Optimization vs. Role Playing; or, why don't people understand what it means to be an 'adventurer'


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Title of thread =/= content of thread.

I would love to name the fallacy that if you accept the existence of dragons, you can't complain about any other verisimilitude breaking aspect of the game. "Hey, there's dragons buddy. So there!"

I nominate the term "there be dragons fallacy" as the name of this fallacy.


Matthew Morris wrote:

It's different strokes for different folks. *shrug*

One person may want to make a mindless slab of muscle, who doesn't care about where he came from. "Family? Dead. Friends? Dead. Hometown? Burned to the ground. Pet? Ate him."

Another may want to tie their character deep into the background, "Yes, I'm from a small town called Cumberbach, 20 miles to the north. I have 4 siblings, we lost two more to the plauge that swept through here in 4205..."

A third might look up from the PRD long enough to roll dice, or to ask "Wait, if I'm not charging when my mount is charging, does that mean I can't use Spirited Charge?"

Not everyone wants to make 'Profession: Cook' checks to see if the camp rations could be made into stew. Nor does everyone want to see what they do to earn money when the snow cuta off the mountain pass to the Dungeon of Doom (tm). The key with home groups, is to find the balance that makes everyone at least somewhat happy (including the GM.)

I Agree we have a wide variety in our party we have me who usually plays the tank or min maxer but I come up with a good back story though it never really comes into play with the adventure path. Then we have the alchemist who makes cook checks every time we stop; they are always high and they mean nothing but she likes to be the cook she also throws bombs. Then we have the sorceress who has no real back story he just likes the starsoul bloodline and cant wait to teleport you into space. we all manage to get along has a group and make it work

Silver Crusade

johnlocke90 wrote:
ciretose wrote:
Has anyone started screaming "STORMWIND FALLACY!" yet?
I never liked that fallacy. Sometimes optimizing a character results in a mess of abilities that break suspension of belief.. For instance, the ragelancepounce barbarian or the weapon cord gunslinger.

Well ragelancepounce doesn't work so you have nothing to worry about.


shallowsoul wrote:
johnlocke90 wrote:
ciretose wrote:
Has anyone started screaming "STORMWIND FALLACY!" yet?
I never liked that fallacy. Sometimes optimizing a character results in a mess of abilities that break suspension of belief.. For instance, the ragelancepounce barbarian or the weapon cord gunslinger.
Well ragelancepounce doesn't work so you have nothing to worry about.

Low blow, and false assertion (accept by a perfectly justified house rule in your own games).


I think the most important thing is that everyone is on the same page.

If you're all investigating in-character roles, then that's fine. If you're bravely exploring the tomb of the Ghoul king, that's great too. The problem is a group that has some of both ( which is what usually happens)

I've got that, and found it worked really well to set incredibly specific character creation guidelines, and to have a hours long conversation about what the campaign was about before we got started.

Silver Crusade

Tacticslion wrote:
shallowsoul wrote:
johnlocke90 wrote:
ciretose wrote:
Has anyone started screaming "STORMWIND FALLACY!" yet?
I never liked that fallacy. Sometimes optimizing a character results in a mess of abilities that break suspension of belief.. For instance, the ragelancepounce barbarian or the weapon cord gunslinger.
Well ragelancepounce doesn't work so you have nothing to worry about.
Low blow, and false assertion (accept by a perfectly justified house rule in your own games).

You can houserule anything you like.


Optimization AND Roleplaying: What to Do When You Are Really Good at This Dang Game


Adamantine Dragon wrote:

Title of thread =/= content of thread.

I would love to name the fallacy that if you accept the existence of dragons, you can't complain about any other verisimilitude breaking aspect of the game. "Hey, there's dragons buddy. So there!"

I nominate the term "there be dragons fallacy" as the name of this fallacy.

Except that Stormwind is actually a fallacy, this isn't. Versimilitude is relative to the context. Within the context of the game, dragons do not violate it, but nuclear subs would. Arbitrarily singling out one fantasy element over another and calling 'bs' is not a fallacy either, but it is rather silly. 'Elves are ok, but orcs are so fake!'


Vestrial wrote:
Adamantine Dragon wrote:

Title of thread =/= content of thread.

I would love to name the fallacy that if you accept the existence of dragons, you can't complain about any other verisimilitude breaking aspect of the game. "Hey, there's dragons buddy. So there!"

I nominate the term "there be dragons fallacy" as the name of this fallacy.

Except that Stormwind is actually a fallacy, this isn't. Versimilitude is relative to the context. Within the context of the game, dragons do not violate it, but nuclear subs would. Arbitrarily singling out one fantasy element over another and calling 'bs' is not a fallacy either, but it is rather silly. 'Elves are ok, but orcs are so fake!'

"fallacy: A statement or an argument based on a false or invalid inference."

