An experiment in communication: Do I "optimize" my characters?


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Scarab Sages

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I've often wound up in arguments on here regarding what I see as a parasitic meme that has people convinced there's only one narrow way to think and speak about the game, and that to think and speak otherwise is to doom your characters to sucking. A word that keeps popping up in all this is "optimization" - I don't understand what the term means, and have received explanations that seem contradictory or pointless, but that some people nonetheless seem absolutely convinced of its "objective" supremacy, even to the point of being extremely condescending or abusive (I'd show you the thread where I experienced this most visibly and unmistakably, but the salient posts there have all been Lambertzed away). Other times, it becomes incredibly confusing as I find the roles twisted around somehow and *I* have been accused of being some tyrannical dogmatist telling others how to have fun (a word which sometimes feels like it has also been appropriated by a small subset who have some kind of niche definition for it and expect others to share it) - and sometimes, even over the course of the same thread.

Here's what I know: My characters don't suck. I have only suffered one character death to date, and that was due to highly abnormal enemy behavior. My Cavalier was once referred to admiringly by a "Red-Box Generation" veteran player I played with for a while as "broken" (this is also the fellow who said I was "the best rules lawyer [the Pathfinder Society group we were in at the time]'s got"). Here's what I want to know: Is this a language/communication issue, and have I been "optimizing" my characters all along (just not using that term)?

I invite people to look at my characters - their "character sheets" are all there. Have they been "optimized" all along?


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Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

People often forget things are relative: an "optimized" character can be appropriate for a campaign run by a certain GM and be completely out of place in another campaign run by someone else.

Also I find there's really a lot of people who think they can optimize characters in order to "beat" the GM and forget the GM can always up the ante if he wants to, has infinite resources at his disposal and can literally conjure stuff out of thin air if he so wishes.
Fact is generally GMs show restraint and don't abuse their powers (otherwise the point of telling a story through the game would be moot) while some players feel like they don't need to show any restraint and go out of their way in order to "break the game"...


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I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:
Have they been "optimized" all along?

Here's the thing: optimization isn't a state. It's a process. When you're selecting options with the intent of improving your character's mechanical prowess as much as possible within a given flavor and set of restrictions, then you're optimizing. Different people do this to different extents.

Silver Crusade

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I'm going to attempt to take this in good faith as I respond.

Yes, you're optimizing. Literally any decision that makes your character better is optimization. Taking power attack is optimizing, taking weapon focus for a weapon you'll be wielding is optimizing, selecting any mechanical option that in any way makes you more effective is optimizing.

Sure, you can optimize for a concept (I love dual shields), but any choice you make that works towards the goal of making that concept more viable mechanically is optimizing.

As stated, there's different levels of optimization and different comfort levels people have with it. If I want to play a concept where I'm a tank who can't be hit, I'll pick a character with heavy armor proficiency, heavy/tower shield proficiency, upgrade those items, and do whatever I can to increase my AC. Is it 'optimal' in the sense that it's the strongest option? No. But what it happens to be is me optimizing for AC.

You can optimize for anything, such as doing your best to make a build that can weave SO MANY BASKETS underwater, but if you take skill focus (underwater basket weaving), increase your intelligence to up your craft skill, and other options to be able to weave the best damn baskets underwater you can, you are an underwater basket optimizer.

So yeah, you're optimizing, but your comfort level with how far the game can stretch (this game can be broken with little thought) is up to you and your group, as some people like playing low magic or high magic or whatever. This is why in my guides I don't say a red option is necessary 'bad', red is either for low powered games or for an option that doesn't mechanically meet the standards of what it is attempting to do. I myself don't like rating options by 'good' or 'bad', at this point I rate them by how much they can impact the game, which more powerful options can generally do far more effectively.

Optimization is just something we all do thinking about it or not, so it's up to you to decide your own comfort level with the power floor and ceiling of your games.

Scarab Sages

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Avoron wrote:
I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:
Have they been "optimized" all along?
Here's the thing: optimization isn't a state. It's a process. When you're selecting options with the intent of improving your character's mechanical prowess as much as possible within a given flavor and set of restrictions, then you're optimizing. Different people do this to different extents.

People do that no matter what, then - every option improves you in some way...and you make it sound very common-sense, common-place, and innocuous, which is at odds with the message I've been getting, which is that it's a really serious, stratified deal with objective and exclusive dos and don'ts. The way you make it sound...it sounds like something so common-sense that there's no need to discuss it, much less "teach" it (I've heard people tell me they "teach" people how to optimize).

@N. Jolly: Uh...okay. You're saying something similar to Avoron...which sounds to me NOTHING LIKE what I've seen people talk about, nor how they talk about it, when they talk about "optimization." You're saying almost what I'm saying: That everything's situational, and every choice you make comes with advantages and disadvantages, and optimizing in one area will lead to the logical consequence of limitation in others...yet that's what people have seemed to vehemently deny, and insist that character options must be chosen according to a certain codified dogma, or else they will suck.

