Any "Normal" Roleplayers here?


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Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Yes, virginia, there are normal roleplayers. But a gaming messageboard is not a place to come find them.


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aceDiamond wrote:
I think that some optimization isn't terrible. Though I wouldn't necessarily go whole hog on it. Just because a character is good at what they do doesn't mean they can't have interesting stories or personalities.

In some cases it's BECAUSE of optimization that they have interesting stories. "Hey, remember Joe Average, with all 13's that went into the Beige Forest and found that McGuffin?" "No, but I DO remember when Conan ran for three days and THEN took out 18 wolves with his greatsword." "Oh, where'd you hear THAT story?" "From Conan himself. He's also an optimized storyteller on top of being a barbarian hero and a king of legend..."

So, yeah. Extremes are just that: extreme.


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GreyWolfLord wrote:

If so...post in the thread?

What do I mean by Normal?

I mean people who just want to play!

I come to these boards and I see optimization, munchkin, powergaming, discussions of what tier is what class, that rogues are useless...etc...etc...etc.

When we play, we could care less about that stuff. There may be some ensuring that your character is the best it could be...but we don't try to game the system to the point of being some sort of super powered engine that has every little thing planned from the get go.

We play to have fun. Not fun that means we are tweaking the character by the numbers, but fun in that we roleplay the character that we want.

We don't have a problem with the Rogue, normally they are going to be the ones that are able to disable traps and such (yes, I know some say let the spellcaster do it...but we have the Rogue do it). They want to play a Rogue...they want to have that type of character. They don't want to play a Ninja...they want to play a Rogue. So they choose a Rogue.

We don't have problems with Monks...they want to play a Monk. That's what they want to do. No, dip in to this, than that...for no reason other than optimization...no...if there is any changes in class it's due to a Roleplaying reason...not a numbers reason.

We play to have fun. We play to roleplay. We don't sweep through encounters like water...but we have fun. We don't play to have a numbers game, we play to have fun together.

Is there anyone else who plays like this...perhaps we are abnormal these days, but it used to be that playing an RPG was more like what was described above.

If you play simply for the fun of it, without overly worrying about these tier things, or whether your rogue fits into the group, or if your monk is strong enough...post here and how you play!

I wouldn't know how to optimize a character if I wanted to. I play the character, not the system.


Is there a category for those of us who like to play old-school games (read: no optimization possible) but aren't really all that great at role play? Neo-Normal, perhaps?

When I was a wee lad, I played 1st Edition AD&D so there were no options for customizing/optimizing your PC but our group didn't really role play all that much either. We didn't write extensive back stories for our characters nor did we have gaming sessions where the whole night was spent engaging in conversation with an absence of dice rolls. Our games usually consisted of us kicking in the door, bashing bad guys and taking their sh*t with little to no soul searching afterwards.

Personally, I am not a fan of modern gaming with its optimization "Arms race" to see who can make the most deadly combatant. I briefly played in one PbP game on this site wherein my 3rd level Fighter (only the 2nd Pathfinder PC I had ever made, so I had no idea how to "build" him correctly) was completely outclassed by the group's other 3rd level Fighter (technically, a 2nd level F with a level of Ranger for +2 bonus against humans and improved saves) because he had optimized the H*ll out his PC. I can tell you that this did not make for enjoyable gaming on my part. By the way, I should point out that the guy who had this death dealing PC was a pretty solid role player.


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LazarX wrote:
Grimmy wrote:
Damian Magecraft wrote:
Grimmy wrote:

Bound to be an inflammatory thread even if you didn't intend it to be because it challenges a deeply embedded belief system that system mastery doesn't come with any associated cost or loss of innocence that effects the experience of gaming.

That's the groupthink here. It runs contrary to my experience but there's no point saying so because these people don't want to hear about it.

Someone will inevitably just cry stormwind and be swept up like Daenarys Targarean by adoring masses crying amen and hallelujah.

gonna regret asking this...

Stormwind? some kind of board shorthand?

It was the username of a guy on a messageboard who pointed out that role-playing and roll-playing are not mutually exclusive, which is of course true.

A rabid cult has since grown out of this rather obvious teaching.

The Stormwind Fallacy is itself a Fallacy. Because there is a difference between optimising to enhance your roleplay, and creating roleplay constructs to dress up your munchkin crunching.

The fact that some characters are, in fact, optimized and badly roleplayed does not disprove the Stormwind Fallacy. Your position is kind of like saying "A black man broke into my car, so the stereotype that all black men are criminals is TRUE!"


People who turn up to my games with a character optimised purely for killing are going to be bored at least 50% of the time. Turn up with a well rounded character, with a back story, and a love of actual role playing and you'll have fun. Just killing things and looting their corpses will net you loot of the odd gold piece, maybe a decent weapon and armour, and some mouldy goblin rations. Following them, communicating with them, interacting with the sandbox will bring much more reward.

