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Leon
2009-05-25, 12:24 PM
This is a small set of questions to gauge the spread of optimization on here, i see it a lot and wonder how many actually practice what they preach in the normal play environment and why the need to convince others what they should play

1. Do you optimize? if so what level do you take it to.
2. Does Your Regular play group optimize? if so to what level
3. Whats your views on its practice.
4. Do you try to get others to use optimization if you come across someone who isn't.


Given that i am asking this I'll answer my questions

1. Not as such, i try to make a character to fit a idea i have. typically that idea will be based off a picture i have seen and i will try to make the PC fit that as best as possible but am happy for it to be less than perfect.
I have no issue with caster level loss, playing monks or fighters and like my Druids to be without Wildshape

2. The group i most commonly play with finds the it alien for the most part and has a strong dislike for the power gaming attitude that it can bring, particularly with templates and dipping into a class for one level type of play
Multiclassing is fine but if your taking that dip to just get a class ability not so much
(the current group (all level 7) has a Monk, a Fighter, a Evocation Wizard, a healer Cleric, a Paladin, a Rogue, a Sorcerer/Dragon heart Adept and a Archivist/Barbarian and works well) the people that play these PCs don't care that the monk/Fighter/Baster Wiz is considered sub par

3. I don't like it very much, i like a good solid character but that doesn't mean it has to have the utmost squeezed out of it, i tend to rally against it when i see it on the forums as i like for people to develop their idea without falling into the same cookie cutter suggestions that occur all the time. (particularly with druids)

Which can seem strange sometimes as i read the "handbooks" that have been written for various classes and getting annoyed at the assumption that everyman and his dog will make the same optimal class they have suggested, i read them to get a little insight on a class that I'm considering or that someone I'm helping with a PC is considering

4. No, if I'm helping someone with a character I'll suggest what i think fits thematically with the idea they have presented or something that i think may be a cool thing to play as, if they have said that they are after having the PC optimized i wont bother as its not a area i have any interest in.



So lets hear all your thoughts.

Goatman_Ted
2009-05-25, 12:43 PM
1. That's a tough one. I try to build characters compatable with the rest of the party. I rarely try to build especially powerful characters, but I avoid choices that are flat-out weak unless they give me something I really want. So instead of an Arcane Archer, I'd play an Eldritch Theurge with a bow and describe the Eldritch blast as a magic arrow.

2. My group tries to optimize. I think every group does to a certain extent. I just don't think they put the time into it to realize which builds are better than others. The guy who does gets frustrated with the eye-rolls and restrictions he faces every time he tries. The fact that he cheats and is the worst roleplayer in the group doesn't help the group's attitude one bit.

3. When I hear the word, I yak.

4. If they stand out of a group, yes. It's not easy playing a 3.5 Order of the Bow Initiate alongside someone playing a Peerless Archer. If somebody does and gets frustrated, I'll encourage the OotB player to rebuild/modify the class rather than tell the other player to tone it back. Unless the other player's an Incantor or DMM user or something.

derfenrirwolv
2009-05-25, 12:59 PM
1. Do you optimize? if so what level do you take it to.

Like anything else, almost everone optimizes to some extent. Basically, i pick something i want to play (a Mounted fighter, a conjurer, a blasty wizard, a save or suck cleric, tanking druid, healy cleric...) look over the core book and if there's nothing there look for a splat book.

I delibrately try to avoid anything from Forgotten realms (overpowered munchkin cheese. Seriously.. spellcasting prodigy? Its at least 9 feats rolled into one)

Anything else thats seriously broken I'll delibrately avoid rather than going "oooo thats what i want" Such as powerfull build. ( +4 to disarm, trip, grapple, bullrush AND more damage than weapon specialization ?!?!:?)


2. Does Your Regular play group optimize? if so to what level

One player does it a more than i do, the rest slightly less


3. Whats your views on its practice.

That its neccesary to some extent to enjoy the game, if not for you then for most people around you. If you're a rogue with a strength penalty and you take stealthy and skill focus stealth, no weapon finesse, and fight people with a dagger you're probably going to get frustrated missing every round in combat and doing 1d4-1 damage every other round. People around you are probably going to get annoyed when level appropriate encounters mop the floor with them because someone isn't pulling their weight.



4. Do you try to get others to use optimization if you come across someone who isn't

A little. I mean if you wanted complete optimization everyone in your group would be a wizard with mayby a tanking cleric/druid. I'm not going to tell someone not to try to play a type of character (swashbuckling zoro , blasty wizard, melee cleric) but i will point out feats or possibly prestige classes that make the idea work a little better.



Apologies for the mispellings. Firefox is misbehaving today and needs a timeout in the foxhole.

Eldariel
2009-05-25, 12:59 PM
1. Do you optimize? if so what level do you take it to.

