|Erik Mona Publisher, Chief Creative Officer|
|Jiggy RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32|
Treantmonk, where are you?
Yes it seems like an adoration thread, however it isn't. I have decided to come here and ask one simple question. . .
This is not a flamer check, it's a desperate attempt to revive a proper optimization culture and maybe give the community a chance to explain if it is simply me failing on all accounts.
P.S: If any one knows how to contact Treantmonk, could you ask him if he'd allow me to take contact to him and how? I have a few things i'd like to take up with his particular genius.
You don't have to apply optimisation to games.
I enjoy knowing how to squeeze every last drop out of a system and knowing I don't have to to enjoy the game.
Having a solid grasp on the best ways to do various things grants a GM a good ability to anticipate and handle shenanigans that might come from the players.
i enjoy making characters that are as powerful as possible within concept. i dont break my concept for 13 extra points of damage.
with that being said trent monks guides, while very useful tools for beginners, are not necessary if you are willing to take the time to read the books and use a littl common sense.
The best way to deal with this problem is for you to write up your own guides and share them with the paizo forum community.
I enjoy optimisation too, though I don't stretch a character entirely in that direction. Some optimisation advice leads to one-trick-ponies, particularly character that are awesome in combat but have nothing to contribute out of it.
I have enjoyed the last few guides that have been based around "these are choices I really enjoy." They also tend towards the one-trick-pony but are more likely to mention other options.
IIRC Treantmonk's Wizard guide did both well.
I like to use any if these guides to help make informed choices for my character. I use them to strengthen my characters within concept. Sometimes my characters are inspired by some aspect of optimisation.
Optimisation isn't absolute: a lot depends on the adventure, party-makeup and GM. So "flavour" is inevitable; what works for one player may end up a disaster for another. Treadmonk's advice, while generally well-thought out, could spell doom and disaster for a player in the "wrong" situation. Or for one with an incompatible playing style.
"Proper" optimisation is theorycraft: application of the rules without any consideration for realistic situations. And therefore not everybody's cup of tea.
Guys, please don't slight other gamers' preferences or playstyles. If I've learned anything playing at hundreds of conventions all around the country and the world, I've learned this: Different people get different things out of gaming. Not everyone has the same taste.
If you don't like optimization, that's perfectly fine. It's somewhat less fine to jump into the thread and malign people who do.
I am perfectly fine with people bashing me for liking optimization, though let me defend myself... The reason i ask for this is because i have one of the most malign GMs in history, he tend to make us(his players) seem very weak at every turn.
What i'd like to see is a few concept guides, i would do these my self but my time is sorely limited.
I personally do alot of Roleplay choices once i know my character can handle himself, i wont make a Fighter whom specializes in Broom combat. But i might make a fighter with a flair for less used weapons like the spiked chain or the club.
There's no reason to bash people for wanting to preform.
I am open for any comments and/or thoughts on this, lets discuss!
What are you after exactly? For instance, I could give you a build that gets up to 6 attacks per round with sneak damage by 3rd level without using any magic items, animals, eidolons or familiars but that might not be what you want. Alternatively, I could give you a build that has a really high armour class even against touch attacks and can trip and blind pretty much anything within 10 feet at its level/CR by 3rd level as well.
You need to be more specific.
As for specifics i'd like to see a functional cleric, i'd like to know more about his strengths and weaknesses and if he can be made into a functional melee character and a functional main caster... Not at the same time. And the two builds you suggested intrigue me as well.. .But this thread was more made to try and weave out those people interested in optimization cause it seems to be a lost cause lately on these forums. But it might just be me.
I don't think I agree with you that it's a "lost cause" recently on the forums... we have a lot of guides now on the Guide to Guides, and a lot of authors of those guides, so of course you're not going to like the style or focus of every one. I hope that you can recognize that each one of the people writing these guides knows what they're talking about, even if they prefer to focus on something that you feel isn't as relevant.
Incidentally, what did you think of my sorcerer bloodlines guide?
I will check up on your guide as soon as i get the chance, and get right back to you :) As i have not played a Sorcerer for a long time.