In my current game, the charlatan is doing by far the best in terms of loot, and has sneak attacked only once on her way to level 5.

Numbers are often fudged if it makes narrative sense for all concerned, and everyone is having lots of fun. The pacifist gnome paladin is doing just as well and having just as much fun as the dwarven earthbreaker dude, as are the evangelist and the half orc wildmage.

Silver Crusade

I try to do both. I come up with a character concept and build a character 1-10ish that will fit that theme. Theme is often 50% what I want that character to do 50% who I want the character to be.

I have a few solid mechanics characters but don't have any solid theme characters.

However, the most fun I have had recently was my LN separatist cleric of Zon-Kuthon who you can't quiet tell if he is attempting to being intimidating or diplomatic (mainly because he is insane). But he does offer enlightenment via showing you sacred rights in pain and self mutilation. He will also show you how the universe works via using your cardiovascular system if you give permission.

My second most fun character as of late is my winter witch who has an insane bluff check (homebrew where arcane is taboo so they use it to disguise casting as divine magic). That witch convinced 40 some odd villagers to glue themselves together with alchemical glue (something about a divine ritual which allows the village to detect evil so they weren't lynching innocent people)....it was awesome.


im a "traditional" old time gamer, so i guess im in the abnormal crowd. I dont get to play pc's anymore as i strictly Gm now. When i did i was probably more an oddity than leaning to either an optimizer or role player. meaning i wasn't really a good role player nor did i over optimize. i just played for fun and to be told the overall story of the quest. While i did roleplay from time to time i was more into hearing the overall story arc than actually playing out word for word what my character was saying. Usually i would get into character to move the rest of the party along just to progress the overall plot. I also at times avoided encounters altogether, to the ire GM and players,just to move the story along faster.

Optimize is also a relative term when it comes to RPG characters, you cant make a PC simply "optimized". Thats because each campaign, GM, player,adventure is different and everyone has there own idea what is considered optimized. Whats considered optimized in one persons campaign could be subpar in another. In example: a glass cannon could be considered optimized but would only be optimal for a pure combat scenario. On the other hand you could build your PC well rounded, combat/survival/skills, and be considered optimized to some and a weak link to others. i have no issue with optimizers nor low role players. The style i find boring and players i have the the most issues with is power gamers. Those who see table top gaming like FF tactics. Where battle is the only thing to build your character around and if it doesn't add to DPR, spell DC's, and overall combat power its a waste of a feat/skill/ or class ability and your "doing it wrong". From my experiences these types of players eventually cause problems for either myself, other players, or the overall game.


Tempted to name drop here but the end of Runebladexes last post reminded me of at least one person on the boards that is an outspoken shouter of vital syrike as badwrongfun.


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The point where it annoys me is when the background comes a distant second to an odd collection of numbers. As in 'here is my level on through twenty build, using every book published and ..."

"Um ... Backstory? Personality? Uh ... Sure. Let me get back to you on that."

The other point where optimization, as such, gets annoying for me is when it gets cheesy, as in you go places that you can only get to by slaughtering messily common sense and butchering the English language to try to find the 'I win!!!' Spam button. Beyond that. Meh. I'm fine with it.

Dark Archive

Well, I for one would rather have a optimizing rollplayer than a roleplayer like this one.

And keeping someone in the party that just drains their resources just because he's a player character is an epitome of metagaming.


Jadeite wrote:
Well, I for one would rather have a optimizing rollplayer than a roleplayer like this one.

Well, I'm sure we'd all rather have a non-jerk player than a jerk player. I don't think that's necessarily relevant to the oprimization vs. roleplaying* divide.

*)
Disclaimer: I think the divide is better summed up as: Do you make the numbers fit the concept, or do you make the concept fit the numbers? Either approach is entirely valid. Just different.

(And also, one of them is wrong. :p)

Jadeite wrote:
And keeping someone in the party that just drains their resources just because he's a player character is an epitome of metagaming.

Let's not go throwing the M word around, shall we? That's a double-edged can of worms that's not going to make anything better. :p


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
LazarX wrote:
Yes, virginia, there are normal roleplayers. But a gaming messageboard is not a place to come find them.

QFT.

OP: Remember, most messageboard populations are composed of only a small and particularly... enthusiastic subset of any given fandom. Perhaps someone else has the relevant moderator posts fav'd, but I recall Paizo saying that forum participation only accounts for only a small percentage of their total fans/sales.

In otherwords, judging all of a community by its most outspoken members may lead to disillusionment.


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Exactly. Only the most fanatical freaks take the trouble to post here, and...

(pause)

Ooops. Carry on.


