I may have lost the game


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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I have never been the greatest adherent to D20 systems.

Maybe that has to do with my RPG origins, Rulemaster and Vampire.
Maybe it has to do with my latest parties, all 3.5e devotees.
Maybe it has to do with me reading the boards and getting fed up with people telling other people how to play the game.

Whatever it is, lately I feel a rising estrangement from all things D20.

I know the game is what you make of it.
I know that the rules don't make the play style.
I know there is no perfect system.
I know that PF APs are well written.

Still, I am so fed up with edition wars, optimization, drop stats, void classes, balancing, brokeness, monster PCs, and whatnot.

I really liked what Paizo did with 3.5e, it made so much sense when it was announced. I thought to myself, finally I can make a character in D20 and not just an elaborate combat sheet.

Maybe it IS the people I am playing with. Maybe it is me. I find myself starting to think in optimizing terms, and I hate it. Because from a game theoretical point of view, I see the benefits of optimization for combat effectiveness. But that is not the point of the game, is it?
Or is it?

My PF days are over, for now, I guess. I want to tell stories, and for me, personally, D20 is not the means to do that. It may well be for others, and the APs tell great stories in their own right. But in the end, not for me.

Cheers all! Game on!

Liberty's Edge

Why can't you tell stories that have optimized characters?

Sovereign Court

obadiah wrote:
Why can't you tell stories that have optimized characters?

Because characters optimized for combat are pretty much good for combat only. Roleplay aside, you will never see a fighter invest in knowledge skills, if he is being played by an optimizer.


obadiah wrote:
Why can't you tell stories that have optimized characters?

There are times when the prep work and homework to hit the optimized level detracts from how much time and energy you can put into the story itself. I've been there with d20 before too.

Liberty's Edge

Hama wrote:
obadiah wrote:
Why can't you tell stories that have optimized characters?
Because characters optimized for combat are pretty much good for combat only. Roleplay aside, you will never see a fighter invest in knowledge skills, if he is being played by an optimizer.

And the party would suffer the consequences of not having invested in that knowledge skill. Now, instead of remembering that the ruined keep on the hill used to be the home of a mercenary company that disappeared 50 years ago, the party actually has to go talk to someone more knowledgeable about the subject or go do some exploring of the keep in search of answers.

But I see your point.


obadiah wrote:
Hama wrote:
obadiah wrote:
Why can't you tell stories that have optimized characters?
Because characters optimized for combat are pretty much good for combat only. Roleplay aside, you will never see a fighter invest in knowledge skills, if he is being played by an optimizer.

And the party would suffer the consequences of not having invested in that knowledge skill. Now, instead of remembering that the ruined keep on the hill used to be the home of a mercenary company that disappeared 50 years ago, the party actually has to go talk to someone more knowledgeable about the subject or go do some exploring of the keep in search of answers.

But I see your point.

For most players I've run with, going and doing something - even research - is more interesting than a simple skill roll. This means that, in this case, the optimizers are actually helping the group to have more fun.

Liberty's Edge

HappyDaze wrote:
obadiah wrote:
Hama wrote:
obadiah wrote:
Why can't you tell stories that have optimized characters?
Because characters optimized for combat are pretty much good for combat only. Roleplay aside, you will never see a fighter invest in knowledge skills, if he is being played by an optimizer.

And the party would suffer the consequences of not having invested in that knowledge skill. Now, instead of remembering that the ruined keep on the hill used to be the home of a mercenary company that disappeared 50 years ago, the party actually has to go talk to someone more knowledgeable about the subject or go do some exploring of the keep in search of answers.

But I see your point.

For most players I've run with, going and doing something - even research - is more interesting than a simple skill roll. This means that, in this case, the optimizers are actually helping the group to have more fun.

Which leads us right back to the first comment I made in this block of quoted text.


Optimizing a character is a part of the game, not the most important, but it is. And I think it's funny in some way. But my focus is still on roleplaying.


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I can say that from experience, a GM that focuses on optimization (or perfect balance) will wear out quickly in this game. There really is too much to twiddle with, so it's best to just play loose with it. Your players will enjoy the game just as much, and you can get much more accomplished when you're not straining for 12 hours to build one encounter "just right" and then another 4 hours to decide the treasure "by the book".

