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Jay R
2017-12-25, 05:23 PM
tl;dr: What are your goals in character design?

Another thread led me to start this one. We throw around the word ďoptimizerĒ without giving it a clear definition.

My background doesnít lead me to see optimization as a bad thing. My patents and my dissertation are optimizing strategies. I make plans for visits to the State Fair and Disney World.

And yes, I want to optimize my D&D character.

In fact, we are all trying to optimize something in character design. For some people itís increasing power. For others, itís fitting into the world. Some people are trying to match a favorite character from stories, or a character in their head. Some people just want a quick & easy design, and are really trying to minimize the work involved in design. Thatís optimization as well.

And, being a trained and experienced optimizer, I know that step one is to define the objective function - what, exactly, you are trying to optimize. Most people think that an "optimizer" is somebody only optimizing the mechanics. By contrast, I find that approach to be as limiting* as just building to the persona, and for the same reasons.


*Limiting for me, that is. Other people can play the way they enjoy, and I have no say in that, just as they have no say in what I enjoy doing.

So I'm optimizing three characteristics.

Mechanics
Persona
Background

I want a character that feels right and fits into the world, with the best legitimate set of abilities to match that character, and the best character to fit those mechanics.

I want to optimize mechanics for the character, because that itís easier to play the character if his most persona-driven action is also his most tactically advantageous one.
I want to optimize the character for the background, because that makes it easier for my vision of what heís doing to match the DMís vision of what heís doing.
I want to match the background to the mechanics so I can justify well-designed mechanics.

Going around the other way, I want to optimize the character for the mechanics, because that makes it possible to play the character correctly while trying to do the best I can.
I want to optimize the mechanics to his background so that his abilities fit what the DM thinks will work in his world.
And I want to optimize his background for his character to justify playing the character correctly.

By the time my character is done, I want him to have as well-developed a persona as anybody else in the party, I want him to have as well-designed a set of abilities as anybody else in the party, and I want him to fit into the world as well as anybody else in the party. [And the DM is maybe starting to get a little tired of all my questions.]

So what is your objective function? What are you trying to optimize when you design your characters?

Dimers
2017-12-25, 06:02 PM
In addition to the objectives you list, I optimize for other players' fun (including the GM). I work to make characters that fill a needed party role, making play smoother and more fun ... I make characters that give the group something to laugh at ... I help test out GMs' homebrew by building it as intended ... that kind of thing.

RazorChain
2017-12-25, 10:33 PM
Optimization isn't a bad thing, in fact most in RL people that are good at making optimal choices are considered assets.

In my early gaming years the term that had a negative connotation was the min-maxers. The min-maxer took character creation to new heights by exploiting the system.


For me it's hard to say that trying to make a character fit in is optimizing or making a decent background is optimizing.

I usually come up with a concept and as I play a lot of systems my concepts aren't always system dependent. Obviously a concept that works in Exalted isn't always going to work in Cyberpunk 2020. So optimizing character concepts is not making them stat dependent, I never make a stat block and assign a character to it. I put stats to my character concept which has kinda pushed me away from systems that don't allow me to do that. So for me character builds are something that belong to computer games.

Background is important to me but to optimize I usually just make highlights if needed. The highlight is an event that defines the character and showcases him/her. When I was younger I tended to do a much more biographical approach but today I understand that GM's can't be bothered and I can't be bothered and background is boiled down to the essentials.


The most important optimizing is connecting my character to the other PC's and finding out why we're traveling/adventuring toghether and making a character that fits the campaign. This led to session zero which has now been replaced by communicating online discussing character concepts and getting info from the GM. These online chats usually go on for weeks to months before we even start up a new campaign but in the end we know each others characters intimately as we post our character backgrounds online.

Rerem115
2017-12-26, 02:04 PM
When building a character, I tend to go for archetypes more than mechanics. I'll usually stick to one class if it's 5e. While my builds tend to be simple (generic caster bard, S&B barbarian, etc), they are effective and tend to mesh well with the rest of the table because of their simplicity. Also, by starting with the basics, it gives a solid chassis for customizing the character as the campaign goes on.

vasilidor
2017-12-26, 03:15 PM
I optimize a basic concept: archer, arcane researcher, what have you, by picking those choices that make the character effective in his chosen roles. I do not understand those who see optimization and role playing as exclusive concepts. I had a fighter in pathfinder that the highest thing I rolled for attributes was a 14 (16 after bonus) I became the guy that carried the party in a group with a cavalier, cleric, forsaker and a rogue vampire(ok, so this guy was about as effective in his role), simply by picking those choices that made me a better fighter. In the game i am currently in I have an alchemist who is the most effective in combat (though the Eldritch Knight has finally caught up) simply by understanding the game better than the cleric or druid (yes I have been helping them and they are starting to, at least i think, be more effective both with character advancement choices and in combat choices, simply by improved understanding) and I have been doing the equivalent of closing my eyes and pointing to figure out what choices to make advancement choices. well... other than maxing out perception any how, gm needs to pick thing capable of party wipes in order to sneak up on us anymore... if she does not cheat or use custom creatures...

BWR
2017-12-26, 03:58 PM
Depends on the game. I will nearly always start with a desire to play a class (or similar mechanical concept) or general theme rather than a person. I am not immune to the lure of shiny mechanics, even if I feel story and personality should never be overshadowed by them. Personality develops during play, mostly, unless I have a very good handle on the society, culture and immediate family history of the PC.
I will optimize a bit, but rarely to the extent of trawling every book there is to find the perfect combination of mechanics to be The Best. This sometimes leads to less than awesome characters (though in the most recent cases I blame the GM for shutting me down). The exact extent I do this really depends on how much I know about the setting and how invested I am in the game. Generally, the less I care about the game, the more I min-max.

Protato
2017-12-26, 03:58 PM
I like to optimize for a given character concept, like for a flashy jack-of-all-trades that likes to take credit for the party, I might go Sword Bard mixed with Swashbuckler because they fit together well, but they also fit my character concept. Basically, make the best character I can without deviating from my character's role.

Jormengand
2017-12-26, 04:05 PM
To do my character's thing with a trivial chance of complete failure to contribute and a good chance of great effect, and to be able to always have something that I can do with little chance of complete failure to contribute, and to fulfil what my character is actually supposed to be in the mechanics.

Darth Ultron
2017-12-26, 05:39 PM
Sadly, optimization is only about mechanics. That is really the whole point.

And it is weird to say ''everyone'' optimizes, it's like saying ''everyone eats junk food'' or everyone watches TV''. And it is true that if your the type that lives in a bubble: you do think everyone eats junk food and watches TV. After all, not only do you do both of those things, but everyone you know also does both of those things. So that must be ''everyone'', right? And you'd just be beyond shocked to find out that thier are lots of people that don't eat junk food or watch TV...or both.

But then your not exactly talking about ''optimization'', you are more talking about a much more vague ''being a good player''....and then just slapping ''optimization'' on that...for some reason.

Like having your mechanics fit your back ground is just ''being a good player'' and has nothing to do with optimization. Like if your character has a background of ''he grew up on the streets/in the wild'' then taking a feat like ''Iron Gut'' does make sense. But this too is where you break from the optimizers, as they would never take such a useless ''flavor'' feat. Unless the feat lets them dominate the game mechanically and ''win'', it is a waste to them. And a feat that give +2 to only eating bad food and a +2 to the survival skill does not help the combat focused opmtizer.

And saying you must have mechanics or you can't role play is just silly. Simply put you can role play anything, no matter the mechanics. For example, you can role play a brave character, even if you don't have the fearless feat. Is it a nice feat to have if your role playing a fearless character: yes. But you don't have to have it.

A well designed and well developed character is not an optimized character.

Jay R
2017-12-26, 06:05 PM
Sadly, optimization is only about mechanics. That is really the whole point.

Optimizing is making something optimal. Mechanics aren't the only things you can make optimal. My role-playing is more immersive than most players because I optimize in more than one direction.

I understand that there are people who only optimize mechanics. But the English word is not restricted to that, and I am specifically asking about everything that can be optimized in character design.


A well designed and well developed character is not an optimized character.

If you believe the first statement, I can see how you would come to this conclusion. But I use optimization techniques professionally, and understand optimization of any definable characteristic.

Max_Killjoy
2017-12-26, 06:25 PM
A hammer is a tool.

I can use that tool to build something, or tear something down.

Optimization is a tool.

I can use optimization to make my character as close to the concept as possible, or I can use optimization to effectively invalidate half the party.


In terms of character competence, it's also generally easier (at least for me) to get into making character-driven decisions if I'm less concerned about falling on my face because of it, so a more competent character in mechanical terms is also an aid to roleplaying.

Darth Ultron
2017-12-26, 06:35 PM
Optimizing is making something optimal. Mechanics aren't the only things you can make optimal. My role-playing is more immersive than most players because I optimize in more than one direction.

I understand that there are people who only optimize mechanics. But the English word is not restricted to that, and I am specifically asking about everything that can be optimized in character design.

If you believe the first statement, I can see how you would come to this conclusion. But I use optimization techniques professionally, and understand optimization of any definable characteristic.

How is optimization not only about the numbers and mechanics? What else can you optimize in the game?

Can you give me an example of something you optimize in the game with no mechanics whatsoever?

Xuc Xac
2017-12-27, 12:42 AM
I understand that there are people who only optimize mechanics. But the English word is not restricted to that, and I am specifically asking about everything that can be optimized in character design.


In geology, "cleavage" is a flat surface. The English word is not restricted to that, but in the jargon of that specific field, it is.

In the field of RPGs, nobody says "optimizing a character" to refer to things like making your new fighter come from a fishing village instead of a desert oasis so it's easier to introduce him to the party currently traveling by boat. They mean boosting your fighter's ability to dish out and take damage.

BWR
2017-12-27, 12:49 AM
How is optimization not only about the numbers and mechanics? What else can you optimize in the game?

Can you give me an example of something you optimize in the game with no mechanics whatsoever?

You could optimize backstory, for instance. Make sure you come from a ridiculously wealthy family, happen to know the dirty secrets of the BBEG, be the Chosen One, have spent your youth learning a few useful skills to employ later, know and befriended important big shots in the setting, etc. etc.

Or you could choose to have hanged out on a farm in the middle of nowhere and not learn anything other than how to muck out the pens.

Darth Ultron
2017-12-27, 07:25 AM
You could optimize backstory, for instance. Make sure you come from a ridiculously wealthy family, happen to know the dirty secrets of the BBEG, be the Chosen One, have spent your youth learning a few useful skills to employ later, know and befriended important big shots in the setting, etc. etc.

Or you could choose to have hanged out on a farm in the middle of nowhere and not learn anything other than how to muck out the pens.

Is that really considered optimizing? Are you just lowering the bar to anything good is optimizing?

BWR
2017-12-27, 07:46 AM
Is that really considered optimizing? Are you just lowering the bar to anything good is optimizing?

You don't consider using your backstory to deliberately give you an advantage, one that may be hard to justify in setting or get accepted by the DM, as optimizing?
Anyway, optimization is a sliding scale. The choice to play a Fighter with the Riding skill instead of a Wizard without as the mechanical chassis for a mounted knight character is one step on the 'choosing the best way to get X done' scale. It's not necessarily or even usually about finding the most mechanically powerful options.

Darth Ultron
2017-12-27, 08:35 AM
You don't consider using your backstory to deliberately give you an advantage, one that may be hard to justify in setting or get accepted by the DM, as optimizing?
Anyway, optimization is a sliding scale. The choice to play a Fighter with the Riding skill instead of a Wizard without as the mechanical chassis for a mounted knight character is one step on the 'choosing the best way to get X done' scale. It's not necessarily or even usually about finding the most mechanically powerful options.

Really making your backstory something to get a cheep advantage in the game is more of an exploit. And I guess this would work with easing going, casual DMs. And I guess you can trick a DM into doing it.

I'd only consider it optimization if it was the real hard core optimization crazy stuff: "Oh, DM my half dragon half troll minotaur lived with the elves for ten years growing up so I DEMAND that he be counted AS AN ELF and can take things like elven racial feats, pwe pew!"

Max_Killjoy
2017-12-27, 08:56 AM
http://www.dictionary.com/browse/optimize


verb (used with object), optimized, optimizing.


1. to make as effective, perfect, or useful as possible.


2. to make the best of.


3. Computers. to write or rewrite (the instructions in a program) so as to maximize efficiency and speed in retrieval, storage, or execution.


4. Mathematics. to determine the maximum or minimum values of (a specified function that is subject to certain constraints).



It's very dependent upon what one considers "effective", "perfect", or "useful", or "best" -- upon what one is trying to optimize for and on one's priorities.

Jay R
2017-12-27, 09:54 AM
How is optimization not only about the numbers and mechanics? What else can you optimize in the game?

Can you give me an example of something you optimize in the game with no mechanics whatsoever?

It uses the numbers and mechanics, of course, but it isn't inherently optimizing fighting ability or D&D-scenario-winning skills.

My latest ranger was somebody who had lived alone in the woods for years. I wanted to optimize the character as character.

I've met two people who lived alone in the woods, and they each had some kind of musical instrument, and they were each proud of the quality of their axe.

So my ranger had a lyre and one point of Perform (Lyre), and he had a masterwork axe. Not a battle axe - I spent an additional 50 gp for a masterwork axe to chop wood.

Yes, that's using the mechanics, but that's not optimized abilities; it's optimized character development.


Is that really considered optimizing? Are you just lowering the bar to anything good is optimizing?

No, I'm raising the bar to include everything that can be optimized.

In real-world applications, it's important to not optimize a single feature. A computer help call center that only says, "Reboot the computer and try it again," optimizes the number of calls processed per hour - but is useless. A call center in which each server stays on the line with the caller for two hours running every possible diagnostic and fixing everything wrong with the computer optimizes customer satisfaction, with horrible values for calls processed per hour. A truly optimized approach satisfies both criteria (and others).

Similarly, in D&D, there's no point optimizing "Gerald the Wyvern Slayer" if the DM's world doesn't have any wyverns. I want to optimize how well the character works for me, for the party, and for the DM, and how well he fits into the DM's world, at the same time I'm optimizing the mechanics.


Really making your backstory something to get a cheep advantage in the game is more of an exploit. And I guess this would work with easing going, casual DMs. And I guess you can trick a DM into doing it.ears growing up so I DEMAND that he be counted AS AN ELF and can take things like elven racial feats, pwe pew!"

What an insulting way to twist it.

My Ranger's background makes him far more likely to see traps and dangers in the woods. We have an Urban Ranger who does the same while going through town, and the courtiers in the party look out for us in court.

This is not "a cheap advantage", it's not a trick, it's not a "DEMAND". It's good optimized character design where the mechanics fit the characters and the characters fit their mechanics.


I'd only consider it optimization if it was the real hard core optimization crazy stuff: "Oh, DM my half dragon half troll minotaur lived with the elves for ten years growing up so I DEMAND that he be counted AS AN ELF and can take things like elven racial feats, pwe pew!"

Oh, well, if you define optimization as cheating and bullying, I can see where you'd have difficulties with this thread.

I prefer a more normal definition of optimization as "the selection of a best element (with regard to some criterion) from some set of available alternatives. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathematical_optimization)" And the question in this thread was asked on that basis.

gkathellar
2017-12-27, 10:57 AM
Sadly, optimization is only about mechanics. That is really the whole point.

It is always about mechanics, but it is not always only about mechanics. Optimization (in RPG jargon as Xuc Xac notes) is fundamentally the process of tailoring mechanical attributes to achieve an end or a set of ends. The exact nature of the aforementioned end is variable, and this is where non-mechanical concerns come into play.

For example, if I want to create a character who is a capable fisherman, gambler, and boxer, mechanical character choices meant to be good at those things can be considered optimization. By the same token, if I want to create a character with really high combat numbers, choices made to raise my combat numbers are optimization.

Simply put: optimization is goal-oriented management of mechanical options.


