new to PF and PFS: how much char minmaxing is needed / is too much?


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Jiggy wrote:
The combat balance of the game is structured around a baseline assumption, the most concrete part of which is the heroic stat array of 15/14/13/12/10/8. So really, a PC with no stats below 10 is as abnormal/outside baseline assumptions as a PC with two such stats.

wait what

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Cao Phen wrote:

You can also the Generic Man! A.k.a The Man with the above Average Scores.

STR - 13
DEX - 13
CON - 14
INT - 13
WIS - 13
CHA - 13

As a Human, you still have your +2 to any stat as well.

/superhero pose

My now-8th-level cleric had a pre-racial array of 14/14/13/13/12/12 (not in that order).

The Exchange 5/5

Cao Phen wrote:

You can also the Generic Man! A.k.a The Man with the above Average Scores.

STR - 13
DEX - 13
CON - 14
INT - 13
WIS - 13
CHA - 13

As a Human, you still have your +2 to any stat as well.

/superhero pose

yeah, we used to call this guy Joe, as in Joe Average.

Scarab Sages

..We should create Joe Average.... 1 Level in as many classes as possible...
The master of none will be the master of all!!!

The Exchange

Fromper wrote:
Sargonoth wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
Sargonoth wrote:
If you view PFS thru the primary lens of the wargamer, every character you have will have at least 1 if not more stats below 10.
Having at least one stat below 10 is the baseline expectation of the system.
Really? You are expected to have one stat below average which causes you to be penalized.

"Expected" may be too strong a word, but Jiggy posted the baseline heroic NPC stats earlier in this thread. That's what's considered "normal" for an adventurer in the game world. Go from there.

Also, google "Stormwind falacy" if you've never heard the term before.

The Stormwind Fallacy is a shibboleth of one spectrum of rpg'ers. It neither proves nor disproves anything. I see this referenced frequently as if it shows the disagreement has long been settled when it does nothing of the sort

Also Jiggy's interpretation an NPC 15pt stat array to a support his reasoning for dumping a stat is not the only interpretation. I would interpret that NPC stat array as meaning a character should have 1 stat which could reach +3 (with racial), one stat a solid +2 and two stats +1 . Since a 15 pt array can only achieve this with a dump stat that is why it is forced to have a dump stat. the 20 pt build allows you to avoid having to have a dump stat.


Sargonoth wrote:
The Stormwind Fallacy is a shibboleth of one spectrum of rpg'ers. It neither proves nor disproves anything. I see this referenced frequently as if it shows the disagreement has long been settled when it does nothing of the sort

Well its a fallacy, its not meant to prove or disprove anything. Its a fallacious thought to think that you can't be good roleplayer/optimizer, or that an optimized character is weak for roleplay and an optimized one is inherently better. Some of us do strive to do both, and there are lots of ways to go about this that vary from person to person without lumping everyone into a label.

The Exchange

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A better test would be to look at the pre-gens (since they represent the designers expectations) and see how many had a stat below 10 (or two stats). If jiggy is correct with his interpretation then all of them will have 1 stat below 10 and some will have 2 (I assume that the floating bonus will not go to reduce the low stat since that would go against the underlying assumption)

Barbarian 18/13/14/10/12/10
Bard 8/14/14/13/10/18
Cleric 14/10/12/11/17/14
Druid 6/12/16/12/16/15
Fighter 16/15/14/12/10/11
Gunslinger 12/16/14/10/15/11
Monk 16/15/14/10/13/10
Ninja 10/18/10/13/12/14
Paladin 16/10/14/10/13/15
Ranger 14/16/15/10/14/8
Rogue 14/18/12/10/12/10
Samurai 15/13/15/10/14/12
Sorcerer 10/14/12/10/13/18
Wizard 10/14/13/18/12/10

Only 3/14 (Barb, Druid, and Ranger ) have any stats below 10 and none have two stats.

The Exchange

MrSin wrote:
Sargonoth wrote:
The Stormwind Fallacy is a shibboleth of one spectrum of rpg'ers. It neither proves nor disproves anything. I see this referenced frequently as if it shows the disagreement has long been settled when it does nothing of the sort
Well its a fallacy, its not meant to prove or disprove anything. Its a fallacious thought to think that you can't be good roleplayer/optimizer, or that an optimized character is weak for roleplay and an optimized one is inherently better. Some of us do strive to do both, and there are lots of ways to go about this that vary from person to person without lumping everyone into a label.

It is not a binary assignment, it more a spectrum. Thus, my use of the term primary lens. Another way to think of it is as a two dimensional function which is constrained in that you cannot have a high score on both axis

The Exchange

Sargonoth wrote:
MrSin wrote:
Sargonoth wrote:
The Stormwind Fallacy is a shibboleth of one spectrum of rpg'ers. It neither proves nor disproves anything. I see this referenced frequently as if it shows the disagreement has long been settled when it does nothing of the sort
Well its a fallacy, its not meant to prove or disprove anything. Its a fallacious thought to think that you can't be good roleplayer/optimizer, or that an optimized character is weak for roleplay and an optimized one is inherently better. Some of us do strive to do both, and there are lots of ways to go about this that vary from person to person without lumping everyone into a label.
It is not a binary assignment, it more a spectrum. Thus, my use of the term primary lens. Another way to think of it is as a two dimensional function which is constrained in that you cannot have a high score on both axis

My label of primary lens is to highlight which goal is primary - Do you optimize and then conceptualize (e.g. heaven's oracle) or conceptualize and then make it good (healer and backup ranged attack). Everyone who plays any rpg is doing both but almost always one approach comes first. I know "everyone switches back and forth" but one approach is usually predominant for the individual

As always, this is just my opinion and I do not mean to target any individual personally. My intent is to focus on assumptions and ways of looking at situation. I realize that I should have said "the assumption that the distribution of heroic NPC stats in a 15pt buy reflects and underlying assumption that one stat must be dumped is not necessarily the most accurate."

