|Jiggy RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32|
As a DM I have little issue with "Power-Gamers".
I have more issue with...
The Optimizers I can rein in and keep an eye on. Its been far and few times a player has thrown a character at I couldn't sniff out the cheese. However the waste of space in my experience contributes little to the group, gets frustrated easily, and tends to blame me and the party for their suck.
The second is a special type of Power-Gamer that latches on to one ability/spell/maneuver. These are the guys that sink everything into a Color Spray Oracle, or a Maneuver Master Monk specked to Grapple, or Assassins with a Death Attack. They got one ability that either works(and negates the whole challenge), or it doesn't(and the guy becomes another "Waste of Space").
Optimize to your hearts content in my games. Just don't be cheesy or One dimensional. Its the main reason I dislike Save or Suck(die) type abilities.
Was that the Kobolds or the traps though? This sounds like just another trap dungeon to me.
Does two shotting monsters on an optimized fighter count as being disruptive? The issue with an optimized martial class is that you don't have to be annoying or antagonistic to trivialize combat. You just kill things really quickly with a low failure rate.
I can understand the problem, and I have gamed with many people who weren't terribly savy when it came to the mechanics.
My point was that players good at both RP and mechanics are not some rare and elusive breed. There are almost certainly to be one or two at every table. It is far easier to help the non-mechanics improve their characters than to try to decide on some arbitrary level of sub-optimization for which the 'power gamers' are to aim so as to not hurt the 'roleplayers' feelings. If a player doesn't care if his character is sub-optimal, he probably won't care if it happens to be optimal. However, players that care about the mechanics may find their enjoyment of the game diminished by being forced to play what they consider 'bad' builds.
I have yet to find a sorcerer build that comes anywhere close to matching an undead sorcerer. Being able to maximize health, fort and spell casting in one stat is extremely powerful. A level 10 sorcerer with 28 charisma is looking at about 130 health and because you can have a con a round 10(to reach becoming an undead) you can really bump up your dex and wisdom for strong tank and high saves.
Bloatmage Wizard is amazing because you can don't need to prepare a spell more than once(you cna use blood points instead). This allows you to maximize your versatility and repeatedly use whatever spell is most effective in a given situation.
So you're standing by your statement that good optimizers can't be good roleplayers? Or if they are, they're extremely rare?
Does two shotting monsters on an optimized fighter count as being disruptive? The issue with an optimized martial class is that you don't have to be annoying or antagonistic to trivialize combat. You just kill things really quickly with a low failure rate.
No, it doesn't count. Because if the fighter can two-shot a monster, the DM can *gasp* bring in another monster. Melee optimization only disrupts the game if there are other, less optimized melee and those melee care that they do less damage, and refuse to accept help to tune their characters. That's a lot of requirements for a melee to actually disrupt a game. A straight wizard can be far, far more disruptive to a game than even the absolute best optimized fighter.
Thats not what the dictionary defines optimization as. The dictionary defines optimization as
>making the best of anything.
What you are talking about isn't optimization. Its just building a character.
And yes, there is plenty of variety in how you roleplay an undead character. Unfortunately pathfinder rules require that you be evil, which really does limit roleplaying.
I didn't read the thread, but to answer the question, I don't. I do wonder why others play poorly built characters though. Would that be called weak-gaming?
It is better, because you loose nothing by making a character mechanically better.
Skipping the rest of the recent flurry of posts (because go to a meeting and holy crap you guys!), but I tend to think that this isn't quite right, because the implicit assumption is that mechanical efficiency is an important part of judging the goodness/badness of a build.
I think that the main criterion for judging the soundness of a build is the degree to which the build faithfully represents the character concept. Mechanical efficiency is only relevant inasmuch as that concept includes being good at whatever it is that the build is good at (and bad at whatever the build is bad at, of course).
Mind you, my concepts generally include kicking butt and taking names, but hey, there's a whole universe of possibilities out there.
You contradict the very definition you link. What are we building? A character. What is optimization doing? Making the best of that character. That IS optimization. What defines 'best' is where it gets fuzzy. Some people define 'best' fighter as the one who can do the most dpr. Others define it as one who can do slightly less than the best dpr, but also has some utility. Still others define it as being as unkillable as possible. In each case, the player can 'optimize' to his concept. (Even if that concept is 'dancing, one-armed fighter')
Depends on how the rest of the table feels. I've been at two different tables where a boss fight ended because a witch rendered the BBEG helpless and someone CdG'd them. One time it prevented a TPK, and another time everyone laughed heartily and a good time was had by all. In neither case was the player being disruptive.