Like having your mechanics fit your back ground is just ''being a good player'' and has nothing to do with optimization. Like if your character has a background of ''he grew up on the streets/in the wild'' then taking a feat like ''Iron Gut'' does

The optimizer question's, however, is, "is there a better way to represent that than Iron Gut?" Better could mean more potent, or more flavorful, or that it has lower opportunity costs, or that it has broader applicability. Depending on the parameters of the exercise, the answer will vary.


But this too is where you break from the optimizers, as they would never take such a useless ''flavor'' feat. Unless the feat lets them dominate the game mechanically and ''win'', it is a waste to them.

I think you may be experiencing some sampling bias. The most visible optimization on forums is combat optimization involving the interplay of odd or complex mechanics, yes - but that's because combat optimization involving the interplay of odd or complex mechanics is challenging and rewards a high level of system mastery. Basically, you see a lot of it because it's fun and people enjoy talking about it.

Even most theoretical optimization is very clearly not about "winning," because then it would just be Pun-Pun and we'd all go home and eat sandwiches. It's about, "how can we use a convergence of mechanics to accomplish a particular set of conditions?" This is why we have builds like the mailman ("how can we create an extremely reliable damaging spellcaster") or ubermounts ("how can we create the world's baddest horse?").

The long-running Iron Chef competition on the 3E boards may be illustrative here: the goal is to take a PrC with low combat effectiveness, and create a flavorful, combat-effective character.


And saying you must have mechanics or you can't role play is just silly. Simply put you can role play anything, no matter the mechanics. For example, you can role play a brave character, even if you don't have the fearless feat. Is it a nice feat to have if your role playing a fearless character: yes. But you don't have to have it.

If your "brave" character is always buckling to fear effects, a conflict emerges between your intent and execution. In games where many aspects of personality and behavior are codified mechanically, which is a lot of them, mechanical underpinnings can do a great service to being able to play the character you want to. As such, there's a roleplaying value in using mechanics that support your vision of the character. Hence, optimization towards an end.


A well designed and well developed character is not necessarily an optimized character, but can be.

FTFY.

Kaptin Keen
2017-12-27, 11:15 AM
Optimization isn't a bad thing, in fact most in RL people that are good at making optimal choices are considered assets.

This really is the problem: The idea that optimization is inherently good. That it even has any value at all, inherently.

Optimization is playing the numbers side of the game. You can optimize all manner of things, but there really isn't any roleplaying side to optimization.

Now, sure, you can use your optimizations for roleplaying purposes. But optimization doesn't add anything to roleplaying - not really. If you want to roleplay a character that's invincible with a sword, for instance, you can do that with or without optimization. The former is likely to be more succesful at it. But that's not roleplay. That's numbers.

Similarly, some roleplayers find the idea of playing without any numbers or dice rolls to be liberating. I'm going to claim there's a big overlap between non-optimizers, and people who enjoy free-form.

Jay R
2017-12-27, 11:20 AM
Getting back to the point of this thread, what are the things you are optimizing during character creation?

If you don't want to talk about that, please go start your own thread for your topic, and allow us to discuss this topic here.

Faily
2017-12-27, 11:34 AM
This really is the problem: The idea that optimization is inherently good. That it even has any value at all, inherently.

Optimization is playing the numbers side of the game. You can optimize all manner of things, but there really isn't any roleplaying side to optimization.

Now, sure, you can use your optimizations for roleplaying purposes. But optimization doesn't add anything to roleplaying - not really. If you want to roleplay a character that's invincible with a sword, for instance, you can do that with or without optimization. The former is likely to be more succesful at it. But that's not roleplay. That's numbers.

Similarly, some roleplayers find the idea of playing without any numbers or dice rolls to be liberating. I'm going to claim there's a big overlap between non-optimizers, and people who enjoy free-form.


I don't know... I started my foray into roleplaying with free-form, and while I am certainly a person who is very much invested in fluff and story over crunch and mechanics, I personally loathed a lot of free-form because any conflict had to be solved by someone choosing to take the fall rather any virtue of the character's actual capabilities.

I certainly prefer to roleplay situations, but in the end, I also like to have mechanics to support an outcome or help determine it.

So for me, optimizing is to make sure that the mechanics reflect what I want my character to be. That sometimes does make me theory-craft for days as I look through various supplements, books, or the internet for similar ideas.

I certainly optimize during character creation. I optimize the mechanics to make the crunch align with the fluff I have in my head. In some systems, this work better than others... I've yet to manage to actually build a concept in SIFRP, for instance, that aligns completely with what I imagined in my head. In L5R, I can churn out concepts with suitable mechanics in an hour or so. Similarly for Pathfinder... takes me a bit longer for D&D 3.5 because of it's enormous amount of options.

BWR
2017-12-27, 04:02 PM
Really making your backstory something to get a cheep advantage in the game is more of an exploit. And I guess this would work with easing going, casual DMs. And I guess you can trick a DM into doing it.

I'd only consider it optimization if it was the real hard core optimization crazy stuff: "Oh, DM my half dragon half troll minotaur lived with the elves for ten years growing up so I DEMAND that he be counted AS AN ELF and can take things like elven racial feats, pwe pew!"

So the person with the weird definition of 'optimization' is you, not me.
Good to know.

Lord Raziere
2017-12-27, 04:08 PM
So the person with the weird definition of 'optimization' is you, not me.
Good to know.

No its not. I have it to. Speak for yourself.

2D8HP
2017-12-27, 07:19 PM
tl;dr: What are your goals in character design?So what is your objective function? What are you trying to optimize when you design your characters?.
Either I'm emulating a specific character from fiction, or combining traits from more than one, or I'm emulating abilities.

Some characters that I've stolen ideas from been inspired by:


Gorōbei Katayama,

Heihachi Hayashida,

Kambei Shimada,

Katsushirō Okamoto,

Kikuchiyo,

Kyūzō,

Shichirōji,

(That's right, all of The Seven Samurai

Geoffrey Thorpe (The Sea Hawk)

Robin Hood (or most any character portrayed by Errol Flynn),

Lila Bard (From A Darker Shade of Magic)

Ulrich von Bek (From The War Hound and the World's Pain)

Captain Haddock,

Tintin,

Johnny Quest,

Sinbad,

Indiana Jones,

Tonto,

Conan,

Fafhrd,

and

The Gray Mouser.



As far as talents I like my PC's to have, off the top of my head:

Fire arrows,

Swing swords,

Track,

Sneak,

Hide,

Climb,

Swim,

Convince,

Run,

Walk,

Speak,

and

Heal

NichG
2017-12-27, 08:44 PM
How is optimization not only about the numbers and mechanics? What else can you optimize in the game?

Can you give me an example of something you optimize in the game with no mechanics whatsoever?

For example, in a previous campaign I was playing a British spy with some competent superiors but one or two really bumbling ones. So I arranged to collect blackmail material about the potentially troublesome people above me in the chain of command in case at some future point I needed to pressure them to back down on a stupid order or other disastrous political power play.

No game mechanics were involved in the blackmail material or how it would function, but it was definitely a form of optimization to increase my future ability to influence events.

Arbane
2017-12-27, 09:06 PM
ISTR one of the sourcebooks for the rather odd RPG Over the Edge had some useful advice for optimizing characters for something other than OVERWHELMING COSMIC POWER: Make sure your character can fight a little, talk to people a little, and has a day job. And some advice on getting the GM to WANT to keep your character around (like being a useful plot-hook dispenser). So, that's optimization that doesn't require math & extra sourcebooks.


Now, sure, you can use your optimizations for roleplaying purposes. But optimization doesn't add anything to roleplaying - not really. If you want to roleplay a character that's invincible with a sword, for instance, you can do that with or without optimization. The former is likely to be more succesful at it. But that's not roleplay. That's numbers.

Uh, I'd say that's not true. You can have a character who THINKS they're invincible with a sword, and RP them as such, but when the cold and merciless dice hit the table, that concept will be tested to destruction, and the character with the most plusses will have better odds have keeping their concept and bones un-shattered.

RazorChain
2017-12-27, 11:00 PM
This really is the problem: The idea that optimization is inherently good. That it even has any value at all, inherently.

Optimization is playing the numbers side of the game. You can optimize all manner of things, but there really isn't any roleplaying side to optimization.

Now, sure, you can use your optimizations for roleplaying purposes. But optimization doesn't add anything to roleplaying - not really. If you want to roleplay a character that's invincible with a sword, for instance, you can do that with or without optimization. The former is likely to be more succesful at it. But that's not roleplay. That's numbers.

Similarly, some roleplayers find the idea of playing without any numbers or dice rolls to be liberating. I'm going to claim there's a big overlap between non-optimizers, and people who enjoy free-form.

You can optimize your character for roleplaying purposes. I do that all the time. First I get a character concept, then I utilize the game system to create that character with numbers, knowing the system and the numbers actually helps me create the character that I want so optimization helps me achieve my goal. In this instance the goal is not to make the strongest most powerful character but to make the character as close to the concept as I can.

Another thing that I do is to help my GM is by introducing NPC's in my background that can be used as antagonists or push a plot hook into my direction, often I'll also pose a question that can be turned into an adventure or have some lose threads that can be tied into plots. In this regaard I'll communicate with my GM and if I need an nemesis for my characater then I'll ask the GM and we might come up with the nemesis togher. This means that the GM most likely will tie my character's nemesis into some plot he has in mind. This is optimizing, my ideas impact the gaming world and will probably be used in some adventures, this makes me happy.

Another thing is to work with your fellow gamers during character creation, swap ideas and connect your characters before play. Numerus times I've played siblings, friends or even rivals to my fellow PC's. This is optimizing as well. This means that character creation goes smoothly, we make a solid group where most have some kind of specialty and our characters already have a bond. This also means here will be no nasty suprises if I decide to show up with a mechaniclally useless character that may be fun to roleplay like a younger sibling or a bratty young man that is supposed to be the chosen one.

One way to do optimize is to make as mechanically strong or useful character for the gaming aspect but you can optimize for the roleplaying aspect as well...or even do both.


.
Either I'm emulating a specific character from fiction, or combining traits from more than one, or I'm emulating abilities.


Geoffrey Thorpe (The Sea Hawk)


I read all the books from Rafael Sabatini I could get my hands on as a kid. I heartily recommend Scaramouche, Bellarion and Captain Blood of course

2D8HP
2017-12-27, 11:05 PM
...I read all the books from Rafael Sabatini I could get my hands on as a kid. I heartily recommend Scaramouche, Bellarion and Captain Blood of course.
Oh! I didn't know about Bellarion, thanks!

:smile:

RazorChain
2017-12-27, 11:17 PM
Similarly, some roleplayers find the idea of playing without any numbers or dice rolls to be liberating. I'm going to claim there's a big overlap between non-optimizers, and people who enjoy free-form.

And Yes I know, free forming is liberating for me as a GM as well. Then I'm fully in the right to negate my players agency and steer the game into the direction I want to and adjucate in a way that serves the narrative best.


Let me tell you a true story about a power gamer that took part in a GM-less free forming session with me. First he said that his character was very strong, in fact his character was the stronges man in the village. This village was known for having the strongest men in the region, in fact the village held a strong man competition that he had won where all the strongest men from the country had taken part. In fact the some of the gods were jelous of his strenght as his character was stronger than them.

Now the adventures we were trying to tell weren't about PC's with godly strength, it just didn't fit in. But the player realizing that there was no GM to keep him in check just made his character stronger and stronger until the group told him that his character didn't fit in. So even in freeform you can try to make the character as strong/powerful as you can but like in all other system or systemless games the GM is in his right to veto your character.

I as a GM will always look to how a character will contribute to the party and adventures we are planning for. If I feel the character won't fit in or is mechanically unbalanced I will work with the player to fix the character or just plain veto him. If somebody ever again comes up with a character that is really a god slumming with some adventurers then NO

RazorChain
2017-12-27, 11:22 PM
.
Oh! I didn't know about Bellarion, thanks!

:smile:

If you saw the Errol Flynn movie about the Sea Hawk then that isn't based on the book but an independent adventure.

2D8HP
2017-12-27, 11:31 PM
If you saw the Errol Flynn movie about the Sea Hawk then that isn't based on the book but an independent adventure..
Oh yes, I saw the movie, first on television, and then in 1979, on the 400th anniversary of the Golden Hind landing in California, there was a kid-oriented museum exhibition on Sir Francis Drake's circumnavigation of the world, including Elizabethan costumes one could try on, and a screening of The Sea Hawk, on the basis that many of Thorpe's deeds in the film were based on Drake's.

Just fantastic.

Jay R
2017-12-28, 12:40 AM
Either I'm emulating a specific character from fiction, or combining traits from more than one, or I'm emulating abilities.

Nice. I do something similar. I will start with a specific favorite character, and then decide exactly how mine will differ from the literary one.

I built an 2E thief based initially on Tarzan - emphasis on climb, hide, move silently, jungle lore, etc., as an orphan loner who was uncomfortable in cities or crowds, and had no knowledge of his parents or background. He had elven abilities, but heard the word "elf" for the first time at third level. [Then he was changed even further, becasue we got to the table and the others were a Fighter, a Ranger, and a Paladin, and I quickly turned Treewalker into a Thief/Wizard, just to get some spells in the party.]

My Dr. Strange version superhero was Dr. MacAbre (John MacAubrey, Ph.D.). But he had a multiform he didn't have complete control over - he would occasionally change into a wolf, a bat, or a mist, So being concerned that he might be becoming a vampire, he joined a super group (the other PCs) so he could be taken down if he became evil.

Doli and Felix were two dwarf brothers, out to get powerful enough to take revenge on the ones who had slaughtered their five brothers. [You have to think in terms of other languages to recognize Doli and Felix as Grumpy and Happy.]

Jean-Louis was a Flashing Blades character - a street rat based on Disney's Aladdin. But his Secret (every FB character must have one) was Secret Origin. He had no idea why he was left as a baby on the steps of Notre Dame. [Years later, when Disney's version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame came out, I was bemused that I had built a climbing orphan raised at Notre Dame based on a Disney hero, before Disney came out with exactly that.

Pteppic was a 1e wizard based on Terry Pratchett's Pteppicymon. He was a son of the Pharaoh, trained in an exotic skill, but obviously a wizard, not an assassin. Nonetheless, I gave him a foreign frame of mind from his schooling, and he never trusted the vizier.

But in each case, I worked with the GM to make optimize the characer's connection to his world, and I optimized the skills to fit that role as effectively as possible.

And my examples started with each of the three things I try to optimize. Treewalker's character came first, Dr. MacAbre's powers did, and Pteppicymon started by trying to fit into the DM's ancient Egyptian world. But in all cases, I ended up with optimized character, optimized mechanics, and optimized place in the world (to the best of my ability).

Darth Ultron
2017-12-28, 05:59 PM
Simply put: optimization is goal-oriented management of mechanical options.

Looks good enough, Optimization = Anti Role Playing.



The optimizer question's, however, is, "is there a better way to represent that than Iron Gut?" Better could mean more potent, or more flavorful, or that it has lower opportunity costs, or that it has broader applicability. Depending on the parameters of the exercise, the answer will vary.

See your going beyond just optimization to Exportation: How can I exploit the rules of the game to get what I want to Roll Play.



Even most theoretical optimization is very clearly not about "winning," because then it would just be Pun-Pun and we'd all go home and eat sandwiches. It's about, "how can we use a convergence of mechanics to accomplish a particular set of conditions?" This is why we have builds like the mailman ("how can we create an extremely reliable damaging spellcaster") or ubermounts ("how can we create the world's baddest horse?").

Except you forget the other parts about Optimzers:

1.They want to show off and stroke their egos and awe an audience
2.They want to ruin the fun and the game for others.

So they won't just sit home. They will lie and sneak into a game and do their best to ruin it and get a good laugh.


Getting back to the point of this thread, what are the things you are optimizing during character creation?



I just don't get setting the bar so low that everything is optimization. Like ''my character grew up by the ocean so I Super Duper Optimized my character and took a rank in Profession(fishing)!"




No game mechanics were involved in the blackmail material or how it would function, but it was definitely a form of optimization to increase my future ability to influence events.

