate physical build.

    2. Obvious equipment (weapons, armor).

    3. Fighting style (TWF, ranging, spellcasting)

    4. Background theme or hook.

    From there, I try to optimize as much as I can. I have yet to discover a new "broken" build, or even play and existing ownage build. I do, however, greatly enjoy having an effective character, and try to make my character as true to theme as possible while remaining as effective as can be managed.
    Good grammar is hot.

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: "Optimized" characters or parties?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grr View Post
    I hate min-maxxers. They aren't allowed in my games. You build the character based upon background, concept, and how the character "matures" for lack of a better word, as they experience the world and change because of it. And before any number crunching munchkins chime in, I don't care how convoluted your background is. It's very easy to spot when you're writing the background around the classes and levels chosen, rather than choosing classes based upon the background.
    So you aren't allowed to maximizes your characters effectiveness as he levels or you're a "munchkin"? A munchkin is someone who will munch numbers and have no regard for background, there shouldn't be a problem with people who do create a background, pick a class dependant on that, and maximize what that class can do. You say it's easy to spot, but is it? You see someone picking all the right feats to maximize an archers efficiency(manyshot, greater manyshot, ect.) and in his background it says he was from a tribe and he was a scout for the tribe, and that is how he developed into an archery specialist. Now did the background come from the character or did the character come from the background? It doesn't matter as long as they all fit together in the end.

    The only "optimal" things that people should worry about are rule-benders, there is nothing wrong with "optimizing" when it comes to simply picking the right feats and such for what your character is supposed to specialize in.

    Edit: Also, by optimal, I don't mean you have to play a certain standard build. Right now I'm playing a monk who specilializes completely in hand-to-hand combat, while he could carry a guisarme for tripping, I don't make him, because it wouldn't fit. Is he still optimized? For what I want of him, he is quite optimal, maybe not by the standards of what he could be, but if we were going by that, I'd just make him a level 1 kobold-soon-to-be-god.
    Last edited by Deel; 2007-04-16 at 07:13 PM.

  16. - Top - End - #16
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: "Optimized" characters or parties?

    I would also like to cite the occasionally overlooked principle of the adventurers outlook. From an in character perspective, being one who knows they're about to face emminant demise, it makes every bit of sense to pursue the course of greatest power. I don't play a low dex fighter who doesn't wear armor because he thinks it "uncomfortable" for good reason, after just one encounter the character has either died, or survived and decided that a bit of discomfort is worth it if it means living through the next encounter. To not try to make your character as effective as possible within the confines of the rules and the characters background, and surrounding environment is to be decidely out of character.

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Halfling in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: "Optimized" characters or parties?

    Quote Originally Posted by Morgan_Scott82 View Post
    I would also like to cite the occasionally overlooked principle of the adventurers outlook. From an in character perspective, being one who knows they're about to face emminant demise, it makes every bit of sense to pursue the course of greatest power. I don't play a low dex fighter who doesn't wear armor because he thinks it "uncomfortable" for good reason, after just one encounter the character has either died, or survived and decided that a bit of discomfort is worth it if it means living through the next encounter. To not try to make your character as effective as possible within the confines of the rules and the characters background, and surrounding environment is to be decidely out of character.
    Quoted for veracity and sigg'd (only partially, as the whole thing would not fit).

    I agree with your sentiments wholeheartedly. Well, unless your character has a death wish, or something, but that's the exception, not the rule.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morgan_Scott82 View Post
    ...From an in character perspective, being one who knows they're about to face emminant demise, it makes every bit of sense to pursue the course of greatest power...To not try to make your character as effective as possible within the confines of the rules and the characters background, and surrounding environment is to be decidely out of character.




    Credit to Ceika for the awesome avatar (which happens to be Norril, my Nomad).

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: "Optimized" characters or parties?

    I play a system that's impossible to optimise or otherwise "game". Should give you a fairly clear indication where I stand.
    Last edited by Kiero; 2007-04-16 at 07:25 PM.
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  19. - Top - End - #19
    Troll in the Playground
     
    ElfMonkGuy

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    Default Re: "Optimized" characters or parties?

