DreamQuestin
 member, 209 posts
Sat 30 Nov 2019
at 05:29
The Game IS the thing..
Greetings folks,

So I have played RPGs for 39 years now, starting with RuneQuest in highschool, then TMNT, Amber, MechWarrior, Marvel Superheros, a lot of different Freeform, a spy one that the name escapes me atm and finally AD&D 2nd ed (then 3.5 and Pathfinder...haven't tried the newest yet).  Played table top, BBS (yep long time ago) and via internet.

In my experience through all of that, very few of the players ever tried to min/Max.  We built characters with deliberate flaws and quirks.  We built characters that we could relate to and play whilst having fun.  We also tend to ROLE play rather than roll play.

I have been in a tabletop campaign for five years (and same group but a different DM for nearly a year before that) and they are epic min/MAXers.  The game is Pathfinder/Gestalt/Mythic/Legendary and my fellow players are scary powerful.  As usual, I created a character I liked, who is pretty great under the right circumstances but does not hold a candle to the others.  (16th level, 5th Mythic Tier Halfling Unchained Summoner/Legendary Cavalier)

So... I ask the multiverse of players and DM/GMs here... is it all about the MAX in min/Max or do you and your groups ROLE play? Do you do a bit of both? My DM (great guy and amazing DM) seems to think my experience is a complete anomaly and 'normal' players do the min/max.

I don't mind being abbey normal LOL but it made me wonder.  I am reworking my character, but the mix I have, I don't know that I can milk the power out of her lol.
Korentin_Black
 member, 546 posts
 I remember when all
 this was just fields...
Sat 30 Nov 2019
at 05:42
The Game IS the thing..

 Nope. I may be lucky, but while I've played with a few hard-core min-maxers, most of my tabletop experience in everything from 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 3.5 & 5th edition D&D, CP2020, WEG Starwars, Earthdawn, Palladium, Chaosium, L5R, SLA, 7th Sea, Hunter Planet, TFTFV, TFOS and countless (literally) others has been with groups who were mostly about fun or interesting characters with the stats coming second.

 Generally, when we had a hard-core, every-last-drop player in the group, the GM'd just toss a few more mooks their way, let them go hog-wild showing off and direct the RP towards the players interested in it.

 That's not to say a min/max type can't RP and RP damn' well (I've played with several who can) or that a 'built for fun' character will be played well (I wish), but that most of the people I've played with have been more interested in enjoying the game than squeezing the most juice out of a spell/power/skill combo.
Flint_A
 member, 595 posts
Sat 30 Nov 2019
at 06:39
The Game IS the thing..
For me there's two types.

There are some who make the character they want to play, but they make that character as powerful as possible or try to make it so the character is the best at what they want it to do. Those can cause SOME trouble with designing encounters, especially if there are others in the same party with much weaker characters, but otherwise they're fine.

THEN there are those who are trying to "win" the game, dominate the party, drive the GM into despair...

Those are the "Well I have the power to use telekinesis on something I can't see if I know where it is right? I'm gonna use it to stop this guy's heart, I know where the heart is!" types. (Yes, actually happened.)

Those are fortunately rare, because they're AWFUL.

But benign min/maxers I've seen plenty, hell I'm probably one myself.
Isida KepTukari
 member, 318 posts
 Elegant! Arrogant! Smart!
Sat 30 Nov 2019
at 07:12
The Game IS the thing..
One of my groups is a mix - while everyone likes power, and does try to avoid huge vulnerabilities, they are also build definite backgrounds.  We e-mail back and forth with character backgrounds, what they know, who they know, etc. We had one campaign which was city-based, and most of the group went much more for flavor than power, as they knew there would be several sessions where there would be no combat and minimal rolling.

The other group contains my husband, who is a die-hard powergamer and min/Maxer.  While he can come up with a short background, it is certainly not a focus or a great consideration for him.  For games with him and his friends, I always make certain there is at least one combat a session, so everyone has a chance to use their dice and powers.
Lethe138
 member, 2 posts
Sat 30 Nov 2019
at 08:14
The Game IS the thing..
In my longest running tabletop group we rarely ever rolled any dice and were having a ball. While I do enjoy getting a lot of bang for my buck out of my characters (I generally prefer point-buy character creation games like Champions/HERO, White Wolf stuff or 7th Sea so I spend a lot of time fine-tuning my investments) I do so only for my own edification. Character trumps mechanics for me.

