A Beginner's Primer to CharOp.

72 posts / 0 new
Last post
A few things worth knowing about the Character Optimization board:

There's also a CO IRC channel!

The boards aren't the only place to discuss CO. Feel free to join us in ##4eCo on freenode.net. If you don't have an IRC client, there's also the browser interface at
webchat.freenode.net/?channels=##4eCO It's a great place to hang out, meet some of the regulars and fine-tune ideas or ask questions. Many of the board's iconic builds spent a long time in development on the channel both before and after being posted. New faces are always welcome.

There are a lot of abbreviations and jargon used here, but don't let that scare you.

Regular posters such as myself and the handbook writers frequently refer to things such as NADs or PrP or DSCS. If you don't know what those, or any other examples mean, feel free to ask, or there is a glossary to them in this thread by Valenkosh. We know what they mean, but we also know that not everyone does - asking will not make you seem stupid or "n00bie-ish", it shows a willingness to learn, which is always welcome. If you find one you don't know, and isn't in the glossary, suggest it! Adding to that list will help everyone.

This is not the Character Creation board.

Despite the numerous wealth of suggestions you can be given, and the number of complete builds that often get posted here, this is not the place to come expecting someone to build a character for you. The purpose of the board is to fine tune your existing character through, for example, feat selection, or to gain suggestions as to what you should be playing for mechanical effectiveness. A good example would be "What is a good leader for a group with a Fighter, Rogue and Barbarian?" and being told "A Warlord who grants them attacks, because you have a lot of strong melee". Asking for suggestions for that warlord, such as a good race choice, or a couple of feats to go with whatever race you'd already chosen is fine, but expecting a 1-30 breakdown of a Warlord build tailor-made for your campaign, desires and table rules is not.

Just because this is a commonly viewed board, does not mean it is a generic one.

If your thread does not relate to the Optimization of a character in some way, please do not start it. There are other boards, such as General Discussion, 4e Rules Q&A, or Character Development which are more suited to those relevant discussions, or there is also the "Ask a simple question" sticky for basic rules or mechanical queries, which also do not need a new thread started to ask. Posting these threads wastes page space, and may force more valid threads or questions out of view.

The more you give, the more you get in return.

If you need help with something, please be as specific as possible. The more information you give us, the easier it is for us to help you. Someone who comes in asking if we can "please help pick a paragon path for their Longtooth Shifter Ranger in Dark Sun" or "What is a good feat for me to take 8th level after I've taken X Y and Z" is more likely to get a swift and useful answer than "I need a good monk feat" (To exaggerate a little).

A little patience and politeness goes a long way.

Sometimes, people bring questions here and they go unanswered for a little while. It can, and does happen, usually because there isn't anyone around who can answer it. It's quite common among the CO regulars to think "If you can't post something constructive, don't post", or rather that people tend not to post on subjects outside their field of expertise. If you don't get an answer within a few hours, or the first day or so, bump your thread once, to get it a bit more attention, but please don't do so excessively, or lose your patience and mouth off at us for not posting (It does happen, and makes no-one happy to see). Also, remember that there are many resources here within the boards, all catalogued in this thread, containing a wealth of useful information. Hopefully checking one of them will provide you with an answer, or at least a starting point.

'Just because we, in CO, deal in strict RAW because TheoOp has no DM, does not mean you, your group or your DM has to. Remember this.'


It is common here in the Character Optimization boards, to see builds or concepts that exploit odd rules interpretations, or specific combos of material that produce unexpected and often powerful builds which result in them, and by extension, those of us who are regular to the boards being called 'overpowered' 'min/maxing(ers)' 'munchkins' etc. This is what's known as Theoretical Optimization, and is often irrelevant to actual gameplay. The true purpose of Character Optimization is Practical Optimization.

What is Practical Optimization? It's about making a character fun because it works well. It's pointing out which options are good to take if you want to play X race as Y class with Z build. It's when someone brings a concept, such as a cold-using wizard, a fighter with an odd weapon, or even their favourite movie/tv/anime/comic book character and trying to work out the best way, mechanically, to build that character or concept as a playable fun build.

For a good discourse on the matter of Theoretical Optimization and it's (valid) place in CharOp, please read AlphaTheGreats Theoretical Optimization Manifesto.

Theoretical Optimization, while it does have a place, often needs to taken with a grain of salt and a sense of perspective. Yes, there are those who go out of their way to break the game for the sake of a character that can solo gods or what have you. This does not mean we all do. Nor does it mean this character will come along and ruin your game.

