Optimizing Living Divine

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Any thoughts, you guys, on optimizing characters for the new Living campaign?

It has some special rules, which you can find here:
hobbes.viceandvillainy.org:4242/LivingDi...

In a nutshell, you get one "divine feat" for free per level. These feats can be like a flat +2 to damage rolls, +1 of damage-type of your choice (cold, psionic, etc.) and small reistance, +1 to hit, the ability to alter form, doubling the bonus of Skill Focus, and so forth.

If you play a race other than human/half-elf/elf/halfing/dwarf it costs a divine feat slot, and likewise if you take an "uncommon" class.

Just eyeballing it for my first game on Sunday, I don't think anything will compare to the (sigh) twin-striking ranger (or scout or hunter) that takes +2 to damage at 1st level, +1 to hit at 2nd, and +1 to damage per level after that.

I was debating making a paladin with the ability to do a Range 5/10 1d6+7+slow at-will at 1st level, but that's just not nearly as good as the 2d12+1d8+4 twin striking ranger. :/ The paladin will get the ability to immobilize at-will at 11th, but at 11th the twin-striking ranger gets into frostcheese-psychic lock without even having to buy a frost weapon.
divine prescience seems unbalanced. There's no reason NOT to take it... as for optimiziation, given starting at level 1, I'm assuming abusing doubling of skill focus arcana for Sage of Ages is out of the window?
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This sounds very poorly balanced. Arbitrarily assinging races and classes as uncommon and docking them a feat reeks of the old LA system, and appears to happen for no good reason.

The domain power feats are all over the place in power level cf: destruction vs plant. Also nb: chaos does not stack with divine prescience and should never be taken.

I'm guessing the idea is about making an all-powerful character, but that really sounds dull to me, especially when all it seems to do is widen the existing class/race disparities present in 4e.

As for optimising: Domain Power: Dream + Psychic Lock go!
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
Yeah, use their houserules to break ranger to the extreme.

The uncommon penalties are just silly. It pretty much gives stuff with the most support (except hexblades)  extra benefits.
Being able to use Psychic Lock, frostcheese, Master of Flame ( or other fire support, as little good as there is), as well as any force/necrotic/lightning support you want to dredge up, all on a single attack, strikes me as pretty abusable.


Also I'm not sure if you can take the same divine talent more than once.  It doesn't say you can't, but that feels more like an oversight to me, and it only looks necessary because this is a preview (notice how it says Domain Power I, implying that there will be later Domain Power talents with the previous one as a prereq).
The difference between madness and genius is determined only by degrees of success.
FWIW, I think the idea of the uncommon penalties are basically the same reason ECL in 3E was implemented for low-power monster races... explicitly to discourage players from using the penalized options. Then again, over the course of more than a few levels, you'll eventually catch up even as an eladrin hybrid or whatever.

Overall, this whole set of feats is comical. The use of the Cold Domain basically lets you get into frostcheese without need for a Frost weapon, which depending on how items are doled out in this system, could be amazingly useful for certain characters. I also find the big set of resist 1 options delightful - a bunch of **** to track which barely matters, and a false equality to a bunch of damage types unless the module writers actually take care to roughly balance out the damage type use. I also love how a +2 to a skill is equal to a +2 to all damage forever.

I'd almost think they would just be better off to create a bunch of themes for the different domains and leave it at. Their current method just ends up a pantheon full of destruction-cold-dream domain prescient demigods running around. They could at least throw someone a bone for taking Skill Focus... >_> 
I believe the intent is to very badly restrict PC access to equipment.
I believe the intent is to very badly restrict PC access to equipment.



Doesn't matter, Dream/Cold talented characters can use Lasting Frost, Wintertouched and Psychic lock without enchanted weapons...

Seems very poorly thought through. +2 damage is equal to +2 to skill checks related to dealing with animals? Unless your character is some kind of cosmic zookeeper, I can guess which will see more use.

Laz 
Is this for real? They should reverse the common and uncommon races and classes IMO and make rangers require an additional divine feat. Hybrid would be the only class that stays uncommon and hybridizing ranger would require one additional divine feat.

