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Starsinger
2008-12-24, 03:16 AM
I've been wondering about this for a while, and figured might as well ask. What's the appeal in optimization, specifically high-end optimization? Where's the fun in, to use D&D 3e as an example, taking out a CR 18 creature with Glitterdust or throwing "Save or Dies" at the enemy, repeatedly?

I understand the appeal it would have for say, Munchkins, but there are several people who optimize that I wouldn't necessarily want to call a Munchkin. So what is it about things like Leap Attack-Power Attack-Pounce-Full Attack-Shock Trooper (Attack :smalltongue:) round after round that's exciting?

Is it a desire to "win"? An ego boosting "pissing contest" as it were, to see who can make the biggest and best build? I apologize if I sound condescending, I don't see the appeal in optimization to the extent I generally hear of.

Rei_Jin
2008-12-24, 03:19 AM
Well, the appeal for me with optimisation is the thought exercise component of it, and gaining a better understanding of the system that you are using.

Working through a character concept to see how to best build it, and working through the mechanics of it helps me understand more of what I'm working with, and what to expect.

It also helps when I get a killer DM who is out to destroy me for no particular reason, or for when I get cheesy powergaming players.

In short? It expands my knowledge of the system, and helps make me a better player and DM. Most of the horrible cheese I've built I would never use, and I wouldn't recommend anyone else doing either.

Fan
2008-12-24, 03:20 AM
It's the power appeal to be honest. People want to be many magnitudes stronger than they ever will be in real life, and they don't like feeling threatened in game by anything. even the Balor.

Whiplord
2008-12-24, 03:25 AM
For me, it's the knowledge that I can take all these various rules, and put them together in a cool and unique way. I also, personally, enjoy the number crunching aspect of putting together a sheet and having all the information laid out.

And of course it's satisfying to have a powerful character. Weak characters simply aren't that fun. Say all you want about RP, and likely it's true, but DnD at least remains a very combat oriented system, and if you're useless in such a big part, your fun will likely be less than it might otherwise.

This is not to say that every character that is not 'optimized' is going to suck. Or even that every 'optimized' character should be able to singlehandledly destroy encounter's of an overpowering CR.

Also in the end, I think it comes down to group. If you are an optimized Batman wizard in a party with a core fighter, a monk, and a simple healing cleric, then not only will you not have as much fun (which is what this all is about in the end, at least for me), but you will also lessen the fun that the rest of the group has.

However, if all the members of the party, and your DM optimize as well, it can result in some very memorable games.

Again, in no way am I attempting to lessen the importance of RP. I love creating a character concept and acting it out. I just happen to equally love making the character from a mechanical standpoint.

magellan
2008-12-24, 03:26 AM
It also helps when I get a killer DM who is out to destroy me for no particular reason, or for when I get cheesy powergaming players.


optimizing helps against optimizing? Interesting...

The Antigamer
2008-12-24, 03:27 AM
Optimization as an exercise explores the limits and cracks in the system. I enjoy them as a kind of puzzle-solving activity, but rarely do I exploit my knowledge by making an uber-optimized build in a campaign, unless it's fiendishly hard or the DM's an ass. Also, exploring how to twink out a PC means that when I DM, I can smell cheese coming a mile away, and prevent any really serious powergaming that'll break the game for everyone else, spoiling the fun. Like they say, no one will ever play Pun-Pun, but it sure was fun designing him.

Kyeudo
2008-12-24, 03:28 AM
The extent you hear of are the theoretical limits of the classes. Yes, the one-shot-wonders are powerful but, as you've pointed out, most of them are one trick ponies.

However, knowing where power lies helps you make the most of any concept. For example, I once gamed with a guy whose concept was a paladin with sorcerous powers gained from vampire blood back in his family tree. He was going to do Paladin 5/Sorcerer 6 so he'd have spells and a mount. I pointed him to Paladin 2/Sorcerer 6/Knight Phantom 3. It gave him what he wanted, but more of everything.

Fluff is so easy to divorce from crunch that milking your concept for extra power never hurts and can come in handy in a pinch. Does it matter when you are talking to the king that your uncouth tribesman is a warblade instead of a barbarian? No. Does it matter when you have an angry red dragon trying to kill you? Yes!

Deepblue706
2008-12-24, 03:38 AM
Optimization is appealing to me when I'm trying to build PCs around absurd concepts that would not work unless I invested a fair amount of thought into the mechanics. For instance, a human fighter who dual-wields bastard swords...and throws them. Unless you optimize the method, it doesn't work.

In most other cases, I happen to find optimization a rather shallow approach to character construction. Of course, there are exceptions. Still; if you optimize, I probably hate you as a person and wish you great ill.

Rei_Jin
2008-12-24, 03:40 AM
optimizing helps against optimizing? Interesting...

Sadly, yes. It does.

Most people don't know enough about the system to optimise correctly, they only go half way, or maybe three quarters.

When you throw encounters up to them that they can't kill, but the CR is appropriate, and they've build super optimised characters, they get the lesson that anything the player can do, the DM can do better.

Also, if as a player the DM is trying to kill me for no particular reason than to sate his own need for blood, then using optimisation to show him that there's a nice way and a not nice way to play the game can be needed.

I've done it with my current DM, and he's since decided that deliberately setting out to kill the party is a bad idea. It gives us all too much wealth and XP.

magellan
2008-12-24, 04:27 AM
But isnt that all a bit like an arms race? best way to win is not to start it? Also: if your DM is out to kill you and he is serious, no optimization in the world is going to save you from the ceiling in the room, that actually is a 10 ton ston block.

bosssmiley
2008-12-24, 04:33 AM
TO - exploring the limits of the system to see where it degenerates into illogic and absurdity. When you know where those limits are you can learn how to keep to the sane side of the line. Net result, better game for you and your friends.

CO - speaking personally, after a hard week at the metaphorical coalface why play an unlucky patsy who "can't get away with nuthin"? I get enough of that IRL. CO helps me recreate within the game mechanics the OTT, balls-to-the-wall heroics I can see in my imagination. It's like tuning a car for performance I suppose. :smallwink:


Eggy; humble student of the School of Stilton Bearded Cheese.

Eldariel
2008-12-24, 04:57 AM
Well, my theory is that all non-optimal adventurers are dead. Adventuring is a dangerous business; unless you go out of your way to stay alive, you're going to end up in a body bag. Optimization is a logical extension of the idea that the world follows the rules given instead of trying to mimic our world (which, let's face it, it doesn't). And that's how I want to play - if the world has certain rules, everyone in that world better follow them. I find the consistency of a world far more important than epic stories. Both is of course better, but if I had to choose between a world that makes sense and a game with mill-of-the-grill story and a game with an inconsistent world and an epic story, I'd probably choose the former.

Besides that though, I simply optimize to ensure party balance. Proper optimization allows you to convey any character idea without mechanical issues. That is, in a game of optimized characters, there should be no player ahead or behind the other players in their characters' ability to contribute in their given fields. Furthermore, optimized characters tend to simply have more options they can pursue proficiently than unoptimized characters. Therefore, there's greater variety in playing an optimized character; you've got lots of efficient means to reach an end so you don't just have to repeat a cycle every encounter.

Of course, extreme optimization towards one goal, such as Charger Barbarians, leads to repeated use of one strategy. However, that's simply a problem in the class; the class design doesn't allow for a lot of variety while still being efficient. This problem only exists for melee characters and thus I instead use ToB to sidestep that issue (and strongly encourage my players to do the same). Basically, optimization (within limits and through the board) ensures fairness, variety and survivability. It also allows me to work with any possible monster encounters a bit more (I've never sent a monster with Toughness at the players) as I know they have the tools to survive should they play their cards correctly. Same applies to other DMs DMing for me; one can make for much more powerful and interesting combat encounters in a world of optimized PCs. Generally you can just expand the foes' arsenal too when the PCs enjoy a wider range of optimization.


Basically, I find that optimization changes the game...for the better.

Edge of Dreams
2008-12-24, 05:02 AM
For me, optimization is all about winning in a way that's unexpected. If everyone says that 2-handed power attack is the standard of big damage, then I want to be the guy who figures out how to either get that much damage out of dual wielding, or find some really great benefit to offset the damage loss. I want to win if I can, but on my own terms, in my own style.

For those who know Magic The Gathering's three play styles (link, anyone?) I'm whatcha call a "Johnny" - interesting strategy and optimization just to see if it can be done matters more to me than winning. The other type of optimizer is a "Spike" - winning is all that matters, and optimizing is their way of "winning" d&d by making sure they can win any reasonable encounter with no trouble, even if that means playing a one-trick-pony.

ghost_warlock
2008-12-24, 05:12 AM
Um, anything worth doing is worth doing well?

KKL
2008-12-24, 05:26 AM
Um, anything worth doing is worth doing well?

This is my reason.

Curmudgeon
2008-12-24, 05:29 AM
I like starting out with something that's not inherently powerful and seeing if I can make it generally effective. Like starting with a Rogue, probably the most balanced (i.e., middling in power) of the core classes, and seeing if I can make one that's decent in both melee and ranged combat. Pure optimizers will be happy to make a character that does one thing extremely well, and could as well be part of the scenery the rest of the time. I like the challenge of making a character that's playable all the time. After all, D&D is a role-playing game; what's the fun of a character who spends most of the time just standing around?

Avilan the Grey
2008-12-24, 05:30 AM
There is a huge difference for me between RPG and cRPG for obvious reasons. In a Table Top situation, an optimized character is not the same as a (nearly) min-maxed character for example. You have to be more well balanced (and can survive it too!), so your fighter don't have to be butt ugly to survive.
Obviously, if you are a fighter you pick good fighter-optimizing feats and skills).

(Most players in groups I have played with that plays a fighter type tend to multiclass with a skillmonkey class eventually, most commonly Rogue, because it benefits the survivability in the long run. The most common combinations is Fighter / Rogue, Barbarian / Rogue, Barbarian / Bard and Bard / Fighter).

In a cRPG on the other hand a lot of times you have to go hardcore optimizing because the computer does not adjust enemies, and situations to suit you (nor can you improvise like in a table top game).

Tempest Fennac
2008-12-24, 05:30 AM
I prefer RPing to combat, but I always put optimization first based on the fact that I hate the idea of having to spend time drawing up another character (I don't like overshadowing other players, dispite liking other people to be super-optimized so that combat ends sooner, but I consider not being able to pull my weight to be inconsiderate).

Starsinger
2008-12-24, 05:38 AM
I suppose at this point I really should say that there's (at least to me) a difference in making something effective, and taking it to extremes. I understand making something effective. It's taking it too far that I don't get.

Tempest Fennac
2008-12-24, 05:42 AM
I'm typically better at optimizing then RPing for some reason (and I tend to class trying to be as powerful as possible to be realistic due to how I see power in real life).

The Mormegil
2008-12-24, 05:44 AM
In my gaming group there are... intresting mechanics that sent us out to optimization.

It all started when player K made a Paladin of Bahamut, with the very flavorful PrC form BoED. In the same group there were a full Clericzilla of Kord, not using DMM, but anyway, a dedicated fighter/tempest (3.0 PrC) with twin bastard swords and a godly AC, and a simple Bard/Sublime Chord. He felt useless, plus he hated being Exalted (or good, for that matters). He swore to himself never to do that again.

He was the first to optimize, and had a blast with it. The rest of the party felt useless and (with one exception) they all started to race to reach an equal level of cheese with him, who always tried to be higher in power level than the rest of the party.

We don't want to feel useless, and we don't want to be killed nor obey an Evil PC. So we optimize to keep up, and the DMs (me, for instance) need to adapt to the party. It is a never-ending escalation.

We stopped with 4E. It was the perfect solution to all our problems. It created new problems, however, as the group splitted up, and player K weant away. We miss him as he was good at role playing and it was fun to have him around, but probably we'll be better off without him.

Eldariel
2008-12-24, 05:45 AM
I suppose at this point I really should say that there's (at least to me) a difference in making something effective, and taking it to extremes. I understand making something effective. It's taking it too far that I don't get.

That would, to use the terminology of the former WoTC Boards, be the difference between Theorethical Optimization and Character Optimization; one is intended to be used in game, the other is not.

KIDS
2008-12-24, 05:50 AM
If you intend to play a hero, part of it is overcoming obstacles. If you happen to play ... well, most of the character classes, you will soon find that you are not actually very suited to overcoming them, which can be sad and frustrating. Thus, you optimize to be better at facing your challenges and feel more heroic.

That seems like the most basic reason for me...

Kiero
2008-12-24, 05:56 AM
Not sucking in the game, because you accidentally went down a dead-end or picked some poor choices that either don't work together, or are simply rubbish.

I'm personally not interested in single-task super-builds that do one thing very well. But I like to have competent characters who are good at the things they're supposed to be good at. Which usually means an understanding of how the system works.

I'm playing a semi-optimised character in SWSE. By knowing what's good and what's not, I can make informed choices about what is useful, and what I'm deliberately ignoring for the sake of making the character more interesting. Like choosing to take Martial Arts I with one of my bonus feats because I like being an unarmed combatant, even though it's rubbish in the game. Or taking Skill Training (Athletics) instead of Skill Focus (Use the Force) so I don't step on the primary-Jedi's toes. Next I'll be getting Block as my Jedi Talent, because it fits my concept of him being a complete lightsaber duellist, rather than it being the most useful thing around (the other Jedi went for Redirect).

And so on and so forth.

Starsinger
2008-12-24, 05:57 AM
That would, to use the terminology of the former WoTC Boards, be the difference between Theorethical Optimization and Character Optimization; one is intended to be used in game, the other is not.

I wasn't talking about Pun-Pun or Omnificer or whatever it was called, when I said taking it too far. Uber-Chargers, (and quite frankly a good extent of Wizard/CoDzilla types) are taking it too far. Is it really necessary to be that strong?

Kesnit
2008-12-24, 06:08 AM
Is it really necessary to be that strong?

It all comes down to the group you play with. If they all super-optimize, you need to do the same or your character will become useless. If everyone goes middle of the road, then you have a lot more flexibility. (The Ranger in my PnP group only has the PHB and DMG, so only uses those books. He does fine, though, since none of the rest of us go out of our way with cheese.)

Eldariel
2008-12-24, 08:02 AM
I wasn't talking about Pun-Pun or Omnificer or whatever it was called, when I said taking it too far. Uber-Chargers, (and quite frankly a good extent of Wizard/CoDzilla types) are taking it too far. Is it really necessary to be that strong?

If no other variables are present, I'll take an idea to a logical maximum within the allowed rule set. It's simply a matter of maximizing whatever concept I'm going for. ‹bercharger I'd disallow simply because it's such an on-off build. But really, most of the "maximum damage"-builds are theorethical exercises. War Hurlers? Theorethical. Chuck? Theorethical. The ‹bercharger? Indeed, theorethical. It's simply an exercise to build the maximum damage melee build.

‹bercharger is not very playable simply because it needs to be able to Charge to actually do anything relevant and because it can be completely broken in some encounters, but utterly useless in others. Now, a Barbarian with Pounce, Leap Attack and Shock Trooper I'd have no problem with based on efficiency. It doesn't really deal that much more damage than an optimized Sneak Attacking Rogue (which gets Sneak Attack effectively always) or a Swift Hunter or your average ToB build. Its damage potential isn't in the same dimension as your average Incantatrix Blaster.

CoDzilla, sure, that's what I'd suggest for players seeking a tank. It's just making good use out of the spells and class features given in PHB. Same with Batman Wizard. That's not hardcore optimization, that's simply basic utilization of their class's tools. If that amount of optimization is broken, go fix the spells (read: Divine Power, every arcane spell ever, Polymorph-line), feats (read: Natural Spell, DMM: Persistent) and class features (read: Wildshape, Animal Companion) that cause the issues, because otherwise you're basically cutting down on characters not going beyond the basics of their class. Otherwise the classes will frankly be quite one-dimensional and boring.

If I can't optimize my casters, then the system needs fixing. I want to be able to build the kind of a caster I feel like, and not break anything. That includes Conjurers and Transmuters, and a solid spell selection.


Basic answer to your question, I guess, is that I want to keep my character alive and my party alive. Having a character with some more power than I regularly go around using is a great way to go about it. Also, I find it weird to have a bunch of options that my character would no doubt choose since they'd further his ambitions, and be unable to pick them. It's simply weird for me to make stupid choices; it seems illogical that a character would strive to grow in directions that don't make him relevantly better at anything.

That said, I optimize in context of the group, and generally try to stay within a tier of the group average, unless it's a group that wants me to keep them alive.

Tokiko Mima
2008-12-24, 08:16 AM
I've been wondering about this for a while, and figured might as well ask. What's the appeal in optimization, specifically high-end optimization? Where's the fun in, to use D&D 3e as an example, taking out a CR 18 creature with Glitterdust or throwing "Save or Dies" at the enemy, repeatedly?

I understand the appeal it would have for say, Munchkins, but there are several people who optimize that I wouldn't necessarily want to call a Munchkin. So what is it about things like Leap Attack-Power Attack-Pounce-Full Attack-Shock Trooper (Attack :smalltongue:) round after round that's exciting?

Is it a desire to "win"? An ego boosting "pissing contest" as it were, to see who can make the biggest and best build? I apologize if I sound condescending, I don't see the appeal in optimization to the extent I generally hear of.

I think it's the simple satisfaction of doing something well. To optimize you have to have a complete understanding of all the rules, and there are a TON of different rules. You create a character that is the absolute best it can possibly be within the given framework and you know that whatever else happens, you won't be beaten at what you optimized for.

Anyone can throw together a character, but if you cared wouldn't you try to do the best job possible? I think that's why people optimize, or at least, that's why I optimize. Conversely when I see an unoptimized character, I just can help but wonder why in the world they care so little about making a character that performs well. I would be ashamed of myself *not* to optimize, given the amount of time I've put into learning the rules.

kalt
2008-12-24, 08:48 AM
It is a challenge and that is the appeal of optimization for me. I still roleplay the character and sure I also don't mind giving the DM some fits. It is a game and optimizing is one of the aspects that I find the most fun/challenging.

KevLar
2008-12-24, 08:59 AM
Well, optimizing is a general and broad term, which applies to many different situations.

There's theoretical optimization, made to break a world record or something. That is, for the most part, just a thought exercise, like puzzle-solving. If you like that sort of thing, it's nice. If you bring Pun-Pun to an actual game, you're usually mad. I agree that it helps understanding the rules, though.

Then there's optimizing a specific character concept. This is something that makes perfect sense, because if you spend your precious time thinking of a character's personality and background, you really don't want to see him drop dead from a stray arrow. However, this is something that I do not find (personally) necessary, as it depends on the game style and the DM style. Yes, D&D is combat-oriented, but
A) that doesn't mean you cant' run a game focused on social encounters and heavy roleplaying.
B) even in combat, some games focus on tactics rather than builds, and your shock trooper's 1578 damage per round is pathetic Vs Tucker's Kobolds.
C) some DMs don't actually try to kill you with every encounter. It's OK, you can make a normal and not optimized character. You have other lovely aspects of the game to focus on.

As a subsection of the above, there's optimizing an intentionally weak character. (Wait, what?) I mean, say I want to play a fearsome warrior. I will not dumb Charisma, no matter what the Handbooks say. But since I'm "penalizing" myself from an optimization point of view, I'd want to compensate in order to be effective. Not pwn!, just effective. So I'll try to optimize my concept. Say I want to play a squishy character, and dump CON. The CO boards would smack me on the head with all the 3.5 rulebooks for saying that, but I don't care. I want to play it. So I'll try to use this devil (optimization!) in order to compensate for my weaknesses and remain alive.

Here's where optimization becomes sour:

1) When the players (including the DM or not) get in the mindset of seeing D&D as a game where the goal is to make the most powerful character. That's indeed a pissing contest. I've found myself in such a group once, and chose to flee as soon as possible. That's not why I play.

2) When optimization gets in the way of roleplaying, one way or another. If for example your character concept is ridiculous, or something you can't even figure out yourself, and yet you play it because it's "powerful". Or when your character doesn't fit, conceptually, a specific campaign setting, and yet you stick to it because it's "awesome". Or when you make a poor background in order to justify the above, and it's bloody obvious that your goal isn't to make a character with a personality, it's just to make a stat block. Bleh.

If none of the above happens, I have no problem with optimization. But, in most games I play, I don't find it necessary either.

Superglucose
2008-12-24, 09:26 AM
Optimization is basically this: What's more fun, tying your hands behind your back and trying to fit together a five piece jigsaw puzzle, or whipping out the 5,000 piecer, whipping the family together, and doing your damndest to solve it?

If you're not optimizing at all, you're literally trying to play Smash Brothers without the c-stick, Halo without grenades, snipers without scopes, flight sims using the arrow keys. It's like playing poker against yourself.

I mean sure it's fun to see if you can manage to kill an orc raiding party with your Gish bard build... but wouldn't you rather take on the armies of hell itself, with every single bit of power wielded by demons? Would you rather power-slam through some gimpified monsters in a dungeon with your underpreforming character, or take on a fricken dragon?

The risk is what determines the reward. You climb the TALLEST mountain and say, "Hey, look at me! I just climbed the TALLEST monutain!" But no one looks at a pitcher's mound and thinks, "Hmm, I wonder if I can get to the top of it by crawling." In every battle that you can lose, winning is that much sweeter. When it's HARD to win, that's when it gets even better. To that end, your enemies are supposed to be optimized to make the challenge harder.