The notion that if you accept dragons in your fantasy, you must accept any illogical or impossible item, creature or environment is absolutely a "statement or an argument based on a false or invalid inference."

So it is a fallacy. Whether verisimilitude is context sensitive is irrelevant. Optimization is certainly as "relative to the context" as verisimilitude could ever be, yet you don't make the same argument about the Stormwind Fallacy.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:


"fallacy: A statement or an argument based on a false or invalid inference."

The notion that if you accept dragons in your fantasy, you must accept any illogical or impossible item, creature or environment is absolutely a "statement or an argument based on a false or invalid inference."

So it is a fallacy. Whether verisimilitude is context sensitive is irrelevant. Optimization is certainly as "relative to the context" as verisimilitude could ever be, yet you don't make the same argument about the Stormwind Fallacy.

Optimization is not related to context in the same way as verisimilitude, by any stretch. Optimization is a playstyle choice and has nothing to do with setting. Verisimilitude has everything to do with setting.

And you have still failed to point to the faulty inference.

It is absolutely reasonable to expect one whom accepts Dragons in a setting to accept other fantastical elements, since any distinction based on the 'reality' of said fantastical elements is entirely arbitrary. 'Dragons are ok, but pegasi are so fake!'

Shadow Lodge

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Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber
Matthew Morris wrote:
One person may want to make a mindless slab of muscle, who doesn't care about where he came from. "Family? Dead. Friends? Dead. Hometown? Burned to the ground. Pet? Ate him."

You rang? (Well, actually, it's not quite that bleak - I do at least know roughly where the character came from, and why he's with the group).

I noticed that we often ended up without a front-line fighter when playing at low-level tables (unless the guy with a paladin showed up). So I just built myself that slab of muscle (greatsword, heavy flail, heavy crossbow, ...) for situations where running my (hard-to-replace) Kitsune trickster might turn out to be not the best choice.

Edit: Anyway, wasn't "Family? Dead. Friends? Dead. Hometown? Burned to the ground." the backstory for Conan the Barbarian?

Shadow Lodge

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johnlocke90 wrote:
On the contrary I see far more people playing characters who would struggle to exist outside of adventuring. Its rare for characters to bother with an actual profession and crafting seems limited to making magic gear.

Sounds like a perfect excuse for why they're out adventuring and not doing some safer, calmer, more reasonable job. "You've got no skills except beating things up/casting violent magic/whatever, you're useless and a layabout, if you won't learn a trade then go out and make something of yourself rather than mooching off your parents/siblings/spouse/friend/etc."

Liberty's Edge

shallowsoul wrote:
johnlocke90 wrote:
ciretose wrote:
Has anyone started screaming "STORMWIND FALLACY!" yet?
I never liked that fallacy. Sometimes optimizing a character results in a mess of abilities that break suspension of belief.. For instance, the ragelancepounce barbarian or the weapon cord gunslinger.
Well ragelancepounce doesn't work so you have nothing to worry about.

It is almost like now that the monk stuff has died down they decided to poke a different hornets nest :)


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Vestrial wrote:


And you have still failed to point to the faulty inference.

Your inability to see it is not the same as my not having pointed it out.

Vestrial wrote:

It is absolutely reasonable to expect one whom accepts Dragons in a setting to accept other fantastical elements, since any distinction based on the 'reality' of said fantastical elements is entirely arbitrary. 'Dragons are ok, but pegasi are so fake!'

The fallacy, the "faulty inference" is the suggestion that if one accepts dragons, then one is forced to accept ANY fantastic element in the setting.

This is exactly the same thing as saying "Your sci-fi story has faster than light travel which is impossible, so it has to accept dragons too..

The faulty inference is the idea that accepting something outside the known realm of possibility means you have to accept anything at all.

Your "example" of "hey, dragons are cool but pegasi are so fake" is not an example since both are simply magical mythological creatures. The more common example is "you accept dragons, so you must accept monks running seven hundred miles an hour." That is the faulty inference. Accepting dragons does NOT mean I have to accept monks running 700 miles an hour. Dragons can fit into many fantasy settings that don't include supersonic monks.


EDIT (for clarity):

ciretose wrote:
It is almost like now that the monk stuff has died down they decided to poke a different hornets nest :)

Pretty much.


No no it's okay I solved that whole ragelancepounce thing.


Lamontius wrote:
No no it's okay I solved that whole ragelancepounce thing.

Was it with pastries? I like pastries.

EDIT: No, I didn't forget that post over there. :)


Adamantine Dragon wrote:
Vestrial wrote:


And you have still failed to point to the faulty inference.

Your inability to see it is not the same as my not having pointed it out.

Vestrial wrote:

It is absolutely reasonable to expect one whom accepts Dragons in a setting to accept other fantastical elements, since any distinction based on the 'reality' of said fantastical elements is entirely arbitrary. 'Dragons are ok, but pegasi are so fake!'

