What's the "baseline" of the Pathfinder community?


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Yeah, a more balanced game helps everyone. I've seen more than one casual beer&pretzels style game get thrown off by accidental optimization. The player just stumbled onto a reasonably effective combination by picking abilities that looked cool to them, and next thing they knew they were dominating combat.


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Part of the issue is that Pathfinder starts many aspects of the rules with a playtest that encourages everyone to shake out problems with the rules and playtest in a rules heavy environment. While this is a good attitude to bring to a playtest, I have found in my own games that this results in a more adversarial (players vs GM), less immersive play experience that gets boring quick. I find the same thing happens when players optimize heavily, or the challenge of encounters gets very high. Instead of the rules being in the background, they become the dominating feature of the game. Fun is often lost as a result.

The problem is THERE IS NO BASELINE FOR OPTIMIZATION in Pathfinder. There are some clues in the Iconics, the CR system, and adventures, but nothing at all definitive. In my opinion the biggest clue are the victory conditions, or rather the lack of victory conditions. The only way to "win" Pathfinder, is to have fun playing it. So if you want to be a successful player or GM, optimize the game for fun!

I have been working on this guide for a while now, but it is by no means complete. If anyone has anything to add, let me know.

Optimizing Pathfinder for Fun:

There are many great guides for building optimal characters for damage dealing, being invulnerable, battlefield control, and being Batman! While it is fun to play a character that excels at what they do, many players find that playing these builds results in a severe game often dictated by the first person to win initiative and go nova. The requirement to keep up with the Best Caster Build or Highest Melee Machine narrows the options down considerably. Likewise such characters require APL+3 (Epic!) or more encounters that bend the CR system in ways that make encounter design and management a more difficult task for the GM. The rules, the adventures, and almost everything else published is not intended for optimized play.

So what are these rules designed for, if not optimization? Like most other games, the intent is that these rules facilitate a GM and players to have fun. Sounds easy, but what is fun?

As a player, I have fun:

  • Controlling the actions of my PC.
    Customizing my PC with skills, feats, equipment, and other features.
  • Knowing that if I generally play well, and have a little luck, I will do well most of the time.
  • Having my characters decisions and actions affect the environment and story.
  • Getting experience and treasure that allows me to increase the power of my character.
  • Feeling that I can, and occasionally must do my best to defeat encounters.
  • Knowing that my fellow PCs are supporting me, and that we act in each others best interests.
  • Knowing that my PC is on par with the rest of the party and that we affect the game in fairly equal amounts.
  • Not knowing exactly what to expect, and trying to be ready for anything.
  • Even if bad things happen to my character, or the dice go against me, I still have fun if I am engaged in the game.
  • Feeling that in most opposed circumstances, it is the dice that decide the outcome.*

GMs enjoy the game for different reasons then players.
As a GM I have fun:

  • Presenting a campaign world with locations, encounters, mythos, timeline and NPCs.
  • Presenting a wide variety of encounters that engage the players, and encourage them to have fun playing their characters.
  • Knowing I have general control of the storyline and timeline, with occasional (sometimes unexpected) exceptions.
  • Knowing that players will use wits and creativity to solve encounters, and vary their tactics to fit the situation.
  • When everyone at the table participates in the game to the amount they are comfortable with.
  • When players are friendly, kind, and enjoy themselves.
  • While I decided if a roll is needed and add the modifiers, the dice decide the outcome.*

* GM, and even player "Cheating" (i.e. ignoring dice rolls) is a highly debatable topic. Like all issues, discuss it beforehand, and come to a consensus on how your group views it.

So how do we use the rules to make that kind of fun happen?
We start at the beginning - Creation!

Ability scores and character creation
First off, skip the dice. I know many people love rolling, but a few low rolls can result in less fun for the life of the PC. This can also result in dramatic party imbalances, and players unable to play the character they want. Let the dice decide what happens that round, not for life.

The point buy or stat array system used usually doesn't really matter much, in the sense that it slightly affects everyone in the group fairly equally (Low point buys actually benefit full caster types a little). The goal at this stage is to set the game up to work with the CR system, and encourage parity among classes throughout the game.

  • 10 Points - I generally avoid 10 point buy simply because players are unable to perceive how little it increases difficulty, and even expert players secretly don't want the added difficulty. The balancing effect isn't worth the whining, unless you have a large group of experienced players.
  • 15 Points - This is the "Standard" the game was balanced around, and should be the default for most groups of 4-5 players.
  • 20 Points - This is the PFS standard, and has become a default for many games. I recommend this for 3 person parties, inexperienced players, or players looking to try lower powered builds such as small martial characters, monks, or builds that fall outside the default role of the class.
  • 25 and up Points - While not much stronger then 20 points, this starts to bend the CR system in most games, and should be avoided except for unusual circumstances.

    This is normally where the players take over and deliberately or unintentionally exacerbate some of the worst balance issues of the game. The key to evening out those power imbalances is to start characters off by evening out their ability scores. For example, it is much more difficult to become a game shattering god wizard with a starting intelligence score of 16. I recommend limiting the max starting ability scores (AFTER racial adjustments) to 16 or 17! For the same evening-out reasons, I also recommend limiting minimum stats to 10 or 8 (AFTER racial adjustments). These limits will encourage PCs more capable of dealing with a variety of situations, and less able to damage game balance.

    Next is Hit Points. This is another area where many people have a wide variety of different methods that frequently bend game balance. Again, skip the dice, as no one wants to play a character that rolls a 1 every level, or be the sidekick to the guy who always rolls max. Follow the default max hit die (plus con modifier) for level one characters. After that, just give the PC happy side of average (plus con modifier) every level. PFS really got this one right. Generally, you should not modify this formula, as it can alter many factors such as the relevance of healing, AC, direct damage, etc.

    How does everyone have fun?
    So far we have significantly rebalanced the game, without really altering the rules, so much as providing guidelines for character creation. But perhaps I jumped the gun a little. Before we even get to character creation, it is probably a good idea for the GM to sit down with the players, and discuss what the expectations for the game are.

    I would start by going over the different ways the players and GM have fun and discussing them as a group. This is NOT the time to argue, it is a time to be HONEST with yourself and the group, and express and LISTEN to everyone's opinions. Do you like Rollplaying more then Roleplaying? Be open about it! Your not doing yourself or anyone else a favor by pretending to like things you don't really like. Be open to new experiences and playstyles, but express your desires and expectations honestly. Come to some kind of consensus with the GM and players about how you will all enjoy the game.

    In addition to how YOU have fun, this is a great time to discuss other aspects of play, such as:
    House rules.
    Use of computers and/or phones and access to reference material at the table. In general characters should have access to information about their own characters, but most GMs frown on players looking at information about enemies. Reading the adventure path or module is usually very strictly forbidden.
    What books and material are allowed in the game and what restrictions are there. Do these restrictions apply equally on both sides of the screen?
    Dice handling and GM and/or players ignoring dice. This usually take one of three forms:

    • -GM roles in the open, results are not altered by the GM
    • -GM rolls in secret, and may or may not follow the dice. Requires the players to trust the GM will fudge, but they will not know when, for fun to be maintained.
    • -GM dictates action in some opposed circumstances without dice rolls. Requires players to trust the GM will dictate the action for the benefit of the game (without the 'illusion' of dice rolls) for fun to be maintained.