Frankly, I always wrinkle my nose when I see Pathfinder builds that are like 'tack on two levels of this class which makes NO sense for your concept to get this bonus that makes you godly at this particular thing'. No wonder I'm more and more gravitating towards FATE/FAE where it's almost impossible to game the system.
SunRuanEr
 subscriber, 170 posts
Sat 30 Nov 2019
at 18:07
The Game IS the thing..
DreamQuestin:
My DM (great guy and amazing DM) seems to think my experience is a complete anomaly and 'normal' players do the min/max.

In my experience, there are two types of players, and both are 'normal': Those for whom the role and identity of the character and how they interact with others is the game, and those for whom gaming the system is the game.

Some players build characters. Other players break systems. Neither is wrong, per se, but I find that in my experience they don't mix very well.

...and not only because the two types of players are looking for different things from the gameplay, but because they literally don't tend to play well with each other. You can have a good roleplayer that also likes to break the system, for instance, but if the other <however many> roleplayers at the table built their characters for flavor and RP - even if they all RP great together - any combat that is a match for the min/maxer is going to be too tough for the others, and conversely anything fitting to the roleplayers' skill level will be a cakewalk for the guy that focused on breaking the system. So whatever you do, someone winds up being bored (even if all the actual players at the table are great at roleplaying their character) due to having nothing to do.
donsr
 member, 1759 posts
Sat 30 Nov 2019
at 18:11
The Game IS the thing..
for the game to work, it comes   down to the right players in the right  settings.

 I am trying to switch a D&Dish  game, over to  my own  system, and it5s going  slow, but... the same system for a space game is  running fast and hard.

 it depends on the style of play, and the players..some player s  want a 'SIM'..others  want to be 'letter perfect' on the rules.

 ::shrugs::    you like it or  you don't...  I focus on the  once who like the  game  and contribute... that keep the game  moving and living.
engine
 member, 752 posts
 There's a brain alright
 but it's made out of meat
Sat 30 Nov 2019
at 23:10
Re: The Game IS the thing..
DreamQuestin:
So... I ask the multiverse of players and DM/GMs here... is it all about the MAX in min/Max or do you and your groups ROLE play? Do you do a bit of both? My DM (great guy and amazing DM) seems to think my experience is a complete anomaly and 'normal' players do the min/max.

Min/Maxing and "roleplaying" are not mutually exclusive. To imply that they are is the "Stormwind fallacy." Personally, I find that using the phrase "roll play vs. roleplay" or anything along those lines is tremendously divisive and best avoided.

If you don't want to min/max, then don't. It sounds like you have never felt the need to be at a particular power level, either objectively or relative to the other players, so why would that matter now? If it does matter to you, then that should give you some insight as to why optimization is a priority for some people.

That said, there are people who simply love mastering the rules and doing anything with them that they can. They don't particularly care to relate to their characters and weaknesses aren't interesting to them. That's just not how they have fun. But that doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with how they want to have fun, or that they're not "supposed" to be doing that. My apologies if that's obvious, but too often there's a sense that people think "roleplaying" (which can mean a ton of different things) is the only right way to play. My take on this view is that they feel this way because their way means giving up control and anyone who refuses to do that is inherently more powerful.

Me, I am not interested in acquiring or demonstrating deep system mastery. It's not a useful world skill, and it's not generally going to be portable to other systems, and it will usually mean that I will feel the need to discard large portions of the game I want to play. I want to know how the game works, but I don't want to go to the effort of taking it to any particular logical conclusion. Those conclusions are rarely interesting, and games are usually not so difficult (or the costs of failure so painful) that it's necessary. And because games are rarely very difficult, I tend to find that I need to take recognizably sub-optimal choices just to feel challenged.

