He doesn't optimize, he's got a mustache.


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This is a rant thread. If you can't stand a rant, then move on.

I know you've heard this one, "He doesn't optimize, he's a roleplayer"

There is also the reverse, "He doesn't role play, he's an optimizer."

Now we can probably agree that "Roleplaying" has a few different definitions. For example, if you play Pathfinder, then you are playing a roleplaying game, and are a role player by definition.

That's not the definition I think those who use the above statements are referring to though.

Role Playing would also be what you do with your character. Developing a personality for your character, a set of values, speech patterns, facial ticks, etc. This is likely the definition they are referring to.

There seems to be some kind of weird view that this is somehow no longer meaningful if your character is effective. I mean it's pretty obvious right? Look to fantasy literature, how many interesting character are also good at anything? Oh right...most of them.

Relating how well you roleplay a character with how well you optimize a character makes no more sense to me than comparing how well you optimize your character with how full is your mustache.

"He doesn't optimize, he's got a mustache"

Can anyone explain to me how this would be less relevant than comparing "Role playing" to optimization?


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Mustaches bring all the girls to the yard. They are literally undeniable awesomeness. Totally unfair to compare them with simple lolplaying.


It's not clearly if you have a good 'stache your optimaizing, just look at Burt Reynolds and Tom Selleck.


I agree with you completely. It boggles the mind to see people arguing against this stance. It's like something is fundamentally wrong with their grasp of logic.

I've seen an amazingly well-played dwarven monk with a 5 cha. He plays being awful with people really well. He has fun. We have fun with him. He's not overpowering the game and we still have a team effort in our adventure. This is good, despite how much people might rant and rave about the min-maxery of a character having 5 cha.


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Yeah, this is something that's tossed around a lot in discussions on the forum (especially theorycraft discussions).

You can focus on optimizing, and you can focus on roleplaying. And you can focus on both, or neither.

Where some people seem to be getting stuck is in the assumption that if you focus on one thing, you can't focus on the other (or it takes away from focusing on the other).

Since they are completely unrelated, the only place they intercept in resources is time. Since the amount of time someone invests in their gaming hobby is up to them, there no real reason why both optimization and roleplaying can't be fully explored.

I think that, as with most things, people are projecting their own feelings on a situation. With a day and age where "finding time for a hobby" can be hard, there's probably a lot of people who can't invest as much time as they'd like to cover both, so one takes precedence. This colours the opinion so the assumption comes up that "this is how things are".
It's the default position a human mind takes really (it takes an extra step to assume others are coming from a different position/mindset/desire/etc).


While I agree fully that one can be both, it just seems to be human tendency to fall into these categories.

My group consists of 5 people. 3 of them are roleplayers, I am an optimizer, and the last is neither. (Doesn't optimize, doesn't like to roleplay. I build characters for her, she rolls the dice and makes stuff explode.)

Some people don't have the capacity to optimize and can only roleplay. Some don't want to be bothered with it and want to roleplay. Some really love the mechanics of the game and don't care about roleplaying. I'm trying to move away from not caring about the roleplaying, but it's tough for me. I need to branch out and work hard at being good at both.

So... While I get what you're saying, it's just what you see. I'd call it a rare talent for someone to approach d&d and immediately be a full-fledged optimizer and a person who's good at roleplaying. People specialize. You could say they found their role.


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@Kaisoku - Exactly. When I'm told to prepare for an upcoming campaign, I consider it my duty to devote an exorbitant amount of time scouring through each book to find anything that might give my character an edge.

...when my friend is told to prepare for an upcoming campaign, she develops an elaborate story, draws her character, and makes her character almost as an afterthought.

People just have different mindsets in how they approach the vastly complex game/social event called d&d. (or in this case, Pathfinder)


I think that what Treantmonk is trying to say is that a lot of people argue them as mutually exclusive. Basicly saying that if you have a crappy chacter you must be a great roleplayer but if you have a good numbers character your just a min/maxing munchkin who only knows how to rollplay.


Yeah, I should also have noted in my post that desire is also a large factor. You can have the time to do it, but if you don't find it enjoyable, then you might not spend that much time on it.

I'd also like to point out that while these are all reasons for this kind of behavior in discussions, it's not really an excuse. If we can recognize that they are not mutually dependant or exclusive, then we can accept that it's not a valid point in discussions.


The Chort wrote:


Some people don't have the capacity to optimize and can only roleplay.

Some also have the capacity to trim and maintain an excellent soup strainer, but not optimize a character. The point I'm making is that the capacity to maintain an excellent, full, and vibrant nose neighbor says ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about a persons ability to optimize a character.

I don't understand why a person who understands the rules and is able to make their character mechanically able to achieve what they envision is less likely to develop their characters personality and then play that personality at the table.

I could POTENTIALLY see the reverse. A person who enters roleplaying with very little experience may be expected to be weaker at roleplaying AND optimizing, but I can't see where we could expect the situation where a person with lots of experience and is capable of mechanical optimization is less likely to roleplay well.

Let's keep in mind that these activities do not even occur at the same time, so it's not like someone who is focusing on one loses focus on the other. Optimization does not occur during the session, and roleplaying does not occur in between sessions.

In your post you refer to 3 of your group as "roleplayers", and yourself as an "Optimizer". You are telling me something about what 3 of your group do at the gaming table, and what one of your group (you) does when you aren't at the gaming table.

