A discussion on game design, balance and roleplay (featuring "the worst feat ever")


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

1 to 50 of 65 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>

5 people marked this as a favorite.

Some game designers at Paizo have openly stated that they not want the game to be all about balance: that they want the player to be able to make "mechanically wrong" choices. One case, such as the Vow of Poverty, was openly stated to have been made deliberately "mechanically weak" for roleplaying reasons -for since it is a sacrifice, you shouldn't have something to gain from it.
I'd like to expand this concept a little. I'll try my best not to sound like a troll now (which I'm not or, at least, am not trying to be).

Pathfinder, or any other RPG, actually works on two different levels: the mechanic, and the flavor. The "mechanic" issue is inherent in the concept of a "game": players should be granted the ability to make choices; these choices should affect the outcome of the game; there should be good choices and bad choices, but the difference is not inherent and rather depending on the current and future game context, the player's previous and future strategy and his personal tastes.

The flavor level is a completely different matter, one more concerned with internal coherence, "dressing up" and narrating what happens on the mechanic level. For instance, a ray spell that hits but fails to overcome SR can be described as being dispelled by the enemy with a casual hand wave, a quick snarl or stare; it could be done in a dozen of different ways, which do not enter or even make contact with the game mechanic (and a good GM makes sure that his players do not misunderstand what he's narrating and go think the bad guy is counterspelling, which is an entirely different scenario).

The two levels -are- separate. The RPG experience treats them that way by it's own nature (roleplaying / game); in most games I know of, characters don't get to "do [something important]" by simply describing "I do [something important]": sometimes there's randomness involved, sometimes it's as simple as comparing two values and seeing which one is higher and sometimes it requires the GM to value the action a number of "story points" that the character can or can not spend. "I seduce the maid" might suffice if the game does not possess a detailed romance mechanic; "I kill the dragon" might work in a game more concerned with intrigue and politics, with incredibly detailed social combat rules. The concept is the same: RP choice > mechanical decision > mechanical outcome > RP consequence. There is no jump from RP choice to RP consequence for things that represent the core of the game.

When a game designer creates a generic mechanical element (feat or archetype) that is, by its own design, a bad mechanical choice but a great RP choice, he's making the mistake of mixing the two levels. On this matter, I preset you with this. The idea is interesting. It certainly is flavorful. It -will- open up many interesting roleplay scenarios. It's

The Worse Feat Ever:

Fallen God [General]
Once you were a god, but no longer.
Prerequisites: None.
Benefit: You gain Wish as a spell-like ability, at will, without an experience cost, with a DC based on your Strength modifier. You also gain a cohort, which must be a divine caster, with a number of class levels equal to your Charisma score.
Special: To use this spell like ability, you have to ask permission to your GM every time. The cohort dies at the end of the first gaming session. Only one character in an adventuring party may take this feat. Your ability scores are reduced by 10 each every time you use this feat.

It was designed and written in, say, 30 seconds, by a non-native English speaker who was actively trying to create the "mechanically worse" feat ever, both in spirit & wording. To its own creator, it's garbage on many different levels, and it was a deliberate waste of your time by my part, gentle reader.

Requiring the expenditure of a mechanical-level resource (feat slot, class levels, gold pieces) to make a good RP-level choice leaves a balanced player with only one side to pick: do I play the game, and make an inherently good game choice, or do I play the role, and make an inherently wrong game choice? Most RPGs are a collaborative effort, and other players may become frustrated at the roleplayer's Halfling Wizard with 20 points in Dexterity and an Intelligence of 3: an exaggeration, of course, but why not?

You see, that's a choice. You are entitled to make choices in a game. You are even entitled to make terrible choices in a game. Playing a Wizard that cannot cast spells, and that probably never will, is your right. It's part of the game.
But if you make a choice -that- bad, you are also deliberately choosing to fail at the "game": that does not make you a better roleplayer. That does not say anything about your skills at roleplaying at all; it just says that you either do not understand the game-level, or do not care.

If that's your choice.
What if it was a condition forced on you by a game design philosophy, "You must make a choice between the game and the roleplay, excelling in one will spell doom on the other"?

I am not preoccupied about using or not using certain troublesome classes, feats or archetypes; I am more concerned about their creation process: since game designing material does not spring forth from raw chaos, but it's rather a product of human intellect and attention, this makes me believe that Paizo really wants to keep the mechanical-level and the RP-level mutually exclusive.

I see this as a contradictory position, that can only lead to more RP feat-taxes and sub-par archetypes, much to balanced player's frustration. There are houserules, sure, but I really wonder where this company is going...


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

This is a very difficult design challenge. Pathfinder has decided to lean more towards the feel and cohesiveness of the game, as opposed to straight balance. The rules are degigned to make you FEEL like you you are what you are playing. That is where vow of poverty is coming from. If you take a vow of poverty as a person you will suffer personally. If the character never felt held back then the feat would be completely disconnected from the flavor. And that is the point, the mechanics match the flavor they are associated with.

This means there will be mechanical options that are statistically inferior. But no one is forcing you to take those options, they are there so that if you so choose you can feel like a monk with no worldly possessions, or feel like a witch that hunts down and eats children. This feel of cohesiveness between the rules and the explanation in world of those rules is (by the standard taken by the designers) more important then the mechanical balance of the rules. That isnt to say balance is ignored, it just isn't the most important aspect of game design.

Edit:
The point is not that they are trying to keep mechanics and Roleplay separate, but instead that they are trying to bring the two elements closer together. The mechanics tie into the flavor cohesively, better allowing the players and dm to express themselves through roleplay. In my mind, flavor stems from mechanics. If there is a feat called vow of poverty, and it makes me feel like superman, I will have a hard time roleplaying the pious humble monk who is making a personal sacrifice for spiritual purity. If however I feel the tug of desire for worldly goods to help me in my tasks and adventures, then I have proper inspiration for roleplaying that personal struggle of the vow of poverty.


Yes, but I can make a poor monk without that feat.
Why would I need VoP? Why would I -want- it? I shouldn't need a feat to say "I'm poor".
This is basically the point I'm trying to make: you don't need a feat to carry on some vision you have of you character. Then why make feats (or archetypes) that only serve such purpose?


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Morieth wrote:

Yes, but I can make a poor monk without that feat.

Why would I need VoP? Why would I -want- it? I shouldn't need a feat to say "I'm poor".
This is basically the point I'm trying to make: you don't need a feat to carry on some vision you have of you character. Then why make feats (or archetypes) that only serve such purpose?

Why not?


"Why not" to my question "Why would I want it"? Because, as far as I remember, it is a feat. If I'm wrong on this, then my whole argument in invalid and don't mind it.
There are lots of feats, and they are a limited resource to a player. I can ask "Why not?" to any feat I see from any book, but at the end of the day my character is going to have only a limited amount. So, back to my example: even given a monk that chooses to live a life of poverty, the player either weights his own decisions, trying to pick feats (which are a resource independent on roleplay) that "work", or he chooses them at random.

Edit: wow, my bad. Monk vows in Pathfinder do not require the expenditure of a feat. Dang, I was -so- sure of it... ok, leaving the feat expenditure aside, I have absolutely nothing against Vow of Poverty. I will doublecheck the next time, what a fool.


Morieth wrote:

"Why not" to my question "Why would I want it"? Because, as far as I remember, it is a feat. If I'm wrong on this, then my whole argument in invalid and don't mind it.

