Power Level for PFS


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Shadow Lodge 4/5

I've been running a number of low level mods recently and have to make couple of new characters to give the credit to. Every time I make a new character I find myself fighting between cool concept and optimization. I love coming up with weird concepts, like a gnomish inventor that rides around on his flying machine shooting guns, then find some rules to make it happen (a summoner/gunslinger with a flying eidolon). But then she only has a +4 to hit and does 1d6 damage and I just can't play something that weak.
I feel like at first level if my attack bonus is less than +5 and my minimum damage isn't at least 5, then I'm not pulling my weight. Am I optimizing too much?
I often end up dumping a stat down to 8 or 7. Even when I want the character to be clever or charming, I just can't justify to myself putting that 14 into cha or int when it doesn't add to any class abilities and means my attack bonuses or my defenses are going to be 2 less. I also have a hard time putting anything less than a 14 into con, I feel like I'm just asking to die if I do.
I don't like making overpowering characters, one shotting encounters is usually a let down; I don't want to step on other people's fun. But I've also been at tables where the fighter can't break the monster's DR and I refuse to be that guy.

So I'm looking for that happy middle ground. I'm wondering what other people's baselines are. Are my expectations too high of what is minimally necessary to be a contributing member of the team?

You used to be able to get away with much less in seasons 0-2, but I'm looking at current scenarios as the bar that I have to meet.

Silver Crusade 3/5

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I was in the same boat not long ago. Here's what I did: I asked the players who are regularly playing at the same local event with me which of my current characters they want me to play. What I learned was that they all really liked playing with my more extravagant characters, even if they weren't very mechanically sound. This alleviated my concern that these characters that I wanted to play would not be appreciated by my fellow players because they were not strong enough. YMMV.

Shadow Lodge

I used to go for cool-concept, but then my characters all became underpowered and I put myself in a position where I'm spending 20+ prestige per character to rebuild.

So now I always prioritise optimisation over concept.

Concept can be determined, much later when I'm confident my character can deal with encounters.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

I find that what makes more memorable characters has no connection to their mechanical soundness. One can make an optimized character that is flavorful and fun to play as/with as easily as one can make a mechanically gimped character that is fun. The rp enjoyment and the tactical mechanics are both parts of pfs play, I like to contribute to both.

What I'm interested in seeing is other people's numbers. I think a +3 to hit at first level is way too low, someone else may think it's plenty, while another may say I need at least twice that.
Is a 14 in your "main" stat playable? I tend to feel that a 16 is the minimum to be manageable, but an 18 is preferable. 20 is spending too much on one thing, unless you are an arcane caster in which case you can get away with it. Stuff like that.

Sovereign Court

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If you are running games and applying GM credit, that is the perfect time to build those extravagant characters. They face no mortality at level 1 (or 2 if you progress them that far) and allow you to build them more advanced. Go for the fun builds.

And personally, I think a 14 con is a bit excessive at early levels. You can always go with a belt to boost it and have a massive jump. I never put more than a 12 into Con, even on melee characters. Including my level 12 melee ranger. 14 is taking the focus from what you want, whether it be Cha or Wis.

Not every character has to be a HP pool or a huge damage dealer. I would much rather play with a character that has CHARACTER

Silver Crusade 3/5

gnoams wrote:

I find that what makes more memorable characters has no connection to their mechanical soundness. One can make an optimized character that is flavorful and fun to play as/with as easily as one can make a mechanically gimped character that is fun. The rp enjoyment and the tactical mechanics are both parts of pfs play, I like to contribute to both.

What I'm interested in seeing is other people's numbers. I think a +3 to hit at first level is way too low, someone else may think it's plenty, while another may say I need at least twice that.
Is a 14 in your "main" stat playable? I tend to feel that a 16 is the minimum to be manageable, but an 18 is preferable. 20 is spending too much on one thing, unless you are an arcane caster in which case you can get away with it. Stuff like that.

True. I was not trying to imply any dichotomy between the two.

I was suggesting this: it is okay to compromise one for the other if the character requires that. I build strong characters, both mechanically and conceptually. That gives me a lot of leeway either direction.

One of my favorite characters (and the most popular character of mine among the other players) is a cleric/bard who would have been much stronger as an aasimar. She is instead, a half-elf. That part of her concept was non-negotiable. She still has a monstrous Cha, and a pitiful Str. She can't hit anything in combat, but she provides excellent buffs to her allies.

Liberty's Edge

Gnoams: I think I am roughly in the same boat as you. Generally I build characters after I read a latest Pathfinder Companion book release or see a concept in an older movie I want to adapt. Generally the adaption dosnt work well as there is still too many choices but I generally end up sorta in the middle in regards to optimisation.

I also believe im the opposite of Avatar. I prefer concept over optimization. I find it very difficult to ever give a character an 18 (thats what I aim for via stat bumps).

As for stats, I think they are more important in relation to spell casting as you need a stat at a certain number to cast the higher level spells

Shadow Lodge 4/5

I tend to run a stat spread of 16, 14, 14, 12, 10, 8, with a +2 racial to bump the 16 to an 18 for whatever primary stat I want for the character. I keep trying to make a gnome that isn't a spell caster, but putting the 16 in str which becomes a 14 just feels so gimped, and starting with an 18 makes my other attributes so terrible. I did make a weapon finesse gnome magus, but it only really works because magus do too much damage, so the small size and str penalty just brings it down to normal.

