Making new characters in PFS-- "Optimized" or not?


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Liberty's Edge

I'm curious, what process do my fellow pathfinders go through when making a new character? Do you have any standards or criteria that you try to meet?

I know that people who don't play "optimized" characters they are told that they are doing it wrong? When PFS is supposed to be fun and enjoyable, why would anyone bother with that?

A habit I had with most characters I've made, was making a specific stat (Con) at least a 14, especially when I was new. But I've grown out of that habit. Anyone else do similar things like this?

What other things do you do with characters? Something else I like to try and do is pair a race that may not be the most optimal choice for a specific class. I feel it adds a little more flavor and variety to the table and at the same time it doesn't lessen the play experience.

Dark Archive 4/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Upper Midwest aka Silbeg

Three of my four characters are built something like this (in regards to stats array: 14 14 14 13 12 10. This would be a Rogue, Paladin, and Gunslinger (the pally is little different but pretty close).

The only character (my last), is a tiefling Wizard with a ST8, DX16, CO12, IN20, WS10, CH6. He is my only non-human, and I actually felt guilty setting him up (a conjurer, with Toughness and a Toad Familiar), but he was survivable at 1st lev (mostly because of the 14hp), and could give some out of combat. It was hilarious through the adventure he went through watching him try to aid another in grapple and strength checks... he wasn't very good at it to say the least!

Min/maxing is not a requirement. I may not even keep the wizard the way he is now... bad feeling in my mouth because of it.

Liberty's Edge

Silbeg wrote:

Three of my four characters are built something like this (in regards to stats array: 14 14 14 13 12 10. This would be a Rogue, Paladin, and Gunslinger (the pally is little different but pretty close).

The only character (my last), is a tiefling Wizard with a ST8, DX16, CO12, IN20, WS10, CH6. He is my only non-human, and I actually felt guilty setting him up (a conjurer, with Toughness and a Toad Familiar), but he was survivable at 1st lev (mostly because of the 14hp), and could give some out of combat. It was hilarious through the adventure he went through watching him try to aid another in grapple and strength checks... he wasn't very good at it to say the least!

Min/maxing is not a requirement. I may not even keep the wizard the way he is now... bad feeling in my mouth because of it.

My first character was a human rogue, I ended up with 3 stats that had a minimum of 14. I played him until level 4 and stopped, started making other character. I'm playing a Halfling conjuration Wizard who also has the Toughness feat. I don't regret it, but at the time I couldn't think of anything else that sounded good. That particular feat isn't a bad choice, but there might be better options to consider. I can imagine a wizard trying to use a staff or something to help pry a friend out of a grapple.. :)

Silver Crusade

For CON specifically, PFS's build system is kind of limiting, imo.

No class is fueled specifically off of CON. CON is not an attack stat or caster stat. So it's not something I feel that most builds can afford to dump huge points into.

On the flip side, dumping CON is veritable suicide.

Hence, most of my PFS characters have exactly 12 CON, and then I modulate hps further with toughness or favored class.

That being said, my first PFS character, a cleric, had a 14 CON and I have a dwarf fighter with that paid for 14 CON and ended up with 16 CON. Everyone else is exactly 12.

Grand Lodge

David Bowles wrote:


No class is fueled specifically off of CON. CON is not an attack stat or caster stat. So it's not something I feel that most builds can afford to dump huge points into.

If only they would let us play orc scarred witch doctors.

Silver Crusade

I meant "can not" afford to dump points into CON.

Scarab Sages

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After the game I had yesterday all I can say is make an optimised character that can survive and be effective no matter what.
DO NOT make a character who is so focused to be useless unless they face a specific situation.
We had a Sorcerer built with one spell that did a lot of damage but was totally unaffective useless once out of spells (I've played a wizard armed a sword and a bow, I was pretty damn useful after I ran out if spells) as well as a Witch who was useless against 90% of the foes we encountered.
D&D is about hit points, Toughness is a smart choice as is Favoured Class hp (my previously mentioned Wizard had it) so if you can grab that do so.


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Smart play trumps mechanical choices every time. I think 1 or maybe 2 out of 9 characters I've got have 10+ CON.

Always character concept first, then see if/how it can be made to work.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

I generally try to make my characters survivable, but I also strive to make every character different. I try my best to pick different race/class combinations and not repeat the same feats, traits, or items.

