How do I not scare off a DM?


Advice

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So, little rant here. I have a history of terrifying DMs before I ever even get a chance to play, do the unique(?) way I approach character creation. I love roleplay, and I love roleplaying. I also love rollplay, and nothing makes me happier than seeing interesting mechanics represented by a characters backstory or lore. Sometimes I come up with something in my head for a backstory, and then pour over countless books to best represent what I thought of. Othertimes I do the opposite. I'll find a rally cool, off the wall concept in a book, and wonder to myself how that person might've ended up where they did.

My problem is, and this was mainly a problem with 3.5, and the countless books it had/the rampant unbalancedness of the system. When a DM would see me build a character with x prestige classes and y feats from z books, they'd freak and think I was out to break their campaign. Again, apologies for the 3.5 talk, but it's what I'm most familiar with. A great example is a 3.5 character that was a psychic warrior/battle dancer/pyrokinetisist/dervish with a feat that allowed unarmed strikes to do slashing damage. Who what that person? A gypsie, who performed exotic dances with her fire lash. Gypsies being traditionally psychic, and also performers. It was a fun, interesting, mechanically underpowered character I never got to toy with because the DM assumed I was building a super death machine that would ruin the campaign.

Now I would like to go forward and say my Pathfinder DM, though we haven't played yet, has been super understanding of my playstyle, and has even helped me come up with some story hooks (He's a bladebound/hexcrafter magus with a cursed family, hence the archtypes). And he's been amazing (Hi Bruce if you see this!). But seeing someone actually be understanding has kind of made me think about my past experiences.

So...advice?


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Just tell your GM it's not a super death machine. If he's not willing to even audit your character, he's probably not that great a GM to begin with.


I think this is probably less of a problem in Pathfinder because those Frankenstein builds that would have spooked people in 3.5 are universally recognized to suck in Pathfinder. Most of the powerful options are really straightforward in terms of class selection with maybe one extra class thrown in (the Monk/Cave Druid Flurry of Slams comes to mind).

Though for the problem itself, I think that's more of an issue with the GM than it is for you. A GM should at least be able to take you at your word if you say you're not trying to break their game unless proven otherwise.

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Well, obviously make sure you are using only approved materials.

Also, invite the GM to survey your character sheet and make sure everything is on the up and up. Also, point out any concerns you may have about any class feature/feat/skill/spell synergies you've come up with.

For example, I have a 5th level paladin with the Mystical Healing feat from a 3rd party source, plus Extra Lay on Hands and Fey Foundling. So I can heal myself for 3d6+6 points of damage as a swift action AND channel energy as a standard action of 4d6 (+8 to myself). And I'm working on getting Quick Channeling at 7th, so I can heal another 5d6+10 + 5d6+10 + 4d6+8 by the in a single round. Kind of over-un-killing, but you get the point.

But I check with GM, and he's running a brutal 15 point 2nd Editiony campaign, so healing is REALLY useful for everyone involved. The player's characters are healed, and the GM can grind us through 6 or 7 encounters per day.


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Don't show up to play in a bloody clown costume......


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Ravingdork wrote:
Just tell your GM it's not a super death machine. If he's not willing to even audit your character, he's probably not that great a GM to begin with.

To be fair the DM is probably already putting in more time than the player into the game setup and the DM in question probably has a life outside of the game, making him spend hours going through pdfs, books, faqs, etc to audit your characters might just not be worth the time for him and that's fair imo.

Best bet is bribe the DM, give him some pizza or something to compensate him for his time and make him feel less bad about it. Also go through your stuff and note every book and page number which you take something from and when necessary provide him with the books in question if he doesn't have them on hand.


Don't worry about it to much, honestly. If your past DMs were cowards then screw them.

3.5 was stupidly imbalanced because of how WotC created content in isolation to the rest of their system. This ended up with idiotic builds that were better than pretty much everything else that ruined games. However, these apex builds were fairly far and few between, even if stupidly broken builds that were shy of these were rampant.

In Pathfinder things are quite a bit more balanced. Sure, things are still skewed towards Casters, but then again that is why there are so many classes that use magic in Pathfinder.

So first off describe to your DM what your character will eventually become, explain how it is legal, explain its weaknesses, and finally its strengths. This tells DMs what the character can do.

Some strategies are to play on Slow progression so the party advances more slowly and you don't become a mortal god as fast. Then again, your DM might just embrace the insanity and play on Fast progression with more difficult enemies.

Tell your DM that it is fine to, if your character is far above the others in power, to include a triple standard monster in each encounter just for you.
Remember, the standard of enemies is an indicator how their internal CR within the CR system.


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Let me offer another point of view. Not every GM wants to spend the hours going through a library worth of books that you've spent to make sure that your character is not overpowered. Also, it is up to the GM as ref to make sure you're applying all of the rules properly.

Some GMs go over every book that ever comes out and will be fine with you bringing whatever you bring. Other GMs want more control over what the players are bringing.


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gnomersy wrote:
...making him spend hours going through pdfs, books, faqs, etc to audit your characters might just not be worth the time for him and that's fair imo.

Who would be so cruel as to make him hunt for things you've already found? Bring him the material yourself. No searching needed since you've already done it for him. All he has to do is glance it over and say whether or not it looks acceptable and why. Takes 10 minutes per character tops (and often FAR less).