Once you get up to 8th level+ the difference between a 14 and an 18 ability score isn't that big of a percentage of your overall modifiers, but since PFS only goes to 11th level, that's most of your career.

I've run in to a few scenarios with hp checks. They don't come up all that often, but occasionally you get hit with things that do unavoidable damage (or nearly unavoidable, like traps with a +20 to hit bonus at tier 4-5, or a DC25 save breath weapon that does 12d6), and if your hp are too low for your level, you die. I got crit by a sea serpent in one scenario, the GM rolled two consecutive 20s to hit and confirm. I only survived the 95 damage as a level 9 witch due to a 16 con, toughness and false life. I've only ever killed 3 players as a GM, all them had 12 or less Con.
But then again, I like playing tough characters. I also tend to play d6 and d8 HD characters, so I feel like I need to make up that extra hp.

Lantern Lodge

Every character I make is good at, at least one thing. My monk was never built for damage but he was made to get flank for anyone and everyone. He also has a 10 con and this only hurt him once (2 crits and a 3rd hit is the same round) and even if his con was 12 he still would have died.

I have a lvl 14 cleric that dumped his Dex. I know he will get hit so I keep him behind everyone and also got his toughness and the +6 belt of con. When I went through the Retirement arc on him he had more hit points then anyone else at the table with the lowest AC. (Everyone around the rocky mountains has probably heard of my Merciful healer.)

If you know what your characters weaknesses are (like low con) you play around them and it doesn't turn out to be a drawback.

p.s. Everyone of my characters has a flaw(weakness) and I enjoy playing them more then someone who doesn't.

Lantern Lodge

"I keep trying to make a gnome that isn't a spell caster, but putting the 16 in str which becomes a 14 just feels so gimped, and starting with an 18 makes my other attributes so terrible."

I have an Elven Barbarian. I know how to feel with putting a 16 in my con for the 14 he has.

Sovereign Court 5/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
gnoams wrote:
I tend to run a stat spread of 16, 14, 14, 12, 10, 8, with a +2 racial to bump the 16 to an 18 for whatever primary stat I want for the character. I keep trying to make a gnome that isn't a spell caster, but putting the 16 in str which becomes a 14 just feels so gimped, and starting with an 18 makes my other attributes so terrible. I did make a weapon finesse gnome magus, but it only really works because magus do too much damage, so the small size and str penalty just brings it down to normal.

Gnome barbarians are super sweet.

Grand Lodge

gnoams wrote:

I find that what makes more memorable characters has no connection to their mechanical soundness. One can make an optimized character that is flavorful and fun to play as/with as easily as one can make a mechanically gimped character that is fun. The rp enjoyment and the tactical mechanics are both parts of pfs play, I like to contribute to both.

What I'm interested in seeing is other people's numbers. I think a +3 to hit at first level is way too low, someone else may think it's plenty, while another may say I need at least twice that.
Is a 14 in your "main" stat playable? I tend to feel that a 16 is the minimum to be manageable, but an 18 is preferable. 20 is spending too much on one thing, unless you are an arcane caster in which case you can get away with it. Stuff like that.

To answer your mentioned questions, +4 to hit at first is generally the starting blocks for a non-touch hitting PC. Fighters can of course get higher (+6 without really trying to hard) and some touch ac characters can get by with as little as a +2.

14 in main stat is doable depending on what you are using the main stat for. PFS games stop at 12, meaning a cap of 6th level spells. This means if you don't use save based spells you'll need a starting primary ability as low as 13 for it not to interfere with your ability to cast spells. However this is a pretty edge case, most casters can't avoid spells with saves, and if your using your primary stat to hit a 13 is not going to cut it. In most cases I'd think 16 is about as low as you want to go.

17 is the average AC for a starting character (studded leather and an 18 dex or scale mail and a large shield), going lower is ok if you're never in melee, but there isn't a way to guarantee that at lower levels.

*Edit* 16,14,14,12,10,8 is a good starting point for stats, but you don't necessarily have to align the 16 with a racial bonus since 16 is an acceptable starting primary stat. For instance a dwarf cleric would be fine with 16 str, 12 dex, 16 con, 8 int, 16 wis, and an 8 chr.

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

Huh. Thinking about this.
Out of 7 characters, I have had attack bonuses at first level of:

+3 (rogue w/ weapon finesse)
+4 (Paladin)
+4 (gunslinger)
-1 (wizard - ranged tough was +2)
+2 (battle oracle - but was first played at lev 4)
+2 (inquisitor, with power attack he was +1 - first played at lev 2 with +4 including MW weapon)
+0 (halfling Druid, will be played tomorrow at +2 total at lev 2)

I really don't beloved that a +5 is needed at level one. All of these characters have been viable (well, have not actually played the Druid, but her giant scorpion AC with 3 +2 attacks will be her main attacks). I have seen a variety, and not forcing your attck bonus that high at level 1 allows for higher INT, for example!