So now optimization is just being clever? Or playing the game smart?

Like saying ''my character stops and listens at the door as my character is so optimized".

Jormengand
2017-12-28, 06:43 PM
Looks good enough, Optimization = Anti Role Playing.

You keep on saying this and then it keeps on not being true.

Lord Raziere
2017-12-28, 06:50 PM
You keep on saying this and then it keeps on not being true.

Personally I think your overusing the term. Don't put my roleplaying under the same label as what you do. I DON'T want to identify with what you do, because I don't want to identify with otpimization. Thats all there is to it.

NichG
2017-12-28, 07:02 PM
So now optimization is just being clever? Or playing the game smart?

Like saying ''my character stops and listens at the door as my character is so optimized".

Optimization is, given a set of options, picking options in order to maximize some aspect of the outcome. The main thing that makes optimization behave differently as an approach is that the outcome is held above the method (although the method can be factored in to how the outcome is evaluated). That means that actions or choices may not appear to be immediately coherent, or may not have explanations that fully mesh with the apparent context or 'fluff', if those aspects are not explicitly included in what you're optimizing for. That's what tends to give it a dissonant feeling - someone at the table is making choices on the basis of a goal that other players or the GM disagree should actually be the goal.

For example, with my spy character, my goal there was 'results are the most important thing, respecting my chain of command and hierarchy is not important'. So I chose actions out of the set of possibilities that maximized that long-term objective. Someone could easily object to my characterization though, saying 'Hey wait a minute, that's incredibly disloyal, doesn't that bother him?'. The former point of view is focused on outcomes, whereas the latter point of view is based on the feeling of appropriateness of an action given (in this case, what the other person assumes) the character's personality is like. Of course in this case, the character's personality is pretty cold, so favoring long-term objectives over the good or bad feeling of an immediate action was consistent. But as part of that optimization process, to some degree 'the character's personality was cold because in that game I as a player prioritized bringing about long-term results over e.g. having a lot of high energy emotional scenes'.

Jormengand
2017-12-28, 07:10 PM
Personally I think your overusing the term. Don't put my roleplaying under the same label as what you do. I DON'T want to identify with what you do, because I don't want to identify with otpimization. Thats all there is to it.

What?

That entire post is definitely a sentence with a meaning but I cannot for all that is great and good figure out the relevance apart from the fact that it uses some of the same words. You don't want me to call your roleplaying roleplaying? Uh, okay, fine. I'll call it, uh, pretending that your character is good at things the mechanics don't support them being good at?

Lord Raziere
2017-12-28, 07:13 PM
What?

That entire post is definitely a sentence with a meaning but I cannot for all that is great and good figure out the relevance apart from the fact that it uses some of the same words. You don't want me to call your roleplaying roleplaying? Uh, okay, fine. I'll call it, uh, pretending that your character is good at things the mechanics don't support them being good at?

No, I'm a roleplayer. I'm not an optimizer. I can be good at things without your stupid umbrellla term, thank you very much.

Jormengand
2017-12-28, 07:18 PM
No, I'm a roleplayer. I'm not an optimizer. I can be good at things without your stupid umbrellla term, thank you very much.

Okay?

But I happen to be both. So there was no purpose in objecting to my point that optimisation is not "Anti-roleplaying."

But then again, you doing something with no real purpose ceased to surprise me some time along the line.

Lord Raziere
2017-12-28, 07:22 PM
Okay?

But I happen to be both. So there was no purpose in objecting to my point that optimisation is not "Anti-roleplaying."

But then again, you doing something with no real purpose ceased to surprise me some time along the line.

That doesn't matter.

I don't identify with optimization. don't put me under the label. Whatever you feel or think about it has nothing to do with that.

Jormengand
2017-12-28, 07:26 PM
That doesn't matter.

I don't identify with optimization. don't put me under the label. Whatever you feel or think about it has nothing to do with that.

What? Okay, okay, now I know you're BSing. Show me where I said that you were an optimiser. All I said was that DU keeps on saying that optimisation is anti-roleplaying, and that that keeps on not being true. That's it!

Max_Killjoy
2017-12-28, 07:44 PM
What? Okay, okay, now I know you're BSing. Show me where I said that you were an optimiser. All I said was that DU keeps on saying that optimisation is anti-roleplaying, and that that keeps on not being true. That's it!


Indeed, it's so not true that there's even a name (https://www.google.com/search?q=stormwind+fallacy) for it...



I'm hereby proposing a new logical fallacy. It's not a new idea, but maybe with a catchy name (like the Oberoni Fallacy) it will catch on.


The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa.


Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game.


Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse roleplayer if he optimizes, and vice versa.
Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically roleplayed better than an optimized one, and vice versa.


(I admit that there are some diehards on both sides -- the RP fanatics who refuse to optimize as if strong characters were the mark of the Devil and the min/max munchkins who couldn't RP their way out of a paper bag without setting it on fire -- though I see these as extreme examples. The vast majority of people are in between, and thus the generalizations hold. The key word is 'automatically')


Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's gameplay. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Roleplaying deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other.


Claiming that an optimizer cannot roleplay (or is participating in a playstyle that isn't supportive of roleplaying) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
How does this impact "builds"? Simple.


In one extreme (say, Pun-Pun), they are thought experiments. Optimization tests that are not intended to see actual gameplay. Because they do not see gameplay, they do not commit the fallacy.


In the other extreme, you get the drama queens. They could care less about the rules, and are, essentially, playing free-form RP. Because the game is not necessary to this particular character, it doesn't fall into the fallacy.


By playing D&D, you opt in to an agreement of sorts -- the rules describe the world you live in, including yourself. To get the most out of those rules, in the same way you would get the most out of yourself, you must optimize in some respect (and don't look at me funny; you do it already, you just don't like to admit it. You don't need multiclassing or splatbooks to optimize). However, because it is a role-playing game, you also agree to play a role. This is dependent completely on you, and is independent of the rules.


And no, this isn't dependent on edition, or even what roleplaying game you're doing. If you are playing a roleplaying game with any form of rules or regulation, this fallacy can apply. The only difference is the nature of the optimization (based on the rules of that game; Tri-Stat optimizes differently than d20) or the flavor of the roleplay (based on the setting; Exalted feels different from Cthulu).


Conclusion: D&D, like it or not, has elements of both optimization AND roleplay in it. Any game that involves rules has optimization, and any role-playing game has roleplay. These are inherent to the game.
They go hand-in-hand in this sort of game. Deal with it. And in the name of all that is good and holy, stop committing the Stormwind Fallacy in the meantime.





If I use my knowledge of the rules to make the best representation ("mapping" in my terminology) of a character within the system we'll be using. Not the most powerful build, not necessarily the most efficient build, but the most robust and truthful representation of that character that I can achieve, because my intent is to roleplay that character. And in doing so, I have OPTIMIZED -- I have created the most optimal build I can for the goal of roleplaying that character.


One could even build the most powerful possible character for the system and "resources" made available by the GM... and then roleplay the hell out of that character, roleplay it like a boss, roleplay like no one has ever roleplayed before.

gkathellar
2017-12-28, 07:52 PM
Looks good enough, Optimization = Anti Role Playing.

You have yet to demonstrate why this is so. What about engagement with the mechanics is antithetical to role playing?


See your going beyond just optimization to Exportation: How can I exploit the rules of the game to get what I want to Roll Play.

Why is choosing options that are mechanically effective representations of your envisioned character's attributes - I'm going to assume you meant to type - exploitation?

For example: If I envision my fighter as a fearless knight in shining armor and master at arms, is it "roll play" to take a few levels of paladin so that my character can have a few appropriate abilities that will make them fit my concept? What if the campaign turns out to be focused on fighting undead, and I take levels in an anti-undead class to represent becoming good at that? These are both low-end optimization decisions, in that they are mechanical choices that make my character good at certain things, but does that make them intrinsically inappropriate?

And this is without even getting into the fact that many games are structured so that a failure to keep up mechanically precludes meaningful participation. Say I want to play a monk in 3rd edition D&D: by default, I can look forward to a pretty miserable experience in which I get regularly trounced by CR-appropriate threats. Combats in 3E are lengthy, so in this situation I want to be able to contribute so that the rest of the table doesn't hate seeing my turn come up, if nothing else. Optimization, however, can ease that burden and help me tune a character who keeps up with the rest of the party without outshining them.


Except you forget the other parts about Optimzers:

1.They want to show off and stroke their egos and awe an audience
2.They want to ruin the fun and the game for others.

So they won't just sit home. They will lie and sneak into a game and do their best to ruin it and get a good laugh.

What you've just described is a jerk, not an optimizer. There are absolutely people who are both, but if your entire claim is that being engaged with the mechanics of games is equivalent to being a game-killing, antisocial narcissist, then ... you're wrong. Based on your earlier description of someone flagrantly cheating as "optimization," I'm not even convinced you've ever actually seen real optimization. Knowledge of game mechanics is no more equivalent to awfulness than is, say, skill at improv (if anything, it's less of one, since improv is a cult :P).

Frankly, I've heard plenty of stories about things going the opposite way, too: toxic players who were deliberately ineffective to the point of disruptiveness, or toxic groups who go out of their way to ignore the rules so as to make even modestly effective decisions into shameful "power gaming." An acquaintance of mine once described an example of the latter a group he joined with the intention of playing a support wizard, using spells like darkness to help the party's fighter and ranger shine - he specifically wanted to avoid taking the spotlight. The DM proceeded to ban the spell for being overpowered, because apparently things in the sphere of darkness it summons are invulnerable. I'll give you a hint: they aren't, and such an interpretation was made up whole cloth. Essentially, the DM changed the rules to make what he was doing overpowered, for the sole purpose of banning it for being overpowered. As my acquaintance characterized it, what the group seemed to really resent was that he wanted to use the options made available in the game, and they made his experience unfun for trying.

My point here is that jerks are jerks, and that you will find them among role-players of all stripes. Optimization is a skill set, not an indicator of character.

Max_Killjoy
2017-12-28, 08:13 PM
Frankly, I've heard plenty of stories about things going the opposite way, too: toxic players who were deliberately ineffective to the point of disruptiveness, or toxic groups who go out of their way to ignore the rules so as to make even modestly effective decisions into shameful "power gaming." An acquaintance of mine once described an example of the latter a group he joined with the intention of playing a support wizard, using spells like darkness to help the party's fighter and ranger shine - he specifically wanted to avoid taking the spotlight. The DM proceeded to ban the spell for being overpowered, because apparently things in the sphere of darkness it summons are invulnerable. I'll give you a hint: they aren't, and such an interpretation was made up whole cloth. Essentially, the DM changed the rules to make what he was doing overpowered, for the sole purpose of banning it for being overpowered. As my acquaintance characterized it, what the group seemed to really resent was that he wanted to use the options made available in the game, and they made his experience unfun for trying.

My point here is that jerks are jerks, and that you will find them among role-players of all stripes. Optimization is a skill set, not an indicator of character.


Back in the day, we had one of those players. Ugh. Every character he built appeared to be a deliberate series of the most ineffective choices possible, and he reacted to any suggestion of things he could tweak, or things his character could learn as part of growing into the lives they were finding themselves in, with comments like "that seems kinda power-gamey" or "that really doesn't fit the concept"... some of those characters were useless at EVERYTHING, and he refused to change that because the concept was something like "in over his head". :smallconfused:

Lord Raziere
2017-12-28, 08:31 PM
See, people keep trodding out that stormwind fallacy, but it doesn't make me dislike optimizers any less.

Yes I know they are unrelated. But at the same time, I think of nonsense that people consider an "optimized game" and just automatically reject it, because it gives me absolutely nothing what I want. mechanics get in my way more often than they help. I'm jumping through meaningless hoops just to get to a character I have in my head that I could get to in much simpler ways. Thats crazy.

I mean not once have I ever looked at an optimized wizard and thought of a character concept I'd want to play using it. Mostly because its just effectiveness, which is just distasteful to me, while I don't need anyones help to make my characters. all those optimization guides? I've looked at them, and they're just boring and makes me think "this tells me nothing of how to build any character I'm interested in."

Mostly because I look at the fluff first, foremost and most important. crunch is that distant annoying second. optimizing is for people who actually LIKE the mechanics thing, so they idealize it and speak glowingly of it. I don't.

Jormengand
2017-12-28, 08:37 PM
See, people keep trodding out that stormwind fallacy, but it doesn't make me dislike optimizers any less.

Yes I know they are unrelated. But at the same time, I think of nonsense that people consider an "optimized game" and just automatically reject it, because it gives me absolutely nothing what I want. mechanics get in my way more often than they help. I'm jumping through meaningless hoops just to get to a character I have in my head that I could get to in much simpler ways. Thats crazy.

I mean not once have I ever looked at an optimized wizard and thought of a character concept I'd want to play using it. Mostly because its just effectiveness, which is just distasteful to me, while I don't need anyones help to make my characters. all those optimization guides? I've looked at them, and they're just boring and makes me think "this tells me nothing of how to build any character I'm interested in."

Mostly because I look at the fluff first, foremost and most important. crunch is that distant annoying second. optimizing is for people who actually LIKE the mechanics thing, so they idealize it and speak glowingly of it. I don't.

Have you tried not playing a game with mechanics? That way, you can say your character is the greatest swordsman ever and you don't need the mechanics to support that because there are no mechanics.

To me, at least, it breaks immersion when someone's "Best swordsman who ever lived" can't hit the broad side of a barn. And if you dislike me because I like to have my character be able to do my character's job, then well whatever that's okay.

You still haven't explained your previous posts, incidentally.

RazorChain
2017-12-28, 09:16 PM
Indeed, it's so not true that there's even a name (https://www.google.com/search?q=stormwind+fallacy) for it...






If I use my knowledge of the rules to make the best representation ("mapping" in my terminology) of a character within the system we'll be using. Not the most powerful build, not necessarily the most efficient build, but the most robust and truthful representation of that character that I can achieve, because my intent is to roleplay that character. And in doing so, I have OPTIMIZED -- I have created the most optimal build I can for the goal of roleplaying that character.


One could even build the most powerful possible character for the system and "resources" made available by the GM... and then roleplay the hell out of that character, roleplay it like a boss, roleplay like no one has ever roleplayed before.


There is also the question if optimization is anti roleplaying then what about pregens?. If the greatest optimizer in the world makes a character and hands it to the greatest roleplayer in the world who plays the character, then what will happen? Will the universe implode?

vasilidor
2017-12-29, 12:03 AM
I was wondering if this would crop up here...
In any case the need to optimise, or lack there, of is dependent on the game played and how the game master runs it.
I have been in shadowrun games were only the most bleedingly tweaked out and overamped characters can cut it, and in dnd games were what one decided to try with the latest magical doohickey was far more important than if you were a level 12 knight or level 1 commoner. I think I can guess from the post as to who would prefer which game.

Kaptin Keen
2017-12-29, 02:33 AM
And Yes I know, free forming is liberating for me as a GM as well. Then I'm fully in the right to negate my players agency and steer the game into the direction I want to and adjucate in a way that serves the narrative best.


Let me tell you a true story about a power gamer that took part in a GM-less free forming session with me. First he said that his character was very strong, in fact his character was the stronges man in the village. This village was known for having the strongest men in the region, in fact the village held a strong man competition that he had won where all the strongest men from the country had taken part. In fact the some of the gods were jelous of his strenght as his character was stronger than them.

Now the adventures we were trying to tell weren't about PC's with godly strength, it just didn't fit in. But the player realizing that there was no GM to keep him in check just made his character stronger and stronger until the group told him that his character didn't fit in. So even in freeform you can try to make the character as strong/powerful as you can but like in all other system or systemless games the GM is in his right to veto your character.

I as a GM will always look to how a character will contribute to the party and adventures we are planning for. If I feel the character won't fit in or is mechanically unbalanced I will work with the player to fix the character or just plain veto him. If somebody ever again comes up with a character that is really a god slumming with some adventurers then NO

Not sure what you're getting at, but it seems to me you're doing freeform wrong. A player can be absolutely as strong as he desires, as long as it's understood that it's an abstraction, and the GM decides the limits of that abstraction.