The only "optimizing" or "min/maxing" or "powergaming" I do is where to put my higher stat. If point-buy, I NEVER have a score below 10, as "dumping" just annoys the hell out of me. Rolling a score below 10, while anoying, I can live with.

I am one of those people who makes a concept and choose things that fit that concept, not look for all the awesome things that make me Superman and then build a concept around those awesome things and numbers. If something happens in game that affects my character, I will insert something like that to reflect what happened. Example: Was playing a wizard at one point, and she was ambushed by a creature and dropped to negative hit points. I made her take a level of fighter so she could be better prepared for when something like that happened again, or her spells fail (like when fighting a golem or something resistant to magic). If I see a feat that fits my character concept, I will take it, whether it's a crappy feat or not, because it fits the concept.

I try not to focus on the numbers. I don't focus on power. I don't build a character from 1-20, figuring out what will be added at which level. I also steer clear of the Advice board, and the guides to the classes and such. I will choose a race/class combo that isn't the uber best (such as a halfling fighter or dwarf bard), if it makes for a great character concept.

This is not to say I can't optimize a character. I can fairly easily. But I don't find that fun, and I don't really find it fun playing with someone who's all about the numbers, either. I was enjoying my Wrath of the Righteous game, until the magus 1-shot one of the rather tough monsters because of some absurd combo. Hell, the mythic creature we fought in a citadel or castle, which was supposed to be really tough, went down in 3 rounds with no real problem. I don't really enjoy it much anymore when we can take out 4 retrievers at level 10, with no real problem (my character failed the save vs the petrification beam, and that was it).

So yeah, I am one of those that goes for the concept over the numbers. If something fits the concept, but doesn't boost the power, I will still take it anyway.


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Jadeite wrote:

Well, I for one would rather have a optimizing rollplayer than a roleplayer like this one.

And keeping someone in the party that just drains their resources just because he's a player character is an epitome of metagaming.

i call it marriage.....:P

Grand Lodge

I've played many different types of characters from mega cheese magus to sub optimal multiclass to fit a theme. I have fun with each one of them. I've had just as much fun with a successful bluff check as I have a critical confirm. I think the term normal is all a matter of perspective. There isn't much difference between the core only guy, and the theory craft the most broken build possible if they are having fun working as a team enjoying the game.


At the op by normal i think you mean old school and if that's the case then I'm normal and proud to say so


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Vod Canockers wrote:
I wouldn't know how to optimize a character if I wanted to. I play the character, not the system.

Everyone plays the system. Some are just more aware of it than others.


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RDM42 wrote:

The point where it annoys me is when the background comes a distant second to an odd collection of numbers. As in 'here is my level on through twenty build, using every book published and ..."

"Um ... Backstory? Personality? Uh ... Sure. Let me get back to you on that."

To be fair, sometimes Things Happen. I fondly recall my very first Warblade, one Kyllan Hammerson. I was dropping by a friends' house to give him back his novels when they were getting a 3.5 game going and the DM suddenly had to have me in or the world was going to collapse. Game was set to start in 20 minutes.

Needless to say I did a lot of making up backstory after the game started. Kyllan began the game as a collection of numbers and was soon the Only Normal Guy in a party consisting of a royal exile (the elf wizard), an ex-assassin being hunted by his former masters (half-elf swordsage), a dwarven noble looking to defend his people from a threat they refused to acknowledge themselves (dwarf crusader) and a drow defector who didn't agree with his people's plot to destroy the world (drow cleric). All of that and Kyllan was the son of a blacksmith who got into mercenary work because he didn't want to die poor.

Still one of my most fun characters to portray, just for the ability to highlight the insanity inherent in the adventuring paradigm.

Quote:
The other point where optimization, as such, gets annoying for me is when it gets cheesy, as in you go places that you can only get to by slaughtering messily common sense and butchering the English language to try to find the 'I win!!!' Spam button. Beyond that. Meh. I'm fine with it.

Well yeah, not sticking to the op level of the group is just being a jerk. Playing the paragon surge oracle in a party of rogues, monks, & fighters is rude. Playing a monk in a party of surging oracles, god wizards, and DRUIDZILLA is also rude.


Prince of Knives wrote:
RDM42 wrote:

The point where it annoys me is when the background comes a distant second to an odd collection of numbers. As in 'here is my level on through twenty build, using every book published and ..."

"Um ... Backstory? Personality? Uh ... Sure. Let me get back to you on that."

To be fair, sometimes Things Happen. I fondly recall my very first Warblade, one Kyllan Hammerson. I was dropping by a friends' house to give him back his novels when they were getting a 3.5 game going and the DM suddenly had to have me in or the world was going to collapse. Game was set to start in 20 minutes.