That being said, the one thing probably all my characters have in common are higher than average hit points and good saves. I have only one character with less than a 14 CON, and only one character with less than a 14 WIS. I think I have two with less than a 14 DEX. The one item than everyone has, and is usually the first item I buy, is a cloak of resistance. I've encountered high level characters that have only +0 or +1 in one of their saves, and I just couldn't fathom doing that to my characters.


My experiences regarding hp put me squarely in David's rather than Reebo's camp in regards to my relationship to Constitution. You need to have a certain (fairly easily achievable) number of hp (depending on your build/role), beyond which it doesn't do you much good.

My approach to character building is that I make some kind of weird concept and then try to optimize it and make it work. In other words, I try to innately gimp my builds with aesthetics and then optimize them within that.

Some examples:

1. I based a build off of Xianghua from Soul Caliber. So now I'm trying to make a competent one handed sword fighter who is highly mobile, has a negative strength modifier and wears no armor. This wound up being a monk/rogue/cleric/barbarian/fighter. She works quite well, amazingly, but not so well that she outshines the other PCs. She is a very competent skill monkey and skirmisher/striker.

2. I wanted a character like Thorn from the Bone comics. In other words, a Mary Sue who didn't seem all that remarkable most of the time but would suddenly exhibit a wide variety of mystical powers and rise to the occasion when the chips were down. She works quite well as a ninja/paladin with forgotten trick.

3. I wanted to play, basically, an Erinyes (flying around shooting things with fiery arrows). So I made a tiefling beastmorph alchemist with the (really underwhelming, but cool for this concept) explosive missile discovery. She's a master chymist and the idea is that her mutagens bring her demon half more fully to the fore, so when she drinks them she gets bat wings and claws and then flies around shooting flaming arrows, as planned.

I also have a monk/inquisitor who can do like a billion things competently but isn't really great at any one thing. Still works and contributes sufficiently to the party though. Anyway, stuff like that makes the game fun for me.

4/5

I think you should "optimize" your character some, but not necessarily "min/max." I min/max because that's my style, just as 80% of my characters being casters is my style.

If you make sure your character isn't useless in combat, most people won't complain. You don't have to have stat-dumping character to be effective.

I would never make a character with less than 12 con, though. Not only does the con help you have higher hit points, it also means that you die at -12 instead of a higher value, which is actually more valuable a lot of time, and also something toughness doesn't change.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Silh wrote:
I'm curious, what process do my fellow pathfinders go through when making a new character? Do you have any standards or criteria that you try to meet?

I think characters should generally be able to out preform the NPC pregens. If you can't do that I might try to avoid tables you are at.

Grand Lodge

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From my experience, you should optimize survivability, not damage per round.

Survivability will allow you to keep prestige and spend them on interesting rewards. It'll allow you to run in and rescue your team mates if they ever get into trouble. It'll make sure you can adventure bravely, rather than hiding 40 foot behind the rest of the party.

Damage per round has the risk of ending combats early, provoking annoyed looks from party members who may not even have the chance to get their own attacks off on an enemy. It often means you've dumped stats or feat choices to have 'one trick' that ends combat early, makes it a strategic choice for certain buffers to stop fighting and just channel spells into you all day to multiply the damage from your character's damage eruption. Some classes, such as archers and gunslingers have a culture built up around them now that this damage focus is all they're meant to achieve now.

Often the damage output you can achieve is unbalanced for the hit dice system, and counter measures such as DR become an afterthought for gold tax for special material ammunition or a feat such as clustered shot.

I would warmly welcome a player that boasted that they withstood five rounds of Babau assasination attempts rather than a player that boasted that they killed a Babau in one round singlehandedly.

That's just my experience with the game. Feel free to hate on it if you like.

Scarab Sages

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For me, it comes down to the question, "Why is this fun?"

Part of fun is effectiveness. That does not necessarily mean cookie-cutter templated effectiveness. When I am playing a game, in part it's for escapism, and to escape into mediocrity sounds not very fun to me.

Liberty's Edge

My first three characters were effective but not optimized, with core book resources only. Two of them are now dead, and the other hasn't played anything later than mid year 3.