    Back before I knew how to optimize properly, I often tried to do so. Once I learned how, I realized I no longer wanted to.

    So no, I guess I've never optimized a character.

  20. - Top - End - #20
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    BlueWizardGirl

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    Default Re: "Optimized" characters or parties?

    From all the comparison threads, one would think the majority of people are optimizers, or at least wanting to be as efficient as possible.

    I cannot say I optimize a whole lot beyond "this gives me a higher armor class" or "this is a more useful spell than that." If I use a two handed weapon, it is because it fits the character, not because it does more damage than two weapon fighting. I want to be functional, but it is not like I live by the Wizards as Batman guide and such...

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    Orc in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: "Optimized" characters or parties?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grr View Post
    I hate min-maxxers. They aren't allowed in my games. You build the character based upon background, concept, and how the character "matures" for lack of a better word, as they experience the world and change because of it. And before any number crunching munchkins chime in, I don't care how convoluted your background is. It's very easy to spot when you're writing the background around the classes and levels chosen, rather than choosing classes based upon the background.
    Ok, look, thats awesome, but there is no need to be so elitist about it. Why can't someone who optimizes there character have a good story for it?
    "We are all responsible for everybody."

  22. - Top - End - #22

    Default Re: "Optimized" characters or parties?

    Because there is only ONE TRUE WAY to play, and anyone who does it differently is having BADWRONGFUN.

  23. - Top - End - #23
    Orc in the Playground
     
    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Default Re: "Optimized" characters or parties?

    I'm much more interested in weird or new than optimal, so I rarely learn enough about a class to get down into the true stinking guts of optimization. I mean, I've put courtier levels on a plesiasaur. I have issues.

    On the other hand, I generally feel that the non-optimal silliness of my ideas allows me to the go buck wild with whatever ruins of optimization I'm left with after the weirdness. So I'll make a goliath wilder, sacrificing a manifester level and not even getting a primary stat bump, but I'll also spend a lot of time massaging his power list. Little from column A, little from column B, like most people I would imagine.
    Last edited by Counterspin; 2007-04-16 at 08:03 PM.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Lemur's Avatar

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    Default Re: "Optimized" characters or parties?

    I generally like to make sure that the character is both effective and unique. This means that there's usually a good amount of so-called optimization, and also interesting thematic choices so that no one can ever accuse me of being cliche.

    I like being surprising and upredictable, so one of the things I like to do is make a character who is very powerful in terms of game mechanics, but rarely utilizes any of the really powerful abilities. Unless of course, the situation is a real bind, or I want to be dramatic. I blame this quirk of mine on watching too much anime.

    Quote Originally Posted by Agatsuma View Post
    From all the comparison threads, one would think the majority of people are optimizers, or at least wanting to be as efficient as possible.
    In all fairness, a lot of threads that involve comparison start with questions asking for help building a character. I'm not gonna say no one, but most people enjoy playing characters that have some special ability, and can be useful for the situations they find themselves in.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Zincorium's Avatar

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    Default Re: "Optimized" characters or parties?

    Quote Originally Posted by Agatsuma View Post
    From all the comparison threads, one would think the majority of people are optimizers, or at least wanting to be as efficient as possible.

    I cannot say I optimize a whole lot beyond "this gives me a higher armor class" or "this is a more useful spell than that." If I use a two handed weapon, it is because it fits the character, not because it does more damage than two weapon fighting. I want to be functional, but it is not like I live by the Wizards as Batman guide and such...
    Well, the comparison threads often focus on what can be done by a general member of the class, even an averagely played wizard can do horrible things with time stop once they get it, and clerics require little gaming experience to work well in melee as well as spellcasting.

    When someone asks for help with a build, as opposed to a character concept, that's taken to mean that they want advice on the mechanical aspects. Thus, that's what we help them with, and see if any of the suggestions fit.

    Personally, I play a character with an interesting concept, and then optimize within that to where I've got a good chance of survival and always have something to do within a given campaign. I'll do a 180 as far as feat/Prc selection in the middle of the campaign if I think I'd have more fun with the way the character would be.

