Role Players Vs. Tactical Gamers


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Nosreme wrote:
Ashiel wrote:
shadowmage75 wrote:
I think this is fallout from the MMO genre, wherein the storyline inevitably gets dumped by the side as a player spends hours repeating dungeons and quests to obtain loot or armor. They've kinda upped the stakes by adding achievements, but again, only important to completists, not very effective for a roleplaying factor.
Given that the "kick in the door style" of play was in the 3E DMG before WoW ever came about, methinks not. This game began as a tactical miniatures game. Blaming MMOs only shows ignorance and insults people who play MMOs (there are actually people who RP using MMOs).
I don't think it does Ashiel. Although this style of gaming came about with Basic D&D in the 70s, which I played (even before that!), MMOs simply carried the torch for any number of reasons. So for younger gamers, this could be the first example of role-playing they're getting. So I feel it's fair and valid to blame MMOs as well as D&D for this style of gaming. Neither have been good leaders in the role-playing department.

I played chess when I was 5. It's a tactical war game. Does that make it the bane of roleplayers too? I just don't buy it. Even in an article about EverQuest in InQuest magazine back in 1997 (I bought it before I knew what Dungeons & Dragons was, but there lots of references to 18/00 strength and stuff throughout the book, magic the gathering stuff, and reviews on nerdy PC games. The cover had this awesome looking spider-woman -- later discovered to be a drow -- and a bunch of armor clad fellows, so as a young teen I wanted to see what the magazine had in it) said that EverQuest was like AD&D online (after also making a joke about being killed by a skunk).

Believe it or not, it has never been uncommon to sit back, eat some pizza, roll some dice, and go "Dude my Strength is awesome!", or have some fun hackin' and slashin'. You might do well to remember that the MMO games are more or less directly based on D&D. Hell, Blizzard dedicated one of their big patches to Gary Gygax and said that without him and Dave Arnessan and D&D there would be no WoW and the like.

This is disturbingly accurate to the average sort of great roleplaying that occurs.

It also ignores the fact that roleplaying on MMOs is common enough that "roleplayer" is a stereotype on them. That is, the guy who stays in-character or speaks from the first person more or less always. Retail WoW servers actually have RP servers dedicated to this sort of thing, but it's common enough that in parodies of MMOs like .hack//sign.

I'm just saying it is generally not in good taste -- nor accurate -- to blame your perceived problems are an entire subgroup of people that didn't exist before those perceived problems existed. Heck, even in the 2E PHB (which I have on my shelf) it specifically goes out of its way to discuss playing characters with low scores, and how many people don't even want to play a character if they don't have at an 18.

Meanwhile, the Hack & Slash jokes have been running forever, and 3.x notes it as a common style of play (so common in fact to name it the Kick in the Door Style along with complementary art depicting the iconic Half-Orc Barbarian kicking in a door while a rather small Beholder is charging towards him).

EDIT: To just give you some insight into the mind of the person writing this. When I play online MMOs, I do occasionally roleplay when I encounter other folks who like or don't mind roleplaying (and have introduced some of them to it, as they have never even heard of tabletop RPG), but don't do it when my peers are made uncomfortable by the roleplaying ("That's kind of weird. Why do you talk like that?") or if we're just doing something for the fun of the game (/wisper "Hey, want to go farm some pearls with me? I need them for crafting...").

When I play Baldur's Gate I & II (the PC games, not console) I think about the characters I make and roleplay them accordingly. Most of my characters are good. I once made a party of all short folks, and came up with some ideas as to how they all came together.

And my first tactical gaming experience was playing checkers as a toddler and chess later on. One does not hinder the other.


To my mind, while MMOs haven't created this playstyle, they have helped foster it and make it more prevalent. I agree, hack'n'slash and kick the door down predate WoW. However, WoW is a gaming environment that requires more optimisation and less roleplaying. What WoW has done is not create a problem, but just given people a training ground to become frickin awesome at min/maxing.

And this is not a problem per se. It's just a shift in mindset for a large part of the gaming community. Times change. The difference between pre- and post-WoW gaming is not that the urge to optimise never existed pre-WoW, but that min/maxers just weren't as good at it! And because some people got really good at it, others sat up, took note, and followed suit.

There's nothing wrong with optimising. Everyone does it to a certain degree, otherwise they probably find combat very difficult/less fun. As gamers have become more sophisticated at manipulating systems, the gaming community as a whole has had to follow suit or be left behind. It's Darwinian, survival of the fittest playstyle.

I'm just saying that I'm usually more than willing to forgo some optimal choices (either in creation or gameplay) because they don't fit my concept.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
Dabbler wrote:
Why not? Who decides who should be an adventurer or not?
Natural selection.

Wrong, actually. Natural selection is in a natural, uncontrolled environment, and a game is not that. In game, reality is controlled by the gods (just ask a cleric), in the metagame by the DM. The rules even specifically dictate how to set challenge levels appropriate to the party's power level, so it's a highly controlled as opposed to natural environment.

Nosreme wrote:
Dabbler, I am so frustrated that I have nearly given up DMing. The reason? I have spent countless hours on carefully planned stories only to have them ruined by gamers that either A)don't appreciate them B) don't role-play, and/or C) quit them before they get finished. Last year I was running a Pathfinder take on Ravenloft. Great story, plenty of action and role-playing, and overall a fun adventure. I described everything in detail, creating a spooky setting, and the players simply did not get it. They didn't heed any warnings, they didn't really want to talk to the townsfolk, every story lead they found was laid out in plain sight for them to find or they wouldn't find them on their own. It just gets old after a while.

Then you need to find new players. No gaming beats bad gaming, every time. If all else fails there are a lot of games on line...

gnomersy wrote:
Essentially IMO starting at level 1 ruins the development of huge backstory. Sure I could write out how he ate dinner consisting of gruel because he's poor and his master lashed him for failing to buy more toadstool on time but he can't have done anything epic because if he did why is he still so useless now?

Back story does not have entail saving the world. I can go to town on a character just surviving to adulthood (and I have) in a world as dangerous as the one's PCs inhabit.