I'm not too interested in relating to my character, though. I like accents and attitudes, because I like to act, but I don't care about my characters. I don't want to know exactly what my character would do in a situation, because I want to be flexible and have a range of flexible responses that let me as a player back up the other players in what they want to do.
DreamQuestin
 member, 210 posts
Sun 1 Dec 2019
at 00:45
Re: The Game IS the thing..
engine:
Min/Maxing and "roleplaying" are not mutually exclusive.

No, but they -=can=- be exclusive.  There are those who use the dice as a necessary evil, focusing more on story and writing. There are those who like to push the envelope on every rule and make every bump and boost they can to dice at all times and that is their focus.  I suspect most folks are in between :D.  But the first two of those have trouble playing together, I suspect.

engine:
If you don't want to min/max, then don't. It sounds like you have never felt the need to be at a particular power level, either objectively or relative to the other players, so why would that matter now? If it does matter to you, then that should give you some insight as to why optimization is a priority for some people.

The tabletop game in question is very battle heavy.  My husband's character (Fighter Cleric)does 14d6 + 12d8 + 424 damage per round (twice if he expends a mythic point); another player (Wizard/Ranger) does about 350 damage round (in the form of 7 arrows); we have an NPC that the DM runs (Paladin/Oracle) who primarily heals, buffs and acts as conscience and there is my character who does 1d6 + 24 + 1d6 Sonic damage. Power Attack and Charge adds some, but magnificently underwhelming compared to my compatriots. Of course I have summoning too, but we've been campaigning in the Abyss which has forced us to disguise ourselves and limited her ability to flex those skills for months.  Her poor eidolon suffered huge when she did call him out to help.  The Ranger/Wizard also has 30+ before d20 on a great many of his skill checks.  I don't like to sound like sour grapes, but five years of feeling largely decorative in battle (I do buff the others fairly nicely) and skill checks has led to a bit of frustration on my part, so I am now looking at trying to rebuild her from the ground up and boost her.  I honestly don't care that my character is not as tough as the others but it would be nice to have a chance to do her best.  Sadly, I really suck as a min/Maxer lol.

engine:
That said, there are people who simply love mastering the rules and doing anything with them that they can. They don't particularly care to relate to their characters and weaknesses aren't interesting to them. That's just not how they have fun. But that doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with how they want to have fun, or that they're not "supposed" to be doing that. My apologies if that's obvious, but too often there's a sense that people think "roleplaying" (which can mean a ton of different things) is the only right way to play. My take on this view is that they feel this way because their way means giving up control and anyone who refuses to do that is inherently more powerful.

I am not saying either way is better or worse.  I was told that people not interested in min/max playing was unheard of by my DM, so I was just curious for some feedback here to see what kind of balance there is between the three (in my mind) styles of basic play. He's played a couple decades and never encountered someone like me, who likes to create a character, envisioning an actual person rather than focusing on maximum damage/power/skill at every turn.  I have gone decades the opposite.  It is quite fascinating really :).

engine:
I'm not too interested in relating to my character, though. I like accents and attitudes, because I like to act, but I don't care about my characters. I don't want to know exactly what my character would do in a situation, because I want to be flexible and have a range of flexible responses that let me as a player back up the other players in what they want to do.

I find that an interesting viewpoint. I read that and wonder what that would be like? I am very invested in my character's personality and moral codes and creeds. I certainly will work to help characters work together and it is never 'all about my character' in game by any means, but I wont play something out contrary to what she believes to help another character without that (inner?) conflict playing out in character. Perhaps quite vocally.

What kind of characters do you play?  Could you give me an example?  So Mercia (my halfling) is a freed slave.  She abhors slavery in any form she has encountered and is currently working with the Bell Network (tangentially atm)to free other slaves at any turn.  With your philosophy, if she was your character, you could/would help another character say buy/sell/move a slave because  the character edicts don't matter?  No animosity in the inquiry, I am just interested in a very new (to me) idea of playing. :)

I am not judgmental. If it floats your boat and isn't hurting anyone else - play how you wanna play.  I will admit that this game has really frustrated me to the point of quitting because it has, at times, felt that if my little halfling wasn't there, the outcome would be the same.  I adore my fellow players (which is why I played in frustration mutely for four years before finally saying something - of course being Canadian could be a factor there too lol) but am trying to see and come to terms with a side of RPG I have never been part of.
engine
 member, 753 posts
 There's a brain alright
 but it's made out of meat
Sun 1 Dec 2019
at 06:44
Re: The Game IS the thing..
DreamQuestin:
engine:
Min/Maxing and "roleplaying" are not mutually exclusive.