    Amount of table time dedicated to combat, NPC interactions, and exploration.
    Amount of expected wealth, mundane and magic item availability.
    How downtime and/or crafting will be handled.
    Tracking of encumbrance, minor items, ammunition, rations, water, mounts, living expenses, etc.
    Tracking of important information such as HP, spells cast, limited abilities used, harmful conditions, etc.
    If tracking discrepancies occur, will there be punitive action?
    Level advancement - will the game use an XP advancement track or will leveling be handled a different way?
    How will PC death be handled and how will bringing new PCs into the game be handled. Note: I recommend bringing in new PCs at the same level as the rest of the party, but with the starting wealth of a character one level lower. I also disagree with the designers about allowing characters to exceed WBL if they have crafting feats. I feel this unbalances the game in favor of the classes that generally need the least help (especially wizards) and breaks the assumptions that a PC used all his powers to get his starting wealth.
    Expectations about what general types of encounters the PCs can expect. Players should be able to make informed decisions about character aspects such as favored enemy, deity and domains, schools, etc.
    How alignment will be handled. Is it polar (the rules/setting default) or more of a subjective "realistic" situation.
    Level of gore and sexuality in the game as well as any topics that players would have issues with encountering in game.
    Out of game issues like food, drugs/alcohol/smoking, money, attendance, guest etiquette, etc.

    Again, BE HONEST with yourself and the people you play with.

    ABILITY SCORES
    The more you spread your ability scores out, the more you can contribute in a variety of situations. Always pay attention to weaknesses your character might have, and don't neglect the scores associated with that weakness. For example, clerics and druids have weak reflex saves, and can greatly benefit from a little dex. This can be especially true for will saves, as failing them can often result in loss of actions, or wost, your characters actions being dictated by the enemy. Failing saves and being consistently hit in combat is generally not fun for most players, so plan for strong defenses (adequate Dex,Con,Wis)

    To participate effectively in social situations it helps to have a little Cha, although Wis for sense motive is good in a pinch. Being able to put ranks into a variety of social and other types of skills (especially knowledge and languages) is easier when you have more Int. I don't want to leave out Str, especially for characters who wear armor, and want to deal weapon damage.

    CLASS
    Barbarian
    Save the super raging power attacking crazy high damage stuff for when it is required. Put a little effort into ranged attacking, and consider what you can do when you can't be effective by doing melee damage. Put resources into AC (perhaps ude a shield sometimes) and will saves. Invest in being effective without raging and/or taking excessive damage. Other then intimidate, the class doesn't give many social options, but put some points into sense motive or diplomacy, keep your Wis high, and don't dump Cha or Int.
    Other then being aware that you can disrupt combat encounters with massive damage, barbarians are also more then capable of losing massive amounts of hit points as well. As the player of the Barbarian, YOU are responsible for dealing with this, and you should not expect any other player to give up their actions, spell slots, or resources without talking about it first.
    Bard
    Bard is one of the funnest classes to play! You are great in social and skill situations, and with a little effort, you can be an archer, melee, or specialize in enchantment or illusion. You also have great skills, and inspire courage and many other buffs makes you welcome in any party. Huzzah!
    Cleric
    Clerics are a very powerful and very versatile class. By selecting domains, you gain access to all kinds of different spells and abilities. Channeling positive energy will make you an exceptional healer, and there are many great buff spells clerics can cast. You can melee, summon, blast, de/buff and more. Keep a supply of scrolls and potions around so you don't have to fill your memorized spells with delay poison and remove paralysis. Clerics are one of the most skill starved classes, so you will need to spread your ranks carefully.
    Druid
    Similar to clerics, druids are versatile, and can be built to fulfill many different roles. Druids can be very powerful summoners, but this can really suck the fun out of the game if used excessively or if the player is not prepared and knowledgeable of the creatures abilities. It is generally best to only have one summon spell at a time, and be aware of affecting other PCs with you summons. A similar idea applies to some of the druids battlefield control spells like entangle and spike stones. Be careful not to slow the game down or interfere with other players.
    Fighter
    Fighters are the most consistently powerful martial characters, often the only one in the group who doesn't need time to get up to full power when suddenly facing an enemy. While fighters have many options for specializing in defense, archery, 2HD, 2WP, focus/specialization, maneuvers, they also have enough feats to do a few other things well in addition to their specialties. Fighters should mix up their tactics to best fit the situation and avoid over using action-denial tactics like tripping and grappling. Like Barbarians, fighters struggle to succeed in social situations, and have even less skill points to spend... dig deep.
    Monk
    Monks are one of the most difficult classes to play and have fun with. Monks often feel overshadowed by the full BAB classes in combat, and lack decent options for ranged attacking. While monks have some great defensive abilities, AC is not among them, and they struggle with hit points as well. If you are going to play a monk, work with the other party members and get buff spells like mage armor and displacement cast on you. Monks also tend to do better in groups that play a more lawful style rather then chaotic kick-in-the-door-play.
    Paladin
    Paladins can be a very fun and powerful class to play, however, this class is more dependent on alignment then any other class. Be sure that the ENTIRE group is willing to compromise with a paragon of lawfulness and goodness. Create a code of conduct that your character will follow, and agree with the GM about what constitutes Lawful and Good.
    Ranger
    Rangers are a slightly odd class, with a little of everything, and a few amazing feats and options here and there. Like fighters, rangers class features/ feats focus them in a particular style, but with a little effort into diversity, they can participate in any situation. I highly recommend checking out the switch hitting ranger in Treantmonks excellent guide. Rangers do best in campaigns where their favored enemies and terrains come up frequently.
    Rogue
    The rogues problems are largely not the fault of the class, but rather the parts of the game that he specializes in. The rogue is generally consider to be the "skill monkey" however most skills do not ramp up throughout the game as well as other class features. The "skill monkey" is also the character who is expected to sneak ahead, scout, and find/disable/trigger traps, however, none of the other characters can generally be more then a liability for the rogue in these situations. This results in the situation of one player acting alone while the rest of the players wait, and the GM attempts to minimize the rogues spotlight time in order to get the other players back in the game. Finally, rogues generally require a fairly high level of game skill to do well in combat. If possible, work with the other players to maximize your assets and minimize your liabilities.
    Sorcerer
    Sorcerers can be very versatile, however it requires careful spell selection. Try to select spells that can be used in a variety of situations. Remember that you will be casting the same spells over and over (often round after round) so you don't want to select spells that will bog down the game, or focus too much on action denial. Spells that you can cast on other characters will always be appreciated. Sorcerers are one of the most skill starved classes, but have a great Cha for social situations.
    Wizard
    Wizards are generally considered the most powerful and easiest to optimize of the core classes. A high Int and focus on save-or-suck magic can upset game balance from the beginning, and full casters progressively get more and more spells that bypass common adventure plots. They also have access to crafting bonus feats that allow them to be masters of magic equipment far beyond their suggested wealth by level. The best way to play a wizard is to focus on teamwork and save your most powerful spells for when things are going badly for the party. If you use your magic to make the whole party succeed, everyone gets to participate, and the GM has a much easier time maintaining parity among party members. Be wary of using powerful spells with long duration such as command undead, dominate person, and planar binding. These spells can be used to drastically upset game balance and story development. Wizards (and other full casters) can eventually do things to break the game - so don't do those things.