Ravingdork wrote:
gnomersy wrote:
...making him spend hours going through pdfs, books, faqs, etc to audit your characters might just not be worth the time for him and that's fair imo.
Who would be so cruel as to make him hunt for things you've already found? Bring him the material yourself. No searching needed since you've already done it for him. All he has to do is glance it over and say whether or not it looks acceptable and why. Takes 10 minutes per character tops (and often FAR less).

With a new DM I'd say he'd hunt them down because he doesn't know if you're cheating or just wrong about the rules so he'd want to check them all.


Simon Legrande wrote:

Let me offer another point of view. Not every GM wants to spend the hours going through a library worth of books that you've spent to make sure that your character is not overpowered. Also, it is up to the GM as ref to make sure you're applying all of the rules properly.

Some GMs go over every book that ever comes out and will be fine with you bringing whatever you bring. Other GMs want more control over what the players are bringing.

I'm working under the assumption that he is providing these materials to the GM. I know I take the effort to provide SRD links to anything that I want to use that isn't part of the main line.


Arachnofiend wrote:
Simon Legrande wrote:

Let me offer another point of view. Not every GM wants to spend the hours going through a library worth of books that you've spent to make sure that your character is not overpowered. Also, it is up to the GM as ref to make sure you're applying all of the rules properly.

Some GMs go over every book that ever comes out and will be fine with you bringing whatever you bring. Other GMs want more control over what the players are bringing.

I'm working under the assumption that he is providing these materials to the GM. I know I take the effort to provide SRD links to anything that I want to use that isn't part of the main line.

Nothing wrong with that, but it's not something that every GM will want to deal with. In my opinion it's much more polite to bring up your build to the GM ahead of time instead of just showing up with something. I get that players should be able to play what they want, but so should GMs.


Rule 1: Don't show up in cosplay unannounced.

EDIT-- Obvious joke is obvious, inevitable NINJA

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
gnomersy wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
Just tell your GM it's not a super death machine. If he's not willing to even audit your character, he's probably not that great a GM to begin with.
To be fair the DM is probably already putting in more time than the player into the game setup and the DM in question probably has a life outside of the game, making him spend hours going through pdfs, books, faqs, etc to audit your characters might just not be worth the time for him and that's fair imo.

This. Period.

As a player, you have one character to obsess over. The GM has 4 or more to audit or manage. And countless NPCs of varying degrees of stattedness. And an adventure to prepare, and a campaign to manage. If he's using his own home brew world, he has all that to manage. If you bring a complex character to the table, with prestige classes, feats, equipment and rules pulled from multiple sources the GM may or may not have access to, he's well within his rights to be wary of what you want to play.

-Skeld


Simon Legrande wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
Simon Legrande wrote:

Let me offer another point of view. Not every GM wants to spend the hours going through a library worth of books that you've spent to make sure that your character is not overpowered. Also, it is up to the GM as ref to make sure you're applying all of the rules properly.

Some GMs go over every book that ever comes out and will be fine with you bringing whatever you bring. Other GMs want more control over what the players are bringing.

I'm working under the assumption that he is providing these materials to the GM. I know I take the effort to provide SRD links to anything that I want to use that isn't part of the main line.
Nothing wrong with that, but it's not something that every GM will want to deal with. In my opinion it's much more polite to bring up your build to the GM ahead of time instead of just showing up with something. I get that players should be able to play what they want, but so should GMs.

No, I totally get that. I tried GMing a game once, and I did indeed have that guy that ruined the game via a power build. (4e Wizard who slowed/proned/slide 5 on an area at-will. It was horrifying). I get the concerns. And of course I talk to the GM about what I want to do, and do everything in my power to ease any concerns beforehand. This usually results in a frustrated GM who thinks he's being bullied into doing something he's not comfortable with, and then nobody wins due to creative differences.


This is why online SRDs are fantastic, or for you to provide all of the sources with the page numbers.

ArkthePieKing wrote:
No, I totally get that. I tried GMing a game once, and I did indeed have that guy that ruined the game via a power build. (4e Wizard who slowed/proned/slide 5 on an area at-will. It was horrifying). I get the concerns. And of course I talk to the GM about what I want to do, and do everything in my power to ease any concerns beforehand. This usually results in a frustrated GM who thinks he's being bullied into doing something he's not comfortable with, and then nobody wins due to creative differences.
Your problem was that you were running 4e where that garbage is commonplace. 1 4e game I partook in at the dorms of my college featured all controllers who literally managed to crowd control everything to the point that they didn't need anything else. Battles took forever, though so I guess spending 2 hours to kill a standard non elite or solo encounter was fun to them.


The real question to keep in mind is this: is it easier for you to find a new game or for a GM to find a new player? Compromise is always best, but that means that both sides need to be able to give and take.

Edit for clarification: the player to GM ratio differs from place to place. The group I play with is four people total and we've been trying to find another player or two for years. I wasn't intending any snark.


If you're trying to do something complicated with your character build.

- Acknowledge to the GM that you have a lot less work to do than he or she does, and when the GM is looking at your character try to explain how is supposed to work, providing textual references as needed. Like if you want to play a Wordcaster, really sit the GM down and explain how Wordcasting works and how you intend to use it, so there are no unhappy surprises in the first session when the GM is surprised to learn that summoning is a standard action for you.