Liberty's Edge

HappyDaze wrote:
I can say that from experience, a GM that focuses on optimization (or perfect balance) will wear out quickly in this game. There really is too much to twiddle with, so it's best to just play loose with it. Your players will enjoy the game just as much, and you can get much more accomplished when you're not straining for 12 hours to build one encounter "just right" and then another 4 hours to decide the treasure "by the book".

+1


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When the little optimizer bites your game in the ass and demotivates you; you should stop, take a step back and think: "Would this look good in a movie?" If you threw a sound track on it and some sweet editing; would you want think: "Yeeeah! That's awesome!".

I play with optimizers and wannabe optimizers (who's not really very good at it ;) and all I got from my own optimization was boredom. At the end of our 3.5 days I made characters who could do anything, couldn't be killed and was generally so one dimensional and boring that it almost killed the hobby for me. So I decided to stop that and begin having fun again.

Now I tell my story the way I want it, which is very visually, fastpaced and cheeky. I have a Ranger/Magus who wears a big coat, a large hat and smokes cigars, just because it is so 80's actionhero that it's almost too much. And my ranged options is a light crossbow in each hand and more penalties than any sane gamer would accept. But it's awesome fun and I'm actually surprisingly effective when I finally get into melee with my bastard sword and sleeve blade.

What I'm trying to get to is that optimization isn't really needed to have fun. Sometimes you just stumble into a class combo or concept that rocks simply because it looks awesome when you do your thing. So throw all caution to the wind and make your game fun! Else it will become a dull chore and you'll be writing "goodbye" posts to the very powergamers you claim to be driving you from the system ;)


obadiah wrote:
Why can't you tell stories that have optimized characters?

Indeed. Check The Adventures of Fistbeard Beardfist for an excellent example of a very amusing fanfic about a character that was born to twink Con and abuse the Poison Healer feat. The other casting characters are also from the CharOP boards. The resulting story is not high drama but pure whacky D&D awesome...


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Hama wrote:
obadiah wrote:
Why can't you tell stories that have optimized characters?
Because characters optimized for combat are pretty much good for combat only. Roleplay aside, you will never see a fighter invest in knowledge skills, if he is being played by an optimizer.

This is a vicious slanderous sly.

As it happens I've seen a very well optimized TH falchion crit fighter who was a)roleplayed to the HILT and b)took ranks in knowledge (engineering). Props to my friend Jeff for playing him so well, too. Made the game that much more fun to play. Didn't hurt that he obliterated everything he touched into a fine mist.

Stormwind Fallacy. Google it.


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In all honesty if you don't want robust character creation and robust NPC creation then there's a good chance that 3e truly isn't the game for you.

Here's the catch: that's not a bad thing!

There's a ton of awesome games out there that have nothing to do with 3e/4e. There's a ton of awesome games that have nothing to do with D&D at all!

My question is this: what do you want in your game?


@OP. There is a sliding scale, people who care about nothing but the numbers on one end and people who just want to play-act with friends on the other. There's the role-playing, and the game. If you don't like the numbers part, just throw the book out the window and freeform roleplay. It sounds like you don't want to play a game, i.e. something with rigidly enforced rules around which you must think to accomplish a goal.

I'm an optimizer, or at least a reasonable one. I optimize to the point that it doesn't interfere with my concept, but I delight in finding that spell/power/feat/combination that will make my DM cry. It is the number one reason I play Pathfinder.

But number 2, close behind, is just socializing with friends and having a good time, being told a story and trying to make it end the best way for my character and/or my party.

The fun of Pathfinder is overcoming obstacles. I mean that's really the whole basis of the game. As it happens most of the obstacles, as presented in the rules, are combat-based ones, and thus I enjoy combat. I also enjoy a good interrogation or information gathering mission.


ProfessorCirno wrote:

In all honesty if you don't want robust character creation and robust NPC creation then there's a good chance that 3e truly isn't the game for you.

Here's the catch: that's not a bad thing!

There's a ton of awesome games out there that have nothing to do with 3e/4e. There's a ton of awesome games that have nothing to do with D&D at all!

My question is this: what do you want in your game?

Couldn't agree more. The game is what it is, and refusing to see it just hurts everyone involved. I dearly love Pathfinder, but it ain't for everyone.

I say this without the least hint of malice: If you don't like it, leave.

Dark Archive

Simcha wrote:

I have never been the greatest adherent to D20 systems.