In essence:
Player: Am I strong enough to lift that rock.
GM: No.

End of story.

Powerplay is literally impossible in freeform.

Shark Uppercut
2017-12-29, 03:28 AM
Mostly because I look at the fluff first, foremost and most important. crunch is that distant annoying second. optimizing is for people who actually LIKE the mechanics thing, so they idealize it and speak glowingly of it. I don't.

I was going to ask why you play D&D, but judging by your posting history I'm not sure you do. Do you? Do you have a lot of house rules? Do you make it work? I hope you do, because D&D is just so crunchy.

I'm starting to dread seeing Darth Ultron appear in a thread. As far as I can tell, he thinks that Optimizers can be
A. entitled crybabies that literally break the game with homebrewed rules that make their characters mechanically superior.
B. raging gasbags that will flip out if their character doesn't succeed on every die role. This also makes him afraid of players having agency, as agency = looking for auto success.

It's like hearing your friend saying they don't like doctors, then you ask why and they think that all surgical procedures are done without painkillers, anaesthetic or recovery time.

On the plus side, watching Jormengand flip out at people is refreshing.

Jormengand
2017-12-29, 03:50 AM
On the plus side, watching Jormengand flip out at people is refreshing.

I aim to please.

I also have a very feedback-dependent mood, which can make me irrationally angry (or very happy, on the rare occasion I get compliments), but people complaining at me for saying stuff I never did doesn't help.

Lord Raziere
2017-12-29, 03:51 AM
I was going to ask why you play D&D, but judging by your posting history I'm not sure you do. Do you? Do you have a lot of house rules? Do you make it work? I hope you do, because D&D is just so crunchy.


I'm in a pathfinder Eberron game as an artificer on this forum. so technically yes I do.

RazorChain
2017-12-29, 04:46 AM
I was going to ask why you play D&D, but judging by your posting history I'm not sure you do. Do you? Do you have a lot of house rules? Do you make it work? I hope you do, because D&D is just so crunchy.

I'm starting to dread seeing Darth Ultron appear in a thread. As far as I can tell, he thinks that Optimizers can be
A. entitled crybabies that literally break the game with homebrewed rules that make their characters mechanically superior.
B. raging gasbags that will flip out if their character doesn't succeed on every die role. This also makes him afraid of players having agency, as agency = looking for auto success.

It's like hearing your friend saying they don't like doctors, then you ask why and they think that all surgical procedures are done without painkillers, anaesthetic or recovery time.

On the plus side, watching Jormengand flip out at people is refreshing.

Read the whole thread DU is already here, lured by the faintest whiff of the Jerk Player Optimizer and Jay R has been trying to keep the thread on topic...which on these forums is almost impossible

Cluedrew
2017-12-29, 08:43 AM
I try to optimize for table fun.

Darth Ultron
2017-12-29, 08:49 AM
You keep on saying this and then it keeps on not being true.

It's very true, there are a couple of exceptions, but not many.


You have yet to demonstrate why this is so. What about engagement with the mechanics is antithetical to role playing?

Because it is all the optimizer does: play the numbers game. Playing the numbers game IS Roll Playing. The player is obsessed with getting that ''+1 more'', and if they are doing that....they are not role playing.




Why is choosing options that are mechanically effective representations of your envisioned character's attributes - I'm going to assume you meant to type - exploitation?

They are not and that is what normal gamers do. BUT not what optimizers do.



For example: If I envision my fighter as a fearless knight in shining armor and master at arms, is it "roll play" to take a few levels of paladin so that my character can have a few appropriate abilities that will make them fit my concept? What if the campaign turns out to be focused on fighting undead, and I take levels in an anti-undead class to represent becoming good at that? These are both low-end optimization decisions, in that they are mechanical choices that make my character good at certain things, but does that make them intrinsically inappropriate?

The easy way to tell a normal player from an optimizer is that the role player can accept weakness, less power and do things that make sense. Like say two players wanted to have a 5th level character that was a merchant wizard. The normal player would take a couple levels of the merchant class(there are some out there) to give the character a couple merchant like abilities and take a couple levels in wizard. The optimizer would never, ever take a lame non-combat class like merchant and would not want to waste levels on it...they want to go all wizard levels so they can get early entry into that one cool prestige class or whatever. So you'd have one player that is a merchant 2/wizard 3, ready to role play a merchant wizard and one player that is wizard 5, ready to roll play some combat!



And this is without even getting into the fact that many games are structured so that a failure to keep up mechanically precludes meaningful participation. Say I want to play a monk in 3rd edition D&D: by default, I can look forward to a pretty miserable experience in which I get regularly trounced by CR-appropriate threats. Combats in 3E are lengthy, so in this situation I want to be able to contribute so that the rest of the table doesn't hate seeing my turn come up, if nothing else. Optimization, however, can ease that burden and help me tune a character who keeps up with the rest of the party without outshining them.

Only optimizers think monks suck.



My point here is that jerks are jerks, and that you will find them among role-players of all stripes. Optimization is a skill set, not an indicator of character.

My point is that not all jerks are optimizers, but all optimizers except a few are jerks.


I

I'm starting to dread seeing Darth Ultron appear in a thread. As far as I can tell, he thinks that Optimizers can be
A. entitled crybabies that literally break the game with homebrewed rules that make their characters mechanically superior.
B. raging gasbags that will flip out if their character doesn't succeed on every die role. This also makes him afraid of players having agency, as agency = looking for auto success.


I approve this above post.

2D8HP
2017-12-29, 09:00 AM
Good optimizer does not equal bad role-player, and bad optimizer does not equal good role-player.

I have been criticised both for having "sub-optimal" PC's and as being bad at role-playing multiple times.

I am a "roll-player" not "role-player" and I am also a lousy "optimizer".

Settled?

Jormengand
2017-12-29, 09:21 AM
It's very true, there are a couple of exceptions, but not many.

There are more examples that break the rule than that follow it.


Because it is all the optimizer does: play the numbers game. Playing the numbers game IS Roll Playing. The player is obsessed with getting that ''+1 more'', and if they are doing that....they are not role playing.

You keep saying that and it keeps not being true.


They are not and that is what normal gamers do. BUT not what optimizers do.

That's the exact opposite of true - that is what optimisers do and not what optimisers do.


The easy way to tell a normal player from an optimizer is that the role player can accept weakness, less power and do things that make sense. Like say two players wanted to have a 5th level character that was a merchant wizard. The normal player would take a couple levels of the merchant class(there are some out there) to give the character a couple merchant like abilities and take a couple levels in wizard. The optimizer would never, ever take a lame non-combat class like merchant and would not want to waste levels on it...they want to go all wizard levels so they can get early entry into that one cool prestige class or whatever. So you'd have one player that is a merchant 2/wizard 3, ready to role play a merchant wizard and one player that is wizard 5, ready to roll play some combat!

You are aware that just like Miko doesn't have any samurai levels, you are allowed to be a merchant without having any access to the "Merchant class"? Plus, the optimiser is going to use those extra levels to get faster access to spells which help with mercantile tasks.


Only optimizers think monks suck.

I mean, monks are pretty objectively examples of poor game design...


My point is that not all jerks are optimizers, but all optimizers except a few are jerks.

You keep saying that and it keeps on not being true.


I approve this above post.

I think that's part of your problem, DU. You're enjoying the fact that everyone justifiably is getting ticked off at the fact that you keep showing up and saying stupid crap while the rest of us are trying to have a meaningful discussion.

Max_Killjoy
2017-12-29, 10:28 AM
I think that's part of your problem, DU. You're enjoying the fact that everyone justifiably is getting ticked off at the fact that you keep showing up and saying stupid crap while the rest of us are trying to have a meaningful discussion.


After you see enough of his posts, you start to realize he's exactly the sort of person he spends at least half of every post complaining about -- that player he keeps railing about his him.

The ignore function was made for people like him.

Arbane
2017-12-29, 12:55 PM
Back in the day, we had one of those players. Ugh. Every character he built appeared to be a deliberate series of the most ineffective choices possible, and he reacted to any suggestion of things he could tweak, or things his character could learn as part of growing into the lives they were finding themselves in, with comments like "that seems kinda power-gamey" or "that really doesn't fit the concept"... some of those characters were useless at EVERYTHING, and he refused to change that because the concept was something like "in over his head". :smallconfused:

Sounds like a guy in the PF group I'm currently in. He's playing a Fighter, and doesn't want to use heavier armor because it's 'not part of his concept'. I was too polite to say out loud "I hope your concept involves a LOT of bleeding, then." Said character may also need to be coaxed into actually coming along on adventures instead of staying at home running his shop.

ROLEPLAYING@!


It's very true, there are a couple of exceptions, but not many.

If you don't actually hate all your players with a raging fury, you're doing an astoundingly poor job of conveying your actual opinion of them. You and Takaleal might want to form a support group for people who only every get to play with utter jerks.


Because it is all the optimizer does: play the numbers game. Playing the numbers game IS Roll Playing. The player is obsessed with getting that ''+1 more'', and if they are doing that....they are not role playing.

Soooo..... you're arguing that people in really high-danger lines of work should deliberately NOT do things that give them a higher survival chance, because that's 'good roleplaying'? I don't think you understand human survival instincts.



The easy way to tell a normal player from an optimizer is that the role player can accept weakness, less power and do things that make sense. Like say two players wanted to have a 5th level character that was a merchant wizard. The normal player would take a couple levels of the merchant class(there are some out there) to give the character a couple merchant like abilities and take a couple levels in wizard. The optimizer would never, ever take a lame non-combat class like merchant and would not want to waste levels on it...they want to go all wizard levels so they can get early entry into that one cool prestige class or whatever. So you'd have one player that is a merchant 2/wizard 3, ready to role play a merchant wizard and one player that is wizard 5, ready to roll play some combat!

What does the merchant class give them that levels in wizard won't?



Only optimizers think monks suck.

My point is that not all jerks are optimizers, but all optimizers except a few are jerks.

I'm just gonna leave these here. :smallbiggrin:


Good optimizer does not equal bad role-player, and bad optimizer does not equal good role-player.

I have been criticised both for having "sub-optimal" PC's and as being bad at role-playing multiple times.

I am a "roll-player" not "role-player" and I am also a lousy "optimizer".

Settled?

One of the better explanations for the Stormwind Fallacy I've seen is that you can measure people's interest/competence at roleplaying and rules mechanics as two separate 0-10 axes: People can be good at both, good at one, or good at neither. Thing is, people who are good at neither generally get bored and quit gaming, and most people aren't equally good at both, so SOME people start thinking they're mutually exclusive.

Max_Killjoy
2017-12-29, 01:57 PM
Sounds like a guy in the PF group I'm currently in. He's playing a Fighter, and doesn't want to use armor because it's 'not part if his concept'. I was too polite to say out loud "I hope your concept involves a LOT of bleeding, then." Said character may also need to be coaxed into actually coming along on adventures instead of staying at home running his shop.

ROLEPLAYING@!


Maybe it's the "flaws make the character" idea, leading some people think more flaws = better character, and that competence is (supposedly) the opposite of flaws, so competence is the enemy of "good roleplaying".

Maybe it's that they're just using the wrong character for the wrong campaign. If everyone else is playing a "quasimedieval adventure game", a guy who has to be convinced to leave his shop every time they go out gets old.

Maybe they've been watching/reading too much authorial-type fiction, where the "reluctant" or "fish out of water" or "in over their head" characters can be viable as part of the cast, especially if there's a definitive end to the story or the character doesn't stay that way as things go on. Even in fiction though, the character who is permanently defined by their incompetence or out-of-place-ness gets SO OLD after a while. (Or maybe I was alone in watching Xena, and thinking... "Joxer, either learn to fight or go home, you're long past your best-by date and you now just stink up the show.")

Maybe it's overcorrection in response to actual min-maxing munchkins (those who use optimization for evil :smallwink: ).

Who knows, maybe it's the influence of lit-fic, with its seeming disdain for characters who aren't navel-gazing do-nothings.


But on the subject of competence, the link in bold below might be something to consider:

http://www.writingexcuses.com/2014/03/30/writing-excuses-9-13-three-prong-character-development/
http://www.writingexcuses.com/2014/06/15/writing-excuses-9-25-adjusting-character-sympathy/ (http://www.writingexcuses.com/2014/06/15/writing-excuses-9-25-adjusting-character-sympathy/)
http://www.writingexcuses.com/2014/06/22/writing-excuses-9-26-adjusting-character-competence/ (http://www.writingexcuses.com/2014/06/22/writing-excuses-9-26-adjusting-character-competence/)
http://www.writingexcuses.com/2014/08/03/writing-excuses-9-32-adjusting-character-proactivity/ (http://www.writingexcuses.com/2014/08/03/writing-excuses-9-32-adjusting-character-proactivity/)

If a character is neither sympathetic, nor competent, nor proactive, and is never going to change... consider whether they should be the protagonist of a game OR a story, and don't be surprised if the rest of the table gets really really tired of them.


Maybe the player who wants his character to stay home and run his shop can find a more stay-in-one-city, less-epic sort of game that lets him deal with more "slice of life" stuff and the associated challenges. It's not an inherently bad thing, but it is incompatible with the big epic adventure campaign.




Soooo..... you're arguing that people in really high-danger lines of work should deliberately NOT do things that give them a higher survival chance, because that's 'good roleplaying'? I don't think you understand human survival instincts.


Most people prefer living to dying (strongly so). Most people prefer success to failure, getting what they want to not getting it, winning to losing, etc. Most people prefer to be good at what they do (even if they struggle at it).

Yet somehow it's "bad roleplaying" if your character wants to live, wants to succeed, wants to win, and/or wants to be competent.

Anything can be taken too far, but it's ridiculous to assert that normal human (and probably most even vaguely smart living things) drives are "bad roleplaying".

Xuc Xac
2017-12-29, 08:31 PM
Soooo..... you're arguing that people in really high-danger lines of work should deliberately NOT do things that give them a higher survival chance, because that's 'good roleplaying'? I don't think you understand human survival instincts.


One reason that mechanical optimization and roleplaying can sometimes appear to be at odds is that real people do suboptimal things all the damn time. If your characters only make optimal choices, it's just bad roleplaying because real people don't do that.

I remember reading Usenet posts about cyberpunk games back in the 90s. There were rules for drugs in Cyberpunk 2020 including many "combat drugs" that boosted stats. Optimizers complained that some drugs only gave you penalties (such as alcohol making you clumsy and stupid) and they questioned why anyone would use them. People drink cocktails because they're delicious and make you feel good, not because they give you "pluses".

There were soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan who were issued body armor but didn't want to wear it because it's heavy and uncomfortable and they're young and think getting shot is something that happens to other people. They actually removed the plate inserts and replaced them with cardboard panels so it looked like they were wearing body armor so their sergeants wouldn't yell at them for taking it off.

People play wizards who spend every moment of downtime studying or researching to justify further increases of power because that's the most efficient use of time instead of kicking up their feet and smoking a pipe in the inn like that loser Gandalf. Those same players could probably have gotten a medical degree in the time they wasted playing Warcraft in their underwear or arguing about the relative merits of number crunching on an RPG forum.

You underestimate human laziness. The path of optimal effectiveness is a lot of hard work that might pay off in the future. Laziness pays off now.

NichG
2017-12-29, 08:59 PM
Foolish people exist, but I'd argue that their stories tend to be more boring. For me the reason for that is that too much of their tension and drama is obvious from the start, so they're not going to create situations that make you think very much. Obviously the young soldier who takes the plate out of his armor will get crippled and will have to live with that and suffer through it. Obviously the alcoholic is going to have problems when their addiction starts to interfere with the needs of their life. These are very simple stories.

On the other hand, you can have stories that have tension and drama even if everyone doesn't introduce it through flaws. What does a community do in times of famine where there just isn't enough food to feed everyone? What does someone do when they have two equally important loyalties that conflict. Having clever, wise, etc characters gives more opportunities to have stories about looking for 'third options' that are risky, unexpected, surprising, and generally interesting.

