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    Ogre in the Playground
    eggs's Avatar

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    Feb 2012

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XXXVII

    Just to get this out of the way early, I'll try to sketch out a rubric for the criteria:

    I'm not going to penalize going through obvious and necessary motions. For example, a build with Wild Shape and spellcasting can grab Natural Spell without worrying about me docking anything; I get that there are things a build needs to work. But those things aren't going to be winning you any points here either.

    What I will award points on is a new and functional trick or combination incorporated into the character's MO. The less familiar and the more deeply ingrained in the build's functionality this schtick is, the more originality points the build will receive. This will go to a maximum of 4 points. If I don't see build features interacting in a way that I hadn't seen before this Iron Chef, those points will cap out at 3. This is an area where I'm going to be harsh: the interesting part of IC is coming up with new builds; not refitting old ones onto different classes.

    The last point will be awarded based on backstory. If it's something new and avoids cliches, I'll give it a point; if I think it's obvious, tired or already done, I won't give it a point. Very binary. This is not an area where I'll be harsh; it's just a D&D backstory, not a writing workshop.

    First, it has to be able to stand up to level-appropriate challenges throughout its progression. If it looks like it goes through a severe slump or like can't keep up with Monster Manual selections at any given ECL, I'll dock points, regardless of how strong it gets at level 20.

    Second, I'm going to dock points unless you can show that your build is able to thrive in multiple common settings and against multiple kinds of obstacles and defenses: if your build relies on a tactic that is easily negated or ignored, and it doesn't have at least one backup strategy, it is not going to make for a powerful character in a campaign.

    In both of those, it would help if you pointed out anything that might sneak by me, like Piggy's Doomspeech and save DCs in the last IC.

    Lastly, I will reserve one point. If your build is clearly more effective performing its job with levels in the Secret Ingredient than it would have been by instead putting levels into its other constituent classes (taken straight out of the can, using minimum sourcebooks, NOT comparing equal levels of effort), I'll award that point. If not, the Power score will be capped at 4.

    I'm going to break this one into two parts: narrative and mechanical elegance.

    For narrative elegance, I'm basically going to try to imagine pitching the build to a group that plays with fluff taken straight out of the book. The easier it is to explain the premise/justify the various levels, the better the score I'm going to give here. (That doesn't mean I'm suggesting to grab cookiecutter copies of the same fluff - irony and succinct amalgams are awesome; I'm just discouraging dipping a coherently ironic Druid/Renegade Mastermaker build into Dragon Shaman, Master Spy and Berserker.) I will award up to 2 points on this criterion.

    Mechanically, I'm mostly going to be looking at the purposefulness of the various build choices. What I mean is: For every level/feat/etc, there will ideally be a clear mechanical reason for that level/feat/etc. to be in the build, beside just counting down to hit a certain skill rank prereq or similar space-filling. I will award up to 2 points on this criterion, and I will be harsh (so if something is subtle or unintuitive, point it out).

    The last point is going to be for my overall subjective impression. I won't even try to say what plays into that, except that I'm not a fan of loose ends.

    Use of Secret Ingredient.
    If your character's MO doesn't involve the Secret Ingredient, I won't give any points; that part shouldn't be a surprise.

    If your character's MO involves only aspects of the Secret Ingredient that are available elsewhere, I will dock points heavily - especially if the alternatives are otherwise superior. The more unique to the Secret Ingredient the abilities you focus on are, and the more deeply incorporated they are into the build's basic functionality, the more points I will award. These points will be awarded to a maximum of 4.

    I'll keep one point in reserve. If your build manages to use every part of the class without any contrivances, I'll award that point. Remember that this point is going to be reserved for everybody, and working toward it may undermine Originality and Power, so it may not be worth gunning for specifically.

    I'm not planning to award perfect scores.

    ...That looks half-way plausible. Let's say that's how this is going to happen.

    EDIT: Spoilered to not obnoxiously hog space.
    Last edited by eggs; 2012-09-09 at 12:03 PM.