Maybe that has to do with my RPG origins, Rulemaster and Vampire.
Maybe it has to do with my latest parties, all 3.5e devotees.
Maybe it has to do with me reading the boards and getting fed up with people telling other people how to play the game.

Whatever it is, lately I feel a rising estrangement from all things D20.

I know the game is what you make of it.
I know that the rules don't make the play style.
I know there is no perfect system.
I know that PF APs are well written.

Still, I am so fed up with edition wars, optimization, drop stats, void classes, balancing, brokeness, monster PCs, and whatnot.

I really liked what Paizo did with 3.5e, it made so much sense when it was announced. I thought to myself, finally I can make a character in D20 and not just an elaborate combat sheet.

Maybe it IS the people I am playing with. Maybe it is me. I find myself starting to think in optimizing terms, and I hate it. Because from a game theoretical point of view, I see the benefits of optimization for combat effectiveness. But that is not the point of the game, is it?
Or is it?

My PF days are over, for now, I guess. I want to tell stories, and for me, personally, D20 is not the means to do that. It may well be for others, and the APs tell great stories in their own right. But in the end, not for me.

Cheers all! Game on!

Been there, suffered that. Take a d20 vacation, refill your gamer batteries, think some deep thoughts about gaming and what you enjoy, and in a year or two you'll tackle the system again with a brand new kind of determination.

In the meantime, have a great time gaming, exploring and experimenting!

ProfessorCirno wrote:

In all honesty if you don't want robust character creation and robust NPC creation then there's a good chance that 3e truly isn't the game for you.

Here's the catch: that's not a bad thing!

There's a ton of awesome games out there that have nothing to do with 3e/4e. There's a ton of awesome games that have nothing to do with D&D at all!

My question is this: what do you want in your game?

A robust character and NPC creation which isn't as much decisive in the system.

While I'm not really persuaded that this is the case game-wise, it's a truism for a helluva lot of players.


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meatrace wrote:
@OP. There is a sliding scale, people who care about nothing but the numbers on one end and people who just want to play-act with friends on the other.

Is calling Stormwind on this Godwinning the thread?

I believe optimisation is on one axis and roleplaying is on another. I have seen perfectly fine-tuned characters create more memorable scenes (not necessarily combat) without making a single roll while I have also seen players make the jankiest characters possible for 'roleplaying reasons' then contribute nothing but sitting morosely in a corner.

You can optimise. You can roleplay. You can do both, or neither!

None of this says you must optimise. I like to know that I can optimise and not have to. Greater system knowledge can help create more interesting and unique characters by pulling fun mechanics together that might not have been considered by someone that refused to look at the numbers to 'keep their roleplaying pure'.

Liberty's Edge

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Simcha wrote:


Maybe it IS the people I am playing with. Maybe it is me. I find myself starting to think in optimizing terms, and I hate it. Because from a game theoretical point of view, I see the benefits of optimization for combat effectiveness. But that is not the point of the game, is it?
Or is it?

We all want our characters to be "awesome".

The definition of "awesome" varies from group to group and person to person. In our game we had someone who rolled ridiculous stats and could dominate the battlefield who we all agreed was an awesome character.

In the same group we had a player who rolled up a halfling witch with the childlike feature who walked around with a kitten familiar and acted really creey. And we all thought that was a awesome character.

Now the former was effective in combat, while the later was effective in sitting at a table drinking beer and causing us all to laugh.

Neither was a detriment to the party both could do things in the game that were helpful. But the later wasn't optimized in the least. He took helpful spells, and he did things to help the party, but he rarely was the shining star in combat. And that was fine because we were all having fun and if the lil' halfling witch died he had a bunch of other cool ideas for "awesome" characters he wanted to try out.

Of course you are going to pour through the books and rules to try and find ways to make your character more "awesome" in whatever way you define it. That is fine.

The issue on the messageboards seems to come down to people defining awesome different ways. I think a rogue can be awesome, I think a monk can be awesome, etc...but others want something that doesn't exist in the game and are allowing the perfect in their mind to be the enemy of the "awesome" on the table.

Now it may be your group. I personally couldn't play with a bunch of loophole seekers and cheesebuilders. What is the point of the rules if you are constantly trying to subvert them? But if you are looking for ways to improve your character, to make them more interesting, powerful, "awesome"...well, for me that is half the fun of the game.


Simcha wrote:
My PF days are over, for now, I guess. I want to tell stories, and for me, personally, D20 is not the means to do that. It may well be for others, and the APs tell great stories in their own right. But in the end, not for me.

