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An extremely general guide to making viable characters.


Advice

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Grand Lodge

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This is basically a method of finding consistent and meaningful benchmarks for character creation and maintenance, with some advice on addressing weaknesses peppered throughout. While mostly intended for new players, I feel even veterans may get some value from viewing character mechanics through the lens of their opposition's capabilities.

Here is the link.

Sovereign Court

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Excellent guide, and simple and easy to read to boot.

I found it interesting that you prioritised defences (even if only to bring them up to a minimum benchmark) over offense in the order of building a character. I'd argue the opposite - an active offense is the first thing that should be brought up to the desired benchmark, as it is the main way a character will affect the game.

Finally, I like the explanation of the division of three origins for a character.

Sovereign Court

Also, you say you aren't going to use the word "viable" in the guide, but it is in the title of the thread... :P

Grand Lodge

Leandro Garvel wrote:
Also, you say you aren't going to use the word "viable" in the guide, but it is in the title of the thread... :P

Ha! Forgot to take that sentence out of the guide.

As for offense vs. defense, I only prioritize not having a complete Achille's heel. That way when you lose initiative, at least there's a decent chance you aren't killed/taken out of the fight before you get to take an action.

Unlike defenses, which should never fall below orange but don't need to be green, every character should have a green offensive stat.

Liberty's Edge

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That's a very interesting article. Simple, useful, and well written.

It'd be even more useful with a chart saying what numbers are minimum for Blue, Green, Orange, and Red at a selection of levels.

Sovereign Court

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@Le Petite Mort: I really like your writing, and you make very good points. However, I do have two comments:

- You assert having a to-hit/DPS expectation formula. Given that this guide is also for noobs, you should also provide them with the actual formula :)

- You're working from a comparison to monsters of your own CR. Looking at PFS scenarios, most encounters are actually CR = APL +2 (+/- 2). That's compensating for 6-player tables of course, and some of the time it's done with multiple monsters with CR = level. But running into monsters with CR = level +1 is pretty common, so maybe it's also worth comparing to that?


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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

Seems to me your Blue rating is overkill. Blue in to-hit and blue in damage would mean you single-shot a monster 95% of the time. Either you should be pointing people towards Green or you need to back down a bit on the Blue rating.

If you are going to deal with APL + 2, that may be the time to adjust the boundaries.

You don't give a skill rating. You may want to use the values given in the spoiler of this message as a starting point. In the case of skills, it would also be good to note skills that you can Aid Another in -- +5 or +9.

For the melee rating, would it be better to look at the ratio between rounds to kill and rounds to be killed? That may be a better measure when looking at barbarians since they tend to have lower AC, more hit points, and better damage.


I quite like it as a starting point, but I think there should be expanded content on "how to handle situations my char is not built for". A control wizard that faces something near uncontrollable, a warrior facing something near unhittable, etc


I don't really see myself building a character with this kind of benchmark but it's pretty usefull when you take an existing character and use it to decide what you are going to do in the next level :
what kind of gear should I prioritize or this kind of stuff.
Really interesting. But I agree that blue rating is a complete overkill. You should aim for orange everywhere and try to push one thing in green depending on your role.


Very, Vìvery good guide and usefull benchmarks for both newbs and veterans. Just a few nitpicks.

First, as ascalphus said, provide the formulas you are using

Second, I would have my reserves abpout calling Muffins not-optimized. At level 5 he has not a single mechanical choise that is not straight numbers. Traits for AC and saves, fate's favored and half orc sacred tatoos, 18 starting STR and 7 CHA. I can't think of anything to make it numerically better, so that's definetly not a "fluff origin" character.
Baegel is the same story. And both are just within the benchmarks range, with close to no leeway.
So, if you wanted to showcase how to fit flavors into character while making them at least "viable" you have failed miserably.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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I would also call your examples fairly well optimized for combat usefulness and survival. "Barely viable" is far below the bar you've set here. You've written a good guide to identify strengths and weaknesses of a character, so that a new player might know what they're getting into if they choose to tank a save or ignore AC.

A few points: All three saves are not equal. Generally, Fort saves keep you from dying, Will saves keep you from losing agency, and Reflex saves prevent damage. Generally if you have to let one go Ref is the one to pick.