Over on the PFS boards, a fellow GM put it better than I ever could:
I've been in PFS games every week for over a year now, with ~20 of those as the GM, and not one single time have I seen the kinds of issues people talk about where one person trivializes an encounter all on their own and makes other players feel useless.
Have I seen the power builds? Of course I have. There's the gnome sorcerer whose save DCs are in the upper bajillions, but he's always memorably roleplayed and acts as a team player. There was a couple who played matching summoners who could probably solo any tier-appropriate encounter, but there were still chances for other PCs to shine. There's the gnome cavalier with a lance and Dragon Style and Wheeling Charge who pins people to the wall even in a small room full of rubble, but the player always encourages people to work together. There's the Dervish Dancing magus who is most known locally not for his DPR but for being the Trade Prince of Kathir (a prestige-purchased vanity, so it's legit/official). There's the Rage Prophet with a trip CMB in the neighborhood of +30, but the player's favorite thing to brag about is the shiny brass buttons on his Eagle Knight uniform.
The list goes on. My area is full of highly effective PCs who are tons of fun at the table, even when their effectiveness stands head and shoulders above the rest. So when people say "oh noes it's PFS and I can't stop the uber builds", I'm left looking at the dozens upon dozens upon dozens of people I've had a blast with and asking "Why do you need to?"
Congratulations on your use of an online dictionary.
Now allow me to introduce you to the wonderful world of "jargon".
In other words when I refer to optimization like this it is generally more accurately referred to as "Practical Optimization" which is what a lot of optimization guides go for. While character optimization is, yes, about making the best characters it is usually geared towards making the best character to fit your concept not to marginalize your group.
And has been said before "best" is subjective.
The name of the thread is "Why I power game"Nearly every complaint about optimization is about power growth or about power disparity. I specifically mention having to trade concept for power optimization as a problem.
Everyone agrees that some level of optimization is fine if not necessary, even if it's as basic as putting a few points into your casting stat. It's the extremes that some of us see as a problem.
Can we please stop building strawmen to prove that the kinds of optimization we're not complaining about aren't a problem?
You can optimize for combat effectiveness or skill effectiveness or even just concept.
Just because some options tend to be superior in terms of actual play doesn't mean that you have to play those build, you can easily pick a concept first and design your character to optimize a set of parameters that are important to that character.
I do think there are some potential drawbacks to hyperspecialization especially when you are specialized in one arena (general combat) mainly that you tend to suck in those situations where your specialization isn't valid. This can be minimized in those groups that tend to use 4-5 specialists that each shine in one arena and cover each others weaknesses but I think there is some validity to being a talented generalist character even if it's not always the optimal build strategy after all sometimes you will likely have to function as a solo adventurer and it sucks not being able to pass certain encounters because you friend does all of that sort of encounter.
I must admit that I find it kind of disheartening to go into character optimization threads sometimes, just because of how many thematically interesting but mechanically weak concepts seem to get mercilessly shot down. An extreme example might be the people who seem to get angry over how terrible Valeros apparently is because he's a two-weapon fighting Fighter wielding two different weapons.
Now, obviously not everyone interested in character optimization is like that. I really appreciate folks who have helped me out in the past to make a mechanically weak character concept more effective. But there definitely is a certain kind of player, who I have encountered both online and in person, who will take one look at, say, a Halfling Monk, and genuinely get upset that anyone would create such a character. I think that it is this sometimes vocal minority that turns people off on character optimization in general.
Have you even been reading this thread? Did you read the post to which I was responding? He said you cannot optimize around a concept. I was specifically responding to that. The idea that you have to trade concept for power optimization is a fallacy, and the only strawman around.
There's too much combat in most games for being bad at it to be an asset.
Also there are mechanically better options. If you want a witch that knows how to live off the land, one taking the extra trait feat gains a +4 to survival, +1 to another skill, and an entire new trait whereas someone taking skill focus survival gets a mere +3.