My 4th was a GM blob that just launched the other day and has min-maxed stats: 16-14-19-7-12-5 dwarven barbarian.

My 5th and 6th are GM/pre-gen blobs that I haven't made yet.

**************************************

I've never heard anyone say that non-optimizing is doing it wrong. However, there are some character builds that probably aren't the best choice for a year 4 table with 4 characters. Same characters might be fine at a season 0 table. And, for characters that don't hit their stride until later, maybe that is something that changes.

I generally follow the 14+ Con guideline that I was pretty standard for many players in LG. If anything, in PF, Con becomes more important for survivability than in 3.5 due to death at -Con rather than -10 and because Fort save became more important due to changes in the poison rules.

Scarab Sages

David Bowles wrote:


Hence, most of my PFS characters have exactly 12 CON, and then I modulate hps further with toughness or favored class.

In higher level play I have seen an awful lot of people go from active to dead, because of Con Scores of 12 (and 10). Since having that experience I don't generally create characters with less than a 14 con.

I know a lot of archer and range attackers go with the 10 to 12 Con because they are not in melee - but in the higher levels the damage doesn't just fall on the melee wielders.

5/5 5/55/55/5

The process...

I have a Thick black book full of character ideas and handy pfs notes. -Basic character concept, a point buy spread, possible feats, and a christmas list of "Ooo i want this..." for the characters.

Standards: have at least 1 good in combat schtick, have at least 1 good out of combat schtick and be GOOD at it. I tend to go for at least a 14 con because surprise rounds happen and you don't always have a party tank.

Concept: Druid faux rogue. In combat schtick: Buffed to high hell animal companion of death, control spells, the occasional SOD. Out of Combat Schtick: stealth, perception, Disable device, a minor in knowledges.

Concept: Undead controlling preist. In combat: channeling (goes both ways!), healing, buffing, Out of combat: Diplomacy, a little stealth and disguise.

Concept: Ankylosaurus themed druid. The celestial servant feat was too good to pass up so.. aasimar. In combat: high ac, moderate damage output. Seriously armored Ankylosaurus. Out of combat: perception, survival, and a few know-ledges- this one could use more out of combat I suppose.

Concept: Tengu! Ok, dex and wisdom= Inquisitor archer. Uses own feathers for fletching. In combat: Archer with melee backup. Pseudo rogue (stealth, perception, Disable Device),

Concept: Kitsune. Dex +cha= Dex NINJAAA!... In a foppish hat using dervish dance.

Concept: A wild empathy/charisma focused druid (who's cha is higher than the other two's combined) In combat: Turning the monsters thrown at the party into weapons for the party, summoning. Out of combat: Diplomacy

Concept: A dumb sorcerer being lead around by a smart familiar. In combat: charm person, buff allies. Out of combat: Obscene +14 diplomacy at first level and the ability to move people three steps on the npc interaction chart.

I dump stats like a bad habbit. I hate playing average stats and i love putting points into things that will make me effective, so its a win win. If i'm not a martial, that strength is going to 7. If i'm not focusing in something charisma based the charisma is going to 7: There's very little difference between a +2 and a -2 in a skill, chances are someone else is going to roll it and you're not making it either way.

5/5 5/55/55/5

Funky Badger wrote:

Smart play trumps mechanical choices every time. I think 1 or maybe 2 out of 9 characters I've got have 10+ CON.

Always character concept first, then see if/how it can be made to work.

I'm very curious about what this allegedly smart play boils down to. Usually it seems to me that folks playing "Smart" are creeping around safely while the rest of the party is getting their clocks cleaned.

Liberty's Edge

I like to think that I play smart, but I also try to play a variety of characters. I know a majority of people tend to have a class, that one they know really well and enjoy it.

I actively force myself to play a variety of classes, change the stat builds, races, feats, etc. There have been a few times (with my Wizard) where I did hang back and probably could have done a little more than I did. That isn't to say he was ineffective, but not nearly as effective as he could have been. It happens though. I do not personally like the idea of "dumping" a stat, it just makes me uncomfortable. As my Wizard is getting closer to level 12, I've made a paladin, a front-liner isn't something I've played until I made him. It's also a nice change of pace too.

I've slowly gotten out of the habit of making the CON stat of characters 14 as a default because I know I can augment it with items and spells while leveling.