It is possible to completely ignore AC and still be fairly survivable. I'm in a Skull&Shackles game right now where the party barb has an AC of 21 at 13th level and he does fine.

You might add in a section on skills, which skills to keep maxed(generally ones that use opposed checks) and which ones can be abandoned after a certain point(things with a set DC).

For example, more points in Perception is almost always useful, but unless you plan to be a tracker, you can often get by with a +5 Survival. A +10 Fly is usually sufficient, especially if you use the spell. A +25 Spellcraft IDs CL20 items taking 10, can craft nearly anything, and auto-IDs opponents' spells no matter the level. That sort of thing.


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This is a great guide. It's funny, because I feel like a lot of the choices you make creating a character this way are things I've adapted to do as a gut feeling, but it's really smart to actually codify the system and make solid comparisons.

Grand Lodge

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Love it. Clear and simple, provides exactly what is needed for basic character benchmarking.


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Nice guide as others have mentioned.

After noticing your fighter example spend FCBs into Skill Points, I would greatly appreciate reading your opinions in regards to benchmarks for character HP and Skill Points. I would also appreciate knowing your benchmarks for when certain skills "Max out" so to speak, to avoid wasting otherwise useful skill points, as Ryric above pointed out.

Sovereign Court

Le Petite Mort wrote:
Leandro Garvel wrote:
Also, you say you aren't going to use the word "viable" in the guide, but it is in the title of the thread... :P

Ha! Forgot to take that sentence out of the guide.

As for offense vs. defense, I only prioritize not having a complete Achille's heel. That way when you lose initiative, at least there's a decent chance you aren't killed/taken out of the fight before you get to take an action.

Unlike defenses, which should never fall below orange but don't need to be green, every character should have a green offensive stat.

Ah, I think we mostly agree :)

Grand Lodge

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Some response to criticisms: Blue is meant to be overkill, and isn't as high as you think when you consider that players generally face creatures above their AMCREL. I used AMCREL because it is a simple method for finding appropriate benchmarks.

@Ascaphalus: I should include a skills section, and will look into making it later today.

I also really should have included the EDV formula.

I may mention saves priority (Will>Fort>>>Reflex) but I'm not sure.

@Dekalinder: This guide was not meant to delve into Fluff, merely to say that Fluff is a possible starting point for getting a character concept. Muffins and Bagels are certainly not mechanically optimized, though Bagels isn't far from it. Muffins isn't a character I personally would even consider playing, though he is certainly playable if basic 'hit with stick' characters are your bag.

@DeadManWalking: A chart of benchmarks based off the Average Monster Statistics Table is a pretty good idea. I may just do that for levels 1-11 at least.

@ElSilverWind: I think having an HP benchmark is an okay idea, but I don't really know where I'd draw the lines on those benchmarks. I'm open to suggestions.


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Le Petite Mort wrote:


@ElSilverWind: I think having an HP benchmark is an okay idea, but I don't really know where I'd draw the lines on those benchmarks. I'm open to suggestions.

I think if you did 3 rounds of survivability with being hit with a full attack.

So <1 would be red, 2 would be yellow, 3 green, 4 or 5 blue.

Grand Lodge

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pinkycatcher wrote:
Le Petite Mort wrote:


@ElSilverWind: I think having an HP benchmark is an okay idea, but I don't really know where I'd draw the lines on those benchmarks. I'm open to suggestions.

I think if you did 3 rounds of survivability with being hit with a full attack.

So <1 would be red, 2 would be yellow, 3 green, 4 or 5 blue.

I actually started thinking of something similar, except using the opponent's EDV. So if you're a hugely AC dumped Barbarian, your HP benchmarks will be higher than Tanky McTankerson with his AC of 32.

Grand Lodge

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That would be a good way to compare dissimilar methods of protection (HP, miss chance, AC etc).

If mapped to a graph, it could also show the EHP value of the next point of AC, and how much EHP 1 more hit point is worth. Would help to determine if toughness is better value than dodge for a given character.

Grand Lodge

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Zedorland wrote:

That would be a good way to compare dissimilar methods of protection (HP, miss chance, AC etc).

If mapped to a graph, it could also show the EHP value of the next point of AC, and how much EHP 1 more hit point is worth. Would help to determine if toughness is better value than dodge for a given character.