The fallacy, the "faulty inference" is the suggestion that if one accepts dragons, then one is forced to accept ANY fantastic element in the setting.

This is exactly the same thing as saying "Your sci-fi story has faster than light travel which is impossible, so it has to accept dragons too..

The faulty inference is the idea that accepting something outside the known realm of possibility means you have to accept anything at all.

Your "example" of "hey, dragons are cool but pegasi are so fake" is not an example since both are simply magical mythological creatures. The more common example is "you accept dragons, so you must accept monks running seven hundred miles an hour." That is the faulty inference. Accepting dragons does NOT mean I have to accept monks running 700 miles an hour. Dragons can fit into many fantasy settings that don't include supersonic monks.

Having been on the more inclusive side of things, it isn't about forcing you to accept other things, it's been about pointing out preferences that are purely arbitrary and people vocally supporting their arbitrary vision as if it were the norm that everyone should accept (such as the vehement opposition to the inclusion of guns as an optional rule in an optional book).

Like the arbitrary decision that monks, wizards, sorcerers, clerics, paladins, alchemists, witches, druids, rangers, inquisitors and bards all exist, but a ninja reskinned to remove all Asian elements from it is beyond the pale is purely arbitrary and without logic. People are welcome to make those decisions, but at least be courteous enough to acknowledge that it is an arbitrary decision.

The fallacy IMO, is that when some fantastical elements already exist, that including anything else is impossible and would break verisimilitude automatically. I don't think anyone argues that you are required to include everything.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:
Vestrial wrote:


And you have still failed to point to the faulty inference.

Your inability to see it is not the same as my not having pointed it out.

Vestrial wrote:

It is absolutely reasonable to expect one whom accepts Dragons in a setting to accept other fantastical elements, since any distinction based on the 'reality' of said fantastical elements is entirely arbitrary. 'Dragons are ok, but pegasi are so fake!'

The fallacy, the "faulty inference" is the suggestion that if one accepts dragons, then one is forced to accept ANY fantastic element in the setting.

This is exactly the same thing as saying "Your sci-fi story has faster than light travel which is impossible, so it has to accept dragons too..

The faulty inference is the idea that accepting something outside the known realm of possibility means you have to accept anything at all.

Your "example" of "hey, dragons are cool but pegasi are so fake" is not an example since both are simply magical mythological creatures. The more common example is "you accept dragons, so you must accept monks running seven hundred miles an hour." That is the faulty inference. Accepting dragons does NOT mean I have to accept monks running 700 miles an hour. Dragons can fit into many fantasy settings that don't include supersonic monks.

Our conception of reality is based on the assumption magic doesn't exist and what is possible is quantifiable and certain. In a magic setting anything is possible reality is transmutable and the rules are not the same.

Silver Crusade

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I can kind of understand the OP's issue here.

I've been guilty of it myself at times. In Shadowrun for example I made a character, high intelligence, good skills, and I was ultimately struck by the conundrum that only the Prince of Idiots would become a Shadowrunner if he absolutely didn't 'have' to. I realized by examining the campaign we were having that ultimately we earned negative cash (income didn't outplace expenditures) we were taking enormous risk and generally it was the equivalent of trying to dig yourself out of a hole.

I told the group this, expressing concern to the DM and the answer was 'but then we wouldn't adventure!' And so to this point I still consider SR to be a game about brain damaged lunatics (which probably isn't far off).

But the reason for our trip into shadowrun above is that players can recognize bad cycles and everyone's got an inherent risk-reward matrix. The adventurers of old were essentially treasure hounds, gold, treasure and the like. The modern adventurer is more story driven. So what if the Tomb of Ultimate Atrocity has one million gold at the bottom, it doesn't really fit my goals, and we need to expend like 2 million to survive getting down there.

The 'optimized' PC slowly comes to the horrible realization that the safest path to monetary gain is not to rob it from a tomb somewhere risking life and limb on a regular basis, its selling things people want (tm) to people who want them (tm). Without a good story motivation, the PC isn't an "adventurer," in fact I'd argue most PCs these days aren't adventurers, or even the derogatory 'murder-hobo.'

The change in the tone of story of RPGs tends to result in PCs who aren't out for 'adventure' but are out for some specific goal. Ironically, the Pathfinder Society ICly wants /adventurers./ It wants people who go places just to see/experience them, who poke hornets nests, who go to ancient tombs because they're ancient tombs.

Most PCs these days aren't adventurers. They're 'heroes' or 'people thrown into a situation.'

To use a videogame example: Skyrim.

When the Dovakiin is following a quest to go attack a place somewhere to get a given artifact because he works for say the Imperial Legion, he's not adventuring. He's on a mission, and he does it as efficiently as he can. He's not there to sniff roses. This is the "optimizer."