Liberty's Edge

Always interesting to see what methods other players use, I may or may not have noticed a few ideas that I like. ;)

Edit- I am REALLY enjoying the wizard, he is easily my most favorite character that is currently in play. I'll be sad when he retires (assuming he lives to make it to that point)

Silver Crusade

Dhjika wrote:
David Bowles wrote:


Hence, most of my PFS characters have exactly 12 CON, and then I modulate hps further with toughness or favored class.

In higher level play I have seen an awful lot of people go from active to dead, because of Con Scores of 12 (and 10). Since having that experience I don't generally create characters with less than a 14 con.

I know a lot of archer and range attackers go with the 10 to 12 Con because they are not in melee - but in the higher levels the damage doesn't just fall on the melee wielders.

This is why I often upgrade CON before an attack stat with magic items.


My character concepts usually start with the combat schtick i want to try. This can be a feat or combination of feats and class abilities, or even just a theme. But I start with that cool thing I want to do.

Next I try to find the best way to fit this idea in Golarion. Most characters that lack personality fail to do this. Ethnicity imparts a significant part of most personalities and gives a great base to roleplay from.

next step is to find the class combinations that let the character do what I want it to and gives me the best opportunity to make the schtick work. This normally involves planning the first 6 lvls. I fit the class to the character not the other way around. I've even taken the Dragonmoon approach with one of my newer characters and I don't even tell other players my classes or stats, just that I am a monster relocation specialist.

The last thing I do is plug in stats. I don't really agree with the ideas you must maximise saves, or that a high con is necessary for survival. I have a retired con 10 melee inquisitor/monk and a lvl 10 con 12 tengu barbarian. Neither are min maxed or even fully optimized but both are effective.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

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Optimizing for PFS and optimizing for combat are not the same things. There are plenty of times the party is doing something in PFS that is not combat and if you have no ability in out of combat challenges then you are not participating in the entire adventure. I don't play PFS so I can sit on the sidelines.

On a different note, I know a player who is neither that good at designing characters nor with tactics. One of the smartest builds he ever did was a Sorcerer with a Con higher than his Cha. This gave him a much better chance of surviving when he did something stupid.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

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BigNorseWolf wrote:
Funky Badger wrote:

Smart play trumps mechanical choices every time. I think 1 or maybe 2 out of 9 characters I've got have 10+ CON.

Always character concept first, then see if/how it can be made to work.

I'm very curious about what this allegedly smart play boils down to. Usually it seems to me that folks playing "Smart" are creeping around safely while the rest of the party is getting their clocks cleaned.

I agree smart play trumps mechanical choices. When I say smart play I am referring to good tactics, teamwork and equipment purchase that can help get the party out of a potential TPK. It also involves knowing when to run.

But there are those that rely on their teammates to shoulder the brunt of the danger. It has been my observation that front liners in PFS have a higher mortality rate than the back liners.

Dark Archive

I think after this weekend, I will be making a 7 con, 7 dex, 20 str, 16 int wizard and have him be front line to see where he can go. >.> Optimized!

Liberty's Edge

I almost always have minimum 14 con before racial stat mod. So an elf will have a 12 min and a gnome or dwarf will have a 16 min. I might be willing to go for 2 points less with a caster cleric Since they decent defenses, are trying to stay out of melee, and can heal themselves.

If I dump a mental stat, it will only be one of them. If I dump cha I will make up for it some with some points into social skills. If I dump int I will make sure my cha is high enough to have at least middlin decent social skills.

I try to put at least 1 skill point into every class skill that might conceivably have any use. Then try to max (or at least close) perception and at least 1 social skill (diplomacy, intimidate, bluff, or sense motive).

My builds always have more than 1 thing I can do in combat. I will never make a just pure 'I attack' build. Not saying there is anything wrong with them, but I personally find them boring to run long term. So even if I am building a melee DPS he will have sunder, trip, bull rush, disarm, wildshape, spell combat, or something different I can do.