To be fair that is largely what TM's guides were as well. One thing you have to remember is that he only wrote guides on classes that he played and enjoyed doing. Which is why the guides had the limited coverage they did. It's very probable that he simply isn't playing the new classes and perahps no longer playing at all.
You also need to be more specific about what it is you're looking for. Most of the various guides do a fair job if the aim is maximising DPR, save dcs and the like. What more do you want?
And what is the reason that is keeping you from not playing with him?
If you seriously think that your GM is operating in a competing mode against his players you have the following two options.
1. Have a talk session with the GM and fellow players about how you feel about the campaign.
2. Find another GM.
Fact is no matter what we say here, you can't win against a determined Killer GM. Gaming only works when there is a consensual agreement between all parties to obey the "Don't be a jerk" rule. If you can't get that consensus, you're doomed from the start.
I am not him, but mostly is because of this:
Also, a difficult campaing with a killer GM is, in essence, no different than playing Skyrim on hard. A killer GM is diferent from Hack'n Slasher GM, not that a Hack'n Slash campaing is wrong it just gets boring quickly for me.
The reasons that i wont find another GM is simple... I'm from a little town in denmark, the only other GM around is me and i'd very much like to be a player every now and then. :)
So finding another GM is ipso facto not an option.
Play by Forum, Google Hangouts, virtual tabletops... all are options.
I enjoy other people's guides, personally, and find many a good tip in them. I would disagree and say that they DO have a wealth of optimization information. I'm not sure what you find missing from the guides, Shadeworld--could you give an example?
Indeed, Treantmonk's stuff set the standard and his guides are amazing. As he is no longer updating them, they are also becoming outdated. This is not meant as a dig on Treantmonk--it's just a fact. However--referring to older guides is certainly not where one wants to be if one is a student of optimization.
Regarding whether optimization is good or bad; that depends on how you want to play. When my sorcerer wasn't as optimized and equipped (and enspelled) in an optimal manner, I wasn't as happy. I got to tweak his stats, and am much happier. I can see how optimization could lead to a bunch of scimitar wielding Dawnflower Dervishes and TWF Rangers, etc, but there's a lot within the rules to have cool, effective characters of many a flavor.
Just my $.02.
The only limits to optimization should be, in my opinion, the character concept. Concept comes first, and then within the framework of that concept, optimize away...
Now to be fair, certain optimized combos have inspired character concepts in the past, and certain new options have inspired new directions the concept might go, but concept - and world view - should always take the lead.
Nothing drives me nuts more than seeing an adventuring party with a Kenku, a drow, a half-dragon, a gillman and an aasimar... I mean really, what the hell would they all be doing together? Nothing wrong with humans, elves, dwarves and halflings, you know.
I've never read a guide that I completely agreed with on every point. I've also never read a guide that didn't have a few good ideas I hadn't considered before.
All of them, including treantmonks', are one person's opinion. There's no one optimal way to build anything, really. You just have an array of choices, and some work better for certain concepts than others. No character can do it all. That's intentional.
I wrote a guide, and got a few snarky comments along with the compliments.
Erik Mona wrote:
If you don't like optimization, that's perfectly fine. It's somewhat less fine to jump into the thread and malign people who do.
I'm still waiting for the thread where Paizo staff has to come in and say something like this, but in reverse (i.e., optimizers maligning non-optimizers).
Aren't trends enlightening?
I've never read a guide I agreed with 100%, except my own. I've also never read a guide that didn't have some good things in it that I hadn't considered before.
All of them, including treantmonk's, are just one person's opinion. My optimal ______ might not be optimal in another game. Optimization is nothing more than making good choices for the character you want to play in your game, not mine.
It's like a wizard picking spells. You try to prepare the right ones for what you anticipate, but you never know precisely what's going to work best, because you don't know what you might run into. There's no perfect list of spells, just some that are more likely to help than others for your situation.