    NEXT UP: GMing the Game

    Do your best to understand the rules and what aspects of the game you enjoy and why. I personally don't enjoy action denial and save-or-suck effects. I won't allow characters that are incapable of functioning with the group or as a part of the campaign setting. Every character is expected to be "special-forces" material, and be capable at what they do. You are part of an elite group that relies on each other for survival every day. Playing a "lone-wolf", psychopath, spoiled brat, revolting deviant, moron, jerk, or other non-team player will not be tolerated. Characters are generally not allowed to attack, target with hostile spells, or use adversarial skills on another PC. PCs are also expected to not steal from each other, or withhold information. All treasure discovered is considered group property until divided up. While I don't explicitly ban Evil characters, I don't really want to spend hundreds of hours of real time facilitating your character committing evil acts. It usually gets depressing fast. I won't allow player characters to make opposed rolls against each other (baring magical control)

    I also have policy of no rules exploiting. Bringing a character to the table who is going to disrupt play, destroy verisimilitude, or otherwise squelch the fun of others is unacceptable, regardless of optimization level.

    I expect the party to be able to handle the challenges of an adventure. They need to be able to participate in combats, heal injuries and conditions, talk to people, and a variety of other tasks. They don't have to do these things well, but they do have to be able to function in an adventuring environment.


  • Fergie wrote:


    The problem is THERE IS NO BASELINE FOR OPTIMIZATION in Pathfinder.

    Right, see, that was my original point. There seems to be, on the forums at least, an idea that there is a baseline, somewhere, but nobody knows where it is, or how to define it. Everyone would probably agree that there is a "floor" and that there is a "ceiling," but if you're attempting to find the happy medium, the "baseline," it's very difficult to determine. Shouldn't a community of people playing the same game (that is supposed to be balanced), be able to succinctly determine a baseline? If you can determine the mechanical floor, and you can determine the mechanical ceiling, why can't you find the mechanical kitchen table height?

    Edit: @Chengar Qordath, that's a new one that I'll probably be using from now on: the "accidental optimizer."


    I don't think there is a consensus about where the floor or ceiling is, and even of you did come to some kind of consensus, finding the middle ground would then be about determining difficulty, or success rate, and that is highly personal as well. Also, there are some major aspects of the CR system that are not really defined. For example, may people play monsters right out of the beastiery, while others factor in treasure and magic items, and adjust the stats accordingly. This can be a huge difference.

    I think the Iconics are about as close to a baseline as currently exists, which leaves the door open for some diligent poster to come up with his own standards. Just create an example of Fighter/Cleric/Wizard/Rogue at 1,5,10,15 levels with equipment, and declare that to be the New Normal.

    For example, I did it with 10th level fighter equipment in this thread

    EDIT: Another option that would be much less "work" would be to create a "Good, Better, Best" formula for various common rolls for a 10th level character.
    For example, a Good skill might be class skill with 1/2 level ranks, and +1 or +2 ability score modifier. +10
    Better could be class skill, full ranks, and a +4 or +5 ability score. +18
    Best would be class skill, full ranks, and a +6 or +7 ability score, and +5 magic item, and +x for a feat. +30
    You could also go the other end of the spectrum, and say non-class skill, no ranks, -1 ability score and even throw in a nasty AC check penalty. -10.


    MendedWall12 wrote:
    Fergie wrote:


    The problem is THERE IS NO BASELINE FOR OPTIMIZATION in Pathfinder.

    Right, see, that was my original point. There seems to be, on the forums at least, an idea that there is a baseline, somewhere, but nobody knows where it is, or how to define it. Everyone would probably agree that there is a "floor" and that there is a "ceiling," but if you're attempting to find the happy medium, the "baseline," it's very difficult to determine. Shouldn't a community of people playing the same game (that is supposed to be balanced), be able to succinctly determine a baseline? If you can determine the mechanical floor, and you can determine the mechanical ceiling, why can't you find the mechanical kitchen table height?

    Edit: @Chengar Qordath, that's a new one that I'll probably be using from now on: the "accidental optimizer."

    Not really. The baseline is more of an art then a science in this case. The floor is easy. Pick the wrong stats, pick feats that don't help towards those and viola, you are pretty close to the floor. Ceiling is a little trickier. To some people builds like Arkalion might be near the ceiling, but I'm confident there is more room up there. But most people can agree that selecting the right stats and picking optimal feats will take you near the ceiling anyway. But the question you get with a baseline is that it's something you have to set, by definition in this case arbitrarily. there is no science to it, because "baseline" is not the magical midway point between floor and ceiling, assuming "about 50% poor choices and 50% good choices" is determinable in the first place.

    Silver Crusade

    I'm just going to start with by quickly repeating practically everyone else on this thread:

    "Everyone has their own style, and ultimately base damage and crit range become decreasingly important as you advance levels so you can typically get away with whatever particular weapon you like." I mean, I have a high level warpriest with a few basic feat choices and a two-handed weapon who puts out +36 damage on a hit. That could be with a scythe on 2d4 or a greatsword on 2d6, and the extra 2 average damage per hit would barely be missed. [EDIT: I appreciate my warpriest wasn't the best choice of example because of sacred weapon, but you get my point.]

    Following on from that, I GM a lot more than I play and for me that is where the sub-optimal options come into their own. I tend to expect a degree of optimisation from my players, or at least of not-actively-nerfing. That's fine. But as a GM I absolutely love having the flexibility to create thematically appropriate encounters from sub-par gear and builds, and explaining things as "NPCs with bad class/feat/gear choices do it."

    I don't realistically expect any player to voluntarily wear shell armour (unless they found +5 shell armour of heavy fortification and fire immunity or something lying around, as someone pointed out earlier), but I would feel the game was diminished by not allowing me to put together an encounter of merfolk wearing it.

    I'm quite lucky in that I don't play with many (any?) full-blown munchkins, but I've always been quietly pleased with the sub-par options for my own GMing needs.


    Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
    Anzyr wrote:
    The floor is easy. Pick the wrong stats, pick feats that don't help towards those and viola, you are pretty close to the floor.

    I would consider the floor a bit more than that. It should be more the minimum power character that has a reasonable chance of survival.

    That definition would make it useful as well. You could then use it as a measure to evaluate characters. If it is less useful than the base, you need to work on your character.

    This would also give those who like a challenge something to do. Bonekeep at floor would be even more challenging than doing it with the pre-gens.


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    BretI wrote:
    Anzyr wrote:
    The floor is easy. Pick the wrong stats, pick feats that don't help towards those and viola, you are pretty close to the floor.

    I would consider the floor a bit more than that. It should be more the minimum power character that has a reasonable chance of survival.

    That definition would make it useful as well. You could then use it as a measure to evaluate characters. If it is less useful than the base, you need to work on your character.

    This would also give those who like a challenge something to do. Bonekeep at floor would be even more challenging than doing it with the pre-gens.

    If you can go further down, you haven't hit the floor yet.


    Speaking in the context of the Tier system (which, understandably, there is much contention on. Putting that aside for now), the general consensus that I have seen is that games are enjoyable when all of the characters are within one tier of each other.

    The system is inherently unbalanced, so the idea becomes that any given group should contain similar powered characters. A GOD wizard and a vanilla monk don't get along as well as, say, a magus and a barbarian. The waters are further muddied when the CR system is similarly inconsistent, resulting in a disparity in encounter design to go with that of party composition.

