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  1. - Top - End - #271
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge VII

    Quote Originally Posted by WinWin View Post
    Just a few questions.

    Is this an optimization challenge?

    -stuff-

    Whoops. I'm repeating myself
    thee concept is to make a playable character that if you brought to a playing table, everyone would think it was a fresh, unique, flavorful, powerful character.
    thanks to Vrythas for the Venser avatar!

    Die Again, a Zombie Survival RPG


  2. - Top - End - #272
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    BardGuy

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge VII

    Quote Originally Posted by WinWin View Post
    Just a few questions.

    Is this an optimization challenge?

    What is optimization? Is it building the most powerful build?

    Or, is it writing a great story for a character?

    If both, which is more important?

    I am curious as to the thoughts of IC participants on this. Should concept take priority over mechanical effectiveness? One can be applied to almost any game (mechanics). The other has to be modified according to the standards of the referee and players. Concept is great, but if the mechanics do not support them, is the character optimized?

    How many characters in this challenge have a broad range of efficacy, not just in level appropriate combat, but to all the needs of a story and game?

    How many of those characters have scored well in this challenge?

    Is this an optimization challenge?

    Whoops. I'm repeating myself
    In my eyes, this is, at the heart, a Practical Optimization challenge.

    When people talk about 'optimization', it generally brings to mind the Theoretical Optimization of which the old CharOp boards were infamous for. Hulking Hurler, Pun Pun, Omnisifier... you know the fruits of that labor.

    But this is an entirely different sort of optimization. Or rather, Optimizing to a different goal.

    Theoretical Optimization, and the CharOp boards, had only a single, driving goal: power. Can you break it, and how badly can you break it, by still following the letter of the rules. The builds are not designed to be actually used in a real game, and the creators would be the first one to loudly protest if someone tried.

    Practical Optimization, on the other hand, has a different focus. It leads, primarily, to the goal of 'doing the best with what you have, for the good of everyone else around'. Batman Wizard, being the epitome of Theoretical Optimization, is not very good when looked at through the lens of Practical Optimization, because it leaves nothing for the rest of the party to do. He turns the game into "Batman Wizard, and his flock of Robins". And it's generally not very fun to be playing as someone else's lackey.

    The Iron Optimization challenge has four criteria which an optimizer must balance: Originality, Power, Elegance, and Use of Secret Ingredient. This makes for a much more complex, and much more entertaining, method of optimizing. You must take into consideration what your actions will generate on all four aspects, and you must ask if taking a hit in one to gain in another will be beneficial. For example, in the Master of Masks contest, the Artificer who put abilities on the masks which were free-use knowingly sacrificed Elegance to ensure a Power score of 5. I don't think he could have NOT known he'd be bombing his Elegance score by doing that, but he thought the higher Power score would be worth it.

    Stop thinking of only optimizing to a single goal, this is a much more complex set of criteria.
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    Quite possibly, the best rebuttal I have ever witnessed.
    Joker Bard - the DM's solution to the Batman Wizard.
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  3. - Top - End - #273
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    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge VII

    I'm going to have to bow out of judging. I'm sorry it comes so late in the game, but I've had a family emergency and will be spending most of the next week or two dealing with either doctors or lawyers. My apologies to the contestants and the other judges.
    78% of DM's started their first campaign in a tavern. [...]Where did you start yours?
    A street riot in a major city that was getting violent.
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  4. - Top - End - #274
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge VII

    Quote Originally Posted by Ozymandias9 View Post
    I'm going to have to bow out of judging. I'm sorry it comes so late in the game, but I've had a family emergency and will be spending most of the next week or two dealing with either doctors or lawyers. My apologies to the contestants and the other judges.
    Hope everything ends up all right, Ozy.
    Iron Chef in the Playground veteran since Round IV.

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  5. - Top - End - #275
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge VII

    My best wishes, Ozy.

    well, we have a winner!
    thanks to Vrythas for the Venser avatar!

    Die Again, a Zombie Survival RPG


  6. - Top - End - #276
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    The Vorpal Tribble's Avatar

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge VII

    Hmm... maybe Prinny could weigh in even if he knows who did them?

  7. - Top - End - #277
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge VII

    Gratz to Starry eyes.

    RE: my questions; There was only a tiny amount of snark in the questions I was asking. I was looking for peoples thoughts and I got some varied responses which was cool.

    I hope everything turns out ok with you Ozymandius.

  8. - Top - End - #278
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge VII

    Quote Originally Posted by WinWin View Post
    Just a few questions.
    Now that the contest is over, I'll weigh in as a long-standing judge at this point.

    Is this an optimization challenge?
    Partially, yes.

    What is optimization? Is it building the most powerful build?
    By technical definition, optimization is the act of building upon synergies to make a powerful character from less-powerful parts. In my personal view, optimization is the act of building upon synergies to make a flavorful yet competent character from less-powerful yet thematic parts.

    Or, is it writing a great story for a character?
    That is part of it, and can take something a bit less mechanically adept and make it far more appealing. It is not the key though.

    If both, which is more important?
    This feels like a fallacy to me. Importance is subjective to the person in question. I have a much different view on importance of the pieces of optimization than you do, for instance. I don't feel this is relevant or useful to discuss, and thus won't.

    I am curious as to the thoughts of IC participants on this. Should concept take priority over mechanical effectiveness? One can be applied to almost any game (mechanics). The other has to be modified according to the standards of the referee and players. Concept is great, but if the mechanics do not support them, is the character optimized?
    I'd respond, but it's not directed to me.

    How many characters in this challenge have a broad range of efficacy, not just in level appropriate combat, but to all the needs of a story and game?
    Many of them. One could argue all of them, in several respects.

    How many of those characters have scored well in this challenge?
    Several of them.

    It's worth nothing that this is a singular challenge, and since many judges only judge once or twice, it cannot be held to be an ideal representation. I hate blowing my own horn like this, but honestly, I might be the to-go individual here, having judged I believe 4-5 of these competitions now, and so I have a fairly consistent (I'm not perfect, of course) backlog of judging to look at. Even that though does not serve as a fair representation, since I"m only one viewpoint.