When he walks down a road because he wants to see where it goes and then investigates the ancient cthonian ruin because 'there might be something cool inside!' he's an adventurer.

The 'Adventurer' wants to find something neat. He's sort of an experience junkie. I explored the Tomb of Ultimate Atrocity! I fought a dragon! I ate the uneatable sandwich! The finding of treasure matters more then the treasure itself.

The modern 'optimized' PC seems to view money as more 'resources,' so yes, they tend to be more like venture capitalists in mindset. They also tend to list accomplishments like 'we defeated the plans of..' or 'I improved the city of..' They don't aim for legends, they aim for history.

Dunno if this helps, just an observation.


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Wind Chime wrote:


Our conception of reality is based on the assumption magic doesn't exist and what is possible is quantifiable and certain. In a magic setting anything is possible reality is transmutable and the rules are not the same.

Bolded the fallacy part.

Magic follows rules. Magic is not some blank check that means "anything is possible." What is possible in a magical world is what is allowed by the rules of magic.

This is precisely the sort of fallacy I am talking about.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:
Wind Chime wrote:


Our conception of reality is based on the assumption magic doesn't exist and what is possible is quantifiable and certain. In a magic setting anything is possible reality is transmutable and the rules are not the same.

Bolded the fallacy part.

Magic follows rules. Magic is not some blank check that means "anything is possible." What is possible in a magical world is what is allowed by the rules of magic.

This is precisely the sort of fallacy I am talking about.

Well in several D&D settings the world was created by the God's power (magic) so sufficient power can rewrite the setting and it's rules. Not to mention magic systems are purposely left open so they can keep what ever the author comes up with next. The limits in magic in pathfinder are mechanical rather than narrative.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

The thing I like best about this thread is that the total disconnect between the title and the actual content of the OP will then tell you exactly which posters actually read and reply to a post, and which posters just read the title and then fill in the rest of your beliefs with whatever they feel like enlightening you about.


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Wind Chime wrote:
Adamantine Dragon wrote:
Wind Chime wrote:


Our conception of reality is based on the assumption magic doesn't exist and what is possible is quantifiable and certain. In a magic setting anything is possible reality is transmutable and the rules are not the same.

Bolded the fallacy part.

Magic follows rules. Magic is not some blank check that means "anything is possible." What is possible in a magical world is what is allowed by the rules of magic.

This is precisely the sort of fallacy I am talking about.

Well in several D&D settings the world was created by the God's power (magic) so sufficient power can rewrite the setting and it's rules.

LOL, if you want to use THAT logic, then you can apply exactly the same approach to the REAL WORLD since the vast, vast majority of human beings on this planet believe that "the world was created by God's power (magic) so sufficient power can rewrite the setting and it's rules."

I do not expect dragons to fly overhead just because God created the heavens and the earth Wind Chime. You might, but that's beyond my expectation of reality and if I saw it my first thought would not be "dang, dragons are real after all." My first thought would be "uh oh... time to see a doctor..."


Jiggy wrote:
The thing I like best about this thread is that the total disconnect between the title and the actual content of the OP will then tell you exactly which posters actually read and reply to a post, and which posters just read the title and then fill in the rest of your beliefs with whatever they feel like enlightening you about.

Brilliant demonstration of your point Jiggy. Just brilliant!


@ Wind Chime:

"Magic"=/="Gods' Power."

Magic is the little stuff that the Gods let their servants use, that wizards can puzzle out, that sorcerers are tuned to.

Gods' power is not, repeat not, available to mortals... in order to get it, one must ascend.

Which is, really, the best reason to become an adventurer...

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Adamantine Dragon wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
The thing I like best about this thread is that the total disconnect between the title and the actual content of the OP will then tell you exactly which posters actually read and reply to a post, and which posters just read the title and then fill in the rest of your beliefs with whatever they feel like enlightening you about.
Brilliant demonstration of your point Jiggy. Just brilliant!

I can't actually tell whether you're being serious or sarcastic. :P


Jiggy wrote:
Adamantine Dragon wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
The thing I like best about this thread is that the total disconnect between the title and the actual content of the OP will then tell you exactly which posters actually read and reply to a post, and which posters just read the title and then fill in the rest of your beliefs with whatever they feel like enlightening you about.
Brilliant demonstration of your point Jiggy. Just brilliant!
I can't actually tell whether you're being serious or sarcastic. :P

And that's what makes it so insanely awesome!

Shadow Lodge

Are you just now realizing this?


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Many roleplayers play adventurers and that's fine. Even if my opinion on the subject mattered (and it doesn't, much), I've got no problem with adventurers if that's what people like to play. It's certainly not without precedent in fantasy fiction. There are a small number of works featuring "adventurers" that spring to mind. Robert E. Howard's Conan books and Fritz Lieber's Lankhmar books featuring Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser are two examples. There are others.