Edit: Read some James Joyce, he makes just getting through the day heroic!

Nosreme wrote:
Although BNW makes a good point, this is the error in his logic. It's not that the players are bad, it's just that D&D and PF do not encourage the player to make RP choices over combat optimization. In other words, when combat optimization clashes with my character concept, guess which one gets changed first. Not the optimization. There should be at least some encouragement to focus on the character, which I feel PF is missing.

PF did a lot of work making many feat choices less newb-traps and more clear options, but there is a lot of residual stuff like that in the system.

That said, you can make an effective character from most concepts, just not the most optimised character.


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Dabbler wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Dabbler wrote:
Why not? Who decides who should be an adventurer or not?
Natural selection.
Wrong, actually. Natural selection is in a natural, uncontrolled environment, and a game is not that. In game, reality is controlled by the gods (just ask a cleric), in the metagame by the DM. The rules even specifically dictate how to set challenge levels appropriate to the party's power level, so it's a highly controlled as opposed to natural environment.

I'm pretty sure that in the natural environment (that is if you follow the rules for building encounters, not cheating at dice, an so forth) that poor adventurers tend to get eaten. It's kind of a fact of life. I mean, that's part of the genre. Adventurers go into the unknown knowing only that most people do not return. In stories like Baldur's Gate there are a lot of adventurers that never make it. The greatest ones are called heroes and celebrated.

Natural selection sounds pretty accurate. When someone makes a character who is -- within the rules of his or her reality - rather incompetent in the field of their profession, then it is likely that failure will occur more frequently. The problem with failure is that when you're a painter, you just get your work criticized and don't make much money. When you're a Fighter who insists on say wearing leather armor for style reasons rather than better armor that provides more AC, then failure might mean getting mauled by a tiger and killed.

Sounds like natural selection to me.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
LazarX wrote:
But if you develop a playstyle or find yourself in a campaign where you have NO choice but to Min-Max, that's going to put some severe crimps on your roleplaying choices. People who like to bring up the Stormwind Fallacy in defense of min-maxing often overlook this.
Such as? What role playing choices are limited by min maxing?

We'll, I'll use an example from my current game.

Our fighters are big. Ridiculously big compared to where they should be for the level. To put it in perspective two 14th level fighters without any equipment at all save a pair of nonmagical weapons they had no specialization in and with no active buffs beat a pair of stone golems (that were receiving heals from an invisible wizard) into the ground despite close narrow quarters that left them with almost no room to retreat. They obliterated them.

In addition they've got bard support and a trio of primary casters laying the buffs on hard and heavy while using things like delayed actions and dimension door to put fighters right in enemies faces for big nasty full attacks.

The problem is that after a while the DM had to start upping encounter difficulty to present the party with a challenge. Now virtually any encounter we run into is going to steamroll a typical party of our level. Further, if we don't use optimal tactics on the whole we face getting rolled by our encounters.

Basically at this point because of how we've played we've reached the point where barring a simultaneous stand down by the players and the DM there are comparatively few options available in combat. Combats have become surprisingly dull as a result.


littlehewy wrote:
gnomersy wrote:


So I can have a 3 in charisma but it doesn't matter because nobody wants the roll they want me to play the role. But in combat noone cares about how I "let loose a furious series of blows subtly pushing the opponent's defense into the right position for my last strike to pierce through his throat killing him instantly" they require that I roll and see what happens.

But surely if you had a 3 in Cha (and presumably not much in Dip/Bluff/Int) and your DM wants you to roleplay it rather than roll, you would actually depict your character as if they had a Cha:3 and no Diplomacy?

Or is that just me?

Only if there's a way for me to depict my character as if they had a Cha:18 and max Diplomacy. Which, for the record, I don't.

Otherwise I want it reflected in the mechanics.


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You don't?

Oh.

;)

If my character has a low Cha because he's gruff and rude, I'll speak gruffly and rudely in character. If my character is really dumb, I'll use bad english. Conversely, if he's really smart I'll use big words, and if charismatic I'll speak with great confidence that my words will be received well. As a GM, that's how I communicate the NPC's abs to my players.

When did this go out of fashion?


thejeff wrote:

Only if there's a way for me to depict my character as if they had a Cha:18 and max Diplomacy. Which, for the record, I don't.

Otherwise I want it reflected in the mechanics.

Yes obviously mechanics are important, I don't dispute that. But don't you also think that attempting to speak as your character would speak is important too? I don't mean stupid accents (although they can be cheesy good fun sometimes), but if my character's dumb I won't shout out amazing ideas on how to beat the puzzle, or out-argue the bad guy. If I have a good idea I'll ask my GM if a smart character can make an Int check and then I'll tell them my good idea.

Mechanics are definitely necessary - an absolute must, and they must affect the way that other characters receive yours (Cha) or how well you can solve puzzles (Int). But don't you at least attempt to represent them in how you roleplay? I mean, that's the role you're supposed to be playing...

Do you disagree thejeff?


littlehewy wrote:
thejeff wrote:

Only if there's a way for me to depict my character as if they had a Cha:18 and max Diplomacy. Which, for the record, I don't.

Otherwise I want it reflected in the mechanics.

Yes obviously mechanics are important, I don't dispute that. But don't you also think that attempting to speak as your character would speak is important too? I don't mean stupid accents (although they can be cheesy good fun sometimes), but if my character's dumb I won't shout out amazing ideas on how to beat the puzzle, or out-argue the bad guy. If I have a good idea I'll ask my GM if a smart character can make an Int check and then I'll tell them my good idea.

Mechanics are definitely necessary - an absolute must, and they must affect the way that other characters receive yours (Cha) or how well you can solve puzzles (Int). But don't you at least attempt to represent them in how you roleplay? I mean, that's the role you're supposed to be playing...

Do you disagree thejeff?

I do and I don't.

It's a long-standing question, without an easy solution. If I'm supposed to roleplay down to my character's level, is there an equivalent way to play up to my character's level when he's better than me? Or is the actual effect always the lower of mine or my character's ability?

