Player empowerment versus "correct" choices


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Power Attack also isn't bad if only for the sake of meeting feat prerequisites.


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I always create optimized characters.

Did I just make a spokesperson of the church thats an undercover spy? You best believe I'm a conversion Inquisition Inquisitor with 18 Wisdom, 16 dex, a trait for diplo and stealth, and wealth spent to make me better at diplo n stealth. I'm not going to be as strong in combat compared to another Inquisitor build, but you best believe I'm more optimized for my role.

Even assuming you aren't confusing the term optimization for combat optimization, please tell me how it's a bad thing to be combat optimized? How does being good at winning fights make me a worse roleplayer? How does losing fights make me a better roleplayer? What does my combat ability have to do with all the skill points I shove into non-combat skills every level?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Insain Dragoon wrote:


Even assuming you aren't confusing the term optimization for combat optimization, please tell me how it's a bad thing to be combat optimized? How does being good at winning fights make me a worse roleplayer? How does losing fights make me a better roleplayer? What does my combat ability have to do with all the skill points I shove into non-combat skills every level?

No one ever said it was. But you can usually tell the difference between the player who uses mechanics to build a roleplaying concept, and one who uses rationalization to justify a game-breaking build.


If someone is breaking a game they aren't doing it because it's fun to suceed. They are doing it because they are very selfish and need to be the star of the show to have any fun in a 'colaborative' game. Blaming optimization for the player's problems is like blaming the car in a motor accident.

You're right player, it doesn't have an explicit trigger but that doesn't mean you can just use it whenever you want.


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LazarX wrote:
No one ever said it was. But you can usually tell the difference between the player who uses mechanics to build a roleplaying concept, and one who uses rationalization to justify a game-breaking build.

Clearly your psychic powers are more developed than everyone else's.


andreww wrote:
LazarX wrote:
No one ever said it was. But you can usually tell the difference between the player who uses mechanics to build a roleplaying concept, and one who uses rationalization to justify a game-breaking build.
Clearly your psychic powers are more developed than everyone else's.

Clearly you've never had someone just about ruin a game because the DM didn't agree with their interpretation of a fuzzy rule. It's pretty easy to tell the difference between an optimizer who prefers sucess and an optimizer that is there to win at pathfinder.


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Insain Dragoon wrote:

If someone is breaking a game they aren't doing it because it's fun to suceed. They are doing it because they are very selfish and need to be the star of the show to have any fun in a 'colaborative' game. Blaming optimization for the player's problems is like blaming the car in a motor accident.

You're right player, it doesn't have an explicit trigger but that doesn't mean you can just use it whenever you want.

People have vastly different ideas of what effective and broken is. None of them are wrong. The problem is getting everyone in the group within a standard deviation of each other


BigNorseWolf wrote:
Insain Dragoon wrote:

If someone is breaking a game they aren't doing it because it's fun to suceed. They are doing it because they are very selfish and need to be the star of the show to have any fun in a 'colaborative' game. Blaming optimization for the player's problems is like blaming the car in a motor accident.

You're right player, it doesn't have an explicit trigger but that doesn't mean you can just use it whenever you want.

People have vastly different ideas of what effective and broken is. None of them are wrong. The problem is getting everyone in the group within a standard deviation of each other

None of them are wrong, but being DM for 4 players all competing to win at pathfinder and constantly trying to steal the spotlight sounds pretty annoying.


Insain Dragoon wrote:


None of them are wrong, but being DM for 4 players all competing to win at pathfinder and constantly trying to steal the spotlight sounds pretty annoying.

Because thats not your style (its not mine either) but some people do play that way.

Liberty's Edge

Mark Hoover wrote:

I'm kicking off a new game and invited an old-timer player to join. He's grudgingly jumping into a PF game. When I asked what his frustration was, he lamented that the character building process was such a joke.

Per this player there's only a few "correct" feats to take and everything else is a trap. His example was Power Attack for a fighter. If you're a fighter Power Attack is the "right" feat to take and everything else is either sub-par or a trap.

That's been really grating on me. It assumes that my game will be so combat heavy that most scenes will be melee. What if the game slides political, or all the villains are ranged attackers?

Yes, some rare feats are brutally ineffective (I'm looking at you Fleet) to buy with such a finite resource. But as a GM I'm more about player empowerment. If you WANT to play a grippli with an Agile Tongue that you use for the Steal maneuver, I want that ability to shine so your feat choices are validated.

So does that make me a wuss GM? Are there really certain feats that are a "must" for PCs and everything else is worthless? Who else out there is willing to modify their game if their players want to make some of these so called sub-par feat choices?