However, most classic fantasy fiction does not have adventurers, defined as characters who set out to make their living by adventuring. Most classic fantasy is more akin to the LoTR, the Belgariad, anything by E.R. Burroughs, or the Elric of Melnibone books. They feature heroes and antiheroes who happen to have adventures in the course of pursuing their own interests. Even The Hobbit, in which Thorin and his companions are certainly portrayed as adventurers, shows that they are dwarves who have saved up through years of hard work for what they plan to be one single adventure.

Quote:
After that we went away, and we have had to earn our livings as best we could up and down the lands, often enough sinking as low as blacksmith-work or even coalmining. But we have never forgotten our stolen treasure. And even now, when I will allow we have a good bit laid by and are not so badly off”-here Thorin stroked the gold chain round his neck-”we still mean to get it back, and to bring our curses home to Smaug-if we can.

And their plan in the end isn't to fight Smaug, but to send in a burglar to steal their wealth back, after which they meant to retire. Not many PCs ever retire or plan to retire after a single adventure, no matter how profitable or how much sense it might make for a profit-driven character.

Optimized or not, PCs should have motivations for what they do. For some few, it may only be wealth. These characters can be fun to play, but they aren't heroes and can become unrealistic murderhoboes if they do not have some expenses that rapidly deplete their wealth once gained. In at least some games many more PCs will be motivated by events in the game world that closely involve their characters, events that entangle them in adventures whether they wish for an exciting life or not. That last clause is vital, of course. Will they be heroes like Gandalf, Aragorn, and Boromir, who have deliberately devoted their lives to fighting an evil that overshadows their world with no regard for reward (and who probably have not a clue how to weave baskets)? Or will they be characters such as Samwise Gamgee, a real but accidental hero who knows far more about how to cook and garden than how to swing a sword? In some ways it doesn't matter. The first backstory lends itself well to a high degree of optimization and the second does not, but either backstory can define a true hero, one well worth being played.


Zog of Deadwood wrote:
Gandalf, Aragorn, and Boromir, who have deliberately devoted their lives to fighting an evil that overshadows their world with no regard for reward (and who probably have not a clue how to weave baskets)

But Aragorn is really, really good at sewing! ... or at least competent.

And Gandalf makes fireworks!
And Boromir is slated to become a king! (Okay, I'll give you that one.)


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Boromir is awesome at collecting arrows.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Adamantine Dragon wrote:

Title of thread =/= content of thread.

I would love to name the fallacy that if you accept the existence of dragons, you can't complain about any other verisimilitude breaking aspect of the game. "Hey, there's dragons buddy. So there!"

I nominate the term "there be dragons fallacy" as the name of this fallacy.

I second the nomination to officially coin the "There be dragons fallacy"


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You know it's interesting but it's only in the last few years that I've started to see this more and more.
Back in 2nd edition(and i'm not saying edition has anything to do with this. I think it's something else entirely, but that's a whole nother can of worms) this rarely happened at all with my groups.
Players were more willing to adapt their characters to the party and the DM's storyline. Sure you would have inter party conflicts. Actually more so then than now it seems.
But the shift seems to have been directing those conflicts more towards the game world and the Dm's story then the other players.
I think that's where some of the feeling of "entitlement" is coming from.

It's the Dm, sitting there and doing the vast majority of the work, crafting a story, shaping encounters, planning out treasure. etc. and having the players look at the DM and asking "what's my motivation".
And the DM wanting to snap back.. That's your job, you tell me, why are you an adventurer rather then the Innkeeper.

We call it role playing yourself out of the group. You the player have come up with this elaborate back story that really in no way makes sense for your PC to become an adventurer or associate with the other adventurers. He would be more content raising sheep. And somehow it's the DM's fault for not accommodating you.

Or a player asking why his character would want to continue adventuring with the group.

As a DM this is fustrating. You (the player) have come up with this logical reason why your character shouldn't stick around. Rather then expending that energy coming up with a reason why you should.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Tacticslion wrote:
Zog of Deadwood wrote:
Gandalf, Aragorn, and Boromir, who have deliberately devoted their lives to fighting an evil that overshadows their world with no regard for reward (and who probably have not a clue how to weave baskets)

But Aragorn is really, really good at sewing! ... or at least competent.

And Gandalf makes fireworks!
And Boromir is slated to become a king! (Okay, I'll give you that one.)

Aragorn also seemed to be a handy herbalist. And Gandalf could make distilleries produce fantastic beer on a consistent basis, which must be a marketable skill. I'm feeling like the guy who makes fireworks and guarantees quality booze is always going to have a place in the town economy.

Boromir was the medieval version of what we now call "celebrities", people with few to none marketable skills, but a guaranteed income thanks to knowing the right people and being born into the right family.