People would still play rangers or hybrid rangers. People would still play those races. Certain classes such as hexblade would stay common.
Is this for real?

Sure. Though, to be fair, the rules are still in a beta form.

Hopefully the disparity between losers like animal and chaos vs. winners like war and destruction will be fixed in the final version.
(Quote removed)
This is 4th Edition, the assumption is that there will be a fair amount of combat.
Why? There's no particular need for there to be more combat than in any other edition of D&D, or for those participating in the combats to be more or less optimized.

Especially in a game about divine characters, maybe the combats will end up being mostly smashing through tons of minions, showing off your godliness, and "whee" to all the damage bonuses then. 
Keith Richmond Living Forgotten Realms Epic Writing Director
Why? There's no particular need for there to be more combat than in any other edition of D&D, or for those participating in the combats to be more or less optimized.

Especially in a game about divine characters, maybe the combats will end up being mostly smashing through tons of minions, showing off your godliness, and "whee" to all the damage bonuses then. 



1) This is the Character Optimization forum. We're darn well gonna optimize something, and combat has been the most suitable target for optimization since D&D was first created.

2) Any modules created for use by a large number of different groups in a standardized system (such as the Living groups) inevitably has quite a bit of combat, simply because it's a lot easier to predict what people are going to do in combat than out of it. In combat? They'll probably try to kill the enemies. Out of combat? Who knows, so hopefully you put in enough different ways to accomplish the main goal that the local DM doesn't have to go completely overboard with the railroading.
Why? There's no particular need for there to be more combat than in any other edition of D&D, or for those participating in the combats to be more or less optimized.

Especially in a game about divine characters, maybe the combats will end up being mostly smashing through tons of minions, showing off your godliness, and "whee" to all the damage bonuses then. 



Considering the vast majority of game mechanics revolve around combat, the less combat there is, the less it matters that it is 4e at all.
(Quote Removed) New game rules available = new stuff to crunch on for us CO folks.

*smirk*

Ok, two possibilities here:

  1. You're right about combat optimization being silly for this campaign.

  2. You're wrong about same.

If you're right, then people doing combat optimization don't matter any.  No need to track the thread to mock them.  You could justify that position by giving average combat/scenario numbers, or just say "by design, there will never be a mandatory combat in this campaign" or so on.  Or you can not bother justifying anything and just ignore it.

If you're wrong, Shaka may have pointed out some things you might want to change.

Either way, I'm not quite sure what is served by digging up a 3 week old, well of the front page post so that you could mock those silly optimizers.  But ... I decided not to play after talking briefly with a DM at SynDCon.  So either way, best of luck.

"Nice assumptions. Completely wrong assumptions, but by jove if being incorrect stopped people from making idiotic statements, we wouldn't have modern internet subculture." Kerrus
Practical gameplay runs by neither RAW or RAI, but rather "A Compromise Between The Gist Of The Rule As I Recall Getting The Impression Of It That One Time I Read It And What Jerry Says He Remembers, Whatever, We'll Look It Up Later If Any Of Us Still Give A Damn." Erachima

Yeah, outside whether optimizing for combat is a good or bad idea in the campaign... the balance of choices are mighty peculiar.

Separate from Living Divine, I do think it's very possible for a campaign to have skill bonuses or non-combat abilities represent things at least as potent as combat options, but it's pretty rare.
Keith Richmond Living Forgotten Realms Epic Writing Director
*smirk*

Ok, two possibilities here:

  1. You're right about combat optimization being silly for this campaign.

  2. You're wrong about same.

If you're right, then people doing combat optimization don't matter any.  No need to track the thread to mock them.  You could justify that position by giving average combat/scenario numbers, or just say "by design, there will never be a mandatory combat in this campaign" or so on.  Or you can not bother justifying anything and just ignore it.

If you're wrong, Shaka may have pointed out some things you might want to change.

Let me throw in 2 more cents, as someone who has played the intro mods. Living Divine certainly has combats.

There's four things to optimize for:
1) Some of the combats had enough gas that my character was unconscious in round 2 and would have been dead in round 3 if the party didn't have enough gas to drop the monster. So certainly things like Destruction domain ought to be very popular. Nobody likes to be eaten by a monster, and it's unclear how you could be Raised in a world with no spellcasters.