You're not a wuss GM, you've just got a different style of GMing from what this player's accustomed to or wants. Some players (myself for example), love playing with a GM that's willing to roll with what they is cool instead of sticking to predefined definitions of effectiveness. Stick to your guns. If the new guy can't adapt you can revisit the topic.


Malag wrote:

@Mark Hoover

Let me tell you what a player told me once I asked him why he took so many combat feats: "Because it all boils down to combat". I personally like combat as a GM, but I like it in a golden middle, not too much of it, not too little. Even after I specifically declared to my players that they may build any characters they wish to, they still built them for combat exclusively and took exclusively combat feats. I was and still am slightly disappointed with it, but it was their choice so I complied and moved on. My advice, let him take what he wants, but if he starts to complain about it, explain him politely what your campaign is about.

Have not read entire thread, there is alot here, and 4.51am for me. Ultimately, the problem is that the system is designed around players having stats similar to the elite array. DCs become super easy to meet when players have 18s and 16s. Give yourself even all 14s in a stat, and see how easy it is to make DCs in any class skill, therefore why bother with non-combat feats? any non-combat non-skill increase feat is often going to be not entirely useful, or entirely useless in a party that contains a wizard and a cleric. While it is true there are feats that are situationally very useful, such as any and all swim related feats for a skull and shackles campaign.

Although be glad he opted for combat feats and not for a diplomacy build. Because a human starting at 20 Cha with all the diplo boosting feats, as a rogue (or similar) with the diplomacy skill unlock can shut many combats down entirely, or even break campaigns entirely.


At the very least I require a player to explain what their desired outcome is.

"I want to find some sort of compromise and convince them that this is better than other alternatives"

It's not ideal, but that's good enough to play the game.


Insain Dragoon wrote:

At the very least I require a player to explain what their desired outcome is.

"I want to find some sort of compromise and convince them that this is better than other alternatives"

It's not ideal, but that's good enough to play the game.

Well yes to be playing the game, if you are influencing attitude with diplomacy you have to say so. And if you are using diplomacy to make a request you naturally have to specify what that request is. My point is that saying "Verily, I beseech a boon of safe passage." is not inherently better role-play then "I'll use diplomacy to make a request for safe passage for the group."


Anzyr wrote:
Insain Dragoon wrote:

At the very least I require a player to explain what their desired outcome is.

"I want to find some sort of compromise and convince them that this is better than other alternatives"

It's not ideal, but that's good enough to play the game.

Well yes to be playing the game, if you are influencing attitude with diplomacy you have to say so. And if you are using diplomacy to make a request you naturally have to specify what that request is. My point is that saying "Verily, I beseech a boon of safe passage." is not inherently better role-play then "I'll use diplomacy to make a request for safe passage for the group."

you're getting into paint splattered on a canvas is just as good a piece of art as the mona lisa territory


With the numbers you provided it looks like Fighters gain 10 DPR, Samurai Lose 9 DPR, Barbarians gain 5 DPR, Rangers gain 9 DPR, and Paladins gain less than one DPR when all of them are using their appropriate abilities, Smite/Rage/FE.

When not using those abilities Fighter and Samurai remain the same where Barb, paladin and ranger change to only gaining 1 DPR.

Note that this is with no flanking/menacing/outflank available, none of the usual buffs such as Prayer and haste, and no bard is singing. All of the afore mentioned would give a +11hit/+4 damage which would help immensely and are as far as I know easily available.

Math Here

Note my sam and your sam have a small DPR difference due to you quoting weapon damage at 8.5 when I believe it should be 7.5 (3 enhancement + 4.5 Dice.)


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BigNorseWolf wrote:
Anzyr wrote:
Insain Dragoon wrote:

At the very least I require a player to explain what their desired outcome is.

"I want to find some sort of compromise and convince them that this is better than other alternatives"

It's not ideal, but that's good enough to play the game.

Well yes to be playing the game, if you are influencing attitude with diplomacy you have to say so. And if you are using diplomacy to make a request you naturally have to specify what that request is. My point is that saying "Verily, I beseech a boon of safe passage." is not inherently better role-play then "I'll use diplomacy to make a request for safe passage for the group."
you're getting into paint splattered on a canvas is just as good a piece of art as the mona lisa territory

No he's getting into "I'm allowing my socially awkward friend to live his dream of being a dashing man"

As I said in another thread, if you want to tell my autistic friend that he's bad at role playimg then go ahead.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
Anzyr wrote:
Insain Dragoon wrote:

At the very least I require a player to explain what their desired outcome is.