- Point out that your goal is to make a character that is fun and flavorful, and that this is reinforced by the mechanics, your goal is not to make a super-powered death machine. Reassure the GM that if it turns out you are unbalancing things, that the two of you can work together to try to bring things down to a more reasonable level.

- If the GM is still not entirely comfortable with your mechanically complex character, offer to play something more straightforward. There are plenty of flavorful, but straightforward and mechanically manageable options out there. I mean, one of the design goals for Pathfinder was to discourage multiclassing. It's not the worst thing in the world to just play a human fighter with 0-1 archetypes.


Are you positive it's the combat ability of your character that's the problem? I've seen few things more lethal to an AP than a bard/paladin combo, so I don't sweat odd builds much. For example, in Serpent's Skull I'm dealing with an aasimar Paladin/Zen Archer whose build is based on Smiting Evil with Flurry of Blows with a bow. Guess what? It's pretty crappy, and the barbarian outshines her in every fight.

However, I have a "problem child" player who isn't into "power gaming", but into "power roleplaying". For example, in Kingmaker he wanted a custom race that had Tongues as a spell-like ability once a day. (So much for having to overcome the language barrier in the early encounters.) He wanted to be a fey child, so familiar with all fey in the area as a free Knowledge skill, plus raised by River Kingdom nobility and thus familiar with all nobles in the surrounding kingdoms. For free.

In short, I could rewrite a significant portion of the AP to deal with the knowledge and abilities this player wanted "for his roleplaying", or I could say, "No."

And when I said, "No," he wouldn't budge, and we ended up shutting down Kingmaker because of him. (His attitude of, "I have to be better than all other PCs at all noncombat things at all times," has shut down two campaigns so far. Thankfully, our third GM has kicked him around a bit and he knows he's on his last gasp, so he's finally behaving.)

So be sure it's not the REST of your background that's the problem.


NobodysHome wrote:
when I said, "No," he wouldn't budge

Yeah, this is important, when the GM tells you that you can't do something, don't say "no", say "okay, what can I do instead that's similar, but will work in your campaign."

The GM is totally within his or her right to say "no custom races" or "no being daughter of the Duke" or "no wizards" and the only justification the GM needs is "it doesn't fit in with the setting and the story I was hoping to tell." It's not like this rules system doesn't already have enough different options for character creation.

Don't fall so in love with a concept that you can't change it so that it works better with the GM's vision of the world and the campaign. The answer to "you can't do that" or "I don't want you to do that" should always be "how can I change it so that it's better?" Remember that the GM is doing you a favor by offering to run the game, since there's no game if no one is willing to do the hard job.


Here's what I would want to see, as a GM: Give me the surprise, ugly, break-my-game run down on your character along with all the page numbers/references, etc. Something like "my level 2 barbarian averages 45 hp of damage per hit and misses only on nat 1's" or "My god wizard is going to use his knowledge skills to learn a monster's weak save and target it with a wicked high DC every encounter" or "my flying witch is going to put everything to sleep while flying".

I'm betting your GM's have been rejecting your characters not because of what the char can do, but because the GMs don't know what the char can do. If a GM knows what your character can do, they can work with/around it.


NobodysHome wrote:

Are you positive it's the combat ability of your character that's the problem? I've seen few things more lethal to an AP than a bard/paladin combo, so I don't sweat odd builds much. For example, in Serpent's Skull I'm dealing with an aasimar Paladin/Zen Archer whose build is based on Smiting Evil with Flurry of Blows with a bow. Guess what? It's pretty crappy, and the barbarian outshines her in every fight.

However, I have a "problem child" player who isn't into "power gaming", but into "power roleplaying". For example, in Kingmaker he wanted a custom race that had Tongues as a spell-like ability once a day. (So much for having to overcome the language barrier in the early encounters.) He wanted to be a fey child, so familiar with all fey in the area as a free Knowledge skill, plus raised by River Kingdom nobility and thus familiar with all nobles in the surrounding kingdoms. For free.

In short, I could rewrite a significant portion of the AP to deal with the knowledge and abilities this player wanted "for his roleplaying", or I could say, "No."

And when I said, "No," he wouldn't budge, and we ended up shutting down Kingmaker because of him. (His attitude of, "I have to be better than all other PCs at all noncombat things at all times," has shut down two campaigns so far. Thankfully, our third GM has kicked him around a bit and he knows he's on his last gasp, so he's finally behaving.)

So be sure it's not the REST of your background that's the problem.

So many things to respond to, and I'm at work. I can't really get to them all. I apologize!

I suppose just by nature of enjoying the odd in general I'm prone to a tidbit of 'special snowflake' syndrome, but nothing to that extreme I promise. And it's never come up that my backstory was a problem. In fact most DMs love how much effort I put into it. It's when they start hearing about what I paln on building that they freak. I love to chit chat and make plans and just generally get excited about what I'm doing. So I'll start saying what I want to do, how I'm gonna build it, and then they get that deer in headhlights look and get kind of nervous. Which again, I totally, 100% understand the hesitation. And I empathize with them, and get that. Everyone is there to have fun. I do not want to step on anyone's toes, or impede anyone on the quest for good times. I just want the chance to prove I'm not doing said things.