1.) Just because we can, doesn't mean we will. Yes, it may be possible to build a character that's completely unkillable, or can kill an entire encounter in one action. (I'm exaggerating a little here) But any decent player, even one who likes to optimise, won't. Why? Because it's not fun! It removes all challenge from the game, and ruins it for any other participants by completely outshining them.

2.) Just because we can, doesn't mean you have to let us. Remember Rule Zero? If you don't like how an interpretation of the rules or an item combo allows something bad to happen or the game to break, don't let it! This isn't an MMO, the game isn't run on some unalterable server that's out of your hands. You, as the DM, or with your DM, as a player, control how the game works, and have the right and the responsibility to squash such things if they would ruin your fun.

3.) Just because we can, doesn't mean we should. Take a close look at some of the oft-called 'OP' or 'Broken' High-DPR or Uber-Nova builds. Many of them are unplayable in a real game outside of one specific form of combat, due to poor defenses, bad skills, a lack of versatility, poor compatibility with RP or Campaign choices, etc (and sometimes, more than one of these at a time). The best built builds in CO are ones that are capable of high performance, but are still fully playable, well rounded characters. These are often NOT, I repeat not, the encounter-wrecking, game-breaking, rule-book-burning builds. Even one such build that can slay a god in one nova round still usually only does so once a day, and that's assuming the god sits still and lets that build hit it - any decent and interesting god will have some kind of defensive mechanism, or the build will rely on the group (You know, the other players? The other people there also to have fun?) to work together, at which point it's fully complying with the spirit of co-operation that the game is about.

To summarize:

Please just remember these simple little concepts when browsing the CO boards. Remember, most of us are D&D players too. We have our own groups, our own campaigns, and we love the game just as much as you do.
A Beginners Primer to CharOp. Archmage's Ascension - The Wizard's Handbook. Let the Hammer Fall: Dwarf Warpriest/Tactical Warpriest/Indomitable Champion, a Defending Leader. Requiem for Dissent: Cleric/Fighter/Paragon of Victory Melee Leader Ko te manu e kai i te miro, nona te ngahere. Ko te manu e kai i te matauranga e, nano te ao katoa. It's the proliferation of people who think the rules are more important than what the rules are meant to accomplish. - Dedekine
In like Flynn.
I agree completely, and I would recommend this would be stickied, as it puts our work here in context.
And remember kids, radiant weapons don't kill people, Pervasive Light kills people!

Kidding! Nice post.
These are things that everyone should realize, but apparently do not always grasp.

Glad to have it put out there so flatly.

Strong post. WTB pin.
Adding it to my build concept handbook, since I feel the two kind of intertwine, especially with rule #3. Good work RuinsFate, and I agree with LDB. Having a basic guideline of the forum would help anyone who's posting on here. I vote to get this one stickied.
Good strong post - needs to be stickied... will then remove this post to add more salient points  of CharOp
Great Post RF!!! I'm going to vote for sticky too

Chauntea/Lathander/Torm Cleric since 1995 My husband married a DM - καλὸς καὶ ἀγαθός

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/14.jpg)

Awesome.  Stick it to me baby.
The hypocrisy!

Hap
The hypocrisy!

Hap




I say: sticky!

The hypocrisy!

Hap




I say: sticky!




There's more than a hint of dogma in certain parts of the CharOp boards. I've seen it a number of times; "You can't do that - it's ridiculous" because some build doesn't follow the 'accepted' approach.

I welcome the OP's position (and my comment wasn't aimed in that direction) - I think it's what CharOp should be all about -  inclusive, constructive in its criticism and more holistic than it currently is e.g. damage, damage, damage.

Hap
There's more than a hint of dogma in certain parts of the CharOp boards. I've seen it a number of times; "You can't do that - it's ridiculous" because some build doesn't follow the 'accepted' approach.

I welcome the OP's position (and my comment wasn't aimed in that direction) - I think it's what CharOp should be all about -  inclusive, constructive in its criticism and more holistic than it currently is e.g. damage, damage, damage.

Hap

I agree that those tendencies can be quite annoying (especially if somebody has stipulated from the beginning inside which boundaries optimization is sought). I do think, however, that that would be all the more reason to sticky this post!

The problem with using the word hypocrisy (IMHO) is that it implies that the OP (or perhaps one of those reacting favourably) is known for acting against the spirit of what was said...

I would welcome the post being stickied. Does that answer both points? Wink

Hap
I would welcome the post being stickied. Does that answer both points?

