We are not your DM.

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This is just a short note in response to requests for character help I'm seeing on these boards. Not for specific requests in particular, but more for requests that fit a specific form.

Too often the request will go something like "Hi, I'm looking for a way to gain X ability. Can anyone help?". Seems simple enough - but it's vague. And very often, it's not actually X ability they're interested in - it's getting into Prestige Class Y that requires X, or trying to make the most out of Option Z that you think X will help with. The problem is, X is often a red herring - that is, X sounds good, but their goal can be better met by bypassing X - so not only are these requests making our job more difficult (as we need to guess what a person really wants), they won't actually help the person as much as they could have if the person had said what they really wanted.

The most recent straightforward example I saw was from just yesterday (there are similar requests in just about every Previous Editions subforum). It asked "if anyone knows of a feat that allows you to gain a skill(s) as class skills, or even a way to increase the maximum to the point where it would be as if it were a class skill." Fairly straightforward, but vaguely written - this could mean something like City Slicker (makes some skills class skills), or it could mean something like Able Learner (makes cross-class skills cheaper), or it could mean something like Primary Contact (raises maximum rank in one skill). And it wasn't until later that we found out "what I was really looking for was to make Concentration have a maximum rank of 8 by level 5 for a 5th level pure fighter. Looking to get into Pyrokineticist." Totally missing from the earlier request - and there's SO many other, better ways to optimize that approach that we could have helped with, had we known what he was really trying to do.

(Just an aside: If you're the person who made that request, know that I have nothing against you or your character; I just needed a concrete example here. This particular request was actually rather short - I've seen some go on for pages before people tell us what they really wanted, while this just took an hour.)

This is getting very frustrating. If you want us to help with something, tell us you want help with that something.

This reminds me of nothing more than a new player making a timid rules request to a DM, hoping the DM won't know that if he grants the request, it can be combined with other things to create an Ultimate Munchkin Sword Of True Strike or something. The issue with this is that the boards are not your DM. Please do not try to trick us. There's no reason to try to be "sneaky" and slip a request through in the hopes we'll say "yes" before we figure out what you're up to. In fact, we can't help you unless we know what you're trying to do.

I'm a long-time CO board regular and I love nothing more than helping you realize the character you want to play in a successful, effective fasion. I know I'm not alone on these boards with this sentiment. And we can't actually do that if you aren't being honest with us.

Weekly Optimization Series

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These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style))

[TS] Assassin's Speed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

[RT] Something for Everyone: A.K.A. The Last Sorcerer RT Will Ever Build (Caster, Damage, Trapscout, Takedowns)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

3.5: Definitive Shopping List (gear guide PDF)

 

5e Eberron homebrew rules | Discussion: 5e Artificer

I think the main point here should not be "We are not your DM", but "State Your Goal".

Whether the person requesting help is really trying to slip something under the DM radar, has decided that they would like to solve the problem in one particular way (playing with the rules is fun!), or has focused on a possible solution and forgotten that there might be better alternatives, their fundamental failing as far as describing their request is that they haven't stated the goal of the exercise.

The different reasons certainly deserve mention, but "State Your Goal" is the the answer to clarifying each one.

Edit: I will give a nod also to the possibility that someone wants a hint, rather than a walkthrough, and may just want to handle most of the problem themself.  Finding your own solutions isn't automatically wrong.

The kraken stirs. And ten billion sushi dinners cry out for vengeance. - Good Omens

Co-Author of the Dreamfane, Euralden Eye, Fulminating Crab, Gajuisan Crawler, Gruesome LurkerIronglass Rose, Sheengrass Swarm, Spryjack, Usunag, and Warp Drifter, and author of the Magmal Horror from Force of Nature.