Needless to say I did a lot of making up backstory after the game started. Kyllan began the game as a collection of numbers and was soon the Only Normal Guy in a party consisting of a royal exile (the elf wizard), an ex-assassin being hunted by his former masters (half-elf swordsage), a dwarven noble looking to defend his people from a threat they refused to acknowledge themselves (dwarf crusader) and a drow defector who didn't agree with his people's plot to destroy the world (drow cleric). All of that and Kyllan was the son of a blacksmith who got into mercenary work because he didn't want to die poor.

Still one of my most fun characters to portray, just for the ability to highlight the insanity inherent in the adventuring paradigm.

Quote:
The other point where optimization, as such, gets annoying for me is when it gets cheesy, as in you go places that you can only get to by slaughtering messily common sense and butchering the English language to try to find the 'I win!!!' Spam button. Beyond that. Meh. I'm fine with it.
Well yeah, not sticking to the op level of the group is just being a jerk. Playing the paragon surge oracle in a party of rogues, monks, & fighters is rude. Playing a monk in a party of surging oracles, god wizards, and DRUIDZILLA is also rude.

Well, I'd have to say that if I invited you in at the last minute with no time to create any backstory it would be rather ogrish of me to demand one right away.

Dark Archive

tony gent wrote:
At the op by normal i think you mean old school and if that's the case then I'm normal and proud to say so

Why would you be proud of that? That's not even an achievement. It's just who you are.


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Having played D2 table RPGs up from their simplest origins, D&D, AD&D 2nd 3rd, 3.5 and now Pathfinder I share your interest in Roleplay. Many of the younger players of this latest iteration grew up on World of Warcraft and view table games as derivative analog versions of that game. There is the notion of "Winning" the game through optimized character creation designed to defeat encounters easily.

The mechanics of the system allow for this type of play and honestly Id say it has become the norm. My own group with its deliberate emphasis on role play and character development represents a minority. Having played and GMd so many games I know that the challenges designed by the GM are merely aimed at providing opportunities for the story to be told, that rushing to their conclusion to "Win" offers fleeting rewards.

It is true that you wont find our voices loudly subduing dissent on these boards. We aren't here trying to "Win" a debate any more than we are trying to "Win" at Pathfinder. We are along for the ride. The quest and the journey are our destination. But know that you are not alone. Old school gamers still play for fun with imperfect strategies and characters in worlds of their own making under these rules, certain that just around the next bend, true adventure awaits.


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Frederic wrote:

Having played D2 table RPGs up from their simplest origins, D&D, AD&D 2nd 3rd, 3.5 and now Pathfinder I share your interest in Roleplay. Many of the younger players of this latest iteration grew up on World of Warcraft and view table games as derivative analog versions of that game. There is the notion of "Winning" the game through optimized character creation designed to defeat encounters easily.

The mechanics of the system allow for this type of play and honestly Id say it has become the norm. My own group with its deliberate emphasis on role play and character development represents a minority. Having played and GMd so many games I know that the challenges designed by the GM are merely aimed at providing opportunities for the story to be told, that rushing to their conclusion to "Win" offers fleeting rewards.

It is true that you wont find our voices loudly subduing dissent on these boards. We aren't here trying to "Win" a debate any more than we are trying to "Win" at Pathfinder. We are along for the ride. The quest and the journey are our destination. But know that you are not alone. Old school gamers still play for fun with imperfect strategies and characters in worlds of their own making under these rules, certain that just around the next bend, true adventure awaits.

What a load of pretentious nonsence. Speaking as someone who has been playing for the last 30 years the idea that optimisation, munchkinism or a lack of interest in RP is a modern disease caused by Warcraft or anything else is a bunch of historical revisionism or outright deception.

Now get off my lawn.


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RDM42 wrote:
Well, I'd have to say that if I invited you in at the last minute with no time to create any backstory it would be rather ogrish of me to demand one right away.

It's true, but the point I was trying to make (and probably failing, I've had 0% coffee yet this morning) is that Kyllan ended up being interesting and fun to roleplay despite being the person with the least backstory in the party for the entire game, because I got to portray an 'ordinary' man's reaction to events that swiftly went from frightening to frightening and completely insane. In a way it ended up being a lot of fun being able to be a supporting character in other people's backstories, I think because I still got an equal part in the main story.

You know all those episodes of Avatar: the Last Airbender where people went on life-changing adventures with Zuko? I was Zuko for the whole campaign. It was nice.


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Pupsocket wrote:
Why would someone choose an RPG with thousands of pages of rules and mechanical options, if not to play with that material?
Prince of Knives wrote:
meatrace wrote:

I'm a role-player, and I also optimize.

/thread
I'm a roleplayer, and I got into optimization because I was sick of shoddy mechanics no-selling my characterization & fluff.

This. Lets face it. THis is a game heavily on rules. It is understanfdable that people will use those rules.

And, I agree with prince of knives, there are a lot of ways a character can fail, and I mean FAIL from its creation, PF is filled with horrible horrible options and a good portion of system mastery is to avoid them.

