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Why I power game


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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Orthos wrote:
Iron, I think Rynjin's was just an example, not an actual event.

My response is still valid. The problem isn't optimization, it's not talking about the game and coming to a consensus that makes the table happy. If someone insists on engaging in disruptive behavior, the root problem is not the specific acts, but the motive behind those acts.

If someone refuses to play nice, you probably shouldn't play with them.


Irontruth wrote:

Have you and the group talked to this person?

Have you tried compromising with them in any way?

Because if you have, optimization is a symptom, not the problem.

That's just an example Iron.

Jiggy wrote:


Yet another example: The real issue is that the roleplay gets old really fast, but it's being attributed to optimization.
Rynjin wrote:
and makes combat with most things boring/tedious either because he kills it too fast or the DM has to bump up the challenge level so he's challenged and we're barely scraping by.

Methinks thou hath forsaken basic reading comprehension for awesome psychoanalysis.


Personally i feel that if thats the style that works for you and the rest of your group takes no problem with it more power to ya! thats all that matters. My problem is just i get sick of seeing int / cha 7 human falchion two hand archetype fighters, scimitar wielding shocking grasp magi, dual heavy shield rangers, ETC. but hey, i aint gonna tell anyone there having badwrongfun simply because its not my playstyle.


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Combat is still roleplaying. My roleplaying game rule book even has a whole chapter about it.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Rynjin wrote:
Jiggy wrote:


Yet another example: The real issue is that the roleplay gets old really fast, but it's being attributed to optimization.
Rynjin wrote:
and makes combat with most things boring/tedious either because he kills it too fast or the DM has to bump up the challenge level so he's challenged and we're barely scraping by.
Methinks thou hath forsaken basic reading comprehension for awesome psychoanalysis.

First of all, you mean "hast", not "hath". "Hath" denotes possession while "hast" is a past-tense verb.

;)

Anyway, I was about to refer you to a previous post of mine, but it appears to have been eaten by the post monster, which would explain a bit. :/

Fortunately, it's still on my clipboard, so here it is:

I have yet to hear of a situation where the cause of a problem was purely a too-high level of optimization from someone. The closest I've seen (suggested by several people) is when someone is optimizing more than the whole rest of the table. But even then, it's more likely that the real problem is that the optimizer is not playing the same game - either the group did not sufficiently communicate their desire for a more low-powered game (so it's a communication issue), or the player disregarded that desire (being a jerk). Either way, the problem was not the optimization.

But for the sake of argument, let's say that Fred optimized more than Bob and somehow, theoretically, this difference in optimization levels is a creating a problem all its own that has nothing to do with anything else.

Why is it Fred who's wrong? Why isn't it Bob whose underoptimization is causing a problem? Or for that matter, why is the "line" in between Bob and Fred's levels of optimization, rather than somewhere beyond them both? Maybe they're both over/underoptimized, but one of them is noticeably further from the line than the other. So why do we assume that the less-optimized Bob is fine while the more-optimized Fred is a problem?

Every answer to that question goes back to something I've already covered: if you want to say "Because he's overshadowing the other PCs", then it's a problem of disruptive behavior; if you want to say "Because he's trivializing encounters", then it could be that the intended power level of the campaign was not communicated; if you want to say "Because he's using loopholes and liberal rules interpretations", then you're just not acknowledging that he's cheating; the list goes on.

In short, claiming that someone is overoptimizing is pretty much always just a mis-labeling of another problem.


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Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I've seen the effect that Vinja89 mentions above, and I've also see the corner-case "creative" rules interpreting gamer. These are where "power-gamer" gets a bad name, IMHO, despite neither case being restricted to pure power gamers. If anything, they're not actually power-gaming in and of themselves, but that's what people often think when they encounter them.

EDIT: I've also seen "one trick pony"-ness confused with power-gaming as well.

Shadow Lodge

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another reason to power game...

If i have an uber character i can turn him down for most fights, and then crank him up when the DM is going to kill us otherwise.

If i have a character that has the effectiveness of a wet noodle... he'll ALWAYS be a wet noddle no matter what i do with him.


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Orthos wrote:
Aaron Bitman wrote:
Ashiel wrote:
I will happily admit to being a power gamer. I'm proud of it. I'd wear it on a button or badge if I had one.
Mad Badger offers fine quality button badges that speak for you...
I found mine.

Hey! Don't be hatin'!


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Jiggy wrote:
Why is it Fred who's wrong? Why isn't it Bob whose underoptimization is causing a problem? Or for that matter, why is the "line" in between Bob and Fred's levels of optimization, rather than somewhere beyond them both? Maybe they're both over/underoptimized, but one of them is noticeably further from the line than the other. So why do we assume that the less-optimized Bob is fine while the more-optimized Fred is a problem?...

The terms "over optimized" and "under optimized" inherently refer to a standard; thus, we can certainly set the line. The problem is that the only reasonable standard I can think of is the norm expected by the group that Fred and Bob are playing in, so the location of that line is not universal.

While I entirely agree that the level of optimization isn't the underlying problem, that doesn't mean that it cannot be a problem. If a game is ruined by disruptions due to over-optimization (or under-optimization), then the level of optimization is the proximate cause even if the root cause of the problem is miscommunication.


Jiggy wrote:


First of all, you mean "hast", not "hath". "Hath" denotes possession while "hast" is a past-tense verb.

;)

Gah, I was coming to edit this when I saw you'd already posted.