You know, that would be a good article in and of itself.

Working title: Wear Protection - Playing it Safe

P.S I've incorporated a lotta ya'll's input into my guide. I don't give a lot more than lip-service to skills, because that could be a three-part series of posts in and of itself. There is simply too vast a variety of game mechanics packed into skills that benchmarking all of them to my satisfaction would be quite time consuming.

For example, here's my 38 page document on the Intimidate skill.


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Marking for interest.


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I enjoyed your guide, and I hope you will continue developing it. I'll share a few thoughts for improvement, just my opinions of course.

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It's OK to have a weakness!
I don't think you should lower your various requirements, but I do think you should recognize that after identifying weak areas, one option is to leave one of your weak areas as a legitimate weakness.

It's true that a high level fighter should do something to shore up their will save, but not every fighter needs a 12+ Wisdom, a trait, and a feat dedicated to plugging that hole, especially not by level five. Some will want to, some won't, and both are reasonable choices.

The Party
To me, any advice on how to make characters is incomplete without mentioning other party members. Somewhere after your "3 character origins" I'd love to see a bit about filling basic roles within a party, and not stepping on other characters' shticks. I know this isn't the emphasis of your guide, so a single paragraph seems sufficient.

Keep up the good blogging!

Grand Lodge

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Blueluck wrote:

I enjoyed your guide, and I hope you will continue developing it. I'll share a few thoughts for improvement, just my opinions of course.

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It's OK to have a weakness!
I don't think you should lower your various requirements, but I do think you should recognize that after identifying weak areas, one option is to leave one of your weak areas as a legitimate weakness.

It's true that a high level fighter should do something to shore up their will save, but not every fighter needs a 12+ Wisdom, a trait, and a feat dedicated to plugging that hole, especially not by level five. Some will want to, some won't, and both are reasonable choices.

The Party
To me, any advice on how to make characters is incomplete without mentioning other party members. Somewhere after your "3 character origins" I'd love to see a bit about filling basic roles within a party, and not stepping on other characters' shticks. I know this isn't the emphasis of your guide, so a single paragraph seems sufficient.

Keep up the good blogging!

Honestly I'm thinking about excising the three origin story schtick in this one and expanding it in it's own post. I like the idea still, but it doesn't tonally fit with an otherwise Math/Logic oriented benchmarking article.

Party composition is another excellent prompt for a post. Finding where you fit in a given campaign is a very common challenge. I don't think I should dilute the focus of this post, but it would be an interesting topic to take on in the future.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

It would be great to include a table of average monster stats per CR. The guide assumes you know that info (to base your benchmarks on) but the values aren't there, other than CR 5.

Also, I think your topmost rating ("hit every monster on a 2+" is absolute overkill. If a character hits on a 4+, I'd still call that excellent. Guides like these encourage readers to go for the highest rating, so that rating should be something attainable for most builds.

Dark Archive

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Kurald Galain wrote:

It would be great to include a table of average monster stats per CR. The guide assumes you know that info (to base your benchmarks on) but the values aren't there, other than CR 5.

Also, I think your topmost rating ("hit every monster on a 2+" is absolute overkill. If a character hits on a 4+, I'd still call that excellent. Guides like these encourage readers to go for the highest rating, so that rating should be something attainable for most builds.

Mort links to it in the article - Average monster stats by CR.

For benchmarks you need to choose arbitrary boundries, and Mort choose very strict criteria. Everyone is going to have different opinions on this and no matter what he choose somebody would disagree.

He leaves it up to the reader to compare their characters to the bench marks and decide for themselves that rolling a 4+ to hit is good enough.

I do agree this benchmark is really strict. I've ran his benchmarks against a few characters I play that I felt were too powerful. They both just fell into green, often barely. I'm starting to suspect anybody that falls into blue could be a one trick pony, so green should be enough for most characters.

Sovereign Court

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I've run into a lot of difficulty fluctuation in PFS scenarios. The average to-hit in one scenario could be 5-10 more than in another scenario of the same tier.

In addition, I'm not sure those bestiary benchmarks are adhered to very strictly. There are quite a few monsters known to be under- or over-CRed for their level.

Grand Lodge

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Kurald Galain wrote:

It would be great to include a table of average monster stats per CR. The guide assumes you know that info (to base your benchmarks on) but the values aren't there, other than CR 5.