Scarab Sages 5/5 RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16

Sargonoth wrote:
MrSin wrote:
Sargonoth wrote:
The Stormwind Fallacy is a shibboleth of one spectrum of rpg'ers. It neither proves nor disproves anything. I see this referenced frequently as if it shows the disagreement has long been settled when it does nothing of the sort
Well its a fallacy, its not meant to prove or disprove anything. Its a fallacious thought to think that you can't be good roleplayer/optimizer, or that an optimized character is weak for roleplay and an optimized one is inherently better. Some of us do strive to do both, and there are lots of ways to go about this that vary from person to person without lumping everyone into a label.
It is not a binary assignment, it more a spectrum. Thus, my use of the term primary lens. Another way to think of it is as a two dimensional function which is constrained in that you cannot have a high score on both axis

And that is the fallacy, or maybe I should say faulty premise. Many of us disagree that you cannot have a high (or low) score on both axes

5/5 5/55/55/5

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Sargonoth wrote:


The Stormwind Fallacy is a shibboleth of one spectrum of rpg'ers. It neither proves nor disproves anything.

No. No it is not.

It is in fact a fallacy in every sense of the word. Specifically it is the either or fallacy aka false dilema

This in fact has been settled. You are wrong.

How optimized a character is has zero, nadda, NO bearing on how well it is role played. At all. A player can make Joe Average and give him all the personality of the paper bag he can't punch his way out of or he can portray the sweeping epic drama of Yngvar, beauty school drop out of death.

Asking if a character is role played or roll played is like asking if your car has a standard transmission or a red paint job.

Silver Crusade

Sheldock, the good news is a strong player with even a decent build can get by in most adventures that I've seen. Just be sure they bring the essentials (a melee weapon even if they're not a melee concept, a ranged weapon, even a sling, no matter what, and some basic tools) and you'll do okay. There is a far greater emphasis on smart tactics and choices in the storyline than there is in wringing out every single advantage on your sheet, as far as PFS is concerned.

None of the characters I've played in PFS are fully optimized. I'll start with a strong premise, then water it down a bit when I see shiny thematic toys to toss in (non-lethal options for Sarenrae followers, for example). The end result is usually still viable in PFS, and most of my near-deaths have come from either misunderstanding a situation and making either a tactical-play mistake or story-decision mistake. A few others have come from bad luck or choosing to play up a tier in an adventure. That said, do be ready for some challenges in Season 4 and onward. I've run into several encounters where adventure writers are now throwing some of the more common 'cheese' back at PCs, and this has been the cause of two more near-death encounters.

None of my characters have died, but some have come awful close due to the factors above. I find this acceptable; I'm being reasonably challenged and having fun with this aspect of PFS.

As long as you bring a reasonably developed character to the table, have a sane equipment loadout that understands you need a Plan B and sometimes even a Plan C, and are reasonably intelligent both in story decisions and tactical choices... you should do fine.


Sargonoth wrote:
Another way to think of it is as a two dimensional function which is constrained in that you cannot have a high score on both axis

Yeah... That's the fallacy. The two are interdependent of each other, and it can get pretty insulting to call min maxers bad roleplayers or vice versa.

The Exchange

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Sargonoth wrote:


The Stormwind Fallacy is a shibboleth of one spectrum of rpg'ers. It neither proves nor disproves anything.

No. No it is not.

It is in fact a fallacy in every sense of the word. Specifically it is the either or fallacy aka false dilema

This in fact has been settled. You are wrong.

How optimized a character is has zero, nadda, NO bearing on how well it is role played. At all. A player can make Joe Average and give him all the personality of the paper bag he can't punch his way out of or he can portray the sweeping epic drama of Yngvar, beauty school drop out of death.

Asking if a character is role played or roll played is like asking if your car has a standard transmission or a red paint job.

Actually, no - I am not wrong in my points. You create points that I never mention and then say that is wrong (corrrectness does not change regardless of how adamant you are about that)

I too could pick a different question on the topic and say you are wrong. For example, I could say that your belief that standard transmissions are horrible is wrong (notice you never said that - just like I never said anything about roll vs roleplaying)

Please focus on my point (people are either primarily wargamers or roleplayers) not on what you would like my point to be (people are either roll players or roleplayers). Your diatribe on car colours is very noble and passionate but obscures the underlying point.