*hangs head in shame*

Jiggy wrote:


Anyway, I was about to refer you to a previous post of mine, but it appears to have been eaten by the post monster, which would explain a bit. :/

Fortunately, it's still on my clipboard, so here it is:

I have yet to hear of a situation where the cause of a problem was purely a too-high level of optimization from someone. The closest I've seen (suggested by several people) is when someone is optimizing more than the whole rest of the table. But even then, it's more likely that the real problem is that the optimizer is not playing the same game - either the group did not sufficiently communicate their desire for a more low-powered game (so it's a communication issue), or the player disregarded that desire (being a jerk). Either way, the problem was not the optimization.

Okay, I can get behind that about 85%.

Jiggy wrote:


But for the sake of argument, let's say that Fred optimized more than Bob and somehow, theoretically, this difference in optimization levels is a creating a problem all its own that has nothing to do with anything else.

Why is it Fred who's wrong? Why isn't it Bob whose underoptimization is causing a problem? Or for that matter, why is the "line" in between Bob and Fred's levels of optimization, rather than somewhere beyond them both? Maybe they're both over/underoptimized, but one of them is noticeably further from the line than the other. So why do we assume that the less-optimized Bob is fine while the more-optimized Fred is a problem?...

Here's my line: If the rest of the party is of enough strength where average challenges are reasonably challenging (that big bad boss fight gravely hurts a few but does not kill any for example) and one guy is just breezing through everything (and we're assuming here that the challenges aren't too easy, he's just too powerful) then it's a problem with the more powerful character.

This isn't factoring in out of combat stuff whatsoever. He may be dumb as a rock and can't even dress himself, but the fact of the matter is combat is a pretty big part of this game, and when one character is making a sizable chunk of the game piss easy, and the DM has to compensate for it (leading to definitely not BORING, but not precisely FUN combat) or just leaves it be (so most combat stays piss easy) it causes a problem.

Optimization is the core cause of this PROBLEM. Something else (miscommunication, jerkiness, etc.) can be something that TRIGGERS this problem, but the overly powerful character is generally the thing directly causing the issue.

Hopefully I've made that clear, maybe it looks muddled to everyone else.

Silver Crusade

I originally posted this in the wrong thread:

Though I never heard the term 'Stormwind Fallacy' before yesterday, I already understood and agreed with this insight.

I tend to optimise as much as I can (apart from PFS, strangely), and also put a huge amount of thought into background and role-play.

I see myself as balanced. However, when I play with a group of 'role-players' they see me as a powergamer, and when I play with a group of 'roll-players' they wonder why I'm wasting everybody's time with this 'talking' nonsense! ''Let's get back to the game!''

: /

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Rynjin wrote:

Here's my line: If the rest of the party is of enough strength where average challenges are reasonably challenging (that big bad boss fight gravely hurts a few but does not kill any for example) and one guy is just breezing through everything (and we're assuming here that the challenges aren't too easy, he's just too powerful) then it's a problem with the more powerful character.

....

Optimization is the core cause of this PROBLEM. Something else (miscommunication, jerkiness, etc.) can be something that TRIGGERS this problem, but the overly powerful character is generally the thing directly causing the issue.

This still isn't an example of optimization being the core problem, and here's why:

No matter how optimized Fred's character is, he still has a choice in any given encounter as to whether to exercise his full power or not. A few people in this thread have already pointed out that an optimized PC can easily be "dialed back" to give other PCs a chance to shine, and then go to "full power" when the excrement hits the cooling device. (Heck, from a roleplaying persepective, there are entire character tropes built on the idea of someone who only uses the fullness of their power under the most dire of circumstances.)

If Fred chooses to give his tablemates plenty of time to shine, then there isn't a problem. If he doesn't, then there is. But in either case, his level of optimization hasn't changed. So if optimization stays the same between "problem" and "not a problem", then optimization isn't the issue. The issue is, once again, how he's choosing to behave at the table. That's the only thing that's different between "problem" and "not a problem". It's the variable. It's the issue.

Optimization is not.

In short: if you can toggle some variable (like behavior at the table) while keeping optimization the same, and completely change whether there's a problem or not, then optimization is not the issue.


Jiggy wrote:


This still isn't an example of optimization being the core problem, and here's why:

No matter how optimized Fred's character is, he still has a choice in any given encounter as to whether to exercise his full power or not. A few people in this thread have already pointed out that an optimized PC can easily be "dialed back" to give other PCs a chance to shine, and then go to "full power" when the excrement hits the cooling device. (Heck, from a roleplaying persepective, there are entire character tropes built on the idea of someone who only uses the fullness of their power under the most dire of circumstances.)

If Fred chooses to give his tablemates plenty of time to shine, then there isn't a problem. If he doesn't, then there is. But in either case, his level of optimization hasn't changed. So if optimization stays the same between "problem" and "not a problem", then optimization isn't the issue. The issue is, once again, how he's choosing to behave at the table. That's the only thing that's different between "problem" and "not a problem". It's the variable. It's the issue.

Optimization is not.

In short: if you can toggle some variable (like behavior at the table) while keeping optimization the same, and completely change whether there's a problem or not, then optimization is not the issue.

I actually don't understand this.

How exactly do you "dial back" a character? By choosing not to use certain toggle-able abilities or something? Like a Paladin that never uses Smite Evil or summat?

Andoran

Orthos wrote:
Ashiel wrote:
ciretose wrote:
Even better, if you would balk if your GM put it on an NPC, don't even think about it.
I guess that rules out armor. Hur hur. :P
I probably shouldn't be surprised at this but why would people be bothered by NPCs in armor?