But, this is my play style, may not be yours. I LIKE more balanced character, with mote things that they can do out of combat. Heck, the stat points saved from not going to 15 can be used to job crease DEX, have a CHA, etc.

The Exchange 5/5

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What do you mean by "Power Level"?

I think I have a totally different approach to this game or something...I've read thru the posts in this thread to this point, and I think I'm missing something here...

Why do you consider PCs to be all about combat? Why are you defining your PC by his combat stats only? Is this just a combat game for you? I feel really out of place here I think...

Or perhaps like a feminist turning to a "jock" and saying:
Fem:"Do you think the ERA is important?" (ERA: Equal Rights Admendment)
Joc:"Very important! Many people discount it, but I feel it's very relavent to determining a players abilities.) (ERA: Earned Run Average).

(Power Level):
"I can do 150 HP in a melee round!"
"Yeah, but can you dance?"

5/5 Venture-Agent, Canada—Alberta—Edmonton aka Artoo

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nosig wrote:

(Power Level):

"I can do 150 HP in a melee round!"
"Yeah, but can you dance?"

"Of course I can! I needed ranks in it to get Dervish Dance."

More seriously, do what seems fun to you. If you don't have fun playing characters that don't do a bunch of damage then build characters that do damage.

But don't feel like you need to be capable of knocking everything out in one round to not be a burden to the rest of the table. A lot of people love having someone along that can handle the social aspect. Or someone that may not do any damage in a fight but can run around buff the party and debuff the enemies.

There's plenty of ways to contribute. As long as you can do something you should be good. Just don't be that person that insists they can't do anything at all and pouts about it, that's a downer for the whole table.

The Exchange 5/5

Here
is another, older thread on this subject...

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

I have a dozen PCs levels 14,11,11,10,10,9,8,7,5,4,2... and the only one that has died in PFS was the 14th level - and he died in the game I got him a belt of CON to boost his CON to 14 to raise his HP. (The extra HP didn't help...).

I, personally, tend to like PCs that have high DEX and/or INT... but I have created "Face" PCs that are all about CHA too.

So my advice would be - play what you are comfortable with... but try not to get stuck in a rut playing the same thing over and over.

3/5

I think that the missing dimension to this discussion is that at 1st level, most characters are not going to have hit their stride or quite be able to live up to their concept. So don't sweat it if it takes a level or two for your concept to fall into place.

Archers will probably be using slings, you will be doing a lot of just standing there and aiding another. Your spellcaster gets to spend most rounds feeling useless by flinging cantips into meele at -3 to hit. The signature abilities which really distinguish classes from each other have not come online in a useful way for the most part.

That is why I rarely start players at 1st level in real campaigns that I run and I skip 1st with DM credit whenever possible in PFS, or just get it out of the way as fast as possible with repeatable scenarios.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

I'm interested in other players' takes on what is required for combat in pfs. I have yet to play or GM a scenario without at least one mandatory combat. Therefore, as a pathfinder, one must be able to handle themselves in a fight. If you cannot, then you just don't cut it for a field agent. There are positions within the pathfinder organization besides field agent, but they aren't PCs.
I don't think PCs should be only about combat, but everything else they can do is optional. A group of skill-less characters may fail at the missions an get no pp, but they'll survive to try again. A group of characters who can't fight will get killed. Fighting is the only thing you are forced to be able to do, so that is why I'm interested in the combat requirements. For RP and character, I'm happy to do whatever I feel fits, I don't need limits or numbers to RP.

By power level, I mean that different campaigns have different assumptions of the combat abilities of the players. I'd like to meet that power level. I've played with many players who go over, and that trivializes the challenges. Similarly I've played with many players who go under, and the rest of the party has to carry them through the fights. I don't want to be either of those players, hence the discussion of power level.

I used 1st level as an example, maybe I shouldn't have as several responses seem to be fixating on that.

The Exchange 5/5

Saint Caleth wrote:

I think that the missing dimension to this discussion is that at 1st level, most characters are not going to have hit their stride or quite be able to live up to their concept. So don't sweat it if it takes a level or two for your concept to fall into place.

Archers will probably be using slings, you will be doing a lot of just standing there and aiding another. Your spellcaster gets to spend most rounds feeling useless by flinging cantips into meele at -3 to hit. The signature abilities which really distinguish classes from each other have not come online in a useful way for the most part.

That is why I rarely start players at 1st level in real campaigns that I run and I skip 1st with DM credit whenever possible in PFS, or just get it out of the way as fast as possible with repeatable scenarios.

While I personally, find the first 3 levels of a PC to be the most fun... It is in running a PC for those first 3 to 9 games that it becomes a "person" to me. By 5th or 6th level it has become kind of solidified ... and not as much fun (to me). Which is sort of why I normally have a glut of PCs at about 7th level...

Shadow Lodge 4/5

Artoo wrote:
nosig wrote:

(Power Level):

"I can do 150 HP in a melee round!"
"Yeah, but can you dance?"

"Of course I can! I needed ranks in it to get Dervish Dance."

