We need a Character Optimization forum...


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Sovereign Court

I used to read the character optimization boards a lot. The people on the wotc 3.5 boards spent a lot of time putting together reference threads (what feats were in what books, what prcs came from where, what spells etc) and other useful information that had nothing to do with 'omg pwning' the game. It was like the pathfinder wiki but for rules mechanics.

A CO board here with the paizo flair for being accepting and polite would be awesome.

The Exchange

Fake Healer wrote:

I hate the idea of a character optimization area. I don't want an area where players can figure out how to exploit loopholes in the game system, the whole concept of having that WOTC crud over here just sickens me.

Count me as vehemently against this idea.

I said it once and I'll say it again....

The idea that a player can just look in a thread for a 'build' that exploits a game system's loopholes is horrible. Some will just use the build as is and others will try to disguise it and slightly tone it down so it doesn't seem so broken at first......and a very small minority of people will actually use it as a forum to see if their idea isn't a liability to the party.
Let people who want to exploit the system do their own homework or find somewhere else to break a game.
Still vehemently against this idea.


Fake Healer wrote:
Fake Healer wrote:

I hate the idea of a character optimization area. I don't want an area where players can figure out how to exploit loopholes in the game system, the whole concept of having that WOTC crud over here just sickens me.

Count me as vehemently against this idea.

I said it once and I'll say it again....

The idea that a player can just look in a thread for a 'build' that exploits a game system's loopholes is horrible. Some will just use the build as is and others will try to disguise it and slightly tone it down so it doesn't seem so broken at first......and a very small minority of people will actually use it as a forum to see if their idea isn't a liability to the party.
Let people who want to exploit the system do their own homework or find somewhere else to break a game.
Still vehemently against this idea.

First and foremost character optimization is not about exploiting loopholes, or breaking rules.

character optimization is about taking an idea that someone wants for their character and figuring out to give them something that is effective, within the rules that still meets the criteria for the character's background and the campaign.

And that is something many people like having help with. Not everyone has the time or talents to sit down and build from the ground up a character that is highly effective and still meets the background they want. Having a bunch of "friends" that can look over your concept and recommend feats, skills, and classes that would build the concept you want into an effective package (so you aren't sitting there going, "Gee the concept was cool... but this isn't working! I can't do anything to help or be neat!") is good.

Besides people are already constiantly coming onto the boards asking for help on "effective" characters. This means they feel what they have isn't "effective" (which could be because of the DM) they don't want to "beat the system" or "challenge the dm's authority" they just want to have a good time with a character they can enjoy.

The Exchange

I see little reason why people cannot be happy with individual threads in the PFRPG forum if they want to discuss this stuff. Since the Beta discussion has ended and the actual game is coming out, I don't necessarily see an upwelling of general interest in this, so a separate forum seems excessive. If the PFRPG forums get overwhelmed with this stuff, maybe then there would be a good reason. But since the OP started this nine months ago, and I haven't seen the boards flooded with CharOp discussions in the meantime, I have my doubts.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

Hey, there, I'm a CharOps poster. I've been in the middle of some of the worst arguments on the WoTC boards, usually with the same group of people, who I lump into the category of Disciples of Trollman (DoT.)Especially one fellow who's gone through about 20 different screen names trying to outrace his reputation and lack of ability to argue cogitently. In any case where you have an excess of DoT, threads get damaged and crash, however....:)
==========================

A 'gish' is a term from the first edition Fiend Folio. Look under the entry for Githyanki and Githzerai. Specifically, a f/mu 4/4 is called a 'gish'. It's a salute to the past and an effective summation of a character, and more convenient then saying 'f/mu' or fighter-wizard.

The 'divine' version of it is called a 'gosh'.

On Char Ops, this is further defined. A viable gish/gosh must have 16 BAB (four attacks), and 9th level spells by level 20. This is usually done by Prestige Class abuse, generally those with Full BAB and Full spellcasting.

=============================
The Stormwind and Oberoni fallacies came about because people using invalid arguments trotted them out so much the rejoinder simply got a name. Seeing the statement "optimizers can't roleplay!" a zillion times just crystallized the reply "optimization and roleplay are not mutually exclusive" into 'Stormwind fallacy. Next!" It's just shorthand.
===========

Pun Pun is the ultimate end of Optimization...a pure exercise in thought showing things that are broken with the game. It revolves around a creature called a Sarrukh, from Serpent Kingdoms in the Forgotten Realms. This creature has an ability called Manipulate Form, which, as written, can grant any reptilian creature any ability in the game.

Yes, you read that correctly.

The ideal behind the power is to simply gain Manipulate Form as quickly as possible, and then use it to effectively grant yourself infinite abilities.

This originally took about 14 levels. It is now down to level one. A Kobold Paladin says the name "pazuzu" three times, and gets three wishes from the Demon Lord who comes when his name is called three times (don't laugh, it's official!). One of those wishes he uses on the psicrystal he gained as a result of his level one feat, to give it one use of Manipulate Form. the psicrystal then uses it to give the kobold the ability to Manipulate Form. Then the kobold starts sharing the ability with the psicrystal, and they bounce changes off one another. In no time at all, you have Pun Pun, the kobold of infinite abilities.

Tempest Stormwind (of the Fallacy, above), a longtime contributor to the WoTC boards, was the maker of Pun Pun. he considers it nothing more then a thought exercise. Anyone attempting to play one should be smacked solidly by their DM.

===============================

A CharOpt board with Paizo rules would actually be a good thing. There's never a problem with finding weaknesses in the rules. Every developer alive knows about Pun Pun, and I'm sure the FR people wince every time they hear it. Let alone whoever set up the rule with Pazuzu. Paizo took advantage of this mentality in developing the Alpha and the Beta and the final rules...there is NOTHING wrong with this frame of mind. Exposing rules weakness makes errata less common and less painful, and keeps developers sharp with their language. (I swear, the ambiguity of some feats' language is sooo irritating..)

Char Opts guys were the first to point out how broken the Polymorph line of spells is.

They then extended it to the summoning and binding arenas. WHen you can summon up something with spells more powerful then the one you used to bring it in, the ability is nerfed. Classic example, the efreeti, level 11, and 3 wishes. Yay!

They noted how powerful the cleric and druid were, and summed it up with the 'CoDzilla' term. Not your father's healbots, anymore! And that's just staying in core!