When enemies are optimized to a certain level, suddenly your Bard Gish realizes, "Hey, Shout doesn't cut it! I'm practically worthless!" So the GM has two options: tone back the optimization of the baddies, or keep plowing ahead. Unfortunately, right next to you, the fighter just realized that Power Attack is a really good feat, as is cleave, and that Greatsword is doubleplusbetter than shortsword + shield, and at this level of optimization, he's actually having fun because the fights are challenging for him. So you optimize your build up to meet the challenges presented to you.

It's an arms race between GMs and players: the GMs are trying to make the most difficult challenges possible, and the players are trying to overcome them. So there's no real appeal for optimization by itself, but rather optimization is the byproduct of GMs trying to create difficult challenges and players trying to overcome them.

And overcoming difficult challenges is the appeal of playing these games.

KevLar
2008-12-24, 09:45 AM
Optimization is basically this: What's more fun, tying your hands behind your back and trying to fit together a five piece jigsaw puzzle, or whipping out the 5,000 piecer, whipping the family together, and doing your damndest to solve it?
D&D is not a puzzle, though. It's a roleplaying game. And for some people, fun is to, you know, roleplay.

If you see it that way and the rest of your group sees is that way, and everyone's having fun, then great. But don't assume everyone else sees it that way, too. For me it's awfully fun to play a personality, and if optimization gets in the way of that, I'll throw it out of the window and proceed having the time of my life with my "suboptimal" character.

The question you are asking is wrong. Here's a better one:
"What's more fun, immersing yourself in a time period and setting, and roleplaying a distinct character with strengths and weaknesses? You know, weaknesses which in fact make people interesting? Or killing sentient beings and taking their stuff?"

If you prefer the latter, go on and optimize to your heart's delight.
If you prefer the former, optimization comes second, and though it may very well exist (no one says they are mutually exclusive), it never conflicts with the concept.

Tengu_temp
2008-12-24, 09:51 AM
There are very few cases when optimization gets in the way of roleplaying - combining those two is not hard.

Proven_Paradox
2008-12-24, 10:05 AM
I get plenty of average and worse in my real life. In my game, I want to be extraordinary. I roleplay being strong. And to do that? My character needs to be actually strong on their sheet. So, I optimize that character. Really, that's most of what it comes down to. [edit] That doesn't mean I only play uber-chargers and Batman. Whatever the concept is, I optimize the character so that they fit into that concept and do whatever it is the character is supposed to do as well as they possibly can.

As for using glitterdust instead of fireball and friends? That's simply a matter of looking at one's options and choosing the better one. If you've got a nail you need to drive into a wall, would you pick a hammer or a screwdriver? The same logic applies to spell selection; you would choose the right tool for the job in real life, so why wouldn't your character?

Fax Celestis
2008-12-24, 10:32 AM
The question you are asking is wrong. Here's a better one:
"What's more fun, immersing yourself in a time period and setting, and roleplaying a distinct character with strengths and weaknesses? You know, weaknesses which in fact make people interesting? Or killing sentient beings and taking their stuff?"

Is there a particular reason it can't be both?

Talya
2008-12-24, 10:35 AM
When your character is trying to become one of the greatest {swordsman/thief/mage/insert other archetype here} who has ever lived, it behooves one to actually be reasonably effective in that role.

DigoDragon
2008-12-24, 10:39 AM
If it makes you feel any better, my group never Optimizes. They're effective, but not maxed out. :smallsmile: I also find that if they're effective as a group, they can beat any optimized BBEG anyway. One thing I've noticed about optimization-- Usually the build is geared to be self sufficient rather then created to work with a group. But it just may be the boards I've been reading.

Starsinger
2008-12-24, 10:40 AM
reasonably effective

I wanna thank you, and everyone else who either are of the mind, or are implying that I'm advocating people running around trying to stab something with a piece of paper and a strength score of 6. :smallannoyed:

Talya
2008-12-24, 10:41 AM
I wanna thank you, and everyone else who either are of the mind, or are implying that I'm advocating people running around trying to stab something with a piece of paper and a strength score of 6. :smallannoyed:


Stabbing someone with a +5 uber naginata of uberness while relying entirely on a strength score of 18 does not necessarily make you reasonably effective. The actual build of your character matters.


If it makes you feel any better, my group never Optimizes. They're effective, but not maxed out.

Optimizing does not imply you're minmaxed or powergaming. Optimizing is simply putting together an effective build with synergistic features, rather than randomly picking crap based on how cool it sounds.

I don't always pick the absolute best mechanical choices for my characters, if they run contrary to my character concept, but I do make sure that the choices I make will work, and work well. If I've got blasty fireballness on my sorcerer, people will fear my blasty fireballness.

Telonius
2008-12-24, 10:50 AM
I look at "optimizing" the way that they were trying to do Vow of Poverty. It's a way of taking what would normally be an unusable sort of character and making it at least semi-viable. (For the record, they didn't do that very well with VoP, but that's another story).

For example, in another thread that's come up recently, someone asked if it were possible to make a melee-style character that doesn't rely on physical stats. If you just did your standard Fighter and gave him bad physical ability scores, he would quickly be dragon food. A character concept like that is going to need some optimizing just to survive, let alone be good. But there have been at least three or four different builds proposed to let the guy have his smart/wise/charismatic non-spellcasting guy, and still be reasonably effective at melee. (The thread is at the point of making it a playable level-by-level build, 1-20, now). It probably won't ever be better than a standard melee class, but the point is to make it as good as it can be. That sort of thing really is a thought puzzle, and it feels good to have helped somebody by coming up with a solution to it.

Trobby
2008-12-24, 11:06 AM
I...don't optimize. *Though if you want a summary as to WHY I would, read the bottom of this post*

However, I DO see the appeal of optimization.

If you have a character, at least part of you wants that character to be good at whatever they do. Make a thief, you want him to be a MASTER thief. Make a wizard, and you want to summon five color-coded demons each with a quirky personality to deal with pesky nuisances. Build a fighter and you want him to...well, fight.

The problem comes when you build a character next to people who DO optimize, then if you don't your character is going to look far less cool than his allies. Even if your character is more memorable than they are, you'll be less effective in battle, and chances are you'll be dragging your allies down.

As an example, I made a Half-Orc Monk. *I LOVE that character.* Now, he was powerful in his own right..but not because he was well-built. I just got some very good stat rolls. And as the characters leveled up, it became increasingly obvious that he was not as strong as everyone else. Maybe it was just my lack of experience, but I was always pretty disappointed when he got into battle. *Except when he did something funny. That made it completely worth the effort*.

In my current campaign world, I always have the local DM expert take a look at my character before playing them. He's good at Power Gaming. When he helps me with my characters, they tend to be much, much more powerful.

Though recently, I've found playing characters that are optimized is much LESS fun than I thought, it does help make the character a bit more playable, and after optimization, you can make your character have as many quirks as you like.

The only danger is when optimization becomes more important than the character's...well, character. I recently started making up a master Thief Changeling that I am just now starting to regret, because instead of focusing on his character, I've focused on how to make him fit into society as a noble while still being able to master his thievery. That, combined with the fact that it'll be hard to play with him in the setting, makes him less enjoyable.

So, to answer the questions in a summary-type way, the reason I optimize is to keep my character up to speed with other optimizers. I don't do it often, but when I need to do it, I will.

Tokiko Mima
2008-12-24, 11:08 AM
I wanna thank you, and everyone else who either are of the mind, or are implying that I'm advocating people running around trying to stab something with a piece of paper and a strength score of 6. :smallannoyed:

Ah! Then I think there's a misunderstanding. You don't always optimize for power, or not optimize for less power. You optimize for effectiveness at whatever your character is supposed to be good at. Usually that will result in you being stronger, especially if you weigh all the factors together. But that's not always the case.

For example, in one of the games I'm playing I'm a Changeling Barbarian/Swashbuckler/Crusader/Duskblade/Warshaper/Chameleon/Cabinet Trickster. It's pretty good at a lot of things, but I get the stuffings beaten out of me in fighting by our Half Ogre Warblade, lose at spell-casting versus our Sorcerer, and even most skill uses by the combined skills of the other players. But when it comes to infiltration, rescue and diplomacy, my character is awesome. I impersonate someone and sneak in, Bluffing the whole way, and keeping in contact with my team. When the time comes to go nova, I can blow a bunch of spells very fast and lock down encounters long enough for the rest of the team to arrive. The point being, I'm not better than the other players. I'm better than they could be at my specialty.

Jarawara
2008-12-24, 11:26 AM
This seems to be a thread of those who are defending optomization, so I hope I'm not intruding (as a member of the anti-optomization crowd).


sure it's fun to see if you can manage to kill an orc raiding party with your Gish bard build... but wouldn't you rather take on the armies of hell itself, with every single bit of power wielded by demons? Would you rather power-slam through some gimpified monsters in a dungeon with your underpreforming character, or take on a fricken dragon?

The risk is what determines the reward. You climb the TALLEST mountain and say, "Hey, look at me! I just climbed the TALLEST monutain!" But no one looks at a pitcher's mound and thinks, "Hmm, I wonder if I can get to the top of it by crawling."

These examples are an overstatement, giving the two extremes of playing a gimp or playing a superhero. But I understand what you are saying. Just so you understand the other side of the coin, let's restate your questions without the unneccesary descriptives:

"Sure it's fun to defeat the orc raiding party with your regular, low power characters, but wouldn't you rather take on the armies of hell with the best possible characters? Would you rather fight your way through some average dungeon, or rather take on a frickin dragon?"

That states it better, and I understand your desire to take on the armies of hell, instead of wasting your time with orcs. But for the record, *I* would rather fight off the orcs, and going through a dungeon is quite fun for me. It's when I have to take on dragons... that's when the game looses it's believability for me. Or rather, if I find a way to survive the dragon, outwit the dragon, and even maybe find a way to defeat the dragon, that's fine. But if I stand toe to toe with the dragon, sword against tooth... well, that sort of ruins the game for me.

The old TSR module 'Against the Giants' is one of the funnest D&D adventures of the old days that I can think of. But I could never take it seriously. I keep giggling as I play it - my fighter, skilled as he is, going face to face (or is that face to knee) with a giant and taking him down... he should have just kicked me across the room and been done with me.

I do respect that others see it differently, that they see their high level, optomized characters taking on the most deadly of foes, but I just wanted to add into the discussion that there are those of us out there who really do enjoy a tough hike up a high hill, who take satisfaction with outperforming our abilities, who save the town (instead of the entire plane of existance), rescue the princess, slay the BBEG and his Goblin scum, and stand on our hill and silently think to ourselves "Look at me. I have accomplished an important task."

Surfing HalfOrc
2008-12-24, 11:27 AM
I think it's the difference between playing a pick-up game of whatever, playing on your school team, and going pro.

At the pick-up game level, you're just there to have fun with friends and family. And yes, sometimes you get that over-compeditive players, but meh...
These are the casual gamers.

Playing on the school team is the more compeditive level, and sometimes looking at things further down the road. College scholarships, etc. These are th people who do try to optomise their characters, but don't try for the "one-trick-pony" builds.

At the professional level, things get more... focused. People get personal trainers, train daily, and even indulge in pharmacutical enhancements. Not all, but enough that it makes the news more often than not.

It all depends on how you like to play. I tend to the pick-up game/school team player (Junior Varsity) rather than press on for the multimillion dollar contracts and all that.

CharPixie
2008-12-24, 11:34 AM
Optimization is like Kung Fu, especially with all the splat books and the key feats bured in otherwise innocent books; it takes time and effort to learn, but once you've learned it, it gives you a distinct advantage over an untrained opponet.

I don't want to learn Kung Fu. I would resent a group that optimized to the extent that I can't play my core rogue and still feel useful without spicing them up with extra goodness. Asthetics aside, why should I spend 10+ hours going through the web, expansions, and the like, just because I've gotten to a point in a group where others have strictly optimized characters (the type whose classes you have to write down) and I can still only do the same few tricks that you can get out of the PHB?

Anyway, that's my problem with optimization. I makes character creation way too much trouble. That's my biggest *heart* about 4e; the powers, feats, and all the decisions are compartmentalizated, the ability to cherry pick is limited (even with the splat books), and the rewards for doing so are implicitly limited by the rules, so power can't cascade to a critical reaction. A brand new player could just look at the start of their class section, heroic feats, and maybe their splatbook and be okay. Maybe that will change, but I hope not.

BardicDuelist
2008-12-24, 11:39 AM
Honestly, I started optimizing because the DM I was playing with had a poor concept of the system. Most of the other players had absurd things that they got away with (Disintegrate 1/day at level 5) for "RP reasons" and he really didn't understand CR at all. He figured that because something was "little" and CR 2, it was meant to attack in a swarm (5-10) against 2nd level characters. I saw that, and got a bit scared in my first session. From then on, I optimized because I liked my characters. Of course, this backfired, as when I made characters that could take out anything at level 10, the DM accused me of being a munchkin.

KevLar
2008-12-24, 11:41 AM
Is there a particular reason it can't be both?
Actually, only a couple of sentences later, I say "they are not mutually exclusive". :)

EDIT- The point wasn't that you must choose one of them, the point was that not everyone finds optimization the only (or even most) enjoyable aspect of D&D.

Trobby
2008-12-24, 11:59 AM
Honestly, I started optimizing because the DM I was playing with had a poor concept of the system. Most of the other players had absurd things that they got away with (Disintegrate 1/day at level 5) for "RP reasons" and he really didn't understand CR at all. He figured that because something was "little" and CR 2, it was meant to attack in a swarm (5-10) against 2nd level characters. I saw that, and got a bit scared in my first session. From then on, I optimized because I liked my characters. Of course, this backfired, as when I made characters that could take out anything at level 10, the DM accused me of being a munchkin.

Like I said before, there's a very fine balance between optimization and character creation. Some people are masters of it, able to build a unique character within the rules that still kicks the crap out of every player they come across *The aforementioned "expert" that I refer to is a master of this*, but not everyone can do it. That's why it's always good to slide your character past someone who's good at both aspects, to ensure a well-built character emerges.

Saph
2008-12-24, 12:04 PM
The basic answer is "Because I want to win".

All of the other arguments are just a cover for that. Optimisation is competitiveness translated into roleplaying terms. Sit down and watch a group play a few sessions, and every time you'll find that the most competitive player is the biggest optimiser (and vice versa).

There's not much more to it than that. The conflicts between optimisers/non-optimisers are basically the same as the conflicts between serious players/casual players in sports. The difference is that in sports the two groups naturally segregate, while in RPGs you get both sitting down at the same table.

- Saph

ShneekeyTheLost
2008-12-24, 12:10 PM
I'm surprised that people seem to make a distinction between mechanics optimization and roleplayable characters.

Often times, I Optimize to make a concept mechanically viable.

For example:

Shining defender of the Weave, serving Mystara with sword and spell, defending the defenseless against those who abuse the Art.

Typical Gish concept. How do I do this without making it made of fail?

Pal2/Sorc4/Spellsword1/Abjurant Champion5

Does it look like a powergamer's build? Yea, I guess. It cherry-picks Spellsword 1 so it can get 10% ASF reduction so it doesn't need Twilight enchantment to wear Mithral Chain Shirt without ASF, and to give it the +1 BAB and casting progression it needs to get into AbChamp.

Is it flavorful? Certainly. I made the concept before I made the character. And kept my LG and my Paladin's Code throughout my character's existence.

Sometimes, to make a concept work, you have to Optimize to just Not Suck Hard. Take, for example, my build. I could have gone Pal2/Sorc6/EK10/Sorc2. Would it have been effective in the party? Probably not. It would never get 9th level spells pre-epic, and would be 2-3 spell levels behind every other caster. The straight Wizard is getting Enervation by the time he is getting Haste.

So now I have a viable build that at least contributes to the party. His spells are mostly buff/support, and he is effective in combat. He uses a Greatsword, and uses Quickened Shield for his shield bonus to AC (since, thanks to Abjurant Champion, he CAN actually quicken it).

There's nothing to say you can't optimize a concept to make it not suck mechanically. I consider this 'fixing the flaws in the D20 mechanics that prevent me from being effective while playing this character idea I have in my head'. Playing a weak character in a party does not mean you're a good roleplayer, it just means your character cannot contribute in combat. You can be a good roleplayer, even with a heavily optimized build. The two are NOT mutually exclusive.

Starsinger
2008-12-24, 12:21 PM
Sometimes, to make a concept work, you have to Optimize to just Not Suck Hard. Take, for example, my build. I could have gone Pal2/Sorc6/EK10/Sorc2. Would it have been effective in the party? Probably not. It would never get 9th level spells pre-epic, and would be 2-3 spell levels behind every other caster. The straight Wizard is getting Enervation by the time he is getting Haste.

I love the implication that you need level 9 spells pre-epic to Not Suck Hard. I think over the years, people have constantly elevated the line of what's necessary to not suck.

Edit: @Vael

While I find the rest of your post wonderfully written and something to chew on as thought food later, I'm afraid this is terribly inaccurate. Aren't you saying that Munchkins don't exist? (I've met one.)

ShneekeyTheLost
2008-12-24, 12:25 PM
I love the implication that you need level 9 spells pre-epic to Not Suck Hard. I think over the years, people have constantly elevated the line of what's necessary to not suck.

Somewhat that is true, but when all you've got are Melf's Acid Arrows when the party mage is slinging around Enervations, and the Rogue has a higher to-hit bonus than you do, you start feeling... left out.

When you've got the lowest AC, lowest total attack bonus (except the Wizard), just now being able to throw around spells that the Wizard has been doing for two months of gaming now (and less flexability about which ones to throw around)... regardless of how flavorful your character is, you start feeling like the weak sister.

Now, I'm not saying that Batman Wizard Optimization is in any way cool. Making the rest of the party obsolete is silly. However, there is a bit of 'keeping up with the jonses' in not wanting to be completely worthless in almost every situation.

Some iconic character concepts just aren't easy to make in D&D 3.5, so you have to optimize a bit to be able to keep them performing up to par.

AmberVael
2008-12-24, 12:26 PM
The basic answer is "Because I want to win".

All of the other arguments are just a cover for that.

...
Wow, a little presumptuous, are we? :smallconfused:

Not only do I disagree with your generalization, but also with your statement overall. Winning is actually not all that fun (that's why so many people get terribly bored in high powered games, or in say, video games when you use cheat codes). What is more, you can't win DnD.
DnD typically doesn't attract the kind of people who just want to feel the success of "Oh, I completed/won this." Even if it does, that interest is likely quite separate from the interest in DnD.

I would say that many people optimize for a reason that spurs a lot of things- because it makes them feel clever. Whether it is theoretical optimization or normal character optimization, the fact that you can bypass limits or take the rules and use them in unexpected or extremely intelligent ways, there is a sense of satisfaction in creating an optimized character that makes one want to say "oh yeah? Look what I did. Isn't it awesome?"

It isn't about beating every monster or encounter, it isn't about making a character overpowered like Pun Pun- why would someone want to make an optimized monk if that were the case? Why would someone play anything other than Pun Pun? If they wanted to WIN, why wouldn't they just be playing another game where they COULD win? What optimization about is showing cleverness, skill, and knowledge in crafting something. It's like the pride of making a work of art, figuring out a difficult math problem, or finally mastering that really complicated piece of music. The end character's level of power doesn't matter- it is the effort and skill you put into its creation, the reaction you will draw when you present it to others.

To some people there is also that satisfaction is in breaking or bypassing the system. While perhaps not the kindest analogy, but an accurate one, is to compare optimization to certain acts of crime. Criminals don't always do things because they NEED to. They do it for the thrill, to show that they're just good enough to pull something like that off and not get caught (Example: Catch Me If You Can). That's why theoretical optimization exists- are you going to USE that Pun Pun build? No! But you DO get satisfaction in going "haha, I'm too good for your silly rules."

It isn't about winning. It is about succeeding- defying the odds or mastering something difficult or complicated. Are they similar? Yes, but not the same.

Gamebird
2008-12-24, 12:37 PM
An optimized character is more likely to survive than a non-optimized one. I enjoy role playing the same character for a long time and seeing them develop, so survivability, compared to the other party members, is important to me.

A powerful character can always pull their punches to allow other party members a chance to shine. A weak character can't expand their abilities when necessary or desired.

If your character is optimized at doing something really well, then you can explore some other option without gimping your character compared to the rest of the group.

Having a well-built character means never sitting there jealous and envious of someone else whose character is far more effective than yours.

Optimization is relative. It's a very different group if everyone has a twinked out war machine/spell-flinger, than if you're in a group where people take Power Attack solely as a pre-req for other stuff, rather than as an awesome feat in and of itself.

It's nice to have weaknesses to build a character's personality around. It's also nice to have strengths. A character built solely around weaknesses is as much a one-trick pony as an over-optimized twinkie-monster. You have one trick and it's slapstick. The party will likely bore of it quickly. For a character to be interesting for the long haul, they need strengths *and* weaknesses. Optimization provides both, as you're usually robbing from some area to beef up another. It gives your character motivation, or at least provokes the player to consider a motivation for why your character wishes to be a Power-Leap-Combat-Brute.

AmberVael
2008-12-24, 12:38 PM
While I find the rest of your post wonderfully written and something to chew on as thought food later, I'm afraid this is terribly inaccurate. Aren't you saying that Munchkins don't exist? (I've met one.)

Munchkins fall under the atypical category.
And if you disagree that they're uncommon, then please leave me in my fantasy world. :smalltongue:

Edit: ...and your post vanished. Ooookay.

