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


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5/5 5/55/55/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Central Europe aka GreyYeti

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?

A lot of guides for example advise to dump 1 or 2 abilitiey to the lowest possible level while maxing 1 or 2 others. Then I read stuff like "If you have CON 10 and get one-shotted at level 1 it is your own fault". So from this I get the feeling that 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 ("slumber hex witch", "kitty-pounce"?)more or less soloing all encounters while the rest of the party is just watching bored.

So I am really unsure how to build my character

Any advise from more experienced players would be welcome

Scarab Sages

I've only played for a couple months but I power leveled my characters pretty quick, Level 12 Magus, Level 6 Wizard, Level 5 Gunslinger, slew of Level 1 character concepts. I quickly came to realize after seeing my Venture Lt's characters that all my characters are just min/maxed for combat and really can't do much else, let alone have much story to them.

When I see the trait Indomitable Faith, I see a +1 to Will Save. When my VL see's that trait, his character is resilient in his faith and will never waiver from his path. My advice is to build a concept that you'd enjoy playing, but also know what you would be doing in combat every round.

Scarab Sages

It depends on your perferrence. You can choose to min-max or not. Just understand that if you choose to do that, you will have many weaknesses. Sure, you can have a bard with so much charisma that they an talk most things out of fighting, but when you encounter that giant construct, there might be trouble. In turn, you can have the most battle-ready barbarian that can smash things to a pulp in half a round, but when talking to a princess during teatime, that heavy hitter will not have the best front to talk to her.

You can also look into your demographics of your local store. Does it seem that players are min-maxing there? Does it seem that they want to create whatever random build they want? Play to what seems to your liking.

As for overpowered characters, remember that you can say they are overpowered, but remember that there are people behind the DM screens, so you should make note that it is not all easy-peasy. A passed save would stop the slumber hex, much like shambling mounds, incorporeal, constructs, dragons, etc. Kitty Pounce seems nice, but if the field is engulfed by obscuring mists, where does kitty pounce?

I have seen/DM'ed scenarios that ran both ways: 4-hour scenarios ending in 1 1/2 hours, 5/6 combat encounters ended by talking it out, min-maxed characters completely shut down by expoliting weak Will saves, combat grinded to a halt due to limited resources to fight an incorporeal boss.

Nothing is expected in your character, just shoose what you want and have fun. =)


It is possible to play a pretty standard character and survive. Although I would be remiss if I didn't add that as the seasons go one scenarios get harder, but so far I've played 5 characters with basic class levels and have only died a few times on the first one. That said, I get close more often than is comfortable, but if you have some common sense in your builds and plan for a few contingencies you should be fine.

Grand Lodge

I'd say the general rule is that as long as you're having fun, and it's not at the expense of others on either end of min/maxing spectrum, you can really do whatever you want within the confines of PFS. I've seen generalist characters get smashed on the boards, and I've seen hyper optimized characters get smashed on the tables.

As long as you and your companions get to have an enjoyable experience, not much else matters.

On that first point you brought up though, I will say that playing a glass cannon is not conducive to fun gameplay OR to living to become a seeker in PFS. I would suggest investing in some con, and maybe toughness for a d6 hit die class or some squishy frontliner like a TWF rogue or your typical monk. It really doesn't take up much, but those hitpoints save lives.

Grand Lodge 4/5

Well...10 con honestly isn't THAT bad (my first character who is at level 12 was 11 con). Now when you have 7 or 5...your just asking for it.

As far as difficulty...season 0-2 for the most part is play what you want. There are a few key hard ones in there...but seriously, they are cakewalks at tier. Hell some are cake walks playing up. Season 3 is more of a mixed bag. Season 4 ramps up there (if your planning on doing waking rune on hard mode, I suggest you get your optimizing hat on). And season 5 from what I see so far is up there in difficulty.

That said, my first character was an EK. Hardly a powerhouse. Quite weak in fact. She does fine in PFS however (she would get murdered in APs). There is a pretty good range of what is acceptable for PFS...just remember that tactics > builds. I have made a GM cry using a pre-gen (and those SUCK...even new players make better characters, you'd have to ACTIVELY try and gimp yourself to get worse) and tactics.