Also, I think your topmost rating ("hit every monster on a 2+" is absolute overkill. If a character hits on a 4+, I'd still call that excellent. Guides like these encourage readers to go for the highest rating, so that rating should be something attainable for most builds.

I link directly to the table you're talking about.

Blue rating is not meant to be the goal, it simply represents the point at which there isn't much point in improving. Green is really the goal, as is explicitly stated multiple times. Furthermore, AMCRELs are not usually the opponents PCs face, APL+2 is more common, which puts my benchmarks around what you're talking about.

Grand Lodge

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Ascalaphus wrote:

I've run into a lot of difficulty fluctuation in PFS scenarios. The average to-hit in one scenario could be 5-10 more than in another scenario of the same tier.

In addition, I'm not sure those bestiary benchmarks are adhered to very strictly. There are quite a few monsters known to be under- or over-CRed for their level.

Average monster stats see a lot of fluctuation in any individual stat, but usually when taken together it makes sense. Like, a super high AC monster will have quite low damage, or something.

In PFS scenarios, monsters that are designed by scenario authors are absolutely HORRENDOUS at staying near the average for CR. Fortress of the Nail's high-tier final battle compares most closely to a CR 16 monster and has home-turf advantage, despite being called a CR 12 encounter.


This guide contains a lot of good thoughts, but new players and less number-affine players will still need some help from others. As a new player, you can figure out potential problems with the guide, but likely you don't know the options to solve them. On the other hand, for someone not much into numbers it will be a chore to work their way through table and numbers.

And if someone wants to use the fluff or muse origin, he sometimes doesn't want to water down the concept just to battle Achilles heels.

That said, I will try this benchmark myself and probably recommend it to my players (and assist some to use it). In particular I like that the guide emphasises the importance of flexibility and the four levels of effectivity (blue to red) feel like a good model. Excellent work!

Grand Lodge

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SheepishEidolon wrote:

This guide contains a lot of good thoughts, but new players and less number-affine players will still need some help from others. As a new player, you can figure out potential problems with the guide, but likely you don't know the options to solve them. On the other hand, for someone not much into numbers it will be a chore to work their way through table and numbers.

And if someone wants to use the fluff or muse origin, he sometimes doesn't want to water down the concept just to battle Achilles heels.

That said, I will try this benchmark myself and probably recommend it to my players (and assist some to use it). In particular I like that the guide emphasises the importance of flexibility and the four levels of effectivity (blue to red) feel like a good model. Excellent work!

Yeah, diving into the various character options to address any given benchmarked stat was outside the scope of this article. It's basically meant to help identify the strengths and weaknesses of a character so you know what to look for.

Shadow Lodge

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Le Petite Mort wrote:
Blue rating is not meant to be the goal, it simply represents the point at which there isn't much point in improving. Green is really the goal, as is explicitly stated multiple times. Furthermore, AMCRELs are not usually the opponents PCs face, APL+2 is more common, which puts my benchmarks around what you're talking about.

Might I suggest a little more fine-tuning? I've seen several guides now using Purple ratings for options that are really spectacular. If you set your current Blue standard to Purple, you could set an intermediate Blue standard, and possibly lower Green a bit. Then Green would be "minimal functional primary offense" level, Blue would be very good, and Purple would be about as good as it gets.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Le Petite Mort wrote:
I link directly to the table you're talking about.

Yes, and I'm asking you to include it. Why would you require readers to open another document to get the info they need?

Grand Lodge

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Kurald Galain wrote:
Le Petite Mort wrote:
I link directly to the table you're talking about.

Yes, and I'm asking you to include it. Why would you require readers to open another document to get the info they need?

A) Tables of beyond a few columns don't work terribly well within Wordpress.

B) All of the information is already around, it's simply a matter of opening a link in a new tab. Why would I repeat a bunch of info already available elsewhere when just linking it is sufficient?

C) It would take up a crap-load of room in an article that is already longer than I would like.

D) Having the table within the article would make people scroll up to read it, then back down to the info they want, and back and forth etc. Having the table open in a new tab is more effective.

E) I am unclear on the legality of directly copying a big table like that from paizo.