2) Some of the combats, by contrast, were for showing off in front of the rubes. Trivially easy, mass minion fights. So having lots of multi-attacks and AOE attacks would be useful here. Though they don't present much challenge.

3) Some of the combats are mass combat battles. Your stats literally don't matter - except Charisma. So that's something else to think about and optimize for. I expect Paladins and Warlocks to be popular, as all the other charisma-based classes are on the 'uncommon' list. It's not fun having a 50/50 chance for your unit to break morale every time it is hit (as when you have a 10 Charisma).

4) LD has skill challenges, just like other 4e games. So that's another thing you can optimize for.

I think Jay is trying to make the point that LD isn't going to be about meat grinder mods. But as #1 above shows, thinking about this kind of stuff is valuable.

Also, people like to make awesome characters. There's nothing wrong with that. In a world where you're getting to show off for the rubes, why wouldn't you make a character that can level entire villages? It's all part of the fun for the campaign.

We've only seen (probably) the low level divine domains. Maybe the higher level domains like Chaos II will make it worthwhile to take Chaos I (which is otherwise a suboptimal choice). But there's roleplaying flavour for being a Chaos diety, and that's not something to be discounted in a campaign that is trying to be more roleplay-ey than LFR.

There's four things to optimize for:
1) Some of the combats had enough gas [...]

2) Some of the combats, by contrast, were for showing off in front of the rubes[...]

3) Some of the combats are mass combat battles. Your stats literally don't matter - except Charisma.[...]

4) LD has skill challenges, just like other 4e games. So that's another thing you can optimize for.


Wow.  Yeah, that sounds like a Cha/Int warlock (Ritual Caster, Duelist's Panache, Arcana abuse) might be just what was called for.

"Nice assumptions. Completely wrong assumptions, but by jove if being incorrect stopped people from making idiotic statements, we wouldn't have modern internet subculture." Kerrus
Practical gameplay runs by neither RAW or RAI, but rather "A Compromise Between The Gist Of The Rule As I Recall Getting The Impression Of It That One Time I Read It And What Jerry Says He Remembers, Whatever, We'll Look It Up Later If Any Of Us Still Give A Damn." Erachima


There's four things to optimize for:
1) Some of the combats had enough gas that my character was unconscious in round 2 and would have been dead in round 3 if the party didn't have enough gas to drop the monster. So certainly things like Destruction domain ought to be very popular. Nobody likes to be eaten by a monster, and it's unclear how you could be Raised in a world with no spellcasters.

2) Some of the combats, by contrast, were for showing off in front of the rubes. Trivially easy, mass minion fights. So having lots of multi-attacks and AOE attacks would be useful here. Though they don't present much challenge.

3) Some of the combats are mass combat battles. Your stats literally don't matter - except Charisma. So that's something else to think about and optimize for. I expect Paladins and Warlocks to be popular, as all the other charisma-based classes are on the 'uncommon' list. It's not fun having a 50/50 chance for your unit to break morale every time it is hit (as when you have a 10 Charisma).

4) LD has skill challenges, just like other 4e games. So that's another thing you can optimize for.



1) A good challenge on occasion is fun, but if these combats are gonna eat unoptimised groups, then they may be problematic and un-fun for the unprepared or players who didn't optimise / optimised for non-combat

2) Boring.

3) You're a non-cha character? Boring - have fun winning or losing by coin flip, I guess.

4) Fun if written well, tedious and/or irritating if not.

Somewhat unimpressed if this is what's on offer. Still, the odds of this awful campaign idea ever being played in my area are pretty well 5/8 of sweet FA so it doesn't bother me much.
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

Let me throw in 2 more cents, as someone who has played the intro mods. Living Divine certainly has combats.



Wait, an informed opinion? That doesn't even seem fair... *smirk*


There's four things to optimize for:
1) Some of the combats had enough gas that my character was unconscious in round 2 and would have been dead in round 3 if the party didn't have enough gas to drop the monster.



Let me ask this, then... would an extra point of damage, or two, really been the make it or break it point, in that combat?