Sounds like it's a little too late for this, but I just thought I'd say that I GM a group of non-optimizers in a Kingmaker campaign where both story and combat are fun. The two things I did to make sure that it worked out that way:

1) Randomized Stats - 4d6, drop lowest. Our barbarian's highest stat is a 14 (!)

2) I play monsters smart, but my attitude in combat is "make the players shine," not "kill the players." Then they don't feel they need to optimize.

At some point, if you come back to Pathfinder (or another d20 game), I recommend playing with people who aren't experienced. Only one person at my table has played either 3.5 or PF, so the rest of them don't know how to optimize. Also, they're into the game because they want to roleplay, not for any other reason.

That being said, if you're looking for a storytelling medium that has a simple system that's not rules heavy and is really, really impossible to optimize, I highly recommend Dread. Works great for horror and suspense genres of stories.


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I don't think the game system is the problem or the answer in this case, it is more about the players and the DM. Whether you optimize or not, if the story telling is on the side, or a secondary thought to the majority of people at the table, then a discussion on mechanics becomes mute. By switching to another game system, this may be temporarily displaced as you imagine everything that can be done with it while you create a character or an adventures, but once you are at the table, you realize the group is the problem.


Of course, optimisation and roleplay are not contradictary, however when you get threads (& therefore players) saying what they believe to be truths about the system. This can get a bit grating especially when they are repeated over & over.
'You should not heal in combat'
'It is an offensive game, you cannot win with defense therefore monks are useless.'

My advice is to swap systems/ GM's or just play-styles, hopefully this will allow you to remind yourself that the game can be played in any number of ways.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

Simcha wrote:

I really liked what Paizo did with 3.5e, it made so much sense when it was announced. I thought to myself, finally I can make a character in D20 and not just an elaborate combat sheet.

Maybe it IS the people I am playing with. Maybe it is me. I find myself starting to think in optimizing terms, and I hate it. Because from a game theoretical point of view, I see the benefits of optimization for combat effectiveness. But that is not the point of the game, is it?
Or is it?

My PF days are over, for now, I guess. I want to tell stories, and for me, personally, D20 is not the means to do that. It may well be for others, and the APs tell great stories in their own right. But in the end, not for me.

Cheers all! Game on!

It really does sound more like the players you are with--and maybe a bit of message board fatigue as well? I know I often allow message board theory to interfere with my sense of fun--until I recognize it for what it is and disregard it. Either way, that's not the game's fault, per se.

There are tactical aspects of the game, from meta things like building a character to how you make that character perform in an encounter. It is a complicated game, and one with a fair amount of "crunch," and if you play it long enough, you probably will start to think in terms of how different abilities synergize with each other or not. That's not a bad thing in itself, though it can get easy to be obsessed with it--but it can be done in a balanced and, indeed, fun way.

But maybe you are looking for something more crunch-lite or cinematic, and if you go in that direction, I hope you find what you are looking for.

Maybe after you've had a break you can come back to Pathfinder--maybe with some story-driven players with you--and see the magic you first saw in it when you started playing. Whatever you decide, the best of luck to you.

Silver Crusade

I use optimisation to make a character.
I do not use optimisation to play the character.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Simcha wrote:

I have never been the greatest adherent to D20 systems.

Maybe that has to do with my RPG origins, Rulemaster and Vampire.
Maybe it has to do with my latest parties, all 3.5e devotees.
Maybe it has to do with me reading the boards and getting fed up with people telling other people how to play the game.

Whatever it is, lately I feel a rising estrangement from all things D20.

I know the game is what you make of it.
I know that the rules don't make the play style.
I know there is no perfect system.
I know that PF APs are well written.

Still, I am so fed up with edition wars, optimization, drop stats, void classes, balancing, brokeness, monster PCs, and whatnot.

I really liked what Paizo did with 3.5e, it made so much sense when it was announced. I thought to myself, finally I can make a character in D20 and not just an elaborate combat sheet.

Maybe it IS the people I am playing with. Maybe it is me. I find myself starting to think in optimizing terms, and I hate it. Because from a game theoretical point of view, I see the benefits of optimization for combat effectiveness. But that is not the point of the game, is it?
Or is it?

My PF days are over, for now, I guess. I want to tell stories, and for me, personally, D20 is not the means to do that. It may well be for others, and the APs tell great stories in their own right. But in the end, not for me.