Liberty's Edge

I run 'skill monkeys' instead of combat oriented players. My Rogues can sneak attack every single round (after a few levels), causing massive damage, but only because I put so many ranks into Bluff...because I would rather talk my way out of combat, than fight. Doesn't mean I can't fight, but it's a last resort for my characters.

Some of the scenarios, that I have read, can be pretty brutal. As always, though, there's always more than one way to skin a goblin...running head first into any battle is the surest way to get your PC killed, no matter how much you optimize.

Grand Lodge 5/5

Personally, as much as the Min/Max crowd says you need to be that way in order to succeed in PFS, you really, really don't. My characters are, on the whole, a fairly balanced lot. I might have one dump stat here and there, but as a rule, they're balanced. What some people fail to understand about PFS is that it's not all, or even really at all, about the combat. It's about the story. If you make some big beefy fighter with a 7 Int and 5 Cha (which I've seen, trust me) , well, you're going to have a bad time when you need to make that skill check to proceed.

In general though, people above seem to have the right general idea. Play what's going to be fun for you. That's what this all about in the end, right?

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Welcome to PFS!

If you want a frame of reference, there are a couple of things you can look at.
First, consider the heroic NPC stat array: 15/14/13/12/10/8 (before racial adjustments). It's only a 15pt buy, so you're automatically going to be better than that, but it still shows you a little bit of what the game is built around. So having one dump stat is right there at the baseline, as is having one or two stats end up (post-racial) at 16-17 at first level. The further you deviate from that range (whether by taking additional dump stats, or by spreading things more evenly), the more likely it is that you're moving outside the baseline expectations of the game and could run into problems.

Second, look at the 1st-level pregens. Your character should be at least that effective. Take a look at their stats: you'll see some with 18's, some with 8's, some with more well-rounded stats. Also note their CON scores. What's the lowest you see? Look at their gear, skills, feats, etc. How focused are they? How much "wiggle room" do you have before you start being less effective than a pregen?

Exactly how much is "too much" or "too little" can't be answered except by experience (and even then it will vary from table to table), but those two things should at least give you a frame of reference as to what the game itself expects of your character so you have someplace to start. Hope that helps!


Michael Meunier wrote:
as much as the Min/Max crowd says you need to be that way in order to succeed in PFS, you really, really don't.

This. Play what you think will be fun. Have fun.

Scarab Sages

I would choose several aspects of your character that you really want to shine in, such as melee damage, AC, spell school focus, healing ect. and min/max that aspect of your character a little bit, otherwise I would not worry about it too much.

Dark Archive

I'm going to go on the excitedly other side of this coin.

The reality is, seasons 0-3 are "pretty easy". You can have a semi-competent character and do well, if nothing else leaning on the support of your teammates.

For season 4-5, especially after level 5, someone who is not very good at their job is both going to be a) a major burden to the table and b) likely not to be terribly fun. This is especially true of melees, where your fun 14-strength fighter stops being able to swing as hard (sub-optimized casters can still buff and/or heal, which is generally appreciated). An entire party of sub-otimized characters in these seasons will result in a TPK; these modules are beginning to actually take into account the tactics and powers of people who specialize and "up the encounters" to be challenging for them.

I also think, as much fun as it is to not dump stats and to have a "wide breath" character in CONCEPT, the reality is most people have more fun if they can embrace a role (any role) and do it well. You'll be more appreciated and feel more heroic.

So as much as I'd love to be on the team of "play whatever, it's good"; the later seasons really are starting to encourage you to learn to build in a more optimal manner.

*plink* *plink*

5/5 5/55/55/5

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Sheldock the magnificient wrote:
I am rather new to PF and recently got hooked.

Welcome to the institution.

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

This is an unanswerable question.

The amount you need depends on your DM, and your DM changes.

The amount of optimization you need varies with your group, and your group varies. I find that it follows a bell curve.

