Author Topic: Part 5 discussion  (Read 223 times)

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Offline Harbinger

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Part 5 discussion
« on: February 19, 2019, 04:34:22 PM »
I skimmed through the original posts, and I feel like [Part 5] interests me the most, discussion-wise.

To the fiest point, about characters with community ties... You don't need to kill off everyone your character would care about before they set off on an adventure. In general, a person would need an extremely important reason to just leave.

For me personally, having a wife and children, I wouldn't leave to cross the world for the sake of adventure. But, I would help a neighbor or friend go track an animal they shot. Or help them get their vehicle out of a ditch. For a low level adventurer, these are perfectly acceptable challenges.

As a DM you can weave in story elements that may make characters feel invested in, and obligated to, see the work completed. Say, while tracking a deer, another neighbor is waylaid by goblins and kidnapped. The adventurer just escalated, and most people won't leave their neighbor to their fate.

As a final thought on this one: a level 1 or 2character isn't leaving their live behind at the drop of a hat, but a series of escalating "right time, right place" or "you're the only one that can" situations can do a lot to grt that character out the door and into the story.

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To the second point: min/maxing doesn't preclude roleplaying. Everyone wants to be good at their job, and handicapping yourself doesn't make you more interesting. If you hire a plumber, you want someone that is good at it, not someone that has dabbled in plumbing/teaching/assembly line work/auto mechanic/ostrich jockeying/etc.

A similar idea occurs with adventurers. Classes are abstracts, mostly. A wizard may call themselves a wizard, as there is a lot of in-game baggage thag goes with it. But a rogue can be a scout, spy, thief, acrobat, pirate, etc., and likely wont ever refer to themselves as a "rogue" in character.

A cleric can be a priest, acolyte, servant, faithful, missionary... you get it.

So say you want to make a character that wants to hit stuff really hard with an axe. You'll probably go fighter or barbarian. You'll focus on strength and con, and maybe boost dexterity. You've already min/maxed. Is your character less for having done so? Absolutely not. If you treat your character only as a bundle of numbers, your roleplay will suffer, and the character will fall flat. But if Ungthir, Blade Champion of Gruumsh is a little dumb and unwise because he swings an axe harder than any other half-orc in the village, fine. What you make of the numbers is what's important, not the numbers themselves. BUT, you can't sacrifice the ability to be effective at your role and call it great characterization.

Offline Otter

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Re: Part 5 discussion
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2019, 09:22:09 PM »
As a final thought on this one: a level 1 or 2character isn't leaving their live behind at the drop of a hat, but a series of escalating "right time, right place" or "you're the only one that can" situations can do a lot to get that character out the door and into the story.
I actually used to run games where I would start everyone off with NPC classes and the story would start as like, how they became adventurers in the first place.  Fun times, but kind of slow going.

To the second point: min/maxing doesn't preclude roleplaying. Everyone wants to be good at their job, and handicapping yourself doesn't make you more interesting. If you hire a plumber, you want someone that is good at it, not someone that has dabbled in plumbing/teaching/assembly line work/auto mechanic/ostrich jockeying/etc.
Ok, I literally laughed out loud at "ostrich jockeying", first of all.

And, I mostly agree with your sentiment here.  I was more saying that a lot of the time, players want to play the absolute best possible arrangement of stats and skills and feats to maximize the effectiveness of their character, and going with a stereotypical character means your backstory then has to fit into that stereotype.  You're locking yourself into a particular type of character path--and that's not bad, I'm just giving ideas on how to broaden out your available character paths to choose from.

I played a dwarven fighter with a backstory of a sailor who used a net and a trident for her main weapons.  Her primary stat was Dexterity, then Constitution, then Intelligence, then Strength.  That is far from a typical "ideal" damage-dealing fighter.  She was a quick-footed crowd-control focused fighter more than a damage dealer and tank.  Her backstory would never have fit into a stereotypical fighter build, or at least not with a lot of really weird excuses.  My main gist was just that you can end up with some seriously cool, atypical characters if you don't try to follow the stereotypical "most effective" version of a class.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2019, 07:58:31 PM by Otter »
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Offline Brave Sir Robin

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Re: Part 5 discussion
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2019, 09:40:42 AM »
You can definitely create some good fluff behind a min/maxed character, but your concept is always going to suffer at least a little so long as you're prioritizing stats over character. And especially if you're someone who is new or who struggles with backstory ideas and who might want to read such a guide to try a new approach.

The inverse is also not true, so long as we're here: Deliberately prioritizing picking the worst possible options does not inherently make your character's backstory awesome, and would probably hinder your creativity in the same way.

I think to some extent it depends on the definition of min/maxing, and I don't think anyone is going to be able to demonstrate a hard line where viability ends and min/maxing begins. However, as an extreme example, I once played in an online 3.5e game at the OOTS boards where we started at something like level 13, and I kid you not, someone made a character with about 6 base classes and three different prestige classes, entirely for the purpose of maxing out her saving throws and getting a Diplomacy bonus of like +50. Coupled with a feat from some splatbook that let her make diplomacy checks to influence NPCs as a standard action, she was able to automatically diffuse literally any encounter against any creatures that spoke any language. She did write a flowing backstory explaining how she became a bard cleric paladin ninja geisha wizard etc but it was complete horseshit and everyone knew it. Half the party dropped out of the game before the end of the first adventure, and I was one of them.

I think we can all agree that that's high twinkery and that it ruined the fun for about 7 other people; for the record I blame the DM as much as the player.

One last anecdote: one of my good friends doesn't like to read up on the rules too much, prefers to come up with a deep concept first, and makes only a minimal attempt to make her character sheet viable. When I DM for her I can usually suggest just enough useful choices that she isn't a load, but it can get a bit hairy at times. Still, she has created some of the most memorable D&D experiences of my life and has generally raised the level of roleplaying, immersion, and group cohesion around every table she has graced. It's personal preference, and I do enjoy some min/maxed mayhem from time to time, but ultimately I prefer it when players prioritize concept over stats.

Offline Otter

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Re: Part 5 discussion
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2019, 09:45:09 AM »
The inverse is also not true, so long as we're here: Deliberately prioritizing picking the worst possible options does not inherently make your character's backstory awesome, and would probably hinder your creativity in the same way.

Great point--I will probably integrate this into my write up if that's cool with you.

Yeah my main push here is just that a lot of people don't even think about how much backstory potential they're losing out on by going "How can I optimize my character for the concept I want"... probably because backstory comes dead last for most people, lol.
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