No, but they -=can=- be exclusive.

I'm sorry, but that's misusing the sense of the phrase. I suppose the phrase itself is a little dated, which doesn't help. At the risk of over-explaining let me be clear what I mean: while the different types of extreme players might exist, the fact that there are people in between means that players can be both, which means that one trait does not necessarily exclude the other. While one may prefer to be one type and not the other, it's only their preference that keeps them from being both.

DreamQuestin:
But the first two of those have trouble playing together, I suspect.

Unfortunately, this is likely to be true, but I firmly believe it's a matter of getting everyone on the same page about what each individual wants from the game. The 4th Edition DMG offers some good advice on how to accommodate different kinds of players in the same game.

DreamQuestin:
I don't like to sound like sour grapes, but five years of feeling largely decorative in battle (I do buff the others fairly nicely) and skill checks has led to a bit of frustration on my part, so I am now looking at trying to rebuild her from the ground up and boost her.  I honestly don't care that my character is not as tough as the others but it would be nice to have a chance to do her best.  Sadly, I really suck as a min/Maxer lol.

The usual advice I see in these situations is to ask the other players for help, on the understanding that you want the character's more powerful abilities, feats and items to be relevant and not just tacked on because they're "better." I find that many min/maxers are just as creative as anyone else and are often willing to reflavor liberally. Maybe a character would benefit from some better armor, but the player doesn't see their character in that kind of armor; well, keep the mechanics the same and reflavor it. I once had a player with a paladin who walked around in layers of foppish clothes rather than plate armor. We played the stats as identical to plate and just went with it.

DreamQuestin:
I am not saying either way is better or worse.

OK, just be aware that implying someone is "rollplaying" and not "roleplaying" implies none too subtly that they're playing their "roleplaying game" incorrectly.

DreamQuestin:
It is quite fascinating really :).

I agree. Thanks for being willing to discuss it, and asking honest questions.

DreamQuestin:
engine:
I'm not too interested in relating to my character, though. I like accents and attitudes, because I like to act, but I don't care about my characters. I don't want to know exactly what my character would do in a situation, because I want to be flexible and have a range of flexible responses that let me as a player back up the other players in what they want to do.

I find that an interesting viewpoint. I read that and wonder what that would be like? I am very invested in my character's personality and moral codes and creeds. I certainly will work to help characters work together and it is never 'all about my character' in game by any means, but I wont play something out contrary to what she believes to help another character without that (inner?) conflict playing out in character. Perhaps quite vocally.

I don't enjoy scenes like that, so I don't play for them. Conflict is interesting, but argument and angst quickly become boring for me. I'm rarely in games in which strong moral choices are required, and I don't make characters that are likely to bring them about.

When I GM, I hope for some reasonably tough decision points and even a bitter (though non-lethal) loss or two, but nothing anyone is likely to get bent out of shape over, in or out of character. I encourage my players to contribute directly to situations their characters get in, so they can make things as angsty as they want, though they tend not to.

DreamQuestin:
What kind of characters do you play?  Could you give me an example?

As much as possible, I play characters who go along, support the other players and generally keep things moving. I recently played a human paladin of St. Cuthbert. I tend to hate how others play paladins because they tend to be really cautious and act like they need to police the other PCs. I guess it's so they aren't tricked into doing something or condoning something evil. My character wouldn't have willingly done something evil, but he generally just did was what suggested, by NPCs or fellow PCs, without a lot of discussion or questioning. This was a choice by me in order to keep the game moving and it worked out fine for the short time the game lasted.