Is it just fluff? I roleplay my character's speech/actions and then the GM uses a roll to determine the results.

Is it all that counts? Does the GM ignore the roll & stats and just base the results on the speech or actions?

Is there a mix? Does the GM apply penalties/bonuses to the mechanics based on the roleplayed speech/actions? If so, does roleplaying my character's 3 Ch actually get me a double penalty? The mechanical one and then a penalty for a clumsy offensive speech?

There are problems with all approaches and how I roleplay it depends on how the GM is handling it. OTOH, I tend not to play dumpstat characters and my own CHA/social skills aren't so high that I really need to play down that much. The opposite problem comes up more. How do I roleplay a +15 Bluff skill, when I'm not good at coming up with off the cuff plausible lies?

Puzzles/riddles are the biggest immersion killer for me. I try not to use them. GMs usually don't let you use a mechanical solution: I make an Int roll of 22 and spit out the answer! OTOH, if roleplaying your low int character means you don't help solve it, then you're in a situation where you need a someone who can figure it out who's also playing a character who can figure it out.


thejeff wrote:
littlehewy wrote:
... if my character's dumb I won't shout out amazing ideas on how to beat the puzzle, or out-argue the bad guy. If I have a good idea I'll ask my GM if a smart character can make an Int check and then I'll tell them my good idea.

I do and I don't.

It's a long-standing question, without an easy solution. If I'm supposed to roleplay down to my character's level, is there an equivalent way to play up to my character's level when he's better than me? Or is the actual effect always the lower of mine or my character's ability?

Is it just fluff? I roleplay my character's speech/actions and then the GM uses a roll to determine the results.

Is it all that counts? Does the GM ignore the roll & stats and just base the results on the speech or actions?

Is there a mix? Does the GM apply penalties/bonuses to the mechanics based on the roleplayed speech/actions? If so, does roleplaying my character's 3 Ch actually get me a double penalty? The mechanical one and then a penalty for a clumsy offensive speech?

There are problems with all approaches and how I roleplay it depends on how the GM is handling it. OTOH, I tend not to play dumpstat characters and my own CHA/social skills aren't so high that I really need to play...

I hear what you're saying - you must have trust in your GM.

The way I tend to handle it as a GM is that the roleplaying doesn't really affect the outcome in a social check. That's really what the mechanics are for. But I will immediately reward the player for roleplaying their character properly with xp, or when we're not using xp, I award hero points for consistent good roleplaying over the session.

It really does depend on your GM though, you're right. But that's how I run it.

Also, read the first part of my quote for how I contribute when I have a dumb character and have a good idea. Allows the party to use good ideas, but they're funnelled through the smart character. If xp is awarded for good ideas, I would award a bit to both players, one for having the idea, the other for having a character that is smart enough to think of it (reward for putting their points in those abs/skills).


thejeff wrote:
Puzzles/riddles are the biggest immersion killer for me. I try not to use them. GMs usually don't let you use a mechanical solution: I make an Int roll of 22 and spit out the answer! OTOH, if roleplaying your low int character means you don't help solve it, then you're in a situation where you need a someone who can figure it out who's also playing a character who can figure it out.

Ooh yeah, that's a mood killer alright.

If I had the high Int character, I would tend to ask for a hint of some kind if I make a good Int roll.


Nosreme wrote:
Dabbler wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:

There is no vs.

There is no reason you cannot both minmax your character into a four armed dual greatsword wielding quizinart of death and destruction and make him a fully three dimensional character with heart, soul, and depth.

This is so very true.

I think, Nosreme, that you just found a group that suck at RP. That's OK, though - put on the DM's mantle and show them!

Dabbler, I am so frustrated that I have nearly given up DMing. The reason? I have spent countless hours on carefully planned stories only to have them ruined by gamers that either A)don't appreciate them B) don't role-play, and/or C) quit them before they get finished. Last year I was running a Pathfinder take on Ravenloft. Great story, plenty of action and role-playing, and overall a fun adventure. I described everything in detail, creating a spooky setting, and the players simply did not get it. They didn't heed any warnings, they didn't really want to talk to the townsfolk, every story lead they found was laid out in plain sight for them to find or they wouldn't find them on their own. It just gets old after a while.

OMG! Were you at MY game, only I didn't see you?

My last campaign was almost exactly this, short of the official nod to ravenloft. The very first adventure centered around a poor girl, corrupted into evil by a seductive undead force and now a pariah of undeath herself. I left clues all over the place, created elaborate story scene/ghost flashbacks throughout the surface areas of the ruined abbey, then in the secret crypt dungeon there was a library with the girl's journal half charred in the fireplace.

All the elements were there for roleplaying; a kindly old priest they met in town, then the priest's young ward who was a talented blacksmith with true faith that was about to be tested by a dare to go to the "haunted abbey" with his buddies; a gruff but fair lady castelan running the keep; a creepy rival blacksmith and a noble with a grudge against one of the PC's.

My players ignored the town, took the plot hook and went to the abbey. They proceeded to tactically (and successfuly I might add) navigate the dangers of the abbey, to the point where by the time they got through the secret crypt dungeon entrance they hadn't taken a single point of damage and only lost one spell.

Here's the reality; my players are tactical by nature. They enjoy that aspect of gaming and vibe off that energy. They DIDN'T EVEN NOTICE that the ghost scenes were about the girl at the end of the adventure!

The moral of the story? I went insane, if you accept that the definition of "insane" is keep doing the same thing and expect different results. I HAMMERED on them to roleplay, incentivized them, whatever I could think of while they just got more and more tense. Finally personal issues came into it between a couple of my players and the ensuing meltdown short-circuited the game at level 5.

I had a really awesome story to tell, with a potential redemption angle, and lots of roleplaying steeped in horror and creepiness. It wen largely ignored or unused and my players resented me for it.

Now, everyone on these boards would say (and did) that I should get new players. But y'know what I discovered? I loved WRITING these stories, but running them always frustrated me. It was partly because my guys weren't getting into it, but also partly because if they killed some of my villains they'd miss parts of the story, and thus... the STORY suffered. That's when it hit me; I just liked telling the story.