The Stormwind Fallacy is meaningless in this context since it conflates two separate elements - construction and play. Notice I have been talking about how you create characters and NOT in how you play them. The only references to play is that a wargamer is limited in his/her backstory options since they have to always explain multiple bad stats. Other posters have discussed how it ruins the experience if a character is sub optimized. There has NEVER been a discussion of the actual roleplaying. Roleplaying in the way I used it was to distinguish between two type of CONSTRUCTION philosophies

The Exchange

MrSin wrote:
Sargonoth wrote:
Another way to think of it is as a two dimensional function which is constrained in that you cannot have a high score on both axis
Yeah... That's the fallacy. The two are interdependent of each other, and it can get pretty insulting to call min maxers bad roleplayers or vice versa.

Where did I say that optimizers were bad roleplayers? I reference two ends of a character construction philosophy. I do not believe I talked about actual gameplay.

The Exchange

Given the uselessness of this back and forth and since the OP has already had his question answered, I leave you all to your discussions on other weighty topics. I will ponder your opinion that I am wrong and the implication that I am insulting to unknown posters that I have never met.

5/5 5/55/55/5

Sargonoth wrote:

Actually, no - I am not wrong in my points. You create points that I never mention and then say that is wrong (corrrectness does not change regardless of how adamant you are about that)

vs

people are either primarily wargamers or roleplayers

For the life of me I cannot fathom how that latter statement is not the stormwind fallacy writ in black and white.

The Exchange

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Sargonoth wrote:

Actually, no - I am not wrong in my points. You create points that I never mention and then say that is wrong (corrrectness does not change regardless of how adamant you are about that)

vs

people are either primarily wargamers or roleplayers

For the life of me I cannot fathom how that latter statement is not the stormwind fallacy writ in black and white.

If I say a person can BUILD a car to be a sports car or a racing car, this does not mean that I said a person can DRIVE a car like a sports car or a racing car. If the Stormwind Fallacy discusses how people PLAY a character, this does not necessarily mean that it is applicable to BUILDING a character which can then be PLAYED in any fashion possible (roll playing or roleplaying)

Since you cannot fathom the difference between building and playing, I throw in the towel in the face of your immutable assumptions.


Sargonoth wrote:
If the Stormwind Fallacy discusses how people PLAY a character, this does not necessarily mean that it is applicable to BUILDING a character

Well, your trying to put a divide between roleplay/rollplay, despite the two being independent of one another. Which is the fallacy. Doesn't matter if your talking about building vs. playing. That's probably the disconnect. Personally, I think character creation is still a part of the roleplay, and doesn't have much to do with how I optimize except that what I pick may have an affect on my character's backstory(race, region, traits, etc.) I don't think because I make a good backstory my character has to suffer in play or vice versa.

5/5 5/55/55/5

Sargonoth wrote:
If I say a person can BUILD a car to be a sports car or a racing car, this does not mean that I said a person can DRIVE a car like a sports car or a racing car. If the Stormwind Fallacy discusses how people PLAY a character, this does not necessarily mean that it is applicable to BUILDING a character which can then be PLAYED in any fashion possible (roll playing or roleplaying)

This changes nothing. The fallacy still applies as much to the way a character is played or built, as well as the underlying assumptions that the player must either be a role player or a roll player.

(edit: building in, a role playing sense, would be coming up with his background and personality)

The Exchange

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Sargonoth wrote:
If I say a person can BUILD a car to be a sports car or a racing car, this does not mean that I said a person can DRIVE a car like a sports car or a racing car. If the Stormwind Fallacy discusses how people PLAY a character, this does not necessarily mean that it is applicable to BUILDING a character which can then be PLAYED in any fashion possible (roll playing or roleplaying)

This changes nothing. The fallacy still applies as much to the way a character is played or built, as well as the underlying assumptions that the player must either be a role player or a roll player.

It is not a false dilemma in the BUILDING of a character (you cannot build a stat Optimized character and a more stat generalized character at the same time - thus this is a valid dilemma. Since they are mutually exclusive, this by its nature is a real dilemma). You have to choose which is more important to you: Optimization or Generalization. Each type offers options that the other cannot. For example, an optimized build cannot realistically perform functions that rely on dump stats while generalized build can (

It is a false dilemma in the PLAYING of a character in that you can play any character in any fashion. Now it is a corollary of the BUILD statement that the two approaches will limit certain types of options and will favor others.

4/5

Ah, I believe the terminology you used of war gamer and role player is the thing that confused people. Your argument now makes more sense using the terms you chose in this latest post.

Anyway, I now agree with you. However, I cannot agree that stat spread characters are more optimized. I believe that you can have an optimized character with either philosophy, depending on a lot of factors. I don't believe it's as black and white as you make it out to be.

Dark Archive 4/5 Venture-Captain, Special Projects—Discord

Rather than give an opinion of what I think you should do, I'll let you know how I go about building a character of my own.

First I think of a fun concept. Dwarf axe and shield fighter/elf teleport conjurer/bleached gnome dirge bard/etc. I think about what stat should be highest and what stats could be lowest (or even dumped). I think about where your racial bumps (and negatives) will be going and plan accordingly.

Even though we have modules and the GenCon Special which goes past 12th level, I never assume that my new characters will make it that high. This means that I have 3 +1 ability bonuses to hand out over the life of my character. I will then have one odd ability score at first level which gets my 4th level ability bump. In the case of a caster or glass cannon martial class, this is usually Con. In other cases, it may be Dex.

