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  1. - Top - End - #61
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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Back in the day, we had one of those players. Ugh. Every character he built appeared to be a deliberate series of the most ineffective choices possible, and he reacted to any suggestion of things he could tweak, or things his character could learn as part of growing into the lives they were finding themselves in, with comments like "that seems kinda power-gamey" or "that really doesn't fit the concept"... some of those characters were useless at EVERYTHING, and he refused to change that because the concept was something like "in over his head".
    Sounds like a guy in the PF group I'm currently in. He's playing a Fighter, and doesn't want to use heavier armor because it's 'not part of his concept'. I was too polite to say out loud "I hope your concept involves a LOT of bleeding, then." Said character may also need to be coaxed into actually coming along on adventures instead of staying at home running his shop.

    ROLEPLAYING@!

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    It's very true, there are a couple of exceptions, but not many.
    If you don't actually hate all your players with a raging fury, you're doing an astoundingly poor job of conveying your actual opinion of them. You and Takaleal might want to form a support group for people who only every get to play with utter jerks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    Because it is all the optimizer does: play the numbers game. Playing the numbers game IS Roll Playing. The player is obsessed with getting that ''+1 more'', and if they are doing that....they are not role playing.
    Soooo..... you're arguing that people in really high-danger lines of work should deliberately NOT do things that give them a higher survival chance, because that's 'good roleplaying'? I don't think you understand human survival instincts.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    Only optimizers think monks suck.

    My point is that not all jerks are optimizers, but all optimizers except a few are jerks.
    I'm just gonna leave these here.

    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    Good optimizer does not equal bad role-player, and bad optimizer does not equal good role-player.

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

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

    Settled?
    One of the better explanations for the Stormwind Fallacy I've seen is that you can measure people's interest/competence at roleplaying and rules mechanics as two separate 0-10 axes: People can be good at both, good at one, or good at neither. Thing is, people who are good at neither generally get bored and quit gaming, and most people aren't equally good at both, so SOME people start thinking they're mutually exclusive.
    Last edited by Arbane; 2017-12-29 at 01:07 PM.
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  2. - Top - End - #62
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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


    Quote Originally Posted by Arbane View Post
    Soooo..... you're arguing that people in really high-danger lines of work should deliberately NOT do things that give them a higher survival chance, because that's 'good roleplaying'? I don't think you understand human survival instincts.
    Most people prefer living to dying (strongly so). Most people prefer success to failure, getting what they want to not getting it, winning to losing, etc. Most people prefer to be good at what they do (even if they struggle at it).

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

    Anything can be taken too far, but it's ridiculous to assert that normal human (and probably most even vaguely smart living things) drives are "bad roleplaying".
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2017-12-29 at 02:12 PM.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    Quote Originally Posted by Arbane View Post
    Soooo..... you're arguing that people in really high-danger lines of work should deliberately NOT do things that give them a higher survival chance, because that's 'good roleplaying'? I don't think you understand human survival instincts.
    One reason that mechanical optimization and roleplaying can sometimes appear to be at odds is that real people do suboptimal things all the damn time. If your characters only make optimal choices, it's just bad roleplaying because real people don't do that.

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

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

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

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

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

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

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

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jormengand View Post
    There are more examples that break the rule than that follow it.
    There just are more bad optimizers as it is almost all of them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jormengand View Post
    You are aware that just like Miko doesn't have any samurai levels, you are allowed to be a merchant without having any access to the "Merchant class"? Plus, the optimiser is going to use those extra levels to get faster access to spells which help with mercantile tasks.
    Yes, you don't ''have'' to take any class. But think back to what some optimizers have said, maybe falsely: that they take mechanical things to support their character idea. Now, if this was true..why would they not take something to support their character idea?

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Jormengand View Post
    I think that's part of your problem, DU. You're enjoying the fact that everyone justifiably is getting ticked off at the fact that you keep showing up and saying stupid crap while the rest of us are trying to have a meaningful discussion.
    I understand, I do, from the other side: everyone is stuck in this Block Collective and won't have a meaningful discussion.

