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    Default What are you optimizing in character design?

    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?

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    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.
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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    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.

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    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.

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    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...
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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    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.

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    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.

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    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.
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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    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.

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    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.

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    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.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2017-12-26 at 06:27 PM.
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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    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?

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    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.

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    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.

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    Quote Originally Posted by BWR View Post
    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?

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    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.

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    Quote Originally Posted by BWR View Post
    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!"

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    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.
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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    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." And the question in this thread was asked on that basis.

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    A well designed and well developed character is not necessarily an optimized character, but can be.
    FTFY.
    Last edited by gkathellar; 2017-12-27 at 11:01 AM.

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    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.

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    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.

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    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.
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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    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.

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    Quote Originally Posted by BWR View Post
    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.
    Last edited by Lord Raziere; 2017-12-27 at 04:11 PM.
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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    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
    Grim specter of noogie hangs like shroud over us all


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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    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.

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    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.
    Imagine if all real-world conversations were like internet D&D conversations...
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    That said, trolling is entirely counterproductive (yes, even when it's hilarious).

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    SamuraiGuy

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    .
    Either I'm emulating a specific character from fiction, or combining traits from more than one, or I'm emulating abilities.


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    Last edited by RazorChain; 2017-12-27 at 11:02 PM.

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    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    ...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!


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