The game really doesn't work well for PCs running businesses, and coming from a business man, I would hazard to guess that operating a business in PF, is probably the most boring activity one could do. Not that running a business is boring, but only so in the real world.

I've seen threads where there are players who want to craft things such that they earn money from it. Really? I find adventuring to be both fun and profitable, even more so, than spending 8 hours a day crafting magic items. This really seems like a hypothetical situation, as nobody really wants to make stuff rather than adventure, at least not in my experience over 30 years of gaming.

The rules allow for crafting specialists, but that mostly applies to groups that want magic items cheaper than what they cost by the rules from a magic shop (I don't have magic shops in my worlds, however - all player magic items are found treasure, only), so they make items for themselves. They don't do it to sell stuff to NPCs.

If I had a player that suggested he wanted to craft items to sell and get rich, I'd suggest they go home and do that, rather than play in our group's games, since the rest of us run adventures to have fun.


Cinderfist wrote:

We call it role playing yourself out of the group. You the player have come up with this elaborate back story that really in no way makes sense for your PC to become an adventurer or associate with the other adventurers. He would be more content raising sheep. And somehow it's the DM's fault for not accommodating you.

Or a player asking why his character would want to continue adventuring with the group.

As a DM this is fustrating. You (the player) have come up with this logical reason why your character shouldn't stick around. Rather then expending that energy coming up with a reason why you should.

I feel like this is the biggest problem I have seen of late. Players who create characters with no connection to the campaign goals, or even at odds with the goals, and then constantly complain how the group is doing things their character wouldn't be doing. It's like, what did you expect to happen?

Project Manager

I don't think there's a right or wrong way to create characters, or that you should *have* to have the campaign goals/being an adventurer/whatevs in mind when creating your character (some people like playing fish out of water, for example).

One of the players in my group revels in creating characters with challenges to overcome (gnome paladins, orc sneaky rogues, etc.), and his characters are part of what makes the game funny, and fun. One of the characters in the group I GM is a wizard with a love of comfort and safety who would much prefer that the entire "adventure" take place in a library. His discomfort at being forced to adventure is hilarious and it provides him with a lot of opportunities for character growth.

As long as the group and the GM communicate about expectations (GMs are within their rights to say, "hey, no evil characters/summoners/non-core races/whatever in this campaign," and people are within their rights to say, "darn, I really want to play an evil character, so I'll sit this one out") I don't see an issue.

No one's having BadWrongFun. :-)


Ssalarn wrote:
Tacticslion wrote:
Zog of Deadwood wrote:
Gandalf, Aragorn, and Boromir, who have deliberately devoted their lives to fighting an evil that overshadows their world with no regard for reward (and who probably have not a clue how to weave baskets)

But Aragorn is really, really good at sewing! ... or at least competent.

And Gandalf makes fireworks!
And Boromir is slated to become a king! (Okay, I'll give you that one.)

Aragorn also seemed to be a handy herbalist. And Gandalf could make distilleries produce fantastic beer on a consistent basis, which must be a marketable skill. I'm feeling like the guy who makes fireworks and guarantees quality booze is always going to have a place in the town economy.

Boromir was the medieval version of what we now call "celebrities", people with few to none marketable skills, but a guaranteed income thanks to knowing the right people and being born into the right family.

Fair points, but because it was a work of fiction and not a roleplaying game, every skill mentioned served to move the story somehow rather than to balance the characters (LoTR had amazingly unbalanced parties from a game perspective). Aragorn knew the skills he did because he was a Ranger of the Dunedain and Gandalf was literally an angel who probably cared nothing for money, but their potentially marketable skills did not set them apart from Boromir or Legolas or Eomer or Faramir (aside from Aragorn's "hands of a healer", which was supposed to set him apart from other men). They are heroes, even Big Damn Heroes, and that is supposed to be their obvious role from the outset. As opposed to Sam Gamgee, hobbit gardener/cook too bashful to declare himself to Rosie Cotton.


I know of very few adventure fiction novels where the heroes had obviously marketable skills. And I read a lot of them. Most of the time the heroes have a special set of skills and they tend to live in cheap dives precisely because their skills have a limited marketability.

If anything the Fellowship of the Ring included some highly skilled folks in comparison to most literary heroes.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:

I know of very few adventure fiction novels where the heroes had obviously marketable skills. And I read a lot of them. Most of the time the heroes have a special set of skills and they tend to live in cheap dives precisely because their skills have a limited marketability.

If anything the Fellowship of the Ring included some highly skilled folks in comparison to most literary heroes.

You ever read Taran Wanderer by Lloyd Alexander? it's a plot point that Taran is very possibly the worse the worst potter in the world. But (relating to fiction vs RPG heroes) when the people of the Free Commots, who pledge fealty to no lord but the High King of Prydain, gather under the banner of the white pig, that's symbolic.


rkraus2 wrote:


I've got that, and found it worked really well to set incredibly specific character creation guidelines, and to have a hours long conversation about what the campaign was about before we got started.