There are lots of feats, and they are a limited resource to a player. I can ask "Why not?" to any feat I see from any book, but at the end of the day my character is going to have only a limited amount. So, back to my example: even given a monk that chooses to live a life of poverty, the player either weights his own decisions, trying to pick feats (which are a resource independent on roleplay) that "work", or he chooses them at random.

Edit: wow, my bad. Monk vows in Pathfinder do not require the expenditure of a feat. Dang, I was -so- sure of it... ok, leaving the feat expenditure aside, I have absolutely nothing against Vow of Poverty. I will doublecheck the next time, what a fool.

They take away Still Mind. Which is worth a feat.


So, I'm not saying I disagree, but in order to provide an argument...

To say that the 'game rules' are or should be entirely exclusive from the 'RP-level' sort of ignores the inherent roleplaying background on which the game is made.

What I mean is, its a fantasy game. That its a fantasy game creates the need for fantasy-based rules like magic and the paladin class and feats like eldritch heritage, improved familiar, etc. - not all of which need to be or should be mechanically superior choices.

Likewise, a player who makes a druid character can play that character however he feels, except in ways that deny the implied mythos, at which point the character is no longer playing 'the game' correctly.

Similarly, one could play a fighter character from a tribal background who gets really angry in combat, runs around charging foes in medium armor and smashing things with a big weapon, but she's not a barbarian as per the rules. This kind of character may be more mechanically optimized, but in order to role play her barbarian, the player has to work (as if role playing were work) harder to pull it off because she isn't using the available mechanics to her advantage.

Its like this: as a citizen of a nation, the only real interactions one has with government are when one pays taxes or is put in jail for committing a crime or when one uses public space via roads, sidewalks, utilities and so on. Role play elements collide with mechanical rules at the points at which role play material must in order to maintain the facade of role playing choice, but collision is imminent, regardless of player choice.

Paizo, by allowing players to take RP-heavier, mechanics-lighter choices, is essentially just segregating players who want to utilize those 'collisions' whether it offers such players mechanically superior choices or not, from those players that want to have mechanically superior characters at the cost of having to role play more to make up for what isn't on their character sheet.

These less mechanically optimal choices just make it easier for one to play nuanced characters without having to make up details.

Liberty's Edge

Morieth wrote:

Yes, but I can make a poor monk without that feat.

Why would I need VoP? Why would I -want- it? I shouldn't need a feat to say "I'm poor".
This is basically the point I'm trying to make: you don't need a feat to carry on some vision you have of you character. Then why make feats (or archetypes) that only serve such purpose?

Because you want the ki points for the type of class you are intending to play. And perhaps you are planning on having a single uber item you keep enhancing, along with seeking out tombs on your path to enlightenment.

Or you think it would be fun.

Sovereign Court

My take on these kinds of issues is that balance is an issue of narrative potential. If you end up picking underpowered character options then your capacity of dealing with fate is weakened. You end up not being able to have an impact on the emergent narrative that one would hope to have.

Vow of Poverty is a good example. It's a crippling selection as it stands. One line of thought is that you then go with that underpowered set of mechanics and then hope that the dice (and perhaps generous GM massaging or hand waving) will see to it that the emergent story will come out on top. Looking at it this way is to approach it as a kind of "difficulty setting" for the system. You're cranking it up to the "very hard" setting and then want to see what happens.

That's fine and good if you're style of play leans towards gamism.

However if you're approach to the game is dramatic, or perhaps even assuming a certain metaphysical simulationism, then you want the mechanics to play out a different kind of sub-system.

So you could have a VoP that is set up where you toss aside magic items, but in return you get a big pile of Hero Points (out of the APG). The idea is that in taking the vow you're so pure that fate/the gods/whatever looks kindly upon you and you're likely to succeed in the world despite the restrictions on the vow, not because you're exploiting around the vow itself, but instead the background metaphysics of the world support and reward those who take such extreme acts of purity.

Thus, with this second take, what you're doing is making an alternative sub-system that helps tease out this particular thematic journey.

This is the kind of balance that I want to see. I want to see carefully crafted subsystems that can seem wildly asymetric at first glance, but when you get down into the details shows that these different subsystems interact and mesh well together.

I think one of the biggest mistakes Paizo did in the Pathfinder final was not including, baked right into the core of the system, some kind of Hero Point currency. If that had been in place then you'd have a meta currency available that could help tweak some of big balance problems with the system. It's a good global mechanism that can be doled out in different ratios. The end result is that things like the martial/caster disparity could, in part, be answered with this meta-currency. The wizard might be able to bend reality at high levels, but the martials can grit their teeth and power through because they are "heroes."

That meta-currency could also be used to help dial in certain difficulty settings for players. Do you have a newbie sitting down at a table full of powergaming vets? Toss the newbie more Hero Points as a handicap. Got a gamist player that wants huge challenges, but is at a table full of people who want an easy time? Just explicitly make it so that the player can dial in how many Hero Points they want to gain and let the players have some voice in how hard they want the game to be, but on an individual level.


Morieth wrote:

Yes, but I can make a poor monk without that feat.

Why would I need VoP? Why would I -want- it? I shouldn't need a feat to say "I'm poor".
This is basically the point I'm trying to make: you don't need a feat to carry on some vision you have of you character. Then why make feats (or archetypes) that only serve such purpose?

Vow of poverty hurts you rather badly... but it STILL gives you Ki points. Your mechanical choice now is simply does getting that Ki equal all I'll give up.

If I was planning on making a poor monk, who shunned all worldly possessions.... I'd consider it. I'd be getting a bonus for something I was going to Role-play Anyway.

However, Vow aside... I DO agree with you in principle. There does not need to be rules for anything that I can just look at the DM and say 'this is what my guy does..."

I do not need feats and archtypes if I want him to be young... or if I want him to have blue hair... These are character choices that I can make without having mechanics drawn into it.

Also, I have no issue with role-play choices being less optimal than others. I LIKE having choices, the more the merrier... However, when the designers make something mechanically obsolete or intentionally bad... then I find it gets in the WAY of Flavor.

I can look at the DM and say, My guy uses a rapier, but it's got a wooden sheath and let's call it a sword cane. That's flavor. When the DM responds with, 'actually they HAVE a sword cane. It's weaker as a weapon, non-finessable, and you have to take a feat to use it... but some people MAY not notice it's a weapon....'

Mechanics like that are WORSE than not having them created at all. Players and DMs are smart people... they can figure out the flavor themselves ;)


I'm not certain that your premise is sound.

Are the feats power attack, dodge, weapon finesse, [substitute any other benchmark feat], etc. "non-roleplaying" or "purely mechanical" feats merely because they are mechanically effective?

Vow of Poverty is a useful target because it is the extreme role-play-by-mechanical-inferiority-example. But, it might improve your argument to use examples outside of the "extremes".


Kolokotroni wrote:


The point is not that they are trying to keep mechanics and Roleplay separate, but instead that they are trying to bring the two elements closer together. The mechanics tie into the flavor cohesively, better allowing the players and dm to express themselves through roleplay. In my mind, flavor stems from mechanics. If there is a feat called vow of poverty, and it makes me feel like superman, I will have a hard time roleplaying the pious humble monk who is making a personal sacrifice for spiritual purity. If however I feel the tug of desire for worldly goods to help me in my tasks and adventures, then I have proper inspiration for roleplaying that personal struggle of the vow of poverty.