Battle cleric? Caster cleric? A little of both? Do you choose feats to shore up your weaknesses or to maximize your strengths? There's no wrong answer. Treantmonk, as much as I like his guides, can't tell me everything I should do for my game. I consider the advice, take what I like, and leave the rest.
Treantmonk's guides are as good now as the day they were written. PROVIDED.... that one is willing to put in the mental effort to get the reasoning and theory behind his prose, instead of just wanting to be spoonfed the answers themselves. You can pretty apply that reasoning to new spells, new classes, TM's Guides were meant as an aid to learning the game, not substitute for it.
Because fundamentally what characters do hasn't changed, only the toolboxes to work with.
Shadeworld there are different levels of optimization. I have even heard people say that optimization is nothing more than bring your flavor to life in such a way as to be useful to the party. Optimization does not have to mean, make the best character possible.
Even some of Treantmonk's advice does not work across the board. The optimizers are still around, and some or those other guides are really good. They show you how to be good at doing other things. As an example instead of pushing you to be play a class a certain way. They tell you different ways to play the class, and give you viable options within that choice. As long as my fellow player is not dead weight I don't care if he does not have the best character. I think that is how most of us feel. Well actually if he is dead weight I will just make a better character to make up for it, but I don't want to hear him complaining about it. That is another debate for another day however. :)
I am not by any stretch of the imagination a power gamer or min maxer, but optimization guides are very useful for me anyway.
I don't pick from character options purely to be optimal, at the same time I don't want to pick something that might actually be a trap option. This is one of the great reasons for optimization guides imo.
They're not about only picking blue options. They're about NOT picking the red ones... Or too many red ones anyway.
Ashiel you lost me here.
I think you are saying there are different ways to optimize. Is that correct?
I have always greatly appreciated Treantmonk's guides and those like them because they help to foster what I believe is good practical optimization. There are generally two camps of optimization.
Practical optimization is essentially the kind of optimizing you do with real characters. Giving your melee Fighter a good Strength score because you know that it helps do what you want to do, or avoiding taking Vital Strike and Spring Attack because you know how they work, or understanding that if you want to dual-wield then you need to compensate for its weaknesses with things like weapon training and specialization. Take Iron Will to avoid being charmed, etc.
Theoretical optimization is essentially thought exercises in the system. Like figuring out on paper cute things like the commoner rail gun, pun-pun, how much weight you could get a hulking hurler to chuck, learning how to cast 9th level spells using 0 level slots, and weird stuff like that which is over the top and funny on paper in a "look what could be done" sort of way.
The biggest issues I've seen is when newblets see the latter and think it's the former. They see these funny builds which are meant as thought exercises and think "Oh this is what I need to do" and then get dirty looks at the table when they try to use infinite combos, or need three pages of notes to keep their racial adjustments, alternate class features, and various cheesy bits from getting too disorganized.
Treantmonk's guides give good solid information on optimizing in very practical ways, and I thank him for that. No where in Treantmonk's guides will you find him suggesting that you need to deal hundreds of damage by 10th level to function, or abusing infinite loops, or telling you that you must have X or GTFO. Instead it's just the goods, plain and simple, and he doesn't tell you how to build something, but he shows you how you can build it. Best yet, he does so in a way that is both entertaining to read, humorous, and insightful.
His contributions are a boon to the community without a doubt, and I have passed his guides out to my friends and people who show interest in the game and the classes for which he has written guides for. He is a good community member, a very smart person, and I would say someone I am honored to be acquainted with (and would even consider him an internet friend if he didn't mind my saying so). We need more people contributing the community as he does, rather than just complaining like so many of us do. Treantmonk gives back to the community that he is part of, and that makes him and his guides the leet hax. All our dice are belong to Treantmonk.
Yes sir. ^-^Also I was amused by your "I'm willing to make up the difference, but don't let me hear you complaining about it" bit. Mainly because people who make incompetent characters and have no interest in learning or doing otherwise, who then complain and whine because all the other PCs who are just average are "dirty optimizers", is a pet peeve of mine.