More seriously, do what seems fun to you. If you don't have fun playing characters that don't do a bunch of damage then build characters that do damage.

But don't feel like you need to be capable of knocking everything out in one round to not be a burden to the rest of the table. A lot of people love having someone along that can handle the social aspect. Or someone that may not do any damage in a fight but can run around buff the party and debuff the enemies.

There's plenty of ways to contribute. As long as you can do something you should be good. Just don't be that person that insists they can't do anything at all and pouts about it, that's a downer for the whole table.

I don't want to one shot encounters, that's the whole point. I want to contribute to defeating 1/4th (or1/6th) of the fight.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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gnoams wrote:
I'm interested in other players' takes on what is required for combat in pfs.

Have a look at the Monster Stats by CR table on this page.

Look at your level.

Imagine you're fighting a monster with a CR about 2 higher than your level (you almost always are).

Do you focus on making attack rolls? Look at the AC value, and make sure you're hitting more than half the time.

Spend a lot of time in melee? Look at the High Attack value, and make sure you're getting hit half the time or less (or look at the High Average Damage and make sure you're comfortable with how many rounds your HP will allow you to last).

Are you a save-based caster? Look at the Good/Poor save values and see how often a good save is succeeding and how often a poor save is succeeding.

Do you focus on damage (whether magical or weapon-based)? Look at the expected HP and see how many rounds it'll take you to take him out (remember to factor in some of the above about attack bonuses, save DCs, etc).

Don't neglect your own saves, either; look at the save DCs and see if you can make those saves (especially Fort and Will) more than half the time.

Basically, whatever you're doing, make sure you can do it successfully more often than not against a critter of CR+2.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

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Up until I read nosig's comment I was going to say the same thing.

What is your version of "Optimization"?

Is it having the highest AC? Best saves? Versatility? Maxed out skills? High DPR?

I think it's best to start with a concept, then give it a personality, and try to find a voice. After you've put all that together, find out what role you want to fill.

I wanted to play a Vudrani. After some time that thought evolved into him being a snake charmer, from a crowded Casmaron (sp?) city. I came up with a voice, and a lighthearted, joking personality.

He became a Human Bard / Urban Ranger with a Constrictor Animal Companion.

I wanted to play an "anti-Dwarf", who eschewed the typical values of craftsmanship and lawfulness that defines Dwarven society.

He became a Dwarf Magus who worships Rovagug, and specializes in Sundering.

I wanted to play a Tengu (which is still, to me, a theme all on its own).

He's now a Rogue that can (and often does) dish out 21d6 of Sneak Attack damage.

- My Inquisitor has a +25 Intimidate at level 8, but his hit points and AC suck.
- My Witch has just under +20 for Diplomacy, Bluff, and Sense Motive at level 6, but is useless against undead and constructs.
- My Fighter has an AC of almost 40 (with DR 6/-) at level 9, but don't expect him to talk to anyone.
- My Druid can Vital Strike for 16d6 damage, but only has 3 skills.

It's impossible to "Optimize" for everything. Pathfinder, and PFS, aren't solely about combat. Combat happens, of course, but so do social situations, skill checks, and a need for saving throws.

Your first priority should be something you want to play. After that, determine a role for them.

Out of 12 characters I can tell you the one I enjoyed the least was my Paladin/Gunslinger, who could dish out immense amounts of damage by level 12, but who I ended up despising because I never developed a solid concept for her. Don't make the same mistake.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

Ninja'd by 5 posts. Didn't realize you were asking solely about combat.

Jiggy's post has wonderful advice.

Grand Lodge 2/5

Here's a couple of thoughts about optimization and playing weird characters . . .

1. Try to give your character some opportunity to shine. It may not be raw damage, or hitting on a roll of 3+, but make sure there is something you do well in combat. For example, in our local Kingmaker game, I have a multi-class monk/cleric. I often get upstaged by the purely melee characters doing more damage, and the purely spell-casting characters having cooler spells. However, there are cases when the monk/cleric shines, like using silence and grappling to neutralize enemy casters. You don't need to dominate every fight, but you should be dominating in some fights.

2. What you really need is good party balance - enough combat optimization so that you don't die, and enough character to make it not the same old dungeon crawl you've done 27 times before. If you are playing in a local game, you can be a lot more organized about this (I can play a monk/cleric in Kingmaker because I know there is also an archer ranger who can kill just about anything he can see, and a wizard who is very good at throwing around fiery death). If you are playing PFS with a random group of people, it's probably reasonable to lean towards the optimization side. If everyone showed up with under-powered concept characters, you may well die. If everyone shows up with optimized goons, you miss out on some role-playing hijinks. Based on the relative threat, it makes sense to optimize unless you know there will be some serious smiters that can carry a crazy gnome helicopter pilot through some tough fights.

3. Some characters just don't come into their own until higher level. I have a PFS arcane trickster who spent several levels as a not very good rogue/not very good spell caster until I actually reached the prestige class. Maybe some of your crazy ideas will come into their own after a couple of levels (particularly, as others have said, if you shepherd them through their weaker times with GM credit).