Jimp
2008-12-24, 12:43 PM
For the challenge I suppose.
That and escapism. If someone wanted to play a character that wasn't much good at anything they may as well go back to real life. Optimising lets then play someone who is the best at what they do, which can be fun.

Tormsskull
2008-12-24, 01:21 PM
I get plenty of average and worse in my real life. In my game, I want to be extraordinary. I roleplay being strong.

I'm not trying to be funny, and I am not a mental health professional, but this type of attitude is very disturbing to me. It screams of a lack of self-esteem and poor self-image.


I don't think there is any problem with optimizing as long as it all makes sense within the scope of the game. The argument of "You can't RP when your character is dead" is bunk, IMO. The moment you break the IC/OOC divide, you are no longer roleplaying anyway.

As a player I can have fun roleplaying a powerful character, a weak character, a confident character, a meek character, etc. Generally, when someone can only roleplay a strong character, they aren't really roleplaying. They are thinking of themself IRL and then adding a lot of power that they perhaps feel they do not have in real life.

This is a cause for concern IMO.

Saph
2008-12-24, 01:33 PM
I would say that many people optimize for a reason that spurs a lot of things- because it makes them feel clever. Whether it is theoretical optimization or normal character optimization, the fact that you can bypass limits or take the rules and use them in unexpected or extremely intelligent ways, there is a sense of satisfaction in creating an optimized character that makes one want to say "oh yeah? Look what I did. Isn't it awesome?"

I think there's something to what you're saying here, but I also think the kind of players you're talking about are a definite minority. There are a small fraction of players who just like analysing things and doing interesting stuff within the limitations, but these people are just as likely to play a not-especially-powerful character as they are to play an powerful one. These people get noticed disproportionately on the Net because they write more stuff and come up with more good ideas, but there aren't actually that many of them.


What is more, you can't win DnD. DnD typically doesn't attract the kind of people who just want to feel the success of "Oh, I completed/won this." Even if it does, that interest is likely quite separate from the interest in DnD.

Here, though, I think you're wrong. Just because you can't "win" a roleplaying game, doesn't mean lots of people don't try. Competitiveness and wanting to win is a very, very basic and powerful motivation, and I think it's wishful thinking to believe that it doesn't apply to D&D players.

- Saph

AmberVael
2008-12-24, 01:36 PM
Let me clarify then- I think most of the people you will be arguing with and talking to here will possess the traits I describe. I know there are munchkins and the type of people you are talking about, but I see more of the type I describe amongst us.
At least, that's my perception. Maybe I just tend to overlook things.

Yukitsu
2008-12-24, 01:40 PM
I optimize because the first three sessions I participated in involved total party wipes. Once I read through the SRD, and optimized my character, the party stopped dying as often. And people wonder why I like control wizards. :smalltongue:

Eldariel
2008-12-24, 01:44 PM
Here, though, I think you're wrong. Just because you can't "win" a roleplaying game, doesn't mean lots of people don't try. Competitiveness and wanting to win is a very, very basic and powerful motivation, and I think it's wishful thinking to believe that it doesn't apply to D&D players.

- Saph

I'd rather say, the basic motivation is wanting to be the best. Which is something you can do in an RPG (in many different contexts too), and thus is very applicable to D&D.

Talya
2008-12-24, 01:49 PM
The basic answer is "Because I want to win".


That kindof goes without saying. I'd say anyone who doesn't isn't getting into character, unless they're playing a suicidally depressed adventurer.

You are adventurers. You make your living taking on orcs to start with, then graduate to demons and devils and giants and dragons and perhaps someday gods themselves. "I want to win?" I don't know, but my character sure does! Because the alternative to winning your battles is being flayed alive and having your flesh and/or soul consumed. Damn right I want to win!

woodenbandman
2008-12-24, 01:49 PM
I go into things with the mindset that they're going to be challenging. Otherwise, I wouldn't want to do them. So when I do, I try to come up with the best character I can. Now, mind you, the first few times this ended in tears, such as trying to TWF with a bard, but it was fun. I learned a lot with the characters I min/maxed.

I like my challenges challenging. I like fighting things that are total grinds, and I like doing it with a party of similarly optimized characters. There's just something really really badass about a Druid, a Cleric, a Wizard, and an Artificer walking in and just totally LAYING WASTE to everything, but it's even more fun when you have to fight a party as challenging as you are.

Starscream
2008-12-24, 01:55 PM
I used to optimize, now I don't.

For me the problem was that while it was fun to laugh maniacally as I wrote up my character sheet, making someone who was unstoppable, playing such a character was much less fun.

Either the rest of the party would be optimized, in which case the DM would just ramp up the challenge rating until it didn't matter, or I would be the only one, in which case the rest of the party would have no fun because I would handle everything for them.

It was a drag. And it made me long for the innocent days when I didn't know what I was doing, read the Monk entry in the PHB for the first time and thought "that is so cool".

So I quit. I made a conscious decision to suck in some situations so the game would still hold a challenge without giving all the monsters growth hormone injections. That way if my character does well its because I played him well, not because I exploited the system to make him invincible.

And incidentally, while monk and bard 20s may not exactly be powerhouses, they are fun.

ShneekeyTheLost
2008-12-24, 01:59 PM
And incidentally, while monk and bard 20s may not exactly be powerhouses, they are fun.

Incidentally, my Joker Bard, designed to challenge even the mighty Optimized Batman Wizard, is Rogue1/Bard19. Anyone who says Bard isn't powerful doesn't know how to properly use a bard as anything more than a gimp wizard.

Talya
2008-12-24, 02:01 PM
Incidentally, my Joker Bard, designed to challenge even the mighty Optimized Batman Wizard, is Rogue1/Bard19. Anyone who says Bard isn't powerful doesn't know how to properly use a bard as anything more than a gimp wizard.

Bard is not a weak class.

Monk, on the other hand...well, when several NPC classes can outpower you, you have a problem.

ShneekeyTheLost
2008-12-24, 02:07 PM
Bard is not a weak class.

Monk, on the other hand...well, when several NPC classes can outpower you, you have a problem.

Monk was a good concept, but unfortunately it's abilities are mutually conflicting (flurry and extra speed, for example). Swordsage is the flavorful and not horridly neutered version which I suggest to all my players.

Tormsskull
2008-12-24, 02:11 PM
That kindof goes without saying. I'd say anyone who doesn't isn't getting into character, unless they're playing a suicidally depressed adventurer.


Well, it depends on the situation. For example, if a character has the opportunity to use evil powers to defeat evil, some would say the ends justify the means, and all is fine. Others would not want to use those evil powers, for a number of reasons.

I think that a lot of times optimizers don't create a realistic depiction of what an actual character would look like/think like, etc in the fantasy world. They create a character that is really effective at whatever they think the game is going to have.

Instead of thinking how their character grew up, the friends they had, experiences they had, etc, then think of what the most effective way to defeat game challenges would be, they create a faux backstory/personality that justifies the effective choices they have made.

Depending on the DM and the group, that could be completely fine. I personally prefer more of a heavy RP game and I've found that optimiziers tend to ruin that atmosphere I am trying to create.

Gamebird
2008-12-24, 02:16 PM
Generally, when someone can only roleplay a strong character, they aren't really roleplaying. They are thinking of themself IRL and then adding a lot of power that they perhaps feel they do not have in real life.

This is a cause for concern IMO.

Erm... why is this a cause for concern?

It's the same philosophy that drives action movies, a lot of hero novels and most daydreams. Or at least most of my daydreams. A lot of my dreams too, come to think of it. Why is it a cause for concern that someone wishes to be more powerful and influential than they are currently? Isn't this a very fundemental human drive? People who don't have it are called "depressed" and "apathetic."

Some of us *are* relatively powerless in our real lives. Enjoying a bit of escapism seems to me no more harmful than masturbating when your sex life sucks.

Eldariel
2008-12-24, 02:16 PM
I don't see the problem with allowing players to optimize as long as you keep character and its classes separate. I mean, there're billions of ways to present any given character; just reflavour the classes to function and you can still play a functional character regardless of the concept.

Kiero
2008-12-24, 03:07 PM
The basic answer is "Because I want to win".

All of the other arguments are just a cover for that. Optimisation is competitiveness translated into roleplaying terms. Sit down and watch a group play a few sessions, and every time you'll find that the most competitive player is the biggest optimiser (and vice versa).

There's not much more to it than that. The conflicts between optimisers/non-optimisers are basically the same as the conflicts between serious players/casual players in sports. The difference is that in sports the two groups naturally segregate, while in RPGs you get both sitting down at the same table.

- Saph

Uh, nope. That might be the case if you're trying for the True Ultimate Build That Beats All. Or the Build That Works Really Well at Just One Thing.

I'm not that competitive as a player. I don't see RPGs as a game you can "win", there's no point. But I do like my characters to actually be able to do the things I want them to. With more complicated systems, that means you have to understand what works and what doesn't, and how to translate that into system terms. Otherwise it's an exercise in frustration.

Fax Celestis
2008-12-24, 03:10 PM
The basic answer is "Because I want to win".

All of the other arguments are just a cover for that. Optimisation is competitiveness translated into roleplaying terms. Sit down and watch a group play a few sessions, and every time you'll find that the most competitive player is the biggest optimiser (and vice versa).

There's not much more to it than that. The conflicts between optimisers/non-optimisers are basically the same as the conflicts between serious players/casual players in sports. The difference is that in sports the two groups naturally segregate, while in RPGs you get both sitting down at the same table.

- Saph
Sorry, Saph, gotta disagree with you on this one. I optimize so I can do a task better than my partymates, not to do all tasks better than my partymates.

Good optimizers are team players--indeed, they help their teammates optimize too.

Saph
2008-12-24, 03:13 PM
Sorry, Saph, gotta disagree with you on this one. I optimize so I can do a task better than my partymates, not to do all tasks better than my partymates.

Good optimizers are team players--indeed, they help their teammates optimize too.

Sure, but that doesn't really contradict what I was saying. You can be competitive and still work as part of a team - because teamwork helps you win better. It's nothing to do with doing tasks better than your partymates.

- Saph

Fax Celestis
2008-12-24, 03:16 PM
Sure, but that doesn't really contradict what I was saying. You can be competitive and still work as part of a team - because teamwork helps you win better. It's nothing to do with doing tasks better than your partymates.

- Saph

Well, sure. But competitiveness is the nature of the game: D&D is evolution in action. "Survival of the fittest" never rings truer than in a game where you are repeatedly flung into situations where you must fight to survive. As such, strong characters survive; weak ones die.

Saph
2008-12-24, 03:22 PM
Well, sure. But competitiveness is the nature of the game.

But lots of people don't play D&D competitively. They don't care very much about how powerful their character is and they don't take it personally when they lose or get killed.

The question was "Optimisation, what's the appeal?" and the answer, IMO, is "competitiveness". With a few exceptions, the players who optimise the most are the ones who are most competitive, and vice versa. It doesn't really have anything to do with the characters they're playing - that's just the in-character explanation for an out-of-character motivation.

- Saph

Fax Celestis
2008-12-24, 03:28 PM
But lots of people don't play D&D competitively. They don't care very much about how powerful their character is and they don't take it personally when they lose or get killed.

The question was "Optimisation, what's the appeal?" and the answer, IMO, is "competitiveness". With a few exceptions, the players who optimise the most are the ones who are most competitive, and vice versa. It doesn't really have anything to do with the characters they're playing - that's just the in-character explanation for an out-of-character motivation.

- Saph

Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm not talking out-of-game inter-player competition. I'm talking competition between the characters in-game and the obstacles presented by the DM. Being able to overcome those obstacles is a matter of optimization: randomly cherry-picking feats is going to net you a character who is nigh-useless in all but the strangest circumstances. Optimizing your choices--that is, covering all your bases (not munchkining; that's different)--is simply a smart, in-character thing to do. IRL, doctors go to medical school and specialize their educations: why shouldn't an in-game character specialize in the same fashion?

Saph
2008-12-24, 03:35 PM
Optimizing your choices--that is, covering all your bases (not munchkining; that's different)--is simply a smart, in-character thing to do. IRL, doctors go to medical school and specialize their educations: why shouldn't an in-game character specialize in the same fashion?

No reason - except that's not generally the motivation that pushes players to optimise. They do it because they want to be powerful - the in-character explanation comes afterwards (if at all).

- Saph

Talya
2008-12-24, 03:37 PM
No reason - except that's not generally the motivation that pushes players to optimise. They do it because they want to be powerful - the in-character explanation comes afterwards (if at all).

- Saph

Or does a competitive martial artist try to make themselves a better fighter? Do you think a sniper IRL tries to make sure they're a damn good shot?

Because RPG characters are far more regularly sticking their lives on the line, intentionally, when they go adventuring. In character, the only reason they need is to make themselves better is to be better. Because to be more powerful is to survive. As Fax put it, it's a very darwinian thing.

Fax Celestis
2008-12-24, 03:37 PM
What you've described there is munchkinnery, not optimization. 'Optimization' is intelligent from both an in- and out-game perspective, while 'munchkinnery' is intelligent (when it's intelligent) from an out-game perspective primarily, and any in-game aspects thereof are merely coincidental.

Of course, it's not as cut-and-dried as that, but I'm sure you see the difference.

Tormsskull
2008-12-24, 03:38 PM
Do you think a sniper IRL tries to make sure they're a damn good shot.

Probably, but I bet they didn't study to be a sniper from 5 years old, have picked up absolutely no skills unless they are conducive to sniping, etc.

lisiecki
2008-12-24, 03:46 PM
For me, it's the knowledge that I can take all these various rules, and put them together in a cool and unique way. I also, personally, enjoy the number crunching aspect of putting together a sheet and having all the information laid out.

yes, optimized characters are all unique and special
just like optimized CCG decks.
you RARELY see the same combo come up again, and again, and again

Fax Celestis
2008-12-24, 03:49 PM
yes, optimized characters are all unique and special
just like optimized CCG decks.
you RARELY see the same combo come up again, and again, and again

...thank you for completely missing the point. "Optimization" does not mean "I roll up an ubercharger." It means, "I wonder if I can make wielding two wands effective." Or it means, "I wonder how hard I could make it for a caster to hurt me." Or "I wonder if I could find a way to stack all these [Luck] feats into one big happy rerolling frenzy of doom."

Saph
2008-12-24, 03:53 PM
Because RPG characters are far more regularly sticking their lives on the line, intentionally, when they go adventuring. In character, the only reason they need is to make themselves better is to be better.

Yes, but optimisers don't optimise to stay in character. They do it because they want to be powerful. RPing their character as nothing to do with it. "My character has a dangerous profession and needs to be totally focused on being as strong as possible" is just the in-character justification added afterwards.

@ Fax: the line's a pretty blurry one IMO. If you skim over most RPG forums most of the optimisers aren't all that concerned about making a build make sense in-character. The IC explanation is definitely an afterthought rather than a starting point.

- Saph

Starsinger
2008-12-24, 03:54 PM
...thank you for completely missing the point. "Optimization" does not mean "I roll up an ubercharger." It means, "I wonder if I can make wielding two wands effective." Or it means, "I wonder how hard I could make it for a caster to hurt me." Or "I wonder if I could find a way to stack all these [Luck] feats into one big happy rerolling frenzy of doom."

Then I used the wrong word I think.

lisiecki
2008-12-24, 03:55 PM
...thank you for completely missing the point. "Optimization" does not mean "I roll up an ubercharger." It means, "I wonder if I can make wielding two wands effective." Or it means, "I wonder how hard I could make it for a caster to hurt me." Or "I wonder if I could find a way to stack all these [Luck] feats into one big happy rerolling frenzy of doom."

Thats ok
I would rather have others present there opinions as objective fact, and ignore any thoughts i have, because there not as good as theirs.

Please, tell me more of what i should think

Tee hee

Thinking is hard


Then I used the wrong word I think.

No Its clear that when you said
Where's the fun in, to use D&D 3e as an example, taking out a CR 18 creature with Glitterdust or throwing "Save or Dies" at the enemy, repeatedly?


Thats what you meant.

Hang out with me, after all we should let our betters do our thinking for us

Deepblue706
2008-12-24, 03:55 PM
Probably, but I bet they didn't study to be a sniper from 5 years old, have picked up absolutely no skills unless they are conducive to sniping, etc.

They also might not have visited the ancient order of super-snipers who live underground and have mastered the art of making all bullets you fire explosive lasers that never miss.

Following some PrC paths based simply on what they grant can make sense. But, people can't just view them all as "abilities that are accessable to everyone, forever, as long as they train the right way". D&D's class design was supposed to be a little different from that; obtaining a PrC was not supposed to be a "smart decision", but rather reaching a goal that most, in their lifetimes, cannot accomplish.

Kiero
2008-12-24, 03:55 PM
Probably, but I bet they didn't study to be a sniper from 5 years old, have picked up absolutely no skills unless they are conducive to sniping, etc.

That's more a question of how the modelling of abilities is done in any system. Some actually force you to make a rounded person, and don't allow you to excel in one area to the exclusion of everything else.

Fax Celestis
2008-12-24, 04:01 PM
If you skim over most RPG forums most of the optimisers aren't all that concerned about making a build make sense in-character. The IC explanation is definitely an afterthought rather than a starting point.

That's due largely to the impersonal nature of forums in general. It's the same reason all discussions are considered "by RaW": it's the only topic in which we all share a consistent basis. House rules, settings, slight modifications, different DM interpretations, different DM styles, &c. all make for a wildly varying game experience which can or cannot have consistent aspects.

That being the case, we discuss what is consistent: the rules.


Please, tell me more of what i should think

You should think more about the difference between "optimizing" and "being a munchkin". You should also likely think about the difference between "being a generally helpful person" and "being a troll".

Matthew
2008-12-24, 04:07 PM
Sounds like people are using about ten different definitions of optimisation here, which is creating many disconnects. For my part, character building resource management bores the hell out of me, but I can understand the attraction for other people in treating it as a sort of meta game [e.g. given the foregoing restrictions can I create the following sort of character?]. Not my cup of tea, but no big deal.

lisiecki
2008-12-24, 04:09 PM
You should think more about the difference between "optimizing" and "being a munchkin".


Is it a desire to "win"? An ego boosting "pissing contest" as it were, to see who can make the biggest and best build?

That, and the OPs most recent post, imply that maybe JUST MAYBE they were referring to extreme potential abusive meanings to the word "optomised"


You should also likely think about the difference between "being a generally helpful person" and "being a troll".

Oh, I would never call you a troll, just because you tell people, flat out that what they think of the OP's statement was objectively wrong.
With out you, how would i know what an idiot i am.

Fax Celestis
2008-12-24, 04:12 PM
That, and the OPs most recent post, imply that maybe JUST MAYBE they were referring to extreme potential abusive meanings to the word "optomised" Then, as Starsinger admitted, they're using the wrong word.

lisiecki
2008-12-24, 04:14 PM
Then, as Starsinger admitted, they're using the wrong word.

Wow, how silly of both of us.
I mean there i was, trying to use the context of the first post in the thread to determine what starsinger was going for.
Its lucky we have you here to tell us what morons we are :)

Fax Celestis
2008-12-24, 04:16 PM
Wow, how silly of both of us.
I mean there i was, trying to use the context of the first post in the thread to determine what starsinger was going for.
Its lucky we have you here to tell us what morons we are :)

I'm not going to have this conversation.

lisiecki
2008-12-24, 04:18 PM
I'm not going to have this conversation.

Tee Hee


I wouldn't expect you to reduce your self to my level...

I mean lets face it, I have the brain power of a hamster, and really cant contribute that much

Yukitsu
2008-12-24, 04:21 PM
Then I used the wrong word I think.

Optimize usually means taking a concept and making it work to a reasonable level for the setting. You wanted the term "powergaming" or "min-maxing" both of which imply taking the game beyond intended levels of play. Munchkin is the last one on the list, and they actually cheat when they play, though are almost always too daft to realize that they aren't even cheating right.

Starsinger
2008-12-24, 04:22 PM
Optimize usually means taking a concept and making it work to a reasonable level for the setting. You wanted the term "powergaming" or "min-maxing" both of which imply taking the game beyond intended levels of play. Munchkin is the last one on the list, and they actually cheat when they play, though are almost always too daft to realize that they aren't even cheating right.

Ahh.. Fixed it.

lisiecki
2008-12-24, 04:23 PM
You wanted the term "powergaming" or "min-maxing" both of which imply taking the game beyond intended levels of play.

To get back to what i was trying to say. Ive never understood the appeal of munchkinized characters either. It may be because im not good at that type of thinking. But as alot of threads on here show, when you try to squeeze every last drop out of a series of classes, you end up with a character that looks like ALOT of other characters, typically with out much of a personality or back story.

Yukitsu
2008-12-24, 04:25 PM
To answer this question, I don't powergame. I play about the median to survive in the campaigns I play in. This happens to coincide with a level of play that is considered powergaming to most campaigns, but is required to survive in the ones I play in.

Fax Celestis
2008-12-24, 04:30 PM
Ahh.. Fixed it.

See, yeah, those're the right words, based on the context of the question.

only1doug
2008-12-24, 04:34 PM
I optimise in game to survive, the GM uses the Vitality and Wound points variant rules and I have tried to help everyone in the group to optimise so that one lucky hit from a large creature won't kill in one blow.

Some of the group choose not to optimise in that fashion, (specifically one guy who generated three characters in four weeks. He's playing a skirmisher and he's going to die again as soon as a large monster scores a critical hit.)