Nobody likes to be eaten by a monster, and it's unclear how you could be Raised in a world with no spellcasters.



In our campaign, immortals don't come back from the dead. We're a more difficult campaign for more... mature players.


2) Some of the combats, by contrast, were for showing off in front of the rubes. Trivially easy, mass minion fights. So having lots of multi-attacks and AOE attacks would be useful here. Though they don't present much challenge.



Amusingly, those combats are the ones I've seen parties get stuck on, most often.


3) Some of the combats are mass combat battles. Your stats literally don't matter - except Charisma. So that's something else to think about and optimize for. I expect Paladins and Warlocks to be popular, as all the other charisma-based classes are on the 'uncommon' list. It's not fun having a 50/50 chance for your unit to break morale every time it is hit (as when you have a 10 Charisma).



Seriously. Mortals are so... unreliable.

There is actually much more to the mass combat system then that, but it's not all included in the sneak previews... you don't have enough steam to field an army of your followers, yet, and that's where it shines.


4) LD has skill challenges, just like other 4e games. So that's another thing you can optimize for.



Arguably, that's 17 things you could optimize for.


I think Jay is trying to make the point that LD isn't going to be about meat grinder mods.



That is pretty close to the mark.


Also, people like to make awesome characters. There's nothing wrong with that.



And the point is, in LD, combat-optimal does not make you campaign optimal.


In a world where you're getting to show off for the rubes, whywouldn't you make a character that can level entire villages? 



Because it's not everyone's idea of the god they want to be. Interestingly, it would seem the highest percentage of players have made gods of... well... less than virtuous domains.

As well, one could argue that if your lynchpin is being able to level a village, that's suboptimal... because to prove you are a god, you HAVE to level a village. A) That doesn't do much for your follower economy, and B) it tends to irritate the bigger fish in the pond.


It's all part of the fun for the campaign.



I do see what you're saying, and agree. My take on all this is 'play the way you want to play'. Really, we're not doing *anything* to discourage the min/max crowds. At all. If that's what does it for you, well, mazel tov.


We've only seen (probably) the low level divine domains. Maybe the higher level domains like Chaos II will make it worthwhile to take Chaos I (which is otherwise a suboptimal choice).



Take out the probably, and make that a definitely. There are 6 tiers per domain, when it comes down to it.


But there's roleplaying flavour for being a Chaos diety, and that's not something to be discounted in a campaign that is trying to be more roleplay-ey than LFR.



Ah, someone that gets it!

Cheers,

Jay
Living Divine
Let me ask this, then... would an extra point of damage, or two, really been the make it or break it point, in that combat?

Given the setup, say, 3rd level.  That's more like 3 points of damage per attack.  At 3rd level, by the 2nd round of combat that's liable to have been 8 attacks.  So 24 points of damage.  Yes, that could make or break a combat.
In our campaign, immortals don't come back from the dead. We're a more difficult campaign for more... mature players.

Wow.  Um ... I appologize for replying to this thread.  I've added Jay to my block list.  Just ignore him....

"Nice assumptions. Completely wrong assumptions, but by jove if being incorrect stopped people from making idiotic statements, we wouldn't have modern internet subculture." Kerrus
Practical gameplay runs by neither RAW or RAI, but rather "A Compromise Between The Gist Of The Rule As I Recall Getting The Impression Of It That One Time I Read It And What Jerry Says He Remembers, Whatever, We'll Look It Up Later If Any Of Us Still Give A Damn." Erachima


1) A good challenge on occasion is fun, but if these combats are gonna eat unoptimised groups, then they may be problematic and un-fun for the unprepared or players who didn't optimise / optimised for non-combat



I think you've missed the point. The difficulty level is actually fixed, such that an unoptimized group should be challenged, but be able to pull through. A group that happens to be optimized for that particular challenge will find it easier.

The point is that we don't scale up to challenge the 'hardcore min/maxers'. You don't have


2) Boring.



Most folks actually playing our games aren't finding them as such, so I'll trust their opinion.


3) You're a non-cha character? Boring - have fun winning or losing by coin flip, I guess.



He oversimplified it. It's deeper than that. But, whatever... think what you will.