Grand Lodge

Weirdo wrote:
Le Petite Mort wrote:
Blue rating is not meant to be the goal, it simply represents the point at which there isn't much point in improving. Green is really the goal, as is explicitly stated multiple times. Furthermore, AMCRELs are not usually the opponents PCs face, APL+2 is more common, which puts my benchmarks around what you're talking about.
Might I suggest a little more fine-tuning? I've seen several guides now using Purple ratings for options that are really spectacular. If you set your current Blue standard to Purple, you could set an intermediate Blue standard, and possibly lower Green a bit. Then Green would be "minimal functional primary offense" level, Blue would be very good, and Purple would be about as good as it gets.

I actually considered doing just that, but eventually decided that it was an unnecessary level of complexity. I may change my mind later and adjust it, but I doubt that will happen.

The Exchange

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I think, the maths gives me a headache, and it really takes the fun out of character generation as it all boils down to a numbers game. You don't have to do things a certain way, you know?

Grand Lodge

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Just a Mort wrote:
I think, the maths gives me a headache, and it really takes the fun out of character generation as it all boils down to a numbers game. You don't have to do things a certain way, you know?

Repent your heresies, false Mort!

No, I take your point, but this process isn't really meant to be the Golden Gospel method of character creation, more a way of making sure your characters can accomplish the goals you set for them consistently.

Liberty's Edge

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Just a Mort wrote:
I think, the maths gives me a headache, and it really takes the fun out of character generation as it all boils down to a numbers game. You don't have to do things a certain way, you know?

Well, the idea is that you create the character you would've anyway, for the most part, then do the math to see if the character falls within the range where they're actually likely to be effective. If it has huge deficits in any area by the math, you then re-make it a little.

For example, I have an Investigator I've already made for a Mummy's Mask game. I did this weeks ago in preparation for said game. So I figured where he'd be at 8th level to see how well he meets these criteria.

With a +18 to hit (+7 total Str from Mutagen, +6 BAB, +4 Studied Combat, +1 magic weapon, +2 Heroism, -2 Power Attack), 1d8+21 damage, AC of 26 just walking around, 30+ with temporary spells (given two rounds of buffing, a 34 is very possible), and +9 Fort, +14 Ref, +12 Will Saves.

That gives me a Green main attack (verging on blue), Orange damage, Orange AC (going to Green with buffs, Blue with enough of them), Orange Fort Save, Green Ref Save, and Green Will Save (Will goes to Orange without Heroism, but everything else is still the same).

That's useful information for me, since it means that, despite not actually being super combat focused, that character should do okay and contribute well in combat in an AP.

The Exchange

Not repenting, and I'm a Mort too, and you don't own copyrights to the name, anyway ;)

What I don't like about the guide is it seems to indicate that you should try to shore up ALL your weaknesses. It means that everything you have should be poured into the big six because it helps you "be the best you can be". There's no room for fun items like a necklace of adaptation, ring of spell storing, because that ring slot should go to a ring of deflection, the neck slot a necklace of natural armor/amof.

Who's to say it isn't fun to play to the squishy wizard stereotype, or big dumb fighter who needs help tying his shoes. The guide does not address that. It does not address that weaknesses can be a RP hook, as it forces the party to work together to overcome that.

I find superman boring, as he has everything handed to him on a platter. Batman on the other hand, commands my respect because he is flawed, and works with what he has at hand.

Liberty's Edge

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Just a Mort wrote:
What I don't like about the guide is it seems to indicate that you should try to shore up ALL your weaknesses. It means that everything you have shouod be poured into the big six because it helps you "be the best you can be". There's no room for fun items like a necklace of adaptation, ring of spell storing, because that ring slot should go to a ring of deflection, the neck slot a necklaxe of natural armor/amof.

Actually, it's debatably the best way to skip out on that sort of thing without screwing the group. I mean if you have an Orange Save even without a cloak, or Orange AC even without the amulet or ring, you can skip out on them without feeling like you need to take them to be effective.

Just a Mort wrote:
Who's to say it isn't fun to play to the squishy wizard stereotype, or big dumb fighter who needs help tying his shoes. The guide does not address that. It does not address that weaknesses can be a RP hook, as it forces the party to work together to overcome that.