Then why even make it a feat? Why make a feat for it? Why even bother getting the ki points? There is absolutely nothing stopping a player from deciding that their monk is pious monk who shuns worldly possessions. That's a roleplay decision. All the feat it does is create a divide between elitist 'roleplayers' who think that taking a suboptimal feat is the way to show that they 'roleplay' better and 'optimizers' who just want to have a character that actually improves and is viable in the dangerous setting.

tldr;If you really need a feat to roleplay better, you don't understand roleplaying


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I can't agree with the separation of mechanical and role playing elements. This is a role playing game, neither free-form role play nor a board game. The two are intended to complement each other. I like for there to be mechanical elements to support some elements of role play.

I'm also content with options not perfectly balancing against each other. Ideally, I don't want single dominating strategies, that's bad for the game. But underpowered niche ones that the DM has in his toolkit, suitable for one-shot adventures, or that an interested player wants to take and use creatively? I consider those acceptable. For what it's worth, here's a significant difference between having a couple of strategies that dominate everything else and having several reasonable ones plus a few weaker ones.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Ion Raven wrote:


Then why even make it a feat? Why make a feat for it? Why even bother getting the ki points? There is absolutely nothing stopping a player from deciding that their monk is pious monk who shuns worldly possessions. That's a roleplay decision. All the feat it does is create a divide between elitist 'roleplayers' who think that taking a suboptimal feat is the way to show that they 'roleplay' better and 'optimizers' who just want to have a character that actually improves and is viable in the dangerous setting.

tldr;If you really need a feat to roleplay better, you don't understand roleplaying

Or it creates a divide between elitist optimizers who sneer at role players who actually want to back up their role playing choices with a little mechanical device but who don't care about running their characters like their redlining their engines. That sounds about right to me the way these discussion have gone.

There are plenty of players who like to have some mechanical device to reflect the significant choices the have made through their characters. This includes investing skill points in professions and crafts that have nothing to do with being viable in a dangerous setting and spending feats on things the danger-optimizers find useless. They may never get much out of these choices in a life or death matter, but so what? They still represent the character's abilities.


I totally agree that mechanical and roleplaying elements should not be separated, I just don't think they should be treated as if they're exchangeable. If I play a character who is good with swords, I'd like the mechanics to support my character being good with swords. My summoness should be able to (via mechanics) summon. I very well can't play a summoness with someone who can't summon. If however, I want my character to be lazy, I don't need to use a feat to say my character is lazy. If I want to roleplay an arbiter of justice, do I need a feat to say my character hunts evil? Do I have to give up benefits that a fighter who isn't an arbiter of justice has? There's a difference of a character giving up wealth for personal reasons and giving up wealth AND a feat for a few ki points. One just requires the player to roleplay out the sacrifice, the other is saying, "since you're giving up speaking, why don't you waste a feat?"


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Ion Raven wrote:
Kolokotroni wrote:


The point is not that they are trying to keep mechanics and Roleplay separate, but instead that they are trying to bring the two elements closer together. The mechanics tie into the flavor cohesively, better allowing the players and dm to express themselves through roleplay. In my mind, flavor stems from mechanics. If there is a feat called vow of poverty, and it makes me feel like superman, I will have a hard time roleplaying the pious humble monk who is making a personal sacrifice for spiritual purity. If however I feel the tug of desire for worldly goods to help me in my tasks and adventures, then I have proper inspiration for roleplaying that personal struggle of the vow of poverty.

Then why even make it a feat? Why make a feat for it? Why even bother getting the ki points? There is absolutely nothing stopping a player from deciding that their monk is pious monk who shuns worldly possessions. That's a roleplay decision. All the feat it does is create a divide between elitist 'roleplayers' who think that taking a suboptimal feat is the way to show that they 'roleplay' better and 'optimizers' who just want to have a character that actually improves and is viable in the dangerous setting.

tldr;If you really need a feat to roleplay better, you don't understand roleplaying

The reason to have the feat is that many people myself included are inspired to roleplay via the mechanics. It may be a failing on my part, but I am not personally creative. What I am is good at taking what other people give me and putting my own spin on it. If you give me a blank piece of paper and tell me to draw a picture, I'll draw a blank. But if you give me something to work with, I can make something interesting. I consider this something similar to traits, its a roleplaying aid. It isn't needed any more then say condition cards, or dungeon tiles. No one NEEDS a feat like vow of poverty to play a impoverished monk. But it can help those who might need a little jumpstart get into the character more.


The problem though is that it's just a concept; It's something a player could choose on their own and making it into a feat just weakens the ability of that player without providing anything. Take for example my rapier wielding bard; He doesn't use whips, never will, he only uses rapiers. He may be 'proficient' with whips but I would never take a feat to make him not proficient with, that feat went to weapon finesse emphasizing his ability to use a rapier. I decided that he's just not good with whips. I'm not getting anything out of it, it just doesn't make sense with my character concept. Some GMs even give feats to players who allow their characters to be flawed. However, to make it a feat to be flawed however, comes off as a punishment.

If it's just a concept, it should be treated as a concept. Have some section that gives concept ideas or something playable with each class.

The Exchange

Morieth wrote:
Why would I need VoP? Why would I -want- it? I shouldn't need a feat to say "I'm poor".
Morieth wrote:
"Why not" to my question "Why would I want it"? Because, as far as I remember, it is a feat. If I'm wrong on this, then my whole argument in invalid and don't mind this thread.

For what it's worth, Vow of Poverty isn't a Feat, it's a vow (Ultimate Magic, page 50-51) - it's an additional option any Monk character can take, and costs no chargen resources (Feats, Skills, Class Abilities) to take.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Ion Raven wrote:

The problem though is that it's just a concept; It's something a player could choose on their own and making it into a feat just weakens the ability of that player without providing anything. Take for example my rapier wielding bard; He doesn't use whips, never will, he only uses rapiers. He may be 'proficient' with whips but I would never take a feat to make him not proficient with, that feat went to weapon finesse emphasizing his ability to use a rapier. I decided that he's just not good with whips. I'm not getting anything out of it, it just doesn't make sense with my character concept. Some GMs even give feats to players who allow their characters to be flawed. However, to make it a feat to be flawed however, comes off as a punishment.

If it's just a concept, it should be treated as a concept. Have some section that gives concept ideas or something playable with each class.

I disagree, a concept reinforced by mechanics is alot stronger in my mind. First of all vow of poverty does give something back. A vow of poverty monk is better of then a normal monk who just doesnt have any nice things.

Not only that, but now you have some guidelines. 6 possesions, with 5 of them being simple items. So if you start with the concept, a monk who has taken a vow of poverty and thus has no valuable possessions, you then take the mechanical vow, and for the cost of absolutely nothing to the character since he already isnt going to have wealth by your concept choice, the concept is rewarded with extra ki points, and the player and dm are helped with guidelines for the vow. This is hardly a punishment, it is a boon for someone that wants to play a specific kind of character.


ProfPotts wrote:
Morieth wrote:
Why would I need VoP? Why would I -want- it? I shouldn't need a feat to say "I'm poor".
Morieth wrote:
"Why not" to my question "Why would I want it"? Because, as far as I remember, it is a feat. If I'm wrong on this, then my whole argument in invalid and don't mind this thread.
For what it's worth, Vow of Poverty isn't a Feat, it's a vow (Ultimate Magic, page 50-51) - it's an additional option any Monk character can take, and costs no chargen resources (Feats, Skills, Class Abilities) to take.