    Whoops. I'm repeating myself
    Indeed you are.

    All that I say applies only to myself. You author your own actions and choices. I cannot and will not be responsible for you, nor are you for me, regardless of situation or circumstance.

  9. - Top - End - #279
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge VII

    My best wishes Ozy, family takes first priority. I hope everything works out.

    And with that, I'll reveal the winners!

    In first place, The Vorpal Tribble's Little Starry-Eyes!
    In second place, Akal_Saris's Dr. Julius Mordenstein!
    In third, Amphetryon's Nicolo Egidi!
    In fourth, WinWin's Xiaojing Wu!
    In fifth, Navigator's Kao Lei!
    In sixth, Chineselegolas's Glorgen!
    In seventh, Keld Denar's Byerek Runeweaver!
    In eigth, Ajadea's Stardream Kaurrek!

    A big congratulations to everyone who entered, and a special round of applause to our two winners. I'll have the trophies up after Strategos has a chance to engrave them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Moron View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Optimystik View Post
    'Adding up numbers' is completely independent of roleplay. What you're saying makes as much sense as "peeling a banana is not a good way to drive."


  10. - Top - End - #280
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge VII

    First and foremost, congratulations to Vorpal Tribble on his win. Good show.

    Secondly, I said a couple of times that I'd wait until the reveal to make any comments about the contest in general, or my particular entry. Looks like it's put up or shut up time.

    STANDARD GENERAL DISCLAIMER
    I am extremely grateful to the judges, past, present, and future, who voluntarily take the time to pore over the meager creations of the anonymous folks who post for these contests. Any comments I make, whether wondering aloud on the judging process or in explanation of my build decisions, should not be taken by any stretch as criticisms of the judges, either in their capacity as judge or personally. Everything that follows should be considered along the lines of inquiry or polite rebuttal; none of it is intended to be ranting or defensive in nature.

    General Ruminations
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    As last time, I scored very highly with some judges and quite dreadfully with others, while striving for some middle ground between the original, the elegant, and the powerful. With no new official WotC sources from which to draw in well over a year now, it is increasingly difficult to find a combination that is both original and powerful. The only way which I can personally perceive to do this is to draw from several sources, which caused some to heavily penalize the Elegance category - as low as a 2 from one judge, despite only 4 Classes, two of which I finished completely. I'm starting to sound like a broken record here, but I'd really like to see Elegance codified more thoroughly so that we, as contestants, can better build to suit the contest. For example, are Favored Class rules to be considered? Is bouncing back and forth between Classes an automatic deduction, and if so, how large is that deduction? Should our sources for Feats be limited to those books from which we drew our Classes? The Elegance scores I've gotten just from these last two contests indicate that none of these questions have clear answers thus far. As Keld indicated in the thread, some of the comments from judges would seem to indicate that Elegance is synonymous with Simplicity; is this accurate, and if so, how do Elegance and Originality co-exist in the same build? I know that a couple of the judges, past and present, have made comments along the lines of “this entry violates a house rule that’s always in effect at my table, and so earned a deduction for Elegance.” How reasonable, overall, is it to expect contestants to create builds that avoid unspecified house rules?

    It occurred to me a couple of times, with different judges, that there's something odd with the way the scoring system works if no build is able to get higher than 3.5 in 'Power' or 'Use of Secret Ingredient.' Are entries to be judged as one might grade a paper, where an A must meet a specific set of criteria, or are they more closely analogous to a different sort of contest, where an entry should be able to get top marks in each category relative to other entries? If one judge perceives a particularly cunning trick that the Secret Ingredient can pull off, and none of the contestants make use of it, should that judge's scores be lower because none of the entries met the level of Power or Originality that this judge's perceived trick achieves, or should the entries be judged on power relative to their own merits and the previously established benchmarks of performance for their build type? Should the fact that a given build's main tactic can also be pulled off via another, more popular, PrC negatively impact the scores? Should the abilities of PrCs that nobody enters in a given contest matter at all in scoring that contest? If yes, to what extent?

    I notice that the entries with the largest amount of written fluff have scored highest in the past few contests, and I wonder if there is a correlation. Entries have gone from fitting to a single post to requiring 2, even 3, posts just to contain the story of the character, and huge backstories have apparently influenced a build’s standing in Originality, Elegance and Power. The Iron Chef Challenges are labelled ‘Optimization’ challenges, but is this current trend indicative of a shift away from an emphasis on optimized character creation and toward optimized story creation? Should we, as contestants, be spending less time on wringing power from our Characters in order to focus more energies on creating lengthy narratives to sway the judges? By way of comparison, I point to the earlier Iron Chef Optimization Challenges at Brilliantgameologists. Akal Saris, posting there under his no-spaces screen name, won the first contest with a brilliant Beastmaster Hulking Hurler Druid (http://brilliantgameologists.com/boa...61403#msg61403). If the_humanity is correct and the point is “to make a playable character that if you brought to a playing table, everyone would think it was a fresh, unique, flavorful, powerful character,” this first contest winner would score very low on several fronts: 1) Hulking Hurler abuses are neither fresh nor unique and are rarely seen at an actual table; 2) the build presented takes only 7 of 10 possible levels of the Secret Ingredient; 3) the Secret Ingredient is neither the most prominent feature of the build nor entered in a timely fashion; 4) the flavor text is minimal at best. That indicates a considerable shift in the scoring rubric, by my reading.

    As a final general thought before addressing specific remarks from the judges, I, personally, had a relatively difficult time swallowing the thought that my build was scoring behind one that made use of an undocumented source that, per Vorpal Tribble's link, is from outside WotC's publishing entirely. I am sure Akal Saris did not set out to make an illegal build, but it still sticks in my craw that the majority of our builds were apparently considered poor enough to finish behind a build that doesn't seem to conform to the rules of the contest.