Here's the old thread of mine I was talking about - as you can see, a lot has been exorcized, but a few people on there kept insisting I do things a certain way I'd already decided not to do them - one guy was talking condescendingly about "in my job, if the numbers aren't right, the house falls down," and someone else started frothing at me about how if I didn't take exactly the feats and traits he said I should take, then I was making such a worthless character that, since this was a team game, I would inherently be wronging other players and he hoped never to see me at a Con.


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Looks like optimizing to me. =)

N. Jolly said it best... and you are right also. Everyone optimizes to some extent or other. Best thing to do imo, if you don't want to be called an optimizer or min/maxer, is don't focus so much on doing one thing so well it becomes unbeatable... try to be "fairly" good at 2 or 3 things.

In general think combat(or whatever) should be a gamble and not a given. Keep in mind I am not saying you should nerf yourself as much as I am saying perhaps you should spread yourself out more. (which could be a nerf to specific aspects)

In the end however, you should play how you like and to hell with other people's opinion.


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I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:
you make it sound very common-sense, common-place, and innocuous

Absolutely, because it is. I'm with N. Jolly on this 100%.

I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:
it sounds like something so common-sense that there's no need to discuss it, much less "teach" it (I've heard people tell me they "teach" people how to optimize).

Well, you can teach people how to optimize better; how to identify the most effective options for any given set of goals. Obviously you shouldn't try to make people take options they don't want to take, but it can't hurt to suggest things they might haven't thought of.

I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:
which sounds to me NOTHING LIKE what I've seen people talk about, nor how they talk about it, when they talk about "optimization."

Often, people discussing the consequences of "optimizing" and "not optimizing" are really referring to problems with optimizing too much or too little. If you focus too much on optimization, you might end up outshining other party members or making a character that doesn't hold your interest. If you focus too little, then you might be ineffective at achieving any of your goals during a game or make a character that doesn't hold your interest. And of course, some people enjoy the process of optimizing more than others and would like to devote more time and effort to it. Everybody has to find a balance that works for them.


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You have asked this question before.

You have gotten these exact answers before.

What possible purpose does this thread serve?


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

When people complain about optimization, it is usually over-optimization in a single thing. The proverbial one-trick pony. This isn't always the case, but it often is.

Sometimes it is using a combination of things that interact in ways that give a better result than each taken singly. The most widely known would probably be Alchemical Mutagen combined with Rage. They do stack, and can result in +8 Str or more. This one is much more problematic since you are combining two classes that both have a poor Will save in order to get huge offensive capabilities for a short time each day. Hope the character never gets possessed or dominated...

Although the example was for melee power, it is in many ways even easier to do with magic. Spell Focus and Greater Spell Focus in the school you intend to specialize in, maximize your caster attribute, dump anything that doesn't help you cast spells.

I think optimization becomes a problem when you are just considering it a numbers game and not trying to create a personality and history for the character. If all of your choices are because of mechanical advantages it gives the character then you probably have gone too far.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Okay, so about the term "optimization". There are three key things to understand: the term's real meaning (and how that plays out in practice), common misconceptions about the term's meaning, and the term's social baggage.

The Real Meaning
The actual meaning of "optimize" is easily verifiable with a dictionary. Basically, it means to take [THING] and take steps to make it the most effective [THING] possible. Now, some folks make a mistake here and assume that this means that there are only a couple of "optimal" character builds. (I'll talk more about this in regard to common misconceptions and social baggage.) However, this is false, because it's based on a faulty assumption: the idea that [THING] is always "character". If [THING] is "character", then to optimize means to make the single most effective character possible. That probably results in something like a gestalt cleric20/wizard20 with ten mythic tiers and 99 point buy and so forth, and then everything else is sub-optimal.

The problem is that [THING] isn't always "character". Sometimes, [THING] is a particular concept, such as "magical swordsman" or "thief who's good at sneaking around and getting past locks and ambushing people". In such contexts, to "optimize" means (according to our above definition) to "make the most effective magical swordsman possible" or "make the most effective thief-who's-good-at-sneaking/locks/ambushes possible". Obviously, the answer to "what is optimal?" is going to vary wildly between these different contexts. Similarly, you'll get different "optimal" results if [THING] is "this particular class" or "this particular race using this particular weapon" or whatever else.

Sometimes, this causes confusion. One classic example is when someone makes a thread in the Advice forum asking for help with making "a rogue because I want to be good at sneaking and traps and bluffing". What is [THING] in this case? Is it "rogue"? Or is it "character who's good at sneaking/traps/bluff"? Because (at least in Pathfinder) those are very different things. Thus, you get three types of posts in such a thread: the first are the wisest, from folks who recognize the issue and seek clarification by asking what specifically their goal is and whether using the rogue class is an absolute requirement.

The second type of response is from those who read the OP and latch onto "because I want to be good at sneaking and traps and bluffing" as being [THING] and make suggestions accordingly. This generally involves abandoning the rogue for a more effective skill class (like bard or investigator) in order to optimize [THING]. They're truly trying to help based on their understanding of what the poster asked for.

The third type of response is from those who instead interpreted [THING] to be "the rogue class". (This usually involves a false belief that this will also cover the OP's other desired results.) Naturally, these folks see all the other folks' suggestions to simply not play a rogue at all and are extremely affronted on the OP's behalf. This is where you get the stories of "people ask for help with their X and the [insert pejorative here] come out in full force to tell them to just not play it at all" that I'm sure you've heard multiple times.