(Content removed)

-Jay
Living Divine
Let me ask this, then... would an extra point of damage, or two, really been the make it or break it point, in that combat?

Given the setup, say, 3rd level.  That's more like 3 points of damage per attack.  At 3rd level, by the 2nd round of combat that's liable to have been 8 attacks.  So 24 points of damage.  Yes, that could make or break a combat.
In our campaign, immortals don't come back from the dead. We're a more difficult campaign for more... mature players.

Wow.  Um ... I appologize for replying to this thread.  I've added Jay to my block list.  Just ignore him....



All he is doing is making Living Divine look really bad. I played a session of this and the mod I went through was pretty standard fare. Skill challenge sandwhiched between some easy combats just like LFR.

Why exactly would you try to focus more on skill challenges? It is not like they are hard to pass as it is. But wait there is more... Not only are we going to make skill challenges a focal point but we are going to put in plenty of ways to get even more skill boosters to your character with the divine bonuses each level.

You can say what you want about the combat but I am sure there will still be plenty of fights to grind through. If the idea of making a fight harder is having charisma checks or other wonky mechanics introduced well you are trying to change the game from what it is.

Good luck with that. I think LD will need a lot of luck.


1) A good challenge on occasion is fun, but if these combats are gonna eat unoptimised groups, then they may be problematic and un-fun for the unprepared or players who didn't optimise / optimised for non-combat



I think you've missed the point. The difficulty level is actually fixed, such that an unoptimized group should be challenged, but be able to pull through. A group that happens to be optimized for that particular challenge will find it easier.

The point is that we don't scale up to challenge the 'hardcore min/maxers'. You don't have


2) Boring.



Most folks actually playing our games aren't finding them as such, so I'll trust their opinion.


3) You're a non-cha character? Boring - have fun winning or losing by coin flip, I guess.



He oversimplified it. It's deeper than that. But, whatever... think what you will.

(Content removed)

-Jay
Living Divine



We are playing a Board game? really? It looks like you are using the same D&D rules we all are. Please quit trying to make your LD campaign look like the second coming of Pathfinder (which I'm not a fan of). I found the Common/Uncommon class and race combos to be not well thought out and the lack of certain races was even more pointless. You want people to roleplay but you limit choice on how to make a character? So much for wanting to roleplay a Drow or any other of the ones missing.

I'll sum up the mod I went through this weekend. Boring. Uninspired.. Easy..Roleplay? More like standard skill challenge fare.
In our campaign, immortals don't come back from the dead. We're a more difficult campaign for more... mature players.



This statement makes no sense.

Seems like, from the people here that have played, that it's a pretty standard D&D campaign with a few very poorly written rules additions. Your defense of it though, makes it seem really awful.

Not that you'll see this, kilpatds, if you've blocked me... but I suspect you've seriously misread me.


In our campaign, immortals don't come back from the dead. We're a more difficult campaign for more... mature players.

Wow.  Um ... I appologize for replying to this thread.  I've added Jay to my block list.  Just ignore him....



I was saying that we are a permadeath campaign, and as such we are a less casual campaign than typical. This isn't a campaign for the first time player.

I suspect you took the phrase 'more mature players' to mean something totally different. Twas not my meaning.
In our campaign, immortals don't come back from the dead. We're a more difficult campaign for more... mature players.



This statement makes no sense.

Seems like, from the people here that have played, that it's a pretty standard D&D campaign with a few very poorly written rules additions. Your defense of it though, makes it seem really awful.




Pretty standard from what I saw. The new rules they put in for race and class selection are pretty terrible too. And don't even get us started on the power creep of some of the divine abilities. Some are god awful and some are broken.

All he is doing is making Living Divine look really bad.




This.

Jay, if you feel LD can stand on its own merits, you probably want to stop replying here.  All you're doing is making your campaign look worse and worse every time you post.

I doubt it's your intention, but you are coming across as extremely smug with a superiority complex.  You're not even projecting understandable defensiveness; your attitude is coming across as "well I'm better than you as a person, and my style of play is better than yours, and my campaign is better than yours, so nyah."