Am I to assume that the "Roleplayers" are not optimizers, or that You (the "optimizer") are not a "Roleplayer"? What basis would I have for that inference?

Should I also infer that you do not have a lip lounger? After all, you claim to be an optimizer. If you are focusing on optimizing, just when are you maintaining that glorious lip-tickler?

Why would I infer one and not the other?


Talonhawke wrote:
I think that what Treantmonk is trying to say is that a lot of people argue them as mutually exclusive. Basicly saying that if you have a crappy chacter you must be a great roleplayer but if you have a good numbers character your just a min/maxing munchkin who only knows how to rollplay.

Which is obviously false. They're mostly unrelated.

What's the 'mostly'? If a person is good at at least one of these aspects, then that may be enough for them to enjoy the game. If a person is good at neither, and none of their friends are playing it, they'll likely lose interest and go on to something else.

The correct interpretation is that an amazing roleplayer could have a lousy character, if the only thing he cares about is roleplaying. The amazing min/max-er could be terrible at roleplaying, if all he cares about is the crunchy goodness of the game.

But you could be awesome and be good both.


The Chort wrote:


But you could be awesome and be good both.

Both growing a great furry friend and optimizing? That sounds too good to be true very often. Personally, I can't grow a decent hairy cheek bridge.

Seriously, neither are required to enjoy the game. A lot of players I've seen just enjoy seeing the story unfold and don't really care about their part in it.

Those that do often want their character to be interesting. This is where roleplaying comes in.

Others want their character to be impactful to the story. This is where optimizing comes in.

Being interesting and being impactful aren't strange bedfellows.


Treantmonk wrote:


Being interesting and being impactful aren't strange bedfellows.

Yeah I don't get why its such an 'either this OR that' conundrum; surely the better one 'builds' the more that can be done mechanically to back up the good roleplay? Why would you have to cripple your character in order to have a good RP experience?

Surely a good RP'er can play both mice AND lions?


Most people tend to focus on one or the other naturally for some reason.

On one side you have the Role-play only people who have fun by being unique and hold some disdain for optimizers or power gamers most likely due to most of them playing the same character over and over and over. The same power gamers were likely disinterested in anything, but combat and so built their characters for just combat. Then they get some programming that tells them the only way to have a unique and interesting character is to be for the most part useless. It is the uselessness that makes them feel these characters are unique, because unlike most other characters they fail at filling the usual niche.

On the other side, there are those who only optimize. These people usually have fun by being useful (usually combat oriented). They usually have a little role-play with their characters, but not a lot and it is usually not very unique. Because they already have fun just being successful at combat they see no reason to further customize their character (as negotiating with the thieves guild isn't nearly as fun to them as killing all of the thieves to begin with).

The concepts of being unique and being useful are by no means mutually-exclusive and its sad the people see it that way. Fact of the matter is they are both two sides of the same coin. It means twice as much work for a person to be unique and to optimize and if they have fun by doing one then why bother with the other? I however, like both and will not only play a unique character who is optimized to the last ability point, feat and spell, but I will have a fantastic mustache to boot


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Treantmonk wrote:

This is a rant thread. If you can't stand a rant, then move on.

I know you've heard this one, "He doesn't optimize, he's a roleplayer"

There is also the reverse, "He doesn't role play, he's an optimizer."

Now we can probably agree that "Roleplaying" has a few different definitions. For example, if you play Pathfinder, then you are playing a roleplaying game, and are a role player by definition.

That's not the definition I think those who use the above statements are referring to though.

Role Playing would also be what you do with your character. Developing a personality for your character, a set of values, speech patterns, facial ticks, etc. This is likely the definition they are referring to.

There seems to be some kind of weird view that this is somehow no longer meaningful if your character is effective. I mean it's pretty obvious right? Look to fantasy literature, how many interesting character are also good at anything? Oh right...most of them.

Relating how well you roleplay a character with how well you optimize a character makes no more sense to me than comparing how well you optimize your character with how full is your mustache.

"He doesn't optimize, he's got a mustache"

Can anyone explain to me how this would be less relevant than comparing "Role playing" to optimization?

Blame White Wolf.

Once upon a time, they said words to the effect of "choose your name, then choose your concepts, then choose everything else, and try to have everything else fit the concept."

I think a lot of us had already intuited this, but they said it early and well, formalising the concept first view of roleplaying.

For a concept first roleplayer, optimisation is a useful but distant tool. It is a way of making a concept work well, not the starting point from which to build the character. It is the way decide between two equally appropriate choices, not a way of selecting options from the raw list.

Optimisation can damage a persons ability to play in this style. If your desire to be 'effective' runs stronger than your desire to play to concept, you end up with character that don't fit the concept they set out to begin with. If your desire runs strong, but not as strong as your desire to play to concept, it tends to end up limiting your choice of concepts.

Neither of these things is a good thing as far as roleplaying goes, at least to the "concept first mind set." It leads to situations like "Magnus Vaska, 12th arch mages of vann, living god", and the fish hook street boys heroing together, and the fish hook street boys getting royally narked that their carefully crafted and observed characters, which fit the adventures power level and setting, are getting completely sideline by a god wizard, who for some reason is hanging around with their gang of misfits.


@Treantmonk - I agree entirely that one doesn't preclude the other. At all.