I build my characters to be the best they can for what they do. Mostly I just pick mechanically optimal classes out of multiple options for the same task (so my martial artists is going to be an Unarmed Swordsage, not a Monk, and my spellcaster channeling his deity's powers is going to be a Cleric, not a Favored Soul), and pick feats with goal and efficiency in mind. That is, I don't take Toughness because it just doesn't do much; if I want a tough character, I'll make one with high Con. Same with many of the skill enhancing feats, Weapon Focus and the like; they just don't add anything to the play experience or character efficiency so they'd best stay away from my character.

If I want a specific thing going on for a character (for example, I'm playing a poisoner right now), I'm going to see to that and otherwise just pick feats which add to the character's basic competence (Craven, Darkstalker, Leap Attack, Metamagic, etc.). Also, I always treat classes as just a set of skills rather than a part of character's identity; character's role in the world is the defining part of his identity rather than what it says on his class line. The Ranger/Scout can easily be a soldier or militiaman just as much as a hunter or even just a wilderness guide with martial training in his background.

But yeah, when I've decided what I want out of my character, I'll ensure that he can do just that and that he can do that competently and that he'll be able to do his part in the party.

2. Does Your Regular play group optimize? if so to what level

We all play the same way nowadays; we pick the kind of role we want our character to take and then build the class to best perform that role. In that sense, yes, we all optimize.

Many have less knowledge of the options available in the game than e.g. yours truly though, so I (and few others) generally cooperate with the other players to make just the character they want to play. The end result is that everyone plays what everyone wants.

We use homebrew and ad hoc fixes a lot for the roles rules don't support too well (for example, if someone wants to play an arcanist archer, we'll use a homebrew class instead of the DMG one), and out of the rules we just use the "non-crappy" parts as written.

3. Whats your views on its practice.

Works fine for me. I've been pioneering the practice so of course I'm happy to play by it. It seems everyone has a good time, so mission accomplished.

4. Do you try to get others to use optimization if you come across someone who isn't.

If I play with people I'm going to try and ensure we all have characters of approximately the same power level so we don't have to worry about that in-game, yes. If this is not ok with them, we'll discuss their reasonings and usually they'll come around eventually. If not, we'll discuss about whether this is the best playgroup for them.

How other people play is their business though, but if it comes up in e.g. a discussion, I do try to make them at least see why I play like I do if it becomes apparent there's a vast gap in the way of thinking.

Starbuck_II
2009-05-25, 01:18 PM
1. Do you optimize? if so what level do you take it to.

I optimize as much as reasonable. If I didn't I find the game silly. After all, you can't roleplay when dead and what adventurers wouldn't choose strong optimizing choices: their life is on the line.


2. Does Your Regular play group optimize? if so to what level

I don't have a regular group anymore but at College 2 years ago I did, but yes some did...others didn't.

We had a blaster (he didn't), A scout/Dervish (he did optimize), Dragon Shaman (partly optimized), Dwarf/Defender (tried to I think), etc.



3. Whats your views on its practice.

I think within reason it is essential to roleplaying.


4. Do you try to get others to use optimization if you come across someone who isn't.

Yes, I ask why using that if this is rather useful (probably more).



3. I don't like it very much, i like a good solid character but that doesn't mean it has to have the utmost squeezed out of it, i tend to rally against it when i see it on the forums as i like for people to develop their idea without falling into the same cookie cutter suggestions that occur all the time. (particularly with druids)


Um, Druids only have one default suggestion: Natural Spell. What else do you need?

Siosilvar
2009-05-25, 01:31 PM
Do you optimize? If so, what level do you take it to?
I optimize the character to be effective as best I can, within the concept. I will not go to ‹bercharger or Gatling-Chain Tripper level, but I do try to do my best at what the character is meant to do and be. For example, I've currently got a level 3 character with an AC of 21 that deals about 3d6 damage with a rapier.


Does your regular play group optimize? If so, to what level?
Difficult question, as I don't exactly have a regular play group.


What are your views on [optimizing]?
As long as you work within the rules, you should optimize as much as you want to. Being effective helps your character stay alive, and so the DM doesn't have to work as hard to not royally screw you over. However, you should also try to keep your character about the same power level as everybody else in the group, so that the DM's job of catering to everyone is easier.

Remember, though, that the whole point of a game is to have fun. Playing an ‹bercharger, though effective and definitely optimized, is not something I would consider fun. Overshadowing other people does not let them have fun. So just play your best and above all, have fun.


Do you try to get others to optimize if you come across someone who doesn't?
Absolutely. Generally, being optimized helps increase your enjoyment of a game, as you don't die every other combat round. However, if you're having fun as it is, stay as you are.

Pramxnim
2009-05-25, 01:35 PM
1. Do you optimize? if so what level do you take it to.

I do optimize quite a bit. I'm not satisfied unless I've managed to get the most out of my character. That does not in any sense mean that I will go to lengths to break the game. However, I will examine as many options available to me as I can. I try to limit myself if I feel the character sheet is getting ridiculous or if I'm getting too far ahead of others in my group.
Nowadays I optimize for flavour mostly, trying to achieve an image of the character I want while mechanically still being useful. As an example of this, as a thought exercise, I once built a Sorcerer/Dragonheart Mage who specialized in Draconic Feats (not the most optimal thing you can get for a character). Still, I did research on the matter and managed to get a pretty decent character going who did not sacrifice much while still maintaining a good level of power.
The short version: I optimize just enough to not cause my DM headaches. When he starts getting them, I pull back and cut down on some more ridiculous ideas.