O.o Oh, in that case wow, I guess I'm wrong and I was very mistaken and I apologize. In that case it works fine the way it is.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Ion Raven wrote:
ProfPotts wrote:
Morieth wrote:
Why would I need VoP? Why would I -want- it? I shouldn't need a feat to say "I'm poor".
Morieth wrote:
"Why not" to my question "Why would I want it"? Because, as far as I remember, it is a feat. If I'm wrong on this, then my whole argument in invalid and don't mind this thread.
For what it's worth, Vow of Poverty isn't a Feat, it's a vow (Ultimate Magic, page 50-51) - it's an additional option any Monk character can take, and costs no chargen resources (Feats, Skills, Class Abilities) to take.
O.o Oh, in that case wow, I guess I'm wrong and I was very mistaken and I apologize. In that case it works fine the way it is.

Even if it was a feat, would it really be that bad? Assuming you are already following the concept, all you are doing is trading a feat for +1/2 level in ki points. Isn't that worth a feat?


ProfPotts wrote:
Morieth wrote:
Why would I need VoP? Why would I -want- it? I shouldn't need a feat to say "I'm poor".
Morieth wrote:
"Why not" to my question "Why would I want it"? Because, as far as I remember, it is a feat. If I'm wrong on this, then my whole argument in invalid and don't mind this thread.
For what it's worth, Vow of Poverty isn't a Feat, it's a vow (Ultimate Magic, page 50-51) - it's an additional option any Monk character can take, and costs no chargen resources (Feats, Skills, Class Abilities) to take.

False, all vows take away Still Mind (a Monk class feature).


Kolokotroni wrote:
This is a very difficult design challenge. Pathfinder has decided to lean more towards the feel and cohesiveness of the game, as opposed to straight balance. The rules are degigned to make you FEEL like you you are what you are playing. That is where vow of poverty is coming from. If you take a vow of poverty as a person you will suffer personally. If the character never felt held back then the feat would be completely disconnected from the flavor. And that is the point, the mechanics match the flavor they are associated with.

If a Vow of Poverty hampered someone in being an adventurer, why are they an adventurer?

That should be the first question asked when writing new content: Does choosing this content decrease the likelihood someone would actually be an adventurer? If the answer is yes, don't waste wordspace, your time and our time, and your money and our money and don't print it or redesign it.

Quote:
This means there will be mechanical options that are statistically inferior.

That should never happen. Ever.

Quote:
But no one is forcing you to take those options,

But they could be forcing me to not take good options that aren't in the book because space is being taken up by trap "flavor" options.

Quote:
That isnt to say balance is ignored, it just isn't the most important aspect of game design.

Then you are doing it wrong. Designers making content that isn't on par with other content are both wasting their time and money and the purchaser's time and money. Moreover, they are hurting the game experience whether they put something in that is too weak or too strong.

Quote:
The point is not that they are trying to keep mechanics and Roleplay separate, but instead that they are trying to bring the two elements closer together.

Which one can do with common sense.

The Exchange

Starbuck_II wrote:
False, all vows take away Still Mind (a Monk class feature).

Good catch - I never noticed that line before. Wow, vows do suck! That blocks you from a bunch of Monk archetypes (those that replace Still Mind) too... So, a Maneuver Master Monk can't take a vow of poverty? That's a little 'WTF?', isn't it? :/


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Cartigan wrote:
Kolokotroni wrote:
This is a very difficult design challenge. Pathfinder has decided to lean more towards the feel and cohesiveness of the game, as opposed to straight balance. The rules are degigned to make you FEEL like you you are what you are playing. That is where vow of poverty is coming from. If you take a vow of poverty as a person you will suffer personally. If the character never felt held back then the feat would be completely disconnected from the flavor. And that is the point, the mechanics match the flavor they are associated with.

If a Vow of Poverty hampered someone in being an adventurer, why are they an adventurer?

That should be the first question asked when writing new content: Does choosing this content decrease the likelihood someone would actually be an adventurer? If the answer is yes, don't waste wordspace, your time and our time, and your money and our money and don't print it or redesign it.

That is assuming that all choices must be optimal. They dont, and they shouldn't. Some people like to be hampered and others value flavor over mechanical benefits.

Quote:

Quote:
This means there will be mechanical options that are statistically inferior.

That should never happen. Ever.

The only way that is possible is if there is no variety in the ruleset. Any robust game with a variety of options within it will have variety in the statistical benefits. Your mentality can only result in a game like 4th edition, where the flavor of the rules are completely separated from the mechanics in favor of game balance.

Quote:

Quote:
But no one is forcing you to take those options,
But they could be forcing me to not take good options that aren't in the book because space is being taken up by trap "flavor" options.

There is space enough in the books for lots of different options. If all that matters if which option is 'good' or 'best' then you either get power creep or you dont get more options. It is literally impossible to provide a wide variety of options that are equally valuable. And there is a difference between including 'trap' options and including options that are mechanically inferior in order to accurately represent a concept in the mechanics. That is what we are talking about here. If I want a character that doesnt use magic items, I am taking a hit in power. I get that, vow of poverty helps me represent that. Is it balanced? No, but that isnt the priority. The priority is that the abilities feel like what they are representing. That is the design preference. A monk feels like a monk, a wizard feels like a wizard. That in a robust system will always create power gaps. If you give that up you have a different game entirely.

Quote:

Quote:
That isnt to say balance is ignored, it just isn't the most important aspect of game design.

Then you are doing it wrong. Designers making content that isn't on par with other content are both wasting their time and money and the purchaser's time and money. Moreover, they are hurting the game experience whether they put something in that is too weak or too strong.

No they arent. They are making a choice about preference. No game system is perfect. You have to make choices in design philosophy and lean one way or the other. If you choose a game system you should be paying attention to the design philosophy of the game and make your choice accordingly. Paizo with pathfinder have pretty much made it clear they are more interested in accurately representing concepts then they are perfect balance among all options. Because the only way to make all options balanced with eachother in a game as large as pathfinder is to make them very very similar mechanically.

That is what 4E does, and it does it well with it's power system. But the connection between the rules and the flavor is lost in the process. That is a choice those designers made. They favored balance over all else, and it changed the way the game plays. Its not a failing or a waste of money/time, it is a choice in how you want your game to play.

Quote:


Quote:
The point is not that they are trying to keep mechanics and Roleplay separate, but instead that they are trying to bring the two elements closer together.
Which one can do with common sense.

Which means what exactly? If a monk was identical to a paladin, but every ability was renamed to be monkish, would the flavor and mechanics fit? Would it feel as much like a monk as the current monk does? I dont think so. The only way to have truely balanced mechanics is to make them the same, and abandon the idea that they should represent some aspect of the game world cohesively.


I'm of the school of thought that believes these 'subpar' choices for the sake of RPing could be made better at no detriment.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Kolokotroni wrote:


That is assuming that all choices must be optimal. They dont, and they shouldn't.

Just saying it doesn't make it so. Please explain in detail why, exactly, all options shouldn't be optimal. And by optimal, we mean equivalent in benefit.

Quote:
Some people like to be hampered

They can hamper themselves without hampering the game system.

Quote:
and others value flavor over mechanical benefits.

Both with option A and option B, you can't rule stupidity out of the game, but that's no excuse to write support for it in in lieu of good, balanced design.