Hyper optimized group- You need to be hyper optimized to contribute

Optimized group- you need to be optimized to contribute

Goldilocks Optimized group- You need to be Goldilocks

Sub optimized group:- Here's the twist.. you need to be optimized or HIGHER, otherwise you're going to have a lot of deaths or flunk the mission

Paste eating group- Better be hyper optimized cause you're soloing this one.

you're usually fine as long as you're within one step of your group.

Quote:
A lot of guides for example advise to dump 1 or 2 abilitiey to the lowest possible level while maxing 1 or 2 others. Then I read stuff like "If you have CON 10 and get one-shotted at level 1 it is your own fault".

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 would also rather play up a flaw than be average. What does having an average charisma or wisdom do to make a character stand out in PFS... where you don't have time to build on character change and growth and your choices are a little limited.

Quote:
So from this I get the feeling that some of the adventures are so hard that you need a near perfect character to survive.

Some adventures are at the whim of the dice gods. At level 1 EVERY adventurer is at the mercy of the dice gods because the damage is so incredibly swingy relative to your hit points.

Quote:
So I am really unsure how to build my character

I look at it like a car. You can always ease off the gas if you want to go slower but if you suddenly need to go over 120 in a Jalopy you're out of luck. Tweak the heck out of the build but then moderate your play.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Your gaming group, GM, and adventures will vary widely.

I think the most important (as some others) criteria is what gives you more fun? Pathfinder is supposed to be a group-friendly, open and sociable hobby. :)

In my experience I've had my character be the difference between mission success or failure just because I took that oddball skill. A suboptimal choice...and yet it paid off.

I've also had an optimized character (I consider even one dump stat optimizing) be the only one who had to use a skill he didn't have with his single dump stat with success/failure of a single roll meaning the difference between mission success and failure.

I've run with optimized parties...who still failed that single DC 38 skill check at level 1 and failed the adventure.

I've run with horribly unoptimized parties...and had a blast doing so.

So really play what you want. Well, perhaps a hopeless psychotic cripple who is hunted by every sentient being in the known universe and thrives on failure may be a wee bit stretching it...it is a group game after all ;)

Lantern Lodge

I personally do not believe there to be one static answer to your question.

How optimized should you make your PC? As much or as little as your personal tastes dictate.

How necessary is optimization? The answer to this question depends on your GM's brutality, how tough the scenario in question is, the other PCs at your table, and if those PCs play smart and tactically or just charge blindly into every encounter.

I personally min/max the hell out of my characters within the parameters of their concept because character building is half my fun. On that subject, just because you have a min/maxed PC does not mean you need to unleash the beast every encounter of every session. If you are seated at a table with more typical characters, nothing says that you can't play your sheet down a little bit to allow them to shine and share in the glory either.

In short, examine your desires from this gaming experience, and go with what is right for you. Just go with it in consideration for the other people playing the game with you.

Grand Lodge 4/5

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@OP: Ask a dozen players in the campaign and you'll get a dozen different answers. Play the way you want.

Silver Crusade

While I agree with the "There's no one right answer" answers, I will say that I wouldn't make a PC with a con score below 12. HP are life, literally, so that's the one stat that you need to be above average, regardless of your build.

That said, most of my characters have con of exactly 12 or 14. If they're going to be on the front line most of the time, I go for the 14. Otherwise, 12 is usually good enough. Except for a gnome sorcerer, who got a racial boost, so I went for the 14 just because it was cheap.

But even with this, there are exceptions. I do have one PC (out of 14) with a 10 con, but that's an archer with d10 HP who never has a reason to be on the front line.

As for other aspects of my PCs, I have a variety of characters specifically so I can play whatever the table needs. I have support PCs that do little, if any, damage in combat, but I only play then when the rest of the group looks like they'll have the HP damage covered. Similarly, I have damage dealing monsters who I only play with groups that are lacking in that area.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Captain, California—Sacramento aka FLite

Reading these boards, I feel like there is an awful lot of "My min/max is just building effective characters, your min/max is taking advantage of broken OP rules."

Scarab Sages

Thalin wrote:

I'm going to go on the excitedly other side of this coin.