Now, there's a distinction here. RPG games are meant to tell a story, to be sure. But that story is meant to be shared by everyone at the table. I'm just the NARRATOR, not the sole author, which is what I was trying so hard to do.

So this time around I've specifically set up the campaign so that even I can't screw it up. I've got a hex map with some set adventure sites on it. These sites correlate to key plot points that I want to steer the game through. I also have a rough outline of the first main plot arc of what's happening around the party for the first 3 levels. However, I've designed multiple hexes of a fey-haunted forest and forested hills that have no adventure sites listed, yet the forest is still wicked; there might be ANYTHING out there.

This provides plenty of action, as much or as little roleplay as the players want as they find NPC's to help them discover and navigate the wilds, and more importantly it gives the players the chance to follow or dump any plotline they find interesting or displeasing.

There will be this main plot (at least through level 3; I want to see where my guys take it and generate further plot from that) but there will also be TONS of side quests. Its like a video game; their first adventure they come into a town during a faire and 3 events can potentially catch their eye: a beggar that's actually a fallen noble, a wierdly dressed puppeteer whose marionnettes got up and ran away on their own, and an elder woodcutter of exceptional skill who's bullied by young ruffians.

Each of these, if the players decide to investigate, leads to a very short adventure around the town. If they complete this there's not much treasure or exp, but the pc's earn a Boon from the NPC. They also get a plot hook that can be resolved in the dungeon they're going to anyway.

If they don't follow any of the side quests then fine; they still get to the dungeon and may in fact inadvertently solve one if they get to the right area of the dungeon. If they do take one though the experience will be more about roleplaying than killing monsters.

In the noble beggar they have to either bribe or break into the magistrates office for papers showing the final resting place of an honor sword to confirm what part of the dungeon its in. Doing so results in the noble giving them an impassioned speech. Not only is it good roleplaying but it also nets them a +1 on their next will save.

In the puppeteer one the party has to capture the animated toys around town w/out destroying them. Completing this leads the party to a scene where the guy reveals he's been cursed to cause fear and the only way to end the curse is to go destroy an evil bugbear in the woods called the nightmare king. They also score a +2 vs their first fear effect.

Finally in the case of the old woodcutter they not only help run off the bullies but they also have to go fetch him more wood for his artistic carvings. They fight a monster and spot some tracks near the old guy's cottage; they also note that the cottage has been torn up by someone rummaging around. This time the party's got to go to an area of haunted bogs to save the guy's daughter and they also receive a +2 Survival competence bonus against the first natural hazard along the way.

Its all about choices. The players make their choices to build their characters. You make your choices on what monsters to throw at them and the general nature of the game your playing. But together you choose the path of the story. If you don't like the way its going, don't be mad at the player's choices to optimize and go tactical, or vice versa your choice to go hardcore roleplaying. Instead just make different choices and be open to the result, no matter WHAT the consequence. Your players may just surprise you...


Ashiel wrote:
Natural selection sounds pretty accurate. When someone makes a character who is -- within the rules of his or her reality - rather incompetent in the field of their profession, then it is likely that failure will occur more frequently. The problem with failure is that when you're a painter, you just get your work criticized and don't make much money.

Does every character not 'optimised' fall into the category of 'incompetent' then?

There is another category between the two I call 'effective' where the character can do what they are meant to do, but have room to be an individual without optimising to the max.


Dabbler wrote:

Does every character not 'optimised' fall into the category of 'incompetent' then?

There is another category between the two I call 'effective' where the character can do what they are meant to do, but have room to be an individual without optimising to the max.

Yes yes yes. And you can have a moustache too.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Dabbler wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Dabbler wrote:
Why not? Who decides who should be an adventurer or not?
Natural selection.

Wrong, actually. Natural selection is in a natural, uncontrolled environment, and a game is not that. In game, reality is controlled by the gods (just ask a cleric), in the metagame by the DM. The rules even specifically dictate how to set challenge levels appropriate to the party's power level, so it's a highly controlled as opposed to natural environment.

So you're saying the DM interferes with the game, taking the decision out of natural selection and putting it in his own hands.

Which means that it is still originally up to natural selection, enforced by the random number generator.


Mornin TOZ


TriOmegaZero wrote:
Dabbler wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Dabbler wrote:
Why not? Who decides who should be an adventurer or not?
Natural selection.

Wrong, actually. Natural selection is in a natural, uncontrolled environment, and a game is not that. In game, reality is controlled by the gods (just ask a cleric), in the metagame by the DM. The rules even specifically dictate how to set challenge levels appropriate to the party's power level, so it's a highly controlled as opposed to natural environment.

So you're saying the DM interferes with the game, taking the decision out of natural selection and putting it in his own hands.

Which means that it is still originally up to natural selection, enforced by the random number generator.

There is no natural selection in the game. The GM doesn't interfere with it. The GM makes it happen. Without the GM there is no game. There is no world.

You can't start playing and say this is what would have happened if the GM didn't interfere. That doesn't even make sense.

Edit: I suppose if you run a module or AP strictly by the book you could say the GM didn't interfere, but then the author takes on that role.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

A DM running a game, not interfering with the dice, will see unfit characters die off at some point. The choices they make may extend or shorten the time needed, but the dice will get their due eventually.

Evil Lincoln wrote:
Mornin TOZ

Good morning, Mr. President.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
A DM running a game, not interfering with the dice, will see unfit characters die off at some point. The choices they make may extend or shorten the time needed, but the dice will get their due eventually.

A GM can affect the difficulty of the game far more easily and transparently by designing encounters and situations than by interfering with dice.


If I recall correctly, the natural selection thing came up as part of the discussion of my bard-pugilist that wasn't much chop with weapons. I wouldn't consider him an unfit character. I don't make unfit characters, just not necessarily optimal ones (I think I've implied as much in about 80% of my posts on this thread). This bard could still contribute in a battle, I just had to be careful.

Beyond that, his varied skills in town still made him useful for getting boons and saving cash for the party, he still used his performances to buff, he still threw spells to positively affect the battle. And he didn't die. I think he made it to 10th lvl when the campaign wrapped up.