I've seen a lot of them. I run into a ton of them in online games. The sort who do stuff like want to make adventuring handbag-makers, or tailors, who insist on not doing things that are stereotypically adventurer things and just want to be merchants or something and avoid danger, etc, etc, etc. Then whine to the high heavens because the Ranger in the group using a greatsword kills everything that attacks the party instead of them.
I think LazarX hit the nail right on the head. Treantmonk played what he like and gave opinions based upon what is best. He wrote his guides based upon personal experiences and made judgments based upon that experience. No more. No less.
This being said his (in)famous reputation amongst the optimization circles (I hazard to call it a "community" since we all play at the same tables) comes from the fact that he set the standard from which other people can follow. His guides make a clear concise argument for hsi style of play and he created a format that is easy to read, easy to reference, and easy to follow.
Also the man himself admitted that his guides are merely opinion and may or may not apply to your game. Most guides do a good job of reiterating this point to its readers.
Moving on, I think the question you are asking is not "What happened to proper optimization?" but "What happened to ruthless optimization?" That is optimization by rules lawyers that regularly breaks games and uses dodgy unclear rules to pull a fast one on the GM. Or optimization to be the best at what one does with zero regard to any other aspect of the game.
First off, that kind of optimization was never meant to see play. Never. The sort of threads in the 3.5 days that produce Pun-Pun or characters that could hurl a boulder hard enough to crack the planet were all works of rules theory that would never fly in any normal game. A lot of detractors of optimization like to point to those threads as to why they dislike the idea in general when they were little more than exercises in fiddling with RAW and theoretical optimization done more to test the limits of the system rather than try and make it into a game.
Most of the guides do a great job at the practical optimization that Treantmonk was going for. If you feel they don't, well that's simply an opinion and nothing more.
I will say that something optimization guides have long needed was a better means of community input. Some guides are great about adding in relevant information or good quotes or recognizing contributors. I even added an open document to my cleric guide where people can post builds and explain why they're good. Sadly it seems very few have contributed to this document and I truly wish more people would.
As others have said, Treantmonk, who was the only of the famous/infamous 3.5 optimization gurus to make the switch to pathfinde from 3.x was in a class all his own. He had on his own a considerable talent for understanding and analyzing the game and for explaining it to others. His guides were the gold standard not just because they followed a magic formula or a certain style, but because he himself was really really good at it.
That said, one thing you ought to understand is there was/is/will be a culture shift from WOTC's 3.x and Pathfinder. There is a dramatic difference in the corporate culture between the two companies and between their objectives.
WoTC sold rulebooks. That was their thing. They had adventures too but that was so you would BUY their rulebooks. Consequently there was a player emphasis in the whole culture. In addition with fewer and less emphasized adventures published, more games were homebrew. Optimization thrives in homebrew games because assuming everyone's on board, the dm can find ways to challenge the players optimized or not.
Paizo sells adventures. Thats their thing. There is a score of products, the rulebooks included to SUPPORT THE ADVENTURES. They are a primary connection point for most of the community at this point. Some people still do homebrew, but I would say a much larger portion of us use published adventures. Item cards, map packs, campaign setting books, these are all dm focused products. The culture naturally has shifted. Here on the paizo boards you will find a lot more dms then you would have on the WoTC forums for 3.5.
So what does this mean for optimization? Well first of all its likely tempered by a few more years of experience. Gamers who were around back in the WoTC days are older, wiser, probably with greater family obligations or work etc. I dont know about you, but I simply dont have the same time now for fiddling with class options that I did in 2002 do you? And newer gamers who have come into their own with pathfinder were not a part of that 3.x player driven, option driven culture.
With the culture change came the focus on published adventures. And lets face it, published adventures and heavy optimization dont get along very well. When you are writing your own adventures its not a big deal, but if you are following a book, it assumes an average party not a hyper optimized one.
Paizo also places less emphasis on raw. Optimization thrives on RAW. Wizards loved it too. They handed down rulings on a regular basis and the culture was one of Raw being law. In paizo, 9 times out of 10 the devs and other paizo staff will say heres what i think but if you dont like it go with what you want in your home game. With less emphasis on raw, optimization loses some of it's zing. A dm can simply (and should simply) not let stand a character that over balances his encounters. So what is the point of optimization? Just make a character that is fun, and not one that has the highest numbers.