    There's usually some tension created through the use of "optimization" and "munchkin" to refer to ambiguous boogeymen, but the problem itself usually lies in that one or more persons in the game have a misunderstanding of what the expected power level of a game is. All it takes in this case is a simple conversation among those persons to come to a consensus.

    On the forums, these sorts of threads and debates serve the same purpose with one notable exception. The parties involved number in the dozens; possibly hundreds, and the consensus refers to the game as a whole (which is constantly producing new content). There's a wide array of opinions, to say the least. That being said, a baseline of sorts exists for the game, and has already been cited in the rules themselves. Refer to both the guidelines for Monster Creation and Encounter Design to see what any particular character/party is reasonably expected to encounter at any given level.

    In reference to the OP post (specifically the idea of a true fencer), I personally believe such a concept is poorly supported by the system and requires extra work put in to function mechanically, at least in terms that I consider "functioning". Does that mean I want to disparage people that want to use the rapier? Of course not, but I'm also not going to claim that such a character is inherently better. On the contrary, I will have a (slightly) higher standard at which I'd like to see such a character perform to make up for their less-than-optimal choice.


    A bit of a thread tangent, but Anzyr, you might be interested in checking out Tacticslion's infinity engine for some possible places to go further with Arkalion.

    Post 1
    Post 2


    Johnnycat93 wrote:

    Refer to both the guidelines for Monster Creation and Encounter Design to see what any particular character/party is reasonably expected to encounter at any given level.

    In reference to the OP post (specifically the idea of a true fencer), I personally believe such a concept is poorly supported by the system and requires extra work put in to function mechanically, at least in terms that I consider "functioning".

    Emphasis mine above.

    Here's where I see the problem. The game gives you an idea of what characters can reasonably expect to encounter at any given level, and there are certainly numbers to crunch there. However, there is no dictation there of how the characters need to overcome those encounters, and the system itself is based on a set of probabilities that allow for wide swings at either end. Which means that even a "sub-optimal" or "below baseline" character could overcome those encounters on a regular basis given the dice roll in their favor. BUT, that does give at least a frame of reference for a true "middle."

    Then we get to your second point, and we see you use the word "functioning" in quotes. As if you are not willing to attribute the full definition of that word in the context you are using it. The point being, what, exactly, do you consider a functioning character? Is that the same as others would consider functioning? If not, why not? There is, somewhere, in all the collective heads of people that post here routinely, a level of play that they consider functional, and THAT is the baseline.

    I just wonder why that is so difficult to put into words, or if the baseline itself is so malleable person to person that there isn't a good community based definition worth exploring.


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    MendedWall12 wrote:
    Johnnycat93 wrote:

    Refer to both the guidelines for Monster Creation and Encounter Design to see what any particular character/party is reasonably expected to encounter at any given level.

    In reference to the OP post (specifically the idea of a true fencer), I personally believe such a concept is poorly supported by the system and requires extra work put in to function mechanically, at least in terms that I consider "functioning".

    Emphasis mine above.

    Here's where I see the problem. The game gives you an idea of what characters can reasonably expect to encounter at any given level, and there are certainly numbers to crunch there. However, there is no dictation there of how the characters need to overcome those encounters, and the system itself is based on a set of probabilities that allow for wide swings at either end. Which means that even a "sub-optimal" or "below baseline" character could overcome those encounters on a regular basis given the dice roll in their favor. BUT, that does give at least a frame of reference for a true "middle."

    Dice rolls are not worth accounting for because dice rolls are universally equal. That is to say, a sub-optimal character is just as likely to roll a 10 on a d20 as an optimized one. The difference lies in modifiers, both static and situational, and that is typically what is measured when comparing builds.

    Quote:


    Then we get to your second point, and we see you use the word "functioning" in quotes. As if you are not willing to attribute the full definition of that word in the context you are using it. The point being, what, exactly, do you consider a functioning character? Is that the same as others would consider functioning? If not, why not? There is, somewhere, in all the collective heads of people that post here routinely, a level of play that they consider functional, and THAT is the baseline.

    I just wonder why that is so difficult to put into words, or if the baseline itself is so malleable person to person that there isn't a good community based definition worth exploring.

    Because there is a mind-boggling number of variables to take into account if we are to attribute a concrete value to be considered a system-wide baseline.

    What's our Fencers DPR? HP, AC, Saves, SQ abilities? All attribute differently to a measure of worth, and all attribute differently depending on the context of what is being tested against. Is our enemy immune to crits? Do they have DR? Are they incorporeal?

    But function is also defined outside of that. What does our Fencer contribute outside of combat? Skills, SLAs, feats, etc.

    On top of that, a Fencer can be accomplished multiple ways while still fulfilling the criteria of being a fencer. A magus with a rapier and a swashbuckler with a rapier are both fencers, but the abilities a magus brings to the table far outweigh those of the swashbuckler.

    So the reason that I do not attribute a full definition is that it is incredibly difficult to do so, and I may value a certain criteria more so than some other poster.

    That being said, I do give a great deal of credit to the concept of Tiers for at least establishing a consistent measuring system. If you aren't familiar I'll provide one of them, spoilered, below. Do keep in mind that their is much disagreement on where a class specifically lands in the rankings, so I'd recommend taking everything with a grain of salt.

    Spoiler:

    Tier 1
    Capable of doing absolutely everything, often better than classes that specialize in that thing. Often capable of solving encounters with a single mechanical ability and little thought from the player. Has world changing powers at high levels. These guys, if played with skill, can easily break a campaign and can be very hard to challenge without extreme DM fiat or plenty of house rules, especially if Tier 3s and below are in the party.

    Wizard, Druid, Cleric, Witch, Razmiran Priest Sorcerer, Sorcerer w/ Paragon Surge, Oracle w/ Paragon Surge, Shaman, Arcanist

    Tier 2
    Has as much raw power as the Tier 1 classes, but can't pull off nearly as many tricks, and while the class itself is capable of anything, no one build can actually do nearly as much as the Tier 1 classes. Still potentially campaign smashers by using the right abilities, but at the same time are more predictable and can't always have the right tool for the job. If the Tier 1 classes are countries with 10,000 nuclear weapons in their arsenal, these guys are countries with 10 nukes. Still dangerous and easily world shattering, but not in quite so many ways. Note that the Tier 2 classes are often less flexible than Tier 3 classes... it's just that their incredible potential power overwhelms their lack in flexibility.

    Oracle, Sorcerer, Summoner, Unchained Summoner

    Tier 3
    Capable of doing one thing quite well, while still being useful when that one thing is inappropriate, or capable of doing all things, but not as well as classes that specialize in that area. Occasionally has a mechanical ability that can solve an encounter, but this is relatively rare and easy to deal with. Can be game breaking only with specific intent to do so. Challenging such a character takes some thought from the DM, but isn't too difficult. Will outshine any Tier 5s in the party much of the time.