Why would anyone start a campaign and not do this?


I am writing a novel right now and one of the main "heroes" in the book takes great pride in his cooking skills. Not that he's any great cook, but he THINKS he is.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:
I am writing a novel right now and one of the main "heroes" in the book takes great pride in his cooking skills. Not that he's any great cook, but he THINKS he is.

Are you going to give that character a Moment of Insight {tm}? That can go well either way, but sometimes I really enjoy books where the POV character never even realizes what jackass he is, but the reader does.

I guess I'm thinking of the difference between Emma by Jane Austen and Triton by Samuel R. Delany. They've both got unreliable narrators, but take it in very different directions, if you see what I mean.


Spook205 wrote:

I can kind of understand the OP's issue here.

I've been guilty of it myself at times. In Shadowrun for example I made a character, high intelligence, good skills, and I was ultimately struck by the conundrum that only the Prince of Idiots would become a Shadowrunner if he absolutely didn't 'have' to. I realized by examining the campaign we were having that ultimately we earned negative cash (income didn't outplace expenditures) we were taking enormous risk and generally it was the equivalent of trying to dig yourself out of a hole.

I told the group this, expressing concern to the DM and the answer was 'but then we wouldn't adventure!' And so to this point I still consider SR to be a game about brain damaged lunatics (which probably isn't far off).

But the reason for our trip into shadowrun above is that players can recognize bad cycles and everyone's got an inherent risk-reward matrix. The adventurers of old were essentially treasure hounds, gold, treasure and the like. The modern adventurer is more story driven. So what if the Tomb of Ultimate Atrocity has one million gold at the bottom, it doesn't really fit my goals, and we need to expend like 2 million to survive getting down there.

The 'optimized' PC slowly comes to the horrible realization that the safest path to monetary gain is not to rob it from a tomb somewhere risking life and limb on a regular basis, its selling things people want (tm) to people who want them (tm). Without a good story motivation, the PC isn't an "adventurer," in fact I'd argue most PCs these days aren't adventurers, or even the derogatory 'murder-hobo.'

This doesn't sound like pathfinder at all. Pathfinder has wealth by level charts that ensure you will gain exponentially more gold the longer you adventure and made it impossible to make money as a shopkeeper. The best you can hope for is making really mediocre money using proffession or crafting that can be eclipsed by adventuring.

Granted, I never see players put this money into practical things(like a house, good food, house servants). It always goes to becoming a better murderhobo.


johnlocke90 wrote:
Spook205 wrote:

I can kind of understand the OP's issue here.

I've been guilty of it myself at times. In Shadowrun for example I made a character, high intelligence, good skills, and I was ultimately struck by the conundrum that only the Prince of Idiots would become a Shadowrunner if he absolutely didn't 'have' to. I realized by examining the campaign we were having that ultimately we earned negative cash (income didn't outplace expenditures) we were taking enormous risk and generally it was the equivalent of trying to dig yourself out of a hole.

I told the group this, expressing concern to the DM and the answer was 'but then we wouldn't adventure!' And so to this point I still consider SR to be a game about brain damaged lunatics (which probably isn't far off).

But the reason for our trip into shadowrun above is that players can recognize bad cycles and everyone's got an inherent risk-reward matrix. The adventurers of old were essentially treasure hounds, gold, treasure and the like. The modern adventurer is more story driven. So what if the Tomb of Ultimate Atrocity has one million gold at the bottom, it doesn't really fit my goals, and we need to expend like 2 million to survive getting down there.

The 'optimized' PC slowly comes to the horrible realization that the safest path to monetary gain is not to rob it from a tomb somewhere risking life and limb on a regular basis, its selling things people want (tm) to people who want them (tm). Without a good story motivation, the PC isn't an "adventurer," in fact I'd argue most PCs these days aren't adventurers, or even the derogatory 'murder-hobo.'

This doesn't sound like pathfinder at all. Pathfinder has wealth by level charts that ensure you will gain exponentially more gold the longer you adventure and made it impossible to make money as a shopkeeper. The best you can hope for is making really mediocre money using proffession or crafting that can be eclipsed by adventuring.

Granted, I never see players put this money into practical things(like a house, good food, house servants). It always goes to becoming a better murderhobo.

That's exactly it. You can make a ton of money, but you have to put all of it into more and better gear so you can survive the next adventure, so you can get more loot to spend on better gear... etc.

When Conan got a bag of gold and jewels from the ancient temple he looted, he drank and wenched until they were gone and started the next adventure broke again.


Jessica Price wrote:

I don't think there's a right or wrong way to create characters, or that you should *have* to have the campaign goals/being an adventurer/whatevs in mind when creating your character (some people like playing fish out of water, for example).