Darth Ultron
2017-12-29, 09:07 PM
There are more examples that break the rule than that follow it.

There just are more bad optimizers as it is almost all of them.



You are aware that just like Miko doesn't have any samurai levels, you are allowed to be a merchant without having any access to the "Merchant class"? Plus, the optimiser is going to use those extra levels to get faster access to spells which help with mercantile tasks.

Yes, you don't ''have'' to take any class. But think back to what some optimizers have said, maybe falsely: that they take mechanical things to support their character idea. Now, if this was true..why would they not take something to support their character idea?

But the real tell is, of course, combat related things.....as no matter what an optimizer will always take combat related things that they can even vaguely cover with their character idea. They would, like you, say ''oh, I don't have to take that lame non combat merchant class to be a merchant character''....but, low and behold, if there was a combat merchant that could money blast for 100d100 damage then they would change their tune quick and be all like ''well I must take this class as it fits my character idea.



I think that's part of your problem, DU. You're enjoying the fact that everyone justifiably is getting ticked off at the fact that you keep showing up and saying stupid crap while the rest of us are trying to have a meaningful discussion.

I understand, I do, from the other side: everyone is stuck in this Block Collective and won't have a meaningful discussion.

RazorChain
2017-12-29, 09:32 PM
One reason that mechanical optimization and roleplaying can sometimes appear to be at odds is that real people do suboptimal things all the damn time. If your characters only make optimal choices, it's just bad roleplaying because real people don't do that.

I remember reading Usenet posts about cyberpunk games back in the 90s. There were rules for drugs in Cyberpunk 2020 including many "combat drugs" that boosted stats. Optimizers complained that some drugs only gave you penalties (such as alcohol making you clumsy and stupid) and they questioned why anyone would use them. People drink cocktails because they're delicious and make you feel good, not because they give you "pluses".

There were soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan who were issued body armor but didn't want to wear it because it's heavy and uncomfortable and they're young and think getting shot is something that happens to other people. They actually removed the plate inserts and replaced them with cardboard panels so it looked like they were wearing body armor so their sergeants wouldn't yell at them for taking it off.

People play wizards who spend every moment of downtime studying or researching to justify further increases of power because that's the most efficient use of time instead of kicking up their feet and smoking a pipe in the inn like that loser Gandalf. Those same players could probably have gotten a medical degree in the time they wasted playing Warcraft in their underwear or arguing about the relative merits of number crunching on an RPG forum.

You underestimate human laziness. The path of optimal effectiveness is a lot of hard work that might pay off in the future. Laziness pays off now.

I think you just won the internet, +1 from me.

It's like the joke about the man who is smoking and this stranger asks him how much he smokes and how long he has been smoking. When getting the answer the stranger quickly calculates and looks at the smoker and says "God damn if you didn't smoke you could have used the money and bought a Ferrari by now!" The smoker looks back at the stranger and asks "Do you smoke?" The stranger shakes his head and the smoker asks "Where is your Ferrari then?"

I work middle management and have been in leadership positions most of my adult life and people do not optimize. Not with their time, not aquiring the necessary skillset they need to complete a job, not with their money, not with anything. This can be said about almost the whole population.

Lord Raziere
2017-12-29, 09:51 PM
I think you just won the internet, +1 from me.

It's like the joke about the man who is smoking and this stranger asks him how much he smokes and how long he has been smoking. When getting the answer the stranger quickly calculates and looks at the smoker and says "God damn if you didn't smoke you could have used the money and bought a Ferrari by now!" The smoker looks back at the stranger and asks "Do you smoke?" The stranger shakes his head and the smoker asks "Where is your Ferrari then?"

I work middle management and have been in leadership positions most of my adult life and people do not optimize. Not with their time, not aquiring the necessary skillset they need to complete a job, not with their money, not with anything. This can be said about almost the whole population.

Yeah. optimized people are unrealistic. breaks my suspension of disbelief more than any change in physics. a change in physics for a setting is expected, its an agreement for how the world works. human nature on the other hand is a needed vital thing to make sure its a lived in world where people are relatable and well... people.

Max_Killjoy
2017-12-29, 10:06 PM
One reason that mechanical optimization and roleplaying can sometimes appear to be at odds is that real people do suboptimal things all the damn time. If your characters only make optimal choices, it's just bad roleplaying because real people don't do that.

I remember reading Usenet posts about cyberpunk games back in the 90s. There were rules for drugs in Cyberpunk 2020 including many "combat drugs" that boosted stats. Optimizers complained that some drugs only gave you penalties (such as alcohol making you clumsy and stupid) and they questioned why anyone would use them. People drink cocktails because they're delicious and make you feel good, not because they give you "pluses".

There were soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan who were issued body armor but didn't want to wear it because it's heavy and uncomfortable and they're young and think getting shot is something that happens to other people. They actually removed the plate inserts and replaced them with cardboard panels so it looked like they were wearing body armor so their sergeants wouldn't yell at them for taking it off.

People play wizards who spend every moment of downtime studying or researching to justify further increases of power because that's the most efficient use of time instead of kicking up their feet and smoking a pipe in the inn like that loser Gandalf. Those same players could probably have gotten a medical degree in the time they wasted playing Warcraft in their underwear or arguing about the relative merits of number crunching on an RPG forum.

You underestimate human laziness. The path of optimal effectiveness is a lot of hard work that might pay off in the future. Laziness pays off now.


I think you just won the internet, +1 from me.

It's like the joke about the man who is smoking and this stranger asks him how much he smokes and how long he has been smoking. When getting the answer the stranger quickly calculates and looks at the smoker and says "God damn if you didn't smoke you could have used the money and bought a Ferrari by now!" The smoker looks back at the stranger and asks "Do you smoke?" The stranger shakes his head and the smoker asks "Where is your Ferrari then?"

I work middle management and have been in leadership positions most of my adult life and people do not optimize. Not with their time, not aquiring the necessary skillset they need to complete a job, not with their money, not with anything. This can be said about almost the whole population.


Yeah. optimized people are unrealistic. breaks my suspension of disbelief more than any change in physics. a change in physics for a setting is expected, its an agreement for how the world works. human nature on the other hand is a needed vital thing to make sure its a lived in world where people are relatable and well... people.


I think there may be some conflation here between optimizing character creation, and "heavily optimal" not-character-driven decision-making during gameplay.

RazorChain
2017-12-29, 10:44 PM
I think there may be some conflation here between optimizing character creation, and "heavily optimal" not-character-driven decision-making during gameplay.

I have nothing against optimization during the character creation, most gamers do it to an extent. It's just some people take it too far. One player made a character in Gurps and took the disadvantage Workaholic to try to get more character points for training constantly. This is optimization that goes from character creation into the game.


The problem with optimizatin is that the charcaters often become so similar. Let's take for example D&D 5e point buy. I can promise you that all fighters are stupid or uncharismatic or both, the only exceptions are Eldritch knights or multiclassers. The mechanical reward for putting points in Intelligence is so low that if you don't need the stat you might as well dump it and the same for Charisma.

When I was younger the term character build wasn't used, I first heard the term from computer games (Diablo probably). So we used the term character concept and we tried to use the mechanics to create that character for the game. So if I would show up with a fighter with 18 in Intelligence and only 13 in Strength nobody would blink an eye and just assume that I was playing a smart fighter, a master strategist.

If I would show up with such a character at my local gaming shop to participate in Adventure League or an open table people would either think I was going to multiclass or I was mad.

This is the bad side of optimizing, when you are expected to do it. And this also goes to trying to portray a character that doesn't take the optimal choice all the time. Like the gnome player said after blowing the whole party to smithereens after they uncovered that the cult had placed barrels of gundpowder under the temple district. "Gnomes and gunpowder don't mix well....especially when there are barrels of it and the gnome has a torch"

Arbane
2017-12-29, 11:03 PM
Yeah. optimized people are unrealistic. breaks my suspension of disbelief more than any change in physics. a change in physics for a setting is expected, its an agreement for how the world works. human nature on the other hand is a needed vital thing to make sure its a lived in world where people are relatable and well... people.

Remember, folks, pro athletes are unrealistic.

Xuc Xac
2017-12-29, 11:37 PM
Remember, folks, pro athletes are unrealistic.

I'm not a big fan of sports, so I usually only hear about pro athletes when they're in the news for doing something stupid and easily avoidable that threatens to end their career. That happens a lot.

Arguably the greatest sportsman of all time was Jim Thorpe. He had phenomenal natural talent a century ago. His performance is comparable to modern athletes who have the benefit of modern nutrition, training equipment, medicine, and more. If he trained as hard as modern Olympians, his records would probably still be unbroken. He was an alcoholic and, like Fezzik in "The Princess Bride", didn't even exercise.

As a PC, Thorpe rolled insanely well for stats, but made a lot of suboptimal choices. That made him really interesting and he's still remembered even after his records were broken.

Lord Raziere
2017-12-30, 12:31 AM
I'm not a big fan of sports, so I usually only hear about pro athletes when they're in the news for doing something stupid and easily avoidable that threatens to end their career. That happens a lot.

Arguably the greatest sportsman of all time was Jim Thorpe. He had phenomenal natural talent a century ago. His performance is comparable to modern athletes who have the benefit of modern nutrition, training equipment, medicine, and more. If he trained as hard as modern Olympians, his records would probably still be unbroken. He was an alcoholic and, like Fezzik in "The Princess Bride", didn't even exercise.

As a PC, Thorpe rolled insanely well for stats, but made a lot of suboptimal choices. That made him really interesting and he's still remembered even after his records were broken.

Yeah, pretty much. imperfect people can have great strengths and be geniuses yes. doesn't exclude them from making bad choices.

people really need to stop thinking a character is one thing or another, or that I'm saying one or another. people are complex. a person have great talents and strengths, can be larger than life, can be competent and still have great flaws to them, still have mistakes.

like, even the most epic, competent and powerful characters have great flaws and mistakes when they're written well. in fact those flaws are often the focus of their characters in most stories I've seen and are what make them interesting and relevant to the plot.

Jormengand
2017-12-30, 02:58 AM
There just are more bad optimizers as it is almost all of them.

I'm pretty sure they're in the vast, vast minority.


Yes, you don't ''have'' to take any class. But think back to what some optimizers have said, maybe falsely: that they take mechanical things to support their character idea. Now, if this was true..why would they not take something to support their character idea?

Because fabricate supports their idea of being a craftsman and a merchant better than the class which happens to be called merchant?


But the real tell is, of course, combat related things.....as no matter what an optimizer will always take combat related things that they can even vaguely cover with their character idea. They would, like you, say ''oh, I don't have to take that lame non combat merchant class to be a merchant character''....but, low and behold, if there was a combat merchant that could money blast for 100d100 damage then they would change their tune quick and be all like ''well I must take this class as it fits my character idea.
Having seen optimised noncombat characters, I'm pretty sure that that's also wrong.


I understand, I do, from the other side: everyone is stuck in this Block Collective and won't have a meaningful discussion.

Or, maybe we just think you're wrong because you're obviously wrong and nothing you say has even a remote foundation in reality. We have plenty of meaningful discussions, but frankly they become a lot less meaningful when you squeal about how the terrible optimisers are ruining everything and we have to explain for the 150624656374573th time that no, calm down, they're not.

Max_Killjoy
2017-12-30, 08:02 AM
I have nothing against optimization during the character creation, most gamers do it to an extent. It's just some people take it too far. One player made a character in Gurps and took the disadvantage Workaholic to try to get more character points for training constantly. This is optimization that goes from character creation into the game.


The problem with optimizatin is that the charcaters often become so similar. Let's take for example D&D 5e point buy. I can promise you that all fighters are stupid or uncharismatic or both, the only exceptions are Eldritch knights or multiclassers. The mechanical reward for putting points in Intelligence is so low that if you don't need the stat you might as well dump it and the same for Charisma.

When I was younger the term character build wasn't used, I first heard the term from computer games (Diablo probably). So we used the term character concept and we tried to use the mechanics to create that character for the game. So if I would show up with a fighter with 18 in Intelligence and only 13 in Strength nobody would blink an eye and just assume that I was playing a smart fighter, a master strategist.

If I would show up with such a character at my local gaming shop to participate in Adventure League or an open table people would either think I was going to multiclass or I was mad.

This is the bad side of optimizing, when you are expected to do it. And this also goes to trying to portray a character that doesn't take the optimal choice all the time. Like the gnome player said after blowing the whole party to smithereens after they uncovered that the cult had placed barrels of gundpowder under the temple district. "Gnomes and gunpowder don't mix well....especially when there are barrels of it and the gnome has a torch"

It's also possible to take "in character" too far... like blowing your entire party up and killing all your fellow PCs "because that's what my character would do".

Max_Killjoy
2017-12-30, 08:04 AM
Or, maybe we just think you're wrong because you're obviously wrong and nothing you say has even a remote foundation in reality. We have plenty of meaningful discussions, but frankly they become a lot less meaningful when you squeal about how the terrible optimisers are ruining everything and we have to explain for the 150624656374573th time that no, calm down, they're not.


Optimizers tend to know the rules fairly well.

Any player who knows the rules really well is a threat to you-know-whose ability to manipulate and abuse his players.

Therefore, optimizers are "bad".

NichG
2017-12-30, 10:51 AM
In many game systems, optimization tends to carry you to extreme points (there are theorems to this extent that the extreme values of linear objective functions always lie on the constraint boundaries, so its particularly true for systems that have a lot of independent additive factors). Extreme points are in turn more likely to cross some line or limit that others have in terms of what they consider reasonable or within the boundaries of the fiction. So its not that surprising that one would find a number of optimization-related bad experiences with other players. The issue is when someone mistakes the constraint boundaries of what the system permits for the constraint boundaries of what is appropriate at a given table.

It's a more nuanced thing than 'most are good' or 'most are bad' or 'Stormwind!'. Being good at optimization means a higher risk of accidentally causing offense by pushing hard on something without thinking 'is there an implicit boundary here that I'm crossing?' So it requires a higher degree of care as well.

RazorChain
2017-12-30, 01:28 PM
It's also possible to take "in character" too far... like blowing your entire party up and killing all your fellow PCs "because that's what my character would do".

Yes that's what we have on the other side of the spectrum. The roleplayer that makes a character that doesn't get along with the party and can't go on adventure because he screams "YOU CAN'T MAKE ME COMPROMISE MY CHARACTER CONCEPT" or just ruins everybodies fun in the name of his character concept.

Quertus
2017-12-30, 06:45 PM
When I create a character, I try to optimize my enjoyment of / experience with the character, the playability of the character, the clarity of the connection / lack of dissonance between the concept and the mechanics, the ability of the character to facilitate my exploration of the human psyche & the human condition, the suitability of the character to facilitate the exploration of the setting, and the experience of others, roughly in that order.

But, when I use the word "optimize", I must admit, I am usually just talking about power. :smalltongue:

Hugh Mann
2017-12-31, 02:49 AM
I mostly agree with Quertus, although not in that same order. I tend to prefer using optimal tactics in combat, trying to make the most out of what the party has available. Even if the party has no synergy whatsoever you can at least equip yourselves for the coming encounter, plan battle formations, and figure out some battle strategies before hand. If the optimal tactic of clearing out a bandit hideout is to lock all the doors and set everything on fire then so be it.

I also like to optimize more nebulous things like character survival, social influence, and gross income. Things that can inform/influence roleplaying.

vasilidor
2017-12-31, 12:59 PM
OK, did not hear about the soldiers replacing armor with card board before, if it is true those people are morons. Darwin award worthy. I mostly DM these days and any character that shows such tendencies, I think I would try to kill them quickly so as to spare the party. And yes, I really would not care about the whining.

2D8HP
2017-12-31, 05:40 PM
OK, did not hear about the soldiers replacing armor with card board before.....
Not quite the same, but when I worked at the Port I knew a co-worker who cut out the flotation materials out of his life vest so he could "move better".