Who knows, maybe it is like +3 weapons...


Rynjin wrote:


I actually don't understand this.

How exactly do you "dial back" a character? By choosing not to use certain toggle-able abilities or something? Like a Paladin that never uses Smite Evil or summat?

Most of it's going to be in relation to full casters with their spell selection and their action use in combat situations.

It might mean taking less SoL spells and more buffing spells like haste and bull's strength so that you are making you teammates better rather than trying to win the battle by yourself.

With martial characters it's a bit more challenging because feats don't get swapped out very often but you can generally tone down your DPR with characters so that you aren't slaying everything all day erry day. However for the most part martial characters don't have the same balance issues that casters can. They might be incredibly powerful but are less obviously able to win fights vs CR appropriate foes by themselves. Even the more powerful builds tend to rely on the rest of the party for skill usage and other resources (healing, etc).

Extremely focused social characters (like diplomancer builds) can be a problem but tend to be something that GMs can work around. In addition they generally are next to useless in exploration and combat situations. Leadership can be problematic though because a cohorts with strong social skills can make mincemeat of many social encounters.

Skill monkey characters can also trivialize some sections of the game which can be problematic but tend to be less disruptive than combat gods.


Rynjin wrote:
Jiggy wrote:


This still isn't an example of optimization being the core problem, and here's why:

No matter how optimized Fred's character is, he still has a choice in any given encounter as to whether to exercise his full power or not. A few people in this thread have already pointed out that an optimized PC can easily be "dialed back" to give other PCs a chance to shine, and then go to "full power" when the excrement hits the cooling device. (Heck, from a roleplaying persepective, there are entire character tropes built on the idea of someone who only uses the fullness of their power under the most dire of circumstances.)

If Fred chooses to give his tablemates plenty of time to shine, then there isn't a problem. If he doesn't, then there is. But in either case, his level of optimization hasn't changed. So if optimization stays the same between "problem" and "not a problem", then optimization isn't the issue. The issue is, once again, how he's choosing to behave at the table. That's the only thing that's different between "problem" and "not a problem". It's the variable. It's the issue.

Optimization is not.

In short: if you can toggle some variable (like behavior at the table) while keeping optimization the same, and completely change whether there's a problem or not, then optimization is not the issue.

I actually don't understand this.

How exactly do you "dial back" a character? By choosing not to use certain toggle-able abilities or something? Like a Paladin that never uses Smite Evil or summat?

Example, I'm a fighter, my DPR is higher than the rogues. I should 5' step up to the enemy and full attack. But if I take a move action, I could flank with the rogue, take my one attack and let them get the full attack while flanked. I'm still effective, but I'm making a conscious choice to use my character assist someone else, instead of showing how I can do it alone.

Shadow Lodge

By basically using sub-optimal tactics and techniques, I'd imagine.

Andoran

It is a team game, and the best players build for synergies with the team.

If you are trying to make a character that makes your whole group awesome and doesn't require strange adjudications of minutia in order for it to work, you are doing it right.

If need the game to be played for your needs, and the rules to be bent to accommodate you, your kind of a jerk.


Jiggy wrote:
In short: if you can toggle some variable (like behavior at the table) while keeping optimization the same, and completely change whether there's a problem or not, then optimization is not the issue.

While an attractive idea, this is too reductionist. The same reasoning would yield this: if you can toggle some variable (like optimization) while keeping behaviour at the table the same, and completely change whether there's a problem or not, then behaviour at the table is not the issue.

Designer

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The game is already rigged in your favor.

A "level-appropriate" challenge (CR = APL) is one that expects you to use about 20% of your expendable resources. It's not a hard fight.

For a group of 4 4th-level PCs, a level-appropriate challenge is one 5th-level character. Four against one.

For a group of 4 4th-level PCs, a level-appropriate challenge is four 1st-level PC-class characters (individual CR = 1/2, 4 of them = CR 4).

For a group of 4 4th-level PCs, a "fair" fight against 4 4th-level NPCs is CR 7, which is APL +3, which the game defines as an "epic" encounter.

I put "fair" in parentheses because each of those PCs has 6,000 gp worth of gear, and each of those NPCs has only 2,400 gp worth of gear. For a fight against an equal number of NPCs to be "fair," you have to have more than twice their equipment.

An average fight is stacked in your favor.

Even an "epic" fight is stacked in your favor.

The game is rigged in your favor because if the PCs lose, the game is over and everyone stops having fun.

That's why I don't get why people feel the need to powergame. It's like pitting a varsity high school football team against some junior high kids in PE class, and someone on the varsity team insists on using steroids to make sure the other team loses.


Glendwyr wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
In short: if you can toggle some variable (like behavior at the table) while keeping optimization the same, and completely change whether there's a problem or not, then optimization is not the issue.

While an attractive idea, this is too reductionist. The same reasoning would yield this: if you can toggle some variable (like optimization) while keeping behaviour at the table the same, and completely change whether there's a problem or not, then behaviour at the table is not the issue.

This would be completely true.

The thing is though, if your friend is nice and likes you, when you explain how his optimization is ruining the game, they'll adjust. Optimization is something someone chooses to do.

Optimization is a symptom, so,if someone chooses to engage in the symptom, it can cause a problem. So it still comes down to behavior.

Shadow Lodge

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Sean K Reynolds wrote:
That's why I don't get why people feel the need to powergame. It's like pitting a varsity high school football team against some junior high kids in PE class, and someone on the varsity team insists on using steroids to make sure the other team loses.