5/5

Just my experiences:

I usually build each character to be able to do something reasonably well, even if just a skill like perception, but I'm happy with a +3 attack at first level for a combat character. None of those characters used an 18 score, pre-race, and none had an 18 Strength after either (maybe not even 16). Out of ~80 played scenarios over 10 played characters, I've only had 3 deaths, all three of which involved some level of very poor luck (and two involved GM error).

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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GeoffA wrote:
2. What you really need is good party balance ... If you are playing PFS with a random group of people, it's probably reasonable to lean towards the optimization side.

A point related to this: since party balance makes a difference and you might be playing with random tables, versatility is far more valuable in PFS than it is in many home games. It's great to have a specialty, but having a couple of secondary competencies can save your life. Sure, any time those secondary competencies are at the same table with a specialist you'll be playing second-fiddle in that area, but there will be other tables where it's your ONLY fiddle and you'll be glad you're not staring at an empty fiddle-case.

Or something like that. Analogy got away from me a bit there, but you get the idea. I hope.

The Exchange 5/5

a side note on versatility.

Have more than one PC to play. If you sit at a table with your Halfling Barbarian and look across the table to see... two gnome barbarians and a halfling paladin and halfling pole arm fighter... maybe you should pull out your cleric or bard or... something else.

versatility of PCs. Kind of like the guy who has a backup weapon...

Shadow Lodge 4/5

Jiggy wrote:
GeoffA wrote:
2. What you really need is good party balance ... If you are playing PFS with a random group of people, it's probably reasonable to lean towards the optimization side.

A point related to this: since party balance makes a difference and you might be playing with random tables, versatility is far more valuable in PFS than it is in many home games. It's great to have a specialty, but having a couple of secondary competencies can save your life. Sure, any time those secondary competencies are at the same table with a specialist you'll be playing second-fiddle in that area, but there will be other tables where it's your ONLY fiddle and you'll be glad you're not staring at an empty fiddle-case.

Or something like that. Analogy got away from me a bit there, but you get the idea. I hope.

I like your run away fiddle.

Lots of good advice here, thanks guys. I hadn't looked at that average monster statistics by level before. That gives me a nice baseline.

I play with a fairly large open pool of players, we usually have a few veterans and a few new players at any given table. I've sat at many overly optimized tables, but I've also sat at a few underpowered tables that struggled through every encounter.

I currently have 8 characters, swapping out depending on the other players is pretty normal for me.


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I've heard a good rule of thumb is to make your character at least as competent as one of the iconic pregens. Some concepts probably wont compare too directly but, hey, its what the scenarios are supposed to be balanced around.

Personally with each character I make I am optimizing them less and less as I find it simply unnecessary.

Play what you want and dont worry over 1 to hit at level one

Shadow Lodge 4/5

With different players each game, strict rules against deviating from the written plots, and limited time frames, it puts a bit of a damper on the role playing aspect of society play. So I tend not to take society games very seriously and often make silly characters that I wouldn't otherwise play in a more serious home game.

At some point, I decided to make my pfs characters pin-up girls. So my character creation starts with drawing a picture, then looking for rules to fit it. Here's the current character I'm trying to build. The only thing that's fixed is she's chelaxian, cause I don't have one of those yet. So far she has credit for dragons demand 1, so she'll be starting off at level 2. I was thinking a gnomish tinkerer when I drew it, but the closest I could come up with for pathfinder was to use the summoner class.

Serpentine eidolon, mount and extra arms evolutions, spend its feat for exotic weapon prof repeating heavy crossbow. Crossbows are, unfortunately, really terrible weapons in the pathfinder system. But at least she'd be getting two shots a turn, one from her, and one from her eidolon (still even if both hit 1d10+1d6 isn't that great). At level 5 it would be able to fly, which would be kinda cool.


gnoams wrote:

With different players each game, strict rules against deviating from the written plots, and limited time frames, it puts a bit of a damper on the role playing aspect of society play. So I tend not to take society games very seriously and often make silly characters that I wouldn't otherwise play in a more serious home game.

At some point, I decided to make my pfs characters pin-up girls. So my character creation starts with drawing a picture, then looking for rules to fit it. Here's the current character I'm trying to build. The only thing that's fixed is she's chelaxian, cause I don't have one of those yet. So far she has credit for dragons demand 1, so she'll be starting off at level 2. I was thinking a gnomish tinkerer when I drew it, but the closest I could come up with for pathfinder was to use the summoner class.

Serpentine eidolon, mount and extra arms evolutions, spend its feat for exotic weapon prof repeating heavy crossbow. Crossbows are, unfortunately, really terrible weapons in the pathfinder system. But at least she'd be getting two shots a turn, one from her, and one from her eidolon (still even if both hit 1d10+1d6 isn't that great). At level 5 it would be able to fly, which would be kinda cool.

My goal for my characters are often to be comic relief. But I do try my best to power game the entire time. I also tend to roleplay as much as the dm lets me.

Dark Archive

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I dislike the notion that you have to be some sort of powergamed, super optimized build to be any use in your game (both organized play and home games) and I rally against anyone saying otherwise. You can be useful, no matter what you play and you shouldn't be forced to sacrifice a concept over playing the numbers game.