They coined the terms 'breaking the metacap' just to describe how Divine Metamagic and efficient metamagic can tear apart your game.

They've made examples of how spellcasters have been given the tools to take over every single role in the average adventuring company...you don't actually need melees and skill monkeys, anymore.

They noted how the 'blaster' style of mage, so key in 1E and 2E, lost tremendous amounts of power with dmg caps on spells and Con bonuses to all monsters. They pointed out that 'save or dies' were far, far more effective, or spells which allowed no saves at all.

They noted that damage had increased so drastically, that healing has fallen behind in usefulness in combat. They also pointed out that since everyone has so many more hit points, lower level healing spells become almost useless at higher levels.

They (and I) noted that since Melees lost the ability to move and full attack, they were effectively nerfed in combat, since playing an intelligent foe meant never allowing a melee to get off a full attack...something casters and archers never had to put up with. So many of the abilities of Melees were given away to other classes, or made gear dependent, it became VERY frustrating to play a high level Melee person (and I love playing Melees).

The utter dominance of Reach in Melee combat.

All of these things developers have to take into account when revising and updating the game. It's not at all easy to do so. It all was taken into account for 4E...you find almost none of the balance problems in 4E that you do in 3.5...but then, there's the downside to that, too. Char Opts had a real effect on the evolution of the game, but the cookie-cutter clone problem of 4E that results from having absolute control over character power is the downside.

Let's not get into the rage and hopelessness surrounding the Core Fighter, heh.

---------
Most CharOpts guys don't use the rules they point out. They point them out because they consider them broken. CoDzilla came about as a cry from a CO guy decrying how you had to rein in spells just in core, or CoDzilla could come along and trash your campaign.

So, a CO board is a good idea. You'd probably have to police it more, but what it will give you in the end is:

1) A clear indication of what mechanics are broken and/or need to be fixed/errata'd. You can't beat the gameplay of tons of people showing problems.

2) Mechanically effective builds. Spellcasters don't normally have the problem, they can always change spells. But other classes are often constrained by the choices they make, and these give good guidelines to follow. Paizo's relative lack of PrC's should help stem a great deal of abuse, and they give someone who is not an expert on the math behind the game a template they can focus on so that they don't fall short on the mechanical end of things.

Hope you found this useful!

==Aelryinth

Shadow Lodge

While I generally agree that that is what it should be, I have seen a lot of "lets break this or that". I would like a CO board about how to make a character for this concept that works well. I wouldn't be against "lets break the______", but that shouldn't be the focus either.

The other (up) side to a CO board is that a DM can also look at them if they have reservations about what a player might be trying to sneak by them.


Beckett wrote:

While I generally agree that that is what it should be, I have seen a lot of "lets break this or that". I would like a CO board about how to make a character for this concept that works well. I wouldn't be against "lets break the______", but that shouldn't be the focus either.

The other (up) side to a CO board is that a DM can also look at them if they have reservations about what a player might be trying to sneak by them.

Yeah another common post in CO boards would be the DM wondering if someone is aiming at "breaking" something.

Typically such a post would be, "Hey got someone I think is trying something, here is what his race/class/feats are... is he just effective or is he going for broke?"

Gleemax had 2 CO boards: For actual use (i.e. help me with "x") and theoritical, (i.e. "Ok I think there is a break point in rule X and the developers need to know about it.") which was also used for "mind games" like pun pun... stuff not to be used in actual play.


I like the idea of a character optimization forum- folks who aren't interested don't have to go. It's odd, but I like building characters as a thought exercise- I tell my non-gaming friends it's my version of "sudoku", though I focus on building playable characters. I like the idea of "optimization" not so much as to make an "uber-cool" character, but to be able to make a non-standard character type functional and effective, so this gives me ideas.

For example, I think a monk/arcane spellcaster hybrid type is a cool archetype, familiar to fans of anime, but anyone trying to build such a character without knowing what he/she is doing, would likely be horribly ineffective in battle- and therefore not able to be the charcter they envisioned. Knowing that there is a way to find tools to build a character in an effective way is pretty cool. I am the GM usually in my games, and I use my optimization abilities to help players realize their concepts for PCs in a way that makes them effective in the game. So, I'm for it. To be honest, I'm not sure what those who are against it are concerned about... they don't have to visit if they aren't so inclined. Not everything is for everyone, and it doesn't have to be.


Beckett wrote:

While I generally agree that that is what it should be, I have seen a lot of "lets break this or that". I would like a CO board about how to make a character for this concept that works well. I wouldn't be against "lets break the______", but that shouldn't be the focus either.

The other (up) side to a CO board is that a DM can also look at them if they have reservations about what a player might be trying to sneak by them.

Yeah another common post in CO boards would be the DM wondering if someone is aiming at "breaking" something.

Typically such a post would be, "Hey got someone I think is trying something, here is what his race/class/feats are... is he just effective or is he going for broke?"

Gleemax had 2 CO boards: For actual use (i.e. help me with "x") and theoritical, (i.e. "Ok I think there is a break point in rule X and the developers need to know about it.") which was also used for "mind games" like pun pun... stuff not to be used in actual play.

The Exchange

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Also remember that there are DMs in D&D for a reason. They're there to arbitrate the game and sometimes flat out say "You can't do that." Character Optimization threads give a good place for people to say what is useful and what isn't.

As an analogy, many companies employ hackers to get into their own system so they can find the flaws. If no one did that, then this weakness would just be sitting there and wait to be exploited by someone who *wants* to exploit them. In the end, if someone wants to exploit the game they'll do it whether they have a character optimization board or not. But if there is the board (the hackers) then you have an opportunity, whether officially (Paizo/Errata) or not (DM saying "No") to reduce the amount of broken builds.

Sidenote: I've also used the threads to make effective characters that are NOT broken but I simply could not have done without help from others. Examples a bard/paladin (I really wanted to do one, but there are specific ways to do it, otherwise your character will suck and you'll be a waste to the party. In the end you'll hate the character because you aren't effective. I've had many players who had great crazy ideas but didn't do the homework or get help and their build ended up horrendous... and they just hated the character after 5-10 sessions.