We could go round and round on this all week, which I think wouldn't do anyone any good, so let me just put this to you and then leave the last word on this little subthread to you:
I submit that a typical character in a typical campaign ought to be useful in combat, because "being useful in combat" is part of a typical player's character concept. If a given player doesn't really care about combat, though, his character is not objectively worse because he didn't optimize for combat, simply because there is no objective measure by which to judge characters in the first place.
The way I read what you're saying, you disagree. That's obviously fine. I just disagree with your disagreement.
People power game because there are ways to become more powerful. There is always going to be people like this. Take for example and millionaire. Youd think he would be happy but he wants more. When he finally becomes a billionaire he want to be a trillionaire. The game should be built with powergamers in mind because those powergamers are just doing what humans do best. Become better than the rest. I dont know how you (Sean) can be mad about human nature this way and think it should not be done. Thats rediculous. Now I agree on 99% of what you say normally besides that statement.
I think the arguments here are all moot anyways. Powergaming will never ever go away. NEVER EVER!!! So stop complaining about it and learn instead how to deal with powergaming in constructive and good ways. Lets have a thread instead of complaining about powergamers but making the game more fun for everyone with our powergamer friends in mind. I have DM'ed a fair number of PFS games and I do not care that the rules say do not change the module. When I have a powergamer it is my duty to change small things in the module to compensate for the powergamer. That is the fundamental duty of a DM in the first place. Makeing sure the encounter is balanced and fun for everybody. Now when PFS says otherwise they are breaking their own core rules for the game. Which is that all rules are subject to the DM!!!!! Please people stop closing your minds off and open them and widen your scope of how to run the game with all types of players. Only then should you complain about anyone. Lets start a revolution of DM's who can change on the fly and make games better!!!
Freehold DM wrote:
Oh yes, the kobolds themselves were pretty horrible. The traps were only CR 1, and easily dealt with and/or survived. It was the paranoia of the kobolds though. Because the kobolds liked to use ambush tactics, and they preferred to ambush the party when their pants were down, so to speak.
A great example of when the kobold just completely crushed one of the members of the group was when he he turned a corner and found kobolds. The lil' buggers got the drop on him and plowed him for 4d6+4 fire damage via Alchemist Fire and then ran off.
In another instance, these little guys (who were wearing studded leather armor, carrying small crossbows, and often lying prone) would mess with the party from a distance. For example, at one point you had the four kobolds shooting at the party from behind some cover (kobolds are small, dextrous, have a natural armor bonus, studded leather armor, and then cover on top of that, so they were pretty hard to hit but their bonuses to hit the party was pretty decent, and their crossbows dealt like 1d6 damage per hit with a 19-20/x2. If the party tried to counter with ranged attacks then they would be at a terrible disadvantage (many only hitting on a natural 20), but if they pushed forward they'd have to move across the caltrops the kobolds spread in the hallway, and then if they got close enough the kobolds would just regroup and flee to ambush them again.
Same 4 kobolds. Little 1 HD warrior kobolds with standard NPC gear. No jest. They would occasionally squeeze through tiny spaces where only small or smaller creatures could go as well (such as the air ducts and mini-tunnels leading to caches of treasures and/or implements to defend their space with), which the party could do as well with small characters like halflings or gnomes, but most were too afraid to squeeze into the unknown (you really don't want to be some feet inside a hole that gives you a -4 to hit and AC that your party cannot get to you effectively when there may be kobolds ready to set the tunnels on fire or shoot you in the face with a crossbow because it's also dark as the devils heart in there).
With the exception of one game where my brother's goblin fighter crawled into one such space and found some cool stuff on the other side and brought it back out (admittedly he was more than half dead by the time he got back out, but he got a lot of sweet loot from the cache in the dungeon).
But yeah. Think about it for a moment. Here you are in the dark. You know that there could be traps around any corner. Most of which you are 100% certain are triggered based on size (such as weight or balance triggered traps) that the kobolds probably won't set off. So there's an element of fear even if there are no traps present. So then the kobolds who are small (+4 stealth), dextrous (+1 or better Stealth), in light armor (+0 or -1 to Stealth) who can see in the dark (but also hide in it) can lurk in waiting (and your light sources give away your position) in the blackness long before you actually make it past corners or into rooms (yes the enemies are aware that you are here). So then they ambush you from the darkness. "Yip, yalp!" they screech as your elven bard clutches his gut and realizes there are crossbow bolts buried in it. "Yuff yuff!" another cackles as it chucks an alchemist fire on your dwarf cleric. "Hisshisshiss" one snickers as it scatters caltrops across the floor as they all begin falling back while spanking their tails in mockery to you.