I choose to view optimising for survival to be preferable to generating a new character 3/4 of the time.

Deepblue706
2008-12-24, 04:40 PM
Optimize usually means taking a concept and making it work to a reasonable level for the setting. You wanted the term "powergaming" or "min-maxing" both of which imply taking the game beyond intended levels of play. Munchkin is the last one on the list, and they actually cheat when they play, though are almost always too daft to realize that they aren't even cheating right.

The definition of 'Optimize' is usually agreed to be along the lines of "to make as effective as possible". Really, the word should not be used to describe what you're saying it does.

Yukitsu
2008-12-24, 05:02 PM
The definition of 'Optimize' is usually agreed to be along the lines of "to make as effective as possible". Really, the word should not be used to describe what you're saying it does.

I'm using the wizards board definitions. Note as well that everyone takes optimize to mean exactly what I said, hence the confusion this thread has produced.

Deepblue706
2008-12-24, 05:22 PM
I'm using the wizards board definitions. Note as well that everyone takes optimize to mean exactly what I said, hence the confusion this thread has produced.

Wait.

If everyone took optimize to mean what you said, there shouldn't be any confusion. :smalltongue:

I know you're using their definition; I'm just saying it's a silly one. A different term should be used, in my opinion.

Edit: I've been searching for synonmyns of "Effective" to fit into context, as a substitute. The best word I've come up with doesn't actually exist, but is totally awesome; Efficate. It comes from efficacious, a word that means the thing in question provides adequate results. And it's funny, because it's almost Deficate.

Fax Celestis
2008-12-24, 05:43 PM
Wait.

If everyone took optimize to mean what you said, there shouldn't be any confusion. :smalltongue:

I know you're using their definition; I'm just saying it's a silly one. A different term should be used, in my opinion.

Edit: I've been searching for synonmyns of "Effective" to fit into context, as a substitute. The best word I've come up with doesn't actually exist, but is totally awesome; Efficate. It comes from efficacious, a word that means the thing in question provides adequate results. And it's funny, because it's almost Deficate.
How about "adequate"?

Deepblue706
2008-12-24, 05:45 PM
How about "adequate"?

How about "Efficate"?

Fax Celestis
2008-12-24, 05:46 PM
How about "Efficate"?

...well, I don't even know how to pronounce "efficate". Can we call it even and go with "efficient"?

Deepblue706
2008-12-24, 05:48 PM
...well, I don't even know how to pronounce "efficate". Can we call it even and go with "efficient"?

*ahem*
No.

Eff-fa-kate

Efficate.

Roderick_BR
2008-12-24, 05:50 PM
Because people forget that RPGs are not competitive games, and want to "win" at any cost.

ken-do-nim
2008-12-24, 05:53 PM
I like to optimize at being a great buffer. That way the other players actually encourage me to optimize the heck out of my character, because it just makes the rest of them that much better. This also has the nice side effect of keeping my character out of danger, because his role is to buff the others to take the danger for him :smallcool:

lisiecki
2008-12-24, 05:56 PM
Ahh.. Fixed it.

So, would the digression i put us on that got us to that
Count as helping, or trolling?

Kyeudo
2008-12-24, 06:25 PM
To get back to what i was trying to say. Ive never understood the appeal of munchkinized characters either. It may be because im not good at that type of thinking. But as alot of threads on here show, when you try to squeeze every last drop out of a series of classes, you end up with a character that looks like ALOT of other characters, typically with out much of a personality or back story.

That all depends on where you start your optimizing from. Did you start with a goal in mind or a concept? If you started from a goal, yes, you will get the Ubercharger if you go for greatest melee based damage. If you start from the concept, then you have much more variety that will show up in the end.

I once decided I wanted to make a swashbuckling pirate. I ended up with a two-weapon-fighting character. He acted as the group's principle damage dealer and secondary tank. I could have ended up with an acrobatic skill monkey, a spell-assisted conman, or something stranger, but the group needed someone that could bring some damage to the table, thus the two weapon fighting. He was certainly optimized (at level 13, he was capable of dropping 24d6 sneak attack damage in a single round and had a BAB of +12 to back it up), but I could have done better damage with an ubercharger or a nova psion.

Optomizing does not mean you rattle off a carbon copy of some internet build. If you are going to have fun with the character, you have to have some flavor in there, something to give you a spark of personality. Once you have that, there's no reason not to milk it for all its worth. Otherwise you might as well play a Commoner.

Roland St. Jude
2008-12-24, 09:12 PM
Sheriff of Moddingham: Please play nice in here. Sniping, trolling, baiting, and namecalling are four of the numerous things that won't be tolerated here.

Starsinger
2008-12-25, 02:10 AM
Actually, I'm pretty sure I had the right word and everyone else is using it wrong.
2: greatest degree attained or attainable under implied or specified conditions Optimized doesn't mean effective, it means "the best".

Yukitsu
2008-12-25, 02:27 AM
Actually, I'm pretty sure I had the right word and everyone else is using it wrong. Optimized doesn't mean effective, it means "the best".

Yes, we all are. However, it's how the lingo is thrown around for this game, and is more often understood when you use it the other, incorrect way.

I'll add however, that a given campaigns expected limitations of power are a parameter that should be included when optimizing, and as such, can indicate making the character as fit to survive as possible given a campaign world. Power gaming and min-maxing are both defined, in part, by exceeding that boundary.

Kyeudo
2008-12-25, 02:33 AM
Actually, I'm pretty sure I had the right word and everyone else is using it wrong. Optimized doesn't mean effective, it means "the best".

I've been using that definition, but I've been using a different "at what." Being optimized means you are the best you could make it, but the "at what" is important. Are you the best damage sink? Best samurai? Best at everything? The "at what" I use is "best at being the concept I want to play."

If I wanted the best at everything, I'd play Pun-Pun.

Ricky S
2008-12-25, 02:37 AM
Powergaming is lame. I had a member who always rocked at dnd no matter what he created and it ruined the combat for everyone else cause they didnt have to do anything. So it left only Rping and while that was good it would be nice to kill some stuff once in a while. He made a ranger once and your thinking ranger pfft thats not powergaming... Wrong. He could hit any target from 400ft away and did like 2 d10 + d6+ 8 damage. Need less to say we didnt have much combat. We were all doing like d8 damage. Sure we hadnt made our characters uber but it kinda ruined it cause we didnt have much to do. He also owned with fighters and created uber hack n slashers... I want him to enjoy the game but at the expense of everyone else's fun? I dunno, powergaming seems lame to me.

KatfishKaos
2008-12-25, 02:44 AM
Optimization in itself is a very vague word, especially because it can be interpreted in so many ways. . . Good & Bad.

Many a late night the DM & I laugh at and create builds of insaneness just because we can. Why stop at a barbarian when you can make a barbarian who would sunder through a wall in a couple of rounds? The point is with all the source books (Talking about 3.5) you could destroy a DM's campaign many times over without much more then a cursory glance in a few books.

The appeal of optimization (for me at least) is, I want to play a character who can hold his own in combat / encounters and not need to worry about being a dead weight. But, I will never sacrifice roleplaying or the campaign for my want to be powerful.

For instance; I've been playing a wizard, I've taken Phantasmal Killer and other such spells. Have I once read through polymorph and gone 'Wow, this is viable.' No, I really haven't because it's nuts and the campaign would be less of a campaign if I started doing things like that. By no means has my wizard suffered because of this he is still a valued (and much needed) member of the group.

Think about this also, when you install a computer game are you playing a average joe, or somebody who can (and will) wade through a pile of enemies (until you get to a boss and he stomps you into the ground) By the gods you might spend 2 hours trying to figure out how to do it! But your 'weapon of choice' is going to reign supreme. I see optimization as the metaphorical 2 hours of planning.

JaxGaret
2008-12-25, 02:50 AM
There are different levels of optimization. If something is fully optimized, it is built as strongly or as close to as strongly as possible. If something is not fully optimized, it falls short of that, but can still be considered "optimized". Now, the question is: at what point does it stop being "optimized" to any degree? Since that's going to be a subjective answer any way you slice it, it's better to just not worry about it, and equate "optimization" to "any effort made to make the character even the slightest bit more efficient than the PHB example characters". In other words, it's really not worth fighting about.

Can we stop arguing about this now?

Celeres
2008-12-25, 02:50 AM
powergaming for me makes my characters useful. for some reason, the dice gods hate me and give me awful rolls. i once rolled a d20 5 times in a row out of boredom. 1,1,2,2,4. none of my friends were at all surprised.

and roleplaying for me is hard cause i'm always either in campaigns where roleplaying isn't heavily looked at, or everyone hates my character so he shuts his mouth to not piss everyone off.

so basically, i'm stuck with using characters who are battle-savvy. and with crappy die-rolls, i have to optimize to make him useful for that.

plus it's a good feeling when the DM makes a whole dungeon dedicated to trying to kill my character.

Stephen_E
2008-12-25, 06:49 AM
I'm personally the powergamer type that uses his powergaming skills to take a somewhat limited concept and make it playable.

I do know someone who "powergames" more in "make my character as powerful as possible" regardless of the party strength. My impression is that the motivation follows two paths.

1) I hate having my character die so I absolutely minimise the chance of my character getting killed without TPKing the party (I think this also tends to make him somewhat unhappy when others optimise their PCs to much because this increases the chance of him dying without the DM risking TPKing).

2) I hate failing at anything I try so I pump my character as much as possible until I'm so good that I can almost win no matter what the die roll (and he's not happy that rolling "1"s stop him from been completely save).

Stephen E

Zen Master
2008-12-25, 08:03 AM
I will try to illustrate something.

Draw a line on a piece of paper. Imagine this line to represent the PC power level in a given game. I, as the GM, will match that line, providing challenges to the players appropriate to their power.

Now raise or lower the line. I, the GM, will still match the powerlevel - meaning it becomes a study in futility. Players will never experience being powerful in any literal sense, for the only thing that gives a true measure of their power is how easily they overcome challenges - and that will be the same.

It is I, the gamemaster, who gives the players their feeling of power - not the players.

Now I will try to illustrate something else.

For a party of five players, draw a circle for each player/character. Increase or decrease the size of the circles to illustrate the individual powerlevel of the characters. More optimized characters get a big circle, while less optimized ones get a smaller one.

Within the group of players, it is indeed possible for some players to feel powerful and for others to feel useless. Thus it becomes a contest, a competition, and during character creation the guy who first shouts 'I WANNA PLAY WIZZARD' wins. Or cleric, or druid, or whatever.

So one guy gets to have fun, while all the rest get to mop up after him. Well - or so. It's an example, not how I claim these things will always play out.

Now, to me, roleplaying is a social exercise. I want everyone on the team - whether I'm a player or a gamemaster - to have fun, and to participate and contribute in a meaningful way. Everyone gets to shine sometimes, and no one can do the jobs of all others.

To achieve this, naturally I have to put the foot down fairly regularly. Even such a basic thing as unlimited use of scrolls can make a completely straight single-class wizard capable of doing every job in the group. Since this cannot be allowed, it never happens. Luckily I've never had any trouble with getting the players to agree with all this - so that's all good.

To paraphrase: Optimizing serves no purpose what so ever.

Malacode
2008-12-25, 08:16 AM
It's purely a thought excercise for me. Knowing I CAN do it is enough. Just being able to find all the esotecric fragments and putting them together in such a way as to create something way outside the normal scope of the game gives a certain feeling of accomplishment. I don't have to pull my creations out while gaming (THough I have on occaision shown my builds to my friends), I don't have to make my DM cry. It's just fun

Eldariel
2008-12-25, 08:18 AM
To paraphrase: Optimizing serves no purpose what so ever.

Read the thread.

Zen Master
2008-12-25, 08:33 AM
Read the thread.

You think I didn't? I think I did. I also think my point stands. Carry on.

Eldariel
2008-12-25, 08:53 AM
Considering that you ignored every other reason given for optimization than power...

metagaia
2008-12-25, 08:57 AM
It is I, the gamemaster, who gives the players their feeling of power - not the players.
That really does sound awfully pretentious. You do not tell the characters what they feel. (http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=1168)

Powergamers *want* you to up the challenge, they don't want to be bored, but they feel more powerful taking on bigger monsters. You can;t use the 'roleplaying should be fun' defense because what you are saying is "your fun isn't allowed."

It can be awkward when powergamers and non-powergamers mix, but don't punish someone for a good character concept. Powergaming is also not about 'picking the wizard', it is about making yourself useful with the given constraints you have chosen (for example, making monks useful). Every concept has a weakness, and you can always create a scenario for someone to shine. It really does feel like the objection to powergaming primarily stems from laziness.

/rant

Blood_Lord
2008-12-25, 09:07 AM
You think I didn't? I think I did. I also think my point stands. Carry on.

And which of these do you think feels more powerful?

1) Bliznak: I Bliznak the Mighty Wizard shall fireball the goblin and kill it.

Observer: Wow, neat.


2) Malak: I Malak the Badass will seal the Dragon's soul within this gem, and then steal his horde.

Whole town: Thank you mighty Malak, you have saved us.

Thoughtbot360
2008-12-25, 12:58 PM
But isnt that all a bit like an arms race? best way to win is not to start it? Also: if your DM is out to kill you and he is serious, no optimization in the world is going to save you from the ceiling in the room, that actually is a 10 ton ston block.

Well-Wall of Stone will.

Also, its funny you call it an arms race, because thats kind of what "leveling up" is. That is, in the game world, the NPCs who can are playing an arms race with levels. Sure, those that didn't change to a more functional PC class first are handicapped, but seriously-with all the larger-that-life predators out there, why is it that only some measly kobolds are threatening wide tracks of countryside?

Its because there is an arbitrary Sorting Algorith of Evil (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SortingAlgorithmOfEvil) enforced on the world because the DM wants to be "fair." Well, fair and still have a stable society for the heroes to save/buy from.


There are really two ways of measuring a character's "true" CR: level-and optimization. They have a level adjustment based on your race, but not the uberness of your class, or the number of magic items you have (well, they have wealth by level, but nothing measures spending your money wisely...) and I haven't got any ideas on how to measure them....

Kyeudo
2008-12-25, 01:18 PM
Now raise or lower the line. I, the GM, will still match the powerlevel - meaning it becomes a study in futility. Players will never experience being powerful in any literal sense, for the only thing that gives a true measure of their power is how easily they overcome challenges - and that will be the same.

It is I, the gamemaster, who gives the players their feeling of power - not the players.

Doesn't work that way. When you increase the power level of their challenges, it's obvious. Ten orcs instead of five, a Huge dragon instead of a Large, etc. The players are taking down greater challenges than they should be capable of, and they know it. Sure, mechanically the level of danger to the characters was the same, but the difficult of the challenge was something a lesser character couldn't have done. It makes you feel EPIC! When you stand atop the broken bodies of a thousand demons because the only thing that could challenge your level 10 character was the jaws of Hell itself gaping open and spewing forth infernal legions to plague the world, you know you are a badass.

Zen Master
2008-12-25, 06:28 PM
Considering that you ignored every other reason given for optimization than power...

Personally I'd say my reasoning applies to all cases. Excepting of course those who pursue this line for the mental exercise.

Zen Master
2008-12-25, 06:32 PM
That really does sound awfully pretentious. You do not tell the characters what they feel. (http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=1168)

Powergamers *want* you to up the challenge, they don't want to be bored, but they feel more powerful taking on bigger monsters. You can;t use the 'roleplaying should be fun' defense because what you are saying is "your fun isn't allowed."

It can be awkward when powergamers and non-powergamers mix, but don't punish someone for a good character concept. Powergaming is also not about 'picking the wizard', it is about making yourself useful with the given constraints you have chosen (for example, making monks useful). Every concept has a weakness, and you can always create a scenario for someone to shine. It really does feel like the objection to powergaming primarily stems from laziness.

/rant

I will never punish someone for what you describe as a good character concept. But I will not play with them - they don't play my game, and I don't play theirs. Luckily, this has never come up.

I'm not trying to be pretentious. As the GM, it is my job to entertain and challenge. That's what I'm there for. And that's what I do.

Killing a dragon isn't powerful - that's just beating a given sum of hitpoints.

Saving the kingdom from sinking into a pit of chaos and civil war - that's powerful.

You want to beat stuff that has higher CR than appropriate? Well - then you play a game I don't, and we have no reason to discuss.

Zen Master
2008-12-25, 06:33 PM
And which of these do you think feels more powerful?

1) Bliznak: I Bliznak the Mighty Wizard shall fireball the goblin and kill it.

Observer: Wow, neat.


2) Malak: I Malak the Badass will seal the Dragon's soul within this gem, and then steal his horde.

Whole town: Thank you mighty Malak, you have saved us.

See me previous reply. Neither feels powerful to me. Both feel like they did damage in excess of a given number of hitpoints. You could switch the names for the two monsters, and have the same result.

Zen Master
2008-12-25, 06:35 PM
Doesn't work that way. When you increase the power level of their challenges, it's obvious. Ten orcs instead of five, a Huge dragon instead of a Large, etc. The players are taking down greater challenges than they should be capable of, and they know it. Sure, mechanically the level of danger to the characters was the same, but the difficult of the challenge was something a lesser character couldn't have done. It makes you feel EPIC! When you stand atop the broken bodies of a thousand demons because the only thing that could challenge your level 10 character was the jaws of Hell itself gaping open and spewing forth infernal legions to plague the world, you know you are a badass.

Again - I've answered this within the framework of how I perceive and play the game. It's not the numbers behind that do the work - it is the story being told. I can tell an epic story which only a group of powerful people could be victorious in, without resorting to anything but CR1 monsters.

Zen Master
2008-12-25, 06:39 PM
Well-Wall of Stone will.

Also, its funny you call it an arms race, because thats kind of what "leveling up" is. That is, in the game world, the NPCs who can are playing an arms race with levels. Sure, those that didn't change to a more functional PC class first are handicapped, but seriously-with all the larger-that-life predators out there, why is it that only some measly kobolds are threatening wide tracks of countryside?

Its because there is an arbitrary Sorting Algorith of Evil (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SortingAlgorithmOfEvil) enforced on the world because the DM wants to be "fair." Well, fair and still have a stable society for the heroes to save/buy from.


There are really two ways of measuring a character's "true" CR: level-and optimization. They have a level adjustment based on your race, but not the uberness of your class, or the number of magic items you have (well, they have wealth by level, but nothing measures spending your money wisely...) and I haven't got any ideas on how to measure them....

There is a very valid point in saying that levelling is an arms race.

However, there is a big difference (or so I see it) between gaining power through character progression, and gaining it from highly specific application of the rules.

Basically, if you cannot feel powerful playing a fighter, straight up and with no super-charger cheese ... well, then the game I play wont be very funny for you.

FatR
2008-12-25, 06:49 PM
To OP, from my experience:
1)Keeping your character alive and in condition that allows him to participate meaningfully. I have yet to see a roleplaying game where the DM doesn't throw deadly challenges at the party. And while in some forms of games, such as PbP, actual death (outside of confilcts between PCs) can be very unlikely, you can very well be effectively disabled. Or unable to contribute, if you lack necessary mechanical abilities. This is somewhat less pronounced in DnD than in pointbuy/semi-pointbuy systems, where it is very easy to make oneself generally worthless or to specialize in things that aren't likely to come up in the play.
2)Feeling yourself powerful, world-important and badass. Optimization is necessary for that in DnD, because most official settings are chocked with high-level characters, so you must be better than NPCs, to have this feeling, doubly so if the game is not supposed to go above 20th level. However, if your DM is not OK with PCs being unique and super-cool, or if you overdo things, making normal challenges not just easy, but boringly effortless, this can devolve into an arm race. Which is kinda pointless, because the game is back to square one, except with way more bookkeeping.
3)Being able to make your favorite concepts work without totally gimping the character and making him a liability for the team.
4)Intellectual exercise.

FatR
2008-12-25, 07:11 PM
There is a very valid point in saying that levelling is an arms race.

However, there is a big difference (or so I see it) between gaining power through character progression, and gaining it from highly specific application of the rules.

Basically, if you cannot feel powerful playing a fighter, straight up and with no super-charger cheese ... well, then the game I play wont be very funny for you.
I can't. Because the fighter, although superhumanly tough and strong is objectively not powerful in the world, where all the important people have major superpowers. And the character knows this, unless he is stupid. Even the official settings often admit this explicitly, with the vast majority of real power players being magic-users of some sort.

FatR
2008-12-25, 07:21 PM
Doesn't work that way. When you increase the power level of their challenges, it's obvious. Ten orcs instead of five, a Huge dragon instead of a Large, etc. The players are taking down greater challenges than they should be capable of, and they know it. Sure, mechanically the level of danger to the characters was the same, but the difficult of the challenge was something a lesser character couldn't have done. It makes you feel EPIC! When you stand atop the broken bodies of a thousand demons because the only thing that could challenge your level 10 character was the jaws of Hell itself gaping open and spewing forth infernal legions to plague the world, you know you are a badass.
QFT. Also, if you can beat up bigger challenges, you leave bigger marks on the setting and become generally more important, if your DM cares about the world consistency at all.

Eldariel
2008-12-25, 07:22 PM
Again - I've answered this within the framework of how I perceive and play the game. It's not the numbers behind that do the work - it is the story being told. I can tell an epic story which only a group of powerful people could be victorious in, without resorting to anything but CR1 monsters.

So, the obligatory question, why play D&D then? It sounds like you don't especially like nor enjoy the rules, so why not just abandon them altogether? Why not just play freeform? Why do you play D&D, yet ignoring the one reason to play D&D?