Everything Thalin said is correct. If you have a table of sub-optimized characters, it is going to hurt in some scenarios/modules. I do not believe you need to obsess over min/maxing, but don't be the guy at the table that is doing nothing productive in combat, especially at higher levels.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

Everyone min/maxes to an extent. No one tries to make a character who is bad at what he does. (I hope. This is organized play, after all. People are counting on you to pull your weight.) And just because you build a character that can solo an encounter, doesn't mean you have to. Save the big guns for when it looks desperate.

Try to be really good at two different things (like melee and traps, or buffing and diplomacy) and you should be set.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

Have something you can do well in combat, and something you can do well outside of combat. But also have a backup plan for when you can't use it.

For instance, you can make a rogue who does damage with sneak attack, and also handles traps. But then carry alkali flasks to deal with swarms and oozes. Or you can make a sorcerer who uses enchantments in combat, and is good with social skills. But then you should make sure you have some spells or scrolls that work when your enchantments won't.

To give some examples, my monk is a melee fighter, AND he can act as the party scout, AND he can make ranged attacks. My cleric specializes in debuff spells, AND he has good Diplomacy, AND he can heal. My oracle can be a melee beast with her greatsword, AND she can cast buffs, AND she's a master linguist.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

My first adventure was an absolute slaughter-happy nightmare, as my GM ran a group of four level 1's with no healer through a 4-5 Tier adventure due to it being his first time as a PFS GM. We rested for four days in between every single encounter, and every single player went into the negatives twice.

So I came back a week later with an absolute terror of a Magus, who can probably solo entire modules. Which I later realized was a mistake, and modules run correctly don't require a min/maxed combat god.

You'll get a feel for how tough you have to be after one or two sessions. The Society won't be employing any weaklings for long (they have a tendency to die quickly), but don't feel like you need to be overpowered to contribute and have an awesome time.

Liberty's Edge 4/5 5/5

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Everyone has their own style, and for some, being effective in min/maxing is enjoyable. For me, it isn't.

I build a character that, for me, would be enjoyable to play. Maybe that's a low-Con fighter, or a sub-optimal INT Wizard. But, when I make such characters, I also do so knowing that my effectiveness in COMBAT encounters could be limited. That character may shine in a social encounter, but combat might be a challenge. But, in building the character that way, I accept the tradeoffs.

But, whether or not you mix/max, you have a responsibility to know how to play your character. There's always a learning curve the first few times you play a game, and in PF, there's a curve each time you play a new class for the first time. But, even if you are completely min/maxed, you still have to know HOW to make that character effective.

For me, I try to learn the tactical rules, combat maneuvers, look for combinations in my spells or class abilities, etc. Even if I have low bonuses (from low stats), I try to find the best way I can contribute.

I am not a fan of suggesting that people play OPTIMIZED characters. A player who has an optimized character but doesn't know how to play is no better than a good, skilled, and competent player who is playing a sub-optimized character, at least in my view.

So, I am in the "play what you want, but know how to play it well" camp.

Mark

4/5

Make your character useful in combat. I've seen far too many bards that say "Oh, I'll just talk to everything," put everything in charisma, only get spells good for out of combat, and then in combat they do nothing. Or fighters with 16 charisma so they would be better at diplomacy and that's it. Or "specialized healers" who use cure light wounds in combat at level 6. All of these classes could have been extremely effective in combat, but because of the build they went with, they aren't! Even with the 16 charisma fighter, you could make an intimidate build!

Build what you want. You don't need to optimize, but make sure you're going to be useful!

Scarab Sages

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Usefulness is in the point-of-view.

I have a character that does not attack in combat. Does not fight defensively in combat. Does nothing but go into total defense in combat. What he does is stand next to the enemy, give allies a bunch of armor class bonuses, and provoke attacks of opportunities. A Sacred Shield paladin focuses on staying near the party, reducing damage dealt, and the like as well. Are they effective in combat, outside of combat?

You can consider battle-effectiveness as one aspect of the game, but to the charisma-heavy bard, they can consider it as another social aspect of the game that can be talked through. Not all encounters has to end with blades crossed. If a creature has intelligence, it can be negotiated with, unless it specifically states it fights to the death.