It's just that I've observed only two ways to enjoy the game. You can enjoy both. First, there's being actively involved in all of the story and plot that goes on before and throughout the game. The second way to enjoy the game is to be more oriented to the crunchyness of the game. You relish overcoming tough battles with a flawlessly executed character build. (Probably a gross over-simplification, but that's more or less how I see it.)

If you don't enjoy either of these things, then you probably just enjoy the company, not so much the game.

EDIT: Ah. Well perhaps that's where our groups differ. We don't follow an adventure path and our GM just makes it up as he goes along. (Often not terribly deep stories.) There's not much in it for you in the form of watching an interesting story unfold. But yes, I guess I could see people passively enjoying the game. Still, I'd guess that they just enjoy the company.

EDIT EDIT: My personal goal (in my new campaign, starting in 8 hours!) is to be interesting and impact the story. I went full steam ahead with optimizing my elf Diviner wizard, but actually cared enough to think of his name, where he was born and how he was raised, why he's living in the city now, and explain how on earth he's middle-aged yet still only a 4th level wizard. After all of that, hopefully I'll have the gumption to actually be in character for some portion of game.

EDIT EDIT EDIT: ...although I won't consider my Diviner truly optimized until your guide is updated. ;)


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Honestly, I never really see the roleplayer vs optimizer argument outside threads like this one. :)

I think it's obvious that they are not mutually exclusive. That doesn't mean, however, that you don't occasionally see "optimized" builds that make you wince. Like my cousin's Int 3 paladin because, and I quote, "why would I waste points on a stat that does nothing?" He wasn't the party face, didn't have any int skills and you have a minimum number of skill points per level so in his point of view there's no difference between a 3 and an 8. Which I guess is true if you ignore the implication of what a 3 in a stat means and only look at the mechanics.

But just because you have no grasp of the 'roleplaying' aspects doesn't mean you are any good at optimization either. So you can be both. Or neither. However. Personally, I think the more you optimize, the more options you deny yourself, and the more you risk turning your builds into cookie-cutter builds. Which is sad.

My favourite builds are those that are a little unusual, yet still effective. They don't have to be the best, but they shouldn't be functionally crippled either. I gladly sacrifice some efficiency for coolness factor. I don't know what camp that puts me in.


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Treantmonk wrote:
Look to fantasy literature, how many interesting character are also good at anything? Oh right...most of them.

Jar-jar Binks is the most roleplay character ever.


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There is another reason optimisation can damage roleplaying games as a whole though.

It's a shell game.

The point of combat, tricks and traps, in role-playing games is to provide risk, and act as a force of drama in the narrative.

If you make your character more optimised, all it means is that the DM has to match that level of Optimisation, or the threat is lost. And down that road dwells rocket tag, which is really no fun for anyone.


Then you get fine gentleman adventurers like this bloke who'll stop your heart for five full seconds. If not, he'll send you a notarized certificate proving you don't exist.... SAXTON HALE!

@Slaunyeh, the point about an Int 3 Paladin brings up a difference between theory-craft optimization and live game optimization. Your cousin could get away with this because likely in his experience the GM had never really throw much stat damage at the party. Just 3 points of Int Damage his Paladin would have comatose. You also see this in bad theory-craft which doesn't take a holistic view of the game.

The primary use of optimizing, of getting the most of the mechanics, is to help back as Slaunyeh said "unusual" or just outright strange combat/play styles. For example a character who walks on his hands most of the time. How do you make such a character functionally successful?


I think part of the dichotomy stems from the fact that people who care more about roleplaying can get annoyed with people who get carried away with optimizing. An over enthusiastic optimizer might only make (for example) falchion fighters and conjuration wizards, because they're the "best" versions of their respective classes. In reality most optimizers usually come up with their unique concept and then do their best to optimize within those boundaries, but that doesn't stop people from setting up the straw man in their heads.


It depends in what stage of character development you are optimizing.

Most people tend to look at a character concept first and then how to make it work mechanicaly, which might range from a relatively weak character to a very effective character.

Roleplayers, might just be focused on the concept and do not really bother making it competitive in their effectiveness untill the final stage. Though it might still be effective.

Optimizers, tend to focus on making an effective character and sprinkle it with strawberry flavor, which might still end up being interesting the range of characters tends to be somewhat limiting though.

Powergamers, focus on the numbers/effectiveness disregarding flavor and often RAI, interesting characters tend to happen by accident.

All in all it is very possible to make both an effective character that is interesting, but people do limit one or the other by giving one priority over another, a fighter with str 15 and charisma 14 might be more interesting, just as interesting or less interesting as a str 18 cha 7 fighter, but the optimizer would never consider the first option. Point buy systems make the differences more pronounced than random generation.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

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Remco Sommeling wrote:
Roleplayers, might just be focused on the concept and do not really bother making it competitive in their effectiveness untill the final stage. Though it might still be effective.

Of course, if the game were better balanced, there'd be fewer cool-sounding options that aren't very effective.


Remco Sommeling wrote:
Optimizers, tend to focus on making an effective character and sprinkle it with strawberry flavor, which might still end up being interesting the range of characters tends to be somewhat limiting though.