    SPECIFIC RESPONSES TO SOME JUDGES' STATED CONCERNS, IN ORDER POSTED

    In the interests of brevity and possibly vanity, I’m only addressing specific concerns related to scores below 3. Perhaps I’m deluded into imagining myself from Lake Woebegone, where everyone is above average. Spoilers are for presentation, not privacy, so please feel free to read all comments.

    true_shinken
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    Use of Secret Ingredient: 2
    I wonder what Green Star Adept does for this build. I see no synergy whatsoever.
    As mentioned in the build, and as others indicated (and as I will probably repeat here later in this post), GSA’s Construct benefits get me several things I wouldn't get otherwise: Immunity from Sneak Attacks, immunity from unlucky Criticals, immunity from being Poisoned by my own weapon via Disarm, and allowing me to coat MYSELF with poison for the Disarm-proof Slam attacks that a Halfling would otherwise be all but completely unable to use. It may not be GSA's 'design intent,' but it makes use of GSA's abilities to do something I'd otherwise be hard-pressed to do. It was disheartening to take all 10 levels of the PrC to achieve specific, stated, benefits, and get so low a score for Use of Secret Ingredient.


    .....................................

    Ingus
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    This is my second favourite build. Really. Really sorry to underrate it.
    I can't speak for how others might interpret comments like this, but my immediate reaction was "if it's your second favorite, I would think your scoring would reflect that preference." Since this was not the case, I am exceptionally curious as to what in the scoring process causes this disconnect between being your second favorite build and landing tied, by my quick math, for 4th place.


    ......................................

    the_humanity
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    Dr Julius Mordenstein: 8 sources, none cited in work, one a Netbook Feat not written or published by WotC. One Prestige Class finished. Elegance: 5
    vs.
    Nicolo: 10 sources, one of which is strictly for the setting, all cited and all WotC, no bouncing from FR to Eberron or similar. Two Prestige Classes finished. Elegance: 2

    That's a very wide swing, given a very narrow, debatable spread of source usage, which, as Keld mentioned, is generally part and parcel of Optimization. Could you elaborate more on the reason such a small shift in sources used caused such a wide range in Elegance scoring?

    Power: 1.5. so many better poisoners available, I'm a fan of playing a straight assassin myself.
    Regular Iron Chef contest winner Akal Saris' guide to poisons and poisoners (http://brilliantgameologists.com/boa...p?topic=4854.0) indicates Black Dog is the strongest choice for a poisoner, largely thanks to its 4th level ability. Further, Black Dog answered my complaint from earlier in the thread that GSA doesn't give my Character anything I wouldn't get from playing a Warforged. It lets me play a poisoner with Slam Attacks and total immunity to Poisons if I get disarmed, which a Warforged was racially barred from entering. Assassin has no Empower Poison ability, and would not have answered the complaint “Why aren’t you just a Warforged for this idea?”
    Iron Chef in the Playground veteran since Round IV.

    Who made my awesome Dwarf Hexblade avatar, you ask? BRC did!
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  11. - Top - End - #281
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge VII

    First think, I hope the best for you Oz. Really.

    Then...
    Congratulations to everyone: this time there was no weak entry, you were all very near and each entry was palatable.

    A special mark to Vorpal, who finally made it, and another to Amphetryon, which presented a very, very, very good build.

    Your questions would merit a better answer, but I'm about to go to sleep, so please have patience a ten more hours or so.
    In advance I can say that:
    -Chordevoc is in Races of the Wild and the link that Vorpal provided is only an ease (you can read it on the beginning of the link)
    -I don't concur with every judgement made by every judge when I partecipated and I wanted to judge also to understand what's behind. I can only suggest you, when and whenever you would feel it, to do it. It is not a paternalistic "you don't know what is it, boy", take it as an experience
    -In my opinion, well written backstories influences elegance and originality, not power. My favourite backstories were Nicolo and Starryeyes, which influenced my judgement on Elegance and Originality. Power, for me at least, is a different thing.

    Precisely, about my judgement:
    Originality 4: Hexblade was expected, so a -0.5, Chordevoc was the standard benchmark (edited) here and so Nicolo started from 4.5 because of Black Dog and poison use.
    Elegance: see figure-it-out rule. If you think this as a contest like "what if you're a DM?", I would have probably said: this is unfinished. Which is a -1 starting to a 4.5
    USI and Power: self explainatory, I think.

    What I can say is: I read the entries before really judging (so take any given manual and start checking) and at that time mi chart was Starryeyes, Nicolo, Mordenstein and Glougen ex aequo.
    You personally pay all the time I had to expend calculating Nicolo's BAB, Saves, AC, class features and so on.
    As I said answering to Akal "I hoped that my favourites didn't screw it out and someone did". You and Vorpal did. You more (if you count the -0.5 and -1, you goes on second place in my judgement). Here is late night so I can fail, but the concept is the same.
    This is why I said what I said.
    And I can confirm you: I'm really sorry to have underrated your entry
    Last edited by Ingus; 2010-07-14 at 06:58 PM.

  12. - Top - End - #282
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge VII

    And my 3rd place streak is finally broken. Awesome.

    Congrats Akal, you gave me the incentive to put in that extra bit of effort

    This contest was so close though, all the way through, that Ozy could have totally turned it on it's head. Prayers to yours.

    To further explain my entry...
    I actually based a good chunk of this from a dream of mine that I had a few days before the contest. I'm actually the eldest of 10 kids, and I dreamed of this huge field of my parents where we used to play (though no idea where the lake came from, but in the dream, it was there). Those green pterodactyl, tentacly, little-headed creatures came out and stole them away. Tried to catch them but they kept doing impossible things that never let me do it. Finally managed to grab the leg of my brother but we fell into the lake and he drowned.