2. Does Your Regular play group optimize? if so to what level

My regular play group consists of 2 optimizers and 3 non-optimizers. The other optimizer is really extreme, even though he tries not to be. He has managed to build a fair amount of theoretical characters that would break the game in multiple places (and those aren't casters). Thankfully, he's never really used them, so it's fine. The remaining 3 vary quite a bit on the non-optimizer scale. One of them can be pretty receptive of advices on optimization and will most likely follow them if it keeps to his character concepts (which are often crazy, perverted and wacky all at the same time). Another one just plain doesn't like optimization because he doesn't want the confusion involved in fervent multiclassing and hand-picking feats. He doesn't know how a lot of the stuff works but manages to fare pretty decently. The final one stubbornly refuses to adjust to new things if she's not the one to discover it, though she does like to pull out unbalanced and weird homebrew stuff from the D&D wiki page (our DM is pretty lenient on homebrew, so..) to use for her characters. Still, in general it's a pretty underoptimized group, all things considered.


3. Whats your views on its practice.

With moderation, optimization can be a lot of fun. It's also a lot more fun if every one optimizes than if no one does. Just my 2 cents.



4. Do you try to get others to use optimization if you come across someone who isn't.


I do, but I stop if they don't want to. I try to not suggest crazy ideas, just a few nudge towards a good feat, or a light PrC suggestion here and there, all while keeping in mind the concept they want to roll with.
Another thing I often suggest, though it's not about optimization, is the use of homebrew classes in our campaigns. I know it can be more work for a DM to track, but some homebrew classes, if done right, can be really interesting to try out in a game. Sadly, I haven't seen much success in that endeavour :smallsigh:

Biffoniacus_Furiou
2009-05-25, 01:50 PM
1. Yes, because I don't like doing things I'm not good at, and I don't like playing characters who aren't good at their chosen role.

2. Of the more experienced players in my group, one doesn't optimize but the others do. They mostly use just basic tricks, and one seems to think that the more classes you have, the stronger your character will be. One guy who's fairly new to the game has been asking me for character advice, and he's a bit awestruck at how powerful characters can get.

3. In-character, the PCs are going to be facing death and dismemberment at every turn, so they'll be depending on each other for survival. Unoptimized characters generally can't contribute as much if anything at all, and in-character probably shouldn't have even taken up adventuring in the first place. If unoptimized characters adventured with other unoptimized characters, they would end up dead fairly early in their career. If unoptimized characters adventure with optimized characters, they'll just ride on the coattails of the stronger characters rather than earning anything for themselves.

Just because a character is optimized does not automatically mean that it will be role-played worse than an unoptimized character played by the same person. Just because a character is not optimized does not automatically mean that it will be role-played better than an optimized character played by the same person. I've found that I'll actually role-play an optimized character better than an unoptimized character, because I'll like that character more and have more fun playing it.

4. I'll usually let someone know that their character could be a lot better than what they are, especially when everyone's still working on making them and there's time to change it. When I'm DMing I'm very lenient about letting someone remake a weak character.

Olo Demonsbane
2009-05-25, 02:56 PM
1. Yes, because I think that it is fun. I only try to optimize to a reasonable extent: it really depends on how much my group optimizes (I play in 3 different groups).

2. I am the most optimizing in any of my groups. Two of them contain players that attempt a little optimization, but do not really know how that well. My other group...some of the people havent even read the PHB. Yeah.

3. I think that it is entertaining when used properly. For example, I am playing the Tomb of Horrors in a 2 man group. You BET I am optimized. However, I dont use too much optimization: I dont pull out my Ultimate Ultimate Magus build in 3.5, and I dont have my level 1 character 1 shotting brutes of their level. As a leader.

4. If they want help optimizing, I try to help them. If they do not want my help, I dont help them. Simple as that.

raptor1056
2009-05-25, 03:07 PM
1. ...Kinda? I'm not the kind of guy who will try to pull off pun-pun or anything, and I don't troll optimization forums, but I like my characters to be good at what they do. When I play a wizard, I'm not going to use Magic Missle. My Fighters will not be taking Dodge (unless it's a prerequisite to something I want.) That said, I put roleplaying far above power. I'm not going to take the obligatory 2 levels in Fighter just to get 2 straight feats unless my character has started training hardcore(ly?) enough in combat for flavor to merit such a dip.
2. There's one guy, and he's kind of a ****. His characters tend to be kind of "stand back, I got this"/"stand back, I want that item" characters, so he usually gets killed within a few adventures anyways.
3. If it outright gets in the way of roleplaying, this is a no. If a class/ feature is just broken, no. Otherwise, whatever.
4.Not at all. I encourage peole to build characters that are cool, not broken.