And to someone else who had mentioned playing something straightforward (I forgot who it was, apologies) I agree that a basc fighter/wizard/whatever can be very flavorful and interesting as a person, but I just...love love love seeing unique interactions between mechanics and storyline, hence the Bladebound/Hexcrafter Magus who comes from a rich, cursed family. This is why he can fence with a rapier, knows a thing or three about spellcasting due to his schooling, and is harnessing his curse's energies into a unique weapon. (Also originally the sword was part of the curse, but my GM says he's really excited over some ideas he has for it so I left it to his devices).


I dont know how the exact conversations went so I can only say how it would likely go if I were the GM. Back when I was playing 3.5 I know most broken(things likely to cause problems) combos no matter what book they were in, but even if you asked me about ___, and I had no what it was I had a way to make a decision.

I would ask you for the source, and if that did not let me decide I would ask for the intended in game affect. That stops me from having to hunt anything down or guess at what it might do. If you used it for something not even remotely close to what you told me it was for, and it became a problem then you would be allowed to rebuild the character.

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Approach slowly, with your arms up and palms facing outwards to show that you mean no harm. Maintain eye contact and avoid sudden movements, as this may startle a DM. Don't try to close the entire distance, just get near enough that your intent is clear, and if the DM is willing, he will approach to meet you half way.


I also have tried GMs saying no. I Think a good approach is to ask what kind of character they Think Will fit in there campaign. And then make that. It May seem boring but the really unique in a character is not that it is a bard/barb/DD demon kin thiefling with a monk dip. It is the personallity and how it interacts with the World. Coming to a game with a premade concept is in a Way shutting out parts of the story.
I dont nessesarily Think your GM have been thinking all this but a plain figther is almost never rejectet no matter how great his background story is.


If you make sure you're printed out everything you're using that you don't have a hard copy of you should be OK.
Our DM is happy as long as fringe material is passed by him and a copy of that stuff is printed out and viewable at the table.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
NobodysHome wrote:
when I said, "No," he wouldn't budge

Yeah, this is important, when the GM tells you that you can't do something, don't say "no", say "okay, what can I do instead that's similar, but will work in your campaign."

The GM is totally within his or her right to say "no custom races" or "no being daughter of the Duke" or "no wizards" and the only justification the GM needs is "it doesn't fit in with the setting and the story I was hoping to tell." It's not like this rules system doesn't already have enough different options for character creation.

Don't fall so in love with a concept that you can't change it so that it works better with the GM's vision of the world and the campaign. The answer to "you can't do that" or "I don't want you to do that" should always be "how can I change it so that it's better?" Remember that the GM is doing you a favor by offering to run the game, since there's no game if no one is willing to do the hard job.

This is a really good point. I offered that he could be descended from/associated with royalty from any other region. I offered that he could know fey from any other region. But I pointed out that in an AP where 90% of the first few books is figuring out the relationships and politics of the region, I couldn't very well have him already knowing everything about the region.

And he rejected this, and refused to play a character who wasn't pre-intimately-familiar with the region without having to invest any skill points (an INT 10 non-human sorcerer, so skill points were at a premium for everything he wanted to do).

As I said, a "problem child" who's finally realized the error of his ways when 2 of the 4 available GMs quit outright rather than run for him...

(And to preemptively answer the eternal, "Why don't you boot him?" question, we have 3 weekly games without him, and he's in our fourth, "Whenever we can get the whole group together" game that none of us are all that invested in. So if he kills that game, it hurts no one but him.)

The Exchange

ArkthePieKing wrote:
...I have a history of terrifying DMs before I ever even get a chance to play, do the unique(?) way I approach character creation. I love roleplay, and I love roleplaying. I also love rollplay, and nothing makes me happier than seeing interesting mechanics represented by a characters backstory or lore... When a DM would see me build a character with x prestige classes and y feats from z books, they'd freak and think I was out to break their campaign...

Consult with your fellow players a bit. You may find that they regard your character design and play styles from a different perspective and can offer more informed advice than we here on the boards can. About all I can suggest is that you limit yourself to one class when you first approach a new GM. As others have commented, complex builds have a tendency on first glance to suggest that the player offering them is "high maintenance." You can wow them with the breadth of your character and the extent of your multiclassing mastery later.

In short, don't take a limousine to a job interview. ;)

Grand Lodge

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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

After reading the newer posts in this thread, I'll also say this: I can your GM interactions going 1 of 2 ways. Either the characters you're proposing are off-the-wall-bonkers, or you're being more confrontational about than you realize (or maybe some of both).

To eliminate the first as possibility, you might try posting a short paragraph about some of the characters that GMs have nixed. Maybe race/class/level/feats, general descriptions, etc. Entire builds aren't necessary.

As far as the second thing, it's entirely possible that you think you're being perfectly reasonable when you send a GM that 3rd or 5th email about why this character build isn't powergamey if he would just read what you sent him/her. You may think it's reasonable, but your GMs might start to feel harassed or bullied. Ain't nobody got time for that. Certain characters simply do not belong in certain games and that's up to the GM to decide.

Taku Ooka Nin wrote:
This is why online SRDs are fantastic, or for you to provide all of the sources with the page numbers.

I thought about that, but OP mentions 3.5. If it's strictly 3.5, there's no (legal) SRD for all the non-OGL stuff. With the books OoP, it's entirely possible for a GM to not have access to the material. Print outs of referenced pages are about the only option.