Noneoyabizzness
2008-12-25, 07:27 PM
powergaming has the fun of function. people like being able to be super-effective.

sub-optimizing offers fun in adversity. not everyone enjoys this.

Heliomance
2008-12-25, 07:33 PM
powergaming has the fun of function. people like being able to be super-effective.

sub-optimizing offers fun in adversity. not everyone enjoys this.

Munchkin used Optimisation!

It's super effective!

FatR
2008-12-25, 07:34 PM
I will try to illustrate something.

Draw a line on a piece of paper. Imagine this line to represent the PC power level in a given game. I, as the GM, will match that line, providing challenges to the players appropriate to their power.

Now raise or lower the line. I, the GM, will still match the powerlevel - meaning it becomes a study in futility.
Then you're not the GM I would ever want to play under. I don't even play computer games, where enemies auto-scale to character's level. Inconsistent gameworlds suck.


Players will never experience being powerful in any literal sense, for the only thing that gives a true measure of their power is how easily they overcome challenges - and that will be the same.
You seriously think, that bringing gods down (and reshaping the game setting forever in the process) feels the same to the players as killng goblins (even if the risk of failure is similar)? Uh, think again.

Noneoyabizzness
2008-12-25, 07:50 PM
Munchkin used Optimisation!

It's super effective!

exactly my feeling on powergaming. but lord knows I appreciate it in pokemon.

Eldariel
2008-12-25, 07:52 PM
Munchkin used Optimisation!

It's not very effective...

Fixed. A munchkin couldn't optimize worth his ass if his life depended on it.

Kyeudo
2008-12-25, 08:05 PM
Again - I've answered this within the framework of how I perceive and play the game. It's not the numbers behind that do the work - it is the story being told. I can tell an epic story which only a group of powerful people could be victorious in, without resorting to anything but CR1 monsters.

Unless you are using hordes of CR 1 creatures, I can't see how you can give proper justice to the word "Epic." An epic is defined by scale. Armies of thousands, monsters of legend, spells of world shaking power, and the fate of the world in the balance. Frankly, goblins with pointy sticks don't cut it and your players will know it.

Mike_G
2008-12-25, 09:01 PM
I've been wondering about this for a while, and figured might as well ask. What's the appeal in optimization, specifically high-end optimization? Where's the fun in, to use D&D 3e as an example, taking out a CR 18 creature with Glitterdust or throwing "Save or Dies" at the enemy, repeatedly?

I understand the appeal it would have for say, Munchkins, but there are several people who optimize that I wouldn't necessarily want to call a Munchkin. So what is it about things like Leap Attack-Power Attack-Pounce-Full Attack-Shock Trooper (Attack :smalltongue:) round after round that's exciting?

Is it a desire to "win"? An ego boosting "pissing contest" as it were, to see who can make the biggest and best build? I apologize if I sound condescending, I don't see the appeal in optimization to the extent I generally hear of.

I don't really understand it myself. Maybe as a thought exercise, but I have neither the time nor inclination to to get involved in optimizing for that reason. I have two jobs, a wife and a very young son, as well as hobbies beyond D&D. I want to bang out a PC in a short time and spend my allotted 4 hours per week of D&D time playing. I enjoy shanking Kobolds with a first level character as muc as I enjoy fighting Balors with a 20th level PC. More, in fact, since high level combat seems to crawl by as the players and DM need to keep track of eleventy million buff spells

As a practical matter for playing, I don't bother all that much because to me, the most important thing is my concept. It's a Fantasy Roleplaying Game. You can play anything you want, so why would I put aside my dreams of an alter ego of a dashing, agile swordsman juts because a plate armored 2HF Power Attack, Shock Trooper, Leap attack, etc etc etc is mechanically better as proven by innumerable math majors on various CharOp boards?

I want to play D'Artagnan, so that's what I'm writing up, blown feat on Weapon Finesse, light weapon I can't PA with and all.

'Cause that's who I want to play for four hours a week.

Thoughtbot360
2008-12-25, 09:37 PM
There is a very valid point in saying that levelling is an arms race.

Why thank you.


However, there is a big difference (or so I see it) between gaining power through character progression, and gaining it from highly specific application of the rules.

Correct. But the point still stands: a highly optimized character with calculated magic item will blast through monsters many CR higher than the DMG would consider a "challenging" encounter. If a GM cares about keeping the party at reasonably the same level so that everyone actually contributes to fights, then they should also consider the level of optimization allowed, too.


Basically, if you cannot feel powerful playing a fighter, straight up and with no super-charger cheese ... well, then the game I play wont be very funny for you.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, overused joke, whoa. (http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/326461)

....Actually, I don't even know how to begin to respond to that, so let me start in the middle:

*dialogue!*

...and so you see, its not that I can't endure low-optimization campaigns, its just that your players need to know ahead of time that you are changing rules and flavor changes. Don't ever let someone invest too much emotion and hard work into a character that is going to be subjected to what is ultimately going to be-a Call of Cthulhu campaign.

Kyeudo
2008-12-25, 11:13 PM
As a practical matter for playing, I don't bother all that much because to me, the most important thing is my concept. It's a Fantasy Roleplaying Game. You can play anything you want, so why would I put aside my dreams of an alter ego of a dashing, agile swordsman juts because a plate armored 2HF Power Attack, Shock Trooper, Leap attack, etc etc etc is mechanically better as proven by innumerable math majors on various CharOp boards?

I want to play D'Artagnan, so that's what I'm writing up, blown feat on Weapon Finesse, light weapon I can't PA with and all.

'Cause that's who I want to play for four hours a week.

Did you actually read the thread? We arn't talking about the theoretical builds that can one shot Asmodeus. We're talking about taking a concept and optimizing that.

Your dashing swordsman concept could be modelled with a Fighter with Weapon Focus (rapier) and call that good. Or you could go with a Warblade and focus on Diamond Mind and Iron Heart manuvers. One will out perform the other in play by alot.

Really, when it comes down to it, everyone optimizes. They just don't realize it. Whenever you pick one feat over another because one has a better mechanical benefit, you are optimizing. Whenever you choose a +2 sword over a +1 sword, you are optimizing. Optimizing, at it's most basic, is just trying to make your character better at something.

Drascin
2008-12-26, 03:44 AM
Doesn't work that way. When you increase the power level of their challenges, it's obvious. Ten orcs instead of five, a Huge dragon instead of a Large, etc. The players are taking down greater challenges than they should be capable of, and they know it. Sure, mechanically the level of danger to the characters was the same, but the difficult of the challenge was something a lesser character couldn't have done. It makes you feel EPIC! When you stand atop the broken bodies of a thousand demons because the only thing that could challenge your level 10 character was the jaws of Hell itself gaping open and spewing forth infernal legions to plague the world, you know you are a badass.

Exactly. And I as a gamemaster work very hard to make sure the players feel that feeling of "we are pretty friggin' cool!", never to keep it from them.

However, this requires that the players are at least moderately powerful to be believable, because every player will notice (because, despite what my old DMs thought, no, players are not stupid) if you just took half the health of that dragon away just because their characters suck, or made it so the thing "menacing" the town was a small number of goblins that about thirty level 1 conscripts could have wiped out... and knowing such things frustrates everyone. Rather than that, I will help them optimize their build and point out better options for their character concept (ie: "if you wanna play a skillmonkey and don't care that much about SA, why not lose those rogue levels and go Factotum? It amounts to the same, only better, and you can improvise some crazy stuff with inspiration points". Or "if you wanna be a martial artist, you should really give a look to this Unarmed Swordsage thing. It does it much better. We can go over the maneuvers and pick some good stuff if you want"). I think it's much better if I actually help and monitor the character creation so that no-one is Punpunized, but also no-one turns himself into a cripple.

In short, I actually like my players to optimize a bit, and I tell them as much. I even think it's a bit of courtesy towards the DM to optimize to be at least reasonably versatile, because that way I can actually play my enemies with a measure of actual smart tactics without being completely certain I will obliterate the party, which in turns makes battles fun for me as well. The mentality that trying to have a character that is good at his field is contrary to roleplaying... is completely alien to me, to be honest.

FatR
2008-12-26, 03:54 AM
I don't really understand it myself. Maybe as a thought exercise, but I have neither the time nor inclination to to get involved in optimizing for that reason. I have two jobs, a wife and a very young son, as well as hobbies beyond D&D. I want to bang out a PC in a short time and spend my allotted 4 hours per week of D&D time playing. I enjoy shanking Kobolds with a first level character as muc as I enjoy fighting Balors with a 20th level PC. More, in fact, since high level combat seems to crawl by as the players and DM need to keep track of eleventy million buff spells

As a practical matter for playing, I don't bother all that much because to me, the most important thing is my concept. It's a Fantasy Roleplaying Game. You can play anything you want, so why would I put aside my dreams of an alter ego of a dashing, agile swordsman juts because a plate armored 2HF Power Attack, Shock Trooper, Leap attack, etc etc etc is mechanically better as proven by innumerable math majors on various CharOp boards?

I want to play D'Artagnan, so that's what I'm writing up, blown feat on Weapon Finesse, light weapon I can't PA with and all.

'Cause that's who I want to play for four hours a week.
Then, as it was already said, pick classes that will actually allow a finesse fighter to perform tolerably. I do not really optimize opponents, at least for low-level parties (I am a busy man too), but if your character cannot even handle level-appropriate monsters, and pre-written encounters from various adventures, then he's a dead weight that rest of the party is forced to drag around, and this is not fun for them. Avoiding characters that obviously suck is part of being considerate to your fellow players (and can also save you from rolling new characters regulalrly).

Zen Master
2008-12-26, 05:07 AM
... where all the important people have major superpowers.

They have no more superpowers than the fighter does. Not while I'm DM they don't.

Zen Master
2008-12-26, 05:09 AM
So, the obligatory question, why play D&D then? It sounds like you don't especially like nor enjoy the rules, so why not just abandon them altogether? Why not just play freeform? Why do you play D&D, yet ignoring the one reason to play D&D?

Funny - I could ask you the same. By my interpretation, you are the one who will go to any length to break the rules. I value a balance of power within the player group - that's all.

Well - and I happen to never have met a player who gave much thought to optimizing. That plays a role too.

Zen Master
2008-12-26, 05:11 AM
Then you're not the GM I would ever want to play under. I don't even play computer games, where enemies auto-scale to character's level. Inconsistent gameworlds suck.


You seriously think, that bringing gods down (and reshaping the game setting forever in the process) feels the same to the players as killng goblins (even if the risk of failure is similar)? Uh, think again.

With me as DM, you'd bring down no Gods. Gods get spelled with a capital G. There is a reason for that - and for why you never will.

But sure - you'd never play with me, I'd never play with you. All is well, no?

Zen Master
2008-12-26, 05:12 AM
Unless you are using hordes of CR 1 creatures, I can't see how you can give proper justice to the word "Epic." An epic is defined by scale. Armies of thousands, monsters of legend, spells of world shaking power, and the fate of the world in the balance. Frankly, goblins with pointy sticks don't cut it and your players will know it.

The end of the world is epic. As epic as it gets, in fact. And I can drown the world in goblins just fine.

Zen Master
2008-12-26, 05:15 AM
...and so you see, its not that I can't endure low-optimization campaigns, its just that your players need to know ahead of time that you are changing rules and flavor changes. Don't ever let someone invest too much emotion and hard work into a character that is going to be subjected to what is ultimately going to be-a Call of Cthulhu campaign.

I don't change the rules. I do interpret them somewhat differently than the average super optimizer. Also, I don't allow very much of anything outside core. Which is perfectly fine - we'll all DM from time to time, and no one allows much of anything.

If you cannot build it in core - it's off the boards.

Aquillion
2008-12-26, 05:46 AM
I don't change the rules. I do interpret them somewhat differently than the average super optimizer. Also, I don't allow very much of anything outside core. Which is perfectly fine - we'll all DM from time to time, and no one allows much of anything.

If you cannot build it in core - it's off the boards.This is part of the reason why it is important to understand class balance and optimization, even if you dislike thinking about it -- what you just said there is one of the most common mistakes people who complain about 'optimizers' make, and it's an extremely serious one that can ruin entire games if it isn't straightened out.

The core books are, overall, the least-balanced official 3.5 books in existence. Absolutely and indisputably. The vast majority of the most broken spells are in 3.5. Three of the four most overpowered classes ever printed and several of the most underpowered classes are in core. Even some of the most broken feats are in core.

People who avoid optimization discussions and only come across the occasional spillover often get the mistaken impression that splatbooks are imbalanced because they see builds that pluck all the most imbalanced things from every splatbook in the universe and put it in one character. Sure, if you do that, you'll be overpowered -- and allowing every single splatbook is only something a DM should do if they're at least vaguely familiar with them all, or can take the time to read up on them.

But while there's plenty of books with one or two imbalanced things in them, individually no book can even begin to compare to core for broken spells or classes. The reason for this is obvious when you think about it -- later books had the experiences of people who had played much longer with core to draw on.

In general, most splatbooks require a concentrated effort to break -- you have to really grab the few broken PRCs, spells, or feats and milk them for all they're worth. In core, though? You can play a druid with natural spell, cast a few buffs on yourself and your animal companion, no real optimization beyond that -- and inside core, no other class, absent the other full casters, will ever be even slightly close to you in terms of power (and even the other full casters have to optimize a bit to keep up with what amounts to a generic unoptimized druid.) You cannot fix this without drastically changing the rules (removing or nerfing entire druid class features, for instance); no amount of 'interpretation' is going to help the fighter compete with someone who can turn into three buffed bears at a moment's notice, while also retaining a better skill list and a wide variety of healing/offensive/utility spells if they feel like it.

If you add just, say, Tome of Battle to Core? Suddenly everything is massively better-balanced. Not perfectly, but now fighter-types can compete with druids and wizards with only some basic houseruling and a few removed/altered spells to limit the more absurd spellcasting exploits. The Tome of Battle does far more to preserve the balance of power in your typical player group than you will get simply using straight Core; while most splatbooks are made with hindsight in mind and will improve balance if wisely-used, the ToB is explicitly designed to repair the mistakes that WotC made when they were first balancing the system.

Drascin
2008-12-26, 05:48 AM
They have no more superpowers than the fighter does. Not while I'm DM they don't.


I don't change the rules. I do interpret them somewhat differently than the average super optimizer. Also, I don't allow very much of anything outside core. Which is perfectly fine - we'll all DM from time to time, and no one allows much of anything.

...err, mind explaining to me how do you manage to accomplish both the highlighted statements at the same time? This is not sarcasm, it's an actual question.

I mean, in core and by the rules, a druid can call down the power of the world, raze whole cities within an hour with storm and wind, shift among dozens of forms, and generally do a whole lot of stuff.

The fighter can, by the rules... whack stuff. And very mediocrely at that, if you don't optimize at least a bit, or at least give him some pretty damn cool gear as a DM.

Zen Master
2008-12-26, 06:37 AM
This is part of the reason ........ balancing the system.

Here's an example. In a certain interpretation of the rules, certain books make it possible for wizzards to have pretty much any number of contingencies they like. Making them useless - by making them basically unbeatable.

Now - the main point here is that I don't need any further books. It just opens up so many more roads to cheese - without adding ANYTHING I have any use for.

Sure there are imbalances in core - but it's really nothing I can't handle. It's just a matter of playing by design. The players may have read enough of the rules to understand that they are, in fact, entitled to create any magic item they desire. However, I as DM control other factors: Availability of gold, availability of laboratories and facilities, availability of needed materials, availability of time.

The players will be as powerful as I want them to be. Which is fine, it's my job as DM to control the game. To make it work within the framework of the story being told. The rules are there to tell the story - not the other way around.

Anyways, as I said, we all DM some of the time. Thus far, no one has been unhappy, and no one has played it very differently than I do. We have a consensus.

Zen Master
2008-12-26, 06:54 AM
...err, mind explaining to me how do you manage to accomplish both the highlighted statements at the same time? This is not sarcasm, it's an actual question.

I mean, in core and by the rules, a druid can call down the power of the world, raze whole cities within an hour with storm and wind, shift among dozens of forms, and generally do a whole lot of stuff.

The fighter can, by the rules... whack stuff. And very mediocrely at that, if you don't optimize at least a bit, or at least give him some pretty damn cool gear as a DM.

Hm - you're asking me to describe what the core difference is between games I play, and the theoretical ramblings of people on this board. I'm not sure I can - see, as I've said a few times, no one I've ever played with has ever pursued the super optimizing dream.

I can give a few qualified guesses:

For one thing, I guess it has to do with control, as stated above. Certainly, I'm a bit more generous with low-powered classes, and a bit more restrictive with high-powered classes.

Also, there is the question of what you consider optimizing. When I was a player rather than a DM, I made a rather effective fighter/rogue House Orien member, who could do short teleports, hide in plain sight and other such things - but I hardly consider that optimizing.

There could be something in each players perceived party role - the cleric heals and buffs, rather than build for melee, buff himself and go on a solo rampage.

But really - I'm just guessing. The problem has never come up. In 20 years of playing various rpg's, I've never really had to contend with it. For 20 years, I've wondered why TSR/WoTC/Whoever publish these crappy sourcebooks, and who buys them.

Arcane_Snowman
2008-12-26, 08:02 AM
Personally I use the following terminology:

Optimizing: Being mechanically good at "X", doesn't matter what X is, if it's milking cows at top speed or blowing up several square kilometers with the snap of a finger, optimizing covers it.

Powergaming and Min/Maxing: Optimizing to the point where you are mindbogglingly powerful, were talking playing one of the big five (Wizard, Archivist, Druid, Cleric, Artificer) fully combat optimized and equipped with the cream of the crop items, the most powerful prestige classes out there, and the best spells possible. Powergaming is when one optimizes solely to do well in combat related encounters. Min/Maxing has the added feature of throwing out a lot of "unnecessary" mechanics, to even further specialize in whatever field one wishes.

Muchkins: this term is for those that try to bring theoretical optimization into actual game play, playing a Diplomancer, Hulking Hurler and the like. This is also the description for people who just plain cheats.

While Powergaming is optimizing, optimizing isn't necessarily powergaming: I'm currently hoping to find a game which is going to be ideal for my fear witch (a person that specializes in scaring the living daylight out of his/her opponent), a very well optimized character (if I have to say so myself), but it is by no means Min/Maxed.

While I unflinchingly would call myself a Optimizer, I would flay anyone alive that would as much as insinuate that I Min/Max or Powergame (unless I actively try to, which is restricted to when I try to prove a point).

I'm a strong believer in the fact that D&D is a social game. (although the mechanics sometimes doesn't support this as much as they could) I also know, that the system is very geared towards combat, not that you can't play it as a diplomatic game, but one might as well play GURPS or freeform for such games, which incidentally I do.
I also know that there are so many things in D&D that are just so mechanically dysfunctional or overpowered, that one has to be put some thought into being on par with ones fellow players.

FatR
2008-12-26, 08:09 AM
They have no more superpowers than the fighter does. Not while I'm DM they don't.
Then you're not DMing DnD.

Zen Master
2008-12-26, 08:14 AM
Personally I use the following terminology:

Optimizing: Being mechanically good at "X", doesn't matter what X is, if it's milking cows at top speed or blowing up several square kilometers with the snap of a finger, optimizing covers it.

Powergaming and Min/Maxing: Optimizing to the point where you are mindbogglingly powerful, were talking playing one of the big five (Wizard, Archivist, Druid, Cleric, Artificer) fully combat optimized and equipped with the cream of the crop items, the most powerful prestige classes out there, and the best spells possible. Powergaming is when one optimizes solely to do well in combat related encounters. Min/Maxing has the added feature of throwing out a lot of "unnecessary" mechanics, to even further specialize in whatever field one wishes.

Muchkins: this term is for those that try to bring theoretical optimization into actual game play, playing a Diplomancer, Hulking Hurler and the like. This is also the description for people who just plain cheats.

While Powergaming is optimizing, optimizing isn't necessarily powergaming: I'm currently hoping to find a game which is going to be ideal for my fear witch (a person that specializes in scaring the living daylight out of his/her opponent), a very well optimized character (if I have to say so myself), but it is by no means Min/Maxed.

While I unflinchingly would call myself a Optimizer, I would flay anyone alive that would as much as insinuate that I Min/Max or Powergame (unless I actively try to, which is restricted to when I try to prove a point).

I'm a strong believer in the fact that D&D is a social game. (although the mechanics sometimes doesn't support this as much as they could) I also know, that the system is very geared towards combat, not that you can't play it as a diplomatic game, but one might as well play GURPS or freeform for such games, which incidentally I do.
I also know that there are so many things in D&D that are just so mechanically dysfunctional or overpowered, that one has to be put some thought into being on par with ones fellow players.

Well put - I quite agree.

FatR
2008-12-26, 08:25 AM
Oh, and thanks to Acromos I remembered the fifth reason to optimize, I observed, thankfully not present in the games I run or play in - desire to one-up control freak DMs.

The Mormegil
2008-12-26, 08:53 AM
One of the most interesting things I experienced as a DM also is that there is no real way out of a balance problem, in a certain sense. What I mean is that if you have an uber-optimized character in a party with a underpowered one, no matter how hard a DM will try, giving them artifacts, enabling otherwise prohibited options and so on and so forth, it will solve nothing. You cannot volontarily overpower a PC. I found that strange, but anyhow. I'm well out of that now.