I just got back from a game where I am playing a new character with my fiance. We are both new to PFS, but not to role playing in general and I have played in various other RPGs organized play. We sat down at a table with a player who has been playing PFS since season 1 and he had some crazy combat build with a insane attack bonus and untouchable ACs and every archetype and feat allowable to make him super amazing. When he asked what I was playing, I told him I was a rogue (which got an eye roll) that would eventually be taking the Arcane trickster PrC (which got a second, even more powerful eye roll). Thing was, the module we played barely had any combat in it. The entire night, we spent 3 rounds in combat. And not because of his uber leet number skills (ironically, he kept rolling super low and I don't think hit once). The rest of the night was spent investigating ancient ruins, speaking to NPCs and doing a variety of other things. How exactly does his massive combat skills help when we spent nearly an hour talking to some priest? What helped were the skill checks (taken care of by myself and the religious types who had knowledge: religion to help a roll I couldn't make). Those were the checks needed to complete the module and optional missions. And when combat broke out, my +3 attack roll did just the same, if not more than, his +1,000 did.

Of course, there will be plenty of times when I will wish I had a much higher damage roll or my attacks could get through the enemies AC. I'm not saying combat is something to brush off. But I feel like my character will be useful in more circumstances than smashy mcsmashface. When he has to go on a mission where he has to speak pretty to some noble or identify some ancient artifact or not get murdered by the murder trap, his crazy epic build might be slightly less useful. (And I can generally go "not the face, not the face" when combat gets out of hand. :P)

I hope that doesn't sound conceded or rude and if your characters concept is 'Bruce Lee' and you want to roflstomp faces, go for it. I have played the roflstomp character before and its a blast. But also understand the roflstomp character can't get very far without support.

Unique and different character concepts are important too. They make things fun and different. If I wanted to play the most perfect character, I would play WoW and grind raids for my loot. I'm playing a character damn it and characters need to be interesting. Besides, maybe the gunslinging summoner in your example would have the unique skill set needed to pull of some crazy and unique way of bypassing a hazard that the gunslinger and the summoner would not have.

Dark Archive

All of my characters have 18 Str, even my wizards and sorcerers a long time ago when I started playing pathfinder I decided that I would see if it was possible to play a character of every class with Str 18 and a greatsword (that they must be proficient in but might not ever actually use) and be effective.

So far the answer is yes, sometimes you have to use different tactics than one would expect, but having the option as a level 1 wizard/sorcerer to attack something at +4 for 2d6+6 sometimes shocks the frontline melee types (well until the monsters figure out you have an AC of 11-17 and a hp of 8-10 at level 1)

Silver Crusade

My level 7 paladin (and my first Pathfinder character) uses a greatsword with a base 14 strength. I refuse to make my level 3 magus a dervish dancer with a scimitar on principle (he uses a katana). My level 2 grenadier alchemist used his martial weapon proficiency feat on a sword cane to go with his gaudy tuxedo, and he entirely exists so that I can eventually give enemies explosive candy grams with deceptive exchange.

My paladin also survived Port Godless (along with his entire group), killed all the diplomacy checks, managed to out-damage the optimized barbarian on one of the fights, and never once got close to needing an atonement. My magus frontlined the first two floors of Thornkeep right next to the Stonelord without dying and did more than his fair share of melee damage, and my alchemist carried the group during Tide of Morning.

Granted, I play in a region with a lot of really great players, but even then I would say that most of them are only 60-90% optimized. As long as people make reasonably good choices about builds and play them smart, you shouldn't have a problem. Come up with your concept, then try to find the best way you can build a character that can stay true to the soul of that concept.

Silver Crusade

I should also mention that one of my favorite players has the most terribly unoptimized sorcerer ever. At level 4, he basically buffs people, attacks things with his masterwork bastard sword (he's a tengu), throws alchemists fire, and once he even went and beak attacked a BBEG rogue that we had surrounded, provoking an AO on the way. He even stood on the front lines at Defense of Nesting Swallow. He's also addicted to pesh.

He's also never died. He always has a good time and a pleasant attitude, and everyone else at the table enjoys his character and the moments he creates. He takes criticism in-stride, and gives a solid effort to be helpful, especially with buffs. He's honestly one of my favorite players. Yes, some of our tables might have had to carry him a little, but frankly, I'm happy to.


Hrothdane wrote:
As long as people make reasonably good choices about builds and play them smart, you shouldn't have a problem.

That's a tall order.

5/5

We have a local player whose first character was an Elf Rogue with 8 con. He made it through Eyes of the Ten without ever dying in his entire career.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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gnoams wrote:
So I tend not to take society games very seriously and often make silly characters that I wouldn't otherwise play in a more serious home game.

Which I'm sure your GMs and tablemates greatly appreciate.

The Exchange 5/5

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all of my PCs have been optimized to provide me the maximum of fun...

5/5 5/55/55/5

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Chris O'Reilly wrote:

I've heard a good rule of thumb is to make your character at least as competent as one of the iconic pregens. Some concepts probably wont compare too directly but, hey, its what the scenarios are supposed to be balanced around.

Personally with each character I make I am optimizing them less and less as I find it simply unnecessary.