So as you can see, while the definition of "optimization" may seem simple at first ("make the best [THING] you can"), the context and the identity of [THING] makes a world of difference and is vital for clear communication.

Common Misconceptions
In addition to the context-based confusion described above, the term "optimization" has picked up some genuinely false "definitions" over time as well. The most common "false meaning" of optimization is "specialization".

Now, sometimes, an optimized character will be very specialized, because in some cases that just happens to be the way to make the most effective character of the intended type. For example, take the traditional wizard's ability scores. All of a wizard's class features are based on his INT. Meanwhile, he's going to be terrible at swinging a weapon and doesn't have much gear to carry, so there's very little value in his STR score. Some of the other stats are similarly unimportant (to varying degrees). As a result, the "optimal" set of stats for a traditional wizard will tend to simultaneously be "specialized".

Given examples like the above, it's easy to see how one might draw the false conclusion that "optimized" means "specialized". A great many gamers hold this wrong belief, which has led to no small amount of confusion in discussions (especially when you consider that this misconception exists in both the pro- and anti-optimization subcultures). For example, you'll see an anti-optimizer (or so they think) complaining about one-trick ponies, and then a pro-optimizer tries to correct them about how a hyperspecialized character who falls apart when his one and only schtick doesn't apply is not actually a well-optimized character. But the anti-optimizer can then point to other pro-optimizers who themselves bought into the "optimal=specialized" trap and use them as evidence that that's what's meant by "optimization".

Thus, confusion and arguments.

Social Baggage
As if the context-based confusions and the false definitions weren't enough, discussions about optimization also have to contend with the term's rather unpleasant history, and the baggage that comes with it.

In any game (or really any other field where there are multiple paths of unequal effectiveness toward a given goal), there will be an element of skill. Some skills are simple (like knowing that a wizard wants a high INT score) while other skills are more advanced (such as ranking the relative power of similarly-leveled cure, blasting, and debuff spells). Naturally, in any community of people who share a skill-based interest, there will be people of higher and lower skill levels. As a result, you'll have skilled players producing more effective characters while less-skilled players produce less effective characters.

Now, nobody likes feeling inferior, and unfortunately this means that some gamers, upon discovering that someone is having more success than they are, will feel threatened and need to "defend" themselves in some way. That is, they think they will be judged unworthy (or perhaps judge themselves as such) due to having less skill, and therefore feel driven to find a way to attribute other gamers' fun/success to something other than skill, and/or make themselves seem morally superior.

For example, in a CCG, a player who keeps losing might try to claim that the game is so unbalanced that folks with enough cash can simply "buy" wins through overpowered cards (thus divorcing success from skill, allowing the unsuccessful player to seem like the more skilled of the two); or they might claim that the purpose of the game is not to win but to create an original deck, and point out the moral inferiority of all those "net-deckers" who simply copy existing decks (thus creating a correlation between winning and moral wrongdoing).

Similarly, with practice-oriented games (such as Guitar Hero or many other video games), a less skilled gamer might suggest that the only reason someone else is better is because they spend exorbitant amounts of time playing, to the point of ignoring other obligations (work, school, family, etc). This creates an image of "anyone more skilled than me only got there by being a worthless layabout".

It's no different with tabletop RPGs. Over the years, some of the less-skilled players felt the need to paint it as a strength rather than a weakness. That's where we get expressions like "ROLEplay not ROLLplay", or other instances of people trying to assert that characters more effective than their own are somehow the result of wrongdoing. Such assertions are typically nonsensical, such as the idea that a mechanically effective character somehow proves that the player has no interest in roleplay or immersion in the game world, or is otherwise "missing the point" of the game.

As a result, the term that truly just means "doing a good job of making your character" came to be used by some as shorthand for "playing the game wrong by focusing on morally inferior aspects of the gaming experience" in an attempt to make a less-skilled player feel better about themselves. Thus, the term "optimization" teeters on the edge of being a generally-accepted pejorative, which further complicates any discussion on the topic of character creation.

Conclusion
So there you have it. A simple word with complicated context, usage, and history. I don't know if this directly answers this thread's questions, but hopefully it will be helpful to future discussions in some way. :)


To optimize something is to make the best or most efficient use of something.

Therefore, any attempt to improve and refine character to fulfill a certain goal is optimizing.

Optimizing a character does not mean necessarily making the most powerful thing you can. Optimizing for the goals of a campaign often means not trying to power game in order to fit in with the rest of the group. Optimizing for a roleplaying idea often means making some mechanical concessions to the concept. It's still optimizing.


I have always believed that a player can optimize a character to be exceptionally good at "something" but cannot, in any of my games, optimize the same character to "win" the game.

The only thing a player needs to know to optimize their character to be really good at "something" is the knowledge of what they want to be good at, and the methods to be good at that.

In order to optimize your character to "win" in one of my games (if I am the GM) the player would need detailed information about the game setting, challenges, and available resources for their character.

I do not make such information available to my players (I know some players feel that is a terrible thing, a terribly unfair position to take).