I just had to be careful in battles. It was a lot of fun. Sure, if I screwed up big time tactically, or the GM focused the monsters on targeting the bard (but why would he, the bard was so unthreatening), he could have been toast. But he survived, contributed, and rounded out the group nicely. In Shadowrun he would have been a face.

As stated above, you can be sub-optimal without being unfit, it's called effective. And it's not all about combat.

Shadow Lodge

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thejeff wrote:


A GM can affect the difficulty of the game far more easily and transparently by designing encounters and situations than by interfering with dice.

Oh, trust me, I know. People think they can win, when it's really the DM letting them win. But you need that illusion for some people to be able to enjoy the game.

Shadow Lodge

Quite simply, a character with an 8 Con is going to have a lower Fort save than one with a 14 Con. And when they both roll vs death, the natural selection of the dice is going to remove the unfit character from the game.


You're still not taking any notice of the gulf between optimal and unfit.


All this optimizing wrought, nonsense I say! My newest character shall dart across the bushes with a golden spoon while reciting Shakespeare and acting out 56 pages of backstory I wrote! Dashing, dazzling roleplaying is where the game is at, not some crude math!


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If you can't do 80 damage per round at level 3, you should honestly ask your parents: "What for did you bring me to this world?".


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TOZ wrote:
Quite simply, a character with an 8 Con is going to have a lower Fort save than one with a 14 Con. And when they both roll vs death, the natural selection of the dice is going to remove the unfit character from the game.

Quite simply, a character with an 14 Con is going to have a lower Fort save than one with a 20 Con. And when they both roll vs death, the natural selection of the dice is going to remove the unfit character from the game.


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Dabbler wrote:
Ashiel wrote:
Natural selection sounds pretty accurate. When someone makes a character who is -- within the rules of his or her reality - rather incompetent in the field of their profession, then it is likely that failure will occur more frequently. The problem with failure is that when you're a painter, you just get your work criticized and don't make much money.

Does every character not 'optimised' fall into the category of 'incompetent' then?

There is another category between the two I call 'effective' where the character can do what they are meant to do, but have room to be an individual without optimising to the max.

Maybe we have two different thoughts of what is optimized. To me, Optimized means you use the options that make sure that you are viable, while avoiding options that are traps or do not help in your goals. For examples of what I'm talking about, you could see my thread concerning practical optimization, and this recent post that shows a Paladin and Ranger and explains some of the decisions made.

To me, not optimizing generally means you're doing stuff that is eating your resources with little to no returns on your investment, or doing things that are just plain bad ideas. It's possible that I'm using a theory of optimization closer to my old friend and hero Tempest Stormwind (I haven't been able to talk to him since the WotC boards though).

For me, if you are optimized, then it means that the mechanics are helping you achieve your goals while remaining effective, and you can be optimized for different things; but to me the difference between theorycraft and practical optimization is whether or not one can function in an actual game (someone might "optimize" their damage incredibly high, but if their saves, AC, out of combat capabilities, Hp, and other things suffer, they aren't going to last long enough to get mileage out of it).

For another example, if you want to play a martial character that wears only light armor (say you like the style of studded leather over plate, or you're a Coanan loincloth fan) then an optimizer will find the best way to make that work. They'll look for ways around a bad AC. For example, if you're making a Barbarian, you might realize that AC is generally and all or nothing affair and you realize your AC isn't going to be so hot. So you wear nothing but some light armor (maybe even just padded armor, just something to get some effects like fortification) and look for other methods of avoidance such as 20-50% miss chances (blur, displacement, blink, cloaks of displacement, etc). Alternatively, you might look to see if there are any options that can allow you to play the character you want effectively. You might ask your GM if you can forgo armor proficiency entirely (which still allows padded through mwk studded leather with no issues) and have an AC progression like the ones found here as a class feature, so your naked Conan clone doesn't get insta-gibbed by the usual suspects. :P

Maybe we just misunderstood what each other meant.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
littlehewy wrote:
You're still not taking any notice of the gulf between optimal and unfit.

I've said nothing about optimized characters, so I don't see your point.

thejeff: Correct.


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Sensitive ROLEplayer wrote:
All this optimizing wrought, nonsense I say! My newest character shall dart across the bushes with a golden spoon while reciting Shakespeare and acting out 56 pages of backstory I wrote! Dashing, dazzling roleplaying is where the game is at, not some crude math!

You want to be a true shakespere fan? Dart across the bushes with a golden spoon while reciting Shakespeare and acting out 56 pages of backstory AND leave a trail of bloody bodies behind you. Pick up their severed heads and THEN do the "Alas poor yorik" bit


TriOmegaZero wrote:
littlehewy wrote:
You're still not taking any notice of the gulf between optimal and unfit.

I've said nothing about optimized characters, so I don't see your point.

thejeff: Correct.

Ok, then are you directing your points at anyone or any part of the discussion in particular? Because everyone knows that unfit characters will die. It's a tautology. The price for being unfit in an RPG is death (usually). So who do you think doesn't understand that?

Why bother to make that point at all?

Grand Lodge

@Nosreme: sorry to hear that you haven't found the right group yet.
In PbP games at least, it should be possible to find group of players interested in roleplaying. You can even put that as a requirement for entering the game.

There are different things that can be done about min-maxing, such as softening players up before a fight.

Think smokey areas, cold temperatures, or high altitude. That should give them a chance of fatigue before they reach the monsters.

Maybe you can use environmental hazards in the combat to even the odds, like ranged monsters on ice or other difficult terrain.

Shadow Lodge

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littlehewy wrote:
Why bother to make that point at all?

When someone takes my humorous quips as serious discussion, I try to oblige them.


TOZ wrote:
littlehewy wrote:
Why bother to make that point at all?
When someone takes my humorous quips as serious discussion, I try to oblige them.

Lol righty-o, probably time for me to go to bed then... Humour meter is down.


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Ashiel wrote:

To me, not optimizing generally means you're doing stuff that is eating your resources with little to no returns on your investment, or doing things that are just plain bad ideas.