Talic
2009-05-25, 03:27 PM
If anyone tries to tell you they don't optimize, ask them to build a fighter 10 with only metamagic feats.

Sinfire Titan
2009-05-25, 03:35 PM
1: If I'm not optimized, I'm not contributing to the party. This means I am a liability. I keep myself at least capable of taking down Equal-EL encounters solo.

2: Likewise, if the rest of the party is not optimized, then I view them as little more than XP/Treasure drains. If they actively go out of their way to make a character weaker, then I step up and throw down. I do not need liabilities holding back the survival of the party, and such a liability is draining on restricted resources.

3: It's a way of life. You don't ask the plumber to fix your car's engine, and you don't use a plunger to fix an electric socket.

4. To an extent. If they aren't filling their roles to the optimal capacity, then I step in. If they start wasting resources carelessly, then I step in. I think very economically when it comes to the party, and try to minimize expended resources when it comes to encounters.


Call me what you will, but if you actively avoid optimizing for the sake of RP you are doing it wrong. This game is made to be fun, and no one enjoys losing characters. If you aren't capable of meeting the minimum combat expectations of CO, then you are as much a threat to the party's safety as the encounters we face.

I've yet to meet a PC who enjoyed watching their own character die and making a new one. If your character results in lose of party members, I will personally see to it that your character is incapacitated and removed from the storyline. It's one thing to build around a concept. It's another thing entirely when you fail to optimize while meeting that concept, and thus create a serious vulnerability. Even worse is when the player recognizes this weakness, but does not attempt to make up for it or conceal the fact from the enemy.

Quellian-dyrae
2009-05-25, 04:20 PM
1. Yes, within reason. Since my gaming is typically me and a single friend, with one of us DMing (often me) and both with multiple characters, optimizing too much just makes it more difficult for me to do the DMing part (though this is not to say I don't get carried away). Also, I favor high-power games. That being said, these days I focus at least as much on house-ruling everything (including the monsters) up and adding things for concepts that don't otherwise work well, as on optimizing by the existing rules.

2. Like I said, it's me and a friend. I tend to build the characters, so they get optimized.

3. In addition to favoring it on its face, I think it can also be an aid to role playing. Failing to optimize at least credibly can, in my opinion, really hamper an otherwise good concept or backstory by making the character's actual performance fail to measure up. It breaks suspension of disbelief, and only really works when the concept emphasizes the character's mediocrity. "I'm a run-of-the-mill but perhaps somewhat more skilled than usual town guard"? Great, go ahead and spend your feats on Toughness, Dodge, and Weapon Focus. "I'm an elite royal guard charged with keeping safe the talisman that can find a long-lost heir to the throne in the event of the existing royal family's demise"? You had darn well be able to lay some serious waste.

4. Well, when I'm building my friend's characters, I generally do what I can to make sure they are as optimized as possible within the concept (which, if I'm DMing, may mean house ruling a weak option to a more appropriate level). If he's going for something particularly weak, I'll let him know such and make some similar but more effective suggestions. Advice I give on character building would generally be along similar lines; how to make the existing concept most effective, perhaps going as far as modifying a concept that is simply not well-supported by the rules to one that is thematically similar, and more effective.

Swordguy
2009-05-25, 04:39 PM
1. Do you optimize? if so what level do you take it to?

Yes, but only to the point that I'm competent at what I do AND within the bounds of what the game expects. So while you won't see me with a Fighter whose physical stats are all 8's while the mental stats are all 18's, neither will you find me with a fighter opposite those stats. Likewise, no uberchargers, Batman Wizards, DMM clerics, etc.


2. Does Your Regular play group optimize? if so to what level?

Pretty much matching me. Feats are chosen as a result of gameplay and ingame justification and character concept - not increasing damage by +x%. I've got a couple players who good at the optimization metagame and create theoretically powerful stuff, but nobody uses it because we have an enjoyable, arms-race-free game between the DM and players when they play the game the way it was intended to be played. That is, tank-y fighter, blaster wizard, healbot cleric, and skillmonkey/baskstabber rogue. Character can do stuff outside these roles, but they try not to on a regular basis for sake of both enjoyable group play, a lack of desire to break the game, and because other people are often IN those roles, and they don't want to step on those other people. Finally, I as a DM have to be sure not to punish people who making character build decisions based on RP and not on math. That may mean running the occasional group of NPCs suboptimally, which is fine, since NPCs can make mistakes too. Generally, I've found that the more important to whatever metaplot we may be engaged with the NPC may be, the more optimally they should fight. That strikes a nice balance in our games and makes major plot-point encounters memorable.

3. Whats your views on its practice?

Optimization to be good at your intended party role is a good thing...as long as it's within the power level assumed by the game. Uberchargers doing 800 damage, invincible Batmans, and so forth break the game flat-out, and forces the DM into an arms-race with his players who insist on that sort of over-optimization. The players who choose not to engage in that behavior are left behind. It's just bad all around.