I try to treat the characters being played by all the players in a game where I am the GM (even the NPC being played by me) as having only the limited knowledge of "what is going on" that they would reasonably have if those characters were in those situations.

It is one of the reasons I do not like playing Adventure Paths. Everyone knows what is the situation with an Adventure Path, so it is easy to optimize a character to be good at the challenges associated with that Adventure Path

I prefer games where players create characters (optimized to be good at something, or not) who do not know what they might be up against and have to use their wit and game knowledge as players in combination with the talents and abilities of their characters, in order to succeed.

That's just how I have fun

Your millage may vary


I think the whole optimization discussion is interesting but how do we define when someone is doing it?

Is a character optimized if using point buy you see dump stats of 8 or lower?

Is a character with no stat below 10 using point buy optimized if they take an obvious feat choice?

How can you tell? What is optimization?


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Take for example the character of Sasithorn Loom, as played by the OP in my game

"The Strangler of the Shadow Moor"

Originally the character was created for a different campaign

"The Castaways"

and though I certainly will tell you that the character is built remarkably well, and that IHIYC is a fantastic player (whose knowledge of the game is far beyond mine and has helped me out on many occasions just trying to figure out how things are supposed to work in complex rules situations)

And Sasithorn is definitely an Optimized character

He does not dominate the game in any way.

I think it shows exactly what IHIYC is getting at with this thread. Optimizing is just something a player can do (does not need to do) and if it is fun for the player to do it, and if the player and GM have an open dialog about what those optimizing choices mean for the game as a whole, there is certainly nothing wrong with doing it.


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so many words for just the same recurring thread

Liberty's Edge

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Optimization is fine. Being a Munchkin isn't always fine though. As well being excessively anti-optimization is often not so fine either. Part of the problem as well I think is that too many people associate optimization with a Gamebusting Munchkin.

First let me define "Munchkin." Munchkins come in different types, but one thing they share in common is they approach the game as a system meant to be mastered and in many cases exploited and abused to a certain end. In most cases that end is optimization. Munchkins are also sometimes cheaters, loot hoarders, etc. Generally speaking optimizing a character doesn't make you a Munchkin, as a Munchkin is more of an extreme archetype of player rather than a general category, and a Munchkin isn't always a bad thing depending on their motivations.

As well, the anti-Munchkin comes in different types as well and usually are a subset of players who take a roleplaying focused approach to the game. Ultimately the anti-Munchkin tends to label any form of optimization as Munchkinism, and in the most extreme cases treat anything resembling a coherent feat selection as optimization. This extreme case of anti-Munchkin might make deliberately avoid choosing feats that make them remotely effective at anything in particular, often affecting the coherence of their character even from a roleplay perspective. The reality is that this extreme anti-Munchkin is optimizing their character, but in the total opposite direction of the Munchkin.

The extreme anti-Munchkin is just as big of a problem as the extreme Munchkin. Both are constant complainers, disruptive, and obsessed with whether or not their character is optimized.

Optimizing can be a problem in any of the following cases (and of course others I probably missed). For the most part here I'm assuming optimization is being done to an extreme.

  • When your optimization goals are purely self-serving. You want to BEAT the game, as opposed to enjoying the experience. This can be an issue when the group has players of varying levels of playing experience or with a more roleplay focused approach to the game. Maybe you ninja-loot, maybe you minmax, maybe you hog the spotlight (being so optimized that you're the only one really contributing to encounters).
  • When a dialog has been established, other players have expressed that they take issue with your approach and you refuse to adjust. Whether or not the others are in the right isn't the issue here, the issue is merely that you have detracted from their experience. I am very much arguing in favor of rule of majority here as your enjoyment will likely be affected negatively if you are unwilling to adjust. You won't have fun, they won't have fun, so your options are either to adjust or to find a new group. Otherwise the experience is going to be less fun for everyone and you may find yourself kicked out later.*
  • When you're optimizing to be a troll. Almost invariably (aside from a group composed entirely of trolls, and its all done in good fun) this is a big problem and you are in the wrong. If your enjoyment is based on ruining the experience for others, making things deliberately difficult for the GM (by exploiting broken mechanics to make balance difficult, or rules lawyering to the point of excess, and so on) then you have no right to complain when you get booted from the group.

*If the players are in the wrong, say they are mislabeling you as a Munchkin as they consider anything resembling optimization to be some kind of incontrovertible evil... You could also perhaps try to convince them otherwise, if that works out then great. If it doesn't then... you tried.

Factors for consideration are also how you are optimizing. Are you just focusing on the archery combat feats so you can be as good an archer as possible (which is just fine imo)? Or are you exploiting ambiguous rules, errors, unintended class synergies, etc to make a character that is excessively overpowered and gamebreaking? Are you trying to make a concept work or are you just trying to get the highest numbers? Do you have roleplaying justifications that make any level of sense for your choices? The list of things to consider go on and on.

Optimization in and of itself is NOT a bad thing. It always depends on the motivations, the approach, the group composition, the campaign, and most importantly whether or not you're fun to play with. On that last note, there are many many many reasons that a person might not be fun to play with that have NOTHING to do with optimization, but if someone is no fun to play with then little else matters.