"I want to find some sort of compromise and convince them that this is better than other alternatives"

It's not ideal, but that's good enough to play the game.

Well yes to be playing the game, if you are influencing attitude with diplomacy you have to say so. And if you are using diplomacy to make a request you naturally have to specify what that request is. My point is that saying "Verily, I beseech a boon of safe passage." is not inherently better role-play then "I'll use diplomacy to make a request for safe passage for the group."
you're getting into paint splattered on a canvas is just as good a piece of art as the mona lisa territory

That's fine, as I can say with zero qualms that paint can be artfully splattered on a canvas so as to be equally artistic as the Mona Lisa.

But also what Insain Dragoon said.


Insain Dragoon wrote:


No he's getting into "I'm allowing my socially awkward friend to live his dream of being a dashing man"

As I said in another thread, if you want to tell my autistic friend that he's bad at role playimg then go ahead.

....how is this remotely relevant?


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BigNorseWolf wrote:
Insain Dragoon wrote:


No he's getting into "I'm allowing my socially awkward friend to live his dream of being a dashing man"

As I said in another thread, if you want to tell my autistic friend that he's bad at role playimg then go ahead.

....how is this remotely relevant?

The best he can do is "splatter paint" and you just said that's not good enough. You just said he needs to "bring more to the table." That's very relevant.


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Insain Dragoon wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
Insain Dragoon wrote:


No he's getting into "I'm allowing my socially awkward friend to live his dream of being a dashing man"

As I said in another thread, if you want to tell my autistic friend that he's bad at role playimg then go ahead.

....how is this remotely relevant?
The best he can do is "splatter paint" and you just said that's not good enough. You just said he needs to "bring more to the table." That's very relevant.

Indeed. What you are saying BigNorseWolf is the equivalent of saying that only what Leonardo da Vinci (or someone equivalent) produce can be called art.

Community & Digital Content Director

Removed some baiting/escalated posts and the posts in response to them/quoting them. Folks, disparaging other people because their play style is different than yours, or because they're phrasing it in a way you don't like isn't OK (this includes blanket statements about people in our own community). If there's a comment that you feel crosses a line, flag it and move on.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
Insain Dragoon wrote:

No he's getting into "I'm allowing my socially awkward friend to live his dream of being a dashing man"

As I said in another thread, if you want to tell my autistic friend that he's bad at role playimg then go ahead.

....how is this remotely relevant?

It's an attempt to paint you as discriminating against autistic people.

Remember even asking more from your regular players is potentially discriminating against someone, even if you'd make exceptions for them.


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thejeff wrote:

It's an attempt to paint you as discriminating against autistic people.

Remember even asking more from your regular players is potentially discriminating against someone, even if you'd make exceptions for them.

Not even remotely. It's saying that requiring the Player be convincing to the GM is discriminating against those people who are not naturally good at swaying people. He gave an extreme example to make his point is all. Why have mechanics (ranks in Diplomacy/Bluff) if you're going to base your call on "how well the Player rp'd the interaction"?


thejeff wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
Insain Dragoon wrote:

No he's getting into "I'm allowing my socially awkward friend to live his dream of being a dashing man"

As I said in another thread, if you want to tell my autistic friend that he's bad at role playimg then go ahead.

....how is this remotely relevant?

It's an attempt to paint you as discriminating against autistic people.

Remember even asking more from your regular players is potentially discriminating against someone, even if you'd make exceptions for them.

Last time I had this argument someone on BigNorseWolf's side told me my player was dragging our game down. In that argument I didn't mention autism until after those words were said. This time I decided to drop autism card as soon as I realized it was the same argument.

I know at least 2 other players who aren't on the spectrum, but can't speak well on the spot. They splatter paint too and that's ok by me. I wont ban them from playing Bards because they can't act out their stats.

Guess I'm damned if I do, damned if I don't! No mattter what it seems to be badwrongfun to let someone splatter paint.


Otherwhere wrote:
thejeff wrote:

It's an attempt to paint you as discriminating against autistic people.

Remember even asking more from your regular players is potentially discriminating against someone, even if you'd make exceptions for them.

Not even remotely. It's saying that requiring the Player be convincing to the GM is discriminating against those people who are not naturally good at swaying people. He gave an extreme example to make his point is all. Why have mechanics (ranks in Diplomacy/Bluff) if you're going to base your call on "how well the Player rp'd the interaction"?