This usually ends up giving me a 16, 14, 13, 12, 10, 10 array or a 16, 14, 13, 12, 12, 8 array if I dump Cha or Str.

I then write a short paragraph back story (or answer some of the Ultimate Campaign questions) and then browse through the trait list to see what fits the back story best. Sometimes I will know about a trait ahead of time and write some back story around it, but I generally shy away from this (all of my characters would have Reactionary...).

For skills I'll allocate my points as best I can, generally trying to have at least one 'social' skill so that I can try to help outside of initiative and if I have a lot of points, diversify as much as I can. I'll generally only take a 'day job' skill if it works with my character's backstory, but YMMV.

Feats are the toughest for me and for those I generally research the Guides in the Advice forum for tips.

Scarab Sages

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Sheldock the magnificient wrote:


I'm a big advocate of this. First off it works mechanically. If you're not a fighting type you don't need strength, and you can make up the difference between a 7 and a 10 with a 1,000 gp pearl of power by memorizing ant haul. If you're not a charisma based character you are not going to make the charisma checks anyway.

I have a strength 7 caster and meeting a greater shadow was an unpleasant experience - even regular shadows are scarier than normal.

If you are hit with str or dex poison generally falling to 0 isn't death - con poisons falling to 0 is death - so I would put points in CON before STR in a caster - but stay away from STR 5 - in my opinion. Lots of things come out of walls, and being 33% instant death from a shadow normal hit, is not a good thing.


Basically, all of the advice is correct.

The rule of thumb is have about 12 in Con after racial modifiers at lvl1, but ou e more than welcome to work something from that. Past that, a 14 in the primary stat is preferable, and then you are more than welcome to make an enjoyable character.

Or, you can make the most amazing character you could ever think of and take it to PFS. If the group appreciates your paying, go with it. Otherwise, stick with a standard archetype (healer, mage, fighter, rogue) and make it work.

Grand Lodge 4/5

I find it funny that my most generalist type character has 2 stats at 7. She casts spells...extremely well. Has over a dozen skills at +15 or higher. Can dish out melee AND ranged damage. Can damage enemies while PARALYZED even. Can negate encounters via various abilities. Has several escape plans ready to go. Can speak over a dozen languages.

Now as far as shear combat potential goes...yes she is my weakest character...by far. She still does more damage then a lot of "primary" damage dealers I have played with. So this idea that you have to pick general abilities vs specialize isn't quite true. Yes there are SOME choices that needs to be made...but it's not like you choosing to be a one trick pony automatically makes you a better damage dealer then my generalist. Nor will making a generalist automatically make you have more options then my generalist. They are intertwined...but PFS rule set is complex enough that you can make a generalist that is still quite good enough for combat in PFS.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

Sargonoth wrote:
It is not a false dilemma in the BUILDING of a character (you cannot build a stat Optimized character and a more stat generalized character at the same time - thus this is a valid dilemma.

Then you're a fool. If you plan to roleplay the same way despite what the stats are on the sheet, why not make a character whose stats match what you're roleplaying. Min/Maxing is making sure you are the best you can be at what you're good at while also trying to "minimize" your weaknesses. Football players don't take ballet because they have an appreciation of the arts, they take it because it makes them better at football. If one also happens to have an appreciation of the arts, that doesn't make him a better roleplayer or a better football player.

The Exchange 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Kentucky—Lexington

Sheldock the magnificient wrote:

advise to dump 1 or 2 abilities to the lowest possible level while maxing 1 or 2 others.

"If you have CON 10 and get one-shotted at level 1 it is your own fault".

some of the adventures are so hard that you need a near perfect character to survive.

On the other hand people are complaining about overpowered characters

Pretty much all this is party dynamics and you highlight the cases where it breaks apart.

I've played characters with all points put into 1 or 2 abilities, resulting in 10 CON and even one with 8 CON. A 10 or 8 CON character is fine for low level (even front line melee types) but starts to be more of a problem in the 7th level and up range. You start running into maximized and/or empowered fireballs, which can outright kill you in one shot with a failed save.

I've also played the "all stats 12 or up" type characters, who tend to be more rounded but less effective. This is best suited for non-melee characters (Cleric, Bard, Witch, etc)

I really don't think too many adventures require "near perfect character", I think it is just require the party to work together. I could give many examples of awkward actions that would have helped the party far more of the character did something more overtly useful.

When you have a wide difference between effectiveness in a certain task at a table, there is often frustration on the other players. So if you have two fighter builds and one is the "all in 1" and the other is "all 12 or more", the all in one is going to be more effective in hitting and damage and the all 12 or more one is going to be more defensive vs taking damage or making will saves, etc. So who gets angry at who for being more effective will be who outshines first.

All a round about way of saying:
Play what you will have fun playing and ignore everything else

Silver Crusade

I would recommend against taking fiend sight twice and dropping deeper darkness on your own party. Yet, some people consider this to be a legit build and "optimal".

Other than that, it is VERY GM dependent in my experience.