Quote:
The only way that is possible is if there is no variety in the ruleset.

That depends how we take the argument. There is a difference between two options being different in power in how they work in the game and a two options being different in power because one was designed to be the worse of the two. That should never happen.

Quote:
Your mentality can only result in a game like 4th edition, where the flavor of the rules are completely separated from the mechanics in favor of game balance.

Which is roughly what you should aim for. The mechanics should codify flavor but flavor should NOT hamstring mechanics. Which is what you are advocating, and I have seen devs advocate much to my consternation. (Even more, PERCEPTIONS of flavor should NEVER hamstring mechanical codification - you guys reading this?)

Quote:
There is space enough in the books for lots of different options.

You have clearly never seen the devs get into one of their wordspace spiels.

Quote:
If all that matters if which option is 'good' or 'best' then you either get power creep or you dont get more options.

Wrong. Creating balanced mechanics is not power creep. That is a blatant and absurd fallacy. Some options may be weaker due to how the game works, but they should NEVER be designed that way. Nor should CLEARLY weaker options be allowed into the books to take up wordspace. If I have two options and option B gives me all the benefits of option A plus MORE benefits, option A never should have been made. Purposefully designing weakened options creates power creep, or the perception thereof, just as easily as designing clearly overpowered options. All options written into the game should be reviewed to see if they are on par with other options in the game. None should be let in that are clearly more powerful or clearly weaker than another.

Perhaps if the "flavor over mechanics, always" side could cease use false dichotomies, we could actually debate on an even level.

Quote:
It is literally impossible to provide a wide variety of options that are equally valuable.

Demonstrably false. For at least 2 reasons. (1) Because you can't prove that statement and (2) Because there ARE a wide variety of options that are equally valuable.

Quote:
And there is a difference between including 'trap' options and including options that are mechanically inferior in order to accurately represent a concept in the mechanics.

No, there really isn't. Putting a two different colored ribbons on two different piles of crap doesn't mean you don't have two piles of crap.

Quote:
If I want a character that doesnt use magic items, I am taking a hit in power.

Only because you (a) want to or (b) [inexplicably] believe there is no other choice. Of COURSE there is another choice. One could EASILY design a system such that character A takes no magic items and still comes out a character capable of fighting on par with a character WITH magic items? Why? Because if not, then there would be no CR system. The CR system assumes a set of characters have a set of capabilities at level X. To design a class alternative that doesn't use magic items yet is on par with the rest of the party, all you have to do is give them advances such that they are on par with the rest of the party at any level X such as is assumed by the CR system.

Quote:
No they arent. They are making a choice about preference.

Yeah, like wasting their wordspace to handicap the game system

Quote:
No game system is perfect.

Especially if you specifically design it to not be.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Cartigan wrote:


stuff

Just to condense my point, my position is that the most important thing in the rules system (to me ofcourse) is that the rules feel like what they are. If I am playing a monk, I want the mechanics to make me feel like a semi mystical martial artist. If I am playing a wizard I want the rules to make me feel like a studious bookworm who warps space and time. That is what is most important to me. Balance, while important is secondary.

Ofcourse I can't prove to you that options cannot be balanced without losing that, but I have seen what happens when capable companies try. Either mechanics become isolated from eachother (powers) or different options become very similar. Either way they lose their connection with the description or flavor behind them. I have not seen another method to balancing a game system as complex as 3.x that actually works. There are (in my opinion) too many moving parts. Obviously this is a belief, not a fact, and I'll readily admit to that. And if you show me a fix where a vow of povery monk still feels like he is impoverished and is mechanically equivalent to a monk loaded out with magic items I would readily embrace it. But until I see it I dont believe it is possible. Until I see such a design philosophy, I am for the moment glad that the game designers design first for an option to play the way it was intended, and then second see if it can be balanced.


Ion Raven wrote:

. All the feat it does is create a divide between elitist 'roleplayers' who think that taking a suboptimal feat is the way to show that they 'roleplay' better and 'optimizers' who just want to have a character that actually improves and is viable in the dangerous setting.

tldr;If you really need a feat to roleplay better, you don't understand roleplaying

Sticking with the 'vow of poverty' Example... I think it actually HELPS the roleplayers and optimizers get along better... Which of these do you think will run a bit more smoothly.

Option A) I'm playing a monk who shuns all worldly gear. It's how he was raised and it's the character I want to play. Another player offers me a ring of protection and a headband of strength... I chose to not take them. They explain that it will make me better... i don't WANT them...

Frustration ensues.

Option B) Same situation, but I show off my kit and say 'mechanically' I CAN'T take them... Optimizer stops asking.

Paladins used to be only able to carry 10 magic items including potions... nobody railed on THEM to carry more... But now in the 'you must have a +6 stat item in three catagories' game design... it's a little harder to stick to your guns so to speak ;)

Again, I agree with you in principle.. but just not your examples :)


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I believe that it should be imperative for designers to ensure that all intended* options and styles of play are reasonably** balanced. Anyone suggesting this results in homogeneity is resorting to a sad and beaten straw man argument.

I see a lot of people arguing this ends in 4e and everyone is the same. I hate 4e. I think it does a lot of things wrong. But one thing it certainly does not do is make everyone the same. The classes operate quite differently, but are more or less as useful as each other (although I am told this isn't the case anymore and that it's now as hilariously broken as 3.X; I haven't looked too closely since the first release).

*Not all concepts can be designed to be useful. That's an impossible task. Someone is bound to want to play something that the designers didn't account for (either by accidental omission or deliberate). What's important is that parity is maintained for the concepts that are intended to be played. As a consequence, unintended concepts that bear some relation to intended concepts can be useful as well, simply by sharing mechanics.

**Perfect balance is impossible. The nature of the game makes this so. However, reasonable balance can be achieved. Assuming a spread of more or less conventional scenarios and campaigns, the options can be designed so that each player feels their contribution has equitable merit. This equity will not be upheld during actual play, as variances are significant, but a baseline should exist.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Kolokotroni wrote:
And if you show me a fix where a vow of povery monk still feels like he is impoverished and is mechanically equivalent to a monk loaded out with magic items I would readily embrace it.

See, here's the crux of the disagreement for me; I don't think a Vow of Poverty monk has any business whatsoever feeling impoverished. In fact, he should feel positively rich. A revered ascetic, let alone a heroic one, should be someone who is so wealthy in spiritual matters, in discipline, compassion, and purity, that his lack of material goods is, well, immaterial.

In other words: my fix for Vow of Poverty is to simply give the person who takes it virtual Wealth By Level (maybe a little bit less to account for the innateness of it), and maybe a few bennies like permanent Sustenance, extra Ki, extra smites, or what have you. They feel impoverished because their armor is battered, their weapons nicked and rusty, their clothing a step above burlap sacks; because they beg for alms and then spends every copper of that feeding, clothing and sheltering other people, and none of it on themselves; because the well-worn items they carry with them do not light up like the Las Vegas nightscape when you ping them with Detect Magic. And they're mechanically equivalent to the monk loaded out with magic items because they have all those powers as a result of their spiritual power.

@phantom: It would make the guy trying to give you magic items even happier if you had a feat that not only prevented you from taking the items, but also gave you the same bonuses he's trying to hand you in magic item form, because those bonuses are essential to survival and effectiveness as an adventure.