That is not to say that there is not still reason to make a character that is effective or that there isnt discussion on the subject here on the boards. The point is there is a culture shift, and that has changed the perception and behavior. Heck paizo's own refusal to create an 'optimization' section of the boards is a clear indication of that shift. People have requested it, but paizo doesn't want to divide their community in that fashion. And in my opinion they are right to do so. Optimizers and non-optimizers should talk and share ideas, discuss concepts, characters options with eachother. We learn that way. And we make our games better that way. Just talking to people who agree with your way of doing things isn't a good idea.
Ofcourse, there are still tables playing pathfinder that defy what I have mentioned above. Each group has their own style. But in general a big portion of games will be inevitably influenced by the culture of the company making the game. And that company usually says, relax, tell some good stories, roll some dice, and have some fun. If you do 40 damage instead of 65, who cares as long as it was totally awesome when you did.
Elaboration: I've been a big "fan" of treantmonks guides and since his disappearance i've been looking through several other guides, but all i see is people trying to do "his" work and sadly failing. Most guides out there call them selves "Optimization" but all i see is "This is what i like the best" - choices. . .
And you think his guides were anything different?
Aside from being woefully outdated (seriously, the Wizard guide was written in 2009), anyone's guide to "optimizing" is going to be littered with personal bias as to what is considered "best" for a class and what a person "should" take to be the "best". It's all completely opinionated, and even if he was around for all the updated stuff, it's still presenting his opinion on if it's optimal or sub-optimal.
Just to point out:Treantmonk guides are also "This is what I like best" guides. The only difference is that they are about what Treantmonk liked the best, and that you happened to share his tastes.
For example, Treantmonk likes summoning and aument summoning feats, and optimize around them. Some others like fireball, and optimize around that. Treantmonk's guide is as much "this is what I like best" as that other guide is about what that other guy like best.
Also just to point out, Treantmonk's guides are not just some dude shouting at the wind. He actually explains in detail his reasoning for his choices, why he find X superior to Y, and so forth. The reason a lot of people appreciate this is because he makes good points, and has his choices based on reason rather than "I do this so you should to". Instead, he explains "This is why I do this, you may wish to as well".
His guides are good because even if you don't want to make characters as he does, you can at least see what sort of pitfalls you are going to encounter, where you need to shore up your weaknesses, know what you are getting into, and most importantly learn reasoning abilities to help you not need a guide in the future.
I see my one simple question amounted to a larger discussion, i thank you all for the VERY prudent advice. I guess that deep down all i wished for is to make characters who doesn't waste time, at the moment i am as said struggling with a Cleric. Many might say clerics are easy to optimize to proper game play, but i find not.
The reason for this being i wish to see a plate bearing spellcaster with a proper weapon and a medium to good melee damage supported by his spells... Yes many will say Magus, but somehow he just doesn't fit my taste.
IF you've got ideas/suggestions/guides/topics, be a darling and PM me or write it here.
P.S. I hope you all know i was by no means trying to belittle the creators of other guides, i might've come off a little harsh and blunt and it wasn't my intention. They should all know i admire their tenacity and envy them their time to spend on such projects. If you've felt offense i offer you my heartfelt apology.
I did not know about your open document. I will try to get a build in when I get some free time.
When did you start channelling Cartigan?
I've always seen excessive optimization as kind of pointless. If the GM wants you to play on easy mode, you'll play on easy mode regardless. Likewise, if he wants you to play on hardcore mode, he can simple ramp up the difficulty of his game to equal out any optimization the players engage in.
By excessive optimization, I pretty much mean anything beyond what I've generally seen as the common level...where the characters try to be pretty good at their niche, but try to have some usefulness and "rule of cool" stuff going on as we'll. For example, fireball or lightning bolt might not be the most effective spells in the game, but they carry a lot more "awesomeness" than most of the other level-equivalent spells.