Well to be fair seeing the little buggers in a roid rage is absolutely hilla... OH. You mean the varsity team.

There's a few reasons.

1) Is that power gaming and munchkining are two different things. Steroids is actually cheating. Practicing for the game and drilling the playbook over and over, planning on having the A team in for the entire game etc probably isn't necessary, but its not cheating. Starting a fighter with a 20 str and power attack isn't neccesary, but its allowed.

2) Is that we don't live in a d20 world. The results when A meets B can be so incredibly swingy that you have to plan on the absolute worst encounters. Sometimes the unexpected happens.. a lot. It only needs to happen once to end a campaign.

3) Some CR's are more equal than others. I'm looking at YOU necrophidious. If the DM or scenario writer just grabs whatever cr they need without taking into account the actual danger posed by the creature (or you just have a killer dm/writer) or just ignores CR entirely you could be dead. It only needs to happen once to end a campaign.

4) Sometimes your party members just aren't up to their expected CR and you have to pick up the slack.

5) Sometimes your group, while individually powerful, just doesn't synergize.

6) sometimes just getting the combo to work is fun, and the combo happens to be very powerful.


Irontruth wrote:
So it still comes down to behavior.

Sure. In the end, it all comes down to "don't be a jerk."

But look. Suppose I make an optimal PC and play him optimally, and in the course of doing so I marginalize other characters and make the game overall less enjoyable for my fellow players. At this point, we have a problem which should be brought to my attention.*

I can think of several possibilities from here, the most important of which are these:

  • The group could fail to bring the problem to my attention. In this case, we now also have a new problem: the group lacks communication skills. This may or may not be the root cause of the old problem.
  • The group could bring the problem to my attention and I could disregard their concerns. In this case, we again have a new problem: I'm probably a jerk. And again, this may or may not be the root cause of the old problem.
  • The group could bring the problem to my attention and I could attempt to address it. I have many options for addressing their concerns, among which are building suboptimally and playing suboptimally.

None of this changes the fact that the group found my combination of an optimal build and optimal play to be problematic. That being the case, claiming that the optimal build wasn't part of the original problem strikes me as unreasonable.

* We also have a second problem - that I am completely oblivious - but that's beside the point.


Glendwyr wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
So it still comes down to behavior.

Sure. In the end, it all comes down to "don't be a jerk."

But look. Suppose I make an optimal PC and play him optimally, and in the course of doing so I marginalize other characters and make the game overall less enjoyable for my fellow players. At this point, we have a problem which should be brought to my attention.*

I can think of several possibilities from here, the most important of which are these:

  • The group could fail to bring the problem to my attention. In this case, we now also have a new problem: the group lacks communication skills. This may or may not be the root cause of the old problem.
  • The group could bring the problem to my attention and I could disregard their concerns. In this case, we again have a new problem: I'm probably a jerk. And again, this may or may not be the root cause of the old problem.
  • The group could bring the problem to my attention and I could attempt to address it. I have many options for addressing their concerns, among which are building suboptimally and playing suboptimally.

None of this changes the fact that the group found my combination of an optimal build and optimal play to be problematic. That being the case, claiming that the optimal build wasn't part of the original problem strikes me as unreasonable.

* We also have a second problem - that I am completely oblivious - but that's beside the point.

You are claiming its your build that is the problem.

I am claiming the problem is that you marginalized other players.

See the difference?

Shadow Lodge

Quote:
The group could bring the problem to my attention and I could attempt to address it. I have many options for addressing their concerns,

My preferred answer to this is "bring the party up to your level".


Irontruth wrote:
Glendwyr wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
So it still comes down to behavior.

Sure. In the end, it all comes down to "don't be a jerk."

But look. Suppose I make an optimal PC and play him optimally, and in the course of doing so I marginalize other characters and make the game overall less enjoyable for my fellow players. At this point, we have a problem which should be brought to my attention.*

I can think of several possibilities from here, the most important of which are these:

  • The group could fail to bring the problem to my attention. In this case, we now also have a new problem: the group lacks communication skills. This may or may not be the root cause of the old problem.
  • The group could bring the problem to my attention and I could disregard their concerns. In this case, we again have a new problem: I'm probably a jerk. And again, this may or may not be the root cause of the old problem.
  • The group could bring the problem to my attention and I could attempt to address it. I have many options for addressing their concerns, among which are building suboptimally and playing suboptimally.

None of this changes the fact that the group found my combination of an optimal build and optimal play to be problematic. That being the case, claiming that the optimal build wasn't part of the original problem strikes me as unreasonable.

* We also have a second problem - that I am completely oblivious - but that's beside the point.

You are claiming its your build that is the problem.

I am claiming the problem is that you marginalized other players.

See the difference?

It's semantics at that point, I think.

A character sufficiently optimized and played in an optimal way, will marginalize unoptimized characters.

To say it's the marginalization and not the optimization that is the problem is splitting hairs.

Andoran

I must admit, I've made use of optimization guides and the like when I've put together characters for PFS, mostly because I'm afraid of being unable to contribute to the party otherwise. In my case, this fear is mostly irrational, since I didn't know anything about the characters I was going to be gaming with and couldn't have predicted how optimized they were going to be. I would have felt bad if my character was useless, but I probably would have also felt awkward if I was able to totally steamroll every encounter by myself.

I must admit that Pathfinder, and D20 in general, is a system that causes me more stress at character creation than possibly any other, for the simple reason that I'm afraid of building my character "wrong." With organized play, this stress is only amplified, because I'm going to end up playing with people I don't know, and I'm afraid that a weak character will make a bad first impression. This is mostly just a personal hang-up, though I have played at a table with one guy who scoffed a little when I said I had brought a bard.