That's because it's about mechanically defining when something is a weakness, not really about thematic elements at all. Which actually makes it really useful for this. I mean, if you want a low Will Save, knowing what that actually is mechanically is useful.

Just a Mort wrote:
I find superman boring, as he has everything handed to him on a platter. Batman on the other hand, commands my respect because he is flawed, and works with what he has at hand.

Batman actually does everything he can to minimize his weaknesses and focus on his strengths, so this analogy seems deeply weird and wrong to me.

The Exchange

Orange should be pushed to green? And if you're building your character according to the guide, you're doing such that you're building your character to be superman. No thank you, I rather have my flaws, revel in them. Perfection is boring.

Theme and mechanics should match. If you're a squishy wizard, I'm not expecting you to have a sky high ac.

If you wanted to be green in all categories, have a synthesist, dip 2 levels of pally. Hell, you could do it butt naked.

Congratulations, you're next to invulnerable. The GM has to up monsters up to levels where they could TPK your group to challenge you. Is that what you wanted?

Liberty's Edge

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Just a Mort wrote:
Orange should be pushed to green?

Huh? Who said that where? The idea is that, to be effective, you need some Green offense. That's the only Green stat you need.

Just a Mort wrote:
And if you're building your character according to the guide, you're doing such that you're building your character to be superman.

This guide advises certain minimums so you don't routinely get screwed. I enjoy playing people who do not repeatedly lose every time they have to make a Will Save. Never getting to fight because you're always under mind control, now that's boring. Ditto going down every time you get attacked or never getting to make a successful offensive move.

I enjoy competent protagonists in my fiction who can mostly succeed at stuff they're supposed to be good at. Heck, that's one reason I like Batman, he's competent. The same is also true of my RPG characters, or I try to make it so anyway.

Just a Mort wrote:
No thank you, I rather have my flaws, revel in them. Perfection is boring.

A +7 Save at 8th level is perfect, now?

And besides, the guide's function is to estimate what a 'good' or 'bad' score actually is. That's as useful for picking weaknesses as strengths.

Just a Mort wrote:
Theme and mechanics should match. If you're a squishy wizard, I'm not expecting you to have a sky high ac.

This assumes you want to play a theme that involves sucking at something. Not everyone enjoys failing a lot at routine tasks.

The Exchange

Not everything ends up in a will save - that's for your GM to vary encounters. Should it end in a will save, things like remove fear, protection from evil(pre encounter), and dispel magic exist. If you're of the squishy sort, you just make it so you're not there to hit(I.e invisible, flying), the usual. If you're that powerful so as not to need your party, why are they there for? The party's there to cover for your weaknesses.

I feel sucking at something is perfectly fine. So the wizard dumped strength so he can't climb, yeah, why should he bother when he can fly.

What happened when some people optimized too much:
http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2tj3a?Victory-is-boring

Liberty's Edge

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Just a Mort wrote:
Not everything ends up in a will save - that's for your GM to vary encounters. Should it end in a will save, things like remove fear, protection from evil(pre encounter), and dispel magic exist.

It was an example. The point is that few people enjoy being completely invalidated in a large percentage of encounters.

Just a Mort wrote:
If you're of the squishy sort, you just make it so you're not there to hit(I.e invisible, flying), the usual.

Uh...that qualifies you as Orange by the guide's metrics. Invisibility does anyway. All by itself.

Just a Mort wrote:
If you're that powerful so as not to need your party, why are they there for? The party's there to cover for your weaknesses.

The party is there to provide strengths other than your own.

Let's go back to my Mummy's Mask Investigator, for a moment, since that's a real character I intend to play. He has weaknesses (his Fort Save is mediocre, as are his HP, and he's very vulnerable if caught without his buffs up), but more importantly, there's a huge swath of stuff he just can't accomplish. He's not really capable of offensive spell-casting, party healing, or good ranged attacks. Basically, all he can effectively do in combat is melee attacks and he can't even manage as the only melee fighter due to mediocre HP.

By himself, he is thus screwed. Ranged combatants, offensive spell casters, and additional melee fighters are all necessary things to have in the same party as him.

Outside combat he does a little better (having some, though not all, utility spells, lots of skills, and is just generally good at what he does), but he notably lacks good Stealth, movement, and wilderness survival skills pretty much entirely.