5/5 5/55/5

Jiggy wrote:


Perhaps "assumed" would be a better word, but yes. The combat balance of the game is structured around a baseline assumption, the most concrete part of which is the heroic stat array of 15/14/13/12/10/8. So really, a PC with no stats below 10 is as abnormal/outside baseline assumptions as a PC with two such stats.

I disagree with you guys here.

The array gives an 8 BEFORE racial adjustment, so the system simply provides you the OPTION of running a below par stat, but because the average assumption is a Human, with a +2, the +2 goes into the 8 to give you the normalised stat.

It is not outside the baseline at all, no stat below 10 IS the a baseline of the heroic stat array. 15/14/13/12/10/10.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Shifty wrote:
Jiggy wrote:


Perhaps "assumed" would be a better word, but yes. The combat balance of the game is structured around a baseline assumption, the most concrete part of which is the heroic stat array of 15/14/13/12/10/8. So really, a PC with no stats below 10 is as abnormal/outside baseline assumptions as a PC with two such stats.

I disagree with you guys here.

The array gives an 8 BEFORE racial adjustment, so the system simply provides you the OPTION of running a below par stat, but because the average assumption is a Human, with a +2, the +2 goes into the 8 to give you the normalised stat.

It is not outside the baseline at all, no stat below 10 IS the a baseline of the heroic stat array. 15/14/13/12/10/10.

You just stated that the baseline assumption is that you put your racial bonus into your lowest score.

I don't even know what else to say.

The Exchange 5/5

I played RPGs back in the day when you rolled stats with 3d6. (yeah, that's just 3, not "4d6 tosh out the low", or some other means to get good stats). And they fell where they fell... if you rolled an 8 first, you played a PC with an 8 strength.

I like to think it was Role (and Roll) Playing then... and Role Playing now. The stats of a PC have zero to do with the ability to Role Play the PC. Look down at your PCs stats - however he ended up with them - and RP them. If she's got a "7" DEX... Role Play a reason why, and play it to the Max!


OP: I consider baseline competence to be as good as the iconic that is the most similar to your character's role. If you want to be a mainline combatant, try to be as powerful as Valeros in melee. If you want to be a bard, look at how you compare to Lem. If you want to be a caster, try to keep your DCs up with Seoni. Even Season 4 scenarios can be successful with a group of pregens played by skilled players. (Some of the intentionally harder scenarios might break that rule, but despite what people say about the pregens, it seems to me that normal scenarios are balanced around the assumption of a party of their power level.)

As for the Con thing, it depends on your level of experience and what role you're playing. If you're new to Pathfinder as well as PFS, I would suggest taking at least a 12 Con and a 14 if you are a meleer. If you're experienced and know the ins and outs of how your character works, go with your knowledge.

Let me give you an example: I saw a guy with a strength based ninja with 10 Con kill his own character one game. He really wanted to get the kill shot on the main Bad Guy (because of a faction mission) so he was bent on attacking him no matter what. Even though he had a reach weapon, he moved in between the Bed Guy and a mook just to get a flank with another player for sneak attack damage. That put his low AC, low HP character into a flank for the bad guys, the mook hit him and knocked him to exactly 0 HP, the main bad guy went next (separately rolled initiatives, and this wasn't the first round so the player knew they would go back to back,) and smacked his ninja with practically an auto hit. Even with minimum damage was enough to kill the ninja.

Conversely, my inquisitor has a 13 Con and wasn't meant to be a tank. For two levels of Thornkeep, however, that's what he's been since everyone else in the party was either ranged or even more lightly armored. So several combats opened with me maneuvering into position where the enemy had to come to me and eat both a readied action and then an AoO from my reach weapon in order to hit me. I still got KO'd at least once a level, but I could see them coming so changed my judgment to healing so I would auto stabilize.

Moral of the story: It's OK to have a low Con, if you understand how to play with a low Con character. It's still better to have a higher Con, and if you are fairly new it's a highly suggested, but it's not a guaranteed death sentence if you play carefully.

Jiggy wrote:
Sargonoth wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
Sargonoth wrote:
If you view PFS thru the primary lens of the wargamer, every character you have will have at least 1 if not more stats below 10.
Having at least one stat below 10 is the baseline expectation of the system.
Really? You are expected to have one stat below average which causes you to be penalized.
Perhaps "assumed" would be a better word, but yes. The combat balance of the game is structured around a baseline assumption, the most concrete part of which is the heroic stat array of 15/14/13/12/10/8. So really, a PC with no stats below 10 is as abnormal/outside baseline assumptions as a PC with two such stats.

Adding to this, the "Beginner Box Pathfinder Society Character Creation Guide" doesn't even recommend against stats lower than 10. (I don't know why they buried this in the Beginner Box section, it's really handy in general and should be linked from the PFS main page. It took me a lot of looking to find it and I knew it was out there, it should be much easier to find for new players who need something like this. Or they should make a non-beginner box version.)

The example ability score arrays they provide are:
16, 14, 13, 12, 10, 10
16, 14, 14, 12, 10, 8
15, 14, 14, 13, 10, 10
15, 14, 14, 12, 12, 9

Half the recommended arrays for PCs have dump stats.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I think some folks got used to the 3.5 idea of NPCs being 11/11/11/10/10/10, concluded from there that anything less than 10 is a serious handicap, and just can't break out of that mindset. In Pathfinder, damn near everyone on the planet has at least one single-digit score somewhere, so we need to recognize that and adjust our ideas of scores' meanings accordingly.