Which is also a factor that should be mentioned: I never have any expectation that a game I'm in will last for a significant length of time, so there's never any reason for me to devote much thought to a character, or get very attached to them. But even in longer games I've played, it's mostly been about the character's personality rather than the lines they won't cross, and about keeping things moving, so the momentum and interest stay high and the game doesn't fizzle.

DreamQuestin:
So Mercia (my halfling) is a freed slave.  She abhors slavery in any form she has encountered and is currently working with the Bell Network (tangentially atm)to free other slaves at any turn.  With your philosophy, if she was your character, you could/would help another character say buy/sell/move a slave because  the character edicts don't matter?  No animosity in the inquiry, I am just interested in a very new (to me) idea of playing. :)

I trust that the question is meant honestly, that you're not trying to trip me up or anything.

One way of looking at it is that Mercia would never be my character, because I would tend not to make a character who had strong objections about things likely to occur in the game. If PCs buying and selling slaves was likely to occur, making a character with strong objections to it would be likely to put my character at odds with the party and bring the action and adventure to a halt.

If she were my character, I'd still want to go along with the other players and other PCs. I'd find a way to do that, and if I couldn't I'd ask the other players for ideas, rather than telling them not to do the thing. I might describe her as being very upset and argumentative, but I probably wouldn't play that out or try to have an argument scene with the other players. Improvised arguments, like improvised haggling, tend to be excruciating. Even most scripted arguments are usually pretty bad. But if the other player and I saw a cool way for our PCs to confront each other, with my PC being put in her place and being forced to go along, I'd be up for that.

In short, I am very "Yes, and..." focused. I look for reasons why the thing that's happening in the game and to my character can and do happen, instead of reasons why they can't. So, if it's more plausible for my character to object to a situation, then I would feel obligated to also find ways that my character's hands would be tied or their efforts to hinder it would fail.

DreamQuestin:
I am not judgmental. If it floats your boat and isn't hurting anyone else - play how you wanna play.  I will admit that this game has really frustrated me to the point of quitting because it has, at times, felt that if my little halfling wasn't there, the outcome would be the same.  I adore my fellow players (which is why I played in frustration mutely for four years before finally saying something - of course being Canadian could be a factor there too lol) but am trying to see and come to terms with a side of RPG I have never been part of.

I think that will be a good experience for you, but I also think that if your other players care about you, they'll find ways to work with you. Like I said, they might find ways to make your character more powerful. Also, I happen to be convinced that it's possible to have mixed power levels in groups, though most rulesets don't seem to offer advice on it. It has to do with having alternate goals for both PCs and monsters, such that damage, while important, is not usually the key to defeating the other side. Which also doesn't mean compromise or truce or diplomacy, just ways in which a side and survive and still lose or die and still win. Talk to the GM about this, and work with them to build situations that offer appropriate challenges to everyone in the same scene.
facemaker329
 member, 7134 posts
 Gaming for over 30
 years, and counting!
Sun 1 Dec 2019
at 21:47
Re: The Game IS the thing..
I tend to build characters who are exceptional at one or two things, but are generally competent at almost anything.  When I'm playing, I am very much focused on who my character is, rather than what he can do, so in that regard, I fall under the 'role-play' category.  I gravitate toward characters with quirky backgrounds (one of my favorite characters was in a Palladium fantasy game...a troll who'd become a pirate), I suppose si.ply because tend to look at my characters from every cinematic approach and those are the kinds of characters I'd like to see in movies.  To a certain extent, I suppose, I could be accused on min-maxing, as Itry remake my characters as competent as possible and recently negotiated dropping oneattribute score on a character I was building in exchange for raising another attribute (drop two points to gain one), but the negotiated point didn't go to max out his best attribute, it was to bump another one so his stats matched up better with my initial concept for the character.