Ultimately, I fall very firmly into the "winning Pathfinder means everyone is having fun" camp. Heck, in other systems (notably Call of Cthulhu) I've had an absolute blast playing sessions that ended in TPKs, and recount the tales of my characters' gory deaths with pride. But due to the complexity of Pathfinder, the focus on combat, and the time it takes to make a new character, I feel obligated to seek out optimization advice so I don't end up ruining anybody else's good time by failing to pull my weight in the party.


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Orthos wrote:
Quote:
The group could bring the problem to my attention and I could attempt to address it. I have many options for addressing their concerns,
My preferred answer to this is "bring the party up to your level".

Maybe they're not yet capable of that. Maybe they're not interested.

Maybe they'd rather win their fights through tactical skill than through powerhouse characters.
Maybe they know the GM will just up the difficulty to match the new power level of the optimized characters, so there is no point.

Whatever the reason, if one player is obsessed with tweaking his characters for maximum power, why should the rest of the group have to adapt to his playstyle?


Irontruth wrote:

You are claiming its your build that is the problem.

I am claiming the problem is that you marginalized other players.

See the difference?

I do. Fortunately for my position, you are more or less entirely misstating my claim.

My claim, correctly, is that if the combination of an optimal build with optimal play results in the marginalization of other players (which we would prefer to avoid), then since without the optimization there would not have been the marginalization, my build is indeed part of the problem. I can fix the problem by changing the way I play, or by changing my build, or both.

Basically, I'm saying that if A+B => C and I do not want C, I cannot have both A and B. Not "I cannot have A" and not "I cannot have B" but "I cannot have both."


Gnoll Bard wrote:

I must admit, I've made use of optimization guides and the like when I've put together characters for PFS, mostly because I'm afraid of being unable to contribute to the party otherwise. In my case, this fear is mostly irrational, since I didn't know anything about the characters I was going to be gaming with and couldn't have predicted how optimized they were going to be. I would have felt bad if my character was useless, but I probably would have also felt awkward if I was able to totally steamroll every encounter by myself.

I must admit that Pathfinder, and D20 in general, is a system that causes me more stress at character creation than possibly any other, for the simple reason that I'm afraid of building my character "wrong." With organized play, this stress is only amplified, because I'm going to end up playing with people I don't know, and I'm afraid that a weak character will make a bad first impression. This is mostly just a personal hang-up, though I have played at a table with one guy who scoffed a little when I said I had brought a bard.

Ultimately, I fall very firmly into the "winning Pathfinder means everyone is having fun" camp. Heck, in other systems (notably Call of Cthulhu) I've had an absolute blast playing sessions that ended in TPKs, and recount the tales of my characters' gory deaths with pride. But due to the complexity of Pathfinder, the focus on combat, and the time it takes to make a new character, I feel obligated to seek out optimization advice so I don't end up ruining anybody else's good time by failing to pull my weight in the party.

I agree with this in many ways. I actually have a frustrating love/hate relationship with Pathfinder/D&D3.x.

I love the flexibility and variety of things I can do. I love that the character design choices matter. I hate the level of system mastery that's required. I hate that there are so many trap options. I hate that you really have to plan everything out for many levels to make sure you can get what you want and that it'll be viable.
I don't know how to reconcile those.


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Orthos wrote:
My preferred answer to this is "bring the party up to your level".

Unsurprisingly, I agree with thejeff here. Given the choice between adapting myself to fit in with my peers or forcing my peers to adapt to fit in with me, the former strikes me as vastly preferable, in that it is not only more courteous but also the path of least resistance.

Andoran

There is also GMing honestly so that negative scores have negative effects.


Sean K Reynolds wrote:

The game is already rigged in your favor.

A "level-appropriate" challenge (CR = APL) is one that expects you to use about 20% of your expendable resources. It's not a hard fight.

For a group of 4 4th-level PCs, a level-appropriate challenge is one 5th-level character. Four against one.

For a group of 4 4th-level PCs, a level-appropriate challenge is four 1st-level PC-class characters (individual CR = 1/2, 4 of them = CR 4).

For a group of 4 4th-level PCs, a "fair" fight against 4 4th-level NPCs is CR 7, which is APL +3, which the game defines as an "epic" encounter.

I put "fair" in parentheses because each of those PCs has 6,000 gp worth of gear, and each of those NPCs has only 2,400 gp worth of gear. For a fight against an equal number of NPCs to be "fair," you have to have more than twice their equipment.

An average fight is stacked in your favor.

Even an "epic" fight is stacked in your favor.

The game is rigged in your favor because if the PCs lose, the game is over and everyone stops having fun.

That's why I don't get why people feel the need to powergame. It's like pitting a varsity high school football team against some junior high kids in PE class, and someone on the varsity team insists on using steroids to make sure the other team loses.

Because no matter how rigged the game is and how awesome the backstories are some encounters are way harder than the above suggests.

Some GM's want to "challenge" players.

Some players want to genuinely be awesome.

Sometimes the group refuses to work by the basic teamwork standard, group balance, and roleplay expectations that developers assume.

In other words this is not like playing a sport in high school. This is like playing hello kitty island adventure with your friends while god is a sadistic bastard whose favorite song is "your screams" and favorite drink is "your tears". The worst part is sometimes they are not even aware of what they're doing until everyone is half drunk and making new characters.