Optimize for net fighting and tell me how "limiting" the character is. Optimize for a Bow using Barbarian (don't see that one to often do ya? :P). Optimize for the Rat-Flail. Optimize a blind character. The point of optimizing is getting the most of the mechanics to back a concept. It could be a purely mechanically driven concept, it could originate from a "novel" (10-pages of per-game-histotry) character.

So much of a Character's flavor is determined by the setting he's in. Identical builds can be role played differently given different adventure contexts. Flavor, like a mustache, is highly individualistic. I can make suggestions about what kinds of mustaches are fashionable, but at the end of the day only you can decide how to trim it.


Dorje Sylas wrote:
Flavor, like a mustache, is highly individualistic.

You understand how popular this bumpersticker would be.


Hmmmm I get what you're saying here Treantmonk, "roleplayers" can make effective characters and "optimizers" can make interesting ones

However if I may put my two cents in, I think there is a tiny difference between a "rolplayer" and an "optimizer"

As I see it, some character builds are more effective than others, and one might argue the point that a "roleplayer" would not mind picking a less effective build (like a duel wielding ranger) where as an "optimizer" would think doing such a thing is silly.

That isn't to say a person who optimizes can't make a character full of flavor, nor is the roleplayer doomed to use clerics that only hit things with their mace every round. There are certainly many ways to make very effective characters that are absolutely great to roleplay.

When I think of a player as a "roleplayer" or an "optimizer" I think of the route the take when given the option of choosing *exactly* the character they want, or settling for something that is close enough, but much more effective.

In the previous example (duel wielding ranger) the roleplayer would just make the ranger, possibly do a little optimization (mediocre dexterity since they don't need to meet the prerequisites for twf feats, as well as pumping up strength) and say "eh, good enough"

The optimizer would probably either:
A) multi-class into rogue or B)ask the DM if it were okay for him to use the wilderness rogue variant in Unearthed Arcana from 3.5. The optimizer might be a little annoyed at not getting the animal companion they wanted or having favored enemy (whatever they hate), but they got their wilderness duel wielding character in the end.

In the case of both, the character still has the flavor they want (to a degree), but the roleplayer chose to favor flavor (say that 10x fast!) over effectiveness, whereas the optimizer was okay with getting rid of his nature bond and spell casting in order to have sneak attack and remain good at being the duel wielding, woodlands dwelling, sneaky, glass cannon he wanted to be.

Anyway that's my take on it, I don't think that any approach is wrong so long as everyone has fun.


Dorje Sylas wrote:
Remco Sommeling wrote:
Optimizers, tend to focus on making an effective character and sprinkle it with strawberry flavor, which might still end up being interesting the range of characters tends to be somewhat limiting though.

Optimize for net fighting and tell me how "limiting" the character is. Optimize for a Bow using Barbarian (don't see that one to often do ya? :P). Optimize for the Rat-Flail. Optimize a blind character. The point of optimizing is getting the most of the mechanics to back a concept. It could be a purely mechanically driven concept, it could originate from a "novel" (10-pages of per-game-histotry) character.

So much of a Character's flavor is determined by the setting he's in. Identical builds can be role played differently given different adventure contexts. Flavor, like a mustache, is highly individualistic. I can make suggestions about what kinds of mustaches are fashionable, but at the end of the day only you can decide how to trim it.

Like I said it depends on what stage of character development you prioritize mechanics over flavor, the characters that pull a succesful marrying of both flavor and mechanics off is per definition more limited than the range of possible characters. Now I do not have a problem at all with people who optimize a colorful character concept as long as it doesn't take them into powergaming territory. Optimizing the mechanics of a character on an otherwise bland character is what bothers me a bit personally.

A summoner is particulary easy to violate in this manner, you can get an eidolon that can be quite terrifying but without flavor it is quite boring. You could make an eidolon that is every bit as effective or mechanically identical but with a background, physical appearance and personality setting it apart. However an optimizer has a hard time justifying taking a medium eidolon when you could have a large one, you can ofcourse optimize within these restrictions and try to pull off an effective build using a medium eidolon instead, but you are not trully optimizing at that point any more.


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A Man In Black wrote:
Remco Sommeling wrote:
Roleplayers, might just be focused on the concept and do not really bother making it competitive in their effectiveness untill the final stage. Though it might still be effective.
Of course, if the game were better balanced, there'd be fewer cool-sounding options that aren't very effective.

This is a good point. When a game system begs you to "optimize", it can create rifts like this.

I am very much against the design decision made (back when 3.0e was first created) to have "Game Mastery" an element of D&D.
It smacks of competitive play.. though coming from a company that makes big-dollars on Magic: The Gathering, I guess it's a miracle we got the OGL concept to begin with.


Something I might also add, I don't think a person who made a character that doesn't contribute anything valuable to the group falls into the same category I described as a roleplayer. Rather I think they want to make a type of character the rules don't exactly support. In that sort of case the best thing to do as a GM is to ask "what is it you want to play as?" and then either compromise with an existing solution or make an archetype, prestige class, feat, or whatever that will let them do it (seriously, homebrew is the best for this problem).

Likewise I think the dreaded "munchkin" has their own category as well that is outside of optimizer and is more close to "closeted cheater"


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I'm not sure I follow this completely.

In my group of 'non-optimisers', we have a player whom we all agree is an effective roleplayer, two who are fair roleplayers, and one who tries hard but still ends up describing a narrative.
And he's the only player with a moustache!