    Statted those SOB's
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    Zikm

    Medium Aberration (far)
    Hit Dice: 9d8+9 (49 hp)
    Initiative: +3
    Speed: Fly 50 ft. (good), swim 30 ft.
    Armor Class: 26 (+3 dex, +4 insight, +9 natural), touch 15, flat-footed 23
    Base Attack/Grapple: +6/+13
    Attack: Tentacle +12 melee (1d3+6)
    Full Attack: 8 tentacles +12 melee (1d3+6) and bite (1d2+3)
    Space/Reach: 5 ft./10 ft.
    Special Attacks: Constrict, improved grab, reality flux
    Special Qualities: damage reduction 15/star metal, far traits, fate of the green, power resistance 21, stranger to the sun, voidborn, weaknesses
    Saves: Fort +4, Ref +6, Will +7
    Abilities: Str 22, Dex 17, Con 13, Int 19, Wis 12, Cha 10
    Skills: Escape Artist +8, Hide +15, Knowledge (forbidden) +16, Listen +13, Move Silently +15, Spot +13, Swim +18
    Feats: Darkstalker, Heavyweight Wings, Reinforced Wings, Open Minded
    Environment: Any
    Organization: Solitary or Invasion (3+)
    Challenge Rating: 8
    Treasure: None
    Alignment: Unaligned
    Advancement: 10-15 HD (Medium), 16-39 HD (Large)
    Level Adjustment: -

    When the comet Alhazarde appears in the sky others know to be wary. Creatures of all manner are awakened, some fearing it, others dancing beneath it, and some using it. Its composition makes it deadly to outsiders and unnatural things flinch in its light as the normal pattern of the heavens is altered.

    The Zikm are an intrusion on the worlds they are found. None are sure if they even belong to this multiverse or what their purpose is on the locales they are seen. They spend much of their time in hiding it seems, living within the deepest, most hidden places. Caverns beneath lakes and deep sea caves are standard, though dark swamps and mountain crevasses are known to occasionally hold small populations.

    They are known as kidnappers from beyond, taking specimens of living creatures, usually children of sentient races. It is doubtful that they are eaten, and the journey upwards is absolutely lethal. As such, speculation on their plans is grim indeed.

    Zikm are vaguely humanoid, though with winged arms resembling that of a pterosaur. Instead of finger joints there are hundreds of tiny tentacles so that the edge of the wings seem to be ringed with twitching worms.
    The feet appear to be a great mass of tentacles, but each one is in fact a boneless toe of great strength with suckers at the tips.

    The head is strange, but a fist-sized, neckless dome far too small for the body, with odd knobs along the top. Two black eyes and a small mouth filled with tiny tearing teeth take up almost all the facial area.

    Combat
    Zikm enjoy snatch and grab methods, remaining so still until then that they might as well not exist. Most of those they wish to attack they first study and watch, learning their ways. Sometimes the zikm will then leave them be, or attack when it seems there would be a better opportunity, following some instinct not of this world.

    Constrict (Ex): A zikm deals 1d6+3 points of damage per tentacle holding the victim with a successful grapple check.

    Far Traits: There is a 1 in 20 chance each time a spell without the [natural] descriptor is directed at a Zikm that it is changed and warped as the Wild Magic trait.

    Information on a Zikm cannot be learned with a Knowledge (dungeoneering) check like most aberrations. Instead it requires the Knowledge (forbidden lore) skill.

    Zikm are normally immune to mind-affecting effects from a non-aberration source; though see Fate of the Green below. Those even attempting to use one upon them, including natural telepathy, must succeed on a Will save (DC 18) or be rendered Confused for 1 round and the ability ends.

    Fate of the Green (Ex): The week before, during, and the week after the closest approach of the comet Alhazarde a Zikm loses it's Reality Flux abilities and its immunity to mind-affecting effect. The zikm also takes 1d6 points of strength damage and 1d4 constitution. On the flipside, it may leave the world it is trapped upon during this time, and its flying maneuverability increases to Perfect. It can fly even where there is no air to support it, and once out of a planet's gravity well may use a version of Planeshift that allows it to shift to the Far Realm or the equivalent in your campaign world.

    Improved Grab (Ex): To use this ability, a zikm must hit a creature of any size with two of it's tentacle attack. It can then attempt to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity.

    If it wins the grapple check, it it establishes a hold and can attempt to constrict the opponent in the following round.

    Reality Flux: Zikm's state of being in the multiverse is haphazard at best. Zikm seem to collectively share the same state of being. Roll a 1d10 every 1d10-1 weeks and 1d6+1 days and use the chart below:

    1 - Incorporeal and invisible
    2 - Incorporeal
    3 - Greater Invisibility: Invisible, but cannot be seen with True Seeing.
    4 - Nightmare: Only exists in dreams with no physical body. Those within 1000 feet of a Zikm's hiding place are affected as by the Nightmare spell. The save against the negative aspects of this feat is DC 18, though even on a successful save they may dream of the creature. Saves are Intelligence-based.
    5 - Timefused: Affected as by the Timeless Body and Immovability power, except it lasts for the duration above. The Zikm is unconscious and unable to take any action.
    6 - Sped Up: Affected as by Haste. Every 2d6 rounds Haste becomes Temporal Acceleration.
    7 - Every 1d6 rounds you skip ahead 1d20 rounds as the Time Hop power.
    8 - Out of Body: The Zikm appears to be where its not and can do battle. However, the Zikm's true body remains elsewhere and cannot approach within a thousand feat of itself. They cannot interact or affect one another in any way. If the first body is killed the real Zikm is unaffected, though gains no other flux until its re-roll.
    9 - Realer Than Real: Reality becomes like a dream to them. They are as ghosts, but it is that everything else is incorporeal to them. They become roaming force affects, dealing 10d6 damage when they interact with living flesh, sweeping it aside like vapor. If they walk through trees or buildings they may move through them, leaving a gaping hole as if from a Disintegrate spell.
    10 - Reroll the 1d10 every hour instead of the time listed above. If you roll a second 8 reroll every minute. If you roll 3 consecutive 8's reroll every round.

    Stranger To the Sun (Ex): Zikm are dazzled in natural sunlight. This does not include artificial or magical light of any kind.

    Voidborn (Ex): A Zikm does not appear to require breath and is completely immune to the chill of space or ice or the most blazing heat. Thus they do not need to make checks in airless environs or against inhaled poisons and similar. They may still take damage from supernatural cold and fire damage, but not natural cold or heat.