-Skeld


You might try to approach the GM knowing that he has to trust you. As a GM, reading your description gives me that deer-in-the-headlights look. However, if you are a player that I trust, I'd give the go-ahead with the caveat that I can change my mind at any time. If you're a player I don't trust, then I might say "no" outright. If you haven't earned that trust yet, I would probably just say "not this time but I'll consider it in the future." It all comes down to trust.

So be patient, try something simpler at first, and after you've established yourself as a player that their table, then bring up the complex character build you'd like to try "sometime." Talk about it outside of the context of a specific game. It gives the GM time to consider things that can be developed for that character. Then ask if you can use that build in the next campaign.

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Perhaps try to build your character with a self-limiting section of rules? If you limit yourself to just the Core Rulebook, for example, that can help a GM to feel more at ease that you're not trying to overwhelm the game with system mastery... a lot of GMs can be intimidated by players who know the rules better than them, after all.

And if the idea of limiting your options to the Core Rules makes you feel like you can't build a character with the background you're looking to build... you might want to take a step back and consider the possibility that you're more into the perfect synergy of multiple options than you are a character with an unusual background.

If that's the case, you might try building the character as best you can using only Core options, and then talk to your GM about the parts of the build that you think could stand to be bolstered by other options and get the GM involved in your character's creation... either by vetting your non-core choices or by simply designing versions of what you're looking for in a way that accomplishes what you want for the character's background while still leaving the control itself in the GM's hands.

That all said... folks are right. You need your GM's trust to do things like this, and starting with simpler builds and working up to the more complex ones for later campaigns is pretty much the best advice.


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While I think most GMs unwilling to look at a build as complex as described by the OP are worried about cherry-picking power options, I might be reluctant to endorse such a character because it could take so long come to fruition and be weak until that point that it could lead to player frustration. There's a certain value in keeping things relatively simple - you're not always waiting for what's coming over the horizon - you're more able to live in the now.

Basically, as a GM, my job is to enable each player to succeed and that includes watching for weak options as well as strong.


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ArkthePieKing wrote:
... I suppose just by nature of enjoying the odd in general I'm prone to a tidbit of 'special snowflake' syndrome, ... It's when they start hearing about what I paln on building that they freak. I love to chit chat and make plans and just generally get excited about what I'm doing. So I'll start saying what I want to do, how I'm gonna build it, and then they get that deer in headhlights look and get kind of nervous. ...

So don't do that. It's really that simple.

This may sound a bit obnoxious, but it's not intended that way. Most GM's have experience with players that just try to break things. It isn't fun. When you act and sound like that is what you are doing, that is how they are going to react.

ArkthePieKing wrote:
... And to someone else who had mentioned playing something straightforward (I forgot who it was, apologies) I agree that a basc fighter/wizard/whatever can be very flavorful and interesting as a person, but I just...love love love seeing unique interactions between mechanics and storyline, hence the Bladebound/Hexcrafter Magus who comes from a rich, cursed family. This is why he can fence with a rapier, knows a thing or three about spellcasting due to his schooling, and is harnessing his curse's energies into a unique weapon. (Also originally the sword was part of the curse, but my GM says he's really excited over some ideas he has for it so I left it to his devices). ...

But don't start with that the first time you play with some new group. make a pretty basic character. Demonstrate that you are not trying to break the game. Then if your next character is a bit more complicated (notice I said 'a bit' not umpteen book rules lawyered nightmare) and you again show that you are not breaking the game, he will become even more confident that you are going to 'play nice' and not ruin his campaign. The next character can again have some more complexity. Still showing that you aren't intending to ... Etc...

When I join a new group I almost always make a fairly generic character that will be generally useful in a variety of situations. Then I see how he compares to the expectations of the rest of the group including the GM. My next character will be inline with what the group seems to want.
I have built straight fighters with extremely detailed and convoluted backstories to explain why he insist on using a pair of clubs scale armor. But really the group couldn't optimize worth a damn so I had to start with a sub-optimal set-up to not overshadow them. Also the GM had bought many of the books, but he and the whole group really weren't yet too comfortable with most of the rules outside of core. So I pretty much stuck to core with just a couple of feats that didn't even get taken until mid campaign. So they had plenty of time to get used to the PC with only simple stuff.


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Ravingdork wrote:
gnomersy wrote:
...making him spend hours going through pdfs, books, faqs, etc to audit your characters might just not be worth the time for him and that's fair imo.
Who would be so cruel as to make him hunt for things you've already found? Bring him the material yourself. No searching needed since you've already done it for him. All he has to do is glance it over and say whether or not it looks acceptable and why. Takes 10 minutes per character tops (and often FAR less).

To be fair, as a DM it's not always about "here's my character sheet". It's about one or two or five levels later when the PC picks up a new feat, or a new spell or whatever that completes the brokenfecta. The DM didn't see it coming because... freakbuild, and gets to now explain to the player "no, you can't have the one thing you've been working towards since Day 1 because it's broken."

Nobody is happy that day.

I'm not saying the OP is playing that game, but the more complex a build is, the more work it will always be for a DM. DMs are the guys who are supposed to remember it all, right? Even if you accidentally forget your PC is immune to flanking, or gets an automatic check to detect monsters that are green, or sunders wood just by observing it, the DM has to remember all of those edge abilities when simulating the world for you. The more unusual abilities in one package, the more a DM has to deal with.