Hap

It does!

Good stuff!

I put in a stickying request. Feel free to load even more good stuff here if ya want ;)
Keith Richmond Living Forgotten Realms Epic Writing Director
Maybe  you could also include a "Just because we can, doesn't mean you have to" where it is explained that the optimal way is not the only correct way of building a character.
Blah. As useful as the information is, I think we're getting too many stickied threads in this forum. With the screen layout I have now, I need to page down to actually see discussion threads (as opposed to the Community banner header and the currently stickied threads). This looks like it'll be a thread which new people might read once, and then never again.
Yeah... I thought about not putting it in, since there were already 3. Then I ran aground trying to figure out why the Q&A sticky was here instead of Q&A and whether the 3.5 redirect was still needed.

Ended up deciding it was easy to listen to the posters in the thread and let you guys decide what's best.
Keith Richmond Living Forgotten Realms Epic Writing Director
Good thread.
Although if we want to sticky it, we probably should also add a few other explanationed (Stormwind Fallacy, how to post builds, basic assumption / consensus, etc).

And I don't see a problem with stickies - we only have three, and as Keithric says, the 3.5 can probably go away now.
Blah. As useful as the information is, I think we're getting too many stickied threads in this forum. With the screen layout I have now, I need to page down to actually see discussion threads (as opposed to the Community banner header and the currently stickied threads). This looks like it'll be a thread which new people might read once, and then never again.

In that end, someone may just want to copy this to an already sticked thread.  Easy enough to drop at the top of the Build Collection one.

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

'Just because we, in CO, deal in strict RAW because TheoOp has no DM, does not mean you, your group or your DM has to. Remember this.'

1.) Just because we can, doesn't mean we will.

2.) Just because we can, doesn't mean you have to let us.

3.) Just because we can, doesn't mean we should.

4) Just because we can, doesn't mean it wouldn't be pointless. I have a partial Fighter build that, by level 6, is getting an extra +7 on attack rolls for opportunity attacks - at level 12, gets two tries on an OA and will get yet another +2 if the first misses - at level 16, the OA-specific attack bonus is up to +9 and the oops-try-again OA attack bonus is up to +4. You don't need to hit level+6 enemies on a 2, because well before you get there your DM will have intelligent enemies stop provoking OAs from you - and nobody in the party, including you, can handle level+6 enemies anyway.
"The world does not work the way you have been taught it does. We are not real as such; we exist within The Story. Unfortunately for you, you have inherited a condition from your mother known as Primary Protagonist Syndrome, which means The Story is interested in you. It will find you, and if you are not ready for the narrative strands it will throw at you..." - from Footloose


There's more than a hint of dogma in certain parts of the CharOp boards. I've seen it a number of times; "You can't do that - it's ridiculous" because some build doesn't follow the 'accepted' approach.

I welcome the OP's position (and my comment wasn't aimed in that direction) - I think it's what CharOp should be all about -  inclusive, constructive in its criticism and more holistic than it currently is e.g. damage, damage, damage.

Hap


You can do whatever you think you can do ... but that is Houserule territory.
You can say a build works in whatever way you think it does, or should do ... but that is Houserule territory.

Here's the thing - it is NOT dogma. You can say the rules work what ever way you wanna say they  work. That doesn't mean, that the other 6 Billion people on the planet, are hyper-reflexively going to agree with you. And why would they? So here on the C.O. board "we" try to figure out how the rules work, without needing Me Myself and I , to be overdeity of everyone elses universe.

Building "good" builds on the C.O. board is actually downstream, from the assumption that the rules are the rules.
Building a "good" build with the assumption that the rules don't matter, or that the rules are gonna be changed to suite someone's overdeity-esque ideas ... isn't anything at all to do with C.O.

No dogma involved. Magic Tea Party doesn't need any rules.
C.O. does.
Laughing


EDIT - oh, and Action Denial (hint).

Here comes your 19th forums breakdown ... ohh who's to blame, it ain't 5E driving you insane.

 



There's more than a hint of dogma in certain parts of the CharOp boards. I've seen it a number of times; "You can't do that - it's ridiculous" because some build doesn't follow the 'accepted' approach.

I welcome the OP's position (and my comment wasn't aimed in that direction) - I think it's what CharOp should be all about -  inclusive, constructive in its criticism and more holistic than it currently is e.g. damage, damage, damage.

Hap


You can do whatever you think you can do ... but that is Houserule territory.
You can say a build works in whatever way you think it does, or should do ... but that is Houserule territory.