I have absolutely no stake in this as I've never played any Living campaign, but I really recommend that you either take a long look at the way you're posting, or just stop entirely, because you really are just making LD look worse and worse.
The difference between madness and genius is determined only by degrees of success.

Jay, if you feel LD can stand on its own merits, you probably want to stop replying here.  All you're doing is making your campaign look worse and worse every time you post.



No, really... if I can steer people away from something they probably won't enjoy, why wouldn't I?

Folks here seem to be looking for a certain experience. They're not likely going to get it from us. Wouldn't you rather I be honest with that, then 'smug' and rather than trying to pretend that it will be the end-all-be-all for everyone?


your attitude is coming across as "well I'm better than you as a person, and my style of play is better than yours, and my campaign is better than yours, so nyah."



I don't claim LD to be better than anything other... just different. Some folks are looking for different.

So nyah.

-Jay
Living Divine
Writing a living/organized play campaign is extremely hard work. Let's please be respectful of each other.

Lots of people like to optimize, and they will bring it to any living campaign. At the same time, each campaign is a bit different and will both cater to different types of gamers and respond to them in different ways.

I always hold Living Spycraft as an example of a game where cheese did not matter. You could cheese all you want and wreck combats, but the system could usually handle it (especially with a DM that gathered Action Dice). More importantly, what mattered most about the experience was the way your party approached situations. While influenced by your skills and other build options, a lot of it was the creativity and problem resolution you came up with. Think like a spy action thriller and you usually did well in a fun way (because how it pans out is unpredictable). It had a strong collaborative story-telling that I wish I knew how to capture (it is an ongoing project for me).

If Living Divine wants to greatly change the dynamic of play, then that will likely be something that takes time to accomplish. Many DMs and players are used to a certain pattern and it takes time to find a good way to work with them and introduce new concepts. I would rather see a campaign try to do that than to take the safe path of deploying tried and true methods. I very much like the idea of a more story-heavy campaign.

I've played LD previews and I plan on playing more. The best way you can provide help for any campaign is to give constructive feedback. I can say that criticism is always difficult - not only on an ego level for me to take but because it gives you little that you can conceptually change. Productive feedback really helps you see both what did not work and how it could be improved. While campaign admins usually will see the situation differently, constructive feedback almost always helps the admins come up with a way to improve the offerings.

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Lots of people like to optimize, and they will bring it to any living campaign. At the same time, each campaign is a bit different and will both cater to different types of gamers and respond to them in different ways.



Sure. And we're ok with that, as I said. We aren't discouraging it, in any way... but it's just not our target audience.



I always hold Living Spycraft as an example of a game where cheese did not matter.



Interestingly enough, LS is something we would cite as a contributing factor to LD.


(especially with a DM that gathered Action Dice).



If you think about it, the Spycraft system gave a GM all the tools he needed to wreck a party, without chance of failure. Just blow all of your action dice at once, and it's over. And I'm sure it happened that way here and there... but if you did, you arguably didn't 'get it'.

That's pretty much where I'm going with LD. I'm not really after the super competitive players, or GMs. It's intended to be something else. I'm not disparaging the events where it's player vs. DM... but it's just not our style.


More importantly, what mattered most about the experience was the way your party approached situations.



And that's what we want, exactly.


I've played LD previews and I plan on playing more. The best way you can provide help for any campaign is to give constructive feedback. I can say that criticism is always difficult - not only on an ego level for me to take but because it gives you little that you can conceptually change.



It's also really difficult to hear well-thought-out criticism, and have to ignore it because your campaign is going another direction. We could make LD really appeal to the crowd here... but we chose against that when we started the ball rolling. Obviously, we'll take flak for that... but you can't be everything to everyone. And I'm ok with that.

-Jay
Living Divine
The crowd here is more diverse than you think, in terms of playstyles. The thing that's primarily in agreement here is that some of those rules are written pretty poorly in terms of game balance, and it won't take a whole lot to fix. The ability to see certain flaws in rules interactions in no way limits one's ability to role-play. And the posters in this very thread who have played and will continue to try LD is an indication of that.

Quite frankly, "Having Exploitable Rules" is not a genre, and that seems to the only thing that's really sticking out. 
Please, guys, don't turn this into a flame war.