Arcane_Snowman
2008-12-26, 09:01 AM
One of the most interesting things I experienced as a DM also is that there is no real way out of a balance problem, in a certain sense. What I mean is that if you have an uber-optimized character in a party with a underpowered one, no matter how hard a DM will try, giving them artifacts, enabling otherwise prohibited options and so on and so forth, it will solve nothing. You cannot voluntarily overpower a PC. I found that strange, but anyhow. I'm well out of that now. the problem is that while there are a fair few goodies amongst items, there are far less, and they are far weaker than abilities amongst good classes: an already optimized character usually get less benefits from items than he does from class levels, so inverting it to try and give a non-optimized character more power through items won't really be enough.

kalt
2008-12-26, 09:07 AM
As someone that certainly considers himself an optimizer I almost fault a DM more than a player when this occurs:

Powergaming and Min/Maxing: Optimizing to the point where you are mindbogglingly powerful, were talking playing one of the big five (Wizard, Archivist, Druid, Cleric, Artificer) fully combat optimized and equipped with the cream of the crop items, the most powerful prestige classes out there, and the best spells possible. Powergaming is when one optimizes solely to do well in combat related encounters. Min/Maxing has the added feature of throwing out a lot of "unnecessary" mechanics, to even further specialize in whatever field one wishes.

The DM is the one who is in charge of allowing prestige classes in his game and heck even the core classes. While I completely get frustrated with a control freak DM, it still comes down to him allowing the odd prestige classes and splat books many powergamers tend to use.

Edit: Also as a side thought this was one thing that I really liked about second edition and having different classes level at different rates. In 2nd edition it was assumed that some classes were inherintly more powerful than others, while in 3.0 by making everything level at the same rate they attempted to make balance and equality exist.

Talya
2008-12-26, 09:10 AM
How about "adequate"?

That works.

For example, "There is no way to optimize a monk to be adequate even in a party of unoptimized characters."

woodenbandman
2008-12-26, 09:24 AM
Instead of thinking how their character grew up, the friends they had, experiences they had, etc, then think of what the most effective way to defeat game challenges would be, they create a faux backstory/personality that justifies the effective choices they have made.


Of course they did, they wanted to play the character that they made! You sound like the kind of guy who rejects a character that isn't exquisitely detailed in backstory. Why? Nobody gets to act out their backstory, it already happened! The fun is in the in-game interactions, backstory be damned! You know what I do? I just create a character, and I give them an extremely basic motivation. Why am I adventuring? Then, I play to that motivation, and I see where it takes me. Your pages of backstory about your alcoholic uncle won't do you a spot of good once you meet him in real game, and talk to him about it, solve his problem, and then completely erase the problems thereof. I don't even use backstory, because to my mind, they have nothing to contribute to the game outside the odd plot hook, and if your DM wants some plot hooks, he can ask you for those.

Don't tell me that you make your backstory 100% blind. You certainly cover up the character's choice of class, by saying "oh he came to be a rogue because of blah." You might say that that's just setting the scene, and you're not justifying your ''effective choices." Really? Then why didn't you become a commoner with cross-class ranks in hide and move silently, or an expert who has ranks in craft (basketweaving), instead? I'll tell you why: Because you're committing the same "crime" you accuse these other players of doing, and you're just jealous that they made their characters stronger than yours.

This argument pisses me off. It's like saying that a player who optimizes his character does it to make the rest of the party powerless. I've done this before, completely by accident in fact, and it is no damn fun. I wound up carrying half the party through many of the challenges, and I eventually wound up playing rocket tag while the rest of the group was playing DnD. It's not fun to do that. I optimize so that I can take a character and bring him to a level where he can contribute best to the collective efforts of the party, which is why I now play things like Binder, Bard, and Crusader rather than Cleric, Wizard, and Artificer. And hell, if the rest of the party's Cleric, Wizard, and Artificer, I'll jump for joy and I will DAMN sure roll up a druid, because in that instance power is the price of competing. Of course your DM is going to ramp up the challenge level. You think that the reality bending GOD that is a Wizard is going to waste his time on regular Gnolls? No! He'll be killing Balors or riding Dragons, while the paladin is left with his magic warhorse. Don't paint all optimized characters as evil, sir. They are only as evil as the people who throw them into parties to weak to compete with them.

kalt
2008-12-26, 09:32 AM
I'm thinking a lot of people are associating optimizing with lack or role playing and in the groups that I play with that is just not true. I can see how some people can try to make it that, but then it is all on your DM for letting it happen.

Lord Psychodin
2008-12-26, 11:14 AM
I don't change the rules. I do interpret them somewhat differently than the average super optimizer. Also, I don't allow very much of anything outside core. Which is perfectly fine - we'll all DM from time to time, and no one allows much of anything.

If you cannot build it in core - it's off the boards.

Some of your responses strike me as quite weird. Usually, the whole "Smiting Gods" thing is more of a joke since its rare games ever make it to epic levels high enough wherein stuff like that matters.

Now, The idea of "Players with power" is an idea that comes from given that unlike wherein earlier versions, players did not take heavily to concepts of entitlement and power levels of creatures as a direct challenge, but in 3.0 this is pretty much THE logic of how characters are built.

My current character in a game is a Wizard/Alienist 5/7. even right down to 3.0 haste, no nerfs. Powerful, deadly. has created a few odd outcomes in fights. (Well, beholders hovering up a tunnel when a two ton earth elemental jumps down is going to have one outcome really.

Yet despite being able to hurl off fireballs, a DC 26 disintegrate, (3.0 spell focus, +8 intelligence bonus, +6 spell level) We usually tear through enough things before we leave for the day/finish the area up that everyone is needed and to their full abilities. I usually have to hold back spells quite often. (In fact in the last adventure I needed my disintegrate just to get rid of a wall of force between us and an artifact-crystal we needed.)

We operated like a smooth well oiled machine in a tower recently. Cleric with stone of silence given to the rogue/assassin who had improved invisiblity started from the bottom, while me, the cleric, and the fighter/blackguard worked our way down. We managed to kill a 10th level wizard by accident just by being all well built ability-wise, properly buffed and all. The last enemy of the area could have been a hell of a lot more difficult, had I not cast feeblemind. (Was a Wizard/oozemaster I believe, one level shy of the immune to mind affecting-spells ability)

Things like that, those are fun. the tower was full of relatively unaware mooks for a rival assassin's guild while we were on the look for the crystals.
and why is it fun? we started out as 5th level characters. we gain power, we have our fun. we research, investigate, dodge local scrying thanks to clever tricks. And we fairly amorally go about our business to stop a set of artifacts from falling into the hands of goody-goodies (As my character Vawn calls them) or worse evils of the world.

We are not quite up to the point where we can challenge the major powers of the world... yet. Of course, being able to possibly reshape it entirely may be one heck of an awesome bargaining chip. (Of if my mage ever hits high enough epic levels to be able to strike someone from history and existence itself with a spell.)

(And nobody had better dare invoke a stormwind fallacy about my character. :smalltongue:)

Tormsskull
2008-12-26, 12:02 PM
Of course they did, they wanted to play the character that they made!

You critically missed the point.

Talya
2008-12-26, 12:30 PM
QFT. Also, if you can beat up bigger challenges, you leave bigger marks on the setting and become generally more important, if your DM cares about the world consistency at all.

Ding ding ding ding ding!

And when I want my sorceress to be the fabled Firehaired Seer of Calimshan, the The High Priestess of the greater Goddess Sune, and is respected by, and hobnobs with the iconics of the realms...as an equal, or in some cases even superior, no less, a bit of optimizing is really going to be needed.

Deepblue706
2008-12-26, 01:18 PM
The core books are, overall, the least-balanced official 3.5 books in existence. Absolutely and indisputably. The vast majority of the most broken spells are in 3.5. Three of the four most overpowered classes ever printed and several of the most underpowered classes are in core. Even some of the most broken feats are in core.


No, the worst is the Epic Level Handbook (unless you consider that core). Epic Spellcasting, dude.

And Core really isn't that bad. There are some supplements that exploit things found in Core; but that fault lies with those supplements.

Things only really get out of hand when the DM doesn't know how to provide equal challenges for everyone in the party. The DM's job is to make sure everyone can contribute.

For instance, if a Fighter takes Improved Bull Rush, the DM should provide opportunities where it can be useful. There shouldn't be an option to do it in every fight, but there has to be some use, somewhere. DENYING the Fighter this as a viable option is no different than only sending Undead at the Rogue, or Fire-Elementals at the Sorcerer who loves Burning Hands, Fireball, etc. If people are selecting specific feats, spells and other abilities, they are telling the DM "This is what I think is cool". DMs should strive to accomodate them to at-least some degree.

Broadly speaking; yes, the Wizard, Sorcerer, Cleric and Druid are all overpowered. But that only disrupts the game when the DM is either inexperienced or doesn't care.

Kyeudo
2008-12-26, 02:50 PM
They have no more superpowers than the fighter does. Not while I'm DM they don't.

Eberron, Forgotton Realms, Greyhawk, and every other published setting ever have level 15+ casters lurking somewhere around. They are inevitably some of the movers and shakers of the world. They can rewrite reality at will and crash economies when they feel like it. They have superpowers.

The only way to take them away is to take away magic. Have fun playing a fantasy RPG without the fantasy.


The end of the world is epic. As epic as it gets, in fact. And I can drown the world in goblins just fine.

And once the PCs reach level 5, wading through armies of goblins without a single scratch becomes quite feasable. It becomes an excercise in die rolling, not an epic battle. (http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=1098)


If you cannot build it in core - it's off the boards.

See, this is why you need to know the system. Codzilla and Batman are both possible entirely within Core. Clericzilla takes a small power hit, since it takes him a little longer to buff, but Core-Only depowers only the non-casting classes, who are already low in power.



The players will be as powerful as I want them to be. Which is fine, it's my job as DM to control the game. To make it work within the framework of the story being told. The rules are there to tell the story - not the other way around.


In other words, you can't deal with your players doing something unexpected, so you bolt them to the rails.



And Core really isn't that bad. There are some supplements that exploit things found in Core; but that fault lies with those supplements.


Pollymorph, Divine Power, Righteous Might, Greater Magic Weapon, Greater Teleport, Scrying, Contingency, Animal Growth, Fabricate, Wall of Iron, Forcecage, Cloudkill, Finger of Death, Flesh to Stone, Color Spray, etc.

Need I go on?

Deepblue706
2008-12-26, 03:41 PM
Pollymorph, Divine Power, Righteous Might, Greater Magic Weapon, Greater Teleport, Scrying, Contingency, Animal Growth, Fabricate, Wall of Iron, Forcecage, Cloudkill, Finger of Death, Flesh to Stone, Color Spray, etc.

Need I go on?

Yes, you do; on how spellcasting prohibits other characters from contributing.

Polymorph is only a minute/level, and "the assumed form canít have more Hit Dice than your caster level (or the subjectís HD, whichever is lower), to a maximum of 15 HD at 15th level." Plus, I rule you can only polymorph into things your character knows. It's not that great unless you really try to exploit the hell out of it.

Divine Power and Righteous Might are round/level spells. If you're buffing yourself like this to get through your encounters, you won't have anything left after a handful of baddies.

Magic Weapon and Greater Magic Weapon are great buffs for casters to put onto the warriors of the group. Using this spell is generally a product of good teamwork. This is far from a broken spell. Okay, the cleric can put it on himself, rather than the Fighter. Oh, too bad he would have made better use out of it, unless you're within that tiny timeframe where you happen to have all of your round/level buffs up.

Greater Teleport, Scrying, and all of the "determining the enemy's weaknesses" spells aren't bad, but they're not particularly broken if the game has any sense of urgency.

Contingency explicitly says: "If complicated or convoluted conditions are prescribed, the whole spell combination (contingency and the companion magic) may fail when called on." So, if you try something really screwy, a good DM can and will just say "No."

Animal Growth is a good spell; but you need animals present, you need to command them, and you can only do this once (doesn't stack with more growth). It's only broken if your DM lets you call vast congregations of animals together, and assume they all do your bidding. And even then, other things could have happened in the meantime.

Fabricate speeds up the crafting process. You need to make a craft check regardless, to make anything complicated. 10 cubic feet of material (or 1 cubic feet if working with a mineral) per round. Creatures and magic items can't be created or transmuted. You need all of the materials that would be used up regardless. Overall, The spell was poorly thought-out (in that it makes Crafting mean much less; not that crafting is too big beyond early levels), but what the hell are you going to make with it, anyway? Things to sell?

A Wall of Iron isn't going to greatly impact things that can step over it, or break it with an adamantine weapon, or go around it. A good spell, but far from broken.

Forcecage can be foiled by teleportation spells, astral travel, the disintigrate spell. Only really powerful when such travel is barred and used with spells like Cloudkill; but then that spell is defeated by a Gust of Wind (level 2 Wizard/Sorcerer spell).

Cloudkill itself isn't that great, because people can move out of it. It spreads in a 20ft radius. Best used for control; to get things moving out of the area. But, bad for when your enemies are close enough that you'd get affected by having it pursue them.

Finger of Death requires a fortitude save; which many enemies can make rather easily. This is actually a pretty poor spell choice for its level, unless you're going into a duel of some sort, and don't mind the poor range.

Flesh to Stone is a rather powerful spell, considering the range and level; but again, it requires a fortitude save.

Color Spray is a first level spell that requires you to be on top of your enemy. While not bad, you shouldn't rely only on this spell early-on, because you can easily end up dead.

I suppose you could say these spells can, hypothetically, allow for a spellcaster to defeat a non-spellcaster in a one-on-one duel rather easily...but that's not what the game is about. It's about a party of adventurers all working together to fight "bad guys". To be honest, I don't think one of the spells you listed inherently exclude the other party members from the game in any profound manner. The DM to let this ruin the fun of the party is probably not very committed to the game, or isn't seasoned enough to deal with it.

Talya
2008-12-26, 03:48 PM
Plus, I rule you can only ...

RAW does not include "I rule you can only" anything. That said, your ruling is actually part of the Shapechange spell by RAW, which is still the silliest and most abusable of the polymorph line.

Edit:

I should say, I'm not a big fan of nerfing the exponential power boost that spellcasters get. They're spellcasters. I believe I once said that when someone casts a level nine spell, they aren't just manipulating or even breaking the laws of physics: they are chewing up the laws of physics and spitting them out. The results of the casting of a level 9 spell should meet with the same amount of awe that followed Grand Moff Tarkin's "You may fire when ready."

I also believe that an exceptional DM can compensate for a lot of that in finding ways to make melee characters still important and even essential. That does not in any way mean that they are balanced, it just says that I don't believe balance is quite as important as some others do. Now with that said, allowing all the non-core material and optimizing from within it does far more to help balancing than it does hurt it. Most of the extra power is for melee types. Apart from a few cheesable combinations, casters don't get much of a boost at all, by nature of all their most powerful abilities already existing in Core.

Deepblue706
2008-12-26, 03:55 PM
RAW does not include "I rule you can only" anything. That said, your ruling is actually part of the Shapechange spell by RAW, which is still the silliest and most abusable of the polymorph line.

Okay, it's not RAW. But, I'd like to know how you understand the anatomy of something well-enough to change yourself into it.

Spells like Shapechange are closest to broken, and hardest to deal with. This is when things like an Antimagic Field can be warranted, if all-else fails. Thankfully, however, this spell is still limited to 25HD. You could become as much as a Mature Adult Red Dragon, however, so it is still rather powerful. Even so, your Wizard becoming a dragon does not mean that an encounter is immediately over for the rest of your party.

Deepblue706
2008-12-26, 04:04 PM
Edit:

I should say, I'm not a big fan of nerfing the exponential power boost that spellcasters get. They're spellcasters. I believe I once said that when someone casts a level nine spell, they aren't just manipulating or even breaking the laws of physics: they are chewing up the laws of physics and spitting them out. The results of the casting of a level 9 spell should meet with the same amount of awe that followed Grand Moff Tarkin's "You may fire when ready."

I also believe that an exceptional DM can compensate for a lot of that in finding ways to make melee characters still important and even essential. That does not in any way mean that they are balanced, it just says that I don't believe balance is quite as important as some others do. Now with that said, allowing all the non-core material and optimizing from within it does far more to help balancing than it does hurt it. Most of the extra power is for melee types. Apart from a few cheesable combinations, casters don't get much of a boost at all, by nature of all their most powerful abilities already existing in Core.

Really? I found most supplements to provide lots and lots of different thematic material, most of which being garbage for mundane classes, mechanically. For instance, just how many feats are referenced from CWar? How many classes are we NOT mocking for their poor mechanics, from that book? Some books do better; the PHB 2 has some nice options; but that Celerity nonsense just boosts Wizards all the same.

Fax Celestis
2008-12-26, 04:07 PM
Really? I found most supplements to provide lots and lots of different thematic material, most of which being garbage for mundane classes, mechanically.

This, in my estimation, arises from the fact that not only are more options (spells v. feats) are presented in each supplement to spellcasters, but they're allowed to obtain more of them. A single-classed fighter gets 18 feats his entire career: a single-classed sorceror has 17 spells at 7th level. Each one of those selections is a character option, and in the 3.5 game, character options are the primary source of power. So it only follows suit that characters with more options have more power.

Talya
2008-12-26, 04:11 PM
Really? I found most supplements to provide lots and lots of different thematic material, most of which being garbage for mundane classes, mechanically. For instance, just how many feats are referenced from CWar? How many classes are we NOT mocking for their poor mechanics, from that book? Some books do better; the PHB 2 has some nice options; but that Celerity nonsense just boosts Wizards all the same.

CWar had some of the best melee combinations at the time it came out. A fighter 2/swashbuckler 3/dervish X was actually playable and effective--the first (and at the time, only) way to take a move action while making a full attack action at the same time, which melee needed in order to be effective. Since release of TOB, Dervish isn't quite so optimal anymore, but it's still fun.

Celerity ranks in there with the "cheesable combinations" I mentioned earlier. It's probably the first spell I would outright ban as a DM. Now, it's no powerful than what already exists in core, but when combined with the cheese available in core, it's downright silly.

When I DM I treat everything published by WotC as "Potentially available, check with the DM."

Deepblue706
2008-12-26, 04:11 PM
This, in my estimation, arises from the fact that not only are more options (spells v. feats) are presented in each supplement to spellcasters, but they're allowed to obtain more of them. A single-classed fighter gets 18 feats his entire career: a single-classed sorceror has 17 spells at 7th level. Each one of those selections is a character option, and in the 3.5 game, character options are the primary source of power. So it only follows suit that characters with more options have more power.

Well, that and the fact that all of the Fighter feats from these books are along the lines of "Take the Full-Defense Action; you get an additional +2 AC when doing so". Most of a Fighter's best choices are in core; the only exceptions being the along the lines of the great tactical feat "Shock Trooper", etc.

Cybren
2008-12-26, 04:12 PM
One of the problems with spell balance in my opinion was that higher level spells are more powerful simply because they're higher level. Most of them don't have any increase in resource expenditure or drawbacks. More variation in casting times or material component would have at the least made spells differenter.

Fax Celestis
2008-12-26, 04:14 PM
Well, that and the fact that all of the Fighter feats from these books are along the lines of "Take the Full-Defense Action; you get an additional +2 AC when doing so". Most of a Fighter's best choices are in core; the only exceptions being the along the lines of the great tactical feat "Shock Trooper", etc.

Also true. The Wiz v. Ftr disparity, then, arises from the fact that not only do spellcasters get more options, they get better options. That's something I'm trying to fix with d20 Rebirth, but it's proving more difficult than I originally visualized.

Deepblue706
2008-12-26, 04:18 PM
CWar had some of the best melee combinations at the time it came out. A fighter 2/swashbuckler 3/dervish X was actually playable and effective--the first (and at the time, only) way to take a move action while making a full attack action at the same time, which melee needed in order to be effective. Since release of TOB, Dervish isn't quite so optimal anymore, but it's still fun.

Yeah, I'm sure it is. CWar has (or perhaps had) some gems, and didn't really empower spellcasters too much (Although Warshapers looked good, last time I looked). But, c'mon. Overall, it doesn't provide much.



When I DM I treat everything published by WotC as "Potentially available, check with the DM."

Actually, so do I. I don't assume my players intend to abuse stuff, from the start. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. Generally, I only disallow things based on setting information.

Deepblue706
2008-12-26, 04:25 PM
Also true. The Wiz v. Ftr disparity, then, arises from the fact that not only do spellcasters get more options, they get better options. That's something I'm trying to fix with d20 Rebirth, but it's proving more difficult than I originally visualized.

The only appeal of a Fighter's options are that they are always available. Not always applicable, but available. For a DM to empower a Fighter, and help manage their usefulness, these options must be made more applicable. Trip, Grapple, Sunder, Disarm, Bull Rush...if none of these can be used in combat, then there's something wrong with how encounters are being handled.

Arcane_Snowman
2008-12-26, 04:27 PM
Complete Warrior had the Frenzied Berserker, a good addition to the power attack feat, I really like Bear Warrior/Warshaper, but that's more specifically when incorporating Magic of Incarnum (Totemist ftw!), Dervish is really fun when playing Swift Hunter, the rest is sorta meh.