I once saw a 12 str, 14 dex monk who have weapon finesse as his chosen feat, the other feat was the awful scorpion style. I Suppose it was very thematically. But then that monk was out DPR by my crossbow wielding sorcerer and the bow/rapier user bard.

The guy was sad with his character. What I was supposed to tell him, "dude, be a normal player and just have fun"?.


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I make characters meant to be worthwhile additions to the party. Being super good at one small niche thing normally doesn't help, but at the same time I look at what a lot of people consider "well rounded" and think "lamed gimp" is what they ended up with.

On the back story issue...most of the characters I've had over the years that ended up with the most depth started off the most shallow. Seems like when I go out of my way to put up a good backstory for a character, more often than not the campaign comes to a grinding halt two to three sessions in, or the GM (that was so adamant about knowing every farging detail before the game began) never introduces an opportunity for any of it to be relevant.

And yes...people optimized as long as I've been playing, which has been since second edition.


Petty Alchemy wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Normal is just a setting on the dryer my friend.

Normal is weak to Fighting, and usually has no place on my team.

Edit: Checked my dryer, turns out there's no normal.

normal is also immune to Ghost and ignored only by fools.

#TeamNormal


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My personal experience has been the exact opposite of what the OP is suggesting. I've played with some people who can bring characters to life in a way that Lucas would kill for: Mundane, Jess Door, Andostre, Houstonderek, just to name four, are some of the most gifted role-players I've ever encountered over 30+ years in the hobby. All their characters feel unique, compelling, 3-dimensional. The other thing that all four of them have in common is a very solid grasp of the mechanics of the game system. In short, they're interested in the game as a hobby, and that interest shows in their role-playing skill and their mechanical knowledge BOTH.

The worst roleplayer I've ever had the misfortune to game with (who lacks a screen name, to the best of my knowledge, so don't ask) had approximately zero knowledge of the rules, and also couldn't build a competent character to save his life. His characters were also completely zero-dimensional, with no substance, quirks, backstory, or even names I can remember. His interest in the hobby was peripheral at best and it showed in all aspects of his gaming.

I remember characters like Jak, Mundane's multiple-personality sorcerer/monk. Jak took an insane amount of optimization and rules-savvy to make. Once in place, he was an unforgettable character, but also surprisingly effective. I remember Sheraviel, Jess Door's unhittable elf fighter with a chip on her shoulder against the uncouth idiots she was surrounded by. I remember Agun, Andostre's sarcastic, cigar-smoking dwarf wizard who was proudest of his ability to get enemies to discount his contributions, so as to remain safe. I remember Cadogan, a 19-year old human kid in a city full of elves, who leveraged his street smarts and combat ability to fuel a rock star lifestyle.

I don't remember Character X, the generic wizard who relied on his fireball spell because he simply wasn't aware of any better options.

Oddly enough, in 30+ years, I've never once encounted a mechanically-solid character who also lacked a personality. I'm sure they exist, but I'm not convinced that anyone is out there actually playing them in games.


Prince of Knives wrote:
RDM42 wrote:
Well, I'd have to say that if I invited you in at the last minute with no time to create any backstory it would be rather ogrish of me to demand one right away.

It's true, but the point I was trying to make (and probably failing, I've had 0% coffee yet this morning) is that Kyllan ended up being interesting and fun to roleplay despite being the person with the least backstory in the party for the entire game, because I got to portray an 'ordinary' man's reaction to events that swiftly went from frightening to frightening and completely insane. In a way it ended up being a lot of fun being able to be a supporting character in other people's backstories, I think because I still got an equal part in the main story.

You know all those episodes of Avatar: the Last Airbender where people went on life-changing adventures with Zuko? I was Zuko for the whole campaign. It was nice.

But in that case, you were obviously interested in having those things, and didn't view the character as just a collection of numbers to provide DPR. You just hadn't had time to fill out the details yet, but were interested in having them. You had a personality, wants, desires and the other things that make one 'human'


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Back to OP's point, and hoping to offend several hundred people at once, my experience has been that there are two fundamentally different types of gamers who post on these threads: The Advice and Rules forums are dominated by players obsessed with the numbers and Rules as Written: "How can I best optimize this class? Is this particular combination allowed?"

It's a gross generalization; many of the Rules questions are, "I have this really neat concept for a character and I don't know whether the rules will allow it," which is fundamentally a roleplaying question.

If you go to the AP threads, they're dominated by GMs looking to tell a better story, or players asking what character backgrounds or traits would best fit in with the world.

Honestly, when I post in the AP threads, I feel welcomed by a whole, "Wow! That's a really neat idea! How can we roll with that?" vibe.
When I post in the Advice/Rules threads, more often than not I'm dismissed or put down as a "terrible" GM because I prefer storytelling over number-crunching or the finer points of parsing a particularly ambiguous sentence in the core rulebook.