Lord Raziere
2017-12-31, 06:30 PM
Yes that's what we have on the other side of the spectrum. The roleplayer that makes a character that doesn't get along with the party and can't go on adventure because he screams "YOU CAN'T MAKE ME COMPROMISE MY CHARACTER CONCEPT" or just ruins everybodies fun in the name of his character concept.

Let me answer your signature question:


Optimizing vs Roleplay
If the worlds greatest optimizer makes a character and hands it to the worlds greatest roleplayer who roleplays the character. What will happen? Will the Universe implode?

There are many answers to this. Here is seven:

1. Yes the unvierse implodes, because optimization and roleplaying are subjective concepts and anything being the greatest at them is a contradiction in terms. therefore these two beings cannot exist in the first place because no one can be the greatest X at those things.

2. Who ever said that roleplayer would want to play anything made by that optimizer? The greatest roleplayer knows that one of the most important and basic rules of roleplaying is to stick to your own characters, because you can never portray another person's character properly. therefore they simply would not play it.

3. since the greatest roleplayer is not the greatest optimizer, the greatest optimizer has to make a character that dumbs down to fit the greatest roleplayer and therefore is not using his optimizing talents to his fullest potential when doing so, as there is nothing saying that the character made is optimized to the standard of the greatest optimizer, therefore the character may or may not be optimized.

4. the character themselves is not defined, there any character can be used, therefore there is no telling what would happen because the character is undefined.

5. The greatest optimizer does optimize the character, hands it to the greatest roleplayer. Since the greatest roleplayer is not the greatest optimizer they make a decision that is suboptimal in the process of their roleplaying and the optimizer gets angry at them for doing so and doesn't see why they did that because they're not the greatest roleplayer.

6. the character dies because roleplaying is done as a group and you have to roleplay with five other people all are neither the greatest optimizer or roleplayer and one of them does something stupid to cause a TPK.

7. the greatest roleplayer decides he doesn't like the character after a while, makes a different one and roleplays it much better because he likes it more. nothing said the greatest roleplayer has any superhuman ability to roleplay all things, just that they're the best possible one in existence, and thus still has human limits.

RazorChain
2017-12-31, 10:43 PM
Let me answer your signature question:



There are many answers to this. Here is seven:

1. Yes the unvierse implodes, because optimization and roleplaying are subjective concepts and anything being the greatest at them is a contradiction in terms. therefore these two beings cannot exist in the first place because no one can be the greatest X at those things.

2. Who ever said that roleplayer would want to play anything made by that optimizer? The greatest roleplayer knows that one of the most important and basic rules of roleplaying is to stick to your own characters, because you can never portray another person's character properly. therefore they simply would not play it.

3. since the greatest roleplayer is not the greatest optimizer, the greatest optimizer has to make a character that dumbs down to fit the greatest roleplayer and therefore is not using his optimizing talents to his fullest potential when doing so, as there is nothing saying that the character made is optimized to the standard of the greatest optimizer, therefore the character may or may not be optimized.

4. the character themselves is not defined, there any character can be used, therefore there is no telling what would happen because the character is undefined.

5. The greatest optimizer does optimize the character, hands it to the greatest roleplayer. Since the greatest roleplayer is not the greatest optimizer they make a decision that is suboptimal in the process of their roleplaying and the optimizer gets angry at them for doing so and doesn't see why they did that because they're not the greatest roleplayer.

6. the character dies because roleplaying is done as a group and you have to roleplay with five other people all are neither the greatest optimizer or roleplayer and one of them does something stupid to cause a TPK.

7. the greatest roleplayer decides he doesn't like the character after a while, makes a different one and roleplays it much better because he likes it more. nothing said the greatest roleplayer has any superhuman ability to roleplay all things, just that they're the best possible one in existence, and thus still has human limits.

It was a theoretical question but thanks for taking a crack at it :smallsmile: Your stance on optimizers is known to me, I believe that you can both be a roleplayer and a optimize at the same time. If you don't go to extremes on either axis.

I've played with roleplayers that made characters that did not work well with others and refused to give up on their concept. Most of us can tell from the start that playing a character who is a paranoid lone wolf isn't going to work well with a group of 5 other players. I fully understand that some want to devote 3 sessions on how the group wins that characters trust before they can all go on an adventure together. The other players will probably just say "oh you're not coming along, ok bye!". Or someone who decides to play a callous bastard in a group of goody two shoes and the bastard seemes suprised when he gets kicked out of the group for murdering prisoners in cold blood because they were just playing their character. Or a roleplayer that wants to spend all the game time to explore his characters background relations with npcs that the othe PC aren't invested in at all.

Yes a lot of this can be solved beforehand just by talking together but these issues are no less issues than an super optimized character that is so glib via loopholes in the rules that he can convince people to kill themselves or is so good in combat that the others can just sit back and watch him while he kills everthing.

Most people are somewhere between those axis.

Lord Raziere
2017-12-31, 11:06 PM
I've played with roleplayers that made characters that did not work well with others and refused to give up on their concept. Most of us can tell from the start that playing a character who is a paranoid lone wolf isn't going to work well with a group of 5 other players. I fully understand that some want to devote 3 sessions on how the group wins that characters trust before they can all go on an adventure together. The other players will probably just say "oh you're not coming along, ok bye!". Or someone who decides to play a callous bastard in a group of goody two shoes and the bastard seemes suprised when he gets kicked out of the group for murdering prisoners in cold blood because they were just playing their character. Or a roleplayer that wants to spend all the game time to explore his characters background relations with npcs that the othe PC aren't invested in at all.

See, thats teamwork, that has nothing to do with optimization or roleplaying. Thats a social problem, not a roleplaying or optimization problem.

Hugh Mann
2018-01-01, 02:37 AM
I don't see why it is it is impossible for a person to role play an optimal character. Yes it isn't exactly the most fun or unique thing to do. But a character striving to be perfect or the best at something isn't too uncommon in fiction. It is even done in real life as well, although those cases are fairly rare.



Simply put: optimization is goal-oriented management of mechanical options.
FTFY.

With the above interpretation of optimization it is very easy to get on the term mechanics, but the real important thing is the goal. It is a common assumption that the goal has to be something like dealing the most damage, rendering all combat encounters ineffective, or stoking an ego, but there is no reason this has to be the case. One could just as easily decide upon a goal that fits in with the narrative. If your character has the goal of saving their family from the big bad, it would make complete sense for said character to take the optimal route in doing so. If said character learns that there is a way do so. And if a character were to find that they could be twice as strong as another person of the same level, then of course they would feel inclined to do so.

The biggest issue with optimization is that it is easy for people to get so focused on managing mechanics that they often end up prioritizing the out of character goals over the in character ones. Thus leading to poorly thought out backstories, and uninspired roleplaying. It takes a good amount of effort to stay in the right mindset to balance the mechanics and roleplaying.

RazorChain
2018-01-01, 03:24 AM
See, thats teamwork, that has nothing to do with optimization or roleplaying. Thats a social problem, not a roleplaying or optimization problem.

Same could be said about optimization problems. Either it is an odd one out that is optimizing like crazy and gaming the system in a group that doesn't like that. Or there is this one guy that abhors optimization in a group of hard core optimizers. Power disparity and optimization doesn't become a problem until somebody makes it a problem.

Florian
2018-01-01, 08:15 AM
Hm. I try to optimize (context: try to influence) a broad spectrum of possible character choices.

1) I try to create characters that are easy to integrate and are eager and willing to engage the content.

2) I try to make use of recognizable archetypes, so the rest of the players can als envision/have immersion when I have my character take action.

3) I try to work with the gm concerning hooks and flaws to be integrated

4) I always try to build something that also enhances the fun and effectiveness of the whole party

5) Mechanically, I always try to have strengths and weakness of the "character" and "character build" match, also trying to stay within the overall floor and ceiling of the group power level.

SirBellias
2018-01-01, 11:13 AM
It depends on who I'm playing with. If the GM had told us he's looking for a more serious style of game, I try to make a character that is well integrated with the setting. How many poor decisions my character has made in their backstory is usually dependent on their wisdom and if it seems like the game takes back stories into account.

If the game is going to be mostly devoid of situations to actually affect things (has a predefined plot unrelated to the characters) I generally ask the DM what the power level I should be aiming for is.

Examples: One of the club games this semester is set to be a serious toned game where all the good God's have been killed except Bahamut and now aberrations stalk the land. Bards are cool, so I came to Lyla Crownheart, Dragon Dancer of the Holy Church of Bahamut. I got a solid 7 landed in wisdom, so she made a friend in a bar (an assassin trying to assassinate someone of great power and is using her for information about the town), has three siblings (the youngest of which is trying to get into higher crime, but will be caught soon), and discover a strange iron holy symbol next to her bed (she knows bad things will happen if she is caught with it, but doesn't know what it is and is going to ask either the NPC assassin or the PC that works in the church crypts. Probably both). Multiple failure states, fully prepared for drama she is incapable of dealing with responsibly.

For another, it's a 3.5 gestalt game with a story oriented DM where the power level was declared to be "bring it on, you'll need it." The first two were too excessive, so now I'm on the Vampire Thrallherd/necromancer/Urpriest/excessive silliness looking to build a realm where the living and undead can live in peace.

Both promise to be good times.

Max_Killjoy
2018-01-01, 11:16 AM
It is always about mechanics, but it is not always only about mechanics. Optimization (in RPG jargon as Xuc Xac notes) is fundamentally the process of tailoring mechanical attributes to achieve an end or a set of ends. The exact nature of the aforementioned end is variable, and this is where non-mechanical concerns come into play.

For example, if I want to create a character who is a capable fisherman, gambler, and boxer, mechanical character choices meant to be good at those things can be considered optimization. By the same token, if I want to create a character with really high combat numbers, choices made to raise my combat numbers are optimization.

Simply put: optimization is goal-oriented management of mechanical options.

The optimizer question's, however, is, "is there a better way to represent that than Iron Gut?" Better could mean more potent, or more flavorful, or that it has lower opportunity costs, or that it has broader applicability. Depending on the parameters of the exercise, the answer will vary.


Exactly.

It's about getting "the most" out of the resources at hand. "The most" isn't a fixed target, however.

The tension arises when "the most" is raw overwhelming mechanical effectiveness, particularly in combat, and that focus is by far the most discussed and noticeable, and it makes others believe that "optimization" and "minmaxing to achieve a combat god" are synonyms.

There's also a difference in how this gets approached depending on the gamer's focus. If someone leans "gamist", then an "optimal" character is one that mechanically gives the best chance of winning one or more aspects of the game. If someone leans "sim", then an "optimal" character is one that best synchronizes concept and mechanics. If one leans "drama", then... I'm not sure, to be honest.




If your "brave" character is always buckling to fear effects, a conflict emerges between your intent and execution. In games where many aspects of personality and behavior are codified mechanically, which is a lot of them, mechanical underpinnings can do a great service to being able to play the character you want to. As such, there's a roleplaying value in using mechanics that support your vision of the character. Hence, optimization towards an end.


Yeap -- trying to play a brave character while the build or mechanics cause a lot of fear effects to take hold is a case of system/character dissonance.




You can optimize your character for roleplaying purposes. I do that all the time. First I get a character concept, then I utilize the game system to create that character with numbers, knowing the system and the numbers actually helps me create the character that I want so optimization helps me achieve my goal. In this instance the goal is not to make the strongest most powerful character but to make the character as close to the concept as I can.

Another thing that I do is to help my GM is by introducing NPC's in my background that can be used as antagonists or push a plot hook into my direction, often I'll also pose a question that can be turned into an adventure or have some lose threads that can be tied into plots. In this regaard I'll communicate with my GM and if I need an nemesis for my character then I'll ask the GM and we might come up with the nemesis together. This means that the GM most likely will tie my character's nemesis into some plot he has in mind. This is optimizing, my ideas impact the gaming world and will probably be used in some adventures, this makes me happy.

Another thing is to work with your fellow gamers during character creation, swap ideas and connect your characters before play. Numerous times I've played siblings, friends or even rivals to my fellow PC's. This is optimizing as well. This means that character creation goes smoothly, we make a solid group where most have some kind of specialty and our characters already have a bond. This also means here will be no nasty surprises if I decide to show up with a mechanically useless character that may be fun to roleplay like a younger sibling or a bratty young man that is supposed to be the chosen one.

One way to do optimize is to make as mechanically strong or useful character for the gaming aspect but you can optimize for the roleplaying aspect as well...or even do both.




I don't see why it is it is impossible for a person to role play an optimal character. Yes it isn't exactly the most fun or unique thing to do. But a character striving to be perfect or the best at something isn't too uncommon in fiction. It is even done in real life as well, although those cases are fairly rare.



Simply put: optimization is goal-oriented management of mechanical options.


With the above interpretation of optimization it is very easy to get on the term mechanics, but the real important thing is the goal. It is a common assumption that the goal has to be something like dealing the most damage, rendering all combat encounters ineffective, or stoking an ego, but there is no reason this has to be the case. One could just as easily decide upon a goal that fits in with the narrative. If your character has the goal of saving their family from the big bad, it would make complete sense for said character to take the optimal route in doing so. If said character learns that there is a way do so. And if a character were to find that they could be twice as strong as another person of the same level, then of course they would feel inclined to do so.

The biggest issue with optimization is that it is easy for people to get so focused on managing mechanics that they often end up prioritizing the out of character goals over the in character ones. Thus leading to poorly thought out backstories, and uninspired roleplaying. It takes a good amount of effort to stay in the right mindset to balance the mechanics and roleplaying.


Exactly -- what you're optimizing for at least as important a question as whether you're optimizing.

SirBellias
2018-01-01, 12:18 PM
If one leans "drama", then... I'm not sure, to be honest.


Applying definitions as stated, it would be allocating your mechanical resources to create a character with the greatest ability to cause drama. Drama has this definition (when I googled it, at least): "an exciting, emotional, or unexpected series of events or set of circumstances."

There's plenty of ways to optimize your backstory to create drama (at least in the eyes of other players). My favorite is working with the DM to develop hooks and secrets that you don't know where they lead. There's also setting up connections to NPCs that you know will blow up in your face at some point. If the DM buys into them, and you don't tell the other player characters where the money comes from, then hopefully it'll work out, right?

Mechanics wise it gets a lot harder. I mean, sure, you can try to build your character to have a variety of weird tools that allow you to escape situations in unexpected ways, but this sometimes leads to the other players complaining that you're either useless because you never help them or you end all the encounters by yourself if you do. So as always (except sometimes) make sure you know who you're playing with and communicate during character creation. There is also the issue that it is hard to do something mechanically unexpected in a game where you know most of the mechanics. DM leniency could let you apply certain effects in different ways, of course, which is probably the best thing to count on.

Florian
2018-01-01, 12:27 PM
Mechanics wise it gets a lot harder.

That depends on the game system and the game concept that system supports.
For example, L5R is based on "samurai drama", so naturally building a non-teflon-billy character already includes the "drama hooks" a gm should include in the actual game later on.

My last group included the following:
- Happy married with children, jealous rival
- Lost love, unhappy marriage, high society position
- Dark Secret, Compulsion

That's stuff that you can always build drama moments around.

SirBellias
2018-01-01, 04:21 PM
That depends on the game system and the game concept that system supports.
For example, L5R is based on "samurai drama", so naturally building a non-teflon-billy character already includes the "drama hooks" a gm should include in the actual game later on.

My last group included the following:
- Happy married with children, jealous rival
- Lost love, unhappy marriage, high society position
- Dark Secret, Compulsion

That's stuff that you can always build drama moments around.

Fair enough. I feel I should look into Legend of the Five Rings more. The closest I have found to mechanically enabled drama were the some of the moves in Monsterhearts and Apocalypse World. I was basing most of my reasoning off of D&D.

Algeh
2018-01-01, 05:14 PM
Back to the original idea of the thread, I optimize around, for want of a better way to put it, "having a clear idea of what this character (as opposed to me personally, the character I played in some other campaign, or a generic character of some kind) would be doing in the situations they're in".