Similarly even if it is effective I won't build a 'spam 1 spell' character. Few months ago I saw a wizard that did nothing except scorching ray. Maximized, specialized, perfection, intensified, bouncing, ice-rimed, etc... I don't remember all of it. But it was always scortching ray. I got bored just listening to it after 1 scenario. I can't imagine running it for months to get to high level.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

No joke, years ago I had a player roll up a STR/INT grappling Necromancer in 3.5. At low levels he rocked, with some hilarity. After a while, when the build put him in more harm than not, he animated an Yrthak skeleton, named him Chompy, and ruled from the sidelines. Awe, memories.

The Exchange 5/5

First, you'll have to define "Optimized".
.
What is "Optimized" to one person is a sub-par build to another, and vice-versa. This is heavily dependant on the player and what he feels is the "standard".

Whatever else I say at this point, somebody will reply pointing out how this statement leads to an overly "Optimized" PC... only to have someone else point out how "sub-par" that build would be. Sometimes these two posters are the same person..., at times in the same post.

Dark Archive

It's getting more and more required in later year modules; the arms race will always compensate. If you play early, not really.

My characters are:

2 with 16 14 14 12 12 7
1 with 19 14 14 14 7 7
1 with 19 14 12 12 12 7

all at varying levels of power (I do love the front line, so I have a fighter and monk; but I also have a summoner who eats modules alive).

Ultimately you're going to feel best if you are not a burden to the party, so I at least would not make yourself overly weak (be good at what you want to do). Support casters will do far better "unoptimized" than a front-line fighter.

The Exchange 5/5

Thalin wrote:

It's getting more and more required in later year modules; the arms race will always compensate. If you play early, not really.

My characters are:

2 with 16 14 14 12 12 7
1 with 19 14 14 14 7 7
1 with 19 14 12 12 12 7

all at varying levels of power (I do love the front line, so I have a fighter and monk; but I also have a summoner who eats modules alive).

Ultimately you're going to feel best if you are not a burden to the party, so I at least would not make yourself overly weak (be good at what you want to do). Support casters will do far better "unoptimized" than a front-line fighter.

Thalin, how would you define "optimized"?

What makes a PC "unoptimized"?

Scarab Sages

I rarely start with a stat higher than 17 and nearly always start with a 14 CON regardless of class.

The exceptions are my kyton-spawn summoner (16 CON with racial mod) and my elemental fire sorcerer with a 20 CHA but only 7 INT and WIS (Who needs brains or common sense. If anything(anybody) causes a problem, set it on fire.)

The Exchange 5/5

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Artanthos wrote:

I rarely start with a stat higher than 17 and nearly always start with a 14 CON regardless of class.

The exceptions are my kyton-spawn summoner (16 CON with racial mod) and my elemental fire sorcerer with a 20 CHA but only 7 INT and WIS (Who needs brains or common sense. If anything(anybody) causes a problem, set it on fire.)

just had to chime in with this...

I rarely start without at least one stat higher than 17 and never start with a 14 CON regardless of class/race (most of my PCs have 10 CON).

Silver Crusade

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Having played all of the core classes each many times with many themes, I mostly build multi-class characters these days.

I often start with a "kernel," which could be a feat/skill/weapon, that I want to try, or it could be a character personality that I want to develop. At times, I have even started with a character name, and worked in. (That's how my namesake character, The Fox, came to be, actually.)

I shamelessly dump stats I don't need. I have dumped each of the six stats at least once in my gaming career. I try to build heroic characters, not Joes Shmoe.

I optimize my characters to fill the role that I design them for. And I give them tons of personality. I tend to play either very very high Charisma characters, or very very low Charisma characters. But all of them have strong, well-defined personalities. In my opinion, some of the best heroic characters have either very high Charisma (Iron Man, Han Solo), or very low Charisma (Wolverine, Caine)

Here is an example of how I craft characters. My current favorite character is a paladin/gunslinger (mysterious stranger).

Originally, I was going to build her as a halfling gunslinger/rogue. At some point, I happened to see a video or something online reminding me of the classic western TV series, Have Gun, Will Travel (the title character was named Paladin). That's when it occurred to me that I wanted to make a pistol-wielding paladin. (That is the kernel that I was talking about, above.)

I kept the mysterious stranger archetype, as that meshes well with a paladin's use of Charisma. I dropped the halfling, and went with human, shamelessly for the extra feat.