My personal take:
- Gaming since 1976 where we started with the 3-book D&D set.
- Prefer to build characters based on what's happening to them at the moment in the world, not on any kind of optimization. My life oracle's taking Cure Disease as her first 3rd-level spell when she hits 6th level. An almost totally-useless spell at that level, especially for an oracle, but it best fits in with her background and what's been happening in the campaign so far. I'll swap it out later in the campaign, knowing that it's pointless, but I'm burning a level for a spell that I know is going to be useless, precisely because it fits in with the roleplay of the campaign at the moment.
- On the other hand, I don't intentionally avoid being effective at my "core job". My life oracle is an aasimar using her favored class bonuses to up her channel energies, and has spent her feats on Selective Channel, Extra Mystery (Life Link), and Quick Channel. She's a healbot, and I'm playing her as a healbot. But when we're trapped on an island full of biting, diseased critters, she's going to take Cure Disease. Unfortunately, I suspect we'll be leaving the island almost immediately thereafter, and I doubt we'll ever face disease-spewing critters in any significant way again.


I don't think it has to be an either or proposition. When I'm starting a game, I try to gather people that are going to create interesting characters with some sort of background that fits the world I've created. If they min/max along the way? I don't care. The PCs are the "heroes" of the story. They're supposed to win. Too many GMs feel that if a PC defeats their bad guys easily, or rolls over encounters that the PC is too powerful, or has min/maxed too much. If I find that happening, I'll optimize my NPCs or encounters right back at the PCs.

The tank in my game is one of the best roleplayers that I've ever been around. I've gamed with him, either as a player or GM, for almost ten years, and his characters never fail to amuse me, and always, always are different from one another and great characters. He's also a CRAZY min/maxer. To the point that if I want NPCs optimized, I'll ask him to build me one.

I guess the biggest piece of advice I can give as a GM is "roll with it." If the PCs optimize, continue to tweak your encounters. I do it often by throwing crazy amounts of one hit wonders at them. The PCs LOVE this. It gives them the chance to put their whoopin' sticks to use, provides buffers between them and the BBEG to allow the BBEG to have an effect on the fight, and makes the PCs feel powerful when they wade through their adversaries to get to the mastermind. If they're not careful, however, they can get overwhelmed. It's a fine balancing act, but generally my players wind up feeling like they got a major win, and also feeling like "Crap, we better find a place to hole up, because we're spent!"


Kelarith wrote:

I don't think it has to be an either or proposition. When I'm starting a game, I try to gather people that are going to create interesting characters with some sort of background that fits the world I've created. If they min/max along the way? I don't care. The PCs are the "heroes" of the story. They're supposed to win. Too many GMs feel that if a PC defeats their bad guys easily, or rolls over encounters that the PC is too powerful, or has min/maxed too much. If I find that happening, I'll optimize my NPCs or encounters right back at the PCs.

The tank in my game is one of the best roleplayers that I've ever been around. I've gamed with him, either as a player or GM, for almost ten years, and his characters never fail to amuse me, and always, always are different from one another and great characters. He's also a CRAZY min/maxer. To the point that if I want NPCs optimized, I'll ask him to build me one.

I guess the biggest piece of advice I can give as a GM is "roll with it." If the PCs optimize, continue to tweak your encounters. I do it often by throwing crazy amounts of one hit wonders at them. The PCs LOVE this. It gives them the chance to put their whoopin' sticks to use, provides buffers between them and the BBEG to allow the BBEG to have an effect on the fight, and makes the PCs feel powerful when they wade through their adversaries to get to the mastermind. If they're not careful, however, they can get overwhelmed. It's a fine balancing act, but generally my players wind up feeling like they got a major win, and also feeling like "Crap, we better find a place to hole up, because we're spent!"

I guess I find a difference between "optimizing" as in 'best implementing the character concept you created'. And cheesing - as in "over specializing at a single tactic that you then get annoyed if anything ever negates." At least in my games my preference line is in 'which is to be the master, the characterization or the pure numbers with a bumper sticker slapped on? If it's not any of those things, then feat chains to get neat effects and all that sort of thing doesn't really bother me. And if someone prefers the numbers first style in their home game, it doesn't bother me at all, of course.

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My answer to what I think the OP is meaning to ask is "yes." There are still a lot of players that recognize that there is a huge gap between "effective" and "optimized," and don't give a flying fig about the latter.

As many others have stated, it is quite common to build a character as "concept first," then semi-optimize to make the best version of the concept one can.

That having been said, there is nothing wrong with wnating to make the best character you can. Players who do this are not playing the game wrong. It's just that you don't have to do this to succeed and have fun.