Lantern Lodge

There are very few character builds that having a single 9, 8, or 7 would overly hurt.

Monks probably suffer the most from MAD. Paladin's less so these days with casting now being Cha based for them. For me personally, there is no build or concept that I cannot make work with a 20 point buy. But then again, I never buy an 18 out the gate unless I am running a pure classed primary spellcaster. Every other class works just fine with a base 15 or 16.

5/5 5/55/55/5

I think the iconics vary a bit. Valeros is just awful... two weapon fighting is bad to start, with different weapons, AND no double slice. I'd put him at underoptimized on the bell curve on a good day. Kyra is ok, the barbarian feels alright. Merisiel has no social skills, which is a little problematic for a rogue. Kyra is a pretty good all around cleric and a good healer.. which is what you take a cleric for.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Merisiel has no social skills, which is a little problematic for a rogue.

Why is that problematic for a rogue? I keep running into this idea that rogues are supposed to prioritize CHA (to some degree) and take some social skills. But I see about as much in the rogue class description to suggest this as I do in the fighter. Where does this idea come from in the first place? Did AD&D thieves require above-average CHA or something and people just never stopped playing the old tropes no matter what happened to the class? Is there something I'm overlooking?


Jiggy wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
Merisiel has no social skills, which is a little problematic for a rogue.
Why is that problematic for a rogue?

I can't speak for everyone, but when I think Rogue, I think of a guy who can do lots of skills, and likely deception(bluff) and guile in combat(feint is bluff). That might be a part of it, but the class itself doesn't really match up to that. If they have a mental stat to love its probably wisdom, if their ki pool talent is to base anything of off.

Liberty's Edge

GreyYeti wrote:

I am rather new to PF and recently got hooked. While trying to build my first character and looking around the message boards here I was starting to ask myself a question regarding character optimization.

How much minmaxing is needed to survive and how much is too much and killing the fun for everybody?
...

Welcome to the circus!

First, as I’m sure you noticed, many people mean and react differently to terms like min/max. I would suggest not using vaguely defined short hand terms. It actually ends up being shorter to state exactly what you mean. Then you might not have to wade through as many pages of arguments.

Second, PFS tends to be a bit easier than home games. So you don’t have to be as much of a combat monster. However, they have been getting tougher the last couple of seasons so you shouldn’t gimp yourself too much.

Third, since you are new to the system, I would err on the side of being capable of surviving. The barbarian with an 8 con is possible and can be fun. But is very risky if your system mastery isn’t fairly high.

I have a few rules of thumb I like to recommend for someone’s first PC.

  • Don’t dump constitution or wisdom. Low hitpoints and failing fort or will saves are rough. (As an alternate, you can plan to take the feats to make up the weakness, but that is more a strategy for experienced players.)
  • Single class build with one of the simpler and more survivable classes the first time. Fighter, barbarian, ranger, and cleric are pretty forgiving of not so perfect build choices. You can try the magus, wizard, alchemist, monk later when you have more system mastery.
  • Post your build (including what feats, skills, spells, abilities you intend to choose as you advance) on these boards and ask for advice. You don’t have to take the advice, but it will give you a better idea of the strengths and weaknesses of your build and/or how you could improve it while keeping the same concept.
  • Have at least 1 or 2 things you are very good at. Everyone wants their time to shine. So wack things with a big hammer, trip things with a pole arm, shoot eyes along ways away, freeze enemies solid, talk your way past the guards, sneak past the guards, make magical ‘friends’ with enemies.
  • Have something else you can do in most any other combat situation. Magic missile, channel negative energy, snipe with bow, sneak attack, trip, reach for attacks of opportunity, etc... So you usually talk your way out of a fight. Great, but have something to do when you can’t talk your way past the polar bear. Have something to do when you can’t trip the ooze.
  • Have something you can do when not in combat. I’ve seen barbarians pile on sense motive and perception. No he can’t convince anyone of anything, but he can tell the group that they are being lied to by a guy in disguise. Or speak a couple non-standard languages. Put some ranks in knowledge local to try and get info before and during the mission. Something so you are not a bored lump just waiting for the next fight.
  • Compare to the closest pre-gen at several levels. You should be at least as capable as that at each level. That is not a difficult bar to reach. Even a middlin decent build should be there.
  • To offer myself a pat on the back, you might check THIS thread where some builds for beginners were critiqued.

Silver Crusade 4/5 5/55/55/5 RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8

Akerlof wrote:
...but I could see them coming so changed my judgment to healing so I would auto stabilize.

BTW, your judgments are not active while you are unconscious.

PRD wrote:
Once activated, this ability lasts until the combat ends, at which point all of the bonuses immediately end. The inquisitor must participate in the combat to gain these bonuses. If she is frightened, panicked, paralyzed, stunned, unconscious, or otherwise prevented from participating in the combat, the ability does not end, but the bonuses do not resume until she can participate in the combat again.