As a side benefit to this, when characters aren't over-optimized, taking on really high-CR stuff becomes a challenge in tactics and thinking outside the box (OK - the Balor can fly and the fighter can't...let's get the Balor somewhere where he can't fly either) as opposed to comparing lists of stats and special abilities. And Dragons are very, VERY scary and not ever taken lightly, regardless of their age category.


4. Do you try to get others to use optimization if you come across someone who isn't?

Only to the point where they're competent at their game role, and until the match the rest of the group. My wife is REALLY bad at making characters (she'd really rather just play the game with "whatever"), and so I or one of the other rules-minded people in the group end up helping a little...but in the end it's her PC and we don't have any sort of "right" to tell her how to run her PC - even if she's got a 10th level archery bard with Str 10 and Point-Blank Shot as her only archery-related feat. :smallsigh:

Curmudgeon
2009-05-25, 05:38 PM
1) Yes, I optimize. But that's a secondary consideration, mostly just to keep the character viable. I like to play skillful types. But combat is almost always going to happen, so I then have to figure out how to make the character also work effectively in combat given their focus is elsewhere.

2) Yes, but some more than others. One guy always goes for the most power (Wizard in D&D, typically). One just goes for character flavor. And the others are in between.

3) Optimization is generally just making your character effective. It's like developing woodworking skills. If you're going to make a cabinet, don't you want it to be a good (useful, nice looking) cabinet? So you try to get the best tools for the money you have available, and learn to use them effectively. But some people seem to think that if you can't buy $1000 chisels to hand-carve rosettes into exotic imported hardwoods, you shouldn't be making cabinets. Or if you don't look for every rules combination to tweak the most possible power out of the game system for your character, you shouldn't be playing. That's extreme, and I don't have much patience with extremists.

4) Sure. If I see someone putting together a wooden box and making things difficult for themselves (sides not meeting squarely, or exposed nails, for instance) I'll suggest better ways to build that box. The same goes for creating RPG characters. But I won't insist they buy expensive woodworking tools before they start, or look through 40 books to make a character.

Gorbash
2009-05-25, 06:32 PM
1. Do you optimize? if so what level do you take it to.

Yes, I do and I enjoy it. I believe that everyone in the group should pull their own weight, so even though a Rogue/Bard/Monk/Sorcerer concept might seem cool to someone they shouldn't go through with it for the sake of the party.

I take it to the level where I don't cross the background story boundary of my character. That is, I won't cherry pick prestige classes according to their class features and take appropriate levels, but I sure will take decent prestige classes and stick to them till the end. Basically, I find the build that I like and try to fit the fluff of the character around it, modifying the build/fluff where I see fit.

Also, I'd never use a one-trick pony build (Chain Tripper, Arcane Thesis (Enervation) with ton of Metamagic feats etc), even if it is ridiculously effective, I always tend to make all-around characters.

My characters are usually the strongest in the party.

2. Does Your Regular play group optimize? if so to what level

As a rule, no. Only one player besides me reads CharOp forums (ironically, he makes weak characters since he has a different idea of what's optimized). They pride themselves with being RPers first and think that strength of a character doesn't matter, yet they do tend to give birth to a strong character every once in a while (a Druid without prestige classes, Bard/Seeker of the Song with optimized Inspire Courage etc) and they scorn optimizers.

Out of 12 current characters in 2 groups (consisting of mostly the same people), 4 characters are optimized.

3. Whats your views on its practice.

I love it. Until I found this forum I had no idea what every class is capable of (Wizards, especially) and it also changed my view of the game and radically increased my knowledge of the rules, which I find an admirable quality, since it shows your dedication to the game.

I enjoy reading 'handbooks' since I always find about some feat that I didn't know (there are too many splatbooks to know each by heart) or a spell/item that I didn't realize it was good etc.

4. Do you try to get others to use optimization if you come across someone who isn't.

When we're discussing characters before the start of a campaign, when a player suggests a class and specialization of the character, I suggest a decent prestige class/build that fits his concept and in the course of the campaign I suggest feats, items and spells that I know are quite good.

I don't actually try to make other people optimizers, I suggest a course of action that would make their characters optimized.

ChaosDefender24
2009-05-25, 07:15 PM
1. Yes. The players and DM in our group always agree over what the power level will be in any given game we're playing before we start it, and we'll make our characters/encounters accordingly. The level varies wildly, from swiftblade gish to monks and hexblades.

2. Yes, and it depends on what we feel like doing, really. Each class gives its own experience, and we love to try them all.

3. Necessary for a balanced experience, really. If the PCs' power levels aren't level at all, it's very hard for the DM to make encounters that can help them all. Making an effort to have a balanced party fixes this.