[...]
For me, if you are optimized, then it means that the mechanics are helping you achieve your goals while remaining effective, and you can be optimized for different things

I have noticed that many "roleplaying" people go not only with a background and then choose accordingly... they find additional ways to limit themselves for no reason?

The biggest problem is they either don't want to bother (often a time thingy) using additional books and stick with the 2 base books. Or they allow everything but have no clue (same lack of time) what's in these books and ignore them.

That's why I usually like it if there's 1-2 well read people around who can give advice... my group now actually come and aks me what options in other books are worth reading. I'll just point them to feats, classes and such and then send them reading guides on this forum. Usually this works great.

Often they choose a background AND a class, restricting their choices and then wonder why it doesn't work out. (at least that's where two of the groups I play with, usually fail).
I now always show them a bunch of different classes/archetypes that can do what they wanted for their background in the same way. I try to give them an alternative... a new perspective.

To take the unarmed bard example:
the person wants a "bard" with unarmed fighting... but why a "bard"? why restrict yourself to a single class? I'd guess the bard represents songs and tavern-kinda stuff?
So how about an Evangelist of Caiden Caylean with a dip of drunken master. Maybe see if the DM will allow the Enlightened Fist PRC from 3.5? (Not sure that's fully optimized, but at least it reduces MAD a bit)

Similar with that person who asked for a white mage with no armor... first was adamant about cleric/oracle, a lot of people had to say "Witch" again and again and the person was still not really confinced at first.

My biggest advice to people who feel optimizing cuts down on RP, should stop focussing on the name of some class, feat, trait or ability and start looking at what those do. Only take the ones that better whatever your background is about. Does your character run around with their ability names printed on their forehead?

Also, while there is usually a lot of possibilities to RP-talk with high charisma and such, characters are ADVENTURERS as such they will always inevitably get into some kind of fight. It's their job.
So Adventurers will usually know how to fight. If you want a character that never fights, then your GM and groupmates need to know that you want a campaign with close to zero fighting and will actively try to find non-combat solutions to anything that could become a fight.
So when you decide your character is a blacksmith who's going out into the world, that's cool. Give him training in a wide variety of weapons and give him crafting feats... why should a party not want somebody who can make weapons/armors for them? Make sure you take the Master Crafter feat.
Now if that guy is a dwarf, you are heavily into clichés. ;-)


Nerdrage Ooze wrote:
If you can't do 80 damage per round at level 3, you should honestly ask your parents: "What for did you bring me to this world?".

This is the logic behind the invention of High Explosives.


Kyoni wrote:
Ashiel wrote:

To me, not optimizing generally means you're doing stuff that is eating your resources with little to no returns on your investment, or doing things that are just plain bad ideas.

[...]
For me, if you are optimized, then it means that the mechanics are helping you achieve your goals while remaining effective, and you can be optimized for different things

I have noticed that many "roleplaying" people go not only with a background and then choose accordingly... they find additional ways to limit themselves for no reason?

The biggest problem is they either don't want to bother (often a time thingy) using additional books and stick with the 2 base books. Or they allow everything but have no clue (same lack of time) what's in these books and ignore them.

That's why I usually like it if there's 1-2 well read people around who can give advice... my group now actually come and aks me what options in other books are worth reading. I'll just point them to feats, classes and such and then send them reading guides on this forum. Usually this works great.

Often they choose a background AND a class, restricting their choices and then wonder why it doesn't work out. (at least that's where two of the groups I play with, usually fail).
I now always show them a bunch of different classes/archetypes that can do what they wanted for their background in the same way. I try to give them an alternative... a new perspective.

To take the unarmed bard example:
the person wants a "bard" with unarmed fighting... but why a "bard"? why restrict yourself to a single class? I'd guess the bard represents songs and tavern-kinda stuff?
So how about an Evangelist of Caiden Caylean with a dip of drunken master. Maybe see if the DM will allow the Enlightened Fist PRC from 3.5? (Not sure that's fully optimized, but at least it reduces MAD a bit)

Similar with that person who asked for a white mage with no armor... first was adamant about cleric/oracle, a lot of people had to say "Witch" again and again and...

For example if I wanted to make a moon clan shoanti I could more easily use ranger instead of barbarian if I didn't want to take the urban barbarian archtype and be from actually in nature.


doctor_wu wrote:
For example if I wanted to make a moon clan shoanti I could more easily use ranger instead of barbarian if I didn't want to take the urban barbarian archtype and be from actually in nature.

Yes,

because for me, people who live in barbaric tribes don't all necessarily have the class "barbarian", for me that's two different things.
Forget class names... rename them into "option1", "option2", "option3" and look at what abilities fit your background...
moon clan shoanti are barbaric archers... makes me think of Huns.
are huns rangers or barbarians as a class? they ride and are damn good archers... so for me that's a ranger. Pick a fitting archetype and you are golden.


I've definitely had some conflict between character concept and the demands of optimization. Here's a couple examples:

My translation of an old Exalted character as a Cleric: the original concept was a former village healer who was intelligent with average strength and some training. For Cleric optimization though, I'm told I should buy up strength, buy down intelligence, and healing? What healer in the right mind would take healing?

My favorite concept of swashbuckling rogues and bards is an intelligent, charismatic person who is reckless and with low impulse control (read: low Wisdom). This flies in the face of optimization common wisdom, where I should buy down Intelligence and Charisma, and buy up Wisdom for saves and detecting traps. In fact, since Rogues are Tier 4, I should instead play a Wizard with Knock, or a Sorcerer with UMD and a wand of Knock.

The interesting thing is that both those characters work fine in other systems; the healer is an excellent Exalted character, and the rogue can be made perfectly in Swashbucklers of the Seven Skies or WHFRP. It's only in high-optimization Pathfinder that they don't work.