I'm all for interesting builds, but to suggest "just write it down" misses the point that being DM isn't all fun and games. Well... it is, but... you know what I mean.


Anguish wrote:

To be fair, as a DM it's not always about "here's my character sheet". It's about one or two or five levels later when the PC picks up a new feat, or a new spell or whatever that completes the brokenfecta. The DM didn't see it coming because... freakbuild, and gets to now explain to the player "no, you can't have the one thing you've been working towards since Day 1 because it's broken."

Nobody is happy that day.

I do like to ask my players if they can provide a tentative plan for what feats/classes/spells they plan on taking for the next 5-7 or so levels. Not only does it prevent nasty surprises when the complete freakbuild shows up, but it also reduces the time spent agonizing about "so what should I take now" since the player has already put some thought into it.

So for the OP, if you want to assure that your character is not going to turn into this unholy monster that will break the game, you can spell out your entire advancement plan for the character and answer any questions about rules or interactions between rules that might come up. If nothing else this is a show of good faith.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
PossibleCabbage wrote:
I do like to ask my players if they can provide a tentative plan for what feats/classes/spells they plan on taking for the next 5-7 or so levels. Not only does it prevent nasty surprises when the complete freakbuild shows up, but it also reduces the time spent agonizing about "so what should I take now" since the player has already put some thought into it.

Yeah, I do that voluntarily too when (if) I play. Feat choices, spells/powers known, that sort of thing get spelled out up to 20th. Sure, something could change because despite me planning on Weapon Focus (random), a really cool bit of treasure drops and I change my mind to Weapon Focus (really cool thing), but by and large where I'm going with a character is evident from proposal at 1st.


Taku Ooka Nin wrote:
This is why online SRDs are fantastic, or for you to provide all of the sources with the page numbers.
ArkthePieKing wrote:
No, I totally get that. I tried GMing a game once, and I did indeed have that guy that ruined the game via a power build. (4e Wizard who slowed/proned/slide 5 on an area at-will. It was horrifying). I get the concerns. And of course I talk to the GM about what I want to do, and do everything in my power to ease any concerns beforehand. This usually results in a frustrated GM who thinks he's being bullied into doing something he's not comfortable with, and then nobody wins due to creative differences.
Your problem was that you were running 4e where that garbage is commonplace. 1 4e game I partook in at the dorms of my college featured all controllers who literally managed to crowd control everything to the point that they didn't need anything else. Battles took forever, though so I guess spending 2 hours to kill a standard non elite or solo encounter was fun to them.

Haha, yeah. I built a 4e Slayer who managed to do 2d12+4d6+35ish damage on a basic attack when bloodied and rerolled all 1s and 2s on damage dice. Oh, and he was geared with magic items to make himself bloodied to give himself basic attacks. He could literally run up to the BBEG and unload 5 basic attacks using an action point and free action magic items that triggered off each other (once a day only). He could one shot a caster BBEG and that was at level 15ish . I once fought a solo mob meant to fight an entire party alone and won.

4e has all sorts of ridiculously powerful item/class combos if you look hard enough.

Honestly though? I loved that power gamed character and it was fine for my group since we generally don't mind about powerful characters. I was basically picking up the slack for our party sorcerer who was seriously so underoptimized that when I audited her character she'd forgotten to level up once.


Remember that the strongest builds in Pathfinder tend to do specific things. Barbarians are still the gods of melee damage, and the EK who focuses on dealing damage with spell storing items will deal enough damage to instantly kill most enemies even at high levels.
If you have an overly convoluted build then the burden of explanation falls to you since to be a master of something means you can explain it in the simplest terms it can be explained in.

For example: It is impossible to accurately explain some philosophical concepts in basic terms, which places the burden on the speaker to explain these instances of jargon to the listeners.

If your build is as complex as some aspects of the stock market that simple cannot be easily explained then you're trying way too hard. If your build makes me think of Calculus 101, then I'd tell you "no" since there is no reason for your build to be that complex. I don't actually think you can make a build that overly complex in Pathfinder.

A basic build statement should be concise enough to explain how it works, why it works, and what it uses:
"I'm making a Summoner (Wizard: Conjurer) who relies on Adacemae Graduate and the improved summoning line to summon multiple buffed monsters to conquer his enemies while giving his allies tactical superiority. Later on he relies on True Names and Leadership to summon forth good outsiders when summons are simply not enough to overcome adversary."

Another example:
"An evil tiefling Magus that has gained Lesser Animate Dead, and Animate Dead through Spell Blending, and use False Focus to raise Skeletons and Zombies, then Bloody Burning Skeletons later on to surround itself with an army of undead. Spell Specialization, signature spell, and other feats/traits are taken (either from the start or with feats) to make Animate Dead as powerful as possible so the Tiefling is able to be a serious threat on his own while also able to overwhelm enemies his legion of the damned."

A more advanced example:
"A Ratfolk Rogue who focuses on dual wielding whips. He takes a ratfolk cohort who uses whips as well to take advantage of the Swarming trait and gain constant flanking on targets that they both attack. This build takes advantage of the extra damage from the Agile enchant, while maximizing the sneak attack damage. This build takes advantage of Opportunist since the 15 foot range on whips is still considered melee."

