Overcomplexifying?...


Gamer Life General Discussion


I think we all struggle with this, but I want to ask a serious question. When's the last time you played a straight vanilla class?

I feel like I have to exploit all the rules I've read with obscure archetypes, feats, features, VMC, prestige classes, multi classing, etc. I don't think I've ever considered a build without one of these.

Am I alone in this compulsive need to overcomplexify?


My current Paladin, for one. Classes that are good already need minimal dumpster diving to make good.

It's when I try to play a Monk or something that things start resembling kudzu.


Never. I haven't actually played a class as written since beginning pathfinder. I have a concept for a gnome transmuter who has no alternate options.

In a campaign where the gm wanted everyone to use the simplest rules, i wouldn't have an objection, but that just isn't how my group plays.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

My main PFS character is a vanilla fighter (and the decision proved fruitful thanks to the recent handbooks), my CORE PFS characters are a vanilla wizard and a vanilla druid (obviously).


I GM two groups. In one, everyone plays a standard class. In the other, no-one does, and most actually play homebrew classes and archetypes. For us it is a question of gaming culture. Both groups work.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Ummm.... Does Hunter count? Because that's the last single-classed, non-archetyped character I've played from a core book. Unless you count the Bloodrager pregen I played at PAX.

I play single-classed 3pp characters a lot more often, but they tend to be more likely to have a combination of abilities that I'd otherwise have to dip around for.


Straight classes are all I like to play. I don't like all the strange variant type characters. I've had 2 paladins, 1 wizard, a fighter, and a cleric.


Honestly most of my characters aren't using an archetype. Only my alchemist, one of my investigators, one of my bards, and my stone oracle are using them. Even then the investigator and bard are archetyped for flavor (one's a lamplighter that got a light fetish, the other if the child of a flame oracle I have that takes the flame dancer archetype.)


I usually multiclass, but only rarely use archetypes. (Only when playing an Alchemist, and only with a GM who lets me trade out Throw Anything for Combat Expertise -- for the Vivisectionist).

Occasionally, I'll pursue some odd Feats, but usually pretty run-of-the-mill there, too.

I think Traits are probably my go-to modification; I like using Poverty-stricken to get Survival as a class skill, and Magical Knack for shoring up my multiclassed Wizards' caster level. (Though sometimes "Dangerously-curious" wins out, when I'm not multiclassing...)

There are SO many available options these days, but for the most part I tend towards simple. Rogue/Wizard, woo-hoo.

My 2 cp.


Which path I take (assuming no bans of archetypes, feats, etc.) is going to depend entirely upon what I want. If a vanilla class does what I want to make the concept I have in mind, I'll use it. If an archetype does what I want to make the concept I have in mind, I'll use it. If I can't get the concept I want to come online in a reasonable amount of time without multiclassing, I'll use that. Various auxiliary rules are tools a decent subset of which are nice to have available if I need them(*), but I don't feel obligated to use them.

(*)Of course, a certain subset is just bad -- just have to see this ahead of time, to avoid using trap options by accident.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I've made the switch to 5th Edition.

I played a dwarf Life cleric from 1 to 14. Took the Resilient feat, which gave it the equivalent of Good Fortitude saves. Pretty standard healer, buffer, and tank.

My other character is a half-elf rogue (thief) which is pretty generic, but fun.

Back when I played PF & 3.5, I usually single-classed, even though I liked theorycrafting multiclassing and PrC combos.


SmiloDan wrote:

I've made the switch to 5th Edition.

I played a dwarf Life cleric from 1 to 14. Took the Resilient feat, which gave it the equivalent of Good Fortitude saves. Pretty standard healer, buffer, and tank.

My other character is a half-elf rogue (thief) which is pretty generic, but fun.

Back when I played PF & 3.5, I usually single-classed, even though I liked theorycrafting multiclassing and PrC combos.

How long of a period did it take for your character to go from level 1-14? How often were you playing?

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

We played maybe once a month if we were lucky. Maybe 18 months? 2 years? A lot of the players have kids and families and stuff, so that can interfere. There were a couple dry spells interspersed throughout. It was Rise of the Rune Lords.

We also have a World Serpent Inn campaign with a rotating stable of DMs. I usually DM it, but when I don't, I get to play my "street smart" parkour-focused Urchin Half-elf Rogue (thief) with Mobility. Standard array and average hit points. 12 16 14 8 14 12 after racial modifications. I played him 1 through 3 or 4, then level jumped him to 7th.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I have a pretty straightforward dagger fighter. My inquisitor doesn't use too many unusual things. My oracles take their mysteries and spell selection fairly simply, although there are a few obscure spells in there. And my paladin is pretty bog standard other than the aasimar race.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Though the spells are a pretty wide variety, my bard is pure bard, built around a support paradigm as 'standard' bards can go, with a few feats from to help amplify that.