    Alchemist, Bard, Skald, Inquisitor, Magus, Investigator, Warpriest, Hunter

    Tier 4
    Capable of doing one thing quite well, but often useless when encounters require other areas of expertise, or capable of doing many things to a reasonable degree of competence without truly shining. Rarely has any abilities that can outright handle an encounter unless that encounter plays directly to the class's main strength. DMs may sometimes need to work to make sure Tier 4s can contribute to an encounter, as their abilities may sometimes leave them useless. Won't outshine anyone except Tier 6s except in specific circumstances that play to their strengths. Cannot compete effectively with Tier 1s that are played well.

    Barbarian, Unchained Barbarian, Paladin, Ranger, Adept, Bloodrager, Slayer, Martial Master and/or Mutation Warrior Fighter, Archetyped Brawlers, Bolt Ace Gunslinger

    Tier 5
    Capable of doing only one thing, and not necessarily all that well, or so unfocused that they have trouble mastering anything, and in many types of encounters the character cannot contribute. In some cases, can do one thing very well, but that one thing is very often not needed. Has trouble shining in any encounter unless the encounter matches their strengths. DMs may have to work to avoid the player feeling that their character is worthless unless the entire party is Tier 4 and below. Characters in this tier will often feel like one trick ponies if they do well, or just feel like they have no tricks at all if they build the class poorly.

    Fighter, Vanilla Brawler, Ninja, Unchained Rogue, Cavalier, Samurai, Gunslinger, Swashbuckler (ACG), Archetyped Monks, Unchained Monk (if TWF)

    Tier 6
    Not even capable of shining in their own area of expertise. DMs will need to work hard to make encounters that this sort of character can contribute in with their mechanical abilities. Will often feel worthless unless the character is seriously powergamed beyond belief, and even then won't be terribly impressive. Needs to fight enemies of lower than normal CR. Class is often completely unsynergized or with almost no abilities of merit. Avoid allowing PCs to play these characters.

    Rogue, Vanilla Monk, Unchained Monk (if no TWF), Aristocrat, Expert, Warrior, Commoner, Vow of Poverty Monk


    I think people often misrepresent "not as good as" with "better" per se.

    Yes, the Estoc is slightly better than the Rapier.

    It's also an exotic weapon that requires a feat to properly use.

    If we leave out aesthetics, given that estocs are like foil versions of a bastard sword, they don't exactly scream "elegant fencer" really.

    What's the mechanical difference?

    A medium sized creature's Rapier does 1d6 damage has a critical range of 18-20 and a critical multiplier of x2

    An estoc does 2d6 damage, with 18-20 range and a x2 multiplier

    Let's assume, the character has the same stats, +5 dex, slashing grace or whatever, so assume +9 to hit +5 damage and piranah strike.

    So...

    Estoc does between 11-17
    Rapier does between 10-15

    Is anyone going to seriously argue that an average difference of 1-2 damage on is going to "let their team mates down" as it were?

    Of course not.

    That's silly.

    I think a lot of people like to optimize, but not all. I think a lot of the anecdotal evidence of "everyone at my table optimizes" is because when one person optimizes the other players feel less useful and feel they have to follow suit.

    I'd be shocked though if more than 30% of players optimized.


    Edit: HWalsh please read the opening post. He is talking about if Estocs didn't require an exotic weapon proficiency feat. We need to all be on the same page to have a discussion.

    For me a class is balanced if, with minimal optimization, the class is capable of contributing to at least 70% of situations even if they are not the best at it.

    Minimal optimization defined as ability scores matching class requirements (Wisdom for Clerics, Str for Barbarians, ECT) and key feats being used (Power Attack for Barbarian, combat Reflexes for a reach denial build, ect). Nothing crazy like strategic dips or complicated feat chains.

    Under this definition you find
    Fighter is under powered since it can only contribute to at most 50% of situations. Only combat.

    The Rogue is balanced for some levels since it can contribute in almost all situations, though higher levels find it contributing less and less in those situations.

    Unchained Rogue is balanced at more levels since it's greater able to contribute at higher levels.

    One other thing affecting balance is how much as class is needed. Just because a class is balanced and amazingly made does not mean the party needs you.

    Example
    Say a town is being overrun by an army and death is imminent if you can't escape quickly. Which party is most likely to TPK? A Ranger, Investigator, Inquisitor, and Bard? A Wizard and 3 Fighters? or A Druid, Wizard, Cleric, and Hunter?

    The First party has some of the most balanced and versatile classes in the game, but has very few escape routes. The second party has access to a Wizard and therefore can escape using a variety of spells, but only if they're together. The third party is all capable of escaping safely individually in case their separated.

    What I'm trying to say is that even a minimally optimized party with its bases covered is more likely to survive a campaign than a party full of very optimized characters with holes in their party composition. Optimization and party composition are joined at the hip and should generally be mentioned together.


    Kirth Gersen wrote:

    I've often pointed this out, but it always seems to get lost: Paizo has verbally committed to supporting the entire range of playstyles, and often say "There is no one right way to play" to reinforce that message.

    What you're describing above is a single playstyle that suits your group. Other groups have different preferences along the beer n' pretzels vs. ultra-optimized apocalypse spectrum. Some people (like me) actually enjoy playing all across the spectrum, at different times.

    The game rules, as published, only support a fraction of the spectrum. That happens to be the portion you're most comfortable in, so of course it's no skin off your nose, but for others it's a real problem. It also represents something of a misalignment of mission statement vs. results.

    The fact of the matter is that more balanced options support a wider range of playstyles than do seriously imbalanced ones. (Again, when I say "balanced," I don't mean "the same," I mean, "different, but equally effective in a different way.") By producing a better balanced game, Paizo would support your group, and the ultracasual group, and the hardcore optimizer group, and the people like me (who enjoy them all, and like to switch off) equally. By failing to do so, they reduce the fan base proportionately. (Granted, if they're happy with the market share they have and project that they'll have in 5 years, they can settle for that, but in that case they should really adjust the mission statement accordingly: "Pathfinder: The Gentleman Non-Optimizer's Game!")

    'Gentleman Non-Optimizer' is possibly the nicest thing anyone has said about me on these boards. lol.

    Personally I am all for more balance. There is/was a really interesting thread about 5th edition and balance where it seemed the overall consensus was almost everything was good fun and nothing was streaks ahead - though moon druid was generally powerful. I'm not sure how PF can transition to that level of balance - even if that path was wanted by the majority of players.


    HWalsh wrote:

    What's the mechanical difference?

    A medium sized creature's Rapier does 1d6 damage has a critical range of 18-20 and a critical multiplier of x2

    An estoc does 2d4 damage, with 18-20 range and a x2 multiplier

    Let's assume, the character has the same stats, +5 dex, slashing grace or whatever, so assume +9 to hit +5 damage and piranah strike.

    So...

    Estoc does between 11-17
    Rapier does between 10-15

    Is anyone going to seriously argue that an average difference of 1-2 damage on is going to "let their team mates down" as it were?

    Of course not.

    That's silly.

    Just fixin' your stats.


    Though, to an optimizer, having an extra 33% damage potential is nothing to sneeze at! (2d4 vs 1d6)


    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    I have played in parties with dozens of fighters, rogues, and swashbucklers over the years. They contributed, the players enjoyed the characters.

    The tiers are so cynical, unimaginative and depressing I don't even want to continue this debate. I don't doubt they have their adherants but that isn't the Pathfinder Game I recognise and if you feel trapped into that mentality because of your experiences of the game then I'm sorry.