Designer

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TarkXT wrote:
Because no matter how rigged the game is and how awesome the backstories are some encounters are way harder than the above suggests.

Good thing there's a living GM able to make adjustments to the encounter, instead of a machine that's rigidly locked into the consequences of die rolls.

TarkXT wrote:
Some GM's want to "challenge" players.

The game is not a competition between the players and the GM. And if the GM is playing that game, it's reasonable for the players to try to keep up. Or leave.

TarkXT wrote:
Some players want to genuinely be awesome.

At level 5, a wizard can incinerate 20 people with one spell. That's pretty awesome.

At level 5, a fighter can survive a 90-foot fall. That's pretty awesome.
At level 5, a cleric can animate the dead. That's pretty awesome.
At level 4, a rogue has a "spider sense" that allows her to react to danger before her senses would normally allow her to do so. That's pretty awesome.

If that's not good enough for you at level 5, you're trying to make your character more awesome than the other PCs. Stop competing with the other players—they're your allies.

TarkXT wrote:
Sometimes the group refuses to work by the basic teamwork standard, group balance, and roleplay expectations that developers assume.

And you can make a football team out of a blind guy, a dude with a glue gun, and a herd of cats. They may be on the same team, but they're not playing football.

TarkXT wrote:
In other words this is not like playing a sport in high school. This is like playing...

The game is not a competition between the players and the GM. And if the GM is playing that game, it's reasonable for the players to try to keep up. Or leave.


Sean K Reynolds wrote:


An average fight is stacked in your favor.

Even an "epic" fight is stacked in your favor.

The game is rigged in your favor because if the PCs lose, the game is over and everyone stops having fun.

That's why I don't get why people feel the need to powergame.

Because....hold on to your monocle....the CR system isn't the finely tuned machine that some people might think it is. The difficulty within a particular CR varies wildly. In fact, the difficulty between the exact same fight run twice can differ wildly, based on good rolls and bad rolls.


Sean K Reynolds wrote:


If that's not good enough for you at level 5, you're trying to make your character more awesome than the other PCs. Stop competing with the other players—they're your allies.

Whoever said we were?

I think the fundamental issue here is the assumption that every optimizer here is a limelight stealing jerk in competition with his fellow players and GM.

Maybe, just maybe, he's trying to make sure the fun and interesting character he spent an hour generating survives to see level 5.

Because in the end Sean K. Reynolds, Ashiel*, Ciretose, Jiffy, thejeff, Glenwyr, Irontruth, Cheapy, Rynjin and whoever else do not run my games and do not sit at my table. And I don't sit at yours. We can blither and blather about badwrongfun all day until our fingers develop blisters but the only thing that really matters is the man behind the screen and the people he has around him.

*Admittedly it's likely your character wouldn't survive past level one in ths case.


And as an aside I'm personally glad the system is rigged in favor of the players as written.

Unfortunately the realities of the table do not and should not always match the intent of the developer.


hogarth wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:


An average fight is stacked in your favor.

Even an "epic" fight is stacked in your favor.

The game is rigged in your favor because if the PCs lose, the game is over and everyone stops having fun.

That's why I don't get why people feel the need to powergame.

Because....hold on to your monocle....the CR system isn't the finely tuned machine that some people might think it is. The difficulty within a particular CR varies wildly. In fact, the difficulty between the exact same fight run twice can differ wildly, based on good rolls and bad rolls.

Very true. Just last week I nearly lost two level four PCs (Fighter and Paladin) in a CR 4 encounter. Not because they did anything wrong, but because for the first two turns of combat my dice never rolling lower than 17 and confirmed two critical hits, while the party was lucky to roll anything above a five.

Never underestimate the power of the random number gods.


TarkXT wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:


If that's not good enough for you at level 5, you're trying to make your character more awesome than the other PCs. Stop competing with the other players—they're your allies.

Whoever said we were?

I think the fundamental issue here is the assumption that every optimizer here is a limelight stealing jerk in competition with his fellow players and GM.

Maybe, just maybe, he's trying to make sure the fun and interesting character he spent an hour generating survives to see level 5.

Because in the end Sean K. Reynolds, Ashiel*, Ciretose, Jiffy, thejeff, Glenwyr, Irontruth, Cheapy, Rynjin and whoever else do not run my games and do not sit at my table. And I don't sit at yours. We can blither and blather about badwrongfun all day until our fingers develop blisters but the only thing that really matters is the man behind the screen and the people he has around him.

No. I think that an imbalance between characters at the same table is a potential problem regardless of the intent of the players. It can work for certain games, but it's trickier.

Optimization is a common cause, but not the only one. As I suggested above, one player could be non-optimized in a group of optimized characters. That would be an issue.
You're right that if it works for your group then it works and no one else should complain. I'm only really concerned with some apparent claims that optimization can never be a problem and that anyone who complains about it is himself the problem.

And if your playing in a group where massive optimizing is needed to give you a good chance of surviving, then by all means optimize. I'd assume the rest of the group is doing the same thing or dropping like flies. Of course, it may not work. The GM may just keep bumping up the danger level as the characters get tougher.


TarkXT wrote:
Wyrd_Wik wrote:
As others have posted rpgs are about not only the individual characers but the group. Some people have the time, inclination to pour through the rules and squeeze every last drop out of it others don't as simply they are more casual in their approach. I'd say as long as each of these players can work together in a group it should be fun. The problem starts when either the 'powergamer' feels the rest of the group isn't up to their 'standard' or the others feel the powergamer gets all the glory. Overall good DMing is a lot of being able to read the group and tailor the game so everyone enjoys the time they have. That and also being upfront about what type of game they are running (e.g. horror themed, over the top wuxia etc.).