The Living Divine games I've played were fun, not because of the two-combats-and-a-skill-challenge model it uses (like LFR), but because of the fun player interactions you get from playing baby dieities.

That said, Jay, in a campaign where you have permadeath, apparently, you ought to expect to see a lot more optimization than in LFR, because people don't want to play a character for a year only to have him get crit twice in a row and perma-die. I'd expect to see a lot of Revenants, honestly, to make them impossible to kill.

I also think there's a lot of benefit to tossing sample rules proposals out to the sharks (i.e. the character optimization boards), who are good at running numbers. For example, the mass combat rules look very interesting, but you can beat a 400 man squad with 20 men, if you just split them into 20 1-man squads, due to the way the morale rules work. The one 400 man squad will be permanently routed by the plinking they take from the 20 one-man squads, because of all the morale checks it will have to roll.
Obviously LD is not for everybody. Certainly not for me. I go to conventions to see how a variety of different builds operate. In our home games, we can only have so much variety. In LFR, I like to see a gnome star pact binder, a minotaur defiant runepriest, a revenant dragonborn battlemind|monk, a shade vampire, a halfling knight, and a tiefling executioner adventuring together. The variety of characters I would otherwise never see in action is precisely why I like LFR. And I most certainly *want* to see them in action, see how they perform, see what tricks the players have up their sleeves, see how they survive the variety of combat challenges LFR provides. I don't want to see them sitting around roleplaying a drinking game, or an exercise in dice rolling for a list of checks the DM provides from a grocery list of skills.

At home, we play campaigns where story and characters come first. It's not what I'm looking for in a convention game. I don't want to focus my attention to that depth in a 4 hour game slot. I want a popcorn story that will entertain me much like an action flick, with a few hints dropped in for the next episode so I have something to look forward to, maybe a bit of drama or comedy, and a solid dose of explosive action.

The "mature" clause and the general attitude I'm seeing here from Jay rubs me the wrong way. It somehow implies a mature person can't be playing other living campaigns like LFR, or can't be playing characters who are competently built. And that attitude is turning me off, even if I did want to find out what the story and campaign world were like.

I have to admit I even misinterpreted the "mature and experienced players" clause when I first read it. I thought it meant, no kids, and you better know the rules, and know how to build and play a good character. Turns out it means, you better be a "real roleplayer".

I'm sure for those who don't get to play much outside of conventions, LD will be a satisfying roleplaying experience. I on the other hand am glad to be doing other events. And this is not to say I won't ask others how their experience was, and how this mass combat system works out to see if I can steal any ideas.
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ORC_Chaos 
Sure. And we're ok with that, as I said. We aren't discouraging it, in any way... but it's just not our target audience.


I'm calling Stormwind on you here.

For your reference:
The Stormwind Fallacy in a nutshell: That Roleplaying and Optimising are at opposite ends of the same axis.
Sure. And we're ok with that, as I said. We aren't discouraging it, in any way... but it's just not our target audience.


I'm calling Stormwind on you here.

For your reference:
The Stormwind Fallacy in a nutshell: That Roleplaying and Optimising are at opposite ends of the same axis.




People can belong to multiple audiences. Just because he's not targeting the "optimizer" audience doesn't mean he's not trying to appeal to people who fall into both the "optimizer" and "roleplaying" audiences, just that he's targeting those players' roleplaying preferences instead of their optimizing ones.
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There's four things to optimize for:
1) Some of the combats had enough gas that my character was unconscious in round 2 and would have been dead in round 3 if the party didn't have enough gas to drop the monster.



Let me ask this, then... would an extra point of damage, or two, really been the make it or break it point, in that combat?



At low level? Quite possibly - everyone in the party does an extra point of damage a round, things at low level die quite fast from that. It doesn't sound as if that's what is supposed to happen, but that's why Weapon Focus is valuable for Strikers.

At Paragon - most certainly - the ability to add a point of cold damage to your attacks means that you qualify for Wintertouched/Lasting Frost without needing to use a Frost Weapon. The ability to add a point of Psychic, means you qualify for Psychic options such as Psychic Lock.