Just a Mort wrote:
I feel sucking at something is perfectly fine. So the wizard dumped strength so he can't climb, yeah, why should he bother when he can fly.

Sucking at something can be fine. Sucking at stuff that's pretty basic to the game (like your basic defense in combat, or your primary attack type) gets really frustrating for most people real quick.

The Exchange

The guide does not measure everything and invalidates many playstyles. How about the invulnerable barbarian who goes on stalwart line, focusing on DR as opposed to AC? On paper by the guide it'd probably show a big fat red on the physical defense side, with ac penalty from rage making it worse.

In practice, it could actually work out pretty well. Offense would not be as powerful as it could be(due to attack penalties from stalwart line), but is it not playable according to the guide? Not so. Might be actually fun, taunting your enemies saying they hit like old ladies because they can't get past your DR.

Barbarians aren't known for their saves either(except fort), so the saves would be fairly crap, but once superstitious kicks in, decent.

D&D is all about imagination, being anything you want to be. Not for a numbers game to restrain you from trying fun ideas.

Liberty's Edge

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Just a Mort wrote:

The guide does not measure everything and invalidates many playstyles. How about the invulnerable barbarian who goes on stalwart line, focusing on DR as opposed to AC? On paper by the guide it'd probably show a big fat red on the physical defense side, with ac penalty from rage making it worse.

In practice, it could actually work out pretty well. Offense would not be as powerful as it could be(due to attack penalties from stalwart line), but is it not playable according to the guide? Not so. Might be actually fun, taunting your enemies saying they hit like old ladies because they can't get past your DR.

Which would be why someone suggested that the guide include that sort of thing. The OP agreed. So...this will probably be implemented in a later iteration. Or something dealing with it anyway.

But basically, this is an entirely different category of complaint from your previous ones. This is a complaint that the guide leaves something out, your previous ones were complaints about its basic premise.

Just a Mort wrote:
Barbarians aren't known for their saves either(except fort), so the saves would be fairly crap, but once superstitious kicks in, decent.

I'm pretty sure you'd count superstitious in when determining how good your Saves are. In fact, it specifically notes that you count everything that applies.

Just a Mort wrote:
D&D is all about imagination, being anything you want to be. Not for a numbers game to restrain you from trying fun ideas.

Uh...if the ideas result in really terrible numbers, that maybe shouldn't result in you not trying them, but it should be something you're aware of when deciding to do so. The guide helps quite a bit with determining that.


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Just a Mort wrote:
The guide does not measure everything

It is not supposed to. Please reread the thread title.

"The extremely general guide" not just "general" But "extremely general" So yes it isn't supposed to look at specific cases like the invulnerable barbarian.

The importance of characters having huge weaknesses to be interesting is an opinion. I am of the opinion that a character can be competent(not perfect) and still be interesting without needing a sort of kryptonite like weakness.

As Deadmanwalking stated your party is there to provide things your character does not.


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Le Petite Mort wrote:
Blueluck wrote:

I enjoyed your guide, and I hope you will continue developing it. I'll share a few thoughts for improvement, just my opinions of course.

It's OK to have a weakness!
I don't think you should lower your various requirements, but I do think you should recognize that after identifying weak areas, one option is to leave one of your weak areas as a legitimate weakness.

It's true that a high level fighter should do something to shore up their will save, but not every fighter needs a 12+ Wisdom, a trait, and a feat dedicated to plugging that hole, especially not by level five. Some will want to, some won't, and both are reasonable choices.

The Party
To me, any advice on how to make characters is incomplete without mentioning other party members. Somewhere after your "3 character origins" I'd love to see a bit about filling basic roles within a party, and not stepping on other characters' shticks. I know this isn't the emphasis of your guide, so a single paragraph seems sufficient.

Keep up the good blogging!

Honestly I'm thinking about excising the three origin story schtick in this one and expanding it in it's own post. I like the idea still, but it doesn't tonally fit with an otherwise Math/Logic oriented benchmarking article.

Party composition is another excellent prompt for a post. Finding where you fit in a given campaign is a very common challenge. I don't think I should dilute the focus of this post, but it would be an interesting topic to take on in the future.

Taking out the part about character origin seems like a good idea. "How to come up with a character to play" is an excellent idea for an article, and it is quite separate from your current project.