    The tiers are meant to be descriptive, not prescriptive. They don't tell you how to play, just what to expect if you do play and people don't pull their punches or otherwise fall all over themselves to not use their own abilities.


    The Sword wrote:

    I have played in parties with dozens of fighters, rogues, and swashbucklers over the years. They contributed, the players enjoyed the characters.

    The tiers are so cynical, unimaginative and depressing I don't even want to continue this debate. I don't doubt they have their adherants but that isn't the Pathfinder Game I recognise and if you feel trapped into that mentality because of your experiences of the game then I'm sorry.

    Have you actually read the tier list? Because there is nothing "cynical, unimaginative, or depressing" about it.


    Anzyr wrote:
    The Sword wrote:

    I have played in parties with dozens of fighters, rogues, and swashbucklers over the years. They contributed, the players enjoyed the characters.

    The tiers are so cynical, unimaginative and depressing I don't even want to continue this debate. I don't doubt they have their adherants but that isn't the Pathfinder Game I recognise and if you feel trapped into that mentality because of your experiences of the game then I'm sorry.

    Have you actually read the tier list? Because there is nothing "cynical, unimaginative, or depressing" about it.

    I skimmed the list, and you are right, they are far from cynical, and definitely not unimaginative, but OH BOY, are they depressing. To me at least, and obviously to The Sword too. Just goes to show you, one man's treasure is another man's trash, or vice versa, as the expression goes.


    MendedWall12 wrote:
    Anzyr wrote:
    The Sword wrote:

    I have played in parties with dozens of fighters, rogues, and swashbucklers over the years. They contributed, the players enjoyed the characters.

    The tiers are so cynical, unimaginative and depressing I don't even want to continue this debate. I don't doubt they have their adherants but that isn't the Pathfinder Game I recognise and if you feel trapped into that mentality because of your experiences of the game then I'm sorry.

    Have you actually read the tier list? Because there is nothing "cynical, unimaginative, or depressing" about it.

    I skimmed the list, and you are right, they are far from cynical, and definitely not unimaginative, but OH BOY, are they depressing. To me at least, and obviously to The Sword too. Just goes to show you, one man's treasure is another man's trash, or vice versa, as the expression goes.

    The only way I can see them being depressing is if someone had been long laboring under the false impression that all classes are equally versatile. Though being depressed over the fact not all classes are equally versatile seems a bit odd in general.


    3 people marked this as a favorite.
    Insain Dragoon wrote:

    ...

    Under this definition you find
    Fighter is under powered since it can only contribute to at most 50% of situations. Only combat.
    ...

    I think that is representative of the problem with the tier measurement system. I can easily build a fighter with a good diplomacy and/or sense motive skill, who has a good AC, and can do well with a melee and ranged weapon, and still have feats to spare. But he won't be competing with Falchion Fred in the DPR contest, so many people would consider that unplayable...


    Fergie wrote:
    Insain Dragoon wrote:

    ...

    Under this definition you find
    Fighter is under powered since it can only contribute to at most 50% of situations. Only combat.
    ...

    I think that is representative of the problem with the tier measurement system. I can easily build a fighter with a good diplomacy and/or sense motive skill, who has a good AC, and can do well with a melee and ranged weapon, and still have feats to spare. But he won't be competing with Falchion Fred in the DPR contest, so many people would consider that unplayable...

    Still tier 5. A good Diplomacy or Sense Motive Skill requires more then "Has max ranks and [skill] as a class skill." Even then, having just two skills doesn't make you especially more versatile, you need to be able to utilize a much higher number of skills to have enough utility to consider going up a tier. And even then "Has two skills, and can make melee and ranged attacks" is not sufficient to increase a tier. It's not unplayable, it's just not as versatile as a Barbarian. Or a Paladin. Or an Inquisitor. Or a Hunter. Or a....


    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    MendedWall12 wrote:

    [Rant]I've seen more than a few things over the past couple of days, two today specifically, that lead me to believe there's some unwritten consensus on the optimal "baseline" of character creation. This one particularly irks me.

    No one would ever use a rapier?!

    Seriously? Why not? Because it would be mechanically inferior to every other weapon in the same damage and crit range? What if I wanted to create a character that was a true fencer, and used his rapier wit, and his actual rapier to right the wrongs he found across the land?

    Why? Why does so much of this discussion community just go along with stuff like that? Or not balk at it? Is every game set up with a baseline standard of optimization, and no one can fathom that there could be some seriously meaningful, fun, and awesome games being played with characters that are completely wonky mechanically?

    Inquiring minds want to know.[/rant]

    I do not believe there is a consensus on this board or any other. There are a lot of the Usual Suspects that come out on many of these threads on each side that say things that you can take with as much salt as you feel comfortable with and that's about it.

    The community, as a whole, doesn't go along with it. From what I can see, the majority stay quiet and read and either silently agree, disagree, or go "Sweet Gods of my Mother, not this again."

    Stats get talked about because it is less contentious (although not by much, it seems) to talk about them like you would sports stats rather than discussing RP choices (again, see alignment threads, anything with the word paladin, etc for people being told they are making the wrong choices there.)

    As was pointed out above, if someone asks, as they will, "What weapon totally will give me the bestest damage ever brah!?" they are going to be directed towards the usual choices, coldly rated based on damage, criticals, and so on. Choice doesn't enter into the equation. If you know that the rapier is mechanically inferior to the OMG SUPERSWORD of the week and choose to use it anyway for reasons of your own, then that is the choice you make.

    You'll likely get a rousing round of "helpful advice" from people berating you for that choice, but that's what happens on most threads where someone asks for advice.

    But anyway. No, there isn't any unwritten or written consensus. There are some loud voices on both/many sides of the discussion who attempt to direct the flow of information. You just have to sift out the interesting nuggets and let the rest roll on by or else you'll go mad. :)


    Fergie wrote:
    I can easily build a fighter with a good diplomacy and/or sense motive skill, who has a good AC, and can do well with a melee and ranged weapon, and still have feats to spare. But he won't be competing with Falchion Fred in the DPR contest, so many people would consider that unplayable...

    Yes, you can tank the one thing you do well in order to do something else half-assed. Then the higher-tier classes can generally do them both, better then you can do either one. At least Falchion Fred has something he's good at!


    2 people marked this as a favorite.

    Herein lies the problem.

    Their is nothing inherently malicious about simple comparison. However, it is often attributed to either ill intentions (i.e. munchkining) or disparaging someone's method of play (X class is considered bad? I love that class!).

    All of my favorite classes are tier 3-4, there's nothing wrong with that and in fact I totally agree with their rankings compared to the other classes. It doesn't make the fighter, for example, bad to acknowledge that it is overall weaker than a wizard.

    Tier 6 classes aren't trash. Tier 1 classes aren't indispensable. Both are just labels attributed to the tiers by whatever group for the sake of their argument. The tiers simply establish a measuring stick and then assign the classes along that stick; nothing more.

    Yes, characters can be optimized up and down. Fergie touches on that concept. But just because I can build a level 8 fighter that can use dominate person, confusion, and displacement 2/day doesn't mean that fighters as a whole are suddenly a higher tier. It's a corner case, and so is Falchion Fred. A higher tier class with the same effort given to optimization will always give better returns.

    That's what I think it ultimately comes down to: diminishing returns. Unfortunately, it is too difficult to separate mechanics and roleplay in a meaningful enough way that a consistent guideline can be created.