Sure. And we're ok with that, as I said. We aren't discouraging it, in any way... but it's just not our target audience.

 
I'm calling Stormwind on you here.

For your reference:
The Stormwind Fallacy in a nutshell: That Roleplaying and Optimising are at opposite ends of the same axis.

 

People can belong to multiple audiences. Just because he's not targeting the "optimizer" audience doesn't mean he's not trying to appeal to people who fall into both the "optimizer" and "roleplaying" audiences, just that he's targeting those players' roleplaying preferences instead of their optimizing ones.



That might be what he's attempting to do. But...

If you're dead once and then you're dead, the opportunity to roleplay with a particular character only gets to keep happening if your character doesn't die.

That's a relatively direct appeal to audiences interested in optimizing. That some options are amazing in the context of 4e rules optimizing only increases that.
From reading over the back and forths in this thread, I think the main issue here is a lack of information. All we have available to us are forum viewers are a smattering of options and rulings without context.

Perhaps in this world, if you are a 'Common' race, you are more prevalent, but still slaves to your 'Uncommon' masters. Perhaps paying to be Uncommon is effectively paying to be a noble of the world. Or since magic is rare, playing an uncommon class with supernatural powers will make a huge difference as nothing is warded against magic and psionics catch people offguard. Unfortunately, I sense that this is not the case, and the Uncommon/Common divide is entirely arbitrary and designed to force players into fulfilling the designer's view of the world.

As for divine traits, we only have one stage of each domain. Perhaps every domain is equal in power overall, just destruction has an immediate reward, where nature pays off later (maybe it has 'Any time you enable an ally to regain hitpoints, they regain 20 additional hitpoints.' as a Domain stage four or five?).

All of these are possibilities, but with the tiny amount of information that we have the system seems incredibly unbalanced and very open to being broken by players who choose to optimise. I sincerely hope that this balance exists, though it would require a very strong set of design principles to pull off effectively, as it would provide a very interesting series of choices (Thankyou Sid Meiers...), such as 'Do I take this option which is strong now, or do I take this, so that in 6 levels time, I will be much stronger?' or 'Do I specialise in one domain and reap the incredibly powerful higher domain stages, or do I take a smattering of several, and rely upon their synergy with my feats and items?'

Without this information, it is very difficult to judge the this system as a whole, but if we must judge this system based upon what we have seen, then suffice to say, it needs a lot of work.

Laz
Permadeath in a roleplaying-heavy campaign means that the rewards for optimizing (and penalties for not doing so) are huge.

In LFR, optimization is hardly ever needed in order to survive a module and get full rewards.  The only penalty for not optimizing is that you don't get to show off as much when playing, and a tougher-than-usual adventure (or one in which you're unluckier-than-usual) might mean you get less reward from an adventure and take a -1 penalty to certain rolls for the next adventure or so.

In LD, that one tougher-than-usual (or unluckier-than-usual) adventure now means that you can't play with your friends for the foreseeable future (or if the campaign doesn't have hard tiering, means that you're now just a tag-along that isn't contributing much).  Unless the campaign has replay of adventures, then given the likely rate of module release, this state of affairs might be permanent, unless they're willing to put their characters on hold to wait for you to catch up.

Worse, as this is intended to be a roleplaying-heavy campaign, you have just lost a character that was invested with a lot of meaning and interconnections to the world, with a death that is most likely arbitrary and not a fitting end to the personal storyline you had planned.

The rewards for optimizing (and penalties for not doing so) are so much greater in LD than LFR that I would expect to see significantly more of it in the former.  The only way this would not happen is for the campaign to have a uniform softball policy in which death never happens.  (But, since this is a campaign is for "mature" gamers, that option's out.)

Considering that the campaign-specific house rules make it much easier to optimize for combat, and substantially widen the gap between optimized and non-optimized PCs, anyone who doesn't believe the average player base at a LD convention game is going to heavily consist of combat monsters is fooling themselves.

That does not, of course, mean that these combat monsters will not also be excellent roleplayers.  Some will and some won't, as with any other group.  It does, however, mean that players who didn't optimize their characters are likely to be completely overshadowed and contribute little to combats, which for many, will significantly decrease the fun they have.
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