Kolokotroni wrote:
And if you show me a fix where a vow of povery monk still feels like he is impoverished and is mechanically equivalent to a monk loaded out with magic items I would readily embrace it.

It would require a full class archetype rather than what piddly thing that have that condenses significant changes into a tiny hole making it impossible to balance it.

I already explained to you the concept of how it can be done and the reason that it can be done. To reiterate - it can be done because the system itself assumes PCs are at a certain level of power for any ECL X (which includes an assumption of certain buffs granted by magic or items). That's how the CR system works. Moreover, SEVERAL class abilities are based on that - Shield of Faith spell? Paladin's Divine Bond? Greater Magic Weapon spell?

I can go spend time making the full write up, but if you can't accept that simple and straight forward concept, I don't know if it is worth it.

EDIT: Actually, you wouldn't need to make a full class rewrite because what you are replacing is the ability to own magic items. I'll think of something between now and later.


Starbuck_II wrote:
Morieth wrote:

"Why not" to my question "Why would I want it"? Because, as far as I remember, it is a feat. If I'm wrong on this, then my whole argument in invalid and don't mind it.

There are lots of feats, and they are a limited resource to a player. I can ask "Why not?" to any feat I see from any book, but at the end of the day my character is going to have only a limited amount. So, back to my example: even given a monk that chooses to live a life of poverty, the player either weights his own decisions, trying to pick feats (which are a resource independent on roleplay) that "work", or he chooses them at random.

Edit: wow, my bad. Monk vows in Pathfinder do not require the expenditure of a feat. Dang, I was -so- sure of it... ok, leaving the feat expenditure aside, I have absolutely nothing against Vow of Poverty. I will doublecheck the next time, what a fool.

They take away Still Mind. Which is worth a feat.

Still mind is taken to allow you to take any vows and any number of them, not just VoP. You can actually take only VoP or completely ignore it and take all others or whichever you like. Sure you can RP poor monk and gain nothing from that (aside from being able to use magic items and so on) OR you can ditch still mind to take up a ton of vows (includinv VoP or not) for a bunch more ki-points.

Silver Crusade

Revan wrote:
Kolokotroni wrote:
And if you show me a fix where a vow of povery monk still feels like he is impoverished and is mechanically equivalent to a monk loaded out with magic items I would readily embrace it.

See, here's the crux of the disagreement for me; I don't think a Vow of Poverty monk has any business whatsoever feeling impoverished. In fact, he should feel positively rich. A revered ascetic, let alone a heroic one, should be someone who is so wealthy in spiritual matters, in discipline, compassion, and purity, that his lack of material goods is, well, immaterial.

In other words: my fix for Vow of Poverty is to simply give the person who takes it virtual Wealth By Level (maybe a little bit less to account for the innateness of it), and maybe a few bennies like permanent Sustenance, extra Ki, extra smites, or what have you. They feel impoverished because their armor is battered, their weapons nicked and rusty, their clothing a step above burlap sacks; because they beg for alms and then spends every copper of that feeding, clothing and sheltering other people, and none of it on themselves; because the well-worn items they carry with them do not light up like the Las Vegas nightscape when you ping them with Detect Magic. And they're mechanically equivalent to the monk loaded out with magic items because they have all those powers as a result of their spiritual power.

That is much closer to what I wanted out of the VoP than what actually saw print. I would have been fine with it being a bit behind the curve, but instead it was cripplingly behind.

That and it broke the flavor of having a Vow of Poverty from the very start with that "one valuable item" clause, the one that people attempting to prove that the UM VoP isn't all that bad use by pouring their WBL into it exclusively when they shouldn't be holding onto any wealth at all.

Earlier someone was lamenting that the First World Summoner archetype was disappointing because it locked out any chance of that theme being supported with stronger mechanics. Have to admit I feel the same way about the VoP, because that was the best opportunity to have gearless monks that could reasonably function alongside a standard party, and that's pretty much done and gone now.

Damn, promised myself I'd try to steer away from the negative for a while, and the damn VOP had to come up.

It wasn't just that vow that had issues though on the mechanics/flavor front. I know that if I ever get a VoP monk I'd be happy with(or just get to use the BoED VoP and be done with it) he'd have a sort of vow of cleanliness, something like the Egyptian concept of Ma'at. But he wouldn't be taking the actual Vow of Cleanliness, because the extra ki point isn't worth the saintly badass monk suddenly being squicked out over having to punch zombies. Vow of Chastity has similar issues. A good monk can't take that and hold to it if it requires not being able to drag people out of burning buildings, or catching someone who's falling, or even just offering a comforting hand to someone in grieving. If I want a vow of chastity, I'll just be chaste. Losing the ability to do that other stuff isn't worth the ki point either.

Vow of Truth, Silence, and Chains were the only ones I immediately recall that didn't seem dysfunctional on a thematic standpoint. That is if Silence is treated as a challenge rather than an excuse to not participate in roleplaying.


The whole reality in the fantasy (which is what VoP tries to do) is not without precedent in DnD. It's why fighters in a party above 12th level are exceedingly rare.

Where the game designers really dropped the ball regarding VoP is in their faulty assumption that the game is played because we want to simulate reality. On the contrary, most of us want to simulate fantasy, that's why it's called Dungeons and Dragons. We want a world where the Karate Kid can win in a fight against Superman. Heck, we want a world where the Karate Kid and Superman are both possible.


Revan wrote:
In other words: my fix for Vow of Poverty is to simply give the person who takes it virtual Wealth By Level (maybe a little bit less to account for the innateness of it), and maybe a few bennies like permanent Sustenance, extra Ki, extra smites, or what have you. They feel impoverished because their armor is battered, their weapons nicked and rusty, their clothing a step above burlap sacks; because they beg for alms and then spends every copper of that feeding, clothing and sheltering other people, and none of it on themselves; because the well-worn items they carry with them do not light up like the Las Vegas nightscape when you ping them with Detect Magic. And they're mechanically equivalent to the monk loaded out with magic items because they have all those powers as a result of their spiritual power.

Soooo the fix for not having gear... is to make 'not having gear = to having gear?' How... is that NOT overpowered? He gets the bonuses for items he doesn't actually HAVE, and therefore can't be sundered/stolen etc... how many ring powers will he be allowed to have at a time? more than if he just HAD the rings?

Now... honest question here.. I don't have my books at work tonight. What kind of things can you do with Ki? I remember jumping far... i rememember extra attacks... wasn't there stuff in there about saves and such?

doesn't giving extra ki allow them to simulate some of the magic gear that they are giving up?

Revan wrote:


@phantom: It would make the guy trying to give you magic items even happier if you had a feat that not only prevented you from taking the items, but also gave you the same bonuses he's trying to hand you in magic item form, because those bonuses are essential to survival and effectiveness as an adventure.

honestly, I think THAT is the biggest problem that pathfinder (maybe 3.x in general) has.

Why should my character NEED massive magical weapons/armor/jewelery to be effective?

having made the jump from 2E directly to pathfinder, I'm amazed/saddened/annoyed by the brutal PUSH for magical gear.

I was trained under the 'magic items = treasure, an treasure = rare and special' school. This idea that you sell whatever you find, and buy whatever you want, Or the 'gift-card treasure' astonished me. And anything you can't buy... you craft.