    Weaknesses

    Cerulean Sign: The natural order of the planes is anathema to a Zikm. They recoil from a strongly presented cerulean sign symbol. Non-spell signs don’t harm the zikm - it merely keeps it at bay. A recoiling zikm must stay at least 5 feet away from a creature displaying the cerulean sign and cannot touch or make melee attacks against the creature displaying the symbol for the rest of the encounter. Holding a zikm at bay takes a standard action.

    Star Metal: A zikm takes double damage from Star Metal weapons. It loses its Reality Flux abilites and is rendered Fatigued if injured by one until the damage is healed.
    Multiple blows do not increase the Fatigue to Exhausted or any worsened state. However, other affects that increase Fatigue another level still apply as normal.



    -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

    As for you judges... thanks for your kind words and votes. I do appreciate it. Consider Amphetryon's disclaimer copy and pasted here.

    Were-Chordevoc A Custom Template?
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    Whether or not you like the template is one thing, but those who didn't like it being 'custom', please think on this.

    #1. It's a template from a core book.

    #2. Because it gives broader options depending on the animal doesn't make it 'custom'. Custom means you add your own spin or interpretation on things. If you'd applied the lycanthrope template to make a halfling were-chordevoc you'd have gotten the exact same results as I. There is no room for interpretation or customization. You follow the rules of the template, you get the exact same creature.

    #2. Chordevoc was chosen only for flavor as its a nocturnal bird of prey. Otherwise it's only difference from being a core-book Hawk is it's fly maneuverability and blindsense ability. This does not break it nor does it go against any official core rule or contest rule.

    #3. If the lycanthrope template makes it difficult for you as judges to tally up stats to make sure it's been done right please don't penalize the maker.

    #4. Elegance is for flavor and the way it meshes with the rest of the build. Is there seriously a single thing to do with a nocturnal flying bird that doesn't mesh, much less deserve a reduction?


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    It seems that this book is hit on hard when using anything from it, not just flaws or alternative systems.

    It either needs banned completely in my opinion or you not take anything off from using it unless it's certain parts like Flaws that the rules specifically state are penalties.


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    There were only 5 books that were actually even near mandatory to make this build work. Two of which are core, the third required specifically for this contest.

    That leaves 2 books not standard for the contest.
    One is needed for a PrC, the 2nd for a template.

    The rest of the books the feats, spells and chordevoc were simply for flavor and have nothing to do with the build. As flavor shouldn't they cancel out the negatives of using a wide variety of sources? Especially since there is no rule saying it will lower them. There is no score for conservatism amongst sources.


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    You got my anonymous message from Prinny days ago, so I won't go at it again.

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    You're right, power isn't great for non-aberration, expected it. However...

    Elegance: 2. Ok, I am really sorry for this, but you used a custom Lycanthropic template (questionable in general)
    See above I guess. You may not like, but I've yet to see anything questionable about it. I've made dozens of lycanthropes and yet to seen anything broken, much less with an HD 1 creature. Perhaps If I'd added a dire creature or dinosaur for a measely +2 LA that'd make sense, but I chose a very weak creature.

    traits (from UA, also questionable and personally I hate them)
    Flaws I can understand, and the rules mention as much, but Traits? I had to take away 1 point of HP to an already HP weak build for 10 extra feet of flight (chosen solely to go with story btw).

    Saint (regarded as among the better templates, along with one of the most thorniest in regards to acquiring it).
    I whole-heartedly agree, it is one of the better ones. However, very few templates require you to first use 'three' feats. I had to use almost half my allotted feats to apply for it. I also waited to much later levels to where it wouldn't make as much of a difference. My story then explained how she came to get it. All the prerequisites were painstakingly met.
    Last edited by The Vorpal Tribble; 2010-07-14 at 07:07 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amphetryon View Post
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    I am extremely grateful to the judges, past, present, and future, who voluntarily take the time to pore over the meager creations of the anonymous folks who post for these contests. Any comments I make, whether wondering aloud on the judging process or in explanation of my build decisions, should not be taken by any stretch as criticisms of the judges, either in their capacity as judge or personally. Everything that follows should be considered along the lines of inquiry or polite rebuttal; none of it is intended to be ranting or defensive in nature.
    You're welcome, I think. Now, to more directly address your concerns.

    I'd like to note that I'm not Prinny, nor Heliomance, and thus whatever I say is said by me alone. What I say is just how I see it, and shouldn't be considered canon to the contest.

    Elegance and difficulty
    There's a lot being asked here, so I'll just hit the high points.

    1. This is a CHALLENGE, as the title says. That it's tough to satisfy the judges is inherent in the entire idea. Were it to be easy, it'd be boring. That it is hard to create something original and powerful isn't a serious problem IMO, and that you (and others) have commented on this strikes me as silly. We all know that it's tough. That doesn't mean it's impossible, as these 7 contests have shown repeatedly. This specific contest is taking the most fire thanks to the poor choice of ingredient, I think.

    2. I'm going to sound like a broken record too, but I'd rather NOT see Elegance codified any further. That is the judge's discretion. Hell, that's the ENTIRE POINT. What I would vastly prefer to see is the judges be required to explain their judging, as I have done multiple times now. That way, you know how to make each judge happy.

    Secret Ingredient usage
    Entries should be judged as per whatever the judge thinks. This is why I always tell people how I'm going to judge their works. You are coming at this from the wrong direction, I think.

    Fluff requirements
    I already talked about this above. As I've said like 5 times now, a story is nice, but strictly speaking, not required. However, it makes things far nicer in my view.

    Concerning Akal_Saris
    That feat is not technically illegal. It is recommended that it not be allowed in games with normal skill sets, however, that is for the DM (or judges, in this case) to determine. Now, I didn't like that much personally, but his character was solid in many respects, and I am usually willing to overlook one small issue such as that if it makes something excellent. Julius was a fine build, though not my favorite, and so such a small breach of reason was fine IMO.