4. I won't dump the world of heavy multi-classing and lots and lots and lots and lots of feats on people unless they ask for it because it's quite daunting. If there's someone who isn't too into character-building, we usually end up making their character for them after asking for a concept, or tailor our characters to match theirs if they're really set on a certain mechanical build.

sonofzeal
2009-05-25, 08:09 PM
1. Do you optimize? if so what level do you take it to.
2. Does Your Regular play group optimize? if so to what level
3. Whats your views on its practice.
4. Do you try to get others to use optimization if you come across someone who isn't.
1) I optimize, very much so. To keep from being unbalanced, I try to set arbitrary limitations on myself, taking an inferior class or concept and optimizing within it.

2) My regular group rarely does. My brother can, but the others generally struggle at making decent characters. For example, I'd put even odds on a Fighter I made up against a Druid they made, depending on the person.

3) I enjoy the challenge and problem-solving aspect of it. I think it's all part of the fun of the game, but if it interferes with everyone else's fun then it has gone too far. The goal is to have fun, and hyper-capable characters are a good starting place for that, but you need to be aware of how everyone else is feeling too.

4) Definitely. One of my favorite tricks is to suggest ToB maneuvers in feat form (via Martial Study). They're easy to package up and dump into any preexisting combat build, and they're not too intimidating when taken individually. But again, the point is to have fun, so concept trumps power.

Swordguy
2009-05-26, 09:48 AM
Too bad. I was rather hoping thread would produce more results...

Leon
2009-05-26, 10:02 AM
Too bad. I was rather hoping thread would produce more results...

So was i, its been interesting reading the viewpoints

Elminster1
2009-05-26, 10:05 AM
I prefer optimization. But I despise cheese. For example, choosing a race for a wizard that has an Intelligence boost. Creating synergy without broken stinky cheese. Avoiding Prestige Classes that are too powerful and make the game no fun. Incantatrix with a zillion persisted spells is a good example. Or Initiate of the Sevenfold cheese. Or the Abrupt Jaunt immediate meta magic alternative class feature for Conjurers.

When I DM, I ask the players to be honest. Don't try and sneak cheese, it's pointless, because I'll figure it out, stop it from happening, or remove the player. I always try and lay out the lines of cheese before a Campaign gets underway. I go to each player, look at their class and abilities as they create them, to see what theye're up too, because as the DM, I need to know, and that's my right as DM.

Optimizing is fine, that's synergistic, and helps the character be a little better at what they do. Cheese is another story. That's players trying to abuse rules or make characters that are simply too powerful, which kills the fun for everyone. No D&D version of the Gameshark, for anyone. Not in my games.

Dark_Scary
2009-05-26, 10:37 AM
I prefer optimization. But I despise cheese. For example, choosing a race for a wizard that has an Intelligence boost. Creating synergy without broken stinky cheese. Avoiding Prestige Classes that are too powerful and make the game no fun. Incantatrix with a zillion persisted spells is a good example. Or Initiate of the Sevenfold cheese. Or the Abrupt Jaunt immediate meta magic alternative class feature for Conjurers.

When I DM, I ask the players to be honest. Don't try and sneak cheese, it's pointless, because I'll figure it out, stop it from happening, or remove the player.

Maybe they don't try to sneak cheese, and just don't agree with your stringent idea of what is cheese. I know I would never consider IotSFV or Abrupt Jaunt to be cheese. Both work exactly as intended as a useful class/class feature with an appropriate cost. Incantatrix on the other hand was made pre Persist Spell, and so when Persist was made without realizing how easy it would be to apply, that can create a different situation then the other two that work as intended.

Gorbash
2009-05-26, 02:46 PM
Too bad. I was rather hoping thread would produce more results...

What did you actually expect?

Swordguy
2009-05-26, 03:00 PM
What did you actually expect?

Just more replies. Seeing people's opinions is interesting. Isn't that one of the reasons to have a message board in the first place?

valadil
2009-05-26, 03:07 PM
1. Do you optimize? if so what level do you take it to.

Sometimes. I'm perfectly happy to play a suboptimal character if that's what the game is like. I'm also perfectly happy and capable to optimize the hell out of a character. I aim to optimize to the level of the next most powerful character in any game. I don't want to overshadow anyway but I don't want to be overshadowed either and I tend to feel like my character is worthless if his contributions become meaningless.

2. Does Your Regular play group optimize? if so to what level

Some people do, some people don't. Most of us are flexible on the matter. The players who favor optimization are very capable, but don't usually paly their most broken creations.

3. Whats your views on its practice.

I view optimization as an exercise in math and accounting. It's sheer wankery and something I enjoy alone, on my own spare time. I don't need to play these characters in a real game, but if I'm having a slow day at work figuring out the highest save DCs I can get on a bard is a good way to pass the time.

4. Do you try to get others to use optimization if you come across someone who isn't.

If a player is frustrated because their character is weak, I'll offer help*. If a player enjoys having a weaker character, good for them. If a player doesn't optimize because it makes for better roleplaying, I'll cite Stormwind.

* Note that this assumes the character is weaker than the rest. If I gamed with some newbies and nobody knew how to optimize, but one player wanted to be more powerful than the rest, I probably wouldn't help his cause.