4/5

Cao Phen wrote:
I have a character that does not attack in combat. Does not fight defensively in combat. Does nothing but go into total defense in combat. What he does is stand next to the enemy, give allies a bunch of armor class bonuses, and provoke attacks of opportunities. A Sacred Shield paladin focuses on staying near the party, reducing damage dealt, and the like as well. Are they effective in combat, outside of combat?

I'm not quite sure what I said makes you think that character would not be useful. Giving armor bonuses and taking attacks for people is quite useful!

Cao Phen wrote:
You can consider battle-effectiveness as one aspect of the game, but to the charisma-heavy bard, they can consider it as another social aspect of the game that can be talked through. Not all encounters has to end with blades crossed. If a creature has intelligence, it can be negotiated with, unless it specifically states it fights to the death.

There are so many scenarios in PFS where I can't think of a single encounter that can't be talked through (for example...any scenario where every single battle is undead). I also can't think of a single scenario I've had where there hasn't been a combat. If you know that this is the case, why would you make yourself useless in such a situation?

I have a charisma-heavy bard that is a thundercaller and is FAR from useless in battle. He stuns everything while dealing damage. If he can't do that, he confuses them. And if all else fails, he's still doing damage or buffing the party. And guess what? He's a fantastic character out of combat as well. You don't have to focus everything into being the "best skill character ever" to be good at it.

He has completely demolished roleplaying encounters as well as done incredibly well in combat encounters. The two don't have to be mutually exclusive.

Scarab Sages

Of course. The main issue is options. It is a person's decision that they chose Glibness before any other spells, as well as selecting any other social spells. However, it is up to the person to choose what they can to back it up when their primary objective fails. Take for an example an enchantress bard that focuses on mind-affecting effects and abilities. Once they enter a dungeon that is filled with oozes and undead, what can the bard do to support her party.

Again, overall it is a player's responsibility to be prepared. That is what being a Pathfinder is. That, and getting gold at the end of missions to buy ice cream and doughnuts. =)

Liberty's Edge

Build what you wish, but CON will always be a key stat. I know a lot of GM's are hesitant to kill players, but sometimes crits at low HP happen. With a 20 point buy I have yet to really see any "Min-Max" builds. 20 points is not a great deal to work with, and a party will succeed more on the conept of party build and if people know their characters and rules. When I make a character I actually assign some values I predetermine based on 20 points.

16, 14, 14, 12, 10, 8

These points give me 1 amazing stat, and 2 better than average. Unless your playing a crazy multiclass build that is not really synergized those stats will be perfectly fine.

I don't believe a character should ever be focused in one role. If you want to be a diplo-monkey and only a diplo-monkey, you will bring the party down scenarios that are combat intensive. In this case, unless your a bard, or Sorcerer, your going to use up party resources. My bard is a diplo-monkey with few offensive spells because she is squeamish towards combat (+1 using a Masterwork Fighting Fan at level 3, no ranged weapons). I offset this by giving her buffing and healing spells. Being level 3 and giving the party re-rolls to saves, and +2-3 to just about everything is incredibly handy. While my damage output is small to none, I increase the overall group damage output significantly. In this way my character is a noncombatant, BUT contributes to the party.

PFS requires a little more thought behind your character because you are essentially joining a random group, you need some diversity to bring to the table.

Like any job in real life, make yourself indispensable.

The Exchange

Wow - Just wow

Most posters on these PFS boards appear to view the game as a fantasy wargame with the intent that they want to "own" or "demolish" the scenario. For them, success is having a character that can sleepwalk thru an encounter that is in their baliwick if they want and still destroy it. Success is making sure other players know that their character can solo the encounter if needed but is gracious enough to let others have a moment in the sun. They want to take every scenario playing up to the max, dialed to the hardest level possible since then they feel challenged.

Most players I have encountered view the game as a fantasy role-playing experience where they show the cool things they can do or the awesome backstory or even the diversity of their competencies. They do not own most scenarios but they get to talk about how they pulled something out at the last minute. Sure, there is the shocking grasp magus and the heaven's oracle but those get to be boring to play (the proverbial one trick pony) and render other characters moot.