Not at all. Having the person act it out/speak in dialog/ state what they're saying doesn't automatically mean you're going to use that instead of the diplomacy roll.

At most good role playing is going to be a +2 bonus and unless something says "mentioning Y is a bad idea" I don't impose a penalty, but thats more p[layer wisdom than charisma.


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BigNorseWolf wrote:
Otherwhere wrote:
thejeff wrote:

It's an attempt to paint you as discriminating against autistic people.

Remember even asking more from your regular players is potentially discriminating against someone, even if you'd make exceptions for them.

Not even remotely. It's saying that requiring the Player be convincing to the GM is discriminating against those people who are not naturally good at swaying people. He gave an extreme example to make his point is all. Why have mechanics (ranks in Diplomacy/Bluff) if you're going to base your call on "how well the Player rp'd the interaction"?

Not at all. Having the person act it out/speak in dialog/ state what they're saying doesn't automatically mean you're going to use that instead of the diplomacy roll.

At most good role playing is going to be a +2 bonus and unless something says "mentioning Y is a bad idea" I don't impose a penalty, but that's more player wisdom than charisma.

Good to hear, because there are GM's who don't. They go by the Player rp.


Mark Hoover wrote:

Yes. Frustrating, right? Said new player is just upset you gotta go through all the work of "building" a character in PF just to end up with the same fighter every time. My contention though is that you can be JUST as effective if you take Improved Unarmed Strike, Improved Grapple and Weapon Focus: Grapple at level 1 as if you took Power Attack, Furious Focus and Weapon Focus: Greatsword. Sure, you'd do less damage by grappling but you'd still be melee focused, have a great attack bonus and you can still take an opponent out of the mix. What's more, your extreme grappler might look, feel and play differently from the 2h fighter.

If someone "gimped" their PC by extreme focus on grappling (or whatever) I'd try to include:

- combats with single, multi-limbed foes
- Non combat challenges like grappling or arm-wrestling challenges
- (for a challenge to the PC) occasional fights against oozes or natural grappler villains

Grappling is way stronger than either of you are giving it credit for; martials are bad at AOE debuffing but can be built to be VERY good at single-target debuffing, and grappling is one of those builds: as long as someone else is around to do the real DPS a grappler can be used to eliminate a single high priority target (read: the caster boss) while the rest of the group plays cleanup crew.


Otherwhere wrote:


Good to hear, because there are GM's who don't. They go by the Player rp.

Hehehe, have a few players use to that

"What are you doing in town, are you pathfinders?

Player has a beautifully constructed half truth.

Roll bluff...

But I'm not bluffing!

Its going through the detect lie she cast before walking up to you, but you're still bluffing.

*rolls less than the inquisitors mod before die rolls*

Yeah. She's not buying it...

Trying to influence an NPC

I wrote this beautiful poem for you! *reciets haiku*
*rolls an 8 on the diplo check?*

NPC: "...isn't a poem supposed to rhyme?"


So if player had said " I ummm tell her a beautifully constructed half truth in order to misdirect her" would you accept that, give them a -2 penalty, or tell them to act it out?


Insain Dragoon wrote:

So if player had said " I ummm tell her a beautifully constructed half truth in order to misdirect her" would you accept that, give them a -2 penalty, or tell them to act it out?

I still want the gist of the half-truth. Is it that a dragon is going to attack the city? Is it that there's going to be a plague? Is it that she is going to inherit a vast fortune? Just exactly WHAT is the bluff you're going to say?

If a player gives me that much, so I know WHAT his character is talking about, I'm OK with that. But I prefer it if they role-play the scene and I encourage that, but I don't penalize anyone who doesn't.

Which means, for me, this is acceptable:

"I ummm tell her a beautifully constructed half truth about an impending dragon attack in order to misdirect her."

I can work with that.


DM_Blake wrote:
Insain Dragoon wrote:

So if player had said " I ummm tell her a beautifully constructed half truth in order to misdirect her" would you accept that, give them a -2 penalty, or tell them to act it out?

I still want the gist of the half-truth. Is it that a dragon is going to attack the city? Is it that there's going to be a plague? Is it that she is going to inherit a vast fortune? Just exactly WHAT is the bluff you're going to say?

If a player gives me that much, so I know WHAT his character is talking about, I'm OK with that. But I prefer it if they role-play the scene and I encourage that, but I don't penalize anyone who doesn't.

Which means, for me, this is acceptable:

"I ummm tell her a beautifully constructed half truth about an impending dragon attack in order to misdirect her."

I can work with that.

Yeah, I think that's fair. I would accept something like that as a player or DM.