Cheers all! Game on!

It's okay and I totally sympathise with you. I took a ten year break from AD&D (skipping 2nd edition entirely) for pretty much similar reasons. Maybe what you need to do is to try other game systems like Storyteller which place a demphasis on the kind of spreadsheet theorycrafting D20 systems encourage.


My heart goes out to you Simcha.

Pathfinder is at its best when it's Pathfinder that you want to play, and that is not always the case. I think even the game's producers understand the value of playing different RPGs to achieve different kinds of game.

Move on for now. One day, when you least expect it, you'll find yourself musing about a nigh-super-hero high-fantasy leveling engine with a M:tG level of combine-able rules chunks and a massive library of adventure content. And when that day comes, Pathfinder will still be there to scratch that itch.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
obadiah wrote:
Why can't you tell stories that have optimized characters?

You can... but optimization is like a drug, it's a slippery slope that frequently leads you to a point where building a roleplaying aspect of a character takes an ever more distant backseat to theorycrafting. Cinematic based rpgs like White Wolf are a lot less focused on nailing everything down to die rolls.

Or maybe the thing the OP really needs a break from... is messageboard forums. The most content gamers I know are people who avoid places like this like the plague.


calagnar wrote:

I use optimisation to make a character.

I do not use optimisation to play the character.

The latter can be very easy to do, even unintentionally. Metagaming can creep in and allow player knowledge to influence decisions in play, and thee are many threads of players "compensating" for mental dump stats with their own capabilities. Beyond this, there are hypercompetitive players that can really kill the fun (and hypercompetitive GMs that can outright kill the party).


LazarX wrote:
obadiah wrote:
Why can't you tell stories that have optimized characters?
You can... but optimization is like a drug, it's a slippery slope that frequently leads you to a point where building a roleplaying aspect of a character takes an ever more distant backseat to theorycrafting. Cinematic based rpgs like White Wolf are a lot less focused on nailing everything down to die rolls.

Seen this too. Had one player that spent more time cranking out builds than actually playing. He often lost interest in any particular character within a few sessions because he wanted to roll out the newest thing. This is a bad situation because if he kept changing characters the campaign loses consistency, but forcing someone to play a character they don't like is a great way to kill fun too (there are ways to handle this, but they often end up being unsatisfactory to someone).


First of all, thank you all for the support!

Truly, I think the party is at the heart of my discontent. And surely it is a question of what you do with a system as much as what said system has to offer.

I cannot stress this enough, I was not saying that D20 or PF in particular was a bad, inferior or restrictive system. It is not.

What I said was, and I will stick to it, it is obviously not the "right" system for me.

And also, yes, you can build a character who excels at what he does in some fields and this does, of course, not make the character bad for role-playing. It is a given that each and every one of us wants to shine at times and have our moments in the lime-light.
I will not fall into the pit trap of saying, being good at something (even excelling) and optimization were different things.

I love well-rounded characters, Jacks and Janes-of-all-trades, people with flaws and perks, and I like to see that reflected in "the numbers" too. I have always had difficulties with the linear scaling concept of level and hitpoints. I am in favour of health levels. Not saying either is better in general, both represent reality in a very artificial fashion. All I am saying is, I can identify better with health levels than with hitpoints.

Yes, a character that is good at what he or she does can be founded on a good concept, and be fun to play, too. A well-rounded character has flaws, too. And I feel flaws and merits should be balanced in a way.

But I do not want to discuss about drop stats and optimization. That is totally beside the point.

I am discontent with my "gaming life" - one reason for this is that I cannot regularily play with my friends at the moment and have to "make do" with colleagues. D20 seems to be the smallest common denominator here. I am afraid of doing the game a disservice by judging from my party. But then, as I said, D20 has never really been my cup of tea.
Ruining anyone's fun and enthusiasm in the game is furthest from my mind. It really is a sound system.

So I think it best, as some of you have suggested to take a break and move to "greener" pastures. Distance promotes affection.

I apologize if I may have stepped on anyone's toes. I had to have my "coming out" and I felt confident I could do so here.


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There's a lot of other fantasy games out there, assuming fantasy is what you want. Keep in mind I haven't played some of these;

FATE I have played and loved, and could probably (easily) be done for a fantasy game. FATE is also enormously a narrative game, however, which might not mesh with what you want out of the game.