I prefer treasure to be unique and special, rather than EVERYONE in the group having their cloak of resistance +3 and circlet of stat +6...


phantom1592 wrote:
Ion Raven wrote:

. All the feat it does is create a divide between elitist 'roleplayers' who think that taking a suboptimal feat is the way to show that they 'roleplay' better and 'optimizers' who just want to have a character that actually improves and is viable in the dangerous setting.

tldr;If you really need a feat to roleplay better, you don't understand roleplaying

Sticking with the 'vow of poverty' Example... I think it actually HELPS the roleplayers and optimizers get along better... Which of these do you think will run a bit more smoothly.

Option A) I'm playing a monk who shuns all worldly gear. It's how he was raised and it's the character I want to play. Another player offers me a ring of protection and a headband of strength... I chose to not take them. They explain that it will make me better... i don't WANT them...

Frustration ensues.

Option B) Same situation, but I show off my kit and say 'mechanically' I CAN'T take them... Optimizer stops asking.

Paladins used to be only able to carry 10 magic items including potions... nobody railed on THEM to carry more... But now in the 'you must have a +6 stat item in three catagories' game design... it's a little harder to stick to your guns so to speak ;)

Again, I agree with you in principle.. but just not your examples :)

If your party is going to get frustrated that you refused to take an item, they will get frustrated that you took a feat so you won't take items. If they don't see you as a roleplayer for actually roleplaying do you honestly believe that they'll see you as a roleplayer because of your build? Either way, they aren't upset with your roleplaying, they are upset because you purposely decided to choose to be ineffective. You bring up Paladins of older editions of all things, Paladins were not suboptimal choices, they had powerful abilities that more than made up for not carrying extra loot, they got 10 magic items. They still got their magic items, they were just expected to donate the extra stuff.

Vow of Poverty is good... if you've already decided you want to play a monk who's abolished earthly possessions. In that case, it's golden because you get half your level in ki points. As long as that's how the whole group plays, otherwise you're just being the odd one out. Not too dissimilar to the guy who plays an assassin when everyone else is good or the person who plays a tree-hugger in a party of lumber jacks. It's less because of the build and more of the player being difficult.


Giving a bonus for not having gear doesn't make it exactly the same as having gear. Gear can be changed, customized, and spent on utility items.

What people are suggesting is simply something to keep the player on the curve with the rest of the game.

Personally, I'd do it like this:

Grant a +1 enhancement bonus to ability checks, attack and damage rolls, combat maneuver checks, combat maneuver defense, AC, saving throws and skill checks. You also gain +1 hitpoint per HD. This bonus increases to +2 at 8th level, and +3 at 16th level.
Additionally, you'd gain a +1 insight bonus to attack and damage rolls, and AC and a +1 resistance bonus to saving throws, that increases at 5th level and every 5 additional levels (+2 at 5th, +3 at 10th, +4 at 15th, +5 at 20th).
Finally, you gain an additional Ki point every 2 levels.

The enhancement bonus covers the assumed ability score increases, and thus won't stack with having an ally cast Bull's Strength on you, for instance. Same thing with the resistance bonus and the cape.
The insight bonus is intended to represent missing gear (allowing one to keep up with landing hits and having at least some decent AC).

Having actual weapons and armor opens up a lot more options than just pluses, so really.. you are still missing out on some of the coolest stuff for this option.
Getting the extra Ki helps with that as well (granting more ability to do crazy Monk stuff).
Personally, I would have preferred a method to regain Ki quicker, or reduce the Ki cost on some abilities (like turning 1 Ki cost into "if you have a Ki point left, it's free"). I'm not sure how to balance that though, so I left it at how they had it (+1 Ki/2 levels).


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
phantom1592 wrote:
Revan wrote:
In other words: my fix for Vow of Poverty is to simply give the person who takes it virtual Wealth By Level (maybe a little bit less to account for the innateness of it), and maybe a few bennies like permanent Sustenance, extra Ki, extra smites, or what have you. They feel impoverished because their armor is battered, their weapons nicked and rusty, their clothing a step above burlap sacks; because they beg for alms and then spends every copper of that feeding, clothing and sheltering other people, and none of it on themselves; because the well-worn items they carry with them do not light up like the Las Vegas nightscape when you ping them with Detect Magic. And they're mechanically equivalent to the monk loaded out with magic items because they have all those powers as a result of their spiritual power.

Soooo the fix for not having gear... is to make 'not having gear = to having gear?' How... is that NOT overpowered? He gets the bonuses for items he doesn't actually HAVE, and therefore can't be sundered/stolen etc... how many ring powers will he be allowed to have at a time? more than if he just HAD the rings?

Now... honest question here.. I don't have my books at work tonight. What kind of things can you do with Ki? I remember jumping far... i rememember extra attacks... wasn't there stuff in there about saves and such?

doesn't giving extra ki allow them to simulate some of the magic gear that they are giving up?

Revan wrote:


@phantom: It would make the guy trying to give you magic items even happier if you had a feat that not only prevented you from taking the items, but also gave you the same bonuses he's trying to hand you in magic item form, because those bonuses are essential to survival and effectiveness as an adventure.

honestly, I think THAT is the biggest problem that pathfinder (maybe 3.x in general) has.

Why should my character NEED massive magical weapons/armor/jewelery to be effective?

having made the jump from 2E...

Of course they don't get more than two ring powers. I just said the idea was that they were using a (reduced) virtual Wealth By Level to buy virtual items. Which means the body slots become occupied normally. Just abstractly so.

And I agree with you. I wish there were more options to emphasize a character's personal prowess over his gear loadout. Which is what an option like Vow of Poverty ought to do, in whatever particular way it is implemented. But the CR system demands certain bonuses at certain times. A 20th level wizard who doesn't have a high-level Int-boosting item isn't prepared for the challenges faced by a 20th level adventuring party--enemies will rarely, if ever fail to save against his spells. If you don't have the expected attack boosters, you will rarely if ever be able to hit CR-appropriate monsters.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

This thread is false. The worst feat ever is Summoner's Call. Go ahead and read it and tell me it isn't the worst feat ever. It's in the APG.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Bill Dunn wrote:
Or it creates a divide between elitist optimizers who sneer at role players who actually want to back up their role playing choices with a little mechanical device but who don't care about running their characters like their redlining their engines. That sounds about right to me the way these discussion have gone.

Protip: playing a bad character doesn't make you better at roleplaying.

Sorry for destroying your very purpose of living.

Here's another protip: there isn't a single optimizer alive that sneers at people who want to back up their role playing choices with a mechanical device. In fact, that's the very point of optimization - taking a concept and making it as mechanically apt at fitting that concept as you can.

Ideally, you would be able to make a character with little to no character optimization. YOu would say "I want to make an awesome swordsman" and you'd take the feat called "Awesome Swordsman" which makes you an awesome swordsman.

In reality, 3e is a system built on assumed system mastery, where "Awesome Swordsman" can indeed make you worse at being a swordsman then if you didn't take it.

The fact is, "roleplayers" and optimizers are on the same page. They both want "roleplaying good" and "mechanically good" to be the same thing. Snide, smug elitists are the ones who desire "roleplaying good" feats to be different from "mechanically good" ones, because how else will they look down their nose at all the plebs and their lack of good roleplaying?

Lastly, "It's an RP choice" is codeword for "It's bad design." If you cannot make a "roleplaying good" feat that is also mechanics friendly, you need to stop making feats because you are very clearly bad at it.


JMD031 wrote:
This thread is false. The worst feat ever is Summoner's Call. Go ahead and read it and tell me it isn't the worst feat ever. It's in the APG.