Play what you want and dont worry over 1 to hit at level one

I much prefer to build strong and then play as weak as you have to. Some days you will get the right combination of a killer dm, a hard mod, and a bad group, and dice that hate you that will make you glad you built something obscene.

If you have a Porsche and you need to do 40 thats easy enough. If you have a nissan and you suddenly need to do 180 you're outta luck.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I have a 2nd level Nagaji fighter that has a 20 Str and wields a Tetsubo....the big iron studded club. No one remembered that this character did lots of damage with his big stick thumping troglodites. The other players at the table remembered that he ate 1/2 of the coy in Amara Li's coy pond at a party before being told they were not part of the buffet...........or that he carried a small cage full of little fluffy song birds...snack food....or that he slept through half of a combat snoring loudly and had to be kicked repeatedly until he woke up to fight in the third round of combat.

Gnoams your getting lots of advice......I would suggest have fun! This is a game after all.

The Concordance 5/5 5/55/5

Myles Crocker wrote:
he ate 1/2 of the coy in Amara Li's coy pond at a party before being told they were not part of the buffet...

They... Weren't?

5/5 5/55/55/5

Koujow,

The difference is that combat is a group activity, skill checks are usually individual. Skill checks don't usually require the entire party to pitch in, combat is scaled with everyone pitching in.

@ Myles Goldfish eating frat party...

Would they remember you more if you were a 17 strength fighter than a 20 strength one? NO! You, the player, made that character memorable and you can do that AND optimize at the same time.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

Koujow wrote:

I dislike the notion that you have to be some sort of powergamed, super optimized build to be any use in your game (both organized play and home games) and I rally against anyone saying otherwise. You can be useful, no matter what you play and you shouldn't be forced to sacrifice a concept over playing the numbers game.

You don't need a power optimized build, that's not what this is about. What this is about is meeting the minimum requirements to be able to defeat the mandatory encounters that exist in pfs. Even when you make a character specifically only to play in roleplaying intensive mods, they still have to be able to win the fights (Blakros Matrimony anyone?).

If you make a character that can't pull their weight in a fight, then you are relying on other players to do it for you. I like to be able to make those outlandish characters without making other players do more of the work. I have a couple of characters with over optimized builds in pfs because I am worried I will be stuck with a group where it is necessary for me to do the equivalent of two+ people in a fight. And I've had that happen where I felt forced to pull out my most combat optimized character. I didn't contribute anything to the success of the missions. We barely survived each fight. In one, I had to take on two babau while the third chased around and slaughtered the other three pcs who could barely scratch it through its dr and resistances. If I hadn't played that character it would have been a tpk. I think that game would have been a lot more fun for all if those players had met the minimum combat requirements. I certainly would have enjoyed it more being able to play a character that could contribute to the rest of the module and not just the last half hour of fighting.

In a home game, you can get away with anything. You know your other teammates with whom you will play with every time. And a good GM will scale the difficulty of the game to match the skills of their players. PFS play doesn't have that luxury. The fights are set in stone. You as a player must be tall enough to get on the ride, otherwise you not only endanger your own safety, but the safety of everyone else riding with you.

Jiggy wrote:
gnoams wrote:
So I tend not to take society games very seriously and often make silly characters that I wouldn't otherwise play in a more serious home game.
Which I'm sure your GMs and tablemates greatly appreciate.

I'm playing in a wrath of the righteous home game where I play a fairly conventional monk. If they were TV shows, that home game would be a serious drama. PFS on the other hand, is a light hearted comedy; I play a fighter that specializes in kicking people with her 6 inch mithril stiletto heels. They're two different genres to me. I find that most GMs and other players do, in fact, appreciate it.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
gnoams wrote:
I'm playing in a wrath of the righteous home game where I play a fairly conventional monk. If they were TV shows, that home game would be a serious drama. PFS on the other hand, is a light hearted comedy; I play a fighter that specializes in kicking people with her 6 inch mithril stiletto heels. They're two different genres to me. I find that most GMs and other players do, in fact, appreciate it.

I'll second that. Almost every table has at least one person like me, whose character is built to ensure the scenario is completed successfully (and don't you think for a second that means we care one iota less about roleplaying either), which really leaves room for the silly and lighthearted characters. Honestly, in the end, the players who have specialized in combat get to shine where they want to, and enjoy not having to fight for the spotlight. One optimized character is usually more than enough to steamroll most scenarios, so any power-gamer who rolls their eyes at a sub-optimal character is being silly - more glory to the combat specialist, I say!

The Exchange 5/5

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Whenever I read a thread like this, it kind of troubles me.

People, this game is not all about the combat. It's not just a dungeon crawl - where you go from room to room fighting monsters. (though some Judges & Authors persent it that way.) It's also about the Rogue who insures we don't fall in that pit, about the fighter who just happens to also be a carpenter - because he likes to build things, not just brake them. It's about my matchmaker dwarf trying to fix up the barbarian PC with "this little lady down in the Puddles district, you should meet her!" It's about a bunch of people sitting around a table having fun.