Where does that leave me - as I have a goatee???

Reggie.

(It's my birthday, I'll be as obtuse as I like =)


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My two coppers.

I don't personally find optimizing to be mutually exclusive with roleplaying. I find it, however, to be mind-bogglingly boring and ultimately pointless. In my experience, optimizers play "builds", rather than characters, because they start to build their PCs stat first, adding the concept later. I find this to be backwards and I'd never do that, but they seem to have fun nonetheless (and a good roleplayer will play an interesting character even if it was conceived as a bunch of numbers) and who am I to say that their fun is "wrong".

Nevertheless, the idea of going through all the manuals, picking only the options that are meant to be powerful, and leaving all the non-powerful ones (even if they fit your character concept perfectly) and then do a lot of math doesn't appeal to me. I'm fine if someone else in my group does it, but it really gets on my nerves if the same person then starts to whine that "your character isn't effective enough, you are holding us down". This is very, very, very annoying.

Also, I disagree with your opinion that in fantasy fiction most of the interesting characters are the ones that are good at everything. To me, it's the exact opposite of that: a character that is always effective and without flaws (optimized) is very boring and there is no sense of threat when he's faced with danger. A character that is good at one thing only and crappy in the rest (minmaxed) suffers from similar issues: it'a one trick pony. I wouldn't call these sort of character interesting if I saw them in a work of fiction. Even Superman has his kriptonite.

Then there's the fact that, in my opinion at least, it's not even worth to optimize. Optimizing presumes that you know every possible choice you can make, you know how everything is going to play out during a session, and you can foresee everything the DM is going to throw at you. All of this is not possible in most sistuation, at it boils down to statistics, damage prevision and other boring calculation. No amount of math is going to save you from a Nat 1 on a critical situation. And I found that if you are somehow able to easily overcome every challenge the DM throws at you, this leads to an escalation of power, effectively putting the DM against the player to see who's going to make the life harded to the other. I've seen this happen and it's not pleasant, especially if you actually don't give a hoot the whole issue.

My point is: you can be an optimizer and a good roleplayer. I don't think it's worth the trouble, and it could potentially lead to problems, but it's your game and you should do whatever you find the most fun. But fortunately you can be a good roleplayer and a bad optimizer and still play an interesting character. Roleplaying without optimizing is possible. Without roleplaying, not so much.

PS: what moustaches have to do with this issue?

Liberty's Edge

Treantmonk wrote:


Can anyone explain to me how this would be less relevant than comparing "Role playing" to optimization?

First, viva la Rant threads!

Second, there is an optimizer and a min-maxer. An optimizer wants to build the most effective version of what they want to role play. If you want to play a Fighter, you want to be the best damn fighter you can be.

But you are playing a fighter, and therefore you realize a fighter isn't a bard, so you aren't going to be the suave charismatic person in the group with your dumped charisma. But that is cool, because you came here to kick ass and chew bubblegum...

Now a min-maxer wants to have his cake an eat it too. They want to be able to "role play" around the mins while enjoying all the benefits of the maxes.

The problem you have is that while your are a respected optimizer, you are sometimes lumped in with the dirty min-maxer. Which is unfair in the same way Kirth gets lumped in with the loophole seekers despite the fact he is actually trying to create new rules, not circumvent existing ones.

What I think you try to do is create ways for different classes to be good at what they are designed to do, understanding they aren't going to be able to do all things. Your wizard can dump strength, for example, because if he ever finds himself swinging a sword he's in trouble.

Similarly your fighter doesn't need to be that bright, since if he searching for traps or trying to sneak around in platemail he's in trouble.


ciretose wrote:
Second, there is an optimizer and a min-maxer[...] The problem you have is that while your are a respected optimizer, you are sometimes lumped in with the dirty min-maxer.

I don't think they are so different. They are both trying to mathematically achieve what they are looking for. And I don't find one dirty and the other one to be respected, they are both legitimate way to play.


I just want to add one thing (don't take it too seriously tough).

One of my fellow players is a decent roleplayer. I've seen him have fun with character concepts, and roleplay effective but mostly average characters. Then he stumbled upon Treantmonk's optimizing stuff over the pfsrd (I'm presuming you are the same Treantmonk) and then proceeded to make a wizard. He now steamrolls everything the group encounters, no sweat. And his character is shallow, incredibly shallow and boring, because he made it using your guide before coming up with a decent concept.

Now, I'm not saying that you are to blame (yes you are).

Liberty's Edge

Pixel Cube wrote:
ciretose wrote:
Second, there is an optimizer and a min-maxer[...] The problem you have is that while your are a respected optimizer, you are sometimes lumped in with the dirty min-maxer.
I don't think they are so different. They are both trying to mathematically achieve what they are looking for. And I don't find one dirty and the other one to be respected, they are both legitimate way to play.

And I could not disagree with you more.

Min/Maxers and rules lawyers try to find loopholes. It's like playing a video game in god mode or using a cheese glitch.

Except instead of only cheating in your own personal video game, you are at a table with a group of people, being "that guy".

And nobody likes "That Guy".

"That Guy" is why it is hard to get new people to play. "That Guy" is where all of the negative stereotypes for role players start. "That Guy" is why Devs have to say "Having your Int and Cha blasted down to 8 by an extraplanar entity is a significant and distracting threat, therefore you can't Take 10 on that check."