When assigning stats, I pushed her Charisma to 20, and dropped her Wisdom to 7. I wanted her to have a low Sense Motive, since she really wants to believe in the goodness of people. All of the rest of her stats are pretty flat.

I put her skill ranks into Bluff, Diplomacy, Knowledge (religion), and Perform (sing); I gave her a guitar to play also, but she doesn't play that very well.

She is pretty well optimized to deal damage--at 5th level, her pistol against an evil creature she is smiting is at +11/+11 touch (1d8+14/x4). But she mostly tries to convince people toward the path of righteousness. Her Diplomacy is +12. And she uses her Lay on Hands to heal those she fells with her pistols (twice now she has saved an NPC from death who was critically important for the success of other players' faction missions). She is saving up for a +1 merciful pistol.

Unless she is smiting, she often acts as a support character in combat, using Aid Another, providing flanking, or healing other characters. (I know she is a high DPR character, so I try hard to not overshadow other players at the table.)

Dark Archive

A character who wants to be a jack-of-all-trades (non-specialist), someone unwilling to dump stats for extra points (especially int/cha, when applicable), or taking a lot of the weaker kits is "unoptimized". An optimized character, then, is one who specializes in a job and does it very well, is willing to lower stats (especially CHA) when it doesn't help their job, and picks archtypes that help to make them more effective at doing their job.

The Exchange 5/5

Thalin wrote:
A character who wants to be a jack-of-all-trades (non-specialist), someone unwilling to dump stats for extra points (especially int/cha, when applicable), or taking a lot of the weaker kits is "unoptimized". An optimized character, then, is one who specializes in a job and does it very well, is willing to lower stats (especially CHA) when it doesn't help their job, and picks archtypes that help to make them more effective at doing their job.

why the comment "(especially CHA)"?

I have several PCs whose "job" is to be the party face. I could see dumping any OTHER stat than CHA for that.

You speak of "unoptimized" and use the term (non-specialist), which would make me think you mean "specialist" when you say "optimized". Is this the case?

edit: OH! and thank you for the reply.

Silver Crusade

Stats are important, but archetype/feat synergy is really want separates bad builds from average builds from scenario-breaking builds.


Of course, if you want to have any job outside of combat you're probably going to want skills. If you want skills, you probably don't want to dump Int. If you ever want to interact with any NPCs, you probably don't want to dump Cha.
Especially at low levels, when stat bonuses/penalties are still significant relative to ranks.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
Funky Badger wrote:

Smart play trumps mechanical choices every time. I think 1 or maybe 2 out of 9 characters I've got have 10+ CON.

Always character concept first, then see if/how it can be made to work.

I'm very curious about what this allegedly smart play boils down to. Usually it seems to me that folks playing "Smart" are creeping around safely while the rest of the party is getting their clocks cleaned.

Doing something every round that benefits the party. That could be casting Guidance on the fighter then moving into a flanking position while drawing an attack of opportunity from an enemy so someone else doesn't suffer it.

Or hitting the baddy with a two-handed sword.

(Double smart play is not doing option 1 when the enemy's weilding a sycthe instead of a sword)

Anyone can move and power-attack, but a smart player with a bard or (even better) a battle herald is a joy to watch.

:-)


Sin of Asmodeus wrote:
I think after this weekend, I will be making a 7 con, 7 dex, 20 str, 16 int wizard and have him be front line to see where he can go. >.> Optimized!

Seen a terrifying elven wizard chucking around a bonded elven curve blade with weapon finesse and power-attack... yeesh!

He even got to cast some spells at one point...

Sovereign Court Venture-Captain, New Mexico—Roswell aka Rob Duncan

I don't get to play very much (always GMing) so when I do, I think about what kind of character I would enjoy playing and what I want to do.

I usually like running rogue/wizard combinations (I always liked arcane tricksters!) with high diplomacy, a penchant for magic missile from the shadows, and some mad bluff skills.. I don't min/max to do it.

Instead, I would just roll up something that looks survivable, make sure you can damage up close, damage at range, deal with the common DR stuff, and can work well in a party.

Specialization is for insects! ^_^

Sovereign Court Venture-Captain, New Mexico—Roswell aka Rob Duncan

Funky Badger wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
Funky Badger wrote:

Smart play trumps mechanical choices every time. I think 1 or maybe 2 out of 9 characters I've got have 10+ CON.