Personally when I GM I try to encourage the players away from an optimization focused play style (unless that's what they want to do). My intention here is to have the players look for interesting concepts and get creative rather than just going for what is objectively best. I never want a player to look at an archetype, spell, ability, etc they think is cool or fun, or fits their character and then say "no this just isn't very effective". I make it clear that whatever the player WANTS to do, the game will be adjusted and designed to accommodate everyone. If a player wants to make a grappler, I'll make sure that player has time to shine and never feels ineffective. The only times I express concern (aside from obvious things like game-breaking, trolling, etc) over optimization is if the balance of the party is too heavily tipped towards one or two players, when they aren't the only characters designed for combat (unless the other players don't care and are still having fun). If say 2 players are designed for combat only, and the other 2 are designed for social, support, skills, or whatever, then it isn't usually an issue.


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If your character is actually effective, you've most probably optimized it to some extent.

IME, "bad" optimization occurs when someone (intentionally or accidentally) breaks the game.

"Accidentally" is usually the result of some option (or combination of options) just being too good and blowing the game's power curve. This can usually be remedied by (1) checking to make sure everything is actually being run correctly (they often aren't), and (2) making adjustments to the offending abilities as necessary.

"Intentionally" is a lot rarer, because it involves someone trying to break the game just because they can. IME, it's generally meant as a "screw you" to the GM or the group in general, because someone's actually trying to make the game unbearable for everyone else at the table.


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The other thing with optimization is that it's possible to theorycraft for maximum effectiveness in _something_ -- but at the expense of some necessary or useful features. Usually this results in glass cannons, powerful but very vulnerable characters.

Playing in a campaign with a variety of threats may require a variety of defenses. The fighter that optimizes one-strike one-kill melee combat gets dominated. The archer is shut down by the maze of 10' little passages, all alike. The sorceror with hyper-DCs for his charm spells is powerless against the mindless foe. The AC-of-doom defending cleric can't DO anything other than stand around unhit (until his enemies get around to wrestling him). The paladin who can do more damage in one blow than any creature in the Monster Manual can survive but can't figure out the murder mystery. Et cetera.

Optimization in excess of practicality is not necessary.

(Sometimes one's friends can fill in roles. Sometimes they can't.)


tonyz wrote:

The other thing with optimization is that it's possible to theorycraft for maximum effectiveness in _something_ -- but at the expense of some necessary or useful features. Usually this results in glass cannons, powerful but very vulnerable characters.

Playing in a campaign with a variety of threats may require a variety of defenses. The fighter that optimizes one-strike one-kill melee combat gets dominated. The archer is shut down by the maze of 10' little passages, all alike. The sorceror with hyper-DCs for his charm spells is powerless against the mindless foe. The AC-of-doom defending cleric can't DO anything other than stand around unhit (until his enemies get around to wrestling him). The paladin who can do more damage in one blow than any creature in the Monster Manual can survive but can't figure out the murder mystery. Et cetera.

Optimization in excess of practicality is not necessary.

(Sometimes one's friends can fill in roles. Sometimes they can't.)

You're talking about Hyper-specialization

Optimization != Hyper-specialization


Here's the thing as I see it (and repeatedly say), the game exists within the context of each DM's game and each party's make up and balance.

Even the most min-maxed/specialised/optimised/whatever character will have weaknesses and require other characters to enable them to achieve success COLLECTIVELY.

The social dimension of the game is the heart of role-playing and the rules are meant to help achieve that. System mastery can simply allow the rules to be, to some degree, congruent and invisible with the role-playing goals.

And so as I see it the best min-maxed/specialised/optimised/whatever characters use the rules to fulfil role-playing ends, and are not an end in themselves (by the opposite token a badly designed character somewhat could be hard to be taken seriously as a 'hero' in the traditional sense).

Likewise an over-powered character out-of-kilter with the role-playing expectation jars and high-lights the 'min-maxer'.

The tension between a well-designed hero in the rules sense and it's role-playing expression at the table is a delicate balancing act that the best DM's can manage to provide a great gaming experience.

AND SO to the original poster's question, I would ask: 'How much do the rules get in the way of you playing your character?

If they do not then the character is fine as I see it (regardless of design).

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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tonyz wrote:

The other thing with optimization is that it's possible to theorycraft for maximum effectiveness in _something_ -- but at the expense of some necessary or useful features. Usually this results in glass cannons, powerful but very vulnerable characters.

Playing in a campaign with a variety of threats may require a variety of defenses. The fighter that optimizes one-strike one-kill melee combat gets dominated. The archer is shut down by the maze of 10' little passages, all alike. The sorceror with hyper-DCs for his charm spells is powerless against the mindless foe. The AC-of-doom defending cleric can't DO anything other than stand around unhit (until his enemies get around to wrestling him). The paladin who can do more damage in one blow than any creature in the Monster Manual can survive but can't figure out the murder mystery. Et cetera.

Optimization in excess of practicality is not necessary.

(Sometimes one's friends can fill in roles. Sometimes they can't.)

/facepalm

Glad I went to all that trouble to try and help people have more productive conversations.

Scarab Sages

This is all fairly consistent...and mostly consistent with what I would have thought and said (and did) from the beginning.