But I have been in games with the worst-case scenario min-maxers, with a GM whowasn'tgoing to tell them they couldn't do it--but washing to make them suffer every potential penalty for doing so.  It was a home-brew game, sotheby's guy basically tried to max out his strength and dexterity attributes to make the most combat-capable character he could envision...but to do that, he sacrificed pretty much everything else...the character was pure fighting instinct, with an intelligence so low that the basic mechanics of a simple door latch confounded him.  If we were playing pit-fighters or something similar, it could have been a very entertaining character...but when the party is being used as chess-pieces in a war between gods, it didn't achieve much (the GM later told me he allowed it for two reasons...first, the player was a childhood friend and they'd been gaming together for over a decade, and second, he wanted to make a point to his friend because the guy ALWAYS built characters like that with the argument that having more diverse stats would ruin the character.  That character only lasted a session or two before the player got tired of his character only being useful for about thirty seconds every gaming session and having to yield the spotlight the rest of the time to the 'mediocre' characters who weren't combat gods but had general skills in almost everything else...he made a different, 'normal' character and turned out to be a great player.)

It really is however, largely a matter of what kind of game is being run, and whether the player wants to be really good at just one or two things, or competent at several things.  Had another friend who played a Troglodyte in a Palladium game...the character was really strong, good dexterity, was also dumb as a post (other characters had to teach him how to reload his crossbow).  He had a great time with that character...never even bothered getting a melee weapon for the character--he'd fire his crossbow and then wade into the fight using the crossbow as a club.  That was what he wanted from the character, and he was a lot of fun to have in the group.  There's not a right or wrong to it, 8t's just a matter of having players who's desires for what they get from the game are compatible with each other and the style of the game.
engine
 member, 754 posts
 There's a brain alright
 but it's made out of meat
Mon 2 Dec 2019
at 00:38
Re: The Game IS the thing..
facemaker329:
I suppose si.ply because tend to look at my characters from every cinematic approach and those are the kinds of characters I'd like to see in movies.

That's a bit of my approach as well, but what I like about characters in good stories is that they don't (or can't) keep things from moving, even if they object.

facemaker329:
To a certain extent, I suppose, I could be accused on min-maxing, as Itry remake my characters as competent as possible

"Accused." Anyone who "accuses" anyone of min/maxing is causing more problems than they think they might be solving.

facemaker329:
But I have been in games with the worst-case scenario min-maxers, with a GM whowasn'tgoing to tell them they couldn't do it--but washing to make them suffer every potential penalty for doing so.

Do you see the issues with this? They won't just ask for what they want or discuss it in an open, mature way, but they'll be passive aggressive about it. They're not saying no, but they're trying to send the same message. As much as I'm against giving an outright "No," at least it's honest.

facemaker329:
It was a home-brew game, sotheby's guy basically tried to max out his strength and dexterity attributes to make the most combat-capable character he could envision...but to do that, he sacrificed pretty much everything else...the character was pure fighting instinct, with an intelligence so low that the basic mechanics of a simple door latch confounded him.

The rules stated this? There was a stated minimum score or dice roll needed to understand door latches? How did this character keep their weapons and equipment in good enough shape to use?

facemaker329:
If we were playing pit-fighters or something similar, it could have been a very entertaining character...but when the party is being used as chess-pieces in a war between gods, it didn't achieve much

Nothing about that descriptions requires that such a character not achieve much, so it must has been part of the decision by the GM.

facemaker329:
(the GM later told me he allowed it for two reasons...first, the player was a childhood friend and they'd been gaming together for over a decade, and second, he wanted to make a point to his friend because the guy ALWAYS built characters like that with the argument that having more diverse stats would ruin the character.  That character only lasted a session or two before the player got tired of his character only being useful for about thirty seconds every gaming session and having to yield the spotlight the rest of the time to the 'mediocre' characters who weren't combat gods but had general skills in almost everything else...he made a different, 'normal' character and turned out to be a great player.)

Do we all see how messed up this is? This GM was deliberately trying to make the game not fun for a player. Think about that. It's hard enough to make a game that's fun for a given player and this GM was making it non-fun on purpose.

Arguably, this had a happy ending, but other stories like that end with the player being driven from the hobby and the GM not realizing that it was their fault. At the very least, this GM wasted hours of this players time in a game they didn't enjoy. That's incredibly anti-social. Even if the GM felt that the player was being anti-social, the actual mature thing to do would have been to talk to them, their supposed friend, and get on the same page.

facemaker329:
There's not a right or wrong to it, 8t's just a matter of having players who's desires for what they get from the game are compatible with each other and the style of the game.