FantasyCraft I've not played but I've heard some good about it. It's still D20, but it's not class based. Someone else could probably tell you more.

I do not recommend GURPS. If 3e can be MATH OVERLOAD, GURPS is MATH HEAT DEATH. Also I just sorta personally dislike GURPS which colors my opinion, admittingly.

Savage Worlds owns. It's more of an ~*~ADVENTURE~*~ pulp style of game, where men have chins that could stop a bullet and women wear trousers that are called "trousers" and punch you for calling them "dames." It can be a bit touch and go at times, but overall Savage Worlds is great if you want a two fisted pulp book or comic book style adventure. Potentially better at emulating the books D&D was based off - Conan, Fafnir and the Grey Mouser, that kinda thing - then D&D has ever been.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying Game is the opposite of Savage Worlds - it's grim and gritty and dark. It's also meant to be not entirely serious. If you want a dark humor game that's directed by Sam Raimi, where everything is really gory and gross and scary and hilarious and your characters' lives only get worse as the game goes on, then WFRP is the game for you.


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ProfessorCirno wrote:
I do not recommend GURPS. If 3e can be MATH OVERLOAD, GURPS is MATH HEAT DEATH. Also I just sorta personally dislike GURPS which colors my opinion, admittingly.

There's that epiphanic moment when you're playing GURPS and just realised that you asked the group if someone has a graphing calculator with them.


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Actually, I would recommend GURPS and FATE since part of the character creation process is to create flaws (great for roleplaying). For an optimizer, this is a bonus, because to gain more "power", they have to choose more flaws. I disagree on the comments about GURPS being complicated "for math purposes", but it is more complicated for character generation, for the reasons stated above, and since it is a point buy; and everything is accomplished through individual skills.

But once again, it sounds like it is the group.

So whatever you choose, I wish you the best of luck.


Umbral Reaver wrote:
ProfessorCirno wrote:
I do not recommend GURPS. If 3e can be MATH OVERLOAD, GURPS is MATH HEAT DEATH. Also I just sorta personally dislike GURPS which colors my opinion, admittingly.
There's that epiphanic moment when you're playing GURPS and just realised that you asked the group if someone has a graphing calculator with them.

GURPS: Vehicles more like GURPS: Porn For Engineers boosh


Simcha wrote:
Still, I am so fed up with edition wars, optimization, drop stats, void classes, balancing, brokeness, monster PCs, and whatnot.

Sounds like you could use a one-shot as a wacky goblin "hero". As it happens, tomorrow there'll be just the module for that. Who optimizes a !!#!@# goblin?

Sovereign Court

Uchawi wrote:

Actually, I would recommend GURPS and FATE since part of the character creation process is to create flaws (great for roleplaying). For an optimizer, this is a bonus, because to gain more "power", they have to choose more flaws. I disagree on the comments about GURPS being complicated "for math purposes", but it is more complicated for character generation, for the reasons stated above, and since it is a point buy; and everything is accomplished through individual skills.

But once again, it sounds like it is the group.

So whatever you choose, I wish you the best of luck.

Have you ever tried making a sailing boat by gurps rules? If you succeed at first try, maybe you'll get an invitation to CERN...


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I definately agree that d20 and pathfinder leaves roleplaying as a very open ended choice. It does not restrict or support any roleplay style specifically. Thus like the OP seems to have realized, its all about your group. The game doesnt force anyone to play any particular way, which is one of the things I love about it. Want to be a bunch of dbz style superheroes flying around kicking butt? Go for it, you can do that in pathfinder. Want to play a hard nosed down to earth, survive by the skin of your teeth kind of came? You can do it. Want to have a game all about political intrigue and secret plots? You can do that too.

The problem is everyone has to be on the same page and buy into the idea. Because if they aren't on board, the game wont force them to be.

Liberty's Edge

Don't worry about whether your character is optimized or not. Just play /role-play and have fun. If your group complains too much about your "non-optimized" character, you can always find another group. My characters are never optimized; and my groups and I manage to both survive and have fun in Pathfinder organized play.


Kolokotroni wrote:

I definately agree that d20 and pathfinder leaves roleplaying as a very open ended choice. It does not restrict or support any roleplay style specifically. Thus like the OP seems to have realized, its all about your group. The game doesnt force anyone to play any particular way, which is one of the things I love about it. Want to be a bunch of dbz style superheroes flying around kicking butt? Go for it, you can do that in pathfinder. Want to play a hard nosed down to earth, survive by the skin of your teeth kind of came? You can do it. Want to have a game all about political intrigue and secret plots? You can do that too.