And this is why I hate PFS. Or really most organized play.

The GM has next to no narrative control. They can't tailor a game to the tastes of the group they can't even tailor it to their tastes. It's tailored, prepackaged, and worse the group can change from one week, or month, or whatever to another.

It's no wonder people over optimize at times and get accused of munchkining when their character overshadows another. They're trying to play to see how the story turns out (which they have little to no control over)while the other guy is trying to immerse into it.

Wow this thread grew quickly.

I think that maybe the nature of the beast with organized play. I have very limited experience with PFS having run a handful of season 0 scenarios. A few were with players i knew using pre-gens and one for a university group of completely new players (That said with the exception of one of them I enjoyed the Mists of Mwangi and the Murder on the Caravan, Frosty Fingers or whatever it was called was a bit of a dud)
I'm pretty well in agreement as for the reasons you mentioned the GM has little ability to customize to the group so the experience is lacking when compared to an ongoing group and campaign even when running an AP the GM can and should make signficant changes. To make a long story short it shouldn't come as any surprise that organized play is at a big disadvantage compared to a normal home campaign.


Sean K Reynolds wrote:
TarkXT wrote:
Because no matter how rigged the game is and how awesome the backstories are some encounters are way harder than the above suggests.
Good thing there's a living GM able to make adjustments to the encounter, instead of a machine that's rigidly locked into the consequences of die rolls.

there are variances in the monster CRs. for example, a lot of the templates don't apply as cleanly as desired. and even a change of the monster's feats. equipment, or tactics can drastically increase it's threat.

some of the big offenders i have seen in the Design your own BBEG contest i saw back in 2010 in the general discussion forum, a vast majority, were advanced underage vampires of massive charisma based builds. such as applying these triple templates to Nymphs (that also happen to be druids) or Succubus sorcerers. Xanesha is also a huge offender as are most of the creatures that were once unique to RotRL.

TarkXT wrote:
Some GM's want to "challenge" players.
Quote:


The game is not a competition between the players and the GM. And if the GM is playing that game, it's reasonable for the players to try to keep up. Or leave.

i know it's not a competition, but i know a lot of competitive DMs. especially ones who take sadistic joy in inviting inexperienced players and deliberately providing less than optimal builds, than killing them.

TarkXT wrote:
Some players want to genuinely be awesome.
Quote:


At level 5, a wizard can incinerate 20 people with one spell. That's pretty awesome.
At level 5, a fighter can survive a 90-foot fall. That's pretty awesome.
At level 5, a cleric can animate the dead. That's pretty awesome.
At level 4, a rogue has a "spider sense" that allows her to react to danger before her senses would normally allow her to do so. That's pretty awesome.

If that's not good enough for you at level 5, you're trying to make your character more awesome than the other PCs. Stop competing with the other players—they're your allies.

not all these powers are equal.

the wizard requires the 20 people to be clustered, in a world where magic is well known to be an existing force, no group of 20 medium bipeds is going to bother entering that formation. and fire resistance is extremely common. but blasting isn't the wizards job, buffing allies and messing around with action economy is. it would sound more 5th level ish, if you said a wizard could stagger 5 people at once.

the fighter can survive a 100 foot fall. that assumes the DM doesn't roll absurdly high, that the fighter has a decent amount of hit points, and that the fighter isn't already wounded. several wand charges will be used afterwards.

cleric can animate the dead? a lot of the DMs i know forbid not only evil PCs, but the creation and usage of undead, and most of the necromancy school

rogue has a spider sense? +1 to dodge traps, and only to traps, this spider sense provides no ability to detect traps, does not apply when flat footed, and only if you didn't take an archetype.

Quote:
TarkXT wrote:
Sometimes the group refuses to work by the basic teamwork standard, group balance, and roleplay expectations that developers assume.
And you can make a football team out of a blind guy, a dude with a glue gun, and a herd of cats. They may be on the same team, but they're not playing football.

not every group has the level of coordination nor the patience required to bring themselves to make the required sacrifices to create the results teamwork would provide. most players tend to be self oriented and the wonder twins thing isn't popular among the groups i play in. a character who cannot at least earn thier share on thier own accord, tend to be looked upon as less capable. it doesn't neccessarily have to be earned through DPR. the primary exception is casters who make other valid contributions and can get an approved case.

Quote:
TarkXT wrote:
In other words this is not like playing a sport in high school. This is like playing...
The game is not a competition between the players and the GM. And if the GM is playing that game, it's reasonable for the players to try to keep up. Or leave.

in some Areas, gaming groups aren't easy to find, and in mine, the groups tend to have a bit of bleedover. meaning, that if you leave one group, one of the shared players who joins the group you seek, might tell stories of you being an entitled munchkin.


Most people optimize to some degree when playing this game, for instance by something as simple as having their barbarian choosing Power Attack instead of Skill Focus (swim), or their wizard preparing mage armor on a regular basis instead of erase.

When does optimization become troublesome optimization? I think that's going to be different for every single group.


thejeff wrote:
I'm only really concerned with some apparent claims that optimization can never be a problem and that anyone who complains about it is himself the problem.

I will not say it is never a problem as there is always simply overdoing it. There are degrees to this sort of thing.

Imbalance is of course also a question of degree. And also circumstance. Is the greatsword wielding dwarf barbarian always shining? Maybe he's not marginalizing players, maybe the GM is not providing a good variety of encounters. Is the level 10 synthesist choking out ancient red wyrms? Then maybe someone needs to look at his sheet and we need to dial back the silliness.