"A sorcerer who takes cross-blooded to be able to change fire spells to X or Y element thereby ensuring that his spells should be able to be effective against all enemies he encounters by being able to change the damage type to fit his needs, then takes the rest of his level in Wizard to get the extra damage from being an Evoker."

"A force Gish that ignores all Resistances in the game by using only force spells. Because of his relatively low intelligence he can take advantage of enemies making their save against Force Punch and therefore within range of being hit with consecutive spells from spell storing weapons containing Force Punch."

"A Kensai Magus who is built for the Mid-Game who focuses on wear Celestial Armor, using Armor Master and Armor Expert to nullify the consequences of non-proficiency, and Arcane Armor Mastery to not have a chance to fail on spells, then using the Shield Spell to grant himself an insanely high AC while having great offensive powers with an Agile weapon, preferably a Whip since spellcombat from 15 feet away is awesome."


ArkthePieKing wrote:


So...advice?

1) Do you have a history of making very optimized characters?

2) Do you have a history of making mistakes?

If you have so many issues in getting approval may be because of either (or both) of the aboves.

If 1 is true, don't over-optimize (compared to the rest of your group) and try to show your goodwill by listing in an easy way what your character can accomplish and compare it with a basic character of the same level.
If 2 is true, keep it simple and you will both play fair and spare an headache to your GM...

In any case you should explain that this creation process is one of the reason for which you love the game: not everybody seek the same return from the game, your GM may simply find it difficult to believe your motives.


Taku Ooka Nin wrote:

...

...and the EK who focuses on dealing damage with spell storing items will deal enough damage to instantly kill most enemies even at high levels.
...

This i would like you to explain, to me.


ArkthePieKing, the only things I can think of are 1: Are most of your GMs fairly new to the game? I know lots of stuff from lots of books can truly be intimidating to a GM who isn't familiar with the material. and 2: Some GMs have hot button options that they love to hate on; summoners are a common one here but a lot of GMs will reject a concept containing their hot button option without even reviewing it's overall impact case by case.


As a DM I have a hard time seeing the issue. I have had my group around 10 years, but I like to talk to them about the general scope and setting they in turn tell me their ideas about what they want to play. It's a pretty good dynamic...people communicating.

Scarab Sages

Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote:


When I join a new group I almost always make a fairly generic character that will be generally useful in a variety of situations. Then I see how he compares to the expectations of the rest of the group including the GM. My next character will be inline with what the group seems to want.
I have built straight fighters with extremely detailed and convoluted backstories to explain why he insist on using a pair of clubs scale armor. But really the group couldn't optimize worth a damn so I had to start with a sub-optimal set-up to not overshadow them. Also the GM had bought many of the books, but he and the whole group really weren't yet too comfortable with most of the rules outside of core. So I pretty much stuck to core with just a couple of feats that didn't even get taken until mid campaign. So they had plenty of time to get used to the PC with only simple stuff.

I completely agree. In my previous group, I played a multiclassed, multiple archetyped, complicated combination that was a blast to play. Then I moved and found a group that had been playing together a while and had an open spot. I had an idea of what they played, but to avoid any miscommunication on system mastery, I played a bard. No multiclass, no archetype, nothing. And that was also a blast to play.

Later on I found out what they were comfortable with, and picked up a prestige class. My next character afterwards had a very unique archetype. I took time getting complicated to give the GM a chance to find his pace first.


Cap. Darling wrote:
Taku Ooka Nin wrote:

...

...and the EK who focuses on dealing damage with spell storing items will deal enough damage to instantly kill most enemies even at high levels.
...
This i would like you to explain, to me.

The build is based around the idea of extremely high single target burst damage. If you use force punch instead of something such as Shocking Grasp then you can dodge energy resistances.

It works like this:
The Sorc1(orcish)/Fight1/EK10/[HKE or Mystery Cultist {or equivalent}]8.
Ends with the PC having a high caster level at 20. The maximum spell power comes into its own around either level 11 or level 16 or 17 depending on the prestige class taken.
Take the trait that allows 1 meta-magic feat to be applied to a spell, choose Force Punch or Shocking Grasp depending on what you intend to use as your primary spell.
Take Quick Draw, and the two-weapon fighting line with weapon finesse.
Buy seven weapons that you can quick draw. Since your actual damage type is not important since your damage comes from spells instead of physical damage it is mostly irrelevant what the damage type is, so you don't need Agile.
Daggers work fine.
Ok, so you get 7 spell storing daggers since BAB of 16 or more means
16/11/6/1 or with two weapon fighting 14/14/9/9/4/4/1
Lets just go with Force Punch since the shocking grasp build can be applied to it just fine.
On your round as a full attack you draw two daggers and attack with them, after the spell is discharged you drop the dagger and draw two more daggers.
Theoretically if all daggers hit you would do
(15d4+15)*7 force damage, which practically nothing is resistant to.
This total damage would come to 367 force damage. This is enough to come dangerously close to outright killing a CR 20 monster on average.

Of course this is theoretical, as it is widely unlikely for all 7 attacks to hit.

It could be theorized to go up to 8 attacks hitting. All daggers are spell storing and have 15d4+15 spell storing in them. With daggers sheathed cast intensified Force Punch. Next round deliver said force punch with Mother's Teeth or any other non-hand using natural attack, then quickdraw and deliver all 7 daggers.
This would bring the force damage to
420 force damage.
If instead using Shocking Grasp with Cross Blooded Orcish/Draconic it becomes
[10d6+20]*8
440 shocking damage.