    You know, Amphetryon, I like you in a lot of ways, but this rant bothers me on a few levels. Contests such as these (and Iron Chef, their genesis in real life) are contingent on the judges performing their role as they see fit. That you wish to take the right of judgment from them and force them to adhere to codes and restrictions bothers me, especially when they are volunteering their time to answer things like this and to judge your hard work in a fair manner. If you feel you've been wronged by myself or other judges, please, take that up with them specifically. But, to attack the entire position strikes me as unkind, at best.

    As always, I give you my responses in the best of attitudes: with a smile. I will continue to judge these for as long as they're being run, as I find it entertaining and educational. That said, I will not be told how to do my work, just as I don't tell you how to prepare your submission. If you take the right of judgment and interpretation of the criteria away from the judges, you are undermining and destroying the nature of such a competition, and that would be, at best, a damn shame.

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    On the template, we'd already discussed that, and you weren't marked down significantly for it. Just a minor "ugh, I don't like that much" and I moved on.

    On traits, I know you took it for story reasons. However, that said, UA is in the realm of debatableness, as it's a book of variant rules. I dislike usage of variant rules in any circumstance, as they cannot be counted upon. It wasn't needed, added nothing your story didn't already cover, and was questionable (due to being a variant) to begin with.

    Saint is another "DM specific" template. I know you met the prereqs. Never doubted it for a moment. You are famously mechanically adept, and I'd not presume such a failure on your part. However, I don't like it when builds rely so heavily on DM permission, and since Saint listed that it needs to be carefully approved (above and beyond the standard "ask your DM" disclaimer), I didn't like it much.

    To me your build, though quite good and very enjoyable (as my score reflected), relied too heavily on the hypothetical DM, above and beyond the stated D&D caveat. Lycanthrope is a template that is famous for being thorny. Saint includes warnings when using it. Variant rules are VARIANTS, not RAW. These all combined to make me wary of the character. I'd not attempt to run that past most DMs, since they'd look at it and say "you have a great story, but, I dunno about all that stuff with Saint and variants and half-whatevers. Could you play something else, please?"

    I had hoped I wouldn't have to defend a score of 2 when the baseline is 3. I could easily have justified scoring you at 1.5 or even 1 in that category were I slightly less tolerant. The fact that I DIDN'T says something, I think, since others have scored lower for lesser issues than I have.
    Last edited by arguskos; 2010-07-14 at 07:11 PM.

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge VII

    But, to attack the entire position strikes me as unkind, at best.
    As I said, my commentary was not, by any stretch, intended as an attack, on any judge, or any contestant.
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge VII

    Quote Originally Posted by Amphetryon View Post
    As I said, my commentary was not, by any stretch, intended as an attack, on any judge, or any contestant.
    You... missed the point. I was not saying you were attacking me, or humanity, or any individual, but rather the position of judge, which I find distasteful.
    Last edited by arguskos; 2010-07-14 at 07:12 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arguskos View Post
    You... missed the point. I was not saying you were attacking me, or humanity, or any individual, but rather the position of judge, which I find distasteful.
    If my post was read as an attack in any way, despite my statements of intent to the contrary, then I failed to communicate my intent, for which I apologize.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amphetryon View Post
    If my post was read as an attack in any way, despite my statements of intent to the contrary, then I failed to communicate my intent, for which I apologize.
    I... wouldn't say that. Your intent was quite clear. Sometimes, a bit of anger and/or attacking a position is what it takes, and I've nothing against it really. I personally feel you are missing the point somewhat, but that's just one man's opinion.

    Tell you what. Let's wait for the others to weigh in a bit more, and we'll see what comes.

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    Ok, home from work, and time to talk. I feel like I was absolutely crapped on this competition. Some of it was my fault, my story was a bit weak (I'm not a novelist, and I wasn't under the impression that being a novelist would help. This is Iron Optimization after all, not Iron Narative.) I know presentation is important, and I probably could have gone into a bit more detail, but I feel like a lot of my build was completely missed by more than one judge. I also feel like I was penalized on multiple catagories based on story, which is kinda bogus, IMO.

    I scored TERRIBLE in use of special ingredient. I understand that not using 10/10 levels in GSA was gonna knock me down a little, but I used EVERY bit of it that was useful WITHOUT being a detriment to the character. Wasn't that the goal? To use the special ingredient in a way that wouldn't be better served by ANY other class? One thing that I did was I tied in nearly every bonus that the GSA gets into at least one other aspect of my character. IMO, the SLAM is a major part of the GSA. Every other bit of it is passive. The slam is the only thing you get thats active. Only one other contestant even included the slam in his stat block. I actually optimized my slam, stacking on Improved Natural Attack with Greater Mighty Wallop (which also synergized with my weapon choice, the Greatclub). I turned the normally crappy slam into a beastly, highly useful secondary natural attack. Nobody even acknowledged that. Also, given that Suel Arcanamach only has 10 spellcasting levels, I was able to get 10/10 SA casting even with the half casting from GSA. I didn't lose any potential, unlike any of the builds who used a full caster base and who lost 2-3 full SPELL LEVELS by taking it. On top of that, I was the only one who was able to utilize the +CL bonus GSA gets in a net positive way. Everyone else just took it as a consolation prize given for the loss of a spellcaster level, but my build, through the use of nearly full BAB, Martial Arcanist, and the Illumian Krau sigil managed to actually pull out a caster level that was HIGHER than his ECL WITHOUT the cheesy reading of GSA. In nearly every facet, GSA actually made the character better, while most of the other builds simply accepted the losses simply because they had to use GSA.