The problem is everyone has to be on the same page and buy into the idea. Because if they aren't on board, the game wont force them to be.

Ehhhhh.

There's a difference between "can do it" and "Does it well." A difference between "technically part of the rules" and "the main focus of the rules."

COULD D&D on the whole do a game about political intrigue and secret plots? It could. But a lot of games would do it far better. D&D on the whole is built towards killin' things and taking their stuff. Let's not forget that 3e was marketed entirely under the idea of "Back to the dungeon!" Sure, part of the rules include things that could be used for political intrigue or down to earth survival, but the game as a whole really isn't built for it.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
ProfessorCirno wrote:
Umbral Reaver wrote:
ProfessorCirno wrote:
I do not recommend GURPS. If 3e can be MATH OVERLOAD, GURPS is MATH HEAT DEATH. Also I just sorta personally dislike GURPS which colors my opinion, admittingly.
There's that epiphanic moment when you're playing GURPS and just realised that you asked the group if someone has a graphing calculator with them.
GURPS: Vehicles more like GURPS: Porn For Engineers boosh

Holy Crap you beat me to my comment about GURPS Vehicles. I made an attempt to try and build a modified lightly armored tank many, many years ago. I still dont think that I've recovered the sanity that I lost in that attempt.


I am a dedicated, story-addicted, must-have-have-a-decent-plotline-or-else-I-will-leave-in-a-huff roleplayer...and I encourage as much optimization as possible in the games I run. I have told my players, on more than one occasion, to re-write their characters or re-roll their stats on the basis of the fact that those characters, while well-conceived, were too weak to cut it in heavy combat.

Why? Simple: I want my players to run characters they are happy with from the get-go. The reason for that goes all the way back to my early adolescence, unwrapping the Basic D&D "Red Box" set (you know, that version of D&D where Halflings, Dwarves, and Elves were actually classes rather than races, and the dice came with uncoloured pips and a wax crayon to do the job yourself)...specifically, the very first page of the Player's Guide, where High Lord Gygax lays out in Plain English the most basic and fundamental purpose of our hobby. And I quote, "The purpose of a role-playing game is to HAVE FUN." (Emphasis mine)

If my players aren't enjoying the game, I'm doing something wrong. (Concurrently, if I'm not having any fun, then obviously, my players are doing something wrong...but that is a discussion for a different thread).

The point is: If I'm doing my job the way I'm supposed to, character optimization is just another way for players to enjoy themselves; and should not at all impact my ability as a DM to challenge them.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Well, when I'm trying to write (no group right now, getting out to meet new people is being, difficult) I bounce back and forth between WoD, Pathfinder, and Battletech to try to keep the creative jucies flowing.

Spoiler:
Each have difference facets I tap when I write:

WoD - Modern Conspiracy self discovery.

Pathfinder - Adventure, making your way in the world.

Battletech - Dry yet fun (face it, it's a game about Giant Robots (insert Magus XL theme here)

Even if you're not playing, crack open some fiction from something different and enjoy.


Hama wrote:
obadiah wrote:
Why can't you tell stories that have optimized characters?
Because characters optimized for combat are pretty much good for combat only. Roleplay aside, you will never see a fighter invest in knowledge skills, if he is being played by an optimizer.

Fighters, the epitome of natural knowledge. It takes enough of their "learning ability" to be able to jump, climb, and swim.


ShinHakkaider wrote:
ProfessorCirno wrote:
Umbral Reaver wrote:
ProfessorCirno wrote:
I do not recommend GURPS. If 3e can be MATH OVERLOAD, GURPS is MATH HEAT DEATH. Also I just sorta personally dislike GURPS which colors my opinion, admittingly.
There's that epiphanic moment when you're playing GURPS and just realised that you asked the group if someone has a graphing calculator with them.
GURPS: Vehicles more like GURPS: Porn For Engineers boosh
Holy Crap you beat me to my comment about GURPS Vehicles. I made an attempt to try and build a modified lightly armored tank many, many years ago. I still dont think that I've recovered the sanity that I lost in that attempt.

I have to admit that I am at a complete loss...GURPS rules confused people that much? Really? Now, if we were talking about Cyberspace or SpaceMaster, I would get it, but GURPS? Unlike many of the Iron Crown Enterprises games, GURPS never required college algebra in order to make a skill check (or two days of engineer-level mathematics in order to make a character).