Personally, I don't blame video games for this situation, since I've seen point shaving and optimization ever since the first point-buy games like Champions and GURPS came out. I think it became so prevalent in D&D-style games when point buy became the norm, compounded by the fact that there are obvious bad choices for characters. For example, favoring Charisma over Wisdom for any except a Charisma-based caster character is the equivalent of tying a "kick me" sign to the character. Not to mention the character tier system is a natural outgrowth of this situation.

That isn't to say one can't do good role-playing with optimized characters, but as long as optimization gives a real advantage in game, I think options for characters are going to be limited by a "concept vs. optimization" dichotomy.


Ashiel wrote:

Maybe we have two different thoughts of what is optimized. To me, Optimized means you use the options that make sure that you are viable, while avoiding options that are traps or do not help in your goals....

To me, not optimizing generally means you're doing stuff that is eating your resources with little to no returns on your investment, or doing things that are just plain bad ideas...

For me, if you are optimized, then it means that the mechanics are helping you achieve your goals while remaining effective, and you can be optimized for different things ...

To many/some people; optimized means every possible feat, skill, ability point, or other choice to absolutely maximize the spell save DC or dps as high as mechanically possible.

I do not ascribe to that definition, but I have seen it quite a bit.


BigNorseWolf wrote:

There is no vs.

There is no reason you cannot both minmax your character into a four armed dual greatsword wielding quizinart of death and destruction and make him a fully three dimensional character with heart, soul, and depth.

While I somewhat agree, this in itself is a bit oversimplified. It's true that if you WANT to roleplay that character it will work great. But what if you want to roleplay the old veteran that's lost an arm but still adventures because the only thing it knows is fighting? What if you want to roleplay the clumsy and frail wizard? These will both be "unoptimal" and in an otherwise optimized party might have issues, because optimized parties usually face optimized (or higher-CR) encounters.

Saying that you can't optimize and roleplay is false, but saying that there is no conflict between them is also false. The higher requirement on optimization a group has, the lesser the amount of different characters can be role-played.

There's probably few groups that requires everyone to be either AM BARBARIAN, a god wizard, or an over-optimized Master Summoner, and likewise there are probably few groups that have no issues playing with a lame fighter that puts all feats into Skill Focus and different weapon focuses.

Or, as another way of saying it, some people choose a character they want and then tries to make it mechanically good, while some people look for a good mechanic and then attach a character to it. Most people are somewhere in between.

It's always a balance between the two, and obviously the OP feels it has a hard time finding a group where the character it wants to roleplay is allowed.


ericthetolle wrote:
My translation of an old Exalted character as a Cleric: the original concept was a former village healer who was intelligent with average strength and some training. For Cleric optimization though, I'm told I should buy up strength, buy down intelligence, and healing? What healer in the right mind would take healing?

Just because he was a cleric in the old game doesn't mean it's the way to go in Pathfinder...

village + healer + low strength + high int = witch or maybe oracle
Don't get hung up on class names.

ericthetolle wrote:
My favorite concept of swashbuckling rogues and bards is an intelligent, charismatic person who is reckless and with low impulse control (read: low Wisdom). This flies in the face of optimization common wisdom, where I should buy down Intelligence and Charisma, and buy up Wisdom for saves and detecting traps. In fact, since Rogues are Tier 4, I should instead play a Wizard with Knock, or a Sorcerer with UMD and a wand of Knock.

face rogues =/= trap rogues

A rogue can take care of many skills but making the rogue the only one resposible for all skills is stupid imho.
A face rogue can kick ass with feinting and bluffing and can talk his way out of many things while still getting full effect from his sneak attacks. Maybe make take the ninja archetype, too?
Why would a swashbuckler know anything about traps???

Is this a means to squeeze a party requirement into your build: that's ALWAYS a bad idea.
If your group wants you to take care of traps, then come up with a background that involves traps.
Or tell them that they should do so themselves. Especially since Pathfinder allowed a lot of classes overcome this now (Bards, Rangers, ...).


We need a scale upon which to rate optimization.

Let's make it 1-10, with 10 being total munchkin, 8 being optimized, and 7 being efficient.


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stringburka wrote:
While I somewhat agree, this in itself is a bit oversimplified. It's true that if you WANT to roleplay that character it will work great. But what if you want to roleplay the old veteran that's lost an arm but still adventures because the only thing it knows is fighting? What if you want to roleplay the clumsy and frail wizard? These will both be "unoptimal" and in an otherwise optimized party might have issues, because optimized parties usually face optimized (or higher-CR) encounters.

If that player doesn't mind if his one-armed veteran or clumsy wizard is unlikely to survive very long. After all that's how it works in real life too... Fantasy gaming is no excuse to throw realism out the window.

Maybe that clumsy wizard will try to learn how to craft himself items to be less clumsy (crafters are rarely unwelcome).

stringburka wrote:

Saying that you can't optimize and roleplay is false, but saying that there is no conflict between them is also false. The higher requirement on optimization a group has, the lesser the amount of different characters can be role-played.

There's probably few groups that requires everyone to be either AM BARBARIAN, a god wizard, or an over-optimized Master Summoner, and likewise there are probably few groups that have no issues playing with a lame fighter that puts all feats into Skill Focus and different weapon focuses.

So you want to RP somebody who is handicapped (missing arms, lame, ...) and then complain that

- he is not as fit for survival as the others
- the others don't rp because they don't play handicapped characters
umm...?

A player that puts all his feats into Skill Focus and Weapon focus is actively trying to make a character that's as useless as possible. The right choice for that character would have been to take some ranger variant that gives him what he wants, maybe guide + ???
- plenty of skill-point for skills
- wide weapon choices (rangers are good switch-hitters) and no need to take weapon focus, just because the feat happens to have the vocabulary "focus" in it

Stop obsessing on the arbitrary names the devs gave to mechanics! They are just that: arbitrary names!

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Writer wrote:

We need a scale upon which to rate optimization.

Let's make it 1-10, with 10 being total munchkin, 8 being optimized, and 7 being efficient.

Why? what value is such a scale? Every group will have what works for them, and one group's munchkin is another group's "barely optimal".


optimization is almost subjective in this because it varies by how gms run things. Skill focus is waht I give most npcs that are not combat oriented.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
Dabbler wrote:
Why not? Who decides who should be an adventurer or not?
Natural selection.