One of the players in my group revels in creating characters with challenges to overcome (gnome paladins, orc sneaky rogues, etc.), and his characters are part of what makes the game funny, and fun. One of the characters in the group I GM is a wizard with a love of comfort and safety who would much prefer that the entire "adventure" take place in a library. His discomfort at being forced to adventure is hilarious and it provides him with a lot of opportunities for character growth.

As long as the group and the GM communicate about expectations (GMs are within their rights to say, "hey, no evil characters/summoners/non-core races/whatever in this campaign," and people are within their rights to say, "darn, I really want to play an evil character, so I'll sit this one out") I don't see an issue.

No one's having BadWrongFun. :-)

You're right Jessica, or at least I agree with you. But let me ask you this. The player that is playing the reluctant adventurer, how does he wind up staying with the group?

Is it the DM that comes up with the reason why all the time?, or (as I suspect) the player, realizing he wants to continue playing the character, when presented with a choice where one path would allow his Wizard to remain in his library while the others go exploring, he comes up with a reason why his pc would choose option B and be able to continue playing him? Even if in the RP his character is protesting the whole way.

My point was that I am seeing more and more players expecting the DM to give them a reason not to chose the path that lets them stay home(ie roleplayed out of the group) and when it doesn't happen, then they look at it as the DM's fault and hide behind the excuse "well that's what my guy would want to do" It's a form of shooting yourself in the foot to me.

I don't think there is anything wrong with a character that is a reluctant adventurer. The wizard you mentioned sounds fun. In a way it's more of a reluctant player that can cause problems. Reluctant in the sense of not wanting to deviate from the strict pc persona they have built in their minds even if it means no longer playing said character.

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Cinderfist wrote:
Jessica Price wrote:

I don't think there's a right or wrong way to create characters, or that you should *have* to have the campaign goals/being an adventurer/whatevs in mind when creating your character (some people like playing fish out of water, for example).

One of the players in my group revels in creating characters with challenges to overcome (gnome paladins, orc sneaky rogues, etc.), and his characters are part of what makes the game funny, and fun. One of the characters in the group I GM is a wizard with a love of comfort and safety who would much prefer that the entire "adventure" take place in a library. His discomfort at being forced to adventure is hilarious and it provides him with a lot of opportunities for character growth.

As long as the group and the GM communicate about expectations (GMs are within their rights to say, "hey, no evil characters/summoners/non-core races/whatever in this campaign," and people are within their rights to say, "darn, I really want to play an evil character, so I'll sit this one out") I don't see an issue.

No one's having BadWrongFun. :-)

You're right Jessica, or at least I agree with you. But let me ask you this. The player that is playing the reluctant adventurer, how does he wind up staying with the group?

Is it the DM that comes up with the reason why all the time?, or (as I suspect) the player, realizing he wants to continue playing the character, when presented with a choice where one path would allow his Wizard to remain in his library while the others go exploring, he comes up with a reason why his pc would choose option B and be able to continue playing him? Even if in the RP his character is protesting the whole way.

Hah, no, he requires me -- or other players in the party -- to convince him. He's designed his character to give me a few tools: he's indebted to a woman who disappeared, so if I hold out the carrot of a clue about her whereabouts, he'll chase it, and part of his life's work is the study of mage towers, so he can be dislodged from the library to go study one. He and the other characters also met at a school, and being an academic from an academic family, he's found the threat of not graduating was sufficient motivation to get him to do some things.

And after I get him out of the library, each time, I usually find ways to keep him from returning until the party needs a break.

He's also got a certain number of character quirks/pride about things/etc. that his party members can use to goad him into action.

But he's also sat out some battles because he didn't see a reason to participate or didn't want to take the risk, which is fine with me.


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Jackissocool wrote:
johnlocke90 wrote:
On the contrary I see far more people playing characters who would struggle to exist outside of adventuring. Its rare for characters to bother with an actual profession and crafting seems limited to making magic gear.
I generally build my characters with at least 1 rank in a craft or profession skill, often times more. I see all these basket weaving jokes, and I wonder how Steelgrip the Goliath Barbarian, master of throwing boulders and weaving baskets, would feel about being made fun of.

I found profession: bandit a very useful skill. Really lends itself to adventuring.


I'm co-GMing with a friend, and the character I'm playing is a monk weaponsmith who's father was murdered and his shop was burnt down in the last adventure. I wrote up a 2 page back story and he's totally unoptimized, but if I need to make some extra coin in the downtime from adventuring, I can craft some weapons or if the rest of the party needs their weapons repaired I'm still contributing to the group.
The bottom line is: if you're having fun while playing a merchant, keep playing a merchant. If you need motivation from yout GM to play your merchant, maybe you should take a stab at GMing and see what it's like on the other side of the screen.

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