My issue with a CO forum is that it polarizes. Traditionally, there are two opposing camps in DnD: those who focus on roleplaying above all else, and those who love the numbers (but still might roleplay). I've run into both, and have to say...

I prefer keeping things the way they are. The general forums work, generally speaking, and at Paizo at least, the two camps mingle. It isn't a bad thing.

I might also add that generall speaking, too, the two camps aren't that compatible at times, even around a gaming table (perhaps especially around a gaming table?). Reference Carter's post, above: "but anyone trying to build such a character without knowing what he/she is doing, would likely be horribly ineffective in battle" ...that's part of why. A roleplay-emphasis player may say, yes, you CAN, and the CO-emphasis (which is not rp exclusive, but the mindset here is vastly different) may say rules FIRST, then RP, and no you CAN'T unless x and y conditions are met.* Both will feel the other is telling them how to play, and perhaps also that their own way of play is superior...or simply strongly preferred. And, no one likes being told how to play or made to feel that their way is second par. :) Worse, DnD tends to make the differences stand out during actual play.

It doesn't really help the animosity.

So I don't really like the idea of either camp getting their own fortresses. Of course, we could also call them corrals, or homes, depending on mindset, but keep in mind that a section isn't just a corral, but a validation. And a corral is also a gathering point.

I also wouldn't really want to pull the roleplaying-emphasis, or the number crunching-emphasis (which doesn't exclude rp, again, but an OP area would be more focused on the crunching specifically) out of the rest of the boards, either. I like it as a mix and I appreciate both camps because both have things to add to the game. DnD specifically caters to both as a system, and I think we suffer by dividing them. And I like the general tone of the boards that Paizo enforces.

Of course, the forums are horrendously long already. Perhaps if these fortresses (or corrals, or homes, depending on mindset) are made, it wouldn't hurt at all to organize the forums more, before adding to them.

* Of course, these are generalizations. They're broad generalizations, but I hope perhaps that they define the camps I'm talking about, at least loosely...even if those inside each camp tend to differ, or cross over to varying degrees. Again, think perception or generalization for the sake of argument.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pawns, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Against.

We play a ROLEplaying game, not a ROLLplaying game.

Don't feed the trolls.

However, a forum for each of the core classes I would support. (Keeps all the quests about Fighters in the same place.)


SirUrza wrote:

Against.

We play a ROLEplaying game, not a ROLLplaying game.

Don't feed the trolls.

However, a forum for each of the core classes I would support. (Keeps all the quests about Fighters in the same place.)

See, this is a problem.

Attitudes like the above.

A huge, raging problem within the roleplaying community.

This unrestrained, outspoken invective against those who like to optimize.

Let's break down the above post.

First, the poster states that they are "against" the board. This is pointless. People are going to want to optimize whether or not there is a specific place to do so. By opposing the creation of a forum dedicated to optimization assistance, you are essentially demanding that the threads that would appear there instead appear elsewhere, scattered across the rest of the forum. If you truly despise character optimization (and it's quite clear that you do), you are only continuing to expose yourself to it by preventing the creation of a forum you can safely ignore.

Second, the poster states that D&D is a ROLEplaying, and not ROLLplaying game. This is, and has been, one of the greatest tragedies of the RPG community as a whole. There is a significant camp of people who believes that because this D&D is a roleplaying game that the roleplaying (which is always defined poorly) comes before the game, and if that's not the case you're a) doing it wrong, and b) a bad roleplayer.

Third, the poster implies that character optimizers are trolls, or that character optimization inherently attracts trolls. Beyond being a clear character attack on those who enjoy optimization, anyone who's actually visited charop boards knows that the troll ratio is actually pretty low, comparable to or better than the rest of the community.

I shouldn't have to illustrate why this attitude (and those like it) are harmful. It clearly makes an effort to divide the roleplaying community into two distinct groups (roleplayers and rollplayers) which don't actually exist in reality. It is divisive, abrasive and unnecessary, to say nothing of how potentially counterproductive it can be.

This attitude is one expression of a pervasive mindset of elitism exhibited by a lot of the roleplaying community (almost always, in my experience, coming from those who specifically fancy themselves ROLEplayers and describe those who do not share their opinions as ROLLplayers). This group of gamers goes beyond simple disagreement over playstyle and far too often ventures into the realm of derision.

The evidence for the ability of people to optimize and exhibit sophisticated character development is plentiful and should not be challenged like this. The Stormwind Fallacy was posited for a reason. It would be helpful if the attitude in question would disappear completely in favor of one that is more accepting of playstyles that the individual in question does not partake in.


I have to agree with Scott here. Optimizing a character can be lots of fun. As a DM I help my players do it all the time. (Then I can throw bigger nastier things at them)

It also doesn't mean you will necessarily play those characters. I have optimized dozens of characters I will never get to play? Why? Because it is fun. Also, I have learned a great deal about the inticacies of the rule system through some of that playing around of ideas.


How about this then?

1. Setting up a forum for a specific topic does send a signal to people that the people that have set up the forums want and encourage such posts.

2. Yes, there are optimizers that can roleplay wonderfully. There are also people that can "optimize" specific aspects of their characters and can come up with a great reason why the character is good at one specific quirky thing.

However, just because someone can do something, doesn't mean that optimization is completely divorced from a tendency to power game first and foremost.

Also, I have to say I'm kind of getting tired of people whipping out the term "Stormwind Fallacy" like a cleric desperately trying to drive back a ravening pack of ghouls.

3. Some people are really talented at optimizing characters. The problem is, there are tons of people that aren't, but still want to power game, and once they get the "blueprint" to do so, they do indeed do this.

Some GMs are good storytellers, and good at using the rules, but not super tactically minded, because they focus much more on telling the story and aren't really worried about trying to kill a player or even main them, just not making the game a cake walk for the PCs.

Said GM cited above, due to people using blueprints from the CharOps boards, suddenly never challenges his PCs unless he ups his prep time to similarly optimize his monsters and NPCs, or spends a good deal of time combing over the rules trying to figure out what he needs to ban from the game in order to keep it from causing him headaches.

Is it wrong for a group to like to optimize? Nope, not at all. A group where a lot of the players want to ramp their characters up to 11, while the GM never pulls any punches and always reworks every monster and NPC to be a complete killer can have a lot of fun, as long as everyone is into that kind of game. In fact, said group, if the people are of the right mindset, may still get into quite a bit of storytelling. But not every group is this way.