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

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

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

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

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

    You underestimate human laziness. The path of optimal effectiveness is a lot of hard work that might pay off in the future. Laziness pays off now.
    I think you just won the internet, +1 from me.

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

    I work middle management and have been in leadership positions most of my adult life and people do not optimize. Not with their time, not aquiring the necessary skillset they need to complete a job, not with their money, not with anything. This can be said about almost the whole population.
    Optimizing vs Roleplay
    If the worlds greatest optimizer makes a character and hands it to the worlds greatest roleplayer who roleplays the character. What will happen? Will the Universe implode?

    Roleplaying vs Fun
    If roleplaying is no fun then stop doing it. Unless of course you are roleplaying at gunpoint then you should roleplay like your life depended on it.

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    I think you just won the internet, +1 from me.

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

    I work middle management and have been in leadership positions most of my adult life and people do not optimize. Not with their time, not aquiring the necessary skillset they need to complete a job, not with their money, not with anything. This can be said about almost the whole population.
    Yeah. optimized people are unrealistic. breaks my suspension of disbelief more than any change in physics. a change in physics for a setting is expected, its an agreement for how the world works. human nature on the other hand is a needed vital thing to make sure its a lived in world where people are relatable and well... people.
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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

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

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

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

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

    You underestimate human laziness. The path of optimal effectiveness is a lot of hard work that might pay off in the future. Laziness pays off now.
    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    I think you just won the internet, +1 from me.

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

    I work middle management and have been in leadership positions most of my adult life and people do not optimize. Not with their time, not aquiring the necessary skillset they need to complete a job, not with their money, not with anything. This can be said about almost the whole population.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    Yeah. optimized people are unrealistic. breaks my suspension of disbelief more than any change in physics. a change in physics for a setting is expected, its an agreement for how the world works. human nature on the other hand is a needed vital thing to make sure its a lived in world where people are relatable and well... people.

    I think there may be some conflation here between optimizing character creation, and "heavily optimal" not-character-driven decision-making during gameplay.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    I think there may be some conflation here between optimizing character creation, and "heavily optimal" not-character-driven decision-making during gameplay.
    I have nothing against optimization during the character creation, most gamers do it to an extent. It's just some people take it too far. One player made a character in Gurps and took the disadvantage Workaholic to try to get more character points for training constantly. This is optimization that goes from character creation into the game.


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

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

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

    This is the bad side of optimizing, when you are expected to do it. And this also goes to trying to portray a character that doesn't take the optimal choice all the time. Like the gnome player said after blowing the whole party to smithereens after they uncovered that the cult had placed barrels of gundpowder under the temple district. "Gnomes and gunpowder don't mix well....especially when there are barrels of it and the gnome has a torch"
    Last edited by RazorChain; 2017-12-29 at 10:47 PM.
    Optimizing vs Roleplay
    If the worlds greatest optimizer makes a character and hands it to the worlds greatest roleplayer who roleplays the character. What will happen? Will the Universe implode?

    Roleplaying vs Fun
    If roleplaying is no fun then stop doing it. Unless of course you are roleplaying at gunpoint then you should roleplay like your life depended on it.

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    Yeah. optimized people are unrealistic. breaks my suspension of disbelief more than any change in physics. a change in physics for a setting is expected, its an agreement for how the world works. human nature on the other hand is a needed vital thing to make sure its a lived in world where people are relatable and well... people.
    Remember, folks, pro athletes are unrealistic.
    Imagine if all real-world conversations were like internet D&D conversations...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kelb_Panthera View Post
    That said, trolling is entirely counterproductive (yes, even when it's hilarious).

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    Quote Originally Posted by Arbane View Post
    Remember, folks, pro athletes are unrealistic.
    I'm not a big fan of sports, so I usually only hear about pro athletes when they're in the news for doing something stupid and easily avoidable that threatens to end their career. That happens a lot.