Because "That Guy" is a selfish jerk who thinks that by "winning" the game they will somehow not be "That guy" in real life, when the reality is that they are "That guy" precisely because of this behavior.

And those of us who actually like to play the game within the framework of the rules, understanding the limit set by the rules produce the challenge that makes the game enjoyable hate the fact that we can't sit down at a generic table in your FLGS without having to worry "That Guy" will show up and ruin it for all of us.

Which is why most of us home game, with people we know aren't "That Guy".

To be clear, I'm not saying you are "That guy". I don't know you. But if you min/max and don't want to deal with the min...I'm just sayin...


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Umbral Reaver wrote:

I agree with you completely. It boggles the mind to see people arguing against this stance. It's like something is fundamentally wrong with their grasp of logic.

I've seen an amazingly well-played dwarven monk with a 5 cha. He plays being awful with people really well. He has fun. We have fun with him. He's not overpowering the game and we still have a team effort in our adventure. This is good, despite how much people might rant and rave about the min-maxery of a character having 5 cha.

However, if said players behaviour would be an excuse to be a douche to his fellow players and to get some freebie points to boot, then there would be a problem.

Dumping charisma is one of the most popular min-max choices. Sadly it also allows ( or forces, if you prefer ) those players to behave like complete wankers in-game, which can be, depending on the player and the group, be a huge problem.

Liberty's Edge

magnuskn wrote:
Umbral Reaver wrote:

I agree with you completely. It boggles the mind to see people arguing against this stance. It's like something is fundamentally wrong with their grasp of logic.

I've seen an amazingly well-played dwarven monk with a 5 cha. He plays being awful with people really well. He has fun. We have fun with him. He's not overpowering the game and we still have a team effort in our adventure. This is good, despite how much people might rant and rave about the min-maxery of a character having 5 cha.

However, if said players behaviour would be an excuse to be a douche to his fellow players and to get some freebie points to boot, then there would be a problem.

Dumping charisma is one of the most popular min-max choices. Sadly it also allows ( or forces, if you prefer ) those players to behave like complete wankers in-game, which can be, depending on the player and the group, be a huge problem.

And the bigger point is that he was suffering a consequence as a result of that 5 charisma. He wasn't able to be very successful in social interactions.

There is a poster on here who has argued that you can use skills to completely overcome any negative charisma score, becoming a dashing and charming figure with a 5 charisma.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
ciretose wrote:

And the bigger point is that he was suffering a consequence as a result of that 5 charisma. He wasn't able to be very successful in social interactions.

There is a poster on here who has argued that you can use skills to completely overcome any negative charisma score, becoming a dashing and charming figure with a 5 charisma.

Well, functionally you can. Yeah, the first impression will probably rather bad, but as soon as that dwarf with a charisma of 5, but 10 skill ranks and Skill Focus in Diplomacy opens his mouth, the interaction will get noticeably better.

I don't see the issue of investing time and resources in learning how to behave gracefully, even if your natural inclination is to curse and spit.

The problem here comes from min-maxed attributes being way more important over the length of the game than a single skill point per level ( and optionally one feat ).

But this is a tangent, my original point was that dumping charisma can result in the player purposefully being a wanker to his fellow players, who might not like that very much. Roleplaying only goes so far, the rest of the players should not have to suffer through an evening of abuse because one player decided that min-maxing his character gave him the freedom to spew profanity at everyone else.

Liberty's Edge

magnuskn wrote:
ciretose wrote:

And the bigger point is that he was suffering a consequence as a result of that 5 charisma. He wasn't able to be very successful in social interactions.

There is a poster on here who has argued that you can use skills to completely overcome any negative charisma score, becoming a dashing and charming figure with a 5 charisma.

Well, functionally you can. Yeah, the first impression will probably rather bad, but as soon as that dwarf with a charisma of 5, but 10 skill ranks and Skill Focus in Diplomacy opens his mouth, the interaction will get noticeably better.

I don't see the issue of investing time and resources in learning how to behave gracefully, even if your natural inclination is to curse and spit.

The problem here comes from min-maxed attributes being way more important over the length of the game than a single skill point per level ( and optionally one feat ).

But this is a tangent, my original point was that dumping charisma can result in the player purposefully being a wanker to his fellow players, who might not like that very much. Roleplaying only goes so far, the rest of the players should not have to suffer through an evening of abuse because one player decided that min-maxing his character gave him the freedom to spew profanity at everyone else.

You can make someone work with you, but you will still have a 5 charisma. Key sections of the diplomacy rule.

"Any attitude shift caused through Diplomacy generally lasts for 1d4 hours but can last much longer or shorter depending upon the situation (GM discretion)."

"You cannot use Diplomacy to influence a given creature’s attitude more than once in a 24 hour period."

So once a day for a few hours...

Now circumstances may make people like you, like if you save a puppy or a fair maiden. But you will still have a 5 charisma.

I had a roommate who rarely bathed, only had 3 pairs of pants, and wore almost exclusively Hawaiian shirts. Once you got to know him, he was funny as hell, but he was still kind of a sloppy mess that you would never, ever follow anywhere. Even if he had the directions, you would want to look them over yourself before you went anywhere with him.

Charisma governs character's personality, personal magnetism, ability to lead, and appearance.

Let's look to the A-Team.