Is it wrong for GMs to not want to think that every character that comes to his table is going to have potentially game breaking abilities, to be feel stressed out because he just wants to read the adventure he is running, jot down some notes, and run a game? Not at all. He's probably not going attract a lot of super optimizers to his game or make them happy, but the players that enjoy that style will probably have a lot of fun.

Super optimizing characters and using killer tactics is a subset of the overall community of RPG players. On the other hand, people that are technophiles and project maps and play audio clips and use lighting and sound to present their game is subset as well. That style of play is not wrong or bad either, but I don't want a forum for technophile GMs or players either, not because the style is "wrong," but because having a specific forum for that style of play calls it out as something specific that Paizo wants to attract and encourage, above other styles of play.


A thought:

I think the reason a lot of us have the knee-jerk reaction of "Roll-player vs Role-player" is because we've gotten burned, as GMs and players, by munchkins at the table. So when we read some posts or threads with an optimization interest, we read them not in terms of the people on line we really don't know, but in terms of the players that we have had the misfortune to know. I've got no horse in the forum-or-no-forum race, as I don't see how that will effect me. (Heck, if it irritated me, it being a forum would just mean I could turn it off.) But I don't see how arguing with people who want to explore optimization out of our bad experiences causes anything but bad blood.

If we give the optimization explorers the benefit of the doubt, what might happen? We might learn more about the rules and the possibilities. Even if it was all negative learning in one's estimation, it would prepare one for possible problems and how to head them off. And let optimizers make their best case: Scott's problematization of the distinctions are logically sound. Now, if in the concrete case they're just what happens, then wouldn't that be apparent in the outcome? If exploring optimum builds mechanics-wise is portrayed in such threads (or forum) as contributing to role-playing, then we all gain. The more such posts make this contribution explicit, the better for all.

Just my attempt at a contribution.


KnightErrantJR wrote:
Super optimizing characters and using killer tactics is a subset of the overall community of RPG players. On the other hand, people that are technophiles and project maps and play audio clips and use lighting and sound to present their game is subset as well. That style of play is not wrong or bad either, but I don't want a forum for technophile GMs or players either, not because the style is "wrong," but because having a specific forum for that style of play calls it out as something specific that Paizo wants to attract and encourage, above other styles of play.

More eloquent than I was able to be. :)


Scott Betts wrote:


Attitudes like the above.

A huge, raging problem within the roleplaying community.

This unrestrained, outspoken invective against those who like to optimize.

An attitude probably based on experience. Mine have been fairly negative with this as well. I try to keep an open mind about it, but most of the players I've seen "optimize" a character are powergamers looking for an advantage over their fellow players and / or the DM. If it was all about having fun with the system, creating interesting rp concepts or stress testing the rules I doubt many people would have that knee jerk reaction. Unfortunately, too many people have run into the "dark side" of charops. The powergamer who's out to "game the system".

Scott Betts wrote:


Let's break down the above post.

First, the poster states that they are "against" the board. This is pointless. People are going to want to optimize whether or not there is a specific place to do so. By opposing the creation of a forum dedicated to optimization assistance, you are essentially demanding that the threads that would appear there instead appear elsewhere, scattered across the rest of the forum. If you truly despise character optimization (and it's quite clear that you do), you are only continuing to expose yourself to it by preventing the creation of a forum you can safely ignore.

I suspect that the odd request for help with a rp concept or the effects of a specific rule / feat etc. on a character in a regular forum is a lot less likely to involve powergaming. A specific forum for charops would be more likely to be a clearing house for builds that twist or break the rules. I think that's why a lot of people, myself included, don't think a dedicated forum is necessary. Hopefully the Alpha / Beta playtests provided sufficient stress testing / discussion of the core rules / character classes in any event.

Scott Betts wrote:


Second, the poster states that D&D is a ROLEplaying, and not ROLLplaying game. This is, and has been, one of the greatest tragedies of the RPG community as a whole. There is a significant camp of people who believes that because this D&D is a roleplaying game that the roleplaying (which is always defined poorly) comes before the game, and if that's not the case you're a) doing it wrong, and b) a bad roleplayer.

Again, probably based on his own, obviously unfortunate, experience. I can't say mine has been any better. Of course, there is no "wrong" way for a group to roleplay. What annoys a lot of people is when someone enters a group who aren't into that aspect and proceeds to upset the existing game environment. If they were all into it, no one would complain.

Scott Betts wrote:


Third, the poster implies that character optimizers are trolls, or that character optimization inherently attracts trolls. Beyond being a clear character attack on those who enjoy optimization, anyone who's actually visited charop boards knows that the troll ratio is actually pretty low, comparable to or better than the rest of the community.

I shouldn't have to illustrate why this attitude (and those like it) are harmful. It clearly makes an effort to divide the roleplaying community into two distinct groups (roleplayers and rollplayers) which don't actually exist in...

A certain number are. Of course, other's aren't. I haven't spent too much time of these boards. You have. Maybe a link to an existing board would be enlightening? The repulsion, if that's not too strong a term, for charop is, I think, an outgrowth of most players / DMs reaction to rules lawyers and other powergamers. Whether this is correct or not is probably dependent on the individual. Still I think a specific board for this activity is unnecessary. Questions about specific classes would probably be handled just as well within individual class boards. With a lot less fuss too.


Gods no. No char op forms they are a blight unto gaming.

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Character "optimization" I think does in fact serve an important role for the game, similar to that of white hat hackers in relation to network security. They point out the loopholes and bad code/rules. The black hat hackers/criminals in this example are the bastards that use character optimization to twink out a character beyond any rational degree and, whether intentionally or not, end up ruining whatever games they might be playing in. As a purely theoretical exercise, and as a way to find what needs to be fixed/re-written/patched, CO is ok. But like in hacking, the ones who will do it for relatively good reasons will sadly be vastly outnumbered by the script kiddie twerps making things miserable for the rest of us.

If there ever is a CharOp section on the boards, it ideally would have to be a heavily moderated and patrolled section, keeping the potential of a Pathfinder Pun-Pun to a minimum while maximizing the number of "this is a real bad combination of feats and PrC abilities, should we even allow this?" type of threads.