Weimann
2009-05-26, 03:24 PM
First of all, I should mention that I've not played DnD as such, but these views can apply to almost all games I play, with modifications for how mechanic heavy they are (i.e, computer games would logically include more optimization than table top games).

1. Do you optimize? if so what level do you take it to.

What I do is, I usually make up my mind about something, and then build my character around that. It can go both ways; I either decide on a personality or role I want to play and pick features based in that, or I see a special feature or a combo of features that look wicked, and then I build a personality on what those imply to me.

I will admit that having a capable character is important to me, but I'd like to say I'm more into specialisation than optimisation; I am happy to suck at one or even several situation if I can shine in another. Of course, I might choose to specialise in being a generalist, but I more often try to find a "gimmick" for my character. It can, for example, be a total inability to fight, but be awesome at stealing stuff.

2. Does Your Regular play group optimize? if so to what level

The people I've played with, admittedly not for a very long time and quite some time ago, definitely took an optimisation friendly approach. Of course, we were all newbs, so I still don't know how well we managed.

There was one guy who desperately wanted to be the best among us, even if he didn't outright state that, but took the view that this would be achieved by having as many different skills as possible in a jack-of-all-trades way. It ended up with us complaining about his character being crap and wishy-washy. It wasn't really though, but it lacked the definite aim that the other characters had.

Not saying we didn't TRY, though. We definitely did.

3. Whats your views on its practice.

I like optimisation, as a rule. Being powerful is fun. Of course, it might not always be advisable in every RP group, and it would depend on the mood you have. However, I derive a lot of pleasure from figuring out spell combos that BOTH work well together and defines a character with a nice theme. What takes priority varies, of course, but at the end of the day, I'd rather my character be strong than weak.

What is most important is that it is fun, however.

4. Do you try to get others to use optimization if you come across someone who isn't.

I do try to advice people. I usually go about asking if they know that they could loads of more efficiency taking this approach than that one. I try to get a grip on what they want from their character, and if I know the system enough, I try to give advice. Of course, it's their choice; if they desperately want to have a certain build that just doesn't mesh but makes for a satisfactory character to play, who am I to judge? That said, I will be gloating when I one-shot enemies they struggle to hold their own against.

As for computer games, the (possible) RP elements are usually split from the actual game play, so in those cases I optimise hardcore. Still, I try to keep my mouth about non-optimised players, however.

Quietus
2009-05-26, 04:25 PM
1. Do you optimize? if so what level do you take it to.

My situation is a little odd, as I run with three different DMs, cycling through campaigns every two weeks.

DM#1 is very new to the game itself, runs a story-based game, and doesn't know a lot about mechanics; I tend to run a basic, effective-not-broken character, like a heal/buff bot cleric, no DMM or anything. I might pick up Quicken at 9th to cast Divine Power/Righteous Might in the same turn, for those times she sends something unexpectedly powerful at us.

DM#2 is more experienced, has been playing for a very long time, but his sense of mechanical balance is not all that constant. He'll send fights at us that we wipe out without trouble, then follow that up with a group that should by all rights TPK us. Because of his poor sense of mechanical balance, I try to maintain a mid-level of optimization, building a character who's got a couple decent options, but won't overshadow the party. Strong enough to survive, not so strong as to control the game. And then he will go and make a houserule on the spot that ends up wrecking my character concept. :smalltongue:

DM#3 is the most experienced, and deadliest, DM. He knows the CR system fairly well, and is a decent judge of what we CAN fight.. but he doesn't care, and sends obscenely powerful things at us on a regular basis, like a level 12 Fighter (when our average party level is 5) whose AC is so high that even the full-BAB members of the party can only hit on 17+. To make it worse, he refuses to allow any use of ANY 3.5 splatbooks. So yes, I try to optimize to the fullest extent I can without utterly overshadowing my fellow players; I try to build characters who are either absolute one-trick-ponies, so while I may do "X" obscenely well, I'm terrible at everything else... or I'll pick something that can be optimized differently day to day, depending on my options. Right now I'm running a straight-classed druid with a snake animal companion, and in MOST situations, I can struggle against the usual combats with the rest of my party, because they always throw any plans I have out the window anyway. Next time we play in that game, however, we're going to be assaulting well-defended guard towers, each of us individually, and I will be preparing a fully optimized spell list, with no less than three different options ready to roll - not including the option of simply using my spontaneous Summon Nature's Ally to flood the place with animals.



2. Does Your Regular play group optimize? if so to what level

Not in the least, though some of them try, bless their hearts. Their idea of "optimized" is a level 6 half-orc barbarian with Power Attack, Cleave, and Weapon Focus. Because of this (and the other considerations above), I don't really let loose, knowing that if I did, I'd end up destroying them and making the game less fun for everyone.



3. Whats your views on its practice.

To a certain extent, optimization is good. Taking a character idea, choosing the most optimal feats for it, and making it as effective in its party role as possible is a good and noble goal. That being said, when you go beyond that intended role and pick feats that chafe against it, in the name of "optimization", I feel that you're sacrificing your character's integrity for an extra few numbers on a sheet. A dwarf who hates not being in contact with the ground, for example, should never take the Leap Attack feat, no matter how good an option it is.