Just because someone isn't a savant doesn't mean they won't survive the adventuring lifestyle.

Shadow Lodge

You people keep reading a lot more into it than was said.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

Nosreme wrote:

This is not intended to be a flamewar in any way, but it seems nearly every group I play PF with seems more interested in carefully adjusting their character to "min-max" and get the highest bonuses possible than why their character is in that locale at all, or where they came from. I routinely get told things such as "Hey if you drop your INT by 2 you can increase your HP with CON" or "This feat combination gives you the best attack bonus". I'm aware of all that, but I chose these attributes, skills, and feats because it fits my character. Not to get an additional +1 to my attack roll.

Secondly, the campaigns I'm in are mostly concerned with killing monsters repeatly for gold. I honestly don't know why we're in town or what the town even looks like because the GM didn't bother to describe it. Or the enemies we're fighting.

The thing is, none of that appears to be a rarity. Quite the contrary, it's very common from what I've experienced. Is anyone else having the same trouble of finding a group that matches their playstyle? What suggestions do you have to combat this? Unless I always run, which is tiring at times, this is what I encounter.

I've been blessed to find groups that fall into similar RP preferences as mine, which is a good balance between combat and mechanical challenges and a lot of roleplay and exploration. Most of the games we play in may have one or two fights a session at most, the rest of it being exploration, puzzle solving, and roleplay. Both parts we find equally fun.

All I can say is, shop around. If there are local game stores, see if you can sit in on sessions held in store or advertise. Use the Gamer Connection subforum here to find fellow players. And so on.

And I hear you about not wanting to run all the time, that can be tiring indeed (as fun as GMing can also be).

And with your current group, as someone else suggested, have a chat with the GM about your expectations about what both of you may need to do to adapt to each other. Think about other kinds of challenges you'd like to face and submit them to the GM... if he can't necessarily fall into just roleplaying, there are still non-combat encounters to have--puzzles, hazards, traps. Plus interactions with NPCs that aren't combative but may be challenging--trying to talk your way past a guard or finding the person who picked your pocket. If he thinks of stuff to do from the framework of are there mechanics for it, point out that if he runs only combat, he's missing a good chunk of the game system (various uses for skills, etc.). Gently and civilly of course.

And maybe accept that in this group, you're going to see a lot of combat. So while you're looking for your roleplay heavy group elsewhere, go ahead and see if you can just jump in on the combat as best you can.

And kindly ask the people telling you to rebuild your character to lay off. If they can't understand, "but this is what my character looks like," couch it in mechnical terms again. "I don't want to dump Int because I want skill points. What if the GM sets up an ambush and none of us have built up Perception?" and "that feat combination gives me a great attack bonus in THIS circumstance, but I want my character to be ready for a different set of circumstances. If you're concerned about the other circumstance, then build it into your own character and trust I'll back you up when your build is lacking something for a different situation we're in."


Nosreme wrote:
Dabbler wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:

There is no vs.

There is no reason you cannot both minmax your character into a four armed dual greatsword wielding quizinart of death and destruction and make him a fully three dimensional character with heart, soul, and depth.

This is so very true.

I think, Nosreme, that you just found a group that suck at RP. That's OK, though - put on the DM's mantle and show them!

Dabbler, I am so frustrated that I have nearly given up DMing. The reason? I have spent countless hours on carefully planned stories only to have them ruined by gamers that either A)don't appreciate them B) don't role-play, and/or C) quit them before they get finished. Last year I was running a Pathfinder take on Ravenloft. Great story, plenty of action and role-playing, and overall a fun adventure. I described everything in detail, creating a spooky setting, and the players simply did not get it. They didn't heed any warnings, they didn't really want to talk to the townsfolk, every story lead they found was laid out in plain sight for them to find or they wouldn't find them on their own. It just gets old after a while.

Nos, I would love to have you as a GM and a player. It sounds like our styles are cut from the same cloth, on both how we run a game and how we play one.


thejeff wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Dabbler wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Dabbler wrote:
Why not? Who decides who should be an adventurer or not?
Natural selection.

Wrong, actually. Natural selection is in a natural, uncontrolled environment, and a game is not that. In game, reality is controlled by the gods (just ask a cleric), in the metagame by the DM. The rules even specifically dictate how to set challenge levels appropriate to the party's power level, so it's a highly controlled as opposed to natural environment.

So you're saying the DM interferes with the game, taking the decision out of natural selection and putting it in his own hands.

Which means that it is still originally up to natural selection, enforced by the random number generator.

There is no natural selection in the game. The GM doesn't interfere with it. The GM makes it happen. Without the GM there is no game. There is no world.

You can't start playing and say this is what would have happened if the GM didn't interfere. That doesn't even make sense.

Edit: I suppose if you run a module or AP strictly by the book you could say the GM didn't interfere, but then the author takes on that role.

This.

To say it's up to a random number generator is a cop-out: the DM sets the strength of foes, he sets the modifiers to the dice. In effect, the DM sets the bar for what is 'unfit' and what isn't.

That said, you can have the fittest character mechanically, and if it is played by someone who makes a serious underestimation of what they face, they can get themselves killed.

It's not just what you got, it's how you use it!

Ashiel wrote:
Maybe we just misunderstood what each other meant.

Probably - I was refering to the OP's term of optimisation, which is seriously mon-maxed by the sound of things, and every single mechanical decision is based around what works best, not what is in character.

Kyoni wrote:
I have noticed that many "roleplaying" people go not only with a background and then choose accordingly... they find additional ways to limit themselves for no reason?

The 'my character is not role-played unless utterly crippled' is to role-play what cheating munchkin is to optimisation. Confuse not the two!

stringburka wrote:
Saying that you can't optimize and roleplay is false, but saying that there is no conflict between them is also false. The higher requirement on optimization a group has, the lesser the amount of different characters can be role-played.

Just this. I go for 'effective' characters, rather than 'optimised' or 'crippled' because it is the best middle ground. I find I can make most concepts just about work with a little effort.

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