Spells like Shapechange are closest to broken, and hardest to deal with. This is when things like an Antimagic Field can be warranted, if all-else fails. Thankfully, however, this spell is still limited to 25HD. You could become as much as a Mature Adult Red Dragon, however, so it is still rather powerful. Even so, your Wizard becoming a dragon does not mean that an encounter is immediately over for the rest of your party.
25HD is more than enough: How about an Aspect of Demogorgon (or whatever the heck the name is) or Choker (for core)? You've now got extra actions, how about casting some more spells each turn?
You could go for a Planetar and have a bit of fun with 20th level cleric spells, or maybe a Djinn/Efreet for some wishes, or something else with nasty abilities...

Metamagic Rods are Core, if you really wanted to you could Extend the Polymorph/Shapechange, a couple of times per day without the adjustment, just some extra cheese. Maximized Empowered Timestop is core.

Yes, Divine Power and buffs makes the caster surpass the fighter only x/day so what? You've still got the rest of your spells/day to mess with your opponent, how about: Holy Word, Glitterdust, Magic Jar, Enervate, Clone, Irresistible Dance, Timestop and Wish?

Core only Druid rocks simply because they can be Wild Shaped almost an entire day (21 hours) by the time they hit 7, Cleric needs the whole DMM (Persistent) stuff to have the best spells available for more than a few rounds.

Animal Growth is usually also used by druids, so you'd probably have an animal nearby to cast it on.

arguskos
2008-12-26, 04:28 PM
I think that a good solution to Fighters seeming useless would be to unite all the so-called "combat tricks" (Trip, Bull Rush, Disarm, Sunder, etc) into one skill that branched off into all of these varied and useful tricks. Hmm, I might have to look into that.

Talya
2008-12-26, 04:31 PM
Yeah, I'm sure it is. CWar has (or perhaps had) some gems, and didn't really empower spellcasters too much (Although Warshapers looked good, last time I looked). But, c'mon. Overall, it doesn't provide much.


If you said it didn't provide melee with nearly enough, I might agree.


I guess what I'm trying to say is this:

Melee types advance in power with level linearly, while caster types increase in power in a sequential pattern. It might work like this:

Melee power from levels 1-10: 3,6,9,12,15,18,21,24,27,30
Spellcaster power from levels 1-10: 1,3,6,10,15,21,28,36,45,55
I find that the additional material in splatbooks tends to advance melee multiplicatively, while it only advances spellcasters sequentially. So it might boost that level 10 melee up to 60. But it only boosts that level 10 spellcaster up to 66. It's not that spellcasters don't receive a bit of a boost by adding non-core material. They certainly do! But the boost they get is far less than what melee types get. This is especially true if you include Tome of Battle.

Arcane_Snowman
2008-12-26, 04:35 PM
If you said it didn't provide melee with nearly enough, I might agree.


I guess what I'm trying to say is this:

Melee types advance in power with level linearly, while caster types increase in power in a sequential pattern. It might work like this:

Melee power from levels 1-10: 3,6,9,12,15,18,21,24,27,30
Spellcaster power from levels 1-10: 1,3,6,10,15,21,28,36,45,55
I find that the additional material in splatbooks tends to advance melee multiplicatively, while it only advances spellcasters sequentially. So it might boost that level 10 melee up to 60. But it only boosts that level 10 spellcaster up to 66. It's not that spellcasters don't receive a bit of a boost by adding non-core material. They certainly do! But the boost they get is far less than what melee types get. This is especially true if you include Tome of Battle.
And then we've got the stuff that just goes straight to ridiculous, like the Shadowcraft Mage and Incantatrix.

Talya
2008-12-26, 04:40 PM
And then we've got the stuff that just goes straight to ridiculous, like the Shadowcraft Mage and Incantatrix.


Powerful additions, certainly, but again, they don't add more power than the already broken spell combinations in core.

Deepblue706
2008-12-26, 04:51 PM
25HD is more than enough: How about an Aspect of Demogorgon (or whatever the heck the name is) or Choker (for core)? You've now got extra actions, how about casting some more spells each turn?
You could go for a Planetar and have a bit of fun with 20th level cleric spells, or maybe a Djinn/Efreet for some wishes, or something else with nasty abilities...

Metamagic Rods are Core, if you really wanted to you could Extend the Polymorph/Shapechange, a couple of times per day without the adjustment, just some extra cheese. Maximized Empowered Timestop is core.

Yes, Divine Power and buffs makes the caster surpass the fighter only x/day so what? You've still got the rest of your spells/day to mess with your opponent, how about: Holy Word, Glitterdust, Magic Jar, Enervate, Clone, Irresistible Dance, Timestop and Wish?

Core only Druid rocks simply because they can be Wild Shaped almost an entire day (21 hours) by the time they hit 7, Cleric needs the whole DMM (Persistent) stuff to have the best spells available for more than a few rounds.

Animal Growth is usually also used by druids, so you'd probably have an animal nearby to cast it on.

I'm growing weary of the topic; so I'll try to address these and come back later.

I don't know nothin' 'bout no Demogorgon. Maybe that's abusable, I wouldn't know. As for the Choker...Yeah, that's pretty bad. Extra standard action? Whew. But, I was not trying to illustrate that it's "unbreakable", but rather, there are just a few things that make things go terribly wrong. The other PCs can still be hurt, and thus there's still an encounter to be had.

Planetars are really badass, but unless you have the wisdom, you can't cast those spells, I thought? Spell-like abilities sure are nice, tho...

A noble djinni can grant three wishes to any being (nongenies only) who captures it. Buffs for his allies, I guess. Also: "You may try to use a wish to produce greater effects than these, but doing so is dangerous. (The wish may pervert your intent into a literal but undesirable fulfillment or only a partial fulfillment)". Still powerful, as you get 3 castings of wish in exchange for 1 casting of Shapechange; but again, while you're doing this, bad guys could be stomping you.

Meta-rods are certainly powerful, but they're a bit expensive, and sundered all-too-easily.

Holy Word is a good debuff for its level, but I think the Cleric could honestly be making better use of his spells by aiding his allies perform better. Glitterdust is a good spell since it requires a Will save; but, it's just a 10ft radius spread. That's not terribly powerful. Enervate doesn't end encounters. Magic Jar is pretty badass, but also pretty evil (you might attract the attention of an Order of Paladins if word gets around about possession), and it can only be exploited in so many ways.

The rest of those spells are good; but honestly, I'm too tired to address them. While they're do a lot to shape encounters, they'll rarely be the only thing to end them. The rest of the party will not be rendered useless unless you only do something like 1 encounter/day, or otherwise grant the spellcasters free reign to take their time and do what they please.

Druids rock, but you can't power attack with natural weapons, big animals are easily targetted. Like with Shapechange, this isn't that bad unless you're looking to exploit it in terrible ways.

Yeah, Animal Growth is usually used by Druids. Sure, you have your companion. But, to really abuse it, you still need a lot of animals together. You'd have to spend time summoning before you finally buffed, and a lot can happen in each round.

Okay, I've had enough D&D gaming discussion for now. I need a break...

Kyeudo
2008-12-26, 04:56 PM
Yes, you do; on how spellcasting prohibits other characters from contributing.

<snip>

I suppose you could say these spells can, hypothetically, allow for a spellcaster to defeat a non-spellcaster in a one-on-one duel rather easily...but that's not what the game is about. It's about a party of adventurers all working together to fight "bad guys". To be honest, I don't think one of the spells you listed inherently exclude the other party members from the game in any profound manner. The DM to let this ruin the fun of the party is probably not very committed to the game, or isn't seasoned enough to deal with it.

You missed the point. You said that Core wasn't that bad and I was refuting that. Some of those spells I listed arn't that great in themselves, but comboed become such things as "infinite wealth" and "scry-and-die". Even a simple contingency can make the wizard nigh unkillable.

Even in practice, a single well placed save-or-die spell can turn a dangerous combat into a mop-up. Polymorphing the Fighter into a Hydra can destroy encounters.

Deepblue706
2008-12-26, 05:02 PM
You missed the point. You said that Core wasn't that bad and I was refuting that. Some of those spells I listed arn't that great in themselves, but comboed become such things as "infinite wealth" and "scry-and-die". Even a simple contingency can make the wizard nigh unkillable.

Even in practice, a single well placed save-or-die spell can turn a dangerous combat into a mop-up. Polymorphing the Fighter into a Hydra can destroy encounters.

I keep trying to get out, and they keep pulling me back in!

I don't know where you're getting concepts like "infinite wealth" and "scry-and-die"; I generally go to great efforts to prohibit players from being able to buy anything, and also fully prepare for every encounter ahead of time. This may be a vague response; but I try to employ tools like urgency, morality and other dilemmas that make scenarios as simple as "there's a monster in a room - go kill it." unheard of. Generally, it plays a significant enough role to shape what tactics and other plans the PCs decide to go with; usually eliminating the possibility of terrible exploitation of a few poorly thought-out powers.

Fax Celestis
2008-12-26, 05:09 PM
...but I try to employ tools like urgency, morality and other dilemmas that make scenarios as simple as "there's a monster in a room - go kill it." unheard of.

"There's a monster in a room. It is holding the Princess of Rich Nation Who Is Employing You hostage, and it has also shown no compunctions in killing others up until this point. Kill it while saving the princess."

Arcane_Snowman
2008-12-26, 05:13 PM
I keep trying to get out, and they keep pulling me back in! You shall never escape :smallwink:


I don't know where you're getting concepts like "infinite wealth" and "scry-and-die"; I generally go to great efforts to prohibit players from being able to buy anything, and also fully prepare for every encounter ahead of time. This may be a vague response; but I try to employ tools like urgency, morality and other dilemmas that make scenarios as simple as "there's a monster in a room - go kill it." unheard of. Generally, it plays a significant enough role to shape what tactics and other plans the PCs decide to go with; usually eliminating the possibility of terrible exploitation of a few poorly thought-out powers. Mage's Magnificent Mansion will give them time to rest.

A noble djinni can grant three wishes to any being (nongenies only) who captures it. Buffs for his allies, I guess. Also: "You may try to use a wish to produce greater effects than these, but doing so is dangerous. (The wish may pervert your intent into a literal but undesirable fulfillment or only a partial fulfillment)". Still powerful, as you get 3 castings of wish in exchange for 1 casting of Shapechange; but again, while you're doing this, bad guys could be stomping you. why would you be changing yourself into anything that has utility purposes when you're about to go into combat?


Meta-rods are certainly powerful, but they're a bit expensive, and sundered all-too-easily. Gold is the most easily acquirable variable in D&D, lets take the Noble Djinn for example: 1st wish: Candle of Invocation, 2nd wish GOLD, 3rd wish GOLD. Use Candle of Invocation to acquire a new Djinn, offer him to use one of his wishes on his behalf (according to the spellcasting services, that should be enough of a payment), rinse and repeat. While this is indeed cheesy beyond measures, it just goes to show that Gold isn't that hard to come by.


I don't know nothin' 'bout no Demogorgon. Maybe that's abusable, I wouldn't know. As for the Choker...Yeah, that's pretty bad. Extra standard action? Whew. But, I was not trying to illustrate that it's "unbreakable", but rather, there are just a few things that make things go terribly wrong. The other PCs can still be hurt, and thus there's still an encounter to be had. Aspect of Demogorgon's has an ability similar to that of Choker, except that it states that you can take another of every action meaning: Two standard, two move, two swift.


Planetars are really badass, but unless you have the wisdom, you can't cast those spells, I thought? Spell-like abilities sure are nice, tho... All you really need for that would be an Periapt of Wisdom and Owl's Wisdom and you're good to go.


Enervate doesn't end encounters. With said metamagic rods, we'll have a Maximized/Empowered Enervation that's up to 6 negative levels, -6 on attack rolls, Saves, Skills and Ability checks. I think that'll make most enemies a walk in the park, if not, hit em again.


Druids rock, but you can't power attack with natural weapons, big animals are easily targetted. Like with Shapechange, this isn't that bad unless you're looking to exploit it in terrible ways.
In core only you're stuck with either something like Dire Bat, which means you've set up for spellcasting, or Brown/Polar Bear, both of which are only large.

Cybren
2008-12-26, 05:13 PM
infinite wealth is a great adventure source! They can start tracking their assets and buying up investment groups.

Kyeudo
2008-12-26, 05:26 PM
I keep trying to get out, and they keep pulling me back in!

I don't know where you're getting concepts like "infinite wealth" and "scry-and-die"; I generally go to great efforts to prohibit players from being able to buy anything, and also fully prepare for every encounter ahead of time. This may be a vague response; but I try to employ tools like urgency, morality and other dilemmas that make scenarios as simple as "there's a monster in a room - go kill it." unheard of. Generally, it plays a significant enough role to shape what tactics and other plans the PCs decide to go with; usually eliminating the possibility of terrible exploitation of a few poorly thought-out powers.

"Infinite Wealth": use Wall of Iron. Fabricate into greatswords or what have you. Sell. Rinse. Repeat. Covers all the cost of those pesky material components, like the 5000 gp of diamond dust needed to raise your meatshield friend that got eaten by the dragon. Plus, there are lots of mundane things that money can make very nice. Need a base? Buy the king's castle or build a bigger one next door. Need an army? Hire one.

Preventing scry-and-die attacks is tricky. Players will find time to gather information, even if its just casting spells before going to bed. Even if its urgent to get done in as fast as possible, they can write off the travel time prepping and then TP to the villain's lair directly.

Deepblue706
2008-12-26, 05:53 PM
"There's a monster in a room. It is holding the Princess of Rich Nation Who Is Employing You hostage, and it has also shown no compunctions in killing others up until this point. Kill it while saving the princess."

And after you think you've won: "Sorry, but the princess is in another castle!"

I'll come back and attempt to address further counterpoints when I return. Tomorrow, methinks.

Aquillion
2008-12-26, 06:45 PM
"There's a monster in a room. It is holding the Princess of Rich Nation Who Is Employing You hostage, and it has also shown no compunctions in killing others up until this point. Kill it while saving the princess."First, cast Power Word: Kill. Then kill the monster, too, if it survived. Cast Animate Dead on the princess' corpse, disguise her like she's alive, and use the result to get close to her father so you can Dominate Person him to become his heir (this is not strictly necessary; you can just kill him and take over. But it helps to have some legitimacy.)

Although I would like to ask why I was working for the rich nation in the first place instead of ruling it with an iron fist...

Starsinger
2008-12-27, 01:57 AM
First, cast Power Word: Kill. Then kill the monster, too, if it survived. Cast Animate Dead on the princess' corpse, disguise her like she's alive, and use the result to get close to her father so you can Dominate Person him to become his heir (this is not strictly necessary; you can just kill him and take over. But it helps to have some legitimacy.)

Once you steal something, you spend your whole life fighting to keep it.

Kyeudo
2008-12-27, 02:39 AM
To get back on topic, I'd have to say that I powergame (yes, I go for all I can get) because I like the rush that comes when what you made performs like it was supposed to. There's just something about dropping an entire encounter with a single spell that doesn't ever seem to get old.

Blood_Lord
2008-12-27, 02:51 AM
First, cast Power Word: Kill. Then kill the monster, too, if it survived. Cast Animate Dead on the princess' corpse, disguise her like she's alive, and use the result to get close to her father so you can Dominate Person him to become his heir (this is not strictly necessary; you can just kill him and take over. But it helps to have some legitimacy.)

Although I would like to ask why I was working for the rich nation in the first place instead of ruling it with an iron fist...

Plan B: Cast Power Word kill. Raise her after you kill the X.

KKL
2008-12-27, 02:57 AM
Plan B: Cast Power Word kill. Raise her after you kill the X.

Plan C: Snipe the Monster in one attack before it decides to full attack the Princess.

Kyeudo
2008-12-27, 03:23 AM
Plan D: All of the Above.

AmberVael
2008-12-27, 03:27 AM
Plan E: Actually find a way to play the mission so it's fun. :smalltongue:

Aquillion
2008-12-27, 03:32 AM
Plan E: Actually find a way to play the mission so it's fun. :smalltongue:Different people have different definitions of 'fun', I guess. :smallamused:


Once you steal something, you spend your whole life fighting to keep it.Yeah, but you're an adventurer. You spend your whole life fighting anyway. I'd rather spend my life fighting to remain undisputed despot-emperor of the wealthiest kingdom in the known world than spend it trying to rescue ungrateful princesses for people who drastically underpay me for those services.

CarpeGuitarrem
2008-12-27, 03:36 AM
To get back on topic, I'd have to say that I powergame (yes, I go for all I can get) because I like the rush that comes when what you made performs like it was supposed to. There's just something about dropping an entire encounter with a single spell that doesn't ever seem to get old.
Yeah, but what about other party members who like to see things play out? Like the rogue who wants to play through an entire encounter doing cool stuff?

Kyeudo
2008-12-27, 03:40 AM
Yeah, but what about other party members who like to see things play out? Like the rogue who wants to play through an entire encounter doing cool stuff?

At the level I was playing at, I could only do that kind of thing if my enemies were either A) really weak or B) really stupid. The rogue got his fun on the actual challenges.

Blood_Lord
2008-12-27, 05:32 AM
Plan E: Actually find a way to play the mission so it's fun. :smalltongue:

So in other words, plan A through D, and certainly not trade full attacks with a monster that for some reason chooses not to kill the Princess despite supposedly being likely to?

Zen Master
2008-12-27, 06:41 AM
Oh, and thanks to Acromos I remembered the fifth reason to optimize, I observed, thankfully not present in the games I run or play in - desire to one-up control freak DMs.

Like I said - my decisions are based on a general consensus. On top of that - as I've also stated before, here and elsewhere, I've played for more than 20 years, and never had any sort of conflict regarding this.

MickJay
2008-12-27, 09:06 AM
I met a guy who told me about his (and his friends') characters in WH, godslayers with 32 attacks per round, each strike sufficient to kill a powerful demon. Myself, I've played in RP-heavy groups (WoD and WH setting), and it was a great opportunity to have both combat-hopeless characters in group as well as combar-oriented ones. GM or players would often find a way to make weak characters useful in fight situations as well, e.g. by creative application of their abilities (and usually the opponents would concentrate more on the players who appeared to present a greater threat). Powergaming wasn't really much of an issue - sure, players could make their ultra-strong builds (some of them did), but this would never make them overshadow rest of the players - the encounters would require non-standard approach more often, or they would require lots of teamwork.

DnD rules promote powergaming more, I think, through the sheer amount of combat-specific rules, but it's always up to GM and the players how they are going to play.

Blood_Lord
2008-12-27, 01:14 PM
Like I said - my decisions are based on a general consensus. On top of that - as I've also stated before, here and elsewhere, I've played for more than 20 years, and never had any sort of conflict regarding this.

I've never had a conflict with people who hate white people. Probably because they avoid me. Stop repeating yourself as if it actually means anything.

Deepblue706
2008-12-27, 02:50 PM
"Infinite Wealth": use Wall of Iron. Fabricate into greatswords or what have you. Sell. Rinse. Repeat. Covers all the cost of those pesky material components, like the 5000 gp of diamond dust needed to raise your meatshield friend that got eaten by the dragon. Plus, there are lots of mundane things that money can make very nice. Need a base? Buy the king's castle or build a bigger one next door. Need an army? Hire one.

Preventing scry-and-die attacks is tricky. Players will find time to gather information, even if its just casting spells before going to bed. Even if its urgent to get done in as fast as possible, they can write off the travel time prepping and then TP to the villain's lair directly.

Aw. AW.

I just typed out a lengthy reply to you, dude, but...I didn't copy it...didn't think IE would go screwy on me...

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Tormsskull
2008-12-27, 03:14 PM
To get back on topic, I'd have to say that I powergame (yes, I go for all I can get) because I like the rush that comes when what you made performs like it was supposed to.

Which is fine, if you have a group of like-minded individuals. I think where powergamers get a bad name is they ignore realistic fantasy worlds and only think of the mechanics of the game.

As an example, they suggest something like "I make a wall of iron, then sell the pieces of iron to make more money than it cost to cast the wall of iron spell".

Now, a rational person would stop and say "That doesn't make any sense. If that was the case, wouldn't other mages in the past have done the exact same thing? Where does this iron come from when you summon it? Are you actually able to create matter from nothing, and it is permanent?"

And a powergamer would respond "na na na I can't hear you. The rules say I can do it."

Heliomance
2008-12-27, 03:22 PM
Which is fine, if you have a group of like-minded individuals. I think where powergamers get a bad name is they ignore realistic fantasy worlds and only think of the mechanics of the game.

As an example, they suggest something like "I make a wall of iron, then sell the pieces of iron to make more money than it cost to cast the wall of iron spell".

Now, a rational person would stop and say "That doesn't make any sense. If that was the case, wouldn't other mages in the past have done the exact same thing? Where does this iron come from when you summon it? Are you actually able to create matter from nothing, and it is permanent?"

And a powergamer would respond "Maybe they did, it comes from raw firmament, or possibly the Elemental Plane of Earth, yes, yes I am, and yes it is permanent."

Fixed that for you.

CarpeGuitarrem
2008-12-27, 03:27 PM
Which is fine, if you have a group of like-minded individuals. I think where powergamers get a bad name is they ignore realistic fantasy worlds and only think of the mechanics of the game.

As an example, they suggest something like "I make a wall of iron, then sell the pieces of iron to make more money than it cost to cast the wall of iron spell".

Now, a rational person would stop and say "That doesn't make any sense. If that was the case, wouldn't other mages in the past have done the exact same thing? Where does this iron come from when you summon it? Are you actually able to create matter from nothing, and it is permanent?"