Here's the thing - it is NOT dogma. You can say the rules work what ever way you wanna say they  work. That doesn't mean, that the other 6 Billion people on the planet, are hyper-reflexively going to agree with you. And why would they? So here on the C.O. board "we" try to figure out how the rules work, without needing Me Myself and I , to be overdeity of everyone elses universe.

Building "good" builds on the C.O. board is actually downstream, from the assumption that the rules are the rules.
Building a "good" build with the assumption that the rules don't matter, or that the rules are gonna be changed to suite someone's overdeity-esque ideas ... isn't anything at all to do with C.O.

No dogma involved. Magic Tea Party doesn't need any rules.
C.O. does.



EDIT - oh, and Action Denial (hint).




I think you misunderstood his position, there are several vocal members of this board that tend towards an attitude of "if it isn't the best, it isn't worth considering", and mistake some of the theoretical builds provided on CharOp as goalposts to which a build must strive for in order to be viable. I don't think he's talking about RaW arguments, but rather, the dogma of the handful of powergamers that post on the boards that don't seem to truely understand the what the OP is saying with his "just because you can..."
I know I come off as Hostile and abrasive. It is not my intention to do so, I am just a very emotionally driven individual. I apologize if I come off as such to you and ask that you please don't take it personally, as I can assure you, it is not intended as such. ---------------------------------------------------------
duel colour
You are Red/Blue!
You are Red/Blue!
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.
You are both rational and emotional. You value creation and discovery, and feel strongly about what I create. At best, you're innovative and intuitive. At worst, you're scattered and unpredictable.
--------

6.jpg
D&D Home Page - What Monster Are You? - D&D Compendium

Storm Sorcerer: Bowling with the gods
Thanks Kratch - yes that's what I was getting at.

I don't want to derail the discussion though so in the interest of practising what I preach perhaps some constructuive feedback would be to suggest that when builds are posted it's made clear what the flavour of the optimisation is and what kind of feedback/suggestions the OP is looking for.

It's fine if it is damage, damage, damage but in my view this is usually far from optimised in reality.

But hey, just my opinion Wink

Hap
Then I ran aground trying to figure out why the Q&A sticky was here instead of Q&A and whether the 3.5 redirect was still needed.

By this point, if a poster doesn't realize 4e is the current edition, and doesn't notice the name of the forum is "4e Character Optimization", there's really no helping them.
It's fine if it is damage, damage, damage but in my view this is usually far from optimised in reality.

I've found the "most optimal" setups in the campaigns I've been in tend to rely targeting/positioning, to be able to get my DPR.
I don't want to derail the discussion though so in the interest of practising what I preach perhaps some constructuive feedback would be to suggest that when builds are posted it's made clear what the flavour of the optimisation is and what kind of feedback/suggestions the OP is looking for.

Most of the theoretical-optimization point make it really obvious, in the thread name or in the beginning of the first paragraph, exactly what they are optimizing.

Heck, I even do that with theoretical builds that are so weird I put them in chardev rather than charop - The Crazy Cat Lady (You get one guess what that build maximizes.)

"The world does not work the way you have been taught it does. We are not real as such; we exist within The Story. Unfortunately for you, you have inherited a condition from your mother known as Primary Protagonist Syndrome, which means The Story is interested in you. It will find you, and if you are not ready for the narrative strands it will throw at you..." - from Footloose
Most of the theoretical-optimization point make it really obvious, in the thread name or in the beginning of the first paragraph, exactly what they are optimizing.

Heck, I even do that with theoretical builds that are so weird I put them in chardev rather than charop - The Crazy Cat Lady (You get one guess what that build maximizes.)




Sometimes but not always and regardless I think it would help to make it a factor of an optimisation build that it's of a certain type and you're looking for feeback (after all this thread is about a primer so we're talking about giving some guidelines to the process).

Hap


I think you misunderstood his position, there are several vocal members of this board that tend towards an attitude of "if it isn't the best, it isn't worth considering", and mistake some of the theoretical builds provided on CharOp as goalposts to which a build must strive for in order to be viable. I don't think he's talking about RaW arguments, but rather, the dogma of the handful of powergamers that post on the boards that don't seem to truely understand the what the OP is saying with his "just because you can..."


I can't tell you how many hundreds of threads I have read where someone of CO notability responds with, "Class X (or build X or add-on X) does this so much better, you should just play/use X" instead of constructively trying to assist someone in bringing a different build to the table with practical optimization. It usually takes a long time to break through this wall for some people whose feedback is otherwise interesting.
Oh. My bad for the over reaction. Sorry.