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

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

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

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

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

    As a PC, Thorpe rolled insanely well for stats, but made a lot of suboptimal choices. That made him really interesting and he's still remembered even after his records were broken.
    Yeah, pretty much. imperfect people can have great strengths and be geniuses yes. doesn't exclude them from making bad choices.

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

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    There just are more bad optimizers as it is almost all of them.
    I'm pretty sure they're in the vast, vast minority.

    Yes, you don't ''have'' to take any class. But think back to what some optimizers have said, maybe falsely: that they take mechanical things to support their character idea. Now, if this was true..why would they not take something to support their character idea?
    Because fabricate supports their idea of being a craftsman and a merchant better than the class which happens to be called merchant?

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

    I understand, I do, from the other side: everyone is stuck in this Block Collective and won't have a meaningful discussion.
    Or, maybe we just think you're wrong because you're obviously wrong and nothing you say has even a remote foundation in reality. We have plenty of meaningful discussions, but frankly they become a lot less meaningful when you squeal about how the terrible optimisers are ruining everything and we have to explain for the 150624656374573th time that no, calm down, they're not.
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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

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


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

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

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

    This is the bad side of optimizing, when you are expected to do it. And this also goes to trying to portray a character that doesn't take the optimal choice all the time. Like the gnome player said after blowing the whole party to smithereens after they uncovered that the cult had placed barrels of gundpowder under the temple district. "Gnomes and gunpowder don't mix well....especially when there are barrels of it and the gnome has a torch"
    It's also possible to take "in character" too far... like blowing your entire party up and killing all your fellow PCs "because that's what my character would do".
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

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

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

    Therefore, optimizers are "bad".
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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

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

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

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    It's also possible to take "in character" too far... like blowing your entire party up and killing all your fellow PCs "because that's what my character would do".
    Yes that's what we have on the other side of the spectrum. The roleplayer that makes a character that doesn't get along with the party and can't go on adventure because he screams "YOU CAN'T MAKE ME COMPROMISE MY CHARACTER CONCEPT" or just ruins everybodies fun in the name of his character concept.
    Optimizing vs Roleplay
    If the worlds greatest optimizer makes a character and hands it to the worlds greatest roleplayer who roleplays the character. What will happen? Will the Universe implode?

    Roleplaying vs Fun
    If roleplaying is no fun then stop doing it. Unless of course you are roleplaying at gunpoint then you should roleplay like your life depended on it.

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

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

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

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

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

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

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    OK, did not hear about the soldiers replacing armor with card board before, if it is true those people are morons. Darwin award worthy. I mostly DM these days and any character that shows such tendencies, I think I would try to kill them quickly so as to spare the party. And yes, I really would not care about the whining.
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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    Quote Originally Posted by vasilidor View Post
    OK, did not hear about the soldiers replacing armor with card board before....
    .
    Not quite the same, but when I worked at the Port I knew a co-worker who cut out the flotation materials out of his life vest so he could "move better".
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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    Yes that's what we have on the other side of the spectrum. The roleplayer that makes a character that doesn't get along with the party and can't go on adventure because he screams "YOU CAN'T MAKE ME COMPROMISE MY CHARACTER CONCEPT" or just ruins everybodies fun in the name of his character concept.
    Let me answer your signature question:

    Optimizing vs Roleplay
    If the worlds greatest optimizer makes a character and hands it to the worlds greatest roleplayer who roleplays the character. What will happen? Will the Universe implode?
    There are many answers to this. Here is seven:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    Let me answer your signature question:



    There are many answers to this. Here is seven:

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

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

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

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

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

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

    7. the greatest roleplayer decides he doesn't like the character after a while, makes a different one and roleplays it much better because he likes it more. nothing said the greatest roleplayer has any superhuman ability to roleplay all things, just that they're the best possible one in existence, and thus still has human limits.
    It was a theoretical question but thanks for taking a crack at it Your stance on optimizers is known to me, I believe that you can both be a roleplayer and a optimize at the same time. If you don't go to extremes on either axis.