    Threads like this will always exist, for which I'm thankful since it shows that the community is always giving consideration to the game from any angle they can.


    2 people marked this as a favorite.

    I just maximize to cover up for other... inadequacies.


    Fergie wrote:
    I think that is representative of the problem with the tier measurement system. I can easily build a fighter with a good diplomacy and/or sense motive skill, who has a good AC, and can do well with a melee and ranged weapon, and still have feats to spare. But he won't be competing with Falchion Fred in the DPR contest, so many people would consider that unplayable...

    Yes, you can spend a disproportionately high amount of resources to still be a worse party face than literally every other class in the game...

    Truly, Fighters are the epitome of versatility...


    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    "Feel worthless unless the character is powergamed beyond belief"
    "Even then won't be terribly impressive"
    "Class... with almost no abilities of merit"
    "Needs to fight enemies of a lower than normal CR"
    "Avoid allowing PCs to play these characters"

    These statements are all either cynical, unimaginative, depressing or all three.

    Sovereign Court

    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Kirth Gersen wrote:
    Fergie wrote:
    I can easily build a fighter with a good diplomacy and/or sense motive skill, who has a good AC, and can do well with a melee and ranged weapon, and still have feats to spare. But he won't be competing with Falchion Fred in the DPR contest, so many people would consider that unplayable...
    Yes, you can tank the one thing you do well in order to do something else half-assed. Then the higher-tier classes can generally do them both, better then you can do either one. At least Falchion Fred has something he's good at!

    Falchion Fred is a moron...

    He SHOULD be Nodachi Fred! (d10 is 0.5 more damage than 2d4)


    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    Oh, come on! You can't really expect me to keep making X weapon Fred aliases, someone else is going to have to pick up the slack, it's the holidays.


    3 people marked this as a favorite.

    Falchion Fred is a moron.

    Silver Crusade

    The Sword wrote:

    "Feel worthless unless the character is powergamed beyond belief"

    "Even then won't be terribly impressive"
    "Class... with almost no abilities of merit"
    "Needs to fight enemies of a lower than normal CR"
    "Avoid allowing PCs to play these characters"

    These statements are all either cynical, unimaginative, depressing or all three.

    To be fair, they're all from T6, and T6 is a depressing place to be. I'd consider T6 to be the only point where there's a failure of game design myself.

    As an aside, has there been an update to the tier list for Occult Classes? All the list I see still only have up to ACG.

    And for a baseline, I guess you could consider it pre-gens, although there's a good amount of those that ended up just being illegal through a lack of consideration of how the rules worked (spring attack vital strike, I hardly knew ye...)

    There's also baselines in the amount of damage a creature can deal, its ac, saves for its abilities, and other such things in the monster creation section, although that doesn't account for other things that are included in games like diplomacy checks and other such interactions.

    From a guide writer's point of view, baseline is a character who picks options that make sense for their character, but also considers the mechanical repercussions of them. It's picking toughness over galley slave, even though some other feat could be better; so to me it's taking a green option over an orange option, but being willing to take an organ option that fits your character concept. Sure you can pick galley slave, but your life is worse for taking such a terrible feat.


    3 people marked this as a favorite.
    The Sword wrote:

    "Feel worthless unless the character is powergamed beyond belief"

    "Even then won't be terribly impressive"
    "Class... with almost no abilities of merit"
    "Needs to fight enemies of a lower than normal CR"
    "Avoid allowing PCs to play these characters"

    These statements are all either cynical, unimaginative, depressing or all three.

    Have you ever tried to play a CW Samurai, Aristocrat, Warrior, or Commoner in a game? Because all of the above statements are 100% true about those classes. The statements aren't cynical, they are factual. Which I suppose you could find facts to be unimaginative and those particular facts to be depressing. But that's something you should blame those classes for, not the tier list.


    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    The Sword wrote:

    "Feel worthless unless the character is powergamed beyond belief"

    "Even then won't be terribly impressive"
    "Class... with almost no abilities of merit"
    "Needs to fight enemies of a lower than normal CR"
    "Avoid allowing PCs to play these characters"

    These statements are all either cynical, unimaginative, depressing or all three.

    Putting aside for the moment that this in no way speaks to the guideline as a whole:

    You are choosing to judge the entire tier system on a few lines of hyperbole alone. Additionally, you have cherry-picked lines solely from tier 6 which contains almost exclusively NPC classes. The only exceptions being vanilla rogue, vanilla monk, and a special mention for Vow of Poverty for being especially restrictive from a mechanical perspective.

    If you have an argument, free of anecdotal evidence or reliance on corner cases, that rogues and monks are undeserving of their ranking in the tier system based on the criteria of the tier system, then that is another matter entirely.

    Otherwise we're detracting from things by assigning some kind of ulterior motive to the ranking that is otherwise absent.


    Anzyr wrote:
    Have you actually read the tier list? Because there is nothing "cynical, unimaginative, or depressing" about it.

    I disagreed and provided evidence from the tier system to justify my opinion.

    Of course I havent played NPC classes as player classes so to question whether I have is pretty daft.

    This thread started as a question to whether there was baseline of optimisation regarding character choices. It has morphed into the argument about martials and casters that is endlessly repeated on these forums.

    I'll happily bow out of that discussion.


    The Sword wrote:


    I'll happily bow out of that discussion.

    Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!

    Don't go, I've found a rapier to be mechanically inferior, and I'm looking for another sword.

    :P


    lol. Mine is a long sword. It has stood me well for many years.
    oops pardon


    Kirth Gersen wrote:
    Laiho Vanallo wrote:

    Once again, really it boils down to what kind of game you are playing.

    Dare I adventure saying that mechanically, yeah a lot of weapons are inferior when you compare them to other ones.

    Now imagine the weapons were more or less equal, with equal investment. Not the same -- some would have a bigger crit range, others do more base damage, others have fun properties like trip or whatever -- but more or less even.

    In that case, it wouldn't matter what kind of game you were playing. The person who wanted a sword-cane could select that, without that choice gimping his character....=

    Yeah I get where you are coming from.

    Fact is that in your example with the sword cane is a very good weapon in the proper context (I assume we are talking about the entry in ultimate equipment.)

    The sword cane of ultimate equipment can be drawn as a swift action (free action, if you have the quick draw feat) without bringing attention to yourself, it's "finessable". It's a wonderful weapon under certain circumstances, like in the hands of an assassin that can observe his or her target for 3 turn, then draw the sword as a swift action and strike the flatfooted target down. Works well on sneak attack too.

    But once again people don't read that part of the weapon description they just check the 1d6 damage and the X2 crit modifier and assume it's a bad weapon.


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    It's important to remember that the tier list isn't a definite hierarchy of characters, categorized by classes. It's a rating system of the classes diversity-power-roof (not the floor or how good they are for a party), meaning that the Wizard isn't always the strongest character in the party (but could theoretically be).
    To me, it's kind of pointless to get hung up on the entire rating system and argue tier spots, who comes before the other one and what not. But I do see the usefulness when it comes to viewing every class individually in terms of game design (and as a DM).


    Nodachi Fred wrote:
    Falchion Fred is a moron.

    Shouldn't it be Nodachi Ned? The alliteration is critical to the character, IMO.