Hannibal was a high charisma natural born leader. Probably 16 or higher if we were to make him. You instantly like and respect his judgement, and people tend to follow him without a second thought.

Face was fairly high charisma, but more of a skill monkey with disguise and diplomacy. At root he was kind of a douche and you probably wouldn't follow him as much as you would Hannibal. After a few hours, his charm wore off (like diplomacy). He was probably a 12 with lots of points in charisma based skills.

BA was fairly low charisma, with a high intimidate check. If you followed him, it was out of fear of what he might do to you and not his innate leadership qualities and personal magnetism.

Murdock was fairly low charisma, period.

If you were working with the A-Team, you would probably like Murdock if he was helping you. But you wouldn't follow him over anyone else in the group. Murdock was crazy.

That is charisma.

Your 5 charisma Dwarf doesn't ever get to be the party face. That was what that poster was arguing could happen. People may like him, hell they may even fall in love with him if circumstances work out. But he's never going to be a leader or a party face.

The player can dictate how the low (or high) charisma manifests, but it manifests. Not dealing with this is the biggest reason charisma can be a dump stat for min/max games.

If min/maxers actually have to play the character they make, they tend not to min/max.


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ciretose wrote:
Pixel Cube wrote:
ciretose wrote:
Second, there is an optimizer and a min-maxer[...] The problem you have is that while your are a respected optimizer, you are sometimes lumped in with the dirty min-maxer.
I don't think they are so different. They are both trying to mathematically achieve what they are looking for. And I don't find one dirty and the other one to be respected, they are both legitimate way to play.

And I could not disagree with you more.

Min/Maxers and rules lawyers try to find loopholes. It's like playing a video game in god mode or using a cheese glitch.

Except instead of only cheating in your own personal video game, you are at a table with a group of people, being "that guy".

And nobody likes "That Guy".

"That Guy" is why it is hard to get new people to play. "That Guy" is where all of the negative stereotypes for role players start. "That Guy" is why Devs have to say "Having your Int and Cha blasted down to 8 by an extraplanar entity is a significant and distracting threat, therefore you can't Take 10 on that check."

Because "That Guy" is a selfish jerk who thinks that by "winning" the game they will somehow not be "That guy" in real life, when the reality is that they are "That guy" precisely because of this behavior.

And those of us who actually like to play the game within the framework of the rules, understanding the limit set by the rules produce the challenge that makes the game enjoyable hate the fact that we can't sit down at a generic table in your FLGS without having to worry "That Guy" will show up and ruin it for all of us.

Which is why most of us home game, with people we know aren't "That Guy".

To be clear, I'm not saying you are "That guy". I don't know you. But if you min/max and don't want to deal with the min...I'm just sayin...

But you can be a ''That Guy'' (do you by any chance browse /tg/ ?) if you optimize, if you minmax, heck,even if you are a good roleplayer. That is a IRL issue that has nothing to do with how you build your character. And to answer your question: no I don't minmax not because it's detrimental, but because it's boring.


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ciretose wrote:
Treantmonk wrote:


Can anyone explain to me how this would be less relevant than comparing "Role playing" to optimization?

First, viva la Rant threads!

Second, there is an optimizer and a min-maxer. An optimizer wants to build the most effective version of what they want to role play. If you want to play a Fighter, you want to be the best damn fighter you can be.

But you are playing a fighter, and therefore you realize a fighter isn't a bard, so you aren't going to be the suave charismatic person in the group with your dumped charisma. But that is cool, because you came here to kick ass and chew bubblegum...

Now a min-maxer wants to have his cake an eat it too. They want to be able to "role play" around the mins while enjoying all the benefits of the maxes.

The problem you have is that while your are a respected optimizer, you are sometimes lumped in with the dirty min-maxer. Which is unfair in the same way Kirth gets lumped in with the loophole seekers despite the fact he is actually trying to create new rules, not circumvent existing ones.

What I think you try to do is create ways for different classes to be good at what they are designed to do, understanding they aren't going to be able to do all things. Your wizard can dump strength, for example, because if he ever finds himself swinging a sword he's in trouble.

Similarly your fighter doesn't need to be that bright, since if he searching for traps or trying to sneak around in platemail he's in trouble.

The Fighter does not need to be that bright but he does not have to be dumber than dirt either, this is my problem with Optimizer/Min-Maxers you often end up with every fighter being for the most part an idiot jerk (Int 8, and Cha 7) almost every so called "build" prefers to do this. Then you get people that claim if you don't optimize then your build sucks. Sorry I prefer to have characters that are not retarded, douche bags (even my fighters).

Nor do I want to every Wizard build not be able to carry their spell book and staff because they gimped Str down to 7 (23 lb light load and 47 lb heavy load).

Many threads on this board will blast certain Archetypes because they are optimized or "subpar" mainly because it is not as good at combat as other choices, forgetting this game is not all about combat.

One of the most fun games I've played was with a player whose back story was he was a farmer that was hunting down the Goblins that burned down his farm. He took non-optimized feats such as Catch Off Gaurd (He fought using a shovel), and Handle Animal and Profession Farmer skills. He did not have a single attribute below 10 using a 20 point buy. He played that character to 15th level before we switched to a new game.

Many of my players panic when they have not taken any Knowledges or Non-Combat skills, because I happily make non combat scenes just as important as the Combat scenes. All of a sudden things like Knowledges, Professions, and Sense Motive become a little more important as well as being to speak an additional language or two.