Decide if you want to treat PFS as a wargame (in that case, you will want to be optimized to do 1 or two things) or as a roleplaying adventure (in that case, be competent in an overall role with strengths outside that field)

Finally, from my experience, the posters on the boards represent only a small segment of the players and are not really representative (at least from my experience) of the larger base. Usually, this means that you will have the "power" table and then all the other tables.

Dark Archive

It's not a "fantasy wargame". But being good at your job is NOT a bad thing. Let's be honest, 80% of PFS IS working around dungeon, and about 60% of your time will be in combat situations. So you need to be competent. Seasons 4 and 5 are a lot less forgiving than seasons 0-3. In the early seasons, a properly-built PC could often solo modules, and a group of sub-ops were "challenged". In 4 and 5, properly built are challenged, and too many sub-ops at a table lead to deaths or TPKs.

You can have your cake and eat it too... build your character to do their job very well, then roleplay the heck out of them.

Scarab Sages

With that, the issue becomes "How well do I want to survive with this character, and what incentive is needed to maximize this"

Everyone took time and a lot of patience to get to where they are at with each of their characters. If it happens to be that their character died on the second mission at level 10 and unable to retrieve them, and they played a week at a time, they nearly played around 27-28 weeks to have their character die. 7 Months investment. If this was a business, you would best bet that frustration would ensue to see a deal fall through the cracks after a month of worktime was placed into it.

Now you can have the average group that focuses on their backstory, as well as the other average group that focuses on their numbers. The issue with the PFS layout is that you are EXPECTED to do this, this, and this. Numbers means something. Variation of how to get it may be okay, like changing Diplomacy to Intimidate, or a Knowledge to another Knowledge, but overall, if you do not reach that magic number, you do not get your reward. If you do not get your reward, you are a step behind everyone else.

What would happen if you only obtain 1 Prestiege/1 Fame in every single scenario? By level 7, your gold buy cap is 5250. That is what some people see as the incentive. They need to push beyond the threshold to get the conclusive fact that they can succeed in the situation. If you completed every scenario by level 7 with 2 Prestiege/Fame, then you are at 23000 gold buy cap. Though Paizo expects you to only obtain 75% of all prestiege, people set to expect that the BASELINE prestiege/fame is 6 per level. They think, more Fame, more buys. More buys, more survivability. More survivability, less deaths like my previous guy that took 7 months to build and scenarios that I can never play again since he took them.

4/5

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@Sargonoth

1. I really hate the argument that a game is either a "roleplaying game" or a "wargame." Why can't it be both simultaneously?

It's obvious PFS has combat very integrated into the game, so the wargame aspect is there. It's also obvious that there are very many diverse roleplaying situations that come up, so it's a roleplaying game.

I also feel that people need to get off their pedestal thinking that because they are more "roleplaying focused" that they are somehow better gamers. Why is this so? Why is it that someone who enjoys the combat aspect more is an inferior gamer somehow? Why is having an in-depth back story that took months to think out cooler than a great character build? I don't understand the reasoning behind this logic. Is one form of gaming not valid while the other is?

And, yet again, why is it not possible for both to exist? Is it not possible to have a character with an in-depth backstory, a great personality, and also a terror on the battlefield? Why do the game statistics matter for how in-depth a back story your character has?

2. We're not telling people to play the best character ever. We're trying to prevent the "useless character" that some of us have had so much experience seeing at a table. I've had a character in my party that couldn't do more than 8 or 9 damage per turn to a monster that had no DR at level 8, and even so he missed very often! I've also had characters in my party that have done 1d4+1 HP of healing every turn at level 7! This is not something we should promote to any degree, especially given the difficulty jump since the previous seasons.

You don't need to have a character that rips through everything in their path, but please at least make reasonable characters. I prefer a higher power game, but I'm not going to dock someone for not doing so.

Sovereign Court

So long as your character is reasonably competent at what they are choosing to do and understand what it means to be a Pathfinder working for the Society you shouldn't have too much to worry about.