GURPS might seem a bit clunky compared to some of the systems available today, but when compared to many of its contemporaries, it was simple and elegant.


Simcha wrote:


Maybe it has to do with me reading the boards and getting fed up with people telling other people how to play the game.

1.The people are not the game.

2.It is not nearly as simple as you are trying to make it sound.
3.Is this a good bye or a start to a debate you want to have?
4.Do whatever you think is best, but I don't agree with reasons you have listed.
edit:I just saw the OP's 2nd post.
It seems my fellow posters have taken care of all my points in detail.


Ok that was my fault, my comments were specific to a fantasy setting, and does not include vehicles. For the entire Dragon Lance campaign I ran, whenever it involved a ship, it was just a means of travel, or a stage for battle, including a segment I ran where the minotaur pirates terrorized the coast and local trade routes. We never got into the specific of how to sink a ship, or firing a cannon. But I never did that in any iteration of D&D I have ever played.


I too view role playing and optimizing as orthogonal, not opposing, goals. Neither really has anything to do with the other, except insofar as optimizing drives some of the character concept issues that a good role player should honor. So if you dump int to boost str, a good role player will role play that properly instead of playing like a genius.

But this also raises the question of what "optimization" really is. I consider myself an "optimizer." But I optimize my characters around their CONCEPTS, which usually means they aren't optimized for COMBAT, so much as they are optimized for role playing that concept. In some cases that means they aren't really very good at combat at all.

One of the best role players I've gamed with was also a major optimizer, but he spent a lot of time on his characters, both during creation and during play. So if someone has the time and interest to invest in both, they can. Most people I know don't commit that much time to the game, and so in those cases there tends to be a trade off between the two.

I also suspect some of the OP's burnout might be related to message board fatigue. So stay away from the MBs for a while.

Instead of thinking about dropping the game forever, probably all the OP needs is a new group to play with for a while.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Sieglord wrote:
ShinHakkaider wrote:
ProfessorCirno wrote:
Umbral Reaver wrote:
ProfessorCirno wrote:
I do not recommend GURPS. If 3e can be MATH OVERLOAD, GURPS is MATH HEAT DEATH. Also I just sorta personally dislike GURPS which colors my opinion, admittingly.
There's that epiphanic moment when you're playing GURPS and just realised that you asked the group if someone has a graphing calculator with them.
GURPS: Vehicles more like GURPS: Porn For Engineers boosh
Holy Crap you beat me to my comment about GURPS Vehicles. I made an attempt to try and build a modified lightly armored tank many, many years ago. I still dont think that I've recovered the sanity that I lost in that attempt.

I have to admit that I am at a complete loss...GURPS rules confused people that much? Really? Now, if we were talking about Cyberspace or SpaceMaster, I would get it, but GURPS? Unlike many of the Iron Crown Enterprises games, GURPS never required college algebra in order to make a skill check (or two days of engineer-level mathematics in order to make a character).

GURPS might seem a bit clunky compared to some of the systems available today, but when compared to many of its contemporaries, it was simple and elegant.

The GURPS rules by themselves arent that bad. I'm talking specifically about building a vehicle in GURPS using GURPS Vehicles. I'll tell you what, find a copy of the book. Then build a four door sedan from scratch.

Go ahead, I'll wait.

*Who am I kidding? Unless he's a mechanical engineer this guy aint coming back sane.*


Echoing what has been said before, it sounds like your problem is with the people you play with, not the system.

In our last major campaign, we suggested to one of the players that he leave as he was playing an optimised character and his attitude towards character generation didn't fit in with that of the group. It's not a right or a wrong thing, it's a compatibility thing.

The last character I made - an inquisitor - used a light mace and had ranks in Profession: cook.

If I was ever in a setting in which I suffered for making non-optimal choices, I wouldn't play.

PS Try Zombie Fluxx!! :D

Scarab Sages

Another vote for FATE. I prefer it to GURPS because FATE forces you to take relevant flaws - you don't get the points for taking them until AFTER the flaw makes problems for you. GURPS, on the other hand, requires a hyper-vigilant rules-wise GM, because points are awarded when you take the flaw instead of when the flaw affects you, so people try to take the least relevant, least likely to ever come up flaws in order to get free points.

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