Yeah, for a while the 3e CO-board had guys who would answer every build, with Pun-pun.
Annoying.
(smirk)

Here comes your 19th forums breakdown ... ohh who's to blame, it ain't 5E driving you insane.

 

Oh. My bad for the over reaction. Sorry.


Yeah, for a while the 3e CO-board had guys who would answer every build, with Pun-pun.
Annoying.
(smirk)



This isn't a come on... but I really like you.

My kitty avatar just blushed ...
but a 3.5e Contingency with Disguise Self kicked in
so he/it still looks mangy.

Here comes your 19th forums breakdown ... ohh who's to blame, it ain't 5E driving you insane.

 


   No, this thread should not be stickied.  In fact, as far as the membership is concerned, it should be pretty much ignored.  The game designers need these principles, not the players.


What is Practical Optimization? It's about making a character fun because it works well. It's pointing out which options are good to take if you want to play X race as Y class with Z build. It's when someone brings a concept, such as a cold-using wizard, a fighter with an odd weapon, or even their favourite movie/tv/anime/comic book character and trying to work out the best way, mechanically, to build that character or concept as a playable fun build.


    This is largely theoretical optimization tempered by not being willing to put in the time and energy to make a build perfect.  Given a little more time for the knowledge of the best build to spread and the difference vanishes.


1.) Just because we can, doesn't mean we will. Yes, it may be possible to build a character that's completely unkillable, or can kill an entire encounter in one action. (I'm exaggerating a little here) But any decent player, even one who likes to optimise, won't. Why? Because it's not fun! It removes all challenge from the game, and ruins it for any other participants by completely outshining them.


    Nonsense.  We don't build the godkiller because we don't know how, and don't want to bother learning how.  We'll take our chances at ruining the challenge and ruining the fun of others if we get to be the stud. 

2.) Just because we can, doesn't mean you have to let us. Remember Rule Zero? If you don't like how an interpretation of the rules or an item combo allows something bad to happen or the game to break, don't let it! You, as the DM, or with your DM, as a player, control how the game works, and have the right and the responsibility to squash such things if they would ruin your fun.


    Now this is a reasonable idea, but this is almost a complete reversal of the intent of Rule Zero, which essentially tells the DM to let the players cheat.  4e has had a deplorable attitude of letting the players get away with nonsense in the name of having 'fun' and nobody should be surprised that they are 'overdoing' it.

3.) Just because we can, doesn't mean we should. Take a close look at some of the oft-called 'OP' or 'Broken' High-DPR or Uber-Nova builds. Many of them are unplayable in a real game outside of one specific form of combat, due to poor defenses, bad skills, a lack of versatility, poor compatibility with RP or Campaign choices, etc (and sometimes, more than one of these at a time). The best built builds in CO are ones that are capable of high performance, but are still fully playable, well rounded characters. These are often NOT, I repeat not, the encounter-wrecking, game-breaking, rule-book-burning builds.


    If this statement were true, it would hardly need to be stated.  Nor would this entire post be be made.  The best builds, capable of
high performance and still fully playable, well rounded characters, are, more often than not, the encounter-wrecking, game-breaking, rule-book-burning builds.
 

Well David, you can have an opinion, just realize everyone else thinks it is the wrong one.
David, it seems like you have lots of opinions without much knowledge to back it up.  With regards to your last comment especially, I have to wonder if you've ever actually play-tested any of the builds that you revile, or whether you just scrolled to the "nova" or "DPR" sections of the builds to see all the big numbers.

Where the builds are game-breaking, the authors acknowledge the highly particular (read as: unlikely to ever happen in an actual game more than once or twice) set of circumstances that it takes to do something ridiculous.  Outside of that highly specialized and esoteric set of circumstances, the builds function far less optimally than a 'normal' build designed to weather all facets of a campaign, including skill challenges and various types of combat encounters.  These Super Builds are fun exercises in creation and artistry, but have as much value in a REAL game as the front-flip dunk you see during the NBA All-Star game dunk contest.  Sure, its pretty...but ultimately worthless.  

As to Rule Zero...you realize that it is a double-edged sword, right?  It is meant to allow the DM to make decisions unsupported by the rules both in favor of the players...and to add additional challenge when necessary?  I'm sorry that you have played under horrible DMs (or, likely, ARE a horrible DM who exacerbates the problem by letting your players getting away with murder then blaming the system...sort of like a 500 pound man with diabetes who blames Hostess for making Twinkies taste so good), but you really should understand the full implications of a game precept before you attempt to speak with authority about something which you have clearly demonstrated your inability to comprehend.  