    And now elegance, the other catagory I got slammed in. I got cited for using too many classes. I used 5. Every build used 3-5. I fail to see how this is excessive. Given that GSA is a 10 level PrC, it generally takes 2 classes to get in, and you need something to take after you finish it. If I had used 7+ classes, I could see this, but I was slightly on above average and got slammed for it. I don't understand this. I also got cited for jumping around. Now this was something I wasn't anticpating. I dropped in 2 levels of GSA before finishing AC because I felt like the slam was a cool feature, and wanted to enjoy it for more than just the last 6 levels of the build. I couldn't take any more at that point though, or I wouldn't have qualified for Minor Shapeshift, a REALLY powerful feat that helps a ton with survivability, until level 18. I also could have finished Abjurant Champion first, but I wanted the cool slam. The other thing I was really proud of was the fact that the character is nearly immune to Dispel Magic from level 12 and up. As a character who relies a lot on buffs, losing those buffs is killer. Very few other builds, and certainly no other gish builds can claim this. Between Martial Arcanist, Tenacious Casting, and the +4 CL from 8 levels of GSA, this guy is MILES ahead of unoptimized dispels, and still very strong against even optimized dispels. Yea, this ties into power, but I think its also VERY elegant to collect features from 3 classes and a race and be able to tie them together for a single purpose. Thats what optimization is all about, right?

    And sources...don't get me started on that. I used quite a few, but I could have done the whole build with only Complete Arcane, Complete Mage, PHBII, and Dragon Magic. 4 books outside of core, all of which were published by WotC. I picked Shape Soulmeld because, while I see it talked about a lot, I've never seen anyone use Open Lesser Chakra Shoulders to get 20% miss chance without an item for any type of melee build. It worked out GREAT, but instead of praise, I got slapped. I suggested an item from BoED because the ONLY weakness not covered by spells and abilities was gaining negative levels through Enervation or an advanced Wight. All that crap was things I added because I felt they helped shore up weaknesses and improve the overall strength of the character, but none of it outside of those 4 books was vital. Most build suggestions people throw out these days take 6-12 books simply because often enough, most of the book is crap with a few gems in it. I mean, half of the PrCs in Complete Arcane are almost unplayable, yet they have stuff like Iot7V and Sublime Chord in there. Thats just the nature of the beast with 3.5.

    So yea...a little ranty, but I feel it is justified. I think its a sham to call this "Iron Optimization", as this title lies about what one expects in results. Better to call it "Iron Character Developement" or such, since the focus seems to be WAY more on telling a story to acompany a build, rather than creating a build that is effective at both using the special ingredient and doing what its supposed to do. I don't think I'll take part in the competition again, since I'm not a novelist and have no interest in being a novelist, but I'll definitely lend my experience to the judging staff, if I may.
    Last edited by Keld Denar; 2010-07-14 at 09:12 PM.
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    And now for the unveiling of the trophies! Personally, I think that they're the best ones yet.



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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Moron View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Optimystik View Post
    'Adding up numbers' is completely independent of roleplay. What you're saying makes as much sense as "peeling a banana is not a good way to drive."


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    Quote Originally Posted by Keld Denar View Post
    So yea...a little ranty, but I feel is justified. I think its a sham to call this "Iron Optimization", as this title lies about what one expects in results. Better to call it "Iron Character Developement" or such, since the focus seems to be WAY more on telling a story to acompany a build, rather than creating a build that is effective at both using the special ingredient and doing what its supposed to do. I don't think I'll take part in the competition again, since I'm not a novalist and have no interest in being a novalist, but I'll definitely lend my experience to the judging staff, if I may.
    I won't respond to your main post, since well, we've talked about this before, but the bolded is something I feel is a bit excessive.

    This contest is not purely optimization, that's true, but if someone walked in with a novel and a Fighter 20 who was Sword and Board with the Weapon Focus line, we would laugh them out of the thread, no matter how nice their novel was. Presentation matters, sure, but content is good too. You were almost entirely content with no presentation, thus you were hurt. Neither extreme is good. You don't have to write like Vorpal. Look at, say, Akal's entry. That's a short thing, but it lends a bit of flavor to the entry.

    I personally feel your major issue was lack of explanation. I'm pretty versed in mechanics, and generally know what the hell I'm doing, and I didn't catch all of that. If you're going to make something that complex, perhaps a short tale and a HIGHLY detailed explanation is in order? It's not apparent to most folks, even those of us who know what we're doing.

    Also, while I understand you feel you were treated unfairly (truth of the matter is not for me to decide), being accusatory doesn't really help your case.

    Oh, and for what it's worth, I do feel I graded your specific entry perhaps a bit harshly, since I understood more of the entry on another reading after I posted (though still not everything). However, I never change scores after I post them.

    Finally, cause this bugs me, it's not "novalist", it's "novelist". /englishmajor

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    Those trophies are truly amazing, Prinny.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amphetryon View Post
    Those trophies are truly amazing, Prinny.
    Don't thank me, thank Strategos. I only wish I could be that good.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Moron View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Optimystik View Post
    'Adding up numbers' is completely independent of roleplay. What you're saying makes as much sense as "peeling a banana is not a good way to drive."


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    Quote Originally Posted by Private-Prinny View Post
    Don't thank me, thank Strategos. I only wish I could be that good.
    Don't we all. Those are probably the nicest ones thus far, though I liked the Master of Masks trophies as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keld Denar View Post
    I scored TERRIBLE in use of special ingredient. I understand that not using 10/10 levels in GSA was gonna knock me down a little, but I used EVERY bit of it that was useful WITHOUT being a detriment to the character. Wasn't that the goal? To use the special ingredient in a way that wouldn't be better served by ANY other class?
    I dunno about the rest of what you've said and find it a bit strong to call it a "sham", and I'm still grateful to the judges for their time and mind. With all the judgement questioning, I'm a bit afraid no one will want to sign up for another. Despite that, I gotta say...

    ...I was shaking my head on every single judgement of Byerek. I don't see a single build that makes better use of GSA. Especially turning the half CL + CL boosts disadvantage into a boon. I could see a bit of a hit to elegance for the maneuver, as well as a hit to originality for strength illumian, duskblade>suel, etc. But I can't help but wonder if the judges overlooked how your build was intended to work.
    Last edited by Pechvarry; 2010-07-14 at 10:13 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pechvarry View Post
    I could see a bit of a hit to elegance for the maneuver
    See, this is the reasoning I don't understand. Elegance isn't simplicity, is it? If it was, well, then it should be called simplicity. As arguskos said, each judge should be allowed to decide what elegance means to them, but it should never mean simplicity.