So why have people kept telling me I was way wrong (and worse) when *I* said this stuff? If this is all there is to it, then where has all the conflict come from?

@Jiggy: I will say that I do know enough to know that that isn't where "Roleplaying VS Rollplaying" comes from. There IS a serious problem where the "imagination" part of the game has been drained out of it until it's nothing but mechanics, and that's been my big issue. People who use the term "Roleplaying VS Rollplaying" seem to be the kind of people who talk about "Narrativist VS Simulationist" and other taglines and abandon the D&D/Pathfinder system for others because they ALSO believe the mechanics dictate this shift in thinking...and yet why should it? It didn't before, so it shouldn't now. It all seems to be driven by the belief that it's some natural law or something rather than a choice. All I really know is my memories and experiences, and what I know is that I've seen gaming go from a more vibrant environment to less over the course of the past 12-ish years...and this seems like it's been figuring in.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:
So why have people kept telling me I was way wrong (and worse) when *I* said this stuff? If this is all there is to it, then where has all the conflict come from?

Maybe it's because when *you* say it, you refer to other people's ideas with terms like "parasitic meme" or "evil mind-plague"? Do you think maybe that could be why you keep encountering conflict?

Liberty's Edge

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I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:

This is all fairly consistent...and mostly consistent with what I would have thought and said (and did) from the beginning.

So why have people kept telling me I was way wrong (and worse) when *I* said this stuff? If this is all there is to it, then where has all the conflict come from?

Miscommunication, misinterpretation, bias, negative experiences, mislabeling, jumping to conclusions, guilt by association, stereotyping, etc etc etc etc

Oh and possibly the way you present/address the issue.


strayshift wrote:

Here's the thing as I see it (and repeatedly say), the game exists within the context of each DM's game and each party's make up and balance.

Even the most min-maxed/specialised/optimised/whatever character will have weaknesses and require other characters to enable them to achieve success COLLECTIVELY.

Not necessarily true. Having options weaker than other options doesn't mean you have a weakness. Real Optimized characters or Min-Maxed characters often don't have any weaknesses to exploit. Hyper-specialized characters do, often many.

If you're actually wanting an optimized character you can quite possibly have you backups options be the best option the party has. optimized is able to deal with as many things as possible well.

Scarab Sages

Jiggy wrote:


Maybe it's because when *you* say it, you refer to other people's ideas with terms like "parasitic meme" or "evil mind-plague"? Do you think maybe that could be why you keep encountering conflict?

What am I supposed to say? That's exactly what it's always looked like from where I've been standing...and I know that such things ARE a real and serious scourge upon Humanity.


Chess Pwn wrote:
strayshift wrote:

Here's the thing as I see it (and repeatedly say), the game exists within the context of each DM's game and each party's make up and balance.

Even the most min-maxed/specialised/optimised/whatever character will have weaknesses and require other characters to enable them to achieve success COLLECTIVELY.

Not necessarily true. Having options weaker than other options doesn't mean you have a weakness. Real Optimized characters or Min-Maxed characters often don't have any weaknesses to exploit. Hyper-specialized characters do, often many.

If you're actually wanting an optimized character you can quite possibly have you backups options be the best option the party has. optimized is able to deal with as many things as possible well.

I'm sorry but EVERY character has a weakness.


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strayshift wrote:
Chess Pwn wrote:
strayshift wrote:

Here's the thing as I see it (and repeatedly say), the game exists within the context of each DM's game and each party's make up and balance.

Even the most min-maxed/specialised/optimised/whatever character will have weaknesses and require other characters to enable them to achieve success COLLECTIVELY.

Not necessarily true. Having options weaker than other options doesn't mean you have a weakness. Real Optimized characters or Min-Maxed characters often don't have any weaknesses to exploit. Hyper-specialized characters do, often many.

If you're actually wanting an optimized character you can quite possibly have you backups options be the best option the party has. optimized is able to deal with as many things as possible well.

I'm sorry but EVERY character has a weakness.

Every character has options that are worse than their main options.

Not every character has a weakness where weakness means, something that they can't defend against/contribute to help with.


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I think I've said this before. It's simple

When I do it, it is optimization

When you do it, it is min-maxing


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What are Anzyr's Arkalion's or AM Barbarian's weakness?


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I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:
Jiggy wrote:


Maybe it's because when *you* say it, you refer to other people's ideas with terms like "parasitic meme" or "evil mind-plague"? Do you think maybe that could be why you keep encountering conflict?
What am I supposed to say? That's exactly what it's always looked like from where I've been standing...and I know that such things ARE a real and serious scourge upon Humanity.

Really? REALLY? "such things ARE a real and serious scourge upon Humanity."

It's a f@*!ing game. Some people play it differently than you. But in the end, it's a game with no real consequences, not world water shortages or genocide.

Oh the horror. The struggle is so real.