The next 'standard' character I have would probably be my tengu paladin.

But I've also noticed that some of them swing the other way, like the Bolt Ace(Gunslinger Archetype)/Freebooter (Ranger Archetype) and the Spell Warrior Skald...


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Though I rarely get to be a player (GMing 95% of the time) I play the cleric in the game. I love my character, a cleric of Horus.


What does "straight vanilla" mean different from "straight"? I played a two straight classes recently (Incanter, Spheres of Power; Mighty Godling, though I change to something more complexicated later) but I'm not sure if those qualify as "vanilla".


Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

In my games, there's are two types of players: the rules explorer and the casual gamer.

Rules explorer types always delve into extra books. These are the guys to whom I have to say "if you play that you'll have to hand-write your character because your third party option isn't in hero lab."

Then there's the casual gamer types, who are pretty much ALWAYS core unless they have another player as a rules-consultant or want something very specific that has noting to do with what's in the core book (e.g.: "I want to play a fairy!")


If I'm playing a game without classes, what constitutes "straight vanilla"?


137ben wrote:
If I'm playing a game without classes, what constitutes "straight vanilla"?

Something in someone else's game?


Okay fellow support group, I just overcomplexified again.

I'm rolling up a Samasaran (Mystic Past Life) Druid (Menhir Savant) VMC Cleric. Why? To make a competent druid healer rather than playing a core cleric. Meh, I'm fine with that.

Oh yeah, and vanilla just means basic or plain. Cause vanilla is a plain basic ice cream flavor. (I like chocolate). I normally use straight to indicate no multiclassing.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I'm playing a straight-up human wizard (necromancer) in a Carrion Crown PbP game. No options at all from outside the CRB, aside from traits (one from the APG, other from the CC Player's Guide) and a few spells.

The character's distinction is all in personality and background and the design choices that stem from those. (E.g. taking the feat Skill Focus (Heal) at L1.)

But, honestly, the rules complexity of PFRPG is really starting to grate on me, and I'm finding that I prefer playing "rules light" systems currently. My Tuesday night IRL game switched systems to Dungeon World. Our sporadic GURPS scifi game switched systems to FATE Accelerated.


My most recent PC uses an archetype. But before that...I've never used an archetype for a PC. As a GM, absolutely, I have all sorts of NPCs with special this or special that.

Of the 5 players currently in the group for which I GM, we have a vanilla barbarian, bard, wizard, and rogue. The inquisitor is the only one that took an archetype, which is race-based and the character has a super-high flavor content in addition to being pretty crunchy.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Before I realized the Ranger is the best introductory class, I used to think the Fighter with stagnant feats was. I would kind of like to make one.

By stagnant feats, I mean ones that give a static bonus, like Iron Will or Weapon Focus or Dodge, not ones that rely on player initiative, like Combat Reflexes or Power Attack.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

I love complex classes. The more ways I can fiddle with a class to build cool character concepts, the happier I generally am. It's a fair portion of the reason we play Pathfinder instead of another system like 5E or Numenera that's more rules-lite and user friendly. The only real limitation on class complexity for me is that it has to have some minimum levels of functionality. If I have to work to perform at the same level as one of the Paizo iconics, the class is probably complex for the sake of complexity instead of the complexity serving as a tool for opening up character options, and that's not something I enjoy.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I don't know if I love complex classes, but I like classes that are dynamic and versatile. And complex classes usually have something going on. I recently got done playing a 5th Ed cleric, and it was pretty versatile. Decent face, great tank, buffer, and healer, and he could also provide a lot of support through his spells. But not complex. The most complex thing about him was his Preserve Life ability, which forced wounded characters to do algebra.

He had a few favorite spells (guidance, sacred flame, bless, cure wounds, guiding bolt, healing word, spiritual weapon, guardian spirits, mass healing word and contagion), but he also tried to be a dynamic warrior, using battlefield positioning, combat maneuvers, and the occasional Help action.

I was never bored in combat. Other characters were kind of one-trick ponies ("I cast hunter's mark and shoot the giant," sighed the ranger....again.) and they got a little bored sometimes. I know a lot of 3.5 & PF warrior types get bored with the whole "5 foot step and Full Attack" routine, too. It's one reason Pounce is such a fun and popular option.

The most complex character I ever ran was a 3.5 elf druid archer. Lots and lots of options (archery, spells, wildshape tanking and scouting, summoning). The most dynamic character I ever ran was a 3.5 switch-hitting scout (archery, handaxe AND longspear!) that had to move at least 10 feet each round to get his extra skirmish damage and AC. No standing still and full attacking for him! He had Shot on the Run AND Spring Attack, and was working towards Blitzing Assault or whatever.

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