This means that I try to play a character who is pretty clearly distinct from anything else I've been playing recently. I'll also try to build in "something for them to do" in terms of backstory, personality, abilities, or whatever that gives them a different approach to the party dynamics or common situations than last time. (Playing someone who takes a different role within the party, or who has a different reason for going on an adventure, or a more pessimistic/optimistic reaction to most situations, or whatever.)

In turn, this tends to lead to less "generically optimized for combat" characters, since in many systems that would lead to characters that look pretty similar. Since I also optimize who I game with around people who aren't focused on "winning" at RPGs but rather around people who like a crunchy-heavy version of long-form improv acting while sitting down, this works out just fine. (System-wise, I like to play GURPS, which supports that playstyle just fine. If I were starting out now, I'd probably pick something else as a default, but I started gaming in the mid-90s when that made more sense.) Of course, given a group of strangers and an hour to two to kill, I'd also rather play improv theater games than board games, so I'm probably not typical among tabletop rpg folks.

Talakeal
2018-01-02, 12:04 AM
It is my understanding that the term "optimization" entered the RPG lexicon some years back in an attempt to justify the sort of behavior that had previous been dubbed being a "power-gamer" "munchkin" "min-maxxer" "twink" or the like. It was a deliberate attempt to rebrand what was often considered to be a negative trait with a term that had more positive terms. For example "I am not a munchkin! I am merely an optimizer who enjoys making the best character possible!"

This thread seems like an attempt to tear the term away from these roots and change it into a more neutral term for "good play," but I have a feeling that it is just going to get bogged down in semantic arguments as it is, at its core, merely a discussion of terminology.

Max_Killjoy
2018-01-02, 09:45 AM
It is my understanding that the term "optimization" entered the RPG lexicon some years back in an attempt to justify the sort of behavior that had previous been dubbed being a "power-gamer" "munchkin" "min-maxxer" "twink" or the like. It was a deliberate attempt to rebrand what was often considered to be a negative trait with a term that had more positive terms. For example "I am not a munchkin! I am merely an optimizer who enjoys making the best character possible!"

This thread seems like an attempt to tear the term away from these roots and change it into a more neutral term for "good play," but I have a feeling that it is just going to get bogged down in semantic arguments as it is, at its core, merely a discussion of terminology.

If that history is true, it would lend some more weight to the narrower usage, and the negative reaction.

I've always approached the issue from the neutral meaning.

Cluedrew
2018-01-02, 10:32 AM
I have seen the word optimizer used in a negative light a lot (which is not to say that I think it should). It seems to be almost a "lawful muchkin", who plays very competitively and maybe at the expense of other players but does so strictly by the book.

A more actuate reading of the word is neutral because it is silent on what you are optimizing for, the assumption is that it will be character power but it could easily be something like table fun. However, outside of a thought experiment, I don't see the technical definition being that useful, because then almost all design in an role-playing game is optimization of some set of resources towards some goal. And yes, technically they are, that is not to say it is useful to describe all of them that way all the time.

RazorChain
2018-01-02, 01:39 PM
It is my understanding that the term "optimization" entered the RPG lexicon some years back in an attempt to justify the sort of behavior that had previous been dubbed being a "power-gamer" "munchkin" "min-maxxer" "twink" or the like. It was a deliberate attempt to rebrand what was often considered to be a negative trait with a term that had more positive terms. For example "I am not a munchkin! I am merely an optimizer who enjoys making the best character possible!"

This thread seems like an attempt to tear the term away from these roots and change it into a more neutral term for "good play," but I have a feeling that it is just going to get bogged down in semantic arguments as it is, at its core, merely a discussion of terminology.

I agree here. Almost gamers I've played with optimize to a degree, even within their character concept or because of it. Nobody makes a fuss about it because this kind of optimization is just normal character making. I mean if you are making a Conan like barbarian it doesn't help to put a low score in strength, else you'll end up with Ronal the barbarian

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/6/6b/Ronal_the_Barbarian_poster.jpg/220px-Ronal_the_Barbarian_poster.jpg


I kind of feel Optimizer is newspeak for Munchkin, Powerplayer or the Min-Maxer

Max_Killjoy
2018-01-02, 02:58 PM
Is there a meaningful distinction between who does small-O optimization, and a capital-O Optimizer?

Quertus
2018-01-02, 04:06 PM
I believe that there is value in using the term more generally, in that one can easily describe a character / concept as suboptimal to any number of applications, including party balance and table fun.

As I've said before, I usually need to "take a 20" on character creation, throwing away lots of characters to produce one that I'll enjoy. I prefer to optimize my gaming time, not wasting it on a character who is suboptimal to my enjoyment of the game.

If all I cared about was optimizing my character's capabilities / power, well, that would be easy! But optimizing my ability to push the envelope and explore the human psyche, while still creating a character who is easy and fun to run, and mechanically true to their concept? Now that's an optimization challenge!

As to role-playing an optimized or suboptimal stat block... IMO, most good roleplayers are at least decent optimizers, and vice versa, as both are, fundamentally, the ability to think. So I have found a reasonable correlation between the two skills. Thus, I expect that the world's "best" roleplayers would have no problem role-playing a character well, regardless of the optimization of the stat block, so long as they both get the character in question, and understand the mechanics well enough to map the character's stats to their actions / attitudes / etc.


Power disparity and optimization doesn't become a problem until somebody makes it a problem.

Strongly agree. Of course, optimizing the group's fun once power disparity has become an issue is a challenge many groups lack the player skills to resolve.

Arbane
2018-01-02, 05:51 PM
I kind of feel Optimizer is newspeak for Munchkin, Powerplayer or the Min-Maxer

From the 1970s the early 2000s or so there's been this notion in RPGing, currently championed by our own Darth Ultron, that wanting to play a competent character is a shameful failure of Real Roleplaying(tm), and that the best character is one who can, if they struggle, just barely triumph over their own failings briefly before being dogpiled by the entire rest of the setting. (Aka "White Wolf Gaming".) I'm not sure if it was Exalted or D&D3.0 that finally got people to admit that sometimes, playing powerful characters can be FUN, but I'm grateful to them both.

RazorChain
2018-01-02, 06:13 PM
From the 1970s the early 2000s or so there's been this notion in RPGing, currently championed by our own Darth Ultron, that wanting to play a competent character is a shameful failure of Real Roleplaying(tm), and that the best character is one who can, if they struggle, just barely triumph over their own failings briefly before being dogpiled by the entire rest of the setting. (Aka "White Wolf Gaming".) I'm not sure if it was Exalted or D&D3.0 that finally got people to admit that sometimes, playing powerful characters can be FUN, but I'm grateful to them both.

What I'm saying is that almost everybody makes "optimal" choices during character creation, sure I have handful of exceptions like this method acting roleplayer I played with a lot who would often show up with weird characters.

But from since I started to play as a kid we'd put a high score in strength if we were playing a fighter and taking master weapon proficiency with the weapon we were actually using. Or if we rolled stats straight then our highest number would guide us in what class we would play, roll high intelligence pay a wizard etc.

The same applies to point buy, if you are playing a good swordsman then you put points in your sword skill and the stat that the sword skill is based on. Almost all roleplayers optimize in that regard.

The superhero genre was out since wayyyy before Exalted and D&D 3rd edition and I had played powerful characters in Gurps, Vilains and Vigilantes, RuneQuest and Bubblegum Crisis to name a few. The issue has never been playing a powerful character...a high level character in early editions of D&D was just as god smacking awesome as in later editions.

I didn't even know about White Wolfs roleplaying snobbery until I arrived on these forums even though I've played a lot of their systems.

So what is an optimizer? Is it someone who makes rational choices during character creation or someone who tries to squeeze as much power out of his character?

RazorChain
2018-01-02, 06:20 PM
Is there a meaningful distinction between who does small-O optimization, and a capital-O Optimizer?

Optimization is a neutral word but it's just like everything else and usually becomes bad when you take it to extreme. But it sometimes feels like Optimizer is the new word Munchkins use for themselves because almost all roleplayers I know make rational decisions during character creation and developement. So either 90+% of roleplayers are optimizers or the word has a different meaning

Quertus
2018-01-02, 06:29 PM
So what is an optimizer? Is it someone who makes rational choices during character creation or someone who tries to squeeze as much power out of his character?

Both. But only the latter is likely to get called on it.

Jama7301
2018-01-02, 06:33 PM
Both. But only the latter is likely to get called on it.

The latter is also more likely to throw the game out of whack as well.

Siosilvar
2018-01-02, 06:42 PM
So what is an optimizer? Is it someone who makes rational choices during character creation or someone who tries to squeeze as much power out of his character?

Both, in different contexts, and that's why these discussions get confusing. Some people use the word to refer to a player who makes optimal decisions, without statement as to what they're optimizing for. Could be the optimal choices to represent a particular character concept, could be the optimal choices to make a weird and subpar build work, could be anything. Others use the word to refer to a player who optimizes purely for power, often at the expense of the other parts of the game that the speaker finds more fun.

The first group usually refers to the second behavior as Theoretical Optimization or munchkinry. The second group usually doesn't make a distinction because they think it's understood what they're saying (or sometimes because they fail to see the distinction themselves).

Quertus
2018-01-02, 06:51 PM
The latter is also more likely to throw the game out of whack as well.

Technically true, but there are cases, such as at Tippy's table, or when ones player skills are lacking, where this would be the optimal answer to try to get the table back into whack.

For example, in Warhammer, I could run a literal incarnation of Tzeentch, and likely still be out preformed by the players who actually get that universe. Whereas, in 2e D&D, I built Armus, to be as statistically ineffective as possible, so that I could flex my player skills without overshadowing the rest of the party (too much).

PersonMan
2018-01-02, 07:56 PM
When making a character, assuming it's a crunch-heavy system like Pathfinder or GURPS or DnD (I don't really play other types of games, so this is all but two or three of my characters, excluding my old freeform ones) I tend to build towards both a broad concept and specific things, sometimes at the same time, other times one after the other. Sometimes a very clear idea comes to me, and I build directly towards that. Other times, I have a general idea which I solidify as I build the character mechanically.

So a lot of the choices I make are fairly typical 'optimization towards a concept' - or, to use a more neutral wording, I build the character so they can do in the game what I see them doing in my head. But there's another layer to it, too. I also want them to be enjoyable to play, which to a certain degree means picking things that will come up or otherwise leave their mark on the game. There's significant overlap between these options and the more optimal ones available in a lot of cases; though I wouldn't say this is always the case, or that what I end up picking is strictly better than many other options available. It's mostly that, when there are two options available and one seems like it would come up once in a blue moon, I'm more likely to pick the other one.

To me, it's nice to have the options I pick to represent things the character does come up in a meaningful way, and since I play pretty mechanical games this often means having some kind of mechanical manifestation. An example would be a character I made for Pathfinder who is a fairly heavy drinker; I took the 'Iron Liver' Trait which makes her significantly more difficult to affect with alcohol and gives her a general boost to saves against drugs or poison - in part simply because it fit quite well, but also because it makes me think of some scene down the line where she'll be poisoned, drugged or similar, and be able to shrug it off with some offhand remark about said toxin being 'weaker than what I drink after a good hunt'.

Additionally, I play a lot of PbP and it can get me down if I'm not able to do anything meaningful for a while, so I prefer to avoid characters who can do one thing in a combat encounter and then have to wait a long time to do anything useful.

Using an "extended" definition, I would say one thing I optimize for is maximum interweaving of mechanics and fluff. It's partially because I find mechanics such as Pathfinder's Traits, GURPS' (Dis)Advantages and similar to be good sources of inspiration for details or jumping-off points for questions about backstory details, but I also want everything the character can do to have its own little story. A lot of this comes from my own musings on how, personally, I can remember the source of many minor quirks or skills I have, and it feels good to make a character who, similarly, has a specific source for many of their own abilities. Especially if it's unusual for their archetype, like a mage who is especially good at lying (because she has a compulsive desire to turn everything she enjoys and is good at into some kind of advantage, and she loves to make up stories - so she does that by lying to people when it's advantageous); that feels like it deserves an explanation and also serves as a way to help show what her life has been like before the game begins.

vasilidor
2018-01-02, 09:16 PM
lets do some basic character optimization: the swordsman. the point here is a guy who is effective at killing things with swords. lets do one for pathfinder, shadowrun 5th, and BESM 2nd. his primary role is stabbing things with swords, lets give him a secondary role of being a sneak. now here is how i would do this for pathfinder first level: slayer, half-orc, have power attack as his first feat, go great sword.
in shadowrun I would have prioritize attributes in str>dex>con>int>wis>cha, keep stealth and perception maxed out. it would be that simple. shadowrun 5th I would go A: attributes B: skills C: magic D: elf E: resources. max out agility(7). Charisma would be a 2 and everything else a 4. of my 5 group skill points I put 1 in each of the 2 social skill sets, and the remaining 3 into the stealth group. I then max out the Blades skill, put a point in specialization swords. then 3 points in perception. drop the rest where I feel like. gives me 15 dice in one skill that I care about and 10 in sneak and 7 in disguise and perception.
BESM is a point buy game with point ranges going from 15 to n+1, so lets go with a common start point (in my personal experiance) of 20 points. I put 12 points total into body(5), mind(3) and soul(4), 4 points in highly skilled, 3 points in personal gear and 1 in **** healthy. now with 4 points in highly skilled I now have 60 skill points, I spend 20 on melee attack and another 20 on melee defense (approximately, depending on setting, this gives me 3 to 4 levels in those skills) I then spend between 6 and 12 of those skill points on stealth. for the remainder I may give him a few skills of side interest.

now then, given the same basic concept: swordsman with a side of sneak, in your favorite game system, how do you put it together?

Florian
2018-01-03, 08:43 AM
It is my understanding that the term "optimization" entered the RPG lexicon some years back in an attempt to justify the sort of behavior that had previous been dubbed being a "power-gamer" "munchkin" "min-maxxer" "twink" or the like. It was a deliberate attempt to rebrand what was often considered to be a negative trait with a term that had more positive terms. For example "I am not a munchkin! I am merely an optimizer who enjoys making the best character possible!"

This thread seems like an attempt to tear the term away from these roots and change it into a more neutral term for "good play," but I have a feeling that it is just going to get bogged down in semantic arguments as it is, at its core, merely a discussion of terminology.

Contrast the fundamental difference between "classic" RPG system design (like AD&D) and "modern" RPG system design (like D&D 3E).

Thing is, a ,say, old-school Fighter used "closed" mechanics that were more or less all determined in one step at character creation, while a new-school Fighter is an ongoing "open" series of mechanical choices that will have to be made, at least once with each new level.

So I think a lot of the negative connotation comes from the transition period when the editions changed. Previously, you took a look at a Fighter character sheet and knew what the character is capable of, after that, a character changed and grew in capability with each new level and feat, meaning more work for the gm and always rechecking the sheet to stay up to the development.

Max_Killjoy
2018-01-03, 09:17 AM
Contrast the fundamental difference between "classic" RPG system design (like AD&D) and "modern" RPG system design (like D&D 3E).

Thing is, a ,say, old-school Fighter used "closed" mechanics that were more or less all determined in one step at character creation, while a new-school Fighter is an ongoing "open" series of mechanical choices that will have to be made, at least once with each new level.

So I think a lot of the negative connotation comes from the transition period when the editions changed. Previously, you took a look at a Fighter character sheet and knew what the character is capable of, after that, a character changed and grew in capability with each new level and feat, meaning more work for the gm and always rechecking the sheet to stay up to the development.

Isn't there a contrast though with games that always had open character creation?

Florian
2018-01-03, 10:00 AM
Isn't there a contrast though with games that always had open character creation?

Has there been a truly open system that could be considered to be mainstream at the time?

D&D, Rifts, DSA and such were class-based, d100/Basic RPG and its siblings had no real character advancement, Shadowrun and WoD were also somewhat limited and well, there's Gurps.

Siosilvar
2018-01-03, 01:46 PM
Rolemaster, RuneQuest, the Hero System... GURPS is far from the first of its kind.