Fear the kobolds. Fear them.
I just thought of something that might bring the whole discussion into some perspective.
Remember Lord of the Rings?
How just one single member of the fellowship ever died?
Remember how Aragorn singlehandedly kept 6 ringwraiths at bay at Weathertop?
How Legolas and Gimli had frag-competitions at Helm's Deep, where NPCs died by the hundreds?
Remember how Gandalf solo'd a Balrog?
The heroes are pressed, but always kick copious amount of posterior. They perform downright amazing feats that the non-heroic characters cannot even bring themselves to consider.
Some optimization is good. The heroes should be able to not just survive, but do things that seem hard and dangerous, and look cool while doing so. The PC fighter should be better than the NPC Jim Everyfighter. Because he is one of the heroes of the story.
Yeah and even then Borhimir arguably got beaten down by a boss-monster, but then Aragorn leaps in and tears the boss-monster to bits single handily. Hmm, Aragorn is a dirty optimizer.
Kamelguru, the essential disconnect is that you're making a normative statement ("this is how things should be" or, in your case, "this is what PCs should be able to do") when you're not in a position to make such a statement. The game should be whatever the players want it to be, not whatever you want it to be.
If you want to play a game where the characters are extraordinary, that's terrific. I'm sure that's the kind of game that most of us want to play. It's certainly the kind of game I want to play.
But it's just as valid to play Joe Commoner or a game where the characters are everymen overcoming the odds, and that calls for a very different perspective on optimization.
What matters is that the players are having fun, not that the characters live up to an external standard of heroic excellence.
It is indeed very fun to play Joe Everyman type games. I've run games where everyone played an NPC class. However, if you choose to play an NPC class and someone else is playing a Ranger, don't whine about it.
Yeah didn't think that was gonna happen :)
Different subthread, no?
However, if you choose to play an NPC class and someone else is playing a Ranger, don't whine about it.
I had that discussion with a friend of mine last weekend. How he preferred Rogue Trader because the threat of impending doom is always there, while in PF you can just get a raise dead or whatever. Thus implying that it was a superior game.
The point I made then, and the point I am making now is that PF is inherently a heroic fantasy game. And fantasy heroes have been established to be larger than life, able to affect the world and so on. Whereas Rogue Trader is the survival story of a bunch of space scavengers that live in the shadow of the people who actually affect the large scale picture, trying to grab some riches in the wake of significant events. It is not the same. It is not even meant to be similar.
BUT, as Glendwyr says, you can scale one system down, and the other system up. What I am saying is that heroic fantasy has a benchmark. And that benchmark is literature like Lord of the Rings and so forth. That is all.
LotR isn't really high fantasy either. The only leg it has over ASoIaF is the presence of other races. Both have limited magic, monsters and dragons.
And common magic weapons, magic rings so common that "there are many magic rings" to the point it wasn't even a consideration that Bilbo's ring of invisibility might also have been the lost Ring of Power anymore than you'd think that the toothpick you found on the ground was the lost Toothpick that JFK used once after dinner.
It is a big deal. It's a big enough deal that Gandalf spends years researching it.
ASoIaF has magic swords. It's been referenced many times that Valyrian smiths used magic in the creation process. There are more magic swords in ASoIaF than LotR. There are also several other magic items and more people capable of using magic once the dragons are reborn. Plus each new book adds more fantasy elements.
Jack Vance's Dying Earth is actually a better reference point for anything D&D based. We don't call it the Vancian system for nothing. Or something by David Eddings.
Trying to put words in my mouth, really? I never said you couldn't do both... but in both theory and practice the people who specialize in one side over the other are far more common. There may be exceptions especially in hard core groups, but in general this seems to hold true. Why do you struggle so much with this concept? People ARE going to specialize in the part of gaming they enjoy more.
Oh and Vestrial, I should clarify in case you don't know already that the definition of optimizer I use is purely the numbers/crunch side of the game. Role player being the fluff/story side. Power gaming is a type of optimizer that focuses on powerfully effective characters.
A good optimizer makes the numbers synergize effectively with each other.