See Treantmonk, I agree with what you say on it's basis. One can be a great role player while he's also optimizing, no problem.
If I enter an arbitrary table, most players there will indeed do both.

Then there are these people who don't, people who focus on either RP or PG. Last ones do not need to be cheating munchkins, just people who build quite strong characters and don't RP.
These people are a minority but they exist and one needs a word to describe them, I mean, no one opens a thread to tell everybody how well balanced the people around him are, eh?
Now you can say, a term like "Optimizer" is bad for describing someone who does only PG and not RP since the term does not say anything about the no-RP-part but everyone will know what one means when he talks about "Optimizers" - that's how languages work, they aren't logical, they are pragmatic.

Another thing is, especially for RP, there are people who consider themselves to be "true RPers" who don't PG, build weak characters on purpose and then go on a holy crusade against the evil PGs. Lukily there are not that many of them out, also they tend to seperate themselves from us evil PGs and prefer not to play d20

As a conclusion, language is organic and illogical and this is the very core of this threads base


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
ciretose wrote:
If min/maxers actually have to play the character they make, they tend not to min/max.

Or they play it with much relish, to the detriment of the enjoyment of the rest of the group.

Hey, I'm happy it doesn't seem to have happened to you!


The goal is to build an effective character and role-play him or her. It does not have to be weak or with inherent flaws but it does not have have to be optimized to squeeze out the most damage possible either. There is a happy medium. Don't be afraid to choose a non optimized choice for something that gives your character a little more flavor, but don't completely gimp combat effectiveness either.

All in all build the character you want to play and build your concept to be as good a character it can be. Then have fun. Do a little of both, I do build back stories for my characters then I optimize that character to fit my theme, I don't optimize just combat I optimize for non-Combat as well, nothing is more boring than sitting in a bar while every one else investigates, waiting for a chance to wade in with a greatsword cleaving may way through hordes of NPCs.


My mustache is optimized...

Seriously, OP is totally right. You don't see much mention of The Stormwind Fallacy here, but it addresses this issue quite handily.

Sovereign Court

Ksorkrax wrote:
As a conclusion, language is organic and illogical and this is the very core of this threads base

Indeed, they are just broad categories that are aiming at the extremes of the spectrum.

It's like right or left in politics. To sum up someone's entire political stance on a myriad of issues with one word is silly, and likely even damaging at times, but people don't have the time or inclination to use language with exacting use.

I've seen the whole spectrum of role-players and roll-players, with extremes on both sides. You have role-players that would "do what their character would do" that completely ignored the social dynamics of the table, creating long tedious digressions, or intra-party strife that no one else wanted. Meanwhile on the other side you have roll-players that never once make any effort at being immersed in any world, but just babble meta-game statistics, and who's whole point at the table is to show how clever he is with the game rules.

Those extremes stick in people's memories, and so it's easy to put a tag on them and then use that tag to invoke the kind of behavior that, while it might not be in those extremes, leans in that direction when describing others. It's useful to quickly sum up this leaning, and at least get a rough idea of what kind of play style the person aims for. However if you want something that describes in greater detail, then you have to start getting academic and laying out precise definitions.


My view on optimization goes hand in hand with concept. a) what is my concept and b) how do I use the rules to realize this concept. So in 3.5 I wanted a Conan type fighter that could do whatever Conan could do. Did I make a Barbarian. Well sure I did... for one level. The rest was Warblade, with Able Learner so I could buy all those stealth skills without paying for them cross-class, and Track. I was trying to make Conan. And so on for all my characters. Concept, Rules, optimiztion AND Roleplay. No problems. (Actually, I get to play this dude next week... so we'll see how it goes!)


Treantmonk wrote:

"He doesn't optimize, he's got a mustache"

Can anyone explain to me how this would be less relevant than comparing "Role playing" to optimization?

Here's an example that may help. My current character is a cleric of Loviatar. In case you don't know, she's an evil pain goddess whose favored weapon is a whip. So, my character wields a weapon that does a base of 1d3 nonlethal damage, ignored by anyone in any kind of armor. Three feats later, thanks to the whip mastery feats, and she's doing lethal damage through armor at least. However, thanks to the whip feats, I haven't had room to squeeze in any metamagic or channeling feats yet. Beyond that, she tends to focus on spells that cause pain (inflict x wounds, etc.), as opposed to healing and buffing spells.

Yes, I've given her a very good wisdom and a reasonable charisma, and I've made efforts to allow her to be effective enough to be fun in and out of combat. However, she's clearly far from an optimized cleric. More to the point, every non-optimal decision has been made in a spirit of "what would my character do/want?" as opposed to "what would be the most effective character I could make?"

So, the distinction has a reason to exist, even if more is made of it that it generally deserves.

Liberty's Edge

First of all, I must say up front that I agree with the OP 100%. However, I think there's one thing with noting, here...biology.

The ability to analyze structured statistics, deal with numbers, and project a characters in-game effectiveness...that's all very much right-brain functionality. Acting, language, and imagination are very left-brain functions. Its been proven that people tend to favor one side or the other (the biggest factor being gender), and that may be why you see this distinction being drawn. Not that I agree with the generalization.

...And sorry if I mixed up the sides of the brain, but you get my point, I hope.

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