Always character concept first, then see if/how it can be made to work.

I'm very curious about what this allegedly smart play boils down to. Usually it seems to me that folks playing "Smart" are creeping around safely while the rest of the party is getting their clocks cleaned.

Doing something every round that benefits the party. That could be casting Guidance on the fighter then moving into a flanking position while drawing an attack of opportunity from an enemy so someone else doesn't suffer it.

Or hitting the baddy with a two-handed sword.

(Double smart play is not doing option 1 when the enemy's weilding a sycthe instead of a sword)

Anyone can move and power-attack, but a smart player with a bard or (even better) a battle herald is a joy to watch.

:-)

"GET HER! That was your plan?! GET HER!?"

I agree with Funky Badger.. It's not always the most fun to play support, but people who do it well (bless, guidance, true strike, sneak attack, darkness) usually turn the tide of battle way more than an extra couple points of damage.

Remember we play PFS, not DPS!

The Exchange 5/5

thejeff wrote:

Of course, if you want to have any job outside of combat you're probably going to want skills. If you want skills, you probably don't want to dump Int. If you ever want to interact with any NPCs, you probably don't want to dump Cha.

Especially at low levels, when stat bonuses/penalties are still significant relative to ranks.

Bolding mine above - I'm glad you said the "probably".

I have a human Rogue with a 8 INT that gets 8 skill points per level.

I have a Social Rogue with a 10 CHA - and makes up for it with Magic items and extra skill points.


I like to build a character with a unique idea(or atleast unique in the area I play). Anyone can build a a twohanded fighter that is maxed at twohanded fighting. Anyone can build a ninja that vanishes. Anyone can go on the advice boards and have somone give them the specs on a bowfighter.

Not everyone can look through the books for a potentially powerful combo or ability that few people have seen or thought up before. Once I find something I delve into the books and look for a way to make it a widespread and powerful as I can. While I also work on a storyline for the character.

Silver Crusade

Now that I know what I'm doing (as opposed to when I created my first couple of PCs), I start with an idea, then ask the following questions:

1. What's my specialty in combat?
2. What will I do out of combat?
3. What's my backup plan in combat when I can't do my specialty?

Then optimize my specialties (in and out of combat) as much as I can, while making sure my backup plan and survivability are good enough.

Example:

Start with an idea - gnome bard with the Prankster archetype from Advanced Race Guide

1. Combat specialty: Debuffing. Intimidate to cause the shaken condition, debuff spells (Hideous Laughter, Blistering Invective, Pugwumpi's Grace), Mock performance from the archetype.
2. Out of combat: Social skills and bardic knowledge
3. Backup combat plan: My debuffs only work on things with minds, so what do I do while fighting undead, swarms, oozes, etc? Inspire Courage, wand of Cure Light Wounds (both to heal allies and harm undead), alchemist's fire, and crossbow.

Now optimize it: 19 charisma after racial bonus, and put all level increases into it. 14 int for skill ranks and bardic knowledge, 14 con for HP, 12 dex for ranged attacks, AC, and reflex. Str and wis aren't that important, so I dumped them down to 8, so I'd have points to put in the other stuff. Bards get good will saves, so I'm hoping that low wisdom doesn't come back to bite me. Also, low wisdom goes with the immature prankster bard personality.

Believe it or not, Skill Focus: Perform (Comedy) was my first feat, to use with Versatile Performance on intimidation. I also took a trait to boost this perform skill. I'm already at +15 to intimidate things to make them shaken at level 3. That's also my bluff and intimidate bonus outside of combat. I'm looking at Spell Focus and Greater to boost my Enchantment spells. Already have a masterwork crossbow, wand of CLW, alch fires, etc.


nosig wrote:
thejeff wrote:

Of course, if you want to have any job outside of combat you're probably going to want skills. If you want skills, you probably don't want to dump Int. If you ever want to interact with any NPCs, you probably don't want to dump Cha.

Especially at low levels, when stat bonuses/penalties are still significant relative to ranks.

Bolding mine above - I'm glad you said the "probably".

I have a human Rogue with a 8 INT that gets 8 skill points per level.

I have a Social Rogue with a 10 CHA - and makes up for it with Magic items and extra skill points.