To be a truly terrible force you really need a good team focus with other people, and then the only one not having fun is the GM usually. ;)

The Exchange 5/5

Morgen wrote:

So long as your character is reasonably competent at what they are choosing to do and understand what it means to be a Pathfinder working for the Society you shouldn't have too much to worry about.

To be a truly terrible force you really need a good team focus with other people, and then the only one not having fun is the GM usually. ;)

Heck, even as the Judge I can have a great time when the PCs are a good team of PCs Optimized to ensure a Minimum of "BORING" and a Maximum of "FUN"... a Min-Max-ed group of PCs, enjoying the heck out of a game I am running? Priceless!

;)

4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Washington—Seattle aka Gwen Smith

One of my favorite aspects of PFS is the flexibility. Don't think your first try at a character is effective? Retrain it after level 1, or just dump it and start your -2 character.

Not having fun with your min-maxed character? Make a -3. No clerics in your area? That's what -4 is for.

Try everything. If it doesn't work, try something else. There's a lot of scenarios out there to play with, and you are only as committed to a character as you want to be.


Sheldock the magnificient wrote:
On the other hand people are complaining about overpowered characters ("slumber hex witch", "kitty-pounce"?)more or less soloing all encounters while the rest of the party is just watching bored.

Well, slumber hex witch tends to save or die spam which can kill the fun for anyone, superpowered or no. Its just anticlimactic to have a boss fall asleep and get CdG'd before doing anything. Its not that its optimized, its that its boring. Archers and pounce chargers get full attacks that rip things apart, and that's not always a bad thing because getting a full attack off is important to a martial. Both playstyles seem to be the way to go because of how mechanics work(Witch's use debuffs/save or dies, martials need to full attack to do reasonable damage).

Sheldock the magnificient wrote:
How much minmaxing is needed to survive and how much is too much and killing the fun for everybody?

Answer varies. Some people hate you for even trying to optimize because your ruining the spirit of the game to them, and some people hate you for not doing it because your risking their characters and you look like you just didn't care(or something, I don't live in other people's heads). Your really not going to make everyone happy. You'll also get a different answer from the PFS boards than the advice boards.

The Exchange 5/5

Dorothy Lindman wrote:

One of my favorite aspects of PFS is the flexibility. Don't think your first try at a character is effective? Retrain it after level 1, or just dump it and start your -2 character.

Not having fun with your min-maxed character? Make a -3. No clerics in your area? That's what -4 is for.

Try everything. If it doesn't work, try something else. There's a lot of scenarios out there to play with, and you are only as committed to a character as you want to be.

This is the reason I never do "slow progression".

Just start a second PC with the same concept - and maybe correct some of the things you would have done differently!


When you are on your second and third character you play with optimization and funky builds, but on your first keep it simple and efficient.

For your first character hyper optimization is a bad way to go, rather come up with what you want your character to be like and what role you want them to play. Build them so that in groups that are clearly superior built you can play out there personality and come through in clutch spots. At the same time you want your character to be able to carry the load when push comes to shove, so take whatever the class is meant to be able to do and do it. Players will gladly accept a rogue with 6 charisma hitting on every npc if they find the insanity rune trap and disable it (don't go too overboard on the character flavor).

What I would say is as far as stats, understand which two are the most important and which is the least( take into account that wisdom affects will and int affects skills). Have an 18 or better after racial for your most important and a 16 or better for secondary, only dumping one stat or semi dumping both. This will help with optimization.

The Exchange

Yiroep wrote:

@Sargonoth

1. I really hate the argument that a game is either a "roleplaying game" or a "wargame." Why can't it be both simultaneously?

It's obvious PFS has combat very integrated into the game, so the wargame aspect is there. It's also obvious that there are very many diverse roleplaying situations that come up, so it's a roleplaying game.

I also feel that people need to get off their pedestal thinking that because they are more "roleplaying focused" that they are somehow better gamers. Why is this so? Why is it that someone who enjoys the combat aspect more is an inferior gamer somehow? Why is having an in-depth back story that took months to think out cooler than a great character build? I don't understand the reasoning behind this logic. Is one form of gaming not valid while the other is?