I enjoy participating in the Advice/Rules boards mainly as mental exercise, and because it helps me stay abridged of things my players may try. Rarely do I use any of the really powerful tricks myself, and I always warn the GM before I take a power "combo" of exactly what I'll be doing with it. Surprising the GM with your clever spur of the moment idea midgame is fun; surprising the GM with your planned out build is rude.

I have a friend who is excellent at playing rogues - he can play a rogue that contributes at 17th level in a party with two full casters. Is rogue less objectively powerful than other classes? Probably. But it's still far from useless or ineffective.

Player experience and skill factors a lot into effectiveness - I used to have a friend who would follow all the guides and build these "broken" characters, but since he didn't understand how they went together he was terrible at actually playing them.

Personally I often like to grab a theoretically "weak" choice and see what I can do with it, which is actually an exercise in optimization. Recently I've been eyeballing Spellslinger wizard and Crossbowman fighter.


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LazarX wrote:
Yes, virginia, there are normal roleplayers. But a gaming messageboard is not a place to come find them.

That may be true.

By Normal, I mean how a majority of those who play that I've ever run into.

I suppose people are calling that traditional?

It doesn't mean you put your fighters primary stat as CHA and his lowest stat in STR...you can make a character well...but it means that you roleplay before you optimize for starters. You play for the thrill of playing and play for the group, not self glory to be the jerk of the group (the powergamer that can't understand what it means to be a team instead of a one man wrecking ball...and then throws a fit when they die to the first social situation, or another item which requires something outside of combat and cusses out our DM).

It means that IF you want to play a Fighter that really focuses on CHA, and is the 90 lb weakling...you can. It also means that you can play the suave Rogue with a high CHA, but perhaps not so bright. Or perhaps you do have the stereotypical strong guy fighter (playing this traditional way doesn't necessarily mean you gimp your characters), but you don't stress so much over how "powerful" you are that you end up playing a wizard instead who just happens to have a level of fighter so you can do all the martial stuff and have access to all weapons (though you could be an Eldritch Knight, but that's because you WANT to be an Eldritch knight, not because it's an RP optimization thing or something like that).

IRL (In real life) I've almost never run into anyone who goes into this optimization stuff, or dips into classes just to optimize. Those who do that I've met normally are one offs of themselves and seem a bit...different than the rest of the group.

Even had one who cussed out a DM once for requiring RP reasons for class switchups, and the adventure going in a direction (not as much combat) then they wanted (which meant their character didn't get the "ownage" over monsters they wanted). I suppose that's my experience with optimization/powergaming IRL.

So, seeing so many that push so hard and discuss these tiers and level dipping and such, it seems such an odd world and an odd thing to be doing.

If not for messageboards, I probably wouldn't know that a whole bunch of people push for this type of gamestyle.

I don't go to cons...so mayhaps all those that don't do these things have the abnormal play style, and playing simply for the fun.

How can I put this better?

Literally, this entire society of optimization/powergaming/munchkinism/tier discussing, etc., is something that I've only seen very RARELY in real life. I wouldn't even know such a bunch of people existed and a society of them pushed this type of gaming if not for the messageboards.

IRL such stuff would seem very odd from the groups I've played with, but it seems the norm in some messageboards.

IRL we play to enjoy the game and take roles to play in an adventure.

On the boards it seems people play to abuse the system more than to play with others and utilize team play. It really seems rather odd for what I've seen in gaming.

I suppose that's what I mean.

I DO see people with conversations approaching what I'd expect in the AP forums, but not so much in the rules forums where it's more a discussion of why a Rogue is useless (NOT IN OUR EXPERIENCE AS...Traditional? RPG'ers, but that's because we don't play like these optimizers types I suppose, and it's not on our list of priorities to play as such) and how you should always pick a spellcaster instead of a fighter. Maybe this is the norm for CON goers? I don't go to CONS much and most I know don't either. Then again, I know several that DO go to CONS, and they don't seem to play like people suggest you should on these boards either.


Trolls in me weekly group have six or eight wives, hoards of treasure, and fly rings.

Gaming snacks are roasting Kobold gamers from next forest.

House rules from actual combat experience. We even fix crossbows. Unsure T-rex really have so high Perception skill? Let's go check.

It good be normal.


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To the OPs question about "normal" gamers: Let me use an analogy about being a sports fan.

Now I personally love the advanced metrics that are becoming available to help analyze players and tem decisions, but there are some fans that do not. Not because they don't understand them or don't think that they don't have any value, but because focusing on them can take focus away from the narratives and characters of the teams and players, turning them into numbers.

And that's not wrong. Watching Sports, like playing a game is something that you do for fun. We're not GMs, coaches, or hall of fame votors. We don't need to focus on those advanced metrics to enjoy the sport, and if those metrics decrease your interest in the sport, then you shouldn't focus on them.