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

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

    Most people are somewhere between those axis.
    Optimizing vs Roleplay
    If the worlds greatest optimizer makes a character and hands it to the worlds greatest roleplayer who roleplays the character. What will happen? Will the Universe implode?

    Roleplaying vs Fun
    If roleplaying is no fun then stop doing it. Unless of course you are roleplaying at gunpoint then you should roleplay like your life depended on it.

  24. - Top - End - #84
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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    I've played with roleplayers that made characters that did not work well with others and refused to give up on their concept. Most of us can tell from the start that playing a character who is a paranoid lone wolf isn't going to work well with a group of 5 other players. I fully understand that some want to devote 3 sessions on how the group wins that characters trust before they can all go on an adventure together. The other players will probably just say "oh you're not coming along, ok bye!". Or someone who decides to play a callous bastard in a group of goody two shoes and the bastard seemes suprised when he gets kicked out of the group for murdering prisoners in cold blood because they were just playing their character. Or a roleplayer that wants to spend all the game time to explore his characters background relations with npcs that the othe PC aren't invested in at all.
    See, thats teamwork, that has nothing to do with optimization or roleplaying. Thats a social problem, not a roleplaying or optimization problem.
    Last edited by Lord Raziere; 2017-12-31 at 11:07 PM.
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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

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

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

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

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    See, thats teamwork, that has nothing to do with optimization or roleplaying. Thats a social problem, not a roleplaying or optimization problem.
    Same could be said about optimization problems. Either it is an odd one out that is optimizing like crazy and gaming the system in a group that doesn't like that. Or there is this one guy that abhors optimization in a group of hard core optimizers. Power disparity and optimization doesn't become a problem until somebody makes it a problem.
    Last edited by RazorChain; 2018-01-01 at 03:25 AM.
    Optimizing vs Roleplay
    If the worlds greatest optimizer makes a character and hands it to the worlds greatest roleplayer who roleplays the character. What will happen? Will the Universe implode?

    Roleplaying vs Fun
    If roleplaying is no fun then stop doing it. Unless of course you are roleplaying at gunpoint then you should roleplay like your life depended on it.

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    Hm. I try to optimize (context: try to influence) a broad spectrum of possible character choices.

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

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

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

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

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

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

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

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

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

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

    Both promise to be good times.

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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Quote Originally Posted by gkathellar View Post
    If your "brave" character is always buckling to fear effects, a conflict emerges between your intent and execution. In games where many aspects of personality and behavior are codified mechanically, which is a lot of them, mechanical underpinnings can do a great service to being able to play the character you want to. As such, there's a roleplaying value in using mechanics that support your vision of the character. Hence, optimization towards an end.
    Yeap -- trying to play a brave character while the build or mechanics cause a lot of fear effects to take hold is a case of system/character dissonance.


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

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

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

    One way to do optimize is to make as mechanically strong or useful character for the gaming aspect but you can optimize for the roleplaying aspect as well...or even do both.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Mann View Post
    I don't see why it is it is impossible for a person to role play an optimal character. Yes it isn't exactly the most fun or unique thing to do. But a character striving to be perfect or the best at something isn't too uncommon in fiction. It is even done in real life as well, although those cases are fairly rare.

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

    The biggest issue with optimization is that it is easy for people to get so focused on managing mechanics that they often end up prioritizing the out of character goals over the in character ones. Thus leading to poorly thought out backstories, and uninspired roleplaying. It takes a good amount of effort to stay in the right mindset to balance the mechanics and roleplaying.
    Exactly -- what you're optimizing for at least as important a question as whether you're optimizing.
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    Default Re: What are you optimizing in character design?

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    If one leans "drama", then... I'm not sure, to be honest.
    Applying definitions as stated, it would be allocating your mechanical resources to create a character with the greatest ability to cause drama. Drama has this definition (when I googled it, at least): "an exciting, emotional, or unexpected series of events or set of circumstances."

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

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

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