The Exchange 5/5

Jiggy wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
Merisiel has no social skills, which is a little problematic for a rogue.
Why is that problematic for a rogue? I keep running into this idea that rogues are supposed to prioritize CHA (to some degree) and take some social skills. But I see about as much in the rogue class description to suggest this as I do in the fighter. Where does this idea come from in the first place? Did AD&D thieves require above-average CHA or something and people just never stopped playing the old tropes no matter what happened to the class? Is there something I'm overlooking?

From an old time player of Thieves... no, often the "rogue" or Thief in old RPs would have the LOWEST social skills. There were Con-men Thieves, but most often the thief was someone you would over look in the bar - the mousy little guy in the back that no one noticed, or paid attention to. The halfling!

5/5 5/55/55/5

Jiggy wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
Merisiel has no social skills, which is a little problematic for a rogue.
Why is that problematic for a rogue? I keep running into this idea that rogues are supposed to prioritize CHA (to some degree) and take some social skills. But I see about as much in the rogue class description to suggest this as I do in the fighter. Where does this idea come from in the first place?

1) its a class skill for them. They start with a +3 bonus in it over the fighter. Class skills are a way of nudging classes into their archetypical roles without shoehorning them there

2) they have lots of skill points. Social skills are among the most useful in pathfinder.

3) Fast talking people out of their underwear is just as big a part of the rogue mythos as picking their pocket.


Jiggy wrote:


Where does this idea come from in the first place? Did AD&D thieves require above-average CHA or something and people just never stopped playing the old tropes no matter what happened to the class? Is there something I'm overlooking?

Nope, you aren't missing anything. Thieves weren't necessarily expected to be face-type characters in the early editions. They were skill monkeys because they were the only class with out of combat skills that were defined, but none of those skills were actually social skills, they were things like find/remove traps, move silently, hide in shadows, and read languages. (Well, monks and rangers might have gotten some of those, been a while since I looked through the rules.)

Actually, I distinctly remember something in the 1st Ed PHB description of fighters stating that they were generally the party leader and implying that, if you were going to have a face, the fighter would be it. Of course, NPC interactions were purely RP, there weren't skill checks, so it didn't really matter what kind of stats or skills you had. I think the DMG said to give a nebulous bonus or penalty to PCs with extremely high or low Charisma, but didn't provide mechanics to do so.

Michael Eshleman wrote:
Akerlof wrote:
...but I could see them coming so changed my judgment to healing so I would auto stabilize.

BTW, your judgments are not active while you are unconscious.

The way I read it, Healing is special:

Judgment (Su): wrote:


At 1st level, an inquisitor can use this ability once per day. At 4th level and every three levels thereafter, the inquisitor can use this ability one additional time per day. Once activated, this ability lasts until the combat ends, at which point all of the bonuses immediately end. The inquisitor must participate in the combat to gain these bonuses. If she is frightened, panicked, paralyzed, stunned, unconscious, or otherwise prevented from participating in the combat, the ability does not end, but the bonuses do not resume until she can participate in the combat again.[/b]

...

[i]Healing: The inquisitor is surrounded by a healing light, gaining fast healing 1. This causes the inquisitor to heal 1 point of damage each round as long as the inquisitor is alive and the judgment lasts. The amount of healing increases by 1 point for every three inquisitor levels she possesses.

As you say, judgments generally stop giving you their bonus when you're incapacitated, they don't end but they don't give any bonuses. However, the healing judgment specifically says "long as the inquisitor is alive and the judgment lasts."

The way I read it, you have fast healing even when you're unconscious because of the wording under that specific judgment.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

My opinion:

You need to have a reasonably built character to survive in Pathfinder Society. But more important than your build, is your preparedness with consumables. Preparedness can often help more than an uber build that isn't prepared. Being rules savvy and savvy with advanced tactics in the game can often help survival more than an uber build as well.

Too much optimization takes place when you overshadow everyone else at the table. This will likely be a trial and error experiment if you have fun uber optimizing. Ultimately, the best way to handle it if you do go overboard, is to hold back your nuclear options unless and/or until they are absolutely necessary.

So basically:

Do what you want to have fun, as long as your fun doesn't impinge on other people's fun.

Massively optimizing is not necessary if you come prepared and are savvy with advanced tactical rules.

Liberty's Edge

This actually is an interesting point and came up very recently with a group who just played Glass River Rescue. I asked how it went and was told it was a 'slaughterfest'. I have played with these guys enough to know that by Slaughterfest we are talking about the foes/monsters/npcs, never the pcs. I can visualise now that at least 2 of the characters on that 5 person table were optimised, perhaps even 3/5.

I started out Pathfinder society with a Gunslinger (read Musket Master). I didnt know much about the class but after a read I decided I wanted to try something different (Im that sort of gamer.. however not with bizarre races.. I just dont like all that planar races type tomfoolery).SoI built a musket master. Im not much of an optimiser and only put a 16 into Dex (THe class revolves around Dex). Sure now he has an 18+ due to items and stat buffs but Ive never regretted not going further into optimisation land.

As I have progressed with that character, I think its probably more than likely I have overshadowed on the table. Ive seen people recoil when Ive hit monsters after rolling a 5 on the attack dice and wondering how that was possible. Ive also had people bewildered by just how awesome clustered shot can be. So dont think you have to optimise just to compete. You dont. You need a firm grasp on what exactly your character does and can do.