According to Monster Creation Rules the average HP for a CR 22 monster is 400 hp, which means that under the absolute best of conditions a level 16 or 17 PC could effectively 1-shot a CR 22 monster. Force Punch is better, since it is not under the effects of resistance.

However, the gimmick of Force Punch is that it is, in this case, advantageous for monsters to fail their save against it so they get pushed out of range. I suppose an enemy could voluntarily fail its save to escape the future damage.

However, this is all under theory since it is extremely rare that all 7 or 8 attacks would all land against a high CR target without consistently rolling critical hits.


Start all games at level 1.


I've had players who created a concept and a roleplay style that in the end didn't match up with the other players' styles. For example I have 3 players who are very beer-and-pretzels types who sprinkle roleplay in a little at a time. Then I have a 4th guy who should've been in dinner theater.

This clash of styles caused some significant tension at the table. In the end my campaign ended early at level 5. The experience left me wary of "unique" heavy-roleplay type players.

The same can be said of mechanics-heavy players who do next to no roleplaying. I have one of them in my current game and yes; I've gotten some grumbles from the other players wishing this person would be a little more into the roleplaying. Still this player doesn't dominate the game as much so there's not as much conflict.

I do not mean to offend here. I'm a fan of roleplay myself and would prefer my players overcome as many conflicts with that as with mechanics. I also applaud your willingness to mechanically represent your unique characters as well as work w/your GMs to create within their campaign. I just think that some GM's might be initially intimidated by your uniqueness fearing that it will translate into a long-term domination of the game from the other players.

I'm a weak GM and have given into that fear. There are better GMs out there however for unique gamers. Have faith.


Mark Hoover wrote:

I've had players who created a concept and a roleplay style that in the end didn't match up with the other players' styles. For example I have 3 players who are very beer-and-pretzels types who sprinkle roleplay in a little at a time. Then I have a 4th guy who should've been in dinner theater.

This clash of styles caused some significant tension at the table. In the end my campaign ended early at level 5. The experience left me wary of "unique" heavy-roleplay type players.

Is that really the lesson you should have taken from that? I mean, RP-heavy players are fantastic if you get them in a group with which they're compatible, but every type of player can be a problem if they're the one that doesn't fit in with the rest of the group.

So I suppose the lesson here is that one way to not freak out the GM is by convincing him or her that you'd fit in with the rest of the group. So probably being GNS flexible is a good skill to pick up (i.e. be able to play recreational math, and be able to fit in to a soap opera, and everything in between, as is needed.

But if there's 3 of one thing and 1 of the other thing, then while everybody should move a little bit to the middle, the 1 should move a lot more than the 3.


It is really pretty simple. Before you get yourself stuck on some special snowflake crazy complex build, talk to your GM, make sure he would be comfortable with such a thing, and if he isn't, build something with a lot less moving parts.

Multiple classes can sometimes interact in unexpected ways, and as a GM I personally definitely prefer to be able to grok a character right off and have a fair idea about what it can do without having to look up a dozen sources and hope I don't miss something that will end up being stupid. Personally, if someone was really attached to a concept I'd probably be willing to put in the effort, but I certainly understand those who don't.

Sovereign Court

PossibleCabbage wrote:
Mark Hoover wrote:

I've had players who created a concept and a roleplay style that in the end didn't match up with the other players' styles. For example I have 3 players who are very beer-and-pretzels types who sprinkle roleplay in a little at a time. Then I have a 4th guy who should've been in dinner theater.

This clash of styles caused some significant tension at the table. In the end my campaign ended early at level 5. The experience left me wary of "unique" heavy-roleplay type players.

Is that really the lesson you should have taken from that? I mean, RP-heavy players are fantastic if you get them in a group with which they're compatible, but every type of player can be a problem if they're the one that doesn't fit in with the rest of the group.

So I suppose the lesson here is that one way to not freak out the GM is by convincing him or her that you'd fit in with the rest of the group. So probably being GNS flexible is a good skill to pick up (i.e. be able to play recreational math, and be able to fit in to a soap opera, and everything in between, as is needed.

But if there's 3 of one thing and 1 of the other thing, then while everybody should move a little bit to the middle, the 1 should move a lot more than the 3.

The odd player out is a problem whether the player is all about the maths or all about the acts. So I agree with what you are saying. I believe Mark was saying it too it just wasnt directly stated.

My way of avoiding the issue is to approach every new group or player on a trial basis. Instead of leaping into a long term campign folks ought to take advantage of one shots more often. Let the group dynamic form before diving into a long term campaign. Its easier to leave/boot an odd player this way.

To the OP, I think you have a specific playstyle that will require you to search out a matching GM. You may need to go online, PFS, or use a meetup of sometype. This way you can find a good match instead of blindsiding an ususpecting GM and ending up dissapointed.


What you do is bring the concept to your GM then sit down and build the Character with him. I'm a GM and I actually love that when a player has cool concept with a bit of exotic build. I'll even bend the rules here and there to make it work if doesn't break the game.

What's annoying is when a player show up the table with character like that and I have no idea what it's about. Then I'm stuck on the spot trying to find rules I know little about.

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