NichG
2018-01-04, 12:47 AM
What I'm saying is that almost everybody makes "optimal" choices during character creation, sure I have handful of exceptions like this method acting roleplayer I played with a lot who would often show up with weird characters.

But from since I started to play as a kid we'd put a high score in strength if we were playing a fighter and taking master weapon proficiency with the weapon we were actually using. Or if we rolled stats straight then our highest number would guide us in what class we would play, roll high intelligence pay a wizard etc.

The same applies to point buy, if you are playing a good swordsman then you put points in your sword skill and the stat that the sword skill is based on. Almost all roleplayers optimize in that regard.

The superhero genre was out since wayyyy before Exalted and D&D 3rd edition and I had played powerful characters in Gurps, Vilains and Vigilantes, RuneQuest and Bubblegum Crisis to name a few. The issue has never been playing a powerful character...a high level character in early editions of D&D was just as god smacking awesome as in later editions.

I didn't even know about White Wolfs roleplaying snobbery until I arrived on these forums even though I've played a lot of their systems.

So what is an optimizer? Is it someone who makes rational choices during character creation or someone who tries to squeeze as much power out of his character?

Giving a fighter high strength is an example of where the rational choice and the choice which respects the spirit of what the system is trying to say about the setting are in alignment. One thing that often happens with optimization is that it can reveal that the system actually isn't supporting the setting at all if you take it to a particular extreme, and then calls attention to that. The classic example of this is the whole wizards vs fighters thing in D&D.

If I want to make a character who is a good wrestler in D&D 3.5, the setting-compliant way is to start with martial classes like Monk, Fighter, and Barbarian, pump Strength, take feats that improve my grappling abilities, wear gear that improves Strength or grappling, and then stop there.

However, you can do better (note: not my work, this is the 'Grapplemancer' build) by making a Wizard with an octopus familiar (even better for an elf: a racial substitution level for an elven Wizard at 3rd level doubles this bonus). Then make use of Enlarge Person, Fearsome Grapple, Polymorph, and if I really want to get fancy change careers and go into Wu Jen for eventual access to Giant Size (or use various other shenanigans to import that spell specifically to my spell list), or possibly dip Cleric and try to use Nightsticks and Persistent Spell to make those buffs stay on 24 hours a day. You don't even need stats that are angled at being a Wizard or Cleric to do most of this - 12 Int at character creation will actually cut it for the basics and carry you up to Polymorph as long as you put your first two extra stat points into Int. On top of that, you can take somewhat peculiar backstory feats such as 'Aberration Blood' to get even more bonuses.

This frankenstein character doesn't really make immediate sense in the setting the way 'I'm a fighter, I do strength training' does. Of course it's possible to come up with backstory to try to justify this kind of thing, but it generally puts strain on how people see the setting when, objectively, the best way for anyone to become good at wrestling is to put down those barbells and hit the library. You're going to start asking 'why doesn't the city guard go this route rather than training people to be fighters?' and so you have to make up something like 'well, not everyone has the talent or inclination to be a wizard, its not just a matter of your chosen training program'. And that, plus some of the more inherent aspects of builds, can raise the spectre of 'who exactly is making these decisions about build - the character themselves, or the player?' which can make the optimization process questionable from a metagaming point of view. The most optimal decision if you want to be a luchador is, be born of an unfortunate romance between an elf and someone with an aboleth grandfather - clearly something that must be arranged by hand-of-player, not something a character can themselves pursue through their own knowledge.

Things absolutely don't have to always end up breaking this way, but this is an example of how things can break that are probably secondary to the considerations of the actual character optimization problem. Optimization, as a methodology, requires recognizing that sometimes the fluff is lying to you about how the world is - and that can mean that actually choosing to go full-bore optimization means that you're actively disregarding the fluff. I think thats the thing that creates the impression of optimization and roleplay as being opposing directives - disregarding the fluff in favor of what the system actually says can mean sacrificing the consistency and coherency of how a character is presented in favor of effectiveness - no system is perfectly aligned with the claims of the setting writers, after all, so there will be times when a player is forced to choose between what the system implies and what the setting says. Someone who tends to fall on the side of 'what the system implies' is, in those cases, choosing to sacrifice the quality of their roleplay for an increase in whatever the target of their optimization is.

That's why its an important skill for someone who wants to go heavily in the direction of optimization to recognize if e.g. seeing someone play a franken-character is going to harm other players' suspension of disbelief, and to actually care about that rather than just say 'their problem for being so stuck in their ways'. If you recognize what stuff will and won't strain people, you can include that as a constraint in the optimization process and find 'the most effective character who won't damage the table's suspension of disbelief' or somesuch. But if you go past those bounds, you're choosing to sacrifice something from other people's enjoyment for that extra margin of effectiveness. And that's the point at which things can take on a very negative connotation.

Max_Killjoy
2018-01-04, 08:32 AM
Giving a fighter high strength is an example of where the rational choice and the choice which respects the spirit of what the system is trying to say about the setting are in alignment. One thing that often happens with optimization is that it can reveal that the system actually isn't supporting the setting at all if you take it to a particular extreme, and then calls attention to that. The classic example of this is the whole wizards vs fighters thing in D&D.

If I want to make a character who is a good wrestler in D&D 3.5, the setting-compliant way is to start with martial classes like Monk, Fighter, and Barbarian, pump Strength, take feats that improve my grappling abilities, wear gear that improves Strength or grappling, and then stop there.

However, you can do better (note: not my work, this is the 'Grapplemancer' build) by making a Wizard with an octopus familiar (even better for an elf: a racial substitution level for an elven Wizard at 3rd level doubles this bonus). Then make use of Enlarge Person, Fearsome Grapple, Polymorph, and if I really want to get fancy change careers and go into Wu Jen for eventual access to Giant Size (or use various other shenanigans to import that spell specifically to my spell list), or possibly dip Cleric and try to use Nightsticks and Persistent Spell to make those buffs stay on 24 hours a day. You don't even need stats that are angled at being a Wizard or Cleric to do most of this - 12 Int at character creation will actually cut it for the basics and carry you up to Polymorph as long as you put your first two extra stat points into Int. On top of that, you can take somewhat peculiar backstory feats such as 'Aberration Blood' to get even more bonuses.

This frankenstein character doesn't really make immediate sense in the setting the way 'I'm a fighter, I do strength training' does. Of course it's possible to come up with backstory to try to justify this kind of thing, but it generally puts strain on how people see the setting when, objectively, the best way for anyone to become good at wrestling is to put down those barbells and hit the library. You're going to start asking 'why doesn't the city guard go this route rather than training people to be fighters?' and so you have to make up something like 'well, not everyone has the talent or inclination to be a wizard, its not just a matter of your chosen training program'. And that, plus some of the more inherent aspects of builds, can raise the spectre of 'who exactly is making these decisions about build - the character themselves, or the player?' which can make the optimization process questionable from a metagaming point of view. The most optimal decision if you want to be a luchador is, be born of an unfortunate romance between an elf and someone with an aboleth grandfather - clearly something that must be arranged by hand-of-player, not something a character can themselves pursue through their own knowledge.

Things absolutely don't have to always end up breaking this way, but this is an example of how things can break that are probably secondary to the considerations of the actual character optimization problem. Optimization, as a methodology, requires recognizing that sometimes the fluff is lying to you about how the world is - and that can mean that actually choosing to go full-bore optimization means that you're actively disregarding the fluff. I think thats the thing that creates the impression of optimization and roleplay as being opposing directives - disregarding the fluff in favor of what the system actually says can mean sacrificing the consistency and coherency of how a character is presented in favor of effectiveness - no system is perfectly aligned with the claims of the setting writers, after all, so there will be times when a player is forced to choose between what the system implies and what the setting says. Someone who tends to fall on the side of 'what the system implies' is, in those cases, choosing to sacrifice the quality of their roleplay for an increase in whatever the target of their optimization is.

That's why its an important skill for someone who wants to go heavily in the direction of optimization to recognize if e.g. seeing someone play a franken-character is going to harm other players' suspension of disbelief, and to actually care about that rather than just say 'their problem for being so stuck in their ways'. If you recognize what stuff will and won't strain people, you can include that as a constraint in the optimization process and find 'the most effective character who won't damage the table's suspension of disbelief' or somesuch. But if you go past those bounds, you're choosing to sacrifice something from other people's enjoyment for that extra margin of effectiveness. And that's the point at which things can take on a very negative connotation.

Very well laid out.

"Don't break the fluff" is such an ingrained part of my thinking that I didn't think of that being the border where optimization can pick up negative connotations.

(As an aside, I look forward to seeing your posts on these sorts of topics and I'm rarely disappointed. Even if I don't agree with everything, you make good points and present them in a very even-handed manner.)

Lord Raziere
2018-01-04, 03:26 PM
*snip for shortness*
That's why its an important skill for someone who wants to go heavily in the direction of optimization to recognize if e.g. seeing someone play a franken-character is going to harm other players' suspension of disbelief, and to actually care about that rather than just say 'their problem for being so stuck in their ways'. If you recognize what stuff will and won't strain people, you can include that as a constraint in the optimization process and find 'the most effective character who won't damage the table's suspension of disbelief' or somesuch. But if you go past those bounds, you're choosing to sacrifice something from other people's enjoyment for that extra margin of effectiveness. And that's the point at which things can take on a very negative connotation.

Exactly why I can never optimize. In my opinion, fluff IS how the world works and if the mechanics disagree, its the mechanics that are wrong, because the mechanics are not portraying it right. the world's fluff is whats actually important to roleplaying, and mechanics honestly are a completely separate thing thats just there to make sure things are fair for the players, whatever that form of fairness is.

Florian
2018-01-05, 04:34 AM
Exactly why I can never optimize. In my opinion, fluff IS how the world works and if the mechanics disagree, its the mechanics that are wrong, because the mechanics are not portraying it right. the world's fluff is whats actually important to roleplaying, and mechanics honestly are a completely separate thing thats just there to make sure things are fair for the players, whatever that form of fairness is.

While I agree that "fluff" trumps "rules" when it comes to modeling in-game reality, mechanics are also something that is intimately tied to how the "game" aspects of it all work.

Me personally, I don't have problems with keeping both layers completely separated. Mechanics may provide inspiration for certain aspects of the game world, like what and how things could be different from our regular mundane reality, but that's about all the "power" (or rather: influence) they have.

In contrast, weīre playing a game set in this fictional world, with characters being playing pieces as part of that and as such, nowhere near "simulations" of real people in that game world.

Darth Ultron
2018-01-05, 08:17 AM
It is my understanding that the term "optimization" entered the RPG lexicon some years back in an attempt to justify the sort of behavior that had previous been dubbed being a "power-gamer" "munchkin" "min-maxxer" "twink" or the like. It was a deliberate attempt to rebrand what was often considered to be a negative trait with a term that had more positive terms. For example "I am not a munchkin! I am merely an optimizer who enjoys making the best character possible!"

This thread seems like an attempt to tear the term away from these roots and change it into a more neutral term for "good play," but I have a feeling that it is just going to get bogged down in semantic arguments as it is, at its core, merely a discussion of terminology.

Yup, I agree with this. Optimization is just a rebranding of a group of bad players.


Is there a meaningful distinction between who does small-O optimization, and a capital-O Optimizer?

Yes, very much so.

The small ''O'' is simply someone who optimizes to have a good character: The fighter character uses a sword, they take weapon focus sword.

The big "O" is the dreaded Optimizer: the jerk that is roll playing the numbers game and wants to show off and ruin the game for everyone else.

And sure, the big O ones will say they are just then normal small O ones...as they have to lie to join groups and even play the game.



From the 1970s the early 2000s or so there's been this notion in RPGing, currently championed by our own Darth Ultron, that wanting to play a competent character is a shameful failure of Real Roleplaying(tm), and that the best character is one who can, if they struggle, just barely triumph over their own failings briefly before being dogpiled by the entire rest of the setting. (Aka "White Wolf Gaming".) I'm not sure if it was Exalted or D&D3.0 that finally got people to admit that sometimes, playing powerful characters can be FUN, but I'm grateful to them both.

Wait....I'm not that champion.

I want the whole package: A well made character that is both well made mechanically and story wise. A character that is good for both roll and role playing.

I'm against the casual players that do no role playing at all and just barely give a character a name (''Um, my character is Bob...") and then just endlessly roll play...mostly endless mindless combat.

And I'm opposed to the Wrong Optimizer idea that you MUST play a Demigod to have fun. I say any character can be fun. You do NOT have to play a competent character. If you want to, sure, fine go ahead and do so....but don't tell people they have to play the game only that one way, and don't hide behind it and say you ''have to'' or are ''forced to'' play the game only this one way. It is a choice and one way to play.

I do support the idea that a ''non-competent'', ''non-demigod'' character can be fun to play.

And I do like the ''Triumph over Struggle'' where a character (and player) have to ''do'' something more then just ''push a button and win''.



Exactly why I can never optimize. In my opinion, fluff IS how the world works and if the mechanics disagree, its the mechanics that are wrong, because the mechanics are not portraying it right. the world's fluff is whats actually important to roleplaying, and mechanics honestly are a completely separate thing thats just there to make sure things are fair for the players, whatever that form of fairness is.

And I'm a Story, or ''fluff''(but don't like that word) first. I don't like the Optimizer that just sees the numbers game and just wants that ability or one more plus. The person who is like ''oh, whatever, I'll take that feat or class just to get what I want and ignore all the story role playing stuff."

I like it much more when a player starts with the role playing story concept, and then adds on mechanics to support it....but note, I don't do for the false optimization lie here where players first pick all the coolz things they want...and then work up a silly bit of fluff to try and trick the DM into getting them.

Max_Killjoy
2018-01-05, 10:05 AM
Exactly why I can never optimize. In my opinion, fluff IS how the world works and if the mechanics disagree, its the mechanics that are wrong, because the mechanics are not portraying it right. the world's fluff is whats actually important to roleplaying, and mechanics honestly are a completely separate thing thats just there to make sure things are fair for the players, whatever that form of fairness is.


Where I might differ is that I think the mechanics should be synchronous with the setting and tone, rather that treated as a detached layer.

RazorChain
2018-01-05, 10:20 AM
Things absolutely don't have to always end up breaking this way, but this is an example of how things can break that are probably secondary to the considerations of the actual character optimization problem. Optimization, as a methodology, requires recognizing that sometimes the fluff is lying to you about how the world is - and that can mean that actually choosing to go full-bore optimization means that you're actively disregarding the fluff. I think thats the thing that creates the impression of optimization and roleplay as being opposing directives - disregarding the fluff in favor of what the system actually says can mean sacrificing the consistency and coherency of how a character is presented in favor of effectiveness - no system is perfectly aligned with the claims of the setting writers, after all, so there will be times when a player is forced to choose between what the system implies and what the setting says. Someone who tends to fall on the side of 'what the system implies' is, in those cases, choosing to sacrifice the quality of their roleplay for an increase in whatever the target of their optimization is.

That's why its an important skill for someone who wants to go heavily in the direction of optimization to recognize if e.g. seeing someone play a franken-character is going to harm other players' suspension of disbelief, and to actually care about that rather than just say 'their problem for being so stuck in their ways'. If you recognize what stuff will and won't strain people, you can include that as a constraint in the optimization process and find 'the most effective character who won't damage the table's suspension of disbelief' or somesuch. But if you go past those bounds, you're choosing to sacrifice something from other people's enjoyment for that extra margin of effectiveness. And that's the point at which things can take on a very negative connotation.

+1, a very good post and kinda explains the people to me that I've considered to be trying to exploit the system. The problem isn't that they are exploiting the system it's that they are destroying the "fluff" or suspension of disbelief. This is also why I like systems where the mechanics are married to the setting so there is lesser chance of this happening. This might also explain why I favor point buy instead of class/level system. In point buy you present your character and the GM will veto any wonkiness and also the GM can more easily veto things during character progression. In class system with multiclassing and all that you can more easily be blindsided by player class choices as the character will grow multiplicative in power.