4. Do you try to get others to use optimization if you come across someone who isn't.

Only if it's hurting their fun. We have a Gnome Paladin3/Ranger2/Hunter of the dead 1 (essentially a melee stalky guy who hates undead) in the party with 10 str, 12 dex, and 10 con. On a melee character. Against undead, he's semi-competent due to an Undead Bane Bastard Sword and Favored Enemy (Undead), but he's still outdamaged by our party barbarian. And against non-undead, he does 1d10+1 damage, at level 6. Thankfully, he's almost never there, and last time he was, we fought some undead.. so he got to contribute. But his level of optimization is so low that it WILL hurt his enjoyment eventually. I won't outright chide him for it, but if he asks me for assistance in making his character better, I will happily do so.

rayne_dragon
2009-05-27, 09:21 AM
1. Do you optimize? if so what level do you take it to.

To some degree yes. I'll pick things based on what kind of character I want to play first, but I'll optimize within that concept. I'd also rather make a character over-optimized and unplay the rules advantage if I need to, since I've played a few too many games where the game was run in such a was that being underoptimized killed a lot of the fun.


2. Does Your Regular play group optimize? if so to what level

I've found there's usually at least one person more optimized than me and (now) at least one person less optimized than me. There's not usually more than one person who has completely min/maxed their character though.


3. Whats your views on its practice.

I feel that 3rd and 4th edition D&D are designed around character optimization and sometimes it can overtake the fun of the game. If some characters optimize as much as they can while others just pick stuff they think is neat for their character it takes a good DM to make the game enjoyable for everyone at the table.


4. Do you try to get others to use optimization if you come across someone who isn't.

Not really. I'll help someone design a more optimized character if they want help or are having a tough time with encounters to the point where they aren't enjoying them at all, but I wouldn't encourage people to optimize.

Leon
2009-05-31, 06:33 AM
Thank you to all who posted, it was good to see the views from some of the community on the topic.

Malacode
2009-05-31, 06:59 AM
1. Do you optimize? If so what level do you take it to?
Hellz Yeah! I go crasy nuts and create characters that make my friends hate me. I never play them though. The fun is in building the character, not pissing off mates.

2. Does your regular play group optimize? If so to what level?
Two or three others in the group are half decent at character optimization. Well, really they're quite good but only with one or two classes. Anything else and they can't do much

3. Whats' your views on its practice.
As long as you aren't ruining other people's fun, go ahead

4. Do you try to get others to use optimization if you come across someone who isn't?
No way. If they don't want to/enjoy optimizing then I'm not going to force them. They enjoy the game in their own way.

ghost_warlock
2009-05-31, 08:29 AM
1. Do you optimize? if so what level do you take it to.
Yes. I play to my character's strengths and try to minimize weaknesses but I won't exploit rule gaps or obviously cheesey effects. If the rules regarding a spell or an ability are ambiguous I'll usually avoid it. However, if I can't avoid the ability or if I need/want a certain specific effect from it, I'll usually discuss with the GM and clarify the rules and negotiate a use that seems balanced. For instance, I tend to enjoy playing shapeshifters so if the rules for such are 'broken' within a system I tend to come up with limiting factors or avoid obviously overpowered options; I don't go hunting for obscure critters to change into in order to grant myself wonky abilities.

2. Does Your Regular play group optimize? if so to what level.
My current 'regular' group is just starting to learn a new system (4e D&D) so the effectiveness of their optimizing is somewhat limited. :smallwink: In the past, however, my groups tended to play specialist characters who'd try to milk every last point out of their individual areas of expertise, even homebrewing stuff to meet the needs of characters with character concepts that weren't supported by core (or were supported unsatisfyingly). However, we didn't play strictly by Thou Shall Not Lose Caster Levels and would occasionally introduce casters with large LAs and/or racial HD. And then there was that phrenic (template) soulknife 6/psion 4 with a whopping 12 Cha. :smalltongue:

3. Whats your views on its practice.
Infinite loops, Pun-Pun, celerity, shivering touch, and the like are abominations but other than that I don't have anything in particular against optimization. As long as a character is contributing meaningfully to the party, not trying to solo every encounter, and not otherwise being a complete jerk about it, I'm cool with power-gaming. Players who think the coolest way to show off how powerful their characters are is fighting/killing other PCs are dealt with in the fastest, most ruthless manner. D&D is, foremost, a cooperative game and while in-party conflict and the occasional in-fighting may be a reasonable expectation, bullying will not be tolerated.

4. Do you try to get others to use optimization if you come across someone who isn't.
I try to steer players away from choices that I know will gimp them and towards things that will increase their contributions to the party, but I don't force anyone's hand. I realize that other players aren't as interested in optimization and/or don't have the time/interest in mastering the rules so I try to give suggestions that I think will help enforce/expand their character concept while helping them be more solid, mechanically.