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    SheepishEidolon wrote:

    Bad choices are essential in game design. They allow the player to:

    a) reduce complexity by avoiding them (it's relieving if the number of 'good choices' is very limited)
    b) improve by learning to avoid them (that's part of the mechanical skills of a Pathfinder veteran)
    c) take them anyway for flavor reasons
    d) take them to be successful despite their weakness (feels more rewarding)

    As others said, a rapier is fine. There was a time when no estoc was available - people had fun then, too.

    There are cases where optimization improves fun. And there are cases where it does the opposite. I guess the latter ones happens when players are too worried they won't be competitive and when the GM exerts too much pressure with over-the-top encounters. It can't be stressed enough: Playing an RPG is about fun. Everything else comes second (or third etc.).

    I think I am going to cry myself to sleep tonight after reading this post.

    This is just all false and wrong. Like, can't possibly be more wrong type of wrong


    Like, say you have a game with 20 choices. They are all good

    but, if you have a game with 10 good choices, and 1000 bad choices, it is somehow less complicated than the game with 20 good choices???

    Silver Crusade

    CWheezy wrote:
    SheepishEidolon wrote:

    Bad choices are essential in game design. They allow the player to:

    a) reduce complexity by avoiding them (it's relieving if the number of 'good choices' is very limited)
    b) improve by learning to avoid them (that's part of the mechanical skills of a Pathfinder veteran)
    c) take them anyway for flavor reasons
    d) take them to be successful despite their weakness (feels more rewarding)

    As others said, a rapier is fine. There was a time when no estoc was available - people had fun then, too.

    There are cases where optimization improves fun. And there are cases where it does the opposite. I guess the latter ones happens when players are too worried they won't be competitive and when the GM exerts too much pressure with over-the-top encounters. It can't be stressed enough: Playing an RPG is about fun. Everything else comes second (or third etc.).

    I think I am going to cry myself to sleep tonight after reading this post.

    This is just all false and wrong. Like, can't possibly be more wrong type of wrong

    Ivory tower game design is always the best, obv.


    CWheezy wrote:

    I think I am going to cry myself to sleep tonight after reading this post.

    This is just all false and wrong. Like, can't possibly be more wrong type of wrong

    CWheezy wrote:

    Like, say you have a game with 20 choices. They are all good

    but, if you have a game with 10 good choices, and 1000 bad choices, it is somehow less complicated than the game with 20 good choices???

    Err, for the beginning, reconsider the usage of 'wrong'. It's basically the nerd version of 'bullsh*t'. I don't expect you to care about me, but I guess you don't want to read 'this is WRONG WRONG WRONG' when you write something, either.

    That said, let's move to the content: Yes, the second example is less complicated once you identified the bad choices. For instance at your level 1 feat, picking 1 of 10 is significantly easier than 1 of 20 - if all options are good.

    Your 1000 bad choices is exxagerated in my opinion, but it doesn't matter much. If you use generalizations like 'teamwork feats are no option for me', 'offense is better than defense' etc., you can cut away big numbers of choices fast. And you can often reuse the results for future decisions. Some people here are capable to make up strong builds fast, so they are the living proof many bad choices are not necessarily a problem.

    Grand Lodge

    CWheezy wrote:
    SheepishEidolon wrote:
    ...

    I think I am going to cry myself to sleep tonight after reading this post.

    This is just all false and wrong. Like, can't possibly be more wrong type of wrong

    CWheezy wrote:

    Like, say you have a game with 20 choices. They are all good

    but, if you have a game with 10 good choices, and 1000 bad choices, it is somehow less complicated than the game with 20 good choices???

    I don't think you have a very good understanding of what SheepishEidolon wrote. His post isn't perfectly-written, it is readable and he has valid points.

    I'll try to explain to help you out a little:

    A) "Bad choices" allow players to feel relief by eliminating them and thus reducing the complexity of the decisions they have to make.

    Think of how you would feel if your build had room for 10 feats, and there were 20 feats to choose from, and all 20 of these feats were good.

    Now think of how you would feel if your build had room for 10 feats, and there were 40 feats to choose from, but you managed to carefully narrow it down to 20 viable choices. Unlike before, you'd definitely get some feeling of relief because you have managed to improve your situation, and also...

    B) ...you got better, and learned to make better choices! People like the feeling of "progression" and improving their skills. People like it when their boss tells them they did a good job. People like it when they see that their grades improved in school. People like it when their video game tells them they "ranked up". And, people like it when there's a list of feats that they used to find large and intimidating, but now their understanding has improved enough that they can skim over it and confidently identify the better choices.

    C) There isn't much to explain here. Since the more optimal choices become "standard", the sub-optimal choices become more quirky, "flavourful", and unique. People like feeling special, and being different can make them feel special.

    D) "Success despite the odds" is a better feeling than just plain vanilla "success". If you come from a poor family and are the first person in your family to graduate from university, you'll definitely be a lot prouder than a middle-class student whose parents and grandparents all have degrees. If you have a weird sub-optimal character concept, but still manage to build and play it well, you might feel better than someone who just picks a cookie-cutter strong build. This also ties in to B) - the fact that you are able to succeed despite knowingly making sub-optimal choices is concrete feedback that your skills have improved.

    EDIT: No sass.

    Silver Crusade

    SheepishEidolon wrote:


    That said, let's move to the content: Yes, the second example is less complicated once you identified the bad choices. For instance at your level 1 feat, picking 1 of 10 is significantly easier than 1 of 20 - if all options are good.

    I feel like that doesn't hold true, or people wouldn't use guides as much as they do. I don't feel like that makes it less complex either, since not everyone knows starting off that teamwork feats aren't great.

    Feats in the SRD also aren't filtered by offense/defense/utility, they're filtered by type, meaning you have to look through all of them to find the ones that are actually offensively useful, defensively useful, and so on.

    Having every option be viable means that more builds are possible, and that we see less 'one true builds' like Beast Totem Barbarian/Dervish Dancer Magus and so on.

    CW's first example has more viable builds that give more room to experiment than their second, which lacks that same versatility, containing 'fake' choice since we're admitting that these options aren't viable.

    So yeah, I guess option 2 is less complex at the end game of design, but getting to there is far more complex, and that's enough to turn away new players which isn't ideal.


    pathfinder has 1400 feats, and saying only 1000 of them are bad is being pretty generous


    @johnny coleman I understood his post completely, so reiterating the horrible design choices isn't helpful

    SheepishEidolon wrote:


    Your 1000 bad choices is exxagerated in my opinion, but it doesn't matter much. If you use generalizations like 'teamwork feats are no option for me', 'offense is better than defense' etc., you can cut away big numbers of choices fast. And you can often reuse the results for future decisions. Some people here are capable to make up strong builds fast, so they are the living proof many bad choices are not necessarily a problem.

    So you agree that the game with real choices and 1000 false choices is more complicated than the game with 20 real choices, before you realize that 1000 choices are false, lol

    While the 4 points are totally off, there is a real reason, and only one reason, to add false choices to your game:

    Money

    It is the reason why hearthstone, Magic, and pathfinder have a TON of garbage added to the game. You can sell a lot more "content" by adding in a lot of garbage around the actual real choices.

    There is no joy of discovery when you discover some feat you took is useless, it feels awful. There is no joy of discovery when you buy a splatbook and find only one usable feat, it feels like s#$*

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