R_Chance wrote:
The repulsion, if that's not too strong a term, for charop is, I think, an outgrowth of most players / DMs reaction to rules lawyers and other powergamers. Whether this is correct or not is probably dependent on the individual.

And while some of those reactions may be perfectly valid responses to truly game-damaging players, many of those reactions to rules lawyers/powergamers are exactly what I was describing above: gamers who have a singular opinion of how a roleplaying game should be played (typically, with the focus on the roleplaying and not on the game) reacting negatively to gamers who have a different take on how the game ought to be played. Typically (though not always), this is a DM-player relationship (and the "rules lawyer/powergamer" is inevitably a player). The worst part is that the optimizer feels cheated, because he is working within the rules of the game to maximize his enjoyment. He is given a number of impressions from this kind of reaction: a) the DM/other players are not playing by the rules, b) the investment in time and thought he has put into his character is for naught, and c) he is being singled out and punished for attempting to play the game properly.

Indeed, typifying this sort of player as a "powergamer" or "munchkin" verbally is a form of labeling, and probably does more to reinforce that behavior and cause secondary, linked behavior than it does to reduce it. If you are the sort of person to use these labels, imagine if you were called something equally derogatory ("Mary Sue," "fanfic writer," etc.). An attempt at reconciling these different playstyles is probably the most productive route to take. Stepping back to the community at large, using pejorative terms to describe optimizers operates similarly; it reinforces the split, ensuring that the group being derided (the optimizers) continues to do its thing, and pushes them further away from the "real roleplayer" crowd (and, accordingly, the ideology of roleplaying over game attached to it).


Here's an idea, though.

It's been demonstrated in this thread that having a character optimization board would be useful to a number of people.

For those who don't want to see one, please explain the argument for how the existence of such a board would harm the experience for the rest of the forum.


SirUrza wrote:

Against.

We play a ROLEplaying game, not a ROLLplaying game.

Don't feed the trolls.

However, a forum for each of the core classes I would support. (Keeps all the quests about Fighters in the same place.)

Graaaaaah! You feed troll! Feed troll now.

Maybe troll feed YOU... to troll!

First tell Troll, not everyone ROLL dice? Not everyone say 'Me do this' in ROLE of game?

Game is same. You ROLE. You ROLL. All do these.

Now... me hungry.


Scott Betts wrote:

Here's an idea, though.

It's been demonstrated in this thread that having a character optimization board would be useful to a number of people.

For those who don't want to see one, please explain the argument for how the existence of such a board would harm the experience for the rest of the forum.

Already did that in my last post.

The Exchange

Scott Betts wrote:

Here's an idea, though.

It's been demonstrated in this thread that having a character optimization board would be useful to a number of people.

For those who don't want to see one, please explain the argument for how the existence of such a board would harm the experience for the rest of the forum.

I think there are two big reasons for not wanting a forum for this. One is based upon experience from the playtests, before the management were forced to take some fairly drastic action against certain individuals - no one wants to see that again. And a rancid ghetto cut off from the mainstream of the boards is hardly in the interests of Paizo either.

But the other is that, because Paizo traditionally has been about creating adventures and modules, the community here has never been very interested in this stuff. In other words, we tend to lean towards story and away from mechanics. CharOps was done on the board of the game's owner, WotC, not on the boards of the people who wrote all the stuff in Dungeon and Dragon (adventures and the "other stuff" (but interestingly virtually nothing on character optimisation) respectively) and arguably it reflected different camps having different views of the game, or at least different emphases. I don't recall any discussion of any real length, passion or interest on the subject of character optimisation on these boards prior to the playtest.

However, a lot of that has changed with the launch of 4e and the creation of PFRPG. Obviously, WotC has no interest in 3e character optimisation any more, so if you want to discuss that you have to go somewhere else. Also, PFRPG is now the "new" 3e and arguably it makes sense for the discussion of character optimisation under that system to be on the boards of its owner. Plus, there are insights to be gained from character optimisation discussions, even if there is a lot of hyperbole about "broken-ness" when really a lot of it is about rare corner cases, and the tendency to see mathematical analysis as being equivalent of play experience.

Having been somewhat scarred by the Trollman episode, I for one feel considerable trepidation at again formally inviting discussion on these subjects again. Interestingly, look at the posting trajectory of the OP of this thread on these boards - not a good precedent, frankly. But it all depends on the participants in those putative character optimisation discussions acting in a civilised fashion, which is surely not impossible to achieve.


I think if there is to be a forum like this, it should grow organically. There have already been several 'character build' threads out there, the most recent I can recall is SmiloDan's excellent: How to kill a dragon in 1 round while naked(18th level Shadowcaster). In the 3.5 forum. If enough interest is shown and a bunch of these threads appear, then I would imagine Gary would create a forum to keep them tidy, much as has been done for word games when they clogged up other forums.

In this case I think it is 'if you charop them they will forum'. Build the threads first, then the forum will follow ...

The Exchange

R_Chance wrote:
Scott Betts wrote:


Attitudes like the above.

A huge, raging problem within the roleplaying community.

This unrestrained, outspoken invective against those who like to optimize.

An attitude probably based on experience. Mine have been fairly negative with this as well. I try to keep an open mind about it, but most of the players I've seen "optimize" a character are powergamers looking for an advantage over their fellow players and / or the DM. If it was all about having fun with the system, creating interesting rp concepts or stress testing the rules I doubt many people would have that knee jerk reaction. Unfortunately, too many people have run into the "dark side" of charops. The powergamer who's out to "game the system".

Scott Betts wrote:


Let's break down the above post.

First, the poster states that they are "against" the board. This is pointless. People are going to want to optimize whether or not there is a specific place to do so. By opposing the creation of a forum dedicated to optimization assistance, you are essentially demanding that the threads that would appear there instead appear elsewhere, scattered across the rest of the forum. If you truly despise character optimization (and it's quite clear that you do), you are only continuing to expose yourself to it by preventing the creation of a forum you can safely ignore.

I suspect that the odd request for help with a rp concept or the effects of a specific rule / feat etc. on a character in a regular forum is a lot less likely to involve powergaming. A specific forum for charops would be more likely to be a clearing house for builds that twist or break the rules. I think that's why a lot of people, myself included, don't think a dedicated forum is necessary. Hopefully the Alpha / Beta playtests provided sufficient stress testing / discussion of the core rules / character classes in any event.