One of the worst things I ever heard at a table (because it's often true) is when an "old hand" explained to a "young kid" that he should put his skill points into combat skills - cause the Judge is going to give you the other information anyway. "if you need to find the bandit camp, just wonder around in the woods - the Judge wants to play too, and the only way we get a fight is when we find the bad guys". (Sarcasm alert: Kind of made me feel good about my Divination Wiz. ) And to him this game was all about the fight. You know, the kind of guy who is "only there for the fights", and spends the rest of the game in his phone APPs.

I can recall something I heard at a table a long time ago. A Max Damage player was complaining that in his last scenario they had spent almost 30 minutes "chatting up the bar-maid" and had cut into "his fight time". At that time, I resisted pointing out that he had just taken 30 minutes "dancing with the mooks" and had cut into my bar-maid chatting time. It wouldn't have done any good you see, 'cause to him, this game is all about rolling dice and splatting monsters. The challanges he sees are all combat related. That's where he get's his fun. To him that's all there is...

Sure, you can have a character who dominates combat. I like playing with those kind of PCs! If you kill the beasties in 0.666 melee rounds, it'll give me more bar-maid time. And I'll try my darnedest to ensure we find those fights for you! I'll run the investagater that does the Gather Info rolls, that removes the traps that warns the BBEG, that ensures we get the right guy and get paid for it. But then I would have as much fun if the Judge just said after Init is rolled "Everyone just mark off 20% of you HP and 10% of you consumables and we'll handwave this encounter". After all, some Judges do that to the RP encounters (even having the term "RP encounter" vs. "Combat encounter" makes my mind hurt - like they are two different things).

sorry about that, it's just that sometimes I think this is too much of a combat simulation ...


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If you'd asked me a few months ago, I'd have said the power standards in PFS are pretty low. Parties of sub-optimal characters can merrily three-stooge their way through any scenario not already known as lethal, and simply avoid the lethal ones. I'd have encouraged you to create a fighter with 14 strength, because there wouldn't be any issues.

Then my highest level character started playing the 7-11 scenarios, and I learned that not all adventures in PFS are a happy romp. I learned that it doesn't matter if my ninja is fairly optimized anymore. At this point, he either makes sure he's with the right party or he goes into the captain's briefing with a grim face and a fatalistic attitude.

It's a pretty big whiplash alternating between my level 5 goof off character romping around in low tier to the level 9 optimized character who has to be all business just to make sure everyone survives. I'm not sure I like it.

Liberty's Edge

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nosig wrote:

Whenever I read a thread like this, it kind of troubles me.

People, this game is not all about the combat. It's not just a dungeon crawl - where you go from room to room fighting monsters. (though some Judges & Authors persent it that way.) It's also about the Rogue who insures we don't fall in that pit, about the fighter who just happens to also be a carpenter - because he likes to build things, not just brake them. It's about my matchmaker dwarf trying to fix up the barbarian PC with "this little lady down in the Puddles district, you should meet her!" It's about a bunch of people sitting around a table having fun.

One of the worst things I ever heard at a table (because it's often true) is when an "old hand" explained to a "young kid" that he should put his skill points into combat skills - cause the Judge is going to give you the other information anyway. "if you need to find the bandit camp, just wonder around in the woods - the Judge wants to play too, and the only way we get a fight is when we find the bad guys". (Sarcasm alert: Kind of made me feel good about my Divination Wiz. ) And to him this game was all about the fight. You know, the kind of guy who is "only there for the fights", and spends the rest of the game in his phone APPs.

I can recall something I heard at a table a long time ago. A Max Damage player was complaining that in his last scenario they had spent almost 30 minutes "chatting up the bar-maid" and had cut into "his fight time". At that time, I resisted pointing out that he had just taken 30 minutes "dancing with the mooks" and had cut into my bar-maid chatting time. It wouldn't have done any good you see, 'cause to him, this game is all about rolling dice and splatting monsters. The challanges he sees are all combat related. That's where he get's his fun. To him that's all there is...

Sure, you can have a character who dominates combat. I like playing with those kind of PCs! If you kill the beasties in 0.666 melee rounds, it'll give me more bar-maid time. And I'll try...

This, this, this, a thousand times this. In fact, certain local GM's seem to hand-wave the RP 'encounters' so much that I have started to avoid them. And it's not like they always do this in the interest of finishing within a four to five hour slot. Some of these tables have come in at under 3 hours. Knowing now that I'm not just 'one voice in the wilderness' gives me the fortitude to stop avoiding these GM's. Instead, the next time they 'save time' by short-changing the social interactions with the NPC's I'm going to ask them to not do that.

Thank You

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

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talbanus wrote:
Instead, the next time they 'save time' by short-changing the social interactions with the NPC's I'm going to ask them to not do that.

I may have to take that page from the book as well.

Scarab Sages 2/5

I completely agree with you Geoff

I love making characters within the rules based upon minis that I can buy, modify and paint. Sometimes it's hard when i find a cool looking double weapon that just really doesn't cut it in the rules.

I've considered making a tengu with claws as a rogue but the damage is sooo low and circumstantial, it just goes against the grain of wanting to succeed and not having the abilities.

Ultimately, it comes down to the GM and how amiable he is to running the game the players have brought to the table...

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