Yeah. I was thinking more of the combat monster (caster or martial) who's just trying to make sure he's got something to contribute when not killing things.

If you get 8 skill points dumping int isn't a big deal. If you've got 2, or even 4, it's a different story. Especially if you're not human.

Silver Crusade

When it comes to optimization I think much of it depends on where you play. If you play with the same group each week I and nobody is optimized it can be fun for everyone. I tend to travel to many different games in my area and several times if I brought a character that didn't do 70 damage per round you might as well have just passed your turn every round, collect your cronicle, and go home. When I started to see some of these extreme power builds I made a few characters that could be useful in these games, so I could contribute as well, however I found them to get boring really quick and only use them when I am playing with power gamers. I still really like my bard with tons of skill points and virtually no combat ability, I just only bring him out when I know he will get to do something.

5/5 5/55/55/5

nosig wrote:


why the comment "(especially CHA)"?

Everyone needs enough strength to carry their armor and bag of holding.

very few people like taking a penalty to ac from dex

Everybody needs con at some point

Dumping int costs skill points (but once you drop to 9 on a 2 point per level class you may as well go for broke)

Wisdom controls will saves, which are a lot of SODs

And charisma.... if you're not a party face you only don't need it, you don't need ANY Of it. The difference between making a diplomacy check with a 10 charisma and a 7 is pretty negligable, especially when you factor in the odds of you having to be the one to make the check.

Silver Crusade

I know it seems like BNW and I butt heads often on here, but in this case, I agree 100%. None of my characters have dumped more than one stat, and even at that not below 8. But in every case, it's been CHA for the *exact* reasons BNW outlined.

Liberty's Edge

BigNorseWolf wrote:
And charisma.... if you're not a party face you only don't need it, you don't need ANY Of it.

Many ghosts agree.

The Exchange 5/5

2 people marked this as a favorite.
BigNorseWolf wrote:
nosig wrote:


why the comment "(especially CHA)"?

Everyone needs enough strength to carry their armor and bag of holding.

very few people like taking a penalty to ac from dex

Everybody needs con at some point

Dumping int costs skill points (but once you drop to 9 on a 2 point per level class you may as well go for broke)

Wisdom controls will saves, which are a lot of SODs

And charisma.... if you're not a party face you only don't need it, you don't need ANY Of it. The difference between making a diplomacy check with a 10 charisma and a 7 is pretty negligable, especially when you factor in the odds of you having to be the one to make the check.

Gather information - everyone aids the check.

Clerics are not often the "Party Face" (short on skill points) and yet need CHA (Channel anyone?).

Druids handle animal.

"So kid, whatcha doin' here?" Roll your bluff... wait, what do you mean you're swinging on a city guard?!

Skills? there are:
2 Str skills,
7 Dex skills,
0 Con skills,
4 Int skills (not counting the 10 Knowledge skills),
4 Wis skills,
7 Cha skills.

CHA is as improtant as any other stat.

I've seen a melee PC with a 7 strength (maybe it was a 5?). Halfling Dawnflower Dervish. A real terror in melee (Bonus to hit & damage is DEX based). He planned to get Muleback cords as his first magic item (I think).

It is rather that many people assume that CHA is the logical dump stat - and so you end up with parties of adventurers where the AVERAGE CHA at the table is 7. Out of 6 PCs.

The statement "And charisma.... if you're not a party face you only don't need it, you don't need ANY Of it. " could easily be one of the following....

"And strength.... if you're not a melee fighter type you not only don't need it, you don't need ANY Of it. Replace it with magic."
or
"And wisdom.... if you're not a perception monkey, or a ranger you not only don't need it, you don't need ANY Of it. "
or
"And Dexterity.... if you're not the party scout you not only don't need it, you don't need ANY Of it."
or
"And INT.... if you're not a Mr. Professor you not only don't need it, you don't need ANY Of it."
or
"And CON... " wait, even I can't keep a strait face for the CON one. Though I have seen PCs with an 8 CON, even higher level ones... I normally work with a CON of 10. But that's just my opinion.

But I'm sure you see my point by now.

It's all opinion, what is and isn't "optimized"... or as I'd rather say, "specialized". Every one of my PCs are designed to be "optimized". "Optimized" to provide me with fun.

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