Scott Betts wrote:


Second, the poster states that D&D is a ROLEplaying, and not ROLLplaying game.
...

This entire post by R-Chance is exactly how I feel.

I don't want a Charop board on this site because it will draw a lot of undesirable facets of that community. WOTC boards are rife with trolls, a$$hats who just want to argue any point like debate club wannabes, and a good amount of immature people expressing their dominance through fits. That is not to say that WOTC's boards don't have any valuable posters there, there's a lot of them, but opening the door and tossing out food will draw all kinds of creatures to your porch. Some good, some bad. I believe that the bad will outway the good.
Now if some people wanted to have some discussions in individual threads (which are easy to ignore and I don't need to worry about my players exploiting too much) that are done well without the "U suxxx newb" and the "well, that's just a Stormyday Falsehood" or other vomit inducing rhetoric, and it wasn't a build thread made just to make the most Uberroxxorleet!!!111!!!11! character using system loopholes and a blatant disregard for the rest of the party's gameplay, then I wouldn't mind it. And if that worked a few times, maybe we could develop an area to accommodate that type of thread. A mature thread for character design.
I have no faith that that would happen though.

Dark Archive

SquirrelyOgre wrote:
My issue with a CO forum is that it polarizes.

What he said.

This thread is full of people utterly crapping on anyone who optimizes, regardless of whether or not they *also* roll play, which makes me think that it's probably better not to create a seperate forum where they can troll people who, in their opinions, are 'playing the game wrong.'

The irony, for me, is that so many fantasy characters are not just optimized, but uber-optimized. Was there anything Conan could not do? Was there anything 'Dread Pirate Wesley' wasn't better at than anyone else he faced? How many fantasy (or merely fantastic) characters turned out to have some special trait that nobody else in their group could match (Gandalf, a literal demigod, Merlin, son of the devil, Drizzt, member of a high LA race in a party of 'normal folk,' Eragon, half-whatever chosen hero, Rand al'Thor, prophecied to be able to do what no other man could, etc, etc.).

In many fiction and fantasy tales, one 'specialer than all the rest' character (Data, Buffy, Luke Skywalker, Mary Sue, etc.) gets the attention, while the other people, who, IMO, are even more deserving of respect for working and fighting alongside them *without* superpowers, tend to get short shrift. The *problem* with character optimization, is when the storyteller, whether writer or DM, fails to make each character relevant. In a superhero game, everyone is special. In a fantasy game, everyone *can* be special, but some make choices that detract from their own enjoyment of the game.

If the hardcore roleplayer cares not a fig for combat utility, but is having a good time, and isn't detracting from the success of the missions, it's all good. If the hardcore optimizer cares not a fig for roleplaying, but is having a good time, *and the roleplayers aren't getting all upset that he's outshining them at the thing they didn't want to do anyway,* then it's all good. Fun all around.

I've had overly powerful characters make a game less fun for me (almost always DMNPCs, or pregen characters at conventions, where the DM thinks it would be cool for one character to play a second rate detective and another character to play The Shadow, who combines all sorts of super-powers with being an even better detective!), and I've had roleplayers TPK the party by insulting the duke or calling the vampire Prince Lodin of Chicago 'Prince Load-in-your-pants' because 'that's what my character would do!' That doesn't mean that optimizers are evil, nor does it mean that roleplayers are evil. It just means that some people are selfish and don't consider whether their optimized character *or their roleplaying* is making the game un-fun for the other people at the table.

Char Op isn't the evil. Selfish jerks are the evil, and you'll find just as many of them on either side of the great roleplaying vs. 'rollplaying' divide.

It's a little embarassing how many of the anti-Char Op posters in this thread are going out of their way to prove that with their gratuitous contempt for their fellow gamers.

The Exchange

Set wrote:
A lot of good stuff...

Seems to me that a lot of folks 1) don't understand/care about the real nature of CharOp forums and 2) would likely not allow such forums to peacefully exist here anyway because they 3) characterize those who would dare use such an evil thing as immature leetspeekers.

Hmph.


Scott Betts wrote:

Here's an idea, though.

It's been demonstrated in this thread that having a character optimization board would be useful to a number of people.

For those who don't want to see one, please explain the argument for how the existence of such a board would harm the experience for the rest of the forum.

Simple. A number of people believe a dedicated board would increase the amount of character optimization and broaden it's scope -- beyond the legitimate usages you espouse. Personally I think that rp concept development is bast served cooperating with your DM. I've worked with a number of players to help them develop their character within the framework of my game. Stress testing the rules is best served through a testing cycle, which Paizo has done quite well. Finding broken / exploitable rules later would not change the core rules book already being printed. It would require house ruling / errata and these changes would not be as widespread as desired. The knowledge of how to exploit the rules would, imo, outpace any fix. The "doing it for the fun of it" would be fine... if that's all it did. I think the legitimate uses of it are easily contained within existing boards (including playing around with ideas) and the collateral damage is limited in comparison to a specific charop board. Btw, it's not the "experience" of the forum I'm worried about, it's the experince of the players in the games. That's my opinion of course, ymmv.

*edit* Personally I wouldn't visit those forums dedicated to it and I don't have a problem with the legitimate uses of charcter optimization, I just think having dedicated boards would lead to a much higher incidence in the game of the damaging use of it vs. the legitimate use. As for the good stuff, have at it within the existing forums. No complaints from me there (or even if it has it's own board -- I'll just have to spend more time policing my game *shrug*).


Darkwolf wrote:
Set wrote:
A lot of good stuff...

Seems to me that a lot of folks 1) don't understand/care about the real nature of CharOp forums and 2) would likely not allow such forums to peacefully exist here anyway because they 3) characterize those who would dare use such an evil thing as immature leetspeekers.

Hmph.

I almost replied in kind to this, but I don't think that would serve any real purpose. I hope you realize that are some legitimate concerns in opposing this idea. Just think what you're complaining about and put yourself in the other guys shoes. Should be easy given our hobby.


Set wrote:

This thread is full of people utterly crapping on anyone who optimizes, regardless of whether or not they *also* roll play, which makes me think that it's probably better not to create a seperate forum where they can troll people who, in their opinions, are 'playing the game wrong.

This topic does tend to draw extremes.