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Out of curiosity, does anyone give players a bonus to attack if they describe how they're attacking really well? Does anyone give players a penalty to attack for just saying, "I attack"?


Sir Jolt wrote:
Out of curiosity, does anyone give players a bonus to attack if they describe how they're attacking really well? Does anyone give players a penalty to attack for just saying, "I attack"?

Players can get combat advantages off of their own tactical abilities. Being smart enough to get flanks gets you the same +2, good maneuvering to set up and force AoOs will get you extra attacks, held action to blast the caster, keeping a few "no sr" spells in your back pocket because for a golem, remembering to buy a useful selection of scrolls before you leave town and having the right one for the situation... the player matters more in combat than just a +2.

Not to mention the characters build, which IMHO adds way more than the tactics. Players good at combat certainly do get their characters bonuses.


Out of curiosity, does anyone give players a bonus to bluff if they describe how they're bluffing really well? Does anyone give players a penalty to bluff for just saying, "I bluff"?


Sir Jolt wrote:

Out of curiosity, does anyone give players a bonus to bluff if they describe how they're bluffing really well? Does anyone give players a penalty to bluff for just saying, "I bluff"?

The problem is, the system DOES reward or punish you based on what you are attempting - the DC goes up or down based on what you are trying to do.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
Sir Jolt wrote:
Out of curiosity, does anyone give players a bonus to attack if they describe how they're attacking really well? Does anyone give players a penalty to attack for just saying, "I attack"?
Players can get combat advantages off of their own tactical abilities. Being smart enough to get flanks gets you the same +2, good maneuvering to set up and force AoOs will get you extra attacks, held action to blast the caster, keeping a few "no sr" spells in your back pocket because for a golem, remembering to buy a useful selection of scrolls before you leave town and having the right one for the situation... the player matters more in combat than just a +2.

So, no and no?


Otherwhere wrote:
Sir Jolt wrote:

Out of curiosity, does anyone give players a bonus to bluff if they describe how they're bluffing really well? Does anyone give players a penalty to bluff for just saying, "I bluff"?

The problem is, the system DOES reward or punish you based on what you are attempting - the DC goes up or down based on what you are trying to do.

So, yes and yes?

I find it astounding that people are still surprised that people make combat monster builds even if the campaign isn't described as that.


Sir Jolt wrote:
Out of curiosity, does anyone give players a bonus to attack if they describe how they're attacking really well? Does anyone give players a penalty to attack for just saying, "I attack"?

That's silly. Nobody does that.

There are, however, many factors for attacking built into the game. Cover, high ground, flanking, and a number of others. Even distance is a factor. These factors often encourage players to describe more than just "I attack".

Fighter: I attack.
GM: Attack what?
Fighter: I attack the orc.
GM: There are seven orcs. Which one do you attack?
Fighter: I attack the orc by that tree.
GM: You're holding a longsword and the orc is 20' away, you can't reach him from where you are.
Fighter: OK, I move closer and attack the orc by the tree.
GM: You'll need to pick a square that you want to move to.
Fighter: I move to this square here and attack this orc by the tree.
GM: You realize he'll get cover from the tree.
Fighter: OK, I move to this other square here and attack this orc by the tree.
GM: There's a large rock in that square.
Fighter: I move to this other square here and hop up onto the rock so I can attack this orc by the tree with +1 to hit from high ground.
Rogue: Hey, delay that attack because I'm going to move behind the orc to give us both flanking.
Fighter: OK. I move to this other square here and hop up onto the rock so I can delay my attack against this orc by the tree until my rogue ally take a flanking position so I can attack at +3.

So, come to think of it, yeah, I do actually give bonuses to people who describe their attack.

But I give those bonuses for describing WHAT they are doing, not how they do it.

There are few factors for non-attacking built into the game. In a diplomacy situation, a player can describe the equivalent:

Bard: I diplomatize.
GM: Who?
Bard: The guard.
GM: There are many guards. Which one?
Bard: The one by the castle door.
GM: What do you say to him?
Bard: Stuff.
GM: What stuff?
Bard: I give him a reason to let me in?
GM: What reason?
Bard: I tell the palace door guard that I'm the Scottish lord Clarence MacDonald and I'm here to inspect his tapestries.
GM: Tapestries?
Bard: This is a castle, isn't it? There are tapestries?
GM: Awesome. +1 on the roll for having a reason and +1 on the roll for a cool movie quote.

Yeah, yeah, my first example used RAW and my second example used GM fiat, but they both work for me.

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