Obviously, you play the game for the drama, since you seem to find the necessity to insert drama where there is none, like in such a subject as this. (How else am I to interpret min-maxing as a scourge upon humanity than as inserting wanton superfluous drama?) Some people play for the drama. Some people play for other reasons. Some for the tactical element, which has been present exactly as long as, if not longer than the roleplay aspect if you study the history of the game back to the original releases. Some people want to find the system's strengths and weaknesses and probe them. Some people want to just be an actor with dice. Some for a combination of those reasons, none of those listed, or anything in between. Not everyone plays the same as you, and that's okay. So, instead of complaining about how other people play, why not just find people who play similarly to you, and play with those people?

Scarab Sages

thegreenteagamer wrote:
I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:
Jiggy wrote:


Maybe it's because when *you* say it, you refer to other people's ideas with terms like "parasitic meme" or "evil mind-plague"? Do you think maybe that could be why you keep encountering conflict?
What am I supposed to say? That's exactly what it's always looked like from where I've been standing...and I know that such things ARE a real and serious scourge upon Humanity.

Really? REALLY? "such things ARE a real and serious scourge upon Humanity."

It's a f~~$ing game. Some people play it differently than you. But in the end, it's a game with no real consequences, not world water shortages or genocide.

Oh the horror. The struggle is so real.

I'm not talking about the apparent symptoms, I'm talking about the causes...which as far as I can tell, are the same. I also have a bad feeling that NONE of these things are as far apart as we like to think they are. It's a small world, after all...cramped, in fact, and it's becoming increasingly hard to tell where the boundaries are.

"Wanton superfluous drama," my ass. I don't like what I'm seeing, and if I had a choice, I'd choose not to see it. But I do.


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The entire population of earth can live in and subsist happily in an area the size of Texas alone. Read a study or two. We're not nearly as cramped as people believe. Wanting to play a game different than you isn't a symptom of anything negative.

The inherent narcissism required to believe people enjoying something different than you being symptomatic of a greater evil is itself, however, quite a disturbing trend if you take it and apply it across humanity.

Draaaaaaama

Scarab Sages

It's gotten to where we're NOT (all) cramped physically, but we ARE increasingly cramped mentally. Maybe the Internet is to blame.

thegreenteagamer wrote:

The inherent narcissism required to believe people enjoying something different than you being symptomatic of a greater evil is itself, however, quite a disturbing trend if you take it and apply it across humanity.

You've completely lost sight of where I'm actually coming from, though. You're accusing me of something I never said or thought...at least originally, it was the reverse, if anything.


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My apologies if I misread your intended context - it seems quite the opposite. Text is ever so difficult to read tone in, sometimes.

But you do get it, right? That if someone wants to play as a straight-up munchkin, it's just a style of play, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with someone doing that, right? I mean you can ban it from your table because you're totally uncomfortable with it, but it doesn't make you better than them, them worse than you, or it in any way less valid of a playstyle, right?

Because I will TOTALLY admit that those people, when they tell someone else how to play (IF THAT PLAYER NEVER ASKED FOR ADVICE), telling them they're wrong for playing in a different style than them, are totally wrong.

If that person asked for advice and then had the audacity to get upset about the suggestions, however, that's a totally different story.

Scarab Sages

Uh...I think so. I hope so.

Like I said, I've lost track of the boundaries that used to be there, and whatever's wrong on my end just gets infinitely more tangled when I try to discuss it with others.

If your edit is a response to the old thread of mine I linked to, it's a shame you don't get to see the posts that were removed. People weren't giving me "advice," they were giving me "objective facts that I'd have to be stupid to disagree with," or almost even "orders" - and for that matter, I said from the outset there that I just wanted help dredging up obscure material, and did NOT want any input on the decisions I'd already settled on. I said that, and they kept pushing.


As Jiggy pointed out, you should take a look at your word choices. Language is built upon tone, and tone is conveyed, in a textual environment, entirely through the choice of words and placement thereof. Your word choices convey a sense of superiority and judgment. If that isn't the case, again, I apologize, but I don't think I'm the only one to see that, and in fact it has been conveyed earlier than I brought it up.

Scarab Sages

I don't think in words...not when I'm at my best, at least. As I've been forced to pore over my word choices more and more, it's come at the direct expense of what used to be my greatest talents, and ruined my whole life. For all your initial derision of the conclusions I came to based on the premise of dissolving/shifting boundaries, you're now validating it.

To put it another way: It's okay to play a character with an extremely high INT and low WIS and CHA, right? Nobody can fault you for that...especially not if the stats were rolled randomly. Suppose you'd been doing great with that character for 10 levels, then for no apparent reason (save perhaps for the arrival of other players with a vociferous and intense hatred of all strongly INT-based classes), everyone started demanding you take nothing but Cleric and/or Bard levels...and then you get flak for how much your character sucks at their new role?


Chess Pwn wrote:
What are Anzyr's Arkalion's or AM Barbarian's weakness?

I can speculate on AM Barbarians weaknesses, but I can tell you for sure that Arkalion's weakness is DM fiat.

Scarab Sages

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Oh, shut up and kiss, you two.


Anzyr wrote:
Chess Pwn wrote:
What are Anzyr's Arkalion's or AM Barbarian's weakness?
I can speculate on AM Barbarians weaknesses, but I can tell you for sure that Arkalion's weakness is DM fiat.

Also, source severance.