This is true, but there are right ways and wrong ways to determine and achieve that compatibility. I hope we can all see that wasting a player's time in order to try to teach them a lesson is very wrong.

Do you ever notice how the "problem" is almost always about the really great fighter character, and how the "solution" seems to be to make them mentally deficient? Sure, the super-intelligent character can't swing a sword or open a gate, but they are often supplied with other powers that make up for their deficiencies. This generally seems to be acceptable and correct to people. It makes me wonder if there isn't some bias toward athletes or something going on here.

In most games, failing at things is not inherently fun or interesting. Many GMs simply aren't good at arranging things so that the game stays interesting even if the players fail, and many who would be good at it simply don't bother, because they think failure should be boring. After all, making the game boring is the primary way that many GMs use to teach players how to be different.

This directly drives players to be min/maxers. It gives them control that they might not have otherwise, and requires somewhat less trust of the GM - and GMs often don't deserve much trust. It lets them turn aside failures that they wouldn't enjoy, and which will generally either bring the game to a halt or rob them of even more control.

There are lots of ways to take away incentives for min/maxing without resorting to disincentives. There are also ways to keep the game challenging and interesting without having to punish min/maxers. If people truly feel there's nothing wrong with that approach, then I hope they'd be on the lookout for such methods.

But if not, they should be aware that there are games that attempt to judo flip the min/maxing mindset. Fate is one of these. Fate GMs don't have to care about min/maxing because the way to maximize a Fate character is for a player to get one's character into trouble: they have to suffer wounds, losses, embarrassments, etc. if they want the fate points they need to power their aspects. All of those things are meant to be fun and part of the adventure, of course, but if a player has trouble accepting that, well, at least there's an actual benefit for those consequences in the form of fate points.

Dungeon World gives players experience for every failed roll. That's a definite incentive for taking risks and being willing not to choose the very best options every time.

Some games offer trade-offs at character creation, in the form of disadvantages. I recommend against these. In my experience, the players get the benefits and rarely see the downsides. That's why aspects in Fate work: you don't get the benefit until you experience the downside.

Anyway, I encourage everyone to relax about min/maxing. Many players who do it think they're supposed to do it, and many think that it's the only way to gain any control as players. They're probably not that different from you, so looking down on them is just divisive. That's the last thing this hobby needs.
DaCuseFrog
 member, 82 posts
 SW Florida
Mon 2 Dec 2019
at 03:42
Re: The Game IS the thing..
As someone who tends to land firmly in the middle of this issue, I have seen lousy AND great players at both extremes.  (Of course, a not-so-small portion of my roleplaying career has been in Munchkinland a.k.a. Palladium/RIFTS, which tends to bring out the min-max in many people.)  I worry about the stats, but more as an aspect of my character concept and not as a way to create the "ultimate" build.  I've played a barbarian with 10 for Strength and Dexterity (pre-selected class with forced rolls in order), and it sucks not being good at the only thing you're SUPPOSED to be good at.  Tangent aside, a GM should be able to incorporate different playing styles while keeping everyone engaged (at least somewhat), or at least explain why a certain play style is required for a specific game.

That being said, a high-level gestalt game is generally all about the power, so when in Rome... build a god.
Korentin_Black
 member, 547 posts
 I remember when all
 this was just fields...
Mon 2 Dec 2019
at 04:51
Re: The Game IS the thing..

 Ehhh, even then it does sort of depend on what the GM wants to run and what they've communicated to the players. If they've told folks at the table that the high-level gestalt is because they want them to be able to play unusual races with class skills or to create well-rounded characters who move and shake in the local community and that the power level for any given thing they do should be roughly on a par with the character examples in the book, then someone bringing a twinked-out diplomancer or two-trick killing machine is the one stepping out of line.

 If on the other hand they've told everyone to bring their A-game and they'll face what they face, then buyer beware, so to speak.