I look forward to seeing that post sometime:)

Grand Lodge

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I’m tired of "mechanical failings = flaws = good role playing"

Let’s clarify what this means, because it has come up several times. This guide is not recommending that every character is built on the same cookie cutter template. It is not saying that every character has to buy the same items, use the same feats. It is not saying that everyone wants to and should play superman.

It is, very simply, defining some reasonable benchmarks for what good, average, great and poor performance might look like in certain areas. Not all areas. It doesn't tell you what spells a 19th level wizard should have. It doesn't tell you how you should spend your eidolon's evolution points. It provides some basic guidelines that you can take away and compare your character with to determine if you can do the thing you want to do.

Let's say you've made a barbarian/cleric multiclass character. She has a variety of options at her disposal, can rage when she doesn't want to cast, and cast when she doesn't want to fight. You've got a great back story drawn up, an interesting mix of traits, feats and domains to make an enjoyable character. You then grab the character sheet and compare the numbers with this guide. what does it say?

Maybe it says everything is green. Great, you have built a very powerful character. Maybe it highlights that your AC is quite low. Now, you consider that you have healing spells, some DR and the option of casting other defensive buffs, and decide that you don't mind too much. You say "that's fine", and move on. Maybe it says that you have a very low total to attack rolls. This is probably of more concern. Maybe, despite all the cool stuff your character can do, the hard maths underpinning the game says that, when you do try and wade into combat, you aren't really likely to hit anything. "Hmm" you say. You designed this character to be pretty good in combat. You thought that what you had on paper was pretty good, but when you look at the AC of creatures you're likely to be up against, it doesn't look like you are going to hit very often. You frown. You designed this character to do a thing, but it can't do it very well. Luckily, you found this out before you played this character, so you are spared the consequences of running head first into a melee with 3 lizard men barbarians, missing all your attacks, and then getting pummeled to death because, while your low AC was not terrible, it was somewhat dependent on some things in the room being dead before that could attack you.

So what do you do? Do you say "I like flawed characters. It is okay that she can't do one of the core things i want her to be able to do well, I will enjoy role playing her as someone who talks the big fight, but actually can't deliver". Maybe. If so, fine. But maybe you instead say "Actually, I would quite like this character to be able to contribute to melee combat. I like the idea of her being a big scary fighter. I will adjust the mechanics I have made to make sure they match the flavor i have in mind". You look at what number you have, what number you want to hit, and adjust the mechanics to match.

If anyone has ever sat down at the table with a new character, only to find the cool stuff you had conceptualized didn't eventuate in play because you had underestimated or overestimated key mechanical considerations, you know exactly what this feels like. It sucks to bring the awesome monkey grip over sized two weapon fighting double polearm wielding fighter, only to find out that the sheer number of attack penalties means you might as well be wielding wet noodles. Similarly, it sucks to design an amazing backstory of the master assassin, who has left entire kingdoms reeling with a well placed knife in the dark, who can make men wet themselves with a glance, only to find that your stealth score is not high enough to sneak past a bored town guard, you can't get sneak attack to save your life, and your intimidate bonus can't scare toddler.

In summary: people want to be able to do stuff they want to be able to do. This guide every simply sets out some basic levels you should aim towards if being good at that thing is a thing you want to be.

/end rant

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Just a Mort wrote:
Orange should be pushed to green?
Huh? Who said that where? The idea is that, to be effective, you need some Green offense. That's the only Green stat you need.

So you should never aim for blue even though that's the highest rank, aim for green in one area, and for orange in the others... that suggests to me the ranking system needs some fine-tuning.

Liberty's Edge

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Kurald Galain wrote:
So you should never aim for blue even though that's the highest rank, aim for green in one area, and for orange in the others... that suggests to me the ranking system needs some fine-tuning.

Well, those are minimums. Having blue in stuff is probably excessive in many cases, but it definitely is nice if you can manage it. It's just not expected for any character to manage.

As noted, my non-combat focused Investigator build (I think he has 2, maybe 3 Combat Feats total) can get to Blue AC and Attack Bonus pretty readily. He doesn't walk around with them, but they're accessible.

The Saves maybe a little less so, since it's harder to stack Save modifiers. though even there some builds will hit it. They're just specialized.

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