Set wrote:


The irony, for me, is that so many fantasy characters are not just optimized, but uber-optimized. Was there anything Conan could not do? Was there anything 'Dread Pirate Wesley' wasn't better at than anyone else he faced? How many fantasy (or merely fantastic) characters turned out to have some special trait that nobody else in their group could match (Gandalf, a literal demigod, Merlin, son of the devil, Drizzt, member of a high LA race in a party of 'normal folk,' Eragon, half-whatever chosen hero, Rand al'Thor, prophecied to be able to do what no other man could, etc, etc.).

Most fantasy fiction is about the experience of some unique individual. Less of it is about the journey to becoming unique or the experience of some more typical character. The authors who carry the "super character" fantasy off well often provide important roles for the supporting cast as well.

Set wrote:


In many fiction and fantasy tales, one 'specialer than all the rest' character (Data, Buffy, Luke Skywalker, Mary Sue, etc.) gets the attention, while the other people, who, IMO, are even more deserving of respect for working and fighting alongside them *without* superpowers, tend to get short shrift. The *problem* with character optimization, is when the storyteller, whether writer or DM, fails to make each character relevant. In a superhero game, everyone is special. In a fantasy game, everyone *can* be special, but some make choices that detract from their own enjoyment of the game.

I disagree here. It's when an optimized character makes the rest of the players irrelevant (and the DM permits it to happen because its within the rules).

Set wrote:


If the hardcore roleplayer cares not a fig for combat utility, but is having a good time, and isn't detracting from the success of the missions, it's all good. If the hardcore optimizer cares not a fig for roleplaying, but is having a good time, *and the roleplayers aren't getting all upset that he's outshining them at the thing they didn't want to do anyway,* then it's all good. Fun all around.

I've had overly powerful characters make a game less fun for me...

True. But that's often a big if. Most players don't enjoy being completely sidelined, especially if the player doing it is immature about it.

There are always two sides to these things, and legitimate points on both of them. The question is which benefits the most players and harms the least. That's the only real issue imo and it's an important one for a board that serves thousands... unfortunately there is no hard data to help make decisions on this, only annecdotal / experiental evidence. Making this one of those debates that could drag on forever...


Character optimization is for war games not RPGs. If my player do it, the characters die and they are not invited back to my game.


Fake Healer wrote:

This entire post by R-Chance is exactly how I feel.

I don't want a Charop board on this site because it will draw a lot of undesirable facets of that community. WOTC boards are rife with trolls, a$$hats who just want to argue any point like debate club wannabes, and a good amount of immature people expressing their dominance through fits. That is not to say that WOTC's boards don't have any valuable posters there, there's a lot of them, but opening the door and tossing out food will draw all kinds of creatures to your porch. Some good, some bad. I believe that the bad will outway the good.
Now if some people wanted to have some discussions in individual threads (which are easy to ignore and I don't need to worry about my players exploiting too much) that are done well without the "U suxxx newb" and the "well, that's just a Stormyday Falsehood" or other vomit inducing rhetoric, and it wasn't a build thread made just to make the most Uberroxxorleet!!!111!!!11! character using system loopholes and a blatant disregard for the rest of the party's gameplay, then I wouldn't mind it. And if that worked a few times, maybe we could develop an area to accommodate that type of thread. A mature thread for character design.
I have no faith that that would happen though.

This is exactly the kind of post that does nothing to help the situation. Instead of cogently outlining the reasons for opposing this idea in a manner that is respectful, it goes out of its way to denigrate those it disagrees with. Not only does it make optimizers out to be immature leetspeakers (which does not reflect reality any better than it would the rest of the roleplaying community), it calls widely-accepted concepts like the Stormwind Fallacy "vomit inducing rhetoric". It labels optimizers "trolls," "a$$hats," "immature," "debate club wannabes," etc. This is vitriol, it should have no place here, and it is a clear demonstration of precisely the attitude I called out earlier. This attitude does more damage to the cohesiveness of the roleplaying community than even the most over-the-top character optimization sub-forum could produce.


Maloo wrote:
Character optimization is for war games not RPGs. If my player do it, the characters die and they are not invited back to my game.

Case in point. Optimizers are banned from the game, giving them exactly those three impressions about gamers I outlined above. Instead of addressing the problem maturely in an attempt at reconciliation, it is shoved out the door.

Instead of "I don't like character optimization, and this is my preferred playstyle instead. I'd be happy to work with you to bring the character you worked on more in-line with the desired playstyle for my game," the reaction is "I don't like character optimization, or those who do it, and such people will be removed from my game with prejudice and will not be able to return."

The roleplaying community needs to learn how to handle itself better.


I have tried to compromise with player about power gaming. It never works they all seem to have a ego about it. If today a pwr gamer was invited to my game I would sit down and work with him. I doubt it would come to some kind of touchy feely meduim but if you feel you can work it out more power to you.


Scott Betts wrote:


The roleplaying community needs to learn how to handle itself better.

Scott, just let me thank you for refraining from the broad generalizations that you have been ardently fighting against.


I very much love character optimization, and I decidedly do not want such a board on Paizo. It's like cotton candy and wiener schnitzel - both wonderful but not so great mixed.


KnightErrantJR wrote:
Scott Betts wrote:


The roleplaying community needs to learn how to handle itself better.

Scott, just let me thank you for refraining from the broad generalizations that you have been ardently fighting against.

Huh? We arnt talking about a race or creed of people. We are talking about of a style of play. Many GMs dont like pwr games. They take away from the role playing aspect of "role playing games".


Maloo wrote:
Huh? We arnt talking about a race or creed of people. We are talking about of a style of play. Many GMs dont like pwr games. They take away from the role playing aspect of "role playing games".

And yet the ones you call "power gamers" have a similar reaction - they feel that people like you take away from the game aspect of the "roleplaying game".

Imagine, for a moment, that you went to join a game with a character whose backstory you had spent hours on. You'd given him a family, a history, a deep personality, his own sense of humor, cultivated an accent - the whole nine yards. You get to the game, and hand the DM your character sheet to look over, including all of your character's fluff. He scoffs at the information written down there and replies with "This is full of roleplaying crap. We're here to play a game, not engage in some pathetic method acting." Shortly into the game, he kills your character prejudicially and ejects you from the group. What would your reaction to this (albeit exaggerated for the purpose of illustration) treatment be?