 The only way to 'lose' at a role-playing game is after all, for someone at the table not to have fun.
facemaker329
 member, 7135 posts
 Gaming for over 30
 years, and counting!
Mon 2 Dec 2019
at 10:37
Re: The Game IS the thing..
In reply to engine (msg # 12):

Seeing as it was a homebrew game, and the GM was quite open about the fact that the rules were still fluid because we were pretty much play-testing the rules, no, there were no stated guidelines on how smart characters should be.  However, your point about it being the fighters and the answer being to make them dumb overlooks the fact that the player, himself, deliberately chose to have the minimum possible intelligence score so that he could amp his combat attributes.  Since I wasn't there when the character was created, I don't know what all was said...but every character I'd seen built with that GM included him giving the player a general summation of what those attributes meant, and given their personal history, I can't see the GM deciding to skip that step, especially where the attribute was on the verge of making the character unplayable except in very specific circumstances.  So, no, I don't lay the blame for that at the GM's feet...I had several different characters at various points in my time playing, and each time I chose something that might be problematic--from attributes to the deities I chose in relationship to my character class--I got some kind of a "be advised that this will create challenges for your character" statement from him.  Sometimes those prompted changes, on my part...sometimes I chose to run with it, just to see how the rules played out.  It's possible this guy had the same thought, as far as seeing what the rules ended up doing with those attributes...but that wasn't the way his playing came across (rather than accepting the fact that his character would have been the village idiot in any village, because that's just how bad his stats were, this guy started arguing that his character should have been able to make leaps of logic, out of uneducated intuition, that even the smartest characters in the party would have struggled with having extensive education and even some experience, in a couple of cases).

He wanted to be a combat god.  And when he discovered that the party did a lot of problem solving with methods that didn't involve chopping the enemy into little pieces, he wanted to be good at that, too, even though he'd chosen to sacrifice those stats to become superhuman in physical combat.

Had this been a new player, or even someone he was unfamiliar with, I'm sure the GM would have refused to take the character, BECAUSE it was such a flawed build...he would have insisted on some tweaks to make it a better-rounded character, ability-wise, so the gaming g experience wouldn't have been so bad.  And I think GMs are within their rig hgt ts to speak up and say, "That character is going to be a poor fit in this game...let's make some tweaks, if you really want to play it".  These two seemed to have a history of the one guy making really one-dimensional characters, and the GM putting up with them...they grew up in a small town, there weren't a lot of options for gaming buddies.  Being in a larger city with a whole party of players running well-rounded characters, the GM didn't feel like compromising the whole game to cater to one old buddy's whims.
DreamQuestin
 member, 211 posts
Wed 4 Dec 2019
at 00:58
Re: The Game IS the thing..
I thank everyone for their thoughts and for sharing experiences.  I have talked to my GM and he says he is looking forward to my retooled character.  I don't imagine I will play her role playing any different, it is just when it comes to the battles and adventuring skills that she might not be quite so decorative :D

Now to see what can be done with her.

Thanks again,
DreamQuestin
Brianna
 member, 2202 posts
Wed 4 Dec 2019
at 02:13
Re: The Game IS the thing..
I tend to like a compromise between the two for a campaign, but I've played some extremes in short term and/or tournament games.  I usually have a character class and a vague concept in mind, and then work from there.  I don't want my character to have a really low number in their main stat, it's too limiting in so many ways, but they don't have to have an 18 either.  I may also have something in mind to build toward, like a special feat or class, and would consider what I need to do to leave that as a possibility.  But the new things have to fit in the concept, even if only as the character 'grows up' or I'll look for something else to work for.  (If the new thing is really intriguing but is something this character just would never do, I make a note, and perhaps make a future character to use it.  I hate the builds that have multiple classes piled together that may work sort of on paper, but there's no way to justify the character going in that direction with a feasible history.)

As far as levels, I prefer mid level.  I remember when Living City was sold (conversion to 3E and then the sale were a huge mess in general, IMO totally wrecked the campaign) the guy who bought it seemed to think everyone wanted to be at least level 14, while I had been very careful not to play my favourite LC character too often so that she wouldn't get to double digit.

I think min/maxing can have its place; I do tend to do that best I can for a given character within the parameters I've set for it.  But I prefer to roleplay, and strictly min/maxed characters usually aren't the best for that.