Gaming is cooperative storytelling, when you are competing against your fellow player or the DM or as a DM you are competing against your Players you are establishing the basis of an antagonistic relationship rather than cooperative relationship. This tends to reduce overall enjoyment as it often boils down to a zero-sum game. In order for someone to "win" someone else must "lose" and let's face it most people don't particularly like losing.

Now I'm not saying that players should always win easily or should have a sense of entitlement but that the primary goal of rpgs should be the enjoyment of the participants. If you are maximizing your enjoyment of the game at the cost of the other participants you are kinda falling down on your end of the social contract.

I know that not everyone has a great area for gaming and they feel like they have to put up with aggressive antagonistic DMs and spotlight hogging jerks but I think most people need to go into a gaming group with the idea that no gaming is always better than bad gaming and if you gaming experience isn't fun (whether it's with your PFS group or you weekly game) it's not worth your time and you should look to scratch your RPG itch in some other venue.


ciretose wrote:
Orthos wrote:
Ashiel wrote:
ciretose wrote:
Even better, if you would balk if your GM put it on an NPC, don't even think about it.
I guess that rules out armor. Hur hur. :P
I probably shouldn't be surprised at this but why would people be bothered by NPCs in armor?
Who knows, maybe it is like +3 weapons...

+3 weapons wielded...by dragons! (How else are you going to magically find an Amulet of Mighty Fists +3 fall from the sky?)

:P

EDIT: And at no less than CR 15 even. *grin*


Sean. I love most everything you've said here. I do have to say it's not my experiences with the system you're talking about that encounters are such cakewalks. I've seen parties dismantled by Bestiary goblins (the ones with the little d4 shortbows) pretty easily for an average encounter, and at higher levels it gets better (or worse, depending on your view :P).

Heck, I don't even bother running "Epic" encounters for most of my players these days because few of them couldn't hack it (especially some folks in my online groups).

A party of lower level NPCs (say a pair of warrior types and a pair of magey types) equal to the APL-2 (CR=APL-3, with 4 of them, makes a "challenging" encounter at best) can easily kill 1-2 PCs before the encounter is over and can do worse than that (a 1st level wizard if things go badly can kill an entire party of 1st level characters, which is something I've not only seen but actually demonstrated to some online friends of mine).

Even many animals and such can easily kill a PC per encounter if the CRs match up with the party. It's kind of amazing really. I've always felt that there was no reason for the GM to overpower encounters because...well, this game is hard enough. :P

EDIT: As an example of what I mean with the Bestiary goblins, I was running a simple and sweet adventure with a party of 4 PCs (the players aren't exactly slouches when it comes to making sure their PCs are built for something besides weaving baskets as well). The encounter consisted of 3 goblin warriors with shortbows. That is to say these guys. The goblins approach the party being all sneaky (like goblins do). Once they were within range to shoot the party (being outdoors at the time) they picked someone who looked like an easy mark (I think the party's psion actually) and shot the snot out of him. Surprise round the flat-footed PC eats 3d4 damage.

Goblins win initiative. More pain ensues. Now we have PCs trying to save the downed guy, other PCs getting filled with arrows. The goblins are a good little distance away (shortbows have like a 60 ft. range or somesuch) and then the goblins scatter as retaliation comes there way (because why would goblins want the big mean fighters to squish them?).

The goblins run off, snickering and laughing as the party tries to save the life of poor pincushion (whom the goblins stopped shooting when he fell down, but frankly could have ended him proper on the spot and then run off easily).

Goblins 1, Party 0.

EDIT 2: Actually this pretty much says it all I think. :3


Findlanderboy wrote:
I have seen a 5 star GM critize me for it and then compliment someone else for it.

You might want to consider the personality you bring to the table. Are you being overbearing? Are you being an attention-hog? Are you being condescending to the other players?

We gamers are not well known for being socially adroit. We owe it to ourselves and our hobby to be ...considerate, at the table. Knowwhatimean?

In my last PFS game, we encountered a NEW player at the table (whose mom was trying to get him to try new things). We got him a fighter, and buffed him, and made him feel like a hero that adventure. Had a blast making this new player our tank.

Be generous. You'll have a good time.


Are wrote:

Most people optimize to some degree when playing this game, for instance by something as simple as having their barbarian choosing Power Attack instead of Skill Focus (swim), or their wizard preparing mage armor on a regular basis instead of erase.

When does optimization become troublesome optimization? I think that's going to be different for every single group.

I keep seeing comments like these which, in my mind, confuse "competence" with "optimal".

Making a competent character should really not be confused with optimizing a character...


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But where is that line? Substitute "competence" for "optimization" and "optimization" for "troublesome optimization" in my post if that makes my point clearer.


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Well, this is, of course, a pointless semantic exercise, but just cause I'm tired of reading/blogging about the election....

Competent means you can get the job done properly. If the job is to change a sink faucet, any competent plumber can get the job done.

By the same token, if the job is to use a weapon in combat, then any competent character will use a weapon they are proficient with and will be able to contribute meaningful impact during the fight.

So to say that it is "optimizing" for a character to use a proper weapon, or to have a decent attribute bonus, or to have a magic weapon at the proper level is really not accurate. Those things make you competent not optimal.

But this will just be another bit of chaff flying in the swirling vortices of this ongoing debate/discussion/argument. Because someone will find some semantic or rhetorical reason to disagree with it.

Probably because they too are sick of the election...

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