While some people seem to think you can instantly teach a poor optimizer to suddenly be effective. I think that is just a delusion. What they mean is they should take over the building of the poor optimizer's character to MAKE them effective. And that just isn't good. Now I have no issue if the poor optimizer asks for help but that help should ONLY go as far as was asked for. It isn't fun to have someone telling you what you should do. So YES nerfing the power gamers in a mixed group IS the best solution. The ideal is to have challenges fun for everyone. Since the game is BUILT on the numbers side, this gives good optimizers an unfair advantage over the rest. A wide difference in power will ruin the poor optimizer's fun. So until you can train the poor optimizers to build better characters on their own (this takes a lot of time) It is funnest for everyone to nerf down just far enough to make the balance gap narrow.
I'm not putting any words in your mouth. In fact, you just said them again, several times, all of your own volition.
Even though these concepts aren't exclusive to each other, you continue to pit them against one another to talk about how optimizers are ruining the fun of non-optimizers.
Thats not what the OP stated though. He was clearly referring to getting every advantage he could(even "lick the plate clean").
"concept" is really vague. For instance, one of my party members wanted to play an oracle but thought none of the curses looked cool to him except blind. So he made a blind oracle in a heavy ranged party and contributed very little.
Technically he did optimize his character "concept" in that he put enough points in charisma to cast spells and he took decent feats, but his character was still weak due to his very limited field of vision. He didn't contribute very much and I don't consider that form of optimization worth discussing.
The type of optimization a power gamer would do(as the OP talked about) is one where the character is built to be extremely useful in game. There are a number of ways to go about this, but its important that the character is a powerful member of the party. Generally this is achieved by having synergy between a mixture of class abilities, feats and magic items. If you start from the point that your character is going to be say, a halfling tripping monk, then you have limited optimization.
Good thing my whole current group is a healthy mix of the two.
Any ruining of fun is cancelled out by the actual fun of the game for us.
I find it interesting how people get so worked up over optimization really. I think Jiggy is spot on that when it is said to be a problem, that's just an excuse to mask a real problem.
However I think the real issue will always be jealousy.
Yes, envy. Some people are going to be better at optimizing, role playing or tactics. People are not clones and you cannot make them equal. You can try to encourage them to play nice, but trying to hamper people for what they happen to be good at and like on top of it is utter nonsense.
Honestly when the rubber meets the road in a combat, the tactics are probably more important than the optimization. For example a smart GM who knows how to use all the tools available in an encounter coupled with the terrain can make something a nightmare when a neophyte makes it a walkthrough.
But was that because they're more optimized at combat than the mooks around them or because they're higher level and/or have better stats?
It seems to me the better way to make your heroes look more heroic than NPC Jim Everyfighter is to have them higher level.
Why are you the only one having trouble understanding my help?I am not saying all optimizers ruin fun... that's your strawman. Try to separate that from what I am actually saying: "IF your optimizer's are ruining the fun, nerf is the best way to repair the damage." I am not the grand enemy of optimizer's I even date a munchkin.
See Irontruth even Icyshadow gets it. It's all about having fun. If everyone is having fun then you must be doing it right. No need to fix anything here.
Maybe one useful distinction to make would be "optimization" versus "specialization". These two things are very closely related, but are not the same. Similarly, many people are equating the two.
Lets take a fighter who "optimizes" to get the best DPR or something. This is more accurately specialization, because he has picked one element and focused on it exclusively, channeling his feats and skills into maximizing the DPR. This makes him a very powerful combatant, but makes him useless in a huge number of other situations. You do not need DPR to talk with NPCs, or to overcome traps, or to craft items, or to scout out resources, find contacts etc. One problem with specialization is it skews the game horribly. People who did not specialize in DPR may feel overshadowed in combat, while the fighter feels like the DM is picking on him whenever he is put into a non-combat situation.
I think the difference between this "specialized" fighter and an "optimized" fighter is that the optimized one will try to be good at everything that could effect him. He might have a range of non-combat feats (using his class based combat feats for those), so his DPR will be lower, but he can also hide very well, or gather information very well, or know a lot about his opponents. Maybe he can craft his own weapons if he needs to, and maybe he has at least average conversational skills. This seems like a more "optimized" character to me, because he will do well in most of the situations he could be put into, and he will still be performing much better than an non-melee character (who has not scrapped all of his everything else for DPR).
John Kerpan wrote:
And to add to this, the problem comes when players weaknesses aren't exposed.