Silver Crusade

thegreenteagamer wrote:

The entire population of earth can live in and subsist happily in an area the size of Texas alone. Read a study or two. We're not nearly as cramped as people believe. Wanting to play a game different than you isn't a symptom of anything negative.

This I completely do NOT believe. Please point me to the study that shows an area the size of Texas can support the population of the Earth


Off-Topic:
Avoron wrote:
Anzyr wrote:
Chess Pwn wrote:
What are Anzyr's Arkalion's or AM Barbarian's weakness?
I can speculate on AM Barbarians weaknesses, but I can tell you for sure that Arkalion's weakness is DM fiat.
Also, source severance.

Setting the aside the fact that Arkalion would be immune to that:

Out of curiosity... how do you foresee that working? At absolute worst, the Person using Source Severance still dies next round.

On topic, almost everyone optimizes. the question is usually one of quality or focus. Though when it comes to general "capability" optimization, this is where differences in skill mastery can be frustrating for players and GMs. A low levels of general optimization a character might struggle to overcome simple skill DCs or under CR monsters. On the other hand, at the high end of optimization, not much outside of fiat or similar levels of optimization are a threat.

Scarab Sages

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Anzyr wrote:

** spoiler omitted **

On topic, almost everyone optimizes. the question is usually one of quality or focus.

"Optimization." "Skill mastery." A lingo has developed that didn't used to be there, and a big part of what I'm contending (and think I've been both witness to and participant in practical proof of) is that this increasingly ordered language and the formation of a culture with norms is harming our ability to communicate, AND to think, AND even to get along, rather than its intended purpose of improving it.

pauljathome wrote:
thegreenteagamer wrote:

The entire population of earth can live in and subsist happily in an area the size of Texas alone. Read a study or two. We're not nearly as cramped as people believe. Wanting to play a game different than you isn't a symptom of anything negative.

This I completely do NOT believe. Please point me to the study that shows an area the size of Texas can support the population of the Earth

I've heard it before, and it may be true. Just bear in mind two things (that thegreenteagamer said nothing to deny, and from what I know of him, never would):

- it would presumably be like one giant New York City/New Delhi/Tokyo or something along those lines; crowded, but definitely livable, and not even without its advantages

- it would not change the true concern of overpopulation, which is resource consumption (to say nothing of the mental/abstract plane crowding, and loss of boundaries between things we're accustomed to believing have no impact on each other, which may or may not be true that was all that *I* was initially talking about)


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Pretty much what Closet says. It's more a thought experiment, based on existing technology, and yeah, it would be crowded, but everyone would have sufficient space to survive.

As for resource consumption, given how much we subsidize farms in America to prevent them from growing to capacity to keep food prices from plummeting and putting other farmers out of business, I've read America alone, if dedicated entirely to production and unrestricted, could grow enough food to feed the entire world, but...you know, corporate greed and all...

If our entire planet was dedicated to the production of food and water cleansing at our current technology levels with maximum infrastructure I'm pretty sure our population cap would be considerably higher than it currently is.


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Closet, I want to apologize for my narcissisim comment. It was not cool. When you mentioned not thinking in words it opened my eyes to the concept that this may simply be a communication issue. That was a sick move of me and in spite of that you just defended me which is a class act.

You have my sincere apologies.


I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:
Anzyr wrote:

** spoiler omitted **

On topic, almost everyone optimizes. the question is usually one of quality or focus.

"Optimization." "Skill mastery." A lingo has developed that didn't used to be there, and a big part of what I'm contending (and think I've been both witness to and participant in practical proof of) is that this increasingly ordered language and the formation of a culture with norms is harming our ability to communicate, AND to think, AND even to get along, rather than its intended purpose of improving it.

SO your argument is essentially that definitions are harmful to communication? Because this is not a "new" vocabulary or "new" definitions. Skill mastery is a term that has been around forever. Optimization is a straight forward dictionary term. Maybe you have not seen them applied to D&D and by extension Pathfinder, but that should not render their meaning, context and definitions opaque.

Scarab Sages

thegreenteagamer wrote:


If our entire planet was dedicated to the production of food and water cleansing at our current technology levels with maximum infrastructure I'm pretty sure our population cap would be considerably higher than it currently is.

But our goal is to be well under that cap, not to reach it and satisfy it...right? Talk about optimizing the wrong way. Life in excess is called "cancer" our goal should be *quality of life*...but that can't be *quantified,* so the economists and accountants that presently rule everything conclude not only that it's subjective, but that since it's subjective, it doesn't matter.

I don't know if you're starting to see why I see parallels between contemporary gaming politics and life-or-death macropolitical issues - and even why I think the parallels might be important? A lot of (nearly all of, in fact) the stuff you've been giving me flak for are observations and conclusions that don't make me happy at all - I say them because my observations to date force me to think they're true, NOT because I want them to be true, so it's salt in the wound when you turn around and paint them as selfish conceits.

thegreenteagamer wrote:

Closet, I want to apologize for my narcissisim comment. It was not cool. When you mentioned not thinking in words it opened my eyes to the concept that this may simply be a communication issue. That was a sick move of me and in spite of that you just defended me which is a class act.

You have my sincere apologies.

You have my sincere thanks. :'-)

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