This is a case of disagreement over playstyle, and yet some people feel the need to fill the discussion with insult-laden generalizations in order to make it look like their side of the disagreement is somehow in possession of the moral high ground.


Personally I think the CharOps threads, when done right, are fun to read. I just think that instead of agitating for a forum, the CharOP folks should get cracking posting theads in the gameplay forum they like to usually hang in and then Paizo will be happy to build them their own forum if there is enough need. But the dedication to posting has to be there first.

I have been waiting for a free-form RPG forum for a while, and we freeformers have been posting on dozens of threads down in the OTD threads for more than a year. Heck, we clog up that forum so much that even people who don't play want us to have our own forum just so they don't have to sift through our threads to get to theirs.


Joseph Silver wrote:

Seriously.

Us CharOp regulars in the 4E forums do a very good job of finding "bugs" in the system. In our quest to build the most powerful characters, we expose the hard-to-find loopholes and flaws in the rules that the playtesters missed.

So how about it, almighty moderators? Can we have a CharOp forum for Pathfinder?

I agree we could use one of these but there seems to be a lot of hate on here for CO so like some people said lets start making multiple threads each about the characters and then they will create a seperate forum

Shadow Lodge

Scott and Maloo, what exactly do you guys think Optimization is? Seriously, you would kick a Fighter out for taking what Power Attack and Cleave, that is, optimizing the Fighter. What is on your list of okay feats for a Fighter then, Skill Focus Use Magic Device?


Scott Betts wrote:
Maloo wrote:
Huh? We arnt talking about a race or creed of people. We are talking about of a style of play. Many GMs dont like pwr games. They take away from the role playing aspect of "role playing games".

And yet the ones you call "power gamers" have a similar reaction - they feel that people like you take away from the game aspect of the "roleplaying game".

Imagine, for a moment, that you went to join a game with a character whose backstory you had spent hours on. You'd given him a family, a history, a deep personality, his own sense of humor, cultivated an accent - the whole nine yards. You get to the game, and hand the DM your character sheet to look over, including all of your character's fluff. He scoffs at the information written down there and replies with "This is full of roleplaying crap. We're here to play a game, not engage in some pathetic method acting." Shortly into the game, he kills your character prejudicially and ejects you from the group. What would your reaction to this (albeit exaggerated for the purpose of illustration) treatment be?

This is a case of disagreement over playstyle, and yet some people feel the need to fill the discussion with insult-laden generalizations in order to make it look like their side of the disagreement is somehow in possession of the moral high ground.

Ok first no power gamer I know of would give me a backstory. Now if you did that and optimize thier character, I could over look that.

Look if you guys like beefy top heavy character their are GM's out there for you. I and most GM's prefer thoughtful, character builders that add to the story line instead of blasting though the game like some steroid fueled beast.

Not every RPG message board will cater towards your style of play, and god help us if this one does.


well If it's like the one on the wotc forms I never want to see one here. It really is a blight of hate, name calling and your char is weak.

We learned from the playtest forms such bords call for very active mods and really bring in the type of people that bring the boards as a whole down.

Say I am wrong all you want but that is not what we need here


Beckett wrote:
Scott and Maloo, what exactly do you guys think Optimization is? Seriously, you would kick a Fighter out for taking what Power Attack and Cleave, that is, optimizing the Fighter. What is on your list of okay feats for a Fighter then, Skill Focus Use Magic Device?

No that doesnt, but taking a lvl of Barbarian for the movement when it doesnt fit the character(city noble)and fighting and screaming that it is his character.

Bending the polymorph rules till they break before they were fixed.


Robert Carter 58 wrote:
To be honest, I'm not sure what those who are against it are concerned about... they don't have to visit if they aren't so inclined.

Looking over this thread again, I noticed the above. I can see a definite problem with that statement.

While people don't have to visit, they may stop playing with those who do because their Pcs will start to lag behind if the roles the play in the party are similiar. Even if they do not share the same role in the party, some may still think the charater is lagging in the glory department. I've felt this way before, and it is not a good feeling.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Maloo wrote:

... taking a level of Barbarian for the movement when it doesn't fit the character (city noble) and fighting and screaming that [the decision] is [consistent with] his character.

Bending the polymorph rules till they break before they were fixed.

Hi, Beckett. Hi, Maloo. I've kept out of this fight while I assemble my opinion and support, but I do have a couple of comments on Maloo's argument here, about what makes for optimization.

I've been accused of "optimization" in the past, and one of those accusations arose because I had, indeed, decided that my character, who had begun life as a free-wheeling, devil-may-care Swashbuckler, would take her next level as a Barbarian.

I offered an in-character explanation. During the previous two adventures, a PC had been killed and reanimated as a Wight, and her favorite tavern had been razed to the ground. I'd been playing her as getting angrier and angrier, and I chose a level of Barbarian as a way of reflecting that anger in the game stats.

Secondly, when it comes to exploiting the polymorph rules, the player and his character are on the same team. Each wants to be as effective in combat as possible. Each wants combat to be as safe as possible. I can't see a difference between a player choosing to use polymorph to its potential to make an optimized character, and a player running a character who wants to use polymorph to its potential in order to survive the threats she sees coming.

In both of these cases, Maloo, I think you would be better off talking about intent, rather than actions. Dipping into Barbarian, or transforming into a War Troll, might be a twinkie player, or might be a realistic decision for a professional adventurer.

If a player is insisting that dipping into Barbarian is consistent with his character, he's probably right. It seems arrogant to tell someone that he's wrong about the inner motives of the fiction character he created.

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

Whether folks like or dislike Char Op threads, I certainly think this community can do those conversations better than other communities as far as attitude and being pleasant goes. I don’t see the need for a separate section, however. Until the CHarOp threads start accounting for a large percentage of the threads in a particular section, they can stay right where they are. Hell, we need a free form role play section to clear up the Off Topic section more than we need a CharOp one.


Beckett wrote:
Scott and Maloo, what exactly do you guys think Optimization is? Seriously, you would kick a Fighter out for taking what Power Attack and Cleave, that is, optimizing the Fighter. What is on your list of okay feats for a Fighter then, Skill Focus Use Magic Device?

I think you might be confused; I'm on your side here.

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