And, yet again, why is it not possible for both to exist? Is it not possible to have a character with an in-depth backstory, a great personality, and also a terror on the battlefield? Why do the game statistics matter for how in-depth a back story your character has?

2. We're not telling people to play the best character ever. We're trying to prevent the "useless character" that some of us have had so much experience seeing at a table. I've had a character in my party that couldn't do more than 8 or 9 damage per turn to a monster that had no DR at level 8, and even so he missed very often! I've also had characters in my party that have done 1d4+1 HP of healing every turn at level 7! This is not something we should promote to any degree, especially given the difficulty jump since the previous seasons.

You don't need to have a character that rips through everything in their path, but please at least make reasonable characters. I prefer a higher power game, but I'm not going to dock someone for not doing so.

You miss my point. Of course you can create an uber-munchkin and give it as good a backstory as well as a competent generalist. However, the question is what does the player use as the primary "lens" on PFS.

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. Each character will be optimized to do 1 (maybe 2) types of abilities. Any additional abilities will be serendipitous byproducts of the stats for that primary ability(for example, a monk that also do ranged is a byproduct of two stats needed for melee str/dex and it is unlikely that they have the PBS and RS feats since it is unlikely they pursued both melee and ranged. In that case, the ranged damage would be in the 8-9 a turn range). If you put things on a curve, each wargamer character will be at least 2 std above the average on that ability (be it damage, save dc, healing thruput). You will be sub optimal at anything outside your very narrow competence since you will not put feats,traits, or stats into other things. Of course, you can have a great back story explaining why you are focused on only 1 or 2 things and every character will have a similar backstory explaining why they dumped 2 stats

If you view PFS thru the primary lens of the roleplayer, the only characters that will have a stat below 10 will have a roleplaying impetus, your skills will support a range of competencies, and you will provide a range of "backup." Your character will be average on most things and will be above average in 3-4 things (a byproduct of not dumping stats and using feats and traits to support multiple areas)

Of course, there will the occasional "concept" person who played 20+ scenarios with a "unreasonable" character but I am willing to bet those types are so much rarer that the "18 16 12 10 7 7" characters who cast 1 empowered spell in every encounter. Also, I am willing to bet that the concept character can do a lot of other things (playing 20 scenarios or 100 hrs of your life with a character that can do nothing strains my belief)

The Exchange 5/5

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Sargonoth, I respectfully disagree with your views expressed above.

The Exchange

nosig wrote:
Sargonoth, I respectfully disagree with your views expressed above.

Thank you. I expect all reasonable individuals to disagree on many things. It would be boring if they did not. All I ask is that we listen to each others opinions and then decide.


Sargonoth wrote:
primary lens

So... Does this qualify as Stormwind Fallacy?

5/5 5/55/55/5

MrSin wrote:
Sargonoth wrote:
primary lens
So... Does this qualify as Stormwind Fallacy?

Eyup

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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.


Sheldock the magnificient 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?

A lot of guides for example advise to dump 1 or 2 abilitiey to the lowest possible level while maxing 1 or 2 others. Then I read stuff like "If you have CON 10 and get one-shotted at level 1 it is your own fault". So from this I get the feeling that some of the adventures are so hard that you need a near perfect character to survive.

For PFS, I'd go with "whatever you personally feel most comfortable with/find fun", as you'll likely have no idea what the preferences of the people that turn up will be. If getting one-shotted at level 1 with CON 10 is "your own fault", then quite honestly the PFS rulebook needs to start listing minimum stats to play.

When playing as part of a permanent group, it's more important to settle with what the group as a whole is comfortable with as you're going to have to keep playing with them.

The Exchange

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.

Silver Crusade

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.

4/5

Sargonoth, I can't agree that a min/max'd character is suboptimal. There are many different ways to make a character and make them viable, which includes both builds that dump stats and don't dump stats.

As for the disbelief that there are gamers that have characters that do almost nothing to contribute, I can't provide you with anything other than personal experiences with such characters.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.
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.

Scarab Sages

2 people marked this as a favorite.

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

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