And a powergamer would respond "na na na I can't hear you. The rules say I can do it."
That's very true. I might just make a setting where that sort of thing has been banned by local authorities, because it drove inflation to insane levels, forcing everything into economic crisis, ergo necessitating the ban on get-rich-quick spells.

lisiecki
2008-12-27, 03:31 PM
Now, a rational person would stop and say "That doesn't make any sense. If that was the case, wouldn't other mages in the past have done the exact same thing? Where does this iron come from when you summon it? Are you actually able to create matter from nothing, and it is permanent?"
And a powergamer would respond "na na na I can't hear you. The rules say I can do it."


Do the rules say you can sell it?
Is there a price listed for iron?
This isn't me being sarcastic ive always wondered this when people talk about this spell
I would assume that a market that has that much iron in it is completely saturated, and the price of iron would be 7 silver or less per cubic foot

Deepblue706
2008-12-27, 03:36 PM
Okay, trying this again:


"Infinite Wealth": use Wall of Iron. Fabricate into greatswords or what have you. Sell. Rinse. Repeat. Covers all the cost of those pesky material components, like the 5000 gp of diamond dust needed to raise your meatshield friend that got eaten by the dragon. Plus, there are lots of mundane things that money can make very nice. Need a base? Buy the king's castle or build a bigger one next door. Need an army? Hire one.

That Wall of Iron stuff is pretty effective; but it can be countered without a DM just saying "Don't do that". First of all, people need to buy that iron for you to get money out of it. Some buyers will only take so much. Second, you need to transport it all. Unless you're dedicating yourself to amassing this iron to a place where it can be sold in an efficient manner, you'll need help. Caravans can be raided, and you might not get much out of it after considering the costs to hire people and buy shipping vessels, etc. If you have enough spells to do this, you likely won't have much for actual encounters with baddies. Thirdly, a villain who finds out about this might just unleash a wave of Rust Monsters at you. Alternatively, dragons may hear about how infinite wealth can be gained from some wizard schmuck who keeps creating iron, and command they just make it all of them. Dragons like money, you know. Also, even if you are successful in selling as much iron as you want, the economic ripple would be feld worldwide. Everyone will start getting iron from "that guy", and then you might have to deal with less-than-friendly governments.

Or villains might say, "Hey, not a bad idea. Let's do that too."



Preventing scry-and-die attacks is tricky. Players will find time to gather information, even if its just casting spells before going to bed. Even if its urgent to get done in as fast as possible, they can write off the travel time prepping and then TP to the villain's lair directly.

Okay, Scrying prompts a Will save. If he's a worthy villain, he can probably make it...and then you'll have to wait another 24 hours before trying again. If he's subtle with his identity, and you've never met him, it may be hard even if he doesn't have a good Will to begin with.

And, if the villain CAN'T make it, he can easily hire an abjurer to cast Nondetection on him; a third level wizard/sorcerer spell.

And, if the Scrying worked anyway, villains have minions. Teleporting right in could be a risk. Starting with more subtle methods of working against him may prove to be better for your health.

Tormsskull
2008-12-27, 03:40 PM
That's very true. I might just make a setting where that sort of thing has been banned by local authorities, because it drove inflation to insane levels, forcing everything into economic crisis, ergo necessitating the ban on get-rich-quick spells.


Personally I just make it impossible to. Anytime a player does something that is obviously going to make the game world nonsensical, I veto it. Lucky for me, most times my players realize that it would be a problem and everything is fine.


Do the rules say you can sell it?
Is there a price listed for iron?
This isn't me being sarcastic ive always wondered this when people talk about this spell


Yeah, 1 sp for 1 pound of iron, page 112 of the PHB.



I would assume that a market that has that much iron in it is completely saturated, and the price of iron would be 7 silver or less per cubic foot

That's because you're being rational and reasonable. You're thinking how an actual world works, rather than just utilizing mechanics.

lisiecki
2008-12-27, 03:52 PM
Yeah, 1 sp for 1 pound of iron, page 112 of the PHB.


Oh ok, I've never bothered to look that up for some reason...
The idea that groups of people get together for game, and spend the session casting the same sixth level spell, while, im assuming the rest of the group goes around looking for buyers, makes me sad


That's because you're being rational and reasonable. You're thinking how an actual world works, rather than just utilizing mechanics.

Well, my assumption when i first heard people talking about this spell is that some where there are thousands of 12th level sorcerer's kept chained to walls by epic level casters, where there forced to cast Wall of Iron again, and again and again...

Deepblue706
2008-12-27, 03:55 PM
Well, my assumption when i first heard people talking about this spell is that some where there are thousands of 12th level sorcerer's kept chained to walls by epic level casters, where there forced to cast Wall of Iron again, and again and again...

I heard that's how they made the Death Star.

Iethloc
2008-12-27, 04:28 PM
Perhaps there ARE Wizards and Sorcerers who regularly sell Walls of Iron, and that they need to do it to keep iron supplies up because of all the adventurers who wander off with iron equipment and get lost (and killed), or get ambushed by rust monsters, or perhaps because rust monsters sneak into the iron supplies and ruin them, necessitating a process more efficient than mining (which would soon become less widespread). Perhaps the rust monsters only aren't at war with the iron suppliers because they nest in the iron mines that humanoids no longer need, and only come out when their own iron supply can't support them.

This could also end up with spellcasters who SPECIALIZE in moneymaking spells, and also take things like Fabricate and supply the weapons and armor instead of blacksmiths, meaning each village would eventually have a Wizard or Sorcerer instead of a Blacksmith. The presence of this spellcaster would also mean the village has solid protection against the wandering monsters and adventurers on raiding parties.

Also, all this iron and industry (not all Wizards/Sorcerers would have taken Craft skills, so there'd still be some people who would work with the raw materials) could anger some extreme Druids, who could create Awaken Aberration (there are Aberration Druids, too) and cast it on a bunch of Rust Monsters. These awakened Rust Monsters could then wage a full-fledged war, upping the need for Iron spellcasters even more.


As for powergaming, I am also an optimizer. It wouldn't be a problem if I weren't the only optimizer in my group, but I still crack jokes and RP with the rest of my group, so it rarely causes any problems. Also, I find optimization, even if I don't actually get to *use* my characters, is still fun. Just the process of optimizing is a mental exercise. It's like telling an athlete to stop working out because he's making everyone else depressed with his huge muscles.

Deepblue706
2008-12-27, 04:41 PM
It's like telling an athlete to stop working out because he's making everyone else depressed with his huge muscles.

I get the mental exercise thing; but are you saying here that people only get mad at those who optimise because they're jealous?

Iethloc
2008-12-27, 04:59 PM
It's one possibility, but I also don't deny there are optimizers who, like some athletes, lord over others with their athletic brains.

Also, unlike a lot of athletic competitions, roleplaying can involve both optimizers and non-optimizers, so there will be people who think it's unfair, regardless of whether they are jealous. So yeah, competitiveness and jealousy would be two of the most common problems, on both sides (although there are probably more competitive optimizers than non-optimizer, and jealous optimizers would be rarer, and not jealous of non-optimizers non-optimizing).

Zen Master
2008-12-27, 05:06 PM
I've never had a conflict with people who hate white people. Probably because they avoid me. Stop repeating yourself as if it actually means anything.

Whether you like it or not, it's 20 years of playing with more people than you can imagine, in all regions of this country (smallish tho it is) - it's a decent enough sample size to base a bit of empirical evidence on.

Here's what: I'll invite you to never again answer one of my posts - in return, I'll do the same for yours. We will never agree on anything, so why should we bother to argue with each other?

What say you?

Deepblue706
2008-12-27, 05:16 PM
It's one possibility, but I also don't deny there are optimizers who, like some athletes, lord over others with their athletic brains.

Also, unlike a lot of athletic competitions, roleplaying can involve both optimizers and non-optimizers, so there will be people who think it's unfair, regardless of whether they are jealous. So yeah, competitiveness and jealousy would be two of the most common problems, on both sides (although there are probably more competitive optimizers than non-optimizer, and jealous optimizers would be rarer, and not jealous of non-optimizers non-optimizing).

Competetiveness and jealousy the most common problems? Really? I never got that impression. I always thought the majority of people who didn't optimize were those who simply thought the pursuit of superior mechanics to be a bit shallow.

Fax Celestis
2008-12-27, 05:17 PM
Competetiveness and jealousy the most common problems? Really? I never got that impression. I always thought the majority of people who didn't optimize were those who simply thought the pursuit of superior mechanics to be a bit shallow.

That's a mentality I see frequently, but don't understand. What exactly makes it shallow? I ask this in all seriousness, as I think it'd likely help me understand the "anti-optimization" mentality.

Iethloc
2008-12-27, 05:19 PM
I still don't quite understand how optimizing is seen as shallow. I can see how someone who makes flat characters, optimized or not, is seen as shallow, but I have been described as "always making interesting characters" by a friend, and he did not then turn around and say "even though they always end up with obscene attack bonuses and enough damage to flatten a car" (I mostly play Exalted), even if they actually often do. I've never had to deal with it.

Deepblue706
2008-12-27, 05:24 PM
That's a mentality I see frequently, but don't understand. What exactly makes it shallow? I ask this in all seriousness, as I think it'd likely help me understand the "anti-optimization" mentality.

I think it comes about when people think about mechanical representations of their characters. If they imagine that the character has fewer faults, they may appear less realistic; which may ruin suspension of disbelief. Some view the game world - despite its many unrealistic devices - to be based on some basic rules of reality. To optimize, I would imagine, is to ignore what parts of that world directly affect what makes them "real", and thus cheapening the roleplaying experience; as the PC is less of a character and more of a sheet.

And then we come to the stormwind fallacy (http://forums.gleemax.com/wotc_archive/index.php/t-822626). And the formwind stallacy (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=3277374&postcount=154). And all that jazz (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jazz).

Although I don't think the pursuit of mechanically superior characters to be inherently shallow, I do think that those who only play optimized characters are leaving a very entertaining avenue of gaming unexplored.

Cybren
2008-12-27, 05:26 PM
That's a mentality I see frequently, but don't understand. What exactly makes it shallow? I ask this in all seriousness, as I think it'd likely help me understand the "anti-optimization" mentality.

Most people who aren't "power gamers" or "optimizers" are so more out of apathy or inexperience than anything else in my opinion.

Tormsskull
2008-12-27, 05:46 PM
That's a mentality I see frequently, but don't understand. What exactly makes it shallow? I ask this in all seriousness, as I think it'd likely help me understand the "anti-optimization" mentality.

Sometimes there are character decisions that you shouldn't make, even if they are more optimal. Either it would go against the character concept you have built, or it would go against the verisimilitude of the game world, or a variety of other things.

Generally speaking, optimizers will make those decisions because character concept and game world verisimilitude are not as important to them as mechanical power.

Personally, I consider that shallow.


I'll even provide an example. Last time I was a PC, I was in a campaign with a druid PC. The player of the druid had a wolf animal companion, and his character was very close to the wolf.

Once he hit level 4 and realized he could get a more powerful animal companion (an ape IIRC), he told the DM he wanted to get rid of his wolf and get an ape instead. The DM said no because we were on a time-sensitive mission and the other players didn't want to wait for the 24 hour ceremony.

The player was upset and decided to send his wolf inside a trapped hallway. The wolf got killed, and then the player said he had to get a new animal companion so he left the other PCs waiting while he went and did his 24 hour ceremony.

The player acted like he was really upset when his wolf died, but he of course wasn't. In my opinion, the player sacrificed his character concept for mechanical power.

FatR
2008-12-27, 06:00 PM
That's very true. I might just make a setting where that sort of thing has been banned by local authorities, because it drove inflation to insane levels, forcing everything into economic crisis, ergo necessitating the ban on get-rich-quick spells.
Except people who can cast these spells are local (and global) authorities. (Let's ignore for a moment the fact, that DnD 3E ecomomics is completely ridiculous in general, and by the moment you can cast the Wall of Iron you can get totally insane, from WBL viewpoint, amounts of gold by simply extorting it from people, or pillaging a town or two.)

Fax Celestis
2008-12-27, 06:24 PM
Sometimes there are character decisions that you shouldn't make, even if they are more optimal. Either it would go against the character concept you have built, or it would go against the verisimilitude of the game world, or a variety of other things.

Generally speaking, optimizers will make those decisions because character concept and game world verisimilitude are not as important to them as mechanical power.

Personally, I consider that shallow.

Okay, I can see that. But who's to say that all optimization is driven by that motive?

Stephen_E
2008-12-27, 06:51 PM
I'v also struck the "if you don't optimise you're not pulling your weight". It essentially seems to be the attitude that characterisation is fluff and you should make the most powerful mechanical build possible for your general concept and lay the characterisation over the top like a making a mechanical construct the size of a sheep that fires laserbeams out its eyes and putting a sheepskin on top, rather than just getting a moderately tough sheep.

Note: I'm not saying that all optimisers do this, indeed they don't as many have pointed out, but it only takes a few to give optimising a bad name.

Thinking about it by default the quiet optimisers who take pleasure in building the most optimised PC they can, but are careful not to use everything if it would overshadow the rest of the party, aren't even noticed.

Stephen E

Tormsskull
2008-12-27, 07:00 PM
Okay, I can see that. But who's to say that all optimization is driven by that motive?

I don't think it is, but as Stephen E said, those few that did gave optimizers a real bad name.

I will say though that usually when I mention something along these lines (my example, which to me is pretty clear cut), optimizers will often defend the player's actions.

Its refreshing to see someone say "Yeah, that is a case when optimizing went bad."

Heliomance
2008-12-27, 07:24 PM
I don't think it is, but as Stephen E said, those few that did gave optimizers a real bad name.

I will say though that usually when I mention something along these lines (my example, which to me is pretty clear cut), optimizers will often defend the player's actions.

Its refreshing to see someone say "Yeah, that is a case when optimizing went bad."

http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/forks_and_spoons.png

Blood_Lord
2008-12-27, 07:34 PM
Whether you like it or not, it's 20 years of playing with more people than you can imagine, in all regions of this country (smallish tho it is) - it's a decent enough sample size to base a bit of empirical evidence on.

Here's what: I'll invite you to never again answer one of my posts - in return, I'll do the same for yours. We will never agree on anything, so why should we bother to argue with each other?

What say you?

1) Really, you personally have gamed with more people then I can imagine, so without knowing my age, or the people I've met in life, much less what I can imagine, you have determined that you have gamed more.

2) This is a direct contradiction to your previous complaints about the one bad player you've ever had.

3) Why would I agree to stop doing something I enjoy, so that you'll stop doing something I enjoy. That's sound very unlike me. Perhaps if you are incapable of handling disagreement running away is a better response then bargaining.

4) Thank you for not understanding Sample size, you have proved that Denmarkian D&D players that you have gamed with have a certain opinion, the fact that 90% of this forum disagrees with you should prove that is not a sample of anything.

Myatar_Panwar
2008-12-27, 07:46 PM
I tend to optimize when I play v3.5. And it is a little shallow. If you are making a build for it to be powerful, then you will more than likely have to forgo some character fluff to make it work. The wolf example above is great, because its so true.

I don't really know what else to say.

lisiecki
2008-12-27, 08:06 PM
That's a mentality I see frequently, but don't understand. What exactly makes it shallow? I ask this in all seriousness, as I think it'd likely help me understand the "anti-optimization" mentality.

Yes, if only some one would have mentioned that.
Truly the mind of an optimizer is faster, deeper, and has a better memory than a NON optimizer


yes, optimized characters are all unique and special
just like optimized CCG decks.
you RARELY see the same combo come up again, and again, and again

When Changeling came out a little over a year ago, i went to a larp where 12 people had the same changeling build, because it was the most efficent.

Hell, most NWoD games in general that I go to I see that 90% of the players have Composure, Resolve, Dex and Wits maxxed out, as well as there supernatural powerstat despite what the PC is

The_JJ
2008-12-27, 08:14 PM
To me, optomization is... bewilderingly effort consuming. To little reward for the energy I'd have to put into it. (Not to metion money on all those nice soursebooks...) BUt in other people I only see it as a problem when they start ignoring, y'know, roleplaying and such for it. And even then only in people I have to play with. I don't care how you get your fun if it doesn't bother me. :smallcool:

But to me optimization can be done, but at certain points decisions must be made on where the 'optimal' choice on feats, or skill point allocation, or attribute upgrade, or whatever might not be the same as the ones that would make the most sense in the world, in charactor, outside of the numbers.

And I think that in those situations, the choice should be for the one that makes the most sense RP.

Of course, you can make your charactor's RP choices revolve around the numbers, and this can work out well.

But I've only rarely seen it.

Then again, I think the people who are a. optomizish and b. on the forums are, for the most part, probably capable of pulling this off.

It's a forum for a D&D comic for heaven's sake. Just posting on here is admission to the Cult of Geekdom, the people on here have a bell curve skewed towards RP awesome.

Tormsskull
2008-12-27, 08:29 PM
And I think that in those situations, the choice should be for the one that makes the most sense RP.


I agree. And the people who actually do this, even if there is a little disagreement between the parties on the exacts, aren't the problem.

Fax Celestis
2008-12-27, 08:31 PM
Yes, if only some one would have mentioned that.
Truly the mind of an optimizer is faster, deeper, and has a better memory than a NON optimizer

Please don't put words in my mouth. I asked a serious question: I honestly don't understand anti-optimization mentality.

lisiecki
2008-12-27, 08:41 PM
Please don't put words in my mouth. I asked a serious question: I honestly don't understand anti-optimization mentality.

And I honestly answered.
I'm sorry, i thought you asked

What exactly makes it shallow?
Didn't really think that was putting words in your mouth...
Every time that I come across optimized characters in "real life" (as opposed to on message boards or what have you)

All the stat lines look the same.
I think I may have mentioned that when Changeling came out, more than a dozen characters at a local camarillia larp had the same base character sheet, the only diffrence being how many points they had to put on the sheet.

Also, at least for White Wolf larps, looking at the character sheets will often show that the Composure and Resolve of a character are maxed out, no matter what type of personality the character has.

Also the "supernatural power" stat is always maxed out, regardless of how it fits in to the background


So i guess what I'm saying, is that the more optimized a character is, the fewer and fewer unique PC sheets you see, regardless of there background or personality

The_JJ
2008-12-27, 09:18 PM
Mm, that is a point.

If you just don't care how your char holds up, you've got so many more options.

But I do think you ought to check out this link. http://forums.gleemax.com/wotc_archive/index.php/t-822626

Personally, as someone who has dabbled with a bit of LARPing, it can be more of a problem there than in tabletops, where groups are mostly small and amongst friends, so it's easy to adapt/overlook/avoid problems.

In bigger LARPs, you have to deal with these strangers you don't know who keep beating the everlovin' crud out of you because you want to show some regard for the RP.

Hence the venom. Bad optimisers (as in, evil aligned, not incompetent :smallbiggrin:) can really wreck your day. That's the origin of my anti-optomized streak, anyway.

Starsinger
2008-12-27, 10:10 PM
Please don't put words in my mouth. I asked a serious question: I honestly don't understand anti-optimization mentality.

Good luck, I still don't really understand the mentality I was trying to understand and this thread is 9 pages now...


There's just something about dropping an entire encounter with a single spell that doesn't ever seem to get old.

This! What's so fun about this? What's the draw in basically sticking your tongue out at the DM and saying, "Can't you do better than that?"

Blood_Lord
2008-12-27, 10:36 PM
This! What's so fun about this? What's the draw in basically sticking your tongue out at the DM and saying, "Can't you do better than that?"

I think feeling like your character is powerful or matters or is awesome is why it's good. No one cares about how the DM feels, we are selfish and care about our own feelings. And we like feeling cool.

arguskos
2008-12-27, 10:39 PM
I think feeling like your character is powerful or matters or is awesome is why it's good. No one cares about how the DM feels, we are selfish and care about our own feelings. And we like feeling cool.
I hope to all the gods that you are being sarcastic. If not... I weep for your DM. It's not like DM's aren't people too, they get to have fun. :smalltongue:

NEO|Phyte
2008-12-27, 10:39 PM
This! What's so fun about this? What's the draw in basically sticking your tongue out at the DM and saying, "Can't you do better than that?"
In moderation, such acts can be good for feeling like a total badass, like managing to curbstomp an encounter in SWSE because you got kickass rolls on a grenade.

Starsinger
2008-12-27, 10:41 PM
In moderation, such acts can be good for feeling like a total badass, like managing to curbstomp an encounter in SWSE because you got kickass rolls on a grenade.

Indeed, but who optimizes a build for moderation?

arguskos
2008-12-27, 10:42 PM
Indeed, but who optimizes a build for moderation?
Doesn't that defeat the stated idea, of being the best one can be at a certain area?

Aquillion
2008-12-27, 11:07 PM
Doesn't that defeat the stated idea, of being the best one can be at a certain area?Not necessarily.

Consider Haberdash the Masked (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=88633). That is one highly-optimized build; I don't think you could read it and seriously disagree. Its construction was approached with a strict optimization-heavy mindset, bent on getting every last drop of effectiveness out of the tools at hand.

Despite that, it is not an objectively powerful build, not when compared to your typical druid or fullcaster.

Often optimization is based around taking a single fun or interesting idea (in this case, a masked fighter with a thousand different weapons concealed among his clothes) and running with it; often these tend to be ideas that, without significant optimization, simply wouldn't work the way they're intended.

Many optimizers have a mindset along the lines of what's expressed in that post -- they're not actually interested in power, specifically. Instead, they're interested in making a mechanically interesting build -- which, to them, often means one with a wide variety of options, many different things it can do, and so on.