One thing thats has been overlooked is the playing group. You can have the most optimised character you can build but if you dont gel with the group then you might lose him/her fairly quickly into the piece. Familiarity breeds knowledge in the case of Pathfinder. If you have played with other people/characters at the table before, its far easier to know what X is going to do at any point in time. We are talking about knowing that player X always has his characters charge into combat round one, that player Y has his characters move into difficult terrain a lot.

Then you can generally accurated anticipate what to do next. Move to Flank, clean the are out in front of a different character. Its a different form of optimisation in that its optimising your tactics and inner party co-ordination. Its just as important as the stats on the page even if its far harder to quantify.

Silver Crusade 4/5 5/55/55/5 RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8

Akerlof wrote:
The way I read it, Healing is special:

Touché. Good to know (my Inquisitor hasn't seen much play).

Silver Crusade

I'm actually with BigNorseWolf on this. The group composition really determines which builds are OP. Write down the date. I especially like the "paste eating group".

Silver Crusade

Andrew Christian wrote:

My opinion:

You need to have a reasonably built character to survive in Pathfinder Society. But more important than your build, is your preparedness with consumables. Preparedness can often help more than an uber build that isn't prepared. Being rules savvy and savvy with advanced tactics in the game can often help survival more than an uber build as well.

Definitely agreed, and I've got two examples to share from my own play that demonstrate this.

A few months ago, I started a new cleric character. I usually try to use GM credits to skip level 1, but I played this one when I had two GM credits, and was still one scenario short of level 2. I had spent my money and prestige on all sorts of consumables - wand of Cure Light Wounds, acid flasks, alchemist's fire, even a whip, among other things, because I had the proficiency, even though I never intend to specialize in it or anything. I played this PC with a group of 7 players, all of whom were level 1, including two total Pathfinder newbies playing pregens that they didn't understand how to use well. This was in an early season adventure that surprisingly kicked our butts.

We faced swarms, and I was one of only two people who had splash weapons to deal with them. We faced enemies with polearms, so I pulled out the whip and surprised myself by successfully disarming one of them from 15 feet away. I was the group's main healer with my wand, despite being a negative channeler. My cleric's spells were worthless that adventure, and I barely did any weapon damage, but I ended up being the star of the table because of stupid little stuff. No optimization necessary - I just knew the rules enough to buy splash weapons, use a whip to disarm from 15 feat away, and pick up a cure wand with my first 2 prestige points.

In the mean time, a newbie with the pregen wizard ran out of his good spells early and was casting Ray of Frost over and over in the tougher later fights, usually missing. Unfortunately, I don't think he had a very good time, and I really hope he doesn't give up on the game because of it.

Another example of knowing the rules and tactics making or breaking a game happened in another low level session I played just last night. Luckily, it was an easy adventure with a group of experienced players, so it didn't really hurt the party, but we had a GM who kept getting rules wrong, to the detriment of our group. I suspect he's one of those who has played too many different editions and just kept confusing different rule versions, but he kept seeming certain that he was right in his rulings that were clearly wrong, and it hurt our group.

For example, there were two situations where players were unable to attack on their turn because of his rules misunderstandings. In one instance, a player wanted to charge in a surprise round, and he thought they couldn't, because a charge is usually a full round action. In another case, a level 1 rogue with 0 BAB wanted to draw a weapon as a move action, 5 foot step towards the enemy, then attack as a standard action. The GM ruled that because he'd taken a move action to draw the weapon, he couldn't take a 5 foot step. Apparently, he thought any move action prevented a 5 foot step, when it's really just move actions where you actually move some distance that prevent it.

My point is that the more you know about rules, tactics, and what consumables are useful to have around, the more useful you can be with your PC. That's more important than optimization, as long as your character isn't built so poorly as to be worthless. And on that note, I know most people haven't sat and read the entire Core Rulebook, but I really do think everyone should at least read the Combat chapter (I believe it's chapter 8). Especially last night's GM.

Grand Lodge 4/5

Andrew Christian wrote:

My opinion:

You need to have a reasonably built character to survive in Pathfinder Society. But more important than your build, is your preparedness with consumables. Preparedness can often help more than an uber build that isn't prepared. Being rules savvy and savvy with advanced tactics in the game can often help survival more than an uber build as well.

Uh oh...we agree on something...I think the world is in danger now.

Silver Crusade

Cold Napalm wrote:
Andrew Christian wrote:

My opinion:

You need to have a reasonably built character to survive in Pathfinder Society. But more important than your build, is your preparedness with consumables. Preparedness can often help more than an uber build that isn't prepared. Being rules savvy and savvy with advanced tactics in the game can often help survival more than an uber build as well.

Uh oh...we agree on something...I think the world is in danger now.

I have to agree about consumables. I must have spent a crapload of gold and Prestige Points on consumables (probably half my wealth on consumables as well as 10 PP out of 15), but it's been well worth it.

When you save the party from a TPK because you were fortunate enough to be carrying the right consumable (in my case, Air Crystals), that opens up a lot of peoples' eyes. :)

Only downside for buying so much consumables is the sheer amount of ITS sheets I'm probably going to be going through.

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