    To me, something that would score low points in elegance would be a single cleric level dip to pick up a bunch of free feats and turn undead, like you see tacked onto a lot of Swift Hunter builds. Its just deadended cleric casting. It is the opposite of elegance. Also, things that fit together poorly or require alignment swaps at various stages would rank low. But putting together 3 similar PrCs in a clever, streamlined way should never cause a hit to elegance.

    Why do you feel like that? Full on curiosity...why do you feel its NOT elegant?
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    First off, best wishes to Ozy and his family.

    Second, congratulations to VT and his first place win! Starry-Eyes was a very cool character and my second-favorite of the competition after Amphetryon's entry :)

    Third, just to clear something up, Vorpal_Tribble inaccurately attributed the Skill Mastery feat to a netbook, while it is actually from Unearthed Arcana. I didn't want to reveal my entry however, so I did not correct VT on that. Guess I should have stated that in the thread after all though.

    On a sidenote, OUCH on Amp's criticism of my first Iron Chef win. Hulking Hurler abuse is commonplace, but nobody before me had ever solved the problem of having a portable source of incredibly heavy weapons for him to throw. In my mind, that was a very creative use of the secret ingredient :P

    To both Keld_Danar and Amp, I agree that characters with long backstories tend to do better overall. I'm all for Keld_Danar judging in the future, and I'm sure he'll be a solid judge.

    Scores were overall low in this contest, and I think that was very discouraging to contestants. It sucks to get a 2 in a score, even if 3 is the baseline. I blame the secret ingredient for having such passive, defensive abilities, which made it difficult to showcase how useful those abilities actually were to the build.

    Anyhow, I'm glad we got GSA out of the way! Optimizers have been trying for years to make something useful from it, so it was a worthy endeavor, even if I still hate the damned PrC.
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    Akal, if you took offense from anything I said, I apologize, and can only assure you it was not my intent to offend you or anyone else by sharing my opinions. My only reason for posting publicly and not private discourses was an effort to stimulate dialogue that would hopefully lead to more informed contestants and, therefore, better entries. As I indicated, when I see my scores fluctuate wildly from judge to judge, it tells my I'm doing something wrong with my process. The only way I know to improve that process is to examine it and ask questions before trying again.

    On a sidenote, OUCH on Amp's criticism of my first Iron Chef win. Hulking Hurler abuse is commonplace, but nobody before me had ever solved the problem of having a portable source of incredibly heavy weapons for him to throw. In my mind, that was a very creative use of the secret ingredient :P
    It was a very creative use in my mind, as well. I was using that build and win not as a criticism, but as a yardstick by which I was trying to demonstrate that the criteria for judgment of an Iron Chef Optimization Challenge appears to have shifted. This shift is not a bad thing, it's not a good thing, it simply is. In my view, the only issues that arise from what I'm perceiving as a shift come from entrants being unaware of it. My meaning in the example was merely this: it is my opinion - not fact, not supported by any direct statement from any of the judges - that an entry of Base Class 11/Supporting PrC 2/Secret Ingredient 7 would not score well in the current rubric, regardless of brilliance.

    Akal, your builds are pretty consistently brilliant, which is the main reason your examples featured prominently in my comments.
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    For those saying backstories help, I don't know if that's the case, but it certainly isn't what makes them win. This is, what, my 4th entry, and all of mine had lengthy backgrounds, and this is the first time I've ever gotten a trophy. In fact, almost every entry they said 'you had a great story, but it wasn't the best entry'. I understood and agree completely and this time tried as hard on the crunch as fluff. I'm not much of a class optimizer, but by training and proclivity I am a darn good template/monster optimizer, so tried to play to my strengths here. Still scored low on power. I lean too much towards flavor. Which is why we have many other categories to judge.

    I do as much backstory as I feel it deserves however. The Green Star Adept just inspired me to make something lengthier than normal. While everyone was hating on it, I was in love with its fluff. However, it's not length of story but quality. There are winning entries that took not even half a page and placed better than mine.

    And finally... guys, there was such a narrow margin between most of ours that it only took a little nudge to bump it up. Took me an hour to find that pic and doctor it for instance. Mine could have simply been presented in a way that made them more receptive to my mini-novel and that was all it took.

    To put it in a nutshell, I'd hate to see anyone leave.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Akal Saris View Post
    Vorpal_Tribble inaccurately attributed the Skill Mastery feat to a netbook, while it is actually from Unearthed Arcana. I didn't want to reveal my entry however, so I did not correct VT on that. Guess I should have stated that in the thread after all though.
    Hmm. Sorry about that then. I searched everywhere, even unearthed arcana, but was completely unable to find it. Not a single google search or SRD search by keyword picked it up.

    Could you link it? This irks me
    Last edited by The Vorpal Tribble; 2010-07-14 at 11:30 PM.

  29. - Top - End - #299
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge VII

    Congratulations again to VT. I'm looking forward to the next challenge if I have time and access to the right books.

    Interesting thoughts Ampheryton. They have given me a little more insight.

  30. - Top - End - #300
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge VII

    Quote Originally Posted by Keld Denar View Post
    I feel like I was absolutely crapped on this competition.
    FWIW, yeah, I was also surprised by the low scores you got. You made a higher percentage of the GSA's class features actually support your build than any of the other contestants, and I thought that would get you some high scores in Use of Secret Ingredient. (That's pretty much the only reason I won the Master of Masks competition, after all. Well, maybe my story helped, too.)

    I guess we just had a selection of judges this round, who have seen a LOT of Illumians, Duskblade/Abjurant Champions, or Suel Archanamachs.

    * * *

    I definitely don't think we should drop the backstory/fluff aspect of characters from these competitions. A character without fluff is only half a character. But I suppose it would be valid to consider changing the name of the contest, if the "Optimization" in the title is misleading people about the well-rounded kind of competitors we want to see.
    Last edited by Draz74; 2010-07-15 at 02:01 AM.
    You can call me Draz.
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    Also of note:

    Work on my homebrew system, CRE8, is still marching slowly onwards. I think I can see the light at the end of the tunnel -- an Alpha release -- in the distance now. Read my Design Goals here.

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