In closing, it seems that you have entirely missed the boat on the difference between Theoretical and Practical CharOP.  You claim that Practical builds are failures in time and effort, as opposed to conscious decisions NOT to go for broke.  It seems to have escaped you that the goal of D&D is NOT to break the system; it is to enjoy playing the game.  Super broken characters are fun for a while, in the same way that God Mode on a video game is fun for a few minutes, but without challenge, there is no excitement.  Those who want to play the game will build their characters well and thrive on performing at a high level.  Those who only want to break the game will build it, break it, then find themselves wanting for a new challenge.  It is evident from your statements that you fall into the latter categories: You will find your God Mode sequence, then be left unfulfilled and wondering why no one wants to game at your table again.  Aside from the casual arrogance of your demeanor and lack of substance in your statements, the answer to that is simple: You don't play the game.  You play the numbers and expect that ever other play is just like you or should WANT to be just like you.  




   First, I want to say that I like the way you format your posts. The extra spaces before paragraphs and after each sentence have a subtle effect that makes the whole more visually appealing.

   Second, I'd like to note that Tektonik's post above is so elegant and well-put that I almost scrapped this whole post.

   This is largely theoretical optimization tempered by not being willing to put in the time and energy to make a build perfect.  Given a little more time for the knowledge of the best build to spread and the difference vanishes. [...]We don't build the godkiller because we don't know how, and don't want to bother learning how.  We'll take our chances at ruining the challenge and ruining the fun of others if we get to be the stud.

   You are wrong. There will always be some people who want to play what they think is cool, even when they know that there is a build that does the same thing in combat, but better. Helping them be as effective as possible with their suboptimal build is a laudable brand of practical optimization, and one of my favorite functions of the CharOp boards.

 
Now this is a reasonable idea, but this is almost a complete reversal of the intent of Rule Zero, which essentially tells the DM to let the players cheat.  4e has had a deplorable attitude of letting the players get away with nonsense in the name of having 'fun' and nobody should be surprised that they are 'overdoing' it.

   RuinsFate's intent here is not to direct DMs to bring the hammer down on their optimizing players, but to reassure them that they don't need to feel threatened by the work, theoretical or practical, that is done on these boards. The point is that (theoretical, in particular) optimization is not inherently bad, even if a particular element can be bad for a specific game.

 
If this statement were true, it would hardly need to be stated.  Nor would this entire post be be made.  The best builds, capable of high performance and still fully playable, well rounded characters, are, more often than not, the encounter-wrecking, game-breaking, rule-book-burning builds.

   This not true. It would be true if the reputation for CharOp were built purely on its Practical Op output, but it isn't; people who mistake theoretical optimization for practical optimization, and are threatened by the idea of something game-breaking being allowed at their table, have contributed significantly to CharOp's negative reputation.
David, I've decided to take a break from my regularly scheduled monday night LFR to say just one thing to you.



You're off your rocker.
Oh Content, where art thou?
I've edited the opening post in response to a few issues that have arisen recently with the state of the CO boards.
A Beginners Primer to CharOp. Archmage's Ascension - The Wizard's Handbook. Let the Hammer Fall: Dwarf Warpriest/Tactical Warpriest/Indomitable Champion, a Defending Leader. Requiem for Dissent: Cleric/Fighter/Paragon of Victory Melee Leader Ko te manu e kai i te miro, nona te ngahere. Ko te manu e kai i te matauranga e, nano te ao katoa. It's the proliferation of people who think the rules are more important than what the rules are meant to accomplish. - Dedekine
I am very much in favor of these. People posting inapplicable discussions here, as well as outright requesting characters being made for them, was really starting to get under my skin.
Excellent additions, RF. I am reminded again how much I appreciate your writing ability. The tone here is impeccable, and the thing is beautifully concise. I could have taken twice as many words to say the same thing.
Thank you.
A Beginners Primer to CharOp. Archmage's Ascension - The Wizard's Handbook. Let the Hammer Fall: Dwarf Warpriest/Tactical Warpriest/Indomitable Champion, a Defending Leader. Requiem for Dissent: Cleric/Fighter/Paragon of Victory Melee Leader Ko te manu e kai i te miro, nona te ngahere. Ko te manu e kai i te matauranga e, nano te ao katoa. It's the proliferation of people who think the rules are more important than what the rules are meant to accomplish. - Dedekine