My most popular campaign item; for all your adventuring convenience.
Zauber's Mutable Rod: This rod has a number of useful functions that make it easier to live in the wilderness. It is made of polished wood, with five studlike buttons on one end. Each button produces a different effect when pressed. Unless otherwise noted, the rod’s functions have no limit on the number of times they can be employed. When button 1 is pressed, one end of the rod produces a small flame, equivalent to a candle. When button 2 is pressed, the rod unfolds into a two-person tent, complete with bedrolls and warm blankets. When button 3 is pressed, the rod becomes a one-handed hammer, suitable for pounding pitons into a wall. When button 4 is pressed, the rod becomes a sturdy iron spade. When button 5 is pressed, the rod becomes a wooden bucket able to hold 2 gallons of liquid. Once per day, it can be commanded to fill with fresh water. If the rod is seriously damaged or broken in any of its alternate forms (button 2, 3, 4, or 5), it reverts to its basic rod form and cannot be activated for 24 hours. Moderate conjuration; CL 9th; Craft Rod, minor creation; Price 375 gp; Weight 2 lb.

This reminds me of nothing more than a new player making a timid rules request to a DM, hoping the DM won't know that if he grants the request, it can be combined with other things to create an Ultimate Munchkin Sword Of True Strike or something.


I have a simple house rule that helps against this. If a player suddenly displays the game-breaking number-crunch maneuver I tell the player to piss off. Go away and don't come back until they're grown up.
Telling me about the build and enjoying ****ing around in the system and exploring ideas is fine. It's even fun. But trying to sneak around to **** up the game is a no-no.
I just got married, 16.7.2011, to a sexy librarian :D Suck it fate, there's no justice in the real world. There's no way I deserve this ;) -------------- The most interesting rules always kinda taste like lasagna
I think the main point here should not be "We are not your DM", but "State Your Goal".

Whether the person requesting help is really trying to slip something under the DM radar, has decided that they would like to solve the problem in one particular way (playing with the rules is fun!), or has focused on a possible solution and forgotten that there might be better alternatives, their fundamental failing as far as describing their request is that they haven't stated the goal of the exercise.

The different reasons certainly deserve mention, but "State Your Goal" is the the answer to clarifying each one.

 

Well said. I was unduly critical, and should have just left it at that, and the thread title is off. (Let me see if I can change that...)

[Edit: Doesn't look like it, now that people have replied. Curses!]

 You're right - there are requests where the goal really is what would otherwise be a red herring. 

Edit: I will give a nod also to the possibility that someone wants a hint, rather than a walkthrough, and may just want to handle most of the problem themself.  Finding your own solutions isn't automatically wrong.

Also right. However, this doesn't appear to be the case in the threads I see. More often than not, they appear to be asking for help with a particular path to a completely separate goal. I've even (rarely, thankfully) seen people get frustrated that our suggestions (based on the parameters of the request they made) won't work with their (unmentioned) true goal!

For instance, as I type, the thread immediately below this one fits this template as well. I'm writing up a reply to that one in another tab, and you'll see what I mean about the red herring.  (This isn't one of the frustrated ones, thankfully.)

On the flipside, here's a good example about how to do it right. If you take the time to read the thread, you'll see that the goal remains clear, even if the specific approach to the goal changes pretty dramatically over the course of the conversation. But he was clear, up-front, and honest about the goal right from the get-go, and gave everyone enough information to work on it.

Weekly Optimization Series

Show
These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style))

[TS] Assassin's Speed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

[RT] Something for Everyone: A.K.A. The Last Sorcerer RT Will Ever Build (Caster, Damage, Trapscout, Takedowns)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

3.5: Definitive Shopping List (gear guide PDF)

 

5e Eberron homebrew rules | Discussion: 5e Artificer

I can't believe I missed this thread the first time around but it definitely rings true.  I too can recall the times someone has come by asking some question about how to do something but because of the narrow focus completely misses a much easier "big picture" solution.

Perhaps the latest one of those thread I saw was someone asking how to make a blasty sorcerer.  The thing about that is the desired character sounded so much like a Warlock that it required pointing out that option.  Once that idea was expressed the OP stated that he WANTED to build a Warlock but that the DM had (for whatever misguided reason) banned that class.
 
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