I counter with Prone Shooter which is a) silly because "shooting while prone" isn't something that should be a feat in the first place and b) does literally nothing.

Death or Glory is also pretty high on the list.


phantom1592 wrote:
Ion Raven wrote:

. All the feat it does is create a divide between elitist 'roleplayers' who think that taking a suboptimal feat is the way to show that they 'roleplay' better and 'optimizers' who just want to have a character that actually improves and is viable in the dangerous setting.

tldr;If you really need a feat to roleplay better, you don't understand roleplaying

Sticking with the 'vow of poverty' Example... I think it actually HELPS the roleplayers and optimizers get along better... Which of these do you think will run a bit more smoothly.

Option A) I'm playing a monk who shuns all worldly gear. It's how he was raised and it's the character I want to play. Another player offers me a ring of protection and a headband of strength... I chose to not take them. They explain that it will make me better... i don't WANT them...

Frustration ensues.

Option B) Same situation, but I show off my kit and say 'mechanically' I CAN'T take them... Optimizer stops asking.

Paladins used to be only able to carry 10 magic items including potions... nobody railed on THEM to carry more... But now in the 'you must have a +6 stat item in three catagories' game design... it's a little harder to stick to your guns so to speak ;)

Again, I agree with you in principle.. but just not your examples :)

I see how some people might do that, but most of us dont need a rule for such things. If you want a blind or one-eyed character, as an example, that is up to you. I will warn against it, but the choice is yours. Just don't expect to handwave it away at a higher level.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
ProfessorCirno wrote:
Protip: playing a bad character doesn't make you better at roleplaying.

qft - but you might use a sub optimal (non optimzed) character because you want your character to portray your roleplaying concept correctly - and there are many steps between bad (as in unusable) and optimized.

I agree Vow of Povertry should be giving a much larger benefit at later levels. Not being able to use magic items is basically screwing your char at Level 6+.

So this vow isn't a roleplaying choice, it's a newby trap!


I love a good character and a good RP experience. Ocasionally I deliberately cripple my character in some ways as a part of that. But I have never made a character that could not contribute mechanically. I am of the iopinion that you should not HAVE to cripple your character to play any given character concept (unless that concept is inherantly crippled). VoP has a pretty nice benefit but falls so far short as to be unplayable.

I Would love a viable replacement to treasure hunting, seriously, I really hate that by 18th+ level (Actually long before) the mechanics are almost as much about your gear as your actual character. I really want some effect that would let my character be awesome without relying on these items. As it is not only can you not be awesome, but you can't even be decent! What I wantedout of VoP was a way to play an effective character without a tangle of Magic Items. I didn't even require it to be as good as a fully geared up character (part of that would be made up by the dramatic increase in Ki Pool). I just wanted some balanced option. Instead I got a piece of crap that is frankly one of the worst abilities in any game past 2nd level.

Yes, the roleplaying and the mechanics should be integrated, but what deliberately underpowered abilities and archetypes we are being punished for that roleplaying. To those at Paizo who claim it is an "RP Option" I say this: You have made my Roleplaying experience less enjoyable by providing me an "RP Option" thank you very much.

Silver Crusade

To be honest I just want an RP option for magic-gearless monks that can still be reasonably effective alongside their comrades in a standard AP.

Or just magic-gearless/magic-gear-lite characters in general. THAT is an RP option I'd love to see.


The Crusader wrote:

I'm not certain that your premise is sound.

Are the feats power attack, dodge, weapon finesse, [substitute any other benchmark feat], etc. "non-roleplaying" or "purely mechanical" feats merely because they are mechanically effective?

Vow of Poverty is a useful target because it is the extreme role-play-by-mechanical-inferiority-example. But, it might improve your argument to use examples outside of the "extremes".

To answer your question: no, they are not "non-roleplaying" feats -because- they are mechanically-effective feats. That's the opposite of what I was actually saying: two sides, game and roleplay; you do not need to suck at one to excel at the other, and most certainly excelling at one does not lead to a direct failure in the other area. VoP is a perfect example of -that- line of thinking, not mine, because it was deliberately made "mechanically-weak" option in order to be a "roleplaying-strong" option.

An example of my "two sides" theory:

You describe one of your melee attacks like: "I swing at the evil cleric -real- hard, raising my axe above my head, shifting my grip, muscles bulging, and using it's downward momentum to crush the heretic's skull ."
Your GM warns you that you cannot do that, because you didn't take Power Attack as a feat.

Is that a reasonable statement?


MicMan wrote:
ProfessorCirno wrote:
Protip: playing a bad character doesn't make you better at roleplaying.
qft - but you might use a sub optimal (non optimzed) character because you want your character to portray your roleplaying concept correctly - and there are many steps between bad (as in unusable) and optimized.

I would say that in the ideal "perfect" game, there is no such thing as a sub optimal concept so long as it lies within the system's capabilities.

Note however that I'm specific to say sub optimal concept, so as it lies beyond the system itself ;)

That is to say, "mobile duel wielder with some magic" should ideally not only be doable but that it would be possible to make an "optimal mobile dual wielder with some magic," (to a degree of "with some magic" admittingly) whereas "A fighter that uses wisdom to attack and wields two battle axes and casts wizard spells" is, perhaps, a bit too specific ;)


ProfessorCirno wrote:
MicMan wrote:
ProfessorCirno wrote:
Protip: playing a bad character doesn't make you better at roleplaying.
qft - but you might use a sub optimal (non optimzed) character because you want your character to portray your roleplaying concept correctly - and there are many steps between bad (as in unusable) and optimized.

I would say that in the ideal "perfect" game, there is no such thing as a sub optimal concept so long as it lies within the system's capabilities.

Note however that I'm specific to say sub optimal concept, so as it lies beyond the system itself ;)

That is to say, "mobile duel wielder with some magic" should ideally not only be doable but that it would be possible to make an "optimal mobile dual wielder with some magic," (to a degree of "with some magic" admittingly) whereas "A fighter that uses wisdom to attack and wields two battle axes and casts wizard spells" is, perhaps, a bit too specific ;)

True, but then it gets circular in defining what doesn't lie "beyond the system itself" :)

As long as the concept itself does not require something incredibly silly or immersion-breaking, overpowered, or that goes against some of the system's established rules... I'm with you, that's one of the beautiful things about d20: so much content, you're going to find what you want eventually.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
phantom1592 wrote:
I can look at the DM and say, My guy uses a rapier, but it's got a wooden sheath and let's call it a sword cane. That's flavor. When the DM responds with, 'actually they HAVE a sword cane. It's weaker as a weapon, non-finessable, and you have to take a feat to use it... but some people MAY not notice it's a weapon....'

I could say that my greatsword is finessseable. But certain choices you make are going to influence mechanics. A rapier that fits inside a wooden sheath that's small enough to pass as a sword cane is going to be extremely different from a standard rapier, just from the sheer blade size. And it's going to be a relatively "crappy" weapon BECAUSE of the physical compromises that need to be made in order to fit inside that cane sheath. Including that small detail of the hilt that has to look like the top of a cane, not a sword hilt.

There's a major reason that while sword canes existed, they never evolved beyond novelty status, or were mainly carried by people who seldom if ever actually went into combat.

1 to 50 of 65 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / General Discussion / A discussion on game design, balance and roleplay (featuring "the worst feat ever") All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.