Just don't tell me I'm an abnormal fan because I find the numbers interesting and enjoyable, and don't treat the two sides as diametrically opposed.


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I'm with the OP. I build a character to a concept and not to squeeze every last +1 out of the system. Sure I'll look at improving an attack if that's what the character is meant to be about, but not to the point where end up with a sheet full of numbers and classes that don't hang together conceptually.

I knew I was out of the ordinary on this forum when another thread was talking about AC35 at 8th level as not being unusual. In our group, anyone in the high 20s for AC is considered very well-protected.

Different reasons to game, I guess. I like to play a part, other people like to be the Biggest Baddest Kickass out there, no matter what thier character. I'm happy to drop optimisation for characterisation, others prefer to drop characterisation for optimisation.


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or you could drop neither


GreyWolfLord wrote:
LazarX wrote:
Yes, virginia, there are normal roleplayers. But a gaming messageboard is not a place to come find them.
...I don't go to CONS much and most I know don't either. Then again, I know several that DO go to CONS, and they don't seem to play like people suggest you should on these boards either.

I feel you brother. You do see some "kooky" characters at conventions but most are pretty "normal". I think most convention goers optimize to an extent, but it is usually not that noticeable. For instance, if someone dips a level into another class it is usually masked by the character. I mean, I don't notice if a fighting character starts casting spells because so many classes just do that anyway. (Is he a sorcerer who dipped into fighter, or is he just a magus?)

I also think most optimization is not that noticeable because most people are not that committed to doing it right. Most people can't resist making sub-optimal choices for the sake of the character they want. However, occasionally enough to be annoying, some people do show up to the table with horribly over-optimized characters that cause otherwise fun encounters to fall flat, and while they are cutting through encounters "like water" I just smile politely through my teeth and check the time till the next game.

In the end most hobbyists don't pay attention to these boards, much less the 'Advice' board. I find it useful to watch those threads so as a Dungeon Master I can be prepared for what may be coming down the pipe.

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Pathfinder has hundreds of pages about tactical combat simulation, and relatively little about tips for roleplaying because you can't make rules for that aspect of the game.

Likewise, few topics on these boards are about roleplaying help because people have their own solid ideas on how to do that. I'm sure there are topics in Gamer Talk about whatever cool thing happened.

If I didn't want to optimize with the Pathfinder rules, I'd use a much simpler system as alternative. Then I wouldn't have to deal with stuff like the grapple rules.


so you get mad when someone does something really well


Being a duchebag is being a duchebag. If someone at a table is cussing out the GM, causing problems, that has nothing to do with how optimized their character is. Saying it's better to start with concept and then get the mechanics is just as lame as someone telling you to start with the mechanics. If a character contributes to the party, and the player is pleasant to play with, then why on earth would it matter if they started with "I'm going to make a fighter that focuses on combat maneuvers" vs "Sir Richard the Big is a man of honor who dislikes killing unless he absolutely has to, and so prefers to disable his enemies through his family's world renowned wrestling techniques."

Also...rogues are terrible (not useless...commoners are useless), in my experience.


Pupsocket wrote:
Why would someone choose an RPG with thousands of pages of rules and mechanical options, if not to play with that material?

To have lots of options to create the character they want to portray?

and yes I tend to play as described by the OP.


Im proud of being an old school gamer the same way im proud of my past as a member of the armed forces
Our history makes us who we are


I'm glad you put normal in quotes. I may have been insulted by the inference otherwise... /sarcasm


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For me, the difference between roll-player and role-player comes down to one thing on a character sheet: does your equipment consist of nothing more than weapons and armour? If all you've bought are weapons and armour, you obviously haven't given any thought to anything but combat. You likely also have no idea who your character is beyond a collection of really kick ass numbers. OTOH, if you have bought a backpack and filled it with sundries such as torches, chalk, twine, clay, grappling arrows, bedroll, flint and steel etc. you have at least considered that there may be something going on other than whacking things to death at some point in the game and, in my experience, you are more likely to have some idea of who your character is beyond a collection of really kick ass numbers.

As far as whether I am "normal"? I fall into the optimize but still roleplay school. I'll choose mechanically superior options if they suit the character I have in mind. Alternately, I can make a character fit with the mechanically superior options I want to use in most cases however I'm not much of a dipper and I hate having attribute score penalties so I don't dump stats. I work really hard to ensure I am somewhat capable both in and out of combat which means I am rarely the very best in the group at fighting but I can pull my weight. I will select feats and traits that are generally viewed as suboptimal for flavor reasons but I also won't cripple my character by selecting feats and traits without consideration for the mechanical side of the game.

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Locking. We welcome all kinds of gamers on paizo.com. Discussions starting out by isolating and disparaging one type of gamer often end up causing unnecessary tension, and don't foster the friendly and inviting place we'd like the messageboards to be.

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