    As far as disallowing anyone who min-maxes, without taking into account whether they're decent roleplayers, is going to mean you'll be losing good players. Experienced people should be able to do both unless they simply don't care about being good at one or another. And I think someone who can't be bothered to create a character that will survive conflict should have to deal with the consequences, same as an RP-averse character who just lights things on fire and kills people.
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  26. - Top - End - #26
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Enzario's Avatar

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    Default Re: "Optimized" characters or parties?

    Whenever I make a character, I make whatever I'm feeling like at the moment, then tweak it as I see fit. I might not be the strongest in the group, but I sure as **** have the most fun with my character. What I hate the most are people who play the same type of character all the time. I never use a single class for two characters that I make at about the same time. (I also hate parallel universe concepts, so you can see where that one came from.)
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    EvilClericGuy

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    Default Re: "Optimized" characters or parties?

    I'm fairly ambivelant about optimization. I prefer to be about the same as my party. What does irritate me is the idea that certain parts of your character background require you to take certain feats and skills "for flavor." Your character background is what you make it. Blatant contradictions aside, you do not have to build your character based on buzzwords about your background. Saying your character is skilled with the bow and the sword does not mean you have to take weapon focus for both those weapons.
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  28. - Top - End - #28
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    Grr's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Knight_Of_Twilight View Post
    Ok, look, thats awesome, but there is no need to be so elitist about it. Why can't someone who optimizes there character have a good story for it?
    The point of playing an RPG is to play a role. Not be the best at rolling some dice because you "optimized" the best. I never min-max or cheese and I'm pretty sure I have the most fun when it comes to playing my character. I don't need to be in combat to have my "fun".

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    GreataxeFighterGuy

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    Quote Originally Posted by Counterspin View Post
    I'm much more interested in weird or new than optimal, so I rarely learn enough about a class to get down into the true stinking guts of optimization. I mean, I've put courtier levels on a plesiasaur. I have issues.

    On the other hand, I generally feel that the non-optimal silliness of my ideas allows me to the go buck wild with whatever ruins of optimization I'm left with after the weirdness. So I'll make a goliath wilder, sacrificing a manifester level and not even getting a primary stat bump, but I'll also spend a lot of time massaging his power list. Little from column A, little from column B, like most people I would imagine.
    I'm with you there, Counterspin, though I can't say I've tried the courtier levels on a plesiosaur... Maybe later.

    But, yeah, I always go with a character concept first. Sometimes its a concept of what the character will act like, sometimes its something I want the character to do. Lately, I tend to stick to the second one more, for some reason. That tends to result in things like my goliath monk/fighter/reaping mauler that I just wanted to have a massive grapple check and be able to fling people(enemies or allies) all over the battlefield. Then again, things like my kobold barbarian are just to see if I can make something like that work. I don't "min-max", and you can hardly call what I do optimizing, but I enjoy the challenge of making some absurd character battle ready. Or something like that. Just my two-cents.
    "The more I talk, the stupider I sound." ~Me
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  30. - Top - End - #30
    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Re: "Optimized" characters or parties?

    I play with a mostly inexperienced group, so I have a tendency to play optimized support characters. In the game we just finished playing, my wizard was basically a debuff/buff machine in combat. I had a great time playing the character and seeing his personality grow, and the rest of the group had a blast hacking slowed hordes apart with their hasted charaters weilding (greater) magic weapons. I also helped the rest of the group make better characters from a purely mechanical standpoint while staying in line with their character concept. Because it is a lot more fun to play the campaign through and succeed than to have a TPK. And we all had fun. People who thought RPGs were only played by weirdos who live in their parents basements and haven't seen the light of day or the inside of a shower in months saw that they are fun games where a group of friends can relax, leave their real world problems at the door and have fun together. I'm such a terrible DnD player though because I played an optimized character, and helped other to optimize their characters. One day I hope to learn the true fun of playing gimpy mcgimps a lot the first level commer with the straight 3 stat array and know the true joy of DnD

    And the fact that threads like this come up almost everyday is why I think every RPG board should have the Stormwind Fallacy stickied.

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